Interview With Another Blogger Who’s Trying Things

For this next post, I reached out to Cait over at her blog Well I Never! to ask if she’d be willing to let me interview her about her own experience as a blogger trying new stuff for funsies.

(Side note — I found her through a Google search, and her blog just HAPPENS to use the same WordPress theme as mine. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that the most amazing coincidence this side of the Mississippi? That’s exactly what I thought, too. :)

I’ve never contacted a blogger I didn’t personally know about collaborating before, so it was a little intimidating. What if my message went unanswered, lost to the black of the interwebs, a faint echo in a sea of couldn’t-care-less? Or, what if it did get answered, and the response was, “you’ve got to be out of your mind — I am not letting you interview me for your stupid blog you stealer of my WordPress theme!”

But neither of those things happened and my nagging fears were unfounded, as they usually are. Cait got right back to me and was totally game (thanks Cait!), so here I am posting my very first interview with a fellow blogger! Enjoy:

  1. I love how you say in your “Why I started this project” section that you began blogging about your adventures because your friends told you you’d be great at it. And that at first you thought you shouldn’t do it because you “felt like [you] weren’t original enough to have a blog” — but then you did it anyway. Roughly how many adventures had you gone on before you started blogging about them, and do any stand out in particular that helped give you the confidence boost to go for this next new, scary blogging thing? Or do you think it was a culmination of your efforts to dig in and put yourself out there?

I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty “safe” girl. My mom always loves to tell the story about how my younger  brother and I were learning how to dive into a swimming pool when we were little. My brother was a daredevil and pretty much had no problem just putting his head down and diving in…no problem and definitely no forethought. Meanwhile, it took me months to gain the courage to jump in. I was convinced that he was actually older than me since he wasn’t scared at all!

I think I shocked everyone, myself included, when I announced that I was moving to Hawaii (from my lifelong home of Connecticut) for grad school when I was 23. That was definitely my first ridiculously huge adventure. I moved home four years later after an unexpected breakup, and had to start all over again, which took a weird form of courage in its own right, I suppose.

That first summer back I basically couldn’t get out of bed. You know how sometimes you’ll be traveling down a path in life and then some random life craziness pops up and you make a 90 degree turn from your path? This was like a huge black ink splatter had just dripped over my path and I didn’t even know when the path would appear from this ink splatter, let alone where it would take me.

One of my two best friends had just had a kid and I agreed to nanny for her, but the job didn’t start for another month, so I had 30 days of nothingness. That’s when my project REALLY began. For 30 days, I did one new thing a day and posted it to my Facebook wall, which is what started to get my friends’ attention. A chunk of them, separately,  brought up the idea of the blog, and I decided to keep it going after the the original 30 days.

So, honestly, it was me giving in to peer pressure that really started the blog!

  1. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve tried? And what gave you the idea to try it?

Hrrrrmmmm… I guess it depends on weird. If you mean:

…..Dumb-weird it would be when I watched a TV show upside down

….Unexpected-weird it would be when I was the entertainment at a one-year old’s birthday

….headscratch-weird it would be giving myself a mohawk

….”that’s Cait being WEIRD”-weird it would be when I tried to learn how to yodel

  1. What new thing have you traveled the farthest for? Had you ever been to that place before? Did you have another reason to be there, or just go solely for the story?

I’m going to say when I went to St. Thomas. One of my boyfriend’s best friends was getting married down there. It happened to work out well for my blog (and my newfound Harry Potter obsession)…

  1. Is there anything you’ve tried on this journey that you wish you hadn’t? What was it, and why was it a terrible idea in retrospect?

I literally just skimmed through my entire blog and I’m OK with them all! I tend to not regret many things in my life. I usually find that almost anything can be learned from.

  1. How do you keep costs down on this trying new things bidness? Do you have any super-duper coupon sites you use, or any other savings savvy to share?

I only landed my first real “big-girl” job about a year and a half ago. So for the first 32 years of my life, I lived on a budget of nothing and have always found crafty ways to get around the problem of never having money. I’m also have a raging case of ADD, so I usually have the ability to space out or see an object and think of something random to do with it. Also, I’m a firm believer in checking out local things or amusements or oddities. They’re what make your place of living unique!

