You Don’t Have To Be Brave

Living Happy and Stuff

Photo: Me

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What the what?” Or maybe you’ve put some expletives in there. I’ve been posting about being brave week after week after week as I push against my social anxiety and post paintings.

Here is the thing: I grew up in a family full of fear. My older sister was allegedly afraid of grass when she was little. Grass! My mother was afraid of a litany of things: birds, closed-in spaces, wide-open spaces, high spaces, water over her head, bridges in a storm. My brother inherited the bird fear, or maybe he learned it. So did my sister.

my adorable mom

And I grew up thinking that I didn’t want to be anything like that. No offense to my mom because she was wonderful, but she changed the channel if Donald Duck was on and he’s a cartoon. She wouldn’t go to parks with seagulls. She wouldn’t go near a feather pillow.

I grew up chanting “You have to face your fears” when my television turned on at night all by itself or when I had to take an algebra test or when I convinced twelve girls at a fourth grade birthday party to all hold hands and confront whatever the heck was making that groaning noise in the kitchen. Spoiler: it was the fridge and a snoring dog.

I faced my fears one after another. My voice? Check, make a podcast. Not scary enough. Make a live podcast. Art? Check, do some art. Post it online. People constantly telling me I made a mistake? Check, make a news blog without an editor.

A Friend’s Words

One night last month, a friend took me aside at a gathering and whispered, “You know, you don’t always have to be brave.”

She had a beer in her hand and a determined glow in her eye.

I gawped at her.

She nodded and twirled away back to the gathering. And I was left with her words.

You don’t always have to be brave.

It was shocking. It was the opposite of my mantra. I think our society (or a lot of us in it) believe that you always have to be brave. But life isn’t about always facing your fear, is it? If you’re afraid of sky diving, do you really have to sky dive? If you’re afraid of going bankrupt, do you really have to lose all your money? If you’re afraid of having a concussion, do you have to give yourself a concussion?

Facing all my fears has definitely expanded my world, but it’s okay for me to enjoy the world I’m in just as I’m in it, too. There can be balance.

You Don’t Always Have To Be Brave.

That’s the thing. There is sometimes a power to not pushing yourself into doing things that are really scary for you — like downhill skiing when you have no depth perception. Cough. Yes, cough. That is me.

It’s okay to sometimes hunker down, build up your reserves, and just be. That’s right. Just be. It’s okay to be who you are right in that moment. And that might not be the same who you are that you are in the very next moment. Humans get to change, to discover, to grow, to decide when and if they should be brave or not.

If you want to, you can come hang out with me at Living Happy. I’m much better about posting there. 🙂 No pressure though!

Be Brave Friday – Spanx Are Not Meant to Be Worn Backward

BE BRAVE FRIDAY

I was going to write about so many people being brave in our high school’s lockdown this week, but I’m not ready for that yet, and this came out instead.

It’s long (I write novels), but I hope you’ll give it a look anyway.

I was talking to a man at the Chamber of Commerce dinner this week and I hadn’t seen him in a while.

Okay, let’s face it. I haven’t seen anyone in a while unless you count Halloween and picking up the farm share and going to the farmer’s market.

And I told him how terrified I was about going up to get an award for being someone that the Chamber president thought did good things for the community or that they admired or something like that.

“We’ll be rooting for you, Carrie,” he said. “You’ll be great.”

“God love you for a liar,” I said.

“No! No, you will.”

Two minutes before I got the award, I went to the bathroom and realized that I put the Spanx underwear I’d bought on backward and the lacy parts were not on my front, but on my butt, making my already non-existent butt even less existent.

“No,” I half yelled.

A woman in the next stall made a shocked noise.

I was not alone. I was with someone who made shocked noises.

Here’s the thing: I could have done one of two things. I could have taken my underwear off, turned it around, and have her see in that space below the stall me trying to yank up my underwear over my big, knee-high boots that are supposed to make me feel like Wonder Woman.

There in the bathroom stall of the Atlantic Oceanside, I did not feel like Wonder Woman. My boots were highly recognizable. She’d totally figure out that it was me who yanked her underwear off and did a switch-around in the stall.

I imagined going up on the little stage and having her stand up and shout, “THIS WOMAN JUST TOOK OFF HER UNDERWEAR AND SWITCHED IT AROUND! SHE CANNOT EVEN PUT HER UNDERWEAR ON CORRECTLY! DO NOT GIVE HER AN AWARD!”

