Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Bucket List

I've written before about how being a stay-at-home mother and a writer--two of the very best jobs in the whole world--can sometimes be isolating and stressful. I find that, as comforting and productive and fulfilling as my routines are, sometimes I need a break. I need to "refill my bucket."

I first heard the bucket analogy some years ago in a women's meeting at my church. The theory is that those who spend their days in service--pouring water into others' buckets--must take time to refill their own so that they can continue serving. A woman with an empty bucket simply isn't capable of giving water to others, no matter how much she might want to do so.

I think that service is often its own reward, but I have experienced burnout at times when I haven't taken adequate care of myself. To prevent mental and emotional exhaustion, there are daily things I do that fill my proverbial bucket. I take walks around our beautiful neighborhood. I do yoga and read scriptures and pray and indulge in high-quality chocolate.  I play with our darling new puppy and spend time with my very entertaining children.  All these things renew me as a mother. 

Nothing recharges me as a writer as much as reading good books. Reading entertains me, but it also educates and strengthens me. I need books like I need air. 

Weekly Date Nights with my husband are a great recharger, as are my Sunday church meetings. But once in a while, I need refilling on a slightly larger scale. So a couple of times a year, I attend writers' conferences. These usually require travel away from my family--which means I have to work hard beforehand to replace myself. I often get anxious before a trip, but once I'm there, I'm glad, and all that work is worth it.

I got back this past Sunday from a terrific conference in Utah. I got to spend time with my very closest friends, including one of my sisters. I had fun book signings and productive and exciting meetings with collaborators and publishing professionals. I heard bestselling novelist Anne Perry give one of the most inspiring speeches I've ever heard. I took master classes and networked. I came away refreshed and enthused about my chosen profession, and burning to write. 

And I got home to my wonderful family, excited and grateful to be reunited with them. I'm back to reality, and it feels good. Yes, I'm already planning my next getaway--a retreat in July--but that's only because these trips require a lot of forethought. For now, I'm thrilled to be in my regular bucket-filling routine. 

What things do you do to refill your bucket?


  1. So true. I feel like there is a quote somewhere by one of the Elders that supports this statement, but I cannot for the life of me remember.

    How can we fill others when our own bucket is empty!?!

  2. Good question Krystle!! We can't if our bucket is empty or running on negative... We all need to find a way to fill our bucket in some way so we can help others... A life long quest...

  3. Love what you said Luisa!! I find myself burning out on writing and life in general if I don't pay attention to myself and my schedule.... Thanks for the post!!!

  4. Thanks for this thoughtful post. My bucket runs empty too frequently. As a writer I also find that reading good literature fills my bucket better than almost anything else. Also reading inspirational books helps me fill my bucket for other areas.
    Margaret Turley