Monday, April 02, 2007

Balance - Never Static (or: Balance, What Balance?)

I have been tagged for a Meme by a friend and fellow blogger, FootnoteMaven, to answer some questions regarding balance in life. This Meme (unit of cultural information) was begun by Lillie Ammann, A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye. Genealogy is all about sharing and discovering, so why not discuss cultural practices of the present, as well as of the past?

The assignment is to write about balance in life, and address any or all of the following questions:

How do you achieve balance in your life?
What is your biggest challenge in balancing your life?
What are your priorities?
How have your priorities changed over time and why?
What advice can you share to help all of us balance our own lives?

My first comment is that balance (as in "balancing act"), is never static. I believe no one ever achieves ultimate balance, but rather, is continually in the process of trying to establish it. That said, I can only address what I am doing at present to seek a mid-point where I am neither listing to the left, nor to the right.

One of my biggest challenges is making the time to be creative. If I am to be happy, I must be creative, but exactly what I create has changed over time. For the past few years, I have been tending my dream of writing. As with many people, I have priorities of family and employment. Continuing education has definitely been a priority; I finished a degree in history, one course at a time, while working full time. More recently, I completed a year-long certificate program in Genealogy and Family History, participated in a writing seminar, and became a member of a small Norwegian-American writers support group, all while working full time. Connecting with people is important, and so is exploring every facet of nature's beauty. Astronomer Carl Sagan, someone I admire, said: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." There is a universe of beauty to behold and ponder during our limited time on earth. 'Nuff said.

What gets in the way of sopping up all that beauty and creating my own little tributes? Fatigue and long commutes, for the most part. To have time for research and writing, I have to make choices. Being an introvert and a sensitive one at that, I quickly become depleted if I do not have time to myself. So, I dedicate certain evenings or hours to doing what I love. Having projects with deadlines helps tremendously. Having a supportive husband helps even more. I don't cut myself short on the important things, but there is very little TV viewing, and often, only crisis intervention in relation to housework.

I want to speak to the ladies for a moment. We women know that it is all too easy to get caught up in meeting the needs of other people. This is fine and well (relationships are our specialty, after all), but remember to give yourself at least as much time and attention as you would anyone else. Financial guru Suze Orman warns women that they should never put themselves "on sale." For me, that means I can no longer postpone my creative urges while life happens around me; it must be a part of my life. If we truly want to accomplish something, we will find a way: step by step, and "bird by bird." [1]

My ultimate life-in-balance would include having a time machine to conduct research firsthand, living where there are no freeways, watching trees grow by day and stars glimmer by night, and looking up from my writing to watch ducks cavorting on a green, sunlit pond. I cannot have all of that (especially the time machine), but I can come closer to achieving balance by realizing that dreams are every bit as precious as reality, and they deserve my attention. I wish you success in realizing and tending your dreams and your balance.
I extend a open invitation to all genealogy bloggers to answer this Meme.

[1] Anne Lamott. "Bird by bird: some instructions on writing and life." New York: Pantheon Books, 1994. (The phrase "bird by bird" essentially refers to accomplishing overwhelming tasks by focusing on one step at a time.)

1 comment:

footnoteMaven said...


What a lovely piece on life's balance. I knew I made the right choice in tagging you.

You are a gifted writer. It is a pleasure to read your work.

And yes, nice footnote.