Navigating Liminal Spaces: A Journey from Perceptual Boundaries to Empowered Perception

Living Happy Extra


JUL 29, 2023

I posted this on my substack last week, but I thought I might share it here, too!

Also, I’m teaching a free workshop at the Writing Barn, August 22. You should come! Here’s the link

I was born backwards and with the caul wrapped around my head. For a long time, doctors thought I was blind, but then, eventually, my eyes reacted to light. At one, I had an operation. But even then, after the patches and then with tiny blue glasses perched on my itty-bitty nose, I didn’t see right. I’d see eight of things, then eventually four, and then eventually two, until the ability to use both eyes at the same time left.

Stuck at age five, still with glasses, but unable to see the world with any depth. I grew up terrible at volleyball, baseball, tennis because I couldn’t judge how close the ball was to my face when it flew through the air. I ran into trees when I raced bikes in the woods behind Deb Muir’s house because I misjudged the jumps they made with plywood. I’d run through my own back woods, searching for Bigfoot and take massive Superman diggers, tripped up by New Hampshire tree roots that I didn’t realize were quite so high.

The bruises collected, but I refused to accept that I wasn’t seeing the world the right way, that everyone else could except me.

a person in a garment
Apparently I was looking for Big Foot in the wrong place. Photo by Jon Sailer on Unsplash

My mother, god bless her, was proficient at fixing broken glasses and pressing cold compresses on bruises, smoking her Marlboro Lights and admonishing me to protect myself.

“You don’t have to always be going and doing, Carrie,” she’d say while giving me a kiss and a hug, removing an ice pack or putting on a bandage. “It’s okay to sometimes just be still.”

My mother, god bless her again, wasn’t very still herself. “You’re going to be the death of me,” she’d say sadly before sending me off with a kiss. I wasn’t. Diabetes and those cigarettes were.


brown wooden house near brown wooden fence during daytime
Photo by Michael Förtsch on Unsplash

I wrote a post over here this morning about my town and liminal spaces—those transitory thresholds in our world, our architecture, our community, our own lives. And it may have sort of done me in, which was bad planning on my part when it comes to this post.

But I’m going to give it a go. When I think about my inability to see the world correctly, in all its full 3D glory, I think a lot about the liminal spaces, the existing in between things.

The liminal space is often defined as that in between. You are not where you were, maybe, and not where you want to be, maybe.

There are a lot of maybes when it comes to liminality. Just like there are a lot of maybes when you move through the world without depth perception.

Liminal means threshold. In architecture it’s often defined as “the physical space between one destination and the next.” 

There are tons of internet spaces (see what I did there?) that talk about physical liminal spaces, but the kind I’m a little more interested right now are the ones in a life.

Some people think liminal spaces have a sense of unease to them. Some think it’s more magical.

silhouette photography of person
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I like to think of it as both. It’s a place where you can feel change coming sometimes and change can be scary as heck but also so magical and full of possibility.

It’s when you just graduate and don’t have a job yet. It’s when you move to a new city or are about to leave the old one. It’s when you apply to college and aren’t sure where you’ll attend or when you are about to go to high school—that whole summer before. It’s when you’re waiting for an operation, when your kids go to college, when you’re about to retire or separate or you need to figure out a new way to make enough money to survive or thrive.

A quick look at word origins shows us that the base of liminal is limen, which is Latin for threshold.

Liminal places are thresholds, stairways, elevators, escalators. Liminal spaces are the space or the moment or the location between one point and another.

Richard Rohr describes the emotional/life journey part of liminality as:

“…an inner state and sometimes an outer situation where we can begin to think and act in new ways. It is where we are betwixt and between, having left one room or stage of life but not yet entered the next.”


a group of people standing around a display of video screens
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

I think, though, that it can be smaller than what Rohr talks about. You can enter these spaces every day when you pause and notice where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling; when you take a breath between one task and another one; when you connect with just existing instead of focusing on thinking and doing.

Weird, I know, right?

But the way my brain ended up being wired after an illness gave me epilepsy in college is that most of the time my brain isn’t thinking in words or in pictures; it’s just sort of there. Just being.

Shaun, my husband, will constantly ask me what I’m thinking about and I’ll say, “Nothing.”

