The Daring Interview Series: Meet Jennifer Louden

UPDATE: Congrats to Sarah Rogers, Joanne Pope, and Michelle Kipling! You won copies of The Life Organizer!

I started this interview series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to show up, be seen, and live brave.

Jennifer Louden is one of those people. Meet Jen!

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Jen is a personal growth pioneer who has written six books on well-being and whole living that have inspired more than a million women in nine languages. Jen’s first book, The Life Organizer, has just been released in paperback.

If you’ve heard me speak or if you’ve read Daring Greatly or if you’re in the eCourse I’m doing with Oprah, you know that I love Jen’s work on shadow comforts. The research taught me the hard truth that we can’t selectively numb out. When we numb the dark, we numb the joy.

When we’re anxious, disconnected, vulnerable, alone, and feeling helpless, the booze and food and work and endless hours online feel like comfort, but in reality they’re only casting their long shadows over our lives.

When I talk about this finding, people always ask the same question:

“Where is the line between pleasure or comfort and numbing?”

This is where I found Jen’s work on shadow comforts. It accurately reflects the data and she’s named it in a way offers clarity and connection. I love it when that happens!  In The Life Organizer, Jen writes:

“Shadow comforts can take any form. It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it that makes the difference. You can eat a piece of chocolate as a holy wafer of sweetness—a real comfort—or you can cram an entire chocolate bar into your mouth without even tasting it in a frantic attempt to soothe yourself—a shadow comfort. You can chat on message boards for half an hour and be energized by community and ready to go back to work, or you can chat on message boards because you’re avoiding talking to your partner about how angry he or she made you last night.”

“It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it” – that’s it! That’s the line.

I’m so grateful for Jen’s insight on this. I know you’ll love meeting her!

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Jen’s Thoughts on Vulnerability and Courage in the Arena

1. Vulnerability is _____________________.

Vulnerability for me is when Bob surprised me by asking me to marry him and I thought I couldn’t say yes because I was too broken. The vulnerability was wrestling with my old, old story and seeing that I had a clear choice – I could continue to believe I was the Jen who wasn’t loveable or I could choose to be the Jen who opens to love, and who learns how to keep opening. I am so happy I made that choice.

2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?

I can’t speak, teach or write unless it comes from my honest experience. I can’t hide or pretend to know something or be someone I’m not. Wait, that’s not true: I can and I sometimes I still do, only it feels awful, worse than spending a weekend locked in a mall. Vulnerability is one of the ways I discern if I am tuning into my truth and choosing to tell my story.

3. What value inspires you to show up even when you’re fearful and/or uncertain?

Inclusion: I have this big story of being excluded, so I figure if I’m afraid, someone else is too, and my being silent or hiding isn’t going to help them. The action I take is to work hard to be sure others are included. It’s a helpful reframe as long as I don’t take it too far and try to take care of the world.

4. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it?

Comparison – that is HUGE for me. I’ll be writing along and then I’ll click over to the Internet to do a wee bit of research and before you know it, bam! my mood, and my creativity, is in the toilet. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to figure out what’s wrong – everything was going so great – then I realize when I was trawling, that I read something fab and now I’m telling myself “You can’t write like this and I’m derailed.”

I’ve learned- and I sometimes even remember to do this – to right then, at that moment, to write down 5 things I’m grateful for. A friend once told me “gratitude is the mood that opens up our creativity” and that’s proved true for me, if I’m willing to put down the cudgel and pick up the gratitude.

5. It’s often difficult to share ourselves and our work with the world given the reflexive criticism and mean-spiritedness that we see in our culture – especially online. What strategies to you use to dare greatly – to show up, let yourself be seen, share your work with the world, and deal with criticism?

I have had far less experience of others knocking me down then of knocking myself down. My work these days is to drop my internal drama and get on with my work. It’s a constant practice.

When I do get flamed, it does hurt, but I try to quickly transition to having compassion for the person. I figure they must be so lonely and hurting to be so cruel.

6. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life.

I have two: Cuddling with my new husband (!!!! still so thrilled to write those words) on a morning where we have nothing to do, nobody to take care of, and the ultimate middle aged gift, we have both slept well. Just to hang out together, sometimes drink tea and read the paper in bed and with a visit from the doodle dogs; that is heaven.

