The Huffington Post is putting together a new feature called ‘Sophia: Life Lessons from Fascinating People’ – and it sounds AWESOME! 🙂 Here’s a description:
Think of someone you admire — a talented artist or scientist, entrepreneur or adventurer.
Do you know what their great regret in life is? What advice would they share about parenting, or aging, or finding fulfillment? What book has had the greatest impact on their life?
Chances are you don’t know. Which is why we’ve created Sophia, a project to collect life lessons from fascinating people.
Here’s how it works. We’re conducting hundreds of long-form interviews with accomplished individuals, asking them to share stories and advice about topics that are central to a well-lived life — happiness, relationships, aging, work, parenting, habits and routines, to name a few.
We’ll publish these personal conversations on HuffPost, and we’ll also use the lessons our guests share to build a special platform (think of it as ‘Yelp for wisdom’) that organizes their collective insights by topic.
In the coming weeks we’ll feature life lessons from Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, successful executives, engineers, authors and athletes, dynamic thinkers and doers of all stripes. If you want their practical wisdom delivered straight to you, follow Sophia on Facebook or subscribe to our email newsletter.
The heart of this project is the set of questions we pose to each guest. Some of the questions elicit weighty responses, i.e., Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life?
Other questions are more practical, i.e., What’s the greatest travel journey you’ve taken that you’d recommend to others? What’s the most meaningful gift you’ve received?
Each individual’s answers are personal and unique, but they are all also broadly useful. So follow or subscribe for lessons, ideas and insights you can apply to your own life. Get in touch with us at sophia [at] huffingtonpost.com; we read every note. Also, we’re always on the lookout for new guests. If you have suggestions, including someone wise and insightful in your own life, let us know.
Sounds cool, eh? I know! I’m SO excited to see who they choose, and the questions themselves are pretty great! 🙂 You can see a complete list here, but I thought we could have some fun and look at a section at a time together – I will put my answers beside each question in bright blue. You in? 🙂
The first section is…Life lessons, happiness and fulfillment:
- What are some key beliefs you hold about living a fulfilling and successful life? / Have you had any recent realizations about living a rewarding life? I believe that a fulfilling and successful life is one that is full of laughter and fun, both in the workplace and the home. Being a success means that somehow, somewhere this world is a better place because I’ve been a part of it. I feel fulfilled at the end of the day, when I am lying in bed in the home that I have worked so hard to make for the Muppet and I, I hear her little feet prancing around upstairs, and I feel absolutely content with the world. I have had some realizations about living a rewarding life recently, in fact – the older I get, the less interested I am in measuring my success against that of those around me, or judging my worth in terms of the cost of my latest handbag or the number of jewels on my hands. Personal happiness and fulfillment are mattering more and more to me every day – and I am all about the pursuit of that happiness. It’s kind of liberating – and awesome. 🙂
- What is a great regret of your life? I regret that I haven’t always treated people as kindly as I should have. I have been impatient, and judgmental…sometimes downright unkind. That’s unfortunate – shame on me….I’m glad that I know better now. I believe that what Oprah says is true: when you know better, you do better. You should try embracing that phrase as a guiding philosophy for yourself – it’s amazingly freeing, and it makes it easier to forgive those who have done you wrong. Oprah rules! 🙂
- How have your efforts to make yourself happy developed and changed? What has worked and what failed? I have only been successful in the area of changing myself and (hopefully) becoming a better person since I quit trying so bloody hard to be all things to all people. I used to continually lose sight of me and who I was because I was so busy becoming who I thought that those around me wanted me to be. Why? What was that all about? I will tell you what it was – a colossal waste of time. There’s nothing at all wrong with me as I am, and anybody who thinks otherwise needs to bugger off, and not let the door catch their arse on the way out. Ridiculous. I’m glad that I turned 40 last year, because, while I had been making strides in this direction for the past 3-5 years or so, it was only when I turned 40 that somehow a magical switch was flipped, and I truly felt free of all that pressure to be someone I’m not. It’s been awesome. 🙂 Yaaa me! 🙂
- What is your greatest flaw? Crikey…how much time have you got? I have A LOT of flaws! I think perhaps my greatest flaw is my struggle to believe that I am more than enough as I am. That and my weakness for good food. 😉 (check out my considerable arse if you’d like proof of that last one! 😉 )
- As you look at your life so far, were there any turning points, any key events or experiences that changed the course of your life and set you on a different track? What happened and what did you learn? Hmmm….moving out of Grade 7 and in to Grade 8 was extremely impactful on my life (I made new friends that I love with all my heart and I can’t fathom my life without them), my dad being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at such a young age did a lot to change the course of my life (not to mention what it’s done to my outlook on aging and my own mortality), moving to England for awhile was another decision that was an EXTREMELY good idea (I could – and probably should – write volumes about that experience and all that I learned), breaking my left wrist at the age of 12 and having it set wrong has had a massive effect on my life (that I totally could have done without, thankyouverymuch)….there’s been a lot of pivotal moments for me. Not all of them have been good, but each has contributed to making me the kick-ass chick you see before you, so…perhaps they were worth it. 🙂
