#ROW80 check-ins, creativity, personal journeys, the writer's journey

Is there such a thing as ‘controlled busy?’

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As life unfolds at an accelerated pace, I’m asking myself this question. Things have been racing along lately—home projects unfolding, decluttering efforts gaining momentum in the spring. Different parts of my life are opening up and blossoming now that I’ve made space for them.

Writing is progressing steadily, with the latest draft of my novel Spellfire’s Kiss finished and off to my critique partner, a kind and thoughtful no-thanks-for-now from an editor, whose suggestions I am mulling over as a couple beta readers mull over the manuscript, and a new(ish) novel just begun. I’ve always toyed with the idea of setting a series of novels in Foster Springs, Virginia, where The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key, my two novelettes, are set, and this idea came to me, demanding to be told. It’s about a tarot reader and a strange faerie man who comes seeking a tarot reading. There are three sisters, and I’m enjoying their dynamic so far. I’ve also joined an online chapter of RWA and attended my first meeting of a local writers group too!

And teaching English as a second language is expanding as well. I’ve moved from one class a week to two, and we’re even expanding to include some computer literacy training for the students.

On the home front, hubby and I have about a zillion projects to finish, and there are other life things that we’re doing as well. Now that the weather is warm, hikes and long walks in the woods are once more high priorities, and we took a weekend trip to Pennsylvania to visit family and attend the PA Fairie Festival. I’m also getting back into a yoga routine after a hip injury sidelined me for a while.

So, yes, it’s a lot. It reminds me of the Chariot card in tarot. Whenever I draw this card, the phrase that pops into my head is “life unfolding at an accelerated pace, but maintaining one’s stride.” (I believe that’s how Anne-Marie Ferguson, creator of the Llewellyn Tarot, puts it.) Or, as Biddy Tarot describes this card…

You will be successful at pursuing your goals, so long as you maintain focus, determination and confidence in your abilities. You need to focus completely on the task at hand, get in the race and win it. … You must cultivate the ability to withstand the rigours of what is required. In fact, striving towards your goal can be as satisfying as attaining it. This is a time to be strong and in control. You must also draw upon your willpower and self-discipline.

It’s a wild ride. I’m trying to just enjoy it. The rejection stung, but it was also beautiful, in part because the editor was so encouraging and made it clear that she saw a lot of potential in my story, and in part because it showed that I had the courage to put my work out there.

I’m trying to take it one thing at a time, and to build downtime into my schedule. Morning coffee is reflection time, and I aim for a cup of tea and some chill time in the evening. Reading tarot cards helps me find my center and reflect, distilling those little what-if questions into something tangible. Best of all, each of my endeavors is something I’ve consciously chosen. Writing books filled with magic and romance. Teaching the English language to a group of dedicated students. Creating a tidy, whimsical home I love. Adventures with my husband and our animals. Time with family and friends.

Sometimes it is indeed the chariot. It’s wild; it’s a rush. It’s busy and beautiful and blessed.

What about you? What do you do when you’re swept up in the busy-ness of life? How do you create the right level of busy-ness—not so much that you’re stressed, not so little that you’re bored? How do you build downtime into your day?

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8 thoughts on “Is there such a thing as ‘controlled busy?’”

  1. Congratulations on moving forward with so much of what matters to you! And for keeping downtime built into your day.

    I would love to hear more about the festival! And about your writer’s meeting!

    With warmer weather, I plan to spend part of the evening on the patio, doing close to nothing. I maintain a full hour for lunch as a break from the busy every day, and take a walk with my Lucy bear. I do my best not to over schedule. In fact, I am currently at my max and will either replace one of my current commitments or say no if a new one comes along that isn’t as compelling. I just joined a critique group that meet twice a month near my house.

    Sending love your way for continuing balance!

    1. Yes, it’s a constant balance. We want our lives to be full, but not overwhelming. For various reasons, a combination of personality and chronic health issues, I require a fair amount of downtime to stay sane. At some point in the day, I need tea and either a good book (loving The Gypsy Chronicles series by Ellen Dugan at the moment) or an entertaining TV show to decompress. I think it’s good for us to keep ourselves open to new experiences, such as your critique group, but also build in space for downtime and self-care. Thanks, Gina! Let’s talk soon. 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post, I like the reflective quality which I resonate with.

    I am sorry to hear that your book wasn’t successful with this publisher, maybe if there is some merit in it you can send it to another? JK Rowling was knocked back 7 times for Harry P thank goodness she persisted and how glorious that she did.

    I don’t know if you have read Big Magic but I would recommend it, the suggestion there is that stories are their own entities – they settle and work with someone willing to write them down – I like that concept because it can help us detach from our work. good or bad, you have written a book or three…. publishing is just a form of validation like icing on the cake. Its not the cake.

    I hope that helps.

    1. This is so true. The editor who read my book was super-encouraging, so although rejection is never easy, she definitely encouraged me to keep writing. I definitely don’t intend to give up on this book. Nick and Cassie, the two main characters, have been with me for such a long time and I am so grateful to be the conduit for their story. It just takes time. Patience and time.

      I loved Big Magic, and I should probably reread it at some point. It’s such an encouraging book–right up there with Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, another book that has helped me with my creative process.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful words!

  3. Such a beautiful post! Downtime is so important, yet easy to forget, so that’s awesome how you’ve been making it part of your schedule like that. And as someone who adores faerie lore and the tarot, I can’t help but love the sound of your new book. Best of luck with it!

    1. Thanks, Heather! I think we tend to forget how important downtime is to our health–mental, physical, emotional–and I hope we can make a cultural shift toward honoring space for rest.

      I love faerie lore and tarot as well, and I’m thrilled to be working on a book that combines the two. Hopefully I can share more details soon. 🙂 Thanks!

  4. Creating the right level has been trickier since my husband’s illness and death – I’m the only parent to two teens, and that can’t always be scheduled. Three weeks ago, I adopted a shelter dog, and she, too, has needs that don’t always mesh with when I’d prefer to deal with them.

    But I am learning what I can do in a day, and I build buffer zones into every day, as well.

    1. Shan, I can imagine that shift has been difficult to say the least. And yes, when you have children, that changes things. Downtime is often set aside to help your children, and that makes perfect sense. And adopting a dog can be a whirlwind. I love Leo, my lab mix, but man, those first few months were rough. Adopting an adult dog might seem easier, but they tend to come with a lot more baggage and bad habits, so, ultimately, it can be just as tricky. Still so rewarding, but tricky at times!

      I am so amazed by your strength amidst the changes and grief, Shan. You have a level of self-awareness that seems to serve you well.

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