Sara Blanchard – Book Journeys Author Interview Transcript – Feb. 16, 2017

Book Journeys Author Interview – Feb. 16, 2017

 

Jenn McRobbie with Sara Blanchard, author of Flex Mom: The Secrets of Happy Stay-at-Home Moms.

 

”The world could totally use your message and your light.” ~Sara Blanchard

 

Jenn:

Well, hello, everyone! It’s February 16, 2017, welcome to Book Journeys Radio. If you’re a first- time listener, every week on Book Journeys Radio we speak to accomplished authors who’ve gone from just having an idea to a finished book and who are out making a difference with that message in the world. Our goal for the show is for you to walk away inspired and motivated to write your book, whether it’s your first or your third. And today’s author is extremely motivating, her name is Sara Blanchard, she’s a life coach and a mom and she wrote a book entitled Flex Mom: The Secrets of Happy Stay-at-Home Moms. I  can’t wait to figure out how we can actually be happier staying at home by talking to Sara. So, Sara, welcome to the show!

 

Sara:

Thank you for having me!

 

Jenn:

I always begin our interviews with just a little snippet from you for our listeners on who is your book for, and what is it about?

 

Sara:

The book is for, ideally, moms who aren’t the effortless moms, who can manage to do it all, because I was never one of those moms. It’s the mom who is – hey, well-educated, former career person, … who wants to do right by their families and themselves, who’s having a hard time stuck in the hamster wheel of raising small children and who wants to find better ways for themselves to enjoy this time.

 

Jenn:

Where was your book ten years ago, when I first quit work and decided to stay at home?

 

Sara:

…, where was the book when I was staying at home, and why did it take me so darned long to figure it out?

 

Jenn:

Exactly! Well – and so, that – that leads us to a good question, how did you end up picking this as a topic to write about?

 

Sara:

…, it’s a great question. I have no – well, I do have an idea, but I think it was an interesting process, starting to come up with a book. I knew, when I – basically, when my kids were going back to school, … they were finally old enough to go to school full time, that I was ready to do something more. And my background has been in life coaching, and I’ve always – and positive psychology, mind-body-wellness, and I’ve always loved working with women, and so, when I first thought about writing a book, I was … “Well, … thing my friends and I are thinking about … the technology usage that we use and our kids use and I started thinking about –

 

Jenn:

Yeah, yes.

 

Sara:

– maybe cyberbullying is a topic, … there’s so many topics around … how to do child rearing well, and –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

– things that will help moms. So, I was going in circles, figuring out what I wanted to do, and Angela, the – of the Author Incubator, … pushed back and said, “Well, what’s your expertise in this?” And I … went, “Aaah, right, … I don’t know,” … – I just think I could research it and … it really well. And then, she pushed me a little bit more, … “What’s your experience, what’s your expertise,” and I … – in a moment of … “I don’t fricking know,” came up with, “If I had to write a book right now, it would be ‘Why Staying at Home Sucks,’ ‘What I Would Have Done Differently When My Children Were Little.’” And after much conversation, that really morphed into this idea of, there is a different way to do motherhood, and there is a way for us to be happy and take care of ourselves, even while we really … provide the nurturing, the care for our children.

 

Jenn:

Right. So, how do we do that? Give it to me in a nutshell!

 

Sara:

… In a nutshell, it really is creating the space and the structure in your life to not just take care of your own basic needs, … making sure you’re eating and exercising, getting enough sleep and that sort of stuff, ….

 

Jenn:

Right. We hear that all the time.

 

Sara:

Oh, yeah. … that’s the thing, it’s … you know the ice cream isn’t great for you but you’re gonna eat that over the vegetables? Probably, right?

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

… just ‘cause you know it doesn’t mean you’re doing it. And so, it’s really creating new habits to take care of yourself first, and then I think the crux of it is, above and beyond taking care of yourself, sign a goal for yourself outside the walls of your home. … figure out what it is that you stand for and give yourself space to fill that part of your life, because you get so much energy when you’re jazzed about what you’re doing and contributing to the world, that … your family will sense it and you will still bring that energy back into doing that extra wheel of stuff that we all have to do, when we raise small kids.

