Deborah Norville is an award winning broadcast journalist with three decades of reporting experience. As the anchor for the past twelve years of the nation’s top-rated syndicated newsmagazine, Inside Edition, Deborah is credited with bringing strength and respect to the program. Inside Edition is regularly seen by roughly five million daily viewers nationwide, as well as in 30 foreign countries.
Deborah Norville is also an accomplished author. In her latest best selling book, Thank You Power: Making the SCIENCE of Gratitude Work for YOU , Norville shares the findings of her two years of reporting on research being done about the quantifiable benefits of living a grateful life. Offering exercises for harnessing "Thank You Power" and stories of individuals who’ve employed it, she also details the specifics of why "Thank You Power" works.
Our very own Wendy Sachs  had the opportunity to sit down with Deborah Norville and ask a few questions about her multi-layered life.
Deborah, you have had an illustrious career — thirty years in broadcast journalism including anchoring "Inside Edition" for the past twelve years. You are a best selling author of four books — the most recent — Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You . And you are also a wife and a mother to three children, Niki, Kyle and Mikaela. How do you juggle what is clearly an incredibly busy and multi-layered life? How do you keep your sanity? What is your secret?
I admit defeat before I get started. Seriously, I tell myself that much of what's on the to do list won’t get done and so with those ‘lowered expectations' I find I don’t beat myself up over what doesn't happen and I feel pretty good about what I do get done. I also make a point to find something to ‘be thankful' for everyday. I really do write moments down in a small journal I carry in my purse and it is a huge sanity preservation tool.
Organization is also key: by planning ahead, continually re-executing meal plans and grocery lists and using technology to simplify your life. On the 'social front,' I have just gotten good at saying no. Here in New York, there are a zillion charities and they all raise money by throwing parties that they ask you to chair, serve on a committee for, come to, beg party favors for, etc. I have served on several boards for many, many years and kind of feel like I paid my dues. I have no problem about saying no.
There are some things we will go to, but if it is a choice between their charity and MY family life, well, as they say, "Charity begins at home,” which is where you will find me. It is important to have a cause that you care about and to which you give your time, efforts and donations, if possible. Here in New York, that has been taken (as so much here is!!) to an extreme. I choose NOT to get sucked in.
Having had the privilege of getting to know you while launching Thank You Power , I have to admit that I have never met anyone who works as hard as you do. My emails from you came at midnight and at 6 a.m. — when do you sleep?
Obviously between midnight and six. Actually, I usually don't get up until 6:30am! That's not enough, but it's all I get. But as I think you also noticed when we were working on Thank You Power , I am super high energy when I am jazzed about what I am doing. I was — and continue to be — really excited about the message of the book: that tapping into the things that you feel are blessings in your life can actually give you more energy, make you healthier, more optimistic, etc. And looking back, I would say it was my own sense of being grateful that the book was being well received, that I had such a super team helping me to get the message out, etc., that gave me high energy.
Day in, day out, when I am not promoting a book, I find that the more organized I am, the more sane I feel. That's why I plan out my menus in advance, keep grocery lists preprinted in a drawer in the kitchen (and feel NO sympathy if someone in the family forgets to check off what we are running low on). When we seemed to have birthday parties every single week, I'd stock up on gift cards or certificates that I'd wrap up with small gifts. And house-wise, I just decided no one cared if they had color coordinated sheets and towels so everything is white and each can go in any bedroom or bathroom.
In terms of the mountains of paperwork, I try to keep ahead of things like insurance filings by taking a blank claim form WITH ME to the doctor or dentist, along with a stamped envelope. I ask for two copies of the receipt from the receptionist and drop one in the mail IMMEDIATELY after the appointment. I get my reimbursement sooner and keep the duplicate (noted with the date I sent the claim) in my file. I keep an ongoing file for those tiny FlexSpend receipts that DO add up. I do on line bill payments where appropriate and keep my checkbook on my computer — and update it! It makes life so much easier come tax time! I find that when I am organized, I feel this incredible sense of calm. I will never be as organized as I aspire to, but each step closer to that holy grail of organization, I feel like my blood pressure goes down a smidge!
You do a lot of public speaking and writing about what it means to be a working mother. Could you ever imagine not working in some capacity?
No — not totally. I DO sometimes wonder what it would be like NOT to have a daily television deadline. But I am sure I'd still be writing books. I’m working on one now. I suspect I'd be doing something to bring my lifelong love of sewing and needlework and knitting to a new generation. It is such a joy to see my little girl learn to knit and she is so proud of the first top she sewed last summer. I also think my working has been a great role model for my children. So many of their peers have moms who never did work, and I truly do not sense that they have nearly the kind of close relationship with their parents or solid grounding that my children have. (One knocks wood as they say that — don't want to jinx anything!) And I think my children have seen that one CAN choose a career and make choices in that career and still be a committed parent.
