Finding Balance

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Blog entry by christopheralan posted 02-09-2011 04:56 AM 1466 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my wife, my family and my job. I feel very blessed in this life. By day, I work for the Marine Corps. I am no longer active duty; I served for eight years and change, and now enjoy working with the Marines as a civilian. I build things for the rifle range at Camp Lejeune, everything from targets and tables to benches and boxes. By night, depending on the day of the week, I do everything else. Mondays are “watch the kids and writing” night. Tuesday is Cub Scouts. Wednesday is my TV night (Myth-Busters rocks!). Thursday and Friday are filling- in-the-blank nights which could be anything from woodworking, to cleaning the house, to playing with the kids. The weekend is catch-up and family time.

I don’t think I am any more or less busy than anyone else. We all find things to fill in our day, be it emergencies (real or imagined), TV (“OMG! Did you see American Idol?!”), Hobbies, or whatever. The trick is to find balance with all of the things we do. I have always struggled with balancing my time and tasks. Sometimes I will be working so hard to get shape and lose weight that I have no time to do any woodwork. I might then get a commission, and back to the shop I go. Then, I realize how much I miss making sawdust, or that I am getting rusty on a skill and back to the shop I go (all the while, not setting foot on the treadmill). After a while of nothing but exercise, then nothing but woodwork, my kids start getting restless. They want to wrestle and play with their ol’man. The wife starts to wonder what happened to her husband, the house starts falling apart, stress creeps in and all hell breaks loose.

Last year, I was doing really well. I was getting fit, I had numerous commissions, and most importantly, I felt like a good husband and a good father. I decided it was time to start running again. I have never liked running, even when I was a triathlete. The only reason I did run was because there were no swim/bike combination races. I had to learn how to run to be competitive. The running carried over into the Marine Corps, where I still hated it, in the form of formation runs and physical fitness tests. I looked forward to getting out of the Marines, partly so I would never have to run again.

After getting out and becoming fat and happy for a few years, it was time to get back to my fighting weight. I lost a bunch of weight and felt great. Then I got lazy. I didn’t maintain it. It’s not like I couldn’t maintain it. I just didn’t. So I started up again. I borrowed P90X from a friend and had Tony Horton kick my ass for a while. I was doing great! I felt good, looked good (well, better anyway…), and decided it was time to start running. Why? Because I know it is good for me. Doing the difficult, challenging things makes us better people. I wanted to run, but this time, on my terms. Not because I had to as the final leg of a triathlon, or because Uncle Sam made me. I wanted to do it for me.

I looked around the internet for a running program that I thought be fit the bill. I am prone to shin splints so I wanted to make sure I started off slow. I ended up using the Couch-to-5k running plan. This was actually my second time using it. It is basically, interval training to build you up to running 3.1 miles after 6 weeks. Day 1 was great! I was outside, great weather, feeling good, and rocking music. Day 2 was a rest day, and I was still feeling good. Not much soreness, just some muscle fatigue. Day 3 was a fitness trail, over some logs, under some trees, and up and down hills. I was feeling great! The trail opened up to a dirt road and SNAP! Rolled my ankle. Bad. That boney bump on the outside of your ankle? On the ground. Limped back to my car cursing the whole way. Drove to the ER. Nothing broken. Torn ligaments. Physical Therapy: 3 months. Got better. Got lazy. Really lazy. I tried to stay productive while I was licking my wounds. Got a new lathe, did a few projects, and learned some new techniques. Mostly, I just sat around. I started reflecting. I took an honest look at my life and how everything fits together. Where am I now? What sucks? What rocks? What do I want/need/desire? How do I get there? Where is my beer…?

So here I am now.

Here is my goal:

I will balance my time. I will commit time to my wife, my family, my health and fitness and my woodwork. I will remember that I work for my family, not in spite of my family. I will dedicate time for diet and exercise because it is an investment (you don’t put a crappy blade in a Power Matic do ya?), and I will keep growing as a woodworker. I will not settle on “good enough.” I will step-up and start living and performing to my potential as a husband, father, friend, woodworker, and any other roll I happen to fill.
It is time to LIVE, not just exist.

