Monday, July 14, 2008

Do I have to say goodbye to Superwoman?

A friend of mine, Ellen Antill, wrote a recent life-coaching blog post titled, "Goodbye, Superwoman." In it, she describes having battled her "Superwoman complex" and offers helpful techniques to "decrease her influence" in our lives (see, blog dated 6/10/08, Goodbye Superwoman).

But do I want to decrease her influence? I so WANT to be Superwoman, some days. She seems so put together, in control. She has that fantastic, round, jet-black hairdo, the gold tiara, the patriotic colors, and that hip-ful, rounded 80's form instead of the anorexic 90's look. Seriously, though, letting go of even wanting to be Superwoman is tough. The constant balancing act of being fully present in what I choose to do, and evaluating whether the things I choose have become too demanding for me and my family - I never find that perfect mix. I'm always teetering on one side or another. Make that precariously teetering, some days. I realize that's the nature of balancing, but shouldn't my form improve, my balance tighten, the legs quit that irritating sewing machine quiver?

Take last week. I had jury duty and work that took me away 6am to noon for three days; and I think my poor husband positively bristled when I reminded him I would be gone Saturday morning for my 3 hour marathon training run, followed by an all day jaunt to Payson for a close friend's birthday. And those were just the things I had scheduled without my kids. Was that being Superwoman, or was it just an uncommonly busy week? When does being a 21st century Renaissance woman, high-capacity in several areas of life, turn into being Superwoman, trying to save the world all by her lonesome? Is it when I try to squeeze in a training appointment, Bible study, and visit my Grandma in her care home into that same busy week? Is it when my satisfaction with said week yields personal fatigue, cranky husband, and clinging children in the following week? Do emotions (mine, his, or the kids) determine when I have crossed the line?

I invite your thoughts and comments on the subject.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rest or work?

Rest. The very word relaxes me. I repeat it to myself on crazy days. Rest. I will get some, eventually, I think to myself, and then I keep moving through the craziness. I've decided this weekend that often both rest and craziness exist primarily in my head.
This weekend, for instance, my husband and I planned two nights away in Fountain Hills, on the edge of town, with kids farmed out to family and a friend. Ahh, rest for two whole days! Sure enough, the weekend included plenty of lolling on king-size hotel bed watching movies, splashing each other in the pool, and eating out. It also included a couple hours of time alone doing Bible study, writing down goals, and talking about the future of Victor's business. Still restful? Sure, but now the rest seems to cross the border with work, since business and intense thought and writing went on.

Our weekend also included a long workout session at the nearby YMCA - yoga for me, weights for Victor, and a post-workout game of one-on-one basketball. And the day after, an early 12-mile trail run for me. Still restful? Not for most people. Victor slept in - rested - the second day because the YMCA fun was enough fun for one weekend. On the other hand, the trail run actually represented an "easy" weekend effort for me, since I was supposed to do an 18-mile long run for marathon training, and I just didn't feel like sacrificing that much of my free time away from Victor during our weekend together. So twelve miles felt restful in comparison to eighteen, and I got back just as Victor hit the shower. Perfect.

On the other hand, some kinds of "rest" impede better rest, such as staying up till midnight on Saturday night watching a movie (restful) and then tossing in bed for five hours of restless sleep instead of sleeping in (not so restful). The best laid plans go awry. Here I had the perfect opportunity and excuse to stay up late NOT on the computer doing the budget, AND sleep in afterward as long as I wanted, and my body did not follow the agenda. I paid for it with a wicked migraine later that evening.

Finally, the weekend also included our two children joining us at the hotel at 9am the last day, to eat a late breakfast and go swimming for a couple hours. Restful? Actually, yes. Even with the marathon session in the pool of impromptu swim lessons, tossing them into the deep end, trying out the hot tub in 100-degree weather, and then attempting to keep them awake for the hour drive home so they got a real nap in their own beds. Much better that than coming home to tired, whiny, clinging kids who feel like making us pay for being away doing Fun Things Without Them for two days.
So my question to myself as I lay in bed last night, gratefully post-migraine, was this: had my weekend been restful or crazy? Was it more work, or more play? Hmm. My husband loves the following quote, regarding rest, work, and play, by James A. Michener: "The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both." Victor, as do I, believes that when our God-given gifts and passions and dreams align with our actions, we don't distinguish so much between work and play, between rest and un-rest. When God rested the seventh day after creating the world, do you think He took a nap? Genesis says He spent time admiring the panoply of wonder and design in His untouched world. So, dear women, go rest. Go work. Go play. Decide in the doing whether you are mastering the art of living.