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Wednesday, February 25, 2015


photo credit: © Andres Rodriguez
Susan Lohrer is a contemporary romance author who writes about families bumbling through crazy situations. Learn more about Susan and her books at her website

A Well-Balanced Life
How often have we heard from the experts that we should eat more of this, never eat that, and start regularly doing something that pretty much feels like torture? Every day, right? And then every few years, the experts change their minds and tell us the opposite. Argh. In the last few decades, we’ve gone from “Fat and cholesterol are going to be the death of us all” to “Meh, that stuff doesn’t matter as much as we thought, and you should be eating bacon and eggs.” Not only that, but studies have discovered that an aggressive running program (think marathon runners here, people we’ve long thought of as probably some the healthiest folks out there) actually shortens your life.

So what can we learn from observing the ebb and flow of expert health advice?

1. They’re all quacks and we should just do whatever we want.

2. They know best, and we need to stick with whatever the current trend is, no matter how yucky or difficult.

3. We (hopefully) are equipped with enough common sense to interpret the stream of information for ourselves and understand that we need… balance.

Whoa, when I finally realized that I could choose between making myself crazy trying to do everything the way someone else said I should do it… and living a balanced life, did it ever take some stress off.

Mind you, balance can be a tricky thing. Whether we’re stay-at-home moms or we work outside the home, we can get so caught up in chasing our dreams, our lives become the chase. And is that what we had in mind when the dream began? Probably not. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve worked outside the home. And it can get crazy—never mind being all things to all people, most of us are doing all that while tracking our calories and potassium intake (you can substitute your favorite health trend for potassium) on a smartphone app. It’s nuts. How do we balance all the important aspects of our lives?

We have to understand one key concept: We can’t achieve our dreams by piling so much on ourselves that we lose balance.

Because just like it’s now a bad idea to run excessively (thank goodness), it’s unhealthy to do anything to excess. Even good stuff like reading, knitting, and watching our nutrition. What good is it to spend so much time reading about the world that you don’t ever really live in it? To knit the most beautiful sweaters but never make time to bundle up and walk your dog? To eat only healthy foods and never enjoy an ice cream cone on a summer day with your best friend?

We need balance. Our dreams need balance. And yes, for the writers out there (myself included), our writing needs balance! The formula for success as an author or any creative person always includes a body of solid work; and I believe with all my heart that the secret ingredient in that formula is not spending 20 hours a day slaving over a computer keyboard—it’s making time to write daily without sacrificing every last moment of time with family and friends… or without sacrificing, say, a good night’s sleep. To create meaningfully, we first need to really live.

Now, I have many things to accomplish today and only a few hours in which to do them. I’ll get a lot done. I’ll write a few pages of my next book. I’ll try not to get fired (again) by my daughter who has Down syndrome and doesn’t approve of the fact that my job includes waking her up in the morning. I’ll drop everyone off and take myself to work. I’ll come home and make dinner and put away the laundry. But first? The sun is shining, and I’m going to go outside and take a little walk with my dog.

A Gift for Chloe
Her carefully ordered world is turning upside down…

Linda is the one who holds her family together. She’s an absolute rock—at least, she was until her daughter announced her pregnancy (wait, isn’t 40 way too young to become a grandmother?) and delivered the news that the baby has Down syndrome.

Now she finds herself standing in the middle of a bookstore, floundering to regain her equilibrium as her carefully ordered world tumbles willy-nilly around her. Instead of making a relatively simple decision about which book to buy, she’s spent an hour waffling between two titles and trying (and failing) to come to grips with this new reality she hasn’t had nearly enough chance to prepare for. It’s not that she hasn’t already fallen head over heels in love with baby Chloe, but this is something she’s not equipped to handle—she can’t even choose a self-help book on the subject, for goodness’ sake.

Her friends and the medical professionals blithely insist she’ll forget all about special needs the moment she sees her grandchild for the first time. Even the too-good-to-be-true, optimistic fellow customer she encounters in the aisle of the bookstore seems to think she’s worried over nothing.

This handsome stranger is obviously compassionate and knows a lot about Downs, but Linda is in no way interested in striking up a conversation with him, let alone a friendship, no matter how intriguing he is… until he performs a random act of kindness she can’t ignore.


Kathye Quick said...

Great advice and thank you for it. Balance is something I need. I'm going to use this for inspiration and a touch of sanity

Susan F. Craft said...

I love Susan's books. She has a terrific sense of humor and an honest approach to people and how they behave. Her characters seem so real I quickly came to care about and root for them.

Susan Lohrer said...

Thank you, Kathy. A touch of sanity is always a good thing. :)

Hi, Susan! Thank you for your kind words. :)

Norma Huss said...

Fortunately, I was old enough to ignore a lot of the "good" advice when it came along (and I had good genes). I even have a doctor who agrees with me. (I should say mostly, because he did foul me up with my supposedly weak bones.)

You make a lot of sense.

Gloria Alden said...

Susan, I so agree with you that it's balance in all things; eating, activities, work, etc. The advice on healthy living can actually be funny at times like the one I read yesterday from a monthly health magazine from a local hospital. I cracked up laughing when it recommended we eat our breakfast outside in the sun each morning. Well, it was sunny yesterday, however it was -22 degrees with a windchill on top of that. Can you imagine me trying to get frozen oatmeal out of my bowl let alone trying to drink a frozen cup of coffee. But I did get something beneficial from that. Laughter is good for us and I got it for sure when I read that.

I wrote your book down on my TBO list.

Susan Lohrer said...

Thank goodness we eventually get old enough to think for ourselves, Norma. ;)

Thanks for the laugh, Gloria. I'm in Canada, so I can definitely sympathize (although my part of the country pretty much missed out on winter this year, which was weird to say the least). I hope you have as much fun reading the book as I had writing it. :)