Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wellness Diva #10: Sarah (The Balanced Diva)

"You just have to stay true to yourself and what you enjoy doing, while also being cognitive of maintaining relationships that are important to you."'

I am excited to introduce my newest Wellness Diva:
Sarah Ihrie. I got to know Sarah after she moved to Seattle to start law school. Sarah had been dating a friend of mine from college, who is now her husband! Sarah and I quickly became close friends (both proud St. Olaf College graduates!). I feel very blessed to have her in my life, mostly because I am able to learn so much from her each day.

I have always admired Sarah's ability to manage her time well and know what she wants in the present and in life in general. If she needs a day at home, she takes it. If she wants to work out, she works out. If she wants to go to the dog park with her dog, Tonka, they go! If she feels like taking a weekend trip with her husband, they make plans. Sarah takes ownership over how she wants to spend her time, and in result, always seems to have her act together and is confident about the decisions in her day to day life. This is such a great quality in a person, because I actually think it's quite rare.

This Wellness Diva post is about the concept of living a balanced life. I am excited to share Sarah's insights. I've always admired Sarah's ability to (honestly and tactfully) say "no" to plans when she needs some time to herself or for her family. This is something a lot of us struggle with. In theory, we of course want to spend time with our friends, so we often saying "yes" when we should be saying "no." Sometimes hanging out with others is not what we actually NEED in the present. We have to listen to ourselves and honor what our mind and/or body is telling us to do.

Sarah's dog, Tonka (I call him "Tonka Wonk")

This just in from Sarah:

1. What does it mean to you to live a balanced life?

To be satisfied with what you are doing with your life. Being balanced in my mind is all about action- even if the "action" is watching a movie. It's what you spend your time doing. Life is short, we all know that, but the hard part is making sure we are enjoying the moments we are in at the same time planning enough to get where we want to be.

2. Why do you think that living a balanced life is important?

Because one day I don't want to wake up and be 85 and say, gee I wish I hadn't worried so much about the future and enjoyed my time, or gee I wish I had planned a bit more so that I could have achieved a dream. I think the word 'balance' indicates a necessity to balance the present, the past, and the future- whether on a small one-day or week scale, or on a life-long scale.

3. When things are really stressful or busy for you in your life, what do you focus on in order to stay more balanced?

I have great success of looking past stress, and seeing it for what it is - an emotional response to things happening around me that are most likely out of my control. I try not to put too much weight on any one thing. My mantra is "it's not the end of the world" because in reality (until Dec 21st 2012 that is:) ) it isn't and life will go on. Once I realize this, the stress slowly dissipates.

I also know what helps me to counteract stress, which is healthy eating, exercise, and a bubble bath or two:). If I know I am going to have a busy week, I make sure to leave room in my schedule for a few workouts and stock my fridge with healthy snacks (otherwise I'm running to a coffee shop for banana bread!)

Sarah with her beautiful family in Minnesota!

4. If you had an entire day free to do spend your time however you wanted to, what would you do? (let's say Joel is on shift and you have the whole day free to yourself).

How convenient! Last Sunday was one of those days. Joel was on shift. I slept in, I cleaned the house and did laundry, I ran errands I've been putting off (and spent some time browsing a book store, one of my favorite activities), I cooked a healthy meal, I took my dog to the park for play time, I went for a run, I Face-timed with my family for my dad's birthday, I read my book, I wrote a few stories, and I watched a TV show before bed! Most people would say, "what a boring day!" But I feel energized and content with the small accomplishment of a simple day. If Joel were around we would probably do something more exciting like go hiking or take our dog to a lake to swim.

5. What is your advice about time management, as it relates to friendships and needing to balance time for yourself AND time with friends? For example, what do you do when a friend asks you to hang out but all you want to do is take a bubble bath? :)

Ohhh this is a good one! And tough one. I am no extrovert- I definitely need my alone time to recharge. I am also not spontaneous- a major character flaw, I know! For a long time, guilt would make me go out with friends when I didn't feel up to it. There are definitely certain times when you need to do things even when you don't feel like it, because you don't want to be totally self-centered. But, I think it's perfectly okay to say no upfront (saying yes and then backing out later is the worst choice) when you know it's not what you want to do. I don't feel bad about it anymore and here's why: If I end up doing something that I didn't want to in the beginning, then I spend the whole time feeling annoyed and not enjoying myself anyway, and that's no fun for anyone.

Also, I am very honest with my friends- using your example, I would simply respond "You know, that sounds super fun, but all day I've been planning on reading a book and taking a bubble bath tonight and since I'm not spontaneous I really can't wrap my brain around changing those plans at this point." and they totally get it, because they get me. I always try to follow it up with making a point of planning something with that person in the next few weeks though- so they know it's not them, it's me :). There's no point in feeling bad about what you want.

Anyway, it's easier said than done. And then you have to throw in balancing your spouse/partner with friends and girl time and couple time, and family time etc etc etc. It goes on and on. But you just have to stay true to yourself and what you enjoy doing, while also being cognitive of maintaining relationships that are important to you.

6. Anything else?

Balance is not easy! But I try to think that if my early twenties were crazy and busy and stressful, then hopefully I am about to enter my years of calm and confidence. That's my plan and I'm sticking to it!

Sarah with her husband, Joel, and dog, Tonka (in action)

THANK YOU, SARAH! You are so insightful! I am already excited to apply your advice to my own life as we enter into the holiday season!

Readers: I hope that you are able to take a little something from this fantastic woman and apply to YOUR life. What is one thing that you want to do for yourself this week? Get a great workout at the gym? Spend time with your family? Clean out your closet? Go wine tasting? :). Decide what is important to YOU and make it a priority. One thing I started doing a year ago was actually writing down "Margie time" on my calendar, at least one night each week. This guarantees that I reserve time for myself each week to do whatever I want. It prevents me from always saying "yes" to other plans that aren't a good fit when I see it written down on my calendar (yes, I am old school and use a REAL day planner).

Fun fact: Sarah has an awesome Blog! Check it out :). You get to see a bunch of cute dog pictures and read entertaining stories, my favorite. In fact, Sarah was the friend who encouraged me to start my own Blog!

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