In the final and more recent episode I want to relate to you, I found myself in a new province with all the time to do what I hoped I would during retirement. A major improvement occurred when it was discovered that the mystery illness was in my back in the form of a tumour in my spinal cord (and they thought it was in my head!). The successful surgery left me pretty much normal and able to resume any activity or interest I wanted to. With illness finally moved out, anger and resentment followed immediately and I was able to rearrange my priorities to my family, my husband, my new surroundings and mostly, my own interests!
I had sought so many volunteer opportunities to fill in the void following my abrupt departure from my career. Yet, they left me feeling used and tired. So I looked at my reasons for volunteering and started to divest myself of this new “portfolio” of busy-ness. I was able to find part-time work as an editor that not only pays real money but allows me to work from wherever I want in the world. I can also work the hours I want as the legacy of chronic pain has been continued insomnia.
I have continued one volunteer job as a chronic pain workshop leader. I do it for me as it reminds me constantly how far from that edge I came and to look at what needs reprioritizing on a very regular basis. Oh yes, that is one very important thing – re-evaluate and re-prioritize regularly. Put it on your calendar if you must or just decide once a year a certain month is when you will look at the balance in your life. Mostly, don’t wait till you feel all the symptoms of a life out of balance to finally ask the world to stop so you can get off. It’s already too late then!
Another huge thing I do to keep my life in balance now is to make sure I take one day a week off from work. It’s easy to work each day with our ability to work at home or the necessity to complete work at home (as in report cards, meetings, prepping and planning). But if you are always on, you don’t realize there is a difference between Sunday and the rest of the week. So now, Sundays are fun days for me. The one day I dreaded as a child because it was boring, and as a teacher cause it meant I didn’t get all those things done before Monday morning classes. Now I enjoy Sunday and hopefully sleep well Sunday night.
Keeping our life in balance can be a little like keeping all the balls up in the air but with careful reflection, you can firstly, get rid of some of those balls that don’t really matter. Second, you can share the carrying of those balls with others in your life either permanently or temporarily. I hope I have given you something to reflect on and some tools to help you in your journey towards your best life.
What tools have you gone back to again and again to help maintain life balance?