J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 75.
A: As humans, we’re always interested in hearing about or enjoying ourselves like the grand gesture or the big project or the big adventure, but really, small and steady steps are where the magic happens.
Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.
J: Hey everyone, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Dr. Jen Riday. I hope you're having a fantastic August, it's going fast and I know school is about to start then I'm feeling a little anxious about all the shopping I need to do for my 6 kids; ah! (Laughs). Well, anyway, I hope you enjoyed our episode last week when I spoke with Beth Westie, all about how we as women can eat for our hormones so that we can lose fat more easily; loved that. And today I'll be talking with Anne Bogel, host of the ‘What Should I Read Next?’ podcast, and blogger at Modern Mrs. Darcy. She is an avid reader and a mom of 4, and she has a really gentle and really nice and fresh approach to life. So I think you're going to love this episode and what Anne has to say, let's go ahead and jump in.
Hey everyone, I'm chatting with Anne Bogel today and she's the creator of the popular blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and the podcast ‘What Should I Read Next?’. Anne lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Welcome to the show, Anne.
A: Thank you very much; happy to be here.
J: And we always start off our show with quotes and, gosh, how would you even pick a quote when you're so well read like you are? But go ahead and give it a shot and we'll love it; I'm sure.
A: This is actually really easy. My… (Laughs).I wanted to explain how to choose from a million, but I'll stop; I'll just tell you the one. It's Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibility,” a line that I have snagged a totally out of context from one of her poems.
J: Okay, so what does that quote mean for you?
A: It means excitement and enthusiasm and potential and it's just something that I really take to heart in my life and my work that anything is possible and that there are so many things out there that we could go and do and make and create.
J: Yeah, great. Well, let's dive into a low point in your life and share that journey and anything else that goes along with it.
A: Yeah. I'm going to go back to a moment, I think about 13 years ago. I was in my mid-20s and my husband and I were meeting with a marriage and family therapist every week. And if anyone ever has the opportunity to do this for almost free like we did, I highly, highly recommend it. And the situation was we had our first child and we couldn't… I mean, we figured it out and it was fine. But at the time, he didn't really eat, he didn't really sleep, we had some motor delays and we couldn't figure it out so we were in our State's early intervention program. And one of the things they offered us along with physical therapy and occupational therapy was the opportunity to sit down with this family therapist often and it was amazing. So we were talking at the time about how I was really frustrated as a person. I felt like I love my baby, I love my family, there are a lot of things I liked about my life, but I felt like the door had closed on a lot of professional opportunities that I wasn't going to be able to do because of where I was; like now that I was a mother and now that I had these other obligations and now that I wasn't planning on ever going back to school. And I said, “You know, I feel like… I feel like I missed it,” and, I mean, I was really frustrated. There's a lot to be said for talking to other people. I mean, a friend probably could have told me this, but our therapist was about 10 years older than me; so relatable, but not… you know, not like your 85 year old grandfather doing… saying like, “Don't despair, it all works out. It worked out for me,” and I'd be like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, stop it.”
J: Yeah, right.
A: But he said, “You know what? There is plenty of time; there will be time for that. Like, I understand it feels like that right now, but you are…” (I don't… I was probably 26, 27), “but you're 26 years old, you have time. It will be fine, there's time for that. Like, kids grow up; I know it doesn't seem like it right now. You know, life moves on. Everything's a stage. You have plenty of time.”
J: So did you suddenly feel content with your life.
A: Well, it’s not that I felt discontent with my life, it's that I felt that I wouldn't be able to do certain things. And I don't know if that discontentedness, but it was definitely like resignation. And, no, a switch didn't flip immediately, but honestly, I never thought… you know, I was 26. How much did you know when you were 26? Like, I admire a lot of things about my 26 year old self, but on the other hand, I want a pattern on the head and say, “Oh, honey, you're going to get… like, give it 10 years.” So…
J: (Laughs). It's true. And…
A: No, it didn't…
J: Sometimes as a mom, I look back and think, “Why was that so hard? That sounds easy now,” you know?
A: This is such a truism, but for a reason, you do the best you can with what you have at the time.
A: But I just didn't have a lot of resources then. And it didn't… it wasn't an instantaneous like, “Oh!” like, “I'm just going to go skipping into the sunset now,” but it definitely was a, “Huh!” like I just hadn't considered that door wasn't shut forever or that new doors would open or that… I mean, I just hadn't thought about it. I just assumed like, “Well, that ship has sailed, too bad.”
