Balance and the Power of “Eating the Frog”

I think it’s pretty normal to go through periods of fluctuation, creative and otherwise. Even the weather fluctuates: not even two weeks ago we saw record-breaking temperature highs here in the Pacific Northwest. I fled to my parent’s house on the coast for a few days and even there we experienced a day of 100 degree weather, which only happens a handful of times a decade. It was definitely a surreal experience feeling that hot right next to the Pacific Ocean, a place that sometimes requires a light jacket even in peak summer.

The record highs drove me into July with reluctance and exhaustion. Even though the weather returned to “normal” for this time of year with a few cloudy days and a return of the sun for the 4th of July, I still felt a lingering resistance. The flowers wilted, the grass turned a sandy brown that usually makes its appearance later in the summer, and with this was a strange feeling of-dare I say-malaise? “It’s too hot, I’m too tired.” My body and mind said. So I rested, which is healthy and normal especially for my 7 months pregnant self.

This rest was essential, but after a few days of no motivation, listlessness, and mounting anxiety about my overdue library books, empty tank of gas, the ever-growing weeds that need constant pulling, not to mention things that need to be harvested in the garden, I knew I needed to do something about it. But how? I felt no motivation. I had no wind in my sails.

The solution? I needed to eat the frog. In other words: I had to just do it.

“Eat the frog” comes from a quote from Mark Twain, found at the top of this post. Intuitively, the frog is an analogy for the hardest task, the one you have been building up in your head and making a bigger deal than it actually is.

For me, this metaphorical frog was the combination of small tasks I had let build up around me during the heat wave when I was gone, and while I was resting and recovering from that time away from home.

I was lucky enough to have an afternoon of overcast weather, enabling me to work outside without overheating. I was able to return my overdue books, fill my gas tank, and even use a coupon unearthed from the depths of my wallet to run my car through the car wash for no cost to me. Bonus!

These tasks were all relatively simple and easy to accomplish, but relying on external forces for motivation was but building them up in my mind and making them one big ugly frog. The only solution to the big ugly frog is to eat it. Yummy.

Eating the frog is a big solution for productivity, talked about by phycologists, experts, and gurus alike. The message behind this frog is: don’t wait for the motivation to come to you, but create motivation by taking action. If you wait for motivation to come to you, things will almost never get done. As my husband pointed out to me, once I get started on something I feel a sense of accomplishment and it enables me to do more. I know so many people are like this, too!

The reality of the situation is that sometimes getting things done takes a lot more discipline than we are willing to admit is required. This is true especially when we are used to having innate motivation and energy to do things. When that motivation dries up, we need to rely on our own sense of duty to do the needful.

The importance of balance is ever-apparent.

In life there are times when we must rest, recover, and wait. There are other times when the importance of “eating the frog” is evident, as well. In order to live a healthy life we need both elements, and to fluctuate between the two constantly, seemingly forever. Rest, do the hard thing, recover, be productive.

The difficulty of life is knowing which one is needed in a certain circumstance! For this, we need to rely on our intuition, our inner compass, for guidance. I know firsthand, like we all do, that this can be easier said than done, especially when we have a combination of external and internal pressures to appease.

Maybe this is the goal of life, to learn to navigate the spaces between rest and productivity, to walk the tight rope of action and non-action. Will I ever master this skill? Can any of us ever master this skill? Time will only tell.

Until then I will gladly keep scooting my way across this tight rope, one step at a time.


Originally published at on July 8, 2021.



A lifestyle blog detailing my expedition into slow living, poetry, wellness, spirituality, and motherhood.

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Imperfection Freak

A lifestyle blog detailing my expedition into slow living, poetry, wellness, spirituality, and motherhood.