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Erika Christakis

Teacher, writer. I have spent the majority of my life in happy proximity to young children.

WHAT’S YOUR MOTTO?

Procrastination is underrated.

WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?

Lip balm, candle, glasses, leaning tower of books, iPhone, dust.

WHAT GIVES YOU GOOSE BUMPS?

Nature (trees, especially).

WHAT IS YOUR BAD DAY BACKUP PLAN?

The wedding episode of “Outlander” and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

My husband’s love.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

Reaching a deeper understanding of someone or something.

BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

Remember that life generally grows more rewarding with each decade, and most people seem to get happier with age. This advice has really helped me to frame my narrative about myself at key stages of potential vulnerability, such as early adulthood and, later, during motherhood and menopause. Knowing that my happiness quotient would likely increase, not contract, has enabled me to be generous with my past mistakes and hopeful about my future.

BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER GIVEN?

I’m not sure this is my ‘best’ advice but it’s my consistent advice: Don’t compromise on love. Jobs come and go, even careers come and go. Those experiences are more interchangeable and more replaceable than generally acknowledged. But a strong relationship is worth making a sacrifice for; it can set you up for life.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW THAT YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT?

A new book and the real-world experiences fueling it.

HOW DO YOU PRESS PAUSE?

Give or receive a hug.

WHAT DID YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF LOVE DOING?

Reading books about disobedient children.

IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE MAGIC POWER WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Invisibility.

WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT?

I would like to say, “seeing my children miserable makes me forget to eat,” but the real answer is: nothing.

WHAT 3 THINGS WOULD YOU GRAB IN A FIRE?

All my loved ones, human and canine. My laptop, because I always forget to back it up. And an album of letters I received on my 50th birthday from five decades of friends, family, and colleagues. That priceless gift was like attending my own funeral! Couldn’t part with it.

WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE – YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE?

Facing, and growing from, public derision.

FAVORITE WORD?

“Oafish.” It makes people smile.

FAVORITE WORK OF ART?

Picasso’s “First Steps.” It’s a painting I recently discovered at the Yale University Art Gallery that really captures the power of a young child who feels loved and secure. What captivates me most is the child’s strong and very assertive left foot, with its curled toes, and the caregiver (mother?) tenderly clasping the baby’s right hand. The image is especially moving to me because Picasso painted it during the Nazi occupation of Paris; the look on the woman’s face is actually quite sorrowful. But the child is nonetheless protected by her love. Such a great lesson about what children really need from grownups!

FAVORITE BOOK?

I love Pride and Prejudice because it was the first book that allowed me to see my inner life as part of a much bigger human project. I couldn’t believe that a 19th century British writer could so perfectly read my mind and channel my emotions. I adored the epic Norwegian trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter for the same reason. For non-fiction, nothing beats a good George Orwell essay. My favorite is “Such, Such Were the Joys.”

To learn more about Erika, check out her website www.ErikaChristakis.com and follow her on:

Erika Christakis

I wish you all the best,

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