By Briahna Brett Perkins

Balance. I chuckle to myself as I type the word. What IS balance? I mean, really. When you’re a mother of two busy boys—not to mention an about-to-burst-pregnant-with-boy-#3 mom who also wears the hats of homeschool teacher, military wife, church Youth leader, performer, homemaker and perfectionist—what does the word “balance” really even mean? Some days, I think it’s simply surviving with no ER visits, emotional breakdowns, major messes or missing soccer shoes. Other days, it’s completely thriving with spiritually rewarding conversations, proud mom moments, a clean(ish) house, bathed, nicely dressed and well-behaved children, etc. But, on the whole, what brings me balance?

Well, let me start with this… As a classically trained dancer, balance was something I spent years training to master. I worked hours in the dance studio trying to strengthen my core, target my weak spots, maximize my strong spots, and build on what flexibility, solid teaching, God-given talent, drive and inner passion I had. It took discipline, focus, blood, sweat, tears, hours and even years to finally feel like I had a basic sense of balance—better known as my “center”—in dance.

I feel like our daily lives are much the same. In order to find balance in our often chaotic worlds, we have to be strong at the core and centered in our priorities. To do and be this, it requires hours and even years of targeting our weaknesses, recognizing and maximizing our strengths, and regularly building upon our flexibility, teachings, talents, drive and passion.

Sounds pretty simple and motivating, right? Yeah… I’m too real for that. I don’t discount the bumps and bruises along the way; the injuries, the roles not earned, the goals not achieved, the disappointments met, the perfectionism not obtained, the opportunities lost. But, I also don’t discount the healing that took place, the calluses gained, the victories enjoyed, the “perfect for me” moments achieved, and the amazing memories made.

Now, I feel like I’m talking a little pie in the sky theoretical here, so let’s bring it down a notch. What “core” things bring balance in day-to-day life? The answers to this will obviously vary for everyone; but for me, I have my top three “must haves” when it comes to surviving versus thriving: 1) S.M.I.L.E., 2) breathe, 3) love.

1)      S.M.I.L.E. stands for “spiritually minded is life eternal.” Yes, I went spiritual on you. I wouldn’t be my real self with you if I didn’t first emphasize the importance of our personal spirituality. No matter our belief structure or source for inner strength, we each have spirits that need regular renewal, repair and refocusing. So, try what I do, if you feel the need. Each morning, as I’m getting ready for the day, I find my “center” by listening to uplifting music, scriptures or motivational talks. I also pray, which may look different for many of us. For me, kneeling is optimal, but sometimes an open and ongoing conversation with the Lord (or whomever your Higher Strength may be) is more realistic. Then, there are great and proven benefits from the physical act of smiling… So, I remind myself regularly throughout the day to smile. Just smile. Simply flipping my frown upside down often changes my whole demeanor and energizes my perspective.

2) Breathe. Take a deep, cleansing breath right now. Doesn’t that feel good? Now, try smiling, then breathing. Even better, right? I find myself much more balanced throughout the day if I take deep breaths following a simple smile. It really is helpful. Really.

3)     Love. Once our physical countenance is changed from stress to a smile, and we’ve taken a deep breath to release any tension and soak in positivity, love can then be given and received more freely. I think we’re all smart enough to know that acting in love is always more rewarding than the alternative. (Sometimes, we just need a little reminder.)

So, when asked how I find balance in my own realm of craziness, a slew of thoughts from my dance training to my life experiences to my everyday life application run through my mind in the milli-second before I respond with a laugh and an, “I don’t know.” But, I do know. And now you know, and hopefully we’re all able to find a little more of our center in our daily pursuits of balance and happiness.