Why colouring might help me get my work/life balance in order

You know that thing called work/life balance? I don't do that very well.

It goes like this: for two months I get up raring to go. I gallop through the day, achieving All Of The Things All Day and use every spare ten minute slot I can squeeze to do important and very necessary work. I do this for six days a week, for eight straight weeks (on the seventh days I walk around annoyed and irritated because I am making myself rest) and then I fall in a heap.

Falling in a heap usually means feeling virusy and yuck for about four days, and spending most of that time in bed feeling sorry for myself and cranky that yet again, I have managed to not work to a pace that I can handle, and have forgotten to feel my feelings, even when I know not doing that makes me sick and pain-filled.

Occasionally there are people who will try to take me in hand.

One of these lovelies asked me this week (because this is when I fell in a heap) lots of questions about why I choose to do this, and what am I actually trying to achieve and did I really think that it's sustainable in the long term?

(The answer to the first two are complex and have to do with personality and core beliefs, yada yada yada , combined with a great deal of anxiety about what I'm going to do when I don't have kids at home, and I just don't want to go get a proper job, so I need to make this working from home thing actually pay. The answer to the last question is obviously 'no, it's not sustainable.' But honestly? I'm not sure how to change things yet.)

I did announce at my writers' group that I had made a big decision; I would be changing something in my day so that I had more downtime.

"What are you going to do?" they said.

"I'm going to take the time to breathe 20 deep breaths," I said. They raised their eyebrows in anticipation. "Every day." 

They laughed. "Only once a day? You're nuts."

I'm the one who should have laughed. I didn't even remember to do it one time yesterday!

Anyway. Clearly, I need to sort this out, or I'm going to end up as some kind of workaholic/sick/crazy woman, so I took some time out today to do some colouring in of my newly published 'Meditations' book. It's colouring plus Bible verses, drawn by a very talented artist, Lorien Atwood, and it's been my pride and joy to publish. I've coloured every picture at every stage of the book probably 10 times over, but I decided to start again, to do it in my very own copy of the book, not just on scrappy printouts, and this time to use pencils, not pens, because it will take longer. After all, I'll need time to get those 20 breaths in, right?

It's amazing how sitting down thinking over some beautiful words and making beautiful art can get your brain working in different (beautiful?) ways. 

The first verse I picked was this one: "There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out all fear". As I coloured, I pondered the love I give out and the love I take in, and just how much fear is involved in all of it. With my kids, it's a fear of "are they going to be okay?" "Have I done enough?" "How do I get them to do X,Y or Z?" If I loved them perfectly, would I be afraid? Is worry just fear? Is it ever really needed? What kind of person would I be if I didn't hold on to any fear at all?

And then I thought about God's love for me; if I really took that on board, would I have so much fear in my life - even about things like working from home vs getting a 'real job', and why am I fearing not being able to pay bills anyway? Who am I trusting? What am I trusting them for? When it comes down to it, what I am fearing and why, and will more deeply knowing God's love and grace change that? Why wouldn't it?

As I colour and meditate, things start to un-knot a little inside. I'm really good at winding those knots tight; I'm not so good at unravelling and teasing it all out, let alone reorganising and keeping it sorted out over the long term.

I'm going to keep colouring and finish my book. As I go, I'll post my pictures and my thoughts up here and tell you how I'm going with my ridiculous self-imposed schedule of panic. 


Oh, and just to answer what may be an FAQ: You can get your copy of the Meditations book here.

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