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!


Before the Play is Done

Attitude of Gratitude, leaving a legacy, self improvement, The creative urge, The Inspired Life


MY soul, sit thou a patient looker-on;
Judge not the play before the play is done:
Her plot hath many changes; every day
Speaks a new day; the last act crowns the play.

Frances Quarles


From the first moment that I met Margaret, I was blown away. It was my first day of watercolor class in college and I was anxious, frightened and fidgeting with all of my shiny new supplies while waiting for students and the teacher to arrive. One glance around the room had already told me that I was in over my head, that there was much more talent surrounding me than I had bargained for. The class was a combination class. Newbies like me jumped in at the beginning and tried to keep up as more accomplished artists painted around them. The theory was that by observing others, there would be more growth. Yeah right, I was going to look like a preschooler with finger-paint.

I began re-packing my things. With five minutes to spare, I figured I could withdraw from the class, no harm done and go sign up at the local park district, where I belonged, before anyone had even realized I was in the room.

Then she burst in.

She was tall, and rim-rod straight, with perfect posture that a soldier would pay good money for. She pulled behind her a cart with three large cases filled, presumably, with art supplies and canvases. “Good MORNING everybody,” she boomed in a huge strong voice. “IT is a BeaUTiful day.” she marched over to a table and bustling about in a flurry of energy, began unpacking everything from the cases.

I sat.

I tried to keep my mouth from hanging open.

Margaret’s hair was silver-gray, piled on to the very top of her head, wound in a long braided bun. Her face wore the road map of many years and many troubles, with lines upon lines intersecting with each other. My brain struggled to keep up with the information it was receiving. The hair, the wrinkles, the thin blue skin with whispers of veins running through it, all spoke of a woman at the end of her life. She had to be in her nineties. But the voice, the posture, the energy, the vibrancy which radiated out of her being screamed No way. This is youth, not age, she can’t be as old as she looks.

I was wrong. She was 93 years old.

The story of Margaret unfolded bit by bit that semester. I learned more about the illusion of age then I did about how to be a great painter in those 16 weeks. And I was grateful for the lesson.  Margaret was an amazing artist. What she could do with a little brush and pots of paint was astounding. Her paintings were hanging in galleries and selling for $4000.00 each for an original. She came to paint in class with us just for the fun of being around people. She had never even picked up a paintbrush until her late 70’s after her beloved husband had passed away. Then with her children grown and no one at home, she decided to go to college and get a degree. A random art class had led to painting and she never stopped.

I asked her what her secret to long life was.

“Never stop learning” she said. “Keep trying something new. You have to make mistakes and figure things out. Oh, and be stubborn. I’m very stubborn. Oh..and don’t forget to walk. I walk every day.” Margaret was big on walking. Every day, she hauled in twice as much stuff as the rest of us. She parked at the far end of the parking lot and walked briskly to the room. She had two big dogs at home that she claimed to walk every day after her morning meditations.

If you asked her if she wanted help with something, you could expect to get glared at. She may have been a sweet, old lady, but she was unwaveringly independent. She didn’t believe in being beholden to anyone, for anything. She was proud, strong and fiercely young at heart.

I lost contact with Margaret after that semester. I finished the class and moved on with my life. Margaret stayed in school for another 4 years, painting in that same room and making a decent living from selling her art. I was saddened to open the local newspaper one morning to see the headline begin with “Oldest College Student has Died…” with a picture of Margaret and one of my personal favorite paintings on the front page.  She had still been in school at 97 years old.

Next week, I will turn 48. As I begin the march up the “Over the Hill”, and the second act of my life’s “play,” I am starting to get very excited. The teasing about fifty looming in the near future has begun, but it means nothing to me. When I think of Margaret, I feel like a baby bird barely sprouting wings. There is a very long list written down on my “things I want to do while I’m still breathing” list and I’m adding new ones all the time. Before the final curtian comes down in my final act, there is much I want to do, much I want to see.