A: So that got me started thinking about like, “Oh, that's true, like this is a stage; everything moves in stages, nothing lasts forever, for better or worse.”
J: So you had 3 more kids after that, and what stage was that called and what stage are you in now?
J: Forcing you to put words on it, crazy, huh?
A: Yeah. You know, I also thought back then that there was before kids and after kids. And while that is true to some degree, I just didn't realize pre kids or at age 26 how constantly changing and evolving my life and my family life would be.
A: So I wouldn't put one name on it, I’d probably put 70 on it…
J: (Laughs). Yeah.
A: … from the various moments in time.
J: Yeah. Well, so advice to others that are struggling with that same situation.
A: Well, I mean for some things, yeah, I mean, it was too late for me to… it was too late for me to go on with the Air Force or maybe to become a radiologist or definitely to like, I don't know; astronaut is so cheesy. But that wasn't happening for me in any scenario, but it definitely wasn't happening at 26. But something I have learned is how important timing is. There's not just what you hope to do, but also when you're going to be able to do it, and that life moves in stages and things don't stay the same forever; I mean, sometimes it feels like they hardly stayed the same way for like a few weeks, but things constantly change. And that can be scary, but it can also be really freeing.
J: Well, so take us forward. You know, we know you're a successful blogger and podcaster now, how did that all develop?
A: That big change happened over a conversation around my dining room table right around New Year's, I think like 2010, 2011; crossing into 2011. And the kids were in bed and my husband and I were having late-night glass of wine, takeout sushi at the dining room table, and we're talking about our reflections on the year gone by and our hopes for the year to come and we were just chatting about various projects. My husband had done a little bit of business blogging in the previous year and I said, “You know, I really… you like that, you seem to be good at it, it was good food for thought; like, I think you should keep that up.” And he's like, “Eh, I don't know, I think somebody else should start a blog. You know who I think should start a blog?” and I was like, “Nope, I don't even read blogs, who should start a blog?” and he said, “Like, you would like this, I think you should try it.” I was like, “You are out of your mind. Like, I don't… did you hear me? I don't even read these things.” And 15 minutes later, I was like brainstorming categories and thinking of ideas and imagining what we might call it. So it didn't launch for a couple more months, but that was where the idea was born.
J: So interesting! Well, so you had the blog and then tell us about it and how it led to the podcast.
A: So my blog is Modern Mrs. Darcy which was brainstormed shortly thereafter at that same dining room table. And from the beginning, I struggled to define it because I knew I didn't want to do like a niche blog because back then, the blogging wisdom, which I very quickly became knowledgeable about blogs and how to do it and who was blogging and what quote/unquote ‘rules’ were. And you're supposed to blog in a niche; like, you should have a food blog or a fashion blog or a lifestyle blog and I just didn't want to do that. So from the beginning, we haven't really had a niche, we’ve had a definite demographic. Like, I've been writing the kind of stuff that I wanted to read; the kind of things I was talking about with my friends that we'd stay up late talking about or the we’d linger over coffee discussing, the things that really mattered to us. And, you know, that could be your favorite mascara, because if you find something you love, then you want to tell your girlfriends. But it also could be like navigating the sticky points of your marriage or figuring out work and life after you just went through the transition that my peers have recently of going from childless to children; or I had friends who were trying to have children and couldn't. You know, those are the kinds of things that we were dealing with that we just couldn't get enough good conversation about. So from the beginning, I've been writing for a defying demographic, if not a defined niche; and that's smart, thoughtful, thinking women who like to think big and go deep and want to talk about the kind of things that you want to talk about with your girlfriends because they're important to you.
J: So what's your most popular posts of all time?
A: Of all time; probably one that makes me roll my eyes.
A: Isn’t it just weird, the way… the way it'll take… I mean, it's a truism in blogging that the post you've labored over for 20 hours will get 14 page views, and the one you wrote in 5 minutes when you were angry or sleepy or whatever will like go around the world…
A: … because people keep showing it on Facebook. So I don't know, and it changes from year to year and season to season.
J: Well, currently, there's a post where the slug is ‘unputdownable’ so you could read it at modernmrsdarcey.com/unputdownable; all one word. And it's something like ‘17 books that I read and 24 hours are left because they had really great and narrative drive and they just sucked me into the story’. And that's… the Internet is weird, and for some reason, Facebook keeps showing that post to millions of people. So I know since February when I published that, that's been very near at the top of my list, and for a while, it was getting like 10 times as many views as anything else on my site.
