Posted by: minnow | January 1, 2015

Finding Balance

2014 has been one of the best years of my adult life.  I graduated at age 55 with a BFA in art and a renewed secondary teaching certificate.  I landed a job teaching 10th grade English and journalism (even though I’ve never even taken a journalism class before).  I have five healthy (and I think fairly happy) children.  My husband and I, while feeling our age a little more these days, have no major health complaints. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, clothing to wear, a car to drive, music to enjoy, books to read, and time to write (when I make it).

Each year on or near the first I land on a word to meditate on throughout the year. I give credit to God for the inspiration.  My “word for the year” two years ago was confront.  This past year it was release.  (Initially I thought they were connected in that I was supposed to let go of those things I didn’t confront the year before). In the end, release meant less to me than my Spirit inspired words have meant to me in past years and yet as I look back, it actually was a year of letting go.  I let go of needing to be, wanting to be, being, directly involved in my older children’s lives.  I let go of the protected environment of school related art projects.  I let go of arguing my point until the other person yells uncle.  (Okay, so I’m still working on that one).  But, I did let go of the known and familiar dailiness of graveyard work, full-time school, and various household duties in exchange for the new adventure of full-time teaching and a stint at semi-single parenthood.

Still, some parts of life I’ve been trying to let go of but have not been particularly successful in letting go of remain to taunt me.  I haven’t, for example, completely disconnected the guilt button.  I worry about the impact of my parenting mistakes on my children and how many of my bad habits they have picked up.  After 40 plus years, I still don’t balance my check book and often rob Peter to pay Paul. The financial stress spills into the rest of my life and flavors many if not all of my relationships.  I can be manipulated by the mere thought of not measuring up (or disappointing my Dad especially) and desperately want to prove myself–my point of view, my recollection, my facts–my worth.  Even if the messages I receive changed today, not enough years are left in my Dad’s lifetime or in mine to counter balance the negative messages I’ve already imbedded, rewind, repeat, replay and wrestle with–in each of my relationships.  I still need to let go of those tapes, of their toxic impact, of the past I cannot change.  Letting go is an on going process.

While most of my life I struggled to belong, fit in, be accepted or even {smiley face} embraced, 2014 was a year of growing my own wings and becoming comfortable with my aloneness.  I believe 2015 will be a year of learning to love my less than idea self.  Recently, I tried to explain what I meant to my oldest daughter and middle son.  I used the relatively minor example of pet ownership.  I have always wanted to be the perfect dog owner–the kind of person whose dog would follow me around, obey my every command, and be loyal to the death.  What I failed to realize about this ideal image is that it took a lot of work on the part of the owner.  In order for dogs to make that kind of deep connection with their owners they need to be loved, trained, cared for, and included.  The connection needs to be continuous and consistent. I am not that disciplined or that determined thus my idealized version of myself as a pet owner doesn’t have much of a chance to be realized.  A while back I decided I would quit telling myself the “someday lie” and simply face the fact that despite having a dog that would readily respond to that type of intense training I will not ever be the ideal pet owner.  Now I have to figure out how to be okay with the less than ideal self such a decision makes me in my own mind.

Kind of convoluted, right?  Well, multiply that simple example by a dozen other idealized images and you can begin to see where I live emotionally–how I struggle to balance my ideal self with my real self.  Expand the notion of ideal by applying it to education, politics, religion, social justice, etc. and you can begin to understand how I wrestle with the world around me.  My husband once queried if I had ever felt content.  Revisiting his question has inspired my journey to find balance between the real and the ideal.  A long time friend of my husband has for as long as I’ve known him signed his letters with the phrase Walk in Balance.  It has always irritated me.  I frankly don’t like the word.  Thus, it is no surprise that balance is the word the Spirit seems to have given me for 2015.  We shall see where it leads.

*          *          *

I am trying to maintain two blogs.  Minnowhealth and this one.  In the past I wrote posts about receiving a “word” on this blog.  This will be my last such post on this blog as I will now divide the more personal stuff (Minnowhealth) from the more issue oriented stuff (here).

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