I did not have that kind of courage right then, and I yanked those stupid underwear right back up backward and flushed the toilet and opened the stall. I washed my hands, but I couldn’t even look in the mirror.

“Coward,” I whispered. Not very self-love, I know.

A tiny bit later, Nina Barfuldi St. Germain said a bunch of super lovely things about me and my news blog and I heard none of it. She said my name. I stared. A million years passed. Well, they did in my head.

Alf Anderson, the director gave me a sympathetic look and for a second, I thought he knew about my Spanx, but no. He knew about my stage fright, which happens before I speak, but especially happens in front of people I know locally. The smaller the crowd, the worse I am. Shove me in a school, put me in another state? Put me in front of 1,000 strangers. I rock it. But my own community? With backward Spanx?

I stood up. I walked over. I got on stage somehow, hugged Nina and thought, “Her shoulders are so tiny, how does she do so much, how does she hold so many things together?” And then I thought, “I bet she isn’t wearing her Spanx backward.”
But I looked at Alf and Nina and the lovely man from the beginning of the meeting and Shaun, and they gave me safety.

The award was supposed to be about me, but I knew it wasn’t. The award was about community and people loving you and you loving them even when your Spanx are on wrong and everything might seem backward.

While up there, I told this story about how my daughter and I were once stuck in a flash flood in Charleston and how we hunkered under an awning, watching water spew, filling up the road, thundering down around us, and a kid looked at me and said, “ ‘Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced,’ Soren Kierkegaard.”

And I was sort of flabbergasted because here I was in a flash flood in Charleston and a pre-teen, barely teen, guy was quoting Kierkegaard at me. I wasn’t flabbergasted that he knew the old philosopher because I know teens are smart and amazing. I was flabbergasted that he gave me that quote like an offering. It was a special offering because in one of the book that I had coming out, the teen protagonist is a big Kierkegaard fan.

And my own little quote came to me, “Life has its own hidden forces which you can only discover by living.”

I gave that to him and he smiled. He said, “You either brave it or you don’t. But I will root for you.”

And that’s what it’s all about. It’s about rooting for each other and sometimes our own selves. It’s about giving offerings like Nina of the strong but tiny shoulders did. It was about all those people in that room, working hard, being brave, supporting each other and the kids and the employees, and places like the library, and making community.

Helping others is an act of bravery because it’s an act of hope.

Caring about others is an act of bravery because it’s an act of empathy.

Rooting for others is too because sometimes they might not be wearing their underwear correctly.

I promise that I will root for you through all the forces, hidden and unhidden, and I truly hope that we can all root for each other—in good times and bad—and maybe especially bad. I will root for you. And sometimes that’s a little brave.

*These paintings are some of the first I did and they are on bookshelves because I thought only ‘real’ painters used canvas. And I’m sharing them here because for me they are about hope and becoming. And they remind me of all the people I’m rooting for.

My art shop is here. 🙂 My news blog is here.

BE BRAVE FRIDAY

I wrote a story for my online news blog, THE BAR HARBOR STORY, a couple of months ago, and in this story, I didn’t mention the name of the woman who had an appeal before the town regarding the use of her home. She made it incredibly apparent during that public meeting that she didn’t want her name mentioned because she was afraid of stigma.

After I ran the story a couple of months ago, even without her name, she still contacted me, heart-worried that the story could potentially impact her. And I took that story down. Our local paper just ran the story this week and mentioned her name.

Was my choice a good choice?

It was a good choice for my own ethics.

Is it a good choice for my wallet? Probably not. When you write or blog, you have to make a ton of choices all the time, and I’m positive that most of the time I make a choice that doesn’t benefit me financially.

Sometimes I fail to make the right choice, but it’s usually not because I don’t care.

Sometimes sensationalism wins in a lot of news reports (this wasn’t one of those reports), but when it’s local news, I think it’s really important to remember that most of the players aren’t Marvel villains or superheroes. They are people who will make mistakes just like I do. They are people who get worried and have anxiety and have lives beyond the page.

Sometimes people care more about strife than trying to make their own selves or their neighbors’ lives better, stronger, safer, less full of worry.

But as humans, we have to make that choice, not just in what we write, but in what we think.

We don’t have to always make the toxic choice. We don’t always have to think everything is a bipolarity, us and them, my way or the highway. We can remember to try to do the least harm and the most good.

I hope that we do make the better choices even if it doesn’t make us bank or get us likes or hits. I hope that institutions and individuals can continue to make a better world, starting in our own brains, our own houses, and our own communities.

