What Aerial Silks are Teaching Me About Balance

I’ve mentioned that I’m learning aerial circus at the moment, and that includes the silks. We were doing a strength activity the other night where the silks were tied and we were effectively see-sawing from being upside down with legs in a wide V to stop falling out, and then pulling ourselves up to a slightly seated position (like the picture above). As I was pulling myself up the instructor said “feel for the point where you go from pulling to pushing, that’s very important for some of the more complex tricks.” As I was lying in bed that night I thought that was a great metaphor for life in general, and particularly since I’ve moved into the freelance/working by-for myself space.


On the silks, the movement is all about balance. It’s about being able to feel that point where, if I were to keep pulling I would fall forward and out of the safety of the silks, so I need to rapidly shift to pushing back a little to keep my balance. But if I push back too far, then I will turn upside down again, and if my legs aren’t ready for that it would mean falling out of the silks onto my head. The pushing and pulling of this physical activity is how you maintain balance and, eventually, elegance in the silks.

The metaphor is great, because I’ve had to learn a lot about balance, starting my own business:

  • Sometimes I need to push everyone away and buckle down for business development — sometimes I need to remember to pull people close so I have mentors and support
  • Sometimes I need to push myself out into the world to get the work and make sure people think of me (and yes, that means selling) — sometimes I need to pull back, be kinder to myself and recharge my batteries
  • Sometimes I need to push through, giving the business more time and energy, making sacrifices — sometimes I need to pull away from the fun, but not time sensitive business activities and be with Derek, Lily and my friends

It can be a fine line, this yin and yang of starting your own business. I’m not doing a lot of things that I need to push myself to do, as a result I’m not pulling in the amount of work I would like to have. When I was an employee this was never a concern of mine, now it is a vital component of my balancing act.

Balance isn’t about equal measures

The reason this struck me as so relevant in my business is because I’ve been working very hard on understanding myself as a freelancer (the solopreneur title does not fit – but that’s a whole other blogpost). I did a whole activity on Balance in My Year of TED, and that resulted in defining my perfect day, but that was a perfect day as an employee – and the concept was problematic. I had tried to do some mix and match to redefine that, but working for yourself is more complex than that, the value of everything changes a little bit. What do I mean by that?

When I am balanced on the silks, the top half of my body weighs more than the bottom half, which is effectively just my legs. The balance is not about being perfectly level, because the two sides do not weigh the same – and that is how it works in life as well. Having work/life balance does not equate to spending the same amount of time at each, we all know that. So everything gets a value inside our heads, an arbitrary value that only we can define and decide upon. If I hate my job, then I’m going to need a lot more non-job related activities that bring me fulfilment and joy to balance that out. If I’m in a crappy relationship, then maybe spending more time at work is how I achieve the ‘balance’ of happiness.

My ‘perfect day’ when I was commuting into a job that was slowly sucking the life out of me, and watching people around me being treated extremely poorly, had a very different set of values than I have today. So, the last year has been about trying to understand those arbitrary measures for myself; learning which tasks I enjoy, which I hate and how much pushing or pulling is required so I don’t fall on my head, or face plant the mat.

Do you know your arbitrary values?

This post isn’t about me, it’s about you. Do you know how to get the right balance in your life? Do you understand your tipping points, and what keeps you in the safety of the silks? I don’t mean knowing that 30 minutes of X will require 2 hours of Y to make it better, I don’t think any of us know that. But are you aware of when you are pushing or pulling and when you need to shift gears to stay balanced? If not, maybe you need to spend a little time trying to work it out, or else when you’re at the point of learning the more complex tricks, you are likely to fall from a greater height.

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Gratitudes – Day 30 – Can you believe I forgot?!

Yesterday was Day 30, my final day of gratitudes for this mini-activity, and I completely forgot about them. Well, I remembered at about 2pm that I needed to do them, and I remembered when I got into bed last night – but at the time I should have been doing them… nothing. I think it was due to the fact that I had a very busy day on the computer yesterday, got into pretty good flow with a number of things, and that can often result in forgetting things.

Anyway, I should write my gratitudes for yesterday to complete the activity.

  1. Clarity – this has been a big thing for me in the last couple of weeks. I’ve had some great moments of clarity about the business, but yesterday was clarity about the book (yes, that all elusive book about My Year of TED).
  2. Mindless movie – we watched Fast & Furious 5 last night, sometimes mindless action is a great mood enhancer.
  3. Resources – found some great additional references and resources to include in the resource guide for my Social Media Savvy course – I will share some of them on dinkylune as well in the coming weeks.

