When I began paying attention to my self care and search for "life balance" about seven years ago, I was encouraged by my coaches at the time to consider my life balance wheel. By filling in how satisfied or dissatisfied I was with different areas of my life, I could see how skewed and "off balance" I was and what areas I could focus on to, well, get in balance. If you could imagine rolling that wheel, it would be a really rocky ride.
These days, I've come to learn that life ebbs and flows depending on what's going on. Seven years ago, I had a toddler, a pre-schooler, and a fledgling business that had to succeed in order for us to pay the bills. Sure, I learned that extreme self-care was valuable and something I'd neglected having dedicated my life at the time to attachment parenting without a village (support system). In hindsight, I learned that the tidal wave of early parenting was intense, and that it passed me by quick as a flash.
How did I learn to manage the constant changing of tides? I experimented with many different systems of organizing the different areas of my life. I dumped more systems than I kept, or at the very least, took what helped me and left the rest.
I now have a 3rd grader and a new middle schooler (I'm still getting over the shock of that!), and over the last 2-3 years I've realized each calendar year has a familiar rhythm. My year begins in late summer at the start of the school year and the arrival of the acorns. There's a fresh new energy in our home at this time, where I create new plans for my business, get used to the new schedule of shuttling the children to school and dance and sports, and come up with a new strategy for meal planning.
My son's late November birthday kicks off the holiday season and we relish our family Christmas traditions and the winter break from school. My daughter's birthday in January is typically the start of the Texas winter, when I start longing eagerly for Spring to begin.
I celebrate the first sighting of the redbud and Mexican plum trees flowering and shortly thereafter realize the Spring craziness will begin, with baseball, dance recitals and the end of school. Then, my beloved kiddos and I have lots of fun throughout the summer, where we hibernate in our own special way.
As I plan my classes and workshops for the next six months, I am reminded even more of how much I depend on this predictable rhythm. I have the most energy for my business during the fall, and it starts to wane from about May through July.
What's nice about having this knowledge is that I don't refer to the life balance wheel now, nor do I need to ensure satisfaction in all areas of my life at all times. It's an unattainable falsehood, this idea of life balance. I never achieved it all the years I strived for it.
However, when I began noticing the rhythm of my life, I began to let myself off the hook more and live in the present more often. I learned when it was time to let go of responsibilities that didn't fit with my rhythm, and I started prioritizing what mattered easily and without guilt.
Living according the rhythm of life is similar to allowing the growth of new life within us. It's part surrender, part inner listening. It's also about allowing more and observing more, and I've found it often results in more inspiration, the natural unfolding of new business, and everything seems to just… work.
Do you allow your life's rhythm to guide you? Share your experiences with us!
photo credit: Masakazu Matsumoto via Flickr