AND . . . Hanging out with our kids, eating a great meal, and talking about what’s happening in their lives. They’re becoming such amazing young adults, I adore when they let us peer into their worlds, and when are all giggling and being silly, maybe tossing in a few fart jokes: also heaven.

7. Do you have a mantra, manifesto, or favorite quote for living and loving with your whole heart?

My mantra is yes. Yes to this moment, yes to whatever I’m experiencing, yes to life as it is arising right now, which includes eating a chocolate bar because I was stressed earlier; yes to the early winter dark; yes to my worry that my answers to these questions are not sufficiently cool. Yes to it all. And it’s astonishing how many times a day I forget how freeing and relaxing this practice is.

My favorite quote is from The Book of Hours by Rilke, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, “May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” 

Now, for some fun! 

From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio 

  1. What is your favorite word?    story
  2. What is your least favorite word? neurofibrillary tangles (my mom has Alhemizer’s)
  3. What sound or noise do you love?  wind in pine trees
  4. What sound or noise do you hate?     the emergency air vac helicopter that takes off near my house; it means someone is really hurt on our island and it makes me sad.
  5. What is your favorite curse word?    Oh, I have so many. Fanfuckingtastic because it has the only in-fix in the English language. (From BB – I had to look up infix. It’s an affix inserted inside a word stem).

From JL’s Uncle Jessie Meme

  1. A song/band/type of music you’d risk wreck & injury to turn off when it comes on the radio?     Modern country
  1. Favorite show on television?   Call the Midwife
  1. Favorite movie?  I’m going with Walkabout directed by Nicholas Roeg because it made me want to go to film school.
  1. What are you grateful for today?  That my sister flew out from Florida to help me get my mom settled into assisted living. That my daughter and I are so close and can talk about anything. That it’s Friday night and I can go take a bath and read a book for hours! That I get to create what I want to create. That it’s the weekend. That I get to go hug Bob anytime I want!
  1. If you could have anything put on a t-shirt what would it be? “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
  1. Favorite meal? Fresh Florida lobster (food of my childhood), gobs of warm butter, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and champagne, maybe a Bollinger. Desert would be my Aunt Edna’s chocolate 3-layer cake, God rest her soul and my gluten allergy.
  1. A talent you wish you had?  To be a truly great abstract painter. Mark Rothko meets Joan Mitchell. I’d also like to be able to bowl.
  1. Favorite song/band?   Krishna Das, Heart full of Soul and anything by Johnny Cash.
  1. What’s on your nightstand?  Just finished Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. It’s brilliantly written but it’s a book full of Dursleys. Also just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel, The Signature of Everything. I’m also reading Dancing with Life by Phillip Moffitt, Open Ground by Seamus Heaney, Bury Your Dead with Louise Penny, Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow, True Refuge by Tara Brach, The Radiance Sutras translated by Lorin Roche, and the rest are buried too far down in the tottering stack to count.
  1. What’s something about you that would surprise us?  I talk to myself in the grocery store. Wait, that probably isn’t surprising. How about I once won a Halloween contest dressed as a Venetian Blind. My costume included dark glasses and a blue & white striped shirt. Get it?

From Smith Magazine’s Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure 

Your six-word memoir: Savor and serve, love and chocolate.

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To celebrate the release of The Life Organizer, we’re giving away three copies. Just leave your name in the comments section and I’ll update this post with the winners on Monday.

If you visit Jen’s website she has some fun freebies including a Life Organizer app!

You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. 

Here’s to less numbing and more comfort!

The Daring Interview Series: Meet Elizabeth Gilbert

UPDATE 12/23: Congrats to Emily B., Leslie I., and Megan L. You won copies of Liz’s new book! Happy Holidays!

I started this interview series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to show up, be seen, and live brave.

Elizabeth Gilbert is one of those people. Meet Elizabeth!

Photo by Jennifer Schatten

Photo by Jennifer Schatten

Liz is the acclaimed author of six books of fiction and nonfiction. Her 2006 memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, was a #1 New York Times bestseller; it has been published in more than thirty languages and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, and in 2010 was made into a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts.

