I am writing this blog post as I wait for my Prius to be serviced. The reason I mention the setting in which I am writing is because life has been so crazy the past month, that I feel this is the first time I have been able to sit and write without distraction. The ebb and flow of life becomes more evident with each passing year and while I love the transition from winter to spring, this particular season of change has been difficult for me to find balance. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to build something I love with people I love even more, but I have found it hard to breathe this past month and know that I am spending more energy than I am taking in.
Balance is a topic that I encounter frequently as a teacher, friend, wife and peer. I had a student who mentioned that they were struggling to find five minutes to mediate for 40 Days of Intention and I think that this is a common issue. I do not believe there is one specific recipe for striking a balance with work, relationships, hobbies, etc., but I do believe there are ways that we can we can live more in harmony with ourselves and our responsibilities. I am a firm believer in work/life integration and I know that when I try to separate work and my personal life I struggle immensely. My work is ingrained into everything I do outside of teaching and I find it impossible to put work away on certain hours of the day or certain days of the week. Lately, work has been with me every hour of every day and I fully know and understand that this is not a sustainable path. Matt reminds me a lot that running a business is like running a marathon and not a sprint. It is important to have enough energy and nourishment to keep going past mile 20. My type A personality likes the idea of completing everything on my to-do list every single day, but that just isn’t happening right now.
So back to work/life integration- I by no means think I am an expert in this field, but I am figuring out what works for me and I am happy to share just in case it might work for you too.
1. Take care of yourself.
When I get a chance to exercise, go grab a tea, read, or just do something that I enjoy, I try to take it. Even if it is just 30 minutes, I feel so much better if I get in a run or a short period of self-indulgence. There are days that 30 minutes of spare time seems incredibly inaccessible, so I try to dedicate at least 5 minutes to being still, quiet and intentional. Reading, drinking tea, and running are all things that provide me with inspiration and fuel to give myself to others and when I skip out on these things I am not doing myself, my students, my husband, or my friends any favors. I keep a bag with running shoes in my car at all times so that when that short break appears I can jump on it. I also enjoy sleeping in every once in a while and I try to dedicate one day of the week to not setting an alarm. This doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it is so glorious that it keeps me satisfied until the next time.
2. Quality over quantity of time.
Matt and I love to spend time together, but as our work and social calendars continue to get busier, we have become less attached to the amount of time that we spend together and more diligent about spending quality time together. It is not uncommon for us to go until 8:00 pm before we see each other during the week. Rather than counting the numbers of hours that we are together, we try to get in a couple of times each week that we either do nothing, or we do something together that both of us enjoys. Quality time for us comes in many forms but includes: yoga (at our favorite local yoga studio- wink, wink), cycling, listening to live music, eating at a local restaurant (lately Guernsey Park has been a favorite), watching Revenge (no comments please), or laying on the couch watching a movie. We went to see Rob Delaney last night and that was pretty awesome too. I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard with Matt.
3. Say no.
I am learning some hard lessons about saying no right now. During this 40 Days of Intention, I have been trying to let go of pleasing others, but I struggle big time with trying to make people happy. There have been less busy periods of my life that I could say yes to almost everything and have enough of myself to go around and still do things well. Lately, saying yes means taking away time and energy from a business endeavor that needs most of what I can give. It has become more and more important for me to recognize when I am overextending myself and when I am doing something worthwhile for myself, my family, my community and This Land Yoga. Saying no is something I also have to do with myself. I have learned a great deal from Braid Creative about the struggles and strengths of the creative entrepreneur and one of those struggles for me is getting too many things going on at once. Saying no gives me the strength and energy to do things well and to truly follow through with the commitments I have already dedicated myself to.
4. Say yes.
On the flip side of this, I am a homebody (although I have barely been at home since April 1) and it is easy for me to get into a cycle of spending all my spare time at home and away from people. I gain inspiration and excitement from saying yes to events and social functions that are a little out of my comfort zone and allow me to be around people in a setting outside of a yoga class. When Matt and I realized we would be owning a yoga studio last year, we tried to say yes to almost every social invitation in order to be around people and to share what we would be doing. This was a huge period of growth and I began to be inspired by people that I did not know before. Owning a yoga studio has allowed me an incredible opportunity to be in the community and with community more than I ever realized. Another intention of mine during the 40 Days of Intention is to be open to opportunities and I believe that when an unusual door opens it is important to take it. So while I am trying to take more care in how many irons I have in the fire, I also find it important to meet new people, be active in what is happening in OKC and to just show up.
Life is really busy right now and I am very much enjoying watching the growth of This Land Yoga. While I don’t necessarily believe that there is going to be a day where I am completely caught up on everything I need to do, I do think there will be a time that the business does not require as much care. It is probably wrong for me to compare the studio to a child, especially since I have not had a child, but this feels very much like Matt and I have a baby. I believe there will be a time that the studio will be more self-sustaining and take less constant care. Until that day comes, I will enjoy the fruits of our labor and consider this a very special time to take care of something we both believe in. I hope to be able to really enjoy and be able to adapt to times of growth and being busy, as well as times of rest and being still. The more we adapt, the less we suffer.
Questions to ask yourself as you seek out balance/integration of work and life:
What fuels me or allows me to take care of myself and how can I dedicate time to this on a weekly basis?
What meaningful encounters can I engage in with those that I care about most?
Have I overcommitted my time and resources and if so, what can I say no to?
What events are happening in my community that I care about and how can I get involved?
What season am I currently in (growth, rest, change, etc.) and how can I be fully present in this season instead of anticipating what comes next?
Just like balance in our physical body gets harder to maintain as we age, it also becomes harder to find balance emotionally and mentally as time passes. A daily practice of being aware and intentional can go a long way when it comes to finding sustainable health and wellness. Practice your tree pose yogis and as you do ask yourself some important questions about the path you are on.
Evolve with me,