Searching for Balance

Meditations in Motion

I went for an actual run on the road yesterday. After my self-imposed two-week running hiatus, I cannot begin to tell you how good it felt to run outside in the sunshine and brisk, December air, rather than staring at a monitor on the elliptical machine. My steps were a little bit tentative at first, testing out my hip to see how it would hold up.

I consulted a running guru several weeks ago to see what I could learn from her. My friend, one of the most accomplished runners I know, and several years older than me, told me to work on strengthening my ankles and calves.

My problem is in my hip, I protested. “I know“, she said. That ended the conversation. When this woman talks, I listen, so I have been working on strengthening my ankles and calves. She was right. As I aged, my gait developed into more of a shuffle than a stride. I wasn’t rolling my foot, pushing off with my toes. I was running flat-footed. My hip suffered as a result.

After my run, as I sat in the locker room preparing for my shower, I was so thankful and relieved, I almost cried. No pain in my hip as I ran and no pain today. It pays to listen.

Meditations in Motion

I wrote a post several months ago about a new practice I began. Every morning I sit quietly for 10 minutes and listen with an open heart and open mind. I don’t know what I am listening for, but still, I listen.

In all the months of practice, I had not heard anything earth-shattering, just my own breathing. The 10 minutes of peace and quiet, where I silence my ever-present internal narrator, has been its own reward.

Last week, I made a plea before I meditated, “Give me something to focus on for the coming year, something to think about, something to work on, a word, a phrase, something.” I must have sounded desperate because my plea was answered, but not in the way I expected.

Meditations in Motion

I was expecting to hear something, instead, an image popped into my mind. Yes, that image. It was a plank of wood teetering on the tip of a triangle. “What in the world…?” I thought, but within seconds I answered my own question. It was a one-word answer: “Balance.

Balance” is my word, my topic, my focus. To say that I was underwhelmed is not an exaggeration. I was hoping for something exciting and sexy, like “Grit” or “Fortitude” or even “Exuberance“.

Balance” reminded me of that cereal that looks and tastes like sawdust. You eat it because it’s good for you. “Balance” is cottage cheese, turnips, plain white bread, boring.

I was never very good at balance. I am subject to wild flights of fancy, either feverishly enthusiastic about a project or not interested at all. Hot or cold.

Meditations in Motion

In yoga, my friend will not place her mat next to mine if we take a class together. When the instructor calls balance poses such as tree pose or dancer pose, I constantly wiggle, wobble, and eventually tip to one side or the other. I am a contagious distraction when it comes to balance.

Why, I wondered, would I be asked to focus on a topic in which I am so obviously lacking proficiency? Then I got it…why would I work on something at which I am already competent? Balance is a challenge.

The more I thought about it, the more passion I developed for the topic of balance. Life is full of many push-pull dilemmas. Even something as simple as maintaining a healthy weight involves balance – the calories you take in must equal the calories you expend, or your weight is out of balance.

Meditations in Motion

Finding a balance between professional and family life is important. Many families have fallen apart because one or both spouses could not find that balance. We want to do a thorough job, without becoming consumed with our career. This middle ground was difficult for me to find when I taught. I often worked 60 or 70 hour weeks, putting stress not only on myself but my family too.

When we give love, we must discover balance between obsession and indifference. When our children are young, they depend on us for everything – food, shelter, safety, transportation, entertainment. As they get older, they need us less, and we must learn how to let go. When we hold on too tightly, our relationships are out of balance.

Meditations in Motion

The same principle holds true for romantic love. We must give our loved ones room to breathe. Not every second can be spent together, looking into each others’ eyes and proclaiming our love for one another, but too many relationships have succumbed to apathy. We must let our loved ones know just how valued they are.

Finally, we must seek balance in how we practice our faith. Many of us look to faith as the source of our values. It gives our lives meaning and purpose. We look forward to “a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells“, but right now, we live on this imperfect earth. It is our responsibility to bring God’s light to this world.

We are called to treat our fellow humans with dignity, compassion, respect, and kindness.  It is our holy obligation to protect and defend the most vulnerable members of society.  We must be good stewards of our earth and all its denizens. We must practice balance.

