Ah, as many of you know, I get super stressed and major imposter syndrome about sharing anything artistic or doing anything where people can hear my voice.

And because of that I have a super hard time actually doing things like buying paint or canvas because it means I’m using money to make art rather than pay bills or buy pellets for winter. That’s why this painting is actually mixed media. I ran out of a lot of paint this week.

That’s okay.

Running out of a lot of paint and only having pretty low quality paint brushes is cool in a way because it pushes me. I have to think in different ways.

Life, I guess, is kind of like that, too.

I talked to someone this week that used to really intimidate me. They are smart and no holds barred. Sometimes that’s a scary combination in a person. And I used to have so much anxiety about talking to this person. But I did it. I talked to them. And you know what? It was good. I made a connection, I think. I had fun.

Why? Because I remembered that they are a person too.

“You used to be so fearful,” they said, which is really similar to something a local bookseller said to me last year.

And I think part of it is that I know how flawed I am. I can’t even remember to shut the closet door, but it’s okay. We are all flawed and imperfect and if people want to judge me? That’s okay, but I’m going to do my damn best not to judge them.

There’s a sort of freedom that comes with that realization—a freedom that I’m hoping will extend to me being able to share paintings and art. Because all my fear about art is about being not talented enough and being judged for that. That’s not really what life is about, is it? It’s not what art is about either.

Brené Brown said,“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

I have been super lucky lately because writing a local news blog has pushed me out of my hermit ways and I have a reason to find connection. I hope you find more and new ways to be brave, too.

My little art shop.

What’s The Least You Can Do?

Be Brave Friday

Every year my ancient nana would call me up to make sure that I’d voted.

“It’s the least you can do, Carrie. The least you can do,” she’d say. “It’s our civic duty to protect the enchanted.”

Who are the enchanted? According to my nana? Women. Children. The disenfranchised.

My nana, Rena Philbrick Morse, was not a least-you-can-do sort of person, but voting was her bar for the ‘least you can do.’

She had high expectations of her family and of women.

Voting was tremendously important to her because women’s right to vote happened on her tenth birthday. She always heard from men that she knew were less intelligent than her disparage women’s brains. A farm girl, she heard a lot of men say that women were too delicate to do physical labor. That farm girl lived to be 100 and spent 99 years of it working her garden.

When women were give the right to vote, she celebrated with her mom knowing that she would have a voice.

A voice.

The Horror

My nana was a tall woman, rail-thin, brought up three kids of her own when her jazz drummer husband left her. She was involved in New Hampshire for an extremely long time. Her eldest son ended up desegregating the UNH fraternity system back in the 1950s. She was the valedictorian of her high school and her mind? Her mind was brilliant and so sharp. She was a woman who was stoic. She didn’t emote. She was a plank of barn board that refused to bend no matter what beat against her.

So when she called me crying one November, I couldn’t understand. I thought someone had died.

“No,” she gasped. “No.”

It was worse than that.

One of my older relatives didn’t vote. She had claimed she had ‘no head for politics.’ She’d been lying about voting for years.

I’m not sure how my nana survived that.

But she did. She survived because someone needed to drive that relative to the polls. She survived because she knew she had work to do. We all have work to do.

The Purpose

The purpose of motivation and engagement or protecting ourselves and others through words, through action, through voting? It’s your purpose. It’s our purpose.

In the local politics of our town, a lot of people don’t agree about things and they argue like their souls depend on it, like the world will collapse if their point of view doesn’t become policy, but they still manage to jump each other’s cars (mostly), make casseroles when someone is sick or dies, applaud each other’s kids when they score at a game. They mourn when someone suffers a devastating loss and celebrate when there is a win.

And hopefully they will vote in November.

I told someone about what my nana said and they responded, “The least you can do? It’s one of the most important things you can true.”

That’s how so much of this life works, isn’t it? Sometimes the things that are the least you can do are also some of the most important? That might be voting. That might be talking to a neighbor. That might be making connections and giving someone praise. But it’s something. We all can do something. And keep doing it. Until our world gets better.

Be a Breathtaking Rough Draft

And try not to freak out about the good things

Be Brave Friday - The Suck at Running Edition
Be Brave Friday – The Suck at Running Edition

I’m going to get an award and it’s freaking me out.

No, writing world, it’s not a National Book Award, but an award in our local community, and it’s very lovely and also very strange because it’s a recognition of me trying. Trying to do good stuff. Trying to get facts out. Trying to make the community a better place. Trying to make sure people have a voice.

