In Pursuit of Balance

I have been MIA for too long, inexcusable!!!  I’m positive that all of you can relate to my absence on my blog, I’ve just been so busy, whether it’s been conducting my group Whole Foods Detox Challenge( went really well and I will get to that later on), volunteering for the auction committee at my daughters school or just the day to day pick ups and drop off  for both of my daughters!  It sounds like a lot of excuses and pretty much they are but with an underlying tone, the fact is I’m in pursuit of balance!  I believe I have been since the euphoria of becoming a new parent had worn off and I began to crave time for ME!  Hate to blame it on any one thing or should I say person, BUT I do believe it has something to do with the fact that I had my children (not by choice, but by a surprising miracle) so close together.  If you recall I figured out I was pregnant with my second child BEFORE my first born had even turned one, and actually ended up missing the entire first trimester.

Since becoming mother of 2 that are 18 months apart (after any other euphoria, much shorter the 2nd time around) I soon began my search for balance in my life.  I began to notice that I was spending almost all of my time and energy on my children, which is what any good mother does except instead of feeling wonderful and fulfilled, I began to feel frustrated, angry, irritated by the slightest things all because I forgot the golden rule of parenting: you must nourish yourself first so that you can nurture your family.  About 12 weeks after having my second daughter I started yoga at a wonderful studio in Phinney Ridge.  Now that is really far for me to commute considering I live on Beacon Hill but it was my first experience with yoga.   Having back to back c-sections in a 2 year time span blew my core completely, I could barely sit up from a lying position without the use of my hands!  The owner of the yoga business was a patient of my mom’s and this class was all about MOMS so how could I resist!  It was a wonderful way to regain my core and to also have a set time for myself each week that I could just be in the presence of ladies who were either in the same situation I was in or had been through the similar struggles of parenthood.  It was a great beginning in my pursuit of balance but just once a week left me craving more ME time!  I ended up sticking with Yoga Momma and my favorite yogi, Jen Keeler for 3 years.  I must say, every yoga teacher since then has some big shoes to fill, especially since it was the ultimate yoga for any mom, Jen was knowledgeable  (a self proclaimed yoga nerd), nurturing and just and all around amazing person.  I just can’t make the commute and night out work for me or should I say my families busy schedule.  That being said, I will always credit Jen and Yoga Momma for getting me back my core and helping me to get back into shape, which eventually turned into my love and passion of fitness and exercise, see I told you Jen Keeler was amazing!

The 2nd best thing I began to do for myself in the pursuit of balance( because by now, the kids were taking Nurturing Pathways, also in Phinney and both were enrolled in a mommy and me course at Seattle Central Community College) was to begin working out with a 3 other lady friends and a personal trainer.  I was curious to see if working with a trainer in a group setting would be more beneficial than the home workouts I was doing to the ON DEMAND fitness channel at home when the girls would go to sleep at night.  I worked out with my group twice a week at one of the group members house and it quickly became my favorite time of the week, even with McKenzie in tow most of the time.  My youngest daughter would actually hang out just outside the workout room of my friends basement and busy herself with my friend’s son’s toys.  Occasionally she would come to me but for the most part she was really well behaved and let me get my hour work out on.  Even when the weather got better and we would move outdoors and away from the house, McKenzie would be really good and either sit in the stroller or hang out with out trainer Christi while we ran steps or lines, all the while taking in our activity and till this day both girls will bust into push ups or burpees randomly for a “work out” and I love it!  It was my personal trainer, Christi who actually planted the seed in my head that I could actually become a personal trainer myself when she had to go away on a trip and asked  me to fill in for her at her bridal boot camp.  I will also accredit  her with helping me to find my love for fitness and running.  Up until then I had only worked out in a gym and always hated it.  It took so much inner strength and motivation to just get to the gym, that I would always beat myself up for buying a costly gym membership in the first place!  Christi took us outside to run up and down huge sets of steps or had us jump up on nearly waist high steps to have us leap off of them backwards.  No lame gym machines or boring elliptical machines that took all I had to even keep up a pace that would break a sweat.  After every workout with Christi I was drenched and spent and I loved it.  She also started taking me and my friend whose house we worked out at for runs throughout the Madrona neighborhood and eventually down to Lake Washington that got me hooked on running.  Before that, I hated running, I thought you had to go at maximum speed so my chest always felt as if it were going to come right out of me, not fun. Running with the ladies though, we always kept a nice even pace where we could even chat while running but also sprinting up hills once in a while or stopping to change up our heart rate by doing push ups or burpees along the way, something that I recommend to all  my friends, clients and family who go running, why not maximizes your run?

