Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Life Balanced: Progress Report

I've been working with Vanessa Hartman's My Life Balanced: 120 Days workbook for the last 3 weeks, and want share a few things I've learned so far.

My first lesson is that there is a very good reason this challenge is meant to last at the very least 120 days - it's all about habit changing and it is very, very difficult to undo old habits and to integrate new ones all at the same time.  I have only barely scraped the surface at this point, and the simple act of spending a few minutes first thing in the morning 'setting my intentions' (as Vanessa calls looking over each day's materials) has been dredging up all sorts of resistance, but I've also realized that intending to do it later in the day instead results in never getting around to it at all.

So, yes - for this to work for me, I need to make this book the first thing I pick up after my cup of coffee, and then settle down to the two of them and get my head focused on how I will explore and incorporate the day's guideance.

My second lesson is that taking time to be still and meditate comes a lot easier when there's a little focus for it - I really, really love the one word "Mind" words that can be used as a journal prompt or meditation word.   They provide me with simple contemplative time early in the day before anyone else has woken up.  I like to spend 15-20 minutes sitting outside on my porch as the sun rises, watching the birds having breakfast, and considering how the daily theme might be meaningful for the day as I go about my routine.

As I mentioned in my Introduction to this process, I've tried using them as a theme for my daily Tarot readings (an old habit I plan to keep), and they work brilliantly that way. (this is in no way necessary, but I find it helpful to meld these new habits into areas of my life where I already feel I am on a useful track - it helps them stick!) For this, I enjoy doing a simple 3 card Mind-Body-Emotions spread, asking how each area relates to the daily meditation word.

As an example, today's theme word is Rest, and these are the cards I drew:

I asked the following and contemplated each answer:

How does my body speak to me about the need for Rest?
The 10 of Wands here is speaking to me about exhaustion or burnout - once the body has given all it can, it's done, and needs rest, whether I'm inclined to do so or not. Better management would be to pay attention before I'm on my last legs, and offer myself rest before I've reached that stopping point so that I can maintain energy reserves more consistently.

How does my mind speak to me about the need for Rest?
 The Page of Coins is the student in the area of the physical - my mental resources are curiosity and learning more about both the benefits of rest and how to go about maximizing the quality of my resting times.  (The Page of Coins in me is *loving* the My Life Balanced challenge, because it's all about this sort of learning)

How do my emotions speak to me about the need for Rest?
The 2 of Coins is all about lighthearted BALANCE, especially physical and material balance.  My emotions stay balanced when the rest of my life is in balance, and goes off kilter when there is too much or too little of the things I need.  When my mood is going wonky, it's time to look at how well I'm taking care of myself, and to bring in some playfulness.  And here, it may well be that I'm shorting my need for rest and recreation, whether it's a nap or a serene and fun environment.

As you can see, this method of using the meditation keys is really being helpful to giving myself some structure and food for thought.  But the remaining sections of each day's page also provide both motivational and practical tips for putting all this into practice.

On some days, for example, there will be concrete suggestions in the areas of self-image, nutrition or movement, such as "Write a list of ten things you love about yourself NOT related to appearance" or dancing to a favorite song or replacing sugary drinks with fruit and herb infused water. (All tasks I did and enjoyed very much.

On other days, the sections will be more informational, sharing the benefits of a particular food or form of movement, or motivational words reminding me that all of this begins first with an attitude of self-care and balance.  I am finding myself struggling a bit how to do more with these than read them and try to invent some sort of actual action to take or exercise to do to more firmly plant the seeds of change.  I've added a couple items to my grocery list and begun to experiment with forms of movement that I can safely do that are fun for me.

That would be my big lesson two: If it isn't fun, I am the QUEEN of procrastination.  And it's not like this is a lesson I didn't already know - I've just been confronted with it a lot.  Fortunately for me, this truth is also a key foundation of Vanessa's philosophy.  This sort of change isn't supposed to be about punishing you for not doing things optimally in the past.  It's all about liking yourself enough to add things to your life that make you feel great.

Image by Gratisopraphy

All in all, so far I am finding this all very helpful even if I am still learning how best to use it.  In terms of preferences, I'd love to have a copy of this that was smaller and more portable, even perhaps in electronic form or as a series of daily cards that could be put somewhere visible throughout the day.  I've found myself often going through my day and wanting to peek in again as a refresher to stay focused, and the larger format isn't readily tucked into a bag while on the go.  But that is a small matter and in no way diminishes the helpfulness of the wisdom within.

My intentions for the next three weeks are to use these materials to:

1. Assess what foods are helpful and which are harmful, by logging what I eat and how I feel after.
2. Work on increasing movement by taking walks, using music as I go through my day to encourage movement, and to note the opportunities for increased movement as I follow my normal daily routine.
3. Explore what undercuts my ability to sleep well (insomnia is becoming problematic), and determine what changes can be made to increase my ability to get adequate sleep.

I think that's enough for me, and I know that every day will bring me inspiration, both for these goals and new ideas for other areas to rethink.  I'm excited to continue - it really is true. The Goal IS the Journey.

My Life Balanced
My Life Balanced on Facebook


  1. I agree - habits are VERY hard to break, and 120 days would be the minimum I would expect. The 2 of Coins - oh, I need emotional balance, for sure. I must investigate this further. Thank you in advance for what I think will be an amazing journey! scain54(at)aol(dot)com

  2. Loved reading your update on how it is going! I will keep in mind the idea to make it smaller so it can be purse friendly :) I thought about doing it electronic but it can be easily sent out to others who did not purchase the program....

  3. Very interesting read. Tarot can be so helpful to objectively and subjectively assess your life and situation.

  4. Really enjoyed your post and good for you to take the challenge. It won't always be easy but you seem determined so good luck.

  5. Ps saw this on feature Friday link up with coupon diva

  6. Great update and insights. Thanks for sharing at the #HomeMattersParty

  7. Habits are hard to break, you've got some great insight here. Keeping things simple in all aspects of my life seems to win and help me stay focused. It's when the plate becomes overloaded when everything seems to fall apart.
    Carole @ Garden Up Green

    1. I agree Carole, the key is to keep it all simple :)

  8. Great post and sometimes we can overthink things so keeping it simple is the way to go! Thanks for sharing with us at #WednesdaysWisdom

  9. sometimes we get into ruts and over due it but then it is time to relax and learn on blogs like this come visit our blog at

  10. Good on you not all of us will take on a challenge. Thanks for sharing on #wednesdayswisdom

  11. Great post. I easily answered the questions about rest. Don't know if that is good or bad :) Thanks for sharing on the Healthy Living Link Party.

  12. Making new habits/breaking the old is definitely difficult! I love the idea of setting intentions first thing in the morning, as the whole day can be based on them. Thanks for sharing with us at the Talented Tuesday Link Party!

  13. Habits - ugh! So hard to break!!! Thank you for sharing with us at Waiting on...Wednesday!

    Holly @