On Finding Balance: Learning To Love The Seasons
I don’t want to hustle.
I don’t want to slay anything.
I don’t want to engage in any of the culture’s current messages that suggest that intensity equates to progress or value. I firmly find myself rejecting all of it (and while we are speaking of rejecting the messaging of our cultures trends – I don’t want to refer to myself as anything with “ass” on the end of it. Not badass or kickass or any other ass for that matter. The only ass I feel attracted to these days is the one sitting in meditation or on a couch reading a book.)
Any mention of hyper-driven goal oriented behavior makes my heart contract these days.
I run from it, cringing like I would a wasp intent on stinging me.
When I close my eyes, get centered, and ask myself what I want these days – an image comes into my mind that both soothes and surprises me every time.
I see myself in the early morning, wearing a big cozy sweater, holing a hot mug of coffee that is steaming. I am stepping into a front porch, and it is cold. I am surrounded by nature and it is incredibly quiet. There is snow on the ground and the trees are sparse with leaves. I am smiling.
Every time, this is the image my subconscious sends me.
This leaves me asking myself, “Self – how the hell did we get here???”
How did I, historically one of the most driven, make-it-happen-if-I-want-it type of people I know arrive in this place??
How did I, the self professed Southern California city girl, who hates the cold and only ventures into nature in pursuit of a well appointed resort from which to take in my surroundings end up dreaming of quiet mornings in nature with nothing to do and empty space?
How is it that when I ask what I want, the answer is, essentially, “less”?
Talk about mistaken identity.
I find myself feeling drawn to a woman and a reality I barely recognize.
In my observation of what I am experiencing, I have come to realize that what is happening to me is exactly what I have, in some form, taught about for over a decade. The rich irony of this sort of thing is that no matter how much intellectual knowledge you have about a subject, experiencing it always requires that you begin a complete novice.
Last year, as I wrote the book, Ending The Diet Mindset: How To Create a Balanced and Healthy Relationship with Food and Body Image, things occurred that I could only tell you about in hindsight. This was my first experience writing a book, and no body told me that in writing the book, I would myself experience the content of the book. I had no warning (here’s your warning if you plan on writing a book…be careful what you write about as you will not only write the words but likely you will embody them)
For example, I never expected that in doing all the research for the book, I would deepen my conviction about the need for balance and intentional mindset work. I didn’t know that I would myself absorb (with intense frequency) the lessons inherent in the book. It was as though in writing the words, I absorbed the content.
As the lessons in the book suggest, I became more curious about my deeper hungers and the “needs of my soul”. I became gentler and more open to hearing what it was I wanted, versus telling myself what I should have, be, or do. I opened up a larger channel between my authentic voice (intuition) and my rational brain. I did what in essence the book encourages, which is to deepen my relationship with myself in a loving and supportive way.
This process brought about a change that has allowed me to access a part of myself that had not yet fully embraced before writing the book. It has introduced me to the “yin” to my “yang”. This woman in my mental image who wants space, and time, is the balancing companion of the woman who wants to take on the world and carpe diem the daylights out of it. This woman who wants to reconnect with nature – who wants the quiet experience of a scene so serene that you can notice the steam rising off a coffee mug – is the other side of the coin to the woman who wrote a book, rebranded her business, rebuilt her website, ran a full psychotherapy practice and balanced being a wife, daughter, and friend (in other words attempted to have a life) all in the last year.
There I was, writing a book about seeking balance, all the while under-going a metamorphosis in my own life that would bring forth an experience of balance that would smack me upside the head. It was art-imitating-life imitating-art if I have ever witnessed it.
The scene I see in my head when I close my eyes is a scene of winter. When I stop to pause and reflect on that, it dawns on me that I am trying to communicate through archetype and imagery what I need in this moment in order to balance out the busy year I created.
I need a winter – my winter.
What is the winter but a time to rest and slow down? It is a time for hibernation and retreat. It is a time of shedding old so as to create room for the new. It is the germination stage that that yields to the spring where new life is born. It is a season I used to undervalue and quiet frankly, dislike.
I now find myself yearning for it.
As I reflect on my patterns, I can see that I lived my twenties and most of my thirties in a perpetual Spring and Summer. I was constantly pushing and moving, creating and trying (operative word here) to give birth to new things. If I wasn’t in that phase, I would judge myself as not working hard enough and a lack of movement or productivity became a suspect part of my life that I needed to “work on”. It was a cycle that fed itself and often times led to exhaustion and fatigue.
I didn’t embrace the fall and winter phases of my life. I pushed right through them into another spring (this reminds me of the current cultural norm of women taking birth control pills year round and bypassing their cycle because we don’t have time for it and find it inconvenient. This just to point out that our culture supports the cycle I found myself in – we all come by this honestly). The ironic aspect of this cycle is that in avoiding the fall and winter phases, I would inevitably invite them into my life; except by the time they arrived they were fierce. They were not mild, but rather came on like blizzards with freezing temperatures that forced the entire system to shut down. My proverbial “snow days” would look like a nor’easter from hell. If I wasn’t willing to ebb with life, life was going to see to it that I did, and that would come in the form of overwhelm and withdrawal.
I wouldn’t ebb into a resting period, I would collapse into it.
As I spent the last year writing a book about pendulum swings and the value of balance, life stepped in and handed me a most unexpected gift. It opened my eyes to the beauty of the open space inherent in the ebb and the peacefulness of the winter. I fell in love with the part of my life I had spent most of my life avoiding.
So here I am on this side of the coin, and for the first time in my life I am valuing the slow alongside the instant. I am yearning for less as I create more. I am finding I feel satisfied quicker, and that there isn’t as much I feel compelled to do. Quiet mornings where I have space on my calendar feel as exciting to me as much as action packed days where I meet my goals. I am valuing time spent doing “nothing” as much as I value time spent checking things off a to-do-list. I am lit up at the idea of getting rid of clutter while valuing meaningful things in my space that are intentional and bring me joy.
I am beginning to embody the lesson I have “known” for years – true balance is the embrace of both the masculine and the feminine principles. There is as much value doing nothing as there is taking on the world. There is a season and a place for all things.
We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.
– Gary Zukav