Mindy Aisling, 38, at her office

Because Erin is pumped about this project and wants to get some other people pumped out it, too, she introduced me to Mindy. And she did so with very high praise. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Mindy and I found it very difficult to not smile as she spoke because everything about her was smiling. If you have the space to do it, I highly recommending listening to this interview because so much of Mindy’s positivity comes through in how she speaks. Keep an eye out for Mindy and say hi when you do see her. I guarantee you’ll be better for it. And if you are in the market for a life coach, she might be the one for you. 

Who are you and how would you describe yourself?

My name is Mindy Aisling. Professionally, my title is Community Relations Coordinator for downtown Bend. I would describe myself as passionate, vulnerable, excited. 

Where do you come from?

So, I am originally from Southern California. I grew up in a little town called Ojai, right outside of Santa Barbara. Then I kind of floated around a bit - I lived in Maui for a couple years. Went back to Southern California and San Diego for a little bit. I ended up in Bellingham, Washington, which I loved. And I was there for a really, really long time. And then I got engaged and my fiancee got a job on the Olympic Peninsula. He's a chemistry teacher. So we went and lived out there for a few years. We came here. We loved it. I have a son who - he's a freshman in high school right now - was going into junior high and I wanted to leave Port Angeles before that happened. So we relocated and we've been in Bend now for three years. I don't see myself ever leaving Bend. I love Bend. I love the Pacific Northwest in general. The culture is great here. But it's certainly nice to be on this side of the mountains and experiencing some more sun. So I would love to put my roots down and stay in Bend. 

What motivates you?

That's an interesting question because I notice that my natural state of being is excitement. Like, I wake up excited. And when there's times in my life that that's not happening, it's like a red flag. It's like, hey, wait a second. What's not in alignment in my life? And I would say that I'm excited about everything. My cup of coffee in the morning - I like to get my coffee and go stand on my porch for a couple minutes in my pajamas in the morning. I love the work that I do - all the work that I do. Even though I don't have a huge friend community here in Bend yet, I love people. I love doing things. There's very few things that I dread. You know, there was a time in my life when that wasn't the case. So maybe part of it is that I make wiser choices that are more in alignment with my values and choose jobs and places and people that are in alignment with my values and part of it is that I've gotten better at seeing the gifts quicker, right? I don't know if you know that quote - it's something like, Somebody once gave me a box of darkness and it took me a long time to realize that that, too, was a gift. And I love that theory, right, that everything's okay. And if I don't think it's okay, then it's my job to keep looking around to find out why this came into my life. So I think that helps me get over these situations that might be negative or dreadful - looking at it that way. And not, like we talked about earlier, in this painted cloud type of way, but really why is this in my life? How can this transform me even if it's something that I didn't want, I didn't expect? 

I would say that I've always been a seeker, like I was born a seeker. It's just part of who I am. And then, I didn't have a great childhood. And I actually didn't have a great first marriage. The beginning part on my own was, like, rough (laughs). And I remember just thinking that there's gotta be a better way, like this can't be it. Are you kidding me? Everybody's just living this life of feeling isolated and hardship and punch the clock and go to sleep, wake up... this can't be it. No. So I just really started searching for what was the bigger story out there. Right? It sounds worse than I mean it, but that just seemed like a shitty way to spend the rest of my existence. So if there wasn't something else, I was like, Go all the way or bust! (Laughs) Like I have to find this something else. I tried churches, I lived in an ashram in India for a summer, I went to psychics. I just tried to expose myself to anybody who said they had the answer. And then I just kind of came away from all those bits and pieces with my own way of being. I think I would say I still have a lot of questions, but not like back then. I feel more at peace. 

What does community mean to you? 

The first thing that came to my mind was community is something I have to be grateful for. And the reason why is I find a lot of joy in being in service to others. So, being a mom and a wife - I love cooking and cleaning and paying the bills. All that boring stuff has become kind of like this gift. I don't know how to describe it. Let me think about this more. I know it's service-based and I know that feeling I have for myself or my family - it's the same feeling I have in community. I know what it is - you allow me to show up. What a huge gift. Like, if you weren't there, who would be witnessing this? Without you, or you, or you, what am I? I'm not witnessed at all. I can't be heard. I can't be seen. Phew, tremendous gratitude. That's what I think community means to me. 

What's going on with the people that seem to totally disagree with that and seem to be consumed with greed? 

