Monday, June 29, 2015

My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge Update (Heavy on the CHALLENGE)

My last three weeks with the My Life Balanced 120 Day Challenge program has been, well... challenging.  As a refresher, this is a workbook written by Vanessa Hartmann, a holistic life coach and minimalist (and one of our very own reviewers/contributors).  I've been working with this for about six weeks now, and I've hit some rough patches.

I am doing fine with the program when my day is routine, but I have found it very difficult to incorporate when I am being thrown for a loop by unusual circumstances.

Jury Duty

The biggest challenge was being called for jury duty for the first time.

I had very little idea what to expect, but was assured by those who have been through it that it was most likely going to involve sitting in a waiting room for a few hours and then being told to go home.  Should I actually be called to sit on a court case, that would likely be only a couple extra hours and that would be it.

I was to report to the courthouse by 7:30am - it was across town with heavy commuter traffic in between, so I had to be up and alert very, very early in the day, so the first thing that fell by the wayside was my usual morning routine.  No setting my intentions for the day and no decent breakfast, because there was simply no way I could face having to eat at 5:30 in the morning.

I did consider the likelihood of vending machines being my only lunch options and planned ahead to avoid that by bringing a large bottle of water and a container of salad along with a fork.  I also planned for 'sitting time' with reading material and my current stitchery project.  I'd have liked to have brought my My Life Balanced workbook, but it is in a large and unwieldy format so I left it at home. (Had I known how the day was going to go, I'd have written a few items from it on index cards to review!)

I lived to regret almost all of these choices - first, they made me toss both my fork and my brand new needlework scissors when I was going through security.  I should have thought about that last one - but I wasn't expecting the fork to be problematic, and I'd deliberately avoided a sandwich as a lunch option because I am avoiding bread! Plastic forks would have been allowed, but we don't use disposable tableware, and it never occurred to me to pick up a pack!  I had called the night before, as instructed, and they had a list of things not to bring - but forks was not one of the listed items.

So -  I was left with no way to eat my lunch, no way to stitch (and left to haul around both for no reason) and couldn't even avail myself of the vending machines because I only had a $20 bill with me, and the machines didn't take anything larger than a $10.

Topping it off, I got called with a large group of people (150!) to be considered for a jury, so we left the relative comfort of the waiting room and were instead crammed into a colonial era court room with narrow benches that would have made a virtuous Puritan cry - and in this room we weren't allowed to have anything out - no food or drink, no reading materials, nothing.

This picture is a LIE - you only get the comfy chairs if you're actually selected as one of the 12 jurors.

We sat and sat and sat, being asked a variety of questions and then those who needed to respond to those questions ("Are you, any of your family or close friends involved in law enforcement?"  "Have you, any of your family or close friends ever been the victim of a violent crime?") went up to the judge's bench to discuss their answers out of earshot - so even when there would have been some interesting people-watching opportunities, there wasn't.  Just a lot of waiting and doing nothing and trying not to feel my butt turning into a giant stone of pain with very little ability to shift or move because we were packed in so tightly.

After 9 hours of this - with a couple short breaks and an hour lunch, which I used to walk the grounds surrounding the courthouse, we were released. For the day - because they'd not only not found their jury but it turned out we were the 2nd round up - they'd narrowed down a similarly large group from the day before to around 80 and the following day, that group and what was left of ours would be combined and from that pool the 12 jurors would be selected.

I was actually a little excited about the prospect of being selected in spite of the physically and mentally taxing process facing me - while we didn't know the details of the trial yet and weren't allowed to look anything up about it, just the questions being asked made me realize this was no small trial. 

The next day I was better prepared - money for the vending machine, handheld nibbles that offered some nutrition in a container, and left hobby items at home.  I did pack a small notebook and a pen to hopefully keep hands and brain busy, but there was never opportunity to even sneak it out.  The second day was still a very early start time, so my 120 Days routine was a bust.  And I was TIRED and achy.  The only movement really possible was Kegels, and I did a whole lot of Kegels those two days, but it did nothing to alleviate the growing stiffness and inevitability that I was going to pay for this experience with a good old fashioned rheumatoid arthritis flare sometime in the next couple of days.

