I want to introduce a series I'm beginning today called "Inspirational Women." Some of the people I'll be featuring may be new to you, but they may also have familiar names and faces. I want to highlight women who are especially normal, but also especially remarkable.The point of the series is not to make you feel less-than these special ladies, but to feel inspired to reach your full potential by the wisdom they've agreed to share with us. Who knows... your story could be next!
Today we begin with Kelsey Austin. Local to Bridgeton, she's a wife, mother of three, editor, author of her own plays, short stories, essays, and songs. She also collaborates with a writer out of San Diego. Most recently she and Joe Udall worked together on, "It Ain't Messy Til It's Sally Jesse" and hosted a reading/ talk back at The New Dodges Market. (That's where I got all of these pictures of her in action). Oh, she happens to be my friend and today is her birthday! I thought that was the perfect date to post this interview where she weighs in on her go-to weeknight meal ideas, what its like to be a working Mom, and the success that she's most proud of.
Of the many roles you play in your personal life- wife, mother, friend, teacher (previously), and writer- which do you feel is the most challenging and why?
Which role is most challenging? That's hard. I feel most responsible for my children and I probably put most of my energy into them, but they are ridiculously fun and life-giving. They do give me ENORMOUS amounts of laundry and very little sleep, but it's worth it. They've helped me to move into a more self-less Self and I now have so much to laugh about. I suppose what's challenging is finding balance between all the roles and keeping inner peace. It's easy to become overwhelmed, but if I slow down and purposefully try to enjoy what I have in that moment, I'm much better off and the kids benefit as well.
How do you 'do it all?'
I don't do it all. I had to laugh, because I often deduct points from my overall grade throughout the day when I see overflowing toy boxes and trashcans. I rarely have it all together. I decided one day to organize my time so I am doing two or three things that I need to/like to do and the rest of it gets the leftover. I schedule in writing each day because I found that this time is easily eaten up by everything else and then I'm left feeling strange because I need to write. So, there are rooms that are messier than I like, but I needed to reduce my cleaning and organizing in order to write. I just close my eyes when I see a stack of who-knows-what in front of me. Also, I had you, Jessica, come in and help me organize and declutter so I had less to worry about in general. If the mess gets out-of-hand, I know that I will get to it eventually and it won't be more than I can handle.
Which success are you the most proud of, and why?
I am most proud of my family. Truly. My four Austins are great. They are brave and creative and so patient. When I'm in my whirlwind they are very good at waiting and finding some way to help me or amuse themselves. It's nice to live with team-players.
What is your advice for women who want to have a family and a career?
I would tell them that they can certainly have both. Family can enrich your output in a career and careers can help family-life if you get a charge from what you do. It's important to listen to "the inner voice of love" (I think it was Nouwen who wrote about that) and move accordingly. It's easy to get caught up in ourselves and our dreams and ambitions and insecurities and the like and lose sight of the big picture. Maybe it's more helpful to take life as a whole and not a series of tasks. Human beings can be creative and enthusiastic, but we can easily slip into discontentment. So, family will not guarantee happiness and neither will a career. Listen closely to the One and be happy being. Do what makes you tick, but remember to stop, look around you, and be thankful.
Share your favorite weeknight dinner idea with us (that kids will actually eat).
Wraps are our go-to. I like to have a variety of protein sources on hand--chicken, ground meat, shrimp, scrambled eggs, and beans--as well as both corn and flour wraps. I also keep the fridge stocked with salad greens, cheeses, salsa, baby carrots and hummus. As the kids grow, they can make up their wraps to their liking as long as they include a protein and vegetable. (The carbs come easily because my kids are great fans of everything carbohydrate. Ha.)
Your dream date night- where would you go and what would you do (within an hour of home, you have a babysitter for six hours)?