Monday, February 27, 2012

Balancing on Three Legs

Sydney, my cat had surgery to remove her back leg from the hip down just over a week ago. I am relieved to say that it went very well.  Now, missing the leg and with her lower quadrant shaved and sewn up, she looks as though part of her has been stuffed into a suede bag. I stayed home with her on her first day of recovery. She was a bit wobbly but really there was only one mishap. She lost balance while drinking water and fell into the water bowl. I was right there to towel her off and her stunned look went away almost instantly. 

I had planned to use Sydney’s recovery as a metaphor to represent how we were both trying to find balance in our lives. But, it appears, it only takes a cat a day or two to get back up on her feet (albeit only three of them now). While watching her teeter and sway that first day, I was reminded of my never ending quest to find balance in my own life. Work. Creative Life. House. Marriage. Family. Social Life. Physical Fitness. Intellectual Fitness. Finances. Relaxation. Sleep. All of these things are balls up in the air that must be juggled (and thank goodness I don’t have kids to add to the mix) and kept from ever touching the ground. I am not talented at keeping them all up in the air and then I have to retrieve the few that bounce away from me. Add a cold (which I had for a week), veterinary issues (two months, plus) and Greg’s grandmother in and out of the hospital (two weeks and counting) and I have really let some of these balls drop. 

How is it that some people don’t seem to have this problem? I have a coworker who appears to be a genius at maintaining balance in his life. I envy him for his ability to keep in touch with his social network, work on his own artwork, travel, read, etc. , without ever seeming to lose out on any area of his life. I have never been successful at doing this—of giving equal amounts of undue attention to the various important aspects of my life. In fact, I’m many times quite unsuccessful at this give and take. I know that I’m not alone. Something—or more than one thing--always seems to fall off. Is it a matter of needing more hours in the day? I don’t know that this would help. 

Sydney, like other cats, sleeps a good portion of the day (oh, how I could use some of that right about now), and I suppose she isn’t as worried about paying her vet bills as I am, cleaning the house, writing, reading, and being otherwise productive. She does seem to like to relax and play from time to time and these are definitely important items to include in my life as well. Needless to say, I am not buying her self-help book, even if she did have the moxie to write one.  Unless, that is, she were able to write a book on how to get a sufficient amount of sleep. Yes, that one I would buy. Surely, she knows that I am her market for such a future tome, as she is partially responsible for my lack of sleep in the first place.

How does my co-worker maintain such good balance in his life? Does it rest on his ability to get a good night’s rest? Is it possible that his outward expression of balance is all just a mirage for the rest of the world to see and admire? 

My guess is it’s all about starting good habits and sustaining those habits. It’s been said that if you can do something for 20 days (I think that’s the figure, but I could be wrong), the behavior or activity will become a habit. I’m looking forward to reading the forthcoming book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, who recently wrote an article in The New York Times magazine (“How Companies Learn Your Secrets”, Feb. 19, 2012) on how companies are using data to figure out consumers habits. It’s interesting to me that companies such as Target can determine your future purchases based on your buying habits. Of course, this information enhances their marketing and is so subtle that many customers are completely unaware of this extra sensory perception.  

If a discount retailer can know me well enough to know that I get occasional migraines that require nothing stronger than Excedrin Migraine, than I should have the ability to have enough insight into my own lifestyle to assess my current habits and form new (better) ones.  Lately, I’ve been in the habit of writing about my cat. I’ll give that a rest for a while as I work on forming some of these new habits.

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