How to Win the Tug-O-War

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Do you ever feel like the rope in a tug-o-war? There are times in life when I am pulled in seemingly opposite directions and no amount of effort lets me make progress in either direction.

  • Work vs. Family
  • Dreams vs. Responsibility
  • Money vs. Recreation
  • Taking care of others vs. Taking care of ourselves

It seems the push-pull doesn’t end.

Other times, it feels more like a balancing act on a tightrope wire. One wrong move and we’ll fall into the abyss.

When I get to feeling like that, I’ve found a really simple—though sometimes scary—solution.

Let go of the rope.

Stop pulling, stop striving, stop trying to do it all.

Just stop. Rest. Regroup.

If I’m paying attention and recognize the feeling, I make the choice to sit down and take a break. At other times, God does that for me, by sending circumstances that instantly realign my priorities and my never-ending to-do list.

Last week was like that. Angel Falls was getting ready to go to press and I was working on the final proof for the publisher. (The book will release March 1st, so I’ll keep you posted as we get closer. I’m very excited.)

But in the midst of all that, we found out my Uncle’s cancer had gotten worse, so my Dad and I hopped a plane to California to see his sister and brother-in-law for the week. It certainly hadn’t been on the week’s agenda, but it was hugely important.

I’m so glad we went. We laughed, made memories and took photos.

Long overdue family visit

Long overdue family visit


This week, my plan was to dive back into last week’s undone to-do list. Except I caught the nastiest cough/cold/fever thing I’ve had in years. This too shall pass, and I’ll pick up the rope and get back in the game again in a few days.

But for right now, I’m resting and realizing that sometimes, all those terribly urgent things on my list can just wait another day.

How about you? Does life have to force you to slow down or do you consciously take a break every now and then?

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    The Conversation

  1. Liz Flaherty says:

    Great post. I’m sorry for your uncle’s illness, but glad you and your dad were able to make the trip.

  2. Leslie Santamaria says:

    Good reminder to pay attention to what’s most important and act on it–even at the expense of other things on the to-do list. So glad you made the trip! Hope you feel better soon!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Thanks so much, Leslie. It’s amazing how quickly to-do lists can be changed and priorities re-aligned–when necessary! It was a great trip. And I’m starting to feel like I just might survive this cold/cough thing, so it’s all good!

  3. Lisa Hannah Wells says:

    I hope you are feeling better soon. When I get caught up in the maelstrom of push-pull I often freeze, unable to move in any direction. I don’t know why. Must be an emotional thing somewhere. Perhaps its because I spend too much time alone. Be well!

    • Connie Mann says:

      Lisa–I know that feeling well. When I’m overwhelmed, it’s easy to shut down. Often spending some time with family or friends helps me break out of my paralysis. 🙂

  4. Maddy says:

    Like you, it’s usually health and family issues that make me take a break, regroup and rethink my values. I can see the need for all those mindfulness programmes I’ve heard about lately and living in the moment.

  5. Hi Connie. I’m pretty sure most of us have times when we’re pulled all directions and keeping up with the family is important – though it’s good when it’s not for sad reasons. Best wishes for a good outcome. My family commitments mean constant breaks in my writing schedule, now, but I’d much rather have the contact than not with my gorgeous grandchild!