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What to do when life feels wobbly, a conversation with Virginia Lee Rogers

Balance is something that we all strive for – at least sometimes.  Sometimes we definitely give up. What’s the right balance in our home management duties? What’s the right balance in seeking balance? Today Virginia Lee Rogers and I are chatting about balance, why it’s so hard, and how to keep it in perspective.

We want balance because life feels wobbly. Today my friend and Simply Convivial customer support manager Virginia Lee Rogers are talking about why we feel wobbly and what to do about it.

Today’s conversation is also a look at real life home management, why it feels unstable, and what to do to find that stability we’re looking for. Let’s dig in.

Mystie: We tend to think of balancing our lives in two parts. But what if we have more sets of responsibilities than just two? Hi, I’m Mistie Winckler and you are listening to episode 109 of the Simply Convivial podcast.

Convivial broken down to the Latin roots means with life and that’s what we want for our homes isn’t it? Convivial refers to the atmosphere. It reminds us to build a home with life abundantly bursting at the seams with all the mess and recovery that that entails. Simply, on the other hand, reminds us to put first things first and not complicate living or learning. Just do it together. Simply convivial.

We want balance because life feels wobbly. Today my friend and Simply Convivial support manager, Virginia Lee Rogers and I are talking about why we feel wobbly and what to do about it. In addition to helping me answer my emails and managing my customer support, Virginia Lee homeschools her five kids and is part of the Charlotte Mason IRL team, an Instagram account dedicated to showing what homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method looks like in real life. Today’s conversation is also a look at real life home management. Why it feels unstable and what to do to find that stability we’re looking for. Let’s dig in.

Balance is something that we all strive for, at least sometimes. Sometimes we definitely give up. What’s the right balance in our home management duties? What’s the right balance in seeking balance? Today, Virginia Lee Rogers and I are chatting about balance. Why it’s so hard and how to keep it in perspective. Welcome, Virginia Lee. 

Virginia Lee: Hi everyone.

Mystie: So when you think balance in managing life, what do you picture that being like?

Virginia Lee: Well, to be honest, it’s hard and a possible idol. I like things running smoothly and that can lead me to try to control things or try to keep them in perfect balance, but I will say thankfully through the years God has smacked me upside the head enough that control is no longer my default and instead it’s to plan for balance, but hold it loosely so that I can focus on the goal of glorifying the Lord and loving my people. 

Mystie: Yeah. Yeah, keeping the goal in mind for sure is important because the goal isn’t balance necessarily. 

Virginia Lee: Yes.

Mystie: Balance is something we can work for to help us, but that’s not the ultimate goal. 

Virginia Lee: No, it’s not and I think it’s good stewardship to plan for balance. I really do think that is important. But we just have to hold those plans that we have loosely so we can focus on the things that I would say aren’t balanced—the messy things and the time-consuming things, also known as people. But I do think that you can go to the other extreme and just not plan for balance at all because you can decide, well, it’s just not possible or I’ve tried to do this and it never works and so we have to be careful about going in the other direction and not stewarding what God’s given us by just not having a plan, period.

Mystie: Yeah. Yeah after you’ve tried hard a few times and realized that balance isn’t something that you can really achieve and check off and just live in perpetually, then it’s easy to swing the other way and just give up and not even care and just fly by the seat of your pants, but I like the idea of striving for stewardship and maybe that’s even a better word to use than balance. I think balance does make us think of life being static when it isn’t.

Virginia Lee: No, and I think that’s the key with really being actually able to have real balance. I think we think balance is having a system that’s always working, or having a checklist that 95% of the time is completely checked off, or always being on time wherever we go. I mean, whatever it is you’re trying to have balance with and I think really what we have to do is redefine what real balance is in our minds, and real balance is having your life running in a way that you have the time and the energy to focus on what’s eternal. And plans or checklists or being on time aren’t the eternal things. And so even if we actually had those in balance, which I don’t think is possible this side of Heaven to have half of those things in complete balance, but even if we actually did it would turn out we were actually not. We were unbalanced in what we were doing. So, I think it’s for me, it’s just really going back and thinking okay, what plans can I have in place so that certain things in my life, whether it’s how you plan your meals and get your groceries or how your housecleaning works or how your plan to start Monday morning off on the right foot—having those plans in place, giving them time and energy, and being intentional about thinking them through, but thinking them through in light of ‘these are all about Him and the people He’s put in my life.’

