A House of Cards

I have a full plate.

I’m not only referring to my Passover dinner plate, which was very full indeed. And quite delicious. I’m referring to my increasingly busy schedule. As you know, I have a full time job as a trademark paralegal in addition to being an author. With being an author comes marketing and promotion responsibilities. Even though I have a publisher, much of that role falls on my shoulders so it’s a good thing I enjoy it. I also have a lot of friends, am close with my family, and exercising is a big part of my life. Throw in standard maintenance activities like food shopping, cleaning, laundry etc. and I’m a pretty busy chick. I’m not suggesting there aren’t plenty of people who are equally swamped or even more so, but sometimes it’s overwhelming and I long for a less active lifestyle. I covet downtime. I’m not shy or withdrawn but like most authors, I’m an introvert at heart. It takes a lot for me to get cabin fever and as a result, I often wish I wasn’t addicted to working out because running/spin classes take up a huge chunk of my weekend that could be spent just relaxing with coffee and a book or binge watching TV. I sometimes even wish I wasn’t a writer because that takes up several evenings a week along with chunks of my weekend and I struggle for time to get my errands done, especially when I have plans with friends or dates. If I removed exercising and writing from my plate, I would have so much more of that downtime I crave. BUT exercising makes me feel strong and healthy and writing makes me happy even when I’m sad and positive happiness is unattainable. So, for me, giving up exercise and/or writing is not an option and I’ve learned to balance my life accordingly.

I can't stop writing!

I can’t stop writing!

view from my run

view from my run

But lately I’m finding myself taking on even more. My dream is to someday quit my day job and write full-time. Since it’s unlikely I will ever make enough money on my books to live in the style to which I’ve become accustomed or even close to it, I’ve taken on manuscript critique/developmental editing clients on the side as the first step to increasing my writing-related income. The time I devote to this is not instead of writing, marketing, running, friends etc.—it’s in addition to.

My friends supporting me and my books!

My friends supporting me and my books!

On top of that, I was asked to join the executive committee for Light the Night – a fundraising initiative of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leukemia is a cause very close to my heart because it stole the life of someone I loved so much. I’m having trouble saying no because it feels like saying no to Alan and I can’t do that. And I would love to support the cause to find a cure in any way I can. Accepting this additional appointment means more juggling of my existing responsibilities as well as more sacrifices to that coveted free time.

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

But wait, there’s more. I’ve decided to redo my apartment. I looked at it the other day and it was as if I was seeing it for the first time and I hate it. Suddenly I am determined to make it better: a new kitchen set (because mine is more than ten years old and falling apart), a new dresser (see above), a new coffee table (because I hate the glass top and can’t stand the smudges), and maybe a small desk (because leaning over my coffee table to write is not comfortable). Shopping for new furniture is another activity I will need to juggle with my writing, food shopping, friends, TV watching, editing for clients etc.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve told my publisher I would be interested in taking on an additional role should they think I could add value. In response to my offer, I was told they assumed I was too busy working full time and writing. I am probably too busy and I question my sanity for even bringing it up, yet I’m passionate about the book business and know anything related to it wouldn’t feel like work.

My awesome publisher!

My awesome publisher!

As you can see, I’m currently in no hurry to remove my plate of any of the above things or slow down,  but I am afraid I’m nearing my limit and something’s going to have to give. What happens when I take on even more? I want to make sure there’s room in my life for something or more specifically someone else and I worry with each new activity/interest/responsibility I add to my life, I’m nearing my threshold.  If my life could be compared to building a house of cards, what will it take to make the house fall down? I like to believe the aspects I consider vital to my happiness now is indicative of my life at this moment in time and that at such point in time my lifestyle changes, what I consider vital to it will adapt accordingly. As with most questions, the answer will come with time. In the meantime, I secretly (or not secretly) hope my current passions will lead me to the most important passion of all—love.

And I just remembered baseball season is starting tomorrow! Go Yankees…

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Comments

  1. You are so inspiring! I usually do not relocate often…but in the past year I have made a major move as well as switched local apartments in my new town a few time…which results in extra “stuff”. On the home front, my goal is to sort and reduce the amount of stuff. Another goal, I would like to bloom where I am planted…have great coworkers. We lunch weekly which has helped me get to know the town. I am slowly becoming more involved in local activities. Also, I am working on excercise which is addictive….love to walk! With the work/life balance…I hope to spend more time visiting my nieces and nephews!

