Sunday, March 11, 2012

Word-of-the-Year Series: Believe & Balance

Welcome to the continuing Rockville8 word-of-the-year series. We’ve heard so many great words from members of the group and the life philosophy behind the choice of each of those words, that I’ve walked away inspired each week. It’s been an encouraging series for me to read.
I’m a pretty driven person. I set goals every January and I push hard to meet those self-imposed deadlines for myself. Therefore, when this conversation came up about choosing a word for the year, I only had to think of the goals I’d set for myself this year to choose my word. Well, actually, my two words. I couldn’t settle on one because I’d had such diverse goals this year. The two words I settled on this year that embody my goals are BELIEVE and BALANCE.

BELIEVE is such a great word because its scope is so great. I am a woman of faith, so believing as it’s related to faith and religion has been fairly easy for me since I was a child. The spiritual has always been important to me. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t BELIEVE in God. However, the harder aspect of the word for me to practice is related to my writing career. I’m a practical person. If I have a goal, I’ve always been able to envision all the steps it will take to achieve that goal. This mindset often hinders my ability to BELIEVE that my dream of becoming a best-selling author will ever turn into a reality since the steps to becoming a successful published author seem so daunting in today’s market.

So I decided this would be the year that I chose to BELIEVE it could really happen--this is the year where I BELIEVE I will be published. I’m doing all the right things. I’m writing and finishing polished manuscripts, submitting those stories to publishers and agents, networking, and building connections within the romance genre. Now it’s time to put my faith into action and see what happens.

The second word I’ve claimed is BALANCE. Since I’m goal-oriented, I tend to hyper-focus. I’m not very balanced. I have a hard time relaxing or just “being.” I can get lots of work done in the course of a week, month, quarter, or year. However, oftentimes, to achieve those word-count goals I’v set for myself--while working a full-time job and managing a family--other areas of my life have suffered.

My “fluffy” quotient rose exponentially over the past five years. Weight I’d gained during my three pregnancies never went away. And the more manuscripts I finished, the less exercise I got and the more I just ate without thinking about the food I consumd. So to achieve BALANCE this year, I’m working on my health--eating better, dieting, exercising. Already, I see a difference in my energy levels and how I’m feeling. Physical wellness is an important part of any balanced writer’s arsenal. If I don’t take care of my body now, I won’t be able to write into my Golden Years when I have the glorious luxury of time.

BALANCE is also necessary where my family commitments are concerned. My boys are teenagers. They’re pretty independent. They can cook their own meals, do their own laundry, and pick up after themselves. Yay! This is such a change from those years when they were little and needed so much from me while I tried to squirrel away an hour here and there to write. I now have more independence, too. Plus, more time to write. However, my boys still need me. BALANCE gives me permission to spend the time I need with them to enjoy the young men they’ve become and are becoming, while still making my dream of writing a reality.

Instead of taking every weekend to write, I’m learning to manage my time differently. I’m taking more breaks between manuscripts--a reward to myself when I finish a project. I try to write a few hours during the week, when I can, so that I don’t need to be away all day on Saturday and Sunday to write to make up for the time I didn’t get to write during the week.

I’ve also started to work intentional reading back into my morning routine. I’m an avid reader. I love to read. I binge when I’m not writing. But to keep the well full, both emotionally and mentally, I need to read on a regular basis, not just when I’m not working on a project. We can only expand genres and take our own story-telling to the next step if we underestand what’s currently being written within those genres. In that morning time, I’m reading both fiction and the how-to non-fiction books I adore. Talk about starting your day off right. Getting ready for work is much better after I’ve enjoyed a chapter of a good book. All throughout the day, my mind returns to that book, that story. How cool.

And, I’m working on learning to stop to smell the roses. My focus on BALANCE has lead me back to yoga, long walks, meditation, and expanding the contemplative life I love so much.

All-in-all, good results for concentrating on two simple words. I highly recommend it!

Tell me what you do to practice BALANCE in your own life--writing or otherwise. And I’d especially love to hear what you do to help you BELIEVE a successful writing life is possible for you. I’m always looking for “angels” to inspire me and keep me going. Tell me your story. I’d love to listen.


  1. Yes, you're doing all the right things toward believing and balance. I have always admired your strong goal-setting and achieving ways, and I stand even more in awe now of your clear-eyed pursuit of balance and your determination to believe. I struggle with both myself. Here's hoping a little of your initiative will wear off on me! :-)

  2. Candy - I've always admired your dedication. Now I can admire your belief and search for balance too!

    I struggle with belief in myself but I feel the last few years I've grown healthier in that respect. An evolution, perhaps, from thinking the "what" and "how" of me are somehow more essential than the "why" and "who" of me.

    As for that remains a hard one. I think of it as being in a kayak. Sometimes I paddle just fine, other times I take a bath. I'm better now at righting myself after a spill and regaining my balance, but it's still a struggle and I don't always have faith (ahem) that I'll come out the other side to find my balance once more.

