Balance? What Is This Balance Thing You Speak Of?

Balance. Such a buzzy word these days. I think we are all looking for a magic recipe to make everything snap into place and grant us inner peace. I have no such recipe.

What I do have is a sort of polar opposite energy flow on different days of the week. When the boys are at their father’s house, I work, drink coffee, stare into space. These are luxury days because I generally don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. They also almost always include a nap. Then I have medium days, when the boys are home but at school. I get some things done and feel somewhat capable. Then the school bell rings or the weekend comes and all hell breaks loose.

You see, I am a compulsive over-scheduler of my children, which is kind of funny, because I hate to make firm plans for myself.  I am a habitual not-in-the-mood-for-people last-minute canceller of the few plans I make, even ones I purchase tickets for. I’m a hermit.

My kids, however, both have sporting events at least four days a week, plus a club or two thrown in just to keep them from getting bored. This fall has been a crazy over-scheduled fiasco and I promised my SigO I won’t do it again next year but we all know I am lying. I am terrible at telling the children no, and if they aren’t playing sports, they tend to veg out in front of the computer all day like their mother.  For some reason this is totally acceptable for me to do but feels somewhat like bad parenting when it’s my weekend plan for the children.

 

I do have a work structure I adhere to, though.

No matter what, every day I either write something or read something. I listen to audible books in the car, read on my laptop, kindle app on my phone, and regular paper books. I edit for people. I try to blog twice a week and I get antsy if I don’t write at least a handful of pages on my new book every week. I’d like to write a few pages a day, but it seems to be more like ten pages one-day, then nothing for a few days, because I need a larger chunk of time to delve into that world.  When the kids are home, I can’t get into the deep emotion needed for memoir, but I can read.  I think reading makes me a better writer.

I also exercise every day. When I’m good, I do 40-50 minutes. When I’m pressed, I do 20 minutes. When I’m totally out of time, I have a 7-minute workout app on my phone and I do at least 25 pushups. Sometimes I do the exercise in the kitchen while supervising homework. It’s not that I’m a fitness fanatic, but it helps with anxiety and depression more than any pill I have tried.  People like me better when I exercise regularly. I’m less bitey.

 

My other must-have is chocolate. Not a whole bar, but little Dove squares, or Hershey’s kisses, or other such bite sized candies. I eat one every time I feel overwhelmed, which is about once an hour.

I have to admit that I don’t vacation well past a few days. When my writing-kids-reading-kids-writing-kids-exercise-kids balance gets interrupted, I’m all akimbo. So maybe I do have some sort of stasis, unusual though it may be. It may seem like I have a lapful of squirrels, but it works for me.

 

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Lara Lillibridge sings off-beat and dances off-key. She writes a lot, and sometimes even likes how it turns out. Her memoir, Girlish, available for preorder on Amazon, is slated for release in February 2018 with Skyhorse Publishing. Lara Lillibridge is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s MFA program in Creative Nonfiction. In 2016 she won Slippery Elm Literary Journal’s Prose Contest, and The American Literary Review's Contest in Nonfiction. She has had essays published in Pure Slush Vol. 11, Vandalia, and Polychrome Ink; on the web at Hippocampus, Crab Fat Magazine, Luna Luna, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, and Airplane Reading, among others. Read her work at www.LaraLillibridge.com

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