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My Secret To Keeping Up With All The Demands

The holiday season is full of demands. We have our to-do lists that run longer than a novel--baking an old-fashioned fruit cake, mixing fresh snow into ice cream for the kids, and hand-embroidering a Christmas stocking for the pet hamster.

Okay, so not really. But most of us feel the increased pressure in one form or another. Even without the holiday, we already struggle to keep up with the demands of work, family, and our activities. Add on to that our writing, blogging, and other social networking.

During my posts last week on blogging, many of the comments lamented the scarcity of time and the inability to keep up with everything:

"My time is so very very limited... I can't take the time to comment on all the blogs I want."

"I got to where I had to have a time limit. It (blogging) was interfering with my writing. And I don't want that to happen."

"I'm still trying to figure out how to effectively balance blogging with life's other demands."

I think we all ask ourselves at some point: How can we possibly hope to keep up with blogging, much less adding Twitter and Facebook? How can we do any of those things effectively and still have time for writing? And then how can we have sufficient time for our writing without neglecting other real life responsibilities?

Last week a very sweet friend, Jeanette Levellie, sent me a Facebook message and asked me this question: Please tell me your secret for keeping up with all the blogs you follow, face book, twitter, your book, and your family.

My secret? Hmmm. . .

Here was my initial answer: I really have no secret and constantly struggle with how to keep up with the social networking. I think there comes a point where we just can't keep up with everyone anymore.

After thinking about "my secret" for a few more days, however, I realized there are two things I already do to an extent but need to do more often.

1. Show Grace. First, we need to show grace to ourselves. We have to realize it's physically impossible to keep up with all of the demands of writing and life. We can only do so much, and sometimes we just have to sit back and say, "I did enough. I wasn't perfect. But it was enough for now."

Second, we need to extend grace to one another. We all like to repay visits to those who comment on our blogs. But there are times when we can't. I won't stop liking or following those who don't swing by every time I post. I realize my blog is not the most important thing in your life!

In other words, I understand that you can't always read my posts, even when I read yours. And hopefully you'll understand when I can't make it to yours. Last week, I tried but just couldn't respond to everyone who visited me. Thank you for all of your comments. I LOVED them. But please forgive me for not being able to repay all of your visits.

2. Evaluate Priorities. Sometimes we need to show ourselves grace, and then there are times we need to give ourselves a lecture on the value of hard work, then plop our behind in the chair, and work diligently with our whole heart and soul on the things that need to be a priority.

It's all too easy to get side-tracked by those good, but lesser important priorities. I want to take the next couple posts to discuss how we set priorities--for our writing and our personal lives.

For today, I'd love to hear your thoughts about showing grace. How do you handle the pressure to keep up with all of the demands? Do you need to give yourself or others a break from the pressure to keep up?

65 comments:

  1. I think sometimes we have to let things go. Some days I let housework go. Some days I let the laundry go (unless we need underwear!) Family comes first, but there are things that can wait a day. ;) I'm learning it's okay that I am not supermom/superwife/supereverything.

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  2. Excellent post Jody! I'm learning Grace. At first it was really hard for me to not read every blog on my dashboard, but now I know that no one will freak out if I miss their post. I don't want to miss a post, but things happen.
    I understand about other bloggers who don't comment on every single one of my post. We all have lives, right? LOL

    Wonderful post Jody. I'm looking forward to the others. :-)

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  3. After being attentive to those who are kind enough to comment on my posts, I step back a few days. I just had to set limits.

    Rarely, rarely do I post/read/comment Thur-Sun. I wish I could be more involved with Blogger, but real-life concerns have to come first.

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  4. I guess I just try not to worry about it.

    I mean, yes, comments on my blog are great, as are visits. DO I wish there were a few more? Sure, but I also know that isn't my biggest priority right now, nor should it be. So I relegate it a little down on my list, get to it as much as I can, and don't dwell on it.

    The other demands? I guess I just handle it the same way. I prioritize, and then pray God lets me get everything done and gives me time!

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  5. Hmmm, grace. A wonderful ingredient to bask in. I'm learning that I can't meet every demand I place on myself. There has to be room for me.

    Blogging has opened a world of possibilites for my dreams, but writing itself has to take precedence.

    Stop by my place, I have a special thanks waiting for you.

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  6. We have to be content with dancing as fast as we can and calling it good enough. I read and comment blogs with morning tea and will check the blog roll for updates during an afternoon break. I try to schedule blog writing for the evening and posting them ahead of time is a real time saving blessing.

