Balancing Balloons

Healthy Lifestyles, self improvement, The Inspired Life

It isn’t easy balancing all the different areas of our lives. Sometimes it feels as if we are hanging on to a giant bunch of colorful balloons and if we aren’t holding on tightly to every single string then …POOF! There goes all of our balloons up in the air drifting away, heading for the clouds or trees, getting caught up in the branches of life.

Ever felt like a wailing child who’s balloon just went POP? Whaaaaaa, There went my red balloooon……

But Honey…you still have a green one.

But I neeeed my red one tooooo……

Of course you do. We need all of our Balloons. Every single one of them. But somehow, just as you get the air back in the Physical Fitness Balloon the Spend Time with Family Balloon starts sinking slowly to the ground. Then Bob at work signs you up as the team leader for an important project and the Business Balloon gets puffed full of air while the Fitness Balloon takes a nosedive. And that Spiritual Balloon? Comes up only on Sunday. The Finance Balloon? Well, You kick it along on the ground with your toe, just to help it keep up.

Sure, you have goals. But every time you start on a goal, something else seems to suffer. It’s almost frightening to start something new. It’s like planning to fail, you can just feel one of those balloons start to lose air. The question is…which one?

It doesn’t have to be so frightening. ( says the Queen of focus) ( yes, I know, it’s terrifying) There is a way that can help those of us that struggle to keep our balloons in the air. I write this as one who struggles. I write as one who is learning as I go along. Not as an expert. I once said you would never hear about how I am an expert in balance at Life’s Little Inspirations. And you won’t. But I will share what helps a cobbler, cobbling along. Balance is my handicap. I get a new gig and I run full force with two feet forward until I fall down. However, as I learn and grow, I fall faster and get up quicker. I grab my balloon string just as it starts to slip now instead of after the red balloon is gliding off to heaven. I’m learning some tips to help me hang on to my balloons.

I thought I’d share my tips with you, maybe you can share some of yours with me, maybe together we can keep our balloons a little longer!

Wendi’s Tips For Balancing Balloons

  • Label your balloons clearly. It’s not enough to know that they are the RED Balloon and the GREEN Balloon. Get in touch with your main balloons. What are they? What are the main five to six areas of your life that need your daily focus? What balloons are you trying to keep in the air?
  • Look at your goals. Name the number 1.2.& 3 goals for each balloon. Now take a good look. Are these connected? Or do they have you running in circles? Try looking for a long term goal, then breaking it down into a ninety day goal. Now what can you do this week to affect that goal? How about today? See the difference? You might want to put the other two goals aside for a bit if they weren’t connected to the long term vision. The point of the exercise is to end up with a short term, a mid-term (90 day) and your long term goal.
  • Put it in Writing. Now that you have a goal for each balloon, put it in writing. IF YOUR PLAN IS NOT IN WRITING, IT ISN’T A PLAN, ITS A DREAM. Get out your planning calendar and start filling in dates that you will take action on your plan. Seeing an actual appointment on your calendar will hold you more accountable. Write in the TIME that you will do the action. Make the actual appointment. IF it’s not on your calendar, it’s not a plan…if it’s not a plan…it’s a dream. ( Starting to sink in?)
  • Ask yourself WHY? Why have you made these goals? Staying motivated to keep balanced in all of these goals is difficult. It takes discipline and focus. Staying Motivated is linked to your inner purpose, your inner drive and your passion. No passion = no fuel in the tank to make it happen. Write down the WHY of your goals. “I am doing this because….. ” Make sure you know what your passion is for each one of your balloons. Sometimes we only feel passion for one of our balloons at a time. This is the single largest reason our other balloons start sinking to the ground. Start a sentence for each balloon that says “I am passionate about this because…” and review it daily.
  • Record and compare & Journal. Track your results in a daily planner or on your calendar. Be accountable to the progress you made in each area. Remember, this isn’t a long list. With only one goal of focus in each area, you are only looking at a few minutes a day. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by making your expectations too high. The goal is one bite of the elephant at a time in each area. We aren’t out to eat the entire herd! Journal about your progress and expectations. No matter how it FEELS like it’s going, stay the course! The discipline of sticking it out when the going gets rough brings opportunity and personal growth, whether you meet the original goal or not!.
  • Create an visual reminder. Draw a chart with the five circles in it, or make a poster board with different color balloons if that helps you. Keep it present, in front of you. Out of sight is out of mind. If you want to make a dry erase board that you can write on every day-go for it! What ever makes it easy for you to envision the balloons that you are trying to keep up.
  • Keep it fun! You are more likely to stick with something if you are having fun with it. Balloons are fun for me to imagine, But you can turn balloons into whatever is fun for you. Have a good time with it.  Running shoes, or Stars or Olympic Circles. One point of the theme that is significant to me is that they are all connected. It reminds me that no part of my life survives untouched without the rest. When my health suffers, my family suffers, when my family suffers, my work suffers. When my work suffers our budget suffers. And around and around it goes.

