On Balance, by Karen White

Author Karen White

Author Karen WhiteAt the moment I’m sitting in the waiting room at my beauty salon, waiting for my six-week hair appointment.  I have a horrible head cold, my dog’s thrown up five times in the last 24 hours, and this morning I spilled a full bottle of coffee creamer all over me and the hapless refrigerator.  Did I mention my husband’s out of town on business (again?) and I’ve been the lone parent in charge of two teenagers?  I’m looking forward to the part where I’m stuck under a dryer for twelve minutes because it’ll be the only twelve uninterrupted minutes of my day.

My next book, On Folly Beach, will be out May 4th, and yesterday I turned in the synopsis and first 3 chapters for the next book in my Tradd Street series.  I also have a new book (that I haven’t started yet) due October 1st (yes, that’s five months from now). Tuesday is the big launch party for the new book and pretty much straight through until the end of the month I will be doing lots of traveling for book signings and appearances, as well as doing a blog tour where I have to write about 20 blogs.  My laptop has become my fifth appendage.  Why?  Because I’m a writer who also happens to have a life.  Did I also mention that I have a high school senior who is graduating on May 22nd? We have no idea where she will be attending school in the fall as she is currently enrolled in two colleges while on the waitlist for three more.  Somebody needs to make a decision soon!

People ask me all the time how I manage to be a full-time wife, mother, and writer.  The answer is easy:  prioritizing and organizing (thank goodness for my Palm Pilot—the best thing since volumizing shampoo and creamy concealer!).  I’ve delegated the things that take too much of my time i.e. cleaning and cooking, and I only do laundry once a week.  My kids know that if their stuff isn’t in the laundry room by 6:00 am Thursday morning, it doesn’t get washed.  Yes, I know, they’re old enough to do their own laundry.  This is my one compromise:  because I can’t physically be there for every sporting event, or cooking hot meals for them every night, this is what I always do for them.  And for my long-suffering husband.

Speaking of which, he’s taking me tomorrow to buy an iPhone to replace my Palm.  I’m not the most patient person in the world when it comes to new technology, but we both decided it was time for an upgrade.  Hopefully, no blood will be spilled as he tries to teach me the new system and transfer all of my data (hopefully) intact.  My whole book tour is on that Palm and if something gets lost, I’m blaming it on my husband!  See what I mean about long-suffering?  Bless his heart.

I don’t Twitter (and not just because it’s yet another piece of technology that I would need to learn), but I do have a Facebook page and two email accounts (one for personal use and one for reader mail)—which I schedule reading during the day so I’m not tempted to check them all day long or I’ll see my time sucked into the dark vortex!  As for grocery shopping—once a week, after church with the whole family so I don’t have to listen to anybody complain that they didn’t get something they wanted.  And I TiVo everything so I can watch my favorite shows (Medium, HGTV, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds) without sitting through commercials.

I’m also really good at finding time.  Three times a week my daughter and I take a Pilates class together.  It’s a way of spending time with her as well as keeping in shape (multi-tasking!) and because she can drive now, I can work on a blog or check email on the way there and back.  And did I mention I’m now under the heat dryer?  I’m guessing this blog will be done by the time I leave—assuming I don’t mind hairs on the keyboard and keep my laptop out during the cutting process.  My stylist, Veronica, thinks it’s cool what I do and is very supportive and understanding when I’m not chatty.  That’s the other important ingredient to getting things done:  surround yourself with supportive and understanding people.  Friends send me encouraging texts (instead of calls) and I’ve got all sorts of fun things scheduled with them after my book tour.

So, why do I make my life so complicated?  Another easy question to answer—because being a writer isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.  I think it’s important for everyone to include in their lives something they’re passionate about.  Otherwise, everything else just seems like you’re going through the motions.  I love my children, but in a few years they’ll both be in college and I’m so glad that I have my books to fall back on when I’m surrounded by a suddenly empty, quiet (and spotlessly clean!) house.

