By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published May 31, 2004 at 5:27 AM

{image1} It would be really fantastic if one of Peggy Hong's Korean ancestors wrote "the secret" of balance on a piece of paper and passed it down for generations, but reality is a lot less dramatic than that. Instead, Hong learned to keep her gravy from flowing into her green beans all by herself, and although she isn't one to dish up advice, she does offer some rather evolved food for thought.

If the key to balance is time management, Hong is a locksmith. She has picked many roles: wife, mother, poet, dancer, yoga instructor and peacemaker, and in each one, juxtaposes success with grace.

Hong has a long list of credentials, including yoga and communications instructor at Alverno College, creative writing workshop facilitator at Woodland Pattern Book Center, co-director of Riverwest Yogashala, co-founder of Mothers for Peace, member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and Peace Action Center volunteer. She also teaches yoga at the Aveda Institute of Wellness and Beauty and the Milwaukee Yoga center and a series at the UWM theater department. She has published three books of poetry - and one pending called "Three Truths and a Lie" -- and several dozen essays.

Hong plans to study at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Pune, India, for one month next year.

"It's the most sophisticated modality of movement studies I've encountered, and that's why I've stuck with it," she says. "Of course, it's not just movement--it's philosophy and wellness on every level, striving to become a better person."

At the same time, Hong has been married for 19 years and has three children, ages 17, 15 and 13. She is an active parent and volunteer at Tamarack Community School and says her family is her main priority.

So how does she manage it all? Magic wand? Secret access to time warps? Not quite.

"The only way I've found to ensure some time of my own is by waking up earlier and earlier," says the 40-year-old Hong, who currently rises at 6 a.m. and works, usually, until 4 p.m.

Hong's ability to balance personal achievement and family life also rests in the independence of her children. "Everybody eats, everybody cooks, everybody cleans up," she says. "The parent is the facilitator, not the servant."

Not watching television also frees up a lot of Hong's time. Although her family does own a set, she says she never watches network programs and catches a rental movie maybe once a month. Hong also restricts the amount of television she allows her kids to watch.

"I feel the best thing I've given my kids is the ability to entertain themselves," she says.

Hong moved to the United States in 1968, arriving in Honolulu from Seoul on her fifth birthday. Hong's father was an academic, and the family settled near SUNY-Buffalo. Although it was assumed that Hong would also become a doctor, she surprised her family with a desire to pursue art, specifically poetry and dance.

"Only in recent years has my family of origin come to accept, or grudgingly admire, what I do," she says. "In my extended family, I'm still the weirdo."

Hong's most spiritual advice (not that she is one to give advice; it was solicited) on the subject of balance is to love your work and your play equally. If you move from one thing you love to another, you'll create flow in your life and, quite possibly, feel more fulfilled.

"The fact is I don't really distinguish between work and play. Because my work is so enjoyable, I feel very little need for 'leisure.'"

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.