Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas!

To all my amazing "in real life" family and friends... the friendly folks down at the Coffee Shop... the motley BC crew... and my sistahs at MBC & SITS:

May all your days be merry and bright!

Carpe diem,
Charlene (and Spidey too!)

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pinterest Photos

I hope you enjoy my blog!
Also, check out my Facebook page at


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Bad Hair Day

Here's a tip:  Don't tell your hairdresser, "Just do whatever you think will be fun."   Unless of course, you really don't care about the aftermath of such spontaneity.

Unfortunately, I say this from experience.  48 hours ago, I had more than an inch of hair around my entire head.  Now.... um, not so much.

I'm not sure what happened.  I'll admit that I did initially switch to this hair salon for no other reason than that they offer a complimentary glass of wine during each appointment.  (Don't judge me.)

As it turns out, my stylist is quite talented and I've been very happy there over the past couple of years. 

Still, I didn't imbibe during this most recent appointment.  Nope. I was stone cold sober when I had this temporary lapse in judgment.  Bummer.  I think I'd feel better if I could blame it on the ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-alcohol. (Heck, if you can blame a tramp stamp of the Superman logo on a few shots of tequila, anything is possible.)

Okay, so it's not a bad cut.  It's just really, really short.    It's basically similar to my profile picture with MUCH less hair.  Think "pixie" without the traditional elegant jaw line, cute upturned nose or 16" waist.

It's also not "low maintenance" hair which, at this stage of my life, I require. Pre-shower and styling, it looks a little like my four-year old was playing with the scissors while I was sleeping. 

I've had to be careful not to catch my reflection in the coffee pot or anything shiny for fear of bursting into tears at the sight. 

And the kids.  Poor frightened things.  "Mommy, did your head catch on fire??"

At the risk of a bad pun, I now realise that this is just the hair that broke the camel's back in my recent struggle to regain focus on inner strength, health and happiness.  That flippin' practice what you preach thing again.
The past several weeks have been extremely challenging, both internally and externally.  I thought Christmas shopping was going to push me over the edge.  Or at least, to the bottom of the slippery slope.  But I was wrong.  It was the hair.

I realise this seems terribly superficial.

But sometimes life lessons come from all kinds of weird places. Maybe it's symbolic?

It's just hair.  It's not life and death.   My happiness is not dependent on the coiffure (Thank God) or anything external for that matter.

Common sense, right?  I guess I just needed this really silly thing as a reminder that when the feces is hitting the flabellum (so to speak) my focus must be about feeling happiness from the inside --> out. 

In some bizarre twist of life balance learning, I needed a long series of (literal) "bad hair days" to be reminded that I do not have any control over people, places or things. 

Every morning when I look in the mirror (or the coffee pot), I will now think of this lesson. 

For those of you that think this is a stretch -- humor me. It's making me feel better about looking like I've just been through chemo.

In the meantime, if anyone needs a holiday gift idea for me... think HATS. 

Photo source: Graphics Hunt
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seven Days Before Christmas

How the mighty have fallen.

It's just one week before Christmas and I haven't even begun my shopping yet.  I'm not sure that this sets the best example of "life balance strategy" for y'all, but it is what it is.

Oh - I'm feeling the holiday spirit and all that.  The tree is up.  The house is decorated.  I've been singing Christmas carols in the shower.

Clyde, The Elf on the Shelf, has been flitting about most faithfully each and every night.  (Though I must note that I'm slightly afraid for Clyde's life.  My four year old son "Spiderman" learned that the Elf is planning to send a behavior report back to Santa. I overheard something along the lines of, "You better tell him I was nice or else.")


It's just the whole gift buying thing which is tripping me up for some reason.  This has never happened before.  I usually love to shop. To think of creative present ideas.  To give meaningful (or at least fun) gifts to the people I love so dearly.

So why can't I get my (decreasingly blumpy) arse to the mall or even   

Let's explore some theories:

1. Shopping isn't as much fun when money is tighter than the pants on an '80's hair band.  (I just realised that there are youngsters reading this that may not understand the reference.  See... way back in the olden days... ya know, the 1980's... there were these groups of rock-n-roll musicians who had really big hair and really tight pants...and... ugh, forget it.)

