Saturday, June 30, 2012

Balancing Act

Recently I've had an epiphany. Wait! Where are you going? Fine...

Well for those of you left (Hi Mom!), I've had an epiphany. Truly, it's still somewhat forming... even epiphanizing... as I'm typing this so I apologize if the epiphany turns to rambling and your Google Reader becomes understandingly one blog down. Now that we have an understanding, I'll get on with it.

I've suddenly become consumed. Generally. You all recall the two years when I was going through a Master's program and the only thing I blogged about was how I was in a Master's program and how the old "this is your brain on drugs" ads featuring an egg crackling in a frying pan took on new meaning for me in a, "this is your brain on finals week" sort of way. Getting my Master's was one of the hardest most satisfying things I've ever done. Would I do it again? Sure. Well... Wait! Clarification: if the memory of the horror of academia beyond undergraduate degrees was clear at the beginning of the Master's degree rather than in retrospect would I do it again? Hell no! But I did it and it's done and somehow... I'm still talking about it. And the memory must not be too traumatic if I can see a Ph.d in my future. In my future future future. Fuuuuuuuutuuuuuure-uh! The point is, during those two years, I learned the intricacies of the words "fatigued, exhausted, freak-out, inexplicable weeping" and ultimately "pride." I also learned there were limits, boundaries, and that if I could just push through, work hard, and consume mass amounts of Diet Coke, all would be well.

My friends, life is a balancing act. Am I right? I thought I'd learned that fairly well during my Master's program. Hell, people learn that lesson their whole lives! If it's not balancing school and work and life then it's balancing kids and work and life or work and goals and life or just laundry and friends and work and life. The point is, there must needs be a balance. Once one of these things or two of these things takes over the others, once it ravenously consumes the others, the balance is off and therefore, life is off. One begins to experience great discord. One begins to couple mass amounts of Diet Coke with Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets and large fry. Mmmm... Wendy's Spicy Chicken Nuggets and large fry.

Granted, there are times when things must be more focused upon to keep the others in balance; to maintain the status quo. Work is a very good example of this. Sometimes, you must work harder and longer and perhaps not sleep as well or not eat as well because there are things to do! Stuff that must be done! But even these things will round out and life can once again become balanced; or at least, not so grossly unbalanced you start to wonder if it's all worth it. I mean really really worth it. I think that's the ultimate trick, recognizing when there's been unbalance for too long and rounding something out to bring harmony to your life again. All strings humming at their perfect pitch to create the symphony of our lives. It's a lifetime task... one we must always be working towards yet, accepting that it is in fact a life long process and letting things go once in awhile.  Everyone's threshold is different. I think because I was raised in a small town, my threshold is a little lower than others. I like to take my time. I don't have a stroke if I have a free couple of hours once, twice, or three times a week. In fact, I've found that "city folk" seem to always be here and there and up and down and back and forth and late late late because their schedules are so full full full... brimming and important and I must do these things to be happy and I must double fill every second of my life for my life to be worth living AND! GASP! It used to make me feel inherently lazy... but then I remembered I'm inherently a country girl and country folk take everything a little slower despite being some of the hardest working people I know. I'm reminded of this every time I go home and start having withdrawals from "tasks"... home stamps the city out of me. It's a good thing. It's the tourtise stamping some of the intensity out of the hare.

I digress.

Lately, I've felt my life in all its aspects has become chaotically unbalanced. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, there is disorder. It took me almost a week of inexplicable nausea, headaches, body aches, and yes even anxiety and depression to recognize that the circle I had drawn around myself had been disrupted. My internal Feng Shui had experienced a hurricane. This... was NOT.. .good. And I had let this go to such an extent that I had made myself physically ill. Flashback to my opening thoughts on getting a Master's degree. During that time, though it was busy and difficult and perhaps the work and school part was incredibly outweighing the "fun" and "social" part, I still found ways to create balance in my life. I designated two days a week where I wouldn't touch homework (finals week naturally excluded - you gots to do what you gots to do); I increased my spiritual capacity by praying more, reading more, and making time to serve in the very small ways I could. I took vacations between semesters. I went to a movie once in awhile. I found ways to insert balance outlets into my life... and though I still had a headache sometimes and had unwittingly perfected my Zombie stumble out of sheer fatigue (which I now refer to as the silver lining of this story), I was doing alright. I had safe zones. Places where the school stress couldn't go. Places where I left those parts of my life that were difficult for awhile, and surrounded myself with things that were peaceful. Unbalance in one aspect makes all those other aspects of our lives incredibly more valuable. This was a lesson I relearned over the passed couple of months that culminated over the last week in a toilet bowl (too much?).

