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Balanced Living in 2008

by | Jan 1, 2008 | Authentic Living, Domesticity

Balanced Living in 2008

One of the things I think about each year in January 1 is how am I going to keep all the balls in the air this year? Not just the work, but the fun things I want to do. There are oodles of things I should do or want to do and I want to do them well. I have so many responsibilities and creative ideas tugging at me I can barely see straight sometimes. I consider myself a fairly ambitious woman. Now, I am not climbing a corporate ladder, a high profile career woman, or even a master of all things Martha by any stretch of the imagination — hence the word “fairly” to describe ambitious in the previous sentence. It is all relative. But I work hard in everything I set my mind to and my mind gets its heart set on a whole bunch of things. Maybe I am a dreamer. Yeah, that’s not far from the truth.

Obviously there are all types of women. Some women are just “hardworking” people whether they work outside the home or not. Some stay home theoretically to “not be so busy” and in their first week as “homemakers” they’ve volunteered to help at school or church, started a business, cleaned every nook and cranny of the house, cooked elaborate meals, entertained more, shopped more, and blogged more. Lo and behold, life is too busy again and they wonder why they can’t seem to do it all! I am guilty of this for sure.

You can always fill up whatever time you have available to you and be exhausted, unfocused or unhappy — or spend every dollar you make and still feel you don’t have enough! You can waste precious time or money every day just because it is available to waste. You may feel like you have had a great day, but have misused the time and talents God has given to you on things that aren’t that important to the big picture of your life. You lose sight of what or who you are truly passionate about. Eventually that catches up with us in one way or another.

Priorities are lost in too much free time, too much spontaneity, lack of planning, getting caught up in less than important projects or gasp, even the all-too-common and fun internet surfing. Yeah, blogging and surfing can be inspirational but it can also be a TIME WASTER. There, I said it. A little free time is great and absolutely necessary for our well-being. Too much freedom can wreak havoc on our minds, bodies, spiritual lives, children and productivity.

Not every woman feels the need to be super productive or have a well-balanced life. Some women are content to wake up every day with a wide-open day ahead to fill up as they choose. Whims dictate how the day goes. While I admit I dream about those days (and on the surface, what is not to love about a life of whims?!), I just don’t experience too many of them. I feel accountable for my time and tend to want to use it effectively (according to my priorities in life) whether someone pays me or not. Whims and priorities can both be good and necessary things in our life. Both can contribute to our happiness and well-being, as long as they are in proper balance. Not equal, but appropriate balance.

That is why I love the concept of margins.

Having margins of time and money set aside in our life allow us to relax, be spontaneous, have fun, care about other people when a need pops up and limits stress in our life. It gives us the feeling of accomplishment and freedom, both necessities for balanced living. Margins allow for whims and flights of fancy, as well as the unexpected events life throws at us. Priorities keep us focused on the daily responsibilities. I think we need both clearly defined priorities and open margins to feel life is all it should be.

From my perspective, you can have a well-lived life whether you are a career woman or a homemaker or a combination of the two. None of our titles predict our effectiveness in life. We all have choices to make in how we spend our time. Staying at home doesn’t guarantee having the right priorities or result in a happier life any more than having a career guarantees we will neglect our priorities and have miserable families.

We are all facing different challenges and demands on our time, but it is what we do with and in spite of them that really matters.

If I live in the margins and have no structure to my life, my days will likely spin out of control in a whirlwind of whims. I find that to be unhealthy and a recipe for disaster. If my margins are too small or not adhered to, I feel the life being choked out of me by my To Do list. It is a delicate balance, one we all have address in our own lives, according to our own priorities, responsibilities, challenges and personalities. Paycheck or not, career or not, time marches on for all of us. It is a new year and I intend to make the best of the life I have been given.

Post was inspired by Rhoda‘s post on careers, staying at home and starting our own businesses! I wish her the best in her new adventure, and I wish all of you the best of success in 2008 in all of your endeavors! Thanks to Manuela for encouraging me to write this post today!

Photo is from cottage living.


  1. Pat

    Wonderfully well written post Melissa! I enjoyed, so much!

    Thank you!

