The moving target


I’ve come to believe that balance is not something you achieve, it’s a spot on the horizon you use to navigate. My real lessons in balance began in my bathroom early this year when a dying spider told me I needed to learn balance, and seconds later I was too sick to stand.

Here’s the post:

It was the crash I experienced after nearly six weeks of mourning the death of my cat Leo, who has shared my life since I was 19.

Not that I was in all that fantastic a condition before Leo passed away. The year prior was a tough one for Sweetie and I, as it involved the dissolution of a business we had created together. While we were grateful for the experiences and I am *still* learning from it, it was truly one hell of an ordeal by the end, after a three year long haul.

The business served its primary purpose; it enabled the move to the west coast and immeasurably improved the quality of our life while simultaneously exerting stress levels I had never before experienced. Despite the ups and downs, Sweetie & I have often remarked how much improved our life together is with every passing year. For us, a bad day on the coast is always better than the best day in the city. So there you have it – proof of movement towards that point on the horizon.

There is a lot of evidence to demonstrate movement towards and away from balance. For me, the early warning system for moving away from balance is feeling tired all the time and becoming dependent upon sugar on a daily basis (usually in a daily or twice-daily chocolate bar.) The “no sugar or flour” thing I did from April to August last year was badly needed this year, but I just didn’t have the energy to tackle it. It takes energy to change, and I knew I needed rest before I could exert a healthy change in my lifestyle.

There’s also a specific type of weight gain I experience in these “worn down” times. I wonder if it’s related to adrenal fatigue. In the past I have been as much as sixty pounds overweight. I seem to collect extra padding from the bottom of my rib cage to the top of my belly button, right over my liver and pancreas. This time, the weight gained is only five pounds, but the change is noticeable and exaggerated, making me wonder if my actual organs are getting swollen or irritated. My throat and face seemed a bit swollen too, but not in a way a regular doctor would see as an issue. I just appeared a little moon-faced.

For months I *knew* what the problem was, however I was unable to actually take any time for myself until these past two weeks. I’ve concluded that’s just how life is sometimes. You may know you need better balance, but sometimes you just have to burn the candle at both ends to get through a rough period, and then you fix yourself up later. As long as that’s not your general strategy, I think that’s an okay thing to accept. It actually feels better to accept this as an occasional necessity rather than to make sweeping resolutions to always be mindful of balance so that I NEVER get worn out – that just results in me feeling like I failed at something, in addition to being tired!

The best part is how great I feel now. I didn’t realize it, but I was experiencing daily physical pain for months! It’s the kind of creeping, chronic pain that’s just background noise; I was so used to ignoring it I hadn’t realized how serious it had become.

The past two weeks have involved a LOT of solitude, regular visits to my most excellent chiropractor for rehab, two sessions of stretching a day, the elimination of sugar and flour from my diet again (a 95% reduction, not a pure elimination) and the addition of an expensive but amazing B vitamin, as recommended in the treatment of carpal tunnel. I had no idea B vitamins were such a complex set of molecules, and I hadn’t felt I’d benefited from B supplements before now. The quality of the vitamin really does make a difference. Finally, the most humbling addition to my recovery regime: Glucosamine sulphate.

Yep, I’m 34 and apparently in need of Glucosamine. I avoided it for six months, ignoring my chiro’s solid recommendation of the supplement. After all, I’m young, right? I’m active. Healthy. My joints are NOT wearing down!

Denial, denial, denial!!!

After just two weeks on the supplements my knees are SO much better, and my hips and back are open and easily mobile again, thanks to the yoga. It took me a year to get into Lotus position, and now it’s the most comfortable resting pose for my hips and spine.

There you have it again, signs of movement. When I joined the crystal meditation group last summer, I couldn’t sit on the floor for five minutes without losing circulation in my legs. Now I can sit for a half hour twice a day and feel only the pleasant tendon stretch of the hip-opening posture.

(Full disclosure: I am *not* meditating while sitting in lotus. I am likely watching some TV show to distract myself from the slight discomfort of the stretch. This is how I made the time for the exercise – if I’m on the couch watching a show, I may as well be on a yoga mat.)

Now, here I am, in a position to make sweeping declarations about my future health. I might resolve to continue my twice-daily yoga exercises, to forever eliminate flour and sugar from my diet, to ride my bike to work every day this rainy winter.

Or I could just take it a day at a time, paying attention to what my body needs and wants right now, and continue to move towards balance. Parallel to balance. Within sight of balance. Weighing the needs of my body with the wants of my emotions and my ambitions. After all, sometimes it’s fun to burn extra brightly if you have a target you can actually achieve, like raising money for the local animal rescue or writing a book. And sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you just have to pull up your big girl panties and deal with it, however you can.



6 thoughts on “The moving target

  1. Giving up most sugar and carbs. You are my hero. once I gave up sugar for 24 hours. I am totally addicted even though it makes me feel like crap. I am trying to give myself kudos for the little things; like not eating the whole bag of cherry sours.


    • Yeah, sometimes I will do something like only have chocolate chips. Chocolate chips to deal with the sugar cravings, but no other sweets. Applesauce after dinner is another trick to substitute for something sweet after supper.

      But I don’t hard line it, and it does take energy.


  2. Yes, chocolate chips. Sometimes they are the only sweet thing left in the house. My daughter walked in on me stuffing a big handful in my mouth the other evening. She said “Geez, Mom, got enough chips” We both burst out laughing and chips flew everywhere. I like the idea of balancing all this and not hard-lining it. We are not our physical bodies and therefore, I do not think we should become so obsessed about them. If we do obsess, we kind of cement ourselves into the idea that they are more important then what they are: a physical vehicle to get through this earth trip.


  3. Finding a balance has been hard for me when it comes to diet. I have tended to go to the extreme one way or the other. It’s either strict to the max, or anything goes. LOL. So right now, I’m just trying to cut out the refined sugar and be reasonable about everything else. Sugar seems to be the worst player for me. It’s just that the sugars hide in so many things!! Like, nonfat flavored greek yogurt. Tons of added sugar, who knew. And since I was informed in my last reading that the lactose sugars from the nonfat milk in my lattes were causing the same bad reaction, I’ve had to kick my latte habit. Just when my favorite Fall Starbucks salted caramel mocha flavor came back.

    So — I’m right there with you. It’s one day at a time for me too. Trying to maintain a good workout routine and to listen to my intuitive self on what is healthy food for me.(without getting anal about it). Balance.

    But, I won’t say that I’ll never have pie or birthday cake, because life is too short not to enjoy those things on occasion!! Sometimes, you just gotta have the pie. 🙂


    • Yes exactly! I think that’s why I tend do cut the sugar and flour only for a portion of each year. I enjoy it *so much* the other part of the year with few ill-effects for a while, but it seems to “build up” in my system. Then I need to go off of it for a while again.


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