This summer I read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I don’t know why it took me so long to pick this book up. With all of the hype and controversy around it I think I was afraid of what it might say. But once I started reading, I found Sandberg articulating so many of the challenges I’ve experienced but was hesitant to verbalize.
When I was in high school in the late 1980s, a world of possibilities lay before me. Just like Clair Huxtable, being a successful attorney with a physician-husband didn’t mean giving up a fulfilling family life with happy children, home-cooked meals, a magically clean house, and a romantic marriage.
But real life doesn’t work that way. Have you ever noticed that when you “lean in” to one aspect of your life, other areas start to suffer? Traditionally I have alternated my focus: some years were spent building my work life, some years were spent building my home life. My challenge to myself now is to lean in to my whole life.
Petaluma is a magnet for people seeking work/life balance. As my yoga teacher pointed out the other day, the secret to a successful balancing pose is accepting the wobbles. While on a mini-vacation last weekend with my husband and daughter, we stood on rocks at the tide’s edge along the Lost Coast. As the cold Pacific waves crashed at our feet, we swayed. Sometimes we’d reach out to hold onto each other, or hop to another rock.
Tuesday, I took the day off from WORK (even skipping my much-loved Coffee Social) to “hop to another rock.” I went to Green String Farm and got carried away with the vegetables, spent the afternoon canning tomato sauce and playing with my family, then made a big dinner for our close friends to enjoy after their full day of work. We drank wine and played cards and laughed around the table.
Leaning in to my whole life means valuing each aspect that I find fulfilling, and allocating my time accordingly. It requires embodying both motivation and contentment while avoiding the “busy” trap. It may mean that “progress” takes a little bit longer, but I’m hoping slow and steady wins the race…
Written by Natasha Juliana. Photograph by Matt Moller. Edited by Linda Jay.
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