Friday, March 1, 2013

My Quest for Balance

My Quest for Balance

by Jane Winans

In a world full of catch phrases like “Just do it” “Make every moment count”  “No regrets” “Live like you’re dying” and “Seize the day”, it’s no wonder some of us are a little off balance.  Home, family, work, exercise, community service, friends, relatives… add a child with special needs and you may include  therapy, doctor appointments, dietary restrictions, supplements, medications, extra time with homework and increased worry for our child’s health and development.    With all that, who has time for balance?

Balance is tricky.  I’m still learning how to create and maintain balance.  Sometimes I get it right… for a while… and then I’m back to my old ways of donning the super woman cape.   Fairly quickly my body or my family reacts in a way that indicates I’ve swung off center again.  Like anything, it’s a learning process.  I told my neighbor I was writing this article and felt like a fraud.  “I swing in and out of balance all the time!” I bemoaned.  To which he replied, “Isn’t swinging in and out of balance, by definition, balance?” Mike Cusick is brilliant.   I like his way of thinking!

I think the first step to becoming balanced is to become aware.  How long is your to-do list?  Is it realistic?  Do you expect yourself to accomplish tasks that aren’t humanly possible given the time you have?  Do you focus on your accomplishments or on what you didn’t get done that day?  Is the glass half full or half empty?   Do you have joy?  Are you making yourself or your family nuts by trying to control what isn’t in your control?

A lot of my stress and anxiety centered on my feeling like a failure.  If only I worked harder or smarter or more efficiently, then Lydia would have better muscle tone, clearer vision, increased auditory processing, etc.  After 9 long years of contemplation and reflection, I no longer think this is true.   I can and will do my best to help Lydia grow and develop, but ultimately, it’s not in my control.  I often pray:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference. I trust my God has a plan for Lydia.   She has a good life.  She will continue to have a good life regardless of her challenges.  Her journey looks different than mine, but who is to say her life isn’t more full, more joyful?

If we judge our lives by answering the question, “How well have you loved and how well have you been loved,” then the playing field is level for all of us, regardless of physical or intellectual strength. Lydia’s ability to love and be loved is grace from God.  She’s fabulous at it! When I view life from this perspective, failure isn’t an option because I’m not in the picture.  It’s not about me.
Having said that, I think it’s important to acknowledge our vital role in the health of our children.   “In case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first.  Then assist your child.” Our kids need us.  It’s important that we take care of ourselves so we can take care of them.  Self care is not selfish.  It’s being responsible.