It was JUST LIKE this, except no scenery and we were packed in like sardines.
The long rounds of nothing-to-do mind numbing stretches of boredom were very imperfectly dealt with by trying to remember breathing and meditation techniques, interspersed with interesting things happening in the courtroom. 

Here's my one tip for jury duty (other than 'bring a plastic fork'):

If the judge asks if anyone present believes the sight of graphically violent photos would so upset you that you might not be able to render a fair and impartial decision based on the evidence, and you don't want to be called - say YES, you are not able to do that.

When he asked that question, about 8 people stood up, and instead of calling them forward to discuss it, he just took their numbers (we are not referred to by name in front of  the defendants) and dismissed them without further discussion.  The hilarious part was that after about 3 of them had been dismissed, others that were just hoping to get out of there caught on, and another 20-30 people abruptly stood up!  And each one was dismissed without question.  It was the one and only 'freebie' question that happened that day.

In the end, I wasn't called or dismissed as unqualified or undesirable - by 1pm, they'd found their 12 and the rest of us were released.

(For the curious - once I was off the selection, I was able to look up the trial case, and it involves a murder that occurred in order to kill off a witness in a previous murder case for which one of the defendants has already been convicted. The remaining two defendants are charged with carrying out the murder he hired them for - I'm still a little disappointed that I wasn't selected, even though those that were were told to expect at least a couple weeks worth of trial time.  I'd have loved to see how a trial like this actually happens.)

Now - how this impacted my 120 Days Challenge - the upheaval and difficulty of being able to fit it in actually threw me out of my routine for a few days after. I was tired, working on a terrible sleep deficit and babying a very sore body, and needing to play catch up on my regular daily tasks, and that was taking up all my "spoons".  I found myself having to work hard to re-establish my still-budding routine, and resisting wanting to expend the necessary energy to do so.

Home Repairs and Gross Weather

The second big challenge was shortly after, when our very new AC unit started shorting out every few hours, with the heat index up around 100F.  So suddenly, every day for a week was spent either trying to get repair people out, or dealing with them being here for long stretches.  Here again, my entire day was thrown off, and it was too hot and uncomfortable to want to even think about exercise. Or cooking.

They eventually figured out that a wire that should have been replaced when it was installed wasn't and was giving up the ghost rapidly.  I'm glad for the shorts, however annoying the whole thing was, because I have vision of that wire eventually just burning down the house!

I limped along with my plan, but the routine was again floundering, and eating choices were made for what's fast and ready to eat and needing no cooking rather than for what were my best nutritional options. (in other words, a whole lot of potato chips)  I knew I was making bad choices, but by that time I was starting to think in terms of "I DESERVE these chips - this day sucks!"

And yes - the My Life Balanced workbook talks about this sort of faulty thinking.  We tell ourselves we 'deserve' things that are bad for us instead of reminding ourselves we deserve foods and activities that make us feel better, healthier and stronger.

Eating at Social Events and Celebrations

The last challenge was the run up to a holiday weekend - we celebrate Midsummer with a large gathering of friends and there was a lot of planning that had to go into it.

The challenge here was, once again, fitting in time to keep to my routines and daily tasks when there were a lot of extra things to attend to, as well as the simple challenge of joining in with potluck style festivities without making a lot of (delicious) food choices that might not be a good idea nutritionally.

We brought a mixed berry crisp - sweet but still full of great foods - but there were a lot (LOT) of other dessert options and as a group we failed to ensure a good balance of healthy proteins and vegetables, so on the day I ate far more sweet things that would be good for anyone, and it caused me some immediate wellness impact I should have been able to avoid.

Again the biggest problem there was mental - I was firmly in the grip of "I DESERVE pie. And cake. And these cookies. What, no main dish? Ok then - CHEESECAKE!"

