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  • Writer's pictureDonna Norman Carbone

Balancing Act: I’m still learning

Did you know there are eight universal symbols of balance?

Scales Moon

Yin Yang Koi Fish

The Tree of Life Double Spirals

Equilateral Triangle The Number 2

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. After coming off of a summer that flew by way too fast and one that I recognize in hindsight that I didn’t have nearly enough me-time, I’m reevaluating.

School has begun and I don’t feel refreshed; in fact, I don’t feel like I had much of a summer at all. Except for my vacation to Europe, three days at the Cape with friends, two parties (one for my book release) and literally four boat days, I worked for the rest of the summer.

I know, for those of you reading this who have jobs that span the whole year while I work eight months of the year, you probably think I sound spoiled or like I’m whining. If you were a teacher, you’d know how much teachers NEED the summer to refuel. I have always said, if it weren’t for summers, the teaching profession would collapse (but that’s another story altogether).

The focus of this post is balance. And, only in retrospect do I realize I didn’t have it this summer. I didn’t make it a priority. My body and my mind feel it; that is the cost of not taking care of myself.

After maybe thirty years of dreaming about becoming an author–a full fledged author with a published book–and actually becoming THAT, I got swept away by all of it. I let it consume me. While I hadn’t realized the full scope of the marketing I’d have to do to get my book out there, to establish myself in the reader communities as an author, I took on the role making a promise to myself to give it 100% commitment. So, I buckled down, I studied marketing, I observed it, I learned it. I signed on to multiple online book community groups, taking on a big role with Bookish Road Trip. I entered into a commitment to work with a friend and co-host on a podcast aimed at helping other writers learn what we learned the hard way. I’ve worn the hat of a publicist too, reaching out to bookstores and retail outlets, researching and registering for events to showcase my book. I’ve attended such events, and while they fill me with such pride and numerous pinch-me moments, they add another “To Do” to my pile.

All the while, I worked with a number of students one-on-one. A few years ago I started offering private college essay writing workshops, in part, because I love working with young writers and, secondly, I’m working to establish a couple of side gigs for when I retire (in a few more years, God willing).

I’m exhausted. This is the first time, ever, that I haven’t begun a new school year feeling refreshed and ready for a new beginning. That’s when the stop sign went up.

I’m smart enough to know, even if it is after the fact, that if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to do what I love.

As women (especially), we try to be all things to all people. I’m a wife and a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend. I’m a teacher and an author and a book club program director and a podcast host and a reader (which, now that I’m a published author, carries responsibilities too).

So how can I achieve balance? The million dollar question. First, I’m going to make 4 buckets to help me prioritize what is essential to my health and happiness. They might look like this:

Next, I’m going to list in those buckets the commitments and priorities in each. Then, I’ll create some sort of organizational timeline to help me remind myself how to budget my time more effectively to fill all four buckets equitably.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, ask yourself: What are your buckets? And how do you fill them?

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