Life Balance, Part One: Walking A Tight Rope

“Don’t worry,” she said confidently. “I can do it all.”

The skeptical thoughts running through my head at that moment included, “Maybe …unless life gets in the way.”

She was a “thirty-something” young woman, who was telling me about her busy life, which she kept highly organized. She has a husband who works a late night shift and is rarely home in the evening to help care for her two elementary school children. The kids participate in many extra-curricular programs, and she is active in all of them (and on the PTA). She has a demanding job of her own and goes above and beyond the call of duty. She is also active in several civic organizations and her church.

As we talked that morning, she multi-tasked during the entire conversation. At one point, she excused herself to arrange the program for a book club she had started. Quite frankly, my head was spinning just hearing her talk about everything she did in a normal day.

I jokingly asked, “When do you sleep?”

She very seriously replied that she tries to get five hours of sleep a night. Sometimes her mind is so restless worrying about the things she has to get done that she sits up in the night to write it all down on a pad she keeps beside her bed. However, she admitted that she is tired a lot, and that in the last year she had a lingering case of bronchitis that turned into “walking pneumonia” — she didn’t miss any work to recuperate. She couldn’t afford to miss any work, because she had used up her sick days when she had mononucleosis!

Being one of those annoying maternal types, I told her, “Honey, you need more sleep than you get! You need to be sure you take time for yourself!”

That’s when she told me, “Don’t worry, I can do it all.” She also said, “There will be time for sleep when the kids are grown.”

“Sure there will,” I thought. “If you are still around to enjoy it.” I bit my tongue hard to keep from saying that out loud.

Because “having a balanced life” has been on my mind lately, I flat out asked her, “Do you think your life is balanced?”

“Of course,” she said. “I get everything done. I have lists, and it’s all in my day planner.”

I didn’t lecture anymore. I’m intelligent enough to know that my words wouldn’t change her mind. I’m thinking, though, that perhaps her body will convince her to slow down. Our bodies are much smarter than our minds, sometimes. There is only so much that a person can physically do!

The woman I’ve described reminds me of an acrobat on a tight rope. To walk a tight rope (or a balance beam, for those of us afraid of heights), one has to look toward the destination — the goal. You can’t look down or off in the distance, because you will lose your sense of balance and fall.

This woman is walking a tight rope … blindfolded … while juggling chainsaws … without a net! What if a beach ball comes flying out of nowhere and blindsides her?

While I think it is necessary to have goals, I don’t like the feeling of having to balance on a tight rope. I certainly don’t want to be juggling chainsaws at the same time!

Is “getting everything done” a measure of balance in our lives? I fully believe it’s necessary to find that balance, but can we do that if we overload our lives with activities (all of which are carefully planned on our calendars)? It’s as if we feel guilty about having any free time — as if, by being “idle” we are not successful.

Perhaps there is something more that we need … not just balance?

I’ll talk more about that in Part Two. This is part of the Life Balance group writing project offered by Stacey at Create A Balance. Several bloggers are joining forces to discuss what “balance” means to them, and how they achieve it. It might just be the place to visit, if you are tired of feeling as if you are walking on a tight rope.

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