your story series | what well-balanced living means to you

**This post was written by the quirky, smiley, sassy, and lovely Tracey Carroll. Before you ask, Tracey is not related to Kelliann Carroll, our first guest in this series, but she IS how I came to be friends with Kelliann. So, like with most things, we’re all connected. Tracey and I grew up in the same neighbourhood and have known each other since we were three. Three! She is my very best friend, and I love her more than life itself. She brings out the best in everyone and certainly the most goofy side of me. She is quirky yet she is real, she is fiercely passionate about who she loves, and I feel #blessed every day that she loves me. Enjoy!**

 
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Name: Tracey Carroll

Age: 26

Job: Office Manager

Location: Bethlehem, PA

Favourite candy: KitKat

Favourite quote: “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” - Marcus Aurelius

 

When my best friend reached out to me and asked me what a well-balanced life means to me...I really didn’t have an answer.

Balance work and play, right? Yeah, that’s a well balanced life! But as I thought about it, I realised there’s so much more to it. I mean, balance is important for all aspects of life!

Mentally. Emotionally. Physically.

Let’s stop there for a moment.

Physical balance.

You need it to ride a bike. To walk straight. To stand on one foot and stretch your quads. Growing up, I was on the same intramural soccer team from kindergarten to when I was a senior in high school. Our coach would always have us stretch out our quads after practise.

Stand on one foot, kick the other foot back to your booty, grab on with your hand and hold. Sounds easy enough, but when you’re 13 and hanging out with all your teammates (who have really become your family), it’s hard to focus on your balance when all you really want to do is joke around. When we struggled keeping our balance (which was often), Coach Bob would tell us “put your finger in your belly button” and, for whatever reason, it would help us balance (I promise, I can’t make this ish up).

Thinking about it now, I’m guessing it has something to do with realising your body’s centre. At the time, it was just a cool party trick!

To this day, whenever I’m having trouble balancing (stretching, yoga, what-have-you), I stick my finger in my belly button like a reset button!

I guess that’s sort of weird. But don’t knock it ‘til you try it!

So if my childhood soccer team taught me how to physically balance, perhaps it also taught me other types of balance? Strap in folks, this is probably going to get weird.

Everything I learned about “balance” I learned at soccer practise: Advice from a 13 year old intramural soccer player.

1. Balance work and play

I’m sure you knew this was coming.

You want to be the best, you have to work for it!

You have to put the hours in. Run those laps around the field. Do those tedious drills that you swear Coach only makes you do to torture you. We would work out until we were about to throw up (OK, I’m exaggerating a little…) but we would put the work in and eventually Coach would say those beautiful words “time for sharks and minnows!”

What is sharks and minnows? It’s a wonderful game where the “minnows” were the defence with their little soccer balls and the “sharks” would come charging in with the intention of kicking the minnows’ balls out of the circle. We lived for this game at the end of practice. It was our reward. Our way to decompress and unwind.

My point is that you’re going to have to work in life. Nothing in life comes easy! So put on a smiley face for those not-so-pleasant customers at work, get that paycheck, pay those bills. And then after you do what you have to do, release that stress that work has given you.

Go out and play! Relax. Do something that makes you happy. When you do something for yourself instead of your coach, your boss, etc., you are resetting yourself.

Balance out those things you have to do with those things you want to do. At the end of the day, you should feel accomplished and at peace - the best of both worlds.

2. Have a positive attitude

Ah, the essence of what it means to be a good sport.

As a team, you need to support each other: “Keep it up!” “You can do it!” “Nice shot!” It won’t do anyone any good if you are spreading negative energy around your team. That stuff will affect the team’s motivation and confidence level and that is surely going to hinder your success come game time.

This goes for all aspects of your life. You need to have a positive attitude towards yourself. If you’re struggling to make that one trick shot, you don’t just give up and say “I can’t do it.” You have to keep trying, knowing that you can do it. Treating yourself with respect sets a baseline for how you expect others to treat you. It also sets a baseline for how you treat others!

The old lady working the register at a busy grocery store. The hard-working mom with the crying baby in the library.

The truth is, you don’t know what people are going through in life. So try not to get angry or frustrated in a stressful situation. Offer to help someone if the situation is right. Or flash them a kind smile.

Be positive, supportive, and respectful. I promise it will make you feel good. I know you know how good it feels when someone treats you kindly.

So spread that joy! Support your fellow people. And support yourself.

3. Listen to your body

Know when you need to give your body a rest.

Sprain a hammy during practice? Sit out. Continuing to push your body when it is hurt will only cause further issues. So rest that leg so you can be feeling nice and healthy for when game time comes!

Believe it or not, your body is smart. If it needs something, it will tell you! So know what to look for.

Chapped lips? Dehydrated - go drink some water.

Having trouble doing the “doo?” Need more fiber - knock it off with that keto diet you’re trying! Keto diets cut out most fiber-filled foods (grains, carb-filled veggies) and you need that fiber to help you go! (I’m not saying keto is bad, I truly don’t know much about it. This was just an excuse to advocate for carbs. I like carbs.)

If you’re feeling off, chances are that your body is telling you why! So listen to what it’s telling you and make changes that will make your body happy.

4. Set goals

Literally! The goal in soccer is to literally score the most goals. Maybe you’re defence and your goal is to not let more than 3 people past you in a game. Either way, you’re playing the game, you have a goal! So why not set goals in all aspects of your life.

Set a goal in your personal relationships. Reach out to your friend who moved away at least once a week.

Set a goal in your career. Put the effort in to get that promotion at the end of the year.

Set a goal for your physical health. Go to the gym at least 4 times a week.

Setting these goals not only gives you something to work for, it also feels fabulous when you’ve accomplished them.

5. Spend time with people you want to be around

When you play a sport, you spend a lot of time with your teammates. I was lucky enough to adore every member of my team. I played soccer with the same girls for over 12 years. You would think I enjoyed the game, right?

Truth is, I didn’t really. I wasn’t very good. I hated running. I played defence and was sort of scared of the ball. So why did I keep coming back every year?

Answer: my team.

I wanted to hang out with them. They were some of my best friends! And even though I didn’t really care for the game, I gave in to all the running and repetitive drills because I truly wanted to be there.

It’s amazing how being around the right people can change the way you feel about a situation. So find those people who truly make you happy. The people who support you. Who make you laugh. Who help you forget about crappy times you’re going through. Could be your friends, your family, your dog, even just yourself. Anyone who makes you feel better. Those people have the power to re-align whatever has you feeling off-balanced.

There you have it!

So there you have it! Five things that I do to help me live a well balanced life. Special shout out to Coach Bob and the team (Go Dye!). So next time you need a bit of help balancing, take a deep breath, relax, and think of me while you stick your finger in your belly button.