Life's balancing act
By Holly Carrington
Are you an extremist like me? Check any of the following if they apply to you: If you want to lose weight, you clear your fridge, buy a bunch of fruit and veggies, and swear off simple carbs while pumping up your exercise routine and fantasizing about making a name for yourself in the marathon circuit? If you want to start a new hobby, you invest time, money and hours online researching, creating and obsessing about quitting your job, and taking your hobby to the next level? Even if it's something as small as a neighborhood party, do you cruise Pinterest for the perfect recipe and dream about your dish being the talk of the party?
See what I mean? I even took that list too far. I have noticed that whenever I have a new idea or goal, I always take it to the limit. I busy myself with working towards "the goal," but I recently realized that going to extremes usually ends in disappointment, self-doubt and failure to seek the joy of my journey.
The next step after realization, of course, is that I must place blame with someone. Is it society's fault that I only bought spinach and apples and now I'm on my way to Chipotle to get some real food? Is it Martha Stewart's fault that I feel crushed when my apple turnover has turned under? Nope. Not really. It's my fault. I want so badly to be the perfect hostess, the crafty goddess, the superhuman, that I'm slowly forgetting there needs to be a delicate balance and that's what makes us human. During our busy lives, when we have to make an appointment to relax and can barely survive without our gadgets, finding balance can seem completely daunting.
Starting a workout routine or pursuing a new interest is healthy and exciting, but I need to realize that allowing myself to do everything in moderation is essential to creating that sought-after balance. Voltaire said, "Use, do not abuse. Neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy." Wise words to take along this journey.
Last winter, my friend hosted an open house where we could sell our handmade goods. I worked every night for six weeks making fairly complicated handbags, painstakingly ironing the material, lining up the pattern perfectly and then assembling the pieces before sewing them together. I printed business cards and felt like this could truly take off. As the event approached, I started wondering if I had made enough handbags for the show. Such hubris! At the event, I handed out dozens of business cards and my heart leaped for joy when someone would ask about the bags. I didn't sell any bags. I didn't sell anything. I walked back to my car, bags swinging to and fro in my grasp and laughed at my ridiculous situation. I took it too far with my own extreme expectations. I was proud that I put myself out there and tried something new, but it never occurred to me that I should have just made less bags and had more fun.
Surely I can't be the only one who has entered extreme territory. I mean, if no one went to extremes, would shows like the Real Housewives, The Bachelor or Hoarders be so successful? Would there be a double-stack sandwich or any food prepared by Paula Deen? Extremes are part of the American culture, and I've fallen victim to that. Can you imagine a show about nice women with average looks who liked each other? Or a Food Network segment that doesn't feature atrocities like a hamburger that's squished between two donuts? Oh boy.
So, in the spirit of balance, I'm going to try to seek the joy of the journey by knowing when to stop obsessing, start simply enjoying life and accept that I'm not superwoman. And, seriously, does anyone want to buy a handbag?