career

The seven-letter word women are using to torture themselves.

If you came over to my house right now, walked up the veranda steps and through the front door what you’d likely find is a slice of pure, unadulterated chaos.

Yep. I live in a zoo.

There’d be a leaning tower of washing in a basket on the dining table pleading to be folded up and put away. Some spaghetti bol simmering on the stove but – don’t be fooled now – at closer inspection possibly burning.

Crayons and colouring-in books and hair-ribbons playing hide and seek under couches and dining tables. I can guarantee there’d be bills a hair’s breadth away from being overdue on my kitchen bench. And me at my laptop banging away frantically at a story while I watch the window close on my chance to write while my boys are asleep.

Welcome to the beautiful chaos that is my life.

Have I made it sound romantic? It’s not but it is what it is. Crazy. Messy. Tangled and overwhelming. Hilarious. Fun. Chaotic.

When it comes to balance, the Danes have it sorted. Rob and I discuss this on the latest episode of our podcast The Well:

You see balance isn’t my strong suit. Everything in moderation has never been my mantra.

I routinely burn the candle at both ends. I stay up way too late working on projects. I find myself at different periods utterly consumed by just one thing. Sometimes it’s a column or a chapter of a new book I’m writing that keeps me up til 2am which means the kids get Fish Fingers for dinner and more TV time than the Super Nanny would probably like.

Sometimes it’s my career that fades to black as I immerse myself in a new baby and lose interest in everything and everyone else around me. Sometimes it’s a family member who needs me and so everything else falls by the wayside.

The collateral damage to living your life like this – full speed – is that things can at times get neglected.  Friendships. Career. Family. Exercise.

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So I’ve always kind of felt bad about it. Bad about the fact that I’m not always leading the balanced life that is continually sold to me in magazine and websites.  Guilty that I’m not spinning those three dozen plates so well like I assume everyone else is.

So when Elizabeth Gilbert – author of Eat Pray Love and all round fabulous and wise woman – got up on stage with Oprah Winfrey and kicked the concept of a balance life to the curb, well, I breathed an enormous sigh of relief.

Speaking on stage during Oprah’s The Life You Want tour, Gilbert said the word balance has become a weapon.

"With no offense to the word balance, I feel that that is a word that we have to be careful of lately because I think it's become another tool in the arsenal that women especially are using against themselves as one more thing they're not doing right … I really do think it's become a weapon.

You're supposed to have balance in your romantic life, in your work life, in your family life, in your health, in your business and everything's supposed to be all evened out.

For me, peace comes when I … embrace the beautiful mess that I am. And embrace the beautiful mess that you all are, and that this world is, and just let it be that."

Can I hear an Amen?

You know, I have spent my life subconsciously haunted by that infamous balance pie chart.  You know the one. The one with all those segments for family and friends and hobbies and exercise and spirituality.  One of those pie charts was first shown to me during a time-management training course when I was 22. I was told that my goal should be to make sure that my life was equally split between all these different segments and that happiness and fulfilment would be my reward.

Pie charts like this one are dead to Bec. Image via DarlingStewie.com

Ironically no mention of a nervous breakdown.

Needless to say I always fell short.

How is it ever possible to have this perfectly balanced life for more than a day or two? Life so often demands our full attention.  This idea that we can politely and carefully carve up our minutes in some kind of Kitchen Democracy seems like insanity at best and a myth at worst.

So I’m with Elizabeth Gilbert on this. I’m binning the word balance.

And the only pie charts I’m interested in are the ones at the bakery opposite my daughter’s school.

Tags: family , lifestyle , motherhood , women
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