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Balance is for the Weak--the struggle to balance passion with well beingI’d like to think that I am one of those people who can just go and go and go, one who can just keep pushing and adding more and getting it all done without ever really having to slow down, to rest, to recharge.

My body, it seems, is telling me differently.

Last week Wednesday, just hours before I was supposed to be heading off for a busy conference weekend at Blissdom, I felt it coming on. You know the feeling, don’t you? The telltale raw twinge in the back of your throat that says a bad cold is coming on and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Of course I tried to stop it anyway. I loaded up on Emergen-C and Airborne and Zicam, drank lots of water and hot tea and went to bed at 7:30, thinking that a good night’s sleep and some extra vitamins would be enough.

It wasn’t enough. I woke up the next day with a killer sore throat and a feeling of dread. I didn’t want to be the sick girl at the conference. What would I tell my poor roommates? But I couldn’t not go. There was too much I needed to do, too many things I had already committed to. So I downed a steady supply of Advil–enough to make the pain semi-bearable–and determined to make the best of it.

Mind over matter, right?

I’m pretty sure I used every ounce of willpower I possess to make it through those four days without letting on just how bad I really felt. I made all my appointments. I sat in on some great sessions. I schmoozed with brands. I connected with friends. I networked and brainstormed and collaborated on some fabulous new ideas. I had a great time and accomplished everything I had set out to do. I’m pretty sure most of the people I talked to–outside of my three incredibly understanding roommates–had no idea I wasn’t feeling well. At least I looked cute, right?

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{Edie, me, Heather, & Darlene. Photo snagged from Edie}

But on Sunday afternoon I headed straight from the airport to the nearest walk-in clinic to get a prescription for a diagnosis I already knew: Strep Throat.

The conversation in our hotel room the night before had gone something like this:

Edie:  Is your throat still hurting darlin’? (Bear in mind that nearly every sentence uttered by Edie ends in ‘darlin’ or ‘honey-pie’ or ‘sugar’ or something similarly sweet.)

Me:  Yes, it is still really sore. It just doesn’t seem to be getting any better.

Edie:  Well let me take another look at it. (Among other more interesting things like blogger, supermomma, & Tammy Wynette wannabe, Edie is also a physician.)

[She inspects my throat using her iPhone flashlight.]  (Is there anything those things can’t do?)

Edie:  Oh honey, it is most definitely strep throat. I can see the white patches.

Me: Well crap. What causes strep throat?

Edie:  Overdoing it! Honey child, you have got to start taking better care of yourself! You are pushing yourself way too hard and now your body is pushing back.

Me: Oh Edie, we talk almost every day. Couldn’t you have mentioned this to me a week ago?

And yet deep down I know I have no one to blame but myself. This is now the third round of antibiotics I have been on in as many months. Prior to that, it had been at least ten years since I was sick enough to require a prescription.

My biggest problem right now is NOT that I am overburdened by doing things that I hate, or that I am desperately unhappy. On the contrary, I’ve never been more excited about what I’m doing or felt more content and fulfilled. I literally jump out of bed every morning at 4am because I literally can’t wait to start my day. I am working on a book proposal and writing about all the things I am most passionate about every single day. It is a privilege and dream come true and I truly love what I do.

Even more frustratingly, I’ve actually been pretty intentional about trying to find balance wherever I can. I get up early so that I can stay off the computer during the day while I’m homeschooling. We’ve cut out extra activities to have more time at home. I even hired a few blog helpers to manage some of the most time-consuming behind-the-scenes blog tasks so that I can stay focused on the thing I feel most called to do, which is write.

I know that the number of hours available in a day are limited–I’ve even written about it–and so although I’d like to eat healthier and exercise more in order to once-and-for-all lose those stubborn ten extra pounds, I’ve continually bumped those items off the list in order to keep room for all the responsibilities I already have. I thought that was a noble decision. I thought it was all about vanity. After all, ten extra pounds isn’t exactly a health risk is it? I’m still well within the range of “normal” on the BMI scale.

Clearly, though, this pattern of neglecting my physical health is catching up with me. So what do you do when your mind is telling you to speed up but your body is telling you to slow down? How do you balance passion with taking care of yourself?

I really don’t know.

I honestly have no idea, and to tell you the truth, not knowing kind-of freaks me out a little. This isn’t something I’ve figured out yet. I haven’t mastered balance. Is it even possible to master balance?

This weekend I will celebrate my 35th birthday, which I think marks the official entrance into “middle age.” I hate to admit it, but maybe all those people who said, just wait, it will catch up with you were right. Is this just the natural consequence of getting older?

I wish I could say that this latest bout of strep throat was the wake up call I finally needed, that this week I’ve slowed down and allowed myself more rest and more grace. Friends, if only that were true. This week has in fact been busier than ever. I’ve got deadlines to meet and commitments to keep and kids to school and Things. To. Do.

But I’m hopeful that admitting I have a problem might be the first step.

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What are your thoughts on this topic? Am I just getting old? Do any of you struggle to find balance as well? How do you keep yourself physically healthy while still attending to all the other tasks on your to-do list?