I am so excited for today’s post. I’ve been participating in a 21-day blogging challenge with Flourish Online and one of the exercises was writing interview questions and sending them to someone you’d love to interview.

When I thought about what I’m about and some topics I’ve been thinking about lately and someone that’s got a great point of view on these topics, Colleen from The Lunchbox Diaries came to mind.

Colleen’s a girl that keeps it real and has a great message to share. She writes about body-image in a way that’s relatable, relationships in a way that make you want to reach out to your own friends and family and give them a hug, and perhaps what I love/admire the most is how she infuses humor into all of it.

Take it away, Colleen!

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that fit with what you’re doing for work now?

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to help others. When I was very young, I thought that meant being a teacher, but I quickly learned that being in the classroom wasn’t for me. God bless teachers and the patience they have! Before middle school, my sights became focused on becoming a counselor. Studying people and their behaviors has always been of utmost interest to me, and it’s something I’ve always been pretty good at! It fits in with my line of work, as I’m an Employee Assistance Professional. I love the ability of working with personalities and conflict in the workplace. I find a great deal of purpose and enjoyment from helping others learn how to lead better, more productive, fulfilling lives.

2. What does self-care mean to you? How do you practice it?

Self-care means giving myself a break and “turning-off” so to speak. It means disconnecting my electronics and connecting with the important people in my life. I am lucky to be surrounded by a group that is hilarious, genuine, and loyal. I make sure to have “technology free” dates with my husband once a week, and I try my best to get together with my girlfriends at least once a week. I also do my best to schedule a “nothing weekend” with my husband once a month, and that means: no plans, no travel, no setting alarms, etc.

3. What are your biggest “shoulds”?

I am constantly “shoulding all over myself.” It’s terrible! I SHOULD go to the gym. I SHOULD accept that social invitation [that sounds totally draining.] I SHOULD take on more “extracurricular activities.” I SHOULD write more blog posts each week. I SHOULD say yes. Oh my gosh, the list really does go on and on. Thankfully, I’m aware of my should problem, and it’s something I’m activity working on correcting!

4. Do you have a tribe? How do you stay connected to them?

Oh, absolutely. I would be nothing without my tribe. My husband, my family, and my several dear friends are the people I am lucky enough to call my tribe. I stay connected to them by making time for them; that sounds silly, but it actually takes effort to make time for people, you know? It’s so easy to get in the work, sleep, eat, repeat routine and not make time for people. Whether it’s making a date out of grocery shopping with my husband, or having happy hour with my girlfriends, or facetiming with my brother – it’s just about being intentional with my time and energy.

5. What’s a piece of advice you’ve been given that’s stuck with you?

I was introduced to the Judy Gardland quote, “It’s better to be a first rate version of yourself, rather than a second rate version of someone else” when I was in high school, and that has resonated with me ever since. What I tend to forget is that I am the best Colleen Nichols out there. I cheat myself when I try to be someone else, or compare someone else’s highlight reel to my behind the scenes footage. It’s human nature to want to compare ourselves to others, but being a first rate version of myself has been a piece of advice that’s always done me well.

6. What’s on your inspiration list?

Oh, I’m inspired daily, so my list is a mile long! At the top are my mom and my husband. My mom is selfless and strong and has the greatest work ethic of anyone I’ve ever known. My husband is also my daily inspiration. He’s truly the most amazing person I know; he’s wicked smart, outrageously talented, and he makes me belly-laugh every day.

7. Do you have a big-crazy dream? What is it?

I do, and I’m just starting to actually voice it to other people, which is scary and exciting all at the same time. My big-crazy dream is to one day be my own boss and make a living off of writing and coaching others. I love my job, but writing and empowering others are my two real passions in life. Man, being able to do that on my own, well that would be a big-crazy dream come true.

Thanks again, Colleen! Show Colleen some love on her blog, Facebook page, or Twitter.

P.S. What is self-care anyway?

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what is self care anyway?

by Joanna on July 23, 2014

flowers journal

I’m a huge advocate for showing up as your authentic self and pursuing your dreams big and small. A key ingredient for that is self care. But what does self care even mean?

Self care is going to vary from person to person. There is no one-size fits all self care practice.

