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 Alana Sanko had to say…

No. 16: Alana Sanko, Writer

Where I live: Westchester, NY
Job: Writer/Producer
Ages/genders of kids: 8-year-old girl/boy twins and a 13-year-old daughter

IMG_9314Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
My job is essentially the same as it ever was in that I remain a writer.  However, no two projects have ever been alike—ever. I’ve written on spec and on staff, I’ve written freelance scripts, and I’ve written pitch documents and pilot scripts for live action and animated projects. After I got married and moved to New York, staffing options became more limited, but my drive and enthusiasm to work actually increased. I just had to get more creative to find, and in most cases, create the work and it was no different after I had children. With a toddler already in my world, I had twins and then managed to sell a pilot to ABC that actually got made (though sadly it didn’t air). I suppose that if I can say anything about myself, it’s that I have never lost my direction, despite my successes and failures (and the writers’ strike!).

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
I’ll answer this question with a question: how do you define “it”? If you were to make your own “it” list, what would be on it? I think the answer to that is as different for each person that you ask as a fingerprint. I wrote a piece for Hollywood Journal that explored the phrase, “having it all.”  I wrote, “What about revisiting the idea of Having It All, but putting the focus on what we’ve accomplished instead of what we have not? Can we get the conversation going about appreciating what we already have and may take for granted, instead of aspiring to something that might make one feel inadequate or may not even be attainable anyway?” Simply put, for me, it’s about turning the upside down glass right side up and trying not to lose sight of that. No easy feat.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Every part. For me, the word “balance” might as well be the word “hope.” There are many things I want to do, but sometimes to get it all done, I have to just hope for the best. And more times than not, start all over again the next day.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Only that I’m more aware of it. I seriously remind myself daily that I can only try to find my balance. If I don’t try, I get nothing. If I do try, who knows what can happen?

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? “Don’t forget to sleep.”
From your mother?
“Pace yourself.”
From your kids? 
“We need to have Mom and Me days on the calendar!”

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?
If teleporting somewhere fabulous is not a real answer to this, I would disappear into a neighborhood bookstore and bury myself in inspirational works.

What would you have told yourself 20 years ago?
Relax, it’s all going to work out.

20 years from now?
Relax, it’s all going to work out.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
I would love a full-time housekeeper/organizer/chef to clear the stacks off the counters, prepare healthy meals everyone will eat, and make the beds.

Whose job do you wish you had?
This is tough for some reason—no job is perfect. But someone who inspires me on so many levels is writer, Suzanne Collins.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Anything in customer service—people can be so rude!!

Favorite books?
This is always hard to answer. My mind immediately goes to all-time, first-ever favorites, which include: From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg, Bid Time Return, by Richard Matheson, Time and Again, by Jack Finney, and Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier.

What are you reading right now?
Where’d you Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Watching whole seasons of a TV series on demand.
Food? Mexican, whether it’s La Esquina in New York, Baja Fresh in LA or a little stand down by the beach in Cabo.
Website? I am loving Google+ these days, when I can find the time!

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?

What do you read every morning?
I have to admit I check email first thing, then make my way to NYTimes.com and NYPost.com for headlines.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: can…
I wish I: had that extra hour each day.
My kids: are three of the best things that have ever happened to me.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done, than regret the things I haven’t done.”  —Lucille Ball         

Alana, left, with Jill Brack: Co-founders of The Downtown Project

Alana, left, with Jill Brack: Co-founders of The Downtown Project

About Alana
Originally from Los Angeles, Alana is an award-winning television writer and producer. When she is not intensely focused on creating projects that can shoot in NY, she’s working on a children’s book or writing and editing The Downtown Project, a lifestyle website she co-created that features cultural itineraries in New York, where she lives with her husband and three kiddies.

Find more about Alana here:
Twitter: @AlanaSanko


Find more about The Downtown Project here:
Facebook: TheDowntownProjectBlog
Twitter: @downtownproject
Pinterest: downtownproject

Please share your own tips on balance and check back every Friday for another interview from THE BALANCE PROJECT. Better yet, subscribe in the box to the right and I’ll let you know when a new one posts…

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