Maintaining Balance in an Unbalanced World

balance.jpgIn ancient Greece, there are 2 sayings that were inscribed on the temple of Apollo in Delphi. One of which is “Know Thyself” and the other is “Nothing to Excess.” The phrase “Nothing to Excess can also be compared to the phrase “Moderation in All Things”. We all know from personal experience just how easy it is to get caught up in something at the exclusion of other important areas of our life. I would assume that practically everyone on the Earth today has felt like their life is (or was) out of balance at some time. The better question may be  what things are “In Excess” and what needs to happen to “Bring your Life into More Balance.”

Achieving and Maintaining Balance is, actually, one of the biggest
challenges facing people today. How many people do you know who claim to be “too busy”? Well, I don’t know about you, but EVERYONE I know seems TOO BUSY. There is the job, family concerns, errands to run, food to buy, people to talk to, repairs, play time, etc. When you add it all up, there is never enough time in a day to get everything done. Sometimes your job can be the culprit. Do you know anyone who works 10 hours or more a day? How much time does this person have for relaxation and attending to all of the various activities? Sometimes, everyday worries and concerns can
tempt us to get out of balance. We worry for this or worry for that and we find ourselves unbalanced mentally because all we’re doing is worrying. Or how about the person who spends all their time at the gym and they’ve got a great body to show for it, but they’ve neglected their family? On the opposite side, how about the person who never gets any physical activity? Or how about the person who spends hours upon hours everyday in front of the TV? Even certain kinds of foods taken to an extreme can cause imbalance in your body.

Balance is maintaining a consistent,
healthy lifestyle on a daily basis in mind, body and spirit, regardless
of your circumstances and situations. In other words, there is equal focus and attention given to each of the main areas of our life. Here are some tips for achieving balance in these different aspects of our lives: 



Balancing Your Mind

A balanced mind means that we are aware of where our thoughts are throughout the day. We consciously focus on the here and now. We are observant to the happenings around us, yet we are actively directing our thoughts to our task at hand. Many people allow their mind to wander
throughout the day. The wandering thoughts generally go to the past to mull over experiences or situations that made an impact in some way or another or they go to the future to events that represent hopes, dreams or fears of future scenarios. In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, I think the perfect example of someone who continually dwelt in the past is Uncle Rico, who constantly daydreamed about his days on the high school football team.

Yesterday is gone. There is nothing we can do to go back and change
what has happened in the past. We can learn from our mistakes, though, or
remember happy or satisfying experiences. These thoughts of our past can also trigger
depressive or sad feelings such as regret or guilt. Sometimes these feelings hold us back and stop us from letting go of the unresolved negative feelings. In this way, our yesterdays will impact our today’s in negative ways and we will remain anchored to the past.

Another way that we become unbalanced mentally is when we allow our thoughts to wander into the future. These
thoughts will cause feelings of anxiety, fear of the unknown and
unnecessary pressure. While it is important to maintain the belief and expectation that our goals will be realized, there is a proper way of doing this. For example, we can not act in the future. We can only act in the here and now. And sometimes the daydreaming of our future can steal the joy of the moment if we are worried about the future. The reality is that we can only take steps toward our goals one day at a time. Each day is a
gift, which is why they call it the present, an old saying that makes a
lot of sense! To attain and maintain balance in your mind, keep your
thoughts focused on the present. Trying to focus on everything that could potentially happen is a lot of stress to be carrying around. Find joy in the moment.

Balancing Your Body

Balancing your body involves exercising regularly, eating the proper foods in the proper amounts, as well as getting the proper amount of sleep along with other activities that contribute to an overall
healthy lifestyle. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise each day is an amount recommended by many doctors and nutritionists as an optimal time period. At times, when people get too busy with work or other activities, sometimes they don’t get the exercise they need. But not
only are there many physical benefits, exercise also helps to balance the mind
and spirit also. Exercise releases natural endorphins that help your
body to relax and feel good. Walking continues to be one of the
healthiest forms of exercise, although there are many others that are also beneficial. I enjoy swimming. 

