Nicole Melancon Views Life Through Three Eyes
Nicole Melancon definitely puts an adventurous, socially-concerned spin on mom blogging. This globe-trotting, do-gooder shares one of the most exciting, enriching, and colorful blogs I’ve ever read. And no wonder, she managed to adopt a “third eye” while trekking through Nepal with her dad to help her do it. Had I known that was possible, I’d have done the same much earlier in my personal and professional careers. “Motherhood” sorta requires one as we moms know. Alas, I did not. Thankfully, I’ve done OK despite.
However, Nicole….my gosh…just moments after I filed her interview under my “to be written-up” column, she reached out to me -- concerned that she might have missed reading it, having just arrived back from Nicaragua. Suffice-it-to-say, that’s not a usual email for me to find in my In-box, but somehow, I think it is usual for Nicole to send.
She is an eager “travel and social good” blogger on the go who puts family and the planet at the top of her active “to do” list. And she captures every step in safeguarding and optimizing both on film as an avid, accomplished photographer.
Nicole is to blogging what National Geographic is to print, digital and television. She provides a look into our world from beyond our own doorsteps, while educating and helping along the way. Join her in her journey through the interview below and learn what life looks like with an extra eye to speak.
What is your full name?
Nicole Marie Melancon
Where do you live?
I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota
How many children do you have?
Two children - Max, age 11 and Sophia, age 9
If you were asked to describe yourself in one word, what would that word be?
What is your personal mantra?
Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day)
Tell us about you and your life.
I have always lived in the Midwest, except for two stints abroad in France. I've loved to travel my entire life and am passionate about seeing the world and making a difference. I have two kids, Max and Sophia, and am a big part of their lives as a stay-at-home mom. Besides traveling, I am an avid volunteer, advocate and writer. I also love to hike, climb mountains, run, downhill ski and do anything outside.
I met my husband, Paul, in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and he has been my biggest supporter in following my dreams. I believe strongly in using my voice to educate and advocate for making the world a better place. My work as a writer has most recently brought me to Tanzania, Haiti, Ethiopia and India. I am heading to Nicaragua this week to review an all women’s learn to surf camp and also hear about their unique program working with local women survivors of trafficking. Being a mom has kept me equally challenged and on my toes. There is never a dull moment!
Finish this sentence, “The best part about being a mom is _____.”
Watching my children grow into amazing citizens who care about others and giving back. Their love inspires me every single day.
How long have you been blogging for? Do you blog for any group blogs or websites beyond your own?
I have been blogging for five years and it has been an amazing journey that has opened many doors. Besides my personal blogs (thirdeyemom and the thirdeyeworld), I also am a World Voice editor and writer for World Moms Blog, a blog of over twenty contributors from around the world. I also write for the Huffington Post, The Elephant Journal and am a member of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life, and ONE Women and Girls where my work has been featured.
What is the name of your blog? When was it launched?
My blog is called Thirdeyemom. I began blogging in 2010 after a life-changing trip to Nepal, where my father and I trekked the Annapurna Circuit. It was a difficult trip and I will never forget landing in Nepal and receiving a “third-eye”, a painted red dot in between my eyes that to me symbolized opening up my heart and mind to seeing and understanding the world in a broader way. I returned home a changed person and was compelled to give something in return to the people of Nepal for the gift I had received by visiting their beautiful yet impoverished country. I immediately set up my blog and over the course of a year raised $10,000 to help build a reading center in Nepal. I have written about travel, culture and social good ever since, and have become a life-long humanitarian and advocate on global issues.
Share with us the significance of the name of your blog to you. How did you come up with it?
I included the “mom” part in my name because being a mother is the biggest, most important part of my life. I dream of raising my children to also have a “third-eye” and be filled with curiosity and compassion for other people and cultures
What is the primary focus of your blog?
My blog has two focuses: Travel and Social Good. I started my blog, primarily, as a travel blog, sharing my journeys around the world but realized that the more I traveled, the more my eyes were opened to the inequities in the world. So many people were living without such basic needs as safe water, sanitation, health care, education, electricity and food. I realized I could no longer turn a blind eye and also that I had a voice. Millions of people in this world – especially women and girls – do not have a say in their lives. I can share their stories to help educate my readers and promote change. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience!
What makes your blog unique?
There are not many blogs out there that combine social good and advocacy with travel. I am proud of the fact that my blog is a labor of love. I spend countless hours on my blog (all unpaid) and yet, for me, it is perhaps the most rewarding job I’ve ever had (after parenting of course!). I feel so fortunate that I have this space to share my voice and make a difference. I also hope that I inspire people with my stories.
Tell us about your blog in depth, including what you hope to accomplish through it.
My blog has a strong photographic element to it. For years, I used to keep travel journals filled with stories about my trips. However, the big piece that was missing was my photos. When I realized I could creatively combine my words with my photography all within a blog, I was thrilled. I love to use my photography as a creative vehicle to tell my stories. Sometimes I will do an entire post with hardly any words at all and let the pictures tell the stories. Other times, I will do a combination of words and photos. I also like to include some inspiration within each post because being inspired is an important part of my life and what keeps me going full speed ahead.
Soon after I began blogging, I branched out from travel posts to include stories about the more difficult social issues I witness during my travels. I have written on everything ranging from maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia, to child brides, human trafficking, hunger, poverty, solar electricity and women artisans in Haiti. It has been a huge learning experience for me as I research and interview people and non-profit organizations on these social good issues. My hope is that my readers learn about social issues and are inspired to act, whether it be by sharing my posts, becoming an advocate, donating or simply thinking or behaving differently about these issues.
Are you a Brand Ambassador and if so, for which companies?
No. Since I combine social good blogging for non-profits, it doesn’t feel like a good fit for my blog.
Beyond your blog, do you engage in other social media outlets such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.?
I am very active on Twitter and have also started curating my Instagram account. I use each platform for different goals. My Twitter account is primarily for social good causes while my Instagram account is only for travel photography. I also have a Facebook page where I share my work on both travel and social good. Instagram handle @thirdeyemom; Twitter handle @thirdeyemom
What is the one piece of advice you would give to moms who may be interested in beginning a blog?
Get out of your comfort zone, take a chance and do it. I was so afraid that no one would want to read my blog. I took a chance and never gave up.
Are you an entrepreneur or professional beyond your blog (and outside of being a mom)? Please share.
I do not work outside the home, however, I do travel often as part of my blog. Most of the work is unpaid. I do get invited on trips to write about social good issues. My most recent trip was to Tanzania, where I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Solar Sister to raise funds and awareness for solar energy poverty. My next press trip is to Nicaragua where I will review a “learn to surf” camp that empowers women.
Do you support – either formally or informally – a particular social cause?
I support a ton of causes as I work with lots of different non-profit organizations to raise awareness about issues pertaining to poverty, global health, women’s rights, education, child marriage and food security. I’ve worked closely with The United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to provide global vaccines to developing nations, and most recently worked with Solar Sister to fund women solar entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps my favorite cause is helping empower women and girls because the opportunities to help are endless and filled with hope.
When all is said and done, what is the one thing you hope your loved ones and those who knew you remember about you?
That I lived my life to the fullest possible, loved unconditionally, touched people’s lives and changed the world.
If you feel the need to break out your Patagonia-wear after reading this interview, you are not alone. I, myself, feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of my life’s travel itinerary or the responsibility I hold to humanity (and everything else). Thankfully, there are people like Nicole to remind us – part, sherpa; part, sage; and all, incredibly motivating.