“Okay, now what I want you to do is plant your left foot and bring your right foot above your knee”
… there were words that came after that, but my legs were already shaking hard enough to demand most of my attention.
It was yoga. One of the most humbling activities that has crossed my path of late.
But then my teacher said something that cut through the series of panicked impulses being sent from my lower body.
“Remember that balance is not a static state. It is a process of a thousand tiny adjustments.”
Amazing, and also…exactly the right thing to say. My mind calmed, even though my body kept right on shaking.
The truth was, I was balancing.
It may not have felt particularly stable, but that morning on that day my version of balance was comprised of a whole lot of not so tiny movements.
Balanced from the outside VS balanced from the inside
There’s something about the word ‘balance’ that conjures up images of stillness, or at least it does to me.
It seems like when I look at someone ‘in balance’ it seems they’re caught within a moment of complete control, whether that’s physical, emotional, or financial, everything seems calm.
That’s how it can look from the outside, but it’s not always the reality.
From the inside, that same ‘zen’ master might be doing a thousand things to keep body and soul together. They might not be feeling all that balanced at all.
… or at least I can only hope that’s how it feels for them… cause that’s how it feels to me…
‘Balancing’ my finances
That yoga lesson felt instantly recognizable as a truth dragged from another part of my life… the financial part.
It’s something I say to clients all the time… in a much less poetic way. And this old idea of ‘balance’ was something I really used to think about budgets: that they were static and the people who used them were different than me.
For those people, a budget was set, and then followed… all taking a minimum amount of time and strain. It worked perfectly for their perfect, orderly lives, and there was no way it would ever work for my chaotic right-brained existence.
But it turns out balance comes in a ton of different shapes.
These days, I feel very much in control of my finances, but my budget is anything but still. My financial ‘balance’ comes from… a thousand tiny adjustments.
Constant tinkering. Moving money from place to place. Changing the plan every few days.
I guarantee it would look like chaos if someone stepped inside, but it’s not for anyone else… it’s for me… and the outward feeling it gives me is the same one that I’ve recognized in so many others.
Chaos to control
My moving, and changing, and adjusting, and re-evaluating can definitely look like chaos, but it feels like balance.
Which is crazy right?
But the thing is, over the years of budgeting it’s not that I adjust less… I just no longer think that having to change things around means I’m failing.
I didn’t stop shaking… but I learned not to panic when it starts. I learned how to listen to my body, accept the reality of the situation, and the resources that i have available. And then… to stay focused on what I was trying to do, and get as close as I can with what I have.
That’s my version of financial balance, and it’s taken me years to get that far.
So I should probably stop being so frustrated that I haven’t achieved it in three yoga classes…
… I won’t…
But I probably should.
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org