Mystie: Yeah. Yeah, and that doesn’t look like the same things happening every day all the time because that’s just not how life works or people. 

Virginia Lee: No, it’s not. The people, if you’re really looking at it, people are messy and they take a lot of time but people are what make you laugh, and snuggle up with you at night in bed, and get the inside jokes. And when you keep that focus in mind, then trying to achieve perfect balance or your goal being, oh, I’m going to make everything balanced and in perfect order, you don’t really want that goal anymore. 

Mystie: That’s probably like perfectionism tripping us up. 

Virginia Lee: Yes. It’s perfectionism tripping us up. And I think we’re just trying to seek to have things be orderly and smoothly so that things go well with the people that we love and we have the right time in our day to focus on Him, but we can just get too focused in on the plans or the systems as opposed to being as focused in on the people. 

Mystie: It was some NPR article or news segment I actually heard in the car randomly with some kind of athlete, I don’t know, she was ballet or ice skating or something, but they started talking about balance and using actual physical body balance as a metaphor for life balance and you know work-life balance or whatever, but this athlete was pointing out that actually if you are, say standing on one foot, you know you’re balancing your body, you actually aren’t still. You might look like that to an outside observer, but your body is making all of these little micro adjustments all the time, so that really balancing is wobbling and adjusting on the fly, just as you get stronger it’s less visible and it’s more natural. 

Virginia Lee: It feels less chaotic. 

Mystie: And so I’ve always thought that that was a really helpful analogy because we just try, I think so often, to get to that place where everything stays the same. Like we figured it out and we don’t have to work at it anymore and to realize that no, we just need to get better at working at it. We’ll always be working at it. We can increase our skill. We can increase our strength. And maybe someone looking at us might sometimes think that it just is always working but it never is, and if we think that about other people we’re wrong. They’re working at it.

Virginia Lee: I like that physical comparison. There are parts of your body that when you’re standing on one foot keeps you in order. I mean you have a backbone that helps your body to be able to balance on one foot like that. And I think we can think about that when we’re looking at balance in our own homes. There are certain things that are the backbone that even if we’re wobbling around we can get ourselves upright again, but that it’s okay to wobble because we know eventually we’ll get back to that, but right now, we’re focusing on these things. And then we know though that we’ve thought things through, we have a plan, we have a system, we have a checklist, so then we can go back to that and start moving forward again. Or when we see that those things aren’t working, we can be like, ‘Okay, that’s fine. That worked for this season, now we’re going to tweak these the way they need to be tweaked,’ but it is helpful to have spent that time and intentional thought planning and putting some systems in order so that wobbling is perfectly normal and okay, but we don’t want to just be puddles on the floor.

Mystie: Right. So there’s a difference between maybe having a broken backbone where you really can’t get back upright versus different muscle groups twitching and adjusting. 

Virginia Lee: Yes. 

Mystie: One has to be prioritized over the other. 

Virginia Lee: Yes. I think it’s the backbone, okay, yeah we’ve spent some time focusing on ‘this is how I’m going to have chores work,’ ‘this is how I’m going to have my homeschool day flow,’ but your backbone can bend and twist and turn around. It’s not rigid.

Mystie: Right.

Virginia Lee: But I think it’s just you keep your eyes on the Foundation of it all. And I was just trying to think with balance I think a lot of the time people want balance because they want to feel orderly, they don’t want to feel out of whack and chaotic or like they’re a failure or like nothing’s ever working and I think sometimes we forget the largest part of our balance is that our Lord is perfectly balanced. He’s unchanging. He’s Sovereign. He’s Providential. So when things feel that messy or out of control in our life, we can remember it’s on a Foundation that is unchanging. And that is in every detail, big and small, so the bottom’s not going to fall out. And so, I think that can help us that when we feel wobbly or even when we realize, okay, we’ve come to a place in life where our systems, our chore routines, aren’t working right now, the whole thing isn’t a loss. God is in all of those little details and we just make the tweaks to those systems and chores and sometimes they need a complete overhaul for a new season and then we get them back in order. But even through those times when things feel completely unbalanced God isn’t. And so I know that helps me feel comfort even in seasons where I’m thinking, ‘Oh my goodness. There’s not a speck of balance to be had right now.’ There is.