 

Jenn:

Right! Wow, that just gave me goosebumps, listening to you say that, because I feel …, right now, in particular, in our current … political environment, it’s so important for us to think about what we stand for. And it doesn’t have to be … politics or that you’re gonna go … to the Women’s March or do whatever, but who are we as people and what is really important to us?

 

Sara:

Absolutely. I think it’s easy to forget that, when you become a parent, especially for people – because you’re … “I’ve got to give it all to my children, I want my children to have an even better life than I’ve had,” and you wanna do everything … and you forget about yourself. ….

 

Jenn:

Right! Yeah, I think it’s super easy to forget about yourself. And then, after awhile, you … forget – at least, this happened to me, I … forgot who I was outside of being a mom.

 

Sara:

Yes! Absolutely! ….

 

Jenn:

And then, it took time for me to … figure out, … what – because you do change, … motherhood does change you, and … it took me some time to figure out, basically, who – who I wanted to be, I guess, when I grew up.

 

Sara:

Yeah, that was …, and it’s fun to explore that, though, ‘cause its – … you realize, actually, it’s not all set in stone, and I think I just wrote in response to a question I received about this, and it was … let’s assume, for a moment, that we are actually still human, and let’s assume that our value to society doesn’t diminish when we stop bearing children. We actually have even more to contribute, as women, and our value can go up, not – … it doesn’t have to go down, it doesn’t have to be … “Hey, you had your kids, you’re done now,” … those wise grandmothers, let’s be those people who stand for something,” and to be these powerful … lights in the world. ….

 

Jenn:

Oh, I love that. … you speak about this with such passion, but was it easy to write about it? Because it’s … personal experience, right?

 

Sara:

Yeah, … it’s interesting, the first draft of the book, I think, came out … ugly, came out – the reality was … – the hurt that I’d experienced, the resentment, the – … the things that you … go through when you lose yourself a bit?

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And that tone of voice came out, and then I was able to … heal thus, in some ways, so it was an interesting journey, writing it, and then you … change the tone, you’re … – actually, it is a lot more hopeful, … once you own the – the yucky stuff.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And the stuff you’re not proud of, and the experiences that you’ve had, you can really step into this … future version of yourself, the “what you wanna be when you grow up, and how do you wanna show up to the world in a much better way,” so that book writing process was actually very cathartic, too.

 

Jenn:

Aw, I love that! I love that you were able to … – so, … – you already knew your topic, but you – I guess you grew into it, as you were writing about it? Is that what I’m hearing?

 

Sara:

I think so, … I – I interviewed a lot of other women who, unknowingly, were doing this flex-mom role, this third model of motherhood, right between … stay-at-home mom and working mom, they were living life like that. They were more flexible in their mindset, they weren’t so rigid about … “I am a stay-at-home mother,” in fact … didn’t consider themselves that because, even though they were doing all the same things, because they had this outside passion. … they thought of themselves as this – there’s no name for it, but “I just do my thing,” … thing.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And so, using them as … role models, I was really able to shed the last bit of stuff that was holding me into that role, as a stay-at-home mom and step into this new one.

 

Jenn:

… I love this story, Sara, because it – I think it lets people know, who haven’t written a book yet but have that desire, deep in their heart – I think, sometimes, we wait to write until we have one hundred percent of the answers. And your tale is saying that you didn’t have a hundred percent of the answers, you discovered them as you were writing, and – and even began to create … in that process, and I love that, I think that’s such an important message to share with people.

 

Sara:

I agree, and it is hard because you – there’s a lot of people, especially … people who want to do well in the world, … that … impostor syndrome? Isn’t that ….

 

Jenn:

Yeah!

