Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Juggling Life And The Pursuit Of Dreams by Candee Fick

I've always been fascinated by jugglers, especially those who can take a bite out of an apple while maintaining the blur of flying objects. But despite detailed instructions, I still can't juggle even two balls at the same time. Yet, I am expert at juggling life, including chronic fatigue and a special needs child, and the pursuit of my writing dream.

Here are a few tips for successful juggling.

1. Start small. Most instructions for juggling start with one ball and have you toss it back and forth for hours before ever adding a second ball or thinking about a third.

The same is true with life. I first learned this lesson over ten years ago after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I could realistically only handle small tasks in short increments, so I gave myself permission to only get a few things done each day until I could eventually add more responsibilities. As a writer trying to juggle creating, editing, critiquing, marketing, and social media, the same principle applies. Consistently write 100 or 200 words a day before trying for bigger goals. Master one social media account before adding another.

2. Expect to drop balls. Even the experts drop things, especially in private when they're rehearsing a new act. Does a juggler quit? No. They just pick it up and start again.

In life and writing, there will be days where supper didn't get thawed out in time or you get a call from the child's teacher or your proposal was rejected. Cry. Groan. Pray. Then pick up the pieces and keep on going. Tomorrow is a new day with fresh mercies from the hand of God.

3. Trust the rhythm. The best juggling acts are those where the performer also keeps up a steady banter with the audience. How? By trusting the rhythm. After hours of practice, their body simply knows where to be in order to handle the cascading balls.

There is power in familiar routines like putting your keys in the same place every day, so take those small steps from point #1 and create habits. For example, by tossing a load into the washer before packing lunches, it is ready for the dryer when I head out with the carpool ... and ready to fold when I return. I take a half hour on Saturday to schedule social media updates for the week and then spend just fifteen minutes a day adding a few new pins, a relevant retweet, and interacting on Facebook. By trusting the routines, I know certain things will get done consistently.

4. Keep your focus on one thing at a time. Watch a juggler's eyes and you'll discover that they focus on one spot directly in front of them as each airborne object flies by. There are balls in each hand, some leaving, and some arriving ... but the juggler focuses on only one ball at a time.

My to-do list gets overwhelming, but once my day gets into motion, I try to focus on one thing at a time. Word counts accumulate during the quiet morning hours while the kids are at school followed by day job tasks once the creative well dwindles. A quick nap, then home, family, and social media after school, and catch-ups once the younger kids are in bed. Like juggling, I focus on the highest priority at the moment.

5. Stay relaxed. A juggler in proper position keeps their arms relaxed, only makes small movements, and certainly does not chase frantically after out-of-control objects. If a routine is falling apart, they stop, take a deep breath, gather their stuff, and then start again.

When my life gets out of control—and with a special needs hormonal teenaged daughter with autistic characteristics, it happens often!—I too can stop, take a deep breath, pray for wisdom, accept God's peace, and then carry on.

What about you? How well do you juggle? What's your secret to keeping multiple projects and responsibilities going at once?

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I gave myself permission to only get a few things done each day. Click to Tweet
Stop, take a breath, pray for wisdom, accept God's peace & carry on. Click to Tweet
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Candee Fick is a busy football coach's wife and mother to three including one with a rare genetic syndrome. In addition to her day job summarizing asbestos depositions for an industrial hygiene company, she is pursuing her dream of someday writing full-time. While she has self-published a book for parents with special needs kids and several devotionals, she continues to hone her fiction craft. As a member of ACFW, she was the Genesis runner-up in women's fiction in 2009 and a Genesis semi-finalist in 2011.

You can find Candee's blog, Encouragement For The Journey, at www.CandeeFick.com

Making Lemonade: Parents Transforming Special Needs
 When life gives you lemons, how you approach, process, and transform them makes all the difference. Especially for parents facing the sour experiences of raising a child with developmental, behavioral, and/or health needs. Mirroring the steps of a recipe for making lemonade, this book covers the pucker reaction, emotional juicing process, adding sugar, watering down with life, stirring in a pitcher of support, chilling, sipping, and sharing. It incorporates practical strategies from a Christian worldview and the emotional stories of parents, including the author, busy in the kitchen of life.