Believe me, I’ve written stories that I regret now. And made choices that I think, “Doh! Carrie. Bad move.” We all do, but part of moving forward is moving forward together and trying to do better, right?

Why is this a BE BRAVE FRIDAY post?

Well, because almost every time I right something like this I:

1. Lose a couple friends

2. Someone tells me I’m schmaltzy

3. And because I was pretty scared to make this news blog even though I’ve been an editor and reporter. News is so important and the potential to get things wrong is always so horrifying to me.

Here’s some unfinished art to make it super brave. 🙂 Remember, I’m pretty sure it’s not done, so don’t judge too hard.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend and feel good about things and feel brave, too. ❤

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. ❤

BE BRAVE FRIDAY — THE GUY WHO SANG

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?

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?


XO

Carrie


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.

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.

No More Hiding Who We Are

Having a kid who isn’t doing well

Shaun and the kiddo a couple of years ago

This week the psychologist for the school system looked at my spouse (Shaun) and me across the island in our kitchen and said, “You two are really very grounded.”

            He is lovely and kind.

            But as we’ve dealt with crisis after crisis with our kiddo, I’ve noticed how other people are surprised when they come into our house to talk to our thirteen-year-old. They say things like, “Oh, it’s so peaceful here.”

            “Your house is so clean.”

            “You have such a lovely, quirky decorating style.”

            “You both are so . . . responsive.”

            “ . . . intelligent.”

            “ . . . kind.”

            “ . . . receptive.”

            “ . . . caring.”

            “ . . . well-balanced.”

            “ . . . supportive . . . together.”

            The kindness is wonderful, obviously. But it’s really got me thinking about the surprise in people’s voices when they give these compliments. All these people have been lovely, but what they’ve taught me these past few weeks is that when you have a child who is having a significantly hard time either mentally or developmentally, people seem to expect you to be that way as well.

            One of the reasons I’m writing about this is that I don’t talk a lot about our kiddo. There are a lot of reasons for that.

Reason 1

            When their adopted mother (I am just the bonus mom married to the adopted dad, complicated, I know) was still parenting all the time, she really didn’t like it when I even posted a photo of our kiddo with a friend’s child. It made her sad. But we’ve had this kiddo for two years now and I’m done with worrying about what someone who rarely sees their child thinks.

            So that isn’t what is holding me back any longer.

Reason 2

            I was thinking that I wanted to protect the kiddo’s privacy, but I never did that with my older biological daughter as she was growing up.

So why would I be protecting this kiddo’s privacy.

I think it’s not because of internet bad guys.

I think that it would be because of stigma. And you know what? I’m done with stigma.


Stigma

It’s okay to have a kid who breaks your heart and that you worry for, and who you want to magically be able to control their temper and make the right decisions and be able to socialize in a way that they themselves want to.

            We have a kid like this.

            We don’t hide it in real life. We don’t need to hide it online either. Our kid knows that they are getting special programs (or were) and a different educational experience.


The Other Side Of Not Hiding

But it’s preconceived notions of us as parents, even by professionals, that is the real reason we’re going to be super open about this part of our journey and other parts, too.

            Having a child in crisis doesn’t make us any less who we were as people before. It doesn’t make us unclean, ungrounded, unintelligent, uncaring, or unbalanced. It gives us stress as we navigate the systems trying to find the best help and options for that child, but it doesn’t change who we inherently are or how we inherently love.

As Yin Paradies, João Luiz Bastos and Naomi Priest write in “Prejudice, Stigma, Bias, Discrimination, and Health from Part III – Prejudice Reduction and Analysis in Applied Contexts,”

Prejudice, stigma, bias, and discrimination are all expressions of oppression, “a concept that describes a relationship between groups or categories of people in which a dominant group benefits from the systematic abuse, exploitation, and injustice directed toward a subordinate group” (Johnson, 2000, p. 293). 

            It’s stigma that makes all the people who have come into our home this last month be surprised. It’s stigma that makes us think we have to protect or hide things about our selves or our lives when they don’t mesh with society’s typical standards.

            Stigma leads to bias. It leads to preconceived notions. It leads to not understanding each other.

            People have always asked me why I am so open about things, why I always want town and nonprofit boards, town councils, other people to feel open too when they’re ready. It’s because this. I don’t think there is anything to hide.

            Hiding makes you feel shame. 

            Hiding also makes you lie. Sometimes. Sometimes a lot. I’ve watched that destroy people.

            Lying often makes you anxious. Anxiety holds you back.

            All of that sucks.


