That's life, really - a balancing act. You balance what's important to you with what must be done ... and hopefully, at times, the two intersect.
The older I get, the better I get at balance. Living a balanced (or somewhat balanced, or almost balanced) life means first figuring out what's important to you, and then living that way.
For years, I said that my health and my financial well-being were at the top of my list of values - right up there with friends and family. But did I walk my own talk? No ma'am; I said it, but I didn't live it. So when the opportunity came to join a gym a few (okay, six) years ago, I took the leap and I never looked back. That decision had a profound effect on my ability to achieve balance in that part of my life. As for finances, well ... that's been more of a challenge, but not a bad one, really. Especially now, because I'm living rent-free while I save to buy my own place, I am able to achieve and remain in balance.
So the true challenge is making sure I spend time with the people I value. That point was driven home over the weekend by a visit to Wisconsin that turned into an opportunity to celebrate my birthday with a near birthday-twin, and while up there, help out a friend who wasn't feeling well.
Does it take effort to road-trip north of the border for a weekend? Yes. It takes time and gas, plus a good playlist. But is it worth it? Again, yes; hell yes, in fact. The journey northward takes me to people who fill my soul with love and my belly with bread and cheese. I come home with a new freckle on my nose from time in the sun, and sore abdominals from laughing. And I get to feel like I've made a contribution, small though it may be, to people who matter.
It's the best kind of balance there is, and it makes for a return to work (or "re-entry", as I call it) that's a little nostalgic, wishing I had a bit more weekend. Which, I guess, is a sign that balance has been achieved.