When I blogged #Nurture1314 last year, I entitled my post The Quest for Balance (https://itsmotherswork.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/nurture1314-the-quest-for-balance/) I felt like I was being swallowed up by my work, and though I love my job, I feared that when spat out (or worse) at the other end, I’d be nothing but a husk of my former self, and would have lost or missed too many other things that were important to me.
The promises I made to myself were about time and attention to nurture my children, my husband, my wider family and friends, my reading, my studying, my body and my mind. Not a short list then. How did I do?
Well I suppose I’m a glorious failure, though not an unhappy one, and not for want of trying.
I made a false start, and after four months, at the beginning of May, the lack of balance got the better of me. I lost my rag (mildly, but for me unprecedentedly) at work, and was told gently but firmly to step off the hamster wheel for a few days.
I took the bookpile to a spa for a day; treated myself in a range of other, lazy, ways; had a remember-which-way-is-up chat with Lovelyboss (no longer my actual boss, but still a good egg in a crisis); bought myself a new Daily Greatness journal; signed myself up for Headspace (meditation) and yoga classes and made a plan.
Just three days later I returned to work not a different woman, but an indisputably clarified and distilled version of myself.
It’s not easy to explain what changed, other than that I made a firm, clear “lifeboat” plan for if things ever got too much again. This has – perversely – enabled me to take on more, and work under greater pressure than before, while feeling much less stressed about it. I can also walk away from my desk at the end of even the most horrendous, emotional, difficult day and slough off most of the emotion before I arrive home.
I’ve finished my studies and got my qualification, made some space for “grown up” home-cooked meals with DH, worked through the bookpile and started a new one, added more Tweetmates to my list of those I’ve made friends with in real life, taken leave from work to pursue outside interests, taken in a couple of fine gigs with DH (and with my mum), found fun things to do with the children, contributed to a book, added in a regular massage to my self-care routines, committed myself to frequent swimming and made meditation and yoga the start of every single day.
I approach the end of 2014 in a much better frame of mind than I began it (and I don’t think I began it in a terribly bad way in any case).
Just recently, I’ve been struggling with the disciplines I’ve set for myself. I don’t do well in the winter. The urge to hibernate is strong. It’s not lost on me that I was able to lift myself up at the start of the summer, and that the energy and drive that made that possible has waned now.
So, for 2015, these are my five goals:
1) To make it through the dark months and, while being kind to myself, maintain my self-discipline until May, when my energy usually comes back.
2) To stick with the journal. It’s what’s most helped me to focus and be consistent in my practice this year.
3) To make this year at work not about what I do but about the way that I do it.
4) To make this year at home with my family about food; food for the body, food for the mind, food for the soul. That’s the heart of mothering and I forget that at our collective peril.
5) To get away. It took three days of decoupling myself from my world for me to find myself again. This year, I want to retreat, in the same way, but as a planned escape rather than enforced rest.
I’ve found my equilibrium, but I see clearly how fragile it is. 2015 is for making it strong.