Years ago, there was a long, skinny log that had fallen and flanked the side of our driveway.
Teetering on the far end, I’d carefully put one foot in front of the other, pretending to be a tightrope walker or a gymnast on a balance beam.
I’d wobble, but never fall.
As a college freshman, I took up yoga to satisfy my gym credits at Penn State. I struggled through any asana that required upper-body strength, but thrived on balance poses.
Yogis use drishtis to help focus their gaze. It might be the water bottle on the mat next to you or an electrical outlet at the front of the room.
A drishti helps you to stand on one foot like an elegant ballerina, breathing evenly while staying cool, calm and collected.
Off the mat, I’ve always struggled with balance.
I wish I could blame it on stilettos, but at 5 feet, 8 inches tall, I rarely ever wear heels.
I want to be a good daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, boss, coworker and employee — not necessarily in that order.
I want to cross everything off my to-do list at the office. I want to get 8 hours of sleep. I want to make time for the gym instead of counting shoveling snow off my car as cardio.
I want to make healthy, home-cooked meals instead of eating Pop-Tarts over the kitchen sink.
I want to call old friends — or better yet, see them in person — instead of texting them silly cat memes. I want to visit my family more and go on dates with my boyfriend.
My inability to please everyone and give everything 110 percent usually becomes most apparent during the holidays.
I stress myself out wrapping the perfect gifts, sending the perfect cards, baking the perfect cookies and decorating the perfect tree.
It took us two days to put up our Fraser Fir this year.
We couldn’t get it to stay in the stand at first, so my boyfriend and I decided to set the tree in the corner and decorate it in the morning.
After another hour or so of struggling the next day, we finally got it to stay upright in the stand.
I decorated it with twinkling lights, ornaments, pine cones and raffia before snapping a photo and sending it to my mom.
I filled the stand to the brim with water, and five minutes later it crashed to the ground.
Thankfully, no ornaments or manger pieces were harmed.
But it reminded me that not everything has to be perfect.
Our tree has to lean to the right to stay in the stand.
It’s a delicate balance.
And it spurred me to make my New Year’s resolution early.
I decided to be kinder to myself.
To cut myself some slack.
To find a drishti, and focus on the happiness in my life instead of worrying about all the things I’m not doing the right way or the people I might be letting down.
The season wasn’t any less merry because I didn’t bake cookies from scratch.
People were happy with their gifts — even though I never got out of my pajamas to shop for them and most were in gift bags.
The halls weren’t any less decked because our tree wasn’t straight.
This Christmas, I felt happier — steadier, even.
It’s a balance I hope to retain in the new year.
Hopefully I’ll only wobble and never fall.
April Trotter is the Editor of Smart magazine. She also made a New Year’s resolution to finally watch all the “Star Wars” films to appease her friends and boyfriend. Email her at email@example.com.