Super frustrating for poor Shaun, but that’s because a lot of the time my thoughts aren’t in words, they are just in knowings. And a lot of times the knowings are quiet and still. I know! I know! You now know too much about my brain.

Anyway, emptiness is kind of scary. We rush away from it even picking up our phone when we’re in the bathroom to play Wordle, or by scrolling through whatever social media app we’re into when we’re on the couch because it’s too hard to just sit and surrender to doing nothing or to that very big nothingness.

When my daughter was little, she wouldn’t go to sleep easily. I’d ask her why, wondering if she had nightmares. “What are you scared of?”

“The emptiness,” she’d say. “The nothing.”

“When you’re asleep?”

“No,” she’d say, “before.”

That cliff between being asleep and awake can sometimes be full of the nothing that she was afraid of, but it can also be a place where the conscious and subconscious sort of dance together like in a surreal painting.

The cool truth of this world is that we don’t all have to fill our days up and our brains up all of the time. The cool truth of this world is that we can all think and exist and see in different ways or in ways that are the same. The cool truth of this world is that those liminal spaces can be launching points toward something extraordinary.

house surrounded by withered trees and snow
Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

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Fear the Dog? Embrace the Fear

Marsie the Cat: Let’s talk about fear, human.

Me: I’m just afraid of so much stuff.

Marsie: You’re afraid of failing, of being vulnerable, of exposing yourself to the world, am I right? Or worse — What if nobody even notices you? Or worse — What if there is suddenly no catnip in the house?

Marsie with one of her humans



Me: How do you know so much?

Marsie: I am a cat. Therefore, I know all things. Plus, I know about fear. But I don’t care. I live my life. Look at this photo. I am on the dog bed and right there — it is the evidence that the dogs destroy things! That was a perfectly good owl toy and it is dead now. That dog has jaws of steel and could eat me in a second for daring to be on her bed. But do I care? No! I still claim the dog bed. You, human, need to claim the dog bed.


Marsie doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s hard to claim the dog bed. I wrote about this on Instagram awhile ago because I was thinking about one of my grandmothers.

She wrote so many poems and made so many paintings that she never let anyone see.

She couldn’t handle the scorn. But she couldn’t NOT create things.

She was afraid of the ocean, thought it was this massive, beautiful deadly force.

Men can be like that too sometimes, she told me. I don’t know why we are expected to be so strong. Why must we be so strong and vulnerable?

I was like ten when she asked me that so I didn’t have an answer.

A blurry image. Sorry for the blur.

This painting is inspired by one of her paintings that she left unfinished. I don’t know if she had copied the original or if it was her own, but the woman walking across a realistic earth, approaching the sea all huddled and afraid and then reaching out for the unreal sky makes me think of her. Afraid but reaching out.

I am not an artist. I have absolutely no training at all except for a high school art class, but all I want to do is paint.

I am not a great philosopher, but still I’m compelled to share what I think.

I sound like a Muppet and slur my s’s, but still I’m making podcasts and I’m in charge of a really intensive online writing class that forces me to talk on video to 12 people every month. And the whole time I think — I am so afraid to do this. People will hear my voice and laugh (not in a good way).

All these things scare me so much.

And every time I write a book, I think:

  • What if nobody reads it?
  • What if nobody likes it?

But life and creating is all about vulnerability. It’s about saying yes to experiences even though it’s so scary. Yes, just writing a blog post is scary to me because it’s vulnerable. You can do that, too.

Really. I’m not very exceptional at all, but I try to become better. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I have to make my cat talk to have a blog post, but that’s okay. Because it’s something.

You are something, too.

So, maybe think for a second:

  • What is it that makes you vulnerable?
  • What is it that makes you scared to say ‘yes’ to things?

Because here’s the thing (cue meditative Stuart Smalley music from that ancient SNL skit): You are enough. You are good enough and real enough and authentic. Your story matters.

And if other people don’t see it? Their loss. What matters is that YOU see it.

Marsie is right about that. Not so right about the cat nip.

Seriously, this is what happens when you have too much cat nip.



Four Types of Energy You Can Manage to Live Life Better

Lambs and Community Theater and Resilience

Originally published at

My Mom And Hugging Away The Judgement

You Have To Believe in The Good–Living Happy Roundup

My mother spent a lifetime hugging other people. Meeting after meeting, interaction after interaction, for the entire time that she was alive, she would hug people when she saw them and hug them when they left.

