Keeping The Spirit Alive

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Making Bone Broth

Making Bone Broth

In the past few months I’ve been a bit OCD about keeping up with what’s next on my to-do list. I’ve been pushing myself and being ultra serious about going beyond what is possible in order to get my book off the ground. I’ve been working nonstop and getting tired of it all. It’s what I tend to do when I’ve got something big going on. Whether being a caretaker to my mother, or getting my my book off the ground, I always overdo.

After the book launch, which I enjoyed immensely, I had a hard time separating myself from my book. I asked, What happens now? Do I go back to the way I used to live my days, taking breaks to read a good novel, taking long walks, napping, and keeping my garden tended and in bloom?

I’ve been very tired, needing time to process what has been happening and where I am today. I’ve kept finding more things to do to keep my memoir in the forefront … writing new content, doing more guest blog posts and updating my website … never feeling satisfied with what I’ve done.

When I’ve thought about taking a break I felt guilty. I’d invested so much time and energy in this project, how could I not keep up the momentum in order to make my book a success?

In the meantime I forgot about some very important things. I neglected to take care of myself, my home, and my relationships. I hadn’t seen friends in a very long time. I’d been too busy to go out to lunch or have a cup of tea with those I’ve missed being with. I didn’t take time to water the garden when it was noticeably wilting. I started binging on chocolate and did everything I could to keep my eyelids propped open when I really needed to take a nap. I felt very resentful when I needed to cook a meal, do the laundry, or go grocery shopping. I don’t normally dislike doing those things and actually love to cook. If someone asked me for help, I got pissy. Don’t they know I’ve got work to do?

Experiencing more anxiety and imbalance than ever, I’m slowly coming to my senses. I’ve declared my home a NO SHOULD ZONE. If I feel I need to take a nap, I take a nap. If I can’t wait to get into that great book I’ve been longing to read, I start reading. I do a little bit of book promotion, write a blog post, take care of a few chores, and then give myself a reward.

Laughing through a facial.

Laughing through a facial.

This past week I took time for a pedicure and facial. I had lunch with a dear friend I haven’t seen in years. (We live less than two miles apart.) I took time to clean out the freezer. I put all of the roasted chicken carcasses I’d been saving into a big pot, along with an onion, carrots, celery, lots of herbs, dried mushrooms, and a few other secret ingredients, and simmered it on the back of the stove for the better part of a day.  As a result I’ve replenished the empty shelves in my freeze with healing soup stock. It all felt so good and my malaise about doing anything that felt like work began to ebb. In taking life too seriously and burning myself out with unending work is not helping me live a balanced life.

It feels wonderful to just putter through my days. Birthing my book has been a long row to hoe, but it’s done and it’s time to relax. I am by no means planning to stop the continued work that still needs to be done, but taking time to watch the sun rise, share laughter with a friend, or keep the garden well tended is as necessary as writing new content to keep my book in the forefront. And it keeps my psyche running smoothly.

How about you? How do you keep your life well balanced and your spirit alive?


If you missed it check out my guest blog post over at Susan Widener’s blog Women’s Writing Circle, here.  It’s about writing difficult stories.


  1. Love this Joan. Thank you. I also have been going through a very similar thing. Major ‘Burn out’ happened to me recently but with my art business , so I decided to once and for all retire from being a travelling artist. (I have more time to devote to my writing and working on selling art from home. YEAH). I realized I was NOT taking time to ‘chill’ and it was dangerous. I have a poem in my next book called “Beyond Burn out’ that talks about this. It IS a balancing act for sure. Also, I’ve been eating a lot more chocolate! haa. I appreciate your blog post. It is something I am also working on. I think so many are going through this now.

  2. Wow, this all sounds so familiar. When we stop taking care of ourselves, we feel the effects, and so does everyone else around us!
    I love the idea of a NO SHOULD ZONE. I imagine you have the same narrative in your head that I do…mine is more of a I NEED TO…start dinner, go grocery shopping, clean the closet, do the laundry, pay some bills, make a few phone calls, groom the dog…yada yada!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Oh yes, Becca, I also use, I NEED TO, whatever comes into my head and it makes me crazy. Yes, lots of yada, yada yada! It’s time to get rid of it!

  3. Joan Rough says:

    Thanks, Michelle. Burn-0ut is dangerous if we let it take over and destroy our balance and creativity. And our society demands we work more, faster, and without giving thought to who we really are. Being a traveling artist is hard work. When I was a weaver I went to one craft show after another land felt like a gypsy. I think your wise to just work from home.

  4. Good for you Joan. We all deserve nourishment and restoration now and again
    When my hubby was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer earlier this year I made gallons of bone broth. It was very therapeutic to take action when the world seemed so out of control.
    He is still here … and we are still eating the bone broth.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Val, I’m so happy to hear that and I hope your husbands health continues to be well and that you keep making the bone broth. Cooking, for me, especially something so healing, is therapeutic and creative and I don’t want to take that out of my days. Blessing to you and yours.

  5. Good for you for taking care of yourself, Joan. I find that there is only so much an author can do to promote her book. Then we have to trust that the book will have a life of its own, and that the people who want to read it (or are meant to read it), will read it.

    When we had babies it changed our lives. Eventually, we had to remember to take care of our own needs, and not just the baby’s. Books are like that, too.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Saloma, You are so right about books being like babies and that we learned to take care of ourselves, despite their presence. I am doing that all over again and very happy to be doing so!

  6. Your photo alone is a lesson in self-care. Love it!

  7. Love this, Joan, especially the photo of you “laughing through a facial”! You are so right, if we don’t take care of our own needs, we can’t take care of the rest of our lives. Here’s to self-care!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Kathy, I must say that I don’t think that is the best photo ever taken of me, but it does illustrate that self-care is a must. Without it, what good are we??

  8. Joan — I love, Love, LOVE the self-care photo of you “laughing through a facial.” It’s contagious and made me laugh too!

  9. Good for you Joan. I have yet to find a balance. I’m working, reading blogs, writing, promoting most days and nights. I need to start thinking about living before it passes by. 🙂

    • Joan Rough says:

      Debby, I hope you find it soon before it’s too late. But it also sounds like your enjoying what you are doing. That makes a huge difference.

  10. Loved that smile of yours beaming out through the facial, Joan. Thanks.

  11. Thank you, Janet!

  12. I”m sitting here in Minnesota smiling too, Joan. A facial would feel good right about now. I’m missing my every-other-week massages.

    Love the soup, too! Just the thing for cold weather around the corner here.

  13. Joan Rough says:

    I think you’ll see the cold long before we do. I hope you’re being fed good cold weather fare, especially soup!