I AM A LITTLE EMBARRASSED TO admit that for over 30 years, that word (and concept) has eluded me. If there was a book, magazine or television show containing that word, I was on it, bought it, read it, attended it, and studied it. Put yourself first on that unending list of daily things to do- jump into that exercise class- sign up for a continuing education class- use that Smartphone to help- there's gotta' be an app for that. Intellectually, I GOT THAT. But why on earth am I still chasing it after all these years? How do we even come close to finding balance? The last few months I have been toying with an idea. What if "balance" isn’t a "head" thing but a "feeling" thing: something that comes and goes, not always in your control? What if sometime, your family must come first, and another time, your career must temporarily take the front seat? And then there is taking care of our aging parents and a host of importantus interruptus (I flunked Greek class) in between...
As many of you may or may not know, I have been living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for 24 years. Some time ago I learned about the spoon theory. It is a model used by some disabled people and people with chronic illnesses to describe dealing with mental and physical strength in their everyday living experiences when their disability or illness results in a reduced amount of energy available for productive tasks in everyday living. Spoons are an intangible unit of measurement used to track how much energy a person has throughout any given day. Each activity "costs" a certain number of spoons. If you run out of spoons for the day, there are no more available until the next day.
So what if life balance is similar to spoons? In any given day there are only so many available and that's it- there is no more to be had for the day. Maybe we can't have it all, do it all, ALL at same the time. Maybe it's your time to spearhead a project at the office. Maybe it’s your time to take your daughter shopping for that Prom dress. Perhaps it's taking your parents to the doctors- and I know on this particular task from all the times taking my Mom and Dad to the doctor (and other things), those "spoons" are absolutely precious to me and help me get through those tough days- when they're gone for the day, they're gone.
Maybe, just maybe, if we just release that never-ending lists of "I should" and "have to" running and re-running through our heads, give ourselves a break and a breath, we can feel a sense of balance... even if it is for a moment or for a day. Maybe balance is a moment to moment, one day to another day experience. Maybe it is not just a thought in your head, maybe it’s a feeling. Most of us go through our days trying to make everyone else happy, putting ourselves last. It's not until the end of the day or until we run out of spoons do we mentally re-run the day, and realize we usually think too big and try to cram too much into each and every day. Why is that we can't start thinking about it, plan it and lay it out before the day starts instead of lamenting about it after it ends? We all have ability to have control over "it" instead of "it" taking control of us.
So, talk about planning, it just so happens I'm feeling the end of my spoons for the day is fast approaching, so with my last remaining spoon for today I'm going to brew the best cup of Irish Breakfast tea I ever made and feel good about how I allocated my spoons today!