I’ve spent most of the last two months feeling like I’m on a hamster wheel—an out-of-balance one that squeaks—waiting for the ride to end so I can get off and catch my breath for a few minutes.
Have you ever felt this way? Or am I the only one?
The worst part is that, I know that this overworked feeling is my own fault. And by “fault,” I mean, I’ve chosen to be this busy.
At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself. Until today.
Today, I had an epiphany. I had a defining moment when I realized that my idealized state of “balance” and true homeostasis are not the same thing.
For so long, I’ve been working to achieve balance by changing external factors—adjusting my schedule, becoming more disciplined and structured in my work habits, declining activities that would prevent me from fulfilling responsibilities that I have set as higher priority. I’ve created plans and defined work hours and written lists.
And these are all good things. But that’s not what it means to “maintain balance.”
Wikipedia defines homeostasis as “the state of steady internal conditions maintained by living things. This dynamic state of equilibrium is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables… being kept within certain pre-set limits (homeostatic range).”
Okay, not everyone is a biology nerd like me, but I’ve always imagined homeostasis as being akin to a swing that someone sets going as hard as they can, then walks away. Thanks to gravity, the arc becomes smaller with each pass through the centre, until it finally stops there, thus achieving homeostasis. In my life, I’ve been the swing at the mercy of external factors (the kid experimenting with physics), and I’ve always been seeking the centre.
I can’t believe it took me until today to see how this analogy is so, SO wrong.
When it really hit me was when I looked up homeostasis and saw this: “the state of steady internal conditions maintained by living things.”
Wait, what? Internal?
So you mean, no matter what’s happening on the outside (happening “to” me), it’s what’s happening inside that helps me maintain balance?
Okay, you’re probably thinking, “Duh, Talena. You host an inspirational blog, for crying out loud. You’re telling me that you never realized that your attitude is your own responsibility before?”
Nope. I know that. This is just an area of my life I hadn’t applied it to before.
Yeah, I know.
I love plans and schedules. I love feeling like I’m in control (don’t we all?). I don’t love when my ideal “plan” is thrown out of balance and I must then deviate even further from that plan for a course correction. It makes me feel out of control, like I’m not fulfilling the expectations I have for myself while I’m deviating to focus so singularly on a single thing.
But is that the case?
I like being busy, and I am getting better at guarding my family time and my “me” time just as zealously as I throw myself into my work. But life happens, and that perfect plan is bound to need readjustments over and over again. Today I realized I need to stop thinking of those inevitable curves as this:
and start thinking of them like this:
In fact, this video about how to corner on a bicycle? This is a motivational, inspirational speech on its own.
Translate these cornering guidelines to simple rules of living:
Be prepared for curves to happen. They can be the most fun of all!
Before entering the curve, take a look around at the terrain and make adjustments.
Can you see the exit going in? (How long will this last?) Adjust accordingly.
Dig in and commit. Adjust your position to maintain equilibrium.
Keep your eyes on the end of the curve. Knowing where you are wanting to go is important for getting there.
Don’t put on the brakes when you’re in the middle. Giving in to fear is a recipe for disaster, so stay relaxed and just keep going.
“If you suffer a loss of confidence, slow down a little and then build it back up by gradually increasing your speed.”
What I loved most about this?
NOT ONCE did they say, “You should avoid corners as much as possible.” Nope, this was all about maintaining your equilibrium while enjoying the thrill of taking the curve at speed.
And that’s my epiphany. Because I love being busy. And I love tackling projects full on and giving them my undivided attention for short periods of time, even if it means that other areas of my business have to be put on a temporary hold. That’s not the norm, but sometimes it happens.
And that’s okay.
What I really need to do is to learn to love the adrenaline rush and embrace the thrill of the ride.
That’s what it means to keep “steady internal conditions.” To not let a curve throw me completely off balance, but to instead lean into it, handling it like a pro.
After all, swings are only fun when they’re moving.
Who knew that “maintaining balance” could be such a rush?
So, now that I’m psychologically okay with how busy I’ve been, here is the summary of what I’ve been doing and what’s coming up:
October to mid-December were full to the brim with putting out several knitting designs during knitting high season. I published four, which was more than I had done in the previous four years. One of those designs, the Just Plain Gloves pattern, has quickly become my best-selling pattern of all time.
I did that while I was waiting for beta reader feedback for The Undine’s Tear. Then we had a five-day holiday to see family at Christmas (the first time we’ve travelled for Christmas in a decade). The day after we got home, I began revisions on my novel so I could have it to my editor by January 7. (Nailed it!)
The day after that, assignments for Move Up began rolling in. I was given more responsibility on this issue than I’ve ever had before and a very short timeline. It was a bit of a learning curve and more than a bit stressful, but fun, as always.
Somewhere in there, I also revised my upcoming short story, “Up in Smoke”, and made my oldest son a scarf because he had a fashion vision and we were having a cold snap.
For the last week-plus, I’ve been working on getting the “extra” parts of my book (like acknowledgements, etc.) done before I get the manuscript back from my editor tomorrow, as well as beginning the next phase of its release (updating websites, planning the launch, etc.).
By next week, I should either be able to announce a May launch date or be able to tell you that there may be a slight delay while I go through even more revisions. I’ll also be looking for Advanced Readers (who get a copy for free in exchange for an honest review. If you want to receive an invitation to participate, sign up for my ARC Reader’s list: http://eepurl.com/c9LUY5
So. Coming up:
“Up In Smoke” begins its public run on February 15. To see this short story, subscribe to Constellate Publishing’s eZine on Patreon here.
The Undine’s Tear moves onto its next phase, with a tentative May release date. I’m looking for ARC readers to provide reviews. If you’re interested in getting a free digital copy, sign up here.
I’ve already started working on the next book, The Sphinx’s Heart. I’ll share more details about that book as they are invented. :-)
Also, this tweet from my editor about my book made my weekend:
The trouble with having amazingly talented clients is that I just want to rush read to the end because the story is so good, but I have to read slowly and actually, you know, do my job. I feel incredibly lucky that this is a problem I have.— Ellen Michelle (@ellen_mic) January 25, 2019
[all the warm fuzzy feels]
Happy Wednesday, friend!