A: But I think that says more about Google and Facebook than it does about what people love. I mean, it's a good post and I wrote it because I thought people would be interested, but it's not 100 times better than everything else on the blog.
A: Even though it probably has 100 times more page views at the moment.
J: Yeah, right. Tell us about your podcast and what you do on your podcast.
A: My podcast is called ‘What Should I Read Next?’ We launched it in January, 2016, so we have about… we're working our way towards 100 episodes; we’re in the 90s now. And in every episode, a guest tells me 3 books they love, 1 book they hate, and some of them… sometimes I even really struggle with the ‘hate’ word. So one book that just wasn't to their taste (if they want to be delicate about it) and what they're waiting now, and then I recommend 3 titles they should write next.
J: Hmm, that's impressive. Do you just come up with it off the cuff or do you have a little info on before the episode so you can prepare?
A: I know their 3 books they love and 1 book they hate in advance, although probably more often than, I'll get a curveball or 3; that has definitely happened. But then, I never know in advance what I'm going to recommend; it depends on how our conversation evolves.
J: Tell us more about something that's exciting you today.
A: Right now, I'm about to wrap up a couple of big projects. So that feels exciting to be able to check that box and put them in the vault, but also, it's going to free up some more time in my schedule to start the next project. And I love starting things, I love moving on to the next project; which can be a weakness because, if you love starting but don't love finishing, you can leave a lot unfinished. So that's something I definitely have to watch out for, but I love starting new projects, so I'm really looking forward to that.
J: Work projects, home projects?
A: Oh, I don’t have time for home projects, or how about… I hate it when people say, “I don't have time.” The home projects are not a priority at the moment. So… but… and actually, we got most of them complete, we just had a podcast live event in my house which we just moved into earlier this year. So that was incredible motivation to blitz the home project list that probably would have taken us 3 or 4 years otherwise in the first 3 months. So I'm actually feeling pretty good about that right now, but it was work projects I have in mind.
J: So did you host a book club in your home?
A: Yes. Another podcast, it's The Popcast with Knox and Jamie, brought their live show to Louisville where I live and we teamed up; they have me as a guest on Saturday night. And Friday night, we threw a giant cocktail party for 100 people. So you could buy tickets and you could come meet us and hang out with your favorite or soon-to-be favorite in real life people that only existed on the internet before. And it was lots of fun.
J: Hmm, that sounds like a blast. So let's talk about something you're struggling with Anne, but probably you have it all together, so no struggles at all, right?
A: Yeah, that's what your listeners want to hear. No, I have plenty of struggles so it's just which one to pick. My current struggle is summer. Like we were talking about ages and stages, summer and it's constantly changing rhythms have really thrown me for a loop. I wrote about… a book about personality, so like I'm seeing everything through the lens of personality right now; it'll wear off in a while, but it hasn't yet. And my natural inclination is not to be someone who readily embraces rhythm and routine, but I found that I really, really need it and get so much more done and really a lot happier and healthier too when I am able to implement a routine and really work that thing. But in the summer, all my routines have been unmoored. And as soon as we land on the beginning of a routine, then kids go to camp for a week or there's 4 extra baseball games or we leave for the beach; which are all good things, but they don't make it easy to keep your rhythm. So right now, I'm constantly reimagining what my schedule is going to look like week by week or sometimes even a day by day so that we can all be happy and productive.
J: So what does that look like? Do you have a new routine each day or kind of a flow that you try to get throughout the day?
A: When everyone's activities are constantly changing…
A: … what it really looks like is just taking deep breaths and going with the flow and planning out each day and looking for what's going to happen when and making just a rough little map; and I am the opposite of type-A, so this does not come naturally for me, but it has been a lifesaver. Also, to take deep breaths and realize… I think in the past, this might have brought on existential crisis. Like, “Oh my gosh! I would never get any work done ever again for the rest of my days!” and I've learned, “Don't despair, just roll with it. Like, don't do nothing, but don't freak out.”
J: Yeah. Let's take a break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about a few of your favorite things.
(Interview resumes) [16:56]
J: Well, let's talk about some of your favorite things; so a habit that contributes to your success.
A: Walking the dog with no headphones, motion and movement and fresh air and space to think.
J: And a favorite easy meal.