I feel like a kid at the Baskin and Robbins Ice cream store and I want to try all 31 flavors.  I don’t want to miss anything. I want to know that I have tasted every drop, inhaled every fragrance, and touched every soft and wooly item. Lord, let me experience all that Life has to offer and not miss it in my daily round. Don’t let me wander through life unaware.

Never Stop Learning… Margaret’s secret to a long life. Good advice, and I haven’t forgotten it. All the world is a beautiful school with classrooms in every corner, just waiting to teach anything we are willing to learn, as long as we are willing to listen, down to the last day. We can start over at any time, re-write our scripts, begin a new scene, maybe even come up with a surprise ending.

It’s never too late if you’re breathing. What do you want to know? What do you want to do?  How are you going to get there?

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:


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.


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.


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!







Waiting for the Busy Bus

self improvement, The Inspired Life, Uncategorized

When I worked at my mother’s beauty shop, I observed an interesting life lesson that has remained branded in my head and nags at me if I ever dare to forget.

The lesson is the Danger of Waiting for the Busy Bus. Everyone  has waited for the Busy Bus at one time or another in their lives. They might not have been aware of it, or perhaps have a different name for it. Or it’s just not something they think about very often, taking it for granted as part of their daily lives.

The Busy Bus is a phrase used in the beauty shop to stand for the imaginary bus that is going to someday drive right up to the front door filled to the brim with happy, smiling, loyal clients just waiting to spend their money.

Many of the young hairdressers fresh out of school – and some not so fresh – believed in the Busy Bus as a way to earn their living. They would stand by the front door, sighing, leaning on the broom, looking out on the horizon as if waiting for it to come by. They could stand there all day, just waiting and sighing, waiting and sighing, and at the end of the day go home, disappointed in how slow things were and wondering if tomorrow might be different.

Of course it never was, because the Busy Bus never came.

There are many Busy Buses in our lives that never come. Dreams, hopes, plans, which never live up to our expectations, that don’t show up the way we thought they would. Sometimes, like the hairdressers, we feel we’ve already done our part. They went to Beauty School, they took their test, they got their license. Now, where are those darn clients? Where the heck is that bus?

It doesn’t occur to them that there might be something more that they have to do. That it is an on-going process. That what they thought was the end of the hard work was really just the beginning.

Some dreams and plans die right there when we realize that the bus isn’t coming after all. The disappointment is too much. The rejection feels very personal. We head for a different bus stop and wait for a different bus.

But there is one way to increase the odds that the bus actually does show up. One way to stack the deck heavily in your favor that you will reach the goal that you desire.

You can be the Bus Driver.

You can go get that bus, get in the driver’s seat, find the right map and start following the directions for your dreams and goals. There are a few keys that will help you as you begin your drive down the road.

Break the large goal down into manageable chunks and look for the step-by-step processes that you will need to find to get you to the next level. Just take it one level at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking about driving cross-country when you need to get to the next state.

Don’t be afraid to ask directions. Even bus drivers can get lost. Find the experts who have the information that you need and follow their lead. No one gets where they need to go alone. Build a network of masters within your road-map and brainstorm your plans with them.  Watch how your creativity will soar.

Pick up passengers along the way. Helping others to get where they need to go builds good will and expands your circle of influence. Napoleon Hill said, “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” His book Think and Grow Rich is an excellent guideline for “bus driving” lessons.

It’s never to late to learn. Take an honest look at your job skills.  Are they up to date? Technology is changing faster than a speeding bullet. Are you keeping up? Even a year to six months out in some markets can put you in an obsolete position. Stay fresh. Make education part of your daily diet.

Take a look at the buses in your life. Are you waiting for the Busy Buses or are you driving the buses in your life?

Be the one that makes change happen. Be one that says, “This can be different starting now.” The one that’s going to make it happen is you. The one you are waiting for is you.

The Busy Bus isn’t coming unless you are driving it.

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