Finding Balance part 1: time management

Three years ago I started a Balance Quest. The journey has evolved gradually, and shows no sign of slowing down.  I have been learning a lot of lessons, and I thought that maybe I would share some of that story here in hopes that others might take some little lesson or thought away with them to put towards their own journey.

Three years ago I came to the realization that my life was out of balance. I felt busy to the point of compulsion. I felt trapped into being the person that everyone around me perceived me to be. When I would just sit still and do “nothing”, I felt I was being lazy. I didn’t know if it was okay for me to be lazy, so I would experiment and say “I’m so lazy” out loud to someone.  The rejoinder was always “you are the least lazy person I know!” Whenever I would hear that, the feeling I would get around my heart was one of disappointment – of not being validated. It was not okay for me to be lazy. I was not allowed to be lazy because “everyone” knows me to be a busy person. But I was always tired. I would fantasize about being in an accident (a minor one!) or of getting sick and having to go to the hospital where I could lay in bed and nurses would take care of me. Maybe read to me or rub my hands and feet until I felt like being whole again.  I realized I was burning out.  I was burning out because I was out of balance.

And so I began a journey towards finding balance. Towards becoming a balanced person. Towards having whole and fulfilled heart, filled by me, not alternately filled & depleted by other people. So of course, the first thing I realized was that I needed to stop defining myself by what others expected of me. This is very difficult! I still feel today that I have only made baby steps in this direction. But baby steps are better than no steps.

The very first thing I looked at three years ago was time management. I was working a full-time day job, teaching 6 bellydance classes & two troupe rehearsals each week & playing in the band on Monday nights. I was also choreographing & producing an annual stage show at the Arts Centre and organizing annual workshops with outside master instructors. It was great, but eventually something had to give out. What “gave out” was me. Literally! So I cut everything in half. I cut both my day job and my dance job in half by requesting a re- assignment into a temporary ½ time position at work and cutting my dance class offerings down to 3 per week.

That first year off, I choreographed & produced Raqs Farrah, the dance of happiness with Saba, Saqra and the Mediterranean Raqs Band. That was a fabulous show and I am very proud of my dancers. But, I did it from a place of absolute and total exhaustion. I could not have done it if I had been working full time. However, I did not feel that I had taken any great strides in my balance quest. I was still tired.

My second year working part-time, I did not produce a show. I did, however, work with the Yukon Arts Centre to bring Yasmina Ramzy and her Arabesque Dance Company & Orchestra to Whitehorse to perform OUM and to give a workshop. That was wonderful. It was also all the stress that I could manage. I came home every day at noon and fell asleep on the couch or zoned out in-front-of the television that year. It was hard, but I let myself be okay with that.  

My third year working part-time was full of creative energy. I choreographed a full show of brand new works for Saba and we did Rockin’ the Casbah at the Arts Centre. You can read those blogs under the Rockin’ the Casbah categories. I did this show from a place of relaxed and youthful energy, and I think it showed. I think my dancers felt it, too.  

Last month my stint of working part-time ended and I am now working full-time Monday-Thursday. I will  have Friday’s off for just a little while longer. I am so grateful to have had this time. I feel rested and clear headed.

I have learned that the next step in the time management aspect of my Balance Quest will be to re-invent Celebrations Bellydance. I know that I cannot return to the way I was before because my candle no longer has two ends. And I want my weekends back. I want to spend Sunday’s with my husband or take a quilting seminar or do whatever normal people do on Sunday. I still don’t know exactly what the changes will look like, but I have some ideas of things I would like to do that will feed my own creative soul. I want to continue sharing Arabic dance with my students and with the public. I want to continue creating stage shows. I talked a bit about it in an earlier blog post here.

Anyway, that’s how my journey started. I’d like to write about it now and again. Stay tuned!

Game’s Over

For some reason I have, in about 8 weeks, “found” EIGHT of my hard lost pounds. My friend Judy once said that she was not loosing weight, she was getting rid of it for good. Because when you loose something, you generally go looking for it again. Which I apparently have done. Why? I’m sure I can list a myriad of reasons…a stressful couple of months, my on-going struggle with depression, menopause, trouble getting on board with the new points plus plan. Blah blah blah. But really, those are ALL excuses. What happened was I simply stopped paying attention. The truth is, I lost that initial 60 pounds by playing games with myself…(how much can I cheat and still loose weight each week was a popular game). When the weight was gone, the game was over and I went back to my old habits. Because it was a game, I didn’t really replace old habits with new ones. They were only skin deep.

What do 8 pounds mean? They mean my pants are uncomfortably tight. They mean that the dress I was going to give away because it was getting too big now fits me just right again. It means that the summer dresses I was looking forward to buying are not going to be worn (this year) because I refuse to buy clothes in a bigger size. I’m not going there. What amazes me is how easily it can come back. If I don’t sit up and take notice now – today – than it will soon be 10 pounds, then 15, and so on.

This isn’t a game. This is the rest my life. I get it now.