After my senior year of college, I was sent to a Women's Leadership Development conference. A few representatives from each college and university were there, along with invited facilitators, mentors, and speakers. Nobody there was "average." Each person there had magnificent capability for leadership that was being applied currently, or showed bursting potential. Among this crowd, I received a compliment that I reflect on frequently. As we were walking the conference coordinator was walking along side me and told me, "The mentors have been talking about you, and I have to agree with them. You are probably the most self-aware youth I've ever met. How do you do it?"
My off-the-cuff answer was, "Thank you. It's probably because I take time to think about it. I reflect on the person I am and the person I want to be." At the time, I went to church, weekly. I practiced Yoga daily. I took time for prayer (what I defined as speaking the desires of the soul) and meditation (silent listening).
I just finished reading "The Musician's Soul" by James Jordan, an assigned reading for one of my classes. At that time in my life, while reading about taking time for prayer and meditation I would have said, "Duh! Of course! Quiet reflection time is invaluable."
However, when I read things like that now I guffah and think about the author, "you must not have young children!" Even if I were still seeking religious spiritual answers, I would likely be spending my time at church shushing the children instead of pondering the state of my soul. Also, I would love to continue Yoga practice, especially in a well designed studio that gave individualized progressive instruction rather than the fluffy fad Yoga classes I encounter when I have tried drop ins.
I'm thankful I took the time to work on those aspects of myself when I could. Saying I don't have time now sounds like a cop-out. So, I need to make the case for why it's not. I COULD make the time to meditate, study yoga, and have quiet self reflective time. I COULD take the time to go get a church conducting job so I could improve my conducting skills the way I have seen other classmates improve through this extra experience. I COULD, but it would take sacrifices in other areas of my life. It is about priorities.
I am currently constantly battling to find healthy balance in the joy I find in improving myself, and learning, and performing, and studying - and the guilt I feel in being away from the house so much, and closing the door to my children so I can do the reading I need to do. Both are important... my self development, and mothering. I will be a better mother if I feel fulfilled. I can give my children better opportunities if they have a good example. But my own fulfillment is of no use if I'm never around the children for them to reap any benefits.
I've come to the conclusion that parenting is the most difficult job. Now, rather than prioritizing different aspects of my OWN life, I must balance this with care for my children. One of the hardest parts is knowing that mistakes are inevitable... and consequences can be long-lasting.
I think the same is true of teaching, which hopefully my future career.
I would love advice for those who have been able to find the balance with positive self-development, and positive care, teaching, and influence on the development of others. Do you find compatibility, or is there always an imbalance... guilt for too much self-fulfillment, or emptiness in too much self-sacrifice?