To figure out what self care means for you, ask yourself this:

What do you need to maintain a relationship with yourself?

This can be quiet time at least once a week,
Time to dance,
Painting your nails,
Saying no to things you don’t want to do,
A morning run,
Speaking your mind,
Cuddling up with a good book,
A warm bath,
Journaling,
etc.

Please note: Self care is not a luxury. Self care is a necessity.

So tell me in the comments, what does self-care look like for you? What do you need to maintain a relationship with yourself?

P.S. My inspiration list.

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10 things about me

by Joanna on July 22, 2014

Here are ten things you may not know about me. Enjoy :)

 1. I think that being bold and taking risks can come from some seemingly small actions. I love to encourage the people around me to take those steps and then help them recognize and celebrate when they do.

2. Though I live in a big city, sometimes I feel really lonely and disconnected from the people that really matter to me.

3. I thought I’d be a teacher for my whole life. Though I’m not in a traditional classroom, I’m still very much a teacher.

4. Writing for me is all about being connected to myself. If I’m not connected with myself I have a hard time writing. I go through weeks where I really don’t write at all. And I’m kind of OK with that.

5. When I learned that my words had power — actually through my full time job very recently — that was a huge deal. One I want other people to know too. My words, your words, have power. Your life has power. You inspire people without even knowing it.

6. I always imagined being a writer and wanted to write a newspaper only about all the good in the world. I’d write this newspaper or book while sitting in a cafe watching the kindness of strangers.

7. Sometimes Mike and I dance in the kitchen while we cook dinner. The love and joy that fills heart in those moments scares the crap out of me.

8. I really love to cook. And I really love to feed people. When I was younger I thought it would be really fun to open a bed and breakfast.

9. I’ve always been an independent person but I’m just now learning about self care and how important it is to take good care of yourself. I’m exploring what my self care practices are going to be and after that will focus on establishing a good rhythm and routine with them.

10. My vision for my coaching clients isn’t that they become the best version of themselves, it’s that they become a more authentic version of themselves.

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now things

by Joanna on July 20, 2014

There are so many things we want to do in life: jobs we want to have, vacations to take, relationships to have, things to own. And we tend to want all of the things. Right. Now.

Pressure to have and do all of things makes life so much less fun. Takes away from the joy of right now.

Learning to decide what’s a now thing, an idea or a goal that you want to pursue in this season, and which are visions for the future is one of the most powerful and freeing things we can learn.

Often things we want from a well-meaning, genuine place become “shoulds” and we beat ourselves up for not having enough or doing enough. When our desires become our self judgements, they lose something. Their power becomes evil. When this happens it drains our mental, emotional, creative energy that we could be using to fuel our now things.

So tell me, what are your now things and what are your future things?

For me, my now things are living fully in DC, learning to take really good care of myself, and paying off my student loans. My future things are being a mom and a full-time coach.

P.S. You don’t deserve to feel shitty.

P.P.S I’m looking for few twenty-something women to help me test a new service for my coaching business: group coaching. Perfect for someone that feels bogged down in “shoulds” this group will meet virtually on Wednesdays starting July 30. If you’re interested email me: joanna {at} cupofteacoaching {dot} com. Or leave a comment below and I’ll shoot you an email.

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step away from the problem

by Joanna on June 25, 2014

Sometimes you don’t need to work to figure it out.

The amazing thing about the human brain is that it doesn’t need to be consciously thinking about things to be working on solutions.

I was a math major in college. We frequently had take home exams — some proofs couldn’t be completed in a 1 hour time window. I worked on this one proof for hours and just wasn’t getting anywhere. No kidding, I woke up at 4am knowing the answer. I scribbled down the proof and went back to sleep. When I got the test back, it was right!

I’ll sit in front of a blank screen at work trying to write a letter. The second I get to the bus stop at the end of the day, the words come pouring out. Luckily I carry a notebook with me everywhere and jot down a full letter while it’s fresh in my mind. And usually it’s pretty much good to go after that.

Moral of the story — stop worrying and focusing so much on the problem at hand. I’m sure you’ve churned this over in your brain enough already. Have faith that your brain is working on it and go do something else. The answer will come soon enough.

Has this ever happened to you?

Where could you benefit from a mental break and letting it work itself out?

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