Name: Kim Tracy Prince
Web Site: http://www.kimtracyprince.com/about-me/
Bio: I am a writer. Most of my material is on the web, but the best stuff is still in my journal under the bed.
Posts by ktprince:
In my last post I told you about how I was considering two different full time jobs. That turn of events was a big deal because I’ve been freelancing and working from home for several years, and the whole office job thing, being away from the kids after school, was big and scary in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.
I compared the jobs to each other using many different criteria. I tortured my husband with my back-and-forth. I called my mother and cried on the phone. I closed my eyes and imagined my life in this job…and then in that job. I had about two days to make a very big decision. On the morning I was meant to call and accept or reject an offer, I was driving home from dropping off the middle schooler and I said out loud “I need a sign!”
And then it hit me: I already got my sign.
By the time I interviewed for this job, I had been “on the market” for several months, so I was comfortable (if a bit bored) talking about myself. The position was at the school district, where people knew me and I knew people. I’m a big fan of the district so it was a good fit.
This interview was with a panel of six people, arranged opposite me at a conference room table. It seemed intimidating but I looked at each face, registering them, cataloguing whether I knew them or not. One woman looked familiar, and she was staring at me intently with a little smile on her face. Maybe she was trying to send me a message, I wonder now. I asked her, “Have we worked together before?”
“I’m Lisa’s cousin,” she said.
I sucked in my breath and felt chills run up and down my body. Tears sprang to my eyes. I don’t remember what I said, but I knew I had to suck it up and move on, to conduct myself professionally. The woman apologized for bringing up a sad memory, but I said “No, thank you, it’s a wonderful thing.”
Because it was.
Lisa died five years ago today. Suddenly, unexpectedly, at the height of physical fitness and poised to take on the world. Five years is a very long time. Enough that my children barely remember her, enough that she missed world events we take for granted, enough that maybe you, reading here, don’t recall the pain and loss I have poured out on this site.
Two years ago I started writing a novel inspired by my friend, or more accurately, by a vision I had when I was grieving her. One year ago I began revising it. This year, I continue. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month – this mass movement gives me an energy boost, and I am indeed committed to finishing the story. It’s not really about Lisa, but it’s filled with my love for her, and my missing her. Maybe people will recognize her ebullient spirit in the character. Maybe not. But it will be enough for me to complete what I started.
Writing a novel is no joke, especially now that I have a full time, out of the home job. In fact, I sat down to work on the manuscript last night, but I found myself looking through photos and old blog posts.* I didn’t cry until I got to the pictures of Lisa with my son Kyle, her godson. It’s not just me who is missing out on having Lisa in my life. It’s my kids, too.
On that morning over a month ago, driving on the 101, I remembered my sign. Tears welled up in my eyes again, and I felt a sense of peace. When I got home I called the school district and accepted the offer. I withdrew from consideration for the other opportunity. And now Lisa’s cousin, Carolyn, is the coworker who sits right next to me, who took me around and introduced me to everyone, and even showed me where to get hot lunch at the middle school next door. You know, the important things.
With Carolyn this Halloween. In the office. Obvs.
I suppose it could be a coincidence. I suppose.
*I’ve mentioned Lisa many times here, before and after her death, but it’s her OWN blogs that I cherish. I helped her set up her original site where she chronicled her medical issues, and then she branched out to a general personal site. Now that she is gone, these blogs are treasures. Dip into one of them for bit, and you can almost hear her…
The Pie Life, a new book by work/life balance expert Samantha Ettus, is a shoulder to cry on for working parents everywhere. And I mean that to include work at home parents, and even parents who are not currently working to earn an income, but working solely to care for their children and homes.
Recipe For Success
Using the analogy that your life is a pie and imagining different aspects as the different slices of the pie, Ettus advises women who want to have thriving careers as well as families and rich experiences in every area that is important. For a delicious and satisfying pie, Ettus says, you need to jettison the guilt and be mindful as you work toward your goal.
My take away from reading The Pie Life is a soothing message from Ettus, who has launched herself at success in every aspect of her own life with an organized ferocity, an eye-on-the-prize attitude that has landed her with a very active career, a happy marriage, and three lovely happy children. Plus, she’s fit, has great friends, and is active in her community.