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  7. Sometimes I get stressed out by it all. Like it's a giant race that I can't keep up with. But then I remember why I started blogging in the first place, and it wasn't to add stress to my life. The world will not end if I don't comment on everybody's blog. The world will not end if I don't get that many comments on my blog. The world will keep spinning. Happy Monday, Jody!

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  8. Jody, I have been adding words to my MG manuscript so that I can query by January.

    Plus family, Christmas, home-school, and most importantly my time spent with the Lord. The quality time with God has been seriously lacking of late. I have apologized to him and promised starting today that that is my #1 priority. I can't do anything without him.I love him so much.

    But I have felt the pressure. I know now I can release it. Thank you Jody. Wonderful post. Can't wait to read the others. I am indebted to you. :-)

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  9. As always, an excellent post!!

    Always first is my time with the Lord. Each day is started with a cup of tea, bible reading, devotional and prayer.

    Next is my morning walk where I have a fresh mind to allow the muse to take over and plant new ideas, work out writer's block and mull over things I've read.

    Then it's hubby time. Lots of hugs, sharing and talking about our day.

    Now I'm ready to blog and write. Sometimes it's interrupted by appointments and life, but that's how the rest of my day is spent.

    I continually have to remind myself that I need to drop the perfectionism that I cling to. I ask, "How important is this worry or that demand to the whole picture?"

    And the new word in my vocabulary is "flexible"!

    That's how I keep my sanity in the wild and crazy world of writing!

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  10. I really liked what you said about extending grace, both to ourselves and to others. Grace for me is about being gentle with myself and letting me be okay with less than perfect. I agree with you about doing the same for others. I too realize that my blog is not the most important thing in other people's days. I am a pretty loyal little follower. I will try to visit those I follow even if they don't visit me. I don't think of this as a world of tit for tat. You tag me I'll tag you type thing. It is a case of doing what you can when you can. We are all in the same boat when it comes to time. GREAT post Jody. As usual :)

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  11. I just try to do the best I can and not feel guilty about the things I cannot do. There are just times in my life where, at the end of the day, I'm exhausted and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with the dogs and cat and watch tv. So, I do just that. I don't force myself to write, knowing that my heart isn't in the writing, and I don't force myself to do anything else. My personal philosophy: sometimes, our bodies are tellings us to stop and regenerate, so I stop and regenerate.

    I think we overwhelm ourselves with these huge to-do lists that are unrealistic. There is only so much time in a day. There is only so much we can give of ourselves before we need to rest. The best a person can do, at least in my opinion, is the best they can do. Sometimes, things can wait until tomorrow.

    S

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  12. OMG people purposely bake fruit cakes???

    I don't keep up well. I may or may not spend too much time on the social media and not enough time baking Fruit Cakes....

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  13. I do what I can do and let the rest go. I may visit a blog that I haven't seen in a while, or try to alternate which ones I read. I like leaving comments, but I try to do that only when I actually have something to contribute to the conversation.

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  14. OH, I almost forgot! How did you get the dough to stop sticking to the pump? : )

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  15. I've been thinking about this very thing this weekend! I appreciate your thoughts and insight. I am trusting the Lord for a balance:) I agree, I think sometimes we need to be okay with the fact that we cannot get to everything all the time. Blessings to you and your readers!

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  16. Recently I had to establish some very clear boundaries for myself. I'm thankful b/c I feel I've been able to pour more into my family and writing.

    I'm still wavering on whether or not to become a tweeter. That bird is just too cute.
    ~ Wendy

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  17. First, I want to comment that there IS such a thing as good fruitcake. My Dad has discovered a place that sells this rare and he gets it every year.

    Two, I always make sure my family knows they come first. My wife often makes comments about how time-consuming my "hobby" is, but she accepts it...most of the time. (My sons don't mind that I work on a book, as long as I do it after, Wii, book reading with them, and "tuck-y in," as my 7-year old calls it.

    After that, my only limit is my need for sleep, the need to keep my blogging on a regular schedule, and hopes that I can catch up with what my friends in the blogosphere are doing.

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  18. Like you, I do the best I can. I have so many blogs I want to read and comment on. But it's just not realistic to do that everyday! I agree that we need to extend grace to ourselves and grace to others.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Karen

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  19. I think those two are great tips. I know I struggle with getting it all done and it'll be even more difficult come January. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to do it then.

