Monday, July 18, 2011

Finding Balance While Juggling Life—by Karen Walker

Please join me in welcoming my friend Karen Walker to the blog.

I love visiting Karen’s blog, Following the Whispers, because it’s a quiet oasis in my busy day. She helps me to think about life in a new light—and I appreciate her perspective. I’ve read her memoir and found it truly inspirational. Thanks for coming by today, Karen!

IMG_3993I became a mom in 1973. We’d been through the Civil Rights Movement, the Womens’ movement, the Viet Nam War. And the Mommy Wars--which, unfortunately, still exist--although it doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue as it was back then.

When I gave birth, I was 24 years old chronologically, but not in maturity. I didn’t have a sense of self, so trying to juggle my own needs with that of a baby and a husband and friends, etc. wasn’t even in my consciousness. I was pretty much on auto-pilot, trying to keep my head above water.

Today, it is common for women to either work outside the home, or, as writers do, work at home, while raising our children, caring for our husbands, and maintaining a household.

The key to juggling all of the above is balance. They tell you when you are on an airplane to put your own oxygen on first, before helping anyone else. There is a reason for this. If you become unconscious, you are of no use to anyone. We must put our own well-being first. I wish I’d known this years ago--it would have saved me years of misery.

When we have kids, this can be most challenging, because we all know, if a child needs something, we drop everything to deal with it. So it becomes a matter of priorities. And the ages of our children and what they can manage on their own versus what needs our immediate attention.

The way I find balance is to only have a few key things I want to accomplish each day. That way, I don’t overwhelm myself and can feel successful, rather than a failure because I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I make priorities of those few things. On some days, only one or two things get done. The next day, the priorities shift so I can focus on what didn’t get done the day before.

Another key to finding and keeping balance is learning to say no. Even to our husbands. And yes, even to our children. Because saying no to someone else is saying yes to ourselves. This is not selfish, as we may have been taught. It is crucial to inner peace and well-being.

To summarize, get clear about what is important to you. Make the time to do it. Say no to non-crisis distractions. And learn to balance your priorities so that you feel successful.

Elizabeth, you seem to juggle your life beautifully. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to blog here about such an important issue.


Karen clip_image004Karen Walker is a writer who has published essays in newspapers and magazines, as well as an anthology series. After a 30+ year career in marketing and public relations, she went back to college to complete a Bachelor's degree and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005 from the University of New Mexico's University Studies program with a major emphasis in Creative Writing. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband, Gary, and their dog, Buddy. When she’s not writing, you can find her doing international folk dancing, singing at retirement communities with her trio, Sugartime, hiking, reading, or hanging out with friends.

You can find Following the Whispers: at: