Balance is an Illusion

 

You see it everywhere- “Find balance in your life” “Balance work and play” even the “balanced diet”. Well honey, I have some news for you that you may not like…balance is just an illusion. Yes, that’s right, like a shiny oasis in the middle of a desert, balance is a place you never seem to reach, simply because it doesn’t exist. I feel duped just like you. I’ve read every article on the subject, poured over many a self-help book, watched every Oprah episode that claimed to help me regain the balance I had lost, but nothing changed. I was still chasing balance like it was a sample sale at Barney’s. The thing is- you can’t regain what you never had. Balance is ever-changing and in the rare moments that the scales sync up- they tip yet again.

I propose a new way to view life’s equilibrium, a paradigm shift in steadiness. Life guru Danielle LaPorte has a new program all about goal setting and the disappointments that come from not meeting yourself where you had planned to be. The rigidity of goals and balance don’t allow you to be in the moment and follow how you feel day to day. For this very reason, I stopped putting my workout schedule on my calendar. Gone are the days of forcing myself into my skinny spin pants when the previous day was a particularly tough one filled with lots of cookies, too much Cava, and too little sleep. Instead, I’ve learned to bend my knees, kneel down, and meet my inner child right where she is. I look her square in the eyes and sweetly ask her, “What is it you need today, sweetheart?” If that’s a nap, a little walk, or a snuggle with my dog- I honor that.

Turns out that when I stopped hammering myself on what I “should” be doing or chastising myself for who I “should” be instead of who I am…everything got balanced ok on its own. So, I opened a fresh page of my journal and wrote out my new credo. I want to share it with you:

  • Lead with your heart not your head. I like to think I’m a pretty smart gal, but when it comes to knowing what’s best for me my brain can get me all tripped up. When I can turn off my endless stream of thoughts and breathe, I can open to what my soul knows . This takes time- heck, I’m still working on it. My bossy brain spent its whole life notifying me what I’m required to feel, believe, or be.  Unfolding into yourself takes time and patience, but I promise if you follow your heart you’ll always be exactly where you need to be.
  • Catch more flies with honey. Kindness is key here. I know. I’m guilty of more than one occasion of emotionally thrashing myself for some mis-step or mistake. Then afterwards I waste time licking my wounds and trying to rebuild what was broken. Showing yourself the affection and care you would for a child will get you where you want to be much faster and much easier. Not to mention with much less scarring…
  • Just be. We live in a culture of smart phones, constant buzzing, rushing with time flying us by. Especially in my city, New York, we’ve lost the ability to s l o w things to a roll and enjoy the scenery. My yoga practice and meditation help me steady my frantic pace and bring me back to the moment. The present is just that- a present. It’s not about the 5 lbs you want to lose or the 5 lbs you gained, because it’s just what it is right now. So, if all we have is this moment why not just be here with whatever it brings.

So, stand up, steady yourself and find the “balance” of the moment, because in the next one, you’ll just have to find it again. Knowing that my dear, is true balance.

At FORM we know how the struggle for the illusive balance can get you down. Our expert instructors can get you as balanced as you can be. Email our Pilates Concierge and let her set you up with your first session today!

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Consolidate, Equilibrium, Bravery

In true New Years fashion, my inbox, Facebook page, and twitter feed suddenly became inundated with the particulars on how to set and keep a resolution. Most of it melded into the din of data I’m flooded with. A LOT of it ended up in my advice-happy spam folder, or in the trash- all but the exception of one. Chris Brogan, a media marketing and PR guru, has an interesting take on making good intentions stick. I was lead to his article and philosophy, My 3 Words for 2011, purely by proximity.

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Chris shelves the tradition of making resolutions and instead swaps it for 3 valid words to use as a touchstone to get him where he wants to go. The belief behind focusing on words initially instead of goals, is to allow you to have something to mull over, get you thinking, and make objectives. He uses the SMART (Specific, Measureable, Acheiveable, Realistic, and Timely) to define the actual goals, sound familiar?