2. Too much tragedy, not enough comedy.  This has been a tough year for crap like people dying in tragic ways and families suffering incredible losses.  I'm having a really hard time shaking this feeling that "stuff" so doesn't matter.  (Sorry, no funny quip to add to this one. Buzz kill, I know.)

3. There's no tangible gift that says what I really want to convey.  (I guess I'm a little stuck on #2.) As I think of the people I usually enjoy shopping for most, all I want to do is just hold them tight, tell them how much I love them and promise that we will never, ever leave each other.  And then, find some miracle that makes that promise truly possible.  The Snuggie comes close, but ya know, just...not...quite...IT.

4. The Lazy Objection. As I've written before, the most common reason people have for not doing things they need to do in their lives is,"I don't have time."  It's the "no budget" of life balance. Of course we have time. It's just how we choose to spend and prioritize that time.

Still, I guess I could blame not shopping on P90X, my crazy work schedule, the house, the laundry, illness, writing, other "to do's", yada, yada, yada. You would totally buy that, right? You are SO easy. And I love you for it.  Even though it's a crock of shit really lame excuse.

5. Be --> Do --> Have.  I've been waiting for this desire to shop til I drop to come from some deep place of inner motivation.  Maybe I'll just wake up and feel it in my bones, "Today is the day!"   Reality check. Christmas is next week and that vibe hasn't happened yet.  It might be time to make an exception and hope that if I just do it, I'll eventually be in the mood.

Like that first bathroom break on a long, cold New Year's Eve, I've just got to break the seal.

Wish me luck.  I'll let you know how it goes.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Unwrapping My Present

In my current day-to-day, this magical thing called life balance can be more like "extreme juggling" vs. navigating the balance beam as my blog title suggests. In any case, it's a circus for sure!

So many balls going up, down and around at any given time. Kids, husband, friends, house, the budget, the commute, the corporate job, holidays and more. Plus of course, the stuff I know I need to do in order to take care of myself and stay sane. (P90X fits in there somewhere, though people have questioned my sanity regarding this particular undertaking.)

The "me" stuff can be hard to prioritize when the other balls are flying through the air, demanding and begging me to catch them. Somehow I manage to keep it all going. The real trick is not falling on my arse in the process.  (No applause necessary; just leave money in the hat as you exit. Thank you.  Thank you very much.)

My hope is you're learning some of my "techniques" in the course of reading my blog.  If nothing else, feel free to laugh at me as well as with me. Laughter is the best medicine afterall.

Yes - it can be "like work" to keep the inner foundation secure so that I can handle the many external stressors which inevitably occur.

I'd like to say it comes naturally. That my life feels like one of those "easy, breezy" commercials on TV. Well, sometimes it really does, even when by all accounts, it shouldn't.  Other times (recently), well... not so much.

Still, my overall goal is not to get so caught up in the internal and external juggling act that I miss the real gift of the present.  During the holidays in particular, this is something I find myself thinking about quite a lot.

I don't want my life to be about doing. I want it to be about being. I want to feel the experience of life in a completely fulfilling, blissful way.

But let's face it, someone still has to wash the underwear and do all the other crap which has to get done.

Okay, so I want to have my cake and eat it too. (I'm tempted to make a clean undies v. cake analogy but that could easily go to a really weird place.)

All that said, as I go through the multi-tasking extravaganza which is my life, a big goal for me is to pay attention. As Rhonda Byrne says in her book The Secret, I need to "remember to remember."

Inherent in this task is being fully aware and present in the moment; a related pearl of wisdom which I learned from Eckhart Tolle .

Focus on being in the "now."  One cannot become enlightened whilst unconscious.

A few months ago I started keeping a log of all the times I caught myself NOT being in the moment. Yikes. I should have bought a bigger notebook. Talk about needing to "remember to remember."

Here are just a few examples to which I'm praying you can relate:

MONDAY: Dropped kids off at school; didn't realise I was still listening to "Kids Place Live" on XMRadio until 28 minutes later when I caught myself singing along to "Crazy ABC's" by the Barenaked Ladies. I do love that song and it wouldn't be so bad except that I went almost a full half hour with zero awareness that the radio was even ON.