Balance is important. That doesn’t mean that it will ever be easy for me. I think I’m genetically predisposed to be creative and energetic and run through life like a shooting star. Not so much like a Zen Master. But by finding creative and fun ways to work on balance, I can keep my balloons from floating away.

How about you? How do you keep your balloons from flying off to heaven or running out of air? Please share! We all need the help!

Advertisements

The Garden Gate

family, Healthy Lifestyles, leaving a legacy, self improvement, The Inspired Life, Uncategorized

 

Through the gate is something more. Does it make you wonder? What lies beyond the garden gate? What majesty? What splendor?


Or are you busy rushing by, not taking time to notice. Does every moment have you booked, tick-tock, your time is over….wake up tomorrow, do it again..tick-tock…tick-tock…tick-tock.

Busyness. Rushing around. Fitting it all in. Adding one more thing to the already over loaded to-do list. Juggling all the balls up in the air. Praying, hoping they will just stay up there. Somehow.

God, it’s exhausting.

Where is the balance? Where is the peace and tranquility? Where is the time for creativity, family, laughter?

At the Garden Gate.

At the garden gate, if you choose to open the gate and walk in, you will find the peace you are looking for. You will find the time to spend with family. You can paint. You can play. You can read, You can play ball, go for walks, exercise, whatever you want to do. Go fishing. What do you want to do beyond the gate? What dream have you been putting on hold? It can happen.

You just have to make that choice. Go ahead. Walk through the gate.

But….if I walk through the gate….I won’t have time for………

What? Finish that thought. What are the time wasters that are keeping you from walking through the Garden Gate?

Are you….

Over-promised with commitments that really aren’t that important to you anymore but you don’t know how to get out of?

Over-extended with family and friend obligations that feel like *have-to* events that cut into meaningful family time?

Over-prioritizing unnecessary time-wasters like Internet, computer games, TV that are really just procrastination devices?

Overwhelmed with disorganized habits and clutter that slow you down and cause you to be inefficient with your time?

What others? There are more, many more.

What can we do to get closer to the gate? To open it more often? At least get in for a visit now and then. Maybe hang out on the weekends for starters. Then work our way up to an hour or two every day. After awhile, you may realize a wonderful surprise. It is possible to LIVE in the garden all the time. It can become a lifestyle. It isn’t easy at first, and it takes breaking some habits. But it’s worth it. The garden is a beautiful, peaceful, wonderful place to live where you have time to explore your hobbies and spend time with families and friends, and enjoy long interesting conversations filled with laughter and fun.

Here are a few of the things that our family has done to enjoy more time beyond the Garden Gate.

Turn off the TV. Unless we are enjoying a family night watching a movie together with popcorn and the whole fun deal, the TV isn’t on. No sitcoms, no news, no droning on in the background sucking away our attention. We are free to pay attention to each other and play with each other.

Reduce clutter, get organized This is an on-going challenge. We have been on a mission for the past two years to reduce any and all clutter and unnecessary gadgets and materialistic *stuff* from our lives. Result? Less stuff=less to clean and take care of. Easier ability to organize the important things that we do want to keep. That means more family time to play.

Prioritize value of commitments. We took a hard look at the groups, clubs and meetings we were a part of and started analyzing their value to our family. It was an eye-opener! We began the process of evaluating our commitments differently. Time started showing up right there! This is a constant review that is always being re-evaluated. What are your family values? How do your commitments measure up?

Schedule time for things you want to do. Get your family’s stuff on the calendar FIRST. It is going to be much easier to say  “Oh, I’m so sorry we can’t make it to the 100th birthday party this month, we already have something on the calendar”  when you actually DO have something on the calendar. There isn’t any reason to mention that the calendar says “spend the entire day playing with our family.” Your family is priority number one. AND oh by the way…so are you.

Plan dinner time. Bringing back the family dinner time in the dining room has done more to slow down our lives then all the rest. Planning menus ahead of time, being prepared and having a relaxing, non-rushed dinner with a set table, candles and everyone enjoying conversation has been a wonderful experience. There have been many evenings that we have sat chatting and laughing all the way until bedtime. I strongly recommend the return of candle-lit dining room dinners as often as possible. They are magical!

 

Through the Garden Gate is a simpler time with more focus on getting back to basics, nature, family and good friends. Spending quality time doing the things that are truly important to you, not the things that are on your *should* list or your *I feel guilty so I have to* list. It’s not a life built around keeping up with the latest gadgets and the ‘Jones’ and making sure you are on the right side of the Star-Bellied Sneetches this week. It’s about letting go. Cutting back. Focusing on the Truly Important.

Would you care to join us beyond the Garden Gate? It’s beautiful in here. Come on in…

In the Silence are the Answers…

Healthy Lifestyles, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life, Writing

 

I think I was twelve the first time someone turned to me with hands on their hips, frustrated, ready to rip out their hair and shouted, “Wendi! You know what your problem is??? YOU THINK TOO MUCH!!!”

Oh, OK, then…I’ll just…stop…???

But what if…????

