A balancing act

It’s a gorgeous Iowa night. The sun is setting behind me, turning the sky a light pink color. And I sit on my new favorite bench, just outside my new house, watching the ducks swim back and forth across the pond, listening to them talk to each other, with sounds that remind me of laughter, contemplating life as I stare at the blank pages of my recycled elephant poo paper journal.

Wow, I know how to ruin a moment, eh? Here, back in the moment with you…

Just relax

Just relax

Last post, I mentioned that I wanted to talk about finding a balance in life, and why it’s important. The sermon at church yesterday, as usual, applied directly to me, and was about the busyness of life, how we fill our time with ALL THE THINGS and forget to take time for the really important things. THE most important thing, Jesus, but also things like family and friends and SILENCE and just BEING.

This summer I have been a fantastic example of how not to balance. I spread myself way too thin. In the midst of finishing edits for my debut, I applied for an accepted a promotion to supervisor at my day job, which included continuing my current position through the summer until my replacement could start, while also taking on supervisor duties. I also decided it would be an awesome time to start looking for a house, which I figured could take months, but I found the perfect home, and went for it.

It didn’t take long for the strain to show. Stretched to the brink, things started falling through the cracks at both jobs, writing fell by the wayside, social interactions fell off, and there were times when my head would hit the pillow at night and I’d realize I hadn’t prayed at all that day, when before prayer and conversations with Jesus were just a regular, almost constant part of my day.

For the entire summer, I’ve been chanting to myself about making it to September. When September comes, I will have one dayjob (that I will actually know what I’m doing at), one house, plenty of time to write all the plot bunnies clogging up my brain, time to breathe. In the meantime, I don’t think I’ve been living each moment, each NOW, to the fullest, and that’s sad.

Last week, a high school classmate of mine passed away. I wasn’t overly close with Abby. She attended my dad’s church, and we were friendly, but we hadn’t spoken beyond Facebook since graduation 13 years ago. She was witty, kind, and talented. Gone way too soon. None of us know for sure what time we have left. Wishing it away seems like such a waste, and not enjoying the moment is a tragedy.

Pause for ducks.

Pause for ducks.

But, Rena, you say. I have so much to do. All these responsibilities! And I HAVE to do them! Busyness is just the way the world works now!

Is it? Is it really?

Here’s what I’ve been doing to work on balancing better. It’s not easy, but it’s important.

First, I’m learning to say no. I desperately wanted to help out at VBS at my church. It’s always been one of my favorite times of year, and connecting with kids is such a joy. However, this year VBS fell on the same week I was leaving for Midwest Writers Workshop, and also right before my official move date. I wrestled with wanting to do one or two nights, but in the end, I had to say no this year. Hopefully next year will be different. I definitely won’t be moving again. Similarly, there are always opportunities for volunteering at church, and I want to do them ALL. I’m really working hard to decide which I can balance with everyone else and still give everything I have. It does no one any good if I am only giving a part of myself.

Second, I’m setting aside specific writing times. I’ve been doing Sunday morning coffee shop writing this summer, since my evenings have been full, and I will continue those as often as possible. Each week my schedule may change, but I am dedicating at least one evening a week to writing, though I plan to write more than that. Routine is important, and since I’m under contract with this next book, I need that routine more than ever.

Third, I am taking time for silence. I haven’t watched TV in two weeks and I don’t miss it. I’m done spending hours on mindless things. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be some Netflix marathons and vegging times, but I want to balance those with intentional times of prayer and reflection. Those are the only things that really fill me up, give me energy and strength to keep going, and this is an area I have been lacking especially in the past month.

Fourth, I want to be more intentional about relationships, really pouring into them and connecting on a deeper level. I wouldn’t have made it through this month without some really awesome friends swooping in and saving the day. Cultivating those friendships, being genuinely with those people, showing my support is essential. I want to grow deeper in some of the more surface friendships I have, and touch base with friends I’ve grown apart from.

That’s a lot, but I think it will be good. I might expand on this entry later, but as far as balance goes, it’s time to do some chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool, maybe shoot some b-ball outside of the school… (Bwahahaha)

Time to reflect

Time to reflect

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