On balance.

I have written about balance, how we crave it, how to get closer to it. I have always admired my boyfriend for the balance he has in his life. I am always seeking more balance in mine. So, imagine my surprise when I started a new book today that says balance is a lie. Well, I stand corrected.

I started a book called “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papsan and in the very first chapter it goes into very convincing detail about how “balance” is a lie. It makes total and complete sense. What is balance?




An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.


Keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall: “a mug that she balanced on her knee”.


noun.  scales – equilibrium – equipoise – poise – scale

verb.  poise – weigh – equilibrate

When we speak of balance in life we are eluding to the balance of how we devote energies to things in life we consider important; work, family, health, friends, religion, politics, hobbies, etc. So, in it’s modified application, balance, as it pertains to life, would be, perhaps, “an even distribution of energy between activities in life to maintain equality”. Balance, then, in this sense would mean we would devote an equal amount of energy to everything in life we consider valuable. Is that practical? Is that even possible? So, you’re at work and you are given an assignment or project and you apply on a certain amount of energy to it so as to keep all else equal? How long will you keep your job with that mindset? Likewise, you are caring for your family, there are two soccer games, a Girl Scout meeting later and some help required on math homework. Do you just stop the car between the Girl Scout meeting and the soccer game because you’ve exhausted the allotted amount of energy on family for the day? Of course not. In life, things need to be done, some things before others, and we will have to apply enough energy to complete the task or activity to satisfaction. In other words, we prioritize tasks and activities and apply the appropriate amount of energy to get to the desired point of completion of each within a certain period of time. Make sense? This will require uneven amounts of energy to different activities, on a regular basis. So, we really don’t want balance, nor is it even desirable.

The trick is to know your limits; how much energy to apply to each facet of your life. This, again, is called prioritization and is a skill that takes a great deal of thought, planning and constant adjustment. The book suggests, convincingly, that we do not excel at much unless we devote a great deal of energy to it. If we devote equal amounts of energy to everything in life, we will achieve mediocrity in all we do. Think of those big assignments in school, or studying for final exams, a great deal of energy was applied and without it, a mediocre result was achieved. It was a temporary application of a great deal of energy, and once completed, the energy could be focused in another area. We have similar experiences with work. And with family. And friends. And everything else worthwhile in life.

I was in a yoga class yesterday and we assumed the “tree pose”, one of my favorites because, frankly, I’m quite good at it. In the tree pose, you stand on one foot and lift the other so that it is off the ground and, if you can, place the flat of your foot against the inner thigh of the supporting leg. Most would say you “balance” to maintain the position, but even that is untrue. Balance; put or kept in a steady position so as not to fall. Balance assumes no movement, think of a scale that is balanced, both sides are so equal that movement ceases. In a yoga pose, the tree pose especially, you are moving all over the place, even if you are capable of maintaining the position so well you appear motionless. In fact, there are probably very few muscles that aren’t moving, adjusting, correcting. This is true in dance, too, the dancers appear to be “balanced”, when in fact many fine muscles in the supporting legs and in the core of the body are moving, constantly, to maintain that position. That’s what my muscles did yesterday so I could maintain tree pose, they shifted and twitched and flexed and tightened. So, rather than balancing, my muscles were correcting my position, constantly, so it could be maintained.

In life, in order to accomplish what needs to be done, beyond mediocrity, we need to devote unequal amounts of energy to given activities. We need to make corrections, constantly, so we can shift our energies from one activity to another, to the satisfaction of that activity. We need to identify and apply priorities to our activities to know just how much correction, or energy, is required.

In “The ONE Thing”, the author quoted a passage from a James Patterson book “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas”. In the passage the author suggests you should imagine life as a game where you are juggling five balls; work, family, health, friends and integrity. Work is a ball made of rubber and will bounce back if dropped. The remaining four balls are made of glass and will likely break if dropped. And, in life, hopefully, we learn this lesson before we have spent too much energy on work and not enough on the other, more fragile things in life.

