Paige Wolf on Book-Writing, Balance, and an Inspiring Medical Recovery

Paige WolfPaige Wolf is a green living expert and the author of Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt and the owner of Paige Wolf Media and Public Relations, a B Corporation certified eco-friendly PR firm focused on sustainable clientele. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, two children, and American Hairless Terrier. 

Favorite food: Chocolate ice cream. Gelato is even better.

Favorite vacation spot: My dream is to retire and live on a Viking River Cruise.

Favorite way to practice self-care: CrossFit.

Words to live by: Perfect is unattainable, but better is always possible.

What’s the biggest takeaway you learned from writing your book?

The writing is the easy part – it’s getting it to market that is hard! I first started writing this book almost seven years ago and wrote the first draft in about four months. It took me another six months to find an agent. But it was another FIVE YEARS before I found the right publisher to take the book to mass market!

My advice, though, is that if you want to write a book, write it. You can always self-publish. And while it is extremely rare to see any kind of big profit on a book, you will always have that thing that is your own. That is invaluable.

You recently went through a scary medical emergency. How did being incapacitated with sepsis – and your fearless recovery – change your outlook on life?

It’s only been 3 months since I got out of the hospital but it feels a million miles away. Honestly, my recovery has been super fast, and I attribute that fully to having a fit and healthy lifestyle going in and coming out! 

It may sound cliche to say I’ve learned lessons from trauma – and ridiculous to say I don’t regret it happening. But the further out I get from the worst of it, the more I am thankful for what I’ve taken from the scariest experience of my life.

For one, I have learned about true compassion and empathy. I thought I was a good person and a good friend – but now I know how careless I have been and I’ve learned how to do better. I am more in tune with what to do and say when someone is suffering. I will go the extra mile and not be paralyzed by some foolish feeling of helplessness. It isn’t that hard to be helpful. To listen, to show you care, to send food or flowers or cards with real words of encouragement. To offer to help with the children or the laundry or the overstressed partner. I have been as guilty as anyone else of the vague, “Let me know if I can do anything” text. From now on, I will just do.

I also learned that sometimes the people you least expect will step up in amazingly beautiful ways. Friendships I feared had faded were rekindled when the chips were really down. Partners and parents stepped up with strength I didn’t know they had. Friends and acquaintances built a safety net for my family and gave me a whole new appreciation for my relationships, neighbors, and community.

A life-changing event will make one that much more thankful for what they have. When a run becomes tiring I push through with the gratitude I have that my legs are strong enough to propel me forward. But, if I am being completely honest, that whole zen thing sort of fades once you return to reality and I still find myself becoming frustrated in a long grocery checkout! 

How would you say your life has changed since becoming a parent?

One of the biggest personal changes has been going from a night owl to an early bird. I require a lot of sleep so now it is lights out at 9 p.m.!

And, of course it is cliché to say, but everything changes. Life becomes much trickier but more rewarding. My husband and I have to work really hard to juggle and prioritize. For me, I find that I have to put sleep and fitness first – that may sound out of whack, but I know that if I give precedent to these two necessities, everything else will fall into place and I can give my children the “best me” possible.

Any advice for the new moms out there?

Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you should do nothing. You don’t have to feel paralyzed by all the overwhelming information. It’s OK not to exclusively breastfeed or use cloth diapers or eat organic all the time. But it is certainly worth giving these things a fair shot and finding ways to make them more practical and manageable. Nobody is perfect and every parent has different priorities. Realize that you can make an impact by voting with your dollars, speaking up for positive change, and always trying to do a little bit better without making yourself insane!

What’s your favorite way to spend time in nature?

I love hiking – mostly the uphill part though as I get a bit terrified walking downhill! It’s an easy drive to the mountains from Philadelphia, and my husband and I have hiked so many different waterfall trails just in Pennsylvania alone. We have great trails right around the corner in Fairmount Park, one of the largest urban green spaces in the country. I also love running, especially on the Schuylkill River Trail just a mile from my home.

What would you like to tell your 20-something self?

You are not nearly as fat as you think you are – and you are stronger than you can imagine. And stop drinking Crystal Light!

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One Comment

  1. I love your words to live by. Perfection is over rated and can lead to serious stress in your life. As long as you better yourself a little bit each day, that is all anyone should ever hope for.

    So glad you are feeling better!