It’s All in the Balance

We hear more about balance than ever before. Balancing work, the hours, the demands, and the stress. Balancing life, our health, our families, and checkbooks. Most of the advice you find on balance is in advice on the things you can “do” to get it. These lists are helpful to get our balance back; however, how far have we had to go to lose our balance that now has to be redefined and found? No barometer tells us when we are getting out of balance, just a loud thump when we hit rock bottom, falling off of the path, tripping over ourselves, face down, with everyone around us telling us to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. Rather than offering lists on how to get balance, how about pre-reads of the signs that indicate things are starting to get topsy before they are turvy?

To be able to take advice on how to be “in balance,” you have to know what makes up each side of the scale that is your balance. What amount of each thing in your life must exist in perfect balance to keep you from tumbling down? Once you can define balance, you can write your list of what out-of-balance looks like. Timing is critical in writing this list because doing it when you are out of balance is like looking for the path while lying flat on your back. 

“You can’t see the forest for the trees” – John Heywood

 Using my life as an example, I know that my non-negotiables are my family, my health (yes, I know this is second on my list, I am working on this!), my friends, my career, and all other things in the world. Putting all these on the scale is truly an exercise in the finest balance. Too much of any one thing throws me off into a spin cycle that creates a hurricane of activity around me that becomes a forcefield against any help with defenses up and openness down. (Sigh)

Despite my acknowledgment of the importance of balance, I inevitably allow my passion for the moment to take over more often than I wish to admit. If only there was a flag that would wave when everything else in my life starts to get out of balance. There isn’t a flag or a siren, and most of the time, no one is even paying attention until flags and sirens are required to get your attention! 

This will not serve as another list; no one needs yet another list. Instead, this is a cry for solidarity for us all to be our own barometer of balance. Stop every day and check yourself. Check your balance before mounting the beam and deciding what dismount to attempt!

Inspired by the “…forest for the trees…” I use it as a tale of two paths:

A Tale of Unbalance:

Here you stand in the middle of the most beautiful forest. You walk in, heading down a guided path, well-worn and manicured. Oh wait, is that a unicorn up ahead? Run, catch up to it, follow it into the trees, off the path, down to the water, hopping from one slippery rock to another, and then WHACK…you are down face-up, looking at a canopy of treetops above you. Where am I? How did I get here? Am I hurt? Can I stand on my own? (Let alone find bootstraps, who wears boots with straps anyway!!!) How do I find my way out? Do I call for help, or do I attempt to figure it out on my own? This is how it happens, proverbially, at least. 

A Tale of Balance:

Here you stand in the middle of the most beautiful forest. You walk in, heading down a guided path, well-worn and manicured by your hands, that created this balanced path throughout your life. Oh wait, is that a unicorn up ahead? Sit, be quiet, and give it the respect you deserve to meet each other right where you are on your respective paths. If you decide to follow, do so from afar, and you can never stray too far from your path. Take what you need from this moment, perspective and passion with patience. Add it to your scales of balance by first taking inventory of what you must give up to add it, doing it mindfully.

The lesson of these two paths is a lesson in mindfulness, yours. A lesson that those things that you have lined up along your path should never get in your way. They should not be obstacles. The moment these things threaten to trip you up is your sign. This is the pivotal moment you can stop and readjust before jumping over obstacles. One or two obstacles breed perseverance, but more than that threatens your balance, leaving you searching lists on the internet about how to regain your balance. Don’t lose it, and you won’t have to search for it. Treasure your balance. Respect it as clearly to have it is a prize only awarded to those willing to put themselves first on the list.

I cannot resist concluding with quotes from my favorite poem. Remember, when it comes to balance, you decide. You always decide, choices and consequences. Choose well and stay balanced. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 Life as I live it – L.

From <>

Moving to Moderation

HBR article “In Praise of Extreme Moderation” spoke to me this morning. This is an article that will resonate with every one of us regardless of where we fall; moderate or extreme. It calls out the new norm of practicing extremism in all that we do. It calls out the “new” need to do everything to a level of excess. Earning badges of courage and worthiness is where we find our value in today’s society. A society that reveres everyone as “something” whatever the label or title. A new world where competitiveness is a label that has become the norm and when lacking it speaks to ones drive, or lack thereof.

We are swept up in extremism so easily as companies push their products and services as only best consumed in excess. The tell us to:

  • Only write if you have an audience and are working on a bestseller.
  • Only run if you can get a PR every time and not only win a medal but rank.
  • Only eat what you are prescribed via a specific diet and track to prove you are doing it.
  • Post everything you do publicly as proof that you are doing what you say you are and therefore validating.