Here’s my 3 words that are the backbone of my goals:

Consolidate
In my therapy sessions (yes I go to therapy thank you very much), I have been exploring my yearning to feel safe and stable. My life often feels like it’s water running through a sieve and I can’t hold onto anything solid for any length of time. In trying to get to the bottom of my plight, I discovered actual evidence that I had the ability to nourish and support myself- plug up the holes, so to speak, and it was right in front of my eyes. I’d catch a glimpse of it, which would be eclipsed as quickly as it arrived by my nay-saying gray matter. Betsy, (my AWESOME therapist), suggested that every time I identified an instance where me, myself, and I did the “care taking” effectively, I should write it down and put it in a vase or bowl. This way I could have a tactile method of calculating my abilities. The word Consolidate means- to make something physically stronger and more solid. My first goal in my journey to become more solid, is to make my strengths materialize in a vessel on my desk. Finding a vase or bowl-no problem, I love to shop. Write down my good deeds, cake. I’m a writer.

Equilibrium
Ok- who doesn’t need more balance in their life? For me, my need for Equilibrium is specific to my career. I own my own business, which means I’m the head honcho, the big cheese, the boss lady. It also means that if something needs to get done, I’m the one who has to do it. I’m a one woman show, so I am responsible for answering the emails, phone calls, balancing the books, and scheduling the clients. It’s a full time job, and I find myself having difficulty turning off, tuning out, stopping the hamster wheel. Some days I book myself so tightly that I scarcely have a moment to pee, let alone stuff a hurried meal in my pie hole. The madness has to end. My journey to Equilibrium is initiated with two goals. First- I’m setting designated times of the day to check and answer my emails and calls. Otherwise it’s ignore, ignore, ignore, and make room for something else. Secondly, I’ve made up my mind to become a 9-5er. I will designate a quitting time for my day, after which I will be DONE with anything that resembles my “day” job, making room for other things like seeing friends and maybe even my a date night with my lovely boyfriend.

Bravery
This new year has big changes pending. Although I welcome them, they are still piggy backed by doubtful thinking and restless nights. The definition of being courageous is to not be deterred by danger or pain. Not knowing what’s in store for me makes it so hard for me to move boldly forward, (see my need for Equilibrium above), but, that’s what we ALL must do. No one can see what life has in store for them- we can only pay attention to what’s in the moment. This year I will move ahead with my plan to open my own Pilates studio without being dissuaded by my insecurities. I will write down the steps, and put one foot in front of the other without trepidation (or at least less of it). If my path seems to be going left instead of right I will follow it courageously, with confidence that it’s exactly where I need to go. Physically, I will dare to try new activities like rock climbing, boxing, and tennis. Emotionally I will continue to set free the remaining butterflies in my gut and courageously grow in my relationships with everyone I hold dear, despite my timid tendencies.

Even in re-reading this piece, I am flooded with inspiration instead of desperation. In the old days of resolution setting- I would unknowingly set myself up for failure and disappointment by creating unrealistic page-long expectations for myself. Having three key words to focus on creates hope and possibility. I’m thrilled to see where I’ll go.

Make sure to post your 3 words in the comments below! We want to hear from you!

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What to do when you feel jealous….

jealousy

When I moved to New York City three years ago from Los Angeles, it was decided by one phone call. I had been a dancer my whole life and had always dreamed of moving to the city to perform on Broadway. As I got older, pushing 30, I realized the days of uprooting myself and sleeping on friends’ couches were pretty much over. I was too comfortable in my LA lifestyle to start all over again. This particular Friday my agent called with good news. I had booked a job, a major job, on Broadway. One catch. They wanted me there for rehearsal Monday!