            I’ve never hidden tons of things about myself, which doesn’t mean that I talk about them constantly or even often, and that’s because I don’t want to have those things become all that I am. Because I’m a lot more than being a person who has survived a lot of things, a person with sloshy s’s, with epilepsy, with history, with a bonus kid who needs so much help. And so are you. So are all of us.

            When our kid was upset the other day because of a terrible thing they’d said to their principal about their teachers—a thing that will have huge repercussions—they slumped on their bed and tears formed. For our kid? Tears are a big deal and rare.

            We’d already talked about choice and responsibility. We’d already talked about how once you say or do things, you can’t always take them back, especially if that talk or act is violent. We talked about what happens when you say or do violent things. We talk about this all the time. All. The. Time.

            But this day, it was almost like they’d got it and they said, “I hate who I am. There is nothing good in me.”

            And I listed all the things that were good. How they loved and were so protective of their internet friends. How they could create entire AUs and make people laugh with their droll humor. How they took good care of their cats. How they were amazing at digital art and making animations, and getting better at it all the time.

            It might not be enough that practical list, and it might not be enough for you or me or any of us sometimes, but it’s what you have to hang on to when you’re facing stigma and crisis and self-doubt. You have to remember to try to live the truth of who you are.

            Hiding?

            It only brings us down.


            Shaun and I are starting this Substack called LIVING HAPPY and we’re going to be open and say to hell with stigma. This is who we are. This is what we’re dealing with. This is how we’re still happy.

We’ll have another one for writing tips pretty soon.

And there will be free and $5 a month options. It is basically a newsletter that is helpful and honest and true. It’ll be pretty damn personal and pretty damn real.

There will be posts once or twice a week. Some free. Some only for subscribers.

I hope you’ll come hang out with us there. I hope you’ll be on our living happy journey with us, too, despite everything.

No.

Because of everything.

Be Brave Friday

These last couple weeks have been a bit hard.

So, I went on a quote hunt and I found these bad boys.

Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has found that hearing a story—a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end—causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin. These chemicals trigger the uniquely human abilities to connect, empathize, and make meaning. Story is literally in our DNA.”   — Brené Brown

We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way.” — Kurt Vonnegut

And I just gave up trying to be a real painter and threw paint and things around and made a giant scribble this week and those it is not terribly technically adept (especially when I think of my artist friends’ works), I kind of am okay with it because there is joy under all that chaos.

My painting this week.

Right? There can still be joy underneath all the pain and worry, the anxiety and grief. Hope. Sometimes it’s hard to hold onto, but it’s still there, damn it. It’s still there.

In an article for Psychology Today, Karyn Hall writes that when trying to find a path for hope:

 “Find a clear path. Being able to see how the steps you are taking will lead to desired change is critical to having hope. If you don’t logically see how what you are doing can have a positive result, then carrying out the plan will likely be difficult. Write down each step that you need to take to get where you want to be. If someone else is working with you, then push him or her to explain how the steps lead to the results you want.

2. Look for role models who have found solutions. There are many, many people who have overcome tremendous adversity. Reading their stories and surrounding yourself with supportive messages and people can help you build hope.

“3. Do what you know you can do. When you are in despair, taking one step that is out of your routine can help break the sense of powerlessness you have. Make your bed. Cook dinner. Talk to a friend. Take a step you know you can do and that action can make a difference over time. Keep doing it, and then try to add more actions. Overcoming the inertia of helplessness can help you build hope.

4. Perform an act of kindness. Doing acts of kindness can have a dramatic effect on your mood and outlook. Kindness triggers the release of serotonin, so it has an anti-depressant effect. It also calms stress and helps reduce pain.”

For me those things sometimes help. But what also helps me sometimes is:

Getting outside. Just going outside and seeing the world makes me have hope because trees? Trees are lovely.

Getting exercise. I like endorphins. They are my friends.

Remembering the good. Thinking about victory and kindness. It’s not so much about finding role models for me, but seeing how wars have ended before, how pandemics have been dealt with before, how individuals have been brave and good and triumphant.

Creating something. It might be muffins. It might be a poem or a story. It might even just be creating a cleaner space, but tangible things? They help ground me. Even singing in the shower–if I can force myself to do it–can make a different for me, lean me towards hope.

How about you? How do you find hope?

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones (That’s me. If you click the image, it will bring you to the Amazon page!)

The third book in Rosie and Seamus’s story of adventure, mystery, and death is here!

I hope you’ll support me, have a good read, and check it out!

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

To buy it, click here, and let me know! I might send you something!

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