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  20. I love this post. I think it is so important to show ourselves and others grace. We all have busy lives and we need to cut each other some slack when we don't have time to comment, tweet, or whatever. I can't wait to read your posts on priorities.

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  21. This is such an important post, Jody. I am so very hard on myself in every area of my life. Sunday I didn't perform as well as I would have liked and proceeded to beat myself up emotionally the rest of the day. Your reminder about Grace, and the importance of showing it to ourselves, was just what I needed today. Thank you.
    Karen

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  22. Beautifully said, Jody. I try to remind myself that I am doing the best I can do at a given time. And I try to remember that everyone else is doing the best they can do at a given time. So, when communication is less than perfect I don't need to take that personally. And if I've communicated in a less than perfect way I don't need to beat myself up about it. This is what I strive for whether it's online or in person, just in life.

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  23. Yep. I gave myself a break when I cut down to 3 times a week. I imagine someday I'll cut it down to once a week. I've been trying to do as much blogging as I can in an hour a day but that means there are posts I can never read (or never comment on) and I can accept that. Writing needs to be the #1 priority for my limited free time.

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  24. Your post is right on target, as usual!

    I have done much better at heaping grace on others but need to throw a little on myself. Oh I just want to do what God intends for me to do. And I feel strongly about writing, I am certain He has placed that on my heart. But I know He doesn't want me to neglect my family for my blog. Priorities, right?

    When my beautiful son comes to me and asks me to sit with him and watch a favorite show and I say "in a minute" and he says "why are you always on the computer?" I know my prorities need an edit.

    I watched that favorite show with my boy. It was time well spent.

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  25. Neat post!

    On my good days, I pray FIRST and try to let God set my priorities for the day.

    A complex rewards system sets in wherein I allow myself a few blogs, chocolates, whatever, in between doing the Spirit things.

    It IS really cool to see what the Lord brings!
    Patti
    www.pattilacy.com/blog

    Every year we do LESS of the "family musts," which upon evaluation, no one really wanted to do!

    Leaves more time for private AND family hymn-singing and meditation on The King.

    Love this heartfelt blog.

    Patti

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  26. I couldn't agree with you more. I usually only do blogging three days a week. It's all about balance.

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  27. Jody, this is more in regards to balancing our writing with the Christmas season. I have taken to waiting to do my cards until after Christmas. It just allows a more peaceful buildup. There's a little bit of a rush afterward, but it still feels less frenzied. I like this arrangement and hope that those who receive my late cards don't mind.

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  28. I agree that we all need to understand that life can becomes overwhelming from time to time. Showing grace is a beautiful thing. What helps me balance things?

    Prayer.

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  29. You said it well, we need to find our own balance in our lives every season. I have a large family and a house to run, children to teach and outside obligations, plus my very important relationship with Christ to build on a daily basis. Whew! But you know what? I always find time to do it all and write/blog/ twitter. It's a mom thing ;)

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  30. You pretty much summed it up. The only thing I would add is "Extend Forgiveness". If you do fall short of your expectations for yourself, or if others disappoint you, be sure to forgive. Actively. Let folks' know it's alright (and mean it).

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  31. Grace. Such a beautiful thing!

    Sage advice, Jody.

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  32. I am thinking that eventually my kids may be helping me with twitter and texting. They can read them off to me in the car and I can dictate my answer. Use the workforce that God has given us. :O)

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  33. This is a wonderful sentiment and a very reasonable way of looking at the time problem.

    I so completely agree.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  34. I'm lucky enough to have a job with a lot of downtime that also has unfettered internet access. I have a lot more time for reading and commenting than a lot of other bloggers out there.

    If someone posts multiple times a day, I'll usually only leave a comment on one post, unless the others are particularly well-written or I just HAVE to say something.

    I try to leave a comment on every blog I read, at least so they'll know I'm there. It doesn't always happen, but I try. And lately I'm feeling less guilty about the times I can't do it.

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  35. Excellent post, Jody! I think we so often impose perfection on our own standards, and even set them by what we see others doing online. We could so easily burnout. Grace is a good thing. I've found it's important to remember that no one else knows what I had planned to do, so not to sweat it if it doesn't happen.

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  36. I, too, like your concept of showing grace to ourselves.

    Cutting some slack.

    Letting a thing or two go.

