Inspire: Women Who Create | Sarah Mackenzie Interview

InspireLogo You're in for a treat today! I've mentioned many times that the Read-Aloud Revival is one of my very favorite podcasts.

Sarah Mackenzie is the founder and delightful host of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast and community, where the tagline is: Build your family culture around books. She is also the author of the newly released book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakeable Peace.

You can find Sarah on the web at her main website, Amongst Lovely Things, where you can find links to her blog and all forms of social media. You can also sign up for her e-magazine there. Or you can check out the Read-Aloud Revival site, which is full of past podcasts, printable show notes, and video workshops.

But for now, let's welcome Sarah here today!

 

me

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and introduce us to your family?

Of course! I’m a homeschooling mama of six—my oldest is 13, my youngest are 2-year-old identical twin boys. My husband Andy and I (and the whole pack of kids, of course) live in the Pacific Northwest.

I do a lot of writing, a lot of coffee-drinking, a lot of talking (too much probably).

Your book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace, was just published right when a new school year is getting ready to kick into high gear! It can be a time when homeschool moms can feel overwhelmed. Why did you write this book and why do you think it will benefit other homeschoolers?

The very unglamorous truth is that I wrote this book because I needed to read it. I was at a particularly stressful point in life—homeschooling my three older kids, taking care of a 1 year old, pregnant with twins—and I found myself hitting my knees hard that year in desperate prayer.

I had first been introduced to the idea of “teaching from a state of rest” by Andrew Kern from the CiRCE Institute, and I’ll honestly be grateful to him forever for it. The first time I heard him talk about it, I thought the idea was laughable, but maybe that’s because my soul recognized something I so deeply needed.

The next year I spent a considerable amount of time seeking out what “teaching from rest” might look like for an overwhelmed overspent homeschooling mama and processing it all the way I do best—by writing. That’s where the book came from--out of my own need to live it.

If my book encourages one other homeschooler to remember that her success is not tied to the results she gets—to how well her kids come out at the end, how many of them get fabulous SAT scores or even get into adulthood with a lifelong love of learning... If I can perhaps remind a homeschooling mama that her one true success comes from being faithful to her work each day, then the book will do what it’s meant to do.

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I must admit the Read-Aloud Revival podcast is one of the most encouraging and inspiring resources for me as a literature-loving parent who wants to pass that love onto her children. How did the idea of starting a podcast come about?

Goodness, I don’t really know where my ideas come from- they kind of spring upon me uninvited and then I have to do something with them or they won’t leave me alone.

Since the time I heard my very first podcast, I’ve thought hosting a podcast would be incredibly delightful. There’s a big part of my extroverted personality that struggles as a homeschooling mama, at home with my kids all the time. I just knew I’d love podcasting as a way to reach outside of my walls.

At the time I was trying to decide what to do with a blog series I had been running on my site that was losing a bit of steam. It was called Read-Aloud Revival, and though there were several of us there chatting in the comments and encouraging each other, I had this vision for making it bigger and better, but I wasn’t sure how.

I followed an impulse and shot an email out to Andrew Pudewa at the Institute for Excellence in Writing to see if he’d be up to being on my (non-existent) show, and he said yes! So then I had to figure out how to podcast!

And then the Read-Aloud Revival podcast was born! The Read-Aloud Revivalers are my favorite people on the planet. I just love the community that has risen up out of the movement.

As a writer and podcaster you are constantly producing. How do you nurture the creative process?

If I’m not reading or living my real life, then the ideas literally dry up. The one thing I have to do when I’m feeling short on creativity is step away from my work and dive deep into my real life. I need lots of time for reading and for doing the ordinary things like washing dishes, weeding the yard, playing blocks with the babies…otherwise the more authentic part of my creative side just wilts and I can’t move forward.

I read a lot. I keep a commonplace book to collect quotes and thoughts and ideas that spin around in my head. And I set aside time every single day to write.

For other women who may be interested in writing, blogging, and podcasting, do you have any resources—either inspirational or practical—that have helped you?

I’ve been really inspired by the work of Todd Henry (toddhenry.com), Jeni Elliot (theblogmaven.com), and then watching other people who are doing work that I admire, like Tsh Oxenreider (theartofsimple.net). I love watching what other inspiring people are doing and thinking about whether I could translate it and make it fly in my own world.

The big two things I would suggest to a woman who is interested in writing/blogging/podcasting is:

-Make the effort to find or create a mastermind group, a group of like-minded women who are about at the same stage of writing/blogging/podcasting you are, and support each other. I depend on my mastermind peeps so much- they have been a big encouragement to me. I make almost no decisions without consulting at least one of them. 

- Set aside time for your work, your art. When I try to be mama and writer at the same time, bad things happen. Bad parenting AND bad writing. It’s just a lose-lose. For a long while, I woke at the crack of dawn to get in some time before everyone woke up. Now I actually do a trade-off with my husband, but before that was possible, I relied on naptimes and bedtimes to get in some work. For me, a clear delineation is really necessary for me to feel like I’m doing my best work and like I’m a whole, sane person. 

I know you’re the first to say you don’t “do it all,” but with six kids, homeschooling, speaking, writing, and podcasting, your plate is full! So in order to get all these things done, why don’t you tell us some of the things you DON’T do.

  • Anything, absolutely anything, that you see on Pinterest. 
  • Hands on history projects or involved schoolish projects of any sort.
  • Homestead-ish kinds of things: gardening or canning or the like.
  • TV. Except Downton Abbey (of course).
  • DIY types of home decor or crafts or whatever—I just can’t get excited about those.

How are you feeding your soul these days?

Reading! I’ve got some good ones on my nightstand in my to-be-read-very-soon pile:

Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalie Sanmartin Fenollera

I have Bittersweet loaded onto my Kindle and The Awakening of Miss Prim is on my Amazon wishlist! Sounds like we enjoy the same sort of books. On that note, like you always ask your guests at the end of your podcast, if you were stranded on an island, what three books would you take with you?

Oh gosh, I hate answering this question—it’s so hard! It gives me so much sympathy for my podcast guests to be on the other side of this question.

It probably changes every day. Today it’s:

 

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Sarah! Appreciate your work!

Thank YOU. It was fun to answer them! 

 

For other posts in the Inspire: Women Who Create series check out:

Christie Purifoy Interview | Author Ainsley Arment Interview | Founder of the Wild + Free homeschool community Ruth Simons Interview | Artist, Shoppe owner, Blogger Ashleigh Slater Guest Post | Author