Veronica’s approaching, ready to take me from the dryer and start the shampoo/deep condition process.  I will gladly close my laptop for this—there’s nothing nicer in the world than having somebody shampoo and massage your head and I’ve been known to fall asleep during the process.  Yes, I make time to enjoy myself, too.   Regardless of my to-do list, I make sure to spend time each day doing something fun that requires no brain cells.  Yes, that can include napping (of which I’m a big fan).  It can also be watching TV with my family or laughing over videos my son finds on the Internet.

This brings me to my point: balance.  Decide what’s important, what you’re passionate about and then, just like that Nike commercial says, Just Do It!

1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Blogger Unplugged! December 23,    2009   Jan 2, 2010

Thanks Karen!

As someone who also tries to balance many things, I was particularly interested in Karen’s thoughts on her hectic life and schedule, and how she does it all.  I’m continuing to work on my formula and I love hearing about how others manage to do all they do.  How do you do it?  Any tips for me?

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  1. I love this post! Not to brag or anything, but I’m going to a Book Your Lunch event for Karen White on Wednesday. (Oh, okay, I am bragging, but I have to when I can since we don’t get that many authors around here!)

  2. This is a particularly timely post for me too, since you and I were trying to figure out how to do things more efficiently recently, Nicole. Thanks Karen! I guess I just need to keep working on it.

  3. Wow – Karen has all the same problems as the rest of us, yet she has learnt to organise and priotise. I want to be more like her, then I actually might get my first draught finished.

  4. YOu just have to love this lady. She reminds me of all of us (except that she is writing books – ha!), running around with the phone to her ear, doing laundry, resolving sibling disputes, cooking dinner, writing blog posts…she makes me tired reading this but honestly it is the life I’m generally leading every day. And that just makes her seem all the more real. Plus, I loved On Folly Beach. So great guest post!

  5. What a great guest post and I agree that getting your hair washed by a professional is one of the most wonderful things in the world! I agree that having a hectic schedule works much better once you prioritize tasks and have the proper balance according to your personal needs.

  6. Always love to hear how other mother’s do it all. I’m getting ready for a senior to graduate and I can’t imagine packing any more into my days!

  7. Loved this post. I like that Karen’s world is insanely busy and all neatly wrapped up, much like mine. I get that question all the time about how do you do it…. or a common comment on my blog is “I get tired just thinking about what you do in a day”.

    I love to multi task but then I do have days like I had today…. where I crash. I get up and decide no, not today. I skip the gym… I eat breakfast slowly and actually take my laptop back to bed with me. I read a bit, I answer posts a bit – and I fall asleep until 2:30 in the afternoon.

    I canceled my meeting for tonight, I am cooking an easy hotdish for dinner… and later I am going to put the finishing touches on tomorrow evenings book club meeting here at my house.

    I love how Karen talks about balance. I still struggle with it (which causes todays burn out) but I know I will bounce back tomorrow and do it all again.. 🙂 That’s the way I roll!

  8. This is a great post! I just finished On Folly Beach the other day and i absolutely LOVED it. I’m so jealous of Kathy being able to attend the lunch on Wednesday….anyway, I’m so happy to hear she’s working on the next Tradd Street book. Can you tell I’ma a huge Karen White fan?

  9. I also thoroughly enjoyed this post. It is nice to hear that those who have their name in print are still people who must deal with the same issues as everyone else.

    I have not yet read this author, but The House on Tradd Street is on my shelf waiting for me to find time this summer (hmmm…there is that balance issue again!)

  10. What a great post…being a mother of 4 children prioritizing is a must. I love to learn how others manage their time. I guess it is time for me to get iPhone too. However, I too love my Palm and have a hard time changing technology.

    I am getting ready to read On Folly Beach this week…I had to finish up The Girl on Legare Street first. Take care and hope that college decision is made soon…LOL!!

  11. This is a great post. I loved hearing Karen’s thoughts on how she manages her frantic, busy life. It just goes to show you that you can fit a lot in if you are creative and flexible. I have no special tips or tricks. I just fit things in whenever I can. Even if I only have 5 minutes I find a way to use it!