Telling Life Stories

An Interview with Marilyn R. Wilson

by Alyssa Laube


About: Marilyn Wilson is a passionate editor, writer, blogger, and author of her book – a collection of interviews – titled “Life Outside the Box”. Her editorial and composition work is under Raine Magazine, stationed in New York, and she works with Influence Publishing as an author. Marilyn covers a wide variety of subjects, but is highly involved in the fashion industry.


What is it about meeting new people that fascinates you so deeply, and why do you feel that it is necessary?

I cannot remember when the fascination with other people’s lives started. It’s been a part of my core being from the time I was very young, but I truly became aware of it during my first interview. I had goosebumps and little bells went off in my head any time something important was said! It is only now, looking back over the last 8-9 years, that I realize how much it has changed me. I learned how others have lived and faced success and adversity. They bring me concepts that guide my life such as Ujamaah (cooperative economics – we raise our success together) and Wabi Sabi (the Japanese concept of finding beauty in imperfection). I have learned self-acceptance for my own personal journey. Why it is necessary to tell these stories is more complicated. For me personally, if I do not share them, I do not get to interview and my life becomes much smaller and more limited. For others, I truly believe that it’s the stories of how real people live that will define our times. Reality TV will fade away as 80% irrelevant, and in its place, historians will look to those who offered a better picture of how we lived.


How has it changed your life, personally? If there are any specific interviews from Life Outside The Box, please don’t hesitate to include them if you wish!

Some I mentioned above. Another that I didn’t came from my interview with Geir Ness. He is a tidal wave of positive energy who always pursued his dreams. I have more insecurities and struggle with procrastination. After hearing him talk about his life for over an hour, I commented on this. How can those of us without that incredible positive energy and unlimited drive face our shortcomings? His answer was to surround ourselves with people who help support us in areas of weakness. That, plus the concept of Ujamaa, pushed me to create a positive circle of friends and elevated me and to sign with Influence. It also helped me let go of people and decisions that created a negative energy. This is not easy for me, as I was raised to be everything to everyone, but necessary for me to succeed in my life’s purpose.


Life Outside the Box-Click to Purchase on Amazon

There are ten people featured in your book. Why did you choose those ten, out of every interview you’ve conducted?

 Over the last 8-9 years I have been privileged enough to interview well over 100 people – perhaps over 150. But because the articles needed to go into print – as well as my access to people – they fall heavily within the fashion community. While I love fashion, my interest is not actually fashion writing. I love to interview a wide range of people. So, for this book, I had to reach deep to have a true variety of lives. That’s what it’s all about for me. There is no one right way to live your life, no one right path to follow, and no definition of success that fits all of us. Embrace your journey.


How did interviewing so many interesting, hard-working professionals change your outlook and work?

Each was like a facet of a diamond. You start way too close with the diamond right at your eye and only see the one side. Each interview required a step back to see a little more of the diamond – and myself reflected in it. One day I suddenly realized I looking at who I was, what I wanted, and who I chose to associate with in a whole new way. The hardest part for me was learning to let go of those who brought a lot of negative energy into my life. I don’t mean friends or family who are struggling – I mean those who do not appreciate you for the talents you have and for what you bring to the relationship. It’s okay to let those fade, as it’s not beneficial for them either.


The idea that “there is no such thing as a normal way to live your life, and no one right solution to any problem”, as written in your article with Influence Publishing, is not an easy lesson to learn. What do you believe brought you to this revelation?

Sheer numbers. Period. When you’ve interviewed over 100 people living fulfilling, unique lives, it’s hard to hold on to absolutes. When you allow yourself to follow your inner intuition and find your own path, it quickly becomes obvious that it’s the right way to go. We only fight this because the outside world tells us what we should want and strive for in terms of success. It puts pressure on us to comply. In contrast, the intuitive mind can offer answers that are truly unique.


I imagine that learning that lesson has changed your life enormously. How so?

Some days yes – some days no. I didn’t start interviewing until I was 49 and you don’t wash away that many years of conditioning easily. Surrounding yourself with friends, family and business associates that you have an Ujamaa relationship with is so important. They want the best for you. You want the best for them. It’s by being in a supportive community that we can deal with the highs and lows and keep our focus.


Why did you choose Influence Publishing to partner with, over another company?

One of my friends, who became a zen chaplain, told me that when her future mentor walked into the room, she felt her presence without even turning around. I had a similar experience with the founder of Influence, Julie Salisbury. Out of the blue one night, I bought a ticket to a women’s networking event – something I never do – because a publisher was speaking. From the moment Julie began to speak, I was overcome with emotion and had tears in my eyes. You have to know me to know how out of character this was. But the words of my friend, the zen chaplain, came back to me. I met Julie in person to talk about my ideas and from the moment I saw her, I had the same feeling. That’s the true story. On the business side – hybrid publishing works for me. I get to keep full rights to my work, pay an affordable set fee contract, have their support for marketing/media, and access their US distributor.


How are/were you involved in the fashion industry?

After Gestalt Magazine, my first opportunity to write fashion articles, folded, I advertised on Craigslist and connected with a photographer. He wanted to start a local fashion magazine focused on the amazing professionals we have working in the industry. I was introduced to artists from all over the world through nearby fashion weeks, which then led me to connect with Raine Magazine in NYC. Working with Raine has allowed me to have a slightly wider range of articles. I have even covered an international sand castle builder! They have also been my greatest connection to some very high end artists.


Can you explain how you chose the name for your website, http://

My website is actually a funny story. I was feeling a bit boxed only writing on fashion artists and events. When I complained to a friend, she suggested I start a blog. I think I actually laughed. I hated blogs as they were mostly pictures with just a few lines of writing. Nevertheless, she pointed out that it could just be a place to put writing. If getting a few hits inspired me, what a great option! I searched my name and found way too many Marilyn Wilson’s – my first preference. I chose Olio, because this was just meant to be a hodge-podge of writing for the sheer fun of it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would become my main writing venue and receive up to 17,000 hits in a month. It doesn’t follow the rules, it isn’t on a specific topic. I write often sometimes and only occasionally others. Why it is finding an audience – I actually have no idea!


Do you have any advice, not only for myself, but for others? This could be professionally, or simply words of wisdom.

This is the best advice I ever received and it’s in my book. William Orlowski is a Canadian Tap icon who has toured the world. He struggles with Dystonia which has limited what he can do – but continues to find work that is fulfilling. When I asked him his definition of success, this was his answer. It still gives me goosebumps; ”There is no secret. Just do and be brave.”


You’ve said that you are constantly changing, as you learn something new with each interview. Is this something you want to do for the rest of your life?

As I am heading into a new decade in January, this is a troublesome question. At my age, no one knows how long they have when it comes to health and/or mental sharpness. I cannot imagine my life without interviewing and writing, but the journey we are on as human beings means we end up facing limitations. I am encouraged by the longevity of American-Irish sci-fi author Anne McCaffrey as well as Grandma Moses who didn’t start painting in earnest until the age of 78. There is always hope. But when the end comes, the hope is that I have encouraged others to embrace telling the life stories of real people with real lives. I promise – it will change you.


To learn more about Marilyn, visit

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