Ironically, the theme of our Midsummer gathering was Finding Balance with Creativity - and if I'd been more focused on creative solutions to achieving balance (an ongoing theme of the 120 Days Challenge), I could have saved myself a lot of literal heartburn this month.

My takeaways right now are these:

  • I deserve to take appropriate care of myself, especially when life intrudes on my daily routine.
  • I need to be prepared for unexpected upsets to routine, and learn how to be more flexible in addressing them.
  • The more practiced I become at meditation, the better I'll be able to draw on it when I am experiencing boredom while waiting.
  • Cheesecake will always be delicious. (Let's be real - that's just the truth.)

A good friend of ours often refers to challenges as "Opportunities to practice." - to practice mindfulness, to practice ones' ethics and faith, to practice integrity of commitment and action.  I'm taking that to heart and realize that uncovering the things that make sticking to my path aren't failures - they are opportunities to practice.

And so, Onward!

Previous posts in this series:
My Life Balanced - Introduction to a New Series
My Life Balanced - 1st Progress Report



  1. Jury duty would be very interesting I think and it was probably a bit of a let down when you weren't finally chosen. We do need to take care of ourselves and our routines. Thanks for sharing your post with us at #AnythingGoes

  2. i was supposed to do jury duty one time, but i had just had a car accident and was recovering from the accident so they let me off. i have participated in a mock jury trial b4 and found it interesting. i am not sure i could sit that long. it is very tiresome and very hard on your body. i still have a lot of home repairs to do from the last big snow storm we had. lots of downed trees and a hole in my garage roof to fix. love the picture of the berries, i love blueberries and blackberries.

  3. I've always wanted jury duty! lol, that said, it would be hard to remember all this peaceful lifestyle changes with all those challenges.. good job!

  4. I never had jury duty before and would be scared if I had to do it. #ProductReviewParty

  5. Oh I do shy away from jury duty.
    Thanks for sharing at the #BestoftheBlogosphere

  6. I know so many shy away from jury duty - but it's such an important part of our legal system! Thank you for serving - and that obstacle was another part of your path :-) Thanks for sharing this at the Healthy Living Link Party!

  7. I have two little kids, so jury duty is harder for me. My hubby went for selection of jury duty he didn't got selected in the end, thanks for sharing your experience with Hearth and soul blog hop.

  8. I've been given a notice for jury duty before but luckily I was in college so I was able to get out of it. It makes me nervous! My husband has always wanted to do it though.

  9. I've never been called for jury duty, it was interesting to read this. I'm sorry you had such a hard time. They should have at least given back the items they confiscated.

  10. Thank you for sharing at Waiting on...Wednesday! Hope to see you back tomorrow!

    Holly @

  11. Life does throw us challenges doesn't it? I think that you are doing nicely in spite of it all! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  12. Jury duty is the most painful thing! Thanks for sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. Hope to see you again this week:-)

  13. We enjoy for our long-sufferings to experience pleasure, however whereas they get steels, we are hardly ecstatic about them eating truly clammy further chewy brittle that can respite their girds. We promote them to calm go external plus maneuver or refreshment, yet thereupon batch around the sweeten for the viscous sate also we volition purchase that backward
    baselshoppingcity |

    islamicfashion |

    fashionforpeople |

    shoppingbagger |

    ccfashion |

    fashionsenseclub |

    zeefashionstore |

    thefashiontrade |

    wfashion |

    adenium-shopping |

  14. I recently found many useful information in your website especially this blog page. Among the lots of comments on your articles. Thanks for sharing.automotivemanual |

  15. Israeli lawyer Moshe Strugano, an expert in the “formation of offshore companies" says,Our close buddy often refers to difficulties as "Opportunities to practise" – practising mindfulness, practising one's morals and beliefs, practising commitment and action integrity.
    I'm taking that to heart and realising that finding the things that make following my path difficult aren't failures—they're chances to get better.

  16. My life in 2024 is just as balanced. It's all because I was able to handle my medical bills and you can do the same, check It is important to learn how to handle your medical bills and use your rights to avoid unnecessary bills. In some cases, you may even need to dispute an illegal medical bill.