I interviewed book and lifestyle blogger January Gray about her distinctive online reviews, her historical research and her use of meditation and chakras to deal with Graves’ Disease.
January: I think what makes my blog different from others is I review a large variety of genres. I read/review everything except romance, horror and paranormal. Although in full disclosure, I do slip in a romance from time to time. Also, I’m also known for my fairness and honesty. Writing is hard, and I’m not going to slam an indie author for minor errors. I read/review for both well-known established authors and indie authors, but my main focus are the indie authors.
For my Beauty and Brains blog, I like to focus on realistic lifestyle goals. I think the YouTube makeup tutorials that cover many products and take a while to apply, are more for the younger crowd, not the regular working woman or Mom. I also like to focus on products that are affordable, although I plan to start doing a Splurge Saturday, just for fun. For example, $500 Chanel Sunglasses that none of us will buy but can dream about.
Leslie: You also research the Holocaust. Can you say something about how you do it and how it started?
January: I think I started as most do, by reading The Diary of Anne Frank. It wasn’t until the internet came about that I learned of more books and diaries, and of Yad Vashem in Israel. I have been to that museum twice and have connected with the people who run it and work there. I currently help out with The Children of the Lodz Ghetto Project, where we try to trace what happened to the children who were held there.
Leslie: You have Graves’ disease. How does it affect you and what are the causes?
January: Graves’ disease is caused by a malfunction in the body’s disease-fighting immune system, although the exact reason why this happens is still unknown. Basically, this means my body does not recognize itself, so it attacks like it would the flu virus. It makes me very tired, dry skin, blurred vision.
Leslie: You have been seriously ill with thyroid storms. Can you describe, please, a typical attack and how you deal with it.
January: The thing about thyroid storms is I never know when they are going to happen. I could be feeling great one minute, and then the next very ill. They only last about ten minutes, but they are exhausting.
Leslie: How has Graves’ disease changed your outlook on life and the things you do?
January: It took so long for my Graves’ disease to be diagnosed, that I am just grateful that I know what is wrong with me, and how to handle it. Keeping stress levels down really helps, so I use a lot of essential oils.
Leslie: What have you learned from having a medical condition?
January: I appreciate the moments I feel great, and have learned that thyroid storms will pass.
Leslie: What have your learned about the world and about yourself from having Graves’ Disease and working on books, beauty therapy and historical research?
January: From Graves’ disease, I have learned that educating others about an invisible illness and having their understanding helps greatly. I have made some wonderful friends both on-line and off from my book reviewing, beauty blogging and Holocaust research. With all of the bad in the world, it is wonderful to find people you can relate to on many levels.
Leslie: When do you meditate and how do you prepare yourself to do it?
January: I meditate late afternoon, as that fits my schedule better. To prepare, I either run a portable heater or fan depending on the season. I sit or lounge in a comfortable position and focus on the noise of the heater/fan. Once I’ve calmed, I listen to ocean noises and just breathe.
Leslie: What are your best colours and chakras and how do you work with them?
January: I like to do a complete chakra cleanse at least once a month, but daily I focus on the 7th Chakra (Crown), which is the color Violet and is for peace/oneness. I feel if I keep that one cleared, it will help me handle life and all the rest.
January Gray also edits her own online paper THE BOOK LAMP READING ROOM which you can read here.
Next week prolific Welsh artist Penny Jones talks about her struggles to become a professional artist, her journey from landscape painting to abstraction and her courageous performance art.
ABOUT LESLIE TATE’S BOOKS:
- Heaven’s Rage is a memoir that explores addiction, cross-dressing, bullying and the hidden sides of families, discovering at their core the transformative power of words to rewire the brain and reconnect with life. “A Robin Red breast in a Cage / Puts all Heaven in a Rage” – William Blake. You can read more about/buy Heaven’s Rage here.
- Purple is a coming-of-age novel, a portrait of modern love and a family saga. Set in the North of England, it follows the story of shy ingénue Matthew Lavender living through the wildness of the 60s and his grandmother Mary, born into a traditional working-class family. You can read more about/buy Purple here.
- Blue tells the story of Richard and Vanessa Lavender, who join a 90s feminist collective sharing childcare, political activism and open relationships. You can read more about/buy Blue here.
- Violet is about late-life love. It begins in 2003 with Beth Jarvis and James Lavender on a blind date in a London restaurant. Attracted by James’s openness, Beth feels an immediate, deep connection between his honesty and her own romantic faith. From then on they bond, exchanging love-texts, exploring sea walks and gardens and sharing their past lives with flashbacks to Beth’s rural childhood and her marriage to a dark, charismatic minister… Signed copies of Violet can be bought here.
- The Dream Speaks Back, written by Sue Hampton, Cy Henty and Leslie Tate, is a joint autobiography exploring imagination and the adult search for the inner child. The book looks at gender difference, growing up in unusual families and mental health issues. It’s also a very funny portrait of working in the arts, full of crazy characters, their ups and downs, and their stories. You can buy a signed copy of The Dream Speaks Back here.