What Does a Balanced Life Look Like?

Written by Laura Lee – a current graduate wife

Summer is melting away faster than the popsicle I’ve been enjoying in the sunshine today. Time to think of a new season and fresh starts!  Giddy with the possibility of new, the resolutions begin. I find myself rattling off my usual list of all the aspects of my life I want to keep in balance. I welcome the opportunity to plan how “this term, we can get our act together.” Ha. I am starting to wonder what this elusive balance actually looks like.

Just google “balance” and you find oodles of crazy images of superhuman feats. Check out the photos above, for example.

These amazing yet completely superfluous feats of Chinese circus performers perfectly demonstrate that balance doesn’t equal simplicity.  These images struck me as a propos to this season of my life and the stress of keeping the plates spinning, not sure of which I can actually put down without the whole number coming to a crash.

Sure, everything is in balance (at least some of the time), but do I want my life to be in balance in a Chinese acrobat kind of way? Certainly the life of a graduate wife has its demands, but proper limits have a place, too. This is my plea for a simple life.

My husband is working while pursuing a doctorate full-time in Oxford. I’m a WAHM with a toddler and one on the way. I moonlight as a marketing consultant for two different companies while the baby sleeps. My family has a bizarre habit of wanting to eat everyday. Life is full.

But it’s not those occupational demands or our circumstances that make our days crazy or calm. I’m beginning to realize that peace and simplicity is a choice, not something that is handed to you—or not.

It’s in the attitudes I choose, the inspiration I uncover or ignore, the priorities and thoughts and conversations I pick to fill those moments and those hours that make the majority of my days, and—essentially—who I am.

Sure, it’s fun for people to ask “How do you do it all?” and feel some sense of accomplishment from the sheer number of things we are tackling in life right now. But we need to evaluate if we are carrying around more than is necessary– bordering on the ridiculous.  If so, what are my motivations. Approval? Security? Identity?

I’ve had the sense lately that I’ve been striving—but after what? To keep the plates spinning? I’ve done some serious evaluating of what things might need to go, what things I could do more efficiently, or by someone else, or in a simpler way. I want to strive after the things that  matter most to me—not just struggle to survive.

Do I really want my life to be a constant circus act, “in balance” but just barely, always flirting with dramatic collapse if one thing goes awry? I want to find the kind of balance that doesn’t call for a gaudy pink costume and isn’t performed for the sake of wowing the crowd. A grounded life, at home with my God and who He made me to be. Yes, I suppose I will need to keep at least some of the plates spinning, but I will try to cut back on the acrobatics.

I’m going to need help. I have no idea, really, how to simplify my life. In fact, on any given day, I have more things I’d like to add to it–a new friend I want to meet, a new language I want to learn, a place I want to visit, a book I want to write. There’s just not enough life to fit it all in at once. So, no easy solutions here. Just trying to keep it all in balance.

I’ve asked a few of my wise graduate wife friends how they manage to streamline their lives, in hopes of some inspiration. I life-hacked my way into their kitchens and day planners and daydreams in search of a few versions of normal. Their practical ideas for making life flourish on a daily basis encouraged me and I look forward to sharing some of their responses with you in the following weeks.

How do you do simplify life and keep your priorities in balance?

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9 thoughts on “What Does a Balanced Life Look Like?

  1. Great post Laura Lee. It is so much a choice and hard to know at times what to leave behind and what to push forward. Praying as you make these choices and wait for baby!
    Love,
    AB

  2. I struggle with this too and unfortunately don’t have the answer, I wish I did! Though yesterday I made a realization, I choose to have a difficult life, mostly due to what I’ve decided I want my life to look like. I’m type A, what can I say? I want to be in great shape, with a great job, an amazing marriage, thriving friendships, and great personal architecture projects, I want it all. But all these things come from working hard, very hard. That’s where my imbalance comes from, internally. If I prioritize and decided which are most important to me, then maybe I’ll let myself just be “okay” at the other less important aspects of my life. And in conclusion feel like my life is more balanced!!

  3. Working 80-plus hours some weeks and trying to date/mary my med student husband left me in a similar situation. It was as if I barely had the energy to do the necessary things – forget the fun things. Something that helped me a lot was a visual aid I saw once at church. You have two tupperware containers- one of sand and one of pebbles.Your goal is to fit both into a Mason Jar. If you put the sand (or the little things) in first, the rocks (the big things) won’t fit. But if you put the rocks in first, the other things seem to work their way in. And if they don’t manage to fit, they are just little things anyway. Life is a crazy balancing act, but I hope you don’t drop the big plate to pick up a crumb on the floor. Good luck!

  4. Pingback: What Does a Balanced Life Look Like?: Part II | the graduate wife

  5. Pingback: What Does a Balanced Life Look Like? III | the graduate wife

  6. Pingback: What Does a Balanced Life Look Life? Part IV (Cooking) | the graduate wife

  7. Pingback: What Does a Balanced Life Look Like? Part V (Keeping House) | the graduate wife

  8. Pingback: What Does a Balanced Life Look Like? Part VI (Fanning the flame) | the graduate wife

  9. Pingback: What Does a Balanced Life Look Like? Part VII (your average day) | the graduate wife

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