Her hugs were many.

Her hugs were long.

She would open her arms wide, her eyes would twinkle, her dimples would show and it was almost impossible not to step toward that 5 foot 1 frame and hug. She’d often smell like vanilla and brown sugar on top of her perfume, a fancy kind that she’d ask for every Christmas. It came from Jordan Marsh, which was a big deal store decades ago. It was fancy, too.

She would open her arms and you would step into them.

My mom always wanted to be a teacher, but life got in the way. Love with my stepdad when she was still in high school became a big deal drama. He was run out of state. She was desperate to leave home. She married my little hobbit down and though she was brilliant—impeccable at math and grammar, the fastest typist anyone in Bedford, New Hampshire had ever seen—she settled for a life without college. She raised her children. Felt unloved. Unfulfilled. Had another child and a scandal. That child was me.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that you are less, Carrie,” she’d tell me before I knew even what less meant. “You are good, so good.”

“You are too, Mommy,” I’d say back for years and years.

You are too.

My mom with her brothers

My mom often felt judged by people who were richer, who had less drama, who weren’t addicted to Marlboro Lights or canned tuna, who got to go to college, by ministers who cheated at bowling, by men who cheated on their wives but didn’t get caught, and women too. She’d dance around the house when she vacuumed or did dishes singing about the “Harper Valley PTA” a song about a women judged in her small town for loving wrong.

But even then. She would throw her arms open and let people hug her. She’d know everything about everyone—she became the town clerk, a real estate agent, an office manager, organized her class reunions—and people told her things.

“We all have secrets,” she’d tell me. “You have to hug your way through them.”

My mom died over a decade ago. On her hospital bed, two days before she left, she tried to share her hospital ice cream with all of her surviving kids. She insisted.

“Good,” she murmured, “it’s so good.”

Hugs come in different ways. My mom knew that. Sometimes, people have personal boundaries and didn’t want one. She always respected that, too, but she’d find other ways to give them. In the offer of ice cream, in listening without judgement, in a dimpled smile, or in words. Sometimes her strongest hugs were words. Words like “You are good, so good.”

Despite all the drama in her life, despite her missed opportunities, my mom lived her life with purpose. That purpose? It was to hug. It was to remind people they are loved. It is to remind them that they are good.

So, in honor of her this Monday, let me share her purpose for a hot second.

You are worthy of hugs. You deserve them.

You are worthy of love. You deserve that, too.

And the inside of you? That part that sometimes feels too raw to share? It is good. So full of good.


Four Ways Hugs Are Good For You, which I’ve retitled My Momma Was Right

Berkeley’s Purpose In Life quiz


I have another blog where I post this sort of thing more often than here on my writer website. It’s free, but it is a subscription model and I tend to post there on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays.

These are some recent links from there.

I’ve Been Talking to People I’m Scared of And It’s Turning Out Okay. And a Bit About Choice and Who You Are

Crawling Through The White House Fence And Let’s Get Stoic

I May Sound Like Marcel the Shell, But I’m Getting More Resilient, Damn It

Living Happy and Be Brave Friday

Because of my big Sunday breakdown at the beginning of the month, I’ve been looking into resilience a lot, and it brought me down a bit of a wormhole about stoicism.

Backstory: Basically, one negative comment on that day about my news blog (and me) knocked me down pretty hard. Usually I’m pretty resilient, but apparently life or circumstances or something is making me not bounce back quite as well this month as I usually do. I also had a bit of a setback because someone said my voice sounded like Marcel the Shell. They didn’t mean it in an evil way, but I had a middle school teacher who told me that I’d never succeed in life because no one would take me seriously because my voice was “so ridiculous.”

Those two things tweaked me (one a lot more than the other), thus the wormhole of resilience and stoicism and the connections between them that has been happening.

It appears I am not alone or groundbreaking in that connection. At all. Which is cool because it’s less work for me.

According to the modern stoicism society, stoicism is,

“Stoicism is a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece and was later popular in Rome. It was first developed by Zeno of Citium, c. 300 BC, who taught at a colonnade (Stoa) in the centre of Athens. In Rome, Stoic ideas were taken up by the statesman and writer Seneca, an ex-slave turned teacher, Epictetus, and the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

“Originally a complex system of ideas encompassing formal logic, grammar, physics, meteorology, and more, the three Roman Stoics Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius wrote mainly about how to live as a Stoic, embracing Stoic ethical ideas as a guide to a good life.”

