Balancing Act

This is going to be short and sweet since its Saturday and a busy sports day with my son Ty having a soccer game in ninety minutes and my high school freshman playing in a water polo game over on Bainbridge Island this afternoon which involves getting us all in the car, over to Seattle and in line for the ferry. But it’s a beautiful beautiful weekend and Surfer Ty is here for the next week (hurrah!) and I’m halfway done with the revisions on Shey’s book.

I continue to write really slow, focus divided by children, hotel, and fatigue. I don’t ever remember feeling so tired and think exercise would help pep me up but now when I have fifteen free minutes I just want to lie down and get a cat nap. As soon as we’re in house I must try to get baby Mac to start sleeping in longer stretches as he’s still up two to three times a night. Dread making him cry it out but I’m exhausted and think its nearly all sleep related.

I have a huge stack of books in my TBR pile. I carried them to Hawaii for the summer thinking that as soon as I finished writing Shey’s book I’d begin reading but there’s been no time yet. I keep adding to the pile–just bought another Georgette Heyer at Barnes & Noble two days ago–but have begun reading in pieces Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.  Have any of you read it?  It’s fantastic and reminds me so much of Ruiz’ The Four Agreements which helped me so much in 2004 and 2005 that I used the lessons to fuel Jackie’s changes in Flirting with Forty.

I love books that make me think, and challenge me to live more honestly and simply. It’s too easy to get caught up in the world and worry and fear. But fear doesn’t make anything work better and it diminishes peace and joy.

I do think it’s time to get back to exercising, too. I’ve lost some weight–not enough–but right now the exercise isn’t for my thighs as much as my head and emotions. Exercise is another of the things that helps clear my head, get me focused, and helps me feel mentally strong.

What do you do to get centered? What helps you keep your priorities straight? Share your thoughts with me in a comment and one of you will win a fun prize of a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card, a $15 Starbucks drink card, some indulgent bath products and Jane Porter reader goodies. The contest ends Monday night midnight and I’ll announce the winner Tuesday morning. So talk to me and you’re entered!


  1. Jane,
    I know you already have done this twice, so you probably know what works for you, but I really liked The Baby Sleep Solution by Suzy Giordano. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it worked for us.
    It was “cry it out”, but not cry it out all the way which I liked. 😉
    As for what gets me centered, sleep definitely helps! I also find I’m much happier as a stay at home mom now that I get up and run or write first thing in the morning and worry about the housework and other stuff later. It’s just nice to feel like I’m starting the day with something that is just for me, even if sometimes I do curse the alarm going off oh so early in the morning.

  2. Gosh I remember feeling so sleep deprived. You know, in any other situation, sleep deprivation is considered torture-:) I try to work out at least three mornings a week at 5am before I get ready for work. Right now I’m doing the Jillian Michaels circuit training videos and I like the challenge. Also, the exercise just helps with the stress and my mood, so I understand what you mean about exercising for other reasons than your thighs!

  3. Feeling like I need both sleep and exercise myself, but trying to work it into this busy back-to-school schedule is a job in itself.

    If you find the magic solution, would you please share it with us?

    Thanks also for the tips on the couple of books to read…I’m going to see if either are available at the library today.

    Have fun with the boys this weekend!

  4. I put my kids to bed at 7 so that I can have quit time. The first thing I do is finish up any work that I have. I am weird that way but working helps my accomplish something so I end the night on a good note. I am a stay at home mom, I am parent liaison for my youngest son’s school so getting volunteers together and planning events doesn’t take a … Read Morelot of time but it gives me something outside the house to do. Getting stuck in the house with out a little variation can really throw me off balance. Focusing on something other then the kids or housework allows me to shift gears and when I am done get back to neutral. Then I read, and read and read!! Oh and my guilty pleasure are two of my groups on! Gotta love my girl talk!

    Hope you get some rest soon and recharge!

  5. Good morning Jane! :0)

    Hope you had an enjoyable day at the soccer and water polo games.

