Striving for Balance: A Brief Midweek Check-In

photo from stock.xchng

photo from stock.xchng

Sometimes it feels like life is about finding balance. Balancing work and play, planning for the future versus living in the present, balancing what we need to do with what we want to do.

I think for writers this balancing act is especially relevant. Many of us are balancing a writing career with working day jobs or raising a family. On a daily basis, I attempt to balance caring for my elderly animals with teaching at a university, writing fantasy/paranormal stories, and spending time with my husband—not to mention the day-to-day items such as paying bills, cooking meals, and hometending.

I’m thinking about this because my husband and I are trying to find that balance. How do we ensure we have adequate savings for the future—for emergencies or for our golden years—with living in the present? We want to travel, to see Hawaii, California, Paris, England. But we also don’t want to be broke during our retirement. And we do want to retire someday.

Ultimately it’s about balancing what we want to do with what we need to do. We need to cook healthy meals, walk the dog, pay the electric bill, and save for retirement. We want to take ballroom dance lessons, visit the Grand Canyon, or remodel the kitchen.

As for me, writing is something I need to do to be happy and fulfilled in my life. It doesn’t pay the bills (not yet, anyway), but it’s an essential part of my life.

I think about the kind of life I want. A life spent writing stories, doing yoga or tai chi, meditating, honoring my faith and walking a nature-based, goddess-centered pagan path. I want to drink tea, read books, care for my animals, and spend time with my husband. And then I have bigger dreams—like walking the streets of Paris or becoming a best-selling author.

Dreams take time. Balance takes work. And, more importantly, it takes sacrifice. We can’t have everything we want—not all at once, anyway.

All we can do is take small steps every day toward our goals, big and small.

At the end of the day, I can’t say I have the answers. And if you have any advice on the subject, please feel free to share in the comments section!

ROW80 check-in:

Writing: So far this week I’ve written 2,362 words in The Broken Mirror, a retelling of Snow White.

Reading: Continued reading Once Upon a Time: Red’s Untold Tale by Wendy Toliver.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What are you trying to balance in your life? How do you find balance–or does it remain elusive?

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18 thoughts on “Striving for Balance: A Brief Midweek Check-In

  1. I’m working on finding that balance between my writing and my day job and home life. It’s very elusive. Most of the time, when all is said and done, I have no energy to write. I may make a note in my journal, but that’s usually the extent of my writing. I suppose I could wake up early to write. Sacrifices must be made, right? And it’s no different from wanting to lose weight or going to school.

    I’m not at that point where I can say, “I sacrifice for my craft.” Perhaps, I never will. But I love to write. And even if it’s just a sentence or two, I try to find the time it takes to get my thoughts down, whether on paper or a blank screen.

    • It does take sacrifice. I walked away from a steady paycheck at a magazine in 2013 to write full time. Still not making any money at it, but hopefully that will come in time. And now I have teaching to help pay the bills, though it’s on a semester-by-semester basis. Still, I get to write almost daily, and that’s been worth it.

      Good luck with your journey! I hope you’re able to squeeze in some writing here and there and get your stories onto the page.

  2. Yep, balance. That’s something I’m working on now, myself. I work a day job, a sometimes second job, and I have a husband. I’m a big believer in writing every day, so I try to take at least 15 minutes and write. Sometimes, I have more time. But on the crazy busy days, at least it gets done and I don’t feel like I’m neglecting it.

    I used to do a lot of photography (mostly b&w in a darkroom) and it’s my second love. But due to health reasons and trying to build a career in publishing, I had to set it aside. I couldn’t focus on both. I’ve just now started doing b&w photography again, and I believe I can now. My health is much better, and I’ve learned things during this hiatus. I hope it will work, because I missed it terribly. I hope I can find a balance between the two.

    • Those brief writing sessions can add up over time. It takes dedication, especially if you can only squeeze in 15 or 20 minutes. There’s this temptation to spend that time on something else–doing the dishes, or watching Netflix, or anything else. It’s good that you have the discipline to fit writing into a busy schedule.

      Good luck with your photography! I love black and white photography and would love to see some of your work. Is it posted on your blog?

  3. I look for blending, and try to remember that life can be like a pendulum sometimes. Since right now I have a teen and a tween both growing quickly and changing seemingly by the moment, my pendulum is swinging strongly, and I’m trying simply to keep my grip and flow with the momentum, whichever way it leads me. I keep all the various parts of my life in my goals list, and try to be sure that I attend to all of them in a span of time.

