Today's guest for Saturday Stories is Connie Sokol. Connie Sokol is a mother of six, a national and local presenter, former TV and radio host, and columnist for Deseret News. With her left toe she has authored Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, and Life is Too Short for Sensible Shoes. Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats.
Wow, I just get tired reading about all she's done (except for the decadent treats part)! Definitely someone who knows how to manage her time well.
AFTER you read the interview, if you want to learn more about Connie and her writing check out her website here.
Q–Tell us about yourself.
We are a high energy, loving and loud family—think lioness with tiger cubs, but older. Our biggest challenge is being quiet at the dinner table—we literally set the timer for anywhere from two to five minutes for “Quiet Time” (attempt at silence) so that my husband and I can actually eat. We’re the Sokol Bunch: six children—three boys followed by three girls—ages 18 down to 6, and they are absolutely scrumptious. Our family motto for years has been “Work hard, pray hard, play hard,” which also comes with a fabulous family mission statement that no one else in the family remembers, but which I spent many months poring over.
Q–Tell us about your book.
Faithful, Fit & Fabulous: Get Back to Basics and Transform Your Life in Just 8 Weeks is a long title for an amazing book. I can say that because a) I didn’t choose the title, and b) I didn’t write it by myself. It’s been 10 years in the making, of working with women and families and helping them see simple ways to make profound changes in their lives using basic gospel principles. The concept is to get back to the basics, for women to tidy up 80 percent of their lives in 8 key areas (don’t even think about doing 100 percent yet). The areas include holy habits, a personal plan, joy in womanhood, balance in motherhood, fitness & fabulousness, organization, healthy relationships, and financial savvy and prosperity. Every chapter is truly a gem. I’ve simplified principles and practices that get results and help women finally feel they have some control and joy in busy daily life.
Faithful, Fit & Fabulous will be available for sale on August 8th!
Q–Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?
Being one step from insanity. Many years ago I had had four children in six years and felt absolutely overwhelmed. I’d come from a dysfunctional background (okay, who hasn’t) but I wanted to know the best way to “do life”. So I read everything I could get my hands on, the most significant being the scriptures. And honestly, that’s where the answers are. We’re still to seek for truths out of the best books, which I did, and combined basic gospel answers with specific temporal practices. It’s been such a blessing! I’ve experimented upon the word, as it were, and done a lot of testing on my guinea pig family. But I’ve found key things that can work for everyone. For example, through implementing some simple organization principles, I saved 26 hours a week in my typical daily routines (cleaning, cooking, etc.) I used that newfound time to speak and write about the very things I was learning and developing.
Q–As a person who is struggling with the “fit” part what are a few tips you could share?
It’s a change of perspective more than anything. It’s realizing you’re not denying yourself when you choose health first—you’re giving yourself opportunities, time, energy, everything. The kicker for me was that I’d lost and gained 25 to 30 pounds several times over the past several years doing exactly the same habits. Finally, I figured out a few things. I addressed emotional triggers. I incorporate lifestyle habits—called the Basic 12—to a point that I felt good and learned to listen to my body. It wasn’t until I could understand my personal body signals that I lost weight and kept it off.
One quick tip that I love and use all the time is from a friend who does pageants: she says, “two bites of anything.” This works! I can’t STAND diets, they don’t work, and this whole constant denial of food only triggers more emotional food issues. We can all deal with a couple of bites of anything (as opposed to everything, very important difference). When we put food in the proper balance in our lives (as in, stop obsessing about what you ate, can’t eat, want to eat, will eat, should have eaten) then we start to live. This “two bites” thing is great—on July Fourth I had movie popcorn, soda, Junior Mints, frozen yogurt and went out to eat a few times, all of it obviously not my typical menu. But happily, I just had a few bites of each snack and normal meal portions. It was great—I don’t feel denied and food goes back to its proper enjoyable place.
Q–What’s your guilty pleasure?
I seriously have no guilty pleasures, it’s all open, and I encourage women to do the same thing! But I am picky about my decadent treats. I like organic or European chocolate (preferably with almonds), those Ritter square chocolate thingies—wow, I have to hide them from my husband. Being from Scotland I’m a diehard Cadbury’s fan (roasted almond). And Gloria’s in Provo has the most fabulous desserts (detailed unpronounceable Italian names but the one that has white and chocolate cake with Italian cream and Nutella—to die for). I like whatever I eat to be high quality and I’ll wait for it. I used to consume half a bag of chocolate chips in search of that taste, but now I’ll wait until I can get what I want. And when I eat it, I enjoy every bit without any guilt whatsoever.
Q–What is one thing you were surprised to learn about yourself as you became a mother?
How much I still, to this day, don’t know. I’ve had six children, so you’d think I’d feel pretty informed, but there are always curve balls. I can remember with my last child when I asked a neighbor a question—though, due to early motherhood Alzheimer’s, I can’t recall the actual question—but the neighbor’s facial expression and my feelings were the same—shouldn’t I know this by now? You know things—a lot of things—but it’s always changing up. My feeling is that it’s all a plot to keep us from sleeping well for our entire lives.
