Sunday, June 2, 2013

Finding Balance in Life: Part I

One of the greatest challenges for me as a mother, and frankly as a person, has been trying to find balance in my life.  There are so many things in our lives that demand our attention that it is often difficult to know how to achieve a healthy balance so that you can accomplish all of the things that you want and need to do.  About seven years ago I was struggling with this very problem.

I was a single adult in my late twenties living in Arizona working on my masters degree in music.  I had spent the last six years in school in some very intense programs studying, performing, working and teaching.  They were some of the happiest and most difficult years of my life.  But as I was nearing the end of the first year of my masters I started to realize that despite being happy and busy I was feeling a out of sorts as I was trying to juggle all of the things I needed and wanted to do.  I had been so focused on my education that I had let other important things fall to the wayside.  It was with this on my mind and a prayer in my heart that I attended a stake young adult fireside.  I was feeling quite emotional and alone since my roommates couldn't attend and because I had been so focused on school I didn't know that many people in my ward and stake.  But I knew I needed to go so I went, and I'm so glad I did.  The first speaker spoke on the very topic I had on my mind.  She said, and I'm paraphrasing, most of us struggle every day to find a healthy balance in the midst of all of our responsibilities and desires. But I am going to suggest to you that life is not about finding balance it is about being focused, focused on the right thing or things.  She then gave the example of a ballerina learning to do piroettes.  She said that unless a dancer learned to have a single constant focus point to return to when spinning that even though she might maintain balance at first she would eventually become dizzy and fall.  She then went on to say that this is exactly the same for our lives.  If we have one main focus in our lives, gaining a deep, personal relationship with our Heavenly Father  through prayer, scripture study and temple attendance that everything else would fall into place.  The truth of this statement resonated in my heart and mind and I knew that what she was saying was true.  But just because we know where our focus point is and that it will help us maintain balance in our lives sometimes we look away or lose focus and have to regroup.  This is where I am right now.

My Little Ballerina 

The last two years have been very tough for me.  We have struggled financially as a result of the recession, we had to walk away from our home in AZ, we moved to CA and lived with family for seven months, we had no job for five of those months, we moved again to our own place and welcomed a new baby to our family.  Change, change, change!  Some of it was exciting and some of it has just been plain hard and frustrating.  I'll admit that I was not my best self during many of those months and at times took my frustrations out on those I love most.  I am a recovering perfectionist and so feeling out of control of so many things in my life was almost more than I could handle some days.  The transition from one to two children has been harder for me than I could have ever imagined.  I went through some pretty intense post-partum depression and felt feelings of anger, anxiety and sadness that I had never felt before.  It was scary and lonely and just plain hard.  It seemed that no matter how hard I tried I just couldn't seem to maintain balance long enough for it to have a lasting effect in my life.  But it has been through all of these experiences that my mind has once again been turned to those truths that I learned so many years ago.  I have lost focus.  I have dropped my gaze to see only the temporal instead of looking up for help to be able to see things from Heavenly Father's perspective. "My son [daughter], peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; though shalt triumph over all thy foes [trials] (Doctrine & Covenants 121: 7-8).  I have allowed the "business" of life to overtake that which is most important, "the things that matter most". So it is with these things in mind today that I begin a challenge to myself, and to you, to recenter and refocus on the things that matter most.  I plan to focus on one thing each month to really solidify and create good habits again in my life.  


The challenge must start here first.  It has been proven time and time again that if we put eternal things first that everything else will fall into place.  Here are the things I plan to focus on this month:

  • Meaningful personal prayer both morning and night
    • When: The morning is where I struggle.  I wake up when the kids get up usually and then one thing leads to another an I forget. My recommendation is to decide on a consistent time each day to pray in the morning (while the kids are eating breakfast, during the baby's morning nap, while the kids are playing, etc.)
    • Focus: It's easy to fall into a rut when you pray, always expressing gratitude or asking for the same things.  Don't be in a hurry if you can help it.  Think about the things that you are grateful for that day as well as the things that you struggling with right now.  While we are instructed to address Heavenly Father respectfully the only way to gain a personal relationship with him is to be honest with him about your feelings and struggles.  He is our God but he is also our loving Heavenly Father.  He already knows our joys and our struggles but he wants us to come to him just as our earthly parents do and share our joys and our struggles so that he can know how he can help and support us.
    • My Plan: Sneak away while the kids are eating breakfast
  • Personal scripture/gospel study
    • How/When: Once again consistency is the key here.  Find a time each day that works for you.  I have tried at night but either I'm too tired or I want to do something else instead so it looks like I'll be getting up early.
    • Ideas for study: Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, Conference talks, Teaching No Greater Call (excellent resource for teachers and parents), Preach My Gospel.
    • My Plan: Wake up 30 minutes before the kids normally do and read then.
There are several other areas under this category that could use some improvement from me.  However I feel that these two are the most important and are where I am lacking the most so that is where I am going to start.  If you feel that you already have a good handle on these two challenge yourself in other areas such as temple attendance, fasting, visiting teaching, service, paying a full tithing and any other area where you feel prompted to make changes.  Pray, ask for guidance.  The Holy Ghost will guide to and you will feel a tugging towards those areas that most need your attention at this time.  I think one of the most difficult things is admitting that a change needs to be made.  It requires you be humble, to admit that you are weak and imperfect and that you need help.  This has always been a challenge for me.  But being humble means that you are teachable.  "Be thou humble and the Lord shall give thee answer to thy prayers." (Doctrine & Covenants 112:10).  "The Spirit is sent forth to enlighten the humble (Doctrine & Covenants 136:33).  Answers to my prayers and enlightenment are things that I desperately need as a mother and I know that even though I have not completely abandoned prayer or scripture study in my life that my communication with Heavenly Father has suffered therefore causing me to not be in the right frame of mind to be able to hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

So are you with me?  What are the things you plan to work on?  Feel free to share your triumphs and your struggles.  We are here to support each other in raising the rising generations and it takes a village to do it!

Have a beautiful Sabbath day!

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