Monday, February 13, 2017

In Search of Balance


This week I thought a lot about balance: in work, in writing, in life. Probably because it’s February, everything is covered in snow and my four-year-old great niece asked me to take her to the playground. There’s an awesome seesaw that was installed last year at one of the neighborhood parks, made out of strong wood, with rubber tires underneath to prevent that terrible thumping that can happen when your riding partner unexpectedly disembarks. I thought about balance because she and I can’t ride that seesaw together. She needs someone else on her end to balance things out. Usually, she and my daughter would be on one side, while I'm on the other, but this week, it was just the two of us. It didn’t matter; with a blizzard that dumped a foot of snow days earlier and temperatures in the low 20s, there would be no playground visit.

Still the picture of the seesaw stayed with me all week. So many of life’s struggles can be boiled down to finding the right balance: Between eating healthy and eating what we want. Between taking care of your family, but also making time to stay in touch with friends. Between becoming so focused on the road to publication that we lose sight of the fact that we would write for the love of it, no matter what.

The more the image of that seesaw lingered, the more I thought about what happens once we climb on. Once we achieve that initial balance. Then it’s all about the ups and downs. Not only our own, but also our partner’s. Just as satisfying as being the one in the air is watching the smiling face across from you as they reach those heights. That’s what makes it interesting. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what makes going to the playground worth it (when the temperature is above freezing and you are properly attired.)

It’s the joy of receiving a heart-shaped box full of chocolates and then the devastation of staring back at the empty box a week later and realizing you should be doing Zumba, or Pilates, or at least getting up from your desk to do a few deep-knee bends between reading emails.

It’s the high we get when we finish a manuscript, get the full request, have that agent call, countered by the disappointment of hanging up the phone with revision suggestions instead of an offer of representation.

When I look back at this blog, it’s been about the highs and lows. Those are the realities of life far more often than balance. I’d like this to be a place where we can both celebrate and commiserate those realities together. My heart was touched by all of you who came and commented on my last post. It reminded me of how wonderfully supportive the writing community is, and I’m so grateful for each one of you.



In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share with you a high point in my reading life. My daughter introduced me to the novels of Kasie West and I am completely hooked. She writes feel-good contemporary romances with great characterization and a lot of heart. Her latest, By Your Side, released last week and will soon be moving from my daughter's nightstand to my own. But really I recommend any of her titles. 

Do you have a high or low from this week to share? 



37 comments:

  1. While I do try and achieve a balance in my life, I think it's a struggle that really never ends; and the ups and downs keep life exciting. If everything was on an even keel, we wouldn't appreciate those sweeter moments, and hopefully with every low there is something to learn from. It is a great community, isn't it?

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    1. I think you're right, there's always something to learn from both the highs and the lows. Thanks for stopping by, Nick.

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  2. Ruth, if I worked on physical balance as much as I do on life balance, I'd have the world's strongest core! Your "finding the right balance: Between eating healthy and eating what we want" is about the only balance I can say I've got down. (See my post Sugar: Toxin or Treat? to see how I handle it.) The rest of my life? Well, let's just say, I never dreamed I'd get to this age and still be struggling with it! Anyway ... I'm glad you're back in the blogosphere. I'm a person who tends to isolate as well, so I know what you're talking about.

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    1. I guess it's a lifelong struggle. I'm heading over to your place now to read Toxin or Treat? Thanks for mentioning it, Jean!

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  3. I just read a post from one of my favorite bloggers (Claudine Gueh)that she is taking a break from blogging, perhaps permanently. To alleviate the sadness I felt, I reminded myself that another of my favorite (That's Ruth Schiffmann, YOU) came back.
    Strolling over to you blog I had to do a head-slap--- SEESAWS ARE BACK? Wha'd'y'know!
    Seeking balance in all things is wisdom itself.

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    1. Thanks you, Mirka! I will miss Claudine as well. I always enjoyed her friendship on the blogs. And yes, seesaws ARE back! I was so excited to see the one they installed at the new park. They were always a favorite of mine as a kid and I remember being disappointed that they had all been removed by the time my kids were making the playground rounds.

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    2. Awww Mirka, xoxo. This is balance, no? Lol. Don't worry, I'm still around ... haunting you guys.

      Ruth, I hardly see seesaws anymore. Swings are my favourite, and seesaws my second. I remember the rubber tires half buried in sand so when the wooden planks thumped, our butts were saved from misery. It was a lot of fun I had with my sisters. It's an extremely happy image of you and your great niece playing there! Lots of giggles erupting, I reckon.

      My life was out of balance for several years until last year, I made the tough (but right) decision to set boundaries, and write down the changes I want: in health/fitness/diet, especially work and finances, and family relationships. They take little adjustments every day. That's the 'trick.' Every day. To be the best character I can be in every task, every communication. I'm still working on every aspect and things are better. (Not perfect, but better. :) )

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    3. Wishing you the best balance, Claudine.