It feels weird to be recognized for that when I don’t ever feel like I’m doing a good enough job.

Eleven years ago today, I was doing press via national radio news things for the book, DEAR BULLY, which I co-edited. It was an anthology of true stories by writers about the impact of bullying on their childhoods.

These radio moments on places like NPR were totally outside my comfort zone because I have a Muppet voice and slosh my s’s, and radio is all about voice. Kind of like podcasts.

And it was sort of weird because my piece in DEAR BULLY was about getting mocked about my voice and being told I would never be successful because of my voice, that nobody would take me seriously.

Which is probably a big part of why I am a writer.

Nobody can interrupt you when you write.

Nobody can hear your sloshy s-sounds.

And nobody sees it when your skirt falls down.

But awards? Awards and radio interviews or even goofy podcasts like our one tonight mean that for a tiny brief moment people can see you.

And it’s cool. I’m super lucky that I get to be a writer and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but sometimes I wonder what I’d be if I didn’t have this voice. Would I be braver about things like awards? Would I be an actress or a singer instead of a writer? A public speaker? Something else entirely?

Or if I had this same voice, but we lived in a world where difference didn’t easily mean cruelty would my anxiety be a bit less about people noticing me.

You know?

Despite what it might seem like on social media or podcasts, I’m a person who actually prefers to sit on floors rather than stand behind podiums, to applaud others and celebrate their awesome. And every time something good happens where I get attention, I kind of look over my shoulder and wait for something bad: some criticism, some complaint, or — you know — just my skirt falling down.

I’m trying to stop that looking over my shoulder and it’s not always easy, but I’m trying. It’s all part of evolving, right? So, I’m really thankful for this chance to evolve.

Choosing to see light in other people can be hard sometimes when there is mockery and politics and trolls. Choosing to promote light can be hard, too, because then people call you schmaltzy or a Pollyanna or Captain Hallmark. But trying to make your choices be full of gratitude and light? That can sometimes be the hardest thing of all. So, I’m trying to push my anxiety down and be cool about this award from our local chamber of commerce.

One of my old writing teachers created a book for other teachers (before the era of self publishing) and in it, he talked about “breathtaking rough drafts.” His favorite rough draft was like the one created below by one of his students.

And I’ve got to tell you, I think I’m still in that rough draft stage, hoping to someday be a breathtaking final product but currently in the massive throes of revision with scratch-outs and additions everywhere.

Anyways, if you are being mocked for being different, I am SO sorry. I hope you find the strength to make it through. I hope those people who are mocking you realize how poopy they are being. I hope you can find a way to realize that difference is an awesome thing. I hope that we all can move into the world of breathtaking together. ❤


He was walking next to me, one step ahead, turning to face me, pausing so I could keep up. “You’re going to a bar? Off campus? With people who aren’t students?”

“I am.”

When I was in college, I got to get out of my college bubble because I dispatched as part of my work-study. I was poor, so I had work-study, grants, aid, and a small loan. Being a security dispatcher meant that I talked to and hung out with people who weren’t students, professors or staff. My college was pretty great. But honestly? Between that dispatching job and interning for Janet T. Millsfor two summers when she was the Androscoggin County District Attorney? It’s where I learned the most about the world and people.

The other student stopped, turned to face me and said, face full of raised eyebrows and slack lips. “Why?”

“Your face is a question mark,” I told him.

“You are devastatingly weird,” he huffed and walked on. A second later, he said, “You didn’t answer my question.”

“Why not?” I liked the people at work and at my internship.

“Because it’s unsafe,” he said. “You don’t—They are older than you.”

“Not all of them.”

“They aren’t students.”

I stopped now, right on the edge of the campus where the student housing ended and the Lewiston apartment buildings began. “So, students are safe, but regular people aren’t?”

He didn’t have a real answer. I went out to that bar because I was always doing things back then that made me uncomfortable, that made me learn, and I watched a coworker sing “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” with a skinny, pale guy on the fiberglass karaoke floor in a bar that smelled like 90s cops’ thick deodorant, chewing tobacco, and beer. Half the bar was cops and people from the DA’s office, though not the DA, and the other half were people that the cops had arrested before, that I’d seen in the courthouse. They all mingled together. Or at least they did that night.

The guy my coworker was singing with had a criminal record and a frame that barely held up his skin; brown hair leaked past the ridge of his t-shirt. She sang a song she hated, but she knew her voice sounded good when she crooned out Streisand, even when she had too many.