 

Sara:

Right? … who am I to be doing this? Am I not – when – but … – I really good enough, is this good enough, and you realize, we’re all still human and we’re all always gonna be changing and even people who are experts in the field who’ve done it for a long time, … have that same feeling of question, … “Am I – am I doing this exactly the way it’s supposed to be?” So, realizing that we’re all on this journey, … – I’m much better, having written this book versus the book on cyberbullying, for sure, … the experience and expertise in this realm –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

– and I have the words and the science, plus the positive … and all these things to put behind it, but it is still a process, and we’re all still working through it together and figuring it out as we go along, ‘cause – especially in motherhood, … it’s the same thing in motherhood and in – in parenthood, … just ‘cause you think you’ve figured something out with the kids, … they go on to the next stage, and then you have to figure it all out again. ….

 

Jenn:

Oh, girl, we won’t even get to this. We won’t even get started on that, you are so right. I have a ten-year-old and an almost-seven-year-old and I swear, every day is slightly different, it just is enough to send me off a cliff on some days. ….

 

Sara:

….

 

Jenn:

I think almost all moms feel that way. But what – where does the term “flex mom” come from?

 

Sara:

It’s a made up term. My girlfriend and I were chatting about this, and she was one of these people who was living in – the life of a flex mom without knowing it, and she and I discussed this idea … who I mentioned in the book, but she and I were having this conversation around, why has parenting and motherhood so far been dictated by where we are, … you’re either at home or at work, and – aren’t we mothers, no matter where in the world we are? … I don’t know, I could be flying to the other side of the country or the world and I’m still a mother.

 

Jenn:

Good point.

 

Sara:

And so, she, amazingly creative, her family is, … super creative and intelligent and amazing, and she has a whiteboard, and she … – … go to Costco after this exercise and buy myself a whiteboard. But on her whiteboard, she started brainstorming, what is this “in between,” … what is this mindset, what do we call it? And we started just throwing words out there and seeing what stuck and things like “dynamom” and … these in-between words kept coming up, and I said I would feel like a shmuck, I would never call myself a “dynamom,” but ….

 

Jenn:

“Dynamom,” yeah.

 

Sara:

That was not gonna work, but “flex mom” really felt like something – … it encompasses this idea of flexibility, which is really what it is, you’re not one or the other, you’re really in this zone that you’re creating for yourself and constantly checking with your own gut and figuring out what the right answer is as you go, and it just – it’s it. ….

 

Jenn:

I love that. And … I think listening to you talk about it, it’s not just for stay-at-home moms, …. it’s like you said, it’s for all people who are mothers, whether they’re … dog mothers or human mothers or adoptive mothers, or – … I think all of us who mother someone or something share these traits when we forget about ourselves and what – what we want – the impact we want to make on the world beyond raising our kids or pets.

 

Sara:

Yeah, and that’s true. I’ve gotten feedback from people who are working parents, and I’ve actually just spoken to a fur – fur mommy, fur baby mommy, and –

 

Jenn:

Great!

 

Sara:

– and also an adoptive mom, and it absolutely applies to anybody who feels that they are in a position to nurture somebody else and also want to remember to nurture themselves.

 

Jenn:

I love that! And so, you said you’ve just talked to all these different people, but now I think you’re starting up … a beta program, so now is the time for people to get it in with you, right?

 

Sara:

Totally, it is, yeah. I’m in the process of – so many people who want to have help, going through this … – to have more space in their lives, to figure out what it is that they want to contribute, and we’re playing around with different program formats that’ll fit in the lives of a busy mom, and we’re launching it sometime in the next month, so, yeah, we’re just in the process of having conversations, so anybody who wants to be in touch, now is definitely the time.

 

Jenn:

Excellent. And … just so you know, “flex mom” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have big biceps or … triceps, right? It can be any kind of mom.

 

Sara:

…. On Facebook, there is a #flexmom, and I was …, no, we’re not doing that one. We’re gonna do #flexmombook because it is not about your muscles, though I mean, hey, it’s exercise, … we’ll all get stronger, that’s great, but that’s not the intention here.

 

Jenn:

That’s not the goal, … and just to remind everyone that they can – you can find Sara at flexmombook.com, so if you Google “flex mom” you might come up with some pretty interesting photos, but flexmombook.com is where you can find Sara.

 

Sara:

Yeah, absolutely. That’s hilarious.

