Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Moms Everywhere READ THIS!

I had the great pleasure to meet Martha Beck at a Woman and Words conference a few years ago where she was signing copies of her memoir Expecting Adam, her transformational self-help guide Finding Your Own North Star, and breezily chatting about her life, her books, and the crooked path that led to where she is now. I found her to be funny, refreshingly candid, and gave-me-goosebumps inspiring. A perfect combination.

When this piece of hers hit the CNN homepage the other day, I knew I had to share it. Again. I say again because it already "aired" in O Magazine years ago.  Moms, we need to hear this. Until we KNOW it and no longer feel bad about ourselves and our lives, this concept should be shared again and again.

With many of us experiencing serious burnout not to mention deep feelings of inadequacy from the constant demands of juggling Motherhood AND our unmet career, personal, marital, and community goals and expectations, combined with SERIOUS SLEEP DEPRIVATION, the following is a point I want to scream from the rafters! But Martha does it so much better.

Go Here.

But I understand. You're too overtaxed to click through...so I've made it easy for you. Read this:

In Defense Of An Unbalanced Life
By Martha Beck

It's five o'clock in the morning. I've been awake for about 23 hours, having struggled vainly to fit in writing between yesterday's tasks: getting the car fixed, taking the dog to the vet, answering e-mail, going grocery shopping, driving my kids to music lessons, seeing clients, picking up deli sandwiches for dinner and cuddling a 12-year-old through some of the horrors of puberty.

I finally sat down at my computer around midnight -- and looked up just now to see the sun rising.

Understand three things: 1) I don't have a job. I freelance, which means I procrastinate and get away with it; 2) my children are not young --they walk, talk, bathe, diagnose their own viruses; and 3) I'm kind of supposed to be an expert at combining career and family.

I conducted years of sociological research on the topic, wrote a big fat book about it. Plus, I'm a life coach. You'd think I could live a balanced life as a 21st-century American woman.

Ha. In fact, having done all that research, I can tell you with absolute assurance that it is impossible for women to achieve the kind of balance recommended by many well-meaning self-help counselors. I didn't say such balance is difficult to attain. I didn't say it's rare. I said it's "impossible."

Our culture's definition of what women should be is fundamentally, irreconcilably unbalanced. That's the bad news. The good news is that the very imbalance of our culture is forcing women to find equilibrium in an entirely new way.

The Joy of Being Unbalanced

If someone condemned you because, say, you failed to prevent Hurricane Katrina, you wouldn't dissolve in shame or work to overcome your inadequacy. You'd probably conclude that your critic was nuts, then simply dismiss the whole issue.

That's the wonderful thing about seeing that our society makes impossible demands on all women. You free yourself to ignore social pressures and begin creating a life that comes from your own deepest desires, hopes and dreams. You'll stop living life from the outside in and begin living it from the inside out.

Women describe the moments when they really "got" that the expectations they'd been trying to fulfill were unfulfillable. They say this epiphany was terrible because it meant relinquishing the goal of total social acceptance. But it was also the beginning of freedom, of learning to seek guidance by turning inward to the heart, rather than outward to social prescriptions.

If you feel trapped by contradictory demands, you may want to join this gentle rebellion. You can help create a new cultural paradigm, one that replaces conformity with honesty, convention with creativity, and judgment with kindness. That, in the end, is the gift of the disequilibrium that society has bequeathed to all of us.

Being forced to seek balance within ourselves, we can make our unsteady, stumbling days feel less and less like disaster and more and more like a joyful dance -- the dance of a wildly, wonderfully, perfectly unbalanced life.

By Martha Beck from "O, The Oprah Magazine," April 2003
reprinted at CNN.com 9:13 a.m. EDT, Tue April 15
, 2008

Here's to the dance, ladies! Dance out loud!


Jerri said...

My children are grown and living on their own, yet my life could hardly be more unbalanced at the moment. This is a fabulous piece and timely as all get out.

To the dance!

To you, my friend. To you, your strong support and wisdom. To your generous spirit and loving heart.

To life!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love Martha.

Love you.

Thank you.

riversgrace said...

Ok, will you read this again....my dear friend? My dear amazing friend and activist and writer and mother and wife!

Love you, support you, hear you, hear all of it, hold us both, full vision.

Jess said...

Just saw Martha read last week. She's great. Great article, too. Thank you.