A: Oohh, Mexican Beef Verde… oh, what's it called? It's from Jessica Fisher's cookbook ‘Not Your Mother's Freezer Meals’. It’s this Mexican shredded beef we used to make like a carnitos… (that's not a thing) carnitas or taco explosion, so the kids like to put it in tortillas or the grown-ups what you did with like sautéed spinach or you can put it over rice. But it's basically a chuck roast that you brown and you put in the crock pot all day and you serve it with guacamole and pico and shredded cheese and all those tex-mex garnishes that I love with a passion, and it's super easy.
J: Mm, that does sound good. And many spices?
A: Yes, chili powder and oregano and then a bottle of salsa verde. And then walk away, do your business, and then when people come over, you shred it and serve it. And it's… it's like it's really a fun relaxed meal to have for guests, but it's also something we're actually having for family dinner tonight.
J: Mm! And it sounds like you like to entertain. How often do you have guests for a meal or… or an event at your home?
A: We try to regularly, like maybe a couple times a month, although we did go through a season when we moved in and we had, oh, kids sports every Friday night and Saturday afternoon where I don't think anybody walks into our house after 6:00 PM for a month. So…
J: Yeah, yeah.
A: But we do love to.
J: How old are your kids?
A: They are… I have 4 between 7 and 14; 4 of them.
J: Well, you mentioned… I forgot to ask, you mentioned a book, how many books have you written?
A: This is my first one….
J: And what's it called?
A: … coming out September 19th. It's called ‘Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything’. I've always been a total personality geek. Like, I love taking every quiz on the internet and reading up on Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram and Strengths Finder. I just love all that stuff because it's really bolstered my self-awareness and helps me be happier and more productive and more strategic about my work and my relationships, like with my husband, with my kids, with my friends; it's something I found really valuable over the years. But in talking to lots of friends and lots of acquaintances, a lot of people say, “I just don't understand it. I don't have time to read a 400-page book. It sounds like it's written for like a doctor of psychology about how the systems all work, and I just wish there was a shortcut.” So in this book, it's my friendly, relatable, homegrown expert approach to walk you through the different personality frameworks that have made a big difference in my life, and giving you enough so you understand how the framework works and you can imagine how to put it to work in your life. And we could stop there, but I also give resources to explore further if you really want to dive deep into like the Enneagram or the love languages or highly sensitive people. So my hope is that, in reading it, readers will gain some insight into themselves, into their relationship, into their work, and be able to make positive changes based on that. Because the thing about having like an ‘aha’ moment, that I really think readers will have over and over again reading that, is if you can see the world just a little bit differently or see yourself differently, you can make changes that greatly benefit you, that truly change your life almost instantly.
J: So when does the book come out, again?
A: September 19th. And it's been on Goodreads forever so you can mark it as ‘To read’ or something like that. You can request it from your library at that point. And if you do pre-order, my publisher and I have put together some really great bonuses I'm excited about that are absolutely free. Just go to readingpeoplebook.com, it's super simple, it's right there on the webpage, and you get a free audio version of the book (so you get 2 mediums for the price of 1) and you get a free class I made that's called ‘what's your reading personality?,’ that is super fun and generally useful in getting more out of your reading life. And those are only available until the book releases on September 19th.
J: Well, okay, Anne, your favorite kitchen gadget.
A: Lemon squeezer.
J: Yes, that's mine too. Do you..?
A: I'm glad to hear it. But I do prefer lemon water throughout the day.
A: And I love… I love citrus anything so just a little pop of something bright in my dishes, so I use that all the time.
J: Okay. So, Anne, tell us a favorite book that you'd recommend to the Vibrant Happy Women community and why.
A: Oh, sure. It's so hard to pick just one, but to the Vibrant Happy Women community, I think I’d pick ‘You Learn by Living’ by Eleanor Roosevelt, which I felt really fortunate to have stumbled upon. It wasn't in print at the time I first read it maybe 10 years ago, it's back in print now. I imagined Eleanor Roosevelt as this dry dusty woman of history and this book was shocking to me…
A: … how smart and savvy and modern and truly practical it was. And I knew so little about her life then. I think she's gotten a lot of coverage and a couple of biographies and there's a film coming out and a dictionary imagining of a specific aspect of her life coming out; it's either this fall or next winter. So she has gotten more attention now then she did at the time I first read this, but I knew so little about her life. I knew she was a first lady, but I didn't know about the struggles and her youth or in her marriage or the amazing work she did; she was a pioneer in so many ways. And the book was really practical and inspiring and also really, really fun to read.
