integrated [in-ti-grey-tid]
1. combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole.
2. organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been trying to figure out how the parts of my life fit together.

I used to think of my life as a pie chart. There was a slice for sleep, a slice for school/work, and slices for all the other stuff I do in a given day: errands and chores, time with friends and family, hobbies, etc. If one slice of the pie grew, (e.g. I slept in one day), the other slices had to shrink to accommodate that.

I used spend a lot of time focusing on getting more pieces in the pie and optimizing the ones that were already there. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

These days, I’m more interested in the pie itself. The more I play with this idea, the clearer it becomes that the pieces are all connected. So what does that look like in practice?

For example, the exercise piece of the pie is pretty small. Some days it’s not there at all. But really exercise is just a way that I take care of myself, and there are lots of ways to do that:

  • Cooking and eating healthy food
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Having a hygenic routine
  • Relaxing with people I love

So even though the exercise slice might not be there every day, I can make sure I do things to take care of myself.

I don’t think it stops there, though. I mean, doing the laundry and paying bills are ways I take care of myself. Is it possible that my whole life could be a “How Julia takes care of herself” pie?

If I know what kind of pie I have…

  • I don’t have to fit in all the pieces every day, because they’re all self-care-flavored. Yum!
  • I can more easily see what pieces don’t fit in my pie. (Is “going to this party even though I’m exhausted” self-care-flavored? I don’t think so.)
  • I know that making small adjustments to one piece will affect the whole pie.

Havi Brooks calls this “watering the fractal flowers”, i.e. being willing to ask yourself, “How will doing the laundry help me write this grant proposal?” and being curious about the answer.

My pie isn’t perfect. It won’t win any prizes at the state fair. Some days it doesn’t taste good, even to me. But I’m still tweaking the recipe, because I know that’s more important than how many pieces there are.

Photo credit: stock.xchng


I would love to know if you read this and if it sparked anything for you! You can always leave me a pebble -o- if you want me to know you were here but don’t have anything to say right now.

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