Some of those major ideas and principles according to the website are:

Living with nature is good and to try to live in harmony with it.

External factors (objects, circumstances) are not necessarily good. What is good is when your own character and mind are virtuous.

Selfishness isn’t cool.

Things that are external (including good times and bad) change so you want to keep your mind chill and calm and rational even through that chaos. There are a lot more and I’m only summarizing here.

Psychologist Donald J. Robertson writes,

“Emotional or psychological resilience basically refers to our ability to endure stressful events, without being overwhelmed by them. Through cognitive and behaviour skills training we can improve resilience and prepare ourselves to cope better with future adversity.

“In a sense, Stoicism has long been virtually synonymous with resilience. Indeed, one modern expert, Michael Neenan, refers to the Stoic teacher Epictetus as the patron saint of the resilient.”

What he talks about is how stoicism aligns with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which thinks that a lot of how we have emotions is created by how we believe certain things. Robertson quotes Epictetus who says,

“It’s not events that upset us but rather our opinions about them.” 

Whoa, right? And you see this. You see one person who finds a rainy day beautiful and another who thinks it’s the end of the world. You see one culture that finds death to be glorious and another who definitely does not. You see one person who thinks a lady bug is good luck and another who thinks it’s an omen of destruction.

This happened in our family last year when someone tried to kill themselves and failed beautifully. They didn’t even get sick from the pills they took. We took this moment as a devastating moment that they felt so badly in that instant that they tried it, but we also took it as a blessing because they failed and now they could get the help they needed from the state agencies that weren’t helping them before.

It is a weird way to think in our culture, but we know how lucky we were and how lucky they were, and how much better they are doing now because they finally got the diagnosis and help that they needed.


CBT is a therapy that deals with a diagnosis and stoicism isn’t. People usually undergo CBT because they are suffering like our family member was.

But as Robertson says,

“However, the Holy Grail of mental health is prevention — prevention, as everyone knows, is better than cure. Psychologists try to reduce their risk of individuals experiencing future mental health problems through emotional resilience training. However, so far that’s had mixed results because although resilience training is beneficial, it tends to wear off over time, and people need refresher courses every few years.

“People who get into Stoicism, though, tend to stick with it for the long term because rather than a set of techniques it actually provides them with a whole philosophy of life. We like to phrase this by saying that “Stoicism is sticky”, in fact it’s often permanent. We need to carry out psychological research to actually test that hypothesis, though.”

And that’s really interesting to me because of his underlying belief that a philosophy can be so helpful in a long-term way. Stoicism isn’t one and done. It’s a way of living that involves the mind and actions and a way of seeing.

Robertson actually created something called the Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training Course, which is a four-week long event on the internet as a pilot study. It’s fascinating. He created a Stoic Attitudes and Behaviours Scale to see how much people illustrated behaviors considered to be stoic and mood.

I’ve screenshot his findings below. The link is at the end of the article.

But it’s how that held pretty solid after three months that matters. There was a continued “20% reduction in negative emotions.”

That’s a lot of continued benefit.

I think almost all of us could use that.


This one, I hope, is shorter than last week’s. And so many thanks to all of you on Facebook, who wrote comments. I wasn’t feeling brave enough because it was about my cousin Lisa and grief and sometimes it’s hard for me when people are nice about that. To be fair, it’s harder for me when people aren’t though.  

This week a lot of people suffered a lot of grief on our island as loved ones died or were harmed or witnessed great injury. And I think that made it a bit harder for me to accept all of your kindness, which is silly, I know. Thank you for being kind.

Anyway, I’ve been looking at resilience and, as we now know, that led me down the path to stoicism, which brings me to this quote that I thought I’d share with you.

Epictetus said, “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”

So, I’m going to be brave and thank people for their kindness; I’m going to take every opportunity I can to be kind too, I’m going to show you this little baby sketch I made; and I’m going to try to be okay with the fact that someone this week said that my voice was like Marcel the Shell, but in a good way.

Braver. Kinder. Embodying who you want to be and your values. It doesn’t sound that hard, but sometimes it is.


