“Balance” and Other Figments of My Imagination

It would be misleading and downright dishonest of me to brag about the small successes I’ve had in my personal Beauty Detox Journey without also sharing the challenges I’ve faced and the obstacles I’ve encountered. For one thing, I haven’t exactly been diligent when it comes to monitoring my intake of sweet foods and (randomly– since I haven’t eaten them in a while) baked goods. For another thing, I have put on more than 5 pounds in less than 5 weeks, which may or may not have anything to do with the resurgence of my sweet tooth. What do you think? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Funnily enough, shortly after posting an online confession about my sordid history of sneaking food and eating copious amounts of candy, I started craving sugar again. I had been fine for a relatively long period of time before writing that post, but getting that secret out into the open must have kicked up some old, sugary dust. I found myself gravitating towards homemade truffles in Costco-sized servings and soon afterward, I developed particularly violent yearnings for homemade berry cake, also in Costco-worthy portions. What gives?

While I was busy inhaling family-sized portions of homemade treats (I bake in bulk!), I told myself that things could be much, much worse: I could be eating Twinkies washed down with Dairy Queen Blizzards and Pepsi every day. I could be camping out at the Lil Debbies’ headquarters every night. It could be worse… right?

Yes.

But it could also be better.

When I outgrew my ‘off-season’, regular-sized pants and had to squeeze into my roomier, ‘Harbour-sized’ jeans a full 3 months early, I knew the gig was up. I had (disappointingly) (hopefully only temporarily) failed at the Beauty Detox Program. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ๐Ÿ˜ฆย  (<— that’s how sad it was to get to this point, very recently I’ll confess. Sad x 3)

Obviously, I’ve been finding it particularly challenging to establish balance in my day-to-day life since returning to work on the Harbour. A prototypical late-June baby (Cancerian through and through!), I am a creature of habit, and having my normal routines disrupted substantially by my new work hours has left me floundering. A lot. When I’d normally be cooking, working out, doing chores, or blogging, I am now down by the water. Working! All day long! With nary an all-access pass to Ye Olde Internet! I’ve been especially cranky lately, and my poor body has been going into overdrive trying to reclaim at least a semblance of balance again.

What does this have to do with balance? This, my friends, is photographic proof that I have been doing other things besides working at the Harbour-- in this case, hiking-- even if only for a few precious hours.

Unfortunately, my body’s idea of “balance” doesn’t necessarily involve striving for moderation in everything. Instead, it overcompensates for any perceived extremes in my life by hurtling me in the exact opposite direction until a zero-sum state of equilibrium has been achieved.

E.g.: Eating monster-sized portions of leafy greens and other healthy foods? Better round things off with Godzilla-sized slabs of cake! You can thank me later!

Lost 8 pounds recently with careful attention paid to diet and exercise? Whoopsies! Guess we’ll have to tip the scales back up to your starting weight– nothing lost, nothing gained! LOL!

Taking a healthy step back from work-related tasks during the off season? Looks like it’s time to work around the clock again! All work, no play! Back to the grind, little miss! xoxo!!

I must say that I’m pretty mortified (bordering on devastated) to find myself in this predicament, especially so early into the Harbour season. I hate not being able to blog, and it irritates me to have my entire life revolve around work (even though I’m extremely fortunate to work where I do and I love working with Marty as well. I know that I’m a very lucky lady, which apparently gives me permission to whine excessively about trivial matters. Heh.) I know that my weight, especially, is just a stone-cold number on a icy-hearted machine, but still. It’s no fun having to bust out my stretchy pants ever, let alone way ahead of schedule. (Long-term readers will recall that I have recorded an 8-pound weight gain during both of my previous two Harbour seasons. At least I’m consistent! (??) *Frantically trying to look on the bright side. Also: Grasping at straws.*

I know, I know. I mustn’t beat myself up over the decided lack of balance in my life (or those extra pounds in my pants, to be more specific). It’s time to just pick myself up and move on like the Big Girl I am. (Literally. Har har.)

Do I look as weary as I sometimes feel these days?

I envy the people who can (or already have) achieved real balance in their lives and who don’t have to obsess over maintaining it every waking second of every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to gravitate naturally– almost effortlessly— towards a perfect state of equilibrium? An equal amount of time spent working and playing? Online and offline? Eating healthily and occasionally indulging? (Do such people and lifestyles even exist?)

I’m not there yet. But I’ve got my eyes on that prize. Yes, you heard me, Balance: I’m watching you…

No one does this quite as well as De Niro does, am I right or am I right?

