It’s the middle of May. And I’m drowning: Mayday! Mayday! S.O.S.! Spring is always and most likely will be the busiest season for me, but this spring feels particularly chaotic and insane. Because of this lasting winter (it’s snowing as I type) planning, prepping, building, and planting the farm is taking place all at the same time.
Thus, I revisit balance. I know I’ve written about this before. But it is a constant struggle. And this week, balance has been grabbing me by my sinewy sore shoulders and shaking me. It’s trying to get my attention, trying to get me to come up for air. It’s trying to get me to look up from the dirt, take two steps back, and pause.
Seeds and seedlings also require balance. While seeds can grow in suboptimal environments, they only truly thrive when there is equilibrium. In order for a seed to turn into a flourishing plant, it needs a balance of good soil, moisture, light, and food. If even one of those elements is off, the plant still may grow and be just “fine,” but who is to know what could have been if all had been in line? Had all given equally to the success of this tiny life-giving seed? Had the purity and trueness of the seed been encouraged to develop into the ideal plant?
And I’m now echoing and reflecting the needs of my plants. And while I may be very good at giving them the balance and recipe they need to thrive, I am not doing myself the same essential service. Balance lies just above me, but my damn arms are so tired and sore, I can’t quite reach it.
Not to say things aren’t getting done on the farm, or that my family is suffering a dim and colorless existence, while I slave away from dawn to dusk. Quite the opposite (well maybe not the dawn to dusk part). The farm is happening. I’m getting things done... daily. The to-do list might shrink by two tasks and then grow by four each day, but shit is getting done. And I have some amazingly loyal people to thank for helping me jumpstart this progress (that’s you work party). They may never want to return to the farm after that, but they showed up that Sunday. And they worked hard. And I will be forever grateful.
This whole journey is a test in balance. It’s a test in how to manage a new business, run a farm, how to have a family, and maintain friendships and relationships. And while all of those things are equally important, the farm has definitely taken a majority of my time, and in turn, it has taken me. I love the farm, and I need it. As a lovely friend of mine put it, it’s my artwork; it’s the expression of me. And I find that to be so true. (Mostly because I am a terrible artist, and I have to find some form of expression!) But all artists walk away from their project, and breathe and look at it from a different angle. It makes me wonder what the farm would look like if I put it aside for an hour to actually play with and focus on my kids. Or to meet a friend for coffee, or have a phone date with a long time girlfriend. An hour is very little to sacrifice for the people I love.
So, my journey is about to start trying to appreciate the rest stops. Stopping here and there to catch up with the people I love, the people who have supported me throughout this insanity, the people who give me that much needed physical or virtual hug at the end of a hard day. I want my girls to look at their mom and see a hard worker, a dedicated farmer, but also a kick-ass momma that will put them first every single time.
Part of this voyage is learning about and managing the work-life balance. But I’d be dishonest to say that this expedition isn’t more of a test in loving and respecting myself. For those that know me, I think it is safe to say that I like to be there for others. I have loved to spoil people, to take care of people, to show up. But in this quality, there have been times that there is one person I am taking from: me. I can be no good to anyone if I am not good to myself. And I imagine that many of my relationships are suffering because of that self-neglect.
So these balancing rest stops are going to include some long solo runs, some mountain bike trails, and a glass of wine or a beer here and there. They will be times of reflection, times of self-care and self-love. That same cherished friend of mine has encouraged me to take time for myself each day, and then to take a day off here and there. And while days off will be numbered this year, I’m starting with tomorrow. It will be my first day off in six weeks. And I will run. And I will love. And I will balance.