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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Whose Mind Is It Anyway?

Summer reading Michelle Chahine Sinno

Whose Mind Is It Anyway Stress Michelle Chahine Sinno
Illustration from “Whose Mind Is It Anyway?”

One of the obstacles to work-life balance, and one of the keys to it at the same time, is what we choose to think about and focus on. It’s so easy to get into a loop of thinking (or even yet obsessing) about work, goals, deadlines, and things we hope to achieve. It’s just as easy to let stress overtake us too.

As we hit July, and the half-waypoint of 2016 passed, I couldn’t help but assess what I’ve done so far to reach my goals of getting my books published and growing this blog. And though I always strive to stay positive, inevitable stress ensued, along with self-criticism, and negative thoughts.

That’s where the danger of thought loops that can take over our days, even weeks, comes in. Sometimes we play tricks on ourselves.

As is often the case, I came across Whose Mind Is It Anyway? when it was exactly what I needed to read. Short and simple, it does what all good books do: Identify and put into words (and in this case drawings), things we need to be more aware and conscious of. It’s a fun guide to getting out of our own heads, with chapters on connecting with our hearts instead of just listening to what’s swirling in our minds, staying calm, avoiding stress and relinquishing control. Here’s a great trailer for the book, that shows the fun illustrations and some of the themes:

It’s worth a read, especially if you want to work on reducing stress, prioritizing what really matters, and finding more balance this summer.

Whose Mind Is It Anyway Ideas Inspiration Nature Michelle Chahine Sinno
Reading over breakfast this Friday morning.

 


Updated Monday July 18: Here’s a great excerpt from the book, if you’d like a preview.