  2. JO

    Wow Melissa… you took the words right out of my mouth….One of my biggest problems is trying to find a way to balance everything… make my creations… blog… clean the house… pay the bills… seems I cant find any time for fun… one thing I do need is eight arms… now that would be fantabulous!!

    Thanks for a fab article… and do stop by again for a second chance on my giveaway

    my friend


  3. Rick

    Happy New Year! I wanted to invite you over to my blog because I am having my very first give-away there to celebrate my one year anniversary of blogging. Come on by – I think that you will be glad that you did.

  4. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    Happy New Year to my sweet friend, Melissa – oh and Mr. Winston, too!!!!

    Yes, how do we balance it all? But, I know that you will do a fine job at whatever you do and however you get it all done. Great post!!! Lovely room!


  5. Rhoda

    Hi, Melissa, thanks for chiming in with your thoughts on this subject. I think this is something that all of us as women struggle with at times..balancing it all is quite a feat. I know I can certainly swing back & forth between being highly productive, ambitious, & getting things done to totally wasting time….and you’re so right about the internet. It can be a huge time waster & that is something I have to be completely aware of since I’ll be home again. It’s so easy to let those hours & days trickle on by, saying to yourself that you’ll get to that tomorrow..all the while playing on the computer or watching TV. I really do much better having some sort of schedule to keep, so I may have to make that up for myself.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what is out there for me. I’d love to stay busy, but not overly busy. I want to fit in those things that are going to matter in the long run & concentrate my time & energy on that. And there’s the conundrum sometimes, figuring out the answer to THAT question & keeping the top priority things on top! I’m not so sure blogging is at the top of the list, LOL. Thanks, always have some very thought-provoking things to say. I also wish you the very best in 2008!


  6. Alison Gibbs

    Finding a balance in life can be difficult.
    Have a great 2008.
    Life is what you make it.

  7. Mary

    Right to the heart of the matter, as usual, Melissa. Great post! Wishing you balance in the new year!

  8. KJ

    Melissa, keep dishing out the inspiration and please pass the truffles!

    May your deepest desires come to fruition in 2008!


  9. Ruth Welter

    Hi Melissa,

    You have done a beautiful job in writing this post. Lots of important issues to consider,very thought provoking.

    I love working at home but it can also be challenging. True, that if you don’t plan your time right, you end up frittering away the day and accomplishing nothing at all.

    I’ve found in the mornings, I have my relax time when I get up, have a couple of cups of tea , read a book etc. Mornings are my excerecise times as well, I’m in the zone for excerecise at that time of the day so I need to seize the moment so to speak, so I can accomplish my goals there. I might also do some house cleaning etc…although, I spread that out throughout the day , as needed.

    I’m in the zone to paint in the afternoons, that is when I work and I am most productive. Depending on how much I get done, I may or may not also work into the evening.

    I think the important thing though, is to really know what time of the day you want to do whatever, and get it done. I make allowances for some days when, the artistic spirit really isn’t flowing to well for me. When I feel it is there very strongly, I take advantage of that by trying to work hard. I think it is a give and take with yourself and being aware of what you want to achieve with each day.

  10. Terri Steffes

    You have helped me make the decision on what my “Word of the Year” will be: balance. I will use this to help guide me in making decisions for the use of my time and talents.

    With your permission, may I share this post with a chat group I belong to? I would link them to this post.


  11. Jo-Anne Coletti

    Melissa, Thank you for visiting my blog and your kind words :)
    Your photos are delightful, very warm and cozy!
    Wishing you a Blissfully happy new year!
    Jo-Anne Coletti

  12. kari and kijsa

    Great thoughts and ideas…fabulous head start on 2008!

    smiles, kari and kijsa

  13. megan duerksen

    i am the “days are all a whim” kind of girl….at least the last year or so has been. it doesn’t always work…but sometimes.
    i wish i wasn’t that way when things need to get done.
    i feel i can’t get back in my groove or think about my groove till my kids go back to school. then i will find some reflective time to decide what 2008 can be.

    melissa do you know any really good sites to check for bathrooms? we will begin a construction project in a few weeks or months of building a master bathroom from scratch. i am needing more ideas and places to order from? thanks in advance.
    happy new year!
    p.s….i love you new gym :)

  14. Barbara Jacksier

    Well said. I, too, get clunked on the head with my juggling balls from time to time. Hope 2008 is your best “balanced” year ever.

