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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Funny Thing About Balance

We all seek it.  It becomes a daily defense mechanism.  "No, I'm sorry, I cannot do happy hour on Wednesdays.  It would upset my balance."  "I got a dog.  I thought it would help me with balance in my life."  "If I don't start saying 'NO' more often, I'm never going to achieve balance." 

I admit it is something I think of often, how effectively I'm spreading myself, but I'll tell you that I used to spend a whole lot more time arguing the theory of balance than I do now.  Now I just do it.  I = balance. Want to know why? 
I ended my career.  I didn't quit working, though I'd love to do that.  I just recognized that I was no longer happy doing what I was doing.  I admitted that the cause was still there - the crusade alive, but my fire had gone out.  And as your synapses start firing, know this, it doesn't matter why my fire went out.  If I had allowed myself to be consumed with Scooby-Dooing this matter, I'd still be there in that office, and I'd still be miserable.  I was a leader who got tired of leading.  A worker bee who stopped fitting in with the other drones.   A disenchanted fairy. 
So, I quit.  After 13 years of donating my time, energy and heart to an important social system, I walked away. 
The anxiety attacks came with a vengeance, of course.  Good heavens, you don't make major life changes without repercussion.  I would have preferred to act out by drinking, but I have a toddler and husband, so a bottle of 40 proof and and a few afternoons on the couch with Air Supply didn't fit my schedule.  But like the end of a rain, they dwindled away and left me clean and whole.  
I changed jobs.  I went from top of the pile to middle ranks.  When the phone rings, it's no longer for me.  When something goes wrong, I'm not Herr Damage Control. And, yes, the payout is different.  I'm still contributing to a social system, just one that is impactful in a different way.  And now, dear lambs, the amazing has happened.  My focus is on two things: my world, meaning my child, my husband, our home, and on the world around me.  It's like that camera trick you see in some movies where things come into an almost painful, color-boosted focus.  I see where I stand.  I know my role, and I have a renewed energy to interact with the people I have CHOSEN to surround me.  
Even my cell phone is different.  Instead of a dreaded companion - a necessary evil, and a means of connecting me with other people's problems, it's just my phone.  When it rings, it's either my friends or my family.  When I talk on it, I don't have to be careful of what I say.  No one at the grocery store is going to judge my ability to do my job if I say "Damn, that sucks!" while I'm picking out peaches and talking to my brother on the phone.   I still wake up every morning and think about how free I am.  I didn't have to be a public servant slave to participate in worthy causes.  I didn't have to abandon my ship to join the crusade. 
My cause is my life.  I want it to be full, so I've taken steps to fill it with what matters.  
And you have always mattered.  Choose well.