Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seeking Balance and Setting Boundaries

This morning's run was everything I needed it to be.  The air was a crisp 35* as I set out, which felt clean and refreshing.  Real cold weather is just now returning to St. Louis, so this was one of my first truly cold runs, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  [Talk to me again in February, and I'm sure I'll have a different opinion of cold weather runs.  But for today, I'll take it ;) ]

Since it is Sunday, I had the luxury of sleeping in (until 6:15) and running in the daylight!  I nearly forgot how nice it is to run under sunlight rather than streetlights.  On our usual morning runs, the sun doesn't rise until after I've run, showered, and fixed my kids' school lunches.  But today, with the sun shining and the brisk air all around me, I felt lighthearted, without a care in the world.

I intended to use the run as a chance to run down my long to-do list for the week.  To make mental notes about the phone calls and e-mails I need to send.  To organize the minutiae of the busy days ahead.  I accomplished none of those tasks, and surprisingly, I'm okay with that.

One of my favorite trees every fall.
Its leaves hit every shade of fall splendor and never fail to amaze me.

In my new-found life as a SAHM and volunteer, I've found it difficult to outline my boundaries, determining where my obligations to the organizations I serve begin and end.  I'm still finding my way, and since I don't have a clue what I'm doing, I've donated the bulk of my time, energy, and attention to my volunteer work.  When I worked a paying job, I had set hours, I clocked in and out, and though I did some work from home, the bulk of my work happened at my desk in the office.  Now that I'm staying home and volunteering for church and school, my hours are anything but standard and the work happens wherever and whenever it can, which lately seems to be everywhere all the time.  I've logged countless hours organizing communications and formulating strategic plans for them while my own house has suffered from disorganization.  And that isn't going to work for me.

So I'm reclaiming some of my time for myself and my family.  I'm setting boundaries, and today's run served as a perfect example of that.  Instead of perfecting the agenda for Wednesday's PTA meeting, I got lost in a podcast.  I focused on my form and my breathing rather than volunteer lists and upcoming events.  Not preoccupied with other tasks, I marveled at the few trees still clinging to their fall foliage.  Just for fun, I challenged myself to run negative splits, a goal that seemed unreachable when I blew through a surprisingly speedy fourth mile.  But somehow I hung on and logged two even faster miles to finish a nice 10k with picture-perfect splits.

I finished the run feeling more balanced than I have in a couple months.  I plan to cling to my resolve to do good work as a volunteer without sacrificing the needs of my family or myself.  How do you balance all of the competing demands on your time?  Any tips for striking the right balance?