One lesson I’ve come to learn in this wild adventure of adulthood is the immense importance of balance in my life. And no, I don’t mean being able to balance doing crane pose with a ball on top of my head (though that would still be an impressive feat). I mean balance between the different aspects of my life.
In the last nine years I’ve become a wife, a mother, a home maker, an entrepreneur, a pet owner, a yoga lover, a beginner flautis–and sometimes a blog writer! Each of these on their own are enough to consume my time but put them all together and I have definitely felt stretched thin. (I for some reason imagine taffy being made, watching it stretch so long and thin. That was me!)
Since “adulting,” I’ve been on an ever-constant quest to find balance in my life. How do I find time for all the things I need and want to do? Balance, balance, oh and did I say balance?
Years ago, I was in a college culture class and we had a guest speaker who was a prominent Native American woman. She talked about the Native American Medicine Wheel. Though the medicine wheel can have various meanings from culture to culture, the one she showed us was divided into four equal sections: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. She explained that for the wheel to be balanced, each section must have an equal share. If any section becomes more prominent than the other, the entire wheel falls apart.
This, I believe, is an amazing example of living our lives in balance. We must section off an equal share to each part of our lives to keep from falling apart. When thinking about my own sections of life I read the perfect statement from the description of Trophia magazine’s premiere issue featuring Paula Widish’s, “Simple Steps to Everyday Self-Health.” The description says, “Paula offers a proven blueprint for building on the touchstones of a good life: food, family, health, and home.” Ta da! Enter my four sections of my medicine wheel!
- Food – Food is literally at the center of everything I do! How and when I eat effects every other aspect of my life. Without food, good food, I can’t fully live any other part of me. And I learned so much about eating well in Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is! (PYM).
There’s a lot that goes into this topic, of course, but there’s two in particular that helped me and my family eat a more balanced diet. First, Paula taught me how to not be fooled by food labels. Did you know that, “…there are no federal standards when it comes to words like natural, local, and sustainable.” (Trophia, pg. 46). So much of what I thought I was buying was not what it claimed to be at all! But by learning more about what food labels really mean I’ve learned what to buy, and what to leave on the shelf (Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is! was a great resource for that as well.)
Second, I got big into meal planning. I’ve found that if I take a little extra time to plan my meals before I go to the store, then I buy wholesome, complete meals. It also makes dinner prep easy and stress free throughout the week. But, when I’ve allowed another part of my wheel to take over my food time, I end up just buying whatever’s easy and fast, aka not healthy.
Now, another problem I ran into with meal planning was finding healthy meals (and ones that didn’t require me to be a chef to pull them off!) Paula has some wonderful tips and even offers great online food planning resources on page 50 of her magazine. Check it out, it will make your meal planning so much easier!
- Family – Family is by far the most important to me, yet still something that requires balance. Family, especially my three young children, could and have easily taken up every second of my life. I used to think I wasn’t a good mother if I wasn’t devoting all my time and energy to my children, but then I remembered my wheel and knew I had to be better about balance. It’s a hard lesson to learn for any mom, but the truth is not devoting all your time to your family is what in fact makes you a good parent and spouse.
For example, right off the bat with my first child, I thought I had to spend all my time with my her. If I wasn’t always there for her, I was failing. But, by never giving myself a break I became burned out. So, while I may have been there for her, mentally I was checked out and exhausted. I was snappy, impatient, and easily frustrated. Then I started to spiral. I was too tired to cook, so we ate fast food or junk food often. Then, the crap food made me physically feel ill, so now I was emotionally and physically suffering. My poor diet mixed with stress made it difficult to sleep well.
Basically, in trying to be the perfect mom, I ended up hurting myself and my ability to be a good mom. I had to learn that balancing my kids with the other important things in my life makes me happier and healthier with them. I could write pages upon pages on this topic alone, but I think you get the idea 😊
(If you’re a new mom and wondering what to do now, check out Paula’s advice on page 16 of Trophia, “I’m a Mom, Now What?!”).
- Health – Ah, good ‘ol health, the one section of the wheel that almost always seems to fall through the cracks! My physical and mental health seem like the first things to go when I get busy with “life.” I always have good intentions to exercise, but too often than not it’s the end of the day and I fall into bed, exhausted, my yoga app never opened. And now withmy four-month-old baby girl who keeps me up multiple times at night I really struggle to find the motivation. The biggest challenge for me is learning to adapt. I tend to be an all or nothing person; either I do something fully or not at all. So, needless to say, my exercise routine has been a nothing more often than not.
However, I’ve been trying to adapt my exercise routine and that has helped tremendously. What I mean is, rather than having scheduled 30-minute workout sessions, I fit it into tasks I’m already doing. For example, I park at the back of the parking lot at the store to give myself a few extra steps. When I get up from my computer, I make myself do 10 quick squats. Heck, sometimes when I’m holding Henley, I will do wall sits with her. It may not be a fancy workout routine, but it keeps me active!
- Home – Home is where the heart is and, though cliché, it’s absolutely true! My home is the center of everything. It’s where I eat, sleep, relax, even work in my own business. If I don’t keep my home in order, I feel like everything else falls apart. But, just like with family, I’ve had to learn to balance my time with the home. I like things clean and organized. If you have toddlers, you know those two things do not go together. I’d spend all day cleaning my home, then the kids would wreck it in ten minutes! I’d be running around picking up after them, stressed and yelling at them to stop being, well being kids.
The most important thing I’ve learned with my home is prioritizing what I need to keep clean, and what I can let go. For example, I keep my kitchen clean always. I need a clean place to prepare our healthy dinners and keep my food portion of the wheel balanced. But the living room I can give up on. It will forever be a labyrinth of kid toys and blankets. And though it may be organized chaos at times, it’s a home of peace, full of fun and laughter (ok, not always, but we do our best).
Whatever your four sections of your medicine wheel are (or heck, however many sections you need) I encourage you to figure out what they are and balance them in your life. I know that’s easier said than done, but you’re not alone. Check out Trophia for a wide list of simple steps to help you balance your sections. Or take a look around the SRP website. There’s something for everyone there.
Cheers to a more balanced you!