  1. Have you met anyone wildly interesting while trying to do this crazy thing? Who? And what did they teach you?

I got to spend some quality time with  boyfriend’s cousin, Brenda, when she taught me how to make soap. I had met her once at a Family Reunion, and as soon as I found out all the cool things that she does for a living (runs her own photography business, her own skincare business, and teaches photography classes) I knew I wanted to spend some more time with her!

I also met a friend-of-a-friend who shows every aspect of what an amazing teacher should be when I met Shannon while visiting my friend Emily in Philadelphia. I went with them both to a teacher’s union rally after some crazy stuff happened in the Philly schools. Shannon was a light to her students that day….right in the middle of them. She even got them to be able to speak in front of the school board!

  1. What do you tell yourself when you’re tempted to just…not. Because surely there are times when you’re tired and trying old things is so easy and very possible and probably quite desirable in the moment. How do you get yourself to keep on heading out the door toward that next new thing?

When I started the blog, I literally didn’t have a job and had all day to sit and think about all the new things that I could do. It’s kind of cool to go back and read through the whole blog and see how I went back to school, worked some random jobs, and finally landed my dream job. So where I am now, in terms of free time, is drastically different than where I was when I sorted it.

For the majority of the blog, I posted once a week. But you can see when I was student teaching that I started missing a few weeks. I was just too busy to keep it going! I felt so bad about it, but then I realized that it’s MY blog! And the majority of my readers are my friends, soooooo….what was the big deal if I missed some weeks?

I took a big hiatus for a year when I was really trying to figure out my career situation. And now I post (try to post) once a month, since that is what my career allows. But what I’ve learned NOT to feel bad about is that just because I don’t post in my blog doesn’t mean that I’m NOT trying new things. This project has taught me that new things come in small AND big sizes. Trying a new tea flavor may not be as crazy as exploring St. Thomas, but it is still a reminder to expand your horizons.

  1. Do you read any authors whose works focus on switching things up and venturing out? Or podcasts, or musicians. Basically, what other artists have inspired you? Recommendations, plz! :)

For my intense love of research and reading, I’m actually a horrible digester of others’ blogs and books on these subjects! One book that I do remember reading (which now has several podcasts and other supplies attached to it) is a book by Po Bronson called What Should I Do With My Life? It’s all a bunch of interviews he did with people just trying to figure their own stuff out. There’s also Pathfinders by Gail Sheehy, which draws conclusions about how people face challenges and come out stronger after.

In terms of resources for trying new things, or noticing the small things, there was a TED talk (https://youtu.be/ajKMkIXN1eg) that inspired a book of 1000 awesome things. I emailed him after seeing the TED talk and he responded! He’s very nice. I also met another friend via her blog of the same nature: http://www.tootimidandsqueamish.com/

  1. What have you learned about yourself during this personal experiment that you didn’t know before?

People are almost always willing to help you do something new….they love trying new things, OR they really like sharing something they do with someone else.

Also, I’ve never regretted any new thing I’ve done, but I have regretted NOT trying things when I was younger and too scared.

  1. What’s in store for 2017? Have a roadmap, or trying things on the fly?

Nothing planned much. The only real thing is a trip to New Orleans in April! My boyfriend was going to get me a new iPad case, but I asked for an experience instead, and he surprised me with the trip!! I’m pretty lucky. I also always keep a list in my phone of random new things I’d like to try in case one of them pops up.

The big thing that I’ve wanted to do since day one of this project is milk a cow. I’ve exhausted all resources for me to try this one up here. If anyone has any recommendations on the east coast (preferably northeast?) send them. [Readers: I know at least ONE of you know how Cait can make this happen. Speak up in the comments — let’s help her get her hands on a Bessie!]

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Try something new lately? Leave your story in the comments!

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The 2 Things You Have Control Over

My father is probably the smartest man I know, and I’m about to share some of his advice with you — so strap yourself in and get ready for some dad truths! But first, the story of how I came to hear said dad truths:

A few years ago, my dad was in Austin visiting my brother Haydon and I, when a drunken frat boy approached us on Guadalupe and invited himself into our lives.

