I spent most of my high school years balancing on my Arabian, Contessa (pictured left). She was the typical Arabian with enough energy for fifty horses, and she wasn’t afraid of using it. I often thought that riding her was like standing on a lid over a volcano beginning to erupt.
I quickly found out that if I gripped tightly with my legs, it would only make her more excited. (Just so you know, excited in Contessa’s world meant lots of prancing, bucking, and rearing.) The trick to stay on her was not gripping tighter; the trick to stay on was to balance.
And balance has been on my mind a lot lately. How does one live a balanced life with so many things that need done?
How is it possible to juggle a writing career with a baby? How can I fit in time with my husband? And what about volunteering at my church? And time for myself? When do I get to read, to rest, to breathe, to sleep? Is there really a time for devotions where I can sit in quiet?
But forget all that, I just need a time to grocery shop and wash the towels. The “Thank You” cards I’ve needed to write for months are getting dusty, but there’s no time to brush them off, much less fill them out. The pictures of my family that I’ve been meaning to hang are so outdated that I can barely recognize my nieces and nephews in them.
Can I really do it all? Can I write the books and blogs that are burning in my heart while being a parent? Can I maintain a presence on social media and market my books effectively? Can I finish the next book? How can I even think of being creative when I’m so dog-gone exhausted all the time?
By the time I take care of all that is calling out for attention now, wash and put away the laundry, make sure we have some kind of food, pick up the house some so that it doesn’t drive me out of my mind, walk the dog, go to church, spend time with friends, there is little energy left to do anything else. Mention Christmas to me, and I might have a breakdown right in front of you!
And just why does everyone else around me seem to have it all together?
I need to write down my priorities. It’s far more important to me if my daughter is full and happy than if the dishes are washed. I know this in my head, but if I write it down, then I can constantly reaffirm that I am continually doing the most important thing in my life.
Then I need to write down goals for the day and the week. And these goals need to be small and attainable. The daily goals may be as simple as getting two batches of laundry done or writing a blog. The weekly goals can be a bit bigger like finishing the “Thank You” cards or writing five chapters. Whatever it is, both have to be something that I can accomplish so that I have a feeling like I’m making some sort of progress.
I only fell off Contessa twice in the fourteen years I was honored to have her in my life. In 2005, she unexpectedly died. She never lost her energy and love of life until the last thirty-one hours of her life.
Learning to balance on Contessa led to pain when I fell. There were many times where I almost bit the dust and certainly lost all my dignity. My toes were stepped on, and she even tore off one of my one toe nails. I can remember cold days and nights where I had to brave the arctic wind to get to the barn to feed her. I sweated buckets cleaning stalls and working to pay for her keep.
But she was one of my greatest adventures, greatest loves, and biggest joys in my life. The memories of racing across the plains and through the mountains, of her soft nicker to say hello when I visited her, of the humor she brought, far outweigh the memories of the hard times.
I have this picture of me riding her bareback by my computer as a reminder that I’ll say the same about this time of my life. There are bumps and bruises as I learn to balance. I make mistakes and fall. But I get back up. Some things may not go my way. And yet as I learn to balance all these aspects of life, the memories of my daughter’s first smile, the love shared with my husband as we watch her grow, and the excitement of watching my book sell will stay in my heart. The hard times will fade away, and the joy will remain.
How do you balance your life?