Gilbert’s debut novel Stern Men was a New York Times Notable Book; her short story collection, Pilgrims, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and her memoir Committed was a # 1 New York Times bestseller. In 2008, Time magazine named Gilbert one of the most influential people in the world.

Her latest novel The Signature of All Things is a sprawling tale of 19th century botanical exploration. O Magazine named it “the novel of a lifetime” and one of their favorite reads of 2013, and the Wall Street Journal called it “the most ambitious and purely-imagined work of (Gilbert’s) twenty-year career.”

Liz and I met for the first time this year and, as you can see by this goofy Instagram photo, it didn’t take long before we were dancing, laughing, and storytelling. I’m not sure exactly what we’re doing here but it started off as yoga moves and turned into a Popeye/hoedown thing. I was a little nervous to meet her but it only took twenty minutes before we took off our shoes to compare our “clog socks.”

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Shortly after we met, I read The Signature of All Things.  Whew. I’ve never used the word sweeping to describe anything except that terrible thing that you do with a broom, but let me tell you that it’s the only word that comes close to describing this incredible story.

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It’s funny because The Signature of All Things is not a small book. It’s a big, beautiful, heavy-ish book with wonderful paper. So, you can only imagine the looks and comments that I received  from strangers sitting next to me on the plane when I pulled this thing out of my tote. “Have you heard of eBooks?” “It’s a sixty minute flight. Is that thing worth lugging around?” The answers are Yes, I’ve heard of eBooks and Yes! It’s worth lugging around.

I dabble in eBooks but with this book it didn’t feel like an option. I’m pretty sure that Alma, the main character, prefers to be read on paper. I know it sounds crazy, but there’s a strong Jane Austen feel to this read for me and I needed to hold the book. On an old ship. While sailing to far away places.

To celebrate the interview with Liz, we’re giving away three copies of The Signature of All Things. Just leave your name in the comments section and we’ll draw winners next week. Books will ship on January 6, 2014. I can’t deliver on the old ship but I guarantee you that Liz’s wisdom will take your breath away! Her perspective on the relationship between fear and creativity has been transformative for me!

Grab a cup of tea and settle in . . .

1. Vulnerability is . . .  KEEPING THE CONVERSATION OPEN. This is the single hardest thing in the world for me. Compared to that, everything else is simple. Writing books? Easy-peazy. Traveling to distant places all alone? A breeze. Putting my life out there in the open for everyone to read about and judge? Nothing to it. But keeping the conversation open when strife or resentment has built up between me and a friend, or a loved one, or a neighbor? This is where the rubber meets the road for me and this whole vulnerability question.

I was raised by tough, stoic people who kept a tight lid on all their emotions, and who never, ever talked it out. I was taught that there are only two possible responses to all interpersonal troubles: 1) you silently get over it on your own, or 2) if you can’t silently get over it on your own, you vanish from that person’s life forever without another word. So I either bury my discomfort, or I run for the hills.

It has been the excruciating work of a lifetime for me to try to learn how to change this pattern — how to stay in the conversation longer, how to sit through the fear and discomfort of interpersonal emotional openness (especially when it comes to expressing my own anger, which is the emotion that I least comprehend and most fear.)

I’ve had some successes of late with being more open to this process, but OH MY GOD IT IS SO SCARY FOR ME, and sometimes I still totally fail — still run for the hills. But at least I pause first.  In other words, I am still far from the person I wish to be with this particular manifestation of vulnerability…but God knows, I am working on it. Harder than anything, harder than ever.

2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?

I live a creative life, and you can’t be creative without being vulnerable.  I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins; they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both. And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear!  You must accept that Creativity cannot walk even one step forward except by marching side-by-side with its attached sibling of Fear.

So here’s my magical thinking — I decide every day that I love Creativity enough to accept that Fear will always come with it. And I talk to Fear all the time, speaking to it with love and respect, saying to it: “I know that you are Fear, and that your job is to be afraid. And you do your job really well! I will never ask you to leave me alone or to be silent, because you have a right to speak your own voice, and I know that you will never leave me alone or be silent, anyhow.  But I need you to understand that I will always choose Creativity over you.

