Over the weekend, I put out the call for questions on Facebook. The response was great, with lots of thoughtful questions spanning many different topics. I’ve picked my favourites and answered them below. It was a pretty nice way to ease into the week!
RADICAL SELF LOVE
Q. What’s your go-to for banishing self-doubt & defeating thoughts? — Ashley
A. Tapping. It’s still the best tool I have for getting myself out of a mental or emotional funk.
Q. Does RSL include taking care of your body? If I love eating junk food and eating is something I enjoy, but I also know it harms me, how do I deal? It goes for smoking and having drinks… How do I create a balance? How do I really start loving myself to the point of NOT doing things that I know are harmful? — Damaris
A. Firstly, stop beating yourself up for eating junk food. It’s okay. Sometimes, all you really want in life is a Snickers bar, and that’s fine! The first step is forgiveness. Lighten up!
My advice is that if you want to stop eating that stuff, smoking, or drinking, you need to look at your motivations. What is it that makes you want to eat shitty processed food? Is it comforting? Does it feel like a reward? Does it remind you of childhood? The same thing goes for smoking and drinking: what do smoking and drinking give you that you feel are valuable?
I smoked from the age of 13 to 26. I quit cold turkey, and now I can see that I used cigarettes as a way of preventing people from getting too close to me. It literally creates a smoke-screen between you and other people! Have a think about your habits. Once you figure out what benefit they give you, you’ll be more aware of your own behaviour, which will help you to make healthier choices.
And remember, it is a gradual process. Most people don’t wake up one day and completely transform their habits. Pay attention to how you feel when you don’t smoke, eat more greens, and put the bag of chips back on the shelf. It makes you feel amazing. But the process takes time, and that’s okay. All that matters is that you make the effort.
Q. What’s your best advice for girls in their early twenties trying to get life figured out? — Lauren
A. Don’t take life too seriously. Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. Make yourself proud. Experiment. Try new things. Do something that makes you happy. If your job sucks, quit. Take risks. Travel alone. Keep a journal. Don’t concern yourself with other people’s expectations. Listen to your intuition. Don’t settle down. Have wild love affairs. Make mistakes. Spend time by yourself. Discover the world: it’s beautiful, and there’s no rush.
Q. How scary was it for you moving abroad to NYC, and what advice would you give to people like myself who dream of living abroad someday? — Mary
A. It wasn’t scary at all. Usually, our fear comes from analysis paralysis, and the very best way to deal with fear is to just take action — any kind of action. I didn’t have any time to analyse my situation, which was definitely an advantage. I essentially started living in the USA by accident — I came over for a party and decided to stay! — and once I’d make the decision not to go home, it was simply a matter of figuring out the best way to do that. Moving to NYC happened instantly: once my feet touched the ground at JFK, the city never let me go!
I’ve written extensively on moving overseas. Have a gander at If Your Dream Is To Move To New York City, Lonely And Drifting: The Flipside Of Being An International Playgirl, and Want To Move To NYC? An International Playgirl Tells You How! My biggest piece of advice would be to never let fear dictate the way you live your life. We only get one shot, and you might as well spend it somewhere that lights up your heart.
Q. Super shallow (!) but if there was a fire in your apartment, what are the five things you would grab as you ran out the door? (Apart from husband and dogs!) — Karen
A. Good question. I don’t think I’d take anything except my laptop! To explain: I’m not a very sentimental person. I don’t have any meaningful possessions I couldn’t do without. I suppose I might, at some stage, miss some of the stuff I’ve accumulated in the last six years, but it is just stuff, and really, who cares? I’ve moved around so much, and often with just one suitcase, so I know I can live with nothing. It doesn’t affect my quality of life one iota!
Q. What do you eat? Like daily. — Dana
A. I’m pretty routine, and I find eating the same thing every day kind of comforting. For breakfast, I’ll have oatmeal with almond milk, hardboiled eggs, or Greek yoghurt with raspberries, and all three if I’m working out really hard. I also love cacao smoothies, green juice, and yerba mate tea with almond milk. For lunch, I usually eat salmon with saffron rice and green beans, or I’ll have a big salad (spinach with lots of vegetables, plus chicken), or a grilled turkey sandwich. For dinner, my favourite thing is grilled chicken breast with sauteed greens and couscous, but I’m obsessed with turkey burgers, too. My favourite thing to snack on is guacamole (I make the best guacamole) with corn chips… And I eat ice-cream probably every second day.
Q. What kind of fitness regime do you follow? — Sophie
A. I do Pilates twice a week, weight-training three days a week, and I walk at least two miles a day. If I’m not writing, I’m on my feet, walking pretty much everywhere — I don’t live anywhere near a subway stop, and I only take cabs if I’m going higher than 30th Street (which rarely happens).
Q. Best piece of relationship/marriage advice? — Sophie
A. Have real, meaningful conversations. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth about how you feel. Leave your bad mood elsewhere: don’t walk through the door like a little stormcloud. Do your best to make yourself and your partner happy every single day. And have sex. A lot.
BLOGGING AND BUSINESS
Q. Do you ever scream at your blog and consider stopping it all together? I’d love to know if there has ever been a moment where you’ve decided this might just be time to move into something new? — Sue
A. When I first started my blog, it was really, really hard. I wasn’t making any money, and I couldn’t see the path; I wanted to quit every month. Thankfully, my boyfriend (Si) would talk me off the ledge every time, and encouraged me to keep going. Now I’ve been doing it for almost eight years, and I’ve learned that those feelings of dread and doubt are normal. They come and go, but even though they’re not permanent, I learn from them every time. The most important thing (for me) is to use those feelings as fuel to shake things up. It’s those down moments that inspire me to make changes, and try new things.
