focus on the good – my interview with Julie Cook

One thing I’ve learned on this journey to follow the ol’ bliss is that not everyone has to quit their job and renegotiate their whole life in order to be a happy, fulfilled person. (Duh.)

Yes, that’s what I did. Frankly, that’s what I needed to do. There was no good way to make that boring desk job fit in with my life’s ambitions. But my path is not for everyone.

I’ve been finding myself more and more inspired lately by people who are joyful, passionate and compassionate no matter what they do from 9-5 – whether or not their day job is a huge part of their bliss, takes away from it, or falls somewhere in between.

The Daily Julie is a lovely personal blog written by the equally lovely and charming Julie Cook. She’s one of my favorite tumblr follows. (Mom, tumblr is another kind of blogging website where people “follow” each other like they do on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll explain more later.)

A stylish Southern belle who works in marketing/PR and describes herself on her blog as “a happy wife with a mostly sunny and slightly sarcastic outlook on life,” Julie was gracious enough to let me ask her a few questions. And after my meltdown yesterday, I definitely needed to hear what she had to say.

From paying attention to the good in her life, to her thoughts on keeping communication alive in a marriage, Julie Cook shares what “following your bliss” means to her. Enjoy!

(And check out The Daily Julie for a sunny, slightly sarcastic outlook on life. You won’t be disappointed.)

Julie, your blog is a gorgeous scrap book – a collection of the clothes and accessories you love, stories about your marriage and your life with your hubby and puppy, and photos of you and the fabulous stuff you do. When did you start the blog and why?

I started my blog back in October of 2008. At the time, my husband and I had just moved from the beach where we were living for the past three years back to my hometown of Raleigh, NC. We’d left behind a lot of good friends and had other friends who had also moved away over the years, and I thought a blog would be a great way for people to keep in touch. Over time, I think my blog has definitely morphed into more of just a brain dump for me to talk about my interests, which you’re exactly right about – my husb, my dog, and fashion! Luckily, my friends and family – the ones who actually read it – tell me they like it without any bribing.

I’m sure I speak for many of your readers when I say that I love your blog because it’s refreshingly honest and genuine. You’re obviously someone who’s very passionate about being happy, wearing and doing things that make you feel good, and finding the silver lining in every situation. Does keeping this record online provide you with a creative outlet? And how important is to you to have something like this in your life?

My blog most definitely provides me with a creative outlet. I almost hate to say it since your blog is all about following your bliss, but my 9-5 day job is certainly not my “dream job.” So, having my own blog allows me to express myself and document this crazy ride that is life. Sometimes, I go back and reread my posts from a couple years ago and just laugh to myself. It’s funny how much people can change over the years. Part of the reason I’ve blogged for as long as I have is that I find the blogging community incredibly supportive. I have met some of the nicest people on the internet and have gone on to be real live, in-the-flesh friends with them. As strange as it is to say that I met someone on the internet, it’s even stranger to think that did I not have a blog, I might not know them at all. The other part of blogging that enjoy is that writing about my day-to-day life forces me to focus on the parts of it that were good because those are the parts I want to tell. Not to say my life is all sunshine and roses all the time but why focus on the negative when I can focus on the positive. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the minutia of everyday life, and having a blog reminds me to focus on the good things in my life.

If the comments and “likes” on “The Daily Julie” are any indication, you have a ton of followers. Was there a tipping point, so to speak, when people started following your blog in big numbers?

I’m not sure there was ever one point. I think that my blog, like most blogs, grew in blips and blurps in the form of reblogs and mentions on other blogs.

You have a full time day job. Does your career inspire you – are you passionate about what you do there?

I think the everyone has asked themselves the question: “Do you find a career that you are passionate about, or do you find a career that affords you the means to do the things you are passionate about?” It’s a delicate balance. I am fortunate that parts of my career are very creative and I truly work with fantastic people even if I wouldn’t classify what I’m doing is my dream job. Plus, my boss is amazing and after some not so amazing bosses, I can tell that it makes all the difference.

How would you change your current day job, if at all, to be more in line with what you want to Be When You Grow Up?

Well, up until I was in 6th grade, I really wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up. Then I got tall and threw off my center of balance and turned into a total clutz, so that career path was out! My absolute dream job would definitely be doing something in the fashion industry. Perhaps as a stylist, full time blogger, or even boutique owner. Maybe if I keep reading your blog long enough, I’ll get up enough gumption to do just that!