I guess I am also grateful that the pressure to post these gratitudes daily is now over. It’s been a fantastic activity for me though; not only to remind myself how powerful daily gratitudes can be, but it has re-engaged me with writing on the blog. So expect to see more consistent content again, after all there is a lot going on in the Kylieverse*

[Couldn’t help myself Adam and Neil, hope you don’t mind :-)]

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Gratitudes – Day 29 – I guess I should include Mum today

Second last day of gratitudes, and it’s been another very slow day. As I’m writing this I have no idea what the three gratitudes will be – which is weird because I usually have clarity on that before I start writing the post, but anyway.

  1. Mum – it would be remiss of me not include gratitude for my mother on mother’s day, so it’s in my list. Now that sounds a little mean, and I didn’t intend for it to sound that way. I am grateful for my mother (and my father), it’s just that this particular day in the calendar has mixed history for us – I’ll just stop digging the hole here and leave it at that.
  2. Clarity – more elements clicking into place for my business and how I conceptualise it.
  3. Derek & Lily – they can share the third spot. I am always grateful for the little family we have created for ourselves.

I’m in quite a sombre mood today – it happens, and I’m hoping that it will be short lived, but that might be why I’m finding the gratitudes a little more difficult to come by today.

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Gratitudes – Day 28 – fun and relaxation

It’s been a pretty lazy Saturday for Derek and me today; a much needed one.

  1. Wii – we’ve been in the new house for almost two years now and have never set the Wii up. Today it came out, and we found out how rusty we are with the games :-)
  2. Connection – a few lovely responses from the mailing list email I sent yesterday. Always enjoy it when people let me know how they feel about my writing.
  3. Dodgy movies – sometimes it’s just nice to have something mind numbing to watch; enjoyable but not too taxing in the plot department.

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sm savvy

Gratitudes – Day 27 – Reminder of changes

Wow, the last week of gratitudes has just flown by, or maybe it’s just that the last week has flown by. Anyway, here are today’s:

  1. Learning – attended a great online clinic today. It was on a topic I discovered about a year ago, but my brain is now ready to comprehend what it means for me – yes, I can be a slow learner at times.
  2. Inspired – I went to a networking afternoon where we were fortunate enough to hear Glenn Manton speak. If you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend it. I’m very grateful for Glenn’s messages and humanity.
  3. Sale – last night I launched my first real online course (90 days of TED was only Hobart and partly done in person so doesn’t entirely count), called Social Media Savvy. This morning I woke up to my first sale! It’s actually a great commentary on the course, given it is a person who has been reviewing the content for me, and he still thinks it’s worthwhile to spend money to get the course in its entirety!
    [P.S. – if you’re a dinkylune subscriber you will be getting an email tonight about the course, with a link to the sales page that already has Lesson 1 unlocked for you.]

There was a lot happening today, and one of the events was a reminder to myself that I’ve come a long way. I messed up with an appointment this morning, which for many of you might not be a big deal. Pre-My Year of TED Kylie would have spent a good hour or so berating myself about how I could have been so stupid, dwelling on the lost time and money associated with the error. So, I was pleasantly surprised when my first reaction was simply “bugger!”

I didn’t beat myself up, there was no internal commentary about how this simple error was an indication of how [insert insult here] I am – it was just a simple, factual account of how much more pleasant my morning could have been if I hadn’t got the time wrong. So, for all of you perfectionists out there, all of you who have a shocking internal critic and no ability for self-compassion – I am living proof that you can change that internal dialogue. It takes time, but the fact that I didn’t even have to catch myself and practice self-kindness was a wonderful realisation of how far I’ve come in this whole crazy adventure.

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Sleeping Beauty

Gratitudes – Day 26 – Snow, excitement and laughs

Winter made an early appearance today, although it’s not that early by Tasmanian standards I guess. Onto the gratitudes for today:

  1. Snow – lots of beautiful snow. Yes, it’s cold but stunning (above photo is Sleeping Beauty, mountains behind us).
  2. Email – I do not like to talk about things until I have complete confirmation of them, so let’s just say that I got a fantastic email today that I’m very excited.
  3. Friends – a lovely lunch spent with friends, always a reason to be grateful.


