That Delicate Scale

Feet on scale

No, not that kind of scale.

scales-backround-rainbow-colors

Not that kind of scale, either.

Scale (PSF)

That’s more like it. Scales as in balance, or, more precisely, the balancing act we all have to find our way to master, to keep ourselves alive and well.

Now, I’m a firm believer in discipline. Back in 2004, I decided I’d had enough of hating my body every time I saw it in the mirror. So, while I was at a work conference and sitting around my hotel room, I made up my mind to start an exercise regime. Just sit-ups and crunches to start, but over time and with research, it grew to include push-ups, weights, squats, leg lifts, and more. Now, I do a variation of my exercise routine every single day, and have done for the last 12 years. I got in the habit of doing it every morning, and it became part of my efforts to balance life, work, health, and happiness.

In 2005, when I was in Japan, I vowed to stay away from my work email. Mostly because I couldn’t be bothered with it, but also because it felt so freeing to be un-tethered from the demands of my job. The freedom and relief I felt from relinquishing that control over work that was thousands of miles away helped me enjoy that vacation so much more. Since then, I’ve made consistent efforts to stay away from work – which mostly means my work email – when I’m on vacation and after-hours. (When I go away, I actually remove the app from my smartphone, so I’m not tempted to check it when I log in.) This is part of my life balance, too, that keeps my mental state healthy.

What feels like many years ago, now, probably around 2005’s NaNoWriMo, I decided to focus a part of my energies more acutely on my writing. Because writing has always brought me joy, and that joy is something I need in my life; it has helped me on more than one occasion to confront, accept, and move past the hardships I’ve had to face. I write every day, mostly on my commute to and from work, because train rides are good for that. But also in the mornings, after I’ve done my exercises and I’m waiting for my tea to steep, when I have a free lunch break, and sometimes when the rest of the family is playing games or watching TV after supper. This is a third part of my life balance, the part that looks after my soul.

Of course, there are other facets to my balancing act: family, work, play, chores, the elusive goal of “mindfulness” and spirituality. They all fall into the daily routine, as well. Because they are responsibilities, though – if we don’t wake up on time, we won’t make it to school; if we don’t wash those dishes, they’ll pile up; if we don’t go grocery shopping, we’ll have to scrounge – they seem to fall more naturally into place on the balance beam. It’s the personal bits that I’ve had to concentrate on, the beats and rests I’ve had to hold myself to with my own willpower, that take conscious effort and dedication. Because the consequences to not incorporating those parts to the balancing act affect me more than anyone else: they’re about my health, my mental state, my joy. Yes, those aspects will affect the people around me over time, especially my family and my closest work colleagues. But what makes me ME is something only I can control, and only I can change. I chose this balance. What about you?

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “That Delicate Scale

  1. Finding balance is tricky for me. Between commitments at work and being with the family, there’s little time for pursuing my interests. The one thing that keeps everything together, though, is my faith. I try to make a conscious effort to study the Bible in the morning. It doesn’t always happen, but I do what I can. I try to fit writing whenever I can. Sometimes, it’s a quick ten-minute session during breaks and lunch.

    Finding time for everything I want to do is tough. It’s not impossible. For me, it means taking a look at my schedule and planning out time to write or to play games or whatever it is I want to do. Sometimes, that time is not there or I’m not motivated to do whatever. But that should be no excuse, especially if I call myself a writer. Writing every day does not work for me. I get too discouraged when I don’t. Still, making that time is important, as with anything else I do.

    Like

    • Yes, motivation is a big part of discipline, George. Sometimes, we want what we want, and other times, we want what we want *right now.* It’s part of that balance, though. There are times when we need that opportunity to step away and do something not in the routine. It can lead to adventure. πŸ™‚

      Not everybody is suited to write, exercise, work, read, or whatever everyday. That’s part of finding the right balance for ourselves, as well. A good, solid weekly session can be more productive and worthwhile for some people than writing everyday, when we may find ourselves distracted. The same for a workout routine. Regularity of schedule helps itself, because it becomes part of the day-to-day…even if that day-to-day is actually three days a week or whatever.

      Thanks for commenting! I know that writing comments is not in many people’s routine. πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. I admire your discipline, especially since you’re responsible for so many others yet you’re able to find time for yourself. The only discipline I’ve got going for me is to try to write at least five hundred words every night, but even that doesn’t always happen.