    For me, it's Christmas cards this year. People will survive w/out them. Plus, I'm doing a bit more buying of the rolls, bread etc and a bit less home-making. Oh, well. It's all good, right?

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  37. I wish I had a *magic* answer to your question, Jody, but I don't. I DO pray regularly for wisdom and ask the Lord to prioritize my days. I do my best to balance it all, but it's a constant struggle.

    As a writer, wife, mom, grammy, friend, and laundress extraordinaire, I try to remember that God never said it would be easy. And while I'm thrilled when readers stop by and leave comments, I understand that we ALL have lives.

    So yes, grace, grace, much-needed grace. To each and every one of us.

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  38. I'm still trying to find the right fit. As long as I meet my daily word goals, I can't feel guilty about catching up with blogs. The problem? When I've met my daily word goals, I have little time to catch up!

    Great post!

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  39. Oh, you are so right, my friend! I need someone to pound me in the head today with orders to extend myself a little grace. I'm guilty of trying to do it all. There are days when we simply can't. We must forgive ourselves for not being super beings. The way I extend grace to others and to myself is by allowing myself some quiet time each day to think, reflect, spend time with God. I wish I could say it happens every single day, but it doesn't and I forgive myself for that. But that quiet time allows me to get life into perspective.

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  40. Since having cancer I give more credence to what a friend once said to me: "Our bodies are the temples of God. We need to take care of them." I think that, while God gives us strength to do all that *he* sets before us, we are the ones to blame for adding more and more to our daily activities. We think we can do everything, that he'll give us unending strength for every good thing we choose to do, that our bodies will always be able to keep up with our spirit. Learning the difference between what is truly a priority and what we've decided we must/should/could or want to do is important if we are to remain healthy functioning agents of God.

    My husband was told he should learn to live with a daily "1-2-3" priority list -- "1" containing the things that absolutely have to be done today and can't be put off; "2" containing the things that he's going to have to get done eventually but they don't have to be done today (or someone else could just as easily do them); and "3" containing those things that he might like to do but in the larger scheme of things won't matter if they don't get done at all. Some days now he gets everything on all three lists done, and others, depending on his energy level, only things on the first list. He's learned to properly prioritize and treat his "temple" with respect.

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  41. Great post.
    Early on I felt the pressure. I was trying to blog M-F, but soon realized it was interfering with my writing. Now I blog M/W/F - if I have something to say.

    My fear is that if I don't blog regularly I'd lose readers/visitors.

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  42. Jody, I can see why you're so successful. You extend grace to yourself and others.

    One way I deal with the writing end of blogging is to schedule posts well in advance. When life or a holiday comes up, I'm not tearing my hair out trying to keep up. I take the same approach with other tasks.

    There are some days when I simply take off. Often, I'll come back with renewed energy and accomplish more in the long run.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  43. My writing is done on the weekends, my blogging and commenting and social networking is done during the week. This seems to work allowing me time to do other things. I believe the secret is in the organization as well as working to have fun with it. And don't worry about commenting back...just enjoy the ride.

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  44. I don't think there's a blog topic more prevalent than this one. (Us bloggers fretting over whether or not we can keep it up.) You make several excellent points. The trick is, there's no trick to this. We have to fit blogging into our busy lives, each in our own personal fashion. I try to keep a lighthearted approach, but I've observed, as women, we tend to strive for perfection, when perfection is unattainable.

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  45. I'm TERRIBLE at grace, so I'm so glad you talked about it. Good reminder. :) I've just learned to survive on less sleep so I can get it all done. That occasionally comes back to haunt me, but it's what works for me now, so it's what I do.

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  46. I know some people force themselves to write every day, no matter what. That doesn't work for me at least not right now. I have to take time off when I’m feeling tired or overwhelmed with all the other stuff.

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  47. Ooo, just remembered something. Blogger has a way to schedule posts, so when I’m feeling really creative I write a bunch of such and schedule to post over a week’s period. Well, I did that until the holidays came up. Now everything is so darn busy.

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  48. Wow, Jody, I feel honored that you mentioned me. You are one of my role models, so I thought you could lend me a little wisdom! Thanks for the link.

    It has only taken me fifty-four years to learn a little balance. Some days I do better than others. The days I do the best are ones in which I put the Lord first, reading my Bible and praying when I arise, before anything else. That gives me the double shot of grace I need for myself and others.

    Thanks for offering us your grace. BTW, I love your Face Book posts about the Advent activities you do with your munchkins.

