My big goal this year is finding balance. It feels like for the past three months I have spent every spare minute in this chair, and it’s not a good feeling. My house has suffered, my yard, my plants, my reading.

And yes, my family.

We have built in family time, untouchable family times. Still, I’m usually preoccupied with my story, with working out a problem, so I don’t give them the time they need and deserve.

I need to find balance. I want to slow down. This past year I only wrote one new book, but I revised the hell out of two others. So why was so much time spent in front of the computer?

I’ve made my list of goals for 2006, and guess what? Not slowing down much. I have 3 books to revise, and one to finish. I also wrote that I’d write a new book this year, because I know I’ll go crazy not making something new. But that one, I think, I can let slide if I get the others done.

In addition to writing, I need to start exercising. Really. A lot.

And I need to keep my house better.

I need to enjoy other aspects of life that I used to enjoy, like gardening and crochet and reading. I’ve let so much slide the past 3 years in my struggle to get published.

I’m thinking the best answer is a schedule. Maybe writing an hour in the morning and an hour at night, and that’s it. Maybe if I know that’s all I’m getting that day, I’ll be more disciplined and won’t cruise the Internet so much.

And a walk every evening after dinner.

Clean 15 minutes a day (other than the dishes/laundry that are pretty much every day.) If I work this in while I’m making dinner, that wouldn’t be wasted time, right?

Appointment television can help, too, if I only watch the shows I want to watch and not cruise the channels, I can spend that time reading, or working in the yard.

Getting my fellas involved would help, too, and address that whole family bit. I know the boy won’t walk with me, but maybe the dh will.

So what do you do to keep balance in your life? I’m open to suggestions.

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Gina Black said...

I really need to walk too. Too bad Texas isn't closer to California (and vice versa). ;)

Marianne Arkins said...

I have a calendar of chores for each day, and I put even the smallest things on there because I LOVE the feeling of crossing them off. I also think that the flylady suggestion of setting your timer for 15 minutes and cleaning is a good one. I am setting a goal this year to do that in my office (which is in desperate need of help!). I also love her hot spot drills and 27 fling boogies -- all small things that can make a big difference.

Ugh. Exercise. I try to get mine in by either playing with my daughter (she loves to dance, so I just join in) or doing outdoor chores - gardening is a blast for me, though it's tough to do in New England in the winter (lol).

I need to stop now, or I'll write all morning about this because I've been spending a lot of time contemplating this for myself!

Good goals, Mary. Good luck.

Linda Winfree said...

I can really relate for the need for balance! Your goals look great and balanced.

On the housework front (ugh!), I tried flylady, but she didn't really work for me. However, I did find that because my kids want to go out and play for an hour or so after school (I teach, too), I had that time alone in the house. I've gotten in the habit of just cleaning -- doing whatever needs to be done -- during that hour and it's really helped.

Exercise. Yeah, I need that, too!

MJFredrick said...

Gina, wouldn't that be nice. I used to walk with Cindi when her oldest was a baby and she lived in the next neighborhood over. She'd make all the effort though, drive over here, get out the stroller....once she moved, I quit. And I really have no excuse because I have an MP3 player - I can load up conference workshops and walk. Do I? No.

Marianne, I have a calendar, too. I give myself 3 days on each room. Problem is, it's too easy to just skip a day. I did just finish an hour in the guest room. When Trish comes in February, she won't have to sleep looking at boxes of SARA library junk.

Linda, what killed me with Flylady, other than perkiness ;) was the billions of emails, so I stopped. My house looked a lot better in those days, though.

Anonymous said...

The thing about balance is that it is never the balancing a ball on the tip of your finger, you have to always keep adjusting to keep it up there. Obtaining and maintaining balance is a matter of constant adjustment. Once I got that in my head, it got easier. I do walk two miles every night. I made it a priority. I do school on school days, and write on writing days. The two do not meet. This keeps me from feeling like a cog in a wheel. My spiritual life and family have to come first, but I have to learn when to come forward, stand still, or recede when it comes to the other words, learn to pay attention to what is really needed rather than just going on auto-pilot. Cleaning is not my favorite thing, but what I do is write down one chore a day to get done. My mother used to do this..."Monday is wash day," etc. This helps me get it all done, and also helps me not feel overwhelmed by too much to do. I'm getting set to do the yearly deep cleaning of the house, something I do every year before Imbolc (Feb. 1st). But I will take my time and not let it get me feeling too pressured. Balance for me is maintaining calm and a sense of this year I plan to avoid driving myself crazy with arbitrary deadlines that don't really exist. (Real ones are enough.) I give myself a goal, but allow myself leeway in getting there. Being nice to me is also on my list this year. I think I deserve a little understanding and TLC from me, after all the events of this past year.

You've got a great list going, Mar. I will help you keep to it, if you help me!


Toni Anderson said...

Mary I am so with you. I read somewhere that you have to forget all your other hobbies if you are serious about writing. I haven't drawn or painted in nearly 3 years and sometimes the urge is so strong I want to whip out a pencil and start drawing (I even stole Princess Jasmine out of DD's colouring book and made her look nice ;-)). So I think I've been waiting to get published before I allow myself any distraction (like 2 preschollers aren't enough?). And now I'm being published by Triskelion, but I still don't give myself a break, it still isn't validation enough to ease up on myself?

I think I've had to fight to get any writing time and now I'm reluctant to give any up. Hoping I can balance kids, house and writing better this year, maybe you can inspire me :)

Anonymous said...

Balance is one I've started working on late this year and is a big focus for 2006 :)

Stacy Dawn said...

Wow, you have put down almost everything I've been thinking this week. Balance...good word.

MJFredrick said...

Toni, I'd heard that about the hobbies, too, but even Nora spends time in her garden, and she's the most disciplined person I know. I heard Lucy Monroe only writes three hours a day, and she had a LOT of books out this year.

Maybe we should look at the schedules of highly productive writers.

I think we need to still have hobbies to be well-rounded people, to refill the well, yada, yada.

Interesting theory about the desire to not give up the writing time we worked so hard to make for ourselves. I think that is certainly true. And I know Janice Lynn and I have talked about being afraid to let grass grow under our feet so we're ready to take advantage of the opportunities offered us. I can imagine that's only amplified when you're published.

JoAnn, you're exactly right about balancing always changing. Adjustment is NOT something I'm good at. Being nice to myself is.

Bonnie and Stacy, let's help each other out on this balance thing!

Anonymous said...

Toni, you are being published by Trisk? Welcome, sister! I'm a Trisk author. My book is at:

When is your book due out?



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