Balance is an important thing to me. Kind of like patience. I think the draw for these attributes, for me, is that I lack them both.
I want both, but they seem quite elusive. Like something fancy and shiny that you save for, only to find that the price has been raised once you go to buy it.
It was pointed out to me by my husband this week, that being patient does not mean waiting 12 minutes for cookies to bake. Apparently, it means allowing time to pass without trying to control every single minute of it. That's not one of my strengths.
Nor, as I've discovered many times, but repeatedly this week, is balance. I balance things in a fairly odd way. For example, I've been writing constantly for months now. I signed with my agent before Christmas and have not stopped writing since. Yes, this is a good thing. It's an outlet and it's rewarding.
Recently however, I realized that I am more than a little behind on my reading. I generally have anywhere from 5-8 books on the go. I plug away at them, whip through them, or re-read them. I read every book I can by an author I like and then move on to authors they recommend. Since I've started writing daily, however, I haven't been reading books as much. When I read online articles about the publishing and writing industry, one of the key suggestions is to read and write every day. Balance.
If I'm going out for the evening and my kids aren't joining us (or more likely, if I've spent too many hours writing or texting and my guilt kicks in), I grab a pile of books, suggest some games, or get a craft going. Then I lose myself in that and in them. Then the "I haven't finished that chapter" guilt starts up and I go back to what I was doing.
If I have something yummy but bad to eat, I eat something so-so but healthy to compensate. Or I go for a run and come home and eat five cookies. Balance. As I've said, mine is a little skewed.
I've been worrying this week because I have been trying my hand at an adult fiction novel. I wrote every day for weeks. I'm currently sitting at about 40,000 words. I hit a wall. Just a mini one, because I know what I want to happen and where it needs to go, but I have to figure out how to take it in that direction. I received valuable, strengthening feedback on my first attempt at a Young Adult piece of fiction that I finished over Christmas. So, one would think that since I hit a wall with one, I could work on the other. Instead, I haven't written anything in three days. Other than this, but it's the end of the third day. So I've gone from writing hours every day to missing three days. Balance? No so much.
The worst part is, a little piece of me believes that if I get too immersed in my books again or I take too many days off from writing, that I won't be able to return to it. That, somehow, it'll turn out that I don't have a lot to say, my characters have reached a dead end, or the edits are not something I can sort through. Instead of being okay with just taking a break, I invent worst case scenerios about myself as a writer. It's an all or nothing mentality and very far from my goal of balance.
So how do I find the happy medium that almost all of us crave? How do I enjoy my kids, provide healthy dinners, teach, work out, write, spend time with my husband, text, play on pinterest, tweet, sleep, and watch T.V. ? How do we fit it all in without losing one of them completely? I become too wrapped up in these questions and end up giving little pieces of myself to each of these things, which seems even, but not really balanced.
When I say balance, I think what I'm looking for is the ability to be engaged in an activity without feeling guilty about what I'm not doing. Quite honestly, feeling that guilt takes away from whatever it is I am doing. I want to be able to write for hours and then play games with my kids without feeling like either one of those things suffered from lack of attention. The fact is, I do all of these things, almost every day. Which could account for why I'm sleepy a lot of the time.
I'm not exactly sure how to achieve balance in my life. I've taken a little step this week by repeatedly telling myself that it is okay not to have worked on my story this week. I tell myself it's okay if I played one game with the kids instead of two. It's okay if the pizza wasn't homemade (but it was). Maybe, instead of balance, I should seek acceptance. Accepting my own need to do as much as I can and not waste a moment. Accepting the days where I manage to do it all, but also accepting the days where I don't. I've talked, in a previous blog, about seeing the smaller steps that lead to the end result. One small step at a time. Perhaps it is the same path to balance as it is to problem solving or having patience. One moment, one step, and one breath at a time.
Of course, searching for balance might turn out similar to my dog chasing her tail; entertaining, but futile. In which case, I'll at least try to enjoy all of the things I keep adding to my to-do list.