For a period of my life, I was asked some version of the same two questions nearly every day.
- How do you stay so skinny working in a cupcake shop?
- Are you ok, how are you doing it all?
I typically responded to the first with a fake laugh to avoid giving an actual answer. No one really wants to hear the long answer, that I inherited my mother’s petite frame, and most of my meals were consumed standing up. I also have the mad skills of making one peanut butter sandwich last for hours.
Answering the second question “How was I doing this all? Was it working?” was a little more difficult. Why did it sound like such a bad thing, trying to “do it all”? At the time, my answer would have been to shrug it off. I’d smile real big and make a light comment about women just doing what they had to do.
Looking back, I wish would’ve answer differently, that I’d said “being busy is a part of my DNA!”
From the time I was sixteen, I was trying to be a part of every club, sports team, activity and social event.
I love meeting new people and having new experiences. I love a good challenge, discovering what I’m good at and what I should never attempt again, and the thrill of completing something not everyone can do.
I love the variety it brings to my life, the endless opportunities that “trying to do it all” can bring.
There is nothing like the satisfaction that comes at the end of a “trying to do it all” day when you’ve actually been able to do it all. But then there were the other days.
What was the difference between the days I felt confident and fulfilled
in all of my roles and the days I felt overwhelmed and out of control??
The obvious answer was the dreaded word balance. Balance is a word that is feared by people like me because it means you have to choose; you have to cut things out. Not a happy place for a “do-it-all-er.” Although balance was something I needed, I secretly tried to avoid it at all costs.
Once a perfectly balanced Friday was scheduled, I’d decide to squeeze in one more thing.
Eight months ago I decided to enroll in a power yoga class. (I figured since I had a drawer full of yoga pants, I should probably use them for something other than sleeping in.) Aside from a great work out and re-teaching my body what it hadn’t done since the age of 10, I found something that I did not expect.I gained an understanding and perspective of balance that forever changed my concept of “doing it all.”
What I Discovered:
- balance is a learned practice
It’s not something you’re born with. It takes a lot of time and work and strength
- one person’s ability to balance is completely different from another’s
A position of balance that, to one person may be very difficult, can be effortless to someone else, depending on their strength, skill level, and focus. You can’t judge what your abilities based on seeing someone else.
- falling over lets you know where your boundaries are
You don’t know if you’re off balance until you push yourself further than before and you fall. In order to achieve balance sometimes it is necessary to stop, refocus and readjust. Getting off balance and falling over is a part of learning what I can do, what can’t do, and what I need to strengthen before I try again.
- balance is not a resting position
It requires constant focus and strength, but with repetition and time it becomes easier to do. The ability to balance difficult positions is built on the ability to balance basic ones.
Most importantly, I learned Balance doesn’t deny me choice, it empowers me to do more.
I have the freedom to choose what I attempt to balance, and I determine the level of difficulty.
If asked again today I would answer:
“I’m trying to do it all because I love trying! Balance isn’t about doing one thing. Balance is a lifelong process that is constantly changing as soon as it’s achieved. Balance says that we will never be just one thing–we are too strong for that, and strength is developed in the trying.”
Janell Randall Brown, former owner of One Sweet Slice a custom cake and cupcake shop is the author of two recipe books. She is the mother of four amazing children and the wife of one incredible husband. Janell and her business have won multiple awards including Food Networks Cupcake Wars, Best of State, and South Jordan’s 2014 Business Woman of the Year, and been featured in local and national magazines and blogs including The New York Times, Martha Stewart Blog, Success Magazine, and Utah Business Magazine. After running two bakeries and living an unbalanced life, she decided to close shop, refocus, readjust, and get ready for her next endeavor in life.