We’d been walking down the drag on the way to the car, minding our own. Haydon had just played a gig at Hole in the Wall and we were off to continue the merriment at a friend of dad’s place in south Austin.

I’d noticed the gaggle of shit-housed frat guys behind us a few blocks back, but hadn’t thought much about it. They were as a natural part of the scenery as the scantily clad coeds crossing the street ahead of us. It was Saturday night in Austin and the students of UT were out to get schwasted. All was as it should be in the universe.

Only this kid had decided to take his Saturday night up a notch by accosting a group of innocent bystanders (us) with his slovenliness. On first glance, he appeared to be the drunkest of the group of testosterone-ridden drunks he ran with. And upon opening his mouth, he convicted himself guilty as charged.

Fratty stumbled up to us in his designer jeans and obnoxious pastel button-down, put his arm around my father, and said, “Hey old man. You’ve lived a long time — prolly learned a lot. Got any advice for me?”

My father is not an old man. He doesn’t look it. He doesn’t act it. He was undeserving of this uninvited insult and would have been every bit justified in giving this whippersnapper his answer in the form of a stiff right hook. But, my father also isn’t a man of violence.

He’s a meditator and a reader of books like Elson Quick’s Baddha and Stuart Wilde’s Weight Loss for the Mind. Books about positivity and unconventional but witty, all-too-true wisdoms that he often enjoys referencing to me and anyone else within earshot. At the time, he was the dean of students at a law school, and students were his very favorite standing audience for these pearls of wisdom. He’s also something of a storyteller, and now he had what every storyteller craves: an invitation.

In other words, this kid had hit the jackpot of people to drunkenly barge into of an evening. My father seized on his opportunity to shape this young, wasted mind.

Without missing a beat, Dad turned to him and said, “There are only two things you have control over in the world. Do you know what they are?”

To which the frat boy immediately replied, “your females and your finances!”

“No,” Dad answered. “That’s not it.” Undeterred by the revelation that he was dealing with an egotistical asshat of epic proportions, he pressed on.

“It’s your actions, and your attitude.”

We’d stopped walking at this point. The drunk guy’s friends had hung back, waiting to see what would happened next. I saw a look come over Fratty’s face, a glimmer in his eyes that suggested what was left of his brain might be telling him he’d better pay attention to this crazy old man, because he was on the cusp of learning something of value.

Dad went on to explain:

“You can’t control what happens to you. Circumstances can and will be less than ideal. The weather or a fire might destroy your possessions. People you love might get sick, or die. You also can’t control how other people act toward you. People might be cruel, or neglectful, or selfish, or just plain thoughtless. And you can’t do anything to change their actions.

“The past is the past, the future will be, and people are who they are. You get to ask the question ‘why?’ once. Then it’s time to ask the only question that really matters, which is, ‘what am I going to do about this now?’ In action, we have power — you are never powerless when you can control of how you frame life’s road bumps to yourself, and what actions you take to move forward.”

The drunk guy was speechless. The glimmer was still there, but fading as the mistress alcohol did her best to soothe his discomfort. His friends pulled him away shortly thereafter, and the moment passed.

As we continued our walk toward the car, my brother shook his head and said, “Jesus. ‘Your females and your finances!’ Those are the two things I have the least control over.”

Laughing, we headed off to south Austin for fun by a fire with a handful of fine folks who then got the chance to enjoy a recap of our discouraging encounter with the youth of America.

I don’t know if Fratty remembered it even having happened through his inevitable epic hangover when he woke up the next day on the floor of the party they were headed to.

But I remember it well, and have referred to that bit of advice often. I tell that story as a segue to talking about the latest new, scary thing I’ve tried.

I’ve taken on a freelance client that has me entering the world of public relations. It’s an exciting challenge, but it’s definitely a challenge as I adjust to writing professionally in a different style from the one I’m most familiar with, which is marketing. Instead of creating product pages and blog posts and brochures and sales sheets and things that, well, sell, I’m writing articles that aren’t meant to sell but to inform. Which is pretty cool and interesting, but there’s that same pesky learning curve that’s involved whenever you try something new. And I’m hugging the turn.

