Darla Dernovsek

My day job is being a freelance writer. I’ve recently left an amazing company—The Alliance, which is a cooperative of employers working together to manage healthcare costs—though I will continue to do some projects for them. I’m looking forward to the chance to connect with new people and industries.

I’m especially excited to work with people in the credit union space again. Those people are so thrilled about the difference they’re making and so willing to share.

I love the storytelling aspect of writing and the opportunity to be part of something bigger.

I’m also going to be working on a fiction project based on the story of my paternal grandmother’s life. She grew up on a farm in northern Wisconsin and was the child of immigrants. She was bright and wanted to go to school but was expected to stay on the farm. My grandmother’s younger years did include one great adventure: hitchhiking to California with a friend, where she worked for a few months before returning to Wisconsin to become a farm wife.

I’ve been diving into that quite a bit lately: I’ll start researching and writing and suddenly it’s four hours later. It’s been a lot of fun!

My most memorable caffeine were the coffee and soft drinks I’d consume as a reporter when I was working on a daily newspaper. I remember one time on an election night: I’d been at the polls until 2:00 in the morning and had to be back at work just a few hours later. I’d had a lot more caffeine than I’ve ever consumed before. I remember going great guns, typing away, and when I stopped typing, my hands were still moving because I’d had so much caffeine.

My current caffeine of choice is typically none as I have a real love/hate relationship with caffeine based on how it makes me feel. When I do have something it tends to be a chai latte. To me spices are like magic—accessible magic! I love the mix of spice, tea and milk. My favorite non-caffeinated beverage is Tahitian Vanilla Hazelnut tea from Yogi.

My favorite place for caffeine is anywhere with some atmosphere that gives people a place to be together—to me it’s about the conversation as much as having something to drink. My dream location would be a library (i.e., one that would let me bring my beverage with me!).

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are my two grandmas: Hazel and Rose. Hazel was my mother’s mom; Rose was my father’s—and she’s the one I’m writing the book about.

My grandmothers actually spent quite a bit of time together because they shared two married couples among their various children. They were so different from each other, but there they’d be, sitting together and giggling away at a family gathering.

I’m sure they connected in ways that I know nothing about; they shared so many life crises that they must have built up a sense of trust between each other. It would be great to sit down with the two of them and get them to open up and tell me more of their stories.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  getting past the idea of “us” and “them.” It’s become so corrosive, the ways we separate ourselves from other people and vilify them. Seth Godin has a quote that captures it well, “They can become us as soon as we permit it.”

Sitting down over a cup of coffee might allow us to find our common areas of interest and thought and permit others to be loving and kind. My good friend, Gail, has taken to thanking people and using the word “kind” when she does. People just glow when you see and acknowledge their goodness.