I don’t know how she does it? This woman, who had a face of a Cover Girl model, a body out of a fitness magazine, 2 kids (a boy and a girl, of course, both in the gifted program), a high earning job and a housework loving husband who is just a fabulous as she and happens to worship the ground she walks on. Oh, did I mention that she has an amazing social life and is frequently invited to the hottest places around from coast to coast? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well surely there must be some truth to this woman. She has to exist somewhere. I know I’ve seen her before. Maybe it was on that Reality TV show, you know, the one with the wealthy women with tons of drama? Or maybe I saw her life being documented everyday on my Facebook Feed?
The real truth is she doesn’t exist. How do I know? Because I tried my own version of “having it all” and failed miserably.
We have been told that life is about ‘balance’ and to be a successful and happy woman then that is what we must strive for. Let’s say that life was divided into 4 major groups: Family, Self, Work, and Play. For the purpose of this exercise, ‘Self’ will represent anything that does not have a direct effect on anyone other than you. If we balance correctly, that would allow us ¼ or 25% of our time to focus on each component. Perfect, we just achieved total balance. But wait! Something doesn’t go as you planned. Your kid just got sick, you had leave work early (guess you’ll have to miss that noon workout too), your boss used that snafu to pass you over for a promotion (she wanted someone more committed to the work), not to mention that you and were husband were counting on that extra income to pay down your student loans to get a better interest rate for you home mortgage, now he is going to have work a second shift. And seemingly overnight, the scales have shifted and what was once this perfectly divided pie now resembles something that exploded in the microwave.
In my own life, I had a period where all I wanted to do or think about was competing on a fitness stage. I thought that this goal of mine would somehow make me feel accomplished. The grueling, intense workouts and strict diet were very consuming. In the beginning, it was very difficult to manage it all. I would actually cook my food on an almost daily basis while also trying to provide an entirely separate meal for my family. My workouts, as well as the commute to the gym easily took up to 3 hours of my day, leaving me exhausted by the end of the night (my husband did not appreciate this side effect). I was just hoping that I could muster up enough energy to do it all over again the next day. This rat race barely left me with energy to spend quality time with my family or friends. Not only was I suffering, but the people that mattered most to me were also suffering.
I had to go back to the drawing board. I had to find out what would work for ME. I learned and most of all ACCEPTED that there were some things that I would have to sacrifice. I would have to let go of perfectionism, embrace vulnerability and simply live in each moment. I learned that it is almost impossible for me to keep my disciplined gym schedule when my kids are out of school (I’m a full-time mom of 3), I also learned that it was essential to precook several days’ worth of food needed for my diet in order to follow it.
But most of all I discovered that I didn’t need to have extraordinary moments to find happiness because as long as I am aware of my blessings and practice gratitude then true happiness is right in front of me.