Monitoring food intake and becoming aware of the types of food that
your body needs and best responds to also helps you attain and maintain
balance. Vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts are all important parts of a healthy diet. A Nutritionist that I highly respect once defined “food” as the following: something that can be digested, assimilated and eliminated. Not everything we eat fits that criteria. Do you know how many types of chemicals have been added to our “food” supply since the early 1900’s? I’ll give you a hint… Its in the thousands and maybe tens of thousands. No wonder so many people are sick nowadays. For a good online source of quality health food products, check out True Foods Market or Manna Harvest.

Another important element in maintaining body balance is getting the proper amount of sleep each night. Most people suggest 8 hours, although this may be varied based on the needs of the person. I’ve known people who simply don’t need that much sleep and others who need more. Sleep is also a part of balancing your
thoughts. I have noticed that when I try to push myself too much and stay up too late, my days don’t go as well till I get enough sleep. In fact, most people do not get enough sleep and therefore are
unable to have daily balance or be as productive or effective to their
full potential.

In terms of other items that affect balance in this area, we can include drinking plenty
of water, limiting/eliminating the intake of alcohol, smoking, drugs and
minimizing exposure to toxins or other chemicals both externally as well as internally.

Balancing Your Spirit

Balancing your spirit will increase your peace and joy each
day. Everyone needs some “Alone” time where you can stop and listen to the insights that come through you. Spending time in meditation every day helps with. A spiritual connection will also decrease confusion and increase
clarity when things just do not make sense in the world and no one
person seems to have an answer. Many religions advocate prayer and I strongly believe that not only is there a God, but our God (or our Heavenly Father) loves us and wants to hear from us. We do not always get the answers we want, but we do get the answers we need, when we ask in faith.

Many people confuse spirituality with religion.
While they are intertwined, they are still separate. Religion can be a part of an individual’s spirituality, however it is
not the same thing. A person can be spiritual, but not participate in an
organized religion. Spirituality is a belief in a higher power and a desire to follow the will of that Higher Power. Most people refer to God, in this way. Religion is usually an organized group of people with the same set of beliefs. I have my religion, which I believe, but just because someone is a member of a religion does not mean that they are spiritual. Nor does regular attendance to a particular meeting (even though the meetings can help you learn to be more spiritual). The real test to your spirituality comes from who you become and how your relationship with God develops and improves over time. Reading Scriptures, such as the Bible, can help bring into our lives a closeness with our Creator and will help us to be more at peace, free of
anxiety, worries or fear.

Taking on too much, wanting to be “in
control,” or feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders are
signs of being out of balance spiritually. This will also impact your
thinking and your emotional well-being, as well as body balance.

Start now to assess your balance and experience life more fully!

The Adoption of Jose

jose.jpgI have had many amazing dreams in my life, but one that kind of stands out is one I had back in 2003 where my wife and I had adopted a little Hispanic boy, named Jose, who was 2 or 3 years old at the time of adoption. That was pretty much all of the details I remembered from the dream. It was actually kind of strange because not once had we ever considered adoption, nor talked about it. We didn’t need to. Our kids seemed to come pretty regularly. First Rachel, then Jane, then Allison and then Wendy. But it was one of those kinds of dreams that left a strong impression, however, at the time, there was no way we could have considered it, so we dismissed the thought from our minds.

A year later, our situation had changed and I was working for another company and I heard that the company had an adoption program. When I found out, I remembered the dream and started thinking more about it. I told my sister and she said that I should check out Adoption.com. So, I did a search at this website looking for a “Jose” who was 2 or 3 years old. Surprisingly enough, there was one. I looked at the picture and showed my wife and asked her what she thought and if adopting this little boy was something that she would even consider. Well, she was open to the idea, so we started moving forward in that direction and figuring out what needed to be done. We found out that Jose was located in Guatemala and that the average cost would be around $24,000. We didn’t have that amount of money in the bank, so in reality, we just started down the path of adoption without really knowing how we were going to do it.

