YEARS AGO, I had the opportunity to take the Rorschach inkblot test as part of my company’s management-assessment program. The famed exam is administered by showing a series of cards with randomized inkblots to the test taker and the subject is asked to interpret them. There is no right or wrong answer, but it can be very revealing about personality characteristics and emotional state.
I recall looking over each card with the company proctor and taking my time in providing very vanilla answers. However, I had an immediate visceral reaction to one card in particular and I remember it to this day. In my mind the blot clearly illustrated “two girls with pony tails on a seesaw.” The administrator and I both laughed knowingly after my response.
The word seesaw is derived from the French ci-ca, meaning literally, this-that. I certainly did not need a trained psychologist to tell me why I had interpreted a random drawing so surely and distinctly. At that point in my life, I was a young mother already struggling with how to maneuver through the world of child-care, quality family time, work effort and guilt.
This, that. Push, pull.
I was at the front end of a social phenomenon that remains unabated: work-life balance. Thus it was no surprise that the two girls on the seesaw was a metaphor describing the constant re-balancing challenge I was facing at that time and, like most moms, has continued.
Is it any wonder that so many women seek inner peace through yoga? A 2008 study by Yoga Journal cited that the number of people trying to achieve Zen was nearly 16 million. Most of the devotees are female, searching for a little health, harmony and Pratyahara in their lives.
While I like the general idea of yoga and Lululemon clothing, I found that yoga was not my thing. I attended one hot yoga class and after reaching for a sip of water mid-way through the 90 minute session, the teacher scolded me, “Vinyasa says to withhold earthly pleasure!” I did not return.
For those of us who find dehydration and Gumby poses intimidating, there is the kinder, gentler Asian philosophy of Yin Yang. The Taoist philosophy holds that opposites with polar forces are interdependent and connected and are in a constant state of change and that everything is relative. You can meditate, observe nature or pursue poetry and music. It also encourages self acceptance and being present in the moment. Seems doable to me, I feel my inner-smile already.
I can’t say that any of the sensations of juggling have yielded over the years. While inner-peace may have eluded me, I have learned to accept that motherhood does present itself with a necessary tug. We manage the variables in our control and learn to just let go of the rest for our own sanity.
Carol Lewis Gullstad and her friend and colleague and I take turns updating our Permission Slips blog each week.