I have been irritated most of my life by the comment “I need to have a balanced life”. I say this comment when I am exhausted or stressed out. Lately that seems to be a lot. Moving the cement chunks out of the store (making more room in the back for packing), while a physically moronic move for a 50 year old was actually brilliant as it caused my right knee to swell up which then caused me to have to sit and think about what caused me to make the “moronic” move.

I started with “I need to get a balanced life”. But what does that actually mean? The judgmental side of me thinks it means “I work until I have put in the required hours (set by someone else). It doesn’t matter if what needed to get done got done. My time is up and I have a balanced life. My life is not about work. I work to live not live to work”.

The defensive side of me toward the “balanced life scenario” says that leaders, business owners, movers and shakers don’t have balanced lives. They work to live and must work 7 days a week to be successful in the beginning of every endeavor. As they train others they can back away from the day-to-day and focus on the vision and future (which fills the time the “day-to-day” was occupying).
The dilemma…what about the people that do what they love and are successful (whatever that means to them)? What if my day is filled with more of the stuff I love to do and it turns out it is the work I am doing or some part of it? What if I delegate more of the stuff I don’t like to do? If I am working but doing what gives me peace, fulfillment and pays my bills so I am not a burden on society, can I do that and call it a balanced life?

Can I get up every morning face my fears and still manage to get the kids off to school or listen to their successes and struggles with a listening ear verses trying to save them from the pains of growing and learning themselves?

Here is an example of what I am thinking for those of you that don’t follow my writing (which is not a strength and I know it). Here is what is fulfilling to me:
6:00 – 6:30 Getting up at 6am to have coffee to talk about my day with my husband
6:45 – 10:30 Moving Chicken Tractors
10:30 – 11:30 Breakfast with my 13 year old
11:30 – 1:00 Run in shower and deliver a talk on farming somewhere in the 2 counties.
1:30 – 5:00 Check in with office staff, e-mail, voicemail, ancillary paperwork.
5:00 – 7:00 Laundry, house work etc. Conversations with my older kids. Dinner?
7:00 – 9:00 Maintenance/Closing chicken tractors/hen houses/check all water
9:00 on is hearing how the family is doing, work, girls, work, girls…hmmmmm

Not sure if it sounds good to you or not but during the day I feel like I am testing my armor. What is possible for me. I know that moving the cement chunks was mentally an ego thing. I did it! I am the WoMan. I still got it going on. Not a smart move given the swelling in my knee. However, I love the peace and quiet putting new clips on the chicken tractors, sitting on the ground talking to the chickens while I fashioned each wire clip to fit. I like learning how to use a new tool and build a solid fence. It feels satisfying to see the business report with all the numbers going in the right directions and not have to create it myself.

I guess what I am saying is that I get juiced when I am exhausted from a day, can see results of my work and the work is good. I feel like my life is meaningful.
There is some draw for me to test the limits of my capability, to see what is possible from my mind and hands (and knee). It is something I don’t get from shopping (unless it is at the salvage yard, love that place). Fear is actually a strong player in my life. The fear that I might be one of the “cold and timid souls, that know neither victory nor defeat” as George Bernard Shaw put it. To play in the arena of life, risking failure for the potential of victory! That is what I am all about and I don’t think “balance” has a place here. But that is just me!

Your gimpy farmer,
Tara Smith