So…balance. It is my focus for the coming year. I still don’t think that it will be an easy undertaking, especially with my hip on the mend as it seems to be. Balance in my running life may be overcome by exhilaration.

Balance is, however, sounding just a little bit sexier.

 

I am linking up with Jessica and Amy at Live Life Well, Fairytales and Fitness for Friday 5, Susan B Mead for Dancing With Jesus, Spiritual Sundays for Welcome, Embracing the Unexpected for Grace and Truth, and The Blended Blog for Friday Loves,.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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73 comments

  1. Balance is an amazing word for the new year. Balance is super hard and I don’t know anyone who is proficient at it. I am learning actually very slowly on saying no or cutting back on something because it creates a disbalance in my life. I crave balance and contentment and am definitely working towards that as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is wonderful (and even the running tip resonates for these flat feet!), and balance is so elusive you’ll have all kinds of fun chasing that word in 2019!
    I also wanted to tell you that Walter Bruegemann was featured in an interview with Krista Tippett in On Being yesterday. I might not have noticed if not for your recent quotes from him. I added Prophetic Imagination to my Want to Read list for 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so glad to hear that you were able to run without pain yesterday. My word from last year was balance. It’s a good one! Not always easy for me. I tend to be an all or nothing person myself. I even thought about using it again this year but have not decided yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Balance is HARD! And it’s a great word to focus on. I think it’s much like yoga — it’s a practice. Some days you’ll get it, and some days you’ll just fall over.

    I like to meditate in the morning, too, although I don’t sit in silence, I use guided meditations.

    Of course it’s a real buzz kill when your husband lets the dog out of the bedroom while you’re meditating, and he stays comfy in bed while I have to go let her out (because if I wait for him, it’ll be too late for our poor carpets).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to use guided meditations. I like them, but I like just sitting in silence too. I once read about the RMP method of meditating – Ries. Pee. Meditate. Maybe that “pee” goes for the dog too! So glad to read that Gizmo continues to improve (or at least stabilize).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post. My son is a runner as well, so you had me right from the start. But balance. It is something alluring and always seems just out of my reach. Hoping you share more throughout the year. Thanks for linking up with Grace and Truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved this post. Some people seem over-confident about what God wants them to do. I’m always wondering if I got the message right. I ask for guidance, do what I think is needed, and watch to see how God will use my efforts. I should be used to it by now, but God nearly always magnifies His answers to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think that is am amazing word Laurie given by the Word Himself!
    It is also a balancing act isn’t it with all you have mentioned above, otherwise it skews.
    It has been lovely to get to know you this year. 😀
    Merry Christmas,
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful words of wisdom and thanks for the advice on strengthen your ankles and rolling your foot. Since surgery, I was not allowed to roll my foot when I first started walking so I need to remember to do that or I will end up walking like a penguin. Have a great Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this! Balance has been a struggle for me — some months are better than others. Shoot, some DAYS are better than others. It’s a process. I’m definitely gonna keep that picture in mind, though…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m happy for you Laurie that your running guru gave you a solution – you will go forward, enjoying your run, without limitations, and without worry that you are further damaging your hip. Consulting her was the best present you could give yourself. Bill has already given himself a present this year, and beyond, and you as well, as you begin a new phase of your life … balance will play an important role as well, but look at what is down the pipeline for you … many good things on the horizon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. I certainly hope that good things are down the road for us. Heide is the running guru I was referring to. I wrote about her earlier this year. She just ran a marathon 1 day after her 80th birthday. She is an amazing woman!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is amazing Laurie to be 80 and still so full of vim and vigor. She sure is something to aspire to be like and she counselled you on a “fix” for your hip … too bad you didn’t consult her earlier. Go ahead and book all those marathons in 2019 and I think there was one in 2020, if you have not done so already!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I love this post!
    Balance is so important. And so hard to achieve. You’re reminding me, I used to do simple balancing exercises (nothing as complicated as you do in yoga!) and I should get back to doing them.
    I’m glad you were able to run without pain!
    Love and light…
    Happy new year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I Love this Post!

