Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Blog, Finally!

So, I have a blog, only about a decade after blogging became cool. I’m a late bloomer, I guess.

I made it halfway through a first blog post in mid-2007, about our three week trip to New Zealand with our then five-month old (including a trip to Christchurch, site of yesterday's earthquake). I had a blog about Carolina North Forest in 2008, when some of us were worried that UNC might just decide to pave the whole thing…think there were two or three entries there.  And some of my running friends know that my race reports tend to be on the long side, so blog material there too. What motivated me this time, though, was being named a member of the La Sportiva Mountain Running Team. The long bio I had to fill out asked, at the end, for my blog address. I didn’t have one. But I got the idea that I was supposed to. So here we are.

As for the title of the blog, I was hoping for The Balancing Act. But that, and several other variations, were taken, so here we are, a little off-kilter, but also a little closer to the point I wanted to make anyway. That is: I have lots of things going on. Marriage, two little girls, two teenaged stepkids, a full-time faculty job, running enough mileage to stay fit and feel decent at the races I do, serving on the board of our day care, co-directing a local race…and now and then, I also like to have time to hang out with friends.

Every now and then, someone – usually a woman who’s a bit younger than I am – comments that they’re impressed with my ability to strike a balance among home, work, running and whatever else. Inevitably, my response is the same: “do you have any idea how out of balance I feel, all of the time?” Because it’s true: this balancing thing, it’s just an act. Sometimes, I’m spending too much time on work and not getting enough sleep. Other times, I’m putting in too many miles on the trails and not spending enough (awake) time with my daughters and husband. And still other times, I’m leaving work early so that I can reduce my day care-related guilt. 

I want to do too many things, and I’m not good at saying no to interesting opportunities. So I almost always feel like there’s an imbalance…too much time and energy in one place, not enough somewhere else. Too much focus on wanting there to be a perfect home cooked meal on the table after a long day at the office. Too much worry that I need to get in a back to back long run this week (and the week after, and the week after that) in order to feel ready for an upcoming ultra. 

I’ve decided to embrace this sense of imbalance. That is, to give up on this probably-artificial notion that we can feel a sense of “it all being in balance.” Rather, I’m sticking with the idea that, over the long term, there should be balance; but in the day to day and the week to week, there’s almost always going to be imbalance. And that’s ok.

A few years ago, my husband was in a faculty leadership seminar, and the group read an academic article about the myth of balance. The basic premise was that “balance” is almost impossible to achieve, and that its existence as an ideal leaves each of us – and professional women in particular – feeling as if we’re falling short. The idea that there are people out there who are able to work full time, be fabulous parents, pursue their hobbies, be devoted spouses, and to do so without any worry that they are spending too much time on one thing and not on the other just leaves us feeling like we’re not up to the challenge. Apparently, the men in the group hadn't really thought about the idea of balance in this way, while the women said, "yes, of course this is an exhausting idea to carry around." (I just googled to find this article, and I discovered that "the myth of balance" is a pretty popular topic -- and I didn't find the article, either).

This blog will mostly be about running – reviews of products, reports on races – because that’s why I’ve started it. But you also might find commentary on other things…the politics of the international economy, issues related to parenting, local issues in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, links to reports from the my running club (the Trailheads)…whatever I manage to find time to write about.

Oh, and also, as part of my effort to fix my nagging hamstring injury, I’ve started doing yoga regularly, and trying to follow the advice (about improving my core strength, mostly) of my friendly local physical therapist. Which leads to yet another sort of imbalance….I can’t hold most of those balance poses to save my life! If I’m there, my legs are shaking, and it’s just a matter of time until I stumble. Imbalancing act, again.

Up next (only a bit late) – a race report from the 2011 Uwharrie Mountain Run.