Rise & Shine Interview: Jodee Blanco

Continuing with the topic of journaling, I decided to ask an inspiring author who turned her high-school journal into a book. I'm excited that today, Jodee Blanco, is “Speaking From the Heart” and sharing her experiences with all of us. I read Jodee's book in 2003 when it was newly released. Having a role model who wrote about her experiences as a survivor of bullying, she encouraged me to do the same.

Survivor, expert and activist Jodee Blanco is  one of America's pre-eminent voices  on the subject of bullying. She is the  author of TheNew York Times bestselling memoir, Please Stop Laughing At Me . . . One Woman’s Inspirational Story. A  chronicle of her years as the student outcast, the book inspired a movement  among bullying victims everywhere of all ages--in middle and high schools, on  college campuses, at the workplace, and at home, who fill auditoriums and  gymnasiums coast to coast to hear Blanco speak on how they too can reclaim  their dignity and their lives. Referred to by many as “the anti-bullying  bible,” it is required reading in hundreds of middle and high schools and  numerous universities and professional organizations throughout the country. Read her interview below.

(c) Jodee Blanco
(c) Jodee Blanco

Why do you believe self-expression (speaking from the heart) is important?

Telling the truth keeps a heart pure and clean, it allows for clarity of spirit.  Those who don't speak from the heart will become burdened emotionally by all they don't say, and after years of holding back, it can poison your soul.

How has writing empowered you in other areas of your life?

Writing has empowered me in every aspect of my life.  It's given me a place to vent and make sense of pain, it's allowed me to turn my pain into purpose by helping others, and it's provided a focus that gives me great joy.  Readers tell me my books saved their lives, and every time I hear that, I think, it is YOU who have saved my life by allowing me the gift of writing them for you.

How did you find your authentic voice through writing?

I'm a stark writer, meaning I write directly from the soul.  I don't use flowery language or qualify feelings or emotions.  I tell the story and let the authenticity of the words speak for themselves.  When I'm writing, it's not like the story is coming from me, it's as if I'm pulling it through me from a higher power.  I believe God works through writers, artists, musicians, creative people.  Expression of truth is sacred to me.  As long as you always tell the truth, you can't help but be authentic. 

How did you develop the courage to stand tall (i.e., get the courage to share your writing)?

I think the courage was always inside me, it just needed to find the right outlet.


When you have a hard time writing, what do you do to work through it?

All writers experience writer's block, or sometimes just plain old garden variety exhaustion where their brains need a rest.  When I get to that point, I turn off my computer, and do something self-nurturing like a long walk on the beach, a hot bath, or when I'm really, REALLY stressing over a specific section of a book, I go out and buy candles and bath products, my secret vice ha ha.  Also, sometimes I'll go to the Whole Foods market and get all fresh greens and veggies and make myself a macrobiotic meal, full of healthy, live, sprouted foods.  That helps a lot. 

How did you find your support group?

Most of my support group consist of my former bullies, the kids who tormented me all through school.  A group of them have rallied around me ever since I wrote the book, and have been there for me whenever I need support.  It's one of the reasons I advocate forgiveness so much, because these friends, who at one point in my life sent me home in tears on the bus every day, are now among the most loving, caring people in my life.  Never say never.  God always has a plan that might surprise you. 

Any advice for new writers/authors?

Yes, this may sound strange, but it works.  Take acting classes, especially improvisational theater classes.  It helps you understand character from the inside out, and helps you to learn how to think on your feet in the moment.  It gives you a wonderful edge when writing dialogue too.  And every author must be able to get up in front of an audience and speak. Acting classes give you that ability.  I studied acting for twenty years, and did theater all my life.  It has been the greatest asset in my writing career. 

Thanks for speaking from your heart and empowering others around the world, Jodee! Keep up the fantastic work! If you have any specific questions for Jodee, please feel free to ask

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One question that came to my mind after reflecting on what Jodee said was, “How do you take time in your life to nurture yourself?” Many people struggle with this, so I’m reaching out to you all and asking for your input.  Looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

Thank you for reading and your presence at this beach retreat. You Rock! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below.

See you at the beach!