Striving for BalanceAs women we all wear many hats. We are our mother’s daughters, our husband’s wives, our children’s mothers, our bosses workers, sisters, friends, mentors, and on and on. But what are we to ourselves? On life’s priority list, where do we, and our writing, fit in?
We invented multi-tasking before there was language. As soon as primitive woman figured out she could feed kindling into a fire with one hand while she had a baby perched on her hip, both jobs became hers, and ultimately ours.
So, are we destined to do only for others? Is there even one minute in the day we can call our own?
I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m going to say it again, and this time you’d better listen, chickies. YOU CAN’T TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE ELSE IF YOU DON’T TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. (shouting intentional). Unfortunately we can’t just tell our families, bosses and communities they’re on their own and head off to our own personal islands. We must strike a balance between caring for others and caring for ourselves.
How do we start, you may ask? First, by understanding that we are not bad people for wanting something for ourselves. Humans need solitude to think, to decompress, to regroup. Are you setting aside enough time for yourself? You may need to take out a piece of paper and draw a twenty-four hour clock on it, and block out where your time goes, or you may need to enlist your in-house time-suckers (and I say that lovingly, because there’s nothing more beautiful than a healthy, happy family) and negotiate some “me” time. Ask yourself, do you really need to sit on the couch with your mate while he watches a documentary on the History Channel? Do you really need to watch the children/grandchildren color?
I’m not suggesting you declare your independence by camping out on the front lawn or ignoring household chores until the refrigerator is empty and there are no clean clothes in the closets. What I’m suggesting is that you decide on a course of action, perhaps one-half hour each day or one evening each week for yourself. Don’t demand this time, negotiate it over a family dinner or special dessert. Your hard-working spouse or significant other may have been wondering how to ask the very same thing for himself.
Even if you’re single you may need to have this talk with yourself. If you come home from work each day tapped out from being available for any and all disasters for eight or nine hours straight, or care for family members or neighbors, you know what I’m talking about. You may need the same schedule of “me” time as everyone else. Those who write full-time or work out of the home may be laboring under the illusion that all their time is “me” time, but don’t fall into that trap. Everyone has responsibilities, everyone has challenges (busted pipes, car trouble, clogged gutters, etc.). You still need time for creative endeavors.
Once you’ve negotiated what you need, go at it with enthusiasm, but remember, there will be interruptions and the details may need to be renegotiated as time goes on. In the meantime, use that ability to multi-task that our long-ago mothers perfected: listen to craft tapes or CDs while cleaning; dictate into a lapel mike attached to a digital recorder while walking; ask your significant other to help you act out a tricky love scene.
Everyone has the same twenty-four hours each day. Why not use some of them for yourself? We’ll all be better off for it.