Monthly Archives: March 2009

Essential Stress

I have too much work on my desk. This is a cyclical condition. As with most things, it’s boom or bust; feast or famine. Right now, it’s manageable, but barely. Last week I kind of freaked out, but I knocked out a project and so it’s back to just “seriously intense”.

I like it just a little less intense than this, but I do enjoy my stress. I love my deadlines, love a little pressure. Today I want to get out into the nice day on my bicycle, so I have a little added pressure to get my scheduled “must-do” things done on a timeline that will allow for that.

Last summer I decided to take a couple of months off. No work, no school, no schedule. Just work in the garden, lie about and read. Lunch with the girlfriends. Bad idea. I was miserable, and started manufacturing grand schemes (aka “trouble”) in my mind.

Some day retirement will be an option for me, and I’m one of those who will have to do some serious retirement planning so I don’t drive myself nuts with inactivity. Or inappropriate activity (heh heh). But then does a writer ever really retire?

But for now, I have two research papers to finish, an anthology to edit, a weekend retreat to prepare for, two writing projects to progress, a garden to plant, and a husband and dog to keep happy. That’s a little too much for today, especially if I want my bike ride. Next week, I’ll have finished the anthology, one of the research papers and the retreat planning, and then my stress level will be just right.

As with all things, balance is always the goal, and when it comes to self-imposed stress, balance is particularly crucial.

Will I ever get it right?

Probably not.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Gardening, girlfriends, Marriage, Stress, time, Writing

We’re so fragile…

The death of beautiful, talented Natasha Richardson while on a skiing holiday with her sons is a tragic reminder of how fragile we are. I mourn this loss of a wonderful artist, as I’ve been a fan of hers for many years.

In school, as I study counseling strategies and learn the way we process grief, loss and bereavement, and explore cross-cultural difficulties in an ethnically diverse community, I am continually reminded of how fragile we are emotionally. There is scarcely a one of us over the age of thirty who doesn’t carry emotional and spiritual scars, if not raw, open wounds.

And yet we see ourselves as being strong, brave, and resilient.

But we’re not. Our bodies are not, our psyches are not, our hearts are not.

We would do well to remember our fragility in all these areas, and be good to ourselves, as it could all end in a moment, in a freak accident like the one who took this beautiful actress from us.

We need to be tender with one another, too. Just because my husband or daughter or best friend looks competent and strong and fearless doesn’t mean that’s the case. I better not compare the way they look on the outside with the way they feel on the inside, because I don’t really know how they feel.

Fragile, I imagine.

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Filed under Death, relationships, Spirituality

Thank God for Book Clubs

Last night I was the featured guest at a local book club. About ten women who had all read The Northwoods Chronicles asked me to join them for a couple of hours of book talk and refreshments.

It turned out to be a delightful event, hosted by my friend Virginia Prudell. These smart, savvy, well-read and highly intelligent women asked probing questions about creativity, my particular process, plot, and a couple of the characters in the book.

I tend to think of myself as a writer, and travel comfortably in the company of other writers, but I often forget how stimulating it is to be in the company of other readers, talking about our favorite books, and to listen as they chose their book for next month’s discussion.

Last night’s event took me out of the solitary business of Facebook, writing and back into the gratitude of book clubs, of person-to-person interaction and the love of the written word.

So thank God for that. And thanks to the book club members.

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Filed under Friends, Reading, Short Stories, Writing

Finding balance, an elusive sport.

There’s no question that it’s a lot easier to maintain balance in my life with a home, husband and dog. Still yet, it ain’t easy, at least not for me.

First of all, there just isn’t time enough in the day to work, exercise, floss, plan prepare and eat food, play music, veg on the couch, work in the yard, hang with friends, pay attention to family, throw the ball for the dog, do laundry, keep up with schoolwork, take the occasional trip to clear the mind, blog… the list is endless, and most of it is daily.

As a result, I eat too much or not enough. I exercise too much or not enough. I spend too much time on the couch or not enough. Get my drift?

But when I manage my time correctly, and can finish all the “must-do’s” in time to read for leisure, or flip through magazines or gardening catalogs, when I can end the day feeling good about everything I’ve done without putting my foot in my mouth, then I feel good about myself and my life.

But boy, those days are few.

The good news is that it’s almost bicycling weather again. Then my balance will be thrown off further, only  not by the couch.

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Filed under Bicycle, Discipline, Gardening, Marriage, Stress, time