How is it even possible — having three bestselling novels published in three years while simultaneously raising three boys under the age of 6? Sarah Jio, author of the newly-released bestselling novel, Blackberry Winter ($11, Amazon), and a work-at-home mom, has proven that her version of having it all is possible, making it look pretty good in the process!
The method behind Sarah's "having it all" mentality is derived from a combination of constantly striving toward that allusive place where the "grass is always greener" and taking time to enjoy the moments in her everyday life. "For me," Sarah confesses, "the fun isn't in the having it all, but in the journey." She continues by saying, "... [Having it all] means more about being happy about my status quo — grateful, really — and yet being excited about what's to come in life."
And, it's a method that's proven successful for Sarah, both professionally and personally, and when asked, Sarah says that she does, in fact, think that moms can have it all — a career, a family and a life — especially once they recognize that they can make their own rules for their own journey.
There's no doubt you're thinking to yourself right now — "How does this work?" How does Sarah Jio manage to write novels while being home with her kids... and without going completely insane? Most moms would say that they can't even take a five-minute shower without disaster striking in their house, let alone turn out a few thousand coherent words that come together beautifully into her novels, Blackberry Winter, plus The Violets of March and The Bungalow, Sarah's first and second novels.
You'll be grateful to know that even as Sarah's career is growing by leaps and bounds with each successful novel (number four is due out in May 2013 and she is already working on three more that are under contract with Penguin Books!), she too is an everyday mom. And just like the rest of us who will happily check getting the clean underwear put away at home, Sarah's day typically includes what seems like too many hours running back and forth to school pick-up and drop-off, squeezing in her to-do list and projects while her littlest boys nap and after they go to bed (early bedtimes for the kids are a must in the Jio household!) and even, at times when the day doesn't run as smoothly as she intends, begging her husband to come home as soon as his own busy work-life allows and giving in to a glass of wine while she leaves her work behind and takes time to cook dinner.
And for Sarah, this is exactly what "having it all" encompasses — living a full life with her family and living a full life as a writer. Sarah says, about making this work-home marriage successful for her and her family, "Sometimes it works beautifully, other times it's a big flop. But I try to be productive every day. The key word here is try."
In Blackberry Winter, Sarah tells the story of a single mom, Vera, who is raising her son in the 1930s, an era where, in the thick of the depression, making ends meet and surviving the struggles of day-to-day life were far more of a pressing concern than having it all. "Obviously, women today have so many options, while women in the depression-era did not," Sarah shares. "There was little work. Little education opportunities. And for single mothers? Well, the chances of having a fulfilling, comfortable life were slim. I have tremendous admiration for the single mothers of yesterday and today."
Despite being a woman in a time that is a far cry from the 1930s, Sarah Jio has still created her own path. While the year 2012 is certainly more progressive when it comes to supporting women and particularly mothers who have careers or want to find a balance between their lives as successful career women and successful mothers, they still face adversity at times.
Sarah shares about a time early in her life as a mother — in fact, as a very new mother — just a couple of weeks after her oldest son was born. "I ventured out for a business lunch with an editor I'd been working with for a while. After hearing me talk about my goal of balancing motherhood and writing, she looked at me and said something I'd never forget, 'You're not going to be able to do both.'" Sarah recalls, "It scared me and made me question everything I had hoped for. But then I remembered that this was my life and my journey. So, I chucked that advice out the window and decided to be the best mom I could be and the best writer too. I'm so glad I didn't take that advice!"
Photo credit: Jane Lee Photography
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