I know I’ll eventually make it to the open road — as long as I maintain control over the two things I can: my actions and my attitude.

Sharing this dad truth for those of you who, like me, can sometimes use a bit of extra help to take situations into your own hands and make them what you want them to be!

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Try something new lately? Leave your story in the comments, plz. I’d love to read ’em.

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Crystal Healing at My Co-working Space

crystal-healing

Last week, I tried something pretty off-the-wall for me. I had a crystal healing session at my new co-working space.

At this point in the blog post, you may have questions. What’s a crystal healing session? And what’s a co-working space? And, but seriously, WHAT IS A CRYSTAL HEALING SESSION?

I’ll take on the co-working space question first. Always nice to save the best for last, no?

A co-working space is a building where people who work remotely, like I do, come together to create a sort of remote working community. It provides people with a dedicated workspace, and the opportunity to socialize a bit so that they don’t become insane recluses reduced to making friends with the paperclips in their desk drawers. (Good morning, Polly the Paperclip. My, you’re looking bent out of shape today! Ha. Ha. Ha. Don’t you get it? [Polly never gets it.])

So, to stave off the serious chance of losing my sanity while working solo, I’ve rented a desk at Sol Healing and Wellness Center for 20 hours a week. I work mornings at my apartment, but in the afternoon, I leave my apartment and go there to work. And that’s key, folks. I LEAVE MY APARTMENT.

“But Leigh,” you might be asking. “Why not just work from a coffee shop? That would also afford you with the opportunity to leave your apartment.”

Good question, oddly formal fake audience member. The very first day I went freelance full-time, I realized working from a coffee shop would be a problem for me. That’s because the coffee shop I wanted to work from, Thunderbird, was full.

I walked in, realized there was nowhere to sit, and had to leave. And even though the next coffee shop I drove to had desk space available (Monkey’s Nest, if you’re curious), I knew I couldn’t structure my days based on a variable as big as whether or not I’d have a place to sit.

Now when I leave my place, I can make a beeline toward productivity without worrying about a last-minute location change killing my buzz. :D

So, that’s hunky-dory. But, as we all well know, the funny thing about cake is, you can’t seem to have it and eat it, too.

While Sol is an established wellness center with an awesome, well-equipped co-working space, the co-working space component is brand spankin’ new, and as of now, I am the only co-worker on the premises. That means that even though I work within the general proximity of several therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other healers, I “co-work” alone in a large room surrounded by empty desks.

The irony of this is not lost on me.

But the way I see it, I’m getting in on the ground floor! When the other co-workers arrive, I’ll have a certain je ne sais quoi that will assure a level of respect and admiration befitting of my more senior position within the co-working space.

The new co-workers will all gather around and I’ll show them the ropes—and will let them in on all the juicy gossip going on in the paperclip drawer. Polly should really be a bit more discrete about her fling with Peter, for instance. You can tell something’s up by the way they always make it a point to stick close together by the rubber bands.

“C’mon, Polly,” we’ll all chide. “That’s the third time you’ve used the ‘oops, we got magnetized!’ line this week.” That Polly won’t be fooling anyone, except maybe her poor sap of a steady beau, Steve the Stapler.

But I digress. As I was saying, I rented a desk at a co-working space for sanity and structure reasons. Any more questions?

WHAT IS CRYSTAL HEALING?

Right you are, eager fake audience member number two! What is crystal healing?

According to Google, “crystal healing is an alternative medical technique in which crystals and other stones are used to cure ailments and protect against disease.” I’ll supplement that definition with a little of what I learned from my session—crystal healing uses special stones to energize our bodies’ chakras.

Chak-whats? Chakras.

Chakras, pronounced “shock-ras,” are a Hindu concept, and according to that belief system, they are the centers of spiritual power in the human body. There are seven main ones, and you can learn all about them here, if you’re in the mood for some extra credit reading.

And what in the world does this have to do with my co-working space?

The fabulous Tracy King, a chakra energy healer who rents one of the offices at Sol Wellness Center, recently completed her crystal healing training and offered a special rate to those us of at Sol who wanted to try it out. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to see what in the world this crystal thing was all about. So we set up an appointment.