    Firstly, for the good news you can now overcome and manage your hip injury – consulting the Guru was a flash of inspiration! 🙂 (Just knowing isn’t enough though – listening to them and changing what you to to fit and follow up with is where perspiration is required – the doing (correctly) takes effort.) 😉 Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Balance will indeed be a challenge – as it is for all of us finding the ‘right one’ for us.

    It’s a tricky word/concept/philosophy all in one. (In One… see what i did there??)

    We both balance on the ‘tipping point’ between two extremes so that we don’t become too fanatical by moving too far either ‘way’, and we find the right balance between spending our time on a basket of activities such as caring for family, working, relaxing, exercising, sleeping and perhaps listening to our inner Spirit as it waits patiently for our real world voices to keep quiet for a moment and we just ‘listen’. :-).

    Finding the right balance as opposed to ‘a’ balance is complicated if we are not able to clearly define one or both extreme end points. (That’s the mathematicin in me coming out).

    If we lean too far one way or the other we risk being pulled from our balance and ‘falling down’. The same if other ‘forces’ are acting upon us that we do not fully account for.

    One part of a comment you made grabbed my attention in particular: ‘…hot or cold’, not so much about temperature as about temper-ament. I looked up Rev 3:16 ‘To the Church in Laodicea’ :
    15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
    (vs 14-22 give a little context)

    It seems to say we should be of single mind rather than being in the middle on some things – i expect spiritually in particular – so perhaps finding a balance is not for all things? We cannot follow God and Mammon, finding a middle path between the two, we have to chose a side sometimes and give it our 100%, rather than 50/50.

    I look forward to seeing where this challenge takes you next year and hopefully being able to both gain from and contribute something to it.

    Prayers for you and your family for Christmas time and for the New Year too. 🙂

    love, Bob.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments reminded me (for some reason) of when I used to teach equilibrium in chemistry class. Equilibrium occurs when the “forward” chemical reaction is occurring at the same rate as the “reverse” reaction.

      The individual molecules are still reacting, but overall there is no net change. That’s the concept that I think I need to shoot for when I search for balance. Balance, to me, does not mean static.

      You can also shift the equilibrium to one side or the other – the products or the reactants. Equilibrium doesn’t have to be right in the middle. It can mean that the products are favored 99.99%, or the reactants are favored by 99.99%.

      So, while this concept brings out the mathematician in you, it brings out the chemist in me! 🙂

      I (think I) understand the warning about being “lukewarm” in Revelations, and I certainly don’t want to fall into that trap. I think balance can include being more “hot” or “cold”. Being lukewarm is not appealing. As a runner, I would never shoot for lukewarm. I can’t imagine making that a goal in life either.

      Thank you for making me think this year, Bob. So glad to have met you through blogging. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Being around you is a huge encouragement for me to get off the sofa and start moving!

    And I’m a huge life balance fan so thanks for putting this subject on the table as we head into the end of the year.

    I’m so grateful that our pathways have crossed in recent months!

    Merry Christmas to you, to yours…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m so happy that listening to your friend’s advice is resulting in pain-free runs. It’s been a long time coming for you.

    I think balance is something most of us need to work on, and in most aspects of our lives. Here’s to bringing more balance into our lives in 2019!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love how you worked your way to your word for the upcoming year. Have you read the book “One Word that Will Change Your Life” by Britton, Page, and Gordon? It’s a fun and quick read and reminds me of your post today. Interesting about the calves and ankle connection – I’ve been feeling the desire to run flat-footed with age too, so I’m going to try some calf and ankle strengthening to see if it helps me too. But, after I take one more day off from running to eat more cookies…! Best wishes for a year full of balance opportunities!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never read the book, but I will check it out. Thank you for the recommendation! I have found that the ankle and calf strengthening is really making a difference. Funny how I never noticed it until someone else pointed it out to me. I have one more day of sloth too. Tomorrow hubby and I are doing a 5-mile race that we do almost every year. Happy New Year, Shelley!

      Like

  16. I understand what you mean about balance–it is so tough! I’m the type who is working on *something* (usually several “somethings”) around the clock or does nothing at all. Not much middle ground.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Balance is so important, so this is a great goal. Ecclesiastes 4:6 “Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.” You’ll find so much more fulfillment and joy when life is balanced.

    Liked by 1 person

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