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  • Writer's pictureMaria Kallenbach

Creating Balance in Your Life

In yoga class, balance poses are my favorite! Perhaps it's because I spent quite a bit of time balancing as a high school and college cheerleader. I was the one at the top of the pyramids. It was pretty easy to balance once you learned to put your trust in the ones holding you up (the bases), kept your eyes firmly fixed straight ahead, and breathed. Doing yoga balance poses requires the same 3 things. You need to trust that your foot is firmly grounded and secure, fix your eyes straight ahead, and breathe. It's so liberating when you are holding a balance pose!


Why do yogis do balance poses? Well, it builds strength. It often requires flexibility. It helps you with your balance as you age. It takes focus and relieves stress since you have to let go of the rest of the day's worries to put your energy into, well, BALANCING! It's also something that you can improve over time and so it gives you something to work towards. Just as runners try to improve their "personal record" or PR, yogis try to move away from modifications or get deeper into a pose.


But what about off the yoga mat? How can we improve our balance? Last week I shared that we can improve our STRENGTH on and off the yoga mat. I gave you 10 tips to try out. Today, I want to share a podcast and a book with you that have helped me create balance in my personal life. I feel like I am THRIVING right now from the lessons I have learned over the last week and I want to share them with you!


"The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." Stephen Covey

It all began when I noticed it was taking me hours and hours to write my blogs. I knew what I wanted to write about, but why couldn't I write it out clearly? I was so overwhelmed by all the content, I couldn't find a way to express it. I would just write, delete, and start over. Then I listened to a podcast called "Work Smarter, Not Harder". I found it very interesting. But I wondered how to implement it into my own situation. I reached out to the podcaster and he gave me another podcast to listen to. He said "I cut out stuff that was a grind and focused more on what I love and have the talent to do..." it gave him time to enjoy what mattered most and he found his podcasts were just a natural outpouring of his thoughts. I was amazed! I was actually hoping for a formula I could incorporate into my writing, but I decided to listen and apply what I learned. The podcast was called "Jar of Rocks." I think it can best be summarized by the old saying, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing," by Stephen Covey.


Basically, you find a jar and you fill it up with rocks. The jar represents a day in your life. Each rock represents something you spend your time on during the day. Some rocks are large and should represent those things that are the most important to you. The things you don't want to live without. The medium-sized rocks represent those things that are important. They are essential. The smaller rocks or pebbles represent the optional stuff. The takeaway is that you must put the largest rocks into the jar first. That's the only way all of the rocks will fit. If you wait to put the large rocks in, they won't fit and will have to stay out of the jar. It's a great object lesson to see that you must take care of the things that matter most in your life, or they won't fit into your life. If you don't make time for them, you may lose them.



"It was a great exercise for me to see that I can spend my time on the things that matter most to me."

So, first I made a list of the most important things in my life that I did not want to live without. Number one was God. When I thought back to the time when I would lay in the hospital with nothing... I couldn't eat, talk, move, or have any say over what was going on around me, I still had God. I don't want to live without Him! I continued down my list of priorities all the way down to the things I liked but were optional. I had to include things I didn't necessarily enjoy but were important, such as driving from place to place. Once I had my list, I cut it in half. If all I had to do today was the top half of my list, would this be enough? Yes! It was a great exercise for me to see that I can spend my time on the things that matter most to me. I can also enjoy the time more because my mind isn't on all the other stuff I think I need to do. They really just don't matter that much to me!


Next, I decided I wanted to keep a visual of what I had discovered. I wanted my very own jar of rocks! So I began collecting rocks. It brought me so much joy to know that I was collecting rocks like my dad. I come from a long line of rock collectors! His favorites were arrowheads. It took me two days since I would select a rock after spending time doing what was important to me all the way down to what was optional. I soon realized I would need a large vase to hold them all in. My rocks were rather large. The real fun began when I was placing the rocks inside the vase with the largest ones first. I saw how beautifully they fit among one another. It turned out to be the very best visual of what's most important to me and how much I need to fit them into my day first! Over the last couple of days, I've begun getting up early to greet my family, read my Bible, discuss a chapter a day with my husband, and calling my mom on the phone. I continue stacking my "rocks" and have begun to have a more fulfilling balanced life (I'm crying as I write this because I wish this for you).


If you want to listen to this podcast or read a chapter from the Bible each day with me, here are the links:


Excel Still More: A Chapter A Day Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/148259158529952





It's funny how when I begin studying something, I begin finding clues everywhere in my life that point me towards what I am wanting to know more about. I guess I'm just more focused on that area and so I begin making connections with my present circumstances. Sometimes I think maybe God has His ways pointing these out to me. Just as I have been seeking balance in my personal life to help me do the things I feel are important to me, I ran across a book. It was a book given to my husband by a daughter on Father's Day. He had not read it and I happened to notice it on the bookshelf one day when I was in between Christian romance novels. It read: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. Atomic Habits. An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. This book written by James Clear has been life-changing for me lately as well!


I plan to use a whole blog on what I have learned from this book! It is so good and I highly recommend it for those of you who have goals that you never seem to reach or that you reach but you can't seem to enjoy them or motivate others to try to reach. There are so many gems in this book that it has transformed my thinking. I am able to celebrate daily instead of exhausting myself with effort hoping for my goal to get accomplished sometime in the way off future. It's really about creating a "system" for yourself. "Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment," James clear says of the problem with setting goals. It also restricts your happiness. He says, "The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you're continually putting happiness off until the next milestone." He argues that "when you can fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don't have to wait to give yourself the permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running."


I loved this! I began to balance my day with putting the people and things that mattered most to me first and charting out my day from there. I had gotten in the bad habit of reacting to life around me and just winging it. I wasn't focused. I was frazzled. My goals seemed impossible. How could I add anything more to my day? My beliefs about myself were driving my actions. My self-talk was very negative at times, but in this book, I learned how to change my beliefs into what I wanted to become and I began to imagine how I could see myself as a faithful Christian. A loving wife. A devoted mother. A caring daughter. A strong burn survivor. A healthy yoga instructor. An avid writer. When I began to ACT like these things, I BECAME these things. I created a system where I could be ALL of these things. It has helped me find peace in my day. I feel like I am finally getting my life together!


My advice to you today is to identify what matters most to you and build your life around it. Many of you may have suffered loss or have experienced some type of trauma as I have. I want to leave you with something Katherin Wolf, author of Suffer Strong said once. "The life right here in front of you is here for a reason. Don't miss it wishing you had something else. Take what remains and build a life you love." When I heard her speak these words after hearing of her incredible story of suffering, I knew I had to pick myself up. I was in a very bad place. Depression was threatening to swallow me up at every turn. I knew I could not live here. I couldn't stay with this mindset of defeat. I had lost the will to live. I did not want to live this life. I did not pick this life for me. But in hearing her story, I felt like I wasn't alone. If she could do it, then I could too.


There's so much we can learn from one another. When I think of all that I have learned from the examples of the people in the Bible, listening to podcasts, reading books, and just visiting with people and hearing their experiences, I marvel at how it has helped me in my journey. My greatest hope is that I too can help someone find a well-lit path to inner strength and balance in their life. Remember that improving strength and balance aren't just for the yoga mat!


Stay Prayerful Friends!


Maria


1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Bible KJV



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