Reading and Writing: Work, Spirit, or Health?

Last post, after reading Writer’s in the Storm , I blogged about this quote:

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – workfamilyhealthfriends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.

But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.

You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

~ Brian Dyson, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises

In my reflection, I talked about my reading/writing life as if it were “work” (and that is how I tend to treat it in the summer when I am off from my job as a teacher).

However, upon further reflection, reading and writing, for me, cannot be labeled only as work, but rather as spirit and health as well. Why?

Writing as Spirit

I truly feel writing, and the reading necessary to be a good writer, is my calling. When I am writing, I feel as if I am doing precisely what I was created to do. The stories that drive me and the poems that sing through me feel like “gifts” received, not something I came up with on my own.

Furthermore, as a praying Christian who has served a long writing apprenticeship, I talk to God about it rather frequently. Many, many times I have considered quitting. (Once I actually did, but not because I didn’t want to write anymore, but rather as a newbie teacher, I could not find the time. This was not a pretty time physically or spiritually.) As with most major decisions, I talk to God about it, and instead of telling me to quit, he always sends me more ideas.

Therefore, writing has come to feel as if it is not just my personal passion, but my calling and my responsibility to the God I love.

Writing and Reading as Health

As stated above, refraining from writing impacts me physically as well as emotionally. The one time I quit for an extended period of time resulted in depression and illness.

Reading and Writing rarely feel like work, although some of the support activities–like researching markets and preparing submissions do. For me, reading and writing are joy, abundance, and life! Writing sustains my spirit, and reading fuels my brain.

These are powerful passions, however, in spite of appearances, I do not love them more than my family and friends.

The Real Balance

As an introvert, I tilt toward quiet time at home. Therefore, I realize I need to push myself to get out of my head and house and spend more time with my husband, family, and friends because I do, indeed, love them very much. Dad’s death this spring has reinforced the importance of spending time with the people I love and who love me.

I want to be a more involved wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and friend. I definitely need to keep practicing.

What About You?

Which of the “balls” from the quote corresponds to the roles of reading and writing in your life? Are there any other “balls” you feel might need more attention? How would you make the adjustments? Please use the comment space below to share your thoughts. We are all a work-in-progress; let’s help each other along the way!


Teacher’s File Drawer #2: An Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving always seems to be the perfect opener for the holiday season, because for me, the holidays are all about gratitude. Studies have shown that people who are grateful tend to live happier, healthier lives. So what better way to prepare for the holidays and foster an attitude of gratitude than by focusing all the month of November on the people and things we are grateful for in our lives.

This month’s assignment?

Set aside time daily for your students to write a paragraph of at least 5 to 10 sentences, (depending on the age of your students) about one person or thing for which each is grateful.

Requiring your students to write multiple sentences will provide them with opportunities to practice elaborating on their subject and develop fluency in writing.

In addition to the minimum number of sentences required, students may only journal about each topic once during the month, thus encouraging them to think in an increasingly broad way about their lives and their world, and to find pleasure and gratitude in a wider range of subjects than they may have initially been aware of or considered.

Scoring: Each day’s entry shall be worth 1 point, with a total of 30 points possible for the month.

  • Score 1 point if 90% of the length requirement is met.
  • Score .9 if 80-89% of the length requirement is met.
  • Score .8 if 70-79% of the length requirement is met.
  • Score .7 if 60-69% of the length requirement is met.
  • Score .6 if 50-59% of the length requirement is met.
  • Score .3 if 25-49% of the length requirement is met.
  • Score .1 if 1-24% of the length requirement is met.

If the student returns to the same subject multiple times, score just .5 points for each repetitive entry after the original.

I hope this assignment will help increase students’ awareness of how blessed we are to live in these times and in this place, and I hope you will feel as blessed reading their entries as I did reading those of my own students.