People Used To Spit On My Dad When He Was Little

I haven’t had a BE BRAVE FRIDAY for a bit, but it’s something I used to do all the time to try to push myself out of my comfort zone, especially about sharing my art.

There’s this old Simon Sinek quote that goes, “A star wants to see herself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around her become stars.”

I like this quote a lot, but I think that there doesn’t have to be a dichotomy. I think we can all rise together; we can all make ourselves better; make our communities better.

That’s a choice that we make, every single day, a choice to make our selves or our communities better.

My dad was basically ancient. He was born in late October 1929, the youngest child of three. His mom’s grandmother was Jewish, but he didn’t even know if his mother knew that. His dad was about as protestant as a man can be before a man turns into an atheist. Before he became an atheist, he was a stock broker. He was a stock broker in October 1929, working in a ground floor office in Manhattan. One day something thudded. Screams echoed down the street.

One day he looked out his window and saw that another stock broker, a man he knew, a man that he was friends with, had jumped out of a window to his death. Another man followed him down to his death, jumping on purpose because life had become too much. It had no hope for them anymore.

When the U.S. stock market crashed in October, 1929, it wasn’t just numbers that crashed; it was people too.

It was a time of death, and fear. It was a time that began a ten-year depression that crashed even more American families. That was when my dad was born. He was born not into an atmosphere of joy and the American Dream and prosperity, but into a time of fear.

My grandmother was a tiny woman – maybe 4 feet 10 inches tall. Her favorite thing in the world? A beautiful ripe tomato. Her other favorite thing? Butchering her own meat. She was a poet who never submitted a poem. She was an artist who never showed a painting. She was a mother who brought three children into the world and the last of those was my dad. But most of her favorite things had to do with food.

She could weep over the perfection of a tomato.

She could do a happy dance over a good cut of meat.

She knew how hard it was to survive after you were used to surviving. She knew how hard it was to eat when there was no food.

So, my dad grew up a pessimist. The first ten years of his life were grim. He expected bad things to happen. He expected the government to fail you, for life to be scraping and angry and tough. His father went from stockbroker to ideologue. Disheartened by a system that could allow such things to happen, he made my father stand on street corners, passing out political leaflets that my grandfather wrote, but that my father was too young to read or understand. Those leaflets talked about people working together for the common good, about people taking care of one another, about the role of government. Some people would take the leaflets and throw them at my dad’s sweet three-year-old and then nine-year-old face, screaming at him that he was a socialist or an idiot or worse. Some took pity on him and just pretended he didn’t exist. Some spat. Some pushed him in a puddle. But my dad would get up again. He’d wipe his face. He’d stand there.

My grandfather ran for state senate and U.S. Representative for New York. He always lost. By a lot.

My dad ran for nothing, but he always lost, too.

My grandmother watched them struggle and dreamt of food to feed her family. My grandfather dreamt of changing the world. My dad probably dreamt about sweets and girls or something like that. He hadn’t told me. It would be kind of embarrassing, since I’m his daughter, but when his life was ending, he was still an 84-year-old player, so I’m guessing it’s likely.

This story of my dad’s has no pretty end. The economy got better. My grandmother was able to buy meat and grow tomatoes and cry. My dad grew up to be a truck driver who always felt stupid even though he was smart, into a man who always was grateful when people were kind to him instead of mean, a man who always longed for sweetness—sweetness in his food and in his people.

The true stories don’t always have pretty ends, I don’t think. They are hard to make sense of. How do you explain to your wife about a friend who was joyous a mere six months before, and then plummeting to his death in front of you? How do you explain to your infant son that the world is full of cycles of joy and pain and want and have and some people only get to see one part of the cycle? How do you make sense of people being cruel to a three-year-old boy holding political papers on a street corner in New York City?

You don’t.

Because true stories sometimes can’t be explained easily. Just like the world now, like the news now, like the stories now, true tales have to be picked at, layer by layer. They are the lived-out poems of people, and the truths aren’t always easy to see, but the meanings rest underneath the laid-out facts.