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Gratitudes – Days 24 & 25 – Treats, tech wins and an epiphany

I didn’t post gratitudes yesterday because I didn’t think it was right to include them in the interview post, and I didn’t want to break the cardinal rule of posting only once a day on the blog. So, you get a double dose again today. Here goes, gratitudes for Tuesday:

  1. Chocolate – so I’ve been pretty much fructose-free since August last year. I still eat fruit, but maintain less than 3grams per 100grams of sugar in everything I eat (yes I still do lactose). This was not due to the “sugar is evil” debate, although since I have had to be more conscious of sugar levels in things it has shocked me what has sugar in it. It was to help my liver recover from finally feeling the effects of my steroid overdose years ago. Since Christmas, I’ve had a couple of events where I’ve let loose, but I still stay close to the diet. Yesterday I gave myself a treat, and I am very grateful that I can do that now without pain.
  2. Rain – I enjoy the rain, and yesterday morning it was lovely sitting inside out gorgeous house and watching the rain and the mist.
  3. Interview – lastly, I’m grateful that I got the editing and transcribing finished for the interview with Vanessa, and it all went up without any technical hitches.

And what am I grateful for today?

  1. Video – I’m extremely grateful I finished the sales video for my new course, one day I will have to cut together all of the atrocious takes and faces I pull at the camera when I have to do that sort of thing.
  2. Aha moments – I had a mini epiphany about something this morning. It needs a post dedicated to it, but I will say that I made a niche decision and I’m not hedging my bets anymore.
  3. Circus – come on, it’s Wednesday, you knew it was going to be in here. Although given how cold and rainy it is, getting there and back is not part of the gratitude :-)

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An Interview on the 5 Secrets of a Successful TED Talk

Something different for my blog. I recently did an interview with Vanessa Van Edwards, Author & Behavioral Investigator at about recent research they have released on the 5 Secrets of a Successful TED Talk. Listen to the audio, or you can download a transcript from the links below.




Links of interest


Personally, I got a lot of great tips from this interview, what was your favourite gem of information?


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Gratitudes – Day 23 – May the fourth be with you

Some days there are far more things to be grateful for – days like that are not the days you need to do the gratitudes exercise. It is days like today that are the reason an activity of finding three gratitudes each day comes in handy. Days when my mood is quite low, I’m at home (working by myself), and there aren’t a lot of wins. Oh, and I’m not saying it’s been a very bad day, just a low ebb, so gratitudes will come in handy:

  1. Finishing – ticking three things off a fairly lengthy to-do list for the week.
  2. Heated tiles – this might sound a little strange, but it was quite chilly here earlier in the day. We have undertile heating in our bathroom, so its always a pleasant place to be, even if the rest of the house gets nippy. So my main thrill for the day was a hot shower at lunchtime, in the warmest room in the house :-)
  3. Social media – it would not be often that this gets a gratitude mention from me, but there were a couple of great articles in my feeds today that made me smile and reconnected me a little bit with other people. The Amy Schumer video clip was particularly amusing.

And then again there is always the feature image – the idea of which always makes me grateful for a world of nerds, geeks and the sort of people that get a kick out of this sort of thing! [I have no idea where this particular image originated, since nobody has attributed it, but would be happy to attribute it if I knew who you were.]

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Gratitudes – Day 21 and 22 – A lovely weekend

Okay, so after a market yesterday and then a few hours with friends, I was a bit too tired to write gratitudes – so I decided to just do them both tonight.

Day 21

  1. Happy customers – I’ve come to learn that you can never anticipate market sales. I generally make around the same amount of money at each market, but what I sell is completely random – there is no pattern. But as long as people find what I do interesting and there are a few happy customers each day, then I feel like it was all worthwhile.
  2. Lovely stallholders – I’ve always been very fortunate that the other stallholders at the markets I do are lovely. They’re usually all very happy and are willing to share ideas, a chat and a laugh. Yesterday was no exception.
  3. Socialising – we had a nice couple of hours celebrating a friends birthday yesterday afternoon. Met some new people as well, and played Cards Against Humanity – so got to know everyone a little better :-)

Day 22

  1. Hula hoop – I bought a hula hoop this morning, so I can practice some of my new circus skills at home :-)
  2. Relaxing – a fairly lazy Sunday afternoon to just chill and get some relaxation in.
  3. Bolognese – Derek makes a mean spaghetti bolognese, and he made it for us tonight. As an added bonus there is always enough for two more meals (yummmm!).

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