Hello Beautiful Mamas,
I’m in the final sprint to the finish line with writing my book, Replenish (due out this Aug?!!?- I still can’t believe how close that is!!).
I can tell you the irony’s not lost on me that this book named Replenish is depleting me in so many ways right now. I haven’t felt this stretched thin or exhausted in a long time- and that’s saying something with three little ones all under the age of 7!
Before I became a mom, I thrived off of intense creative projects. Ones where I’d intensely focus for long stretches and get completely wrapped up in the creative/passion zone. After becoming a mom, though, I learned fast that model just doesn’t work.
When I’ve tried to do massive projects before that required too much of my focus and energy for too long, everything (and everyone) collapsed. But about a year+ ago I knew with every fiber of my being that I needed to write this book. And after much prayer and discussion with my husband, I said yes- and was fully “in” and committed. It’s been the last couple months, though, that the focus on the book has hit a fever pitch.
I think the idea of life balance is tricky as a mom, because what may feel like balance and following your passion for you may look like a whole lotta imbalance for those dependent on you. For most of the time as a mom, I work hard at seeking a path of harmony between all my roles and responsibilities and nurturing my own self growth and dreams. But sometimes the old adage still stands, “Everything in moderation … even moderation.” Sometimes it’s okay, I think, to carve out a short period of time and declare it a “time for extremes”. Where you hook into a vision of something that requires all hands on deck and asks of everyone a little more understanding, patience, and effort to get through the stretch.
I’m coming to the end of this kind of stretch for our family. Writing this book has been one of the most meaningful and exciting things I’ve done, and it’s taken a toll on my whole family. My husband has stepped up in extraordinary ways, the kids have spent a higher than normal amount of time with sitters, and my wider family and friends have put up with long stretches of rarely hearing from me.
I’m feeling the impact as well. I’m tired more often, my reserves are low, and my mind is feeling fatigued. But you know what else is happening? My inner fire is burning brighter than it has in a long time. I’m filled up from the inside. It’s that paradox of feeling more tired and more alive at the same time. And I know this will impact who I am as a wife and mother in the long run.
I wonder, often, how this walk of balancing the commitment to motherhood and the commitment to our personal growth and creativity looks like for others. I’d love to hear how it’s played out in your life. Do you find yourself going stretches of intense focus and then stretches of retreat from creativity? Have you found a way to weave personal growth and self renewal into your everyday life? What kinds of supports do you have (or do you wish you had) to make it work?
Let’s start a conversation around this- I’d love to hear what’s true for you.
As I’m shifting from the actual writing of the book to dreaming up creative ways to promote and launch the book, I’m also excited to be transitioning out of the intense creative season and into a more present one with my little kiddos. And to be able to connect with this community in more consistent ways, too. Life’s all a rocking and rolling of one season into the next. In this moment I’m giving gratitude for the goodness of it all.
p.s. I truly would love to hear from you- share your insights and feedback below!
Lisa, this was just what I needed to read today! I’m in an intense stretch like this myself and will be for another three weeks. I’m publishing my first homeschooling curriculum in July and I’ve needed to focus an enormous amount on time on it for a couple of months. This project is hugely important to me and also like you, the irony is not lost on me!
Mmm, yes, I know where you are Kelly! Sometimes in order to give our gifts to the world (in order to refresh and build up others) it takes a lot out of us!
I enjoyed your insight. I have just spent 9 mos away from my kids, after a divorce three yrs ago. Looking for the new path God would lead me down. I believe I have found that path, however incorporating the two kids that want to go down it with me is a challenge. One is mostly on her own and the other will be leaving her dads house, we have an open custody she can go,but is intimidated and wants me to wait until the move to tell him. The kids chose to stay with their dad and give me time to heal. I know they are strong. My challenge is bringing them along and now allowing them or me to fall back into the “using” that I found myself in as the mom. I had done everything, and they reaped the benefit. I however was drained of my own essence.
Your article speaks to me in this. carving out the path and letting others know that they are loved but have to stand on their own.