It is so easy to sucked into this way of living, or at least attempted living. It is maddening when we are in it and it is reckless when we are not.

The article brings us back to what is “enough”. When is enough enough. That is as personal a decision as it is public. It is when one-by-one we start removing the value assigned to extremes. It stops when we applaud those living in the middle and calm the accolades around those that are pushing the bar so far that reaching for it threatens everything you are if you don’t land on top.

The best way to conclude is to quote the author who sums it up perfectly.

But I have spent a lifetime honing my daily practice, worshipping at the altar of “good enough.” Today, I am neither superrich nor superfit nor supersuccessful. But I have just enough of each to qualify in my own personal marathon, the race for a balanced life. In the end, maybe this only really matters to me and my dog, who does get a lot of good walks out of it. To me, that’s enough. – Avivah Wittenberg-Cox

Live as I live it – L.

Dress Rehearsal to 50 with only six months more to practice before my debut!

Don’t see it, don’t hear it, don’t speak it…it is what you know…just be.

Time to stop the guesswork

Run don’t run, eat don’t eat, work don’t work, sit don’t sit…it’s insanity! Everything we are supposed to do, we aren’t. Everyone we are supposed to be, we shouldn’t. Where is the line and who decides when you cross over? What I know is that when I run I am a better version of me. What I know is when I don’t obsess over what I eat, I eat less and better. What I know is when I put boundaries around work, I have more expertise. What I know is that I can’t sit…I just don’t know how.

Six months before my 50th birthday and I am finally realizing that the first 49.5 years were the dress rehearsal for what will be the best days of my life. I have spent 49.5 years learning how other people do “it” and then trying “it” on for size. Well I finally know what works for me and now I need to do “it” and move on to the greatest performance of my life, my 50’s.

I know what styles fit my body best and it is not likely that after 50 years this will change. I know what foods work in my system best, as no one has a system like mine. I know how to do my job best for the company that is the perfect fit for me. I know what I know and for those things there should be no more decisions. Let knowing be the decision allowing more time for those mysteries that remain.

Figuring out the last act

What I believe lies in front of me, in the next six months is to figure out the rest. Those things that I have not found the fit. The monkey brain that cannot slow down, cannot stop thinking, cannot relent that is what is left to figure out. Even for that I know the course to take yet continue to stumble as it takes over. The noise, the never ending cacophony of what I should be doing all the time is the next frontier. Do I meditate, do I use oils, do I listen to spa music all day, do I watch tv, read, walk, sleep…RIGHT down the RABBIT HOLE I go!!!

I know what I know. We all do. It is just a matter of putting it all in its place. I control the mind, it does not control me. I control the reaction regardless of what plays out in front of me. Just like the brands I choose to buy, the people I surround myself with, the life I have created…I ultimately have control of this monkey mind and that is the mantra, the final act I will rehearse for the sake of sanity.

Putting it in place is the easy part. Playing it out is where the rubber meets the road. Easy to do when the day is yours to decide. Hard-as-heck when the pressures of life have their way with you.

Life as I live it – L.

Pain is Pain…diminishing it does not make it disappear

“There’s no hierarchy of pain. Suffering should not be ranked, because pain is not a contest. …by diminishing my problems, I was judging myself and everyone else whose problems I had placed lower down on the hierarchy of pain. You can’t get through your pain by diminishing it.”

Lori Gottlieb “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone”

Great quote and thought-provoking indeed. It elicited the following thoughts and questions. Somebody always has it worse and someone else will always have it better. It is not about somebody or someone else it is about you. It is about how you are affected by your life. Does your life serve you? Despite the past are you moving beyond what “was” to what “is”? Is this really about validation? Is it only “real” if someone else acknowledges how bad, how good, or how unremarkable “it” is?

Your normal is all you know and is your baseline for all definitions. My pain is my pain and better not defined as a comparison of yours. So often we diminish what we are going through because someone else has it worse. However, that we are acknowledging that someone else has it worse is again only defined by our own baseline, and in reality not real.

I have had to explore this concept in my life as I attempted to “fix” my own concept of normal, pain, and pleasure. This is the foundation of self-care. There are so many people that do not care for themselves and do not put the work in because they blow it off through the ideal that somebody else always has it worse or that their experience is less than another’s. Ultimately your experience is the only one that matters and diminishing it, pain or pleasure takes something away from you. It robs you of the full experience. I think about this in terms of both sides; perspective is my drug. Come along with me while I go down in “it” for a moment!