    I have found that taking drives around scenic spots with a favorite cd (or my iPod now) is a real relaxer for me. When I lived in VA there were these great hilly spots I would speed over that would make my stomach drop like on roller coaster rides – it was a great rush without the amusement park expense, lol.

    Other little things that center me are going to the bookstores (again, with the drive and the music); watching a good movie with a big bowl of hot-air popped popcorn w/real butter, a nice glass of chenin blanc wine and a scented Canary Island Banana candle burning.

    On the exercise front, I have really enjoyed the P90X workout dvd set. I don’t think I’ve ever done a workout that has completely exhausted me or made me sweat so much in my life! It definitely gives me more energy though after the fact. And the pace isn’t outlandish :0)

  6. What helps me get centered is spending time with close girlfriends. There is a group of us (7) that get together each summer and spend a long weekend in Cannon Beach, OR, in a rental house on the beach. We talk, laugh, eat, play games, etc. non stop. It recharges my batteries.

  7. Hi Jane!

    I would be lost without my planner… so that really keeps me organized. As for staying motivated, my friends and family really keep me going. Without their support I would be lost!!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  8. I totally remember being sleep deprived. The only thing that worked for me was sleeping with my kids, which doesn’t work for everyone. I found that I did get a lot more sleep than I would have otherwise. The only thing bad about that is that they still want to sleep with me and I have 2 eight year olds and a six yr old 🙂

    As for me, I hate exercise, but I do walk once and awhile. Plus, I also write, so I’ve yet to work out a schedule where I can fit everything in. Besides working in the classrooms, keeping house, taking care of the kids, etc – there’s just not a lot of time left for me. And I’m not a morning person, so getting up early to exercise wouldn’t work. I’m trying yoga out next week with my husband, so we’ll see how it goes. He’s a waterskier and always looking for the perfect way to keep in shape.

    So for me, exercise is most likely what I need, but finding the time (and energy) is the challenge. Also, living in the NW can be tough because we don’t have a lot of sun.

  9. I remember those days! And now my baby is having a baby! It will be my first grandchild. I wish she were in a better position financially, and that is making me stressed. For me, my yoga class really helps although I have even been blowing that off lately. But enough of that–I need to get back to it.

    It’s almost a cliche now, but Dr. Richard Ferber’s book on getting children to sleep through the night helped with my second who was still getting up every two hours at nine months. Three days and she was sleeping through the night!

  10. After my kids are in bed at night I try to do something for myself. I either sit back and relax with a good book or scrapbook for a couple hours. My favorite thing to do to keep myself centered is to get a massage. If I could afford to do this daily, trust me, I would! 🙂

  11. Well, exercise does always help clear my head – but I hate it and I’m woefully bad at doing it, so I don’t think I can really lame claim to it. Which only makes it ridiculous that I led with it.

    I sing. I sing all the time. I don’t mean that euphemistically, I really do sing all the time. I’ve woken myself up from sleep singing, I sing in my dreams, I sing in the office, I sing in the aisles at the grocery song (usually along with the muzak); it’s what I do. I sing next to hospital beds, I sing pacing emergency rooms (can you tell where I spent most of 2008?), I sing when I can’t sleep, I sing in traffic jams (often that’s when the hard, nasty rock starts blaring), I just sing. It centers me, it challenges me, it gives me pleasure and focus.

    It soothes my soul. I guess that makes me the savage beast, but then, the beast is often the most interesting character in the story. 🙂

    Glad you feeling even a little bit more yourself. Sing a little. Trust me. It works.

  12. Jane, I SO hear you with the sleep deprivation. My Anna woke up every 2 hours until she was 8 months old. We eventually did let her cry it out, but a book that helped was Elizabeth Pantley’s The No-Cry Sleep Solution… but you have to be committed to the idea, which isn’t always easy when you’d–like me–do *anything* to get a few hours’ straight sleep.