Even in love we are never in balance, we are always adjusting and making corrections. In a relationship, there is always change. It is impossible to expect two people to progress, in the same direction, at the same rate. In new relationships, we begin thinking we have much in common. As time passes, we usually find that we have significant differences, if not incompatibilities. Perhaps there is fear, insecurity, distrust or hurt from past experiences as a catalyst, or different goals, or different timelines. This does not necessarily doom the relationship. Necessarily. If the parties involved are able, and willing, little adjustments, or corrections, can be made and things can continue to progress. Established relationships are no different, they’ve just made it through the neophyte phase. There will be changes, differences and even incompatibilities. Again, making adjustments or corrections will be the key to long-term success. It is not a matter of balance, but of corrections. No relationship, new or old, will ever be balanced; kept or put in a steady position so it does not fall. The key is making those adjustments, those corrections, to maintain the desired position – the happy relationship.

What applies to love applies to any other relationship; friendships, family, even relationships with your dog, or your horse. All will require adjustments and corrections as the relationship changes, for whatever reason.

Is this not true for driving? I had a blissful drive today, between Napa and Sacramento. Once on Interstate 80, especially when traffic is light, I like to think of my drive as “high speed therapy”. Let’s just say I like to push the limit a bit. I like to drive fast. And not get caught. And, like the tree pose, I am quite good at it. But, I did see two CHP officers as I was hurtling along at not quite twenty miles an hour over the posted limit. What did I do? I adjusted, I corrected. I applied a little less energy to my activity. In driving, we are constantly monitoring other cars, subtle changes in the road; curves, inclines, declines, bumps in the road, police officers, and for each of these, we will adjust many things, how much we accelerate, whether we need to apply the brakes, change lanes, turn or even swerve. All the while, though, we are trying to maintain a fairly constant rate of speed, whether faster or slower than the posted limit, which is the “balance” we are trying to maintain. I have a large digital speedometer on my dash and it is very easy to see (even from passing cars) what speed I am traveling at. I am not a fan of cruise control and without it, though I maintain an average speed, the actual speed fluctuates a great deal. It is not balance, not a steady rate, but a series of tiny adjustments or corrections based on a number of variables and activities.

So, in seeking a better balance in life, might I suggest you begin by making a correction? Balance is not attainable, but a series of adjustments to how you apply your time, your passion, your energy to those worthy interests in life is what will help you achieve that which you seek, that which you crave, that which you may find elusive. Make the correction.


The Rhythm of Love

I haven’t written in a while. And I’m behind on my projects for work. True, I have been packing boxes, moving truck loads of my belongings from old residence to new, and now unpacking boxes, in every spare moment of my time. I have been residing at the new residence for a couple of days now, and I am really struggling to develop a rhythm in my day.

I think humans were meant to have a routine; a daily routine, perhaps a weekly and monthly routine, and most definitely a seasonal routine. As hunter/gatherers, our lives were very much set to the pattern of the rising and setting of the sun, the change of seasons, and the progression of age. It is natural, and living without a routine, though commonly thought of as romantic and bohemian, is really not sustainable. And so, I am feeling a bit out of sorts.

I like to consider myself spontaneous. I can be. I’d like to think if a friend called and said “let’s go do this or that tonight”, I’d be thrilled and ready to go. I think I would. Usually. But, for every day where nothing spontaneous presents itself, I do like to have a bit of a routine. Perhaps it has to do with my life, in general, with so much travel, and rarely to the same place twice. Though every destination is different, I do have my travel routine; how I travel, the time I prefer to book my flights, what I do as soon as I arrive in the city, at the hotel, etc. There is a definite pattern, if not a routine.

During the brief respite from travel I have each year, occurring right about now, I crave a routine in order to get my projects done for work. When we don’t travel and train clients on software, we re-write, rearrange and refresh our class materials. That’s what I’ve been working on the past few weeks, and still I am behind. I’ll get it done, no doubt, but I am struggling, more than usual, with the upheaval of moving in the midst of all of this.