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  4. Yes, balance is tricky in all things of life, isn't it? I'm riding a high of working on a high this week of working on my first self-published book. It's so scary all the new things I'm trying and learning for the process. But I saw a sketch from my cover artist of the main character today and it was such a thrill to see my character come alive.

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    1. Oh I find the very idea of self-publishing completely overwhelming. Congratulations to you for taking it on. How great that you are already loving the sketches from the cover artist. Good luck with the process, Katie!

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  5. I'm just trying to stay stable. I think the best thing I did this week was give my purple cow a bath!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jeannie! After a comment like that, I just had to pop over to your place to see what this purple cow thing is all about ;)

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  6. I can be balanced, but recently I'm see-sawing wildly. One small rejection has me in despair, while a nice word from someone has me elated. I think it's mostly because I'm tired (and prone to tantrums like a toddler) and really just need a couple of early nights.

    Today's high: finished a short story. Today's low: it's rubbish... See what I mean? :-)

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    1. I know what you mean, Annalisa. Turning in early can do a world of good! And I'd bet anything that short story is not rubbish. I've read your work. Good stuff!

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  7. What a great analogy!

    Last week at work was especially tough. There's rarely balance. Today, I was able to catch my breath. When I arrived home, there was a plate of Valentine brownies in my mailbox thanks to my sweet neighbors. I'm thankful that we have good days to balance out the bad ones.

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    1. Wow, what a lovely surprise. And what great neighbors!

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  8. I've been thinking about the importance of balance lately. I've been working a lot--maybe too much. I feel a little out of balance and too busy. Thinking about how to be more balanced.

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    1. Ahhh, the busy-ness trap. That's a hard one to avoid. Good luck with your search for balance, Natalie.

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  9. Those highs and lows are a part of every creative person's life--but especially writers!

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  10. Our seesaws used to have a handle to hold onto, and if one person was bigger, they'd sit in front of the handle instead of behind it. Sorry about the snow and no park visit. I'm glad you're enjoying the books by Kasie West. Happy Valentine's Day!

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    1. The weather's already so much warmer, it won't be long now.

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  11. I think you're absolutely right about the balance. I used to spend a lot of time on teeter totters as a kid and learned a lot of about life there. When life is out of balance, it's hard on the bum or leaves you hanging in the air.

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  12. Oh this is so true! I'm constantly trying to find the right balance, especially between writing and other responsibilities. Praying a lot about that lately. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts about it. It's good to know I'm not the only one who's thinking about this. And perhaps not the only one who ate a few too many chocolates...? Happy weekend! :)

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    1. I agree, Karen. I tend to put writing before almost everything else, to the point where it's almost obsessive sometimes. Only when I consciously step back a bit do I see where it should really fit among all my other responsibilities.

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  13. This is all so true! Right now tho I'm happy for Friday and excited that we will have very warm weather this weekend. My hub and I got bikes not too long ago and it's been a really fun way to decompress. Hope you have a happy weekend. Hi to Amanda! I miss seeing her posts too. :)

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    1. Amanda sends her hellos, Coleen! Oh how I used to love biking. I haven't ridden in so long now. How nice that it's something you and your husband can enjoy together. Hope you had a great weekend!

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  14. I am working on finding the balance of different areas of my life n 2017. I find I am more settled and more at ease when there is a balance and right now a lot of things are not there. I am working on my plans though, and that is a step in the right directions.

    Glad your daughter introduced you to a new author. Awesome!

    Have a great weekend. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I guess it's something we constantly have to strive for. Good luck on your journey, Jess =)

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  15. I actually have a Kasie West on my Audible wish list. I wanted to write feel-good contemporary YA, but I kept getting feedback that the market wants dark, depressing YA...glad at least one author is fighting the good fight! I do think SOME teens want to read happy stories.

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    1. I definitely think some teens want to read happy stories! How discouraging that the feedback you received didn't acknowledge that. I get that life is often dark and depressing, but don't readers still pick up books to escape?

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  16. My high was having both daughters home for the weekend!

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    1. Awesome, Beth! It doesn't get any better than that ;)

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  17. I haven't been getting updates from your blog lately. I re-followed it so hopefully that will help. Balance is so hard and something I've been missing recently. High for last week: finishing the wiring of our house. Low for the week: several other things going wrong with the house.

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    1. Ack! Houses are like that ...one step forward, two steps back. Glad you got the wiring finished, though. And thanks for re-following. It's nice to hear from you! =)

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  18. I so agree with your seesaw metaphor. I struggle with finding balance all the time. Glad you found books you like to read. Always great when you find the right author. A high for me this week is it's winter break. I'm using the time to try to catch up on my sky-high to-do list.

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