Sunday, July 24, 2011

Balancing Head and Heart


As Camille noted in her “Body Surfing for Boomers” post, one of our big challenges was letting our values drive our responses and actions to the tsunamis we had experienced.  While we recognized that we needed to “ride the wave,” it was still a struggle to find a balance between head and heart. 

In our hearts, we’ve known – from the beginning – that this was the right move.  We need to make this move to Maine; we can feel it; we need to define our purpose.  On the other hand, there are all these “head” issues that focus on the everyday things we will need to address: what will we do, who will we do it for, where will we live, etc.:  All those things that smart people plan for in preparing for big lifestyle changes. 

Interestingly, we’re just now coming into convergence on head and heart balance.  Most of the time, we’ve been at polar opposites: Camille would be on the heart side, I’d be on the head side.  Then we’d convince the other of our point of view and switch – she’d then be on the head side, me on the heart side. 

The other interesting aspect (at least for me) was that whichever one of us was more head focused, was more anxious.  We worried about those things that smart people worry about; we never came up with the answers, but they took up a lot of our energy and concern.

In the past few weeks, as our time draws closer to leaving, we’ve come together more around the head – heart balance.  We feel we’re pretty well prepared to make this move in the way in which we want.  We’ll have the resources to take a significant time off to reset and refresh.  We’ve come to terms with a lifestyle that will enable us to do so.  We’re not blindly marching into the fray; we’re not as prepared as others might be, but we’re good enough and that’s what counts.

A good example is our recent reconnaissance trip to Maine, ostensibly to find a place to live.  We had a set of criteria: hardwood floors, claw foot tub, reasonable rent, inspiring neighborhood.  As you can imagine, we looked at a number of apartments in different parts of town.  None of the initial places we visited met our expectations.  We were getting pretty discouraged.  Finally, the last place we looked at we knew was the place for us.  It met our basic criteria and then some.  It wasn’t perfect, but we weren’t settling either.  This place will be good for us.  It will allow us to do what we need to do.  It will be good enough to inspire us.

How have been you handled the “head – heart” challenges in your life?  Do you look for balance or do you let one drive your behavior over the other?

We’d love to get your feedback on our “journey” as well as hear about your own journey in new directions.  Please use the comment section below to share your thoughts and ideas.

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  1. I usually find, when needing and/or preparing to make big life changes, that it's almost as if the decision was made for me. Changing jobs, changing careers -- I can't talk about moving, Scott, because Roger and I have lived in the same place for 38 years, and we'll probably be carried out of here feet first -- it always seems that I simply know when it's time to move on. And when it's time...well, then, it's time, and the change feels good and right, which is how you and Camille are feeling right now.

    Physicists will tell you that gravity is the strongest force in the universe. I disagree. I think it's inertia, which is why change is so difficult for so many, so much of the time. We get so comfortable in the same old, same old that we frequently don't recognize the signals telling us that it's time to leave; and, of course, we get nervous about the unknown. What's the phrase? "Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't"...?

    I'm so happy for you and Camille; being able to share the anxiety and the excitement makes both so much more fun, and so much more a part of growing. Change allows us to grow and reinvent ourselves, no matter what our age. Congratulations on your move, and on your reinvention!

  2. Having two people to balance head-heart issues makes these decisions easier to come to terms with. If one is struggling head-heart alone, the decision may be reached irrationally. Listening only to your heart doesn't permit for reality and the resulting decision may not be what you intended (the reverse holds true for listening only to what your head says).
    I am happy you and Camille have the balancing act and can truly put everything in place. Reinvention of oneself is good for the soul and for sanity.

  3. Paula...I think you're right about the power of inertia. It can truly be a powerful force that prevents us moving forward. You're also correct in that when the decision is right, it tends to come easy. I wouldn't entirely discount a move by you and Roger, my folks recently moved out of their home in which they lived for 47 years.

    Vicki...I don't know about it being any easier to balance head - heart issues with two people. As I noted, Camille and I tended to counter each other as we've gone through our decision process. Having said that, we are now pretty much in synch as we begin acting on those decisions.

    Thanks to you both for your comments.


  4. Scott - this post is very encouraging for me as I am currently involved in making some significant personal decisions.


  5. I'm more of a "Jump and the net will appear" kind of person. I'm always sniffing the wind to get a feel for which way to go. It's worked out so far and I've learned to trust it. It does require suspending logic - or at least relegating it to map planning duty.

  6. Mark...Good luck with your decision-making. Take pleasure in "riding the wave."

    Joe...Your approach seems very much in synch with your creative side. Learning to trust our instincts is probably one of the best lessons we can learn in life.

    Thanks for your comments.