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Seek variety over balance or organization in life

Katie Pinke / Agweek Publisher1 / 2
Anika Pinke, age 8, in her first week of 4-H archery practice. Katie Pinke / Forum News Service2 / 2

While checking out at Target recently, the checker asked, "Oh, do you have a new house?"

"No," I replied. "I'm just organizing at home a bit."

She said, "Last year, I moved into a new house and used all of these drawer organizers you're buying as we moved in."

"Well I have lived in my house for 10 years and have messy, unorganized drawers, so hopefully this helps," I said.

My daughters laughed, and one said, "It's OK, Mom. Ten years ago, you were having babies and traveling all the time for work. You didn't have time to organize drawers!"

Organized drawers? Do I have time to tackle organization now? Is this a benchmark of an organized mom? I'm comfortable with having messes in my life. We all have them, whether we choose to share them or sit down and write a column about our messes.

In the different seasons of life, we learn to survive and keep going with messes around us. A decade ago, organized drawers were not a priority when I was working full-time, traveling two to four times a month for work, trying to be a breastfeeding baby's mama, juggling an elementary son's schedule, supporting my husband in his career change to grow his family business, teaching Sunday school, volunteering on boards and more.

Truthfully, organized drawers still are not a priority in my life. Having less stuff and more variety in my life is a priority, though.

Keeping my house in better order with less stuff gives me more variety. Less stuff means less to organize and less to put away and more time for life with my husband and kids and more time to pursue a hobby, a passion, an outdoor activity or travel.

For years, I searched for organization and tried to find "balance" in my life. I read about it. I longed for it. I coveted other people's balanced lives (or at least they looked that way from the outside). But I didn't do enough for myself to know what I needed.

I turned 39 years old on January 6. I took some time to reflect on what my 30s taught me. I'm no longer seeking organization or balance in my life. I strive for and need variety in my life. Variety fulfills me. Balance is boring.

This past week, I had meetings in downtown Fargo, which is 180 miles from my prairie home. I spent a night away from home and drove back in the afternoon ahead of the impending snowstorm. Along the stretch of Interstate 94, I thought about the variety in my work and personal life and, mostly, about the variety of experiences and people who teach and challenge me to grow and be more.

By late afternoon, I was home to pick up my daughters from an after-school church activity. I started supper and went to a special meeting for the city council, which I serve on. After the meeting, I stopped at our small-town civic center to see our daughters at their 4-H archery practice, learning a lifelong skill that brings variety to their lives as children and can extend into adulthood.

No matter what messes or organized drawers I do or don't have in my life, variety trumps balance. Variety brings me new experiences and to new locations, and, most of all, it connects me to people. Someday, when my house is old, it still won't be completely organized, but it will have housed a variety of people and shared experiences.