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As I type this, I am: writing an email, next week's list of things to do, scheduling the staff meeting this afternoon and writing this post all at once, and I wonder for a second if it is an appropriate time for my third cup of tea. It is 1:58 PM in the afternoon on Valentine's Day and no one in my office has received any midday roses yet.
I give in to a cup of yogurt instead.
We are well past the "New Year" honeymoon phase now, and February is already halfway gone. With my work schedule, financial schedule, gym schedule, and "family-drama" schedule, I ponder the word "balance" with a silent snort.
I once read an article that said, “There is not work life or play life, there is just living.” Or something along those lines. Yet women are judged (and more often than not, judge one another) on a daily basis for lacking balance when it comes to sorting out their own division of family, work, school and the likes. I don't know if there really is an acceptable balance: 50/50 is far too "balanced" of a number to be the real deal. But just that sentence alone makes 50/50 almost seem idealistic, and ultimately unattainable.
I try to think of what I did to get through my earlier years that might differ from how things are going now, and I realize that even while I was in school it still felt impossible to find the right balance between everything. This was an entirely different chapter of my life that I can't associate to what I'm doing now...and I realized that it wasn't, in fact, about balance after all. It was about Chapters.
In the 26 short years that I've blinked my eyes and breathed Earth's oxygen, I can definitely say that there have been Chapters of my life when I've had to sacrifice work life for school life and appropriately, vice versa when necessary. A Chapter of schooling is all about which library to study in: the one with the coffee shop next door or the one that has separating desk panels, finding the right level of music so you can listen and study at the same time, getting from one class to another before the bell and remembering that your tuition is supposed to pay your books first before paying your rent.
A Chapter of "all-kids-all-day" might look like more park days, more spaghetti on the walls, and more end-of-day laundry while a Chapter of "all-kids-in-school" might mean more showers, more afternoon naps and more spending time outside the house. There could be a Chapter on part-time jobs, a Chapter on being a single parent or a Chapter on having a really bad cold. Some Chapters might look messier than others, and some might look like the feeling of a nice summer breeze. But most of all, Chapters are gauged, written, and determined by your own intuition, reasoning, circumstances, and choices.
Ultimately, deciding what to prioritize isn't the true focus of what I'm trying to depict here. There is no real way of saying that any one thing should be placed above the health, security, and love of our children, our families or ourselves. In fact: if there is something happening to you that you feel has become detrimental to yourself or your family unit, then perhaps it is just time for a new Chapter—a “change of priorities” Chapter, if you will.
In this sense, it isn't really about trying to 'balance', but maybe more about embracing.
What we resist, persists—as dear Carl Jung would suggest. When we complain and shame or guilt to ourselves during a short-term season of chaos, we subconsciously encourage it. We end up feeling terrible about ourselves, occasionally even getting physically sick and find ourselves in a state of depression, anxiety, and struggle.
When we choose to embrace the turning of the page towards a new Chapter, we shift our perspective from "experiencing" to "experienced," equipping yourself with what you need for the tasks that you are about to face whether that is mentally, emotionally or physically. Not sure how to prepare yourself? One way to start can be by redirecting your focus by utilizing your favorite way to unwind, or perhaps meditating—affirming that we will be equipped with exactly what is needed during this time. It is also surrounding ourselves with the right tribe mates who will be supportive and optimistic around you. It is taking the time to find gratitude, even in the midst of hell, for as many things as we can.
And sometimes it can even be about being grateful for the chaos in our lives, as that gives our lives a contrast. Without contrast, it becomes a lot harder to appreciate the calm and smooth moments nestled within our Chapters. It is also about giving ourselves grace every time we get frustrated, sense in ourselves feelings of guilt or shame. It is about offering grace to others when they are unable to appreciate the space we are in (although, more than likely, they are simply acting out from their own place of guilt and shame).
These Chapters are about love. Love for ourselves, for our family, for humankind. Knowing that this love is what connects and supports us all, through every page in every chapter of our lives.
Or...it could be about that third cup of tea. Maybe.
So: here's to your current Chapter, wherever you are in writing it, and may you embrace it with twice as many cups of tea as you need.