We had to get an assessment from a family counselor to show that we would be good parents for an adoptive child. Then, there were numerous forms and tests that needed to be done, which had to be submitted to the U.S. government. We had to have 3 different types of background checks, including ones on a local, state and federal levels. After we finally received the approval from the U.S. side, then we had to do more things to get the approval from the Guatemalan side. I think the total time was approximately 18 months, from start to finish, although we probably could have done things quicker.

In the beginning, I thought I would try and go directly to the orphanage. I figured I’d probably be able to shave off several thousand that way. The crazy thing is that I did manage to find the exact orphanage in Guatemala where Jose was at and the director was willing to deal directly with me. The problem, though, was that he wasn’t willing to assign the boy to us, until we had the approval from the U.S., which we were still working on. So, that “Jose” was reassigned to another family. We were really disappointed, but we proceeded forward and found out that there was another Jose in that same orphanage. It turns out, he was also 2 at the time. My wife and I looked at the picture and felt like we could adopt this other Jose. Well, time ticked on and we still didn’t have the U.S. approval. We did eventually get it, but, unfortunately, the other Jose had been reassigned as well. We didn’t know what to do. We asked about other children at the orphanage, but all of them were pretty much less than 1 year old. We wanted one that was a little older because we were expecting a baby (Wendy) at the time and we didn’t want 2 babies at the same time. So, we told the orphanage director that we would go with a one-year old named Edgar. We figured that maybe the “dream” was just to get us to adopt and perhaps the name and age didn’t really matter. We also figured that if this wasn’t the right boy, then something would happen to prevent that. Well, the next morning, we received an email from the director stating that “Edgar” was no longer available. He had some heart conditions and was going to need surgery.

At this point, we were dumbfounded and didn’t know what to do. However, the following morning, I received an email from a lady in Florida that I had contacted previously. She recommended that I check out a different website that had pictures of lots of Guatemalan children. I had not seen that website before, so I checked it out and immediately found 3 different boys that I felt like could be possibilities. The problem was that they were all with an adoption agency, Commonwealth Adoptions. The reason it was a problem was because it was going to cost $7000 more than going directly to the orphanage. But after getting the runaround with the orphanage director in Guatemala and also due to making a decision on one of the boys (whose name was Jose and was 2 1/2, we finally decided that we should do it anyway).

Going with the Adoption Agency was a smart move. They showed us everything we needed to do in the order it needed to be done. I couldn’t have asked for a better agency and Susana, the lady who helped us, was simply a pleasure to work with.

We know we were led to this particular boy. When his foster mother brought him to the hotel in Guatemala City, he came right to me and gave me a big hug. It was such a special moment. That night, in the hotel, I let him sleep in bed with me and he was so happy and kept giving me hugs. Tears streamed as I realized that God was using me to bless this little boy’s life with something that he didn’t have, a family. Every child deserves a family and the feeling I experienced in that moment was simply wonderful.

On Thanksgiving Day of 2005, I flew home with my newly adopted Jose. It seemed kind of symbolic that it was at Thanksgiving time. Jose was such a hug giver. He would literally hug every person he saw who was within reaching distance. So, everyone at the restaurants and airport all got hugs… It was pretty cute, but at the same time, it was kind of sad. He didn’t know who he belonged to. His birth mother had dropped him off at an orphanage at 9 months, then he was in at least 3 different sets of foster homes, including one where he really got very little to eat, mostly just formula. His teeth were in bad shape and we ended up having 6 of them pulled. We were waiting outside at the airport as my wife pulled up and Jose reached up for her while she was still driving. My 4 little girls were all very interested in their new little brother and were practicing “hola” over and over. Within 1/2 hour of Jose arriving at home, my girls had him all dressed up with purses, bracelets and necklaces. I had to explain that boys were a little different, but Jose didn’t seem to mind, he loved the attention.