TUESDAY: How did I get this HUGE bruise on my leg? No idea. I bet it hurt. Humpf.  (Note: Bruise amnesia is a disturbingly recurring theme.)

WEDNESDAY: Hungry. Opened package to my Carrot Cake Clif Bar...took a bite. Moments later looked down. Clif bar gone. Did I eat it? Holy crap, I don't even remember chewing. Need to revisit goal of "mindful eating." Still hungry.

THURSDAY: "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." Oh wait, that's me.

FRIDAY: Walked into kitchen. Completely forgot why. Walked back into bedroom. Scissors. I needed scissors. Walked back to kitchen. Noticed dirty dish towel. Brought it back to bedroom. Forgot the damn scissors.

Although slightly embarrassing, this excercise helps me to better understand what I need to focus on. Namely, what is happening.... right.... now. Not only my thoughts and feelings, but everything around me.

Like I always say, it's a journey. Thank you again for joining me on my quest to make this circus feel like a walk along a beautiful garden path.

Here's to paying attention, remembering to remember and being in the moment.

And eating cake.  And clean undies.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Merry SITSmas!

As part of my life balance strategy this year I am not sending paper holiday cards.   Bah-humbug.  I know, I know.

Of course, I can always get away with telling everyone I have decided to be "green" this year.

The truth is that I'm just not up for getting my kids to sit still for a photo, designing and printing cards (or buying hundreds of pre-made cards), addressing them all and getting to the post office to buy postage and ship them off.  Between the time and the money, I now recognize that is a combination of activities which might just send me over the edge.

(Did I mention that I'm doing P90X which means my alcohol consumption is way under par?   Hollah to Robert, Kendall and Rodney -- I miss you wine guys!)

Anyway, no cards.

That said, I will be designing a cool e-greeting.  (Stay tuned!)  Whoohoo! 

The fun part has been looking through all my prior year holiday photos which might be suitable for this purpose.

This is one of my favorites. It reminds me to look up to the stars, believe in magic and enjoy the moment. (Happy face. Contented sigh.)

I am also participating in what is known in the Merry Blogosphere as "SITSmas."  Never heard of it??  Shocking!

SITSmas is hosted by my lovely SITstahs over at "The Secret is in the Sauce."  Today is their official day for sharing good tidings and holiday cheer.   And comment love.  And prizes!

Feel free to join in the fun!

Sadly, no open bar.  But, ya know... prizes!


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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Superiority Complex

Bloggers are often accused of being the most egotistical people on the planet.

For my part, I blame all these awards I keep getting. Of course it's an ego boost. Seriously, there is no place else in my life where I'm told I'm doing a good job on such a regular basis.   No wonder I have a big ol' bloggin' noggin.  (Currently this matches my big ol' bloggin arse, but this is going to change soon thanks to P90X!)

This time, the honor is the Superior Scribbler Award bestowed upon me by a very funny Blogger Babe at Of Life & Layoffs.

Some people don't take blog awards seriously.  They complain about the chain letter feel and the overly sappy sentiments, especially when accentuated by hearts and flowers.

However, the Superior Scribbler Award is different.  It features a picture of a person writing.  Okay, well, scribbling.  But still, this image totally elevates the award in my opinion.

My ego will grow like a Chia head the moment I post this cute little scribbling guy on my sidebar.  You may want to stand back.

As you know, I normally find a creative way to avoid following the rules for these things. 

Since I don't want to sully the Scribbler and since I'm sitting in a hotel room 3000 miles away from home with a plane to catch shortly, I'll make an exception.


Winners (aka "Superior Scribes") must post The Award along with the Scholastic Scribbler link (Done.)

Superior Scribes must then visit that link and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, they'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor. (Done. I'm #1310.)

Next, link back to the author and the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award. (Done.  Thanks again Blogger Babe!)

I must also pass the award on to five equally deserving bloggers.  It would be my pleasure:

Dana at Feeling Fit with Dana
Lou at Live, Write, Dream
Michele at The Professional Family Manager
Foxy at The Fox Den
Jules at The Gravel Farm


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