If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you know that the Rockstar Series is my favorite thing about Drunk on Opportunity. I’m especially excited to present today’s rockstar to you: Mikaela Conley. Not only is Mikaela an accomplished journalist, a loving sister/daughter/friend, avid yogi, and excellent adventure buddy; she’s making the internet a more positive place. A few years ago, Mikaela started The Daily Saint – a blog that spotlights people and organizations doing good in everyday settings. It’s definitely brightened my day more than once – I hope you’ll check it out!
Enough of me, let’s hear from Mikaela.
Who are you?
My name is Mikaela Conley and I’m a New York-based journalist. I come from the land of Live Free or Die country (i.e. New Hampshire). I report mostly on health issues, including reproductive rights (on a domestic and global scale), addiction, and infectious disease.
What’s important to you?
Hmm, there are lots of things, of course, but a few that jump out are: Family and friends, human rights and dignity, yoga, public health, travel (as far and wide as possible), Julie Andrews singalongs, thrift stores, listening (particularly when you don’t want to), words and books, health (mind/body/soul and all that jazz), music, Kurt Vonnegut wisdom, The Daily Saint.
What does a day in the life look like?
A day-in-the-life for me is always different, especially when I’m traveling a lot, but there are a few things I do nearly every day that give me a sense of routine. I’m an early riser. (I almost always wake up between 5:30 and 7 each day.) News, in some capacity, usually fills my day (sometimes unfortunately, depending what’s going on in the world). I write, in some capacity, on a daily basis, and always try to take at least a half hour to return to whatever book I’m reading. I do yoga almost every day, and sometimes another type of exercise, as well (i.e. running, climbing, hiking, etc.). I usually talk with my mom, dad, sisters, and friend Kate in some capacity every day.
You write about health issues, but what does “healthy” mean for you?
I grew up in a very active family. I remember going on jogs with my dad when I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. They instilled in my sisters and me a sense of physical well-being and sense of wonder for nature at an early age, bringing us hiking and skiing in the White Mountains, taking us on trail runs along the Appalachian Trail behind our house and night swims in Lake Winnipesaukee. I’m so grateful for that, because exercise never feels like a chore — It’s something I look forward to in my day. Still, I think true healthiness begins in one’s mind, outlook, and emotional state. Practicing gratitude and self-care, honoring and working toward your personal hopes and dreams (not the ones that your parents set for you, nor the ones society tells you to pursue but the ones that continue to creep into your mind, even when you make your best efforts to push them aside), and finding sense of calm and peace ultimately contribute to a healthy physical self, as well.
I’m also a big believer in surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good, people who are motivating and kind and smart and fun, the ones who genuinely want to see you succeed (and those whom you want to see succeed, as well), and the ones who show up at your door when you’re at your worst (and vice versa).
And of course: Healthy, whole foods and regular exercise are important aspects to overall health, as well. Being sure to stay updated with regular screenings and exams are also key. And it’s always important to be your own health advocate.
The news cycle can be pretty stressful, what do you do to de-stress? What brings you peace?
Yoga and running are pivotal parts of my post-work routine, especially with this new administration. Every day feels like a new type of chaos, and that can be wearing on the brain and the body. Music, the good humans in my life, books, traveling and unplugging (literally and figuratively) are also all things that bring me a sense of groundedness.
Tell me about The Daily Saint.
I started The Daily Saint a few years ago as a simple Tumblr blog after the Boston Marathon bombings. Having grown up in New Hampshire, I have a lot of friends in the Boston area, many of whom were at the marathon that day. The news stories that continued to grow in the days following that tragic event were winding and Dickensian. People kept saying, “You can’t make this shit up,” as Boston PD continued the manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers. What I noticed throughout that chaotic time, though, were all the good news stories that went viral in those days following the attacks. People were clinging to goodness in the face of an absolute horror show that was playing out before our eyes on TV and social media. So I started collecting those good-news stories and posting them on my new blog, not really even sure why I was doing it. I received emails from people a few days later telling me that reading the posts made them feel better about humanity, themselves, etc. And so The Daily Saint was born. (I created the title from part of a Kurt Vonnegut passage: “By saints I meant people who behaved decently in a strikingly indecent society.”) I try to post at least one story a day about a person or people doing good things for one another. I’ve gone on two different solo cross-country road trips to find Daily Saints, and I’ve been working on a book for a while now about my travels and the good people I met along the way. In this current political and cultural climate, it feels that we need to be reminded of the goodness in one another more than ever.
Follow Mikaela and The Daily Saint on Instagram @thedailyst and @mikaelaconley9; on twitter @thedailyst and @mikaelaconley and on tumblr at thedailyst.com