Are you Balanced? Grounded? Do you hum at 60Hz?

Yeah, such an issue, right, grounding, 150 ohms, buzz, hum…tricked you! Read the title again! Are you balanced? With the holiday season about over by the time you read this, and starting a new year, I want to mix it up a little, and talk about the issue of personal “balance.” To start out, I believe that we have become a country of extremists! In so many aspects of life, I have noticed that, although you are told that you are being treated as an individual, you are not. Try asking for something out of the ordinary and see how fast you are either ignored or do not receive what you asked for. Only after “pressing” the issue multiple times will you get what you need (not what they think you, and everyone else, needs).

Before I get into the “meat” of this, I want to say that it’s not all our fault, this extremism. Let’s face it: We are all asked to do an inhuman amount of work in an unrealistic amount of time. Being treated as an individual is not possible in our society right now. How many emails do you get a day, how many fires come across your desk, how many people do you meet with, how many things are left undone on a daily basis? As a society, what are we going to do…continue until we just explode? Look for my upcoming Sound & Communications blog where I will be talking more about this issue and many more that affect our lives on a daily basis. Moving on….

As an engineer, I tend to overthink things, and frequently have a more “individualized” approach to issues and situations. Most of the time, this causes conflict with the “one size fits all” attitude. Standing your ground causes conflict, which many just shy away from. I have seen this from business, vendors, schools and individuals, as I am sure you have, but what about us? Are we part of the problem or the solution?

I can tell you that I was part of the problem, but woke up one day and realized it, and am trying to become part of the solution. For a large part of my life, I owned my own business in New York and, frankly, lived and breathed work. I even morphed my business and skills into two different aspects to keep busy all the time. I simultaneously designed, sold, installed and rented AV systems, and worked as a location sound mixer in the film industry.

Easily 10 years went by, never going on a vacation. Friends got married and had kids…I never even met their kids! When I went to the weddings, I worked, supplying the sound and DJ….Workaholic probably rang true as an appropriate nickname. I always had somewhere to go, something to do, other than for myself.

I left New York, moving south to relax, and I was quite successful for a while. I lost a lot of weight in the beginning and, realizing how I neglected so many, I took four trips a year for the first few years, calling on many friends, apologizing for neglecting them, meeting their kids. It was a great feeling. I did things I enjoyed on a regular basis, every week. Wow! It seems like an eternity from where I am now.

Let me challenge you: Think back to when you were younger (a teenager) and likely had less responsibility: Can you think of three things you enjoyed doing regularly? I can name a few: going to the park to play basketball or for a run, going to the gym, bowling in a league for many years (I even won most improved average one season and the championship that same year), shooting pool, and here is one you may remember: listening to music with some friends. The reason I am in this business is because I used to enjoy listening to music, alone and with friends. Tell the truth: Anyone out there still do that?

Sure, I am married now with kids, but I spend all my time doing things for others…why not myself? I say “I don’t have the time” when the truth is, “I don’t make the time.” Why is it so hard to make an appointment with myself and do something for myself?

What would happen if, say, every Wednesday night, I left my house at 7:00 to go bowling and did not help my kids with their homework, help make dinner or work overtime on those drawings that are due Friday? Why, if I did that, would I feel bad, like I wasn’t doing my job or living up to my responsibilities? Why?

It’s that extremist brainwashing that we are surrounded by in so many aspects of our lives. Somehow, we need to take our lives back, enjoy them more and overcome this. Here is some food for thought: My grandfather and I were talking one day, and out of the blue he said, “Life is too short.” (He was 91 at the time; think about that!)

I came across an article written by someone who went around to hospices interviewing folks, asking them, because they have little or no time left, about any regrets. One thing that was repeated was that they did not spend enough time doing things for themselves. Wow! I, for one, do not want that to be my epithet! I am out of balance, doing only for others and not for myself, and I am going to change that.

Over the years, I have gotten a few things started, but nothing has lasted on a regular basis for even three months, let alone years. I have known about this issue for a long time now, but have not been able to figure this out! This New Year, I am going to make a pledge that, at least once a week, every week, I am going to do something I enjoy, an activity from my past, and keep doing it.

I challenge all of you who can identify with my plight: Pick three things you used to do regularly and, once a week, do them…not for others (not even for me!), but for yourself. Keep a chart and, after you have three consecutive months, send me the chart with the details. I will randomly pick a winner (yes, another contest for a can of Virginia Diner Peanuts) from the hordes of readers (wishful thinking) who accept the challenge and participate in this exercise of balancing your life.

I know what some of you are thinking: You do plenty of things you enjoy now. You enjoy playing with your kids, spending time with your wife, etc. The things you enjoyed when you were younger have been replaced with different things that you enjoy…but that is not the message here; there is a difference.

Doing things for yourself, by yourself or with a few friends is different. Taking your kids bowling Saturday is different from bowling in a foursome Tuesday night or in a league; going out for dinner with your wife is different from going to a friend’s house by yourself, without your family and…watching a Star Wars movie or playing a video game!

I can’t promise, but the world will go on without your being home or at work for a few hours! Balance: I need it, I admit it and am working on it. Are you balanced?

We would like to hear your thoughts and comments or stories. Please send them to…and don’t forget about the contest! May the most balanced win!

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