Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Balance, Part I
Well, my hubby's sabbatical is nearly done, and life in the Baart home is about to undergo even more major changes. Aaron has one month left as the pastor of our church, and we have just over two weeks to wait for our little one to join the ranks of our ever growing family. Then school starts in August and our Big Boy enters full-time school as a first-grader while our Baby (who I can no longer call a baby--though I suppose he outgrew that nickname years ago) starts preschool. Whew, does life ever slow down?
I hope not. I love the bustle and go--even if it means time marches on. There is a blessed, bittersweet joy in watching the seasons unfold as God continues to grant us days we don't deserve.
But this post isn't about my sappy, pregnant musings. It's about balance.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Making it Happen, and I explained that the question I am most often asked is: "How do you find the time to write?" Well today I want to talk about what I would consider the second most common question: "How do you balance the rest of your life with your writing?" I recently received an email from a young woman who I would say wants it all. She titled her email: Life, writing, and changing the world. Ambitious? Absolutely. And I absolutely loved it.
Guess what? I want it all, too. I want a loving husband and a great marriage, adorable children, an exciting career, fantastic friends, the time and opportunity to travel, the freedom to pursue the things I love (cooking, gardening, entertaining, photography, reading, etc.), a passionate relationship with God, the energy to pour into ministries that move me, and the never waning desire to leave the world better than I found it. Whew. I get tired just reading that list. But I long for all of those things... And I refuse to give even one up.
So, how do you balance a career with a family? Or a great relationship with your spouse and the time it takes to foster deep friendships? I'm no counselor or therapist, and I'm certainly not a motivational speaker. But there are a few things I've learned along the way that work for me. Take my ideas and make them your own. Twist them, bend them, or use them as a launching pad to structure your own philosophy of balance. Whatever you do, approach this topic with determination. I don't believe balance happens accidentally...
1. Realize that there is a season for everything. When Aaron and I were newly married, I longed to travel. We had big plans to backpack Europe, tour Southeast Asia, and visit the slums of India. I'm sad to say that none of those grand plans came to fruition. Yes, we've been to Alaska and Hawaii. We've even toured southern Spain and central Ethiopia. And though they were all wonderful trips, I still want to see more of the world. And you know what? I will. Just not now. Right now I have young sons and a baby on the way. Right now my responsibilities keep me close to home. And that's okay. I'm trying to enjoy every minute of the season that I am in right now. But you can bet that when Aaron and I are empty nesters, our nest will be truly empty! We won't even be in it... You can forward our mail to Bali.
2. Don't be afraid of a schedule. We artists are a flighty bunch. We like to fly by the seat of our pants and let inspiration be our guide. Great idea if you're independently wealthy and have the luxury of lounging around all day waiting for the muse to bless you with her presence. Not so great for those of us who, uh, have lives. If you want to accomplish much, you have to be disciplined. Personally, I schedule my writing time as if I have a job. The time is sacrosanct, and though I would love to ditch my writing some days to hang out at the pool with my friends and their kids, I don't let myself. There are other days for that. Family time is family time. Period. Writing time is writing time. Period. If I'm making a gourmet supper for guests, the computer gets turned off and put away. I make a schedule and I try my hardest to stick to it.
I think I'm going to stop there for the day. This is a long post already and I have more to say! Stop back on Thursday for Part II of this post. In the meantime, it's your turn! Are you a well-balanced person? Or does your life feel off-kilter? Why do you think that is? What (if anything) do you plan to do about it?