This year I participated in Great Interview Experiment (about which I would not have known had MPJ not participated, so thanks MPJ!) and had the good fortune to get to peek inside the mind of the lovely lady behind Mosey Along.
I'd like to start first with a big 'thank you' to my interviewee for allowing me to ask such deeply personal questions and for participating in this process. I had a lot of fun reading this blog and getting to know her. If you don't follow Mosey Along, I recommend checking her out. She has a fresh, creative outlook on life, and the grace I found in her blog was moving for me.
I find myself curious about what makes people 'tick', and my questions leaned toward the deeper, more personal issues she touches on very lightly in her blog. She answered my questions with a dignity that I hope to share with all of you.
That said, read on!
You have alluded to melancholy in your blog; do you find that blogging about such feelings has helped you to deal with any negativity you have surrounding the reasons for your melancholy?
I've heard many bloggers refer to their blogs as free therapy, and pretty much that's what it is for me too. It's not like a personal diary or journal necessarily - I mean people are reading this, including my parents! - but although I'm aware there is an audience, small as it is, I do try to at least acknowledge where I'm at and what I'm feeling so it's out there, without letting it *all* hang out. I'm pretty conscious of where my melancholy comes from, and although being mired in those feelings is not pleasant, I don't look at it from a negative position, if that's possible to understand. Because I always come out the other side with new insight, or at least a renewed appreciation for the life I've got.
I really get this perspective. Our ability to assimilate information and analyse it can provide us with the tools to better enrich our own lives (and that of our children).
My own mother suffered from depression to varying degrees when I was growing up, but she never talked about what her challenges were; what are the biggest challenges you face with regard to your melancholy, and raising a young child?
You pretty much hit it right there - the biggest challenge is being a good mother. My daughter has definitely borne the brunt of it - I'm a stay-at-home mother so she's always been right here when it hits. I'm sorry you had to experience it yourself with your own mother. I feel gratitude that I have never had to be hospitalized or medicated, although I support whatever therapy works for an individual, and when I read about families dealing with any degree of mental illness that impacts the lives of every member of the family, that biblical quote "there but for the grace of God go I" resonates deeply.
Do you share your feelings of sadness with your daughter, or talk with her the nature of your melancholy?
When I have my periods of melancholy, as I call them, she's a witness to them. I hate that part of it. But I've been fortunate that there seems to be a time limit on those periods, and when I'm able we always talk about it or acknowledge it in some way. I've had to apologize to her many times for my behaviour, and also reassure her that no matter what she is loved completely and absolutely. She is remarkably mature and compassionate for a six year old, and I'm so grateful that she seems able to state her feelings very clearly and honestly, and perhaps she's had to be.
I think a parents' ability to acknowledge and/or apologise for behaviour they regret is what makes a child really aware of their own actions. Showing your daughter that you are aware of your actions, and aware of her feelings seems to me an invaluable lesson. We can't be perfect, or always as good as we want to be, but if we can be honest about ourselves we can teach our children how to be honest and caring in their own lives.
What brought you to the US?
Work! I graduated with a degree in animation and was very fortunate to be hired by a renowned visual effects company in the Bay Area - twice. First as an intern after graduation, and the second time a few years later on a more permanent basis. That's where I met English hubby, who still works there, although I do not.
Are there significant differences in culture between your Canadian heritage and your husband’s British roots, and how does your family blend them in your home?
No major cultural differences, I think the similarities are actually what worked for us in our initial attraction and in our lives together now. I get his jokes (and usually have to explain them to others who can't cope with his accent), he gets mine, and although we've had other differences that we've had to deal with, nothing that has caused us any major trauma. Both of us have trouble nailing down what is so similar other than we spell words the same way and have many of the same social and pop-culture references.
You have mentioned something of an emotional discomfort with the faith of your childhood; has blogging affected your faith and your feelings toward it?
No, other than the fact that it is another outlet for expressing those feelings on occasion. The honest truth is that I feel a very deep connection to that faith, even though I don't walk it in my daily life now. And I think the reason why I feel that discomfort is because it feels disloyal, both to my upbringing and to my parents who raised me. Everything I am as a person was instilled in me by them, and it's hard to feel that I am disappointing them by straying from the path they set me on. Not that I've strayed far, my moral character and compassion and knowledge of my place in the world are who I am.
Do you raise your daughter in a particular faith, or teach her any philosophical path?
English hubby and I want her to grow up with an awareness of God within her, but we don't go to church except when I'm with my family in Canada, and don't follow a particular philosophical path. He and I do not share the same beliefs, or didn't when we first met, but have since found a language that works for us and honours both our spiritual journeys. But we talk about and educate Sweetpea as much as we can about what faith is. She definitely has a deep spirituality, and frequently surprises me with her questions and requests. She will ask to pray, even though that isn't something I've necessarily taught her how to do. She knows how to meditate to relax and settle herself. I'm exposing her to the story of Christmas by reading it throughout Advent, and love her observations of that amazing story. (for example, "Jesus is the King of Being Nice") :)
Reading your descriptions of your daughter and how she thinks was quite fun for me. I think she's absolutely brilliant! I think it is wonderful that she knows how to meditate to relax herself - I wish more children knew about this!
Is there anything you'd like to share that I haven't asked?
I guess the only thing I'd like to clarify is why I call my melancholy that, instead of depression. I don't want to lessen the impact of what depression means for anyone else - it can be incredibly debilitating and effects everyone around the person who is suffering from it. Other than post-partum depression for which I sought treatment, I've never been formally diagnosed. I know people who suffer horribly from depression and I have done a lot of reading about it, and I know that when someone is in the middle of a depressive episode, it feels like you will never come out of it - that there is no escape from it. For me, even when I've hit what for me is rock bottom, I'm still aware of the light at the end of the tunnel. In one post back in April I talked about how I'm touched lightly by melancholy for the most part, and that it isn't necessarily a negative word. It's just life.
Also, because of the type of questions you asked, I do want people to know how happy and grateful I am in my everyday life. Melancholy is just a small piece of the puzzle.
I am glad you mention this. I don't think I have done a very good job of highlighting the many facets of your life as you describe it on your blog. Maybe you'll indulge me for round two? ;)
It is evident to me that I would make a terrible reporter, but I have to say... I had a lot of fun with this interview experiment. As the people in my life will attest, I am forever questioning them about their lives, and how they feel about certain things. My mom instilled in me a thirst for knowledge and a deeply ingrained curiosity about how other people live, so this interview process was big fun for me.