Sunday, July 18, 2010

Request: You seem to have a lot of projects, yet mention "living simply." How does this work? How do you find balance?

You seem to have a lot of projects, yet mention "living simply."  
How does this work? How do you find balance?

This is a great question!

I do have a lot of projects going on at once, but I am also someone who has no problem having a"do nothing" day.  I look for any reason to go to the beach to read magazines or a book.  I like to sit on my deck and stare off to the north, to the mountain with the cloud halo.

If I find myself feeling overwhelmed and not having time for my family or myself, I cut back on things.  I am always learning to say no to things that sound great, but really, I don't want to do.

I find my schedule will have a busy week, then nothing.  I like nothing weeks a lot.

For me, projects are not work, but are fueled by my passion for writing and living creatively.  I find them things that give me energy.  Yes, if there are too many things going on, I do feel overwhelmed, but since I do a lot of my own freelance work and consulting, I just work with less writers and less freelance projects.

Since I take summer off, I feel as if I get a break from things.

I think it's important to mountain bike, go camping and just hang out.  To me, my time is more important than money.

Of course, because I try to value my time before money, I have to make sacrifices and try to live frugally.  (Note: this is not the same as self-deprivation, but it's about making choices.)  I choose carefully what I spend my money on.

I am not a "shopper," but will splurge on things I really want (read: the iPad). I do not believe it's good to spend just to spend.  I do not carry a balance on my credit cards. I do not believe in disposable incomes  or buying something to get a rush.  I cannot remember the last time I paid more than $20 for a pair of pants, jeans, or shirt.  I'm a little cheap/frugal when it comes to things like that.  Basically, what it comes down to--If I cannot afford it, I do not buy it.

I like to use my money for experiences. 

Or things that add to my creative/writing life (the iPad fits here, I bought it b/c I didn't want to travel with my laptop, which felt way too risky for me.)

To me, living simply means not feeling as if I need certain items in my life to keep a certain status. 

One positive here is that I live in a small town and the kids/parents are not into labels.  I have heard kids at the elementary school exclaim when someone asks where their t-shirt is from, "Wal-Mart" or "Target" without a hint of embarrassment, irony, or feeling as if they should be saying, "Abercrombie and Fitch" or "Nordstrom." 

Our nearest mall is 30-some minutes away.  There aren't places to "shop" where I live.  When you don't go into stores, you tend not to spend anything (funny how that works).

A favorite hobbies for most folks here are running, birding, going to the beach, swimming, and mountain biking.  All free activities.

We do lots of picnics and camping.  We have family game night and family movie night (all cheaper than going out to eat or to the movie theater.)

My writing life (with the occasional iPad) is low-cost.  My words are free.

In the summer, I abandon much of my income-making activities.  I abandon my worklife. But keep some projects going.

For me, living simply and working hard are not opposites, but a way of life that can go hand in hand.  My work keeps my life simple.  And my simple life helps make time for my writing.  

I'm realizing I have said a lot of things and not sure I answered the question.

I think because for me living simply can be in regards to a simple schedule or spending less.

I guess the final answer is that I don't find balance, but rebalance my life, my spending, my time, my work, when something gets out of whack.  

I think it would be impossible for me to live a balanced life as life doesn't seem to work like that.  Sometimes you are overwhelmed with one thing, then it's something else.  The best I can do is to revise my life when needed and make sure one thing isn't top-heavy and ready to tip over my boat.  

I listen to my body.  When I need to sleep, I sleep.  When I need to work hard, I work hard.  It's finding a path that works best for me in that time period while always remembering my core values-- live simply, act compassionately, dream big.

Hope that helps and answers your question.




  1. Sounds nice. My schedule kills me at times.

    Let's start with the 9-5 job.

    Then there are edits for my novel that will be release next year.

    Then working on my 2 current novels-in-progress

    Then working on the comic book scripts.

    Living simply sounds very promising...maybe some day I wil get to experience it...

  2. Barry, It sounds as if you're creating/achieving a lot. For me (and maybe/hopefully/possibly for you), creative projects don't feel like work. I will probably opt for your schedule more when I retire.

    I didn't know you wrote comic book scripts. That's quite cool.

    Thanks for your note.

  3. "i like to use my money to buy experiences" is one of the better ideas i've heard in some time. me, too.

    tuning into the small things in my day also help with balance and living simply.

    your post restored balance in my day. my thanks,



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