I turned 42 a few weeks ago and as is often the case had a prompt to reflect on a few things. One of them was just how tricky a balance it can be to convey yourself as a real, live person when you write a lot of articles like I do - trying to balance giving away useful, practical tools and information with the more personal side of things.
I know a lot of writers online share way more of themselves than I do but I've never wanted the blog to become the Jo Casey show (which is ironic I know, give the site's title!)
But I do think there's a place for letting you know a bit more about who I am - no the 'professional' bit but the more real, informal, less than polished side.
So, taking inspiration from one of my Fizzle mentor Corbett Bar, I've decided to create a post all about ME.
1. I love baking
I make a fantastic apple and pistachio cake. Apart from coffee and walnut (just wrong) I’ve never met a cake I didn’t like.
Even though I'm a pretty good cake baker, I'm not a great cook. I have no instinct for it. Cooking a meal carries no pleasure for me so I rarely put a lot of effort into it – and when I do it all goes a bit Bridget Jones Blue Soup. Fortunately my husband is a great cook although I think he gets a bit cheesed off that he ends up doing the bulk of it.
2. I was once on the cover of Jackie Magazine
(If you're female and lived in the UK during the 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's you will know that this is an iconic teen girls magazine.) It was related to no 36 in this list if you're wondering.
3. I used to be a consultant for PwC (one of the 'Big Four' Consultancy firms.)
It was one of the most intense, challenging and stretching experiences of my life. It was like fitting a 10-year career into a 2 years period. I couldn’t go back to that world but I’m forever grateful for the lessons I learned there.
4. I love crafting – particularly knitting, sewing and jewelry making.
it clears my head and gives me a sense of satisfaction when I see something I’ve made. I’m not the best in the world – my creations have a bit of a rough and ready feel to them – I really should apologize to the numerous friends who’ve had to fake thrilled faces when I gift them my latest dodgy handiwork!
5. I was never one of the cool kids. Ever.
I’m still not. I was a misfit for the longest time. I didn’t fit fully into any sub culture or group. When I joined Fizzle.co (one of the best things I’ve done online –ever!) one of the reasons I gave for joining was that I wanted to hang out with the cool gang for once.
6. I’ve always been a bit left field
– I used to wish I was more traditional/sensible/mainstream. Now that I’m older I’ve grown into myself and embrace my weirdness and inability to 'get' X Factor etc. It’s such a relief.
7. I love working with people who have an urge to make a difference
People who feel a need to do what they do. The work can be tough but they don’t shy away from it. I love people who put themselves in the place of discomfort where there are seldom easy answers. That’s where my work really takes off – helping them to build their resilience. I admire them so SO much. That's why I adore working with coaches, consultants, holistic practitioner types - they're all drawn to help and make the world a little better, nicer and kinder.
8. I’m a diet coke addict.
Seriously, there should probably be a 12 step program for people like me. I know it’s bad for me. I know they're not a great company. I know it’s overpriced but it’s a classic case of willfully ignoring all of the very good reasons I should cut it out – because I just like it so damn much. I’ve had a copy of Mark Thomas’s Belching Out The Devil (I LOVE Mark Thomas) and I haven’t read past the 1st chapter because I know if I do I’ll have to face up to my addiction. How bad it that?
9. My husband is the love of my life.
I spent a lot of time chasing after relationships that were doomed from the start when I was younger. I think it was preparation for meeting the real thing. He’s my leveler – grounded, sexy, funny as fuck and a genius when it comes to anything technical. I still get giddy when I think about him.
10. My kids are amazing and totally different from one another.
It’s true what they say – babies are born with their own personalities. My son has been chilled out ever since he was a baby. He's an introvert like me so we can happily sit in a room together, not saying a word whilst watching TV, reading or playing a game. My daughter on the other hand is a firecracker – a little feisty, extrovert ball of energy who never stops talking. I'm in awe of them every day.
11. I studied Film & Drama at college and became the most annoying film geek imaginable for a while.
Not only was it impossible for me to watch a film without having a running shot commentary in my head (two shot…close up…panning shot…switch to long shot…) I made sure my family and friends also had that commentary. My brother is still to fully forgive me 20 years on – sorry Jim.
12. I got into yoga 12 years ago when my son was a baby.
I feel at home on the yoga mat. I’m no Yogini but I still return to my practice, even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day.
13. I’m very open about the fact that I experienced depression and a stress related illness in the past.
I think it’s ridiculous that as 1 in 4 people experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives, it’s still seen as unusual and ‘brave’ that someone is open about their experience with it. It’s not brave – it’s normal- it’s the human condition and real life. We need to accept that and get rid of the stigma that still exists around it.
