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The Game of Life

Each year, Santa brings a game for our family to play.  It used to be things like RISK and Monopoly but more recently, the focus has been on fast fun that allows us to quickly connect for a laugh in between bouts of homework, chores and device worship.

This year was no exception, and we are now the proud owners of Don't Spill the Beans.   The game contents include a bean pot with lid, bunch of tiny plastic beans, a playing area on which you place the bean pot, and four trays to hold your beans.

The beans are divided evenly between all players. The player who receives the last bean goes first.
Players take turns dropping a single bean onto the bean pot. Since the pot hangs slightly above the play area by its handles, the balance shifts with each additional bean, eventually causing a spill. When the beans fall, the player who tipped the pot adds the spilled beans to their tray. Play continues until someone runs out of beans. The player who runs out of beans first is the winner.
Punctuated by flatulence related jokes, we soon became more adept at placing the beans and extending the game.  Weight and counterweight.  Balance was the objective.
Later that night, I reflected on how the game was a perfect metaphor for how I was feeling as the year was coming to a close.  
I could close my eyes and picture the beans being dropped onto the pot.  Back

to work full-time. Plop. Managing the house and kids while the Spouse travelled so much. Plop. Plop.  Three dogs at home (not a lot of effort when you are home all day but now....).  Plop. Plop. Plop.  
Counterbalance: yoga, meditation, visits with Sista. Plop. Plop. Plop.
The Middle one moving in: Plopity Plop Plop.
I can see the imbalance.  And I know that it will only take a few more beans on one side to send them all toppling into the pot.  It cannot be that one sided for long.  I cannot see life in this way.
What I like the most about this game though is that even if the distribution of beans is too much and they all tumble into the pot, you can play again.  It is a reminder to me that I need to take a break---regroup---and take a look at my beans.  
I used to feel it was success or fail.  Win or lose.  Float or sink.  But know I know it is really about trying.   There will be days that are unbalanced; days when it feels like a handful of beans got dumped on one side all at once; and there is absolutely no way to counter it when that happens.  
While maintaining balance would be the sounds like a lot of work, and I suspect I would spent a lot of time worrying about imbalance instead of recognizing that sometimes, things will be up and sometimes they will be down.  
Think about a high wire artist.  Their goal is to maintain balance.  Does that look
relaxing to you in ANY WAY?  For them it is about survival.  Imbalance could mean death.  Not a few beans spilling out of a pot.  I don't want to live that way.  That is way too much pressure.
Youngest is 10 and I am thinking this game will allow us to have some good conversations about balancing your life.  I invision conversations about video games, chores, schoolwork, and how by keeping a variety of things in our life, no one thing will be life and death....including balance!
Problems happen.  It is a fact.  So get used to tipping the beans and starting over.  
2015 is on the horizon and I am watching my beans.  There are a lot on there right now so I will have to make some decisions.  
Do I need to remove beans?  
I have chosen to add a lot of these beans myself.  Luckily, the choice of how to look at them is also mine.  Another child in the house, work, dogs---add to the challenges of managing but also bring joy and love.  Each day is different.  Each moment could spill or stabilize the pot.  I am not willing to remove any--so perhaps I need to stop seeing them as good or bad. They just are.
Should I be adding beans?
If I start to perceive one side as too heavy with 'negative' items, it would seem logical to try to add 'positive' things to the other side to create balance.  More yoga, more meditation, more 'me' time.   Again, I am forced to look at how I perceive these things.  
Meditation, yoga and Sista have all been invaluable parts of my recovery---but
by trying to keep up my daily practices to the same extent while working and 'moming' will only cause resentment and stress on days when it simply does not fit.  
Adding to my pot --the 'if some is good more is better' philosophy doesn't work either.  
How do I win?
Life is the pot and how we live it is the beans. What you do with your beans---what value you place on them and you can see it as a game of fun and learning or not is what will determine how much you enjoy your life.   It is not about life and death---it is about what you do in between.




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