Keeping it All in Balance Even When Life Gets Chaotic
Sometimes Nancy Wenande’s hectic life gets even more chaotic. But she keeps things in perspective
Like the day she got a call from her daughter, Courtney, while busy at her job as public relations director for the National Field Archery Association Easton Yankton Archery Center.
Turns out that Iris, the family’s 8-month-old golden lab, was sick.
Her husband, Brad, couldn’t leave work early, and Wenande was swamped with final preparations for more than 600 guests from 30-plus countries coming to Yankton for the World Championships her organization was hosting.
So she called her 82-year-old mother, Mary Albrecht, who popped over and helped out.
“It was just one of those situations where you stop and realize: OK, let’s figure this out,” said Wenande. “That’s life – it’s not perfect and you can’t expect perfection. You can’t worry yourself sick about stuff that happens. You can’t sweat the small stuff.”
Her life reflects someone who gets things done. She is dynamic in her determined roles, but seeks new ones that allow her to give back – she serves on six boards of directors, volunteers often and still makes times for family and a small group of friends to have regular lunches and catch-up sessions.
Wenande recently began a new career challenge as CEO of Yankton Area Progressive Growth, an organization that seeks to recruit businesses and workers to the Yankton area.
“For me, I view life as having a plan for me, and to find it I need to be open-minded about what it can be,” she said. “Ten years ago, would I have seen this job I’m about to start as possible? No. Now my mindset is all about moving forward and it helps me to stay balanced by doing just that, moving forward. Move on. Life has a plan for me.”
Her career journey has taken her from working within the family business, to serving as a member of the City Commission, which in time led her to serve the council and the community as mayor. In 2015, when her reelection was unsuccessful, it wasn’t a life-shattering event.
“I spent about a day feeling bad about it, but I was busy volunteering for an archery tournament. They liked the way I got things done and offered me the job with them,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun, getting to show people from around the world, many elite athletes and Olympians, the beauty of Yankton and its surroundings.”
These opportunities came to her, she said, because she became more proficient in various areas of her life.
Shy growing up, Wenande learned to be more self-assured and vocal.
“I’ve learned a lot about worrying, and about how I tick, and one thing I just cannot do is worry about what other people think,” she said. “I work hard, make plans and try to avoid worrying about things I cannot control. It’s what lets me work a busy job and still make time for myself. I know my limits, and when I need help, I seek it out.”
Even the Busiest People Can Get Sick
Nancy Wenande’s five-some of friends enjoy lunches together at their usual spot: Mexico Viejo in Yankton. They met as a group of Mothers of Preschoolers in about 2000-2001.
“It’s a girls group, just us five,” Wenande said. Last fall, she reached out to her friends because she needed to talk. Everyone dropped appointments or shifted things around – they wanted to be there for her.
“That’s the type of people they are – they will drop things if you need them. I trust them, and they trust me,” Wenande said. “It’s a core group and a real treasure.”
Wenande had been experiencing health problems, but until that time, hadn’t let on. After an emergency room visit and many medical tests, she was diagnosed with a congenital defect in her heart, as well as a few other issues. Her doctor continues to monitor the condition, which may require cardiac surgery. Wenande is focused on a familiar refrain about life – not worrying about those things she can’t control – and knowing her family and friends are at-the-ready to provide support.
“Knowing they were there to listen, and to support me – that’s what our group is all about,” she added. “No matter how big or small the problem, my friends and I rally to our group. It means a lot to me, knowing I can trust in them and share anything I face.”
Considerations from a Counselor
Balancing a busy life filled with family, fun, work, chores – and fitting a little sleep and a few meals in there, too – isn’t simple.
How can you get more balance? Avera Medical Group Behavioral Health Psychologist Nancy Wise-Vander Lee, PhD, shares some tips:
Reach out to others. “When we learn that all the problems of the world are not on our shoulders, we can reduce stress and set healthy expectations. Sometimes the ‘healthiest’ people often are at a B+ level, and that B+ isn’t so bad. It’s part of being human.”
Learn to express what you want, need and feel. “It doesn’t come overnight or easily for many people. Practicing what you want to say with someone you trust can make expressing yourself more natural over time.”
Practice mindfulness. Centering yourself in the moment can help keep the “what if” thoughts from gaining ground.
Be fair to yourself. “Leave work at the office, schedule time to have fun or just veg-out watching TV. If you’re fair to you, you’ll likely be more fair to your family, friends and coworkers.”
Friends and Family
Busy is normal – but so too is balance. To get it, Nancy Wenande relies on her family and friends.
She’s a devoted mom to three – two boys away in college and a daughter in high school.
She and her husband, Brad, have been married since 1994. Both are “Type A” personalities and team up in all regards to keep things on track with their families and work duties.
The family is close, but each child is independent. While they might not eat supper together often, they talk regularly and remain closely connected.
Wenande spends time with her own mother, who also lives in Yankton. She draws strength and regroups when she spends time at home, with her family, or on outings with her close-knit group of friends.
“Balance isn’t about dividing time. Some weeks are 50-60 hours of work – but it works because I communicate with my family, my teams, the boards I serve on – and I know my limits,” she said.
Wenande also realizes that supportive relationships are a two-way street. “It’s not about what other people do for you, but about how you can be there for each other, whether it’s personal or work-related,” she said. “Supportive relationships and a positive attitude can make a tremendous difference in what people can accomplish.”