Then the latest issue of Real Simple arrived in the mail. It's quite possibly my favorite issue yet.
The entire issue is focused on living a balanced life, or whether there really is such a thing. I read page after page until I just couldn't keep my eyes open that night.
Several writers and those quoted talk about work-life fit, versus balance. That there's no magical equation on how much time should be devoted to work and home, but what's more important is how it fits for you.
In college and the years following, when I was new to newsrooms and wanting to prove myself at all times, I worked insane hours. I was single, childless and most of my closest friends were also in the newsroom. Some might say that's too much work, not enough life.
Here's the thing. I derive a huge amount of personal worth from my work. Yes, work will stress me out at times. If you were reading this blog in September and October, I was stressed to the max at work. But, I pull an enormous amount of personal satisfaction from my work.
Now I have M to think about and our time together is precious and the time we need to spend on the house. I also treasure time with friends and family. I will drop all things if someone really needs me, but a lot of times, I work until the work is done. If I spend the entire night worrying about that thing I didn't finish or email I wish I'd sent, then I'm still mentally at the office anyway.
At 30, not really old at all and yet it feels like some sort of milestone that should come with additional wisdom, I notice more and more how important "life" time is. They say that you'll never wish you spent more time at the office but that you'll wish you spent more time on life. Sometimes it honestly feels like one misstep and all the walls come crumbling down.
So is there a balance to strike or is it just up to each of us to decide how we divide our time, keep all the plates spinning and still enjoy our days?
Guys, the needs are huge. The whole time I wanted to raise my hand and say I'll help.
It's a fine line as a reporter, you have this distance you're supposed to keep from things you write about. It's ethics and the rules we play by, but at the time, in writing about your community, you often see first hand all the things that need to be done and all the ways you want to help.
Maybe it's not in separating our work and home life. Especially when work can be such an important part of who we are. Maybe it's in finding the ways our work life and home life complement each other and sometimes do need differentiation.
This week started thinking about balance and limiting my time with technology and being stressed. It's ending with me having the motivation and inspiration to move entire mountain ranges. I know myself well enough to know that there are times like this and then I exhaust myself, but in this season of thankfulness and giving, I will be forever grateful that I have bouts of intense "let's change the world" and really get some work done in those times.
As much as they say a balanced life is good for you, I have to wonder if something is missing from pure balance. Perhaps those who accomplish total zen are in on some secret that I'll never know, but I will again think of Nelson Mandela's words that I posted on Monday: There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
There are few work things that will ever be genuinely more important than family and friends. When they call, I will always go. But who't to say those I'm not related to and those whose name I may never know don't deserve my equal attention.
It's most certainly worth our time to put down our phones and step away from technology to give the gift of our presence, to live fully in the now. Time for quiet reflection is also a vital part of life. It's time to think of where we've been, where we come from, where we hope to go. It's time to choose what matters most and how to approach life going forward. It's one of those conversations with yourself that needs to happen again and again.
But we all have skills and gifts and they may not be perfect but we all have something to offer and to hold back on that for the sake of balance seems like such a great loss to me. I'll always take a break from my "change the world" modes for puppy cuddles and time with M or a long catch up call with my sister.
While listening to all those community needs the other night and working on a few other projects I've recently jumped head first into, my heart raced. Not from fear or sadness that there were so many needs (though, it is a bit mind blowing to really hear those needs laid out), but from all the ideas racing through my mind on ways to get involved. The journalist in me is always a bit wary of getting too involved, of caring too much, but as a human being, I can't imagine not caring and not doing all that I can do.
It's likely my life will never be the definition of balance. My Christmas cards will all be late. Our gifts will barely make it out the door before Christmas. I always feel terrible about that around this time of year and I so love giving and spreading cheer, but I can't help feeling that there's more to be done.
I don't have answers and won't pretend to give advice on living a balanced life, I'm certainly no expert. It doesn't sound like anyone has a real solution to this life balance thing. But I will say this. This week included tackling huge new projects, lighting a fire in some of them, taking on huge new responsibilities, getting up early, working late. And yet, I've never slept so well.
And with that, I give you Kid President.