Sarah Forgrave hosted me for an interview, and she asked me one, and only one, little question. But it was the hardest question I've had to answer on any interview so far this fall. (Thanks, Sarah!)
Here's what she asked: What is your secret to juggling life in 10 words or less?
I thought about her question all weekend long, wrote down several ideas, and finally decided it was too hard. After all, did I really have a secret? And was I juggling life or merely surviving the chaos?
The reality is that the fall has been incredibly busy for me, busier than I ever expected. As a homeschooling mom of five, my days are already jam-packed with teaching my kids. In addition I’m delving head first into published author life. I attended a big writer’s conference in mid-September. Then on the heels of returning from the conference, my debut book released. I had a big book release party, numerous blog interviews, giveaways, guest posts, along with an assortment of other new-release responsibilities. I had an out-of-town book signing and have been trying to keep up with my blog. AND I’m under deadline for my rewrites for my second contracted book. (Welcome to my pity-party!)
While the debut has been mostly fun and exciting, the stress has been enormous. And there are days when I literally can’t get everything done. I just can’t. And that’s not something I like or am used to.
Sarah’s interview question forced me to evaluate how I handle all my many responsibilities. What have I done in the past? And what can I do to make things work now? I’ve always lived by a couple of principles (#1 & #2). And now this fall, I’ve had to add a new one (#3) .
Principle #1: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
In other words, I try to keep up with things as they come up—in real life and work. Whatever the job might be (whether answering emails or washing dirty dishes), I do it when I’m thinking about it and it’s fresh on my mind, instead of putting it off for later.
When we can check something off our to-do list (whether written or mental), we have greater energy and more capacity to freely embrace other things.
Principle #2: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
Put another way, I work hard at my priorities and whatever I commit to doing. I labor diligently during the day to be a good teacher to my children, challenging them with a rigorous education. But I don’t expect more of them than I expect of myself. I work equally hard at my writing.
My uncle, who recently published his first book, sent me this email message and I printed it off to keep as a reminder: “The key to staying on top is exerting the same 100% effort and the same detailed preparation as you did for your last book . . . Do your best in all of life’s endeavors. Give it all you got.”
Principle #3: “Live intentionally, clinging to what matters, letting go of the rest.”
So, in answer to Sarah's interview question, Principle #3 is my not-so secret answer to not-really juggling life. It’s 11 words, but it summed up what I’m having to learn to do this fall. I can’t do everything I’ve done in the past. Not even the vital, most important things—like cooking dinner every night or making grocery lists. I’ve had to figure out what things are critical, be intentional about doing those things. But then be okay with not doing the others.
It’s all too easy to get swept away in the day to day rush of activities and responsibilities. But instead of being carried along, I want to stop, go against the flow, and carefully pick and choose to do those things that matter most at this point in my life.
~Summary: I’m not perfect. I fail often. But whenever I do fall down, I eventually pick myself back up and keep on striving to live after the high principles that are set before me.
What about you? Do you have any secrets for juggling writing and life? What principles do you live by?