Here are some ideas you can try to help with the balancing act.
  • “Do what you can with what you have where you are,” Theodore Roosevelt.    I like to add, “And be at peace.”  If organic veggies aren’t an option, rinse regular ones with vinegar and water.  If one therapy is cost prohibitive, figure your next best option that fits the budget.  If you need a mental health day at the beach, take it!  Life is a journey to be enjoyed!  Peace is healing.  Balance is healing.  Do what you can with what you have, where you are, and be at peace.
  • Ground yourself daily.  Chi gong, tai chi, yoga, meditation, prayer and exercise can help me stay grounded.  When I took Chi gong, my instructor would not allow me to move the energy above my waist.  My head swirls with constant thought and my heart overflows with emotions.  I need to ground my energy every day to stay balanced. has products for grounding which also help reduce inflammation. has a computerized program that also helps with grounding.
  • Focus on the positive things you do every day.  Write positive affirmations.  “I’m getting better at balancing my life.  I’m peaceful, knowing my child and I are doing our best.  I enjoy my life and all the people in it.”  What you focus on grows.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  What you focus on grows.
  • Take off the super hero cape!  Do what you can with what you have where you are! (Theodore Roosevelt) And be at peace!
  • Accept that there’s no “one right way.”  Our kids are individuals and so are we.  What works for one child might not work for yours.  Shelve the perfectionism!  Find what works for you. Do what you can with what you have where you are and be at peace!  I also helps me to remember,  “The less I seek my soul for some definitive, the closer I am to find.” The Indigo Girls.
  • Gather your village!  I don’t believe God intended us to do this alone.   What friends, family, neighbors or strangers would love to help you?  Humans have a need to feel connected. It’s good for them and it’s good for you.  Can you organize things into manageable 1 hour tasks and ask for help?
  • Sign up to get daily emails at or buy her book.  This is one of my favorites!  Flylady focuses on establishing routines in your house so that cleaning doesn’t control your life.  She is funny and wise.  She believes “You are not behind.  Jump in where you are with 15 minutes a day” and that is true with helping our kids also.  “Perfectionism is shelved for 2012” – woot woot!  Perfectionism is unrealistic expectations which can lead to crash and burn or feeling like a failure.  I often laugh out loud when I read her emails.
  • Laugh!  Out loud if possible!  Rent a comedy, sign up for a joke a day, giggle with your kids.  Laughter is magic.  It heals the soul.
  • Eat well, drink water and take your vitamins. You are important and so is your health.
  • Commit to no guilt.  Guilt is a waste of time.  You can’t change the past.  Accept your humanness and move on.  Do what you can with what you have where you are… and be at peace!
  • Look at the slope of your child’s progress and not the day to day.   It’s painful to miss milestones.  It’s difficult to handle a really stinky OT report, consistently.  Believe me, I know.  It’s hard not to feel our child’s progress report isn’t our progress report.  PLEASE TRY.  Riding the rollercoaster of “Doing well here”  “Not doing well here” is HARD!!  And it doesn’t get easier!!  By our request, Lydia’s energy and focus is tracked by her teachers in both the morning and afternoon.  It helps me to identify when there is a health issue like a change in thyroid function, the beginning of an ear infection, etc.  I used to ride the daily performance rollercoaster… holding my breath as I opened her notebook, hoping she did well that day.  What insanity!  Why the self torment?  Everyone has rough days!  If I focus on the slope of Lydia’s development, I see her amazing growth.  If I focus on the nuances of single day performances, then I get caught with my super hero cape in hand, thinking I have control… driving myself crazy with unrealistic expectations.  (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.)
  • Make time to do things you love.  Need childcare?  Swap babysitting hours with a friend.  Organize a babysitting co-op.  Sing. Dance.  Paint.  Walk barefoot.  Nurture your soul.
  • Host a “Family Cook Afternoon”.  My kids, husband and I will brown 10 pounds of meat and make gallons of soup while listening to fun music.  We set a goal, divide tasks, and reward ourselves when it is done.  We freeze things in both family and individual size portions.  This helps tremendously when time is tight for cooking.
  • Nurture your relationship with your husband.  Schedule regular date nights with your spouse.  Share one thing you are grateful for about each other before bed.  Language of Love is a good book to read.  It helped me understand that my husband shows love through service – doing things around the house, while I show love through communication and shared activity. Understanding what we each need to feel love helped.  Knowing my husband feels loved when I clean his office or put his laundry away completely changed my attitude.  I can now view some mundane chores as loving service, where before I didn’t see that at all.  He also realizes that I would much prefer going for a walk or talking instead of him finishing the dishes.   A friend thinks I’m crazy.  She would take the dishes!  We all have our own language of love and I recommend you check this book out.  It helps me understand my daughters’ language of love too.
  • Stay present with your other kids and really listen to what they are telling you.  My older daughters are very self sufficient.  They do well in school, are responsible and have nice friends.  It’s easy to take their development for granted.  I need to remember that they need me too, even though it’s not always apparent.  What insecurities are creeping up in their lives?  What classes could they use encouragement in?  Have my positive comments outweighed my nagging about the littered trail they leave behind? I try to make time to be present with them daily, and to tell them I love them every day.  I try to own my mistakes and say I’m sorry.  We watch Modern Family, play THINGS (great game for anyone who can write) kickball, Google jokes and laugh… laughter is good for everyone’s soul.  I try to appreciate them each and every day because there are no guarantees for any of us.

We are role models for our children, both consciously and unconsciously.  If I expect perfection from myself, my children will too.  If I judge myself harshly, my kids will do the same.  If I model self love and acceptance, my children will know what that looks like and feels like. When we focus on gratitude we nurture a positive view of the world.

Love.      Acceptance.    Inclusion.     Compassion.    Education.    Empowerment.

Everything we wish for our children, I wish for you.  And when this is realized, I believe we find balance.

Love and peace and joy to you always,

Jane  Winans

We'd love to hear your experience with a therapy that you have found worth the time, money and energy please write to