Sunday, June 10, 2012

Balancing Act

Photo by Thomas Hawk, used with attribution, cc license

Balance is something I think we all struggle with, whether we write or not.  The very fact that our time in this world is limited means we must make choices and prioritize.

When my children were younger and I had a busy physical therapy practice, and stories bouncing around my head, life felt less like I was juggling and more like I was spinning plates. (An analogy I first heard from one of my work supervisors.)  If you haven't seen plate spinning, it's a pretty amazing feat.

Photo by Lissalou66, used with attribution, cc license

Spinners get one plate to stay on the stick by spinning it fast enough. Then they will add additional plates on other sticks, giving each as much momentum as possible. The problem lies in keeping each plate from slowing down too much that they wobble and fall down.

That's what my life felt like.

I worked hard to keep all the plates spinning. Certain responsibilities needed more spin to stay in motion than others. I was so afraid to let any of the plates drop that I became more and more frantic, dancing between plates, giving each just enough of a push before running off to the next one.

It was exhausting and extremely stressful. And while I did keep most of the plates in motion, the cost was too high to be sustained.

I had to learn the very difficult lesson that I couldn't be all things to all people at the same time and maintain any kind of balance and sanity. It certainly got easier when my sons got older, but where I really saw a change in how crazed my life seemed was when I understood I needed to prioritize taking care of myself. And that meant making time to write.

Which  meant making choices. Since it is generally frowned upon to neglect one's kids or not show up to work, those sources of extra time were right out. Instead, I learned to write in the spaces between other life tasks. As long as I could carve out 15 minutes, I could use them to write. I carried a notebook everywhere I went and found plenty of opportunities to fill its pages. I gave up watching television to find other opportunities to write. And I realized that I didn't need to be perfect, that the world wouldn't end if I called for delivery pizza now and again.

Now that I'm writing full time and my kids are older teens, life is generally less pressured, though other
'plates' need to be spun.

I suspect there will never be a time in my life when I don't have to make choices and critically examine all the things I need and want to accomplish.

So how do you juggle/spin your plates?

Today’s post was inspired by the topic “Balancing writing with the rest of life”– June’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour — an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog.  Get to know nearly twenty other writers and find out their thoughts on finding, creating, and maintaining balance. 

1 comment:

  1. I wish I had an answer for that one. Still trying to figure it out. Lots of broken plates in the process, LOL. You certainly seem to have found the correct balance. I want to be more like you when I grow up. Hugs!