Do we need balance or just priorities?
I was getting ready for an appearance on Studio 5 yesterday to talk about “finding balance.” Just as I’m headed downstairs, I bounce the question off some friends in the elevator. “How do you find balance?” I ask. Emily Watts (author and speaker extraordinaire) says, “We don’t need balance. We need priorities.”
That stopped me cold. Is she right?
When you have a new baby, there’s no balance. It’s all about the baby. The baby is the priority. And that’s as it should be. When you’re caring for a troubled friend, and she desperately needs you, the friend is the priority. And that’s as it should be. When you’re sick and your body needs rest and healing, then your body becomes the priority, like it or not. And that’s as it should be.
Until it’s not.
It seems to me at some point, balance must become the priority. We can single out certain people or areas of our lives to focus our energy and attention on until the other areas of our lives begin to suffer, and then we must right the ship. If we ignore our bodies for too long, they will demand our attention through sickness or collapse. If we ignore our spouses for too long, they will get our attention through argument or pleading . . . or worse. If we ignore our children . . . well . . . hopefully we never ignore our chidren.
I know when I am out of balance when I start binging – binge eating, binge working, binge shopping. I’m not smart enough to pick up the subtle clues of being slightly out of balance. I have to wait until I’m way into over-do-it land before I get it. It takes pain to wake me up to the need for balance. And when I wake up, I breathe and begin to focus my attention on whatever was being ignored – be it a relationship or my health or the house or whatever.
Today? When my work is done, I will not find more projects to begin or advance. Work has been a priority all week. It’s time to lay it down and pick up my sons, one at a time, and swing them around the room until they yell “Stop! Mama! Stop!” . . . but don’t mean it.