THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 138: Karma Brown, Author and Journalist

Welcome to THE BALANCE PROJECT: a series of relevant and refreshingly candid interviews featuring inspiring and accomplished women talking about balance. I’ve always been curious about how women I admire manage the tragically glorified “doing it all” craze. So I asked them. As I suspected, no one really does “it all.” Everyone’s making sacrifices somewhere. And that should make us all feel a little better. I hope the conversation will be steered toward that reality rather than toward the flawed and dangerous assumption that we should try—or even want to try—to perfectly do “it all.”

By the way, looking for THE BALANCE PROJECT novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.

No. 138: Karma Brown, Author and Journalist

Age: 43
Where I live:
 Oakville, Canada
Job: Author, Freelance Journalist, Kid Wrangler, Muffin Baker
Kids: A daughter, 7

KarmaBrownHave you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
When my daughter was 15 months old, I quit my stable, well-paying job to become a freelance writer. In part it was so I could be home and have the flexibility to spend time with our kiddo while she was wee, and in part it was to fulfill my desire to write. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but it certainly wasn’t an easy transition initially. However, I have zero regrets—we’re all much happier for it.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I honestly don’t know… but I think it depends on your version of what “it all” means. For me, it means being around for my family, spending time together, feeling fulfilled by my work, and taking care of myself. But all those things don’t have to happen every day–that’s certainly unrealistic–and as long as I feel like I’m moving forward, it’s all good.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
I find it hard to just sit still, to take days “off” and not worry about my to-do list or anything else that might be calling my name. But I’ve learned how important it is for my well-being, and so on days when I’m feeling tired or drained of creativity, I try to remind myself pushing harder isn’t the answer. I’m a work in progress!

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Saying “no” more often, and being more realistic about what I can accomplish on any given day. Again, a work in progress!

Do you have a favorite time management tool, hack, or other strategy you use that helps you achieve balance that you would recommend to others?
I’ve discovered this new app called Forest, which allows you to grow a virtual tree if you don’t touch your phone for a pre-determined number of minutes. There’s something so satisfying about growing a tree while also being productive with my word count that sings to my Type A self! I also put my phone on airplane mode after 8 pm, and we do our best to keep phones/computers away from the dinner table.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From your mother? My mom’s advice is to always keep one room of your house tidy (for me it’s the kitchen) so there’s at least one space you can relax in.
From your daughter? She’s a bit young to give advice, but she does remind me daily that all work and no play makes Mom pretty dull.

If you had one extra hour in each day and you couldn’t work or be with your family, how would you spend that hour?
Reading, probably!

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That not everything has to happen RIGHT THIS INSTANT. With time comes wisdom, and despite the bumps life can bring, getting older is a wonderful thing never to be taken for granted.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
How to sit still and do NOTHING, how to meditate, and in a perfect world, how to keep my plants alive!

What part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Laundry. Especially putting it away. Or dealing with paperwork–filing is a soul-sucking task.

Whose job do you wish you had?
I love being an author, but if I had to pick another career it might be to run a cozy bookstore in a quaint town with cobblestone streets, or maybe a bakery or chocolate shop in France. All my favourite things!

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
A flight attendant’s. I don’t love flying, so that’s about the worst job I can imagine.

Favorite books?
Too many to list here, but a few of my favourites are Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit, the Harry Potter series (of course) by J. K. Rowling, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

What are you reading right now?
Aside from two advanced copies of books coming out this summer (a perk of being an author!), I’m reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, and Center of Gravity by Laura McNeill. I usually have 3-4 books on the go at any one time!

Biggest vices…
Activity?
 I love to run outside, no matter the weather. It’s the best stress release, and I usually sort out sticky plot issues at the same time.
Food? Cheese. It’s my “take to a desert island” food.
Website? I love food blogger, recipe websites. A few of my favourites are Smitten Kitchen, The Pioneer Woman, and Oh She Glows.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Around 6-7, depending on the night.

What do you read every morning?
Twitter!

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: have a pretty great life.
I wish I: were a speed reader.
My daughter: and my husband are the center of my universe.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
The only way past it is through it. And… Do something every day that scares you.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for having me!

Brown Come Away With meAbout Karma:
Karma Brown is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist, freelance writer, and author of the international bestseller Come Away With Me (Mira/HarperCollins) who spends a lot of time writing in coffee shops. When not mulling plot lines, she can be found running with her husband, coloring (outside the lines) with her daughter, and perfecting her banana bread recipe. Karma lives just outside Toronto with her family. The Choices We Make (July 2016) is her second novel.

Find out more about Karma:
www.karmakbrown.com
Facebook: WriterKarma
Twitter: WriterKarma
Instagram: writerkarma

WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE? CHECK OUT MY NOVEL THE BALANCE PROJECT!

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2 Comments

  1. Melissa A February 23, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I love Karma Brown’s books. She’s such a talented writer. Two of her favorite books are favorites of mine too: Memoirs of a Geisha and Time Traveler’s Wife.

    • Susie Schnall February 23, 2016 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Yes – both great books! Thanks for stopping by Melissa!

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