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—and maybe a little obsessed—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 feel a little better. Every Friday I’ll feature a new interview. Here’s what Whitney Dineen had to say…
No. 24: Whitney Dineen, Author/Baker
Where I live: Oregon
Job: Mom/Author/Goody Maker
Ages/genders of kids: Two girls ages 3 and 5
Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Well, yes and no. Before I had kids I was a plus-size model (now retired), and I had a Hollywood-based gift basket business. Since kids, my biggest job is being a mom. In the non-mom moments, I still supply Hollywood with goodies (via fedex) and I write, which is my true passion.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I think you can have it all, in the course of your life. To think you can have it all at one time is completely unrealistic. When you think about it, you could never enjoy having it all at once. When I feel like I’m not accomplishing everything I want, I remind myself that now is the time to enjoy my children while they are young. I will enjoy a clean house when they are older. I will have it all.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
The part of the balance I have a hard time assimilating is the “me” time. I hear people say that you have to take time for yourself if you want to be the best you can be for everyone else. It’s such a great theory. I am looking forward to getting better at the application of said theory.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’m getting better at realizing that chaos is part of the balance. I live for that 23 minutes every month when all the laundry is done, the house is clean, the fridge is filled, and the yard looks beautiful.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Do what you love and the work will take care of itself.” For some reason this seems like such a hard thing to implement but when you “get” it, it’s there for good.
From your mother? “Whatever you decide to do—do your best.” I remember when I was little I asked my mom what she would say if I decided to pump gas for a living. This was her answer.
From your kids? “Play more.” Every adult should spend 30 minutes running around, squealing, and being carefree. It’s VERY cathartic.
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?
I want to say that I would spend it meditating or exercising. The truth is that I would spend it organizing. I live in constant terror that the chaos is going to overthrow the kingdom.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
I wish I had known that life has a way of working out. Life has its own timeline and just because you don’t hit major milestones when you think you should doesn’t mean that you won’t hit them. Sometimes they are sweeter for the wait. For instance, I always thought that I would have my children in my twenties. For many reasons, including multiple miscarriages, I didn’t give birth to my first child until I was 40. SO worth the wait!
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
My husband had a battle with stage-4 tonsil cancer two years ago. He is cancer-free and still facing some reconstruction. The last two years have been the most difficult and rewarding of our lives. When I’m 60, I want to look back at this time and know that was when we started making the most meaningful changes in our lives.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
The laundry, the dishes, the weeding.
Whose job do you wish you had?
I am happy to report that I have reached the stage/age when I no longer yearn for what someone else has. I am trying to implement my desires in the life I have now.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
I’m glad that I’m not a celebrity. Who needs the pressure of having people dissect every aspect of your life from the size of your thighs to every word you utter.
How do I begin to answer this? I could list at least 100 books off the top of my head. I like stories that are rich in character and make me laugh. I want to be charmed and entertained when I read. So as much as I like multiple genres I would have to say that the books that remain in my heart are the books that make me feel. I love Fannie Flagg and Maeve Binchey for their ability to make me miss their characters when the book ends. I love Jen Lancaster for her snarky humor. Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, and Emily Giffin all have special places on my bookshelf as well.
What are you reading right now?
I’m finally working my way through the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon. This sounds like it’s a chore, which it certainly is not. It’s just that each book is over 1000 pages and jam packed with adventure. I’m on book four and ready to start time traveling!
Activity? Watching The Real Housewives of New York City.
Food? French fries. Which is odd because I make the best cookies in the world (I’m modest), so you’d think that I’d fall in that direction. But the French fry is my true siren.
Website? ebay. I kid you not. I had my gallbladder out and went on ebay the next night. I bid on 18 prom dresses (!!!!!) and won! I have never been the same since.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
I require 8 hours and will move heaven and earth to get it. Having said that, my girls are 3 and 5, so good luck on that, right?
What do you read every morning?
My email, my Facebook feed, and expiration dates on food. I’m a little freaky about expired food.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: am the luckiest person I know. I have my health, my husband, and my children. May life always be this sweet.
I wish I: could miraculously lose twenty pounds eating French fries.
My kids: are my heart and soul. They make me laugh, cry, and rip my hair out in frustration. They are my all.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Voltaire said it best: “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” The man knew what he was talking about.
Anything else you’d like to add?
It is exhausting to try to be someone you aren’t. Like yourself, be true to yourself, and surround yourself with authentic people who feel the same way. I want to teach my daughters that your possessions don’t define you, your vacations don’t define you, your physical beauty doesn’t define you. Tend to your heart and you will discover who you are.
While attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband. When she wasn’t modeling, she was in the kitchen, baking delights to share with friends. Soon, her friends began asking her to send baskets of her wonderful candies and cookies to business associates, agents, and production studios. Word spread like wildfire, and the rest, as they say, is history. Whitney’s sensational creations are still in great demand by her loyal celebrity clientele at: Whitney’s Goodies.
During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor. She published She Sins at Midnight in March, 2014, and her second novel, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, is coming early 2015. In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for girls. The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory, will be published early 2015. Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have recently relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens, and organic vegetables.
Please share your own tips on balance and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT.
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 1: Jessica Mindich, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 2: Veronica Beard, Fashion Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 3: Emily Liebert, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 4: Lyss Stern, Mom-trepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 5: Lauren Slayton, Nutritionist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 6: Elizabeth Moyer, Blogger
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 7: Annabel Monaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 8: Holly Gordon, Director
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 9: Jill Salzman, Entrepreneur
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 10: Jennifer Levinson, Jen’s List
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 11: Jenny Hutt, Media Personality
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 12: Angela Santomero, Kids’ Media Creator
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 13: Carola Donato, Yogi
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 14: Tiffany Washington, Pastry Designer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 15: Emily Giffin, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 17: Cara Lemieux, Journalist
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 19: Nikki Mark, Author & Foundation Director
Shonda Rhimes on Doing It All
Indra Nooyi on Balance
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 21: Jill Bryan, Comedian
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 22: Cindy Callaghan, Author
THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 23: Stephanie Hirsch, Artist
My Times of India Interview on Work-Life Balance