Squeezing Time

Last week’s sermon was a very powerful talk entitled “What if we all had the time?”  This is a big issue for people today, whether you’re a Christian or not.  How do I make more time?  How do I get the most out of my time?

Two principles stood out to me from this sermon because they look at this issue of time in a slightly different way than most people are trained to.


“I need to find a balance.  Once I do that, everything will fall into place.”  Yeah, I’ve said it too.  If I can just balance everything I’m juggling, I’ll get everything done.  But if you stop to think about what that looks like, you’ll end up with this.

And you know what happens when you drop the ball in one thing?  The entire structure comes crashing down.  Think about it this way.  You find a way to balance all your responsibilities, all the things you want to do, but that balance is actually carrying the weight of those things all the time.  Your strength is going to give out eventually.

This is where rhythm comes in.  Rhythm means allowing time to set things down.  Alternate the weight.  My bulletin’s fill-in-the-blanks say “Divert Daily,” “Retreat Weekly,” and “Abandon Yearly.”  Take time daily to rest or play.  They say if you work with your hands, to rest with your mind, and if you work with your mind, to rest with your hands.  I work with my mind all day, whether it’s writing or interpreting, so my play should involve something kinesthetic, maybe like doing a jigsaw puzzle or some exercise, like dance.

Now even though the Sabbath is a tradition set in place by God, Christians today have a hard time following it.  No work at all for one day?  Crazy.  Impossible.  Well it doesn’t have to be a whole day; it doesn’t even have to be a Saturday.  But our emotional and mental health depends on us taking time to rest.  Stay in bed for two hours on the weekend, reading.  Take a media fast one day a week.  (Most of you probably cringed at that one.)


Hello, big one right here.  I always think in terms of time management.  If I manage my time, I can fit everything in.  But at the end of the day, I’m exhausted.  Did I accomplish my to-do list?  Maybe.  But now I don’t have any energy left for other important things like family and relationships.

Know what fills your tank, and what depletes you.  Got a ton of tasks that wipe you out?  Spread them out over days.  Have a task that fills you up and energizes you?  Do it every day.

If we think in terms of rhythm and energy management, maybe we’ll not only have more success in utilizing our time, but feel better, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

You can listen to or download the full sermon here.

Do you feel like your life is a balancing act?  But does that balance weigh you down and leave you feeling wiped?  Do you take time to recharge regularly, or do you wait for the support beams to crack before you unplug and refresh?  I love hearing from you!

A Round of Words in 80 Days

Today kicks off Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, which I will be participating in for the first time.  It’s a writing challenge where we set our own goals, check in twice a week, and encourage each other to keep at it.  You can keep up with my goals and progress here, or click on the page above.  (You could also join.  😉 )

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been going through a writing funk.  Here I have summer stretched out before me with loads of free time, and I can’t bring myself to start my next manuscript.  I tried, and what I got was word poop, to quote Kristen Lamb’s recent post on Struggling with Burnout.

Over the past month I have embraced the funk and have occupied my time with other things: reading, drawing, cleaning, and blogging.  My creativity hasn’t shut down completely; I’ve just given it a chance at a different outlet.  The test comes this week, however, as I plunge into actual work.  Something will come of my efforts.  Good, bad, or poopy, I will write!  Thankfully, an idea struck the other day.  I’m not sure I like it, but since it’s a plausible subplot, I’m willing to mull it over and see what comes of it.

The idea came to me in the theater as I was watching a special showing of The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King extended edition.  Now, one might say that’s perfectly natural.  After all, LoTR has great storytelling, great characters, and a great plot.  What’s not to be inspired by?

Except I don’t think Gimli should engender thoughts about vampires.  Nuh-uh, not seeing the connection.  Talk about multitasking on the brain, trying to enjoy a mesmerizing tale of epic proportions and working out the motivations of a rogue vampire killer.  Seriously Muse, show some respect?  Sometimes you have the attention span of a two-year-old.

Anyway, wish me luck on this endeavor!  And in honor of this challenge, in this Monday’s short story it’s “Teagan’s Turn to Write.”

Hello writing funk, how nice to see you

There are several names for this: writer’s block, writing burnout, writing apathy, la la la.  It may even try to disguise itself as something else: depression, laziness, run-down on the verge of a cold somethin’, blegh…

It doesn’t matter what label you slap on it; the truth is that for whatever reason, the writing is not happening.  Here is where I find myself, despite my best efforts to wrench myself out of this funk over the past week.  Having completed my latest novel a week ago, I am now ready to begin the sequel.  Except I’m not.  The muse is either on strike, sleeping after all that work, or has been kidnapped by smurfs.  I have not received a ransom.

I tried forcing it.  Sunday I sat down and spent the entire day intermittently typing and staring at the wall.  The result was a first chapter, but a short and superficial one at that.  But hey, getting over the first hump is the hardest, right?  So what’s my problem?

Maybe I need to take a break from writing.  I know, I cringe at the thought.  Waste all this valuable time?  Are you crazy?  I’m crazy if I think I can compose anything in my zombie-like state.  I need to recharge, as Trish Elliott’s post Dealing with Writer Burnout suggests.  I’ve relied on writing for so long as my way to stay charged and refreshed, that I forgot the cycle goes both ways.  Writing may be how I “fill my cup,” as Elena Aitken talks about, but how do I fill my writing?

Good question.  I thought maybe I’d take some time for drawing (and try really hard not to feel guilty about it).  Maybe I should dig out a TV series with great writing and just sit back and enjoy, like The West Wing or Castle (and again, try really hard not to feel like I’m wasting precious time).  Maybe I’ll see if some friends want to go ballroom dancing.

Whatever I do, I hope I feel recharged soon.  While I strongly dislike this phase, one can’t ride the high forever, and even the muse needs a respite.