You may join us on this journey — and I know that you will — but you will not stop me and Creativity from choosing the direction in which we will all walk together.”  And then…onward we march: Me and Creativity and Fear, enmeshed forever, limping along and definitely a little weird-looking, but forever advancing.

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What value inspires you to show up even when you’re fearful and/or uncertain?

When I am experiencing emotional/interpersonal vulnerability, the best I can do sometimes ask myself what the alternative is to my entering the scary arena — to live a hard-hearted, locked-down, resentful and unforgiving life? Is that really who I want to be? Have I ever met a hard-hearted, locked-down, resentful and unforgiving person whom I truly admired?

So I guess it is maybe “aspiration” which keeps me going?  The aspiration to be the sort of person I want to be. And I’m old enough and experienced enough by now to know that the only way to achieve that goal is not to run for the hills whenever I am afraid, but to walk through the valley of fear, as the truly brave and big-hearted people in this world have always done. I want to walk with them. Sometimes I am even able to, even if it’s only for a few tremulous baby steps. I’m working on it, though, literarily every day.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it?

Fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear that I am washed up, fear that I am and have always been a fraud, fear that I will get a nasty review in The New York Times…do you want me to keep going with this list?

When I am experiencing such creative vulnerability, though, I have learned how to move through it with a few cunning tricks. One trick is to just drown out the fear with love —with my pure love of the creative work itself. I absolutely love my work as a writer, and I feel honored that I get to live a life of the mind, and writing books is the only thing I ever wanted to do. That’s all really lucky for me: That’s a lot of love!  If I focus on the love and the gratitude that I feel toward the work itself, then I get slightly less freaky and worried about the results.

Also, I try to keep the stakes in perspective. The stakes in a writer’s life are actually incredibly low (though we over-dramatic creative types tend to forget that.) Let me put it this way: Is there really ever such a thing, in this world of real human suffering, as a “writing emergency”? Seriously. Think about it. Did anybody’s child ever die because a novel didn’t get written on deadline? Was anybody’s beloved brother or sister or spouse or mother ever lost because someone got a bad review in The New York Times? I think sometimes our fears get the best of us when we lose sight of the actual stakes, the actual perspective. We blow it all up to be much more dangerous than it really is. All of which is to say:  I try to save my full-out panic attacks these days for full-out actual human disasters. Which are RARE, thank god. And which never, ever, ever involve the writing of a book.

It’s often difficult to share ourselves and our work with the world given the reflexive criticism and mean-spiritedness that we see in our culture – especially online. What strategies to you use to dare greatly – to show up, let yourself be seen, share your work with the world, and deal with criticism?

For heaven’s sake, the first rule is to never Google yourself or look up online comments about yourself! And you must never read your bad reviews; only the nice ones. (Have a friend screen them for you. Enjoy the good ones; ignore the bad. Weed it all out in your favor.)

I have said it before and I will say it again: Googling yourself is like reading your roommate’s dairy; It may be tempting to open the thing up and examine it because it’s sitting RIGHT THERE, and it may even be kind of exciting to read at first, but rest assured that very soon you will find out something about yourself that you wish you’d never known, and that will linger darkly in your mind forever.

Protecting yourself from that kind of temptation requires a fierce, self- loving discipline. It is not in any way “courageous” or an exercise in “facing the truth” to read mean-spirited comments about yourself; it is just self-destructive — just an excuse to feed yourself a bunch of empty calories of pure evil. You have absolutely nothing to learn from the comments of mean, unhappy, critical people who know and care nothing about your soul or your life.

And anyhow, as the great Boswell said: “A fly, sir, may sting a stately horse and make him wince. But one is an insect, and the other is a horse still.” SO DO YOUR WORK WITH A NOBLE HEART, and then put it forth. Because who are the stately horses in this world? Anyone who dares to show up and do her work, despite her fear. Bottom line: I would much rather be a slightly stung (but still stately) horse than a tiny, anonymous, stinging insect any day.  So that’s my pep talk. I give it to myself frequently. I go all Vince Lombardi on myself! It works for me.

Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life.

