I know that this too shall pass. In the meantime, I hope that people are taking this time as an opportunity to be purposeful in their lives by healing broken relationships, crossing something off their bucket list, or making a resolution and sticking with it. The virus has provided us with a chance to “slow down” and evaluate what it is we value in our lives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing author Lacey J. Heinz.
Lacey J. Heinz is a reading enthusiast. As a child, she dreamed of sharing her affinity for reading with other children and one day becoming an author. Now that dream is coming true. Lacey recently celebrated the publication of her first children’s book “We Had Fun in Quarantine.” Lacey has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education as well as a Reading Minor. In 2018, she received a master’s in Education. Lacey lives in Puyallup, Washington, with her husband and two young children.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share my story with your readers. It is an honor.
Early in life learning to read did not come easily for me. I was a slow reader and I struggled to master basic phonics skills. So when I was younger I didn’t really like to read very often. Then one day, reading just kind of “clicked” for me. From then on, I devoured any book I could get my hands on and had grand visions of someday becoming an author.
Years later, as I reflected back on my childhood education, I discovered that my true passion and calling was to help children who share in the same love/hate relationship with reading that I once held. This revelation led me to Central Washington University (CWU) where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement and minor in Reading. Since graduating from CWU in 2010, I have worked in several schools in the Eatonville and Puyallup School Districts as well as two schools within the Archdiocese of Seattle. In 2018 I received my master’s in Education from University of Washington Tacoma.
These days I consider myself to have the most rewarding and challenging job yet! As a stay-at-home mom, now I have the opportunity to teach my own children how to read. It was during one of our homeschool literacy lessons that sparked the idea for my first children’s book. My daughter, age 2, scribbled illustrations while my son, age 4, dictated to me what he enjoyed doing at home as a family during the pandemic. Thus what started out as a simple homeschool project evolved into my lifelong dream come true.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started working as an author?
This journey is full of unexpected adventures and blessings. Since becoming an author, I have promoted my book in my hometown Christmas parade, held a “drive thru” book signing, and have met with several independent bookstore owners. But the most rewarding experience since becoming an author was when my book inspired a class project at a local elementary school. One teacher had each student in her class include an illustration and message telling me how THEY were having fun in quarantine. The gift brought me to tears! I will treasure it always.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
As an author, I am always gathering ideas. While I am not actively working on any projects at the moment, it is only a matter of time before inspiration strikes. I feel a strong calling to write for young children who are struggling or just learning to read. I want my books to excite young readers and help build their confidence which will, hopefully, grow into a love of reading.
Whatever my next project may be, I plan to continue my philanthropic work by donating a portion of my future royalties to a worthy cause. As you may know, a percentage of the royalties from “We Had Fun In Quarantine ‘’ are donated to No Kid Hungry, an organization dedicated to solving childhood hunger in America. I felt a strong obligation and desire to help those children whose families are experiencing hardship during this pandemic. It is my deepest hope that I am able to make an impact on the lives of children through these efforts. And with the support of your readers, I know we will.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I agree wholeheartedly. Countless people have encouraged me on my journey to becoming an author; family, friends and teachers among many others. But I would not be where I am today without the support of my forever cheerleader, my mom. It was my mom who patiently worked with me each night as we practiced reading. I remember one evening in particular, I was dreading having to practice reading with my mom. Instead of our usual practice she surprised me with one of her favorite books that she read as a little girl. That night she read The Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingles Wilder to me. As I lay snug in my bed, listening to the soothing sound of my mom’s voice, I was filled with resolve to not only learn to read but love to read. Time passed and eventually I started writing. I was always eager to share my work with my mom. Her excitement mirrored my own. Over the years, we created our own book club of sorts. We would brainstorm and draft essays assignments together. To this day I enjoy collaborating with my mom. One day I hope to coauthor a children’s book with her.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
In response to the pandemic, each of us has had to reimagine ourselves and the roles which we play within our families and place of work. Lives were turned upside down and many people have had to figure out how to juggle ALL of their responsibilities while being at home. Like so many others, I struggled to find balance between my family obligations and my work obligations while fighting the urge to just stay in my pj’s watching Disney movies with my kids all day. There simply was not enough time in the day to accomplish everything. Days started bleeding into each other and I was overwhelmed. It was not until I established a daily routine and focused on being intentional with my time that I found some reprieve. I literally took a piece of construction paper and blocked out our day and displayed it for the whole family to see. Now whenI look at our routine poster I can easily see what needs to be accomplished and how much time I have to get any given task done.
