Wednesday, February 06, 2008

An Interview with August

I took part in Neil's Great Interview Experiment over at his Citizen of the Month blog and my interviewee ended up being the lovely August, from Girl on the Run.

Neil's idea ran like this: Did you ever notice that whenever some expert is being interviewed on Oprah or the Today show, the person just happens to have a book coming out the following week? It’s as if it wasn’t important to tell us the cure for cancer until the guy’s book comes out, and then they don’t even tell you the cure so you have to buy the book. I’ve seen some bloggers being interviewed by other bloggers. It’s usually the same as it is on TV. Those interviewed are persons deemed “worthy” of being asked important questions about the world. They have a popular blog, a project coming out, or a specific expertise. We instantly find these people even MORE interesting because someone took the time to interview them. It’s like Obama’s campaign didn’t even start until Oprah sat down to talk with him. All of a sudden, everyone went, “Wow, she finds him interesting. He MUST be interesting.” I know most of you won’t agree with me, but I think anyone who decides to write about their life online is interesting, even those who may not do the best job yet of conveying that on paper. We all should be interviewed, at least once.

Curious to take part in Neil's experiment I wrote to August as per Neil's instructions (and was interviewed in turn by Tatiana, who made the whole experience so much fun, asking one question at a time and letting me get to know her some as I replied. Thanks Tatiana!)

Anyway, the interview:

1. You wrote a list of what you would like to be ... from that list, what are your top 3 goals and how will you go about achieving them?
I guess from that list, my top 3 goals currently are:
1) I would like to be a better teacher to my kids.
Sometimes I'm so caught up in my own dreams that I feel I have been selfish, like I am taking time away from my children's' dreams. I feel like I personally was not taught or encouraged by my parents, to realize and pursue my dreams and it has negatively affected me in my later years. Because of that, I try to pay close attention to my children's' likes and then I encourage them to take classes to develop their interests. For example, I have enrolled my son in theater camp every summer since he was 5. He loves it and he's a natural. He wants to try tap classes next and I have every intention of letting him. My 3 year old has always loved climbing the windows and so I enrolled her in gymnastics. She also loves dancing and singing so we will be exploring that soon too. Both of them also love to read and I intend to spend more time reading with them. Most importantly, I have a strong belief in God and I want to help them learn about Him and make Him real to them.

2) I would like to be more scheduled.
Schedules are overwhelming to me because life is constantly changing, but I believe they are vital to accomplish the most in life. Especially for someone like me who has to divide her time among her family, friends and self. I actually just spent the day on Friday, making up a daily schedule for each day of the week and filling in all the time slots with things I am already required to do. Every night before bed, I plan to look at the next days template, and add to it, things that can be done from my running "to do" list and to see where desired projects can fit in to the day. My big cleaning day is on Monday, and I even went as far as to write out a cleaning schedule that lists everything to do on a weekly schedule, and in what order, in hopes that it cuts down on my cleaning time, leaving more time for projects, time for my kids, and personal creativity.

3) I would like to be fitter.
Is that a word? haha. I have always been somewhat thin but I do notice that as I get older, eating anything I want is catching up with me. I have been working out for about 11 years but nothing too disciplined. For the last ten years, I have been about the same weight. Even when I started running, I never shed a pound. I knew that my diet has always been horrible. I literally have always eaten what I wanted and I never could eat low-fat or low-sugar. I have only tried one diet in my life and that was the South Beach Diet, but it was too restrictive and I couldn't stick with it past the 2 week initial period. I have been looking for some guidelines on how to eat healthy and in my search, I found the Abs Diet for Women, where you eat 6 meals a day and the only real restriction is to cut out High Fructose Corn Syrups, Trans Fats and cut way back on saturated fats. I have been following this way of eating now for the last 5 weeks and I love it. I can truly see myself doing this for life. Following this way of eating in addition to my morning workouts, I am actually seeing results in the form of a tighter midsection. I am not at my goal yet but I am determined to keep this up for life. It's not all about how I look (ok, it's a lot about that) but it's the part about taking care of my body and my health, that really keeps me motivated.

2. What was your favourite subject in school and what did you dream of being when you were a kid? Has that dream changed or are you still on track?
My favorite subjects in school were art and science. I have always liked a challenge.
When I was a kid I dreamed of being 3 things; 1) an architect 2) an interior designer and 3) a marine biologist. I hate to pass blame but a college education was not encouraged as a child and when I found out that these jobs not only required at least 8 years of intense schooling, but also a lifetime dedication along with being in a very competitive field, I backed down on my dreams and pretty much no longer knew what I was going to be.

I think that's why now, even though I'm not required to work secularly, I still crave a need to express my creativity, but have no real focus on how to go about doing so.