Let’s start with pleasure as it is less “one-upped” than pain. It is simply not as often that someone will take away your pleasure through their own grander experience as it does not serve them to be a braggart as easily as it does to be the victim.

My experiences are not worldly as I have never traveled outside of this country. While I do not know the pleasure of seeing the Louvre or sailing on the Mediterranean, I do know the absolute elation of sitting in front of the ocean, 40 miles outside my door, smelling the salty air, hearing the crashing waves and feeling that all is right with the world. While I have never known the pleasure of owning a million-dollar mansion I know what it feels like to have owned a modest home in the middle of the woods that I have created and adore and respect for all of the things it gives to me. This is a pleasure as I define it and can never be made less for those things that I only know, as better, because of someone else’s “one-up”.


Tough as it is to swallow there is indeed someone that always has it worse than you. For the ultimate “worse” is death; or is it? (That is a topic for another blog.) Pain, physically and mentally, seems to be the ultimate test of one-upmanship. I think it can best be told as recited by my husband’s story during a recent “man-trip” with his friends and one “friend of a friend” that was invited to come along that unbeknownst to them was a “one-upper”. After a long day of driving my husband had remarked that his back was hurting and lamented that it was because of previously breaking his back from earlier-in-life “race-day’ injuries. While my husband was in no way attempting to elicit a response other than to lament on his own pain the “one-upper” immediately spoke up and said, “Well, I died!” …to which my husband laughed as if thinking this guy was trying to be funny. He wasn’t. He proceeded to bring photos out of him near-death with tubes running from him. An intensely dramatic response to someone’s simple lament of a backache. While this example is laughable the reality of physical or mental pain is not humorous at all and only made worse by the denial of treatment because you are diminishing your pain as not being as bad as another. Better said a “suck it up” approach. I attempted this approach for many years of my life and finally realized that sucking it up had gotten me to nearly 300 pounds. It was in finally reaching for both the mental and physical help that I needed that I would resolve this pain and live the life I was meant to live all along. Regardless of how bad someone else I knew had it. In truth, it was the idea that I did not have it “as bad” as others or had faired better that I allowed “it” to go on for so many years.


I would be remiss to not include the one area of my life that has been affected by all of the one-ups that life has to offer. I have not struggled with pain or pleasure by my definition or yours; the defining moments of my life have always felt diminished by the “norm”. This is truly where growing older has been my therapy. I spent so much of my 20’s and 30’s feeling less-than all of those around me that had gone “off” to college and would speak of the tales of those college days. My college experience was much less about “tales” and far more about “torment”. I would work full-time, raise a child, and study in between it all to earn my education. I would hold back on reciting my alma mater as it would not be as revered as the Ivy League colleges that many of my colleagues had the benefit of attending. The greatest tale of this blog is that somewhere in my 40’s I realized…”Wait…I am sitting in the same boardroom, with the same or better title than “them”. Could it be that my small college education ended me in the same exact place without the sorority stories, without the tales from the dorms and ultimately without the expense of a fancy education? YES!!! It did! It was in this revelation and many more that I would realize that my life experiences were not “less than” and instead come to acknowledge that they were richer, they were grander and they ultimately were unlike anything you could pay for in therapy, education or experience.

I was thrust into this world diminished on the surface but defined on the inside. I would never be a product of my environment. I would never be diminished by the trailer I grew up in, the status of my parent’s dysfunctional relationship, or my teenage choices. I would, however, be defined by all of them proving to myself and anyone that cared to take notice that I was going to be greater because of it, not despite it. These are not one-up stories you tell to the masses, they are pulled out like the gems they are to lift others up that have “assumed” that you and your current state are “more than” theirs. It is in these moments that I revel in the story of “one-undering” someone by motivating them with the idea that “If I can do it you CAN too!” It is the ultimate opposite of “one-upping”.

I have to respect where I am at any moment in time and that means that I acknowledge my pain and my pleasure equally as I define it, I no longer diminish it. I am empathetic by nature and will always listen to others’ stories of worse or better however I will always keep in check that their journey is not mine and my journey is the one I am here to live and define as worth living. I know pain, I know the pleasure it is not learned or defined by any other standard than my own. Own it…I do.

Life as I define it – L.

Seeking Normal – Day 18

Day 18 prompt:

Do you recognize “normal” in your life when it is at its peak?

