How to balance life with: work, school & self-care

Have you ever spent a day or a week wondering why life feels crazy and unbalanced? How many times a day do you say to yourself or your children "there's no time"? How do you find your inner equilibrium before you feel like tipping over?

Exhibit  at the Air & Space Museum in DC.

Exhibit at the Air & Space Museum in DC.

I recently spent an afternoon with my children at the Air and Space museum in DC.  We came across an exhibit discussing friction.  We were able to spin a wheel observing the liquid inside. The goal was to watch the effect at different speeds.  At a slow speed the flow was smooth, beautiful and connected to the center of the wheel bringing a sense of calmness.  Spun at a faster speed there was a disconnect from the center and there wasn’t much to observe except my sons having fun spinning it as fast as they could. 

Exhibit  at Air & Space Museum in DC

Exhibit at Air & Space Museum in DC

This simple exercise made me think about how I spin in life.  I know I find myself spinning so fast some days I’m disconnected. I feel frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day. I begin to crave a day of relaxation and feeling a sense of balance. My mind quickly places me sitting on a beach soaking in the sun doing nothing else. Mentally escaping the turning wheel.  Then reality hits in 8 seconds and I’m back sitting at my desk or in the kitchen wondering how to squeeze in everything for the day.

Talking with friends, my family and any parent at the park, I know I am not alone feeling a constant sense of urgency and the attitude of having “no time”.  The average person’s attention span is 8 seconds! That's one second shorter than a gold-fish.  No wonder there is “no time”.  We only give ourselves 8 seconds to disseminate information? With all of the “urgency” it is so hard to fill balanced.

What is balance anyway? In art balance is arranging elements so that no one part of a work overpowers, or seems heavier than any other part.  This made me think that it is also a perfect definition for the balance of life.

I love the word overpowers. It brings a clear definition that any part of life should not overshadow the other. Everything should be in moderation. Sometimes it’s okay to allow yourself 8 seconds to disseminate information but sometimes 8 seconds just isn’t long enough.  I don’t believe our brains are wired to take information all day without playing with it a little.  Our creativity needs more than 8 seconds to process what is coming in -- we need to be spinning at a slower speed.  Creativity gives the “a-ha” moments to bring enjoyment to life and be engaged in positive problem solving.

Art work by Jean Frank-Stark

Art work by Jean Frank-Stark

Being creative brings a sense of balance to life. This is engaging yourself at true value. One can be inspired in many ways….art, music, cooking, pottery, dance, gardening etc.  When the imagination is unleashed it gets you to question, think and vision a dream.  It taps into your true potential.

Before an artist begins her artwork she imagines what she wants. First she needs a goal.  Then she begins to think how she will reflect her vision for others to see it.  It takes a web of colors, techniques and willingness to let go to make a balance artwork. 

When she creates she does need to be aware of some basic rules. To make green she's not going to mix red and blue together or yellow and red.  It’s going to form a state of confusion and frustration. Instead she will find the right mixture of blue and yellow and experiment to find the perfect green she is imagining. 

Art work by Jean Frank-Stark

Art work by Jean Frank-Stark

This is much like establishing a steadiness in life. There needs to be a self-awareness of your limitations, strengths and abilities to create the perfect balance and combination.

I am challenging myself to stop spinning so fast, stop living in a world of 8 seconds and begin to create a more balanced life tapping into my creativity. I encourage you to take the same challenge. Do you feel unbalanced? How can you balance your life to make the perfect color combination that defines you?

Need a little help getting started? Click here for 3 easy creative exercises.

Imagination needs moodling—long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.
— Brenda Ueland

For further reading on slowing down and exercising your creativity read:

Why making art is the new meditation by Maia Gambis

Building attention span by David Brooks