27 responses

  1. I’m with you! Why is balance so damn hard? I too love my cake to come in “slabs”–is there any other way to eat it?! Hang in there, my dear Dana. At least you’re not alone. If misery loves company, you’re likely the most happy miserable around.
    Kathy

  2. Dear Stability,
    I miss you dear friend, where have you gone?
    Your Friend,
    Stephanie

    Hang in there, change throws everything out of control. Once you get settled, things will even out. Your 3 sad faces will be happy in no time!

    • Yes, when you put it that way– 3 sad emoticons is a pretty ridiculous way to express myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here’s to a bit more stability (and a bit less junk in my trunk) in the near future!

  3. It seems to me that keeping “balance” is something we all work on our whole life, not something we magically just have someday… I think we just get better at knowing when the imbalances are happening, or about to happen, so that we can do something about it in time, before crashing and burning or eating a giant bag of salt and vinegar chips (yeah I do that sometimes, it’s horrible).

    By the way, that picture of you is beautiful… you might think you look weary, but you actually look very peaceful! My unbalanced life really needs some hiking right now!

    • What a beautiful, poetic, and encouraging comment! Thank you!! It’s so true that finding balance is an ever-unfolding process– it’s not like we wake up one morning officially and permanently “balanced”. Just gotta get back on that balance beam and move forward. *Eating cake does not signify the end of the world!*

      PS: Thank you for the compliment about the photo– Marty says it’s my “Mona Lisa” impression, I like it simply because it means I was on a hike recently. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Oh, MaChickChick. Sorry you’re in a rut. My cravings for ungodly amounts of awful food tend to spike when things are frustrating/stressful, too. Have you thought about giving yourself a schedule? I found myself feeling overwhelmed (and I don’t even have a real job outside of Baby) so I started bossing myself around a little bit. I have x amount of time to blog x number of days a week. The rest is reserved for life and life-ish things like parenting, exercising, cooking, cleaning, thumb-wars, etc.

    • Oh, thumb-wars: how I miss thee! I’m actually feeling over-scheduled right now (or, more accurately, like my life’s daytimer is filled with just one word: WORK). I think the subconscious association of “schedule” with “work” will mean that I’ll be steering clear of any further scheduling, at least until I can fathom adding “thumb wars” back in! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Oh, Dana…
    start with this truth: (and say it to yourself) “I am enough”…when you start from that truth…sometimes we can be more gentle with ourselves…seasons come and go…seasons can be long or short. But…we experience them for reasons–some we may know…others, not so much. And, as a woman, man oh man geez–the weight thing?–hormonally, it’s a bummer–or it’s great. It just…changes, all throughout your life.

    Also…I think “balance” is a myth…there is no such thing. Think of standing in tree pose in yoga…do you EVER just…acheive balance and stop moving? NO. you move a bit this way, a bit that way…muscles are engaged and all your focus is there and sometimes you fall over and sometimes, you stand and stand–but you are always experiencing movement…
    I am reading (and not reading–such is life) a book called “The Three Marriages”–about work/marriage/self integration…
    http://www.amazon.com/Three-Marriages-Reimagining-Work-Relationship/dp/1594488606

    “David Whyte knows there are three crucial relationships, or marriages, in our lives: the marriage or partnership with a significant other, the commitment we have to our work, and the vows, spoken or unspoken, we make to an inner, constantly developing self. In The Three Marriages, the bestselling author, poet, and speaker argues that it is not possible to sacrifice one relationship for the others without causing deep psychological damage. Too often, he says, we fracture our lives and split our energies foolishly, so that one or more of these marriages is sacrificed and may wither and die, in the process impoverishing them all. Whyte looks to a different way of seeing and connecting these relationships and prompts us to examine each marriage with a fierce but affectionate eye as he shows us the importance of cherishing all three equally.

    Drawing from his own struggles to achieve this goal as well as exploring the lives of some of the worldโ€™s great writers and activistsโ€”from Dante to Joan of Arc, from Austen to Dickinsonโ€”Whyte reveals that our core commitments are irrevocably connected. Only by understanding the simultaneously robust and delicate nature of the three marriages and the stages of their maturation, he maintains, can we create a real portrait of what makes us tick and a real sense of finding a place in the world.

    In prose thatโ€™s at once lyrical and inviting, Whyte investigates captivating ideas for bringing a deeper satisfaction to our lives, one that goes beyond our previously held ideas of balance. ”

    maybe you’d like it?

