Don’t Forget To Say Thank You: An Author’s Advice on Finding the Sweet Spot
July 19, 2018
Recently I had the great privilege of reading an advanced copy of Lindsay Schlegel’s new book – Don’t Forget To Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. I’m currently anxiously awaiting the release date, August 24th, so that I can gush all over Amazon about how amazing Lindsay is. But for now, I get to share it with all of you.
We are going to dive into a review of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You here, but also talk with Lindsay about how she combined her love of God, parenting, and writing into this beautiful passion project and successful career. You don’t need to be religious or a parent to appreciate her story. This is for anyone out there thinking about what your passion really is (or one of your passions, you can have several) and how you can pursue it.
Don’t Forget To Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God
Losing/Building/Finding/Not Really Knowing My Religion
It’s pretty clear from the extended title of the book that Don’t Forget To Say Thank You is deeply rooted in religion. Catholicism specifically. So let’s address that up front.
I grew up Catholic and my family attended mass most every Sunday. I also spent many a Tuesday evening in CCD, which is Catholic for Sunday School that is not on Sunday. My dad is a devout Catholic and wanted to raise my brother and I in the same tradition, but was always open to us exploring other faiths, or lack there of.
After high school I went to a Catholic college, not because it was a Catholic college, but because I fell in love with every other thing about the school. To be quite frank, I didn’t feel connected to the Catholic faith and while I still believed in God, I had a lot of questions about the church I had been raised in.
Several years later I married my husband in a Baptist church, the faith Glen had been raised in. I was not a practicing Catholic anymore, and honestly Glen and I weren’t practicing Baptists either. We liked the church we were married in, it’s was like, really pretty. And the pastor respected our belief system, and was willing to change up the vows to reflect our belief in marriage equality.
We still haven’t found a church community that we feel super connected to, but it’s on the radar. For now, Glen and I both believe in God, we tell our kids about God, and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas. But faith isn’t extremely central to our everyday conversations.
Blessed, Without the Hashtag
So when Lindsay asked if I wanted to read Don’t Forget To Say Thank You before it came out, I was excited, honored, and just a smidge terrified. I have loved reading Lindsay’s writing on her personal blogs and on Verily so I knew it was going to be extremely well written. Plus Lindsay has become a great source of inspiration for me in both my personal life and burgeoning writing life so it was such an honor to read her book before it took the world by storm.
But #realtalk, I was also terrified that I wouldn’t understand it. Would my lapsed commitment to organized religion leave me feeling a little lost in this book? Would I not be able to make the connection to her story in the way I really REALLY wanted to? It only took me about two paragraphs to realize that Lindsay provided maps and anchors throughout the book so that I wouldn’t get lost at literary sea, and that I was going to be connected to her message like a mega magnet.
Don’t Forget To Say Thank You beautifully weaves together relatable stories about the challenges we face as parents trying to raise good humans every day with Lindsay’s faith in God and commitment to the Catholic church. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, instead she speaks honestly about what she has struggled with and continues to struggle with in parenting and faith. I’ve always loved that about her writing, she speaks her truth – the good, the bad, the tragedy, the triumph. When Lindsay draws connections between raising young children and Bible stories, Catholic mass rituals, religious celebrations, and the Saints, it just makes sense. Even for this organized religion quasi dropout who once forgot what you are supposed to say after receiving communion and responded with “Thanks” on Christmas morning…
I am no longer Catholic, so I do not believe every single teaching of the church. But when Lindsay speaks about patience, fairness, active listening, forgiveness, and gratitude, I hold all of that to be true. Every single word. She gave me a new appreciation for those who are more deeply connected to religion than I am, and gave me pause to think about my own parenting and faith life. Her words are real and moving and a must read. Reading it made me feel blessed, no hashtag required.
Let’s Hear From the Author
Something that stuck out to me in Don’t Forget To Say Thank You is that Lindsay has clearly found her sweet spot. I’m going to dive into that topic a lot more on this blog, but for the Cliff Notes, think of the career sweet spot as the overlap between personal strengths, passions, and value to others. Where the things you love, the things you are good at, and the things you can contribute to the world collide. So I asked Lindsay to talk a bit about how she went about finding that sweet spot.
Thank you so much, Becca, for your kind words about my book! The first thing to understand about my sweet spot is that I didn’t find it overnight. The fact that I’m chatting with you now about career, family, and personal fulfillment is a story seven years (at least) in the making.
When I left my traditional publishing job and went into freelance, I was twenty-four years old, had been married a year, and was the mother of a newborn. I wasn’t sure I had enough experience to make something of my love of books and writing. I did know I wanted to be home with our kids, and I knew I didn’t want to stop working all together, even just to have a foot in the door when I had more time down the line.
My husband was supportive, and while his job has always been our main source of income, we made time each week for me to write my own work and edit others’. It meant (and still means) we need to communicate a lot about time management, making each other aware of what we need to get done versus what we’d like to do, if time permits. This means everything from work to getting haircuts to going for runs to helping with extended family. We both make sacrifices, but we also both say thank you a lot, which has been really good for our marriage.
One thing I recognized quickly was that spending time being engaged in a project outside of our household helped me to be more peaceful and more present when I was at home (for the most part). We now have four kids and people sometimes ask me how I wrote a book. The thing is, writing is how I recharge so that I can give myself more fully to my family. I still struggle sometimes with valuing myself more for what I accomplished on my to-do list during the day than for how I listened to my kids and showed them they are loved. Every day is a balance between raising my kids and caring for myself, and writing from home has been a way of getting both done. The fact that my writing is being published makes me hopeful that I’m offering something of use, even if it’s simply camaraderie, to a broader community as well.
There are seasons in child-rearing, and some have allowed me more time to work than others. I wrote most of the book while I wasn’t pregnant or nursing, and was getting a nearly adequate amount of sleep each night. My baby is currently six months old, so that’s not the case right now. And that’s okay. I’ve learned to respect the phases of my life and my family’s life and be flexible with what I need versus what our unit as a whole needs.
Over time, I’ve also grown as a writer. I’d been writing fiction with an eye toward publication for six years before I had a deal for this book. At one point, a friend gave me This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, wherein I learned how much (amazing) nonfiction Patchett wrote as she was developing her fiction. I gave myself permission to branch out and spend time pursuing nonfiction submissions, and have found great joy in creating that kind of work. I actually never thought I’d want to write a book about faith and/or parenting, but I think you’re right that Don’t Forget To Say Thank You turned out to be so much more than that. It’s the fruit of giving my dreams a shot, keeping my priorities in the right place, and being open to the possibilities.
Plus, there’s a hot pink cupcake on the cover, so #win.
Guys, that is the stuff right there. The honest, raw, motivating, cupcakey stuff.
I hope that you take some inspiration from Lindsay’s words, because dang she’s good with the words. And to hear more from Lindsay, you can head over to Amazon to preorder her published words in Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God.
Big thanks to Lindsay for, well, everything. And thanks as always to you, lovely reader. You’re also like, really pretty.
With love and respect for the dream chasers,