Balance – to me

IMG_3294The point for me in starting the blog wasn’t the blog at all, it was the changes I needed to make in my life.  The blog was a way to capture the process for myself, to think out loud to process my experiences and to share the journey with others.  To date, that has meant that my updates on the blog have been inconsistent, although my attempts to create a healthy balanced future have continued steadily.  In the past two years I’ve accomplished some pretty significant changes.  I do wish I’d posted more of them, but as part of my problem is in having very limited time, this blog has not been a huge priority to me.  Maybe that will change this year as I have had more success in streamlining my life.

  1. Clean Food – I have made a lot of progress with food.  We eat organic, hormone-free, whole foods 60% of the time.  Eight years ago I saw nothing wrong with cooking every meal out of a box in the microwave and even powdered potatoes counted as a vegetable. This was no small task.  And I still struggle with sugar, carbs and pizza.  As a single mom who works full time, shortcuts and conveniences are sometimes a matter of sanity.  It happens.  I don’t get too bent out of shape.
  2. Removing toxins – This step was easier but more expensive as it required simply replacing many items with other items.  Habits stayed the same but the tools changed.
    1. Replaced my non-stick cookware with stainless steel
    2. Donated all my old plastic food containers and replaced with glass
    3. Removed all toxic, chemical cleaners, detergents, soaps and skin care products for me and the kids
    4. Installed a water purifier to remove toxins in the water
    5. Ditched fluoride
  3. Reduced Stress- Reducing stress is hard.  For me it required a new mindset where I would let things go.  This did not mean making excuses for myself.  This meant simply letting go of anger, resentment, fear and that feeling of obligation.  It meant saying no to requests that did not meet my own personal goals.  It meant letting go of friends or acquaintances who were toxic or who did not reciprocate what I had to give or who were just draining me.  It also meant increasing the good stuff; increasing fun, increasing joy, increasing solitude.  Making time for nothing is something when you are constantly on the go and being pulled in different directions, but I’m getting better and it is paying off.
  4. Increasing exercise – Letting go of the obligations I made for other people opened up space for me to do things that were for me alone.  So, I’ve made time for more exercise which includes running and weight lifting which are my loves but I branched out and tried yoga which I am also enjoying.  These all feed back into #3.

So here’s the thing that has happened to my thinking recently, my definition of balance has changed.  Balance to me used to look and feel like a gymnast on a balance beam on the best days and on a tight wire on the worst days.  The point was to get to the other side without crashing off.

Now, my idea of balance does not look like that.  That sounds stressful! My definition of balance has changed to look more like an ecosystem with many various parts that feed off of and fuel each other.  Some things like clean foods are like the water in an ecosystem.  Essential for life and health but made up of complex smaller parts.  It has taken me a long time to get the water right and sometimes I do have to scrape some scum off the top and do some serious tweaking to get the water right again.  Stress can be like a big fish suddenly thrown into the water that needs to be tamed or a storm that troubles the waters and I need to wait it out. OR it can be like an invasive vine attacking my plants and threatening the whole ecosystem and I have to go to war to kill it off.  The toughest part is not training the big fish, waiting out the storm or battling the invaders; it’s sorting out which kind of threat and responding with the appropriate reaction.  But as with any skill, with practice, I am getting better.

So, with this in mind, I’m hoping to continue to nurture my ecosystem of life and add in a few more tropical plants without upsetting the balance.  My goals this year are to:

  1. Grow as much of my own food as possible
  2. Write more
  3. Travel more
  4. Read more
  5. Find more silence and solitude
  6. Include my kids in more of the decisions about this ecosystem. After all, they live here too.  And they are old enough to have a say AND to lend a hand.

It’s been a great journey so far and is well worth it.  I hope to post more of my progress this year (see #2… stop laughing that wasn’t intentional!) And hope to hear more from you what changes you are making.  And what does balance mean to you?

Thanks for reading!

Kathryn

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