I come back from retreat and she has another baby, and an annual woman’s conference.
Seriously? I can’t even get through my email, and she’s getting through a half-dozen lifetimes! And somehow…her hair still looks great!
So, in an effort to get current with her — and lacking the opportunity to do it over a glass of wine in a warmer climate — I shot a few questions Jen-ward, and she has shot them back, so we can all catch up!
1) Jen, I’ve read your book, twice — because it’s worth a re-read — and nowhere in there did I see you mentioning aspirations for a radio show. How did this all come about?
I never dreamed I would have a radio show! I have always thought of myself as a writer, so I was surprised when they approached me about doing a live show. However, once I talked with Fr. Jonathan Morris, Lino Rulli, Liz Aiello, and some of the other great Catholic Channel / SiriusXM folks, I saw what a great group they had and was excited to be part of it. When they told me that my intro music could be a mashup of Gregorian chant and rap, I was sold.
Another big selling point is that I can do it from home. My studio is a little desk in a bedroom corner, usually surrounded by unfolded laundry!
2) So you have been on the air for a couple of months now, what has been the most challenging part of it?
When I did the first demo, I was shocked by how unnatural it sounded to put on those headphones and hear nothing but the sound of my own words! It was as if the entire universe had disappeared, and all that was left was my booming voice (which suddenly sounded very awkward when magnified like that). It is extremely difficult to sound relaxed and natural when it’s just you and a mic. It’s getting easier, but I’m still working on it.
3) What has been easier than you anticipated?
I was dreading taking calls, because I thought that people might be rude, or I would have trouble cutting people off if they talked too much. I have been surprised and delighted by how great the calls have been. Everyone is so fun, well-spoken, and often quite funny! Taking calls has become something I look forward to on each show.
4) You have a website; you have a book; you have a Catholic Women’s conference — the Edel Gathering; you fly around the country, speaking; now a radio show. Oh, and you have six kids, and you homeschool! When do you sleep? Seriously, how do you manage to do all of this?
I have an amazing support system, but even with that I’m completely overwhelmed.
A friend of mine is fond of saying that people’s best qualities are also their worst qualities, and that’s certainly true with me. I’m an idea person: I love coming up with grand schemes and ideas, and I tend to jump into them without carefully calculating whether I can really manage the workload. The upside is that I’m involved in some pretty cool projects; the downside is that I am often overwhelmed.
I’ve come to accept that I’ll always have a natural ebb and flow in my life of being maxed out, getting back to a place of calm, then getting maxed out again when I discover exciting new ideas during my calm periods. During the busy times, I try not to get stressed about the fact that I am stressed (if that makes sense), and just pray for guidance about how to balance it all.
*) Wait, I just…I have to ask…how do you homeschool in the middle of all of that? My mind is boggled.
Mornings are set aside for homeschooling. I give the kids lessons, and then they have independent work that they do on their own into the afternoon. Since I have a small class size compared to traditional schools, we can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Also, homeschooling allows us to have homework-free evenings, since they do all their work during the day!
However, for me, the key to homeschool is that I sent the toddlers (ages 2 – 4) to a Mother’s Day Out program at our parish a few mornings per week. This allows me to focus on the big kids’ schooling without dealing with meltdowns at the same time. I know a lot of mothers who incorporate toddler education into their homeschools, but I think that requires superpowers that I don’t have.
5) I’d say you have plenty! I know your first Edel get-together in Austin was a big success; how did that come about, and what’s the plan for this year?
The Edel Gathering began with the simple mission of giving faithful Catholic women a good party. My co-founder, Hallie Lord, and I thought that one way we could build up women of the Church would be to give them a chance to connect with one another and simply enjoy each other’s company in a fun environment. The response was better than we could have ever dreamed: tickets sold out within 36 hours, and the event was so magical that the hotel staff kept saying that they’d never seen anything like it.
We’re doing a second Edel Gathering in Charleston, SC in July 2015 — in fact we just put tickets on sale! We’re expecting another fantastic event. I can’t wait!
6) We make plans, God laughs, but tell me about your upcoming plans for the radio show, and the family and the future? Any more books in the works?
I would love to write another book, but God hasn’t given me a topic! I don’t want to crank out another one just for the sake of having something in print, so I’m waiting for inspiration. In the meantime, I look forward to taking some time during the holidays to just relax and watch silly movies with the kids.
You can find Jen’s broadcast, live, at 1 PM ET every Thursday on SiriusXM Channel 129. (Replays at Thursday at 4:00 PM ET; Fridays at 12:00 AM and 6:00 AM; Saturdays at 1:00 PM ET.)
To listen to the whole show you need to be a SiriusXM subscriber, but “starting next week, I will have a free podcast version of part of the show available.”
In the meantime, you can cue up this soundcloud and hear Jen Fulwiler interviewing Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, and asking her, among other things, “how are you raising all of these kids and doing all of these things?” Hmmm…seems to be a race of Catholic superwomen out there, doing some impressive stuff.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m going to go take a nap, now…