    To relax I read and I also pray. Long walks are good too. 🙂

  13. Hi Jane!

    How interesting that I do NOT have a new baby and the greatest voids in my life are sleep and exercise! Hmmmm…something has GOT to give here.

    Exercise does really help me. I must get back to it. Nothing fancy, just put on some work out stuff, grab Lucy (the Beagle) and her leash and we’re good to go! She’s such a trooper! Loves to go out and walk with me; doesn’t care if its cold or hot, dark or light.

    In fact, one or two mornings when I’ve had to slip out without her (not to walk but to go somewhere super early), I would put my clothes in another room. She’ll go back to sleep if I leave the room in my pajamas. If she sees me get dressed (in any capacity) at that early hour, she’s ON me and will bark if I don’t take her! LOL (although my husband is not lol-ing when that happens).

    Take care Jane!! Enjoy having all your boys in one place!

  14. Hi Jane,

    Mac is looking gorgeous!

    I feel your pain with the sleep deprivation. We’re starting to plan for #2, and it took me two years to even think of #2 after #1 because I was so tired!

    What do I do to get my head and emotions on track? I’m with you with the exercise–I call it my physical multivitamin. Gotta have it to stay healthy.

    I also believe in picking up a comfort read. Something I know I love and have probably read five times already. Revisit my favorite imaginary people. Makes me feel great, even if I do have my own book deadline looming.


  15. My son hated to sleep (still does!). I tried everything, including letting him cry it out. But seriously, he would cry for hours (if not all night) days on end and eventually we couldn’t do it anymore. I really felt like I was going crazy. I brought him into bed with us and it helped tremendously, especially for me as I was working full time teaching children.

    What helps me get centered? Yes, running. I used to be in the best shape, but after many unsuccessful IVF’s, I kind of gave up on everything. Now, finally, I am back to it, training for a 5K. I invited my sisters and a friend so as to king of force me to keep the commitment. It’s working.

    What also helps center me…. a glass of wine or a cold beer while sitting on my deck feeling the evening breeze on my face as the neighborhood settles in for the evening.

    Hang in there girl, you’ve got a lot on your plate!

  16. After a stressful day I like to light an aromatherapy candle, sit back with a warm drink (usually chocolate),put my feet up and reach for a good book to take me away.

  17. White ,beautiful candles,preferably butterfly flowers or something very serene. A few minutes to meditate (which is rare) and just a thankfulness for all I have in my life! I started the treadmill today,which is 6 months overdue. My commitment to myself for taking time to help myself. As MOMS we deserve it!!! Hang in there Jane!

  18. Hi!

    Good luck with the sleep deprivation. I too was in that boat. When I had to wean my first-born, I realized that he wasn’t getting enough milk from me. Once he started drinking from a bottle, he got enough milk and slept through the night. Wish I’d done it sooner — or at least supplemented my own supply with bottles. Live and learn!

    Please please please don’t start sleeping with Mac. We know a 7-year-old who still does this. It’s a bad habit to start. Yes, it has immediate gratification, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet. If you DO have to let him cry it out, perhaps you could handle it in shifts so not as upsetting for the parents. I remember going through this. It was heartbreaking, but OOOOOOHHHHHH so worth it — for both the baby and the parents.

    I wish you much luck and lots of rest. Remember: “this too will pass” and “keep a stiff upper lip” (or something like that). Also realize: when Mommy is upset (re lack of sleep, being overwhelmed, tense, etc.), then BABY is upset. So take care of yourself and Mac will be fine. Honest.

  19. Hiya Jane!

    I think as soon as you’re in your own home it will help you ever so much to get a little more centered! I just went through a move myself- and for the first time in a long time I feel relaxed!

    What gets me centered? I have a stressful job- when I get off work I come home from work- read and see all the horrible things happening around the world and that truly helps me feel…… well….. blessed.

    Also! Tanning does it! Its a 20 minutes of pure alone time, you can’t be bothered by a thing! So turn on some tunes! Slather on some banana boat! And dont forget your eyewear! Ultra pro beds are the best!

