Tag Archives: expectations

Balance on the Tightrope of Life

Huffington Post image

I talked with my friend about the tightrope that we women walk today. While it is true that women have broken many social and occupational barriers, it’s ridiculous to think we can do and be everything to everyone. As sisters, daughters, mothers, wives, and friends we walk a thin line and wear ourselves out. Why?

Overcompensating?

If you or your loved one struggles with an addiction, you’ve likely fallen into the trap of overcompensating, living a false reality, and worn yourself out trying to make life more livable for you and your family. Much like walking a tightrope in the wind and fog, you can’t see where you’re going, yet you must trust yourself enough to take the next step.

I’m not a fan of Oprah Winfrey, but she is one of the most recognizable successful women in our world today who seems to have and do it all. She says, “I’ve learned that you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time.” Yet, we feel like failures if we aren’t doing or being everything to everyone: having a perfect body, wardrobe, husband, job, children, house, image. That, my dear, is a tightrope and virtually impossible to walk without faltering. There are responsibilities and standards we need to let go of to maintain balance in our lives.

Staying Balanced

Have you seen Nik Wallenda, 7th generation funambulist, walk across Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon? (Take a couple minutes to watch one or both of those videos.) Are the circumstances of your life equally precarious? Nik generally carries a 40’ pole, which naturally bends lower on the ends and helps him maintain a balanced center of gravity. What do you carry that helps you stay balanced? What can we learn from this tightrope walker?

Balance requires focus.

Carry only what is necessary.

Staying balanced can also be influenced by what/who you listen to/watch/read/consume. Wallenda heard his father’s voice cheering him on as he walked the wire. Wallenda’s family has been walking tightropes for generations and they spend hours in practice and need the support of loved ones. The same applies to you and me. We need others who love and encourage us to stay on course.

Chasing the wind

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to do and say all the right things? Do you say yes to things you’d rather not do? Do you take on more commitments than you’re comfortable or simply able to fulfill? Do you feel like King Solomon who said, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.”

Ladies, we must stop chasing the unattainable. Walking this tightrope is something we’re not equipped to do well. We’re wearing ourselves out and living unfulfilled lives as a result. We are tired women in need of rest and balance. The beginning of a new year is a great opportunity to consider what we need to let go of and what we need to pick up, like Wallenda’s balancing pole.

William Arthur Ward, American author and teacher said, “A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life.”

Let’s make 2017 the year to get off the tightrope and live more balanced lives.

Is your man really good enough? Are you?

really good manIs Disney to blame, the media, or our own imaginations?

Women tend to have high expectations of their men. When we begin a new relationship, these men are perfect. A friend of mine used to say “everyone is lovely until you really get to know them.” It’s true that we make every effort to present our best in the beginning. One reason the first year of marriage is difficult: we live in reality with our “perfect” man who isn’t so perfect after all. We create a mental list of all the ways they are imperfect. How can so much change? Is it really them, or is it us?

Driving me crazy!

One of the reasons I fell in love with my husband 35 years ago was his drive. He knew where he wanted to go in life, in his career, and I was ready to go along with him. It didn’t take long after our wedding that his drive was driving me crazy! He didn’t seem like he could rest, constantly moving on to the next thing. I loved and hated that at the same time. Did this mean he was no good for me? Was he no longer worthy of my admiration? Had he really changed or was it me?

Good Questions

One of my daughters shared a blog post by Melissa Edgington entitled, “Do You Have a Really Good Man?” where she shoots holes in our preconceived ideals about the perfect man by asking the following questions:

You want to know if you have a REALLY good man? Here’s a test for you. Does he love God? Does he love you? Does he work hard? Does he come home? Does he love your children? If so, then you’ve got a good one.

Melissa encourages readers to not take for granted the small and simple kindnesses our men extend to us. Things like taking care of the pets, kids, cars, bills, and going to work (and coming home) every day.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

We are not perfect women and it bugs me when I feel like I need to be perfect or think my husband might expect perfection from me. Does that stress you out too? So, why would we put this kind of pressure on our husbands? Stuff happens in life: taxes, kids, sickness, car problems, death and loss of friends and loved ones, jobs, and homes.

So much frustration and marital turmoil stem from unrealistic expectations. Ladies, it’s time we sit down and consider the ways our husbands are really good men (and realize we are really good women, too!)

Time for a healing separation

What’s a healing separation? Doesn’t a separation indicate that the marriage is dead and over? Is divorce the only answer?

Not necessarily.

time for healing separationConsider these ancient words about time:

“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,

A right time to plant and another to reap,

A right time to kill and another to heal,

A right time to destroy and another to construct,

A right time to cry and another to laugh,

A right time to lament and another to cheer,

A right time to make love and another to abstain,

A right time to embrace and another to part,

A right time to search and another to count your losses,

A right time to hold on and another to let go,

A right time to rip out and another to mend,

A right time to shut up and another to speak up,

A right time to love and another to hate,

A right time to wage war and another to make peace.”

There’s a field of options between marriage and divorce. Make time to heal, construct, and mend. A healing separation allows time to focus on one’s own needs and rebuild the marriage on a new foundation.

Separation by living in two different homes is an option, but cost prohibitive for many. Another option is an in-house separation, whereby you continue living in the same home with agreed upon conditions. Whatever your situation, make the following time commitments a priority while separated.

Five time components of a healing separation agreement:

  1. Time frame agreed to for separation (weeks or months)
  2. Time spent together (date your spouse, have fun together create new memories)
  3. Time for counseling, group support, and same gender friendships (applies to both partners)
  4. Time with children (with both parents, or separate time with each parent)
  5. Time to reunite (assess when the time is right and plan for a permanent return to the marriage)

With the guidance of a counselor, healing and renewal can be discovered when both partners are committed to the hard work of reconciliation. Separation with the intent of healing begins by creating a plan both parties agree to and increases the likelihood of a successful separation.

A healing separation.

 

IMG_6376

 

 

I like to photograph sweet moments, like the arrival of my second grandchild. I also enjoy capturing images of beautiful places in the world. But, reality is that there are plenty of bitter moments.

How do I respond to the bitterness in life?

I’m not good at reading daily devotionals daily. Sometimes it takes me a month to read a 7-day devotional, as it did with “Savor” on my YouVersion Bible app.

Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors because of her down-to-earth writing style. When I read her books I feel like I’m spending time with a good friend.

A particular day’s devotional reading stands out to me. I remember this final sentence, “…when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”

Bitter and sweet moments are part of every life. I appreciate how Niequist encourages readers to embrace both types of experiences and glean what we can from whatever life serves up.

“The idea of bittersweet is changing the way I live, unraveling and reweaving the way I understand life. Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a splinter of sadness. Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy. So this is the work I’m doing now, and the work I invite you into: when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”DSC04534

How do you manage bitter moments in life?