The world is an amazing place. Under every leaf and rock is a whole new world just waiting to be explored and questioned. Taken apart, piece by piece, examined, put back together again with all the pieces topsy-turvy and somewhere new. Creativity is the child of the questions Why and How.  The answer to the why-nots, and the-oh, yes I can’s.

Questions, Questions, Questions. Yes, I can be the Queen of questions. I started asking them at three and never shut up. So I am told. Guilty as charged. I honestly believe that if I have a ‘secret to my success,’ it is the asking of questions and looking for answers.

After all, I am a high school drop out. Twice. But that didn’t mean I had to stay there. I tried going back once and circumstances knocked me off my feet again. So… off to get the GED and on to College. There is always a way around to go get the answers if you really want them. Then there are books. Amazing, wonderful books. If you can read, there is virtually nothing standing in between you and anything you want to know.

And now we have the Godzilla of information…the INTERNET. Oh…we live in a privileged time of answers. What do you want to know? Within moments, the answers can be at your fingertips. Technology, Shakespeare, how to make your first million. Right there…Google can set you free…Ask and you shall receive…glory be…

But there are some answers that can’t come to you with the click of a button. Google can’t answer the nagging little questions bottled up in your spirit. It won’t tell you why you ate that stinking rotten doughnut not ten lousy minutes after you PROMISED yourself you were really going to diet this time FOR REAL. It can try, but it doesn’t know you. It won’t write your next article or tell you why you are procrastinating today. It won’t let you in on why you feel restless or angry and don’t even know why OR why you changed your outfit seven times and swear you gained ten pounds, even when the scale assures you it is only one.

What’s the matter? Why the sudden writer’s block?  The lack of creativity? Why aren’t things working the way you planned them on the goal list? Maybe you haven’t even come up with one? Why not? What are you afraid of? Why the anxiety, the sense of self-defeat? Why the little voice in your ear telling you it’s not enough, that you aren’t enough? Why are the things you say not adding up to the things you do?

There are answers to those questions too. Not on the Internet. Not at school. Not in all the self-help books. Not even here. They are in you. Within you are the answers you seek-if you will take the time to be quiet and listen.

Here are a few of the methods that I use to do this:

Prayer/meditation

Find yourself a very quiet place, get comfortable and make sure that you will not be disturbed. Now I am not going to begin to tell anyone how to pray in any specific religious sense here so please interpret my use of the word to mean whatever spiritual power works for you. What I find to be very powerful is to just have an honest unloading of what is going on, along with the problems and questions that need solutions. I actually do this out loud. If that is too uninhibited for you, try it in your mind. Then be silent. Do your best to calm and relax your mind to have no thoughts at all. I find focusing on a candle helps a lot. With practice, it is amazing how much creativity, answers and solutions come through the silence. It might be a good idea to have a pad of paper close by so you can jot down any great brainstorms as the free flow of ideas loosens up.

Journaling/ reading

The written word has a powerful ability to communicate with us and send us messages we hadn’t seen before, even if we have read the same passage over and over again. Anyone who is a frequent Bible or inspirational book reader can speak of specific quotes that have jumped off of pages and were “just what they needed to hear” at the right time. This can be enhanced by combining it with journaling out specific issues and questions, therefore solidifying certain topics firmly in the mind’s focus. Then picking up random reading, the mind seems to focus on just what it needs to bring you the answer that you were looking for. It may seem magical, but it is a way of communicating with your subconscious, (or God or higher power if you like) which has the answers that you need.

Another journaling tool is to just start free-form writing down everything that enters your head, letting creativity flow, and brainstorming solutions. In the privacy of not having to worry about being wrong, your creativity is freed to open up and explore new ideas and solutions. Promise yourself that you will burn or shred the paper so that you are freed from the constraints of worrying about what you write if that is an issue for you.

Nature/exercise

The solitude of running, walking, boating, camping or any way of communing alone with nature is a wonderful way to seek the answers that you need. While it is true that I have heard of athletes who can get “in the zone” at health clubs enough to feel that sense of meditation, I think it is a rare person who has that kind of focus. Out in nature, one can think and soak up the nature, the beauty and the silence and the world and its problems almost naturally take on a different perspective on its own. It is a wonderful way to use the methods of exploring the asking of questions and then waiting in silence for the solutions. The only drawback that I personally have had with this method is when I have had such great ideas, I have become frustrated due to not being able to run and write at the same time and  by the time I get back, I have lost some of them. When I was training for my first marathon, I carried a little portable recorder for a few of the long runs to record ideas that came to me.

Drawing/painting

Art. Although I also paint landscapes and *things*, when I am in the listening mode, I am more apt to put on some very quiet meditative music and doodle. With pencils or paint, I just let whatever is *in*, come out. I am often very surprised to see what lands there. The intent is to have no pre-conceived idea or plan, just let *it* out. The result of a session like this is usually like an awakening, a feeling of an AHA, then peace.

I highly recommend messy art. It is good for the soul.

I would love to hear how other people listen for their “Inside Voice Answers.”  We all have them, sometimes it’s a matter of how often we are checking in.  How often do you check in? How do you get there? I would love to know. Please give me your thoughts and your methods!