SO! THAT, said, what I have done this weekend to restore my Zen? To center my chi. To water my blooming flower (er... what? skip).

I made lists of goals! You: "Of course she did..." Me: "Of course I did!" These lists and goals are lengthy and probably about as interesting to someone else as hours of home video vacation footage driving across the country in a mini-van... so I will just let you in on how I've attempted to balance ma'self this week.

FIRST, I got a massage. RIGHT!??! And I think I will GET a massage at least once a month to counteract the bodily manifestations of living a necessary life by the sweat of my brow! Nothing like a good rubbing to cure what ails ya.

I then bought some flowers; because flowers are beautiful. And beautiful things bring my soul into alignment. Who knew yellow flowers could have such influence. Here I am sniffing flowers... and let me tell you that was NOT an easy picture to take! Holding flowers and getting camera angles and trying to look so serene. Geez! This is why I don't even attempt to take pictures most of the time... the other half of the time is pure laziness. See: country bumpkin.

I also went to Barnes and Noble (because theres IS no NobleS!) and got me a Fresh Food Fast Healthy eating something or other cookbook. I'm of the mind that you are what you eat. No really, I feel that if you eat a balanced diet and exercise, all those other things in your life will probably be a little happier too. Like flowers. I'm pretty sure because I biked this morning that those flowers were much more yellow than they would've been had I not. Go ahead and try it. I'll be waiting here to say I told you so... with those same crazy eyes you see in the picture below.


I read novels. I've found no better way to relieve my angsty mind then by leaving my own adventure and following someone else's for awhile. It's my true escape. It was also the hardest picture to take of the entire lot but I wanted to capture the transcendent reader entering the lives of John Steinkbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. You see it there in my eyes, don't you? The grappling. I also wanted to say "Hi. I'm Andrea and I'm reading the Grapes of Wrath voluntarily because that's how very smart and bookish I am." A picture is worth a thousand humble pies.

Also, here is a picture of my feet. Because apparently all serious bloggers take hundreds and hundreds of pictures of their feet. I don't even pretend to understand this.


Jesus. :) OR, making sure my spiritual alignment is my first priority. It is my belief that if Christ is the center of our life, everything else falls into place... everything else balances out.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month and in my religion (that would be da Mo'mons), we have what's called Fast Sunday on this particular Sunday. This means that we fast for 24 hours (usually Sat-Sunday) to more spiritually align ourselves with Christ, to prayerfully approach the Almighty for the needy and sick, to become more in tune with the revelatory power that is the Holy Ghost to help give direction to our lives, and any other supplications the coupling of fasting and prayer can bring one closer to God. I've never been good at fasting... and generally forget about this important monthly ritual. But this Sunday, I have not forgotten and henceforth, I will do my best to always remember. That's the face you see in this picture... my "you better remember!" face.

I plan on taking a Yoga class and maybe I really will make that massage once a month and I'll always love to read, and exercise and buy flowers, but truly, TRULY, I know deep down that if I want to find peace and balance in my life, it all starts and ends with my Spirit. It all starts and ends with Jesus Christ. And that is the most consistent, age-old epiphany we can ever have - that I've ever had - over and over again. What's truly beautiful, is He's willing to remind us over and over and over again... because he loves us. If that doesn't help you find peace, nothing will.

John 14:27:  "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."


Mrs. Walker said...

Oh balance! What the heck is that?! I have completed the first two weeks of my masters, and I can say life is much more structured, which forces me to be more balanced. Sometimes it is hard to slow down and just let ourselves be. Good for you! I'm happy you found Jesus, and also a pedi and massage. :) you are a hardworking girl!

John said...

This article is really worth reading, it has too much details in it and yet it is so simple to understand, Thanks for sharing the picture it has great detail in it and i really appreciate your true artistic work!

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