I left Los Angeles for a temporary gig that ended up inspiring me to stay in New York City indefinitely. I was living my dreams in the most exciting city in America with a job on the Broadway stage. After a year though, my contract ended. I thought getting another Broadway show should be easy. Think again. Week after week I would schlep every dance shoe I own on my back to a packed train, to a packed street, only to squeeze myself into a spandex unitard and THEN be forced to wait hours in a room full of 200 dancers. And although we share painfully obvious insecurities, some of them prance around like puffed up peacocks which is ridiculous because we all have to jump through hoop after fiery hoop…..only to get cut. Despite my friend’s supportive and encouraging behavior, I was down, way down. As the unemployment turned from weeks into months, one particular friend’s six Broadway show resume started getting to me. The fact that he was still living my dream gradually made me fill with jealousy. While he dreamed – I was wide, wide, awake.

So, what do you do when you feel jealous? The definition of jealousy is: feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages. This is, by all means not a socially acceptable emotion. No one willingly admits that they’re jealous. It’s one of those icky negative emotions like anger, distrust, and contempt. We say,  “I don’t feel those!”  If any admission is made it’s often downgraded to envy, which is really just the first step on the road to jealousy. The reality is, even if we don’t admit it, we all feel it.

drake-quotes-on-JealousyI had a slap-in-the-face realization that things are very different when you move 3,000 miles away from familiarity. Twenty-nine years constructed a pretty full life. I had friends, work, and family. I had a life that was my own.  Now here, in NYC, where I’ve always wanted to be, I often felt lost, overwhelmed, unaccomplished, inexperienced, and inept. The weather is harsher than imagined. My field is more competitive. Everyone seems to be doing what I can’t. Life here is about survival of the fittest, and man am I OUT OF SHAPE!

But really, my jealousy was actually a mask. A façade to cover my fear of doing something I wanted but wasn’t brave enough to move beyond. As I examined my jealousy further, I realized that all jealousy is fear. The fear that we will not get what we want, the frustration that someone else seems to be getting it, even though we are too frightened to reach for it.

So, what to do next? When you’re at a crossroads there are only two roads to take, and one leads to nowhere.  Believe me, I was happy in my misery, and fed it with daily pitty parties that included lots of Ice cream, shoe shopping, and mojitos in the afternoon. Jealousy is the poison apple that corrodes our dreams. In the “Artist’s Way” author Julia Cameron writes: “The desire to be better than can choke off the desire to just be.” It is our intrinsic longing to be perfect, if that’s at all possible, that causes us to become paralyzed.  We, as in I, make excuses as to why things never work out for me and just stay stuck. Heading down the road to nowhere.

But what if this time we tried a different approach? Went to the mental ‘gym’, built our resolve, eliminated the ability to blame circumstances for our deficiencies? Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure” The jealousy is just a distraction from ourselves and our selves are where the power lies.

It is here that I gain the lessons I need to learn through Pilates. Mr. Joseph Pilates was a brilliant man and knew “It is the mind that builds the body”. Through doing my daily Pilates workout, I gain strength both mentally and physically. Every aspect of life is affected. The way I move, the way I feel, the way I think. I start with the most basic exercises like the hundred and the roll-up. With every workout I can feel my powerhouse becoming stronger and more connected. My mind becomes clearer and more focused. Suddenly I’m sailing through more intimidating exercises like the teaser and the long spine, and as a result of my hard work I am rewarded with inner and outer strength and am satisfied. I am doing something for me, about me. My jealousy magically begins to dwindle.

Jealousy now has become a gift, as so many of life’s seemingly negative experiences are. Not just an exercise program, Pilates gave me the key to reclaiming my life. Pilates is a workout and hard work yields results on the mat and off. In Pilates as well as in life what you put into it is what you get out. Pilates inspires me to work harder and reminds me what is important in my life. Even fifty years later Joe’s advice still rings true. Only I have the power to become “the architect of my own happiness.”

Isn’t it time you became the architect of your own happiness? Schedule a session at FORM Pilates NYC and one of our amazing instructors will show you how!

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