Krista Law, LMHC, returned this year to discuss maintaining balance in our busy lives. We had the pleasure of hearing from Krista, who is a Christian counselor for both individuals and couples, twice last year, on the topics of anxiety and depression and identifying your family’s values (see blog entry for May 13, 2014). You can learn more about Krista a www.kristalaw.com and www.3therapistswalkintoablog.com.
Krista shared an example of imbalance from her own experience: After giving birth to her first child, she found herself completely isolated during the day and caring only for her child, with no self care. (Her daughter is now 12, so when Krista was home with her as a newborn, she didn’t even have texting as a way of easily touching base with friends.) Phone calls were of course difficult with a newborn. Krista found herself counting the minutes until her husband came home, when she would “hand off” her daughter and go watch TV alone as her self care. She found she was either neglecting her own needs or her daughter’s depending on the time of day.
Krista used the narrative of Genesis 1-3 as the foundation for her description of balance. This text provides us with permission (from God!) to value balance in our everyday lives. Her framework for introducing balance into your everyday life included three C’s:
Creativity: How are you incorporating creativity into your life? The beginning of the Bible describes a creative act. Creativity allows us to express ourselves, remind us of our unique identity and talents, and follow a natural need to generate something that was not there before. There are as many ways to be creative as there are moms. Maybe you like to cook, maybe you journal, or scrapbook, or garden, or decorate, or enjoy dressing your kids in stylish outfits. Whatever you find energizing and an expression of you, you have permission and encouragement from God to make this a part of your day.
Collaboration: How are you connecting with others who can give you encouragement, energy, wisdom, or a listening ear? God made Eve as a helper, or collaborator, for Adam, so collaborating is built into the initial design of human relationship. You are already collaborating by participating in MOPS. Be mindful of how else you are connecting with others in ways that support you, and don’t just require energy with no return. Also keep in mind that your connection with others, be it asking a question, listening, or texting the latest hilarious (or frustrating) thing your toddler did is a way of providing them with balance as well. Your seeking collaboration may give the other person a chance to be creative or contribute.
Contribution: In what ways are you contributing your unique talents to your family and your greater community? Eve means “life” or “life-giving,” or “mother of all who have life.” Everyone has a need to contribute in some way. You may volunteer, participate in your child’s school, or work outside the home. Again, there are countless ways to contribute.
Along the lines of contribution, Krista also pointed out that the energy we have, be it frustrated or angry or happy or grateful, effects people around us in a five foot radius. So, if you are out of balance, your energy will be effecting those closest to you even if you are trying to hold it all together. Gratitude is the most balancing emotion, and she gave a demonstration of how purposefully thinking about gratitude literally makes you steadier on your feet. She encouraged us to build a practice of gratitude into our days. There are many ways to do this, from writing down one or more things you are grateful for at the beginning or end of the day, to sharing around the dinner table one thing you are grateful for, to including thanks in your prayer, etc.
Krista also encouraged us to think of those activities that make us feel more balanced as priorities. Activities that are “just for us” so easily slip to the end of the to-do list. She gave us an illustration describing a large jar, large stones, and pebbles. If you put all the pebbles (all the many small urgent tasks you feel you have to do throughout the day) in the jar before the large stones (important tasks -self-care, creativity, collaboration, contribution) the large stones won’t fit in the jar. If you put the large stones in first, then add the pebbles, the pebbles will settle into the jar around the stones, and they all will fit.
Later in the day MOPS mom Laura Jackson shared her creative expression for the day, a lovely representation of this urgent vs. important task message Krista shared:
Waking the Dead by John Eldredge
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life by Glennon Doyle Melton