Feeding Chickens in the Land of Dickens (Interview)

Do you ever have one of those days when you just need a pick-me-up?  When I have a day like this, where my coffee just hasn’t been enough to do the trick, I often turn to Mother Hen Diaries. Dorreen Augustine always has that special blend of optimism and wit to catch my attention and perk up my day!

Seriously…she’s funny. It’s what attracted me to her blog initially. With so many blogs that exist to simply be rant sessions, Dorreen’s blog stands out as being a beacon of positivity.

As an American living in the U.K., she has a very interesting perspective on life, one that I find inspirational, and as is the case with many bloggers, Dorreen describes herself much better than I could.  From the About page of Mother Hen Diaries, here is a snippet of what Dorreen has to say about herself:

“First and foremost, I am a Jehovah’s Witness. (Yes, I do knock on doors!) 🙂 I am also a wife, mother, cuddly Nanny, a reader, a thinker, a dreamer and a storyteller, Margarita expert, singer and entertainer, jam maker extraordinaire, serial dieter, and mother to a dozen chickens.”

After following Dorreen’s writing for some time, I was so pleased when she agreed to have a virtual cup of coffee with me to answer my questions for this interview.  Read on for Dorreen’s thoughts and advice around blogging and writing.  It’s good stuff.

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Picking the Nose of a Wicked Witch (Interview)

In this interview, I had the pleasure of interviewing Whitney of Highest Form of Whit (thanks for agreeing to the interview Whitney). Let me start by saying…I really don’t know how to best describe Whitney…the words fail me…I’m drawing a blank.

I started to try, but I had to keep erasing what I wrote as I felt I wasn’t doing the description justice. So rather than try and miserably fail (most likely causing Whitney to become enraged to the point of mass destruction), I thought I’d simply let her describe herself– as written on her About page.

 …I’m an amalgamation of the sense of humor of a 12 year-old boy, the sensibilities of an 80 year-old man, and the figure of a woman in her early twenties. Basically, I’m awesome. And so, by default, is this blog (note the sarcasm). I also suffered from untreated Generalized Anxiety Disorder for fourteen years, which is a main component behind this blog.

I believe in laughing. I believe in love. And I believe in punching anyone in the face who doesn’t think those two things are great. I also believe in contradictions (or do I?).

See, wasn’t that much better than what I could have written?  I’m sure Whitney is somewhere agreeing as she reads this. 😉 She is clever, has a knack for the craft of writing and she’s funny– all things that I enjoy in a writer.

The other think I like about Whitney and her blog– she is true to herself and as a result she’s built-up a loyal following. Recently I’ve become very interested in bloggers who write transparently– letting followers find them, rather than the other way around.  With over 10,000 followers, she fits this description well! I enjoyed reading her answers; I hope you will as well! When you’re finished, if you’d like to read additional interviews with other bloggers click HERE.

(Full disclosure: Whitney uses enough profanity to singe the hair off the ears of a sailor, so read with your visual “bleepers” on if you are so inclined.)

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What motivated you to start your blog Whitney?

I started my blog for a couple of reasons. One, I had just graduated from college but I was living in LA for an extra semester and I wanted something fun to do. Two, because I haven’t read a lot of mental health comedy anywhere and I kind of saw my opportunity to start a conversation in a different way. Three, because I thought people might want to laugh at all of the dumb things I was scared of when I was a kid. Apparently, people do want to laugh at that, which is really freaking sweet!

How did you “find your voice” in blogging?  Your writing appears to be very natural and shows a lot of your personality– was that something you had to work towards or does it come natural to you?
 I didn’t really work at it at all, to be honest. How my blog reads is how I talk. Except I probably include more “that’s what she saids” in my day-to-day conversation (though I am starting to cut back on that a little bit). I’ve always been super snarky and self-deprecative with a 12 year-old boy’s sense of humor. Why try and be something I’m not?
What one thing do you feel has contributed the most towards growing your follower base?

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Sincerely? Just Write It Sincerely (Interview)

For this week’s interview, I’m publishing my notes from my conversation with Terri Webster-Schrandt from Perspectives on…Work, Life and Leisure.

