A Journey of Balance and Yes, Happiness

I have trouble with balance. I have trouble with contentment and gratitude. Some days, when there is happiness and joy I can’t find any branch to perch. I seek  branches that wobble and snap. Currently, there is little reason in my life for me to wallow in pity or unhappiness but like typical Maggie, I’m finding a smudge and instead of ignoring it or using my thumb to erase it, I allow that tiny smudge to overrule all of the goodness in my life. My exterior life reflects nothing but happiness, giant snow-induced smiles and optimism. On the inside, I worry, over-analyze and come up with excuses for why skiing, writing, my relationship and the size of my thighs are not in perfect alliance with the universe.

At this moment on the first day of winter, I have many, actually so many reasons to be blissful. Yet for all of my recent successes and upcoming adventures, instead of looking to the good, I fall into an old trap of listening to the Evil Inner Voice. As the year draws to a close, I have so much to be thankful for: love and a healthy relationship; the opportunity to travel to Europe to race in the World Cup telemark races in three countries; a budding freelance writing career and well received blog (Thank you all so much!); a year’s worth of adventures from traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to exploring the mountains in my backyard; atoning a broken friendship with the women of my past and uniting with new friends and forging friendships based on writing, wine and skiing; coming home everyday to a beautiful new home and two very friendly and large dogs; and another year of bearing witness to life in this small and stunningly powerful valley with its rivers wide and mountains deep.

It would seem that I do have balance: I have a physical outlet of skiing to work my muscles, heart and lungs. I focus on my body and how it relates to snow, movement and change. To stimulate my brain, I write. I freelance for a local magazine and listen to stories and try to write their lives with honor and beauty. I also don my official government uniform and teach children about the winter world and how animals, much like ourselves, adapt to change. Some do it successfully, others not.

Yet, in between the lines of greatness, my Evil Inner Voice (EIV) tells me that instead of training gates or going to the gym and surrendering my body to deadlifts, it would be much more appropriate to go to the bar and drink. Instead of coming home to Cole and celebrating a great training day on the mountain, I complain that I haven’t seen any of my friends because ski racing is occupying too much of my time. I should be with them at the ski bar, hoisting another pint of cheap beer to my lips instead of waxing my skate skis and skiing in the dark. I tell myself that in Europe it will be easier if I play the victim instead of the hero. Fall, hurt your body and you won’t come out as the winner but at least everyone will feel sorry for you. Loose your focus, cast aside your training because you could be working harder, but you’re not and I knew you would. EIV says that the life I’m living currently is much too good for what I deserve, so go on, do something stupid. Make a mistake or two. Screw up your relationship with Cole. Let’s just see what happens…

It’s much easier to fall into EIV’s trap than to push out her nasty remarks about the size of my thighs. Instead of challenging her: Hey, I need these legs to get me down the hill, bitch! I agree to her complaints and then I take EIV’s propaganda and spin it into all other aspects of my life. My expectations creep higher and higher. I place such high expectations on myself and it would appear that I do that so EIV can have a field day when I fail to achieve. I continue the cycle: set really high goals for myself, fail to achieve them and then allow EIV to mock me for days, weeks, years.

I inherited these Great Expectations from my father. I’m sure that on good days, he meant well. But he likes to impose his ideals and goals on me, and he always has. I still am not fully living up to his expectations. Coupled with EIV, my grandiose notions of how my life should be, at any given moment, are ridiculous. And sadly, I don’t just keep those high expectations to myself. Everyone close to me suffers because not only do I impose these ideals on myself, I extend them to my mother, to Cole, and my closest friends. Relationships, both romantic and platonic have suffered because of this.

I’m sure this is is all because of fear. My heart and mind are bogged down with fear of the unknown, even if the unknown is something good, something that will make me happy and free. It’s much easier to fall back on old habits, of curling back into the den as a victim to the larger world and lick my wounds. While I’m full of hot air, I don’t always have the courage to cast EIV into her own cave and ignore her cries.

I know most of us have our own versions of EIV. Some are a combination of our parents, scars of our childhoods. Inspirational post cards, mailed to us on birthdays can only do so much. It’s not easy entering that domain of self-acceptance, forgiveness and freedom. I can easily fly down a ski hill at great speeds and steep slopes don’t make me blink. I can throw myself into a completely new sport like telemark racing and give up the partying for the gym but I’m having trouble completely surrendering myself to that positive change where EIV is replaced with an inner-voice that is firm but supportive. A voice that doesn’t care that my thighs are the size of lumpy tree stumps or that I’ve made way too many mistakes about jumping into bed with all too eager men.

I’m sure that my journey to reconcile with EIV will take a lot longer than forgiving my father for his mistakes when I was a kid, will require more healing than leaving an engagement with no money and a shattered soul, will mean heading straight into that cave, finding purchase in the fear and making peace with myself, even the part of me that expects Cole to rule the world in a day and then put up the towel rack.

Finding balance in my goal and to be gentler on myself and others, even EIV. That is, if she knows what’s good for her.

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