Wonderful Words: Work-Life Balance

Reading Writer’s in the Storm this morning, I came upon 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

As the daughter of a work-a-holic, who is as driven as the beloved father who bore the trait before her, I have always struggled with work-life-writing balance, the most recent bout culminating in my physical collapse this spring.

In theory, this summer is (according to me) supposed to be about resting, recuperating, and enjoying my relationships with children, grandchildren, parents, and friends. I remind myself over and over again that there are no goals, writing or otherwise, that need to be accomplished this summer.

And yet, my mind lives in both the actual, physical world and the literary worlds of my reading/writing lifestyle. There are writing projects I want to finish even though I keep telling myself I don’t have to be done before September 1. These include building databases–of markets, agents, and editors, and revising a novel that has been a life’s work. And I yearn to finish before school starts (but honestly will not be able to) in spite of the constant reminder, “Debby, you don’t need to finish anything before September.”

And so, this quote is a good reminder. What I came out of my weeks of illness feeling was a determination to make more time for my loved ones, and a yearning for more time for my writing. I confess, God forgive me, I am too often motivated by the second, rather than the first.

And so I’ll sign off. My granddaughter has a music camp concert tonight, and then I have a writer’s group meeting. I want to be ready to enjoy both!

Your Turn

What new priorities have you been trying to introduce to your life? Do you, perhaps, have some good ideas to help me stick to mine? I would welcome your advice. Please chime in using the comment space below.



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.