recalibrating the scales

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It’s Libra season – my favorite season. Yes, because of my birthday and autumn and changing leaves and pumpkin pie, but largely because of balance.

I casually follow astrology – by casually, I mean I see some stereotypical Libra traits in myself, but I’m also not going to marry only a guy who falls into my astrological compatibility.

That aside, Libras represent balance. After all, we’re symbolized by scales. We’re diplomatic, fair and social; we like harmony, sharing and are gracious. (There are negative traits too, like being indecisive and avoiding confrontation. We also dislike conformity … and now all of the people closest to me are nodding their heads in agreement with this personality assessment.)

Anyway, the point is … it’s the season of balance.

A couple weeks ago, I was telling my mom how much I adore fall because I feel things slow down and reset for me. The chaos of summer fades and the regulation of autumn comes to the forefront.

Fall has always been a time for me to take a step back and reassess what I’m doing and – more often than not – find ways to get back on track.

Recently, I’ve had conversations regarding balance with no fewer than four of my friends. It seems like everyone is feeling the strains of adulthood, life, responsibilities and lack of balance. And I’m not an exception to this. I feel like I haven’t had a real routine in my life over the last few months.

There’s been no balance. The Libra in me struggles with this. A lot.

The fall equinox was on September 22. The equinox (both fall and spring) are the only two times a year when every place in the world experiences equal parts light and dark – each 12 hours. Everything is in perfect balance.

I attended a yoga class on the autumn equinox in Breckenridge that was focused on hip opening. For those who practice yoga, you know we carry our emotions in our hips. For those who know me, you know why my hips are always tight. (I’ll say it again … feelings, ick … BUT, I have been getting much better regarding talking about feelings lately.)

Hips and feelings aside, the entire practice was focused on balance. It made me think: when we are imbalanced in even one area (mainly work for me), it leads us to be imbalanced in all other areas (relationships, parenting, self-care, other responsibilities, etc.).

Passion and drive towards my career are never things I’ve been accused of lacking. And they’re traits I truly admire in others. But there can come a time when those traits are more detrimental than advantageous. And I believe we can manage the imbalance for quite some time; however, eventually we burn out.

If I am not mindful of the balance in my life, I can be a pretty terrible person. I’m impatient and grumpy, my anxiety is out of control, I hate my body and self-doubt begins creeping in around even the most innocuous things.

So during that yoga class, I began thinking of all of this. I thought about how I’m so imbalanced with work it’s affecting every facet of my being. It was in pigeon pose (where I was cursing feelings and using my ujjayi breath to steady myself), that I finally thought, “Ok, I give up. Enough.”

On my run back to my hotel, I immediately started reassessing things in my life. And after talking to friend, came up with some general guidelines for creating balance in life. (Notice I didn’t say “finding” balance … because sometimes it can’t be found. Sometimes we truly must work to create it.)

  1. Answer the hard question. What do you really want? To attend yoga twice a week? To truly enjoy your morning coffee? Spend more time playing with your kids? Cultivate a relationship? Volunteer? You have to know what you’re going after in life or life is going to go after you.
  1. Set boundaries. I know I work more than 40 hours a week and I am ok with that. But I noticed I was often on email or reading articles for work when I was with my daughter or out with friends. I immediately knew that needed to stop. Sure I still work outside the office, but I limit it to after P goes to sleep or when I’m not trying to spend quality time with people I care about.
  1. Look at barriers. I mean really look at them. Excuses are everywhere. Start asking questions and don’t stop until you’ve seriously nailed down the barrier. For example: I don’t have time to run. Why not? Because I don’t want to run with my kid and I work all day. Where can you make time to run without your kid? Well, I would either have to run before work, at lunch or after work … (now see #4)
  1. Get creative. With scheduling, with ideas, with friends … make the best of it. My barrier to running had to do with timing. So I got creative with my schedule a bit and now get in a short run a few times a week while getting to work around 8:30-9, which is when most people get in anyway. Typically, I got to work at 7:30, so yes, I lose that hour or so of uninterrupted work time, but I’ve found the benefit of getting even three mind-clearing miles in before my work day starts actually makes me more effective at my job.
  1. Prioritize. We are all busy. I can’t imagine there is anyone reading this going “I really wish I had more to do in life.” And we have a plethora of things constantly competing for our attention. So what comes out on top? What do you want to come out on top? (Re-read #1 if necessary.) We make time for things that are important to us. That has become incredibly clear to me over the last month or so. When someone makes time for you, embrace it. When you make time for someone else, own it. It’s simple, really.

We live in a world that expects us to be connected and “on” 24/7. It’s brutal, impossible and slowly killing us all. Autumn is a great time to reassess and reconnect with the things and people who inspire you. Seek out the things that bring you joy. You already know what they are; you have the answers. It just might take a little time to bring it back to your center and recreate your balance once more.

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