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by Donna L. Watkins
About 12 years ago I kept hearing the Holy Spirit say, "BALANCE." It seemed that every where I turned – in magazines, in devotionals, in sermons, talking with friends – I would hear the word "BALANCE."
Balance is a key to any level of good health. There is balance for diet and sleep and even exercise. The scales of live are a challenge, but we must determine what brings true emotional health to our own lives and how to achieve that state of mind in this world.
I was following a link from an ezine I get and found an article that made me think about how much our work has to do with the pressure, stress, and health we can attain in this lifetime. I firmly believe that there is no possible way to build health and live in the stressful lifestyles of the American Way.
When my health challenges began in 1986 I was Super Woman. I didn’t realize it then, but I thought who I was, was what I accomplished. How much I got done. How much I could check off the To Do List. How many balls I could juggle in a day. I was very frustrated and said that I wanted out – wanted help – wanted a break – wanted some time for me – but it was like an addiction. It never happened. I kept running at top speed until my body said, "NO MORE!"
I stopped. I had no choice. My body had taken all it could take and it now demanded 16 hours rest/sleep a day and performed much too poorly during the "up and about" hours. It didn’t take long to realize that I was going to HAVE TO let go of some of those balls and find a different life path than juggling. I also discovered that it took a renewing of the mind. Even dropping things that I could no longer do didn’t change my mindset of believing that every minute of energy I had was to be spent getting something DONE.
In the process, I found simplicity. At first I thought simplicity was just learning how to enjoy doing nothing. How to be content just being, and not doing. That was a great lesson to learn, but it wasn’t what life was all about and as my body got the rest it needed to begin to heal, I found that simplicity was making the right choices on what I actually wanted to do with my life. When I was Super Woman, I had a list of things that I said I’d do if I didn’t have to be Super Woman, but I never took a minute of time to consider myself valuable enough to take some steps toward my dreams.
Slowing down provided a life-changing mindset of seeing that the world around me really didn’t depend on me. Life actually went on without my juggling career. Oh yes, there were some who were saddened by the fact that I wasn’t "doing it all" any more, but did I really think that my life belonged to everybody around me? Was it really their decision on how I lived it? Well, it’s easy to look at those questions and think of the obvious answers, but that’s not how I was responding.
I am more than 10 years down the road since then and I’m still learning the real meaning of simplicity. It’s not rocking on the porch all day. It’s setting priorities and spending your time in a slower lifestyle, but getting more of the things done that are truly your heart’s desire for your life. It’s not getting swept away by the media and worldly lifestyles around you. It’s seeing that simplifying and sacrificing offers a more compassionate lifestyle for the time we have on this earth. We can be good stewards of everything that comes into our lives, and our time being the most important.
The satisfaction that comes from doing this is far above any thing that can be bought and sat around the house. The small things you can do to change the world and make a difference are incredible and so fulfilling. I used to go to bed thinking about all that I had done for the day — kind of evaluating whether I really had a right to sleep probably 🙂 Now, I go to bed thinking about the difference I am making with the choices I make day to day and the lifestyles that have come out of those choices. It offers a better night’s sleep for sure.
Balancing our work and personal lives is perhaps one of the most challenging tasks we face. In the last 50 years, Americans have added a full month to annual work hours. In 1997, we surpassed Japan as the country with the highest annual work hours of all industrialized nations.
Many people are choosing not to be part of those statistics. In fact, thousands of individuals in this country have restructured their lives to permit a part-time work schedule, 20 to 30 hours a week. This schedule frees up time and energy for other high priorities in their lives, like spending time with family and friends, self health care (enough sleep, exercise and nutritious food), providing services to others, developing their spirituality, and spending time in nature.
The biggest hurdle is simply believing that it can be done without feeling deprived of our material needs. Once we realize this truth, the rest is easy.