Topsy-Turvy: finding balance

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What is that called when you receive a “message” at just the right time? You know, when things just become clear. An “Ah-ha” or “epiphany” or Kismet? A coincidence, a quinky-dink, fate? 

Well, the night after my husband and I had an argument, I received Christina Katz’s newsletter The Prosperous Writer in my inbox. The theme? BALANCE. Ah-ha! 

The argument between my man and me was about, again, my writing/computer time and how he feels like low man on the totem pole. Last on my list of priorities is how he stated it, actually. Ouch. It hurt me that I hurt him that way. But, where do you draw the line? If a deadline is looming, how do you shut off that “entrepreneur” part of your brain to get into sexy spouse mode? Or even carefree mommy-mode? That’s balance, people. Something I’m apparently lacking. 

Feeling like I’ve been turned upside down and around, my day job, my writing and teaching goals and my role as wife and Mom have come unhinged on the priority pole. Time to take a number. But, who/what comes in first? Of course, the P.C. answer would be “your kids!”  “your husband!” And that’s true. People relationships are the foundation for the rest of it. If my kids and husband aren’t as excited about my writing and teaching career as I am, well, I can still be successful, but lonely. And I imagine it’s not much fun at the top if there’s no one there to clink glasses with. 

Though, I’m not prepared to say goodbye to the writing and teaching opportunities that I have grown in the past several years. Maybe I do need to prepare to say, “let me get back to you.” For instance, now when someone presents me with an opportunity and asks, Hey, would you be interested in-  “YES!” I interrupt. Trigger-happy. I’ve gone through this before and paid for it by experiencing slight burnout and major attitude issues, including exhaustion, doubt and anxiety. Sound familiar to anyone else? 

Christina says that sometimes this imbalance is the best thing to set us straight again. And again. (in my case!) And remember my Year of Clarity? Quinky-dink? It’s time to reassess my goals in relation to my time and find that balance. How am I going to do this? Let me count the ways… 

  • Decide which projects I’m already committed to and note their deadline(s)
  • Figure out the timeline(s) leading up to these due dates, i.e. the amount of time I’ll need to prepare, edit and present or submit these projects, then break them into bite-size pieces
  • Discuss with my family how much time I’ll need per week to achieve these goals, making sure everyone is in agreement that I’ll be “unavailable” on certain evenings and that it won’t interfere with family obligations: band concerts, school open house, my husband’s work schedule.
  • Communicate! Write on our kitchen calendar the times I’ll be “working” and out of the house.
  • Stick to it. When I’m not on the calendar as “working” I need to release the responsibilities. Meaning? No checking emails. No updating Twitter. No researching online or checking in with my writing group.
  • Use my off days to: start a scrapbook with Sam, take David to the basketball hoops, cuddle with my husband, try a new crock pot recipe, play with Comet (my bird), read for pleasure, take a walk, have a movie night, play Rockband, etc.
  • Before I say “yes” to any more opportunities, I need to Stop. Drop. And Roll. Stop before speaking. Drop the idea by my family, considering how much time this will take from them. Roll it through my ultimate goals filter – does it fit within my plan for “Getting Known?” or is it just another to-do?


These steps will be a struggle for me, I know. But the first step is admitting there is a problem, in my case: imbalance. 

How about you? 


Filed under Advice, Deadlines, goals, Organization, Perseverance

14 responses to “Topsy-Turvy: finding balance

  1. Liz

    Ah! I love the stop, drop and roll analogy, Mary Jo. I hear you, sister. Let me know how I can support you…I know exactly where you are coming from. The balance thing is so tough.

    • Thanks, Liz! I know you’re in my place, too. I think just being able to share the ups and downs with fellow writers is help in itself. I’ll keep you posted how my new list ‘o’ rules plays out…

  2. Hey, how did I miss this one when I was scooping up responses to the last issue? I will definitely buzz it this week and will tweet it now.

    I can shoot straight with you, if you want me to. Just e-mail and I’ll give you my two bits. You know I’m always good for it. 😉

  3. Finding balance is hard, but you’re taking great steps. Thanks for sharing this. It’s extremely helpful.

  4. Everything about your post resonates with me. Just yesterday, I completed a writing goal, but I was frazzled and half-present and kicking myself for the rest of the night (because I was frazzled and half present).

    The first step is admitting you have a problem, I agree. But for me, the next most difficult step is finding the willingness to rearrange priorities.

    Balance is so difficult, but I like your plan.

    Thanks for your post!

    • Thanks for visiting, Christi! The plan was is action, but spring break trumped my schedule! All we can do is learn from trial and error to find that balance. It evolves with us though.
      And, I was given a great piece of advice from author Hazel Dixon-Cooper when we had a conference call the other day. She said to make a list of EVERYTHING I think I need to do and then prioritize A, B and C. The A’s are absolute musts (you’ll lose a writing gig/teaching gig, etc if you don’t complete on time.) The B’s and C’s can be let go if not finished and the world will not implode. *Are you sure? I asked her* ; )
      So, What’s on your A-list?

      • Making a list, that’s great advice. Off hand, I don’t know that I have any absolute musts (since I don’t have any writing gigs *yet*), and everything feels so darn important 🙂

        But, there are certainly projects that feel critical and -in reality- are not. Your comment reminds me of something I read a while back:
        What feels urgent is rarely important, and what feels important is rarely urgent.

        Thanks for the reminder (and the tip)!

      • Great line, Christi! As far as your list, I’d say your A’s re those writing opportunities that would make your heart sing if you finished! Fiction? Fillers? Essays? List articles? What is your BIGGEST goal right now?

      • What would make my heart sing if I finished…that’s a perfect question, and that helps me a lot. Thanks!

        (and right off the bat, I know: get to the end of my mss draft-in-progress!)

      • Christi: I hear ya! I have two novels in progress. Need to finish one at a time. Let’s keep each other in check, shall we?

  5. This is so good and I will print it off and keep it handy. I am in transition and I am so appreciative of any help I can get to learn from veteran writers/authors!

    Good stuff. Thanks!


    • Thanks, Kathleen. I’m touched.

      This year seems to be a year of change for many! I think most of us are in or on the cusp of transition. Good luck with your journey! Just remember to keep your eyes open and WRITE IT ALL DOWN! ; )

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