J: What's the best advice you've ever received?
A: Oh, aside from, “It'll get better. You'll be fine. Don’t freak out,”?
J: Yes, yes.
A: I would say like, “Don't underestimate the importance of small steps.” Like, I was just reading this article that kind of reframed what I'm thinking of here that said, “As humans, we're always interested in hearing about or enjoying ourselves like the grand gesture or the big project or the big adventure, but really, small and steady steps or where the magic happens.” And that's not sexy and it's not super like inspiring, it doesn't like it set your heart afire or anything, but consistent small steps, whether you're talking about, I don't know, yoga or relationships or a work project that's important to you are what makes great things happen.
J: How do you do it without reading them all?
A: I do read a lot. Some thought Guy, you know, like Seth Godin or somebody like that, said… (or maybe this is business… business advice) said that, “When you're thinking about what to do with your life, you need to think about what your unfair advantage is,” like, “What's something that's unique about you that other people don't have.” And for some people it's that, they were born into a family that runs a hotel chain or a bookstore or something like that. It could be that you're 7 feet tall or that you're 4’10’’. For me, it's that, for as long as I can remember, I've been reading all the time. So I just have a really long history of reading tons of books. I couldn't start now and know as much as I do about what's published. And still, like I am…. there are so many books I haven't read and so many books I haven't even heard of. So I just don't think it's possible to read them all and I'm certain there are people who read a lot more than me. But I do try to stay on top of it, but I've been doing that for a long time.
J: Yeah. And do you keep up with the New York Times bestsellers or do you have other lists that you like to follow?
A: Whenever I'm in a bookstore and they have it posted on the wall or whenever I'm traveling and I pick up a USA Today, I'd love to see what's on there, but no, that's not something I track.
J: How do you decide what to read?
A: Oh, a whole lot of whim, a little bit of strategy; I definitely believe in reading by and it depends on what I'm working on. So 2 years ago, I was reading piles of personality books, but now, I'm reading lots of essay collections. All winter, I was reading the books being published in summer 2017 for the summer reading guide. Currently, I'm reading a bunch of old novels because I'm enjoying it.
A: But there's no formula.
J: Okay, Anne, we want to hear your personal happiness formula. What would that include?
A: You know, I'm not much of a formula girl, but I probably should be; a good formula would probably do me well. But something I've been thinking about recently because I'm about to have a birthday, and a few years ago at, church the pastor just happened to give like a… she closed the service with a benediction on my birthday week and it's from Thomas Merton, and so this time of year, I always go back and think of it. And when she said it, I thought, “Oh, that's so amazing,” so I went and I asked her and she sent made the text from Thomas Merton. But what she said, it's about being peaceful happy and light in body and spirit and being free from anxiety worry and understanding love. But the thing I always remember without having to look it up is that, “A good life is fresh solid and free,” and that's something I keep coming back to. Going back to Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibility,” there are so many ways to interpret those words on so many different levels. You know, fresh, vibrant, new, solid can mean safe in the moment or like rounded in your core beliefs and there have to be a thousand ways to interpret ‘free’, right?
J: Yeah. Okay, so let's end the show with a challenge from you to our listeners.
A: I would say to take a walk without your earbuds or sit on the porch without a book and just take 5 minutes to think and to be. I think it's one of those things people don't even realize they're missing or that they need until they take the time to deliberately do it.
J: So we talked a lot about intuition or I like to. When you're just sitting there thinking, do you get some interesting thoughts ever?
A: I would hope so.
A: Well although, sometimes… I mean, I am an introvert who lives in a family of 6 and a very boisterous puppy, so sometimes, I just need it to be quiet. So that's not everybody.
A: That's definitely me; there's that too. Yeah, it's interesting to see bubbles to the surface or sometimes you have to tamp everything down first.
J: Well, you have shared some great ideas; I can't wait to read your book. And our listeners, you should go out and grab it, get the freebies that go with it. We’ll have all those links on the show notes page at jenriday.com/75. And, again, the book is called ‘Reading People..’ how does the rest go, Anne?
A: ‘How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything’.
J: Thank you so much for being on the show, Anne.
A: It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
J: Take care.
Thank you so much for joining us and be sure to join me next week when I talk with Mary Hyatt about living life fully alive; we all could use that advice, right? We get lost in our smartphones and in our to-do list and we're not really living in the moment, so you're going to love that episode. I'll see you next time, take care.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.