It’s a Juggling Act, Not a Balancing Act 1

With Anna and Elsa

“Did I see [recent movie]?” Only if it starred a princess.

Thirteen hours. I think that’s the name of an upcoming movie, or maybe it already came out.* I have three kids, so I have no idea about movies unless they involve princesses or now Star Wars. Anyway, that’s not the 13 hours I’m talking about. I’m talking about the total number of hours I was home before having to head to the airport again (seven of which were spent sleeping, one of which was spent doing laundry).

I am currently somewhere in the sky between LA and Chicago, where I will change planes and go to Washington, D.C. I am super excited about going to D.C. because I’ll be one of the speakers at the White House’s United State of Women Summit. It’s a huge deal. I mean, I’m on the list of speakers right under Warren Buffet (OK, so the list is alphabetical, but dude, I’m on the same list). And the president is going to be there. For the record, I have widely said there are only two people I would actually ask to take a selfie with me if I ran into them and that is the Pope and Obama – and Obama will be there in the same greater area as me. So I’m really excited and honored about this incredible opportunity.

I came back last night from a conference in Flagstaff that was one of those events that you going into not sure what to expect. It turned out to be incredible. It was this amazing opportunity to show our games to really engaged and authentic group of educators who were really interested in what we’re doing and who saw the value in it. It was like talking about our games to people who got it what we’re trying to do.

On top of that, I got to debut our newest game, which I was excited about on so many levels – on the technical front it works across any platform and device, which is huge; on the progress front, it represents the incredible resources we have built up over the last three years; and on the team front, it is a testament to the incredible group of people we have pulled together.

Sedona wide

Sedona is breathtakingly beautiful.

Driving back to the airport in Phoenix, I went through Sedona. I stopped there (very briefly since I had a plane to catch), and got out and walked a little bit and sat there and thought and was incredibly grateful for everything in my life. (If you’ve never been to Sedona, it’s one of those indescribably stunning places where you can’t really help but reflect.)

Two weeks ago exactly, I was on plane somewhere in the sky between LA and London where the book I co-authored was up for best international autobiography at the U.K.’s Cross Sports Book Awards – where the book won. And while I was there I had the opportunity to take in so much from Westminster Abbey to a show on the West End to the amazing glass of water on display at the Tate with a little note about it being an oak tree (our book’s U.K. editor kept apologizing for the pretentiousness of the exhibit, but seriously, it is now my favorite art story to tell). [PLUG: “My Fight/Your Fight” is also up for best overall sports book and you can vote here!]

Up glasses

Next thing you know it, I’ll be navigating through the skies in my house of lifted by party balloons.

And I write this not to say how glamorous my jet-set life (first of all, I ’m glamorous very rarely – especially now that I got reading glasses – at 33! – and look like the old man in Up). But I write it as 1. as an explanation for where the hell I’ve been since I haven’t been posting on this blog (apologies), and 2. because sometimes people ask me how I balance it (work, a startup, writing books) and the answer, going back to the whole 13 hours I referenced above, is sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes, I’m home barely long enough to swap out the clothes in my suitcase, hug my children repeatedly and (sometimes) peel my crying children off of me (aided by the promise of gifts upon my return – by the end of our accelerator in Salt Lake City last fall, I had purchased one of every single Beanie Boo they sold at the SLC airport) and head to the airport.

I have realized that I can’t balance everything. When I get home from D.C., I will have spent two of three weeks on the road. That’s not really balancing anything. Sometimes, you find, the pendulum far more to one side than the other. At best, it’s a juggle where I just keep the balls from crashing to the ground (and shout out to my co-juggler Eric who helps keep everything in the air).

But here is one thing that I have found that has made an incredibly difference. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t worry about missing out. I miss my family, but I don’t feel bad about having left them at home. We have a godsend of a nanny and we both have parents nearby, including my mom just four blocks away. There’s no point in pouting over what has to be done. Me feeling bad about not being there isn’t going to change the fact I’m not there, it’s just going to make me feel miserable in New York or San Francisco or wherever.

And I don’t feel guilty when I’m at home either. It’s also why if I take an odd day off in the middle of the week when I am home to take my kids to Disneyland or a morning off to go to my kid’s spelling bee/school Mother’s Day show/science fair/whatever, and don’t feel guilty. It’s why when I (regularly) opt for takeout or eating out I don’t feel guilty that I don’t slave away over (OK, barely turn on) the stove making a home-cooked meal. (By the way, did you know there are people who don’t view putting in a frozen pizza as cooking? Seriously, if I cook it in the oven – or microwave – and serve it at home, you better bet that counts as cooking.)

I am totally aware of that fact that running my own company allows me to do many of those things in a way I might not be able to if I was working for someone else – which in part is why I co-founded this company and am not working for someone else.

White House

This is actually from December, the last time I was at the White House for an event.

So I am going to go to Washington, D.C., and speak at an event that 5,000 women are attending and where the President is also speaking (which I’m not going to lie, is a little fancy) and be excited and FaceTime my kids and do work in the hotel, wearing my Carl Fredricksen-glasses in the downtime (which is very much less glamorous). Then I’m going to go home (for definitely more than 13 hours – at the moment, it looks like it might even be 13 days, which will feel like a near eternity) and hug my kids and know that I am ultimately doing the best that I can – in which case, I have nothing to feel guilty about. (Well, except for maybe not updating this blog a little more frequently…)


*EDITOR’S NOTE: When I Googled the movie 13 Hours, it turns out it came out in January (so I’m a little – what’s six months in the scheme of life? – behind on that one!) For the record, if it hasn’t been playing on a plane I’ve been on, I haven’t seen it.

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One thought on “It’s a Juggling Act, Not a Balancing Act

  • Elaine

    Thanks for the update Maria. I have prayed for you and your family for years so I am happy you are all so busy and doing well. I think its exciting and humbling to go to so many places. It is inspiring to read hard responsible work pays off. If you do get a chance to selfie with the President I would love to see it!