My father was a man who expected the worst and gave his best. His father expected the best and often gave the worst. My dad’s mother found miracles in everything and nothing. And they survived. My father survived to have three children of his own. I am the last and the youngest by a lot, sort of an afterthought. My grandfather fled the country to Mexico and Canada, reading books and getting irate and dying in a bathtub when he was in his 90s. I don’t remember him. My grandmother lived until she was 104, scribbling out poems, admiring tomatoes, rejoicing in protein. And my dad kept living too, until he didn’t, plagued by worries about the country and the world, plagued by people’s apathy or conversely their inability to investigate deeper than reposted Facebook statuses and twisted truths, plagued by a quick moving cancer in the area around his lungs. It was a cancer that volunteer firefighters like him often get.

“What will become of us, Carrie?” he always asked me. “What will become of people?”

And I told him, “We will survive if we want to survive, Dad. We will find tiny moments of hope and truth if we want them. We will make our lives and our friends’ lives into stories that we tell each other again and again.”

And then he would tell me a story about how his dad and uncle (after the Crash) ran a tug boat business in the Hudson River, hauling trash across the water on barges. My grandfather would be on the barge and his brother-in-law would drive the boat. Once, the barge began to sink. Neither of them could swim. All they could do was try to hurry across the open water to get to the shore before it was too late. The whole time, my grandfather expected to drown in the garbage other people didn’t want any more. He clung to the tow rope as his brother-in-law tried to get the tug boat to speed. He survived.

“Can you believe that, Carrie?” my dad would ask me for the 1,000th time. “He survived.”

And I’d think, “Yes. Yes, I can.”

People are still enslaved. Now. People are still killed for no reason. Now. People still starve. Now. People struggle and excel and fall to hate and thrive in love. Now.

So this Be Brave Friday, here is my hope. My hope is that you do things. Go change the world. Change it with your stories. Change it with your money. Change it with your hope. Change it by running for office. Change it by helping others. Change it by just surviving. Change it by being informed. Change it by being brave. Change it by making yourself and others stars.

And feel free to check out these links:


End Slavery Now


Be Brave Friday (the vaguely tired version)


Since I started the Bar Harbor Story, I’ve been getting up at 5 working on my own novels (5-7) and then doing paying work and the news blog throughout the day and sometimes into the night because town meetings are at night (7 to 5 or 7 or 11 if the town council goes long).

What does this mean?

It means I fall asleep really well at night. But it also means that I’ve been neglecting painting a bit and painting? It’s really fun. And it makes me feel good inside even when it’s terrible.

So this week, I’m making two commitments to myself to try to get a better balance (You can tell my birthday is coming, right?).

I’m trying to:

1. Paint for five minutes a day (even if it’s a little bit).

2. I started the Couch to 5K program again (much to Shaun‘s horror). I really love running. My overly flexible joints, however, hate me doing it.

And also, most importantly, I’m trying to remind myself to be a bit more brave thanks to a post of her great painting that Amy recently tagged me in. Thanks for that push, Amy.

This one I’ve been tweaking and tweaking and rethinking. But here is what it looks like today. Here is what I look like today, too: a person made up of a lot of disjointed strokes trying to create something cohesive.

I hope you all have a great Friday and weekend and stay safe and warm and well and get to choose brave rather than have it forced on you.



My art shop is here and if you want to check out the news blog, it’s here, and if you want to check out my other blog (it’s a bit more personal as I try to figure out life and living with purpose and has week daily animal thoughts, that’s here). No pressure!

The Power and Magic of Weirdness

Some people even call it a super power.

I used to be weirder.

I know! For some of you that’s hard to imagine, but the truth is that I just sort of let my freak flag show no matter what level of freak that currently is.

This, obviously, was a bad idea when I ran for the state legislature (and lost thankfully). It was strongly recommended that I take down my blog (it was LiveJournal to give you context) so that my weirdness would be hidden from the voters.

That didn’t happen. I kept the blog up.

Pretending to be someone different isn’t the way I work.

Take, for example, the fact that I post animal thoughts on weekdays on my social media and here.

I know sarcastic animal thoughts play much better. But that’s not me. So instead it’s like a weird hybrid of worry about other humans and imploring everyone to be okay.

In The Perks of Being a Weirdo, an article in The Atlantic written by Olga Khazan, she talks about how not fitting in can sometimes make you more creative. She also has a talk about it with Wisconsin Public Radio.

Denise Hill writes in LifeHack,

“Society has conditioned us to be conformist. When you are called weird instead of hearing an insult, you should understand that you have just been paid one of the highest compliments. You have just been told that you are unique, bold, daring, exceptional, authentic and that you are special. Weird people think differently and choose to respond to the world around them differently – they own their individuality. It takes courage to go against the grain and to choose a distinct path in life.”

