The Work/Life Balance Changing

Two donkeys looking over fence
Bliss and Jolene in the afternoon sun

Work/life balance is some kind of high-wire act, I think. And I’ve got a fairly simple balance to strike in some ways, as it’s just me and John and a lot of animals. We can set our own hours (within the constraints of caring for beasts both wee and mighty). We own our own company, and so most stressors on that score are self-induced. But like anyone else, we can find ourselves in survival mode, not thriving mode.

I love my work. Perhaps too much, as my love of putting my brain to good (?) use can lure me into rationalizing why work is so much more important than the rest of my life, in very much the same way a delicious cookie might temp me away from the simple delight of a cold, crisp apple.

The pandemic kicked my ass and forced a complete reorganization of our business. The fear of failing and losing the farm made for tremendous motivation to work, work, work, and we did. We’ve built a terrific library of offerings of courses and events big and small, and it’s gratifying to have so many thoughtful, curious and intelligent trainers diving in to learn.

But now I’m now pushing myself to step back, to do less. To close the computer and walk away into the rest of my life. I can see my calendar now as something to be molded to suit me, rather than to be filled to the brim to keep disaster at bay. Used to be I looked at a jam-packed calendar and felt relief that at least the bills would get paid. Now, I am looking at a far emptier calendar created deliberately and I feel a different relief: the relief of breathing space, time to just be, time to create and experiment.

Yesterday, I set myself the task of overhauling the pigs’ pen, a good physical activity that did not require a lot of brain power. As my brain slowed and settled, as my muscles called for a break, I stopped moving, and simply stood quietly. I soaked in the sunshine, listened to the cows eating, felt the breeze on my face, watched a pig eat a pumpkin, called the hens to come enjoy some treats. I quietly thrilled to my pony choosing unprompted to leave her grazing paddock to mosey up to say Hi before she wandered off again. Not because I called or she thought it was meal time, but just because she saw me standing there. That gift of freely offered interaction never fails to amaze me, whatever the species.’

But for all of this to feed and fill and heal my soul, to shift into thriving vs surviving, I have to be there. As available – if not more so! – to a friendly donkey as to incoming emails. Not trying to work more, more, more. I will continue to do so, but at a pace that helps me stay in balance. “Enough!” is my admonition to myself, along with a sharp eye on the clock. Finding my balance is going to require putting some things down so I am carrying less.

If I’m a bit quieter on Facebook as life rolls along, I am simply trying to find my balance, to seek out the faces and places that make my heart sing. In that fullness, whatever it is I have to contribute to the world can flow more freely. Now I am going to learn to work more intelligently, with limits, heeding Picasso’s advice:

“[to work somewhat] below your means. If you can handle three elements, handle only two. If you can handle ten, then handle only five. In that way the ones you do handle, you handle with more ease, more mastery, and you create a feeling of strength in reserve.” Pablo Picasso

I don’t know what faces or places or sensations fill your soul. I hope that like me, you can find a way to keep tipping the balance of work & life more into the restorative moments, because every day, we trade the irreplaceable of our life’s time for something. Make it count.