Karyn Sepulveda, who is an author, meditation teacher, creativity specialist and host of the Letters of Our Yesterday podcast.
She published her first novel, Letters To My Yesterday in 2018 and her new release is The Women’s Circle, out this month.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
When I left high school, I had my heart set on being an actor. As a compromise with my parents, I agreed to go to university to study teaching, while I pursued acting. Although I loved it, the rejection wore me down and I discovered that I also enjoyed teaching.
So, when a fulltime position was offered to me, I left my acting agent and became a teacher. As a person who doesn’t love repetitive routines though, I was very bored, very quickly. So, with the help of my sister, I created a Theatre in Education company and we travelled around to different schools performing a variety of plays. We had so much fun!
When I had my daughter though, travelling around became far more difficult and I decided to focus on the storytelling aspect of creating plays, attempting to turn one into a book. Writing quickly became my passion and I enrolled in a Masters of Creative Arts to learn more about it.
While still teaching casually, I focused more and more on writing and in 2018 I published my first book, Letters to my Yesterday. My latest book, The Women’s Circle is due for release in July.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days can be very different – which I love. Some days, I am teaching, so it’s a fairly standard 8.30am – 4.30pm workday and if I’m in the middle of an edit of a manuscript, I will fit an hour or two of writing time in the evening.
On my writing days, I start by doing a boxing-fitness class after I drop my kids at school. Then I’ll come home, eat, have a coffee and then write out my intentions for the day. I’ll then try to spend a solid three hours writing if I am working on a draft or editing a manuscript.
I’ll finish the day by writing a little to-do list for the following day – that way, I feel like I can switch off and trust I’ll get what I need to do on time.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
It absolutely does because I’ve designed it that way. By doing casual and temporary teaching positions in schools, I have the freedom to take chunks of time out so that I can work on a manuscript when I need to. I find that if I take 6 – 8 weeks out to concentrate on a draft, I can achieve so much in that time.
My writing can be done from anywhere, but I prefer writing at my desk which I have set up in my bedroom. If it’s been a few weeks of writing at home every day, I will usually take my laptop to the local library or a café and work from there for a few hours. My writing days wrap up once I pick up my kids from school, so I’m able to spend plenty of time with them.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me, the perfect work-life-balance means that my mind takes a break from my creative projects. It can be tricky sometimes, because my mind will often wander off to my characters or my to-do-list for editing or book promotion.
But even though writing is a job that I love, I am careful not to let it overtake my identity and be obsessed with it. I work to achieve this by never writing on the weekends and using this time to completely switch off.
I also find that having a notebook for random ideas helps – that way if a thought pops up that just won’t go away, I’ll jot it down to look at again during my allocated writing time and then get back to my day off!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes – meditation. I have always been interested in meditation but thought I wasn’t very good at it because my mind wouldn’t be quiet enough. But last year, I started searching for short meditations and made the commitment to meditate every day, even if it’s just for five minutes.
Practice certainly made perfect, because now I can enjoy a meditation for an hour if I really wanted to (which I don’t often – a few minutes is usually enough!) I have no set routine for meditation though; sometimes I’ll meditate in the morning before I start my day and other times it will be at night before I go to sleep. I find it the most restorative practice I have ever tried.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
One of my favourite books is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her podcast, Magic Lessons is also terrific. I also listen to a lot of book podcasts; my favourites are, Talking Aussie Books, Writes 4 Women and Words and Nerds – these are terrific for discovering what book I want to read next.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I couldn’t live without Spotify – I listen to music or a podcast whenever I’m doing any kind of housework or cooking and it makes it so much more enjoyable. And I’m not sure if it’s classified as a gadget, but sage incense gets a workout at my house! I open the windows and sage the bedrooms each morning as a way of resetting the energy for the day – it’s become my favourite little ritual.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
It would have to be Dr Anita Heiss. She is an author that I admire so much. I love following her Instagram account because she just radiates happiness. But she works so hard on many important issues, including raising the platform for Indigenous voices and reclaiming Native languages. She is such an inspirational and supportive person in the writing community and well beyond.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
My biggest piece of advice is to never forget the power of taking some deep breaths. It may sound trivial, but whenever you feel overwhelmed – no matter where you are, find a safe place to sit down, close your eyes and take three deep breaths, all the way down to your belly. This technique is an instant restorer of balance for me.
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