- Memories are an important part of happiness. Do you use any interesting techniques to keep track of your memories? I.e., Do you keep a type of journal or diary? I keep up with a daytimer-type of calendar book – I write in it every day (appointments, things to remember, etc), and I use it as a way to keep track of movies I see, restaurants I try, that type of thing. I also make notes in it about stuff that happens during the day, but I’ve not been keeping a proper journal or diary in recent years…that’s why I have Pretty Thing, y’all! 😉 This blog has been an excellent way for me to keep track of my life, to share my thoughts and ideas with all of you – and hearing back from you is pretty much the best stuff EVER! So, thanks! 🙂
- Many people have had deeply difficult or stressful experiences but learned valuable lessons from them. Is that true for you? What did you learn? My shitty track record with relationships has been deeply difficult and stressful for me (but apparently my foibles in this department are endlessly amusing to my friends! 😉 ), but I have learned a lot of valuable things from them – I think I’ve learned what I want in life, as well as what I don’t want. I’ve had some other life experiences that have run the gamut from difficult to massively traumatic that have been incredible learning experiences as well, so I try to frame them that way when I think about them (which isn’t often – I’m done beating myself up for long ago things….no more digging up bones!). That which hasn’t killed me has made me stronger – I’m about at the point where I could give the Hulk a run for his money! 😉
- What is something minor or seemingly insignificant in your life that actually contributes greatly to your happiness? Pretty Thing, actually! My wee little blog started in such an innocent way, and it has grown to be a place where I share my thoughts/ideas/feelings/rants/stupid ideas with you…and it fills me with incredible happiness! I love the act of writing – I’ve no idea if I’m any good at it or not, but it makes me happy, so…I guess there’s that. 🙂 I love hearing from each and every one of you, and I treasure and appreciate all of your feedback (even the negative stuff, I promise!). So – thank you. 🙂 You make me happy. 🙂
- What characterizes the periods of your life that you felt were most fulfilling, or least fulfilling? Are there any common threads? The most fulfilling period of my life is right now: being a mama to my Wee One is the greatest thing I’ve ever done hands down, and my heart nearly bursts with love and pride when I think of her. She is the most magnificent creature, and I am consistently amazed that she is mine and I get to keep her. She’s glorious! 🙂 I am also exactly where I am meant to be in terms of my career – I have one seriously fabulous job, and I love it more and more each day. I feel like I am making a real difference here, and what is better than that? Not a lot. 🙂
- Have you ever been screwed over? What happened and how did you respond? It would probably take less time to tell you how I haven’t been screwed over…the list is far too long to share with you here. What tends to happen is that people mistake my kindness for weakness, and try to take advantage of me…and then I tend to let them for awhile because I am so bloody polite. Once I’ve had enough (and my threshold for bullshit is higher than most mere mortals, I believe), all hell breaks loose – and then it’s over. I’m not a person that holds a grudge for terribly long (even when I should), so I get mad, I get over it, and I move on. I am sure that I have screwed people over in my time (not usually on purpose – I generally try to be a nice girl), so I guess what goes around comes around, eh?
- Have you done anything recently for the first time, some unique experience or accomplishment? I don’t know that I’ve had any new experiences recently, but I am looking forward to having some soon! I’m planning to take a road trip with my Muppet this spring, to go and see some new sights, to have some girl time with her. I am hoping that one of these days my girlfriends from home and I can coordinate a trip together somewhere fun – that would be awesome! 🙂 Another big experience that I am working on for myself is that I want to take a major epic trip alone – I think it will be amazing. 🙂
- What do you think about when you think about death? The idea of death used to not bother me so much – but then I became a mama, and now it makes me sick. The thought of not seeing my baby girl grow up fills me with such awful dread that I have found myself living so much more carefully these days – it’s kind of comical. I hope that I will live to a ripe old age, but the Alzheimer’s in my family (my Dad) has me frightened. While I know that there is absolutely bugger all that I can do about it, it’s still a fear. I just want to live long enough to see my baby girl find her way in this world – and then every day after that will be a gift. 🙂
- Is there anything out of the ordinary you want to accomplish before you die? Hmm. I want to write a book and see it published. I want to do something that is so awesome that somebody somewhere makes a speech about me and how my actions made their life better. 🙂 I want to see Bali, and India, and Thailand, and South America before I am too damn old and can’t enjoy them. I want to do this hike to Machu Picchu VERY SOON (it’s a hike along the Lares Trail to Machu Picchu and the Urubamba Valley, the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I know what you’re thinking…”Since when does that prissy princess want to hike? All she does is wear dresses and pretty shoes every damn day of her life!!!!” However, I think – no, make that I KNOW – it’ll be an awesome life-changing experience. Who’s in to come with me?!??) Truth be told, there are a MILLION things that I have left to do in this lifetime – and I know that I need to hurry up, as time waits for nobody.
This was SO much fun…I hope that you will take a bit of time, review these questions and think about your answers as well…if you want to share them with me, I’ll be happy to read them and/or listen to you talk about them. It’ll be fun! 🙂 Stay tuned for the next section – I can’t wait! 🙂