The Ebb & Flow of Finding Balance
A Ferrari Brain
Have you ever heard of Dr. Hallowell's description of a "Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes"? He uses it to explain to people with ADHD that they have powerful brains but they need to work on their brakes, and he is the brake specialist.
Well, I don't have a diagnosis but that sentiment - a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes - resonates with me. And it is exactly the feeling I tap into to know just how balanced I am in my life.
Cruising in a Ferrari
In 2019 I felt like I was cruising in my Ferrari. I could down shift and take turns at the perfect speed - slowing down just enough to stay on the road - and I could fly on the straight-aways. I wrote an eBook, hosted multiple weekly homeschool events, took a marketing class, homeschooled my two differently wired kids, nurtured relationships with my family and friends, prepared healthy home-cooked meals, exercised daily, and so much more.
I have worked hard to cultivate a lifestyle that supports my whole life. It is a perfect balance of being busy with interesting work, engaging in meaningful relationships, and recharging in solitude.
Off-Roading in a Ferrari
At the beginning of 2020 I flew off the road. And off-roading a Ferrari is no fun. It is bumpy and disconcerting.
What sent me into the bramble? Taking four days off of working.
All through 2019 I lived in the sweet spot - balancing all the things that make me happy. Taking time off work tipped the scales, leaving me grossly unbalanced.
Parking in the Garage & Riding a Bike Instead
Simply adding work back in wasn't enough. When I spun out I sought satisfaction in other creative work. So all of a sudden I was distracted, had more than I could handle, and not enough sense to just let go of something.
When the feeling persisted I decided that I needed to park my Ferrari in the garage and get on a bike. (I even literally went for a ride on my bike.) I finally was able to shake off all but the essential responsibilities and I slowed down.
When I felt better I'd ease the Ferrari back on the road, staying in low gears, and park it back in the garage to rest.
Weeks later I'm slowly but steadily getting back in the swing of things.
So what does this have to do with modeling balance for my gifted children?
Gifted people can do a lot. If their Ferrari brains are banking the curves and flying on straight-aways then there is no reason to worry. But if they are spinning out then they need support to down-shift, reassess the road, and make a plan for moving forward.
These are essential things for modeling balance for your child:
1. Know when you are balanced. Balance means different things depending on the circumstances. I depends on fluctuations in seasons, responsibilities, fatigue, hormones, quality of sleep, etc.
- Being balanced when driving on the curves might mean that you have more things going on than usual so you have to brake and move deliberately forward.
- Being balanced on the straight-aways might mean that you only have one thing you're working on and you can move as fast as you can go.
Take note of when you're knocking it out of the park. What are the circumstances that support you to feel balanced? How do those things change depending on the day of the week (Fridays are always a bit hard for me), the time of the month (women have natural energetic and fatigued times of the month that correspond to their menstrual cycle), or the way the stars are aligned (December is always a big month, best not to add anything more than necessary)?
Pay attention. Cultivate what works.
2. Know when you are unbalanced. If you are unbalanced then you might feel like you're swerving all over the road, crossing the centerline, overcorrecting here, there, and everywhere, or maybe even flying off-road! If everything is hard then you probably need to bring some balance back to your life. What can you do about it?
3. Shift up or shift down? Do you need to add something or subtract? Maybe it is time to find a straight-away, shift into 6th, and focus on one thing. Or maybe you have a lot going on and you have to downshift (the straight-away will have to wait).
In my experience it isn't an all or nothing situation. More often than not, I'm able to stay balanced by shifting up or down as circumstances dictate. It is only because I have an extreme off-roading Ferrari situation in January that I have such an acute and current understanding of what being super duper unbalanced feels like.
It is true for our children too. Sometimes they feel balanced when they have a lot going on. Other times they can only manage one thing at a time. Both ways are ways of being balanced. Show them how to shift to stay on course.
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