Do you see yourself working in your current field for a long time?

Oh my lands, who knows? While I think long range plans have a certain place, for the most part, I try to focus on what’s going on today and what I can accomplish today. I have faith that if I work hard, am honest and do my best, then it (whatever “it” is) will work out. Thinking too far into the future stresses me out. I mean, what if I change my mind?

My blog is about following my bliss, and encouraging other people to do the same. What does “following your bliss” mean to you?

To me, following your bliss means finding what it is that truly makes you happy. So many people think that a better job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a bigger apartment, a nicer car, etc. will make them happier. Sure, you’ll probably get a rush at first but it will eventually fade and you’ll be looking for the “next great thing.” The only person or thing responsible for your happiness is you – not your car, not your significant other, not what kind of purse you carry. It’s so easy to focus on the negative things in our lives because they seem like burdens to bear, but the truth is that there’s probably a lot of bliss right under your nose if you stop and look for it.

One of the reasons you inspire me is because you have a very full life – you’re a wife, a puppy mom, a full-time employee, a homeowner, a gym-goer, a lover of all things style and beauty – and you still manage to find time to share your inspiration and passion with your readers. What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t want to create upheaval in their whole lives (i.e. quit their day job) but who still wants to follow their bliss?

It sounds cliche, but take 5 minutes and write down 5 things that are good in your life and 5 things that are not so good. My guess is that you’ll have a hard time coming up with the good ones but the bad ones will be easy. But, you MUST do 5 of each.

I’ll wait.

Now, take a minute and think about why the good things are just that – goodness. What did you do to bring them into your life and why do they make you happy? Now, look at the bad things and think about what you can do to change them. Don’t like your figure? Go for a walk. Feel lonely? Invite an old friend out to dinner. Bored? Take a class or find a hobby. Seem lost? Go to a church. In the end, you’re responsible for you and your happiness and it really is in your control.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A ballerina.  And then when that dream was squashed by my skewed center of balance, I wanted to be a vet. But then, I realized I got queasy around anything blood. Heck, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

If you could snap your fingers and have any lifestyle in the world tomorrow, what would it be?

Honestly, I’d keep my cozy little life the way it is. I definitely wouldn’t mind traveling more and I keep telling Jason that we need to move to Paris so I wouldn’t be sad for that to happen, but for the most part I think I’ve cultivated a world around me where I am pretty content. And I think being truly content with what you have is actually the secret to happiness. Mind you, it wasn’t always that way. One of the things that I really learned from the age of about 20-27 is that it’s okay to cut out negativity in your life, whether that’s in the form of people or experiences, so that the things in your life are those that bring you happiness.

If money was no object, but you had to be productive in SOME way for 8 hours a day, what would you do with your time?

Shop and blog about it 🙂

You got married a few years ago – exactly how long have you been married? And how has being married impacted how you follow your bliss?

I’ve been married since October 21, 2006, so coming up on 4 years this fall! (woah!) Whether I’m following my bliss or deciding what to eat for dinner, being married means I always have to take the other person into consideration. (Luckily, my husband’s a pretty cute guy so I don’t mind). But I think that when you get married, your bliss becomes intertwined with the other person’s bliss and you have to talk about what you – as a forever couple – want to get out of life. Ideally, you would have this conversation before you get married. Understanding each other is key and here is where having a supportive partner and learning to effectively communicate comes in handy.

Last question – you went to your grandmother’s 90th birthday party in New Orleans a few weeks ago. When you came back, you wrote that someone (maybe it was you?) had asked your grandmother for a piece of advice about life – something that she could share after 90 amazing years. And she said “Life is short. Buy the shoes.” I LOVED that so much. Who are the inspiring women or people in your life who’ve encouraged you along the way you to be the positive, genuine, fearless person you are today?

Actually, no one asked, she just had a thought and wanted to share it. Speak your mind, people! But, I’d have to say without a doubt, that my grandmother and mother have helped form me into the person I am today. My grandmother is the epitome of class, manners and diplomacy. She could never say a bad thing about anybody. She would find a nice way to say the bad things ;). And there are always a cold glass of tea and cookies ready for company that might show up at a moment’s notice. My mother sacrificed so much when she was younger so that she could be a successful career woman. It was her dream and she fought for it. That was her bliss, so she showed me to fight for my bliss, too. Even if it’s not the easy thing to do.

One thought on “focus on the good – my interview with Julie Cook

  1. Pingback: (life) 20 great things from 2010 |

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