“Thank you,” she said to the totally inebriated guy and to the drunk audience. She thanked the guy out of professional courtesy not because he sang well. He didn’t.

“Welcome,” he replied so loudly that it came over the microphone and we all laughed. He took a bow.

He didn’t leave her side when she walked back to our table. He ordered two margaritas and paid.

“I might sleep with him later,” she told me, leaning in, all alcohol breath.

He said to her, still so loudly, “You’re beautiful singer.”

“Thank you.” She flipped through the book of karaoke songs and the guy was off to the john. She looked at me. “You never go up there and sing.”

“Can’t do it,” I said.

“Why not?”

“Too scared.”

“Of singing?”

“Of sucking.”

On the way back, he-who-was-not-afraid-of-sucking clapped along and took the microphone away from a man serenading some fishnet wearing girl with a country song I didn’t recognize. He strained to wiggle his hips to the rhythm while he sang. He couldn’t. He tried some pseudo sexy pelvic thrusts.

“Carrie is afraid of singing,” Jessie announced.

my art that I’m always so afraid to share.

He eyeballed me and his hand clung to the curve of Jessie’s back. “Carrie looks like she’s afraid of a lot of things.” He leaned forward so all I could smell was him; beer sour, tobacco stained-breath. “You are afraid of your own damn voice, aren’t you?”

I was. Jessie wasn’t. He obviously wasn’t. But I was and I still kind of am, but I’m working on it.

Every week, I’m trying to learn that it’s not the end of the world to get a small detail wrong and that you can correct that detail and that it’s way more important to focus on the act of speaking, writing, singing, reporting, doing. It’s way more important to enjoy and be a part of the process.

But it’s so hard sometimes.

How about you? Are you finding ways to be brave, to put your voice out there, to sing and not worried that you might not sound awesome? I hope so. I hope you do.

Also, I made a QR code for my art place. How cool is that?


This week I reached out to another woman even though I was afraid to. If you don’t know, I’m actually technically an introvert. Reaching out is hard for me.

But it wasn’t about me being an introvert.

I was afraid to reach out to her because I’ve started a local news newsletter/blog and this person is someone who shows up in the news. At a meeting, I watched someone else try to vilify her and another person call her an adjective that is often used as a derogatory qualifier for women who have hope in positive outcomes.

People have called me that adjective a lot especially when it comes to political issues or politics in general or even when it comes to my faith that humanity can be better, that as individuals we can make the right choices.

If I reached out, I wondered, would she scoff? Would she think I was ridiculous? I decided that I didn’t care because it mattered more that she knew that someone saw and recognized what she dealt with—even if that someone was just me.

At the meeting, I didn’t speak up because I don’t think that a reporter’s role is to shape the tenor of a meeting, but it was incredibly hard for me not to speak up because what happened pulled at two of my core beliefs: trying to be an impartial reporter of the news to the best of my abilities AND standing up for people who are being maligned. I beat myself up about my choice for a while.

But the next morning, I ended up emailing her, telling her that I saw what happened and that though I wasn’t her mom or her friend I was really proud of her for being brave.

Why was she brave? Honestly, I think that anyone in local politics who puts themselves out there in the hopes of trying to make a better community, to create compromise, and to try to do that in a vulnerable and kind way? That’s pretty damn boss. I definitely don’t agree with every local politician’s political decisions, but for the ones who go into that political arena with good intentions? It’s so hard.

So, I guess my point on this be brave Friday is that if you see someone else being brave? Give them some props. Let them know that you see them. Actually, maybe it doesn’t even have to happen when people are being brave. Maybe we can just all actively work on letting people know, no matter what they are doing, “I see you.”

I see you.

I hope you all have the best weekend. Shaun is doing something super ridiculous on our live podcast tonight, LOVING THE STRANGE. And there is an art sale this weekend of my things. Also, our latest episode of our true crime podcast, DUDE, NO is here and it’s all about a Maine man who was shot by deputies, mummified accidentally and toured the country after he died.

Mid-Life Crisis or Breaking Out of Our Comfort Zones? You Decide.

As I started down the cobblestone path towards the cruise ship tender line, pushing a bright blue book cart, one of my friends sat in an Acadia Gem, these cool rentable cars. We aren’t close friends, but I’ll call her that anyway because I wish we were closer because she’s funny and smart and real.