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  49. I think you said it best for all of us Jody. Time is of essence and we just can't keep up with all the blogs. But we try as we might. Love your tips.

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  50. I like how you put this. Extending grace to ourselves and each other is a good way to look at this, and many other things that call for our attention.

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  51. i think i'm at the giving up stage. :) when i do have the time to pop on blogs for anything other than my character therapy stuff, i try to read yours. i comment on so few, though. and of course the clicks and comments have taken a hit. but it's where i'm at right now! :)

    jeannie
    The Character Therapist

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  52. How do I handle it all? Easy! I don't have kids! Ha ha. Just kidding. I still have TONS to do but I try to remember that God doesn't care about my tree or my cooking or which wrapping paper I choose. He cares about my obedience!

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  53. LOL!! I read your blog after I posted mine this morning ... I don't get stressed too much. I'm a good "no" person so I usually don't have too much on my plate. I pick an choose. But last night ... HA HA!!! It's the LITTLE things that send me screaming in the opposite direction! In THAT scenario, I play ostrich and bury my face in my pillow and try to sleep :)

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  54. I am following wise Jaime, above, who has learned how to say "No." I'm getting better at it. However, a "Yes", yesterday (funny play on words there), led to a wonderful gift of sharing music for the season. You start each day with a list (often mental) of what needs to be done, and you reasses according to needs/demands as the hours tick by. Some things you just need to let go, or wait on. Yesterday it was the shower. Ended up with a relaxing bath at the end of the day instead. So, all's well that ends well.

    Thanks, all, for your inspiration!

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  55. I am following wise Jaime, above, who has learned how to say "No." I'm getting better at it. However, a "Yes", yesterday (funny play on words there), led to a wonderful gift of sharing music for the season. You start each day with a list (often mental) of what needs to be done, and you reasses according to needs/demands as the hours tick by. Some things you just need to let go, or wait on. Yesterday it was the shower. Ended up with a relaxing bath at the end of the day instead. So, all's well that ends well.

    Thanks, all, for your inspiration!

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  56. Great insights here on what's seemingly a simple task, blogging, but on deeper levels is much more than meets the eye. I think by scheduling time, courtesies, honesty, it's important to do the best we can, which will vary from week to week, day to day, depending on life itself.

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  57. I've been really wondering how everyone does it because I just can't seem to squeeze enough time into my day. But I accept the fact that I'm just not able to do all that I would like to. Thanks for the post.It's nice to know that I'm not the only one.

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  58. What a lovely post. I try to balance things out, and can usually tell when I'm out of balance somehow. That means once in a while social networking takes a back seat to plain old working or face to face social time. This time of year is hardest when the holiday add another whole layer to things. I like that you're looking at this issue through the lens of Grace.

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  59. Jody, I'm looking forward to your prioritizing posts. I so need HELP in this area.

    For now, I've realized that I'm in season where I have to step back a lot in the social networking in order to extend Grace to my family. Once they are all back in school again, life will get back to normal I'm sure.

    I'm praying for you to be able find a good balance, Jody!

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  60. My blogging comes like the ocean. I have waves of lots of blogging and commenting, and times when the tides are so low that people are just seeing dried up seaweed on the once thriving ocean floor. But you know what. I do what I can.

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  61. I was sure you had it all together and I am delighted to discover you are human.

    From the gal who doesn't have her shopping done, or her mailings, and whose cards are not done AND whose tree is merely sitting in the corner undecorated entertaining the cats.

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  62. The thing about being a writer is the hours with which you write are interchangeable.

    It took me a while to realize there will be other things that from time to time take priority over my writing (Health, family obligations). That didn't mean I could simply excuse myself from writing either. Think of it this way you would only have so many sick days and vacation days in a corporate job, right? So I give myself a sick day when I need it or take a vacation day when I'm overwhelmed.

    As for online pursuits, I'd rather read someone once in awhile when I have time to actually 'read' them. If I treat it like an obligation or chore, most likely my comments will come across that way.

    I think the biggest reality for me as a writer is having someone who understands this isn't a hobby, it's what I do. I'm not home wasting time and fiddling online all day. I have a profession - I'm a writer.

    Grace? Is learning to be kind to yourself. The world is complicated and rushed enough, without feeling you have to carry it all on your shoulders. (Hugs)Indigo

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  63. Impossible to do it all. I think you are right - prioritizing is a must. I like your blog a lot, but can't be here as often as I like. Grace is a key!

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