Thursday, September 20, 2012

Balancing Act

I like balance in all things.  After all, I am a Libra, a creature of air.  I like lists of all kinds – shopping lists, to-do lists, pro and con lists.  I like schedules to keep my daily life organized and in balance.  I like planning ahead, whether it’s a meal, a day of chores, or a vacation.  (Although, financial planning has never been one of my strong suits.)  I always try to plan my day, weighing my time carefully out between family, household chores, gardening and yard work, meal preparations, typing medical reports for work, my writing, a half hour here to read or a half hour there for me time.  My brain is often rolling through list after list, schedule after schedule.  This allows me to go through my day at a relaxed pace and to get as much accomplished in a day as possible.  Sometimes I joyfully realize that all on my lists are done and I have extra time to write, read, or spend time with my husband or son.

Sometimes there’s just not enough time in a day to get it all done and I have to resign myself to the fact that something must be saved for another day.  Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew and have to choke it down.  But when things don’t go as planned or according to schedule or I am thrown something that is not on the list, my scales tip and I am thrown off balance.  I feel overwhelmed and can get quite bitchy.  I’ve been known to just sit down and have a good cry out of frustration and in an attempt to reboot the central processing unit that is my brain.  I’ve always been this way so I should, after almost 44 years of life, know how to handle the unexpected, the unplanned and the unlisted.

Late Spring and early Summer brought one of the most out-of-balance times I have experienced in a very long time, simply because there was too much happening.  It all didn’t fit on my lists or into my schedule.  My son was winding up his time at middle school and with that came all sorts of events.  As Vice-President of the Home and School Association, I had our annual auction to plan and organize, a task that was often done by a committee of people but, this time around, was being handled by one person – me.  My father and stepmom were moving and, in their failing states, needed a lot of help.  I was involved in a community battle with the school district over funding and loss of programs, which involved meetings, protests, pouring over budget reports, group brainstorming sessions, and writing letter after letter to board members, congress people, our governor, and even the President of the United States.  It was a whirlwind of events, emotions and exhaustion.

There were times, however, that seemed to balance me out.  Working in the garden with my newly planted herb and vegetable garden, surrounded by my flowers and the visiting birds and critters brought me peace.  Writing my article for the Pagan Household every other week and the occasional blog brought me joy and kept my creative juices flowing.  Keeping the homefires burning through the regular tasks of my life like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my family brought me stability.  A hot lavender bath at night soothed my sore muscles, my mind and my spirit.  These things grounded me, inspired me, transformed me, and shaped me because they brought the four elements – Earth, Air, Fire and Water – together in a delicately-balanced dance around me, lifting my spirit for another day.  I welcomed these simple moments and kept my eye on the prize – Summer.

Summer came and, although things had slowed down a bit, I was still not feeling quite right.  I had to adjust to the new school-not-in-session schedule.  My son was home with me and that changed the dynamics of my days a bit.  He loved to sleep the day away, resulting in me having to be the human alarm clock every 15 minutes.  He raided the refrigerator every time I turned around and I watched the groceries I bought on Saturday disappear by Tuesday.  There were days I loved having him around and others where I just wanted to tear the hair out of my head.  No one warned me how moody teenage boys can be!  Some days he was sweet, helpful and talkative and others…well, you would have thought I had the plague.  Yes, I know he’s a growing boy and that’s what growing boys do.  They sleep, eat, and are in a constant struggle with themselves over whether to like Mom or not.  It’s still maddening!  But, guess what?  I had this on the mental list.  I knew this time would come.  The time where I would stop being Mommy and become Mom.  The problem was that I hadn’t considered how hard it would be.  Once again, my scales tipped.  So, I looked forward to our vacation at the Jersey shore in an attempt to distract myself.

We arrived at the Jersey shore on a glorious Saturday morning, meeting up with the entire Lawson clan for breakfast at our favorite restaurant.  I felt relaxed and ready for a week of fun in the sun.  No such luck!  I guess the salt air brought out the “I Hate Mom” vibe in my son because, as soon as we gathered with the family that morning, he began giving me the evil eye at every turn.  Every interaction with him was full of tension and, as I like to call it, “tangled with ‘tude” (full of attitude).  I tried talking with him several times but walked away feeling like I was the one with the problem.  We were truly at cross purposes.  My husband told me to let it go and to just enjoy my vacation.  But, let’s be honest here, how could I enjoy the vacation when my one and only child was acting like I was the bane of his existence?  I spent the first few nights of vacation wanting to pack my bags and go home.  By Tuesday evening, I couldn’t take it anymore and I demanded that he take a walk to the beach with me to talk one last time (otherwise, I was going home).  I figured the beach was the best place for us to work this out, surrounded by the elements to bring balance to our peace summit.  Standing there in the dunes, we had an open honest discussion (shocking because I thought it would be a screaming match) and the peace treaty was signed.  The scales were tipping back into balance.

I went to bed feeling happy and peaceful for the first time during the vacation.  Meanwhile, other family members were in varying states of discord and it exploded not 30 minutes after turning in that night.  I won’t go into all the sordid details here but, once again, I was ready to go home.  In fact, this time, my husband and son were ready to go home too.  But, another peace summit was held with the parties involved, and my husband, son and I agreed that we would stay for the remainder of vacation.  The rest of the week was tense but manageable.  I did find peace and solace at the beach each day, where Earth, Air, Fire and Water formed a perfect circle of balance around me, and in a lovely midnight walk on the beach with my hubby, our path lit by a beautiful orange waning moon.  However, for the first time in my life, I didn’t cry as we headed over the bridge leading out of town on our way home.  Vacation was over and I was going home, what I wanted to do all week long!

The remainder of August brought balance to the force.  The torturous heat and humidity of June and July were replaced by cooler “blue and gold” days.  I busied myself with preparing the house and garden for the Autumn, back-to-school shopping, and catching up on reading the books that had waited through the Spring and early Summer for my attention.  I began eating healthier and taking my vitamins again.  Requests for assistance with upcoming school committees started coming in and I politely refused, already planning on finishing the book I began to write during the Winter and early Spring and with another one bouncing around in my head.  I began looking into upcoming Pagan periodicals’ submission requests and guidelines to keep in mind for future writing opportunities.  My son and I, for the most part, kept our white flags up and swaying in the breeze, a new age of peace reigning.

Now, here I am, in mid-September, reveling in the peace and quiet of being alone in the house again.  I have adjusted to the new schedule of getting up at five o’clock in the morning so my son can be out the door to school by 6:15.  It gives me so much more time in the day to get the household chores done, to do a bit of exercising and to do the things I love, like writing, reading and gardening.  My book is in the works again and I intend to blog as often as I can.  My birthday and wedding anniversary are only a few weeks away and I have begun planning get-away days, for just me and the hubby.  I look forward to a day trip to my favorite seaside town, Cape May, and a day of strolling through local public gardens and arboretums.  Mabon decorating is done and the plans for celebrating Autumn’s arrival are set.  With Samhain right around the corner, I have started to dust off the Halloween decorations and they’ll be ready for putting out in a week or so.  Things are back in balance.

And the lessons I have learned from the past few months?  Don’t take on more than I am willing to handle.  Just because my son acts like he hates me, doesn’t mean he does.  Life happens and there’s nothing I can do about it.  Lists and schedules are not what makes or breaks me.  The wheel turns at all times and I must turn with it.  And, when my scales are tipping way out of balance, just take a moment to find where Earth, Air, Fire and Water meet, in my house, in the garden, wherever I am, in whatever I am doing, so I can be at their center and I will find balance again.