“You guys with the band?” she teased, nodding at Shaun who was carrying boxes and me, pushing a bright blue cart with boxes on it.

“Um . . . no? I wish? Party all the time, all night every night?” I offered like the dork I am. I think I possibly did a band hand sign for love or something because that’s my level of social awkward.

Shaun, being Shaun said with his I-used-to-be-a-cop voice, “We’re starting a store.”

And he kept on walking.

I, however, stayed to explain a little bit about our really really small retail space, and she looked at me and wisely said, “Are you having a mid-life crisis? You’ve started a news blog. You’re selling your art. A new podcast and now a store?”

I did not tell her that we have two other ventures we’ll be starting this year, too. Instead, I stared at her and offered, “Maybe?”

The view from the back of our little shack


Maybe my need to make sure I don’t go bankrupt and always have an income is just a mid-life crisis that I’ve been having since I was fifteen?

I explained that in four years, Xane (our kiddo) will probably be out of high school (if they get to go to high school), and Shaun and I will be free to wander, and we really want to wander, to explore the world, the way she and her husband did for a couple years. I told her how seeing their travels and posts made us realize how much we wanted to do that too. That she and her husband were an inspiration.

That might be a mid-life crisis or it might be the American way, trying to find something—anything—a little more stable that allows you to be a little more free, to find that work-life balance before life is gone.

Last Friday I had a vague mopey post and so many of you were super kind about it even though I didn’t explain. It was because one of my relatives died (not a super close one, there’s more about it on LIVING HAPPY, my blog), but it shook me. This life is so short. So short even when it’s long.

So, yes, it’s time to take risks even though they stress me out and scare me. We’ve got to live with kindness and purpose. We have to believe in other people and ourselves even when it’s terrifying. And hope.

We always have to hope.

And we also always have to remember that even in something like a Facebook post, we might be inspiring someone else to make chances, to do things, to live. ❤

The actual back of our little shack

We’re also just launched a new podcast called DUDE NO. It’s true crime. It comes out on Tuesdays. This last episode is about a case Shaun helped solve a few years ago, about a man whose life and identity was stolen from him because of greed.

And we have LIVING HAPPY, a a newsletter/blog for people who want to know how we manage to live happy despite all the crap that is happening in our lives. A good place to start there is this one: “No More Hiding Who We Are.”

So, I’m teaching another cool six-month class at the Writing Barn in Austin. It’s a pretty fantastic place. And the class is super fun. I’ve had a ton of students get unblocked and get published and get awards and things. It’s a lovely community. You should check it out or just come hang out with me as your writing coach. I offer a ton of different options.

Be Brave Friday – Becoming

It’s BE BRAVE FRIDAY, and so many of you are being brave in really big ways every single day. Dealing with cancer. Dealing with kids. Dealing with justice issues and war or work things. Dealing and dealing and dealing.

My offering today isn’t all that much. Not in the big scheme of people’s lives.
I think part of this painting was originally inspired by something, but it’s been so long now that I can’t remember.

For years it was just this girl on a blank canvas. She was made of blobs. The blobs connected to make a person. Each blob a moment, a memory, a joy, a pain. She had one hand lifted like she was ready to create something.

But there was nothing there.

Blank canvas mostly.

I took the painting into the basement and because it was so old and so raw and I couldn’t remember what inspired it, I just started filling in the blankness.

And she started to become something else. A dreamer? Definitely. But maybe also a creator? Maybe someone who didn’t care that she was made of blobs because she could recreate who she wanted to be, who she dreamed of being, and it could explode out of her fingertips.

I hope you can recreate yourself if that’s what you want, that you can put all those blobs together and become. Not necessarily become something more, but just become.

And no, I don’t think this is done yet. I think it’s still becoming. Just like me. Maybe just like you?



Be Brave Friday- The Overwhelm

I am not feeling terribly brave today.

I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed. My work load these past two weeks (and until Tuesday) has been huge. A lovely writer that I work with in Write Submit Support at the Writing Barn (and who only knows what I do there) said, “I don’t know how you get done all you do.”

Sometimes I’m not sure either. And weeks like these, where I will have read about 700,000 or more words and written well over 1,000 pages of feedback, working from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Plus, my own story, sandwiched in between deadlines, makes me not terribly balanced in this thing called life.

I’m lucky because I have work and work equals money to support my family, and that’s important.

I’m lucky because I really love story and helping people make their best ones.

