Trying to find a balance

11 Jan

What I dream of is an art of balance. –Henri Matisse

jazz-by-henri-matisse2

Life continues to move forward, as it inevitably does, and I find myself grounding and re-grounding all the time thanks to this project.  I’ve pulled myself away from the check-marks, numbers, the musts and the shoulds of what must happen every day.  While they were instrumental in setting up a basic how-to for my project, they were not very helpful.  I decided to do this project because I was feeling disenchanted, uninspired and disorganized.  But I’m quickly seeing how I could turn into an orthorexic exercise addict who can’t function without daily meditation.  No thanks, that’s not really what I’m going for.

This week, I’ve been a bit off on my daily goals and it has resulted in discouragement.  The discouragement led to impulses to give up and say SCREW IT!  Do you know that feeling?  You put really high expectations on yourself and then when you don’t achieve them, you just give up completely?  It happens all the time, the procrastination/perfection circle.  It rears its ugly head and destroys many things and sadly, we harass ourselves into thinking it happens because we weren’t perfect enough, but the procrastination likely would have never occurred it we hadn’t expected perfection.  So the way to stop the cycle is to simply modify the expectations and be more realistic.  I won’t be perfect, so I might as well just ease up.  In the interest of really trying to be kind to myself, I’m letting it go.  I’m listening to that harsh inner critic (and mine is a real beast) and I’m just. letting. it. go.

perfectionism

I’m not giving up on the project, no way.  It is hard and my attention towards it fluctuates, but it is challenging me in interesting ways.  Recognizing that my reaction towards wanting to change things in life results in rigid and unreasonable expectations, I’m just revamping.  This is only 11 days in, so I’m sure such changes will only continue.  My focus on the body has been too rigid and involved WAY too many drastic changes.  Sometimes my head was just spinning with all of it.  Considering that I’m still adjusting to a new schedule and bringing in new things as time goes on (like the dog walking and teaching sporadic yoga classes), I’m doing a lot and I need some flexibility.  I have 4 different months this year to work on the focus on the Body, so this month I’m just keeping it focused on healthy movement and very basic things.

Here’s how I’m breaking it down even more:

  • Walking.  I’m using my pedometer and my goal is simply to get over 5,000 steps per day.  Getting 10,000 is great, but it really isn’t reasonable as a daily goal.  There are some days when I might spent several hours walking dogs and then, yes, I will walk many steps.  But on days when I’m seeing clients in my therapy office, my steps will be much fewer.  As long as I have over 5,000, I’m over the basic recommended number and not in the zone of what is considered a sedentary lifestyle.  That is a very reasonable goal, but it is also enough that I am moving and going on at least one hearty walk per day.
  • Food.  Eating is a big ole can of worms that I am not really ready to quite delve into this month.  I’m considering it to be my focus for April (the next time the project focus will be on Body).  There is so much to cover with this topic that it honestly is overwhelming.  Also, I have a history of getting really strict and weird with food and I am smart enough to know not to go down that road again.  So I’m keeping it basic.  I’m drinking lots of water, taking my vitamins and supplements daily, and eating as many fruits and veggies as possible (at least 5 a day). I love making juices and trying new recipes, but it isn’t something I can do regularly and honestly, I am sometimes just grabbing what I can.  I’m sure most of you out there know what that is like.
  • Structure.  Like a toddler, I need structure.  Silly me, I expected that the rigid expectations walk several miles, do crazy amounts of yoga and make super healthy green juice every morning would just get me bounding out of bed in the morning.  Instead, I’m waking up to many avoidance tactics that are familiar and very well practiced.  So instead, I’m going to gently add in some structure while also emphasizing gentle transitions from one thing to the next (balance!  what a concept!).  I could go into great detail about this, but it feels unnecessary.  Basically, I’m going to try to get to bed at a reasonable time, wake up at a reasonable time and take care of myself along the way so I don’t feel like avoiding different things.  I put off going to bed just because I don’t want to sleep yet and feel like I’m going to miss out on something (what is that?  Am I 5 years old again?).  So, I’m going to just ease into it- make some nice tea, wear some really comfy pj’s (I just bought a new pair at Target), cuddle with my dogs and read a good book.  I’m easing into it instead of harassing myself into it.  See?  Nice and gentle towards myself during transitions instead of acting like a drill sergeant.  There’s a real irony here that I’ve spent literally years of my life meticulously looking after children who needed carefully planned transitions and extremely consistent structure.  I understood completely why they were this way and I preached it like a religion.  And yet?  A night owl at heart, I instead dance around all night, eating chocolate, wrestling with my dogs, playing on the computer, singing in weird voices to my husband and then realize OH MY GOD IT IS SO LATE GO TO BED!  I turn out the lights and go to sleep with my little heart a flutter from all that activity.  I mean, come on! Chill!!!! Or rather, chill.  Okay.  Longest bullet point ever.  I’ll stop.
  • Yoga.  This has to be my favorite thing so far this month, except for maybe becoming completely enamored with the giant, hyper puppy I’ve been walking (he’s so cute!).  I’ve somehow fallen in love with yoga all over again and not just the practice, but the teaching as well.  This past week, my nervousness and apprehension about teaching that somehow came over me like a black cloud last summer just went poof!  and disappeared.  Yoga feels good.  It feels helpful.  I enjoy it.  I love sharing it with others.  I don’t have a set time or day for doing it, but I’m getting a bit in every day and some days, I’m getting a lot in.  That feels good enough for now and I can feel the momentum building.  Plus my teachers will return from Bali next week and I can’t be ready enough for them to come back (even though that means no more teaching for me, at least for now).

Sometimes when I write these posts, I feel acutely aware that they are self-centered and perhaps mundane.  Still, it is quite helpful to have a place to write about this process and also to use this blog as a way to stay accountable to the project.  I am REALLY good at starting things and giving up and the fact that I’ve had so many different blogs is just evidence of that.  So for what it is worth, it is so helpful for me to just come on and type all of this.  It would be ideal to only have intelligent and successful things to report, but you know?  I’m kind of a stumbler and I tend to learn things the hard way!  I’m not perfect!  That being said, it is 9:30 pm and I am working tomorrow.  So, time to make some tea and get in the bedtime mode.  Good night, world!  Happy new moon!

Do you ever set very high expectations for yourself?  How does it work out for you?  How do you modify them to become more reasonable and effective? 

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4 Responses to “Trying to find a balance”

  1. Jessie January 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    I understand completely the quest for perfection – and how it doesn’t work, and shouldn’t! I think your post was a great exercise in figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t. Like you, I need some structure, but not so much that I feel like giving up when I don’t meet strict expectations (and I’ve been there!). It sounds like you’re being kinder to yourself, which is SO important 🙂

    • blinddogmegan January 13, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      Yes, glad to know I’m not the only one who has that trouble sometimes (or a lot of times!). Finding a structure that works is so important, but if often seems I have to go a bit overboard with it and THEN find some a level of structure that is reasonable and helpful, but not overwhelming. And yes, being kind seems like the most important thing! Thanks for reading and commenting, Jessie!

  2. erin gets gone January 15, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    Always good to check-in and re-evaluate! Good luck and keep on, keepin’ on!

    • blinddogmegan January 15, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Yes, it is! It seems like a better option than continuing to struggle to accomplish something that clearly isn’t working. Thanks for commenting, Erin!

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