At what point do you look back and realize that you long for “normal”? Sometimes it is a normal that you didn’t even realize you had until it’s gone.

My answer:

Well we are all keenly aware of what normal was as we are all affected by the lack of normal we likely took for granted previously. While we are now looking back and longing for normal I think there is a great many of us that are looking back and realizing that they do not want to go back to that normal. They are feeling better; physically or mentally, and in this new place are deciding that some of what has made this time different will now become a new normal.

I have found it surprising how much I actually miss the 1-hr commute to work everyday and being “in the office”. I now realize how much balance that offered as I was able to mentally identify work and home in their respective places. Now that my home is where everything takes place I find myself anxious as I have not easily created balance. We all know that balance is how you juggle the various roles you play and is so key to our health. My goal for this coming week is to identify an “end of the day” that I respect as much as I do the “start of the day”.

How are you changing your normal for the future? What have you recognized in this time frame that you relate to better than you did before? Is anyone making any large life changes? New job? New home? Share what is changing for the better and what you relish as your norm now that you have had the benefit of hindsight!!

Life as I live it – L.

Separation…give it space and time

Separation is…

Initially when you think of the act of separating it likely brings about negative feelings. The act of taking something apart, the idea of removing one thing from another feels like loss. However what I have learned is that separation is the very thing that brings about perspective; not sometimes, but every time.

The word separation when said alone immediately brings about the idea of a marriage being pulled apart. “We are separated” is understood to mean that we are not together and we are not divorced, or permanently apart, we are removed from one another. An interesting fact about separation in marriages as quoted…

Separation can be good for marriage depending on the circumstances of the couple. If both partners are willing to work through current problems, separation can be a great way to process individual issues before reuniting. With that said, about 80 percent of separations ultimately lead to divorce.

Wow! My assumption on that jaw-dropping statistic is that by the time the couples choose the separation things have gone too far and “working through current problems” becomes unrecoverable.

Separation has positive defining-properties that are worth exploring and exercising in your own life:

  • Separation between work/personal – I struggle with this concept as I like to say we have “one life” and to think that there is a separation between work and personal feels impossible in this tech-filled world. However when applied, separation between work and personal actually means allowing time for each in its right time. When we are unbalanced we allow one thing to take over the space of the other which impedes. Keeping work and personal in their respective spaces allows focus. In this focus, when we are in those spaces we are ultimately giving MORE of us than can be realized when it is all a blended state of being.
  • Separation in decision-making – I have learned this best at work and have learned to relish in the concept. We often talk about “sleeping on it” when we are making a major decision to make sure that when we allow separation between the initial need to make a decision and the actual decision we have allowed time to settle our thoughts. Making a decision in the moment can be impulsive and reactive. You are making the decision based on something that has happened in the present however taking the time to allow the present moment to pass and then consider the decision without impulse allows for sound decisions that withstand time.
  • Separation in relationships as quoted “absence makes the heart grow fonder” can be a very positive act. When we are with each other each and every day we become numb to the nuances that originally made the relationship special. When we are apart we often miss the things that made us fall in love or like with the person to begin with originally. When you have a strong base to the relationship and then come back together it feels like time has never passed and yet the bond in that moment is stronger than before.

I conclude with one final thought about separation. When taking things apart you are truly able to appreciate the individual parts as they are no longer blended with the whole. This is the theory of “seeing the forest for the trees”…

When you are too close to a situation you need to step back and get a little perspective. When you do you will notice there was a whole forest you couldn’t see before because you were too close, and focusing on the trees.

When you are too involved in the details you forget the importance of the whole. This is also frequently cited as being too granular, going down the rabbit whole and analysis paralysis. Pull back, separate the parts and remind yourself of the whole. When you are “flying at 30,000 feet” you see an entirely different perspective that likely gives better context when your feet are back down on the ground.

I am actively exercising separation in my life, making sure that there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Living wholly is satisfying and where true contentment lies because nothing is taken for granted. Take it a part and then decide how you want to put it back together…it may look different when whole again…and that is likely a good thing.

Life as I live it…L.

Back to me…

I had a great conversation with my Aunt this week, I asked her what she thought of the last few blogs that were born out of my reactions to the books I am currently reading and she said “I didn’t love them”. I wasn’t surprised because quite frankly, neither did I. Her point was that people are following my blog because of me. My life experiences, my stories, life as I see it. Her fear is that I will lose my audience if my writing is centered around other people’s experiences as everyone has the same access and if they wanted to follow those people they would. Additionally it’s not so much about their work as much as it is about my reaction to their work and that is where I was finding the difficulty in my writing. As I found myself so illuminated by these writers I am compelled to share however instead of owning it and its transformation in my mind I was sharing so literally that my writings were mired with quotes and annotations that took me away from my true thoughts. It’s with this sentiment that I start again and bring it back to me.