It's funny that you ask that question because in coaching I have clients come to me all the time and it's like, what's your goal? Oh, I want to make a lot of money. I want to make six figures working two days a week. You know? But it's like, okay, but what do you really want? And that's kind of what you're asking. When people are chasing all these things, whether it's so many likes, so many friends, so much money, I think that's a strategy not a need. And I think that the part that's missing, I would say, is vulnerability. Because if you can just focus out here on the strategies and be like, Oh yeah, well, I make good money and my business is really successful. That's happening all out here, right? If I have to go and open myself up and say, I need you here to witness me. And if you're not here, I don't feel like I can show up. That's vulnerable. And so I think we live in a culture where it's like, Oh, buy this pill to do this and take this course - Seven Secrets to Your Six-Figure Life - and it's all these solutions so that you don't ever have to be vulnerable, you don't ever have to really open yourself up, connect with people, and it's like, Great, I'll do that. Because people, I think they're missing the recipe that a meaningful life is created from hardship, sadness, struggle, joy, bliss, like the whole range of human experiences. But people think that they just want a happy life. I'll just not feel those things. I'll just take the pill. I'll take the course. I'll do this. And I don't know if this is true or not, but that's the answer that came to me when you said that. They're just trying to get the same things that I am, but they're taking a different path to it. (Laughs) I don't think it's the right path. I don't think it's gonna work! But that's my opinion, right? Who knows? Maybe it will work for some of those people. I don't think so. I think, as humans, what we really want is connection. We want to be seen. We want to be able to reveal ourselves. It's base level. 

What's one's responsibility in the fight against social injustice? 

I would say, first and foremost, it's how I act to those people around me. Sometimes I witness people or I hear stories of people who they might be adopting a child in Africa and protesting on the street about this, but they go home and they are condescending to their children or they yell at their wife or they yell at the people bagging their groceries. And it's like, wait, the way to change the world, in my opinion, is for me to be nice to every living thing right here. And then right here. And then right here. And if I got this, great! Then I can go to big stuff on the street. And I can go do big stuff in other countries. But if I don't have this first, this is the most important. Talking about red flags, those kind of things are red flags for me. If I notice myself getting annoyed by the traffic or if I notice myself getting mad at that person bagging my groceries, red flag - that's my wellness that's not doing good right now. That's a sign. And then I have to do whatever it takes to get that right - to be nice to these people. And that might mean that I can't be a thousand places, that I can't be calling my senators, and on the street. Because I need more self care so that I can be nice to these people. So I would say I believe the most important is right here and then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Yeah, and if you have the energy and the wellness to do advocating for what you're passionate about in the big realm of things, do it. Absolutely. But never at a cost to yourself or those around you.

What do you wish for the future?

This is an aside, but I am so passionate about future technology. I'm an NPR listener, too. And I was just listening to this podcast about the moral implications of AI and technology and just thinking about the fact that we could lose like 40% of our jobs to computers. And that means as a people, we'd have to find value other than in what we do, which is where we base all our value right now. That could be a complete collapse or a revolution. We're in such a fascinating time right now. I think that our growth is about to hit that part of the curve where it's really steep on the graph. And I honestly don't know what's gonna happen. Some things sometimes, they have to fall apart before something else is born. That's just how it works. I mean, the universe works that way. Everything moves, it changes form, it falls apart and totally becomes destructed and then it bursts out something else. Maybe that will happen. Maybe not. Maybe people will learn. I mean, I certainly hope that it's the easy route. Of course, everybody does. So on a big scope, I hope that people learn to love more and accept more and tolerate more. Right? All those things would be great. Care for the planet, care for each other. I also think it's actually okay if it has to all fall apart. And that doesn't mean that's the end of it. 

I would say, personally, like I said before, I would love to be a part of this community and a part of the story of the culture change here. I would also love to grow more plants and have more animals (laughs) and drink more tea and, you know, watch snow fall and all those wonderful things, too. I mean, as many moments as I can grab. An important part of my story that I'll mention is right before I moved here, maybe six months before I moved here, I was in a head-on car collision - where I was actually air-lifted, spent three months in a hospital room. But that experience, finding the gift in something that you definitely didn't want to happen, it gave me this ability to appreciate small things in a way that I never had before. So, I hope I have a lot of moments of small things, I guess. 

Do you have any parting words?

I guess talking about big things, I know I said this before, but I just say again, we're all so much more the same than we are different. That's the one thing I try to tell people, whether I'm on Facebook and their comments or, you know, we just had this women's march and people are like, That's horrible. That's wonderful. People are so vastly opinionated right now with everything. Which is great! That's passion and it's better to be passionate than apathetic. But sometimes I think people forget we're all the same tribe. Me, who will [shout] at the top of my lungs on my soapbox to fight for rights for people, and the person opposite of me, shouting the exact opposite things. Ultimately, we're both the same species, we're the same tribe, we're both human. And I think that gets forgotten a lot.