Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Finding balance

Taking care of yourself as you take care of business and everything else

Finding balance in your life is often compared to balancing a wheel on your car. Assigning weight (activity) to strategic areas of your life will help you balance your wheel so that it spins smoothly and gets you to destination: your ultimate goal. Determining what you value is critical to how you live your life each day.

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

Mid-July has come and gone and I’m still scrambling for time. It seems that there is always something more to do than you expected… a special request, another appointment, yet another piece of equipment that needs repair or replacement, another housecleaning or gardening job, spring cleaning that spills over into summer …
I remember twelve years ago, how wonderful it felt to finally retire. I looked forward to lots of leisure time to do the things I had put off for so long… taking an art and photography class, going to movies and cultural events more often, taking a walk almost every day, finally reading that pile of books that had accumulated, traveling to new destinations… That idyllic dream lasted about two years. All of a sudden, life became stressful and I had to shift into high gear again. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and died ten months later after a courageous battle against lung cancer. My cozy retiree life evaporated as I buried our mutual dreams with his ashes.
Our well-organized task-sharing, which I had appreciated so much, vanished and I was left to cope with all the responsibilities of our 21st century lifestyle. Our evening walks were not replaced by solitary ones except for the occasional walk to the mailbox.
And if that wasn’t daunting enough, the demands on my caregiving skills tripled. Grandchildren sprouted like mushrooms, my mother’s health deteriorated, my house needed repairs. I took on new challenges as a writer. My first romantic ventures were disappointing. Mind you, I had not expected to be single again in this lifetime.
Nancy Monson, in her article “Loving: Looking, not finding”, quotes Andrew Hacker, author of Mismatch: The Growing Gulf Between Women and Men who says that today, more than ever, “there is a greater divide between the sexes than at any time in living memory. Without traditional roles to grasp on to, the communication gap between men and women has widened among our age group. We have trouble articulating what we want from one another. Most middle-aged women want to be an equal in a relationship, but they also want to be treated like women and courted by men. And most mid-life men still hope for a measure of deference that women are no longer willing to give.” So we are caught between yearning to be a couple and holding on to our freedom and our dreams of a perfect life. EVERYBODY NEEDS SOMEBODY SOMETIME!! Intimate time to share conversation and life’s little pleasures, to relax and share loving feelings… yet this remains an unfulfilled yearning for many who often give up looking.
No wonder it’s a challenge to find balance. When you are a giving person, it’s very easy to become so involved in the caring of others that you end up skimping on taking care of yourself. Last week, I finally booked a massage with Wendy of Earthly Essentials. It was long overdue as I still experience shoulder pain from a three-month old injury. Lots of things got in the way and made matters worse. My mom’s condition worsened and she died on May 5th. It was gardening season and I scrambled to put the garden in on my own. People sometimes said: “Ask for help!” Great idea! But what happens when everyone is busy and has no time to offer? Or they just don’t care about gardening?
Well, Wendy made sure she gave me an extra-good massage. She also made time so we could discuss life’s challenges. Unbeknownst to either one, we were in Toronto at the same time for the “I Can Do It!” seminars. I told Wendy about my nightmare of the night before where I dreamt I was drowning. Wendy knows me well and agreed on my interpretation of that dream. Certain aspects of my life are drowning my vision and affecting my comfort. She made me promise to take better care of myself and gently chided me for not doing the exercises she had suggested for my sore shoulder.
In order to reduce stress, I have added another calendar where I can monitor chores as they come along and deal with them more efficiently. Don and I are planning our outings a little more closely so we can maximize the enjoyment. I try to take time out during the week. When I came home yesterday, I had a nap. I also made time to watch a program I had been meaning to watch for the past week. Music has always been an important part of my life. I use it to meditate, breathe deeply, relax or dance after a stressful day or event. I choose my music more carefully lately. I love Jason MRaz and as his song suggests: “I let go of the thoughts that do not make me strong.”
Laughter is another important ingredient that always gets your mind to relax. I love to be around my grandchildren because their happiness is contagious. When I’m with Don, he likes to tease and crack jokes about life in general and our individual idiosyncrasies. If you can’t laugh at yourself! Well!

Last night, as I was watering the garden in the ongoing battle with this summer’s drought, I watched as a tiny female hummingbird flew into the spray, settled on a hollyhock leaf and started sipping the water droplets and enjoying the free shower. This tiny beauty of nature lifted my spirits and reminded me that we, humans, often let our lives become very complicated. We get entangled in strenuous situations or have problems dealing with annoying people and yet we persist. Our local police force reported a rise in domestic violence, road rage and other problems during this heat wave. In strenuous situations such as these, we need to slow down, to gently distance ourselves and change the way we respond to the circumstances and the people who surround us. Like the tiny hummingbird, we need to revisit the many flowers in our garden, cool down and take nourishment from beloved family members, good friends and acquaintances, our community activities and programs… or we can just sit quietly and enjoy the stillness. Like the hummingbird, we also need to connect with nature’s bounty and we need to trust that life will provide and love will endure. Everything comes to pass, just like the heat wave…

P.S. Because music is such an important part of my life, I would like to share the “Hungarian Dance” video with you! Please click on the video above, sit back and enjoy or … you can dance!

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