On my way to the session, I suddenly had a horrible thought. I had done next to no research into this whole thing, preferring to go in with a clear, open mind, and it occurred to me that maybe the crystals had to be put on bare skin to work. Would I then be mostly nude and under a sheet or something, like with a massage?

In that case, I definitely should have picked cuter (or at least less visibly worn) undergarments for the occasion. But it was too late to turn back around and change. Tracy would just have to accept me as I was if it came down to it.

We met in her room at Sol. It’s called the “tent room” because she has it covered in the most beautiful, draped fabric. And luckily, the most intimate we got was with her pre-session questionnaire and subsequent discussion.

The questionnaire asked me about my organizational levels, eating and drinking habits, typical energy levels, level of comfort with physical touch, physical well-being, spiritual beliefs, and more. I wrote down my answers before driving to the session, and Tracy reviewed them and discussed them with me more in depth just before we got started. (Suffice it to say Tracy got to know me real well, real quick.)

Then she had me lie down on her table while she covered me in a blanket and put me into a deep meditative state so that she could get to work.

You guys. That part—the session part—was so awesome. There are almost no words to describe it. But I’ve found some after much digging, and here they are:

The room was nice and warm and smelled fantastic, like essential oils or candles or some sort of inoffensive incense, or all three. And, to top it all off, for the next forty-five minutes my only job was to lie there, covered in a blanket, while I focused on new ideas for me about energy, and light, and breath.

She started off by putting two larger crystals at my feet (root chakra) and another one at my head (crown chakra) to keep us grounded throughout the session and, I think she said, to help stimulate a good alignment of energy.

I could also feel crystals being put on my lower belly (sacral chakra), the spot between my belly button and my sternum (solar plexus chakra), my heart (heart chakra—an easy one), beside my throat (throat chakra, ‘nother easy one), and on my forehead (third eye chakra). Tracy would place a few crystals, wait a minute, then add more or take away a few. I lost track after a while. Truthfully, I was so relaxed I nearly fell asleep. And maybe I actually fell asleep and didn’t realize it, which is an indication of ultimate relaxation in my book.

How often do you get permission to just be still for forty-five minutes, to just breathe and be and know this is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at this moment—and that you’re doing a damn good job of it? It felt deliciously self-indulgent and I was in absolute heaven.

After we were done, Tracy talked me out of my meditative state. Up until that point, I had been certain I was going to have to ask her to wheel me out of there after the session. I had been total dead weight while it was going on, and felt like I’d be unable to lift even my arms if I wanted to.

But when she was through having me wriggle my fingers and toes, I opened my eyes and was surprised to find myself completely energized. I felt like a million bucks. Or a million crystals. Take your pick—but keep in mind some of those stones looked pretty expensive. Here’s a pic of her worktable after our session was through:

crystal-healing-stones

After the session we talked more about what she’d discovered. I hadn’t known it at the time, but while I was on the table, Tracy had been using a pendulum to assess the energy levels of my chakras, and then adding crystals to improve those that could use a little love.

The pendulum had revealed that my solar chakra was the one that needed the most work—though my third eye, crown, and, to a lesser extent, my heart chakra had also been in need of a boost. My throat chakra, or the one responsible for my communication skills, had been peachy keen, which was a big boost to my writer ego. The solar chakra, the one I’d needed the most help with per Tracy’s diagnosis, is associated with my actual ego. It’s where my core identity lives, and it made sense to me that in this time of transition (going from full-time to freelance) that might be a little shaky.

To be honest with you readers, I don’t know what I believe about whether or not those crystals effected changes in my core energy, or if core energy is a thing I should be thinking about and working on. But I do know that her diagnosis rang true to me in a surprising way, and also that there was something wonderful about letting myself relax for a good forty-five minutes while someone else focused solely on helping me out. That was healing in every sense of the word.

Any Austin-based readers interested in experiencing crystal healing for themselves can email me for a coupon to try a 45-minute crystal chakra clearing & balancing session with Tracy for $40—half-off the usual price. It needs to be used by the end of December, and I’ve only got two of them, so don’t be shy. First come, first serve!

Namaste, y’all. :) Please leave me stories about new, scary things you’ve tried in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

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