Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Balance is elusive.

I often work too hard, then I’m so tired I can’t do anything useful for self-care. It’s the nature of my business – there is always something more that needs done, so I could conceivably work non-stop forever. I want that clean desk, boxes checked, end of the day to happen…and it’s not going to. I have had to teach myself that the work is continuous, and I have to find good places to stop.

But then, when I do have a minute, the demands of others reach out and grab those precious minutes. I don’t mind – in fact, that’s probably the biggest problem: I want to say yes, every time someone needs something from me. I’ve become more adept at saying no to unreasonable client requests, especially once I realized that a client who was paying me a pretty decent retainer fee was reducing me to slave wages with extra demands.

But I’ve hit a point in my life where my constant devotion to my business and to the others in my life is resulting in negative consequences for me. My health is suffering. My stress is too high. My ability to do what I need to do to be healthy is non-existent.

What I’ve decided is that saying yes all the time isn’t good for me, but it isn’t good for them, either. Because if my health deteriorates to the point where I can’t do anything fun with my kids and grandkids, or if my husband is stuck taking care of a sick person just when we’re finally getting to the point where we can enjoy alone time together, well that’s not doing anyone any good at all.

So I’m going to try to find that elusive balance for myself – a balance that doesn’t mean I’m so tired at the end of the day that all I can do is walk from my office to my living room and collapse – a balance that prioritizes me time, my time, and my health. And I think my kids will be cool if occasionally I have to say, “Not right now.”

My new truths:

  • I’m no good to anyone if I can’t take care of my own self
  • Taking care of me makes me better at taking care of others
  • My health is as important as everyone else’s needs
  • Down time – for me to read, meditate, contemplate – is essential
  • The house – and the people in it – won’t fall down around me if I step away to paint and feed my creative soul

I’m a work in progress, and I’m still learning what I need to thrive. I am lucky to be surrounded by people I love, but the thing is, they love me too – and they want me to be here, healthy, and happy more than they want those few minutes of my time that I take to nurture me and restore balance.