Finding Balance

For the last few months, I enjoyed winter hibernation mode; watching movies, writing at the computer for the morning, reading books. Our older house is in need of renovation, but nothing that couldn’t wait for spring. So, I put a hiatus on indoor household projects for the winter and breathed a sigh of relief. Essentially, I rode out the last few months in happy shelter-mode.

But now the snow has melted, and spring is here whether I want it to be or not. My chest tightens at the thought of what lies ahead over the next nine months. I am not sleeping through the night, waking with thoughts of everything I need to do, and I am irritable. I spin in a circle, unsure which task deserves my attention first. The other day I walked around my kitchen five times until realized I did not know where I wanted to go.

The end of winter signals the beginning of outdoor chores and the end of my respite. The work load, both inside and outside the house, stretches endlessly. My days will be filled with weeding garden beds, thinning and replanting, and fixing the outside structure. While I’d rather be outside than inside and I love a hike in the woods or a long walk in a park, now the outdoors represents a daunting list of jobs needing completion.

Spring also means I must take up tools and attack the interior issues I have been staring at for the past three months. While I do love tearing things apart- last week the built-in custom-made TV cabinet that was painted a hideous beige met its death- this house has proven to be a bit of a nightmare. Any project grows exponentially because I uncover faulty wiring, leaks, and mold. The inside repairs for this house seems to grow like Jack’s beanstalk. Case in point, after I removed the above-mentioned cabinet, I found hidden heating ducts that now need to be sealed off.

These distractions which arrived with spring impact my time with John and my writing. My to-do list for writing exploded because I can no longer wrap my fingers around the starting point for any project. I begin a new effort, and then seemingly forget about it, only to find the half-baked effort months later. I sign up for webinars but cannot find the time to watch. Library books sit unread along with craft books. A sense of drowning has replaced my creative spirit.

I contemplated my angst for an entire day and realized spring workload was probably just another excuse. Writing is not easy and part of me wants excuses- like household projects, yard clean-up, errands, another Home Depot run- to interrupt those literary challenges. I can then say “See… I am busy here and I just don’t have time for that creative stuff. That will just have to wait until these sticks, all 2000 of them, get picked up.” My worker bee nature gets validated if I am getting things done. So, tearing out the TV cabinet felt amazing. There was a definite beginning and an end to the work. I didn’t have to think too hard. So much easier than writing.

Yet, these projects I complete do not help my writing and that knowledge throws me into a panic. My story ending doesn’t work and I know it. I haven’t posted anything for a week and the revise on my darling is not done. The mind-challenging, frustrating work of writing nags at me. It also scares me. I resent all these extra house projects, and at the same time, it is an escape. When I find myself in the choke hold of writing anxiety, feeling non-productive and overwhelmed, I can paint a wall and regain a foothold.

Bye bye ugly cabinet

In the past few days I sorted through a maze of feelings. I was hating on spring, then the house, and then the writing. Finally, I had a moment of clarity. I am sorting out my priorities.

After the people I love, writing needs to be a priority. The work around the house, both inside and out, will get done when I have time for it. Unless there is an emergency, I will set deadlines for writing but not the other work. The rhythm of life around me has changed with the seasons, and …. so what? Next spring will also feel like a tsunami.

I need to adjust and realign, and keep my eyes on what’s important. And maybe reach for a little more grace and faith that it will all balance out.