For my last birthday, my family gave me Wii fit, with the balance board.  I’d been wanting to start doing yoga, which I knew was included in the game.  Exploring the game, I found all sorts of additional fun activities to help strengthen and tone.  One of them is a balancing game, where your character has to balance atop a huge circus ball, while catching and juggling balls that are being tossed.  You have to maintain your balance on the board while flipping your wrist just so to catch and then juggle the balls. 

The reason I bring it up is that in a way, that game reminds me of life:  having to try to find your balance and juggle myriad responsibilities, all at the same time.

A friend of mine commented today how everyone is always so busy, running here, doing that, busy, busy, busy.  “Why are we so busy?” she wondered.  “Why can’t people just say no?”

Why can’t we just say no?

I told her about something my family and I do, usually around this time of year.  We look at the calendar for days that we don’t have any plans, and then mark them off as “family time.”  I do this because I have a hard time saying “no” to people wanting a slice of our time.  Scheduling time to not do anything gives us the downtime we need to just relax.  We might decide to make something of our time, or we might just use it to do nothing, but the point is, it’s our time to decide.  And if someone asks us to participate in something on a day marked “family time,” I can answer without any guilt, “I’m sorry, but we already have plans.”  It doesn’t matter that our plans may be just to do nothing; they are plans, nevertheless.

I do wonder about our seeming inclination, as a society, towards overscheduling.  In some instances,  I think it’s a way to feel or seem important.  Think about the always-on-duty business person who brings their crackberry with them everywhere they go. Would the world really stop if they didn’t answer their phone just once?

 In other cases, I think perpetual busy-ness is  a way of avoiding introspection so that we don’t have to face something we don’t like about ourselves or our lives.

Since I got Wii fit, I’ve also found a yoga class outside of the home that I enjoy.  I find that I’ve become more mindful in the rest of my life.  At the gym working out, I felt  a twinge in my shoulder.  Where normally, I would have plowed ahead, possibly ending up injured and laid up for several days, now I listened to my body and took a break.  As a result, the twinge ended up being nothing. 

I apply the same mindfulness in other areas.  When I feel tired, I decline my friends’ invitation to go out for a glass of wine, and I don’t feel guilty about it. 

I think a certain amount of introspection coupled with mindfulness are invaluable to maintaining the balance in your life, and the harmony in your home and your body.  Scheduling time for that introspection helps to maintain that balance, while listening to your body and to the people you share your home with enable you to keep juggling all your responsibilities.

The word “no” isn’t a bad or even a selfish word.  Sometimes, it’s the most selfless word you can say.