Photo Credit: Avia Rosen
Have you changed jobs or adjusted anything in your career to have more balance?
Two and a half years ago I left my full time job as Director of Branded Entertainment at a production company here in Los Angeles to pursue my writing full time. Prior to that I was dealing with an almost impossible balance of doing my real job and gaining a foothold in my dream career. It got to the point where both were suffering so I had to make a choice. I left that job in an industry I’d worked in for almost 7 years at that point and became a writer, exclusively. It was the greatest decision I’ve ever made, even though there are still incredible challenges involved in being a writer. Today my balance is more around the number of projects I can handle while still maintaining a sane life. I’d like to think that number is somewhere around 100, but it ends up being closer to 5.
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated and why?
Overrated and unrealistic. This whole concept of “it all” has always confused me. What is it all? Who got to decide? And what if I don’t want all that “it” is? I feel like “it all” from the media perspective is wealth, a successful career, a perfect body, a healthy marriage, well-adjusted children, a large house, tons of travel, 10,000 Twitter followers, and an ability to eat cheese without consequence. Trying to check all those boxes off is just setting oneself up for failure. I want what I want, and I’ll have what I prioritize. Ugh, I can’t wait for the “having it all” debate to go away, and I hope that as a woman and a writer I can help see it off into irrelevancy.
What part of “balance” can you just not seem to figure out?
The guilt part. I feel like I know how to find balance, but it’s hard for me to not feel like I’m cheating certain elements of my life out of my full attention, always. It’s like I know it in my mind but not in my heart sometimes. For example: I currently live in Los Angeles, 3K miles away from most of my family. I know that they know I am very busy, and that I should be focused on my career at this stage in my life. But every holiday I miss or phone call I cut short really weighs on me. I want to be as present at possible, despite being far, but that has its limits.
What part of “balance” are you getting better at?
I’m getting better at asking for what I want and need, even if it requires relying on others or even inconveniencing them a little. I’m finishing the final edits on my first novel right now, and that requires a lot of focus. I have a lovely desk in our apartment and my puppy stays nice and quiet for me, but bottom line, I prefer to work outside the house at a café or the library. Admitting that and asking my husband to adjust his mornings and evening hours to help with our dog and dinner prep has helped me get that work done, and to do it well because I built myself the right working conditions.
What was the best advice you ever heard on balance?
From a mentor/co-worker? I can’t remember if this is a famous quote or a co-worker quote, but I always remember that no one on their death bed has ever reflected back on life and thought, “I should have spent more time at the office…”
From your mother? That you have to do what your heart tells you, regardless of how it may affect the future. My mom stayed home to raise my four sisters and me for 12 years. That meant she had an uphill climb when she re-entered the work force but she still managed to get a third degree and is now exactly where she would have been had she never left.
From your spouse? That balance is not a solitary pursuit. My husband is the greatest champion of my career and more often than not he’s asking me to let him help me find more time to work. I know… Sorry ladies, he’s married.
From your kids? My puppy likes to remind me that he is sleeping for 99% of the time that I leave him home alone, so I shouldn’t worry so much.
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?
In the hot tub at my favorite Korean spa.
What do you wish you’d known when you were 20?
That there is no rush, for anything. Haste makes waste, unless you’re trying to get clothes from the latest designer collection from Target. Then you better get in line early.
What do you hope to know by time you’re 60?
That the windy path really is the best path. I’ve had a very varied writing career, and that sometimes makes me nervous. Am I following “my brand?” Am I too off course for my real goals with x, y, z project? I’ve got to believe that it all contributes to the grander picture.
What one part of your home life do you wish you could outsource?
I wish someone would come pick out my clothes every day and then do my hair and make-up.
Whose job do you wish you had?
Right now, Jill Soloway‘s—writer/producer of Transparent on Amazon. Not only is Jill at the helm of an incredibly important and brilliant show, but she’s also become an advocate for the transgender community through her art. That is the dream.
Whose job are you glad you don’t have?
For writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. For pure pleasure: The Secret History by Donna Tart. For absolutely any other need whatsoever: The Most Of Nora Ephron, the largest collection of her work.
What are you reading right now?
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
How many hours do you generally sleep at night during the week?
What do you read every morning?
The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet, my mother’s morning inspiration (she sends us girls a quote every single morning), and the blog post I’m editing for publication that morning.
Complete the following sentences:
I think I: sound like a pretty stable human being.
I wish I: didn’t feel like that’s not true some days.
My puppy: is currently chewing a gross chew directly on my couch, and I’m letting it go, which is a personal triumph.
Do you have a personal motto or favorite saying?
This is the quote I come back to time and time again: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Elizabeth Appell
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d just like to say that I think balance is something ingrained in us from a very young age. We teach it through our behavior around children and also what we expect of them and schedule for them. I’m worried about this generation that is forced into a million activities a day. I think it sets them up for issues with balance very early on. I don’t have a solution, and I have yet to become responsible for the schedule of a 12-year-old, but I think it’s worth noting.