Debra, I can imagine what this process looks like as our children get older and have more autonomy around their own life decisions. One of my biggest goals is to help my little guys grow into independent thinker and decision makers as young adults and beyond. Modeling that with my own life is so important 🙂
Well for me I would have loved to have been taught how to manage my time better as a girl. But things are seeming to iron out as I seek, love and try. God bless you as you do your work in Him. The Bible has so much for us. If I would just think of it more often in trying times.
Isn’t that the truth, Sarah?! So much of how I choose to focus on in raising my kids is what I wish I was taught as I was growing up!
I’ll be honest and say I’ve not always balanced things well. Now that both my boys are in school and I’m no longer teaching, writing is certainly easier. When they were little, I aimed for three days a week — some sessions just being 10 minutes long sometimes.
My books often seem to release at the beginning of the year, meaning I receive editorial letters in the summer. I can be hard, but my husband is great at picking up the slack. I’ll admit there is still guilt/stress on my part, though.
Congrats on your book, Lisa!
Oh yes, Caroline, I love hearing from another writer…and I agree, I just don’t know how I’d do this without my husband’s support.
I’m skeptical about the “All things in moderation” quote we’ve been given as gospel (where did that originate?!). There are times – and especially during certain seasons – that things must be in excess. Like when writing a book, undertaking a thru-hike, starting a business, caring for aging parents, etc. etc: all could be long or short stretches. And there’s the “minimums”, i.e., eating foods that are less healthy only “sometimes”, shopping splurges, frustrated venting, etc. etc. Do I believe in balance? Most certainly – it’s just what constitutes that weight on either side of the tipping point is personal and probably not the sum total of “moderation.”
Karen- Awesome examples of the “better in excess” kind of things 🙂 I’ve come to define it as harmony vs balance- and harmony I find can be found in both moderation and excess 🙂
Oooh the irony is not lost on me! I too am creating an online project designed to help busy mothers bring more balance and happiness to their lives – and I have my very wobbly days when I am so in the zone on my writing, researching, connecting with my online community…. that I have nearly forgotten to collect the kids from school! Or I have left a pot of water boiling (meaning to drop some pasta into it), but boiled the pot dry! But I wouldn’t want to give up the intense passion I am feeling at this point in my life and I am incredibly blessed to have the full support of my family who forgive me when I am late or burning down the kitchen… 😉
Oooo…Kelly, that sounds like a fantastic offering! You’ll have to keep me updated when it launches…and I love your examples, I’m nodding my head as I read them!
I’ve often pondered this idea of balance for mothers. I’ve always loved to read but when my kids were babies, my books collected dust and I became a huge fan of magazines. The articles were short enough to read while in the bathroom and it took no time at all to peruse the pretty pictures. They were tiny then and we couldn’t be without each other. As they grown I’ve craved out more and more time to pursue the things I’m passionate about. I think it’s important for kids (and husbands) to see mom following her passion. I think it’s important for them to see how much time it takes to see things through, how hard you have to work to accomplish something important to you. Those are wonderful qualities to pass on. Kudos to you! Can’t wait to get my hands on your book!
Yes, Alida- such wisdom, shifting our definitions as our lives shift and accepting what fits for our right now is so important. I can’t wait for you to get the book, too! 🙂
I delight in any small creative stretches I manage to get. Usually it’s a short-lived project that needs to have some sort of practical purpose for the family. I’m currently looking forward to painting a picture frame for my newborn as I’ve done with my other 2 kids. I’m not as good as carving out time for personal growth, but I did enjoy preparing to speak at my monthly moms group earlier this spring by getting up earlier in the mornings to do a word study on a the fruits of the spirit.
Natalie, Your comment makes me think, also, how varied our creative pursuits can be and how the type of thing we take on can match our current season as well as the “size” of the thing. Thanks for your insight!
As a Balance Expert I help women juggle successfully between their zillion roles. When I say successfully, I don’t mean perfectly. I don’t mean “let’s wear the superwoman mask and do it all by myself.” Successfully means – allowing ourselves to be human, to make mistakes, to get off center – and to bounce back. One of the important messages to model to our kids is that it’s ok to be imperfect. We’re all human! Lisa – you keep inspiring me with your transparency and honesty. I know from my own experience how overwhelming it feels sometimes and I also know how great it is when we, women, support each other.
