Feeling “Scattered”: The Tricky Balancing Act of, Well, Balance

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Those of you who practice yoga are likely familiar with tree pose. In it, you stand on one foot and slide your other foot up the inside of the opposing leg until it reaches your inner thigh. And here, you stand, rooted as firmly in your stance as an oak sinking its roots deep into the rich, dark earth.

Seasoned yogis make it look effortless. Their practiced focus never seems to waver, their stance as calm as the mighty oak itself.

And the rest of us? We waver. We falter. We lose our balance, arms windmilling as we try not to tumble sideways. And why do we falter? Not usually because of our bodies. We falter because we lose focus.

That’s life. One minute you’re writing the next great American novel, and the next you’re watching baby goats on YouTube. True story.

And, in real life, we’re not standing in a yoga studio filled with tealights glistening in Himalayan salt candle holders. Life outside our yoga practice is more like trying to do tree pose while a screaming toddler throws Little People at your head.

And no, I don’t have kids, but sometimes life itself feels like a screaming toddler. I want a cookie! Let’s go out for frozen yogurt! Why are you writing a novel? Didn’t you hear about the yogurt idea? Where are we at on that cookie?

Or it’s the rule-loving side of us that’s screaming. Pay the electric bill! What will the neighbors think if you don’t weed the flowerbeds?!

And sometimes it’s not our inner id or super ego that’s giving us the problems. Sometimes there are intense emotions that make balance seem elusive. Things like grief, sadness, uncertainty, fear, insecurity. And if you’re living with a mood disorder, not knowing what your misfiring synapses are going to throw at you next? Will it be the terror of a panic attack, the painful waves of despair, or the siren’s song of hypomania?

Whew.

Sometimes modern life feels like one crisis after another. This year, for example, I literally spent part of New Year’s Day in the urgent care because of chest pains, that, thankfully, turned out to be a bad bout of esophagitis. My migraines have come back with a vengeance after years of being fairly well-managed, and in trying to improve my physical health, I injured my hip and spent weeks in physical therapy. On the homefront, our house seems to be falling apart. The washer went. The roof leaked, which broke the washer again. On and on. Nothing earth-shattering. Other people are dealing with far worse.

But each little thing chips away at our balance. So, what can we do?

First, we find our focus.

In balancing poses in yoga, when we lose our focus, we lose our balance. Practicing meditation and yoga are great for this because they train our mental focus muscles. And these skills require exercise, like any other. If you don’t run that mile, you lose the ability. Same with focus. If we don’t practice focus, we become scattered and focus becomes elusive.

It helps to have a list of values that guide us in life. For me, those are spirituality and magic, creativity and storytelling, and relationships and community. Refocusing on these core values allows me to let the little things slide right over me—given time. Sure, the roof is leaking, and that’s a big deal, but I still need to create a space to focus on creating art, living a magical life, and maintaining my relationships. So, I call my brother and chat for a while. I whip up a protection spell for the house. I write a chapter in my latest WIP. Anything to refocus on the bigger picture.

We have to remember that balance comes and goes. It’s not a destination.

Sometimes, we will be scattered. We can’t be this perfectly poised, grounded, centered person every moment of every day. Yes, that space exists inside of us even at our most frantic, but we will become disoriented from time to time. When we do, a simple centering exercise can help us reconnect.

Life has seasons—seasons of stillness, seasons of growth.

Growth can feel overwhelming, scary, and chaotic. Whether we’re growing our family or our business, we’re adding a lot more to our plates, and that’s overwhelming at times.

For example, I’ve entered a period where I really want to grow in several areas of my life. I’m studying aromatherapy, as I’m attempting to incorporate my own homemade essential-oil based goods into my life. Nature and magic infuse my life and my writing, and this is another outlet for my creativity. My life is awash in new ideas, new information, and new beginnings. Will I be any good at it? Can I create something useful? Can I master this new skill?

I am trying to go slowly, but also challenge myself. And writing remains my focus. I’m trying to master deep POV and get OAK-BOUND and SPELLFIRE’S KISS ready for submission later this summer or early fall, all while penning a first draft of WILD TAROT.

And as for my ROW80 goals, they are shifting in the midst of this quest for balance. I’m about 21K into WILD TAROT, and I’ve just sent OAK-BOUND off to a professional editor for her feedback. I’m also taking a monthlong workshop in deep POV to further strengthen this skill.

