Sacrificing your Self at the altar of everything: the non-negotiables of self-care

Vantage Points

Balance is an illusion.

That is, the notion that equal effort and attention can be successfully applied to all meaningful priorities. If balance is briefly reached, maintaining it for any length of time proves nearly impossible.

Life is fluid and our responses to life should be, too.

I’m not just a leader, professional, creator or team member.

Most days, I am sliced up like a beautiful peach pie.

I am somebody’s wife and an equal bread-winner in our household.
I’m a mother of four and a community volunteer.
I’m a kettle bell handler, and a damn decent writer.
I am a contributor to the collective good, and have a killer business mind.

Capital B Balance

In my 30’s, I strove for capital B Balance (work-life-home success) believing that if I could … just… get… there… I would finally be happy and my life would be perfect.

My obsessive push for controlled routines, big goals and nailed down expectations made me uptight – with my kids, in my schedule, even in my veins.(Nothing says stress like high blood pressure.)

When my business tanked and my daughter became clinically depressed and then suicidal at sixteen; when my marriage suffered under my control freak reactivity; when my health took a nose-dive and skidded to a stop in a crash landing at the age of 41, I knew there was only one choice to be made.

I could continue to push against the way my life was unfolding with renewed determination to be ALL things to ALL people or I could re-evaluate my values, goals and priorities and redefine what I needed balance to mean.

Little b balance

My 40’s are teaching me all about flexibility, intention and trust.

I set intentions for accomplishments, I practice flexibility, and I trust that the important things get done.

There are days when the tasks and timelines I have lined up at the office are over-ruled by family needs. There are weeks when an important project captures my attention and laundry piles up and perogies end up on the menu (*gasp). There will be times I will choose connection over perfection because – for me – at the end of the day my relationships mean more to me than one more red check mark beside a task on the never-ending to-do list.

This doesn’t mean I’m not a team player.
This doesn’t mean I’m not a professional.
This doesn’t mean I don’t care about my work.
And this doesn’t mean my work isn’t exceptional.

It means that when I am at work, all of my attention and energy and creativity is engaged at work.

When I am at home, I am present and participating in my role at home.

When crisis hits – personally or professionally – I am clear about exactly where it is I need to be and how I want to show up for others.

Self-Sacrifice to Meet Capital B Balance

While striving for Balance, I was ruled by my expectations and the need for credibility, validity and success.

I rarely reached those expectations. I couldn’t allow others to BE. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t acquiesce. I couldn’t accept my flaws. Or my humanness. My vulnerability. My natural gifts.

The price I paid while reaching for Balance was contentedness and health; connection, presence and gratitude. I willingly traded my one good life for followers, customers, outside approval, to fit in, to feel worthy and to be “the best that I could be”.

The Non-negotiables of little b balance

When my daughter’s mental health deteriorated and she began to seek death instead of life, my values shifted without much effort. I searched

What’s really important to me?
Who do I want to be to the people who count on me?
What am I not willing to negotiate in my reach for balance, and my goals?

My little b balance is ease. It’s presence with people. It’s listening. And ridiculous creativity. It’s less perfection and more acceptance. It’s less push and more depth. It’s clarity.

My health, my family, my creativity, and my
connection to my clarity are non-negotiable.

Life has a way of keeping me on my toes, but finding balance has become effortless. I’m focused, clear, and conserving energy. I’m only ever one place at a time with my energy, talent and attention. Setting boundaries that support my values, and remaining true to those values at work and at home has created a level of personal and professional success that far exceeds what I thought was possible.

What are your non-negotiables for self-care?
When was the last time you re-visited your values?
Are you at ease, or are you feeling forced?
How do you want to show up for people?


2 thoughts on “Sacrificing your Self at the altar of everything: the non-negotiables of self-care

  1. You are a “damn decent writer.” It often seems to me that it isn’t until our forties that some all to often life shaking event grabs our attention and requires us to apply the brakes and loosen grip we have on life. I, like you, have learned that life requires flexibility as seasons change and priorities shift. Finding time for me on a daily basis is a must to survive the daily demands life makes.
    Thank you for the outstanding writing. You have inspired me.

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