3. What do you do to nurture your creativity these days?
My problem in nurturing my creativity is that I have so many areas which I want to learn to express myself. Despite the fact that my list is quite definitive, I have no particular focus and so in the end, I never really accomplish anything.

The most I have done to nurture myself is by reading about the subjects I'm interested in. It's not odd to find me surrounded by 40 books at a time on a subject or 3. Currently, I'm realizing this more and more and have been taking steps to schedule my time better and to focus on one area at a time to develop myself creatively.

I'm also determined not to let myself be intimidated by the thoughts of not being good enough. I will never know unless I try. My current mantra is to just go for it. So what if I screw it up. I'm trying to let go of the perfectionist inside of me. If I don't, I will always be a dreamer, but never a doer.

4. You surprised me with your blogged words 'I'm not a good writer, but always a writer at heart'. Did you know writers are their own toughest critics? How do you satisfy the writer in you these days?
Why did that surprise you? Oh wait, I'm the one being interviewed ;) I don't consider myself a "real writer" since I've never been formally educated (past high school) in the art of writing. The most I've done is to read books on writing and utilizing writing workbooks. I tend to negatively compare myself to those I consider to be good writers.

I think I consider myself a writer at heart though, because I have always instinctively used writing as a sort of therapy. I kept journals to "let out" my deepest and most innermost feelings. I wrote stories to work out problems or anxieties in my life. And I've always made lists to help myself set goals and plans to accomplish things. I thought it would also be fun to let you know that I even drew comics about boyfriends when they became ex-boyfriends. I still have a lot of these in a big rubber maid box and they still make me laugh when I go through them.

I have recently been encouraged by a writer friend of mine to dig up some children's stories I wrote long ago, and just send them off to some publishers. I'll never know until I try, right?

5. How did you get into running? You talk of your running parents - are they a support team and are you still running?
When I was in elementary school, I detested running. I remember scheming with a friend or two in gym class on days we had to run the track, to run slowly with me so I wouldn't be the last person to cross the finish line. They would agree but then always ended up taking off ahead of me. Because I dreaded the thought of being LAST, I would kick up my pace and run as fast as I could possibly go. When I finally got to the end, still coming in last, I would keel over in the grass, grasping my chest for dear life.

When I was 20, my little sister who was always more athletic than me, would ask me to go for runs with her. She lived in an area called Little Italy, which had this massive hill that I couldn't even walk up without taking several breaks to catch my breath.

When I was 25, one of my managers at work asked me to run the Cleveland Marathon with a team he was putting together. It was 5 months away and I laughed in his face. He told me that despite the fact that I had never run before, 5 months was enough time to train. For some reason, I believed him. I started training around my neighborhood and was determined to do it. In the meantime, I got information on 5Ks. About 3 months into my training, I found out I was pregnant with my first child. My manager still believed that I could do the marathon while early in my pregnancy because of a woman he knew who did it 5 months pregnant. I got sick very early on though and gave up.

As time went on, my sister and other friends from work were running races. I told them that I might do it someday. My first race was going to be the Turkey Trot in Nov of 2006, but I have a herniated disk that started acting up a month before so I had to cancel. My doctor said running is not good for anyone, especially someone with a herniated disk but I didn't believe him. I wanted to prove him wrong. Finally, last spring. I started observing two people at my gym, John and Sue. They ran everyday before heading up to the weight room. I noticed the different race shirts they wore everyday and so I would ask them questions about races. I then learned that Sue had been through chemo once for cancer and would soon be going through it again for breast cancer. I admired her strength as she kept up running even throughout her treatments. I kept thinking "if they can do it, I could too". One day, John brought me a race form for a local 5K being hosted by my sons elementary school. I decided this was going to be my first race.

The day of the race, I had a bad chest cold, but I didn't want to miss another "first race" so I went anyway. I got my race packet, placed my bibb on my chest and looked around at all the other runners. I was impressed. I never knew there were so many "runners" in my neighborhood. I live in a small town that has no healthy restaurants or gyms and so I figured it was because nobody around here really cares about thier well being.

I started running slow and soon, my 2 inspirations were far ahead of me. It kind of hurt to run. Before the first mile, I already began walking. I was happy to know that I wasn't last though as they put the walkers behind the runners. When I would catch my breath, I would start running again. The 3.1 miles felt like an eternity but I enjoyed the moral support of neighbors standing outside cheering us on. As I ran, I thought "this is crazy... I can never do this again". As I neared the finish line, Sue, who had long been at the finish, ran up behind me and cheered me on all way to the end "go go go... you're almost there, give it your all!" My friends all met me with big hugs and high 5's. It was such a great feeling of accomplishment that the first words out of my mouth were "when is our next race?"

