It was 4am in Los Angeles, and I was standing at a gas station prepping for my live shot for ABC’s Good Morning America. Soaring gas prices were the big headline of the day and I was the (un)fortunate soul assigned to the story. In an effort to make this story more TV-friendly, my bosses back in New York told me to pump gas into my car, while delivering my two memorized lines to the camera. That may sound like a piece of cake, but staged live shots rarely turn out the way you plan! Still, I was new to the network and I needed this live shot to be perfect. And there I was, gas pump in hand, live on TV, standing in front of four million strangers. “Gas prices are hitting record highs…” I said to the camera as I inserted the gas pump into the car and pressed down on the handle. Then I heard, “click, click, click.” I tried again. And again, it did not work. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing at this point. Turns out, because we rehearsed the shot so many times to make it perfect, my gas tank was already full. All the audience could hear was the click, click, click of a gas pump not pumping.
For so many years, I tried to be perfect. But I was always failing. Especially in my TV job, where I would pick apart every little detail of my performance. I didn’t want to be like that but it was probably all of those Martha Stewart or Food Network shows seeping into my psyche, where the word “perfect” is tossed around as if normal people like us could actually achieve it.
After my failed gas pump live shot, I challenged myself to abandon this idea of perfection. Instead, I would focus on living a balanced life. Yes, balance was much better. It was finally clear to me. Perfection = Unhealthy Life. Balance = Healthy Life.
"I challenged myself to abandon this idea of perfection."
Now, let’s fast forward, six years and two kids later. During that whole time I had been trying to achieve a healthy, balanced life. Not just me, but all my friends too. We are always talking about how we are trying to achieve a work-life balance. That’s the goal, right? We try to figure out a way to compartmentalize our day so we are happy, the kids are happy and our partner is happy (maybe not in that order!). We need enough time to excel at work and enough time to be a super mom or dad at home. Only to discover when the day is over that we didn’t find the balance we were hoping for.
Have you ever closed your eyes and visualized what a perfectly balanced day would look like to you? I was shocked when I tried this. There I am…wearing a floral, chiffon dress. (Think, Niki Taylor in a 90’s fragrance commercial.) I’m skipping happily along in slow motion through a field of wildflowers. My sweet (and already bathed) children are frolicking in the fields behind me – collecting blooms that I will later trim and arrange for a perfectly composed pic to post on IG. All of this, after working a full day, and whipping up a Giada-worthy dinner for the family, which my kids actually ate and loved. Finally, my husband and I have a romantic evening alone. Again, I see all of this unfolding in Valencia filter (or maybe Nashville) and of course, in slow-motion. Well, holy crap. I’m visualizing and trying to achieve a perfectly peaceful existence or “balance” that is completely unattainable. It’s actually comical.
You guys, just think about it. Do you actually ever hear anyone say they are living a balanced life? (I’m talking about a real person – a friend or someone you know.) I certainly do not. We only hear people talking about their pursuit of a balanced life. The fact is, we all want something we cannot have — because (brace yourself) balance does not exist. It’s just a cute buzz word that has zero real-life application. And our search for it is exhausting us.
So, I have come to my own conclusion. Balance is a code name for that dirty word, “perfection.” It now seems so obvious to me, considering “balance” requires perfection in order to achieve it. Someone tricked us. Some evil genius (who has since made a fortune off this racket) swapped out the definition for perfection (since that word, for good reason, is no longer acceptable social media lingo) and applied it to the word “balance.” And for whatever reason, the word “balance” seems safe and attainable – even healthy. It’s the kind of word we can all rally around, and we did. I don’t know how this happened. But I’m feeling slightly determined to find out who to blame.
So, after this eye-opening revelation, I have decided to PURSUE AN UNBALANCED LIFE. Which, quite frankly, I already have, so mission accomplished. You should try it. I swear, I am instantly feeling lighter – totally less stressed with the realization that achieving balance, or the subjective feeling of being balanced, as a busy, working mom is just a bunch of IG BS.
"The fact is...balance does not exist. It’s just a cute buzz word that has zero real-life application. And our search for it is exhausting us."
Unbalanced living is where it’s at. My mantra is now “embrace unbalance.” I tell myself, “pretty good, is good enough.” And I am totally serious. It’s a way to live your life that allows you to focus on what’s most important that day, rather than trying and failing to focus on all that seems important every day. As I allow myself to focus in this new way, I hold the less important elements of the day to much lower standards. (Don’t be afraid!) I promise it works — and I think I can hang with some of the busiest mamas out there. I am still reporting for the network. I recently launched a children’s sock company – @Sockabu. I’m a wife. And I’m a mom to two little ones.
Let me give you an example of how my new “unbalance” works. This morning, writing this article is important to me so, I am diving in completely and it will get my highest level of attention. That means other parts of my day will have to be performed at a lower level. I can’t be a magical, Mary Poppins kind-of-mom with my daughter, Clover, while I am working on the article. She will be fine hanging out with her babysitter for a few hours. I won’t be cleaning the house. That can wait. I won’t be posting social media content or answering phone calls. In the past, I would have rushed around like a crazy person in the unfulfilling pursuit of being amazing at it all. Now, I realize that while all of those chores matter, they don’t require my fullest attention or highest standard of performance on this day. I also plan on skipping my shower and throwing on a cute sweatshirt for my son’s school party. And guess what, he could care less what I am wearing or whether my hair is washed. He just wants me there. Same feeling I get from my husband now that I’ve embraced an unbalanced lifestyle. Turns out, he just wants me there too.
Living unbalanced frees your day like you will never believe. It’s crazy how much effort and time I used to spend at perfecting elements of the day that really didn’t matter, all in an effort to feel balanced. Truly, life is so much simpler. Life is supposed to be unbalanced, and when you embrace that, life becomes fun again! Therefore, on my new journey to living an unbalanced life, I vow to be messier at home, unapologetically late from time to time and to stop visualizing my so-called better version of myself in Valencia-filtered slow-motion. I vow to stay up too late, watch too much tv, work too hard, play too hard and have way too much fun!
P.S. I also promise to continue my investigation into the evil genius we should be holding accountable for our wasted years – all of those moments we felt badly about ourselves or that we didn’t measure up. You guys, it’s all one, big, filtered facade.