As I said, I can't believe reader questions were so popular that they took us the better part of five weeks to get through, but they were such good questions and the response was so enthusiastic--hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have. (And if you have follow-ups or questions I somehow missed, holler!)
Melissa the Artist wanted to know if it's possible to have it all, career, family, social life, hobbies, etc. The short answer is NO. It isn't. I don't mean that to be disheartening. What I mean is that if you try to be a perfect size 6 with a fabulous marriage, gorgeous children, award-winning books, and known for your superb party-throwing skills while you crank out stunning artwork, cook four-course gourmet meals, and volunteer for Greenpeace, you will end up nuttier than a squirrel's cheeks in autumn. It cannot be done, at least not by normal women who like to sleep more than twenty minutes a night. You have to set priorities and figure out what matters. When you know what matters, you pay attention to that and let the rest go. That's it--the secret to happiness right there. I have a wonderful relationships with my husband, child, and parents because those are the ones I pay attention to and invest in. I work hard at my writing and all the attendant business of being a writer.
And that's it. Those are my two main priorities. Everything else gets worked in where I can make it work, and if I can't, it goes. I cut out the things that I don't enjoy, am not good at, or don't have time for. I don't entertain because dinner parties make me want to slit my own throat with a butter knife. I'd much rather meet someone for a meal out and get to relax and really enjoy their company than worry about ironing napkins or what temperature the wine is. So I gave up entertaining and my life got vastly simpler. I also combine things whenever possible. My husband and I take a yoga class together. We get to spend the evening doing something healthy, and I'm MUCH more motivated when we're in the same class than if I go alone. On weekends, he takes our daughter to the animal shelter to volunteer, giving them time with one another and securing her service credits for school while I spend the time getting my work done so I can hang out with them the rest of the weekend. My mother and I usually always run errands together or schedule our chiropractor visits at the same time so we can spend that time chattering and having lunch. (It's eco-friendly AND social. Can't beat that.) The truth is, Melissa, you can make exactly the life you want for yourself so long as you think carefully about what you want and make the choices that are going to get you there.