Q&A with Author and Adventurer Heidi Siefkas
Heidi Siefkas is an author and adventurer. Originally from small-town Wisconsin, she lives in Kauai and also calls South Florida and the Midwest home. Heidi is currently crafting a sequel to her memoir, When All Balls Drop, embracing both her wanderlust and love of writing by documenting her many travels. You can connect with Heidi at www.heidisiefkas.com, Facebook, and Twitter.
Can you share with us your story and why you chose the title When All Balls Drop?
In 2009, I was a happily married, globetrotting professional who seemingly had it all—until a tree limb in New York’s Hudson River Valley struck me down, breaking my neck and leaving me unconscious. Suddenly, life as I knew it stopped. I lost my independence. I lost my career. I watched my marriage disintegrate as I confronted a trail of devastating lies about my husband’s double life. It is this life-altering event and all the changes that ensued which I refer to as “when all balls drop.” At the time, I was juggling a successful career, marriage, home ownership, a healthy, active lifestyle, family, and friends. I was so busy, I didn’t take into account my life’s path. Was I happy? Was this what I wanted?
What does ‘having it all’ mean to you?
Having it all means something different for everyone, and it changes over time. My most basic definition is well-rounded
happiness. For me, that means being grateful for my good health and choosing an active lifestyle to remain fit. I surround myself with a supportive friend group, each playing a unique role in my intricately woven tapestry of friends with whom I cry, those who give me their professional opinion, and others who are good for a laugh over wine. My romantic partnership is filled with mutual love, humor, and the freedom to be the best version of me. In my career, I do what I love: I write, inspire, travel, and learn.
For women who want it all, don’t live a life where you are living someone else’s version of having it all! Societal and other people should not pressure you into their version of having it all. Start living your happy, fulfilled life now. Don’t wait for a tree limb to hit you over the head!
How do you keep positive amidst all the hardship flung at you at once?
I am no saint. When my full-blown life catastrophe hit and all my balls dropped, I definitely vented my anger, disappointment, and sadness. I was the protagonist of many adult temper tantrums. However, I then set out for a long walk, sometimes several miles whether in the cold, rain, or snow, to reframe the situation. Happiness is perspective. You can’t change many occurrences in life, but you do have the power to change your mind and shift your perspective. I call this positive mindset, looking up.
Can you explain the concept of looking up?
Through tragedy, hardship, and loss, many turn to religion or healing philosophies. As I never felt comfortable with the lofty words of yogis or connected to a particular religion, I didn’t choose these routes. I reframed my situation, which I call looking up. It is a simple principle that anyone can use, but don’t be fooled; it takes conscious effort. Looking up has two parts. First, you must be aware of your surroundings, appreciating both the beauty and hazards around you. In essence, you must be more in the moment. The, positively spin each situation. You may not have control over your boss’ mood, another driver’s stupidity, or even your own DNA, but you do have the ability to change your thoughts.
What is your advice for people juggling multiple things and trying to maintain their positivity?
My best advice is based on the principle of looking up:
- Slow down and take time to reflect. Ask yourself: Are all your projects, things, and obligations necessary? What needs to be added or better yet, taken off your list, to have it all?
- Celebrate your victories and defeats. When things don’t pan out the way you expected, reframe the circumstance into a positive opportunity.
Did you have the intention of sharing your story with others? Can you share your process of first deciding on writing a memoir and the challenges of the experience?
No, I didn’t intend on sharing it with others. In a way, at first I was writing things down to remember them as I was on many painkillers. I found that writing was therapeutic. It was another way for me to process what was going on. I didn’t start thinking about writing a memoir until I was physically and emotionally improved. I believe my first step was to find a way to never forget my lessons learned by creating a monthly holiday. To coincide with my accident’s date of the 27th of September, each month on the 27th I celebrate Look Up Day and share it with the world. I started this in 2010. However, it took until 2012 while I was living in Alaska for a summer that I decided to write When All Balls Drop. Over the years, I started to further adopt my lesson by not only celebrating on the 27th, but looking up every day.
Aware of the fifth anniversary of my traumatic accident this September, I set an aggressive goal when I moved to Kauai 2013. I decided to write and publish a memoir in under a year. The process of writing my memoir was painful as I relived my experience. It was tireless hours rereading journals, lists, emails, and talking to my clan of supporters that lived through the experience with me. As an additional challenge, When All Balls Drop is my first published book. I had to find the right publishing company, the right editor, and the right cover designer. I was like Goldilocks–not settling for second best. And, because I believed I could find the right collaborative creative team, I did, spanning from Arizona to Canada.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
The power of perspective.
I had lost all that mattered, but I was a survivor. I fought to restore my health, repair my broken heart, and rebuild myself. Along the way, I gained clarity about my core values, ultimately coming to a deeper understanding of what it means to have it all. It is possible to look up in spite of pain, deceit and loss. Here’s to looking up!
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m currently writing a sequel to When All Balls Drop, which further shares my story and life transformation. It picks up where my first book leaves off, heading to small-town Wisconsin, then South Florida, and all the way down to the Straight of Magellan at the tip of South America for a walkabout through Patagonia.
As an adventurer with true wanderlust, I will continue to travel this year to Arizona, South Florida, Rome, Tuscany, Boston, New York’s Hudson River Valley, and Wisconsin.
In 2015, I will continue to promote When All Balls Drop and looking up through events in 2015. I’m planning for a movie based on When All Balls Drop. I will be pitching film producers as well as publishing my sequel in late 2015 from Kauai.
Interested in Heidi’s new book? Here is the link to purchase When All Balls Drop.
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