There are moments when my blogging life feels like a pressure cooker. When this happens, I know it's time to take a social media break. I disappear from my online life for a day or two and focus on what renews me: my family, my friends, exercise, my kitchen, my books, my movie time.
I have been blogging for over six years, and I've learned that when this anxious feeling arises, it's my body's way of telling me to step away from being online for awhile. But I didn't know this six years ago when I first started my online life - I've learned a few things on this blogging journey, many the hard way.
One truth I've come to rely on is that our bodies are smarter than we are and know what we need, but we've got to tune into the message. Our bodies try hard to tell us when it's time to leave the world of words and information, and pay attention to the life offline before our existence becomes a blur of slapdash tasks.
That nagging nudge that wants what's best for us, listen to it, or you'll soon have a full blown case of heaving and sobbing at the end of a pier, Holly Hunter-style. I know.
At the start of my blogging life, I thought I had to be part of everything so that I wouldn't be at a loss when it came time to interact on Facebook or Twitter. By reading, I could keep informed. By googling, I could find out what everyone was talking about. You had to stay in the know, or you'd miss out.
I loved blogging - and I still do, the same for my blogging communities, and I was willing to make sacrifices to stay involved. If that meant I stayed up until 3:00 a.m., then so be it. I knew no other way of finding more time except in the quiet, undisturbed night.
It wasn't too long before I was dragging through my days in a mental fog, and no matter how much I had read and absorbed the day before, the next day there was more to know, as if I hadn't done anything online at all. The truth is, that you can't keep up with everything that is happening. The fact is, that it's impossible to be there for everyone.
It's hard to question if balance is missing from your life, but I knew I had to ask myself, Has my blogging become too much of a priority? Do things feel in balance? When you've worked hard toward reaching your blogging goals and saying no to the writing opportunities you dreamed feels like taking 50 steps back from what you've been trying to get closer to, it's not easy accepting the truth. But if your body answers no to your question about balance, it's time to be honest about the need for change.
In my case, I tried figuring out a different way to do everything that blogging required without missing a thing. But no matter how I rearranged my blocks of time, there were still not enough of them.
I'd read books on restructuring my time, and still come up with only 24 hours in a day. I would read some more, and try something new, and then read some more, and still the same question remained, How can I do it all?
But even through the challenge of finding time, I never grew tired of writing or of having my own blog. I didn't want to give up blogging, I just needed to find a way to keep writing without falling out of balance with the things that were so important to me, my family, friends, health, and well being. I had to separate the two and find the space for each.
One morning, when I had been blogging for two years, I sat in front of the computer, shaking my head in my hands. Blogging is a privilege I will never take for granted, it is as much of a joy as it is a challenge, but I had to find a way to be able to keep working toward my dreams while still being present in the important areas of my life. The truth was one that was a bitter pill to swallow: I was going to have to let some things go.
Even if my list of writing dreams included 25 things, I would have to shorten it to 10. I told myself I didn't have to give everything up, but I couldn't pursue everything at once. The pace I had set for myself was impossible to keep up, and it was frightening to feel how easy it is for the fire of creativity to burn out when we never stop to refuel.
I've just plugged back in after being offline two days. My body had been telling me things were out of balance, and I have learned to listen. My time away has replenished my well, and now I'm back on, loving writing and loving my blog, like I know I always will. I love that delicious pie of my time online and treasure my online communities, I just need to remember to partake of it one slice at a time.
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