I think you can tell that a lot of the balance I was getting was centered around fitness and trying to regain my body after having my two daughters.  I also found balance with some of the mom’s from my old playgroup.  Although all of our kids were getting older now and we no longer got together for play dates, we still kept in contact with one another and would go out for Ladies Night.  We strive for once a month meet ups or even just to celebrate one of our birthdays but with the increasing amount of our kid’s schedules not to forget about date nights with the husbands, it gets tougher and tougher to plan our Ladies Nights.  As I blog this we are trying to arrange a night when all of ladies can go out for a March birthday and so far, we’re just throwing dates out that inevitably one or more cannot make.  It’s hard to arrange but once we get out it’s so worth it, to be surrounded by “your” ladies that know good and bad about you but still genuinely enjoy your company.  All of this sounds so simple but let one thing go awry, a sick child, a husband either out of town on business or working late, or just plain old being tired from a long day of playing chauffeur to the kids and all the planning can just go right out the door.

Although it was a dream come true to start up my boot camp, I don’t think it helped out in the pursuit of balance, in fact it just added to my plate and it has become one more thing to juggle.  This is not a bad thing as it is something I want to pursue and it has all of the elements that make me thrive; fitness, socialization and community building but I forgot to think about the behind the scenes work it takes to put something like this on, so that’s where it starts messing with my balance.  People warned me about having to do my own marketing and keeping up with my social media, all of these things must be done to succeed but I’m literally trying to do all of this stuff in my truncated time frame in which McKenzie goes to preschool (9-1) along with filling myself up through yoga, running, a lunch with friends, or any of  the leisurely things one should do to “balance” themselves.

I’m not the only one though, I hear the “B” word from everyone…other mothers, friends with grown kids, anyone who is searching for a fulfilled life.  Isn’t that what we all want?  To feel like each realm of our life is under control and that not any single aspect or more of it is overwhelming or out of control?!?  Balance comes up when talking about eating right, about work schedules, about being on the computer too much…it’s everywhere and everyone seems to be searching for the answer on how to find it.  For awhile when my life seemed to be spiraling out of control: my marriage was in danger, I was feeling sad and considering medication for anxiety and depression, my husband and I were also having parenting issues with one of our daughters, the solution for me was to step back and re prioritize my life and activities.  This is when I decided driving up to Phinney Ridge for my wonderful yoga class was too much and at that time I was also filling in for a gym in a sporadic schedule, I also cut that out of my schedule.  It felt liberating to be less committed to so many things.  I also made a conscious decision  that my daughters could do 2 possibly 3 extracurricular activities per week which boiled down to mainly swimming and gymnastics. Once I paired my life down a little more things did improve, so I’m still happily married, not on any meds, and after taking a Love and Logic parenting course from a wonderful parent resource I know, Lorri Reynolds of SweetiePie Parenting, my husband and I have a bag full of tools to use on our daughters.   It also helps now that Cameron is in Kindergarten and can do after school enrichment programs such as chess and drama since they actually give me more free time with McKenzie or like today, I have my mom picking her up so I can finish up this post.  That also brings up having extra help in your pursuit of balance which either means hiring someone for an extra set of hands, setting up a carpool and play dates or like me, ask a family member to help out.  I’m fortunate enough to have so much family in the area, once a week my mother in law actually picks Cameron up from school and comes to my house with dinner and dessert!  It’s great for me to not have to think up a dinner once a week and also gives the grandparents some nice quality time with Cameron and McKenzie.

My point is, I am not alone in my quest for BALANCE.  By definition( and there are A LOT of them for this word but the one pertaining to this post ) balance means: ” A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design” 1( or life).  I’m just speaking for myself, but I find that I need help from my husband, my mom, my friends and other family members to achieve balance.  I am grateful and appreciative for this extra help so just remember to seek help out, because I’m sure that the person you ask will be willing and probably ask you for the same favor in return when they are feeling overwhelmed or overextended.  “If you never ask, you will never know the answer! “-a line a door to door magazine salesmen said to me, and stuck with me.  Also if you need to cut back on the amount of activities you or your family are doing, go for it.  For me, I have boot camp to run twice a week, Zumba on Wednesdays and while I’m looking for clients to fill my open time slots on Monday’s and Friday’s I have been doing a little yoga just to keep my body in BALANCE!  There’s my favorite word again. My hubby and I have been getting out for date night about every other week or maybe more like every three weeks but the big new is that we are taking our first real trip away from our girls next week!  I’ve been talking about doing this for so long, I’m positive it will rejuvenate both my husband and I getting me that much closer to my pursuit of balance!  We’ll just have to wait and see though, once one realm of your life is in balance, how the slightest thing can throw it off in the blink of an eye.  Good luck everyone!

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