Thursday, February 21, 2008

Meet a Woman With No Regrets

For my next Great Interview I met NoRegrets, a woman who takes chances, risks life and limb, and roars until her heart's content. She's "embracing the inner pink and living with intention and absurdity." Come along with me and learn more about her.

Q: Why did you start blogging when you did? What prompted you to take up residence in the blogosphere?

A: I actually had started a blog a year and half or so before this one, but stopped because I didn't know what I was doing with it. I started the old one and this new one because I felt I had so much in my head/heart that wanted to come out, and had no outlet. My best friends had moved away, I had yet to make close new ones, and I felt lonely around my husband. I always had kept diaries, and at first considered it partly an online diary, in part because no one was reading it. But then I met a real live actual blogger who shared a blog with me, and I realized I could also have fun with it. The biggest step was reaching out to others so people knew I was out there. That was HUGE. Luckily so far I've found a community that's as quirky (to put it mildly) as I am.

Q: Naming your blog Woman with No Regrets is a powerful statement. What in your life made you decide to commit to living your life after 40 as a woman with no regrets? How do you manage to live that way?

A: Growing up and into my 20's and 30's even, I had the tendency to analyze the hell out of everything I was going to do or did. I beat myself up for the smallest mistake because it meant I hadn't thought ahead well enough and anticipated that particular outcome. It was only relatively recently that I realized how exhausting it was to analyze every situation and try to determine responses.

To commit to living with no regrets is not an easy thing. It means listening to myself and taking myself seriously, and forgiving myself when I make mistakes. Very very difficult, but it really does help me to be known as NoRegrets, because it reminds me every day to try and live that way. Therapy helps too. As well as good friends who listen and accept you for who you are and what you do, even when you make mistakes.

Q: I know you have plans to blog more about your experience in Zimbabwe, but I'd love to know how you ended up there and what your favorite part of the experience was.

A: I had lived overseas during college (in Germany) and I knew when I graduated I wanted to spend more time overseas, this time with another person, my boyfriend at the time, instead of alone. We almost went to Japan, but at the last minute we found out about the opportunity in Zimbabwe (by meeting someone at a fair), applied, and got in. What radically different experiences they would have been. I'm so glad I went to Zimbabwe.

My favorite part of the experience, as with any time overseas, is being immersed in the culture and getting to know it and having pieces of it become part of me and keeping that forever.

Q: You ski, rock climb, and bike. Since the enjoyment of exercise is something I've only recently experienced, I'm wondering: has physical activity always been a part of your life? Are there other activities or sports that you enjoy?

A: Physical activity was only part of my life in very general terms up until I moved to the place I currently live. We had a field out back growing up so played in that a lot. I played basketball in grammar school and softball in high school – but only on intramural teams and only for one season. Really nothing in college.

I decided when I moved where I am now that I would try ultimate Frisbee, and talk about a sport that gets you in shape! Also a friend from my first job convinced me that it really was possible to bike to work, so I started doing that. Exercise really made me feel so good, I had to continue.

I love love love badminton. Do you consider that a sport? Also skiing. Volleyball is fun too. Almost anything actually.

Q: You once saved a turtle from traffic disaster. Are you an animal lover? Have you ever saved any other creatures from near-death?

A: I'm an animal lover but not a PETA-level animal lover. I've occasionally put a spider out the door instead of smashing it with my shoe, but that's about as close as I've come to saving other creatures from near death. I do adopt cats.

Q: What's the biggest risk you've ever taken? What did you learn from the experience?

A: Oh my. Perhaps the biggest risk to me is expressing my emotions knowing that I'm not sure what the response is going to be. The first time I did that was the biggest risk, but with practice it's getting easier and easier, because the world does not come to an end.

Q: How did you get started with quilting? What's the best quilt you ever made and who was it for?

A: I got started when a friend had a baby, and I decided to make a quilt for the baby. My sister was quilting, and she helped me buy the fabric, gave me a pattern, and was always a phone call away when I had issues, which was quite frequently in the beginning. That really helped, as did having this perfectionist sister tell me that there's always mistakes, and it's ok.

As for the best quilt, I wrote about it here.

Q: You've been hang gliding and skydiving, and you're an avid rock climber. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Have you always been so adventurous?

A: I am a calculated risk taker. With each and every new and/or dangerous experience, I make sure I have researched it to the best of my ability and/or I trust the person I am with to help me get through the experience.

Of course, after writing that, I must admit that sometimes I just throw myself into situations and see what happens. I have trust enough in myself to throw myself into something new because I am able to persevere. I usually know when I should get myself out of a situation. I have a bit of luck too.

With respect to the word 'adventurous' everything is relative. I was the only person in my family to speak my mind bluntly when I was younger. I was the first and only person in my family to live overseas. I think these things in my younger years all added up to being called adventurous now. Kind of like how swimming in a freezing cold ocean is possible (for me at least) if I go in a little bit at a time, and a little bit more each time, until BOOM I'm in, swimming.

Q: I recently read an article about how women are hesitant to identify with the term "feminist." What does "feminist" mean to you and do you consider yourself one?

A: I equate the word 'feminist' with 'activist'. And I am not an activist in the broader sense of the word. But I am a feminist/activist in my own world, for sure. I like being strong and opinionated. Defying expectations for my gender. Making people get rid of their assumptions. Shoving it in their face even.

My type of feminist is expressed in the following story: Pat Schroeder recently talked about her experiences at Harvard Law School. The dean had all the admitted women (15 of them) over for dinner to tell them great things such as he didn't think any one of them would use the law degree since they were women. From the article:

"Well, he went around and asked each of us why we came [to Harvard]. Of course, everyone is shaking in their chair because this is the dean -- except for this wonderful young woman from California. She looks him straight in the eye and says, 'Well, I am only here because I could not get in at Yale.'"

Q: You've fought depression for a while now. How do you feel that it has shaped who you've become and how you choose to live your life?

A: I have had periods of depression since high school. For a long time depression made me feel helpless. I was ruled by the feelings, and struggled so much when I had them. But I made it through every time, and what didn't kill me made me stronger.

But then depression almost did kill me, and I realized how weak I could be. This forced me to adjust my attitude towards depression and towards life. I wrote about this in my blog, but really every day I am choosing life, and it makes it that much more special. And I can choose to be happy rather than depressed (for me, with the aid of medication, though that's not for everyone). And being happy means living with no regrets.

Now that you've discovered NoRegrets, get over there and find out more. You won't regret it!

4 comments:

NoRegrets said...

Wow, I'm wordy. But there were a lot of questions too! Thanks so much - it was fun.

Susan said...

This was a great interview! Well done!

heather said...

hey! we're quirky! :-)

~great~ interview. one of the best. both questions and answers were well written and thought provoking. good job you two!

smtwngrl said...

Thanks for coming by everyone! I'm glad you got to know NoRegrets a little better. Hope you'll come back around sometime.

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