14. My musical coming of age era was the 90s
My first gig was The Stone Roses. Play me anything by The Happy Monday, Nirvana, The Pixies, Throwing Muses, the Smiths, James and I'm taken back to being a teenager. If you want a guaranteed way to get me on the dance floor at any event, play Groove Is In The Heart by Dee-lite. Just saying.
15. As a kid my favorite band were The Beatles.
I had posters of them on my wall and all of my school books were adorned with pictures of the fab four. You have to bear in mind that I was born in 1971 – so when I was about 8 the popular bands of the day were Abba, the Bay City Rollers, David Essex and David Bowie – The Beatles couldn’t have been less cool. Yes, I was that kid.
16. Music is still really important to me
but something happened to my brain in my mid 30’s (kids maybe?) that meant that intense passion for music softened. Music is still really important to me (not as much new stuff as I probably should.) Radiohead, Wilko, Peter Bruntnell, Gomez, Doves, Led Zeppelin and anything with a folky/alt country feel. I’ve given up the need to be cool – it’s one of the lovely things about getting older.
17. Kristin Hersh manages to speak to my soul – I adore her. You should too.
18. I’m an introvert
so I love spending time reading, pottering and doing quiet things with the family. A big crowd or lots of people isn’t really my thing – which makes me sad sometimes because I worry that it makes me a bit of a boring person to be around.
I have a theory that introverts are particularly suited to social media because we’re comfortable with the ‘arms reach’ intimacy that the Internet brings. I love Twitter and Facebook and have started some very real and significant connections through them. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with people you know in the ‘real world.’ I’m optimistic about the possibilities of the Internet to bring people closer together.
19. Professionally, most people are surprised that I’m an introvert as I’m pretty bouncy and chatty.
But that’s so long as I’ve got a subject to talk about – put me in a situation where I have to make small talk or talk about myself and I’m tongue tied.
20 I’ve got a fantastic circle of friends
I’m often blown away by how deep, rich and wonderful those friendships are. It's a small but perfectly formed circle and many of them are people I've met through the coaching community.
21. I love that the Internet has a place for everyone
– no matter what your passion, peccadillo or interest there’s a tribe for you online. It gives connection to the misfits of the world and I think that’s awesome. The potential for connecting people is fantastic – which is why we need to be vigilant that it’s genuinely allowed to be free, open and accessible to everyone.
22. My husband and I love traveling
We’ve kids now so it’s a bit on hold. But we’d love to pack the kids up in a mini van one day soon and drive across the USA or Australia.
23. My sense of humor is really important to me.
I love political comedy, serious searing comedy and smart satirical stuff. Bill Hicks, Louis CK, Tina Fey, Armando Iannucci. A perfect night out for my husband and I is a trip to a comedy club.
Life can be hard sometimes and the challenges we face multiple and changing. Add to this the 24hour ‘if it bleeds it leads’ news cycle and it’s easy to get sucked into seeing the world as a dark place. It can take effort sometimes to remember that the world is also filled with joy, beauty, kindness and wonder. Laughter helps to connect us to one another and the joy in the world. If you’re struggling to see the good in the world, just spend a few minutes a day here – it’ll change your mind.
24. I love a good TV show- Breaking Bad, The Wire, Weeds, The Sopranos, Girls, Mad Men, Transparent, Parks & Recreation ...
I daren't even start Game of Thrones because there simply aren't enough hours in the day. Oh, and thanks to Jenji Kohan I'm now staying up late gorging on Orange Is The New Black. I swear, one of the phrase 'shall we just watch one more?' is a very overused one in our house.
25. I love talking concepts and theory – and can get very overly excited.
I could win gold in the geek Olympics.
26. I am unashamedly to the left and liberal in my politics.
I hate inequality and refuse to admit that the model of capitalism we have at the moment is the only way to go. You can check out where you stand politically with this brilliant tool – and compare yourself to key political figures (it’s also one in the eye for those who think Obama is a socialist – just look how close he is to Mitt Romney on the graph.)
27. I can get a bit ranty when it comes to issues of politics or inequality.
My husband says I should start a sister website called ‘Rant Bank’ where I can just vent about all the things in the world that piss me off. But I’m not sure how much good that would do the world – so for now it remains his job to listen to me (it’s part of the deal when we got married!)
28. Although I’m passionate about many political issues, a life in politics isn’t for me.
I had a very short lived period of being an activist and it sucked the life out of me. Politics can be nasty, personal and such a refined, controlled ‘game’ to many of those involved at a high level that I honestly think it’s broken right now. And it's so oppositional - there's no attempt to understand the other point of view. That being said, I’ve some really good friends who are still actively involved and remain lovely people so perhaps it was more about the fact that I simply wasn’t cut out for it. The world needs passionate people who are willing to get involved and I swing between feeling bad about not doing more and protecting my mental health.