    🙂 Goodluck!

  20. Hi Jane,
    I remember those days of exhaustion and taking the baby for a walk usually helped me get my focus back. Now that my kids are grown I will use the treadmill and do some housework (which I hate) but it does help me think.

  21. Cleaning house helps me. Which, if you saw my house at the moment, might explain why I feel all scattered. It’s not my favorite thing to do – I don’t look forward to it and it’s the easiest thing to put off. But just getting down and doing it helps clear my head and get things more in focus.

  22. Try to nap as much as possible. Get to bed early in the evening as well and exercise is a great way to restore equilibrium into your life and gain more energy. Mac looks adorable.

  23. Some of the things that help me is reading a good book, exercise and just relaxing with friends. I have one good friend that lives an hour away, so I’ll go and visit her and we’ll have spa days or game days, where we’ll go and watch the Atlanta Braves. Good times!

    BTW- Baby Mac is SO cute!!

  24. My big kitchen calendar keeps me on time. I even schedule big chores on the calendar.
    I like to clean and organize the house to help clear my mind and settle me down. when the house is organized everything else seems to fall into place. I have a pond out back, I like to go feed the fish and ducks, that really mellows me out.

  25. Hi Jane ~ sounds like your fall is off and running like most of us. I hope all went well this weekend. I have been feeling out of sorts lately and have come to realize that I haven’t read a book in several weeks nor went running. I need to do both to feel better about me. I cherish time listening to music on my son’s iPod and running near water in our subdivision. Seeing natural water areas is so soothing to me. We have some financial difficulties looming and I hope that the peace running brings me will help. I’ve done those P90X workouts too and they are intense!

    Having my house somewhat in order and clean makes me feel more calm too. Seems with the kids home all summer none of that gets done.

    Did get to go to the Richmond Nascar race last night with the family for free and even got to see the All American Rejects perform. It was awesome!

    Have a great week.

  26. I can remember being that tired when I had my son, because I worked full time, kept the house up and cooked about everyday, and I was 35 years old at the time. The older we get the harder it is I think.

    Some things that help me is to take a nice long walk to get my head straight. Although this weekend my older sister, niece and I went and spent the weekend with younger sister. It was an all ladies weekend no husbands or kids and we had a ball. Yep it was so nice to just get away for a while.

  27. Exercise always helps me get my head straight. I have really taken a liking to it over the past year. It’s what I do when I am stressed and it’s what really works well for me when I am really angry. It used to be I would eat to deal with my emotions, but I have tried to switch that over to exercise now. It has definitely worked for me for the most part!

    Hope you are able to get things more balanced and find time to do things that center you!

    Blessings to you!

  28. I am at the opposite end of the spectrum, with an “empty nest” and too quiet evenings. What I like to do is to take a walk after dinner, and I try to get my husband to come but when he doesn’t that is ok because I take my music and listen and walk faster. I have to resist just curling up with a book and escaping into others’ more interesting lives but I don’t read until it gets dark. Weekends I look forward to hiking and shopping and seeing people. I look back to the days of babies and constant demands wistfully, but I am content that I loved that life and gave it my all when I lived it. Life is constant changes.

  29. Hi Jane! I would have to say exercise is my best defense. It seems to help clear my head. I really can’t lie though, to keep my head really straight, I have to have my coffee…simple but a must! I hope you get some well deserved sleep soon!

  30. Reading, crocheting and anything creative… If I could find the time, I think yoga would be good 🙂 Sleep and lots of sleep helps too.

    It is amazing though how a smile from my children puts everything in perspective and balance… family always comes first 🙂

  31. How do I get centered? I pray. And I remind myself what I consider what’s most important in life and I go from there. Funny you mentioned the Four Agreements – I need to reread it,,,I need a refresher.

    I hope you had a great weekend with the boys. I had a blast with my sister in law at the Hudson Valley Food and Wine Festival. Great weather, great food and wine and excellent company.

