On Balance and Play

How are we all doing? Good? Better? Best?

It's that time of year when life can venture beyond busy into oh-shit-i-have-one-day-left-to-buy-presents territory, a time when we waver between stuffing our faces with baked goods and trying frantically to get to the gym to look good in that LBD (or LRD, as I've seen lately. Personally I want this hot little number). It's a time when everything happens all at once, and we're trying our damnedest to keep it all together. 

I love the holidays, and with so much to be grateful for this year, I feel like a kid in a candy store of my own life. But I notice there's an underlying pressure bubbling to the surface in our society this time of year that can perpetuate stress and feelings of self-doubt, when what we want to feel is joy and love. 

Planning and attending a month full of outings and events, trying to balance frosted sugar cookies with pounds of green juice, squeezing in a moment to trim our bangs in between trimming the tree--it can seem like we're all supposed to turn into GD Martha Stewart come December 1st, when I feel like what most of us need this month is a hall pass. A note to ourselves, from ourselves, that says it's ok to be tired and worn out and eat a few extra bonbons. A reminder to let ourselves off the hook from our constant search for balance and remember the old adage that says "everything in moderation...including moderation itself."

Why do we drive ourselves crazy with this pursuit of balance? During this time of year, why can't we allow the harried-ness of the holidays to be what it will? I'm a constant planner: I plan my budget (though rarely stick to it), my grocery lists, my schedule, my meals and my workouts. This is all in an effort to make my life easier, more seamless, more well-adjusted. But lately I've noticed my mind has a hard time shutting off and enjoying the moment when all I can think about is how to perfectly plan my day. 

Looking for a little refresher on mindfulness and intuition, I picked up what would become my latest Martha Beck obsession, "Finding Your Way In a Wild New World." In it, Beck discusses the importance of wordlessness and childlike play in getting in-tune with your true nature (and finding more joy.) So far, it's been the best advice I've ever read. I can't think of a better time of year to add more play and less thought into our lives. And play can mean whatever you prefer it to mean, whether it's reading magazines by the fire, doing absolutely nothing, or making up new (more subersive) Christmas carols with the wee ones.

After all, who enjoys the holidays more than anyone? Little kids. Do little kids think about balance? No. Do they continuously strive to have everything in order before they enjoy themselves? No. They enjoy themselves, period. Maybe we should, too.

So this year, please don't fret if things aren't perfect. Bringing a store-bought cake does not make you inadequate, nor does foregoing the gym for a few weeks or catching up on all five billion seasons of the Real Housewives franchise instead of your extensive reading list. Go easy on yourself, enjoy each moment of this season for what it is: a chance to be spontaneous and carefree. A chance to play, in whatever way feels best for you.