Saturday, May 1, 2010

Finding Balance

I read a book once; well, part of a book. It was a book the counsellor I was going to see at the time lent me thinking it would help me sort out how I was feeling and what I could do about it. It didn't because she didn't understand what the issue in part because there were things I hadn't told her, which I was not ready to accept or deal with at the time. She therefore chalked my difficulties up to being creative and although it had nothing to do with what the issue was, I'm not sure she didn't touch on something.

The book, "Singing at the Top of Our Lungs" was about women, creativity and the modern world. I only read the beginning couple chapters, but it's one of those books I plan on buying at some point and actually reading through. The part I read delved into the "roles" and expectations of women in society with regards to their roles in relationships, love, sex, child rearing and society in general. And even though the roles in the book seemed a bit out of date, the psychologically unspoken expectations seemed accurate to me in many regards and I could see how they applied. The roles talked about all the unspoken expectations on women to take care of others, ensuring that everyone is content and has what they need. Therefore, putting the needs of others first, often at the expense of ignoring their own wishes and needs, for the greater good of children, husband and family. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but throw in the need for creative expression or even the thought of taking care or ones own needs first and without balance it's like trying to doing everything or, as in the books title, "singing at the top of our lungs."

This balance is different for everyone. One of the women in the book achieved a balance and natural rhythm which worked for her by varying what she did during the year. I can't recall exactly how she set things up, but it was something along the lines of developing and framing her photography in the winters and walking, painting and taking pictures in the summers. This was her natural rhythm and allowed her the pace, creative outlet and rest which she needed.

I was intrigued and have since been searching for that rhythm myself. For me, writing and other creative expression has to be part of my life. It's an integral part of who I am. But, I also care about people and am, at heart, an advocate for societal change and equality where women, children and childcare are concerned. It is sometimes hard to find that balance of doing what I need, taking care of the needs of my family, meeting the obligations of work and working for social change. Thus, I'm always trying new approaches, hoping I'll hit on the right combination.

Having a rhythm is not the same as having a schedule and finding it is much like the process I'm going through with my revision of The Closet Guardian." Tightening word count and condensing it without losing the those pieces which are necessary for plot, character and story arch. Having studied how the pieces all work together, their importance to each other and the plot has allowed me to carefully change things without altering the framework and keep its integrity. Figuring out what is working in my life allows me to change things slowly and see if they fit and whether or not they work for me. For example, although my family has regular meals, I only eat when I'm hungry. I am learning to sleep when I'm tired and get up and write when I wake at 5 in the morning and begin composing a blog post or a story in my head. This is possible because I've arranged my work so that things are more flexible. I've also begun taking my dog places with me. That too has worked wonderfully as she and I get more walks together and we both enjoy and need the exercise.

I've also in the past few weeks realized that although my daily schedule might be more flexible, scheduling writing time is a must (even if it's not the same time every day or week) or I get sucked into doing other things, because there is always things to do for work, around the house, yard, or with my family. And the problem with that is if, like the past 8 weeks, I do not get large chunks of time to write, draw or be creative in some way, then I become overwhelmed and feel smothered and stressed. Not a good thing. This also why a writing space, like the cafĂ©, works better than home as there are no menial distractions and the odd break when someone comes up to talk to me is refreshing and actually helpful.


  1. I love it, and I completely identify! I think I need to read that fact, I think "singing at the top of my lungs" is the main reason my marriage ended - I just couldn't keep that up. Thanks for this post.

  2. Thanks Taryn. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's really nice to know when my posts are helpful :)