    Planning never works for me, mostly due to me ending up doing what others want or need. So, I just keep my schedule as open as possible while reserving late nights for writing. Recently, the balance has shifted to me being free (now that school’s done for the summer), so I’ve been having plenty of free time to recuperate. I’ve had a few mild anxiety attacks from being overwhelmed with all the freedom! I’m adjusting, though!

    I guess, the only way for me to find balance is to let everything become off-balance. During school, I’ll be busy with school and family stuff. During break, I’ll have way more free time than I could ever need. It’s all balanced on the extremes, where it feels like I’ll topple over any second, but somehow, it all works out in the end.

    Like

    • A number goal is hard, but impressive! I’m not really responsible for that many more people; I mean, it’s not like we’ve got a baby in the house. πŸ™‚

      That 500-words goal is a part of planning, though. It’s just a different kind of planning, more goal-oriented than time-oriented. And, you say that you leave your late nights open for writing. So, while you may not think of that as discipline in the same way my jock mentality lays it out, it is pretty much the same. πŸ™‚ Your busy-ness during the academic year versus the freer time of breaks sounds like you thrive on the deadline system of scheduling, which works just as well as any other. Minding classes and studying is a balancing act all its own, so when breaks come along, your brain takes time to refocus itself to the new routine. Of course, then the new quarter starts up, and there’s a whole new set of routines to put into place! Whew!

      What works for me might not work for you, and that’s totally okay. We all have our own ways of finding our balance. It’s interesting to read so many different takes on it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the points you make here, Mayumi. Balance is easier to achieve if we are determined to see results. When I was younger, I had a hard time balancing my writing. With time and perseverence, writing became part of my daily life–a lot of it is because I visualized my end goals. Plus, I love the act of writing so it was easy for me to do it on a regular basis. I think if I didn’t enjoy the act/process of putting a story together, I wouldn’t have stayed with it for so long.

    I love how you approach your work life and exercise–how you’ve made them important (or downgraded the importance as necessary) and that you’ve stuck with your goals.

    Sometimes I suffer from a lack of focus when I’m trying to write outside of my standard time or space. Currently, I’m at my family’s summer camp for the long holiday weekend. I haven’t been able to tend to my writing at all. Too much distraction. But your post has made me look at my situation a bit differently–I need to make writing a priority even when I’m on a family weekend get-away. I’ll have to think about that for next weekend!

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kate!

      I’m one of those people who benefits from setting goals/deadlines, so this has been the best way for me to keep to good practices. I agree that, when it’s something I enjoy, like writing or working out, it’s a lot easier to build that into my routine. I’ve also found that my life feels somewhat incomplete if I skip out on part of that routine for any length of time.

      Everyone’s life is different and has its own challenges. I used to be one of those people who thought, “You must write every day or you are not a real writer!” But not everybody has the luxury of a commute like I do. Hopefully, friends who are struggling with finding their own time to write – or draw, work out, bake, practice music, whatever – can glean some little insight from this post, so they can discover their own good balance of life, work, and passion. There is sacrifice and discipline in any dedicated effort (for instance, I don’t play as many video games or watch as much TV as I used to do, in favor of my writing), so it truly does take time to sort out what we want and how much we want it.

      Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoyed a lovely holiday!

      Like

  4. Balance – (noun): that equal distribution of effort so many people chase, but so few find.
    It’s something we’ve talked about many times before, so to say this is a weakness of mine is no surprise. In certain cases, it’s just thanks to those silly adult responsibilities like work amd chores, other times there’s a complete lack of focus. That one tends to be more personal, as I can be so focused on the task that I ignore most anything else, only to then be so burnt out I wonder why I can get nothing done.

    And so, I started the 5 min break idea, just that little gap to breathe. I love writing, I honestly do. There are just more times than not where writing is a luxury when I should be a responsibility of decompression. And so the chase continues!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Writing can often seem – or be – a luxury, that’s true. Your 5-minute break idea is a great one, though, shade! The daily demands can often feel overwhelming, so when we put forth a conscious effort to work on some aspect of our lives, whether that’s our art, our health, our home – that is a good signal for commitment. πŸ™‚ Burnout is not a good thing, though. That’s one reason I think your 5-minute break is great for your schedule. Plus, I just like reading what you come up with in those five minutes. πŸ™‚

      Like

Comments are closed.