  3. Candy,

    What an inspiring piece of writing! Since I was feeling a little blue as I read it, I hesitated to comment. Nothing to add; nothing to believe in... you know the whole Eyeore-syndrome.
    So, for an additional mood lift, I googled "believe" and found a few quotes that I thought others might enjoy:

    Goal Setting: You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them. ~Michael Jordan

    Believe: Success comes in cans, not cant's. ~Author Unknown

    Believe Some More: I am not a has-been. I am a will be. ~Lauren Bacall


  4. @evie - LOL. Yes, rub away. ;0) I understand the struggle. And I've found that sometimes when you're seriously unbalanced in some way, you have to way over-compensate the other way to even everything out. But, as you've told me in the past, as long as you're standing, you're okay. Hope you find a semblance of both belief and balance yourself as you're open to new things this year. Hoorah!

  5. @keely - Great analogy with the kayaking. At least you're always righting yourself when you take a spill--and, truly, that's half the battle! Good for you. We can't overestimate the importance of self-awareness (the what and how of you that you mentioned) to a healthy self-confidence. There's a certain humility in knowing exactly what you're good at and how you're wired. Kudos to you for working on your overall wellness! Yay! You're doing great job.

  6. @shellie ~ I adore those quotes. I'm a quote hound. So anytime Lisa McQuay posts a quote, I just eat it up. I found this one the other day . . .

    There is no passion to be found playing small--in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. ~ Nelson Mandela.

    . . . I think Keely referenced it in a conversation we had recently. It loosely relates to "believe" . . . but mostly reminds us to live large and go big or go home. ;0)

    Thanks for sharing the quotes. Hope your mood picked up. I find sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do is take a nap when I'm feeling that way. Life looks a lot better in the morning. Rest well, friend!

  7. Candy, I admire your dedication as well. But I have noticed that you seem more relaxed lately. I'm so happy that you're finding your balance and are working on believing.

    The times in my life when I really deep-down believed in myself, I’ve achieved what I thought I could do. A lot of us are like that. So, why is writing any different? Why is it I can go after something for my child, a work project or even caring for ill family members and not believe that I can find the same intensity for writing? Even in the face of contest wins and requests, I still harbor skepticism sometimes.

    I always tell my child that if you have a gift, you need to share it with others and do your best to nurture and develop it. One day she said to me, “You mean like you do with your writing?”

    I believe that everyone has something to teach and everyone has something to learn. Sometimes, it occurs simultaneously. :)

    Glad you like my quotes, Candy. I love quotes, too.

  8. Excellent post (as always!), Candy!

    Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe and so I do. But balance? I fell off that bandwagon a few miles back. I had it good once, when I went after it. And that's certainly what I need to do again--go after it!!!

    I've been working exercise back into the rotation this year (along with more zzz, more movies, and more fruit) in an effort to get the balance back. Of course, then I wopperjawed my back. But I believe I'll find balance again--if I keep seeking it.

    Here's to your hunt for balance! I believe you can find it!

  9. Re the balance notion and exercise. I am inspired by all this talk. I want/have to write. I want/have to exercise. How do you get both? Treadmill desk.

    Sometime ago a little old lady gave me her treadmill and I had big, big plans to put a plank across the handles and make my own treadmill desk.

    Well, I got sidetracked and now my rec room (AKA basement) where said treading-mill lives is undergoing renovation.

    However, I do solemnly pledge to find a plank and when the rec room is back on line, I will give treadmill writing a health try!


  10. @shellie II - LOL, Shellie, I'd probably fall off the treadmill if I tried to write while walking. I can barely talk and walk at the same time let alone type. So that doesn't work for me. I have seen that it works for others though. So I'd certainly try it if you're coordinated (unlike me). I usually unplug when I walk. I love to commune with nature--even if it's to get a little natural light on my skin and some fresh air. I've found walking at for 30 minuts at lunchtime during the work day is best for me. I have a co-worker who walks with me (we're both registered to walk in a 5K in April). We keep each other honest. Then, on weekends, I walk for 45 minutes on my own. I've added a yoga video a couple times a week and have just started an evening yoga class once a week. As far as the writing goes, I do try to get the majority of it done on the weekend, but I've been adding an hour or two at night a couple of times a week--I tend to be a night owl.

    However, I'm not rigid about it all. Except the walking. I try to fit in what works that still gives me that sense of satisfaction. Some days I'm brain-dead by the time I get home from work. So no writing those nights. I read then. It's all a shell game. But if I can can rotate things enough to work in the exercise and the writing, I'm a happier woman.

    As we all know, life happens. When I'm on deadline at work, it throws everything off kilter. However, the beauty of a balance routine is that you can quickly get back into the natural swing of your personal balance.

    I know it looks different for everyone. My balance may not be yours or Evie's. It's important that we find our own true center (and what's important to us) to begin to practice the balance that works for us.

    Good luck with the writing desk at the treadmill. I've seen pics of other writers doing it. I'm in awe. Let us know how it goes! ;0)