    • Looks like you’ve been pretty busy yourself!! Relocating is very scary. It’s something I’ve contemplated but chickened out on many times…I’m glad you’re happy.

      I like keeping busy doing things that make me happy. I’m just afraid I’m going to reach that threshold where I lose my mind 🙂 Thanks for saying I’m inspiring.

  2. Meredith! You are truly amazing! I have no idea how you do it all, but you’re an inspiration to all. I do hope you manage to find some downtime, however. For me, that’s such a critical thing.

    • Thank you, Mary! I do take my downtime. In fact, I took a personal day from work today for just that. Of course, I have to some errands to run, hope to do some writing, and have dinner with friends but I stayed in bed until 9:30 and am relaxing with a cup of coffee right now 🙂

  3. Lucie Simone says:

    I totally relate! My day job is incredibly taxing and leaves little brain power for my evenings, so my personal writing has been pushed to the side for 2 years while I published other authors’ works. My solution is to look for a new job – one that’s a little less overwhelming. I nearly had a mental collapse last fall while I was publishing 2 books and dealing with some insane deadlines at the day job. I vowed never to do that again. So, I closed submissions to my small press so I can focus on my own writing, and the job search continues. Hopefully, I can transition to an easier job soon.

    Good luck, Meredith! Don’t spread yourself too thin.

    • Hi there! I do recall discussing our shared issues regarding balancing busy day jobs with writing careers and I know how much time/effort you put into your publishing company. I do hope you make time to write another book soon so I can read it!! And, of course, find a less taxing full-time job…keep me posted 🙂

  4. paulinewiles says:

    I am always fascinated how other authors “fit it all in”, especially you, Meredith as we share aspects like a day job and a love of exercise. Could I be very nosy and ask how much sleep you need and how much you generally get? I would love 9 hours, which I don’t get during the week, then feel I lose a large chunk of weekend catching up (= napping). From your description above, I’d be surprised if you’re squeezing in more than 7…?
    And I can see it would be really, really hard to decline something that you feel helps in your memories of Alan. But I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want you to work yourself to the point of burnout.
    I wish I knew what the best approach is to a full (overflowing plate). I have tried techniques like time-boxing my week, and also let certain things slide while I worked on my last book. But I definitely haven’t found the right blend of work, exercise, writing and “play” yet. Please do let me know if you crack the formula!

    • Hi Pauline! You’re not nosy at all. And, in fact, I was planning to include my love/need for sleep in the blog but I forgot. I love to sleep and if I don’t get a certain amount of sleep per week, I become physically sick by Friday. I tend to go to bed at 11 during the week and depending on whether I go to the gym in the morning, get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep during the week and at least 9 on the weekends. So, I do not let my sleep suffer. I think that’s one of the reasons I am able to handle so many other things – because I get a healthy dose of beauty sleep and have always made that a priority.

      You’re so right about Alan. He would never make me feel guilty or anything. It’s definitely self-imposed… If you crack the code for self-imposed guilt, please let me know!

      • paulinewiles says:

        Thanks, Meredith. I think sleep would be one of the last things I could ever give up – the price is just too high!

  5. Susie Orman Schnall says:

    Wow, Meredith. So impressed with all that you have going on. I get that it’s so hard to say no to things that really nourish us and light us up. Good news is that you’re not alone with all these challenges!! Perhaps you’d like to participate in The Balance Project!! (Not to add anything more onto your plate!! – but I think you’d be so great!!) Let me know xo

  6. You are amazing and awesome. Your books are great! As one who was once a workaholic but circumstances intervened, keep in mind that even in the madness there are blessings to be counted. We have no guarantees in life except two (death, taxes) and both are depressing to consider. Family, friends and a life lived to the fullest – whatever that may be for each person – is to me what life is all about.

    Oh, and where pray tell is your “run”. That is not in NYC as far as I can tell. My son lives in Brooklyn and there isn’t a view like that anywhere near him.

    • Very true. I try to count my blessings but admit to sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the negative. I need to remind myself often so thanks for the reminder! And for the lovely compliment about me and my books. Haha – that picture is definitely not in NYC. It was taken while I was in California. It was the view from my run; just not my daily run in my hometown 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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