Weird people, she says, are divergent thinkers and that’s okay.

Part of what makes you weird, what makes you different from society’s norm, is often what makes you powerful. Embracing your weirdness allows you to love your own self, to be authentic, to not be fake, to not live your life as a lie.

That’s all really good stuff.

It’s also made me wonder where my goofy, weirdness went. Obviously, I’m still not normal, but I pass for normal a lot more than I used to. And I miss the Weird Carrie. The Random Carrie. The Carrie Who Just Was Who She Was.

So, here’s my weird little video from that time in my life when I used to be even weirder. I’m working my way back there right now.

I hope you’ll embrace your weird, your strange, with me, too.


Being Insecure Sometimes Is Okay

Waking up at 5 a.m. when I’m a night owl


Our Puppy Ate A Lot of Tampons

This is Pogie getting ready to be sick.

Yesterday, I was in a bit of a panic because Pogie the puppy wasn’t acting like a puppy. She wasn’t jumping around; there was no begging for treats, no questing for cats, no scampering.

And she wanted to just flop on the bed upstairs away from everyone. Pogie the puppy is not that kind of puppy. She’s the kind of puppy who wants to be right in the action, preferably touching Sparty (the dog) a cat or a human even when she’s asleep.

More typical Pogie behavior, staring at cats like she wants to marry them.

Pogie vomited. It was pretty chill at first, just breakfast. She pooped, but it was normal. She did not drool. She did not foam. Her head did not spin around like she was a canine cast member of The Exorcist.

My head, however? It came pretty close.

I obsessed about bowel obstructions and poisons and we made promises that if she still seemed sick tomorrow we’d call the vet.

I also obsessively googled things. And then Pogie threw up a gallon of liquid and it looked like there was a bit of a feminine hygiene product in it.

“What’s that?” Shaun said.

“That is a piece of tampon!” I shouted. “OUR DOG ATE A TAMPON!”

I got a paper towel, picked it up and actually peered at it really intensely. I never knew that I would grow up to be a person who would stare at a vomit slathered piece of used tampon, but apparently I am.

Shaun and I shared a look. Three days ago, Xane didn’t leave their bathroom door closed and Pogie went in the trash. There was trash all over the floor that I picked up. I never realized that there could be trash in Pogie’s belly, and yes, she is a puppy and I should have realized that PUPPIES EAT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING!

Now you can imagine me obsessively googling “dogs+tampons.” And it turns out that tampons are really bad for dogs to swallow. They can cause bowels instructions. They can die.

Pogie actually sleeping. Spoiler: This is a bad sign.

According to Emergency Vet USA,

“Unfortunately for our furry friends, eating a tampon can be extremely dangerous. The main purpose of the tampon is what makes it so dangerous when consumed by a dog.

“Tampons are designed to remain intact when in the body for long periods of time, as well as swelling to absorb fluids.

“This results in tampons not being easily digested by the gut, as well as the potential for the tampon to expand in the stomach or intestines.”

Now that we knew what the actual problem was, it was now way past the time of our vet being open. Shaun said, “I bet she’ll feel better now.”

We watched.

We laid down with her.

We listened to her belly.

She didn’t seem quite better. Then Shaun carried her outside with Sparty and she did her business. She did her business for a long, long time and created a long, long business. Imagine two feet long, all attached, one tampon after another after another, strings hitching into each other. Our tiny puppy had eaten at least five tampons. Her poop was longer than her body.


And let me tell you, Pogie’s tummy did not digest those tampons.


When a dog eats a tampon (or many tampons like Pogie, the overachieving puppy) they can irritate their GI tract, scrape it, irritate it, and the tampon can expand and irritate it and make the dog hurt. They can have bloody poop. Pogie did not. We checked obviously. You can imagine us gloved up, nostrils flaring, studying that poop.

Tampon consumption can cause choking because of the string and the cotton.

According to National Canine Research Association of America,

“Blockages in the digestive tract can prevent fluid, foods, and gas from being able to move normally through your dog’s body.

“This can be both painful and life-threatening, as it can restrict blood flow to the intestines, stomach, or esophagus.

