Work-Life Balance — Learning the Hard Way

Bolt of lightningSometimes the Universe has to really lay it on thick to make a point. Okay…a lot of times, though it might just be me. I can be stubborn.

I’m one of those types who takes great care of my health with the veggies, moderate exercise, organic foods and all that, and then blows the deal by overworking. Normally the overdoing only results in high levels of stress and feeling constantly overwhelmed. No big deal, right? We all live with that. I’m tough. I can handle it.

Except the last two months have taught me differently. A health problem/injury which included a fairly significant hernia meant a date with the hospital. In the weeks prior, I wasn’t able to do all my usual activities. I had to assign other people to take on some of my work, coach them how to do it, and hardest of all for me, ignore outcomes when they didn’t pull it off like I would have. (Perfectionist issues? Me?)

A three-hour surgery corrected everything (hurrah for modern medicine!), but left me with six more weeks of even greater restrictions. One trip down the stairs and one trip up per day, tiring easily, and even my twelve pound dog is temporarily outside my okay-to-lift zone.

Life's roadI’ve found myself with a lot of time on my hands as I rest and recover, which has given me a lot of time to think. Having to slow down is uncomfortable because it forces us to evaluate and reevaluate everything–how we interact with others, how we work, how we play…in other words, every aspect of life and how we’re living it.

Uncomfortable areas to explore? Make that painful. Why else do we stay so busy? Madly pursuing goals and piling every second with supposedly crucial activities are perfect for avoiding a hard look at areas in our lives that make us unhappy, or character flaws in ourselves and those we love.

I get it. I need to grow. I’ll work to change.

But of course being human, after two weeks I’m feeling a little better, and I find myself inching back to my old ways. I’m Southern. We have dodging conflict and troublesome feelings down to an art form.

Good thing that Higher Power I mentioned is a little more on the ball than we give it credit for. First up this morning was news on the writing contest I’d entered. I didn’t even place. The time the judges took and their comments and suggestions were deeply appreciated, but my big take-away was that you can’t please all of the people all of the time (two judges loved it, one didn’t).

The next nudge I got was an article on LinkedIn that popped up in my Inbox: You Aren’t Indestructible or Indispensable — and That’s Good. The author talks about taking a hard look at his priorities after just missing death by heart attack. Spooky coincidence, don’t you think?

And finally, after carefully making my way downstairs, I found that my son, who has serious problems handling his emotions and accepting the rules of positive social conduct, had made me breakfast. An edible one. And he wasn’t even trying to get anything out of me.

All right, all right, I said to myself. I get it God. I really need to remember that–

Angel and Devil on shoulderWithin the boundaries of respecting other’s rights, it’s crucial to choose what feels best to you and not care what others think about it.

It’s important to keep striving to maintain balance in all things; work, play, and rest, but especially in doing nothing so that wisdom has a chance to filter through.

Last but not least, life’s about progress, not perfection. We all have a loving, sacrificing saint and a selfish jerk inside of us. Nirvana is found when we bring the two into balance.

So, listen to the nudges. Don’t wait to have a heart attack, catastrophic illness, or major surgery before you clue in. Love yourself enough to make changes now. Even if they’re only small ones.

Relax and think

2 thoughts on “Work-Life Balance — Learning the Hard Way

  1. Rebecca

    Awesome post! Glad you learned such a valuable lesson – thanks for sharing it with us. Hope your recovery continues well!


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