  32. I have been under a lot of stress lately. Have to drive to California again this weekend to take care of things for Dad. Knowing that he is d-ing…can’t always say it, well, I am an only child and not doing well about it.

    Walking usually works for me but lately I just look outside and sigh. It is hard to think about starting.

    For now, my 2 year old granddaughter is what does it for me. She brings me out of my depression, makes me happy and we have a blast!

    BTW, I have GOT to get over to Bainbridge Island. Keep meaning to. It’s been ages since I took a ferry ride anywhere.

  33. I keep centered by listening to nature music, sitting back in the recliner with my eyes shut.

    How nice that Ty is there with you again.

  34. You have the most energy of anyone that I know….Mac is getting so big (and way too cute), you are getting smaller and life is good. We just got back from the beach which was cold, windy, gray and raining, but we had fun. I love knowing how you’re doing and it’s wonderful that you consistently interact with us. Good luck with all the Shey stuff, your family and all the other little things you let yourself enjoy. Until next time…Ruth

  35. Jane, I don’t know how you handle it all. You have an awful lot on your plate right now. Like others here, I recommend napping, taking a walk with Mac, and reading a romance novel that you can lose yourself in for a while. Maybe you could try playing some relaxing music for yourself and for Mac. Sending hugs your way! 🙂

  36. Hi Jane,
    I have to admit it, exercise is the thing that keeps me sane and grounded. When I am in a routine, it seems to take only two days to get in the rhythm, my mind is so much clearer, more relaxed and able to roll with the punches. I also love reading but that doesn’t seem to alleviate the stress like the exercise does. I do 20 minutes every day, Cindy Whitmarsh from ExerciseTV is my hero, and I feel and look better than I ever have even during my pre-baby days. It is amazing.

    I am sending you my good thoughts and wishes hoping you find a few minutes for you today.

    A big hug to you!

  37. THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle really helps center me. I bought the audio version (love his voice!). And I love his first line, which goes something like this…remember, you are not the think-ah. (great accent!!) Any time my mind gets rolling with worry and plain mental junk, I step outside myself and remind myself I am already whole, already part of a perfectly designed universe, and I can lean back and rest in that knowledge.

  38. Jane,
    In two words yoga and husband. Yoga helps me focus and get centered. It is impossible to think of other things while doing yoga plus it does wonderful things for your body. My husband keeps me from spending too much money on our kids which is never a good idea.The best advice I ever received was spoil your spouse not your kids.
    Hope you have a great week.Things will get better.

  39. Great post from such a busy lady…I walk or some form of movement, iPod glued to ears w/ contemplative music.

    Currenty reading Field Notes on the Compassionate Life by Marc Ian Barasch. I also like books that make me think. 🙂

    As for keeping my priorities straight – Hmmm, still workin’ on that one.

  40. What gets me centered? Wow, it seems nothing these days because I’m so busy with the move and getting settled into our new home 2500 miles from my comfort zone. But right now I find that writing is saving my sanity. Focusing on edits and using my creativity seems to help me relax and be able to get through another day.

  41. I can certainly relate to the sleep deprivation… I had my four kids in six years and it felt like I didn’t sleep properly until the last was sleeping her nights… it’s long while you’re struggling with it.

    Exercise helps, it’s just finding the energy to start. It also helps with your body image. I also tried to find time to read and take a few minutes for myself, but they were few and far between. My husband travelled a lot and the days were long.

    I don’t know how you’re doing it in a hotel, being at home is much easier. I hope little Mac gets his sleeping in sync with yours and you are able to catch up on much-needed ZZZZs.

  42. Lord I remember those says!!Nursing every 2 hours around the clock. Oh, Jane, I feel for you!!
    I act in community theater. Something about being someone else helps. Plus, on stage, people listen to me!!

