Wheel of Life and Life Balance

One of the things I've been working on during the stay-at-home orders for the local DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area is taking some time to think about how my life can be more balanced.

It's previously come up through life coaching sessions and chatting with friends…and I instinctively knew my life was a little out of balance. For years I've focused on my career and professional life and I've long yearned for a break or sabbatical of some sorts. But really, I think I was just burning too much of the candle in the career category at the expense of other things in life.

So, in drawing out this wheel of life (Thanks, Laisa!) and looking over things, one tweak my wife Jen and I have decided to make is get rid of digital news and subscribe to our local Sunday paper. For us, living in Washington, that means the Washington Post. It's been about 3 weeks now and:

  • It's nice to have greater variety and headlines that have less click bait.
  • What we read is what everyone is reading and what we see isn't curated based on what we've clicked online.
  • The stories have had more time for fact-checking.
  • I've taken up doing the sudoku puzzles and it's been fun to check out the Comics section, something I haven't done since high school.
  • We feel less drained and overall it's been great.

Jen also repotted some plants and we got some Sonos speakers, both to improve our home environment.

Another thing we decided to do, in the contribution area of the wheel, was to pick six reputable charities (for example, those that put >75% of their money back in to the actual programs, like these) that we would feel great about supporting on a monthly auto-pay basis.

Personally, I'm not one to volunteer my time. It's just not me. That being said, I do like the idea of funneling money…and giving back and helping out in that way.

I ended up picking the following charities, in no particular order.

First of all, I wanted to go for a few medical related ones. I've had close family and people I know be personally affected by ALS, breast cancer, and myeloma. Thus, I started with the ALS Association, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

Next, nature and our environment is something that is really important to me…and I really love parks. This lead me to the National Parks Foundation and The Conservation Fund.

Last, for my 6th one I decided to not opt for an actual charity, but rather make a difference in my community by contributing to and joining a political party, the Green Party.

Historically, I've always been an independent because both Republican and Democratic politicians as a collective haven't really served the American people as well as they could. And it isn't helpful that it's only those two parties that have all the power. I think we'd do much better with, say, five equally powerful parties that better covers the spectrum of society. Having only two in primary control, like we do now, makes things too oppositional, something which the 24-hour "news" cycle feeds on to manufacture and exacerbate controversy for their profit.

People typically think of the Green Party as being about the environment which, of course, it is. Addressing climate change, getting off fossil fuels, switching to renewable energy, and otherwise taking care of our planet are all important in my mind.

But as I looked in to them, their Four Pillars, and Ten Key Values, I realized they stood for much more than the environment and they really go for a lot of things that I think need to happen.

Stuff I believe, like:

  • Aside from being a peace advocate, I think we spend WAY too much on military and endless wars. In fact, it might be our downfall. There's been studies in to the rise and fall of previous empires that show that overextending on military spending is one cause for such downfalls.
  • Elections need to be publicly financed.
  • Gerrymandering needs to be eliminated.
  • Lobbying needs to be classified as bribery and made illegal.
  • We've gotten so far away from the days of the 1960s in which one income could provide for a family of four. Establishing a living wage based on your region (Example: your county) and tying that annually to inflation seems to make sense.
  • The middle class has dwindled in recent decades and a disproportionate amount of wealth has flowed from the lower and middle class to the extremely wealthy. An extreme wealth tax seems like a great idea…as does going back more in the direction of higher taxes on the mega wealthy.
  • Similarly, there is no reason anyone in the US should be bankrupted for medical reasons, something that almost happened to me when I was 29. Last I looked, the US ranked 37th in health care systems in the world. We need to adopt health care systems similar to that of other first world nations.
  • Our infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports, etc) needs to be repaired, updated, and modernized.
  • For-profit prisons have got to go.
  • Marijuana needs to be legalized.
  • And much more…

In any case, it's been nice to put a make some tweaks to our lives to better bring about life balance.