During this time of year, when I work from home, I like to get up, eat breakfast, write in my journal, check Facebook, text important people in my life a heartfelt good morning, work out, shower, and be ready to work by the time I’m “supposed” to be working, 9:00 am in my home time zone. This I can usually accomplish, sometimes it’s a little later, but then I just work a little later. Sometimes a lot later. No big.

My old residence was a house outside in a newer suburban neighborhood, an annoying distance from any convenient shopping venue. The house was actually, originally, leased by my son and a few of his friends from high school for their first years of college. My son being the only of the four that went directly to a university rather than to a community college. After a year or so, the other young men all transferred to other schools in other locations and my son was left at the house by himself, with most of their stuff and all of the rent. My lease was up for renewal at that time, with a sizable rent increase, and after an unsuccessful attempt at securing new roommates, my son asked me to move in. I rented the two smaller bedrooms from him, he kept the master bedroom. It was kind of a strange dynamic, at first, but we settled into a routine that suited both of us. Neither of us were home, much, at all, and when we were, we were often alone. We actually got into the routine of setting aside a Friday night once a month to go to a pub for a beer or to a wine bar for a flight of wine. While living with my son, I was able to stick to my preferred routine when working from home, mostly, and was very happy with that.

My son has moved, having found a less expensive option, living with other college kids, which is a much better college experience than living with your mom. I support that. I wasn’t wild about paying for and keeping clean, the entire three bedroom, two and a half bathroom house. Especially the paying for part. My mom just turned 89 and lives alone in the house I grew up in, an older, suburban, split level home that requires quite a bit of work and maintenance. She struggles with the stairs and with keeping things up. I, being the only child, and my father having passed away just over a year ago, worry about Mom falling or overdoing. Her neighbors have all been lovely and kind and have been looking out for her, but I knew, I’ve known for most of my life, that at some point, I was probably going to have to assist in some way. I consider myself the “floating family member”, I can live pretty much anywhere as long as I’m within a reasonable distance from a decent airport. Well, I can’t live in Hawaii. Or Alaska. Which is really, really, really unfortunate.

So, here I am. Living with my mom. For two whole days now. I haven’t accomplished anything. I have no schedule. I have no routine. I have no solitude. And I have no patience. Breakfast is littered with random recitations from the newspaper, I couldn’t focus on my journal at all. There I was writing down my affirmations, one being “I am a good daughter”, all the while just seething and being generally grumpy because I was unable to concentrate on my task as my mom read snippets of the newspaper out loud to me. I’m pretty sure I was making the same face my dad used to always make, sort of a grimace, when my mom read from the newspaper. I wasn’t ready to work until 10:00 am this morning, and I really wasn’t all the way ready, but I had a meeting. Then I finished getting ready. I worked for a wee bit, had another meeting, then took Mom out for errands. Just like yesterday.

I know that I need to be way more tolerant. I need to be accepting. I need to find a way to secure solitude at one end of the day or the other to do what I find very important to me; journal, reflect, exercise, write, read. Oh, and work.

I have written over 1,000 words tonight, and this feels really good. Of course, I should be working on my work projects right now, try to finish up before next week’s deadline, having probably only put in about six hours of work in the past two days, total. I’ve told Mom that tomorrow, no errands, that I need to work twelve to fourteen hours, after my morning routine. We’ll see how that goes. I am hopeful. I have plans to alter my morning routine slightly to accommodate the “I am a good daughter” affirmation. I will do my journal (affirmations and gratitude) before I go down for breakfast. I will smile while she reads the newspaper out loud and I munch on my breakfast, text and Facebook. Work out, shower and then work.

I am a proponent of change. I think change is good. I am comfortable enough with change to deliberately seek it out. I embrace change. With change comes adjustment, tolerance and acceptance, all four being very upsetting to most people. All four being critical to our ability to develop, to evolve into the people we hope to become. And so, I have set my alarm and look forward to the challenge of a new day. A day where, out of love, I will try to fall into a new rhythm.