Q–Tell us about your work as a TV host, radio host, and columnist for Deseret News?
I’ve felt so blessed to be able to have some great opportunities in the media. I LOVE doing radio and TV, it’s like being home, and I’ve been grateful to work with excellent people. But the biggest thing I’ve learned from these experiences is that there are always opportunities. Many women will have an enticing offer before them and they’re ready to jump into it—even if it stresses out their family—because someone told them it’s a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance. It’s likely not. I’ve been very careful for many years to keep things part-time, or to listen for when it’s time for me to start or stop something (and that’s HARD, especially when it’s going good!) Everyone’s situation is different so it’s vital to go with what works for you and your particular family. My first priority is what’s best for my own family, because this time is not about me and all that I can do; it’s about them, helping my children see and know who they are and what they can do. That doesn’t mean I can’t do anything—in fact, we’re counseled to keep creating and developing, thank goodness. It simply means enjoy, do, and create, but be vigilant that it’s not at the expense of your family.
When KSL asked me to host the new women’s radio show “Ask a Woman”, I said I couldn’t do full time, from 3 to 6 p.m., like they were asking. After a few weeks of prayer and thought, I knew the solution: I said I could do two days a week, from 12 to 3 p.m., because that’s when my baby usually napped. And it worked. The radio execs chose three hosts instead of one to “job share,” so that each of us could put our family first and still be able to contribute to women. It was an amazing experience.
Q–What other books have you written?
Three books—Life is Too Short for One Hair Color and Life is Too Short for Sensible Shoes are a collection of my family columns for Deseret News. The third book, Are You Ready for a LIFEChange? is a how-to on creating a personal life plan with examples of how other women have created them, what stops us from moving forward in our lives, and how to get unstuck.
Q–How do you find balance with your writing/publicity, church work, and your family?
Relying on my Father in Heaven and being very, very creative! I always tell women to look for the hidden time chunks, ones that we don’t immediately see. For example, when my daughters took ballet and art lessons, I used that time to write, and only write. I would type while in the teachers’ homes as my girls did their lessons, and it added up to about two-and-a-half hours a week. It sounds like a drop in the bucket, but with that time I wrote the first three chapters of “Faithful” and submitted it for publication. Later, I added in time when my youngest when to preschool and ultimately wrote the entire book. Mostly, I take my little Acer with me everywhere so that if I’m waiting for someone, I’ll write for that 15 minutes. I’ve learned to be disciplined with myself and my time, which can sound annoying but it’s not. The dangling carrot of living my ideal life keeps me focused in an enjoyable way.
Q–If you were trapped on a deserted island with an unlimited supply of coconuts and water what would be the one food you would miss the most?
Pasta. Specifically, Gloria’s homemade ravioli with the salsa rosata sauce. Perfecto!
Q–What is your favorite picture book to read to your children?
We read a lot of different books so I’d have to do more than picture books, though The Napping House is my favorite. Two of our ultimate books overall are Beatrix Potter collection and Angelina Ballerina books, because we attempt the British accent while we read (which, of course, sounds like a cross between a German and a Russian, but it’s all good). Right now I cuddle and read with each of the girls at different times—I just finished Gail Levine’s The Fairy’s Return and Other Princess Tales with my oldest girl, and am reading The Sweet Shoppe Mystery with my second oldest girl. So fun!
Q–What is your favorite blog to visit and why?
Besides yours and mine??? Rockstar Diaries is one I like simply because it’s beautiful to look at, has great values, and I know and love her http://taza-and-husband.blogspot.com.
Q–How have you cultivated the gift of writing given to you by your Heavenly Father?
Not always in fabulous ways! It wasn’t until last year—LAST YEAR—after writing a column for Deseret News for four years, having completed three books, and written basically since I was able to hold a pen, that I sat in my first writing conference and like an AA moment thought, “I’m a writer.” Epiphany! But I can say I’ve tried really hard to fill myself up with good things—music, media, people, scriptures, etc.—so that I can allow whatever is good to come through my particular window pane of expression (speaking, writing, creating). Right now I’m writing a romance novel because I want women to have a good clean read with an exciting plot and characters who actually develop as human beings! And it’s so fun—I find myself laughing out loud at scenes (I read awhile back that Jane Austen also did this—which made it not embarrassing because now it was obviously artistic). Truly, my greatest desire is to help women and families lead more fulfilling and joyful lives, because we can. So often we just don’t understand what that looks like to us, day to day. So my writing is really an attempt to distill down all that I’ve learned from wiser people, truths, and life experience, and put it in as simple and doable a format as possible. That way women can desire more, read how to begin, do it today, and see a difference.
Thanks for joining me today, Connie! I want to grow up to be just like you!
I'm apprehensive saying this because it's something I rarely do and I don't want to set a precedent I can't/won't maintain, but I AM going to go get her book so I can figure this out because I feel like I'm not even treading water anymore, rather gasping for breath as I struggle not to drown!
If, like me, you're interested in purchasing Connie's books, there are a few links below.