Opinion

OPINIONATED STORYTELLING

5 Definitive Steps to Conquer Life Balance

What? Are you still with me? Really? I was reading the newspaper this morning and on the “Wellness” section they proudly presented 4 steps to clear your mind. First step: take 5 minutes a day for yourself. If you’re curious about the other three, I’m sorry. I never read them. Because the only 5 minutes I have to myself every day is my shower – does it count?

So, if you still read texts like the ones suggested by the title above, we really need to talk.

Why?

It's very simple: it’s simply impossible to create rules or steps to achieve the so called life balance.  And this is because each one us have an unique life and, more important, a very private and intimate concept of balance. Seriously, how can statements like “work less” or “say no more” be given as advices when, for some people, that’s exactly the opposite of their needs? And how can you not roll your eyes when you read things like “find a hobby” when you can barely handle what you HAVE to do?

Don’t get me wrong. It's not that I think that slowing down or being more selective is a bad thing. My point is: our needs are way too diverse and trying to put them into boxes addressed with common sense words is useless. Is like when you're heartbroken and your best friend says to you “Let it go. It will pass. You'll be fine.” Is it true? Probably yes. Is it effective when you’re in pain? Nope.

When my dear friend Cristiana invited me to write this article, I asked her “Me?? Why me?” And she gave me some reasons. For example: yes, I quit a good job when my maternity leave ended so I could stay home longer with my son (at the time, in Brazil, the maximum leave was 5 months – now it is six). Yes, I accepted a better job offer when my son was a year and a half and since then I leave him with his nanny for 10 hours a day. Yes, part of me feels REALLY good for that. Yes, part of me feels like crap for that. Yes, in the last three years I left my son AND my husband at home for a 10-day travel with friends to New York. Yes, I cry on my way to the airport and call home as soon as I land. Yes, I end up forgetting to call home two days after.

Doing this might have given her the impression that I have a balanced life and that made me think why did/do I act like this and most important: what have I learned – or have been learning.  And If I’ve learned something that I think is worth sharing is: accept change. That makes everything easier. That takes away the weight of major decisions – because, with 2 or 3 exceptions, the major decisions that we make can all be changed. And even if you don’t change things they change by themselves. They evolve. If you’re opened to changes, you’re opened for life. And life isn’t something that will happen someday in the future (John Lennon has a better sentence about that, I know). Yes, I know we have plans and I know some decision have strong consequences but, if I had to give a receipt of a balanced life, I’d say: try to have a balanced day. Many of them. As much as you can. That’s what gets us through days and nights. Be good to yourself every day. Do what you have to do. Enjoy what there is to be enjoyed. Be sure that whatever isn’t in the place you wanted it to be, will settle at the right time – or will pass. Don’t be afraid to look at your inner truth, don’t ignore it - even the two of you are dissonant at the moment. Don’t feed bad feelings. Forgive yourself.  Praise yourself. Because you are doing your best.

Suzana Machado is a wholehearted strong friend who enjoys her moments to the fullest. She lives in Rio de Janeiro and still doesn’t know what she is going to be when she grows up.