“If the blockage isn’t treated quickly enough, necrosis can set in, causing tissue death and even more complications.”

Tampon consumption can also obstruct the dog’s bowel. It can get stuck so nothing else can get through.

Sometimes, like Pogie, a dog will be able to get rid of the tampon themselves. Usually, this depends on how many tampons they ate and how big their intestines are. This is supposed to be pretty dangerous. You shouldn’t wait like we did. You should call the vet. And according to Emergency Vet USA it takes about 72 hours for bowel obstruction symptoms. Our bathroom event was on Saturday. Pogie’s big event was on Tuesday.

We were super lucky. I hope that you’ll be lucky, too.


“You can’t write about this,” one of the kiddos said. They are fourteen. Fourteen is a hard age to have a bonus parent like me.

“I have to!” I said. “Dogs could die. People must know!”

“But it’s ridiculous.”

“That is exactly why.”

“People will judge you.”

“People judge me anyway,” I said because damn if that’s not true. “I’d rather they know.”

They then stomped off because (I think) it was their tampons.

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.

You Don’t Need Good Fences to Make Good Neighbors

When the first giant tree from a neighbor’s yard fell into our fence and demolished a lot of it, I didn’t post about it. There had been a horrific tornado in another part of the U.S. that took so much property and killed so many. People were hurting and grieving and to post about our event seemed more than a little tone deaf.

A fence didn’t matter much.

Trees-1, Fence-0

But what did matter was that our neighbor (we don’t know him very well) came over as soon as he heard and helped remove the tree.

We didn’t have to argue about responsibility. We didn’t have to beg him to help. We decided he could take care of the tree, and we’d take care of replacing the fence.

The fence is important because our big white dog Gabby is a Pyr and Pyrs roam. To be fair, Gabby only roams in straight lines and directly to Acadia National Park, but still. We’ve barricaded our back porch for when she needs alone time.


Soon, I hoped, our fence would get repaired. Shaun ordered the panels, but winter happens and snow comes and goes and so do horribly frigid temperatures.

“You’re never going to fix the fence,” I said.

“I will,” he said. “When it’s time.”

“I bet that some other random tree will fall and you’ll be all, ‘Aha! I didn’t fix it yet for a reason,’”  I said.

He muttered something the way spouses do sometimes. Since I want to stay married, I didn’t ask him to repeat himself.

But this past weekend, during a big windstorm, another neighbor’s tree spiraled into our back fence and yard killing one of our three-year-old fruit trees and taking out more of the fence.

Trees – 2, Fence – 0

“Oh,” I said, “the poor trees.”

It bashed another tree. We aren’t sure if that one will survive. If it does, we’ve decided to call it the miracle tree.

Shaun just got grumpy while I mourned. But then that neighbor (a totally different one) who rents his house, found out, came over with a small, borrowed chainsaw with just enough gas and chopped up the other trees. We stacked them on the first neighbor’s property (with permission) and ordered another fence panel.

But the thing is? We were all lucky. All those trees could have fallen on people or structures or dogs. All those neighbors could have been punks and not helped. But instead? Instead, we got to know our neighbors, work alongside them, and that’s pretty awesome. We were lucky in so many ways even though those trees took out our fence.

And the thing is that if it wasn’t for Gabby’s need to roam? I might rather have that fence taken down—all the way down. The saying is good fences make good neighbors, but I call poop on that. Good actions, kind hearts? That’s what makes good neighbors. I learned that a lot this past month and I’m so glad it’s true.

But here is the book . . .

It’s called THE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE and it’s the latest installment of the Dude series. Shaun (the husband) and I are currently arguing about whether it’s the last installment. I say yes. He says no. Feel free to weigh in if you’ve been reading it.


A heartbreaking and romantic must-read thriller from New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones brings a Maine teen’s past into a terrifying present.

Jessica “Dude” Goodfeather’s mother walked off and left her and her kind stoner dad when she was just a little girl, but after a mysterious email leads to some serious questions, Dude and her friends realize that her mother might not have willingly abandoned them after all.

The third book in Carrie Jones’s exciting Maine mystery series forces Dude to grapple with the ghosts of her family’s past so that she can finally head towards a hopefully brighter future.

Join New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones in the third book of the Dude Mystery Series as it combines the excitement of a thriller with the first-hand immediacy and quirky heroines that Jones is known for.

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