    As for the Grand Canyon – that’s where I met my Accomplice. We were both working concessions there. That’s one idea – we had a 30′ travel trailer and a truck, and we worked seasonally in parks – about 7 months a year, with lots of time to travel between. That might be an approach for some of your travel wants…

    Wishing you the best in finding the balance or blend that suits you at each point in your journey. And might I add that I love that you used the word hometending. It feels so much better when I think of it that way.

    • Blending. That’s a good way to look at it. You’ve got me thinking maybe I should include my other goals–yoga, volunteering, etc.–in my ROW80 goals list. It might push me to find that balance I’m seeking.

      I bet you have some wonderful stories from your days working in national parks. We have a house full of animals who probably wouldn’t be too happy living in an RV, but I love the idea. Who knows? Maybe someday. It sounds like quite the adventure.

      Thanks, Shan Jeniah!

      • The animal companions who shared our lives at that time seemed to accept that life. The rather large dog came to us at 4 weeks old; he really didn’t know any other life for over 2 years.We adopted him in Homestead, Florida, and two weeks later, we moved from the Everglades to Yellowstone. The cats adapted; as long as their fairly minimal needs were met.

        And, oh yes, I have stories. They’re sprinkled through my fiction, and I shared more than a few of them in my A-Z travel posts, last April.

        Trip and T’Pol have a bumpy canoe trip based upon a fight my Accomplice and I had on a canoe trip into the Florida Everglades, and the time we actually bumped into a live alligator – eeks!

        I used to list only my writing goads, but then I would feel guilty about every moment I spent doing something other than writing. I was separating it from the other facets of my life, and that put up barriers in all kinds of ways…

        I’ve come to see that it’s a false dichotomy. Everything feeds writing, in my life, and writing feeds everything else. It’s by allowing myself to be as I am, absorbed by and present to where I am, wherever that it, that I’ve become as productive as I am.

        ut far more important to me that what I achieve is the sense of peace and ease that permeates so much of my time, whatever I happen to be doing.

        From that seem to spring joy, bliss, inspiration, challenge, and play – all good things to indulge, in every part of my life.

        I think your post and these comments have just inspired my sponsor post for Round One! Thank you so much! =D

      • Sounds like you had many wonderful adventures. And an alligator–yikes! Travels always yield such wonderful stories. I’m fortunate to have been to some beautiful places with good people and made wonderful memories.

        You’re right that we shouldn’t separate writing out. Creativity runs through everything we do in life–from the meals we prepare to the gardens and homes we tend to the stories we write. Maybe I need to look at my life as a whole and not try to separate things so much. Good point!

        Thanks for your wonderful and thought-provoking comments!

  4. I unfortunately have no suggestions, but I’m right there with you. It’s a tough act, balancing, and it seems it doesn’t take much to throw it off.

    • It is. I’m not sure we ever come to a place where we’ve got it all figured out–because life is constantly changing, and balance can remain elusive. But that doesn’t stop me from searching and trying to build the life I want. Good luck finding that balance in your life!

  5. Yup. Finding balance seems to be an ongoing struggle, for me at least. There’ve been a couple of periods when I felt like I had it, but it slipped away each time. *shrug*

    Security is not a big part of the writing gig, unfortunately. :/

    • Yeah, sometimes we think we’ve got it figured out, and then life changes, and suddenly we’re looking for balance again. I thought I was getting there, and then I started teaching, and moved to a new home, and now I’m back to the search for balance.

      Yes, we writers have to live with uncertainty. It’s just part of being in a creative profession, I suppose.

  6. Wow, love this post Denise! I think balance has a lot to do with self-discipline. Because we need to deny what we love in order to take care of the hardcore life stuff. We trick our minds, reward our efforts and good intentions. All so we can get back to our stories and build real life relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime. Pretty important, real life. So yeah, it should take preference. But oh how much fun we have when we’re able to play with our characters again. And if you can figure out how to balance the present and future, let me in on your secret. Too many things happen in life that make it increasingly difficult to plan for our financial security in the future. That I will leave to faith. 🙂

    • It does have to do with self-discipline–and, I think, learning to be present in the moment. If we can accept this moment for what it is and embrace it, we sort of leave room for balance to find us.

      Thanks, Karen! 🙂

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