I’m tiptoeing into aromatherapy, taking two courses on Udemy as a starting point. I’m experimenting with perfume blends–Boho Soul turned out well, but the first attempt at Kitchen Witch was a bust. Now in the works: Awaken, a citrusy scent meant to help uplift the mood and focus mental energies. I don’t know if these will ever go anywhere outside of my own use or for family and friends, but it’s still a fun experiment.

Much progress has been made in terms of tending hearth and home, and the house is feeling much homier and more settled these days. I still have the attic and a couple closets to declutter and organize, but overall, we’ve drastically reduced the amount of stuff we own and everything has a place.

That’s balance. It comes and goes. As long as we know our core values, what we truly want our lives to look like, we can be assured that balance will return. In the midst of the mess and the magic that is life, balance, like all things, ebbs and flows.

What about you? How do you achieve balance in your life? Does it ever feel elusive? Do you have any practices for rebalancing?

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11 thoughts on “Feeling “Scattered”: The Tricky Balancing Act of, Well, Balance

  1. Diego Green says:

    Good to know that the struggle for creative balance is a shared one. Having a day job (or in my case, a night job) definitely drains much of my energy to the point where as soon as I regain something resembling drive and focus, it’s time for work again or there’s some other task or emergency to attend to. I think I need to figure out how to better manage my time and learn the chip away at my personal projects rather than attempting to complete as much as possible in one sitting. That only seems to lead to frustration.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      You’re right. I’ve found small, realistic goals to be essential to my continued creative journey. Another lesson I’ve learned is that it’s not always about adding a certain number of words to our stories. Brainstorming a character arc or coming up with potential solutions for a plot hole also count as writing progress. Not everything needs to be quantifiable in the creative life, and realizing that has been so beneficial for me. Good luck, Diego!

  2. writerRSJ says:

    Balance has been a theme in my life for years, and this blog was a great read! It is helpful to remember that it takes ongoing practice. I’m actually getting ready to do a little yoga right now!! 😁

    • Denise D. Young says:

      So glad to hear that you’ve found your balance! I have definitely found it to be a journey rather than a destination. I’ll think, “I’ve got this!” and then three things around the house break at once and I’m scrambling again, or a bunch of deadlines hit all at once. But now that I know where that place is for me, I can refocus once things calm down a little. And yes, more yoga! 🙂

  3. Fred the Needle says:

    Great Post, a good reminder to try that pose again soon!

    I think being scattered is part of being creative – there are so many sources of stimulation which were way beyond us a few years ago. I have to pull back on the computer, even libraries start an obsession! I have just stopped baking bread…. I was making more than we could eat and we were eating more than we should! Its nice to know that I am not the only scattered person !

    • Denise D. Young says:

      I think you’re right that feeling scattered can be a sign of a busy, creative mind. There are so many ideas and outlets to fill our time and direct our energy toward. I do think they often feed each other. My love of gemstone magic often turns up in my stories, for example, so when I’m researching a new stone or crystal, I know that one day, that stone might make a cameo appearance in a story. Just one example of many.

      Yum! I love homemade bread, though I haven’t attempted anything beyond a quick bread–banana is a personal favorite! 🙂

  4. ruichan2380 says:

    Great post! I liked the part where you said balance is not a destination. It made me think about my life and how I’ve been trying to achieve some sense of balance for a while. Becoming a mom definitely threw me off balance and we’ve got some major life changes coming along so I really should accept this as a transition. I also likehowyou see that as growing; I’ll try and keep that in mind when I feel stressed out.
    Thanks for sharing and I hope you can solve your roof problem soon. Take care.

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Thanks! The roof problem appears to have been resolved, thankfully. And yes, any time we have a major life change, even a positive one, we often lose our balance and it can take a while before we find our new and improved “center.” Even if it’s just a small moment at the end of the day for reflection, I’ve found carving out that space to be very beneficial. Good luck! Take care too!

  5. shanjeniah says:

    As you know, my life has brought huge changes this last several months. I’m not so much looking for balance at this point as a feel for the blending that works best in each given moment.

    For that – I have day maps, each day, to guide me. I set them up a few hours at a time; they’re flexible. I meditate. I read inspiring things – like this post. I focus on the positives, and possibilities.

    It’s not perfect. My roof leaks too, and, until the life insurance is settled, there is no money for replacing or repairing it…so we three remaining Burtons have learned to live with it until we can repair and/or replace it.

    And we seek peace and joy in the simple things….

    • Denise D. Young says:

      Always, yes, peace and joy in simple things. That brings such a level of contentment and gratitude to life.

      I would be more interested to hear about day maps. Since I work from home, something like that could be a wonderful guide for me during the day. I often get off track and spend too much time on something that shouldn’t have been my focus that day.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Shan!

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