Thank you for all the well wishes and thoughtful questions! I really appreciate both. A lot.
Glenda: After four years “in community” through your blog, do you feel reflecting and exploring themes for the blog have helped you better navigate and enjoy the daily moments of your days? Enhanced living in any way?
I definitely feel that daily writing has helped me zero in on the central questions that matter to me. And the act of reflecting on my life and sharing stories here – and the thoughtful reactions that I often get – definitely has made me more aware of the joy that hides in the most ordinary moments of my life. Absolutely this has enhanced my life.
Chris: When did you first admit to yourself that you were not leading the life you wanted? I’m sure there was a general uneasiness for some time. I’m talking about the crossing the Rubicon moment when you realized you had to make a change.
I wish there was a pivotal moment – not only because it’s a good story but because it would act as a fulcrum between then and now. But there hasn’t been, really – it’s more a gradual realization, which escalated from a vague sense of unease in my chest into a howling roar and a propensity to burst into tears at the slightest thing (which, still, frankly, happens).
Gale: As for questions, I was intruiged by your comments about BlogHer when you thought people were disappointed when they met you in person. You have a distinct online personality (thoughtful, introspective, honest, intense), but I get the sense that perhaps you seem different in real life. How would people who know you in person (but don’t read your blog) describe you?
This is something I struggle with, because I don’t know that I have a good sense of it. I’d welcome anyone who DOES know me in real life to chime in here! (Bouff?) I hope that people who describe me as empathetic and warm, interested in them (I’ve been told I deflect questions about myself), and occasionally funny in spite of myself. Things I’ve heard before: that I’m much smaller than someone expected (short) once, that I’m goofy, also that I’m much quieter, shyer, less of a leader than someone else had assumed.
Corinne: What do you order at Starbucks?
Are you a beach or lake person?
Favorite thing about blogging?
Did you ever expect to be where you are now ten years ago?
Venti nonfat latte. Always!
Beach all the way.
That it makes me write, and has reconnected me with my passion for words.
My life is both exactly as I planned it ten years ago and nothing like I expected. (and that is as good a summary of the book I’m writing as any I can provide)
Christa: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A writer. This is the easiest question of all.
Sere: I’m wondering if blogging helped you find your voice. Were you writing long before you began blogging? And do you write other things as well? Fiction? Any works in progress?
Absolutely blogging has helped me find my voice. I had written a lot as a child, in high school, and college, but had drifted away from it. I do write other things: articles, essays, a memoir in progress, and I have 160 pages of a novel that nobody has ever read a single word of.
Leslie: You mentioned once that you wanted to be a doctor when you were younger (hopefully i’m not mistaken). just curious, how did you diverge into business instead?
I did. I always thought I’d be a doctor and still nurture dreams of going back to school to become a midwife. I have tremendous passion for womens’ healthcare, for the crisis that is maternal mortality in the world, and the quest for all women to have positive and supported experiences of pregnancy and birth.
My road away from that dream was gradual and circuitous. When I lived in London I had selected my subjects for A-Level (the English educational system requires focus on 3 or 4 subjects for 11th and 12th grade). Mine were Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Math. Instead of pursing that I came back to boarding school and college. In college I took a lot of science but fell in love with English and majored in that. (my father would describe the transition from hard sciences to English as “sliding downhill”) How I got from contemplating a PhD in English to a degree in business is a story I’m still untangling.
Ramona: What is your fondest piece of fiction? What music are listening to right now?
So difficult to pick one piece of fiction! I can pick a few authors who consistently move me: Elizabeth Strout. Dani Shapiro. Louise Erdrich. Laurie Colwin.
I rarely listen to music other than when I’m driving, but my favorites right now are Brandi Carlile, the Weepies, Eddie Vedder, Ray Lamontagne.
Sarah: What would you tell your younger self of four years ago if you could?What is the best piece of parenting advice you have received? What advice would you give to a new parent? What does it mean to you to be a writer?
I would tell myself to relax and to trust. I still tell myself that. I would tell myself that in four years I wouldn’t have anything resembling babies – or even toddlers – anymore, and not to rush it.
To a new parent I would say, and I do, to forgive yourself if you don’t love every second of it right away. To know that things go by fast. It is so easy to turn into cliches here and I try not to do that, but the truth is that message is salient and, for me, the most important one.
I don’t think of myself as a writer, so it’s hard to answer this. It remains my most cherished and deeply-held dream.
Bruce: If you could ask the cosmos one question and get an unequivocal answer, what might your question be?
Will my children be okay? I can’t stop thinking of a sentence I read in Brene Brown’s book: “We can’t give our children what we don’t have.” Here I am so trying to instill confidence, peace, and calm into my children … all the while not having those things myself. This keeps me up at night. I want to know that Grace and Whit will grow up happy, healthy, and confident, and that having had me as their mother won’t bring them too much pain and grief.
Alana: What has been your biggest gift from blogging? Your biggest challenge?
The gift has been that I have realized my deep passion for and commitment to writing. Blogging has reawakened that part of me and for that I am very, very grateful. The challenge is, I guess, wondering where the border of helpfully candid and far too personal is, as well as starting to feel like I’m hopelessly mired and repeating myself over and over again.
Heather: If you had the chance to change yourself into someone who doesn’t think so much, would you do it? I think about this a lot for myself–so I had to ask!
I think about this all the time too. I don’t know. Right now, I’d answer yes, but I intellectually know that I would at other times have said no.