inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

2008 – finding everyday balance in may


This month I was invited to a ‘creativity evening’ at a dear friend’s house in McCarrs Creek. We were picked up in boats at a lopsided jetty at the end of the creek where the water was still and the tide was low. As we tugged along in darkness except for a sliver of cake white moon, so many memories flooded back to me. For four years, Peter and I had lived on the banks of that creek with all of the struggles and delights that off-shore life brings. Over those years, there was a kind of quiet that like the creek ran deep. We lived simply. Our Friday nights involved talking on the deck under the bright stars with the possums and the sound of the water lapping under the docks. On weekends, we would hike through the bush treading familiar pathways or take our little yellow boat to a deserted beach where goannas would walk the white sand around us like long forgotten dinosaurs. In the first six months of living on the creek, I wrote. I would wake up to whatever weather had arrived and set up my tea and laptop on the deck and write. I would continue to write even with the cockatoos dragging my tea cups across the table and screeching for birdseed. Life was simple. The days unfolded and I wrote about what it was I saw and experienced in that landscape.

Visiting our friend’s home this month, this simplicity came tumbling back to me. I felt the kind of easy peace that comes when a home is entangled in nature. The evening unfolded with friends of the host sharing their creative pursuits and I observed how art often becomes a kind of meditation. These meditations included a chef’s flawless cutting creating a dance between fruit and pastry, a photographer’s eye capturing images of colour and light, a producer’s visions unfolding in sound and film and a musician’s language translated through sound. All of these expressions were so unique. I could feel the presence of love and honesty in a room among people I had only just met. Toward the end of the evening, I stood and read some of my poems and I felt as I did the uniqueness in each our places of rest. The places where are minds stop trying to figure it all out and we simply follow what we innately know how to do. It occurred to me how important it is that we honour these passions that choose us, no matter how scary or impractical they may seem. It is in them that there is a deep kind of peacefulness, a place where we can rest.

When I first became serious about pursuing writing, my teacher, Deb Westbury told us that if you wanted to be a good writer, you needed to immerse yourself in writing. You needed to read other writers. If you were interested in writing poetry, you needed to read poetry. If you wanted to learn about writing practice, you needed to read how other writers practice. She told us to read widely and to practice as much as we could and through that practice our own voices would emerge.

Over the next few years, I lined my shelves with books of poetry, prose and books on writing. When I sat down at my desk the teachers in these books gathered around my blank pages. It was as if I had my own personal cheer squad. Over the years these books have become tattered and torn, tea has been spilt on them and bookmarks and telephone bills mark well worn pages. There are two lessons from these mentors that I take with me in any new pursuit.

The first came from Natalie Goldberg who in her books teaches that writing is a practice. She compares writing to running saying that “the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step…but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run…but you run regularly and you train your mind to cut through or ignore your resistance. You just do it. And in the middle of the run, you love it. When you come to the end, you never want to stop.” This quote teaches me to work with my resistance, to continue even when I’ve become bored or overwhelmed or frustrated. It reminds me that it is in the practice itself, of any pursuit, that I will grow from and come to know myself through.

Julia Cameron echoes this sentiment when she writes that the key to regular practice starts simply by showing up at the page. To show up regardless of whether or not the tooth ache is there, the weather is inspiring or the daytime movie looks inviting, you simply show up to the page. This is the secret of how books become written and buildings are built. And I believe it is by these two pieces of advice that for each individual, balance is built. To step more firmly towards everyday balance, we need to create a regular practice in our lives that makes our hearts sing. To begin, we need simply to show up to our own blank pages, in whatever form that may be.

At this point in my life, meditation is the place where my regular practice takes place. When I meditate I am able to press the restart button each day. Regardless of what drama has played itself out in my life or what thoughts are clouding my mind, each morning when I sit for meditation for ten or thirty or sixty minutes, I come in contact with the part of myself that is whole. From this space, I can see past the drama or the thoughts or the ringing phone and know that they are just a part of why I am here today and in that I can choose where to put my energy again. I’m able to connect back into that part of myself that like a mountain is unaffected by the weather that moves over and around it.

This month, I invite you to explore a regular practice that brings balance into your everyday. Choose an activity that as you practice it your mind begins to clear, the energy in your body starts to lift and you feel the masks that you may be wearing beginning to fall away. There are many activities that bring people into this space. A few that I have experienced this type of balancing through include: walking, painting, writing, yoga, meditation, cooking, singing, chanting, gardening, and dancing. Try not to get caught by choosing the activity that you have always been comfortable with. Remember that in different phases of our lives, we will naturally be drawn to experiment with different things.

For some of you, you may know already what it is that calls you to this space of peacefulness. If you do, invite yourself to make a regular time each day for this activity. It doesn’t need to be an exact time, but try to choose between morning, afternoon or evening to set up an expectation for yourself. The regularity of the activity is as important as the activity itself. Choose a time of day that feels easy, where you will be uninterrupted. If you share your home with others, let them know that you are carving out this time for yourself so that they aren’t surprised when you aren’t available. Their expectation will also help to create motivation for you to fill the space with this activity. Start with practicing each day for one week. At the end of the week reassess and ask yourself if you want to continue for one more week. Pace yourself working week by week throughout the month of May.

If you aren’t familiar with what activity it is that creates these feelings of balance and clarity, use this month to explore. Divide the month into five sections. The first few days of the month are for planning. Brainstorm in your journal activities that you look forward to and then write down four activities that you would like to explore as tools of rest and reconnection. For the next four weeks, work with one activity for five to seven days. Start each activity on a Sunday so that you aren’t rushed or tired and you can set up a space or explore how much time you will need to set aside each day. Remember to start small. Work with time frames of ten to twenty minutes to start and then after a month you can lengthen your time frame if you feel you will still achieve a regular practice.

For each approach, begin to pay attention to the feelings of balance and support in your life. Start to notice whether or not your activity helps you in difficult times as well as being something you look forward to in times of ease. At the end of the month or the week, let your feelings be your guide. If this practice has given you some relief from the constant hills and valleys of life’s landscape, continue your practice. If not you will have created a space for a regular practice in your life. You will have gotten to know more about what makes you so unique. As you work with this tool, I would love to hear about your experiences. For each of us what draws us to the page or the cushion or the hiking trails will be different and I’d love to hear what makes your heart sing and your days more whole.

This is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools or subscribe to this inspiration piece each month, please send your name and email address to chrisadler@everydaybalance.net or visit this website in the first week of each month. For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, send an email to the above address with your name and phone number or visit the contacts section of this website.

posted under 2008 life balance