I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I suppose it isn’t surprising. Some is introspective of course, stemming naturally from the slowing down of life that always comes with colder temperatures and from the big changes in my life, but some is directed at exploring ideas for change.
I need change, even though I’ve been encouraged to focus my energy on acceptance. Yes, I need to accept my life, learn to work with all the parts, but I also need to change it, make it more malleable to the me that I’ve become. Accepting life isn’t possible if you can’t handle the way it is. In the last four years, my life has taken over me, much as a bird would fall prey to a cat. Marriage, career, motherhood all seemed to sneak up and pounce, leaving the self I knew behind.
Last week Lindsey at A Design So Vast wrote about having a foot in two worlds. She discussed her personal choice to work part-time and to be home with her children part-time and how “by refusing to let go of either “world [she has] failed at both.” As much as I am certain that isn’t true, I could wholly relate. I’ve chosen to work full-time and put my children in daycare and I too feel the constant tug and pull of competing priorities.
So I come here, to reflect and consider once again about that defeating concept called balance. Since moving forward with my perfect protest I’ve come to an important awareness—there is no such as thing as balance, there are only varying degrees of acceptance. Whether it’s knowing that for now I must focus primarily on my family and less on my life as a professional, or a reaching an understanding that my house will be a consummate tornado, or acknowledging that gaining control means saying no to various social invitations such as I did several times this weekend, I’m learning to accept it’s impossible to do it all.
I can’t juggle what I used to. And I’ve wasted a lot of energy judging and finding myself guilty for it. A friend recently pointed out that I really wasn’t juggling everything, that I was probably living on adrenaline. I think she’s right. Even more importantly I realized that I was measuring myself against an impossible standard. My benchmark for success came from blending an absurd expectation that I should be able to everything I did before children and everything I must since having them, and doing it well. With that realization, I had felt a flash of understanding and I allowed myself some forgiveness.
So acceptance starts. It comes from making the change and understanding that it’s the best I can do at that moment. But it also comes from recognizing that change is never ending and life is a constant cycle of new challenges, hurdles and winding roads. It’s hard line to walk for a person such as I who was once restless, ambitious and driven—to understand that balance is a myth and not even a virtue, but that life is better lived as a series of choices that are sorted differently at any given time.
So now, as the last leaves gently float and swirl to the ground, and we prepare our home and lives for the impending dark and cold months, I’ve decided to focus on simplifying my life. I’m not going to walk any line, I’m going to stand down and accept that less is more.
As part of this journey, I’m introducing a new series. To be honest, I was inspired by Kristen at Motherese and Jana at An Attitude Adjustment who recently started some of their own and wanted to join the party. I’ve also been reading Faith’s writing at Minimalist Moms about the benefits of simplifying life. Once a week, or as often as I can, I’ll write about my own journey to simplicity. I’m calling it Simply Living: Discovering the virtue of less being more. I’ll write about all parts of my life including the traditional, like minimizing stuff and commitments, to the existential and learning to focus my mind and body. I hope you’ll join me and share your thoughts and tips along the way.