There are so many, but they always tend to be moments passed in motion. Walking, running, swimming, bicycling. Traveling — in flight, by boat, in a car across the open plains, in a train speeding toward a new and unexplored city. Moving to a new house. Moving to a new town. Moving to a new country. Moving to a new truth. Embarking on a new project. Trying on a new dream. Shedding stuff I don’t need. Traveling light. Carrying nothing with me but a change of underwear, a good book, my excitement, and my dear companion.

Do you have a mantra, manifesto, or favorite quote for living and loving with your whole heart?

My favorite line of poetry, written by the great Jack Gilbert (no relation to me): “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Now, for some fun!

From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio

1. What is your favorite word? WONDERFUL!

2. What is your least favorite word? Brutal.

3. What sound or noise do you love? A transatlantic airplane’s gentle hum.

4. What sound or noise do you hate? Loud music in loud restaurants filled with loud people. This is my seventh circle of hell.

5. What is your favorite curse word? Can’t beat a good F-bomb.

From JL’s Uncle Jessie Meme

1. A song/band/type of music you’d risk wreck & injury to turn off when it comes on the radio?  Contemporary R&B of the super-whiney crooning variety.

2. Favorite show on television? I am in deep mourning for the end of “Breaking Bad.”

3. Favorite movie? Raiders of the Lost Ark.

4. What are you grateful for today?  My peace of mind. I am grateful for it any day it shows up. Without it, all is suckage.

5. If you could have anything put on a t-shirt what would it be? “What Would Dolly Do?” Confession: I actually already own this t-shirt — with a cartoon of Dolly Parton’s fabulous face emblazoned right across my left boob.

6. Favorite meal? My husband’s slow-cooked curries and stews. (And the sweet, slow-cooked kitchen conversations that go with them.)

7. A talent you wish you had? Singer-songwriter. I want to be that pretty, folksy, soulful girl with the beat-up guitar, singing the heartbreaking love song in the corner of that classic smokey bar.

8. Favorite song/band? Right at this minute it happens to be the theme to Fast and Furious 6 – the totally thumping: We Own It.   More eternally, I will always love Johnny Cash.

9. What’s on your nightstand? Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh.

10. What’s something about you that would surprise us? I’m terrible at Scrabble and crossword puzzles.

From Smith Magazine’s Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure 

Your six-word memoir:  Always had passion; learned patience slowly.

Thanks to Liz for this powerful interview and thank you to our wholehearted community! Liz’s book is available here. It will be so fun to give it as a Christmas gift along with a beautiful plant! I’ll update this post on Friday with the winners’ names.

You can connect with Liz on Twitter at @GilbertLiz and on her website at www.elizabethgilbert.com. Liz’s TED talk on creativity and genius is one of my favorites – watch it here.

The Daring Interview Series: Meet Kal Barteski

11.3 UPDATE: Congrats to TAMARA (1), TRICIA B (1), KARI E (2), and ABBY J (3)! You won posters from the amazing Kal!

I started this interview series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to show up, be seen, and live brave.

Kal Barteski is one of those people. Meet Kal!

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Kal is an artist and brush script painter. Sometimes called an illustrator and poet, she’s a creative rogue.

She cares deeply about intellectual property online. She is a TEDx speaker, a published author + winner of a Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She was featured on Animal Planet/Discovery. She is curiously entertaining and inspiring.

Always a work in progress, she has a deep, hard-to-understand love for polar bears – for all living creatures. Her passion is palpable. She sells her paintings internationally and uses her signature brush script style to make magic with beautiful companies all over the globe. Her always changing ARTshop can be found here.

I fell in love with Kal and her work when I saw these prints on her blog. I immediately ordered two for my kids and several more for the kids’ teachers.

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The Giveaway

To celebrate Kal’s contributions and DARING in this world, I’m giving away five posters. Just leave a comment telling us what your poster would say and we’ll pick five winners on Friday, November 1 (which happens to be the last day Kal is taking orders for these)! If you can’t wait, order them here! 

Kal on Vulnerability and Courage in the Arena

Creativity, innovation, and truth-telling can feel very vulnerable in our scarcity culture which is why we often feel deeply inspired when we see it. We’d love to know more about how you find the courage to share your authentic self and your work with the world.

