Mirror Mirror on the Wall
By Susie Ekberg
Q: I’m a businesswoman AND the primary caregiver for my young son. I know I’m burning myself out trying to do it all. I want to be involved with my son but there is such a drive to work. How can I feel balanced and not like I’m doing a crappy job at everything?
A: Listen to me very closely. First of all, take a long, deep breath… in… and out. Okay, you are in a very very tough spot, of feeling like you have to do it all, but of not feeling like you’re able TO do it all. You can’t.
There. I said it. Somebody HAD to. Here’s the deal: your day is one pie. You decide how many pieces you’re going to cut, thereby determining how much of your time goes to each piece, but YOU ONLY HAVE ONE PIE. So no matter how many pieces you cut, you’ll still only have a finite amount of time for each of the pieces of your day.
What you’re talking about is the desire to have another pie, and with our current technology that just isn’t possible.
We may have been raised to believe that we could and should do it all. Work work work from sunrise to sundown. Oh, and never complain. Oh, and make it look easy. Oh, and like it!
Sound familiar? We may have gotten that from OUR parents, or we may have gotten the message that unless we’re working our tails off we’re not productive citizens and are just taking up room. If we’re not working, we’re not alive. We may even get uncomfortable if we’re not always in motion, never stopping until our head hits the pillow at night. That’s not only destructive; it’s counterproductive.
This summer seems to be about balance: defining what balance is for each of us (NOT what others say it “should” be for you), intending balance for our lives, then taking the active steps to make that balance happen. It isn’t proving to be an easy task.
The main balance I seem to be working with is inner balance vs. outer balance (which may explain why I seem to be walking into a lot of walls lately).
Inner balance is found in the quiet, in the “being” mode as opposed to the “doing” mode, in the introspective and intuitive, in the stillness.
Outer balance is found in the limiting of chores, responsibilities and commitments, in doing things that bring you joy, in doing work that is fulfilling, in surrounding yourself with people and things that are uplifting and precious to you.
When either your inner or outer balance is well, out of balance, you get tippy and your Center is no longer IN your Center.
In a perfect world it would be like looking in the mirror. Your reflection is the same distance from the mirror as you are. In this description YOU are the mirror, and you “should” be equidistant from both your inner AND your outer realities to give you “perfect” vision and perspective.
Have you ever looked in one of those distorted mirrors? Your head looks huge, or you look really teeny, or your waist is stretched out? It’s a distortion in the mirror; there’s nothing actually anything wrong with YOU.
I want to ask you a few questions. See if answering them can help you gain some clarity.
1. What makes you happy? I mean, really gut-splitting, can’t-stop-smiling happy?
2. If you could do ANYTHING in the world, no limits, what would you be doing right now?
3. When you were 10 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
4. How many times during your day do you catch yourself saying, “I wish I could…”
5. How many times during your day do you sigh?
6. List 3 hobbies you actively pursue.
7. List 3 places in the US you have always wanted to visit, and 3 places in the world you have always wanted to visit.
8. What are you gifted at?
9. When people talk about you, what do they say about you? (she’s smart, she’s sweet, she’s loyal, she’s a hard worker, she’s too hard on herself)
10. Are you willing to commit 10 minutes a day just to yourself and what makes you happy?
The vast majority of what we think is important, actually isn’t. It’s just extra fluff and stuff added to give our lives more weight and importance. “See how much I have to get done? Look at how important and busy I am!”
Make a list of everything you’re responsible for, then look at the list again, with a critical eye. What can you cross off your list? What can you get someone else to do? What would you like to ADD to your list that you’ve never thought you had time for? These are all good jumpstarts in your quest for self-discovery and balance.
I can’t possible answer exactly what you “should” be doing to bring your life back into balance because it’s YOUR life and you need to feel empowered to make your own decisions. I can only support you.
And I do. I see you are a loving, committed parent to your son, as well as a person committed to making the world a better place through your work.
But I also see that it’s impossible to be an effective mother and businessperson if you aren’t taking care of yourself, and that includes not running yourself ragged.
You deserve to have a rich, nurturing environment for yourself, and that’s created through the actions you take RIGHT NOW. It may take awhile for the changes to take effect, but don’t give up. Start small, maybe by saying no to just one thing a day. Add one activity that’s just for you. Take a day off once a month. Slow and steady wins the race to turn that huge ship of your life around.
Just remember, you can’t do it all, but you CAN have your life be a reflection of that which resonates with you and what adds depth and richness.
That’s what you’re “supposed” to be doing with your life. Living it, and living it up. That’s why they call it a Life and not a Work (Life = Alive).
Ask yourself: am I alive? Then take it from there. I know you can.
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