Do you consider yourself a balanced person? Or is it an ideal you’re constantly chasing — or one you’ve abandoned all hope of achieving?
I think the answer depends on your definition of “balanced.”
I used to think that balance was all about finding the sweet spot and staying there. I thought that if I chose my convictions carefully then I could fearlessly hold to them, never caving or yielding too far to temptation, never shirking and slacking off so as to lose my footing. Balance, I believed, was also about cultivating a zen-like aura so that no matter how fiercely the winds of chaos beat about me, I could maintain my sense of calm and persevere through the storm.
What a load of crap.
Look, I’m not saying this isn’t possible; for all I know it is and I just wasn’t the kind of person who could achieve and maintain that definition of balance. But the more I get to know the world and the people in it, the more I realize I’m not alone in rejecting it. I don’t mean giving up and thinking I can’t achieve my dreams — I mean staring this ideal in the face and saying, “This is not the life I want. I choose a different path.”
When I started this blog I had just begun exploring a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. And I loved it. I believed that not only was this the diet for me, but it was the ideal way of life I had been searching for. And for a while, it was. But then I started to realize that maybe it wasn’t. And that scared me.
For the first time in my life I was passionate about something. I had known passion before, but never had I been so inspired and consumed by something so completely, so lit up from within. To then begin to question the foundation of my passion could have been heartbreaking — were it not for my revised definition of “balance.”
I know now that balance is not about standing still, firmly, unwavering. Balance is about being able to guide yourself back when you’ve gone too far one way or the other. It’s about being flexible, yes, but more importantly it’s about being forgiving — being able to say to yourself that it’s OK if you don’t know the answer, and it’s OK to change your mind.
Balance is about letting judgement roll off your back, whether it comes from those around you or from inside. It’s about letting go of pride and accepting help when you need it, just as much as it’s about silencing the voices around you and being brave enough to follow your own inner guidance. It’s about seeking the calm amid the chaos and being patient if it doesn’t come when you call.
Balance is not about keeping your footing no matter what; it’s about finding your footing again when you’ve lost it for the hundredth time, keeping courage and faith all along the way.
This kind of balance is not only something to strive for, it’s something worth achieving.
My food philosophy is changing as I keep walking this path, and I’m OK with that. In fact I’m more than OK with it — I welcome the changes. I’m realizing that I’ll never stop learning, never stop seeking truth and wellness and health and happiness — and I’m learning that the way I achieved balance yesterday may not be the way I achieve it today.
Because sometimes you need a freaking donut. Sometimes you order a pizza or take the kids to McDonalds (again) or refuse to cook for a week or more because you can’t bear the thought of taking on such a monumental responsibility as nourishing your family, not when you feel so under-qualified and depleted and unappreciated and completely in over your head.
And that’s OK. You don’t have to have all the answers right now or ever. You don’t always have to have a game plan and you don’t always have to keep to the path. Life is hard. It’s messy and it’s exhausting and sometimes it just plain sucks.
So forget about perfection. When you’re confused or exhausted or any time at all, it’s OK to forget about ideals or goals and just be. And when it comes to your healthy eating habits, most of all be forgiving. Know that you’re not the only one questioning yourself and wondering if you have what it takes to meet your goals. You’re not the only one giving in to cravings or falling victim to food addictions. It’s OK. You haven’t “blown it”; you’ve just gone a bit too far one way, and it’s time to gently guide yourself back.
What’s your idea of balance? How do you find it and how can you stay there? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share your wisdom in a comment below.