 

Jenn:

So, I wanna … take you back a little bit to the writing process. How long did it take you, from the start of your book to actually being published?

 

Sara:

I started writing – I actually started brainstorming when my daughter started school – … the youngest one just entered Kindergarten –

 

Jenn:

Okay.

 

Sara:

– so I started in September.

 

Jenn:

Wow.

 

Sara:

And where are we? February? And it was just published, which is amazing.

 

Jenn:

Wow! That is simply amazing. What was different about that process than you expected, other than it being much shorter?

 

Sara:

Yeah, obviously, it was much shorter. It wasn’t as difficult than I thought it was gonna be. … people are …, “Oh, my gosh, you wrote a book, and it’s such a … big accomplishment,” and while I’m a – absolutely happy to celebrate it as an accomplishment, it doesn’t feel like it was … it wasn’t as bad as birthing a child, right? ….

 

Jenn:

….

 

Sara:

But it was … – it was actually amazing, because of the way the Author Incubator structures its programs, really nail you down at the very beginning.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

Makes you really question what’s your expertise in, and the structure that she has in her program – first three to four weeks before you even start writing the opening line of your book –

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

– were amazing. … that – that part was painful. That was very difficult, it was soul searching, there were definitely emotional nights … venting to my husband for … “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

 

Jenn:

What have we done? What have we signed up for?

 

Sara:

Oh, totally, and I’m … “Let’s just get that nightcap, hey? Shall we just have a drink and we’ll work it out!” But –

 

Jenn:

… but a lot of other authors have said, once they get through that phase, that – because you’ve spent so much time really fleshing out your ideas and you get such clarity that the writing part … flows. Did you find that for yourself?

 

Sara:

Yes. …. Yeah. I – yeah, absolutely, I’ve – I never experienced writer’s block.

 

Jenn:

Wow. ….

 

Sara:

It – it was just sit down and – and get ‘er done, so going through that process made it amazing, yeah, it was – it was really a good process, I was very pleased with it for sure. ….

 

Jenn:

Did you then take each step as it came up, or did you spend some time … envisioning what your book would look like at the end?

 

Sara:

I – I agonized, because – myself more angst by trying to jump ahead to that stage, probably? ….

 

Jenn:

Oh, yes, I’d like to hear that. I’d like to hear that, because – yeah, a lot of authors that we talk to, they talk about … they have these really great visions and they can go back to the vision and – and really fuel themself with that future vision, but I found, when I was writing, that, if I tried to concentrate on that, it would send me in a complete tailspin.

 

Sara:

Yeah. I – that’s … where I was, because then it was these external expectations. … there was – there was one time I submitted a writing sample – … a couple of paragraphs, and I had had some of my old colleagues flash – people … greatly admire slash – … the amazing people who write these great academic pieces.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

Their books, I had just referenced through them that morning, a couple of days in leading into this particular writing session, and they were sitting next to me, and I wrote, and – … give me feedback, … “What happened to you?” … “Where did your tone go?” “Who are you trying to be?” and … “Gimme Sara back.”

Jenn:

Wow.

 

Sara:

Basically. Because I had adopted this tone, ‘cause I’d been thinking, “Well, I wanna impre – I wanted to be like this, I wanted – I wanna impress these people. I wanna do that.” So, I had to continue to write it back in and coach through to my voice and be – it was a lot more internal work, it was … “I am – I know I’m good at certain things, and let’s just go back to my strengths and … live in that space and not worry about the other stuff,” because if I do my work the way I’m meant to, it’s gonna be awesome, and I just needed to trust that.

 

Jenn:

Oh, I love that. … one of the hallmarks of the Author Incubator program – I’m sure you’ve heard this over and over again, though listeners may not – is that the whole idea of writing a book should be a love letter to your ideal reader. ….

 

Sara:

….

 

Jenn:

Yeah, what I’m hearing you say is, when you … forgot that – … that’s what you are meant to be doing, which is writing a love letter that – … you veered off course.

