Work. Life. Balance?

Ever feel like The Universe is trying to tell you something? I do. And lately, it seems like my life is covered in little sticky note reminders from The Universe. Those who know the love/hate relationship I have with that crafty minx understands my hesitation to even bend an ear to her. But I have to admit that over the last three months she’s been practically screaming to get my attention.

BALANCE! I can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it even – all around me. She’s reminding me that I don’t have it. Like I don’t know that. Like I don’t fully understand that at any given moment I’m a Two or a Ten. It is how I operate. I either care deeply or not at all. I’m super excited or I’m super laid back. I’m overly driven or just plain lazy. Just because I own it, doesn’t make it good for me.

Take the past 18 months of my time in Boston. The first nine months – definitely a Two. No job. No direction. No vision. The next nine months – most definitely a Ten. Started a job that thrust me into such chaos I found myself spending every waking moment thinking about work.

BALANCE! There are people who work for a paycheck. It is a means to do fun stuff on the weekend. I’m not that guy. I enjoy work. I love puzzles and solving problems. I thrive on ambiguity and figuring it all out. And I love the rush I get when something I crafted is the foundation of a presentation or a speech or a company-wide initiative. I’m jazzed just talking about it. I love to work. But sometimes I lose sight of the other side. Life. And I must begrudgingly admit that I am lucky for I have someone looking out for me.

So, as a way to get back into this digital diary of mine, let me share with you a few of the lessons in which The Universe has reminded me that I still have a lot to learn about balance.

Just. Stop. Waiting.

Because there never is going to be the perfect time. Will I ever be 100% prepared for life to happen? A resounding NO. So what am I waiting for? That perfect alignment of events that I think will allow me to take the perfectly timed action is just plain fiction. I find it hard to live in the present and not overanalyze the path to my future.

During my very stressful time in unemployment, I was very seriously considering a trip to visit family in Norway. It had been years since I was there and I desperately wanted to go. But I didn’t. Why? So that I could be available for the remote possibility that I would get a job interview. Fail. After a while, I couldn’t go because I wouldn’t take time off from my new job. Again, fail.

Far-Far Fishing
Far-Far Fishing

Earlier this year, my Far-Far – my grandfather in Norway – passed away. I had a chance to see him and I was too wrapped up in my immediate woes to stop and see the bigger picture; too self-pitied to appreciate the significance of the opportunity in front of me. If work or weather or flight costs are keeping you from doing what you want to do or seeing who you want to see – can you really say that you have your priorities aligned? We are waiting for the right time and unfortunately at some point there won’t be any more time. And then what? Just. Stop. Waiting.

Recommit to My Happy.

I finally decided (after a year) to go back to Minneapolis to see my friends, my sarcastic partner-in-crime, her baby and my horse Sebastian. And as I have said, it was not a relaxing trip but it was good for my soul. I am reminded how much I love riding. How, when I am out with Sebastian, I am connected to him, to nature, to everything around me. I was reinvigorated. I was refocused in my determination to bring him to Massachusetts. There is a feeling that I get when I am outdoors on my horse. It’s in those moments that I feel a calm come over the turbulence that so often occupies my mind. I am free. And that is an amazing feeling.

Mr. Sibs
Mr. Sibs

Add to that the fact that WordPress.com has been sending me emails that my blog has been inactive for a while and the subscription was about to lapse. I’m not talking about one or two emails, it was a barrage! I write a lot for my job – which as we have established I love – but I love to write in general. It would probably be a bad career move to let my sarcastic nature come through while writing a speech for an executive. But here, I can. I should. Writing is a way that I sift through the opposing forces battling it out inside of my mind. I’m not always on point with the quippy comebacks, but give me a minute to put pen to paper and I just can’t stop (made obvious by the length of this post).

So in these two instances, I am reminded to get my ass back to the things that give me joy and provide me a creative outlet. I have a tendency to get so caught up in what I have to do that sometimes I forget what I love to do.

Be Unabashedly Unapologetic.

Sometimes we need someone to show us an ugly reflection in the mirror. Sometimes we need our closest people to tell us the difficult truth. And, when warranted, we should apologize. And I did – at great length. But I found myself apologizing for things I was not sorry for, all because of one reason: the look on his face. It was sad, confused and worse, disappointed. I wanted to apologize for being this horrible person he obviously thought I was. And I knew what he thought because it was all over his face. With a clear head, I see now that there are things he was right about and things he was not. There are things that deserve acknowledgement and apologies just as there are things that do not. And so I admit:

I am an imperfect person. I make lots of mistakes. I am prone to depression. Sometimes I lose sight of what is important.

However, the part I didn’t say, is that it also means…

I can look past the flaws in others. I learn from my errors. I fight to overcome the sadness. I always find my way back.

While I was redesigning the blog and preparing to start writing again, I read through my old posts. And there are people who would re-read them and see sadness and lost causes. But when I read them, I laughed at myself. There is a twisted sense of humor and depraved self-acknowledgement in them. They were reflective of the place I was in my life at that time. I don’t find that sad. I find it fascinating.

But there are those who don’t. Those who distill who I am, all that feeling, into one qualifier: “Dark and Twisty.” They hold on to that one characteristic so tightly and somehow think I’m the one who can’t let it go. I would never reduce all that I am to a one-dimensional definition, so why should anyone else?

Dark & Twisty?
Dark & Twisty?

Dark and Twisty does not equate to Sad and Broken. Having a Dark and Twisty side in no way means that I don’t want to be happy. I, of course, want to be happy. But I am of the opinion that thinking we can actually be happy all of the time is the notion of a little child. There are tremendous and terrible things in this world. I appreciate them each for what they teach me. When I am in the deep dark pits of despair, I don’t hold back my emotions. I don’t put on a brave face to save you from discomfort. No one benefits from me keeping it all inside. In the same way, when I am happy, you know it. I don’t try to contain my unadulterated elation. My emotion is honest and you need never fear that I am anything other than what you are seeing. My life’s heartbreak has led me to some of my most amazing adventures. The things that have brought me the most happiness have also gutted me to the point of destruction. I would not trade one to save me from the other. Life is not black and white. For each Dark and Twisty there is an equal and opposite Bright and Shiny. I am both and I do not apologize for that.

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