Blogger: Mary Keeley
May has always been a killer month for me. Family sports schedules, dentist appointments, end-of-year music concerts, graduations, bridal showers, you name it. Not to mention preparing for writers conferences and writing and work deadlines. And the fridge is empty. When can I squeeze in a trip to the grocery store? The added pressure interferes with creative thought and productivity when we’re, in my spin on the term, full plate living.
Those are good things, all of them, and most of the time I thrive on a packed schedule. You’ve heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If you want something done [quickly], ask a busy person.” But like too much coffee or chocolate, too many good things at once cause even the strongest heart rate to react. I chide myself when I allow the collision between the extras on my calendar and my time constraints to stress me out and remember to thank God because they are blessings, not disruptions. Maybe you can relate.
A Time for Reflection
It might seem counter productive to schedule a day away from my normal work during this of all months, but actually I’ve found the practice to be a safeguard. A time for reflection and to regain perspective. I’ve spent the first months of the year full plate living in the context of work, moving from task to task and event to event. Left unchecked, life can become robotic, even when time is set aside for Bible reading and prayer, because that, too, can become robotic. It’s a dangerous condition for any of us involved in Christian publishing because we lose touch with deep human emotions. They are the conduit that connects writers with your readers, those whom you are passionate to minister to through your books.
Safeguard Your Writing Life by Taking a Day Off.
That is, invest a day away for reflection and to listen for God’s direction, especially during your busiest seasons. Time spent in prayer for his empowering and his wisdom makes a lot of sense for a successful writing life.
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
What is your busiest time of the year? In what ways do you relate to full plate living and the stress it produces?
Safeguard your writing life by taking a day off. See why. Click to Tweet.
Time set aside for reflection is a writer’s antidote for too much full plate living. Click to Tweet.
December is always has issues for me. Last year, I added a bum leg to the stress level, quit exercising and added 10 pounds for my trouble. Thus my one-word for this year is “discipline.”
I have learned that sufficient sleep, exercise and consistent time with God will see me though a hard season. When that delicate balance was disturbed, the outcome was muddled. I made it through the season, but at I price I want to avoid in the future. I like your idea of a preemptive retreat, Mary. Thank you.
When God looks at you, Shirlee, I think He sees a brave, loving and faithful Daughter. And I bet He can’t see the December Ten.
I agree with you, Shirlee. When I’m getting enough sleep, exercise (not my strong suit!) and consistent time with the Lord, I have the reserves to better deal with the busy seasons. Wise words here!
Yes, discipline, especially where sleep and exercise are concerned. But you inspired me when you declared it as your theme in a comment early this year, Shirlee, and I adopted it too. Sleep is usually the first thing I sacrifice during a full plate week, but I’m doing pretty well with the exercise.
This season of my life is the fullest plate I could imagine, but in a way, even though it’s not at all something for which I would have asked, it’s at least something of which good can be made. I have learned at least this, that the good I might do comes only from offering a hand and heart of strength, through the Almighty, to others – and that offering is in turn my sole source of strength. This, I could only learn here, clawing to keep my grip on the edge of a devastated life. It has been a lesson worth learning.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Andrew, I don’t think any of us ask for suffering. Thank you for the example you live out and share. Your encouragements do much good and edify many. Thank you for that.
“…offering a hand and heart of strength, through the Almighty, to others – and that offering is in turn my sole source of strength.” You must be very strong, Andrew.
Thank you, Mary. If so, it is of the Lord.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Summer is my full plate time. My husband is the director of a small Bible camp in the mountains and last summer between Mid June and the beginning of School on August 27th, he had 2 days off. The year before that he had one day off. This makes my schedule busy because it kind of makes me a single mom. Last summer I had my 3 fun and rowdy boys and somehow ended up being the paid nanny of an additional 6-year-old who had serious behavioral issues. Add 4 or 5:00am writing times and writing the camp blog to that and I was busy to say the least. But we live in the forest and walking in the forest, in the quiet of the woods for even a few moments is a balm to the soul. You can hear God so clearly when you are out amongst his creations. This helped keep me going.
I so agree, Kristen. Being enveloped in God’s creation has a quieting effect on me too. And to think he planned it for this purpose is awesome.
