Monday, 30 April 2012

Life Balance

I normally centre align my blog posts, but because this entry includes a list I have decided to right align it today! 

About 6 months ago my sister told me about the work of Chalene Johnson, who has become one of my heroes. Isn't she beautiful?!

She recently sent out an email about life balance. I like to think my life is fairly well balanced, and that I blog about a good mixture of subjects ranging from activities with my family right through to work. 

Chalene advises that balancing the following important areas of your life will help to achieve inner peace and satisfaction;  

1.) Environment and your every-day surroundings
2.) Time spent doing fun and leisure activities
3.) Time spent doing activities that result in personal growth
4.) Spirituality and faith
5.) Your career and fulfilling your purpose or calling
6.) Financial situation
7.) Relationships with friends and family
8.) Romantic relationship(s)
9.) Health and fitness
10.) Emotional health 

By identifying which of the important areas of life you are not satisfied with, you can start to take action to work towards improving that area of your life to achieve balance. 

I have decided to lay myself (almost) bare on short public a journey of soul searching and evaluate how I feel about those areas of life!   

 Environment and your every-day surroundings

The climate here in the UK is not so desirable and sometimes I think the Americans are a bit lucky because if it's too cold where they live, they can move without the complications of becoming an ex pat!  

I like the house that I live in and I love the garden. In dream land I would knock the wall down between the toilet and the bathroom so that we could have a bath, we only have a shower and I do like the odd soak! I would also split the lounge diner so that we have a more cosy lounge and open up the dining area into the kitchen so we have a nice, sociable kitchen diner. I would even give it an American 50's diner theme like something out of Grease! There would be french doors leading to the garden and a lean-to at the side, linking the house to the shed.

In super dream land we would buy a farm to operate the business from and of course live on.

In super duper dream land we would live somewhere warmer and all the family would be there too!  

The bottom line is that the house is comfortable and it makes me happy, so those dreams are exactly what they are, dreams. They are not important. 

What is important is having a tidy home! Disorganisation in the home means disorganisation in life, so time spent targeting this area of life needs to be time spent on sorting things out and making sure things are where they belong. My office definitely could do with a bit of TLC time, I have an awful lot of filing to do!       

Time spent doing fun and leisure activities

I'm very lucky. I gave up commuting to London to run a local landscaping business with my husband. This enables me a lot of flexibility and more time with my family. We might have to work the odd late night when we have a deadline for a tender we really want to win, but otherwise I get to do things like taking little girl out swimming during the week instead of the weekend when it's less busy and stressful, I can then catch up if I need to after putting little girl to bed, but by trying to be effective with my time management I don't often need to do this.  

I'm pretty disciplined with the business and avoid working at the weekends, this is family and fun time!  

I also like being able to pop into the garden to tend to my plants at lunch time!  

We definitely take enough holidays - with family spread across England & Scotland we have to keep taking mini-breaks to visit people. Sometimes it gets a bit tiring and we need time off to recover from time off! 
Time spent doing activities that result in personal growth

This is an area where I need to be more disciplined, because I would be a lot more advanced with my nutrition course if I was! Sometimes I feel trapped by being the business and working from home, and this course is my outlet for that.

Spirituality and faith

I do not have any formal faith, so I do not attend anything like church. If anything I believe in the beauty of the world, that everything is connected and that we need to live life conscious of what we are doing and how it affects others including other animals. I believe we need to be more grateful for what we have got and less materialistic but even I struggle to live by my own principles. I often find myself being wasteful or ungrateful. I think it's important to escape urban life every so often to get closer to nature and reconnect with where we came from. I doesn't cost a penny to go for a walk.

I believe that when we die our bodies nourish the ground which in turn will nourish other beings, eventually working right the way up the food chain, so we become part of everything.  The circle of life.

So right now we are consuming everything that has been before us and eventually we will replenish some of it. This is why I don't want to be cremated.  
Your career and fulfilling your purpose or calling

This is a tough one because I'm still not really sure what is my purpose or calling. When I had little girl I felt whole and my love for her is so strong, but to make her my purpose in life would be wrong. She might be my little girl, but her life is not mine, I gave her life. She is my responsibility and I must guide her. That is my purpose for now, but it will not be my purpose for ever. I don't want to hit middle age, have the kids move out and then not know what to do with my life, or worse still meddle in theirs continuously because I don't know what to do with my own! 

