Life…The Hamster Wheel

I consider myself a runner. I think this because I conquer a few miles three days a week for both fun and fitness. For me, it’s a time to enjoy being active, to breathe fresh air, and to meditate while burning off calories. It’s also a great time to come up with story ideas. Bonus!

However, while my usual run is along a winding trail, my life is more akin to running on a hamster wheel. Kind of like this.

Today, for example, I opted to cram in a run after cleaning my house, then went straight to the store to buy the fixings to make 15 bean turkey chili for my step-dad’s birthday tomorrow. It’s a simple recipe, but one I’m excited to make for him. However, the beans needed to soak overnight, which is why I thought I’d hit the store now.

Except Safeway didn’t have any bags of 15 bean soup mix. Odd.

I grabbed some other things, then ran over to Trader Joe’s. There I picked up other items for my house and the chili, and went hunting for their 17 bean barley soup mix.

“We don’t carry that anymore,” the grocery attendant said.

Um, what?

So then I ran over to Lucky’s, which fortunately had bean soup mix. Only two bags—no more, no less—which thankfully was all that I needed.

While still pondering the absence of beans in the world (I mean, it’s a bag of beans, one of the oldest staples known to man), I got home, unloaded my groceries, and looked at the clock. The following is where my brain went:

8 p.m. Way overdue for my blog post. Dinner is not made. Groceries are scattered in bags on the floor. Must soak beans. Cats need to be fed. Dear gawd, I still haven’t showered since my run. Yuck. Um, wait, did I ever move that laundry over?

And then:

Oh crap. I forgot the ground turkey!

All of this, a typical evening in the life of me, and not surprisingly, most people.

So tonight I wanted to take a minute to honor those who run this hamster wheel called life, somehow managing to swing it all while still writing. I heard some statistic that 90% of writers have day jobs, and while I’m running over here on my wheel, doing the usual wake-up/feed cats/cook/write/work/run/grade/write/cook/consider doing dishes/throw hands up in air/feed cats again/ponder the existence of people who actually sleep enough/pass out/repeat, I have to wonder how we all do it. And often when I think this, I am baffled at the realization that I don’t even have kids and I’m still running on this hamster wheel trying to get it all done. Kudos to those of you who balance work, writing, and a family—like you, Jessica Vealitzek, and Rebecca Lane Beittel, and a dozen other people. It’s mind-boggling, and sort of amazing, really.

But it forms an interesting question: how do we do it? Specifically—

How do you find the balance? How do you “fit” the multiple life and writing goals you have into your day without falling off the hamster wheel?

I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder such a thing, so please share your thoughts below!

As for me, I feel like I’m still working on that balance. Always running, always spinning, always…

Oh dear. It appears I just burned a pan cooking dinner (and blogging at the same time).

*Sigh.*

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About Eva Rieder

Eva Rieder is a speculative and contemporary/mainstream fiction author. By day, she masquerades as a high school Math and English teacher. Though she adores teaching and her students very much, when Eva returns home she reglues her fingertips to the keyboard to pursue her alter ego’s destiny. She currently lives and writes in Northern California with her two keyboard-savvy cats. View all posts by Eva Rieder

6 responses to “Life…The Hamster Wheel

  • Jessica Vealitzek

    Thanks, Eva. Well, for starters, I can’t run as often as I’d like–especially right now with both kids sick, which means no Y (daycare’s included in membership!). And no writing. Unless I stick them in front of the TV (which I am not too good to do). I’ve found that by the time I get them into bed at night, my creative urges are spent. I used to wake up early, around 5, so I could write before they woke at 7, but then of course they started waking up earlier. (Parenthood is one long Murphy’s Law.) So, I finally did what I was too sheepish or guilty to do before–hired a sitter once a week. Every Friday she comes and I have 6 glorious, uninterrupted hours. This same sitter also watches my friend’s children other days of the week, so sometimes I’ll drop mine off over there on a Wednesday and get a couple hours in.
    I resisted hiring a sitter for a long time–I figured I was a stay-at-home mom so hiring a sitter seemed ridiculous. I was so wrong. I’m lucky that we can afford to do it, I’m lucky that my husband is the one who urged me to do it, and I honestly can’t see how I would be able to write well and happily if I didn’t do it.

    • Eva Rieder

      Well I approve of ALL of that, because darnit, you need some writing time! There just seems to never be enough, with kids or without, so I’m all for whatever strategy gets you there. 🙂 It occurred to me today that my entire Spring Break has been spent out of town, running errands, and grading, and somehow I hadn’t written in a week—which explained my increasingly foul mood. Luckily I crammed in about two hours today. Insta-peace. That said, seriously—ANY strategy is two thumbs up!

  • Susanne Woods

    great to see you’re still at it Eva! As Dora says; ‘just keep swimming’, er, running and writing in your case. love to see all your adventures. Sue

    • Eva Rieder

      Why thanks, Sue! Sadly my running isn’t what it used to be (do you remember when I used to bark at our crew to run faster for all five miles? Yowsa!), but it’s something. I’m definitely writing more than running. 🙂 Hope all is well with you!

  • Katie Checkley

    Great metaphor for life! It is a hamster wheel, isn’t it? I just wrote a similar post about time in general. I know EXACTLY what you’re going through 🙂

    • Eva Rieder

      Great minds think alike! 🙂 I’ll have to hop on over and check out your hamster wheel! (Though today I started referring to my life as a carnival ride, so maybe we’ve moved on to the Zipper ride?)

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