Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Day 47: Balance?

Since I finished up with the summer semester, I've been working as much as I can to help pay for classes in the fall. That means I am working 10 days out of 11, so I'm tired. Not complaining here, I like my job and classes, and the setup suits me well, but I get tired. OK, who doesn't?

Last night after work, I asked my partner to pour me a wine. He looked at me, surprised, and I heard what I'd said and laughed. "No I meant drink. You know, fizzy water with lime or something. I'm just so tired I can't speak properly." It was true. I went to bed early with plans to catch up on my sleep. I work a full shift later today (checking watch: I leave in 20 minutes) so I had the morning free. In addition to catching up on sleep, I planned to track down and read a couple of articles that might be useful for the thesis I'll write this coming year, go for a run, read some blogs and maybe write a post. Along with the usual shower, dress, eat, make dinner to take with me, etc. Oh, and I'm always 5 minutes late for  work, so I have committed to myself to be on time from now on. Sounds like a nice morning off, right? OK, probably not. By midmorning, I decided instead to spend a few minutes thinking about balance.

Like many people who drank too much, I'm not very good at balance. I actually get a lot done, and I could while I was drinking, but I have usually done it in an all or nothing way that I don't think is healthy. I either terrorize myself into doing something because if I don't... (insert major catastrophe here), or I'd give myself a much-deserved break and skive off from whatever responsibility was looming. It worked OK, if you don't mind big doses of terror and exhaustion and drinking large amounts of wine to fuel it all and then calm the poor exhausted and terrorized self. But I started to mind that, and now I see that finding some better balance is essential. Except I have no idea how it's done.

I have read truckloads of self-help advice on how to find this elusive balance, but I haven't found a great deal of wisdom for me there. Years ago, when I worked in a bookstore, I flipped through a book recommending concrete steps to a simpler life. One was, "Sell the damn boat." The writer explained that you probably hardly ever use the boat, and it costs so much, so just get rid of it. At the time I could barely pay rent. No boat to sell. Find a new book. Other advice hasn't helped a lot either. Yoga actually raises my blood pressure. (Yes, I measured it to check. I wish I were exaggerating.) I'm not guilt-ridden, so I'm not doing classes, running, or any of those things to please some external arbiter of my well-being. I just like doing them.

So balance remains elusive, but this morning I made what might be a small step in the right direction. I let go of the run. Yes, I read, I showered, I ate, I made dinner to take, and if I get out the door in 10 minutes, I will be on time for work. So no proofreading here! Not running won't mean I have given up on my running program thereby ensuring that my mental health will slowly erode until I find myself fat and unhappy, drinking bottles of wine every night, having failed miserably on this new regime by letting that thin edge of the wedge slip in when I was tired. Nope. All it means is I'm busy today, and a bit tired. Easy, right?

OK. It's not easy. As I wrote the last sentence I had a quick thought, "Maybe you could have fit in a quick run instead of writing this." Yes, maybe. But I'm trying to balance some things, like everyone else, and I'm doing it in a way that's new to me. I'll keep trying. And if I'm out the door in a few minutes, I'll at least be in time for work, so I will have accomplished most if not all of what I hoped for the morning.

If you're reading, good luck with your own balance. Any tips on how you do it--other than selling the boat--are welcome!

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