Questions/Comments: [email protected]
My website:

-- christopheralan

7 comments so far

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 4106 days

#1 posted 02-09-2011 05:22 AM

Goals are great. Stay focused. Excel.
About the running, no need to do that to that extent. Best method: once a week run sprints. Sprint at a fast pace for a distance, walk the same distance, sprint it again, repeat. For more info on this, go to the following link and look around. Read about workouts and fitness truths. I eat healthy with minimal exercise and have dropped 13 lbs since Jan. 1. I am not a case of an obese person that you hear about that sheds the pounds quickly at first. I am just a little overweight and want to be healthy and look great. Check it out.

It works! Keep in touch.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View Brit's profile


8458 posts in 4134 days

#2 posted 02-09-2011 02:02 PM

Great post Chris. It definitely is about finding the right balance between all the things you need and want to do. I’ve come to realise that if you’re a hobby woodworker, then it can only ever be one ingredient in the cocktail of life and that other things are equally deserving of my time and money. Short of winning the lottery, I will never have my ideal workshop, or my ideal tools, or the ideal wood to build my projects out of. I will never be in a position to post a new project every week, but I’ve found that there is an enormous amount of satisfaction to be had in always striving for perfection in the time that you have available and with whatever tools you have at your disposal. It forces you to think outside the box and get creative with your techniques.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Goddahavefun's profile


166 posts in 4251 days

#3 posted 02-09-2011 03:08 PM

Good stuff Chris , thats a brilliant post !!!
It’s like “therapy’ for a Woodworker !!! I think we a ll moonlight in many things apart from just being a husband ect !! my wife reminds of such things when I go out the shed for the day !! being male i find i miss the obvious thing that she wants !! I realised it’s not something from the shed that fullfills her !! it’s me that she wants !!! she pulled me up last week and said “why cant we do something together this weekend , being male “woodworker” i didnt realise that she had been pleading for my time, so i said OK !! how about sunday we do something , the markets were on in town, she suggested I take some of my many completed woodprojects down there & see if we can sell them !!! my mirrors went off ,everyone loved them and I now have back orders for them !!! & there is my problem !!! I now need more shed time to make them !!!
but with good time managment I can also spend time with her , ive learnt to not get too absorbed in my projects , especiallly right now , because we are about to under IVF for the second time 21st feb !!! we are hoping it works this time, My Wife is my Project , she’s an ongoing thing, that always needs my attention !!

Thanks for the inspiration that has made write this chris !!!

Cheers mate


-- Think,Dream,Inspire,Create ! your Shed is waiting for You !

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 4158 days

#4 posted 02-09-2011 03:35 PM

Well you’re thinkin the right way. My problem was being a workaholic. I’ve always worked my butt off and now I look back and wonder where all the years went. It seems like I have worked my whole life away, now. There are all kinds of things that I missed out on and didn’t give enough attention to. For any young man starting out: ”DON’T EVER BECOME A WORKAHOLIC!!!

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 5012 days

#5 posted 02-10-2011 02:38 AM

Great input guys! Thanks for adding your thoughts!

woodworkerscott-Thanks for the link man!
Brit-Well said Sir!
Anthony-”...learnt to not get too absorbed in my projects , especiallly right now , because we are about to under IVF for the second time 21st feb !!! we are hoping it works this time, My Wife is my Project , she’s an ongoing thing, that always needs my attention !!” You are a good man, dude. My wife loved reading your post and we both wish you and yours well!
helluvawreck-I share the same problem from time to time. I think I try to fool myself and call it dedication, when it truly isn’t.

Thanks for reading guys!

-- christopheralan

View littlecope's profile


3133 posts in 4794 days

#6 posted 02-10-2011 03:14 AM

Great and Thoughtful Blog Chris…
For myself, I made a decision a long time ago that I’ve always held to…
I work to live… and will never live to work!!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 5012 days

#7 posted 02-10-2011 06:46 AM

Mike-Truly words to live by my friend. Thanks.

-- christopheralan

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