THE BALANCE PROJECT | No. 91: Jennifer O’Regan, Teacher, Coach, Book Champion

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, the novel that was inspired by these interviews? It’s here.
  • The Balance Project interview series recently celebrated its first birthday!
  • Fortune ran a feature about The Balance Project.
  • Want to be a part of The Balance Project? Complete the interview.

No. 91: Jennifer O’Regan, High School Teacher, Coach, Tireless Champion of the Literati

Age: 40
Where I live:
 DC Metropolitan Area
Job: High School Teacher, Coach, Tireless Champion of the Literati

jenniferoregan_largeDo you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Having ‘’it all” is merely a matter of shifting your perspective. My husband survived cancer and a deployment with SEAL Team THREE. Other families weren’t so lucky—harrowing truths that do not evade me. I have zero interest in keeping up with the proverbial Joneses; if my family is happy and healthy, I have “it all.”

What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
Leaving work at work.

What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
The gentle art of saying no. I no longer suffer from “the disease to please.”

What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? “It will all be here tomorrow,” said by a former principal, surveying a colossal pile of work I was feverishly attacking on a Thursday night. A dose of reality from an extremely conscientious individual; there is no such place as “done.”
From your mother? “Take at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted “you time” daily. Whether reading, exercising, or simply taking a hot bath—it does wonders for my psyche. Moreover, it leaves me feeling invigorated—ready to tackle the day’s challenges with patience and poise.

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?
Doing yoga. It hones my mental focus and rids my system of toxins!

What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
Life is an adventure! Travel, take lots of photos (you will never look this good in a bikini AGAIN!)—and buy stock in Apple!

What do you hope to know by the time you’re 60?
How to ballroom dance. Care to salsa, Commander O’Regan? 😉

What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
The traffic in DC is abominable. If I had a driver, I could accomplish a gargantuan amount of work merely on my commute!

Whose job do you wish you had?
I honestly love what I do—as cliché as that may sound! Knowing that my work has genuine purpose—that in some small way I may have shaped the life of another human being. It’s awe-inspiring and humbling.

Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
Anything corporate. Too stifling.

What are you reading right now?
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.

Biggest vices…
Activity? Watching reality television and buying expensive shoes.
Food? Chocolate!
Website? Facebook/Twitter.

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

What do you read every morning?
I check email first, then make my way to the Washington Post.

Complete the following sentences:
I think I: enjoy life more with each passing year.
I wish I: didn’t opt for a ballerina bun this morning.
My niece and nephew: hold my heart in their hands

Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
“A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble.” —Charles H. Spurgeon

43592Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 8.30.16 PMAbout Jennifer:
In addition to fostering a love of literacy within her unprivileged high school students, Jennifer has many noteworthy philanthropic accolades. During her husband’s plight with cancer, she single-handedly raised over 3,000 books for the Johns Hopkins Hospital Oncology Patient Library. Jennifer is now sharing her unbridled passion for reading via Confessions of a Bookaholic—a Facebook page dedicated to celebrating female authors.

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Find out more about Jennifer:
Facebook: Jennifer Tropea O’Regan
Twitter: @jenny_oregan
Instagram: @jenny_oregan

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

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6 Comments

  1. Kristy Woodson Harvey Friday, June 5, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply

    I just couldn’t love her more! Such an inspiration, so sweet and a champion for authors — even debut ones like I am! Sort of like you, Susie 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  2. Melissa A Friday, June 5, 2015 at 10:14 am - Reply

    I love this and feel like I’ve learned even more about Jenny!

  3. Suzanne F. Friday, June 5, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

    I love Jenny and all she has done!! She was an awesome woman to feature on your Balance Project!!

  4. Susan Friday, June 5, 2015 at 10:56 am - Reply

    What a wonderful article! I truly admire Jenny for all the reasons you listed above and for her kindness!

  5. Jenny Belk Friday, June 5, 2015 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Jennifer doesn’t just share books, she shares her heart with authors and readers alike. She has carved her name on my heart in so many ways. So honored to know her. So glad she is my friend. She is truly a selfless giver of joy.

  6. Donna Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 10:29 am - Reply

    Jennifer has been so good to all of the readers, even though she is a little hard on my bank account! She has introduced us to so many books even through her own trials. So yes she has carved her name on my heart! Great interview!

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