business, blogging & balance

Marian ParsonsBalance, Running a Business

In a recent comment, Cami made a request. “I for one, would love to hear you talk about balancing a blogging career with kids and family.  I’m just getting mine rolling and I feel so overwhelmed at times.  You’ve been going at this longer and I would love to hear your ups and downs and ways to manage it all.  Balance.  The great juggling act of life! 😉  Thanks for all your words!”

Oh, Cami.  You’re asking the blind to lead the blind.  Everyone who knows me even a little bit, knows that I struggle with balance.

I struggle.

I can manage okay when our routine is in motion, but when it’s off, because of a snow day, vacation, sickness, whatever, all of the balls I’ve managed to keep airborne, awkwardly at times, come falling down.  And it’s not the funny, slapstick routine where the balls fall down and the clown spastically tries to catch them, fails and shrugs and everyone laughs.

It’s the kind of ball dropping where one pops me in the nose,  another in the eye and I somehow manage to step on one that already hit the ground and it upends me and everyone gasps, because this is clearly not planned.

I forget a doctor’s appointment.  I’m the parent who doesn’t bring the school supplies to the open house.  I have five e-mails from customers who didn’t receive something I was suppose to ship out last week.  I e-mail my editor and ask for an extension.  Jeff just asks me what we’re having for dinner and I get defensive.  I tell my boys to get dressed and they tell me they don’t have any clean shorts or socks.  I haven’t worked out in weeks and my eating is slipping and the pounds are creeping back.

And I feel like I’m not doing anything well.

This isn’t all the time.  It’s just those times when I say yes to too many things or when I get too obsessive about one aspect of life or when I have to wear too many hats simultaneously.  Most of the time, it’s a self-induced imbalance.  Most of the time, it’s poor planing on my part.  And most of the time, it’s me being way too hard on myself.

But, if you’re like me, you’re nodding.  You get it.  We’re like two peas in a pod in our imbalanced lives.

And we work on being disciplined again and fill out the calendar again (and actually look at it) and make lists again (in a new notebook, because lists are for real when they’re in a new notebook) and start to settle back into the routine that helps us manage everything in our lives.

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And I go through this cycle a lot.  I’ll get my act together.  I’m focused and work is going well and dinner is on the table and I did a P90x workout and played kickball with the boys and my blog is done and awesome and my e-mail inbox is managed and the house is clean and Jeff and I had time to chill on the couch and watch a movie and I’m in bed a reasonable time and all is well.  And I wish I had the formula for life to run smoothly like this everyday.

But I don’t.

I told you, Cami.  The blind leading the blind.

Before you abandon this post altogether, there are a few key things that I go to when my life is getting out of whack…

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Keep perspective.  

First of all, people like you and me, we need to relax a bit.  I’m actually pretty laid back when it comes to a lot of things, but I can be high strung when it comes to the demands I put on myself.  It really is okay if the house isn’t as clean as I would like it to be or if I push back a self-imposed project deadline or if I don’t get around to doing something that is important, but not really that important.

I will work myself into such a ball of stress that I physically hurt.  I get a lump in my throat and have a headache that makes me feel like eating sugar to get a lift.  I wouldn’t get to that state if everything was properly in perspective.

Me & my boys…

A photo posted by Marian aka Miss Mustard Seed (@missmustardseed) on

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Set limits 

This is so huge for me.  I always feel like I need to do more, to be more, all the time.  This is why I often feel like I’m falling short.  This is what leads to a daily marathon, working towards doneness.  I like completion and life just can’t be completed in one day.  So, I need to set limits to make me stop before I crash.  I need to set a bedtime.  To make certain foods off limits.  To plan how much and when I can be on my computer.  The key is sticking to those limits.

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Take care of yourself.

For me, this means making time for a daily devotion, exercising, getting a haircut, eating well, getting out of the paint clothes once in a while, maybe even splurging on a massage.  It also means doing things that I enjoy that have nothing to do with work.  This is trickier for me than you would think, because I really love what I do and my #1 hobby is working on my house, so when my hobby and my business are so intertwined, it’s hard to pick them apart.  There are a few things I like to do, like hiking, that are a departure, so I need to do that more.

#hiking A photo posted by Marian aka Miss Mustard Seed (@missmustardseed) on

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Make a priority list, not a to-do list.

I’ve had the “to-do list conversation” with both Jeff and Kriste lately.  I tend to shy away from to-do lists for the reason that I push really hard towards completion.  I want the to-do list to be empty by the end of the day and that’s just not possible.  But, without a to-do list, I’m aimless.  I start working on something I feel like doing, but doesn’t need to be done at all, while something else more pressing is left undone.  Which leads to stress!

Jeff suggested making a “priority list” not a to-do list.  It actually wasn’t his idea, but one he got from the book, Simple Life.  I haven’t read it, so I don’t know if it’s a good read, but I love that suggestion.  Once I made a priority list, everything seemed much more doable.  I may not get everything done, but I get the most important things done.  Focusing on the priorities makes me feel organized and focused, but not pressured.

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(This is Jeff, by the way, if you didn’t notice the name tag.  This seemed like a good post to show him in a picture where he isn’t building something for me.)

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So, Cami, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.  “Overwhelmed” is often the word-of-the-day for me.

BUT, it’s not always in a negative way.

Sometimes, yes, I’m overwhelmed at the amount of work I need to do, at all of the e-mails sitting in my box, the laundry that needs to be folded, the articles I need to write, and the amount of people who need or want something from me.

That sense of too much that is draining.

But I’m also overwhelmed by the blessings in my life, God’s provision, my supportive family, the amazing things I get to do for my job, and readers and customers who read my blog and love my brand.

That same sense of too much, but it gives energy and strength.

And it’s enough to pick me up, dust me off and carry me into tomorrow with focus and determination, ready to try to walk that tightrope of life again, hoping to be a bit more graceful with each step….

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business, blogging & balance

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