Having two pre-teen boys makes every season busy. 😉 But, I find the holidays and the end of the school year are the busiest for our family. And when my husband travels for his job.
My one word for this year is BREATHE. God is giving me many opportunities to learn how to really breathe during the stressful times—literally and figuratively. Getting enough sleep and spending time with Him are huge in helping me to breathe deeply in each day, no matter what time of year it is. 🙂
This is truly excellent advice, especially the taking a day off to hear from the Lord part. Jesus did it, and we should, too!
My plate gets refilled every time I unload the dishwasher. But, things are slowing down now. I have a bit of calm before school gets out, then my hours shift a little. I do try to make sure I leave time for tea, though, as I know the price of overload.
I’m wondering what will be on your plate tonight, Birthday Girl! 🙂
Anita Mae Draper
Spring is my busiest…no wait…summer is my…um…fall just flies by…December is a whirlwind…
…then I hibernate in January.
Thank you for taking care of yourself, Mary. 🙂
I love your idea of taking a day off during the most difficult seasons. If I could only let my brain rest. But that’s usually when the best ideas come to me … when I’m trying to rest and asking God to guide me. One of my first jobs was medical transcription for a urologist. The lady who hired me told me she watched the people she interviewed to see how fast they moved. Do they poke around, or do they move quickly. Well, I’ve always been on the go … my husband always used to complain because I couldn’t just sit down. And now, I’m going through a season where I’m really enjoying reading in the evenings … it forces me to slow down in body, not mind, but nevertheless, slow down. And now, my husband wants me to get up and walk. Ha! But I just completed two articles that were due at the end of this month, and my next one isn’t due until Sept, unless I need to pick up someone else’s. The next big thing on my plate is the conference in Sept (which I’m so excited about) and preparing for a speaking engagement in October, where I have to speak for “two” whole hours! 🙂 But it’s at my home church, where I grew up … so I’m super excited.
Wonderful reminders, Mary! I think this full-plate living is just what God had in mind when he declared one day out of every seven as a day of rest. For some jobs, this is difficult. For my family, Sundays still seem a little busy with both a morning and evening service and a big family dinner. But we disengage, as much as is possible, from work. We don’t work in the yard or run errands. I don’t write (unless inspiration strikes and I need to jot down a scene). There are still busy times, like just about every Monday through Saturday. 🙂 But we look forward to our day of rest.
May. Groan. Days ago I asked my husband why May is the one month that seems to fill up so quickly with stuff. It’s the end of baseball, and school festivities, projects, fundraisers and so forth. I’ve learned to say ‘no’ which has helped, but even with setting boundaries I’m finding myself to busy than I want to be.
So I sing and quote scripture with a finger pointed to the heavens, believing with my tired little heart that God’s promises are true. Yesterday while spending hours in the kitchen preparing for the bake sale today, I sang my tone deaf heart out knowing that this month is a season and I will survive because God’s got me in His hands. Total freedom! Go team Jesus!
I love that tranquil river scene, Mary. It instantly gave me peace. Thank you for it.
Last week I was thrust into a period of rest when I fell and broke my arm. My right, of course. it has forced me to rely upon others for almost everything, thank you, Lord, for my beloved daughter, Jeannie who has come out every day to help and do all my work. And I am learning how easy it is to think you have to do this or that. Sleep? I’ve done more of that than ever in my life. And am mortified! This is causing me to look at my life and decide what is really important. In many ways I have done what other people expected me to do, and I’m finally seeing that is not “living.” So, yes, my plate of the future may not be so full, but it’s going to be much more nutritious.
I’m so sorry about your arm, Wanda. Just said a prayer for you.
Thank you so much, Shelli.
Linda Brooks Davis
I have experienced this often, but it’s easy to forget. Thanks for the reminder.
Oh how I understand this struggle, Mary!
I don’t think it was an accident that God sent me into surgery recovery during this month. It’s forced me to not let life spin out of control like it so often does. While I’ve been too physically tired to do much writing, I’ve enjoyed the chance to catch up on “fun reading” and have found my well refilled as a result.
Great phrase, full-plate living. Sometimes I feel like the clowns at the circus spinning ten plates on ten long poles, dashing back and forth to keep them going. Whew! Yes – a reflection day is a refreshing and life-saving idea.
Wow! Mary, you sure ‘hit the nail on the head’.