Q&A With Author & Blogger Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of two well-received novels, Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love, blogger at Design Chic (a blog she founded and works on with her mother), wife, and mom of a four-year-old boy. Like most women, she wears so many different hats. In this week’s Q&A, Kristy shares her thoughts on how to strive for some balance without being too hard on yourself, and designing a happy life. 

  • How did you identify your passions and follow your dreams?

I tried a lot of different things! I’ve always loved writing, but I’m also extremely passionate about food, science, interior design and yoga. I always thought I would be a journalist because I could combine all of my loves and write about everything, but I also worked in finance for a while. I never, ever expected to be an author, but decided (when I was nearing my 25th birthday!) that I wanted to check something big off of my bucket list. I never expected it to change my life. I fell completely in love with writing novels and have never looked back. 

  • What does the term “work-life balance” mean to you? Do you think “work-life balance” is possible?

My husband and I have a small son, so, at the moment, most of our “life” is about him! I am a mom first and it has been easier, actually, to have a small child because, as I travel quite a bit promoting the books, he can tour with me. All of that will change when he starts school. I’m also a big goal setter and am always striving to be better, but I realized that I am probably not going to keep up my stringent exercise routine when I’m on tour for thirty days. And I’m not going to have green juice every day or manage to eat organic in tiny towns I’m visiting along the way. And I can’t chair a volunteer event the month before a new book launches. I think so much of work-life balance is about simply finding what makes you happy–not to the point of being totally selfish, of course, but I think paring down is essential. We all have so much coming at us all the time that, at some point, you have to learn to say no. (If my mother is reading this, she will laugh. I am horrific at saying no. But I’m getting better!)

Kristy Woodson Harvey Author

  • What do you wish you do differently in how you manage your day and time? What do you feel you don’t have enough time for, or wish you could tackle better?

I so wish that I was a morning person and loved to go to bed early. I imagine how I would get up at 5, work out, then work for an hour before my son got up. But I get my best ideas at night and often stay up too late! I also cannot function at 5 am. Maybe if I drank coffee? Honestly, I spent a couple of years really struggling with fitting everything in and trying to be everything to everyone.

Something about turning 30 sort of tempered that in me. I give myself a lot more grace. I’m usually on very tight deadlines, my mom and I have a wonderful design blog and I have a great family. If I can fit those three things in–and sweat a little–most days, I feel fine about things. Don’t get me wrong, I continually have a massive to-do list, a list of goals, a list of new habits I’m trying to form. I’m incredibly Type-A. I know that one day I’ll have more time, but I’m not wishing today away. I’m very happy with the way things are!

  • Do you have advice for someone (especially young women) starting a new endeavor and grappling with issues of following her passions, doing meaningful work and making a difference, while managing her time to find some “balance?”

Again, in the spirit of honesty, I don’t believe that passion and balance can live alongside one another one hundred percent of the time. When I think of passion, I think of true love. Just like when you’re falling in love and all you want to do is be with that person, when a wonderful idea strikes, all you want to do is explore it. And I think it is one of life’s great gifts to give yourself that time.

Kristy Woodson Harvey Michelle Chahine Sinno

When I am truly engrossed in a new book, I might stay up until 4 am writing until I can’t keep my eyes open. I wrote almost all of my debut, DEAR CAROLINA, in the middle of the night when I was up for feedings with my newborn son! I think we get very caught up in having to get it all right. Keep the perfect house, be the perfect wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, fashion plate, dress size, career woman… It is so much pressure!

My advice is, when passion strikes, go for it. If you don’t work out for a week or call your friends back for a few days or cook a beautiful meal for a while because you are immersed in something that lights you on fire, it will probably be okay. What I have learned as someone who has sometimes felt like she is beating her head against a wall trying to achieve balance is that “balance” and “happiness” are not synonymous all the time. I’d choose happy any day of the week.

 

TIP: For some work-life balance, take the time to unplug and read Kristy’s new book, Lies and Other Acts of Love, in the sun with some Iced Tea Lemonade. 

Lies and Other Acts of Love Summer Reading Michelle Chahine Sinno

 

 

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2 in 1: Seasonal Photo Board Displays

Photo Boards Michelle Chahine Sinno

This week in experiments with work-life balance: taking the time to organize photos and display them on boards at home.

Work-life balance, to me, is all about getting out of the haze of everyday life. The haze that fills your day, so that sometimes you get from breakfast to bedtime without being present in the hours in between. It’s the same haze that leads you to go months and months without organizing your photos and photo albums–especially in the digital age.

Thanks to high quality cameras in smartphones, we’re all able to take as many photographs as we want, whenever we want. This also leads to a problem: We end up having so many pictures that we often don’t even look at or enjoy any of them. The goal of a picture is to capture a special memory or moment so that we can look back on it and appreciate the richness of our lives. If we get so overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of pictures on our devices, and we don’t end up curating them, editing them, and displaying them in any physical form, we end up missing out in a very real way.

Most homes have photos scattered across it, usually in semi-permanent frames, placed in semi-permanent spots. Gretchen Rubin writes about this in her book, Happier at Home:

“…because these photos were a permanent part of our apartment landscape, we usually walked right by them without seeing them. How could I focus our attention on our photographs? I had an idea. I’d create a new holiday photo gallery.

She uses holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day to update all the photographs in her home so that her family can enjoy and reflect on new memories every few weeks.

“The collection made a terrific seasonal decoration,” she adds, “And because these photos weren’t always on display, we paid special attention to them.”

I’ve always loved having cork boards at home to pin inspirational reminders on, in scrapbook manner. So, inspired by Rubin’s seasonal photo displays, I though a great way to display seasonal photo galleries would be on boards. I bought two from The Container Store that I hung up near my desk a couple of years ago, with the goal of rotating photographs on them. That would solve two problems. It would both help me stay on track with all the pictures I take, and it would help us keep our best memories and moments part of our everyday life.

Now, the rotation didn’t happen nearly often enough.

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Yes, I know they’re crooked here! It’s an old photo 😛 “Done is better than perfect!”

I did successfully change all the photographs before the Christmas holidays as part of our decoration the last two Decembers, but my goal is to change the images on a monthly basis–not just once in a while. The advent of Spring this week inspired me to just do it. One of the common excuses, of course, is that there just isn’t enough time to wade through thousands of photographs for a new collection every month. But that breaks an important rule I’ve written about before: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

So, keeping in mind that if I didn’t take the time one evening to just do it, we’d likely go another month–well into the spring–with images of us in the snow and sweaters on the boards, I picked a few of my favorite photos from the last few weeks, along with some great photos from previous springs, and went straight to CVS to develop them. (Shutterfly.com is the best option, I think, when you’ve planned ahead).

Then, I took around twenty minutes to arrange them on the boards, and it gave me great pleasure.

In Happier at Home, Rubin explains the whole reason she decided to write that book:

“I realized that of the many elements that influenced my happiness, my home–in all its aspects–was most important.”

And she shares a quote from British literary giant Samuel Johnson, that seems to put into words an underestimated truth:

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”

That’s why one section on this blog is dedicated to “Home,” and why it’s important we take the time to enjoy it and make it reflect the best parts of ourselves.

 

FLowers in pellegrino bottleP.S. I love embracing new seasons all over the home! Here’s my small, cheerful ode to spring on the bathroom sink.