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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« 10 Inspiring Ways to Create Balance | Life Balance Through Family »

Stepping Away for Balance

Sometimes our balance comes from taking a break from life as we know it. There’s nothing quite like going far away to get some perspective. As many of you know, I recently returned from Japan.

This past spring, I was thrilled and honored by the invitation from JALO (Japan Association of Life Organizers) President, Mayumi Takahara to give two presentations and participate in a panel for the 2014 JALO conference in Yokohama. My ICD colleague, Vickie Dellaquila was also invited to present and we had the joy of being there together along with our husbands.

JALO has an amazing group of people. They are warm, gracious, and fun! I loved sharing my expertise and learning about organizing challenges in Japan. It was an extraordinary trip and I’m so grateful to Mayumi for offering me this opportunity.

Prior to leaving, my balance was way off due to competing demands and responsibilities. During the trip my balance continued to teeter as I adjusted to a new culture for almost two weeks and time zone (14 hours ahead.) Even still, it felt normal and positive being off balance as I experienced the new sights, sounds, scents, tastes, places, people, and things.


There were a few things that I observed while away. There was a wonderful mix of serenity, organization, and humor in the Japanese culture. My husband and I traveled to three cities- Yokohama, Kyoto, and Tokyo. In each place we found peaceful spots like trickling water fountains, gardens, and temples. Organization showed up in many areas such as the excellent train systems. And humor appeared when you least expected it with interesting architectural details, funny advertisements, or oversized anime characters (live or as statues).


Some things I loved included:

  • Heated toilet seats
  • Heated train seats
  • Right-sized furniture (for the under 5’ set)
  • Deep bathtubs with armrests
  • Friendly people
  • Excellent sound and visual systems
  • Cleanliness (the cleanest country I’ve ever visited)
  • Beautiful displays
  • Right-sized portions (always felt well fed, but never stuffed)
  • Gorgeous landscapes
  • Interesting architecture
  • Wonderful signage
  • Sparkly lights
  • Easy to understand train systems
  • No tipping
  • Service-oriented culture
  • Creative organization in unexpected places (with hotel toiletries, supplies, and snacks) integration of design and function everywhere


As this year comes to a close and the winter season arrives, I’m focused on restoring balance. My routines for work and sleep aren’t quite back to normal. It’s a great opportunity to rethink what worked, let go of what didn’t, and move forward in a balanced, purposeful way.

How are you doing this season? Are you thinking about balance and change? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join our conversation. 






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Reader Comments (7)

Balance is something that I try to achieve across the long term, and accept that it isn't something I should expect in any given moment. I think the law of averages applies here, as it is important to know if we have balance on average, and not berate ourselves if we have an off-day, off-week or even an off-season. Life throws curveballs, so keep the big picture mind. What an amazing trip -- and I totally agree on heated toilet seats, small furniture and cleanliness... someday:)

December 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

Seana- Love your take on balance…as a "long term" concept. We have seasons of balance be it days, weeks, or months, that are accompanied by an ebb and flow. Agree about not berating ourselves when things feel "off." Great to hear that Japan is on your "someday" travel list. I know you'd love it as much as I did. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season & happy New Year!

December 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Great post Linda. Thank you for sharing your insights. I would love heated toilet seats and furniture for the shorter stature! Balance is something I think I will always be striving for. I'm getting closer now that I have accepted that [for me] balance doesn't necessarily mean equal. I don't have to be 50% work/50% life balanced. Sometimes, I feel more balanced 80% work/20% life and other times I feel more balanced 20% work/80% life. That was my ah ha moment.

December 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Blumer

Linda, you have this way of having your routines, yet being creative with them, and open to new possibilities, just as you write about. It's easy to stick to routines and not let enough newness come into them. Maybe it's a fear or maybe it's a habit. I love reading when you have a balance to return to or a routine ... so you know what is good and useful to you, yet you also are open to adding new ingredients!

December 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

So happy to "hear" your wonderful voices! Sending happy holiday wishes to you both.

@Anne- Love your twist about balance…that is "doesn't mean equal," and that proportions for what feels balanced shifts at different times. It's a very fluid approach. Seems really healthy. Thank you for sharing your "ah-ha moment."

@Sue- Isn't it funny how we work with our clients to develop habits and routines? Yet even though that is part of our work, like you, I recognize that there are times we need to be flexible (creative) and switch things up. If we allow ourselves that flexibility, we are more open to other possibilities.

December 23, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Wonderful to read this post! I followed your adventures online and loved all the pictures. I know I crave the return to routines, especially sleep routines, when away. It's good to help us appreciate our routines when we move away from them for a short while.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday too!

December 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Hi Ellen! - So glad you enjoyed following the adventures. It was fun to share as I went. Those are the wonders of social media. Craving routines…yes! And sleep is SO important. That's been the most challenging one for me to return to and am still working on it. Cycles are just off. But again this provides an opportunity to re-examine, improve and change.

Thinking of you, especially this evening. I'm imagining you gathered together with all your loved ones enjoying the holiday together.

Wishing you all the best for the season and New Year!

December 24, 2014 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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