29. I mainly read non-fiction books these days
As I’ve mentioned, I’m a total geek and am resigned to that fact. Positive psychology, coaching, personal development, a smattering of marketing & business (it’s like a foreign language to me most of the time so I’m cramming.) I don’t read as much fiction as I used to – Lord there’s not enough hours in the day!
When I do read fiction I love a bit of a dark thriller. I know I probably should be reading more literary stuff but there’s nothing like getting lost in something tense and well plotted to throw the rest of the world into some lovely light & airy contrast.
My all time favorite books are To Kill A Mockingbird, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, The Color Purple , The Signature Of All Things and Maya Angelou's Autobiography series.
30. I sit in the same seat every day at home
Even my kids comment on it – I’m such an advocate of embracing change & shunning routine in so many other areas of my life that it makes me laugh that I’m so attached to my seat at home.
31. I want to like herbal tea but I'm always disappointed by it
I seem to expect those fruity little bags to taste like hot Ribena and no matter how many I try it doesn’t!I've recently discovered 'proper' herbal tea - which is totally different from the bags of colored dust sold in supermarkets! It's proper dried fruit and herb - Blood Orange is a current favorite. Who knew?
32. I love a super chilled glass of white wine
I like to put raspberries in it at home – I like to pretend it’s for the antioxidants – but really that’s bollocks – it just looks pretty!
33. My favorite movies include Fight Club, Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction, Pride
I like films that are sharp, funny, sometimes dark and have a complexity to them.
34. I had an ongoing list of restorative, uplifting films on my Facebook page
suggested by people in the Work Happy community. It’s about those days when you know you just need to veg out and tune into something that’s going to lift you up and show you that the world’s an OK place to be. Recent suggestions have been The Shawshank Redemption, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Invictus, Roxanne, Forest Gump, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Up. Feel free to add your suggestions.
35. My favorite director is Danny Boyle
I’ve got a bit of an intellectual crush on him. The London Olympics Opening Ceremony was a work of awe inspiring beauty & genius – it was heartfelt and soulful and summed up what I really feel is great about Britain – our kindness, humor, welfare state, multiculturalism, innovation and music. Let me tell you, there’s a damn sight more to us than cream teas and Corgis.
36. I used to act.
In fact, I was on TV in a soap in England from the age of 15-18. I loved acting – but not enough to make the sacrifices that you have to make to have a shot of making it. I so admire people who do. You can still buy my publicity photo on eBay – it’s currently going for 99p with no watchers – so you can gauge my star power from that!
37. I have a fairly large tattoo of a lotus flower on my back
it’s about the size of my hand. It’s a cover up of a much smaller tattoo of a daisy I’d got done in San Francisco when I was in my mid 20s. I’d love to have more – I think tattoos can look beautiful.
38. I love karaoke
I kick arse at it but rarely do it (without a lot of booze inside me.) favourite karaoke tracks? Perfect by Fairground attraction or Love Shack by the B52s
39. I’m a frustrated musician
my husbands a really good guitarist and his best friend is a professional musician. I’m jealous and in awe of them. The nearest I get is singing in the car – I shudder to think what I must look like to people who pass me on the motorway.
40. I’m a TED addict.
Some of the world’s greatest minds share their distilled thoughts in a digestible form. It’s opened me up to some amazing people – Brene Brown (she’s a life changing GODDESS), Amy Cuddy, Alain De Botton, Dan Gilbert, OMG I could go on and on and on!
41. My daughter is named after two of the women I admire most in the world
My Mum - who's amazing and always taught me I should never be put off doing something just because I was a girl, and Maya Angelou who is such a formidable, wise spirit who taught me (via her books) that no matter what challenges we face, courage, spirit and determination can overcome them.
42. I always identify with the underdog
The messy, scatty, slightly uncomfortable one in the room. I’m driven to make the world that bit softer, warmer and calmer. It started off trying to work out the answers because I was that person in the room (still am.) Now I’m driven to share what I’ve learned, carry on discovering and help as many people as I can.
So that's it. It feels a bit self indulgent to be honest and I'm surprised at how easy it was to come up with that list! In fact I enjoyed it so much I'm tempted to change track with the blog and make it all about me.
Me, me, me, me, me!
I'm really wanting to let you see a bit more of the real human being behind all of this geekiness - But promise you'll let me know if it's too much and I'll keep the rest to strictly professional. Deal?