Finding Balance in Life – Or At Least Not Falling Off the Beam

There are wonderful blog posts out there about finding (and keeping) balance in your life. Blogs about attending to all the different parts of you; about not spending too much time at work at the expense of your family; about fulfilling your God-given role.

This isn’t one of them.

Me? I need lessons from blogs like those at the best of times.  And considering the last month or two, I feel like I should be changing the header of this blog from Reading, Writing & Real Life to How Many Balls Can I Keep in the Air at One Time?  Or something about pressure-cookers.  Or steam rollers.

This semester has turned out to be really hard, partly because my classes require a lot of reading, and partly because life keeps pulling in more balls to juggle.  Some of the juggling balls come with joy, like babysitting my new grandbaby or having a long visit from a friend, but they do add distraction and pressure.

Add being sick for a week and then trying to catch up on everything, and … yeah, you get the idea.

On top of that, the calendar says it’s time for a new Round of Words in 80 Days (aka ROW80), complete with a new set of goals.  Do I try this again, or do I just keep muddling through?  I’m not trying to write a set number of words/hours per day/week, but ROW80 is about more than that, and I like giving (and getting) encouragement.  Plus, while I had a few general writing goals, most of them related to keeping my head above water.  And if you don’t keep on keeping your head above water, well, you drown.  Not good.

So, yeah, here I am again, trying to stay focused and keep my life from exploding sort of balanced without Bela Karolyi to coach me.  Not easy (neither is mixing up all these metaphors!), but here’s what I’m working on:

1.  Keep up with my school work:  Shakespeare, Folklore, and Writing Creative Non-Fiction.  Ideally, get it done during the day so I can relax in the evening and actually see Hubby O’Mine once in a while.

2.  Finish edits on my middle-grade novel, Through the Shimmer of Time, and send the requested partial to the agent.  (No, I didn’t pitch it to him unfinished – these edits are to address a problem he saw.)  If I actually accomplish this before the semester is over, Round 4 will be a super-success!

3.  Two blog posts a week.  Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes not.  And I may do it by including some great guest posts from my wonderful WANA tribe, but I’ll let those count, too.

4.  Get back on track with healthy eating – generally cutting out sugar and white stuff, and loading up on veggies.  (Loading up on fruit is already easy-peasy.) August McLaughlin’s blog and Ginger Calem’s Writer’s Butt posts help here.

5.  Begin each weekday with 5 minutes on the elliptical.  STOP LAUGHING!  I’m not after a lot of cardio here, I’m after habits!

6.  Stretch hips and legs daily, plus some PT exercises.  If my back has problems, I can’t do much computer work, and then where would I be?

So that’s it.  Pretty simple, huh?  Right.  If you say so.

But if you do say so, then please, share with us:  how do you keep the many areas of your life in balance, especially when some of them are deadline-driven?  What do you give up?  How do you stay focused?

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15 Responses to Finding Balance in Life – Or At Least Not Falling Off the Beam

  1. I think you’re on the right track: baby steps! That’s the only way to establish a new habit, like exercise. Same with keeping up with an old habit, when everything seems to be conspiring to make you break it. Set small goals in ROW80 – it’s perfectly OK. Looking forward to seeing you there!
    Jennette Marie Powell recently posted..WANA Wednesday: Lots of News to Share!My Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      I don’t feel bad about making baby-step goals, but part of me wonders if the Round is worth it if it’s not helping me do MORE. But MORE makes it just another checklist of pressure, so this is my answer. See you there!

  2. Depends on what you mean by balance. If you mean equal – I don’t get any where near that. The tilt-a-wheel tips one way then another. I do my best to try to make certain it dips in each direction of my life during the week. Sometimes it’s way more than a dip and it gets takes a lot of effort to get back into ‘balance’ after that. All I can do is keep making goals and trying to get there. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe that’s just the yin and yang of life? Great post. It made me think.
    Lynette M. Burrows recently posted..Be a ChildMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Hey, Lynette! I know what you mean by the tilt-a-wheel – love the image. But I hope that my last month isn’t just the normal tilt, or I”m toast!

  3. Lena Corazon says:

    Jennifer, count me in as yet another person who feels like she’s been levelled by the steamroller on most days. I’m a long way from balance, but lately (and by “lately,” I mean “in the last three days”) I’ve decided that if I can do a little journaling and a little writing each day, plus a little exercise, I will feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’m sacrificing an hour of sleep each day so I can do that, but so far it leaves me feeling much more centered, and with more energy to tackle whatever the day has to bring.

