Delicate balance

Joey Garcia

How can I best find balance with family, partner, daughter, alone time, grad school, thesis, intimacy, work, athletics, etc.?

Ditch the pie-chart mentality, that perfectionist mindset that says you’re living right when every category of life gets equal attention. If you’re connected to your interior world; if you’re sleeping well, eating healthily and exercising; if you make time each week to immerse yourself in intimate conversations with someone you love; and if you are engaged in a life-giving passion that inspires and challenges you, there will be plenty of times when your schedule seems beyond balance. That’s acceptable as long as it does not create emotional chaos. So, think of balance as television B.C. (before cable); you’re always adjusting your antennae a bit to get the clearest picture of the life you want.

The reality is that where you spend your time shows you what you value. If you say family time is vital but actually spend most of your time at work or school, give yourself an integrity check. Investigate why your life’s soundtrack is so out of sync with its video. Are you afraid to admit that family life isn’t what you hoped for, and, rather than re-create it so it is inviting, you dig into schoolwork instead? Or do you love your partner but claim a big need for personal time because you don’t want to admit sex is a turnoff? Trust yourself enough to admit the problem and find a solution uninfluenced by the fear of preconceived thoughts like “it will be hard” or “my partner will leave me.”

And, finally, undertaking an endeavor like graduate school can be consuming, but it’s also temporary. One way to experience the luxury of time now is to allow periods of kairos, or God’s time, every day. That means living without the tick-tock reminder of the clock through activities like meditation, art or connecting with nature. Human time, or kronos, activates stress when we believe we don’t have enough of it. The antidote is to surrender into kairos and believe we have all the time we need. After all, the clock is not our master.

My boyfriend obsesses about his roommate, a guy I’ll call Larry. When my boyfriend reads pop psychology, he analyzes Larry. When he and Larry don’t get along, my boyfriend goes on and on about why Larry will never be successful. The other half of the time, he is planning to start a business or a band with Larry. He cooks for Larry and buys him things. I’ve tried to talk to my boyfriend about this, but he gets angry. Do you think my boyfriend is attracted to Larry romantically?

Are you asking me to help you analyze your boyfriend? OK, I’ll play. Perhaps Larry and your boyfriend are so alike that your man projects his unhappiness about himself onto Larry. Or perhaps your man is nursing a jones for his roomie. Or maybe your boyfriend is just another armchair therapist spawned by Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil. Then again, maybe you think your man needs a new hobby: you.

Underneath it all, the real dilemma is that you want more attention. But if he’s as outwardly focused as you describe, it’s unlikely that he’ll even notice you, except when it suits him to do so (like when he starts projecting onto you, instead of Larry). So, if you want a good conversation with your boyfriend, have one with yourself instead (by writing in a journal or meditating) or with a friend (meet for coffee and a chat). That way, you’ll get some satisfaction.

Meditation of the week
“You were once wild here. Don’t let them tame you!” wrote dance innovator Isadora Duncan. What muse have you bridled? What do you fear will happen if you take it off? (And the saddle, too.)

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