Guest Column: Living a Balanced Life by Ms. Ann

Ms. Ann. Credit: Perry Gallagher, Photographer

Born on the morning of September 24, I arrived on the cusp of Virgo and Libra. I laugh and tell folks I am a perfectionist desperately seeking balance.  Seriously, though, what does that mean?  In life there are elements to the whole that require looking at to be in balance.  If you feel pulled in one direction, by your heart, and in another by your mind or spirit, then where does one find the balance?

In my work, I am always reminded that what works for one person does not necessarily work for another, each individual is unique, I must focus, and listen to each individual anew. It is my understanding that what is one person’s idea of balance may not constitute anything remotely balanced from another person’s perspective.

Therefore, I shall address the various elements of my life requiring balance and offer some suggestions to find a mix that works best for you.

Health

Without one’s health, you can’t begin to focus outward, therefore, my health is my first concern.  My health needs to support me in being able to do whatever I want to do.  What goes into having good health?  I remember all those things they taught me in school:  diet, exercise, sleep, a break around 3 PM to reflect and hydrate.  During the past six months I looked at this element a lot.  How much food did I really need to maintain my body weight?  What do I need to eat to naturally ingest all the vitamins and minerals my body needs without supplements?  For my body, not a lot of calories are needed.  Mostly vegetables, a fruit, oats, egg whites, fish or a very small amount of meat is a good day, with water, green tea and coffee on the side.  I walk 6.1 miles a day with my dog by the time we finish the day and 5 walks, only one mid-day is a long walk. You can map and measure your walk on https://www.mappedometer.com/   On my own, I do not lift weights. I intend to, I want to, but I will clean the house, do dishes, garden before I lift weights or do lunges.  It is what it is – the truth.  To do actual weight-lifting (which is good for increasing my bone density at 65 years old) 3 times a week I need to set up a support system. If you have a committed friend, you can rely on that won’t let you skip workouts – great. I need to pay a Trainer, in advance for a block of time, at least 8 weeks.  Doing this method, I don’t quit, I have already financially committed myself and my frugal self will make me get my monies worth.  It is important to embrace yourself honestly and set yourself up to win.  I know I will not do it on my own.  I set myself up to make my goal.

Finances

Financial status is important to set up a foundation, to be responsible for taking care of yourself throughout your life.  I review what my personal financial spreadsheet looks like daily.  The key is to feel in control and have enough to have options.  I look at it as a financial garden. Cash on hand, no debt on credit cards, funds in a place I can get to easily (such as a cd), and assets growing over time to accumulate enough wealth to live comfortably in retirement. That is complete financial health.  I have an area I am lacking a bit and being conscious regarding it, I can tend my garden and improve its health.

Business

The Business you do involves at least 8 hours of your day, at least 5 days a week.  I am self-employed, I work seven days a week and need to schedule off time.  I love my work, I am very passionate about it, I feel I make a difference doing it. My main goal is to leave a person in a better place than when they walked into my presence.  I make a positive impact on the planet one person at a time. Whatever you do for work, take stock.  Are you excited about your work and energized to do it or are you doing something to monetize yourself while dragging your feet through the day?  There were times in my life when my self-employment did not make enough money to support my family and I, a single parent, had to get a second job to secure a steady income to make sure my family had a roof over its head, bills paid and food to eat.  You do what you have to do.  Given how much time you invest in working, a balanced life requires you find something about it to be positive about or find work you are excited to go to.  One can balance work with a hobby you are passionate about.  Still, one third of your life a day goes into work at minimum, for your emotional and spiritual health, it is my understanding you need to be in a positive state of mind while working.

 Family

Family can be biological or chosen, it is those relationships that are your closest ties, that when the low points happen, and in every life they do – as life has ups and down until you die, these are the people you seek out for support, comfort, to be seen, to be heard. Have you allotted time to cultivate this garden?  Are you in communication, do you share experiences together?  Do you need to hit the pause button on work and make an investment in the quality of your relationships with your partner, children, parents, and/or chosen friends?  Family members are part of your support network.  They keep you grounded, keep you real, they are there cheering your highs – your successes and will support you in doing the hard work when you are at your low points.

 Social

Do you have a robust network of friends?  Personally, I don’t. I like alone time, I read, I walk with my dog.  In taking stock during the New Year, I owned up to being out of balance in this area, I had a robust network of acquaintances.  One of my goals for 2020 – to improve the quality of my relationships with acquaintances to become friends.  It started off well, I invited different folks I am fond of over for dinner, as I love cooking followed by eating and great conversation.  I had to change format to calls, zoom meetings during 2020.  Having people around you that you like and trust is a good indicator of living a long emotionally prosperous life.  Join a book club, knitting circle, soccer team, something you are passionate about and can share that activity passion with likeminded people.

Civic

Giving freely to others your time invested in showing your gratitude for the world around you, giving Service to your community, is an important element in the whole picture of being connected to the world around you.  Whether it is taking doggie bags and picking up the poop left around your neighborhood or giving home grown food from your garden to your neighbors without gardens or participating in the PTA or delivering Toys at Christmas with an organized group, there is some service you are able to do to give back to the community/world/universe for the energy you use to live and the space you take up.  What is key in giving service is not signing checks, it is giving time and talent to be rewarded with a warm fuzzy glow inside.

Spiritual

Your spiritual side can be fulfilled with taking walks in nature or experiencing an organized religion.  This is a very delicate, unique aspect of self each of us must discover in our selves. This is the element of how we renew and refresh our being, of how we refill the spiritual element of ourselves. If you focus on external things and do not take time to be self-reflective, you may not be in tune with your heart and mind.  On the other hand, if you are internal with your thoughts and feelings, you may be missing out on experiencing living.  Nature, God, being at one with universe, whatever it is for you, don’t forget to check this box or suddenly you will feel drained, out of energy, the internal battery dead.  Acknowledge, examine, reflect, and take time to do the self-care for your spiritual self.

Fun

Allotting time to do something just for the joy of it. Yes, it is important to relax and simply let it all go, release your grip on the controls and float. The danger is going overboard, getting lost in the decadence and having this interfere with being able to maintain all the other elements of life to be balanced.

To sum it all up, my own experience is that living a balanced life is to always be in a state of flux.  I am forever the juggler with so many globes to keep moving and each of them as important as the next.  I am forever the plate spinner working each pole, keeping each plate tended to be spinning properly.  Life is a grand garden and each element needs care, time, attention, love and support.  Pursuing this way of living is rewarded with a feeling of being calm, grounded, clear-headed, and feeling motivated.  Take stock, note the state of the elements of your Garden of Life, make goals, plan, and evaluate your progress.  You may have habitual patterns that keep you from obtaining your goals.  Get support to figure out a viable way to keep yourself on track.  Have compassion for yourself, don’t take the game so seriously you forget it is a game.  Let the Good times Roll.