    Great goals for this round!
    Lena Corazon recently posted..ROW80: Respite, InterruptedMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Sounds like you’re in the same spot I am, although I’m at least not sacrificing sleep. So far. Right now, that’s the only thing getting me through the day, so if sleep goes, I’m headed for a strait jacket! Sounds like you might have found something that works for you, at least for now. Good luck keeping on keeping on!

  4. Debra Eve says:

    Jennifer, I totally understand the 5 minutes of cardio, and it’s the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. After injuring my foot to the point where I couldn’t walk any sort of distance, I made my husband drag the old rowing machine of the closet. I try for 10 minutes/5 days a week. It’s changed my life on several levels. Good for you!
    Debra Eve recently posted..Frank McCourt: Those Who Can, TeachMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Hi, Debra. I just finished day 4 of the 5-minute-elliptical, and it does do something good for me mentally. Since I can’t fit in an exercise class or three a week, at least I’m not sitting here being a blob. Plus the short wake-up boost to start the day! I’ll keep you posted…

  5. It’s sounds like you’re on the right track 🙂

    I’ve written a bit about balance in the past, but I think balance is a myth. It’s about setting the right priorities at certain times in our lives. Some things we’ll always prioritize (like family) and other things will be a priority for a season (like school work). With things that are lower on the priority pole, we have be practice creative procrastination where we just acknowledge that we can’t do it all and so some things have to be put off until a later date.
    Marcy Kennedy recently posted..Write Or DieMy Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      “Creative procrastination” – I love it! And to be honest, most of my problems now are that I should be creatively procrastinating going back to college, or writing, or something, but can’t seem to convince myself that I can’t do everything all at once. Glad you stopped by!

  6. Ginger Calem says:

    Hi Jennifer. First, thank you very much for the shout out. And second, you are on the right track just by being mindful that you need to have some sort of balance or at least ‘ratio’ in your life. Above you said that even the 5 minutes of workout a day does something good to you mentally. Exactly!! That is a huge point I try to make in WritersButt and a vital component to fitness supporting creativity.

    Keep on it! You’ll do more and more. There are tons of mini-workouts that take 5-10 minutes max and really pack an endorphin punch. You’re doing awesome!
    Ginger Calem recently posted..Fist-Bumps for Everyone!My Profile

    • Jennifer Jensen says:

      Hi, Ginger. I told my daughter I was getting on the elliptical for 5 minutes and at first she cheered me on, but then said I could go to 10 minutes next week, then 15, etc. The thing is that knowing I’m only going down for 5 minutes is what makes it easy to go! Otherwise I look at the chunk of time and think of all the other things I could be doing. I’m all for 5-minute punches, and I’ll have to ask you about other mini-workouts when I’m ready. Thanks!

  7. Pingback: Productivity and Cute Baby Animals | Jennifer Jensen

  8. “how do you keep the many areas of your life in balance, especially when some of them are deadline-driven?”

    When I’m on deadline, it’s hard, because I tend to get focussed exclusively on the activity that has an upcoming deadline. The rest of the time, though, I balance my activities by assigning minimum daily hours to each activity – which in my case means professional work (writing/publishing) and housework. If I know that I’m going to have to put in four hours of publishing on a certain day, I’m not going to spend six hours cleaning the kitchen. (I do enjoy housework, I’m afraid.)

    Certain activities, like eating well, have become so routine for me that I don’t even have to think about them, but eating well became routine because I gave a lot of thought to it for a couple of years, when I became quite ill, and my diet made all the difference to my health. So I’d suggest: Give an activity your full concentration until it becomes so ingrained that you automatically know how (much) to do it.

    But I don’t have as many balls to juggle as you do. 🙂

  9. Jennifer Jensen says:

    Hi, Dusk. Thanks for such a thoughtful reply. I like the idea of focusing on something until it’s ingrained into me (although I hope it’s not pushed on me through illness). It would help if I wasn’t choosing to juggle so many balls, and I do realize that it is a choice. I’m not happy putting any of the goals that take a long time off so I can do them one at a time. So maybe I can mini-focus on one. I am getting a handle on allotting specific amounts of time, and staying focused until the editing or homework assignment gets done. Thanks for stopping by!