Friday, December 2, 2011

Radvent Day 2: Balancing

This time last year I blogged about compartmentalizing as a coping mechanism and a way of keeping my emotions in check (one of the things I've really worked on over the last couple years). I think that's one of the secrets to balancing life or at least, at 26.5 years old, it is for me. It also helps me live in the present, which is something I can only really do once I've found balance in my life... hit my sweet spot, so to speak. 

In the last year I've really worked on balancing my diet and health. I made it a priority. I set alarms on my phone reminding me when to eat (5 times a day), always have protein and produce in every meal and snack, carry water around with me and take vitamins. I don't eat meat and am well studied in how to maintain a balanced vegan diet (thanks to 16 years of being asked, "Where do ya get yer protein?!"), so I have always known the rules but I try to make them a priority more consistently now. I do my workout that involves cardio, weights and yoga. I eat pizza and lay around watching movies now and then because I'm a rebel. Sleep has never been very important to me, but around 25 my body decided it was important to it. So, rather begrudgingly, I turn off the lamp much earlier than I used to and drag myself out of bed so that I can be alive in time to take B to school. I go dancing till last call or stay up really late to finish a book every now and then because I'm a rebel. This kind of balance, when it's consistent, feels good. The rewards of it are tangible and they make you into a functioning (but still interesting) person.

The kind of balance that doesn't produce physical results is harder, so I compartmentalize. I think, "Ok, I've got this part down to a habit so I can move on and focus on balancing a different part of my life now." Then, too, circumstances often dictant how well-rounded your life is, so you just have to work with what you've got. Right now B gets most of my time. He needs it and I don't have much else going on. I spend my days in front of my computer, looking for jobs and working on various projects that I hope will one day lead to jobs, then I pick him up from school and I'm all his. I don't really see friends very regularly right now because they have their own busy lives, don't live nearby and it's hard for me to get away. That's fine, that's just the way things are right now and, if I make it through this part of my life, hopefully that will change. (For one thing, Taso is moving back just before Christmas!) So, right now being a mom is my primary identity and I have to find ways to balance that out so I don't lose myself in it.

I always want to be brave enough to ask people I meet what they like to do rather than what they do for  a living. Often I lose the nerve because I ask myself how I would answer that question and I don't have an immediate answer that isn't, "Well, I studied/am looking for a job in film preservation." Duh. Even when I'm not working, that seems to consume my identity outside of being a parent. I explain to people what film preservation is and tell them about the theater I want to restore and the conversation ends there. When I was 13 (the first golden age of me-ness) I talked about how I was going to be a ballerina, and how loved the Pixies but I looooooved Hanson, and how my friends were skateboarders and concocting crazy outfits was one of my favorite pastimes and I didn't care what people thought of them because I knew I looked cool, and how I had a deep obsession with William Shakespeare and wrote crappy poetry when I was in a bad mood, and how Wendy was my dearest friend... And I remember caring about all of the little things that made up my friends and the people I met. I made a list in my journal of all the "about me" things that don't have anything to do with my potential career path and, as it turns out, I'm not too different now than I was at 13, except that my priorities are different. First there's being a parent, then there's having a career, then there's just being Brittan. One day soon I'll have to add "being a wife" and figure that one out too. For now, I'm mostly comfortable with how I balance those things in my daily life, even if they're skewed one direction at the moment, but I do think I would like to work more on sharing those other parts of myself with others.

There's a deeper layer here, though, that keeps me from feeling completely balanced. I don't think I'm balanced spiritually. I believe that there's a delicate balance in the universe, and that we're connected to it and to the rest of the world. Without getting too cheesy, I do think that we have a certain level of responsibility to give back to the world around us and work to achieve some sort of personal balance or harmony. I take that back - maybe it's not a responsibility. Maybe it's just a choice, but I think it's a good choice and it's a path I want to follow. Working hard to have a happy marriage that thrives for the rest of my life, and being a good, patient, loving parent is part of it. Being a good friend is part of it. Having some sort of harmonious relationship with my extended family and being an awesome addition to Taso's family is part of it. What else? Praying? Recycling? Eating compassionately? Voting intelligently? Those are things I try to do or want to do better at, but I still don't think they're enough. One of my goals in the coming year is to try to give back more, be more thoughtful, keep my mind and soul balanced. 

This is B chatting online with Taso tonight. They were talking about skateboard videos. Isn't it funny? The three biggest parts of my life that I juggle - B, Taso and my bottomless inbox - all in one photo. 

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