Ilana Georgeff

Ilana grew up in home where she remained quiet.  Now she's taking her long Instagram posts to a blog.

Take us back to you as a kid. I am the youngest of four. My mother is German (loud), my father is Macedonian and grew up with three brothers (loud), and my three older siblings were very active and outgoing (loud). So in such a loud home, it was easy to be quiet. I didn’t have a voice for a long long time. I didn’t even talk to people besides family members until I was 5! I finally found a voice; a voice that was also loud and obnoxious and bold. A bit too much. This is also when I started journaling and writing a lot. Helped me use my voice in a way that I felt was manageable.

Ever since I was young I have been very perceptive and empathetic and sensitive. I liked to be outside and I liked to read and I found myself practicing speeches and spoken word in my room (I’ve never actually told anyone that before). I’d say I had a pretty average childhood. :) My parents were loving and my siblings were supportive. I’ve had a life of sickness and suffering, but ultimately a life of blessing and joy, too.

"So in such a loud home, it was easy to be quiet."

Walk us through the days leading up to starting your blog. The days leading up to starting my blog were long and sleepless. I guess my days are still kind of like that. I often feel so full of words and essays and it’s so uncomfortable until I get them on paper. I started writing when I was teensy as therapy and never stopped. It’s healthy. It’s part of me.

The days leading up to starting my blog were also full of conviction to share my story. My life has been very full. I’ve experienced a lot and because of that I am able to relate to anyone. It’s a blessing. I felt deep down that it was time for me to start publicly sharing the things I’ve learned.

A few months ago, my brother said to my sister, “When is Ilana going to start a blog? Her long instagram posts are so obnoxious.” And at first I was so so offended by this. But it pushed me to actually create, so now I’m thankful for those harsh words. See what I mean about the loud family? Jeesh. Everyone is so stinkin opinionated and sometimes not very tactful. Love them though, wouldn’t trade them for anything.

"It’s vulnerable and intimate and really uncomfortable sometimes."

What have been the challenges? Who and what has helped? It’s challenging to put your work out there. It’s hard to believe that it’s good enough sometimes. It’s vulnerable and intimate and really uncomfortable sometimes. But it’s good. It’s been cool for me to learn that even if my words aren’t always extravagant or eloquent or exciting, they’re still important. It’s still important to share them. My friend Liz has really helped. She’s good at encouraging you in your dreams. She pushes you to create.

Talk to us about one of your good days this week. Today was a really good day for me! I read and sipped coffee almost all day. I then made a new friend and volunteered at Ruth Harbor. I helped make dinner for the women and then hung out with them and their babies. I’ve been wanting to volunteer so badly lately. I’m trying to focus much less on myself and more on others. It felt good to spend my friday night with all new people. It feels good to get over yourself.

Someone is starting a project for the first time, what would you want to say to them? I’d say to just go for it! If you like it, do it. If we live in fear, nothing will ever get done. Be bold. Talk to people about your project and when they say encouraging words (they will, I promise) accept those words and rest in them.

"If we live in fear, nothing will ever get done. Be bold."

Why Des Moines? I fell in love with the people. I have friendships I always prayed I’d have. I dont know. I believe some of the greatest people you could ever meet live here.

Convince someone new to DSM your favorite place to go on your day off. As cliche as it is, I love to go to the art center. Some weeks I’m there two or three times. It’s comforting to be surrounded by art and history and emotions conveyed in pieces or exhibits. I go there whenever I want to be alone but not lonely. The architecture of the building itself is incredible, so full of light. Plus there are trails behind the art center so after looking at art you can go look at nature!

The most underrated thing in DSM is ________.  Definitely the thrift stores. They are packed full with gems and treasures. I always hit the jackpot. Our thrift stores are some of the best I’ve ever seen!

"I’ve learned to turn sour lemons into sweet lemonade."

What are you most proud of and why? This is a tough question for me and I’m not really sure why. Hmm. I think the thing I’m most proud of is myself. I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go. We never stop growing, I suppose. But I’ve learned to turn sour lemons into sweet lemonade, and for that I am grateful and proud.

What’s one thing people need to know you really care about? I really care about people. Sometimes I think I love people too much, but in a world so hardened and cold and barren, love is incredibly important. I believe stories are important. We must share them. I believe in you and all of your dreams. You must fight for them. You must fight for yourself and you must fight for your brothers and sisters. You must fight to do what is right, always.

Derek Jensen