Happiness Interview: Katie Rosman.
I couldn’t wait to read Katie Rosman’s book, If You Knew Suzy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Reporter’s Notebook, because I remembered reading with great interest her original piece for the Wall Street Journal, Over the Internet, Into My Mom’s Heart: Unlocking a parent’s passion and the community that sustained her. (Also, we share an editor, which gives you a fellow feeling akin to being from the same hometown!)
After her beloved mother died of cancer, Katie, in her grief, found that she wanted to know more about her mother’s life and choices, and because she was a reporter, she started reporting on her mother’s life. This memoir is about what she discovered — and also about the relationship between mothers and daughters, and what we know and don’t know about the people we love, plus a bit about the worlds of Pilates instructors and glass collectors (her mother’s passions).
Whenever I read a biography or a memoir, I love to see photos, and you can see photos of Suzy and Katie on Katie’s author website.
Gretchen: What’s a simple activity that consistently makes you happier?
Katie: I like to sleep. I like to take naps. When an adult sleeps during the day, it’s often looked down upon as slothful and lazy. And I think working parents are often made to feel like every second they are not in the office should be earmarked for the kids. I love my kids. But I love taking naps too.
If you’re feeling blue, how do you give yourself a happiness boost?
I like to sit in a pretty spot in my house by a window, put on music and write. When it’s working well, the words pour out of my head and through my fingertips. Sometimes I like the process of writing. Other times I don’t: I struggle though it knowing that on the other side, I am going to find clarity and relief. Sometimes I love writing. Other times, I love having written. Throughout the writing of my book, I swung wildly between these poles. But happiness always came at the end of the day, both because I was creating something I was proud of and because I was working through some of the issues related to loss that had plagued me.
Is there anything that you see people around you doing or saying that adds a lot to their happiness, or detracts a lot from their happiness?
When my kids get all worked up into a lather of frustration and exhaustion, I will walk them (if it’s not the dead of winter) right out the door and into our yard. The sounds distract them. The air calms them. It underscores for me the connection between humans and nature. When we re-enter the house, we’re all feeling a lot better.
Have you always felt about the same level of happiness, or have you been through a period when you felt exceptionally happy or unhappy – if so, why? If you were unhappy, how did you become happier?
I ride the rollercoaster; I am up and down and have been for most of my life. I am able to get myself out of ruts more quickly as I get older and better understand that the swings are part of who I am. I can remind myself, This too shall pass.
Do you work on being happier? If so, how?
I think I work on my happiness all the time, though it’s not always a conscious “Let’s
Get Happy!” impulse. I am someone who examines my life, who needs to live an
examined life. My original impetus to devote a year to reporting on my mom’s life came
from a personal curiosity to understand why she had conducted herself as she did in the
face of death. I needed to understand for my own peace of mind. And to me that what
happiness is. It’s peace.
* I’m getting a lot of vicarious satisfaction from reading about Sarah Fain’s kitchen renovation on Starfish Envy. Is anything as delicious as a good before-and-after?
* I send out short, free monthly newsletters that highlight the best of the previous month’s posts to about 42,000 subscribers. If you’d like to sign up, click here or email me at gretchenrubin1 [at] gmail.com. Just write “newsletter” in the subject line.)