Q. How do you deal with the haters? Does it ever get you down, and how do you restore your energy (protect your magic, even?) in the face of cyber viciousness? — Emma
A. Such a good question. I have a little something to share with you on Wednesday all about the subject! Keep your eyes peeled!
Q. Is blogging more of a job or a passion? — Grace
A. It’s a pretty even split. I’m absolutely passionate about it, and thinking about it all the time, from a creative angle. Having said that, it is also how I put food on the table, so it would be disingenuous for me to say that I am in no way strategic about the content I create or the image I put forward. I would like to think that I am very measured and thoughtful when it comes to my business and my brand.
Q. When you started blogging as a business, how much time did you spend per week marketing yourself? I find blogging is one thing I can keep up with but following others on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ etc and commenting and trying to gain readership is more difficult. How would you recommend dividing time? — Scarlett
A. For the first two years, I was basically online 24/7, blogging, commenting, tweeting (there was no Instagram or public Facebook back then), and eating, sleeping, breathing my blog. I had no life, but I didn’t mind, because — except for moments of doubt — I loved it. I wasn’t very strategic about how I engaged with people, I just did it. A lot.
You have to remember that my situation was different to most people’s: I started my blog because I had no job, and so a) I had all the time in the world to mess around on the internet, and b) if I didn’t commit myself thoroughly, I knew I wouldn’t make any money. The stakes were high, and it forced me to take it seriously. P.S. Do not — I repeat, do not — quit your job to start a blog! Ever!
Back to your question: I would recommend making yourself a checklist. There will be things you need to do every day (blog posts, answer comments, respond to emails), some you do three times a week (retweet other people’s stuff, post Instagrams), and some you do once a week (find new people to follow, email potential collaborators, brush up on skills). That will help to keep you on track.
Q. As a writer, you have basically “made it”. You are earning a mad living from writing & teaching. You have a ton of readers who your words inspire. So how do you raise the bar higher from there? How does Gala Darling continue to improve when she’s already achieved what many writers will only dream of? What is next for you? — Steff
A. Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say… But I don’t see myself that way at all. Like, not even close. I have so far to go! I see myself as someone who has managed to make the blogging thing work, but that is only Level 1 of what I want to accomplish! The next phase supersedes the online world. Speaking and teaching is a big part of that, and also making physical products: real, beautiful, tangible things that you can touch, see, and carry with you. I’m beyond excited about it!
Q. How do you stay true to Gala Darling the person and how does that relate to Gala Darling the brand and Gala Darling the headmistress of the Blogcademy? — Brit
A. They’re all one and the same, and that’s the benefit of being REAL, both online and in your personal life: there’s no “story” to keep straight! There is some differentiation, though: Gala Darling the person has bad days, and can be angry, impatient, irritated, etc., while Gala Darling the brand is my highest self. I still share when I’m having a rough time, but only if I think it will help my audience in some way. There’s no sense in airing all your dirty laundry online: as we say at The Blogcademy, don’t be a car-crash blogger!
Q. How many people are on your team? — Dana
A. Officially? Just me. But I have people I call on regularly. My husband helps with design, my ex-boyfriend Si helps with the back-end technical stuff of the site, Shauna does my design work, and I have a lawyer, an accountant, and a manager. Plus, we have The Blogcademy, which is another kettle of fish entirely. I need to hire a virtual assistant, badly!
Q. Your photos are always amazing on your blog, do you travel with a photographer? — Angie
A. I wish! Kat, Shauna and I are always carrying cameras and we snap as much as we can (and we’re not precious about sharing our photos with each other, which is great!). We often meet up with a photographer wherever we go, which is our chance to get some professional shots. They’re thrilled to be featured on Kat’s site, too, because it’s full of people looking for a wedding photographer! Win/win!
Q. What has the shift been like moving from an online fashion based blog into more dynamic opportunities like Blogacademy & the RSL Salon? I have been a reader since 2010 and from this end it seemed like big change happened all at once for you, how did you deal with that sort of change? PS. Will you be dying your hair a radical new color soon? lol — Cara
A. The shift has been fantastic! I’m so much happier now doing this than I was when I was more focussed on fashion. I love clothing, shopping, and styling, but I quit going to fashion week years ago. I would rather be known as a woman who does a lot of work around radical self love, and who just happens to have interesting style, than to be known for my style alone. Or, “You’re that girl with the pink hair.” That’s very shallow to me. I still enjoy sharing my fashion and beauty discoveries, but I don’t want to write about it for a living.
It did happen quickly, and I think a lot of it was Saturn return stuff. I wanted to stop living my life online and get out into the real world, and it has been magnificent. I love change, so maybe I am an anomaly! As for my hair, watch this space!
Q. How do you stop lipstick from smearing on your teeth constantly? — Jay
A. Haha, I love this question! Here’s the trick: apply your lipstick liberally, and blot it with a tissue (if you want to). Then, gently purse your lips (like you’re puckering up for a kiss), and push your index finger into your mouth. When you pull it out, it’ll have lipstick all over it, which would have otherwise ended up on your teeth! TA-DA!
Q. I want to start reading poetry, but I don’t know where to begin! Do you have any recommendations? — Lauren
A. Yes! I’m so excited for you. Poetry is a whole new wonderful world. Some of my favourite poets are Charles Bukowski, ee cummings, Richard Brautigan, Rumi, and Pablo Neruda. (Click their names, I linked to some of my favourite poems.)
Q. Favourite Books/s? — Kristy
A. I just read Francesca Lia Block’s Beyond The Pale Motel and loooooved it, and yesterday I bought second-hand copies of all of Jonathan Ames’ novels because I think he is hilarious. My favourite books of all time are Dangerous Angels, American Psycho, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, Lolita, Fear Of Flying, and The Witches.
Have an exceptional week, babes!
Love and ladybugs,
Photo by Corey Sleap.