self care, shoulds, and dreams: an interview with Colleen from the Lunchbox Diaries

by Joanna on July 29, 2014

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?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 linda July 29, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Great Interview. Until the last question, I thought she was interviewing you!!! You two are so alike it’s scary. lol


2 renee bell August 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

oh my gosh – that dog is amazing!
but asides from that, great interview and i really love this bit:
“It’s better to be a first rate version of yourself, rather than a second rate version of someone else”


3 Joanna August 2, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Thanks, Renee! Yeah — I liked that quote too. Good to remember when we get caught up in the “shoulds” or comparison trap.


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