Sunday, July 06, 2008

Interview with BlissChick

Have you chanced upon the BlissChick blog? If not, you are missing out!

When Christine Reed, the eponymous BlissChick, approached me to do an interview for her blog, I asked her to answer her own questions for mine. She is a fascintating woman, an inspiration for living right, a lyrical writer. Read on to find out more about her, and also, admire this magnificent portrait of her, painted by her partner Marcy Hall. I love Marcy's work, especially her animal portaits. If I was certain I wasn't infringing copyright, I would have posted those here too!

1. Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?
My PrimaryBliss is centered around story. Thinking back, it's been like this since I was a small child. We moved a lot, so books became my best friends. I ate them, one after another. And at night, to put myself to sleep, I would make up stories, imagine different lives, faraway places, all of that. So I've always found some of my greatest joys in reading. And now I write stories; I am rewriting a very long novel, actually. Which has been a surprise to me -- to be writing a novel. It has taken me a long time to realize that I'm not "just" an essay writer or a poet but a storyteller. It seems like that should have been obvious to me from the beginning but I've taken a long and circuitous route to my PrimaryBliss! I also collect stories. When I meet a new person, it's the first thing I do -- try to get their story, the overall narrative arc of their life. And I teach other people about finding their stories. Whatever I am teaching -- whether it's creative writing or communications -- and wherever -- in a traditional setting or a nontraditional setting -- I realize that I am essentially trying to teach people that their lives are comprised of stories and that this is important, that their stories are important.

2. What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?
My partner and I realized a long time ago that having bliss-filled lives, for us, meant having time. Time to read and write and for her, to paint and write, and time to garden and be at home and with each other and our animals. So we bought a smaller house than the bank thought we should. We gave up our car seven years ago -- for reasons that started out as personal and then after 9/11 became more political. We simplify every chance we get. We don't travel -- again, also for environmental reasons. Now, we live on basically one full-time salary. But this means, yes, that we have fewer things, but that's totally okay because we have time. We are on our paths and our hearts are fulfilled and we are stimulated and challenged and invigorated. Living bliss-filled life is about making choices, choices based on your purpose here, purpose beyond accumulating things and planning for a retirement that none of us are guaranteed to get.

3. How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?
My PrimaryBliss and the resulting choices touch every aspect of my life. Once you make choices, the next important step, I think, is always keeping them in mind. Not just reacting miscellaneously to life but acting from your center. So when a full time job opportunity came up that sounded momentarily interesting to me, I had to work through that and realize that it didn't fit. That it would just end up being a distraction from what I say is most important to me. Changing your mind is one thing, but it can't happen every other day. Commitment to your choices is vital. Otherwise, we are like little boats on wild oceans, not ever really navigating for ourselves.

4. What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?
Gardening. Even just weeding takes me out of my head. Which is good. I have to do things to get out of my head and into my body. So yoga is so necessary. I would say that yoga works in tandem with writing for me to keep me balanced. Kundalini yoga specifically. I love riding my bike and being at the water. Bird watching was one of the first activities that I encountered where I could totally just lose myself and be in sync with nature (I've been such a city girl for most of my life). Music is crucial and films and sitting with friends and trying new wines. And food -- I love to eat good food.

5. What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?
I have a real eclectic approach to my spiritual life. I turn 40 later this year and I am finally accepting the fact that I have a need for a variety. (I come from a family that was very into specialization -- we'll put it that way.) Anyway, I would say that I am a Reluctant Catholic Yogi. I find a beauty in the mystical aspects of Catholicism and there's an emotional and visceral reaction to the Mass, when done well, that I can't get away from (as hard as I may try!). And I am very attracted to Mary -- the idea that she is really the last vestige of feminine divinity in any Western religion. The rosary beads helped me through some deaths. Of course, I do yoga almost every day. And I'm a big candle person -- and I try to make intentions with the lighting of any candle. And finally, I find it's important to me on every level, especially spiritual, to be outside every day. To walk. Especially in the winter, when we can get so cozy inside that we forget there is more outside our four walls.

6. What music is your bliss?
Music is one of my blisses overall. I love to listen to music, live and at home, all the time. And thanks to Kundalini yoga, in which there is a lot of chanting, I rediscovered my love of singing. Something I used to do spontaneously when I was little. I would just make up songs about whatever. My partner and I now do this, so our house can seem a bit like a musical sometimes. But I love everything, from Frank Sinatra to Azam Ali to Vampire Weekend to Yo-Yo Ma, everything. I am a child of the 80's so I have a particular soft spot for U2 and INXS and Duran Duran.

7. Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.
Obviously, books have been a significant part of my path. I have an MA in English so for a long time, I only read dead people. I return again and again to Virginia Woolf and have recently fallen in love with Proust. But I've been trying to branch out into the land of the living... I adore anything by Joanne Harris, Neil Gaiman, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Carroll, Jennifer Egan. I read a lot in mythology/theology/philosophy. In poetry, I seem to have a thing for Latin men, like Neruda and Lorca.

8. What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?
Journal. I think writing through all your "stuff" is really powerful, and if you don't know your bliss, I'm guessing you have "stuff" to unpack. Think back especially to your childhood and to what you spent your time doing -- when you had free choice in the matter -- and think about what your wildest dreams were, what you fantasized about, what you thought was out of reach. The journaling process can go on for a long time, but if you stick with it, I guarantee it will work. Also, I think people can take this all way too seriously sometimes, so remember to play and laugh and have fun. And look at this with, as some indigenous cultures would say, "soft eyes." When we look too hard, we can scare away the clues and the helpers.

9. Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?
My current one is "all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well" by Julian of Norwich. I think that contains all the theology/philosophy any of us ever really need.


carlikup said...

Many thanks for this wonderful interview! Isn't Christine so inspiring?!


Unknown said...

how cool! i can't wait to read your interview!

shinyyoga said...

Wow - I love how the world works.. it was literally just this sunday that I discovered bliss chick.. and today, here you are talking about her!

Beautiful connections :)

Caroline said...

Very nice interview! Thank you for posting.

Nadine Fawell said...

Hi ladies!

Thanks for visiting. It is a great interview, because Christine is go great!