One of my core values in life is Owning It and Never Giving Your Power Away. So for today I would like to explore these two concepts from my perspective, because in this blog that is what it’s about…me! 🙂

In reflecting on how to stay focused on what and how I want to write I remember that Owning It means that I own the thoughts that are provoked at the experiences as I have lived them and as they show themselves. Even when reading provokes thoughts and emotion, they are mine to own, mine to share. We know that three people can read the same thing and come out with three very different perspectives and therefore there is great value in citing that perspective from my point of view without citing so literally. This is the easy part of owning it; it gets much harder in life when we own who we are without apology and what we want to do without permission. These are the times when owning it becomes an active verb, one that requires you to “stand in it”, not waiver and do “it” anyway.

Never Give Your Power Away. Not in the good times, not in the bad, not ever…it is simply not necessary. Not in your writing and not in any of your efforts; not for good and not for guilt. Don’t make someone else the “reason” for your thoughts or actions. This is the fine line where owning it and giving your power away meet. You are doing whatever you are doing for YOU. I always cringe when I hear people say “I am doing this for ___________”. It comes across as a way to justify the excess of the moment rather than owning that maybe they are really enjoying that moment, opportunity or advantage. More often than not we see people give their power away when they don’t speak up for themselves or how they feel. When they compromise to a point that they are paying a higher price than who they are compromising with. I am reminded of this when dealing with people that do not bring out the best in me; as I am handing over my power in that moment that they are evoking the worst of me. Why would I do that? Why is that person so important that I would compromise who I am, what I stand for or my person for them? They aren’t, trust me when I say no one is!

My life as i have come to know it is different then everyone around me, and theirs are different than mine, we truly all have a story and how we tell it or if we tell it can make the difference. Owning that story can create power. There were many moments in this life that I tried to keep my story under wraps, because I didn’t want to own it, however as I got older I came to realize that my story, every moment, shaped who I had become. There was no shame in that and instead I found myself so grateful for MY journey as I am certain that my life today would be different had I not had the experiences that have defined me. In owning it I have also learned to retain the power of my story where it serves me and to only give away that which I was carrying that was never mine to own. THIS IS THE POWERFUL STUFF…handing power away NOT giving it away but putting things back where they belong when they were never yours to begin with…this is where the power play is won. But that is an entirely different story for another day…to be continued. L.

Singular Sensation – Daily Post

As I have taken on this new blog I am learning as I go. I get a tip or assignment daily from WordPress Blogging University which is helping me to learn a bit more about all things blogging! Today’s assignment is to pick a writing prompt from “365 Days of Writing Prompts” and as it would turn out the prompt assigned today is…

If one experience (or life change) results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?

This prompt could not be more perfect as I am 11 days into this journey and I am absolutely astonished at the response. The answer to the question above is simple…

I would like it to add value to the lives of my followers by offering a perspective on life as I see it. I have no expectation that everyone will agree with my perspective nor do I want them to; I just want to start a conversation or dialogue on topics that appeal to me.

My second answer (I know it only asks for one but it’s my blog 🙂 is that I want to become a writer but realize I already am as I have been writing for years. The difference is that by sharing through this blog I hope to become a better writer through a daily writing discipline. Where it takes me is anyone’s guess, I am only thinking about today.

In 11 days of writing I have had a number of surprises internally and externally.

  • Internally I am shocked at the depth of my words. As I write, the words come to me, the quotes, the ideas of where to go with that day’s post just pour out on the page.
  • Externally I am so blessed to have received the amount of feedback from those of you that have taken interest in my new endeavor. The first night, hitting that PUBLISH button was about as unnerving as anything I had done of late. The second toughest night of pushing that button was when posting “The Smiling Faces of Depression”. I probably read it 50 times before posting. In the end your feedback was heard LOUD and CLEAR. That post inspired so many conversations it was clear I hit a chord. This is the work I want to do. Not the easy topics; unicorns and rainbows are great but talking about the topics that are buried deep down in our society are what will move us forward. That is where I want to go and clearly have gone.

My hope is that you will continue to follow because it is serving you. I know it’s not for everyone and I know some of these topics will make you squirm. But where you feel that restlessness is likely where you need to go.

Thank you. L.