Warning: Spiritual Message Ahead

The Violent Volcano

Trey Ratcliff via Compfight

 If you’re anything like me you’re on a constant mission to create balance in your life.

God? Children? Spouse? Work? Home? Health? Writing? Self? In that order. Out of order. With potentially a bunch of other stuff added to the mix. Yeah?

A few mornings ago while driving into work, traffic as insane as ever, knowing the day ahead would be hectic, knowing that I would not be able to accomplish everything before clocking out, not having had my morning coffee yet, and deep down wishing I’d just called off from work and feigned illness, I had a little bit of a panic attack.

Heart racing. Head hurting. Brow and palms sweating.

I tapped through the library of podcasts and songs on my iPod and couldn’t find anything that I wanted to listen to. So I turned it off. I started to zikr, which for my non-Muslim friends means that I did something akin to reciting the rosary. As I was talking to God, I reflected on two things that had occurred before leaving for work.

  1. I received an email from someone who recently read my book and loved it. It was a most lovely welcome surprise to know that something I wrote touched someone to such an extent that they wanted to reach out to me. How awesome is that?
  2. After reading the email I checked my book’s Amazon page to see if perhaps this lovely person left a review. There was a new review but not by the person who wrote the letter. The person who wrote the review thought my book was mediocre at best giving it a 2/5 star rating. My first and only 2 star rating.

I wasn’t bummed out by this. I long ago figured it would happen one day. And quite frankly I’m so new to all of this that I’m just happy someone read An Unproductive Woman and thought enough to write a review at all.

I reflected on these two things and held them up in my mind as a sort of life metaphor. Each opinion about my book, both valid in their own right, existing on opposite ends of the spectrum. Me teetering in the middle. Me trying to balance.

I’m not qualified to determine what if anything God meant for me to glean from this success and failure to reach my readers. Fortunately, I did gain something though.

  • No matter how hard I may try, I will still be imperfect.  But, that’s okay because Perfect Is the Enemy of Done.
  • I can’t please everyone with my writing so I may as well please myself by creating something that at least I find worth in.
  • I can find the middle ground in this life that often feels like nothing but extremes, if I try really really hard or just take it easy.

I also started to think about the best review I’ve ever gotten. It was four stars rather than five. The person who reviewed my book expressed true support for my efforts in writing my freshman novel and gave some very constructive feedback that while not totally glowing, was still 100% positive.  I feel as if I gained more from that one review than the reviewer ever could have gained from reading my book. That review felt like balance. That review is the one I always go back to when I need a boost, some affirmation that I am doing okay at this writing thing and that I should keep at it.

Fortunately, attacks of anxiety don’t happen to me often, but when they do, it’s usually at times when I feel off kilter, when there are too many things to do, too many demands and not enough time or energy.  Times when I’ve fallen off that center line into the land of extremes.

I ought to have awesome core strength, you know, because this balancing thing is hard work.

What do you do to create balance?