 

Sara:

Absolutely, yeah, and it was amazing, … that – that image of writing that love letter, it was such a good one, because you were – I was able to come back to it every time, … oops, …, and get called on it every time I – I strayed, she was really good at … “You know, this is different,” and you want your tone throughout the book to be consistent.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

So, it was really helpful for that – for that perspective, too, and that’s the tone I most resonate with is – … when I was teaching positive psych, or as a – as a – teaching cello … as an assistant, and I was running sections, one of my biggest strengths with the kids is – students commented on was my ability to have one-on-one conversations to care about each individual, and so, it naturally spoke to my strengths to be able to come back to writing this love letter.

 

Jenn:

Right, which is great, because it made it easier for you, once you … kicked into that mode, you’re … “Oh, right! That’s the way I’m supposed to be doing it!”

 

Sara:

Totally. It was a great process, for sure.

 

Jenn:

So, that was all the writing process, what about the editing process, was that tough for you?

 

Sara:

Not as much, actually. I was pleasantly surprised at my own reactions, … sometimes people can criticize your work or give you feedback, and you’re … “No, it’s really good the way it is.”

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

And I think because – … you don’t wanna hear – you don’t wanna hear the suggestions, or you bristle at any suggestion that you haven’t done it right, and instead, whether it’s the way that my editor and then a good friend of mine, who edits – … does this sort of work, … she also took a look through it and gave me feedback. But it’s – she was the one who, at the very beginning, made sure that my tone didn’t stay in that negative, … yucky tone, too? And brought me …, but … people – when people know you and know the intention that you’re trying to get through, and I could sense with the editors that I was working with that that was their vision, was to make sure that it was consistent, it was good, it was gonna have an impact to the person who I wrote the love letter to.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And so, it was a lot of high-level suggestions, I had expected a lot of nitty-gritty, but once we got the big picture dialed in, I was able to get feedback on the smaller stuff and realize that it was actually flowing pretty well.

 

Jenn:

Oh. Which is – which is a great feeling.

 

Sara:

Yeah. … I … thought I was gonna get a lot more feedback and suggestions for how to change it, but going back to … “Well, when you know what you’re writing, you can … deliver a decent enough product,” I was … “Alright, cool, well, maybe – maybe we ….”

 

Jenn:

Right, what I – what I love about that is that it means you had reached that level where you were the expert, this was your topic. That’s why it’s – … what’s going so smoothly.

 

Sara:

We did a – at the Castle, at the Author Castle, we did an exercise where it’s … OMG, but it’s “Own My Genius,” ….

 

Jenn:

Oh, I love that!

 

Sara:

Right? There’s … “Lets just step into that space for a minute, and … live in all the possibility, then, that we’re all actually doing okay,” and – and I think I had stepped into that – into that space, so it was nice. It was really nice.

 

Jenn:

That – that’s awesome. That’s awesome. … I didn’t ask you, though, and I usually ask people this, I don’t know why I forgot, but why a book? … you could just be out there, … running programs, … meeting moms, teaching them how to be flex moms, why – why’d you settle on a book? … you could just be out there, … running programs, … meeting moms, teaching them how to be flex moms, why – why’d you settle on a book?

 

Sara:

Well, it’s a twofold answer. One, randomly, I happened to look back – this is after I’d already signed up for the program, I was in the process of those agonizing first few weeks of deciding what I was writing on and how to write it, and ….

 

Jenn:

Right, the painful part.

 

Sara:

Yes. But I opened up my old coaching notebook, from when I was – when I took coach training and … just – to … just blast my brain with … potential fodder for what I might include in the book.

 

Jenn:

Right.

 

Sara:

And in it – … ten year goals, … my lifelong goals, or whatever, and in it was “Write a book.” And I’m … “W – well, this is just about ten years out from when I wrote those goals, I had no memory of having written it –

 

Jenn:

Wow!

 

Sara:

– and so, I’m sure, somewhere in my brain, … it was just meant to be, at this time, the right time for me to write a book. And it’s something about – so, I guess it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I always liked the idea of having a flexible platform. … you can write within this flex mom life as well, and so, having a place to really pull everything together, in a – in a time frame that works for my life was awesome, as well.