I’m lucky because I have work. And yes, I’m already stressed about making enough money in May because that’s the way my anxiety rolls.

And Tuesday will come. And I’ll get to rest soon. And I am so lucky to be a part in other writers’ journeys as they forge ahead creating this brilliant stories out of their amazing brains.

Gosh though, right now, I’m so tired.

But Tuesday will come.

And I will jump into its arms, grateful and tired, but mostly grateful.

This is an old painting because I’m not quite brave enough to share thanks to:

1. Money anxiety

2. My tiredness

3. Not having a new painting, mostly because I haven’t had time to work on any.

Surviving Is Not Thriving: Be Brave Friday

This week has been a bit exhausting for me thanks to:

  1. New puppy
  2. Board issues
  3. Editing and coaching
  4. I didn’t make enough money this week.

Mostly it’s the new puppy. And it’s a good kind of exhausted, but gosh. I mean, I am tired.

But it made me think of about how surviving isn’t the same as thriving. And as exhausting as our adorable, poky, little puppy is? She makes life worth living even when I don’t hit my weekly financial goals.

Why is that?

In my culture, people are all about advancement, making more money, getting more famous, having more “reach,” having more followers. As a writer, that was never my goal.

My goal was always to create.

My goal is still to create, but in trying to survive and feed and house my family, I’ve lost a little bit of that sometimes. And I have to remind myself about it again and again.

I grew up pretty poor in a really rich community (though my much older siblings didn’t) and I think that there’s this sort of drive when you grow up that way that once you start making money? It makes you become worried about it, fixated on it, and you almost believe that making an income? It makes you good enough. Finally worthy of love, maybe. Finally just worthy.

And that’s silly. I don’t judge other people’s worth on how much money they make. Why should I do that to myself?

Life isn’t about recognition.

Success shouldn’t be about trying to emulate someone else. It shouldn’t be about the cars or clothes or followers we acquire.


It’s about creating. And creating art or books or textiles or music or community? That’s a spiritual act.

We are what we create.

And that includes ourselves.

And that includes how and who and what we love.

And that includes how and who and what we do.

But it’s not about how much money we make a week.

As you pursue your path to publication or your MBA or your 100,000 Instagram followers, don’t forget that other part. The part that’s you.

Community is not about obligation or institutions. It’s about support. It’s about lifting each other up as we evolve and create and become. Sure, I didn’t hit my financial goal this week, but you know what?

I’m still here. Creating. Loving. Snuggling with a puppy. Helping other authors.

I’m not going to sacrifice my empathy, my creativity, my charity because I’m too afraid of being bankrupt or ridiculed, because some random troll on Twitter might say something rude.

And I hope you won’t either.

Remember, the moments you spend snuggling, the moments you spend helping, the moments you spend singing and laughing and just being, holding the heart or hand of someone else? Those moments are more powerful than your paycheck because those are the moments of your heart.

Here’s the painting I went back to working on this week. I will make no money from it, get no recognition from it, nothing like that.

And you know what? That’s okay.

Let me know how you’ve been brave, too, okay?

This post and some extra more personal content (and helpful hints) are over at my Substack. I hope you’ll go over there and subscribe. This week I’ll be talking about humor and how to be funnier.

Allowing People To Be Kind Is Being Brave

Today, I made my first GOFUNDME that was for a person and not a nonprofit and that was a little scary.

I don’t know how to express how important and lovely it is to help others, especially when there are people like my friend who spend so much time helping to create things like playgrounds and events and keeping theaters alive.

And this guy? He’s worked so hard to build up his career and he’s a yoyng dad and now he’s already piled up $16,000 in medical debt and that just hurts my heart so much.

And yes, he’s one of my best friends.

Here we are.
And here he is with his cutie.

It feels like so much of our lives is about reaching out and doing things that make us anxious or vulnerable, which is why I made the new newsletter LIVING HAPPY about our trials and life at home and how we keep on keeping on and hope that you will, too. I hope you’ll check it out.

This one is about the kiddo lying that they slept on a couch (a hard, hard couch) at Disney

Some people make kindness feel and seem so effortless. When our dog, Gabby died, the amazing and talented Rebecca Van Slyke sent us this beautiful art that she created of Gabby. It’s gorgeous. She’s gorgeous and talented. It’s below. Look at it! Isn’t it amazing? ❤

People being kind? It’s really people being brave. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and be kind today, okay?

And also don’t forget to let people reach out and be kind to you, too.

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