I have a confession to make: since I declared my memoir finished last fall I’ve done very little new writing.
Instead, I’ve been practicing the art of inhabitation.
I’ve found fulfillment in my kitchen as I’ve tried new recipes. I even purchased a pressure canner and I’ve been busy canning a variety of beans from recipes I’ve come across on Pinterest. I’ve been knitting – in fact I’ve got a couple of projects on the needles that will be Christmas gifts this year. I’ve been planning my spring garden and caring for tender tomato plants I’m growing from seed. I’ve been tending to my new “worm hotel” and learning about the benefits of vermicomposting.
But I haven’t been writing.
I’m convinced that the idea of achieving balance in our lives is a myth. It’s impossible. I’m certain of it. Rather, I believe we have to choose those things that are important to us and worthy of our attention in a certain season.
For the past number of years writing has been near the top of my list and I came to accept there were some other things I had to set aside. Like quilting. I haven’t made a quilt in about five years and I love making quilts; I love giving quilts as gifts; I love having quilts throughout my house.
But there was this memoir I needed to write and so I packed my fabric away and put the cover on my sewing machine and turned my attention to my story.
Last fall, when I declared my memoir finished, I found myself out of sorts with no writing project on the go. Sure, I was busy with other pre-publication activities but I found I had more time on my hands. Then, around about the time the holiday season was beginning I started to settle in and enjoy my newly found down time. The timing, of course, couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather kept me indoors, the dark cold days of winter kept our fireplace on, and our traditional Christmas jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table kept me planted in one place for a time. Then the lure of Pinterest drew me in and I discovered all kinds of new ideas and things I was interested in.
Ah yes, it’s been an inspiring, quiet, inhabiting few months.
But I miss writing. I miss putting my thoughts down on paper and I miss playing with words. This morning I read a post on Linda Joy Myers blog, Memories and Memoirs, about priorities and tips for what the National Association of Memoirs is calling “The Year of the Memoir” that has stuck with me all day and I know it’s time to shift the scale of balance in my life and put my focus back on my writing.
As I don’t believe in balance I know some things will change. Perhaps that quilt I have been thinking about won’t get started, or perhaps some of my knitting projects will be put on hold for the time being. The thing is, we make a choice every day about how to spend the twenty-four hours that are allotted to us. I believe each of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, know the best way to use those hours to accomplish what we are meant to accomplish in this life.
So I’m shifting the balance again and turning my attention away from some things and toward some other things. There are some exciting things ahead in 2012 and I’m with the National Association of Memoir Writers in declaring this to be the Year of the Memoir! I hope you’ll stay with me…I’ll be sharing more about this very soon.
Meantime, I’m interested in what you think about the concept of balance. Is balance possible? Have you achieved it? Let’s chat in the comments.
I think balance is constantly changing and shifting in our lives. What do you think?
To me what you have described IS balance. You’re giving your attention to what draws you at a real level, and changing focus accordingly. To me that’s balance, provided one stays in alignment with oneself. (We have many inner voices, some are true to who we are, some are the ones that pull in a direction that is not harmonious with our conscious choices, our goals and intentions. We each find our own way of discerning which voice (or energy) is which.) Because our lives require changes and shifts, balance takes different forms at different times, often not what we might have expected. And only we know what we need for balance, for the ability to carry on in a manner that is consistent with who we are.
Ah yes, those inner voices. I think at our core we know which of those voices is the true one. The challenge sometimes is to have the courage to hear what that voice is saying and act upon it, don’t you think?
Thank you for stopping by, Mary.
Hi Linda, Linda here! It’s so great that my little article got you inspired! I’m so happy to hear about your memoir, and have been eagerly waiting for its birth. Since it’s the Year of the Memoir, and you have accepted its challenge, I will continue to cheer you on, and imagine your completed book in my hands.
About balance: We all do too much, we all have many things that we love and want to do. I would love to paint again, but I have to put my painting in my writing for now. Still I miss it. And there’s gardening–who has time? But today I pulled weeds for 10 minutes and felt so happy! I also spent a few hours at the computer. Maybe it is like a quilt after all–we create our patches, and together they are our lives.
See you in Austin perhaps?
Thank you for your posts and comments ongoingly.
Hi Linda! Thanks for stopping by. I like your analogy about our various activities being like a quilt we craft. And yes, I’m looking forward to seeing you in Austin.
I think that if there is so much going on that we have to strive for balance, then there’s perhaps too much going on and we can’t give enough to any of it. So I like the idea of focus, rather than balance. I’m choosy about how much I let in and focus on. Because if we choose to do only a few things and do them well, a certain happiness comes from that.
Wise words, Joanne. I like the idea of focus as opposed to balance though it can be challenging in our careers as things come our way that we have no control over. As much as we can control it though, I agree it’s better to focus on a select few things rather than trying to juggle too many things and end up dropping balls all over the place.
I don’t know that I do so well with balance. I think what’s missing is my “social life” — I do have a quite active social life “online” because of the novels -they “forced” me to push myself outside my comfort and make a presence online – but my social life outside of my books and online is puny.
I neglect things because I am constantly working on a novel or working on social networking.
I need balance!
Sounds like we have a lot in common, Kat!
Linda, What an important topic and I agree with you, sometimes trying to achieve balance is a fallacy. I think it’s a matter of revolving priorities. Here’s a link to a great blog by Shelly Immel called TheBigLife Project where she addresses tips on sticking to goals:
http://thebiglifeproject.com/2012/02/21/10-tips-to-stay-on-track-with-your-goals/ Tips like: rotate priorities as you are doing; honoring baby steps. There’s lots more. BTW, congratulations for taking time to knit, plant your garden and play with your beautiful granddaughter. Now you can revisit your memoir with new eyes and work on getting that” baby” launched in this Year of the Memoir. Looking forward to meeting you in Austin!
Thank you for the link to Shelly’s blog, Kathy. I’m heading over to check it out now.
I so pleased you’ll be in Austin too! It will be great to finally meet in person.
Thank you, Kathy, for mentioning my blog! And Linda, thanks for visiting it. I’m glad to connect with a fellow writer and blogger and find common ground!
The link most directly related to yours is this video on rotating my goals (which is a nice way of saying “sequential obsession.” But if you’re going to dive deep into any project you tackle, rotation rather than balance is what keeps me interested and fresh. http://thebiglifeproject.com/2012/02/14/how-to-rotate-your-goals/
Linda, your time of “inhabiting” makes a cozy spot in my chest. There’s a lot of wisdom in this post.
For me, fallow time away from major projects is very important. Whether we do it on purpose or just follow our instincts, time away from things we love lets us recharge and bring fresh eyes and energy when we return.
Like you and Joanne, I have to rotate my focus to even begin to fit in all my interests. It’s not balance so much as sequential obsession. 🙂 But it renews my spirit and creativity, which is what balance is supposed to do for people, so I am happy with this approach.
I think balance is ever-shifting and we need to pay attention to our lives to know when the shift has tipped things too far one way or the other. I’m excited to hear this is the year of the memoir and look forward to reading more about what that means exactly.