Michal- Yes and yes!! We are so very aligned- looking forward to partnering up soon, too 🙂 We need a village ourselves!
Oh, Lisa, I totally get it. Personally, I’ve always work in waves, with periods of frenzied activity and then periods of retreat. The times of activity are driven by passion and the times of retreat by physical exhaustion. I have, however, learned to make the waves less extreme waves with YOUR help! 🙂 The idea of self-care that I learned from you has helped keep my energy reserves from being depleted as quickly during the active times, and the health improvements I’ve slowly been incorporating into my daily life has kept me from physically crashing in the exhaustion stage. I see the waves as being helpful to my family; what we do and how we do it change depending on where we’re at as a family or where I’m at in my own waves – and this
Oops, got cut off there… and this gives us variety and chances for new opportunities that we likely wouldn’t have if we always stayed on an even keel. I also think it’s great to model for my kids how to follow your passion and when to know to take a breather. I’m so excited for your new book! Congratulations on birthing this project!!!
Oh I love LOVE the wave analogy, Jacquelyn- so spot on…and just like we need to be open to a wave cresting and say yes to things we also need the wisdom to know when it wants to retreat and say no or ‘this intense season needs to be over now’… thank you, such great insight!
I can SO relate to this post. I find myself just YEARNING for the time to be creative and to contribute to this awesome movement of present and intentional parents… at the same time, I feel the current model in society makes it hard for stay-at-home moms to do this without giving up either family or their own work. I hope in the future we will all work out some more childcaring duties between each other… once this practice becomes popular (ie swapping kids with another family a couple times a week) I think there would be a lot of happy mamas around. Now if only I could find a family around here I could test that theory out with he he…. 🙂
I had to share, I am a Playgroup leader with a 13 year old starting her High School year in a distant suburb and loving the independance. She doesnt make it home before 5pm very often and is sometimes exhausted and cranky but boy is she challenged – and she is loving it too.
I am having to let go of the simplicity that I have guarded like a mumma lion for so long to let her join the wild ride of life as she needs to right now.
Today at Playgroup 3 little ones came up to me with an intense look and a real familiarity – these are little ones I had not yet really bonded with. Well it was like they were telling me something from the world of spirit which they had not long departed. That I was doing okay that they felt safe and loved by me and that was for me just perfect to hear. That it was all okay even inside the craziness of this time. So precious – dont the little ones just know sometimes???
Reading this and the comments resonate with me at a deep level. I have this spirit in me which is yearning to grow-yet my life as a single mom pulls me back down to earth more frequently then I’d like to admit. I just returned from a week away from my daughter at a holistic nursing conference where I gained huge momentum in motivation and inspiration to move forward with my dream. I return home and where is the time? I’ve finally gained clarity on my purpose and I’m burning up with desire and passion to create a business which I love yet something always seems to come up. Unfortunately this time in the form of flooding in my basement due to all of the local rain. I have to choose to look at it from a place of patience and letting go a bit. If there is a reason why I can’t MAKE the time for my creativity, there is a REASON. Maybe I’m just not really ready to create and I need to spend more time EXPLORING. I’ve learned to change my thought process a bit to stop, take a deep breathe, and be gentle with myself-I cannot FORCE things to happen, things are going to turn out exactly the way they should. I just have to have FAITH in the plan. Sending LOVE to everyone who has been there-or is with US in the trenches right now!
I wrote a reply yesterday but it didnt get posted !!! Not sure what happened. Well I too am so excited to get your book and congratulations on almost getting there… It was only through your courses that I learnt the concept of “Paradoxes” which I love and find so freeing. Before I kept trying to keep the balance and happiness, but now I look forward to being “fulfilled”. Fulfilled encompasses a range of feelings from all the ups to the downs. I think you are modeling fulfillment to your kids and also giving them the message that you are keeping your focus on what’s important and not urgent and right now the book is what’s important. Its so wonderful that your family are your community rallying around you to allow this important work to happen. I know I am grateful to both you and them for what will come through. I am also really touched by your honesty and vulnerability. Its so grounding !!! 😀