John was so proud of himself for getting me running that he said "See Sue, we have ourselves another child" as in another person they inspired to run. That's why I call them my "running parents". I try not to say that in front of Sue though because I think it makes her feel old.

Anyway, last summer I did 5 more 5Ks and improved my time by 6.5 minutes (for the entire race, not per mile.) I even got my hubby to do a couple races with me. I got out of running as winter approached but with spring coming, I am really looking forward to another great year of races.

6. Favorite comfort food?
OOoooh, if you had asked me this several months ago, I could have whipped out 5, without even thinking of it. Now I'm on the Abs Diet, which is not a horrible thing. The Abs Diet has really changed my thinking about what I put into my body. Hmmm, 5 months ago I would have said "boneless hot wings, mocha lattes, sweet and spicy calamari and shrimp tempura maki rolls".

Now, right off the top of my head, I will have to say: Sushi, especially spicy tuna maki rolls and pasta, especially if the pasta is whole wheat and has some kind of creamy sauce over it. Mmmmm.

7. If you could travel to anyplace in the world, where would you go and why?
Believe it or not, this was one of the hardest questions to answer but it shouldn't be. I have a list and I can't decide on just one or put them in a specific order.

I would love to visit Spain, Italy, France and Greece just to experience the culture firsthand and because each area has been highly reccomended by friends that have been there themselves.

I have traveled all over the US but I have never been to Hawaii or California. I would love to drive along the CA coast since I have already experienced the beauty of driving along the East Coast from as far North as Portland, Maine, all the way to West Palm Beach Florida. I also want to check out San Francisco while I'm there.

8. You list accounting as your 'industry'. What did you do before children, and will you go back to it or are you already back at it?
I have "accounting" as my industry? I think that's a mistake. I majored in accounting in college and worked in accounting for a couple years but actually, my last job was working with digital data for an insurance company. You know those messages that "this call may be monitored for quality assurance?" Well, I managed the storage of the tapes that those calls were recorded on offsite and onsite.

I was told by my managers that I have a job when I'm ready to return, and I always thought I would. But now that almost 4 years have passed, I can't see myself returning to the corporate world. I would really like to finally focus on some aspect of my creative brain, be it writing childrens books, illustrating, sewing or something else (maybe photography... got any advice?), and make that my career. We've been able to live comfortably on one income all these years, so why not take a chance on something I actually enjoy doing?

9. Could explain the difference between Blogging Geek and Blogging Queen? And did you change the way you write once you knew your uncle was reading your blog?
Well... I call myself a blogging nerd because none of my real life friends get blogging. A few of them have tried it on Yahoo 360 but I am the only one who regularly blogs with them over there. They read and make fun of me. Actually, I think they are the ones who dubbed me the "blogging nerd" in so many words.

I also have a blog on myspace which is mostly to let my family know what's up with my life. That's where my uncle reads up and has named me the queen.

And then I have this blog which I basically write for strangers eyes only, although, I've made, what I consider, to be real friends via this platform.

It sounds like a lot of blogging, but honestly, I mostly copy and paste the same posts. I do, however, consider my audience in each venue and edit as neccessary. I used to have another blog that I ended up telling a few real life friends about because I was all excited one day when MSNBC quoted a post I wrote about the Britney Spears/Matt Lauer interview.

My husband quickly reminded me that I had ranted about some friends in old posts and I was like "crap" and had to delete the blog to save face. I hadn't said anything too horrible about anyone and I never used their real names, but there was enough detail to have ticked off a few close compadres. Better to be safe than sorry.

I guess I would consider myself a "queen" if I blogged daily and had something interesting enough to blog about that would make me get more than 12 hits a day. I don't blog for hits anymore though. It's just an addiction and like all my writing, be it private or public, I find it very therapeutic.


August said...

Oh my word Di... I knew I had a tendency to go on, but that was ridiculous!!! I didn't realize how long my answers took until the scroller on my mouse stood up and begged "no more.. please!!!!"

Anyway, thanks again for such great questions!!!

Di Mackey said...

Lol, oh hush! It's just fine and I left everything intact because it's you :)

Thank you for answering.

furiousBall said...

hehe, this was cool, lots of insight into August.

but let's post a Cliff's notes version next time too (just kidding)

Manictastic said...

Great interview.

Neil said...

I really like the long answers. Clearly this person is a real "writer."

Sophia said...

Great interview, and, off topic - you take beautiful pictures!

Di Mackey said...

Lol mocker, furiousball.

She was a great interviewee, eh Manic.

My thoughts precisely Neil :)

Thank you Sophia, for your 'off topic' comment as well. Much appreciated.