    Anyway…I adore you…and I pray many blessings your way…whatever that will end up meaning for you.

    blessings
    jane

    • Can I vote this to be the BEST COMMENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE?? I am utterly speechless, jane– thank you so much. There are no words to convey how much this comment means to be. xoxo

  6. Dad used to always say: ‘All things in moderation, including moderation.’
    Now that photo, .. Wow .. you look like you could be … thirty !!
    Better do something about that.

  7. Wow – Dominique & planejaner were so eloquent that I only have one addition: The gorgeous starfish photo is as lovely as the photo of you.

    Enjoy that Three-Oh milestone you’re approaching and celebrate it joyfully as a reminder to yourself that you’ve EARNED it!

  8. In our North American lifestyles, given the amount of time we have to work – there is obviously no balance between work and play. That is the first problem. With you guys it’s even more crazy given that you are working EVERY day throughout most of the year.

    You don’t look weary in your photo at all. With the weight thing – I TOTALLY know how you feel when you’re squeezing your butt into a pair of jeans that you love….I’m probably going to start eating gluten again so I’m anticipating not being able to wear my favourite jeans in a little while.

    Sugar – yeah, remember our pact? I’m SO back on sugar. My naturopath is freaking out. I can’t help it. But I also don’t eat ‘bad’ sugar like Pepsi, Twinkies and Dairy Queen. I’m more of a peanut M&M’s (nuts are good right?) and dark chocolate fan.

    • Oh, our “pact”– so short lived, so ineffective in the long run! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’ll keep working on that mystical “balance” thing– good luck working gluten back into your diet! (Is it by your naturopath’s orders or because of rebellion on your part?)

  9. Having been self-employed for almost my entire adult life, I can say that there are both pros and cons to it when it comes to balance in one’s life.
    When anyone is in an ’employed’ job, there is much more clearer sense of ‘the end of the day’ and the division between work time and personal time.
    Being self-employed means the line is very much blurred, where you have to double-edged advantage of setting your own hours to do other things or feel compelled to put in more time to do more when feasible or necessary.

    Being self-employed offers wonderful flexibility, but it also can mean putting in more time with no slave-driving boss but one’s self to find fault with.
    The best thing is the sense of personal responsibility, win or lose.

    • I’m still coming to terms with this myself, even though it’s been a year since I left my old Office Job. I think the main difference is that I still technically have a ‘boss’, albeit my dear husband. So I’m not *really* self-employed, but I’m not *really* employed, either! I’m kind of in limbo, which is maybe what contributes to my sense of disorientation. No complaints– just need to get myself oriented a bit again!

      • Now you two are partners in a wider sense, it affords you the opportunity to divide and focus the labour, creation-production and sales-wise. It looks to be working well.
        Just watch you don’t let yourselves become like Robert Bateman; I saw him in a documentary once asking his wife where to ‘position’ an owl. Yikes.

  10. Sometimes, the struggle to find balance is what hinders achieving it. Loved your photos! I say take one day at a time. Remember to breathe and take the time to appreciate the small things. The rest will fall in to place!

    • That’s such profound advice, Thypolar– thank you! Just like I can’t *will* myself to surrender to whatever unfolds in life, I also can’t *force* myself to be balanced. This sounds so simple in my head, but I guess it’s sometimes easier said than done! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I have the same difficulty with balance, and I suspect I’m going to find it even more difficult over the next few months as I transition to a vegan diet. This:

    Eating monster-sized portions of leafy greens and other healthy foods? Better round things off with Godzilla-sized slabs of cake! You can thank me later!

    Made me laugh, but only because I do the same thing. I have found, though, that I can usually satisfy the sweet tooth with fruit.

    • Just curious: what’s prompting your shift to a vegan diet? (As an almost-vegan myself, I always like to know what inspires and/or forces people to head in that direction, too!) So true about the fruit thing– my sweet tooth is physically satisfied by fruit, but for some reason, my psychological sweet tooth prefers slabs of cake! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Well, there are several reasons. One is that I’ve gone vegan in the past and my health was so much better for it. It seemed to help with the aches, the pains, and all the other things that come with growing older. I think it might help with the transition into menopause as well. Then there’s my husband and his health concerns (which are his, so I’ll say no more about that). I’d also like to start setting a better example for my granddaughters.

        After making my decision to transition back to a vegan diet, I started reading the book The China Study. I’m not too far into it, but far enough to have confirmed that my decision is a good one. Not that I needed it confirmed, but it’s nice when those little signs and signals come along that say, “Yes!” ๐Ÿ™‚

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