Other Helpful Tips:
It might be hard for everyone to adjust to the new routine. But in order to make the routine successful, you have to be consistent and firm in your resolve to make it happen. One way to make the experience more positive for the family is by providing positive reinforcement. I have used sticker charts and marbles to encourage my kids to work toward an agreed upon reward . We are currently working toward earning a pet fish. Be realistic in your expectations for the day or certain activities. Finally, once your routine is established try to leave room for spontaneity. Some days you need to be flexible and take a walk while the sun shines. The pile of laundry will still be waiting for you when you get back.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
In order for me to stay sane I like to have a tidy environment. I purposely block out time in our daily routine for family chores. Everyone including my kids are expected to help out and do their part in keeping our home clean. We all work together because this is OUR house. I also stay sane keeping my kiddos busy with rich, engaging activities. In addition to homeschool, I like to set up dramatic play stations, bake cookies, and craft together. Not only are these activities super fun, but they keep the kids entertained allowing me to check emails uninterrupted. Below are a few resources to help keep your little ones busy while sheltering in place.
- The Rainy Day Toddler Activity Book: 100+ Fun Early Learning Activities for Inside Play by Krissy Bonning-Gould
- Fun with Literacy: 100s of Activities, Exercises and Tips for the Classroom & Therapy (Birth-Preschool) by Karen Thatcher
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
St. Padre Pio said “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Of course, this is easier said than done. Nonetheless I remain hopeful and have to believe that there are blessings coming out of this pandemic. The following give me reason to remain hopeful during the Corona Crisis.
- I am hopeful that over the course of the past year, family bonds have grown stronger.
- I know that this too shall pass. In the meantime, I hope that people are taking this time as an opportunity to be purposeful in their lives by healing broken relationships, crossing something off their bucket list, or making a resolution and sticking with it. The virus has provided us with a chance to “slow down” and evaluate what it is we value in our lives.
- It gives me hope that people are showing a greater appreciation for essential workers and teachers since before the pandemic.
- I have seen a trend in people reconnecting with their neighbors since the virus started. For example we make cards for our elderly neighbors and have met several new neighbors while out for walks.
- Grocery and curbside pick up has changed my life for the better! While this might have been born out of necessity, I hope that it is around to stay!
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Let me first offer my symphanites and compassion to those of you out there who are experiencing anxiety. You are not alone. I continue to wrestle with my fears of the unknown throughout this pandemic. There is no shame in seeking help. I had to learn that in order to care for those around me, I had to take care of myself first. The following have brought me peace and healing when dealing with my anxiety.
- My faith and prayer life.
- The support of family
- Doing one thing a day that makes me happy (ex. reading a book, calling a friend, taking a bubble bath)
- Speaking with friends candidly about how I am feeling
- Letting go of negativity and surrounding myself with positivity (in my home environment, on social media, in my relationships)
- Exercise (physical and mental)
- Having a set routine
- Seeking the help of a doctor, counselor or health care provider
In addition I would highly recommend The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne and Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy: A Journal by Robie Rogg
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
With two young kids, you can imagine that we are big Disney fans. “ Frozen” is a family favorite, one that we can all agree to watch. The phrase “let it go” has become a mantra of sorts for me. I find myself saying it throughout the day as I visualize myself becoming lighter; letting go of what is holding me back from my full potential. Anxiety; what if XYZ happens? Let it go. Doubt; did I make the right decision? Let it go. Guilt; the kids never got dressed today. Let it go. Undue pressure; my house needs to be spotless, we had takeout twice this week and dishes are still stacking up!! Let it go. Over the course of this pandemic I have learned to be kinder to myself. I don’t have to be perfect. All I need to be is content and recognize that I can always try again tomorrow. Everything else I am learning to “let it go”.
How can our readers follow you online?
Be sure to follow me on Instagram @laceyheinz or see my website https://www.authorwebservices-gem2.net/ArchwayPublishing/815675/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!