Life Unbalanced

“How do you balance it all?”  It’s a common interview question that successful people (and let’s be real here, it’s more often asked of women) are asked.

Balance seems like such a noble goal.  Imagine being able to seamlessly be able to float through harmonious waves of family, work, and personal lives being equally successful, present, and focused for it all.

It’s actually possible to achieve balance.  It’s just that you might not want it when you get it.

For the past five years, I have put my heart and soul into running and have even turned it into a career.  Did my kids get less of me while I banged out 20 milers on Sunday mornings?  Yes.  Did my 15-year real estate career begin to stall as my love and passion for coaching grew?  Yes.  Did my marriage suffer?  Absolutely.

Would I do it all over again?  In a heartbeat.

In my perfectly balanced world, I was good enough at everything.  Nothing was great, but nothing was too bad either.  I was in the elusive state of “having it all.”

But it was only by becoming unbalanced, becoming hyper focused on one thing often to the exclusion of others, that I learned what lit up my world, what brought me true joy.

And it is through the cultivation of that passion that I can become a better person and a better mother.

My kids see my example of working hard and doing what you love, even if it means sacrifice.  They know that I love them unconditionally, but also that they cannot demand to be the center of the universe all the time.  They are learning to be independent and find their own passions, just like their mom.

The time we spend together is better because I am happier.

But yet our society places a huge value on the artificial idea of balance. Women get the message that they must simultaneously be fit and active, yet not too fit and active that they don’t spend the “right amount” of time with their kids or on their careers.

Balance is boring and overrated.  It’s the unbalance in life that carves out who we are.  Perfectly smooth, even steps in life are dull, safe, unrealistic, and, I would argue, dangerous to your well-being.

Now that I have achieved my dream sub-three marathon goal, my running is evolving into a smooth flow of mostly running for fitness without any real motivating goal on the horizon.  I run about half the weekly mileage I did while marathon training.  I’ve been catching up with friends more often, eating a little more chocolate, and twisting myself in knots in hot yoga each week.

I’m am happy, but not driven.

I have found a balance.

Uh oh…

So to counteract that, I’ve been saying yes.  Yes to things that are out of the box for me.

Yes to my first trail race this weekend, a kayak-bike-run team relay that climbs 2000 feet in 8 miles.

Yes to a fun downhill half that I am woefully under-trained for.

Yes to a miserably hot and hilly team 5k in June just to suffer with friends.

And yes to meeting new people as my 18-year relationship with my husband comes to its end.

Unbalance is scary and unpredictable.  But it’s the wobbles and falls and leaps of faith in life that shape and define you.

So how do I balance it all?  I don’t.  And I hope I never do.





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18 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing, Claire! You are very inspiring (I'll never forget my vegan bday cake!!) and I'm sorry we missed each other in CO a few weeks ago! Life is change, and you are excelling at that!
  2. Good morning Coach, Thank you for sharing such interesting and thought provoking insight. I have often thought that "conventional wisdom" leads to a very safe and unfulfilling existence but you explained this much better than I have ever been able to. Thank you for challenging the idea of balance and congratulations on finding your path forward. Best wishes. Michael.
  3. Thank you for sharing, Claire. Even though there are some tough realities in here it sounds like you are able to keep moving forward. Hoping to get to see you at the runners' retreat in the fall.
  4. Wow. Thank you for sharing your journey. It's inspiring how you are able to keep moving forward through some tough realities. Hoping to see you at the runners' retreat in the fall.
  5. Claire, It took a lot of courage and strength to write this, no doubt. Thank you for sharing with this community that you have always supported unconditionally. I hope you see and feel how much support we are sending to you. It’s always been more than “just running, hasn’t it?”. Wishing you only the very best in your new adventures! ❤️
    • I so appreciate you saying that, Meg! Yes, it's pretty amazing the power running can have, isn't it?
  6. Well. I just finished reading for the second time, and appreciate the raw, the authentic and the un-balance, which makes you sounds pretty balanced and with it if you ask me. Thank you for being who you are, and for sharing yourself with those of us who feel fortunate to be your friend.
  7. Well said, Claire. As William Blake put it, " The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. 1790). btw, at some point I hope you decide, in your ongoing quest to live the life unbalanced, to lower your marathon PR. Why stop at sub 3:00? You're still young enough. And when you aren't, go for those age-graded PRs. Invictus.
    • Thank you, Jerry. While another marathon isn't in my near future, I'm not ruling them out forever. But the next, big scary goal in the marathon wouldn't be trying to shave off a minute or two here and there. That just doesn't have the magic. The next giant leap would be qualifying for the Olympic Trials at 2:45. I might (or might not) have that talent, but I know that finding out would take a commitment that I'm just not willing to make. But hey, never say never!
  8. That is so well put, Claire. We need to figure out what is most important--right now--and figure out what we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it. Once achieved, is it worth maintaining, or is it on to the next thing? I (long ago) came to the conclusion that I would rather live hard and die young, enjoying life, than take super good care of my body, being cautious, and living a long, boring life. I am not talking about being stupid or reckless or doing drugs or the like, but about taking challenges that may be hard on my body (currently ultra-running, previously triathlon), and eating what looks good to me, taking vacations instead of saving *all* of my money, playing sports at a level that may be a bit dangerous for a person at my age, etc . The idea of being "unbalanced" puts a different spin on a similar idea and has really given me a new way to think about it. Thank you for that.
  9. Analysis can be difficult but rewarding Keep up the way you are approaching the challenges life sends you Claire. Your passion is what fuels the self esteem . Life will never be boring or mundane with your way of being open to changing! Thanks for sharing your life🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃🙂
  10. You are a true inspiration. May I be half the runner, a qurater of the mom, and a quarter friend that you are someday.

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