Balance, Nahhh

I was struggling with a topic this week when I turned to Facebook and got a great one. Balance. Specifically a friend suggested that I write about how I balance riding, work, family, fatherhood, and life in general. Where exactly is the time to fit everything in?
Short answer, I don’t. I am not good at balance at all. My wife laughs at me because she says that you always know what has my focus because it is the only thing that has my focus. I tend to become myopic to a fault when I am working on a project or working towards a goal. It takes a while before I am fully committed sometimes, but once I am I tend to focus on something at times to the exclusion of other things. I like to think that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. My wife would counter that if I think something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing. Deep down, I think that she is probably right.
The blog is a great example of my lack of balance. I started writing as an outlet for some unused creativity and as a way to focus my mind while I was unemployed. I had tried to write off and on for most of my life but it wasn’t something that was important to me until I was out of work and looking for a new way to define myself. I had always used my profession as a large part of my personal definition. “Hi, I’m Joe, I work as an environmental technician” or some such variation. Without a profession I needed something else, so Joe the writer came into focus. There were some fits and starts before I figured out exactly how I wanted to work the site. Once I did, it didn’t take too long until I decided that it would be a great idea to post once a week for a year. It didn’t matter that I typically was writing once or twice a month, it was time to commit. Of course, if I was going to put time and effort into writing, I decided to put the same into promoting the site. I converted my Twitter account from strictly personal to more of an author account that could promote my site and I created a Facebook fan page for the blog. I tried to expand followers and likes and convert them into readers. I wrote for other cycling sites in an effort to find new audiences. It all sounds great, except sometimes I worked all day on writing and promoting and totally forgot about looking for work. I never let it get too out of hand as I felt like I owed it to my family to treat my job search as a full time job, but there were days that I neglected that in order to finish a post or promote a new article. My hobby to keep my brain engaged and to feel like I was contributing something turned into an obsession. I have been writing for a year now and I don’t see stopping any time soon even though I have been back at work for six months.
The same can be said for riding my bike. It started out as something to do to relieve a little stress and to fill my days up during a lay off when I was a contractor. I also struggled to start cycling seriously, going for long rides and then not riding for weeks or a month at a time. I did start to enjoy feeling like I was becoming part of a new culture. There were times I felt like I was part of the cycling tribe and I enjoyed that distinction even if I wasn’t a constant rider at that point. After the first summer I sort of let myself go and struggled to pick it back up. Once I fell into the groove I didn’t want to stop. I started riding three times a week and then added in week-end rides. I would get up at five in the morning to get a long ride in before my family woke up. My wife would often just be getting up when I would ride into the driveway after a twenty mile ride. I was acting like an addict, finding time when no one would notice I was gone to sneak in another ride. If evening plans cancelled I would jump on my bike and head out because no one expected me home anyway. This season has been my best, and subsequently my worst cycling season yet. I have ridden well over 2300 miles this year. Last year I only managed 1315 and I still have three and a half months left with some decent group rides in September and October. I think I can top 3000 miles for the year. In April I participated in the 30 day challenge, riding every day that month. There wasn’t a lot of balance in that at all, just a little bit of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Thankfully my family supports me in most of what I struggle to find balance with. They don’t mind that I took a job that routinely calls me in for off hours emergency response work. I volunteer for extra on call duty to help make ends meet and my family supports that even though I spend way too much on web hosting fees and cycling gear to really say that I am only doing it for the family’s budget. They also support me by encouraging me to go participate in crazy bike rides in New York and staying up late to write posts for the blog. My wife even carves time out of her crazy schedule to make sure she reads each post and tries to promote it on her Facebook page. She also helps me by taking care of our son and making sure that I quit playing with him and I go write Monday’s post like she did tonight. There is also the small matter of entertaining him so he doesn’t run into the office every 5 minutes asking if I am done yet or what am I doing or why am I doing it. She also reminds me to not take everything too seriously, something which I often have trouble remembering though I do enjoy making fun of myself for failing to remember it.
Really I am not the one that manages to balance anything when it comes to writing, riding, working, and being there for my family. It is really my wife who makes sure that everything continues to carry on and that nothing falls apart. She is the one that keeps the family organized and moving in the right direction so I can go off and ride my bike and write about it once a week. Thank goodness she is so good at balancing everything because I know that I’m certainly not! I don’t know what we would do without her but I am certain that nothing would go as well or run as smoothly as it does now. Maybe that is the best answer to my friend’s topic suggestion. I don’t balance anything well, but my wife Katie keeps everything from falling apart anyway.

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One Response to Balance, Nahhh

  1. julia says:

    Really sweet post. I think that anyone and everyone who truly loves and has a solid relationship with their spouse would say the same thing. I know I completely relate to that feeling, that my husband helps keep everything from falling apart.
    It is very interesting to me to hear your take on balance — I often wonder how other people do it (or don’t do it, as it may be), especially on my most stressed, overly packed days. I can also relate to the drive to focus completely on one thing and overdo anything that I am deeming worth doing in the first place.

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