by Kari Diane Pike
If only I had a dark chocolate truffle for every time I have been asked that question...Mmmmm...truffles. But I digress... I get it that people are curious. They wonder why I even bothered to obtain a degree in the first place. I mean, I'm "middle-aged" and I am still a stay-at-home mom with only one child left in the house and he's sixteen and gone most of the day, so life is easy. My time is my own and I can spend my days puttering around, going to lunch, watching movies, shopping, and doing my nails - oh, and eating chocolate. Right?
My problem is in trying to answer that question. Why do I hesitate to tell people that I'm writing a book? Maybe because I don't have anything to show for my efforts yet? Perhaps I don't want them to ask when I will finish it? Am I afraid of being held accountable? Or maybe the reason is because I haven't found a way to park my backside in the chair and really get serious about putting my research into an actual book. I have never before had so much trouble focusing. Yes, in the past I've been distracted by "more important" things like feeding my family and cleaning the litter box, but this time it's different. I know what I want to do, but I seem to find every reason imaginable why I can't do it.
During my run this morning, I tried to think of ways to eliminate the "squirrels" scampering in different directions in my head. I tried to visualize trapping them and setting them free somewhere else. The visualization became one of squirrels running in hamster wheels, but the wheels weren't turning because multiple squirrels were trying to run in opposite directions in the same wheel. Some of the wheels connected to each other, like gears. Then I saw a pattern of gears - all stuck in place because the gear in the center was out of alignment.
Are you still with me? I think what I learned about myself is that I am always going to have multiple tasks, projects, challenges, whatever you want to call them. I will always have the same 24 hours a day (minus time for sleeping and eating...oh to think of what I could do if I didn't have to sleep or eat...except I love doing both)! I am the mother of a large family and I will always have "stuff" to do. The trick is to balance the gears and set things so that everything is turning in the right direction with the proper amount of force. Balance isn't about having everything "equal". My body requires a balance of nutrients, but that doesn't mean my sodium and magnesium levels are the exact amount. That would kill me. Balance has a deeper meaning for my body and for the way I spend my time. Some "gears are small and some are large. Some turn slowly and some fast. It comes back to the wise old adage about "a time and a season for everything."
So, how do I get the gears to line up? My first step is to name those gears and write them down on paper. I think I'm going to look for one of those children's set of gears and put a label on each one and then organize them so they all turn together - a good visual, don't you think? The exercise will help me establish priorities and give me a way to track my progress. I think that has been a big part of my problem - not being able to see progress in the little things. You know, it only takes one little loose screw to stop the clock. But that's another visualization for another day.
How do you keep your writing goals in balance with the rest of your life?