I’ve lived an unbalanced life for most of it. Driven, restless, and easily bored, I’ve spent way too much of my time and energy on work. Thankfully, I discovered the error of my ways–late, but not too late.

While my journey toward balance began with a jolting reminder of my mortality, that was just the beginning.  I began to slowly tear down destructive habits and thought patterns, and gradually add back newer, healthier ones. My husband’s health issues added the first brick in the new life I was building, spurring me to exercise regularly, something I still loathe. After not very long, I realized that I was feeling better and was less stressed. The stressors hadn’t disappeared; I was just better equipped to cope. I still hate exercise, but I’m hooked. Next, I cut down on caffeine. I haven’t eliminated it completely, but my daily six pack is now a two pack, and I don’t drink it after noon. I found that I was getting more restful sleep. Just as I began feeling physically better, a life-changing inspiration caused me to start writing a book on faith. Something I never intended to do, writing gave me my first real hobby and a creative outlet that doubles as therapy. It also gave me my first mental focus outside of work,

I’ve had a lot to learn about this hobby business, especially the creative aspect. While it was a bit scary to begin writing, it was flat out terrifying to even think about sharing the final product with others. I knew that I didn’t have to share it, yet somehow I needed to. I’m grateful for the family and friends who gently supported my writing “coming out”. As I’ve slowly built this therapy into my hectic life, I’ve learned three principles that I believe apply to any hobby.

1. Do it for yourself. This may sound obvious, but it somehow wasn’t to me. Its critical corollary may have been my greatest struggle, that it’s actually ok to do something for yourself. Us guilt ridden working mothers especially need this permission.

2.Do it when you feel inspired. If you’re doing it for yourself, don’t turn it into a chore. It’s ok to put it down for awhile when you just don’t feel it.

3. Build it into your life. For some, this comes naturally as they easily prioritize time for what they enjoy, but working mothers often place themselves last. It took me a long time to realize that I could care better for those I love when I take care of me, too. Then it took time to figure out how to squeeze what I needed for me into my busy life. It absolutely can be done.

I write this from the treadmill. Work has been unbalanced lately, with long evenings and weekends and not enough sleep. It would be easy to skip exercise to squeeze in more sleep, but I’m not about to give up my hard won lessons on balance. The stakes are too high. This is my life we’re talking about.

“Without balance, a life is no longer worth the effort.”  –Olen Steinhauer


About Kelly J. McCleary

Wife and mother of three, author, financial professional View all posts by Kelly J. McCleary

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