But Ettus herself admits that not everything in her life is always as rosy as it looks on social media, for example, so you can’t even hate her for perfect life. At the end of The Pie Life, she confesses that as she finished this book, she fell ill, suffered personal losses, and events in her schedule piled on top of one another. This experience is an example, though, of how Ettus has learned to take a deep breath and remember: everything is going to be alright.
As I read The Pie Life, that mantra was the message I kept hearing. Ettus’s voice is inclusive of all types of parents, and she shares what worked for her and might work for you: the mom who wants to keep all the balls in the air but could really use a helping hand. She also shares stories from many other women, some who struggled greatly to find the right setup for their own families. So whether you are just starting a family or want to someday, or you have children now and you’re balancing career and family life, or you’re not currently working—for women in any of these scenarios, Ettus encourages you to just start somewhere. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Throw away feelings of guilt.
A Case Study
In fact, I was knee deep in my own search for a new job when a review copy of The Pie Life arrived in my mailbox. Although I have been a working mom all these years, the past few have been spent working at home while the kids are in school or with my husband or a sitter. I’ve had a great flexible schedule, and initially I was searching for more work that I could do this way. I ignored job openings that were full time in an office, because I felt I needed to be at home and available for my kids.
The problem with that goal was that I wasn’t finding anything that fit my needs. My freelance work has been drying up, and while blogging is very lucrative for some people, it hasn’t been so for me in the last few years as I focused on running the parent group at my sons’ elementary school.
So when two very interesting full time jobs opened up near me recently, I fantasized about applying for them, and further, to what life would be like if I took one of the jobs. I’d bring in steady income, and I would be learning, contributing, and working on a team. I love my freelance life, but I have craved human interaction and feedback, too. Still, I hesitated because…the kids! They need me!
The Pie Life helped me broaden my horizons. As I completed an email with a kicky cover letter and my resume attached, I hovered my mouse over the “send” button, and thought of Ettus’s words:
Throw out these three ridiculous yardsticks—juggling, balancing, and having it all—and lose the guilt, too. There is no more useless ingredient, so to bake this pie, we must let it go.
I clicked “Send.” In less than an hour, I had lined up an interview.
Within a week, I was considering two full time jobs. Both were interesting and provided a useful service to people, which is very important to me. They would also utilize my writing, technical, and people skills. I went back and forth and agonized over the choice: which was better for me? Which was better for my family? In the end, I accepted an offer* to work closer to home with a schedule that gets me back to the house only a few hours after school gets out. I hired a beloved caregiver for those hours, and my husband’s academic schedule will allow him to be present during winter and summer breaks.
Everything’s going to be okay. Maybe even great.
Life’s Little Recipe Book
Now that that’s handled, Ettus’s instructions for deciding how I want my pie to be sliced and how to maximize satisfaction and happiness in each one of them will come in handy. Her interpretation of time-tested organization and time management skills using this baking analogy makes me kind of hungry, I’ll admit, but it’s much more pleasant to imagine a nice tasty apple pie than a whiteboard or a post-it note chart. I’ll use my Google Calendar so much it’ll send smoke out of my computer and smartphone, and I’ll find time to bake an actual pie.
The Pie Life is a great read for any person who feels like her life is out of balance. The book will help you let go of the myth that balance is achievable, but that happiness in all areas of your life is a possibility. And that’s a tasty pie indeed.
The Pie Life
$23.36 on Amazon
(available today for pre-order, to be released September 27, 2016)
*Yes, this is big news, considering all my kvetching about being a stay at home mom (or work at home mom, whichever I feel like calling myself on any given day). I start next week. Tune in soon to read more navel-gazing about this enormous life change.
If you’re planning a Costa Rica vacation Arenal Lodge is a place I would recommend.
In June 2016 I made a dream come true—I took my family on an epic vacation in Costa Rica. I am sharing photos periodically, because if I blog about it, I won’t forget.
After three nights at Playa Potrero, we packed up our little rented Hyundai and headed inland to Arenal National Park, a frequently visited jungle area around Lake Arenal, with Volcano Arenal at its eastern end. In this post, I am sharing photos from one place: Arenal Lodge.