1. Vulnerability is ___________________.   A superpower. It’s a true feat to be able to say ‘this is me unarmed’. This is my truth and my story. I’m afraid and and I’m awesome and I’m small and I want love. I think it’s transformative and freeing to be vulnerable. Life is too short for carrying around heavy bags.

2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?  BIG. HUGE. I’m an all-in kind of person. I tell the truth. I feel deeply. I leave my heart on the canvas. I feel scared and safe when I’m painting. It’s a rollercoaster I love riding.

I’ve been making art since I was a kid and I’ve run the gamut of fears. I used to be afraid to let people see my work until it was complete. I used to hide… Criticism stings and MAKING art is showing your insides. SHARING art is asking the world to like your insides. But in the end, I love making art MORE than I’m afraid of anything else. So I run wild with that.

3. What value inspires you to show up even when you’re fearful and/or uncertain? I feel like fear is the secret ingredient that makes things magical. Awesome. I listen to fear. You can be talented and creative and all those pretty things – but it’s a life-changing affair if you feel the fear and you go out to meet it. I love that feeling. I see it happen in my kids. I feel it happen in my own life. Kid President says it best, “Go out and be awesome.”

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4. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it? Time, fear, doubt – all of the above. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I move through the big waves by going deep. I turn off my thinking and turn up my doing. It works every time.

5. It’s often difficult to share ourselves and our work with the world given the reflexive criticism and mean-spiritedness that we see in our culture – especially online. What strategies to you use to dare greatly – to show up, let yourself be seen, share your work with the world, and deal with criticism?   I’d be lying if I said that mean-spirited people online don’t affect me. Sure they do. In life and in pixels, there will always be haters.But, maybe the haters always show up because it’s easier to bring other people down than to be brave themselves.

I don’t know those answers. I only know that I deal with my share of criticism: I’m an artist and it comes with the territory. I’m a working mom. I’m a person who speaks her truth. I’m alive. I’ve learned that life is like figure skating: you take the high scores and the low scores and THROW THEM OUT. You average the rest, take it with a grain of salt (maybe a shot of tequila) and keep on loving.

6. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life.  That’s an easy one for me. I’d be outside and it would be WINTER. Bundled up in my cable knits and tall winter boots, I’d be walking in the glittery snow on the frozen river with a hot coffee in my mug, my rad husband pulling a sled with our three little rosy-cheeked girls and our two crazy French Bulldogs racing through the snowbanks. That’s magic right there.

7. Do you have a mantra, manifesto, or favorite quote for living and loving with your whole heart? I have a bookful! Make your life worth loving. Be Awesome. BE who you ARE.

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Now, for some fun! 

I borrowed these questions from James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? didgeridoo
2. What is your least favorite word? stupid
3. What sound or noise do you love? a capella
4. What sound or noise do you hate? barking dogs
5. What is your favorite curse word? I’ve been known to drop an F bomb or two.

A few fun questions:

1. A song/band/type of music you’d risk wreck & injury to turn off when it comes on the radio? I really, really dislike the ambient-type music they play in spas.

2. Favorite show on television? Orange Is The New Black.

3. Favorite movie? Blue Crush.

4. What are you grateful for today? Besides my healthy little family I’m grateful to be able to hold a paint brush. And for coffee.

5. If you could have anything put on a t-shirt what would it be? STOP, drop and BE AWESOME.

6. Favorite meal? Is red wine a meal? Haha. Sushi.

7. A talent you wish you had? I wish I could surf.

8. Favorite song/band? If it makes me want to DANCE or cry – I like it.

9. What’s on your nightstand? The World of Polar Bears by Norbert Rosing, Burts Bees lip balm, a letterpress manual, and a pair of mitts (hey, this is Canada).

10. What’s something about you that would surprise us? I love old school hip hop. Like REALLY, REALLY love. I blast old school hip hop through my headphone and dance my butt off. I think I could be a pretty solid backup dancer. (You hear me JayZ?)

From Smith Magazine’s Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure

Your six-word memoir:   She never stopped hearing her heart.

Huge thanks to Kal! Don’t forget to leave your comment for the giveaway.

Here’s how you can connect with Kal:  Twitter @kalbarteski | Instagram @kalbarteski | Web  http://kalbarteski.com/

Now, stop, drop, and be awesome.