Mystie: That’s a good point and I think sometimes if we are trying to be the person who is Providence or trying to be the unchangeable or attain unchangeable routines ourselves that’s always going to end in feeling frustrated because that’s not what we were actually created to be. We need to find that in God and not in ourselves. So that’s an area to be aware of that it’s a temptation actually, to be trying to be God in our lives, in a way. 

Virginia Lee: Yes, and I think that’s, once again, we’re thinking about balance in our homes and our routines, but we also have to have that in our hearts and our minds and if we’re trying to be God or trying to keep everything in complete control all the time, then we have unbalance in a different area. So I think it’s just that that time of, ‘Okay. Is my heart ordered in the way it should be? Am I spending intentional time trying to have a plan at least in my home so that it’s not just complete chaos? But am I also remembering that real balance is focusing on my people and my time with Him and trusting some of the plans I put into place to carve that time out for us.’ And then just joyfully laughing and accepting it when this is not working right now and obviously this was not what’s supposed to happen today, and just sort of laughing together and working through the things that feel chaotic and then knowing mercies are new each morning, and I’m going to get up tomorrow and probably those plans and systems will work again that day. There will be a chunk when they don’t but it’s nice to have them in place. 

Mystie: Yeah, because our trust is in God and not in our plans and not in our work. 

Virginia Lee: But it’s okay to feel wobbly. It’s okay to bend and move and twist the other way because since our trust is in the Lord and He is unchangeable in the long run. If our feet are solidly planted on that then we have balance. 

Mystie: Yeah. It reminds me of Stand Firm, and over and over in that passage about the armor of God, ‘To stand fast, stand firm. We’re standing on firm ground.’ So, it’s not like that’s our job to be the firm ground. 

Virginia Lee: Yeah, praise the Lord for that. Believe me, my children and my husband do not need me to be the firm ground. But I think that will help us feel less wobbly when we’re really focused in on that. It’s like, okay, I woke up this morning and everything I had set in place, you know, someone’s sick, someone’s grumpy. I didn’t get out of bed when I was supposed to and that all can just throw your entire day off track, but it’s like, no, this is Who my rock is, I’ll just get up and I’ll just adjust. Everything we’ll push back a little bit later. I’ll spend some intentional time with this grumpy person to sort of see what’s bothering them and see if I can pray with them and get that in order. I’ll get this sick kiddo situated and what they need and then, oh, look, I spent the intentional time here. So now I can step back into this part of my day and this part works orderly but oh wait, it’s okay, we’re going to wobble this way now because the sick person needs this and what’s most important is to love on them. So, I sort of think it’s like you feel like you need tennis shoes on so that you can really leap over this, jump over this, get over to this side, but that’s actually a really orderly thing because you’re doing it all on this firm Foundation. And when you sort of look back at it, it’s more exciting. I think it feels better or I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m just crazy but it’s so beautiful when you look at that picture versus oh, I just went in this linear line and I checked this off and I did this thing and this all went perfectly today. There’s just no beauty in that.

Mystie: Right. Oh, that’s a great point. 

Virginia Lee: So I guess in some things we’ve just so defined balance in just such a rigid way in our head that it makes us think we’re not balanced when we really still are. And so in some ways I think the way we’ve defined balanced, it’s overrated. 

Mystie: Yeah. 

Virginia Lee: It’s good to be able to adjust—that makes us more compassionate people and that is what we want to be. 

Mystie: Yeah. And the being able to adjust is being balanced. 

Virginia Lee: Yeah.

Mystie: Well, thank you so much, Virginia Lee, for joining me and we’ll talk again soon. 

Virginia Lee: Sounds good. Bye everyone.

Dump all those swirling thoughts out of your head.

Yes, simply writing it all down will help to
  • Reduce stress by getting your thoughts onto paper
  • Reduce frustration by assigning homes to stuff, tangible & intangible
  • Reduce anxiety by knowing what you have on your plate

Declutter your head.

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