I chose to leave the network news world when my children were very small — yet found a niche at “Inside Edition.” I also am lifted up by my work. When we do a story that makes a positive difference in someone's life or when I hear from a reader that Thank You Power  “changed my life" — I am so gratified. AND — I make sure my family knows that my work is a source of sustenance for me — psychically, not just financially. I think it's important for children to see that work is valuable on MANY levels.
With your demanding career, finding boundaries between your job and your family life has sometimes proven impossible. You actually taped your show Inside Edition from the hospital maternity ward after giving birth to your daughter Mikaela. As they say, with age comes experience, what lessons have you learned about your own priorities and how do you negotiate the constant tug of work/life balance?
The key factor in making any of these choices is making them with the confidence that it is the right decision for you and your family and you can only know that if you truly have figured out your own priorities. In Back on Track, my first book, I talked about going through that process. Once you know who you are and what you are all about, you will make your decisions more confidently and be able to better fend off the 'naysayers' who will inevitably second guess your choices.
Are there any regular rituals that you do with your children that you look forward to?
I always tell what is in Dreamland when I put the youngest one to bed. The older boys have outgrown it — but it's a sweet way to 'prime' kids for sleep by suggesting some of the nice things they will 'see' in Dreamland. We always say our prayers together before we go to bed. We always have dinner together in the dining room, with candles, proper napkins, etc. It never seemed right that only 'special' dinners should be in the dining room. Aren't all dinners with the people you love most special?
Dads don’t seem to lament about work/life balance issues as much as moms do. Why do you think this is still largely a female issue? Why do women seem to struggle considerably more than men?
Because generally speaking, it's the mom who's got the responsibility for the kid-related issues. A very few dads (I personally know NONE) DO take on the duties of playdates, new clothes, sitters, shopping, groceries, laundry, meals, etc. In our society men are not programmed to assume those jobs and — let's be honest here: most of us women sense they just aren't good at it, they'll mess it up, I do it better. I know I personally worry that things won’t get done but if "I" do it, I know it did.
So women struggle more because we're doing more. As moms, one way we can address this issue for the future is to allow our sons to do more around the house and encourage our own husbands to participate in more of these tasks. For instance, my middle child broke his leg. Not once did I take him to the doctor, get the xrays, have the cast put on or taken off. My husband did it all — and it ALL worked out fine!
Your schedule on a good day anchoring Inside Edition can be both unpredictable and insane. Add a brutal book tour schedule to your regular day job, and I think we needed to carve out time for you to even shower. What kind of toll does that work load take on not only you but your husband and your children? How did you handle the nights away from your kids? The school stuff, the homework?
It's easier now that the kids are older. They are good students and I have been blessed NOT to have kids with issues — learning disabilities, food allergies or medical problems. I have often said prayers of thanks for that. I am not sure I COULD have had so many balls in the air if those issues had been present. When the kids were small, the "note fairy" would leave notes to be put on their pillows at night (which meant Mom had to write all those 'note fairy notes' BEFORE leaving!) When I traveled a lot, my eldest had real separation issues, which I tried to ease by giving him a photo of us together in a lucite frame which he kept in his backpack or desk at school.
Ultimately though, I made a significant job change. I gave up the opportunity to be Sunday night anchor at CBS News (and correspondent during the week) to be anchor of Inside Edition. I could NOT subject my child (and soon to be children, number two was on the way) to more of the absences that were causing him such trauma. I felt I couldn't ask CBS to rewrite the rules of the game, by making demands that other mom/correspondents couldn't make. So it seemed right to start fresh at Inside Edition where I DID have written into my contract a limit on the amount of travel. It took me out of the 'fast lane' of television news, but I had already enjoyed some pretty historic moments as a news reporter. I knew the 'news' business would still be there if I chose to return later. But the time with the children really does fly by and the predictability of a New York-based anchor job has allowed me to be there for the school plays and sports games and homework duty and doctor's appointments.
If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to impart to your fellow sisters who are struggling to do it all, what would it be?
Lighten up on yourself. Your kids will survive your parenting mistakes and you will survive your kids and Lord willing, you and your husband will survive what is, without doubt, the most stressful event your marriage will face: child rearing!
If you enjoyed our chat with journalist and author, and Inside Edition anchor Deborah Norville, be sure to check out our Working Mom interviews with Today Show co-anchor Natalie Morales , Today Show financial analyist Jean Chatsky , Fox Business News anchor Alexis Glick , and Extra's Dayna Devon .