  15. brilliant asylum

    That was a beautiful post. Thanks for the much-needed inspiration on a day when I feel completely worn out (from celebration, natch). Looking forward to a new year and more of your thoughtful posts.

  16. Penny, Mosaic Artist

    Thought provoking post Melissa! I have noticed that I have been wasting alot of time lately. And I will admit, the computer and blogging do take up more of my time, that I really want it too :-).

  17. Vanessa

    Thank you so very much for this post. It gave me a lot of much needed encouragement. I, too, have been wondering about how to “juggle all the balls”.

    Happy New Year!

  18. Sheila

    Thank you for stopping by for a visit..and your sweet comments, please come again. I have so enjoyed my visit here and I will be back…Love your site..

  19. Ann

    Melissa, I could not have said it any better! I struggle with the balance issue every day! I have been feeling guilty for not keeping my new blog current and interesting these past few weeks, yet I know that my family and friends, who are available only these few holiday weeks, are really most important to my heart – but oh! the world of blogging and kindred spirits is such fun, and yet such a way to while away the hours on the computer, too! thank you for articulating my thoughts for me and for inspiring me to keep working on living each day with thought and intention. Ann
    P.S. thanks for adding me to your “Inspiring Blogs” list!

  20. Becky

    That was the proverbial “hitting the nail on the head!”. Great job on this post.
    I, too, was touched by Rhoda’s post on staying home. Wishing her the “bestest” year!
    It is so easy to find things to do…or do they find us?
    Becky K.

  21. Fay

    Hi Melissa:

    …just read your post…love it! I’m taking the time this entire week to write out goals for 2008 and when i will have them complete.
    Although there is always much to accomplish in order to feel or even be productive… balance is key.

    Thanks for for putting it in perspective….Fay

  22. Neutral Dwelling

    Happy New Year and a Fantastic Post to start out the year!

  23. the feathered nest

    Terrific post – my thoughts exactly! Especially the too much blogging and surfing thing being time wasters. I definitely wasted too much time last year on that and that’s one of the things I’m working on this year. It’s great being a SAHM and being able to decide how to spend my day and on the other hand it’s not so great to to be able to decide how to spend my day if it involves wasting the day away! Balance as you say is the hard part!

    This was such a good thought provoking post – just right for starting of the New Year. I’m going to print it out & post it on my bulleting board – where it can be a gentle reminder to me to stay on track!


  24. Maureen

    Great, thoughtful post. Time is a precious gift and probably the one thing we do have a bit of control of each day- good reminder not to waste it! The older I get the more I seem to get it!

  25. Things that Inspire

    I loved this post! I stay at home with my children, but do some art consulting and lots of volunteer work on the side. All of my children are in school every day now (although the youngest only has a half day), so I purposely reduced my committments to see what would happen, to see whether I could refocus my time on painting (which I love), or exercise. I am still in transition, and sometimes feel as if I have too much free time, but I have discovered new interests and am enjoying the time. Blogging has probably taken too much of my time, but it is an enjoyable hobby and a great way to keep my research and writing skills sharp!

  26. Jenn and Jacqui

    Hi Melissa, wow that was a wonderful post. So great to read. So well articulated. Great food for thought. Thank you! Jenn and Jacqui

  27. Vee

    Finding balance is one of life’s major stresses. It has ever been thus for me anyway. Thank you for an extremely thoughtful post.

  28. Design for Mankind

    Gracious, Melissa— you are like the smartest woman in the entire world. VERY well put, and thanks for your sweet words re: my Etsy shop… it’s inspiring woman like you that make me want to achieve my dreams!

    Thanks, sweetie. For SO much!

  29. all the best

    Melissa this is so well written, I truly could not have said it any better. Thank you for the eloquent reminder! Happy New Year and all the best in 2008!

  30. Paris Parfait

    A very thoughtful post. Finding balance is something I always strive for, but don’t always achieve.



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