I have recently started a nutrition course because I really need to learn how to nourish my family properly and I've love to eventually use what I learn to help others. I don't think I'll know if it's my calling until I get there though. If it was my calling, surely I'd make more study time because I'm so passionate about it? Instead I'm usually so knackered by the time I've put little girl to bed and have some time to myself that I lack discipline and flump in front of the television with my husband which is bad. When I do study, it is often because he's found something to watch while I've been putting little girl to bed that I can't get into because I've missed the beginning, or I find it less interesting than studying. 

Financial situation

Same as most people, I guess - it could be better, but we get by! I think everyone wants more, but the most important things our life are catered for so anything extra is a materialistic bonus really. I'd like to pay off my student loan, but the interest rate is so minimal it's not worth worrying about!  

Relationships with friends and family

Every weekend we see some of our family which I love, my sister and I get together most weekends and we visit my husbands parents a lot as they live in the same town. Since having little girl, I've got out and met a lot of other mums in and around Brentwood which has been great. Since having little girl I have felt more like I belong here in Brentwood. Before I simply felt like a commuter living on the outskirts.

Romantic relationship(s)

Starting the business has been tough and it's weird that my husband is now my business partner. I've had to remind him on many occasions such as on a recent meal out that we are not in the office and long car journeys are now more like boardroom meetings, as is dinner time. I don't think it's such a problem at the moment, the business is new and needs a lot of work to survive and it's great that we have a shared common passion and the same working goals.   

My Husband and I also share a passion for the outdoors and enjoy hiking and cycling together which we always make time to do in the summer months - during the winter months he is busy pursuing Pike, which suits me because it offers me the freedom to pursue my own interests too which provides a good balance.

Health and fitness

In Summer 2009 I was at my peak fitness-wise. We were living in Walthamstow and I was commuting to and from Chalk Farm every week day by bike, so I was cycling approximately 24 kilometres per day. I weighed 50kg (which isn't as light as it sounds because I'm under 5ft). I probably wasn't very healthy inside because I wasn't eating enough and definitely wasn't getting enough nutrients. As a result I have shattered my metabolism and I still haven't shifted the weight I gained during pregnancy after 16 months! At 61kg I am now working on turning this around.    

Emotional health 

I'm definitely happier now than I have been in the last year. I wanted so badly to be a model Mum and I cared a lot about what others thought about my mothering. Now I don't care what other people think, I know my little girl better than anyone and I know what's right for her. Realising this was a huge weight off my shoulders. Another thing that helped was realising that everyone mothers differently so there will always be people who disagree with me. 

Another thing that has affected me adversely is the business. With an irregular income, commitments are hard to make and I found it hard to commit to the childcare levels that I needed. I was trying to run a business just two days per week and dealing with the stress from my husband who had to pick up the rest of the days plus his own demands. I now have three days childcare plus a lot of help from family which has made things easier. I miss not seeing little girl so much but I truly believe she has a better day when she's not with me during the week, with me she's stuck in the house entertaining herself when I have to respond to phone calls. When she's with the childminder she plays with other children and goes out places. We make up for it on the weekends and the few week days that we are together. Most Mondays we have fun such as swimming. There are the odd weeks where we're so busy we can't do Monday at all, other weeks we get all of Monday off :-) 

A final issue affecting my emotional health is my weight. It makes me self-conscious and I miss how confident I was when I was thin. I'm enjoying working towards combating it and look forward to getting my confidence back. 

So, from all this I've identified that I now need some SMART goals to help me to: 

1) Build up the business so that it can run with less input from me, this will free up more time for me to spend with my family  and pursue interests which are closer to my heart such as gardening, studying nutrition and helping others,

2) Devote more discipline to my nutrition course, and

3) Keep working on improving my health & fitness. My nutrition course will help with this tremendously. 

Now, isn't that time well spent? Use the comments below to let me know what your goals are! 

1 comment:

  1. good luck hun, you know what you want now go out and get it!