Let me just start by stating for the record, Mary is a very good friend of mine, and perhaps the happiest person I know. She recently made a career change from corporate fundraiser to first grade schoolteacher, and she couldn't be happier with her new life. That, and the fact that she's the type of friend who would do anything for you, made her the perfect candidate for being the first victim in my Sundae Experiment. It was interesting and a little awkward at times as I fumbled through my questions and honed my interviewing skills on the fly. But Mary was a great sport about everything, pausing after each question I asked to really think about her response. I took it more as a dress rehearsal, and it turned out be extremely helpful to cut my teeth on a friend, so to speak.
I got a good feel for which questions seem to work and which ones don't (ie. blank stare in response). And I learned that, at least in Mary's case, my taking notes was much preferred over recording the conversation. Puts a bit more pressure on me, so I'm hoping I'll get the green light for recording from most of my volunteers. They say after the first few minutes, the interviewee forgets all about the recording so we'll see.
Confirming to her that I wouldn't publish anything before she got a look at it and gave the a.o.k. also helped ease any anxiety she may have felt.
I quickly discovered that I may have to ask more than 5 questions. My finished piece will include 5 answers, but the conversation will probably take a few more than that. Glad I have a few pages to choose from already. I'm still toying with the idea of providing the questions in advance. Which I suppose to a certain extent I will be doing by sharing her interview and others along the way..
One thing I didn't get to check was how long I would have to conduct each experiment. Having bought a pint of the maple bacon and shared it with friends earlier that day, she was 'ice cream'ed out' by the time our Sundae appointment came around. So instead she enjoyed an Earl Grey tea and took a 'scoop coupon' for her free sundae. I'm certain the conversation took longer than what will be 'usual', since, as I mentioned, ours was as much about me figuring out the interview process as her actually being interviewed. All that being said, it was fun, and I think it went pretty well.
Now on to the next challenge, transforming my notes into a readable entry. Here goes...
Describe a person, place, book, or event that has had a big influence on your life.
Locust Street in Kansas City. That is where my grandparents lived and where I spent my summers growing up. The days were fun and carefree, spent with family that deeply cared about me. We shared meals, bike rides, trips to the library, long talks on the front porch eating popcorn and watermelon. The pace of life was comfortable and relaxed. Those were truly special times.
If you were to do your own 'rocking chair test' today, what do you see?
I'm most proud of my relationship with my grandfather. We were very close. I am so grateful that I had the chance to know him so well. In the last few years, I had the opportunity to care for him when he was sick and be by his side when he was in the hospital. He had a tremendous amount of gratitude for life and enjoyed simplicity. I feel like the person I am today has a lot to do with the time I spent with him. I suppose my only regret is I wish I could have spent more time with him. I think of what would have happened if I had moved to Locust Street after college. Then again, if I had done that, perhaps I’d still be living in Missouri. And I am very happy and grateful for where I am now.
If you were about to drop your kid off at college for the first time, what advice would you give him/her?
Remember to balance your day. Study and do well, but also try to take advantage of the tremendous amount of resources a university has to offer. The most frustrating thing about college is not having enough hours in the day to take all the courses that interest you, join all the clubs you want, participate in all the activities…the important thing is to learn about yourself so that you can allocate you time the way you truly want to.
What would you do if you knew you couldn't fail?
Dress like a princess and fly to the moon.
I'd also like make a significant contribution to the lives of children in need. I want to give them strength and stability and a nurturing environment. Perhaps find a way to improve the foster care system so that children that are in risky or difficult situations can have more support and stability in their lives. Maybe start a school where they can live and learn.
What's your secret to happiness?
I'm grateful for all the love I have in my life. I have a great family and a person who cares deeply for me. I have a classroom of students that appreciate what I have to teach them. I live in a nice place with a strong and tight community. To love something or someone is to have a deep appreciation for them. I find that you can apply gratitude to nearly any situation and instantly it becomes better. Gratitude is the secret to happiness. My grandfather taught me that.
So there you have it. I hope and expect to get better at this with practice, but a good start I think. Here's to good starts.
Thanks for listening.