I was anxious to talk to Terri for a few reasons.  Different from other interviews I’ve posted, it wasn’t necessarily the number of followers that drew me to Terri’s blog, but rather her way of writing.  Her posts come across in a very sincere and transparent way that make me feel as though she’s writing with her own voice, being true to herself versus writing with the intention of simply attracting followers, etc.  Personally, I value this in a writer as I find their work much more interesting.

Her journey includes making the decision to change the name of her blog as part of this effort to reflect the nature of her content. I love this willingness to evolve and grow in order to perfect; I hope to do the same.  Her life has been a colorful one thus far, and whether it be her past life teaching in northern California, wind surfing on the weekends or advocating for women’s interests, this same energy and transparency shine through.  Read on for my conversation notes! Continue reading

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Seriously? Late Again?

“Yes we’re friends, but you aren’t important enough for me to show up on time.”  Isn’t that the statement that is being made when we constantly show-up late?  From the perspective of the person waiting, that is how it feels at times.   “I don’t really care that my lateness causes ripples to everyone’s schedules…my time is more important than yours.”

Today it’s “San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee – Breakfast Blend” brewed in the Keurig that is fueling my furiously typing fingers.  It’s a new brand that I bought on Amazon and it’s actually really good.  It has a solid, bold flavor that is full and pungent.  It’s also interesting because the k-cup doesn’t actually have a full “cup” attached (see below). Rather, it’s the top portion of a normal k-cup with a mesh-like bag containing the coffee beans hanging underneath.  It’s priced a little more reasonably than other brands, it brews quickly and it tastes great!

San Francisco Bay Breakfast Blend

OK, let’s be real, most people are late on occasion.  Life happens, traffic happens, etc.  I realize that. I’m specifically thinking of those people we all know who have that reputation for being late to everything.  You know…those friends you have to give the fake start time that’s half-an-hour earlier than everyone else so they’ll be on time?

Why are some people ALWAYS late? I don’t get it.

DH-

Why Choose Crabiness?

Have you ever been around people who seem to work to find reasons to be unhappy? You know what I mean. When you make positive comments around them they’ll typically just scowl and refuse to respond? Or if they do respond it’s generally some sort of unintelligible grunt or painful-sounding moan accompanied by a pitiful look that’s designed to try to gin-up sympathy– a facial protest that says “But I WANT to be less-than-happy, I kinda’ like it!” Continue reading

The First Cup…

Ahhh…that great feeling when you take the first sip of java on a chilly, autumn morning when your world is still largely quiet and still.  Couple this with a few rare, precious moments to think and now you have at least a few pieces of the secret formula for a good day.

Today it’s ‘Eight-O’-Clock Coffee’ brewed in the Keurig that’s doing the trick, and here’s what I’m thinking about…

The sound of metal clinking against glass cups, the subtle sound of milk being steamed, the awesome, floating scent of strong coffee brewing, and the bright morning sunlight gradually chasing shadows into the corners, all while jazz standards are covertly setting the mood in the background.  It’s the relaxing, “feel-the-stress-leaving-as-we-speak” sounds of the corner coffee shop, and there’s just one thing missing in this picture that would make it absolutely perfect.

What is it, you ask? What could possibly be missing from this scene? It’s that sound of warm conversation taking place between friends and companions.  The sound of old acquaintances who haven’t seen one another for months catching-up.  The sound of college classmates working on that group project.  Or maybe it’s simply the sound of a few friends debating the latest news headlines.

Who doesn’t enjoy stimulating conversation over a great cup of coffee?  As a working, mid-30’s, happily married father of three, I seek out these moments as often as I can.  My name is Dave Howell, and I find that it’s in these moments with my brew that I’m often able to find the simple hiding somewhere in the corners of the complex.  At times, the only thing that’s missing is a few friends to complete the conversation.  But since you’re here now, problem solved!

Thanks for stopping by my weekly blog post (perhaps more if we have time for the occasional refill).  Grab a cup and fill it up!  Let’s enjoy brews and views.

Now…what are you drinking and what are your plans for today?

DH