Balance

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By Stephanie Stamm

 

In preparation for the new year and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance.

Webster’s defines “balance” as

  • the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall;
  • the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling;
  • a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance.

All of those definitions fit together, don’t they? When we are out of balance, we feel like we might fall; when our lives are out of balance, they (or we) feel like we might fall apart.

As I’ve thought about this post, I’ve pictured images of a seesaw…

Seesaw1902

or a scale.

Apothecary's_balance,_Europe,_1901-1930_Wellcome_L0057866

We have so many things to balance in our lives. Work and play, sleeping and waking, family and friends, and for many of us writers, day job and writing. In fact, the seesaw and balance seem a little too limited with only two ends. We might better think about juggling multiple items…

person juggling

or apportioning the pieces of a pie chart.

Balance Pie Chart

It’s very easy for certain aspects of our lives to get out of balance. Maybe we work too much. Maybe we don’t spend enough time with our family. Maybe we don’t work on our writing enough. Maybe we neglect to exercise. We can convince ourselves that we’ll find that balance later, when things settle down, when we have more time, or fewer balls to juggle.

But I’ve been thinking about how we get this one gift of a life—and I’m finding that waiting until later to find balance doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Life isn’t happening later. Life is happening now. Now seems like a good time to get those pieces in order.

So, that’s one of my goals for the new year. To find a sense of balance in all the pieces-parts of life that I want to fit together. I’m tired of tipping from one end of the seesaw to the other. I don’t want to weigh my life in the balance and find important pieces wanting.

Are there particular things you want to balance in the new year? What, if any, resolutions have you made?

 

Seesaw 1902:  By Chicago Daily News [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Apothecary’s Balance:  http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/obf_images/d0/34/bc8d768fcbdc7f534addba91f0b5.jpg [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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I am the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy series, The Light-Bringer:

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I have also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover

 

Unplugged: Finding and Embracing Balance

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallA Blog Post by Gayle M. Irwin
I recently sojourned to the desert: spending time in dry, sunny, warm  Arizona while my homestate of Wyoming froze in white, wind and cold. Although snow has its beauty, come January I grow weary of the white powder and this year, I sought respite.

DesertI disconnected from the Internet, TV news, and phone – I took my cell phone but screened calls, planning only to pick up if (1) my friends in Arizona called about meet-up times and to give directions or (2) my parents called – that would be an emergency, because they respect my “downtime”; my husband traveled with me, so I knew he would not be calling! I believe it’s important to “unplug” now and again, to realign ourselves and decompress from all that bombards us.

Many of us are writers with “day jobs”. I personally have three: my part-time work with a medical clinic; writing articles for Our Town Casper; and serving as Administrative Assistant for Wyoming Writers, Inc. I juggle many duties with each position. And, of course, there is my homelife: cooking, laundry, housework, shopping, taking care of hubby and pets, etc. My work is not assembly-lined, no Lucy and Ethel boxing candies or Laverne and Shirley bottlecapping beer! In fact, sometimes I feel like a juggling octopus!

How much can you juggle?
How much can you juggle?

I imagine many of you can relate: home, yard, kids, pets, spouse, finances; friends, parents, work. Where is the “me time”? Even writing is not a linear job. Writers write, yes, but we also research; brainstorm; market; speak; pitch; query; balance the checkbook, among many others. With all the plate juggling, we may end our day – or hit the afternoon – screaming our lungs out!

scream

Experts agree balancing all that we humans have to do can be difficult, but that (1) balance is important to one’s physical and mental health and (2) “me time” is important. That can include spending alone reading or meditating but it can also include sharing with a partner or friends, such as hiking, skiing, or dancing. While in Arizona I hiked with my husband and had dinner with friends I’d not seen in five years. I also sat on a rock surrounded by tall saguaro cactus overlooking an indigo lake, basking in sunshine and experiencing gratitude for the beauty and solace.

Setting aside time to decompress, to unplug from the microwave society of instant gratification and “by the minute” news blasts. I didn’t check email or look at a website for four days, and I felt refreshed and more content when I returned home. Perhaps that’s not possible for you, to step away from the computer and Internet for that long, but how about one day or a half-day? Take a hike along a trail you’ve wanted to explore but never have. Or spend a weekend ski vacation with your loved one(s), with the promise that no one will turn on the TV or hit the Internet once back in the room. Or, take yourself on these adventures and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings – learn more about the environment you’re visiting. I found out wild burros lived in the park we visited and though we didn’t see any, we drove around longer just to see if we could see them! I also fed parrots at a zoo we visited, and, as you can tell by the photo, I TRULY ENJOYED the experience!

Gayle_ParrotFeeding_

Finding and embracing balance brings greater joy to our lives. We can also discover new ideas, new dreams. I now possesses a greater resolve to become a snowbird. I look toward a future of winter warmth instead of Arctic blasts, and though it will be awhile before I arrive at that juncture, I now possess a greater desire to make that dream happen and will work to accomplish that goal in the years to come (while still finding time to ‘escape’ now and then!).

How do you balance your life, your responsibilities? How do you integrate your writing with your “day job(s) if, like me, writing is not a fulltime career?” Do you take time to decompress and unplug yourself from the electronic age? I took a notebook to Arizona and, when I did write a few times, I wrote ‘the old fashioned way’!

The electronic digital age has many benefits, but we often wrap ourselves tightly around those cords, becoming entangled, choking on the “must dos”. Take time to embrace balance, to unplug now and then, and you’ll discover a beautiful treasure of thanksgiving, happiness, and creativity!

Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix
Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix

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