by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan
My grandparents owned a dairy farm. When my siblings and I were younger, we’d play in the barn with our large extended family. My cousin, who was a year older and my closest friend at the time, used to convince me to follow her across the barn beams suspended above the hayloft.
We’d practice our gymnastics routines, even though neither of us had any training. As we stood above our adoring audience of barn cats, we’d extend our arms and put one foot in front of the other to make our way across the rough-cut beams. Despite our stupidity, God’s angels shrouded us in safety.
Balance was the key to moving forward without tumbling to the hay-scattered wooden floor about 30 feet below.
The same goes for a writer’s life.
The week I’d received “the call” in January 2011, a friend shared a quote that made me rethink my daily responsibilities, and it prompted me to make some changes in my life. I could hear God whispering He had something more in store for me, but my plate was so full already.
After releasing some additional responsibilities and clearing space on my plate, my agent called two days later with a contract offer for my debut novel.
Finding balance in our everyday lives can be a constant struggle, especially when we have many responsibilities such as family, work, church, and trying to have some sort of social calendar while striving to achieve our dreams.
When I juggled working full time with meeting writing deadlines, caring for my family, and making time for friends, two things had kept me somewhat sane—learning to say no and taking time for myself.
I’m a people pleaser. I say yes to a lot of things because, well, I want to make others happy. Plus, if I can use my abilities for others, that’s good, right? Not so much if I’m headed toward burnout.
Saying no can be a challenge, especially if you’re afraid of letting someone down or feel guilted into shouldering a new responsibility. But the thing is you need to ensure you’re not wearing yourself out. Saying no reduces your stress by releasing time-consuming responsibilities you may not enjoy. Besides, by saying no, you’re allowing someone else to be blessed by taking over that role. You don’t have to say no to everything, but say no to things that steal time away from pursuing your goals.
Before planes take off, flight attendants instruct passengers on safety features in the event of a crash. They instruct them to don the oxygen masks before helping others. The first time I heard that, I thought it was selfish until I realized we needed to make sure we were fit to take care of others.
The same goes with finding the balance in your life.
Before you can take care of others, you need to make sure you’re caring for yourself. This means getting enough sleep, eating right and perhaps even exercise. Yes, I heard those groans. I’ve mumbled them on many occasions.
Also, no matter how full your calendar may be, you need to schedule in downtime to relax and refresh your spirit and creativity. If you’re on the go from the time your feet hit the floor in the morning until you fall into bed at night, then you’re going to be too worn to care for yourself, let alone anyone else.
Learning to say no to obligations that will steal time away from pursuing your dreams and taking time for yourself may seen easier said than done at first, but once you put it into practice, you’ll be on your way to finding that balance to keep from falling off the beam.
Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.
Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.