 

Jenn:

Oh, I love that! What a great story! So, it was almost … the universe drove you to – to fulfilling that goal that you’d come up with ten years ago.

 

Sara:

Right? I seriously … – I was shocked, and I’m … “This is pretty cool,” … yes, this is supposed to happen.

 

Jenn:

You’re … “Okay, that’s … weird.”

 

Sara:

Yeah. But – but also, as you said, going through the process really made me step into this role as a flex mom and work out a lot of the kinks, and as a work in progress, as any – as anything is, because, as times change, as people change, the process does shift and grow.

 

Jenn:

Right!

 

Sara:

But it was nice to have a way to work through it, it was a good platform to … use to solidify the idea and then think about what kind of program I would launch on the back of it. It was … a good stepping stone in the whole process of spreading this message of, there’s a way for us to be happy and good moms, too.

 

Jenn:

Oh, I love that. So, your book just published recently, but has anything … super amazing happened since publishing that you couldn’t have foreseen, before you wrote the book?

 

Sara:

Something amazing, there have been so many amazing things, and I have to say, the coolest thing though, and bringing it – and this is, maybe, my cheesiness, but my daughter wrote me – my eight-year-old daughter wrote me a letter that said – and I wish I had it in front of me, but it was something … “My mom is a flex mom. I’m so proud of you for having written the book. You’ve always looked for the light even when things looked dark. You’re such a positive person and who couldn’t love someone like that?” And I’m ….

 

Jenn:

Oh, my goodness.

 

Sara:

She was that – … I do flex mom for myself, but if it can have that kind of impact on my children and show them that it’s okay to pursue your own happiness and strive for a goal and reach for it, I’m … that’s probably the coolest thing so far that’s ….

 

Jenn:

Yeah, that – that is, by far, the coolest. … it’s always wonderful to know that you’re helping and reaching other adults, but … our goal as moms is to raise … people that will actually contribute to society in a positive way, right?

 

Sara:

Right? Totally! And I’m … “… this is a baby step,” … it was so wonderful to have that acknowledgement and the openness of conversation and her awareness around. It was – it just blew me away, so I was really –

 

Jenn:

Oh, I’m so jealous, that’s so awesome, what a wonderful, wonderful testament to the flex mom lifestyle, and how – how it’s being passed to your children and people around you, it’s wonderful!

 

Sara:

Appreciate it, ….

 

Jenn:

And I’m actually super sad, because we’re nearing the end of our time, and I feel like I could keep talking to you for hours and hours, but I want to remind our listeners, before Blog Talk Radio completely cuts us off, that they can find you at flexmombook.com, right?

 

Sara:

Yes.

 

Jenn:

And where else can they find you?

 

Sara:

They can reach me via e-mail at [email protected][email protected] You can find me on Facebook with … facebook.com/sarablanchardauthor, and – yeah, that’s my main stuff. Instagram – ….

 

Jenn:

Yeah, and Amazon. Go to Amazon … buy the book, it – it will apply to your life, whether you are a mother or not. The – the topics that Sara covers, and – and the – the important message that she shares is one that’s good for all of us, even though it’s focused on moms. Sara, thank you so much for being on the show today, this has been such a pleasure.

 

Sara:

Thank you so much, it was really fun chatting with you, Jenn.

 

Jenn:

Great. Well, we’ve got … one minute left, and so, before we go, I always ask our authors, if you had … one piece of advice for someone who was sitting there, listening to us right now, who really feels like there’s a book in them but they just can’t bring themself to write, what piece of advice would you give them?

 

Sara:

I would say, figure out what it is that’s holding you back and bust through it, because the world could totally use your message and your light. No good held inside there, yeah.

 

Jenn:

…. That’s right. “The world can use your message and your light.” #sarablanchard, not #fla – flexmom, #flexmombook. And with that, that concludes another episode of Book Journeys Radio, please join me again next week, when I speak to another accomplished author who’s gone from having an idea for a book to a finished book and out making a difference in the world.

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