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 Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke had to say…

No. 18: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Authors


Age: Liz: 40; Lisa: 41
Where I live:
 Liz: San Diego, CA; Lisa: Chicago, IL
Job: Liz: Sales Rep and Author; Lisa: Author. Co-authors of Your Perfect Life.
Ages/genders of kids: Liz: 7-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl; Lisa: 3-year-old girl, 11-year-old boy, and 13-year-old girl

Lisa Steinke (left) and Liz Fenton (right). Photo by Debbie Friedrich

Lisa Steinke (left) and Liz Fenton (right). Photo by Debbie Friedrich

Is the job you have now the same one you had before kids? If not, how and why did you change directions?
Liz has been with the same company for 14 years. Lisa was in television for 15 years before she moved to the Midwest to get married and pursue writing full-time.

Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Liz & Lisa: It depends on your definition of having “it all.” We feel that you have to make the most out of what you do have, live every day to the fullest, try not to see the glass as half-empty. You know, all the things we tell ourselves we should do, but that are so hard! It’s great to strive for more, but you should be careful you aren’t overlooking what’s right in front of you in the process.

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Liz & Lisa: How to truly do it! Usually if we focus on something, then another thing suffers. It’a a vicious cycle!

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
Liz & Lisa: Not beating ourselves up when we have to make hard choices about where to be—there are only so many hours in the day.

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance…
From a mentor/co-worker? Liz: “Just get out of bed every day and get moving!” Good advice when working in sales OR writing, both are easy to procrastinate about! Lisa: “Just do your best every day.”
From your mother?
 Liz: “Never marry the guy you are dating at age 22.” Lisa: “Don’t get married until you’re established in your career/35.” This allowed me the chance to live my life however I wanted with me always at the top of my list. So of course, balance was a no-brainer. ☺
From your kids?
Liz: Never forget to enjoy the simple things, like a snow cone on a hot day or a rainbow after the rain. Lisa: Watching my three-year-old take her time with even the most seemingly innocuous tasks reminds me to take my time more—to not be in such a rush and to enjoy what’s right in front of me.

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?
Liz: RELAX and do nothing!
Lisa: Read.

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Liz: That you are worthy of being loved exactly the way you are.
Lisa: That you don’t need to be in a “serious” relationship when you’re so young. That it’s a time to have fun and just enjoy life.

What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
Liz: I hope I’ll have learned how to be present—how to take each day at face value.
Lisa: Hmm, this is a tough one because I don’t want to think about being 60! But I would say that I hope I’ve been a good mom to the kids. That they are off in the world doing great things, in part because of me.

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
Liz: Taking out the trash!
Lisa: The dishes! (although my husband does a pretty darn good job!)

Whose job do you wish you had?
Lisa: To write books full-time is my dream job.
Liz: Me, too!

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Liz: A police officer—they have to see so much ugliness in the world, but I’m so thankful for them too!
Lisa: I could never be a teacher, but I’m so thankful for them!

Favorite books?
Liz: My all-time fave would be Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume. It’s a timeless story about friendship. Recently I read an advanced copy of After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and it was mesmerizing. I also love anything by Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Beth Harbison, Jen Lancaster, and L. Alison Heller.
Lisa: There are just too many to count. I love Laura Dave and her novels, but London is the Best City in America is my favorite of hers. I loved Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert because it was the book I needed at a really hard time in my life, and Happens Every Day, by Isabel Gillies is one of the most honest memoirs I’ve ever read. I also love any book by Jane Green, Sarah Pekkanen, Amy Hatvany, Sarah Jio, and the list goes on!

What are you reading right now?
Liz: The Never Never Sisters, by L. Alison Heller.
Lisa: You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Liz: creating new recipes in my Vitamix! Lisa: Pilates.
Food? Liz: Sushi—I could eat it for each and every meal (even breakfast!). Lisa: Kale (seriously!).
Website? Liz: Amazon. Lisa: US Weekly.

How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
Liz: I always try to get at least 7 hours!
Lisa: I need 8 or else I’m a total mess the next day.

What do you read every morning?
Liz: My Facebook feed.
Lisa: My email.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: Liz: …want to change the world in a positive way. Lisa: …get smarter every day. (At least I hope I do!)
I wish I: Liz: …had a faster metabolism! (Turning 40 sucks!) Lisa: …had more patience.
My kids: Liz: …bring me more joy than I ever thought possible. Lisa: …teach me something every day.

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
Liz & Lisa: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift—that’s why they call it the present. ” —Eleanor Roosevelt   

Anything else you’d like to add?
Liz & Lisa: Thank you so much for having us! xo     

YPLCoverAbout Liz & Lisa
Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke have been best friends for over 25 years. They co-created the Chick Lit is Not Dead blog in 2009 to celebrate books women love. They have three upcoming novels from Simon & Schuster/Atria Books: Their debut novel, Your Perfect Life, about two childhood best friends who switch bodies at their twenty-year high school reunion, will be published in June 2014. Their second novel, The Status of All Things, about a woman who realizes she can change the course of her entire life by what she writes in her Facebook status, will be published in 2015. And Famous Last Words is about a pop star who kills herself and the tabloid reporter who’s blamed for sending her over the edge (publication date TBA).


Find more about Liz & Lisa:
Twitter: @LizandLisa
Facebook: LizFentonandLisaSteinke
Instagram: @Lisaandliz

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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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