View from our room
On the northern shore of Lake Arenal at the top of the hills with a stunning view of Volcano Arenal, this lodge is spread out over acres of land. Our room was in a free-standing chalet. One entire wall was made of glass, facing the volcano, where we sat for hours watching the clouds gather and shift, and lightning storms advancing from the horizon. At the main building we arranged for our activities, found a pool table, and enjoyed a nice caipirinha and a hot tub soak. Everything is overgrown with moss and vegetation, now matter how quickly the staff tries to keep up with nature, so it has a bit of a lonely remote feeling, even though it’s easy enough to get down the hill and to the more populated activities and the local town of La Fortuna.
We could have stayed there much longer. We want to go back. Pura vida!
Just sitting here was our favorite thing to do
This was their second favorite
Ours was the last chalet on the right
Stewart explored the botanical trail
The kids and I went horseback riding
No helmets, and ropes for reins
The guides spoke very little English
Best day ever
Does the world need another book about motherhood?
Because So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood from the Her Stories Project is a collection of essays by mothers about advice they were given or wish they were given. And I’m so proud that the book will include an essay I wrote about an epic struggle between a mother and a strong-willed child. Let it serve as advice to mothers everywhere: I went through this, and I survived.
The official release date is August 23. Stay tuned for more details.
I’m pretty excited to have my essay published in this anthology alongside work from wonderful, accomplished writers. Maybe someone, somewhere, will buy this book, read my story, and say “Me, too” and feel less alone.
Back to school reading for grownups.
By the time a woman is thirty, she has experienced loss, most likely. It’s true for men too, I’m sure, but in Letters For Scarlet, a book about grief, friendship, grace, and courage, the losses are felt most keenly through the eyes of two former best friends, girls who have grown into women with missing pieces.
Corie is a teacher outside of Los Angeles who stayed in her hometown, married her high school sweetheart, and is struggling to get pregnant. She cherishes her extended family, caring for the children of her sister, a carefree soul who has a colorful side story in this novel. Her husband, Tuck, is frequently absent because of his medical sales job, so Corie makes the most of the times when he is home.
Scarlet is the prodigal friend, the one who left. She is a lawyer in San Francisco, an ambitious loner with few friends. The ones she does let in, though, are close to her heart. She’s accidentally pregnant with her boyfriend Gavin who adores her and wishes he could get closer. Clara is her confidante and sidekick, who allows Scarlet to lean on her when she is down.
Corie and Scarlet haven’t spoken in ten years. They have both allowed the rift to scar over, and it seems they will go on forever this way, until Corie receives a letter in the mail…from herself.
In their senior year of high school, the students in Corie’s English class wrote letters to themselves ten years in the future. Rich with expectation and hope, Corie’s letter assumed she’d be married to Tuck, a secret she kept from Scarlet at the time, because the three of them were best friends, seemingly unencumbered by romance. As the reader learns when adult Corie hears from student Corie, everything changed when tragedy hit the merry group of friends. A tragedy that sent Scarlet away, and Corie and Tuck missing her for a decade.
Once you’ve experienced such a loss—your friend or family member died, your relationship imploded, your dreams were dashed—that space inside you is never really full again. You learn to live with it, to somehow get through a day, and then another, and then look! Five years have gone by since she died. How did that happen?
Corie and Scarlet live their lives this way. They experience plenty of joy and love, but there’s a sadness in their thoughts that tempers every emotion. Corie clearly seeks redemption. Scarlet just wants to blot the feelings out completely.
But it’s Corie’s pining for her old friend that reaches into you and pulls your heartstrings right out of your chest. Gardner’s language is infused with pain and hope in equal measure. She gives Corie a voice through her letters—as the title implies there is a high school letter for Scarlet, but that falls into Corie’s hands. This prompts her to add her own, and she continues, journal-like, to write to Scarlet, pouring out her years of separation, her private yearning for a baby, her doubts and frustrations.
Gardner describes the scenes with such detail, enough that you feel like you’re really there, but not so much that you lose track of the story. It all feels like it’s heading to something inevitable, but just like in real life, characters are messy and unpredictable. Nothing works out like you expect it to, and that’s the real beauty of Letters For Scarlet. Like a packet of letters from an old friend, this book is a worthy companion.