  43. Oh, a baby in a hotel…not fun. I was always hyper aware that other people might be able to hear her and so I tried to keep her quiet…I find I can let her fuss more in her own crib, in our own house, where the only one paying for the space are her people, you know?

    You’re the 2nd person to tell me to exercise today. So I know you didn’t ‘tell’ me…but it’s there, underlying…I’m putting the baby in the stroller and doing the hills at the zoo tomorrow 🙂

  44. When I am stressed I take a nap or take a few minutes to do something fun – like dinner out (instead of cooking) or just being silly with my kids. I feel more focused when I get back to whatever I was working on. Good luck with the exercise I wish I was more motivated to get back to it.

  45. Hey Jane, I think you nailed it exercise, even going for a 1/2 hour walk and taking deep breaths when you are doing it. Put on some headphones and get lost in some music it refreshes you especially if the weather is great and you feel alot better.
    Good Luck! Your little guy is adorable!

  46. Congrats to our winner! #25, Holly Kinsey, you have won the fun goodies. Do send me a private email as soon as you can with your mail address and I’ll get the gift cards and bath stuff in the next mail!

    Congrats again and thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts. I have, by the way, just purchased every baby sleep book mentioned! I will get Mac to sleep better soon. 🙂



  47. I work from home also. I typically get one child on the bus in the morning then take the preschooler to daycare. I work for a couple of hours. Around 10 I grab a book and head downstairs to my elliptical trainer and run 5 miles for 45 minutes while getting some reading done! Then it’s time for a shower and lunch and back to work! I love the reading and exercise thing; it helps kill that feeling like a hamster on a training wheel!

    I thought I’d pass this on since your lamenting about a pile TBR books and needing exercise!

    Good Luck!

  48. I get myself centered by getting either on my tread mill, or taking a walk outside and enjoy the fresh air and thanking God for all the blessings he gives everyday. I give thanks to God everyday,I take a few minutes of each day. It makes my day alot better.

  49. PS I just read Mrs. Perfect and LOVE LOVE LOVED it! I’m glad I read Odd Mom Out first. It was just by chance that that happened. I loved that too. When I started reading Mrs. Perfect and you started talking about Taylor and then Jemma I was thinking-“That’s interesting- Jane must really like those names.” Then I got it that you were doing a story from the standpoint of the opposite character of the main character of Odd Mom Out! And I was impressed! Totally opposite people! To get in the head of both and do a whole book from each one’s head— wow! That was cool! And very imaginative! I thought I really related to Marta while reading Odd Mom Out- and also didn’t like Taylor at all. Then to my surprise I was sympathetic toward Taylor after all and even related to the shopaholic part of her! I loved the section when she went to the little knick knack store and bought a couple hundred bucks worth of nothing necessary- I use to do that all the time! Bags and bags of crate and barrel outlet store stuff!!!! I would say I’m only gonna look for fun… but then I’d end up with 3 big bags full… every time! It was a great character. And I love how you had everything from a truck driver, ex-con to the binge a purge characterization! Quite the spectrum! But I thought that was really neet to see the world through 2 totally different people’s eyes… and remember- sometimes the people that look perfect on the outside and act very snotty and conceited are the ones that are really suffering the most- so try to be kind to the people that really annoy you- you never know what’s going on for them deep down.

  50. I really liked Ekhardt Tolle’s book A New Earth. I got it on CD too so when we’re driving somewhere and the kids conk out in the back I can listen and (try to) absorb the lessons. It’s a lot to take in. I think snippets are the way to go. You can soak in a bit here, soak in a bit there.
    Good Luck on the sleep!

  51. I like to think reading helps me get centered but once I’m done I kind of scramble more to get things done because I read for way to long. What actually helps is for me to make a list of things I need to do before I go to sleep and then I stay up thinking of all the things I need to get done, it actually helps me sleep better. Now I just need to actually do the things I list on there. he he he

  52. I love to go for a run. It clears my mind, makes me feel rejeuvinated and ready to take on what ever was the problem. It just seems to pound all the problems away!

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