Balance. Everyone seems to be seeking it. How do we balance our time and money, the two biggest struggles? My husband taught a Dave Ramsey financial course years ago, and we learned the tricks to keeping our finances straight. It’s all about budgeting and making a point of telling our money where to go. We can’t afford everything, so we have to choose where our priorities are.

The same pretty much goes for our time. I’m not saying you should write out a schedule of what you plan to do each day. A detailed budget works fine when it comes to money, but I’m not about to have a piece of paper dictate how I spend my day. As my husband loves to remind me, he’s a creature of habit and could easily live off of a planned time schedule. However, I have an extremely random personality. There is no orderly fashion in just about everything I do in life, and my poor husband comes home to the unknown every day. Some days I get up in a cleaning mood. Then there’s the baking days where I destroy my kitchen to fill my freezer, errand days, marketing days at my computer, and then there’s the writing binges where I barely take time to eat, much less cook a meal or clean something.

When I was in my early twenties (and I’m not going to say how long ago that was), I used to have a saying. Every day I made it a point to be the best I could be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Those were my four priorities, and although some days I did not work out or do anything to recharge in the other areas, I tried to keep a balance among them throughout the week.

What I’ve learned along this roller coaster ride called life, is that when I pay attention to those four priorities, I’m much more balanced and at peace. Any time I neglect any of those areas, my life slowly topples.

I’m only truly happy when I’ve balanced my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual state of being. So how do I do that when it always doesn’t come natural for me? That’s when I surround myself with the proper reading materials. I have books and magazines in just about every room of the house, and although I’ve not read half of them (I plan to), just seeing their covers or spines reminds me of what I need to do. I’ll read a quick article on exercise or healthy eating. If I’m really tired, I’ll pick up the book titled The World’s Healthiest Foods, and I’ll start highlighting like crazy. I know I’ll never memorize all the information in the book or any of the other health books I read, but it reminds me how I need to be living.

The same goes with my spiritual state. My house if filled with books and studies to support my faith. I have to feed my mind if I want to live the lifestyle I choose to believe in.

There are no books to help with your emotional state (except relaxing with a great fictional read). That only comes from taking care of yourself. Slow down and spend time with the ones you love. If you’re single, find a friend to laugh with, turn on your favorite music, sip a glass of wine or hot tea, light some candles, get a massage, or take a hot bath.  (Yes, I realize some of these are girly.  These are my loves.) Do something that makes you happy, even if you don’t feel like it at first. Just do it.

Then there’s the mental part of life. My husband and I are both avid learners. Almost every year we get into something new and start researching and studying it. Just last year, my husband took some Spanish classes and absorbed himself into the language. He learned it and moved on to learn something new. (Not to be a downer, but if he doesn’t use it, he’ll lose it. I majored in foreign language in college and lost everything I knew from lack of use.)

As for me, I spent my time last year taking classes and researching how to build a website and maintain it (not the funnest thing to learn). I continuously research marketing and things related to being an author. Honestly, there’s just not enough time in my life to study all I wish I could learn. To this day, I have a desire to learn kickboxing, yoga, belly dancing, photography, organic gardening, foreign language, and how to do advanced novel formatting and graphic arts. As you can see, I just don’t have the time for all that if I want to continue to write books for a living. I’ll just have to teach myself the basics when I can, and that’s how I balance the mental part of my life. I learn a little here and there. I never stop learning. (Oh, and my organic gardening is a total fail every year, but I never stop trying.)

I’m not saying to run to a bookstore and spend a lot of money, which is an extremely easy thing to do. However, I do advise you to spend some money on some reading materials. If you’re having trouble working out or eating healthy, grab a book or magazine and read some articles to jumpstart your mood. (It works!) Choose something you would like to learn and either take a class or start researching it online or in a book. (Just try to learn something.)  Read about what you have faith in so that you’ll know why you believe in it.  If you need an emotional break and some alone time, then take the time to rest–light those candles, and read a fictional book for fun. In fact, I know of a great one called Unexpected Metamorphosis. 🙂

Until next time, read a book and take a moment for yourself.  You’d be amazed at how everything will just fall into place!

Here are a few of my all-time favorites: