“I have always said to other people, you can choose happiness and you can choose to be joyful in situations even when bad things happen. And that’s harder said than done but I try to stop and think of one thing I’m thankful for. I try and choose to be happy rather than being sad. because the world doesn’t stop when bad things happen.”
I’ve had some pretty awesome interviews in the past few weeks. – All insightful, some heart-warming, and others rather inspiring. But I don’t think any interview with a twenty-something will ever quite compare to the two hour conversation I had with Hannah Trott last month.
I first met Hannah in the Summer of 2015. We had a mutual friend and a shared love of sequins and tequila, so at the time our friendship consisted of a handful of nights out, and lots of dancing.
Since then I’ve come to regard Hannah as a close friend. She’s someone who you know would have your back in any kind of conflict, someone who know’s who she is and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
And speak her mind, she did. – Which is why this interview is split into three parts, (this being Part I, read part II here) because I simply could not squish her words of wisdom, valuable thoughts and heart-breaking experiences into one long blog post. – Because her story is one that could not be rushed.
In December 2015 Hannah lost her Mum to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. She spoke openly and with honourable dignity on coping with her grief, in the hope that it might just help someone out there who’s also grieving the death of someone close to them. Her grace and composure throughout our conversation only confirmed my belief that she is one of the strongest, most remarkable people I’ve ever met.
I never met Jo Trott, but having spent time with Hannah, I think it’s fair to say she was probably the closest thing there was to an amazing mother. She taught her daughter what it meant to know yourself, to know what makes you happy and to believe in yourself. She also taught her what it meant to be a feminist, a subject we discuss in part III.
1. Describe yourself in three words:
Creative, feminist, kind.
2. What are three words you’d never use to describe yourself?
Selfish, lazy, conservative.
3. Do you have a special morning or evening routine?
Most mornings I walk to my local Costa and order a Skinny Vanilla Latte followed by watching Netflix in bed. Sometimes I’ll go to a class at my gym. I usually end my day with a lemon and ginger tea, reality TV, and I always remove all my make up. I’m trying to get into reading in bed instead of going on my phone.
4. What do you say to yourself to keep positive?
I have always said to other people, you can choose happiness and you can choose to be joyful in situations even when bad things happen. And that’s harder said than done but I try to stop and think of one thing I’m thankful for. I try and choose to be happy rather than being sad. because the world doesn’t stop when bad things happen.
5. Who is your biggest inspiration?
My mum. She was incredibly strong in the face of adversity and she definitely shapes a lot of my beliefs in kindness and femininity and what that means. She showed me how to be a feminist and how to stand up for what you believe in. She also really helped shape how I view myself. She was really inspirational in terms of how she valued herself and the people around her. And she always chose to love.
6. What are you most grateful for?
My faith. And my creativity.
7. How have those traits helped you?
I can use my creativity to help express myself in ways that words fail. It’s a universal language I think. I feel quite blessed to have it.
Faith gives you something to hope in. It’s such a powerful thing. My relationship with God gives me strength and I don’t know how I’d have got through certain periods of my life without it.
8. What makes you so angry you can’t think about it for too long?
Current world politics.
9. What would you tell your 15 year old self?
Spend more time with your Mum and don’t be scared of your gut instincts.
10. What would be your dream career or careers?
Always had a dream of being a radio presenter.. cos you just get to talk!
I guess the current dream would be to somehow match my Floristry with my Photography skills, I don’t know what that looks like.. I’d be totally happy with the two! Anything that allows me to be creative everyday, where I don’t have to wake up and be like erghhh.
11. What are you currently doing to work towards your dream?
I’ve just signed up for an 8 month intense Floristry course and I’m so excited. And I’m generally doing whatever I can to make my current situation work for me.
12. How was this idea born?
Photography started through doing art at school, matched with doing work experience at Glastonbury festival in 2008 and a few years since. Even since then I got the shutter-bug – I love people and finding out their stories and it’s a really good way to capture that.
Floristry – My Mum was a Biologist and a Botanist so I was always surrounded by plants and we used to go on days out to Saville Gardens. The Palm House at Kew Gardens was her favourite building so we went there often. I was always interested in plants and I love flowers, I love receiving them and the joy it brings. It’s a beautiful way of being creative with nature.
I was always interested in Floristry but I thought it was going to be something I did way later in life, like when my career in art and photography was done. But then my old boss said to me one day, he was like “How old are you?”, “24..” and he said “You can do Floristry now, why are you not doing it now if it’s what you really wanted to do?”. It was always something that when people asked me “What do you want to do” I’d say I’ll be a Florist! “If you could go back and do life again what would you be?”- A Florist! – So I decided that’s what I’m going to do.
13. If you could be one person for the day who would it be?
Richard Curtis or one of the Queen’s corgis.
14. Any general life advice to younger people?
Always be the nicest person in the room.
15. When are you happiest?
When I am surrounded by lovely people, usually outside.
16. What did you take from your University experience?
Not everyone is going to like you. It’s okay to like other people’s work more than your own. Say yes to any opportunity that comes your way.
No one has any idea what they’re doing and it’s okay that you don’t either.
17. One thing you love about yourself?
Eghhh…oh crap.. what do I love about myself. That I am both strong and weak, and I recognise both as powerful things.
18. If you lived in an alternative reality, having made different choices throughout your life, where would you be and what would you be doing?
In Canada, working for a gallery, probably living somewhere in the Beeches (near the lake).
19. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Who knows! I’d like to think I’ll be married, with a Daschund and I’m a joyful florist.
20. Any habits you’re currently trying to work on breaking or cultivating?
The negative overthinking. Learning to trust myself again,my thought processes and choosing to be joyful.
21. Five things that bring you joy?
Dachshunds. Prosecco. Pancakes. Friends. Being creative.
22. Four things you couldn’t live without?
My camera. My community. Nature. Prosecco
23. Favourite Films?
Miracle on 34th Street, Shawshank Redemption, Up and Chalet Girl (a crap film but I just love it so much!)
24. Favourite TV programmes?
The Crown. Gilmore Girls. First Dates– I’m such a romantic at heart.
25. Most recent favourite book?
Spectaclesby Sue Perkins. It’s both funny and heartbreaking.
26. What did you want to be when you were little?
Everything and anything. Mostly a fairy. I also once told my Mum I wanted to be a vet, I think I was about nine, and she turned to me and she went “You know that means you have to stick your hand up cow’s bums”…So I swiftly changed my mind! Classic my Mum.
27. Name three things you’d like to say you did before you die:
Done something amazing for charity.
Ate all the dessert I was ever offered.
Always chose to be kind and loving.
28. Person you’d most like to meet?
29. Religion or spiritual practice?
I guess I would say Christian – Evangelical mostly.
30. What is your biggest pet peeve about other people?
31. Four things you’d change about the world?
Trump, Brexit, Equal pay for men and women, because come on its 2016. Everyone would have to do five kind deeds a day, I would just generally want people to be kinder to each other.
32. What is your fondest memory from childhood?
I just had a really happy childhood, not one part sticks out more than another.
33. What’s one thing you wish you knew how to do?
Dance… Or play the saxophone!
34. Three things you think about more than the average person?
Daschunds. My Mum. Dessert.
35. What is happiness?
I think happiness is probably loving unconditionally and being loved in return. – And pancakes and prosecco.
36. What is your perfect day?
When I go to Davids Tent, which is a big Christian camp that happens every summer, I have a friend there called Jenny who works at the café with me. Anyway she’s from Scotland and she says that when she meets people she always asks them what’s your perfect day because you can tell so much about that person by who they’d choose to spend their time with. She asked me this question this summer.
So I’d get up early – I’m always an early riser – and possibly do some sort of really fun workout with friends on the beach where we all just laugh and barely work out. Where you’re like yeh we’re guna do this, then you end up just having the best time cos you’re not taking it seriously at all. I’m quite simple really, maybe then meet up with everyone I love, including my Mum and my family and my far flung friends all in the same park, and we all just have a huge picnic barbecue all afternoon, lie about in the sun, cos obviously it’s sunny, like spring time weather so it’s not really hot but it’s not coat weather either, and then just have a really nice time. It would be in England , maybe Somerset cos I’m a home gal. Then in the evening, just having a cosy evening in the pub with people who are just laughing their nuts off and a lot of booze, and warmth. Ideally the evening would be autumn weather, cos it would be cosy…and pudding..all the time and pancakes all the time.
“I can use my creativity to help express myself in ways that words fail. It’s a universal language I think. I feel quite blessed to have it.
Faith gives you something to hope in. It’s such a powerful thing. My relationship with God gives me strength and I don’t know how I’d have got through certain periods of my life without it.”
Parts II & III to follow next week.