Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.
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Our house is styled a bit like a farmhouse even though it’s in the middle of Bar Harbor, across the street from the YMCA’s back, dirt, and (until recently) unused parking lot, secure behind a row of tall ,cedar bushes that hide our porch, our windows, our selves.

There is a deep urge in me sometimes to just hermit myself and just do the work, to write, to cook, to paint, to help others make stories, and I’ll occasionally freeze in terror when someone knocks on the door or calls on the phone, or whenever anyone shocks me out of the realization that I am not alone. 

“You are a bit elusive,” one of my friends told me when we were walking through town together, past the storefronts full of t-shirts and mugs, the ice cream shops and restaurants, the big mailbox full of free masks.

I said, “Oh. I don’t mean to be elusive. I’m just scared.”

The day was scented with salty ocean air and all the houses and stores that we passed had lights on and the hum of music and videos and laughter.

“Scared of what?” she asked.

I didn’t know.

But I did know that I didn’t want to be controlled by those fears, that I wanted to sit out on the front porch and talk to people as they passed by rather than hunkering in my backyard.

In our backyard, we have a couple of bird feeders that Shaun (my husband) put up and is in charge of. My parents divorced when I was three or so, and my mom was horribly afraid of birds—all birds, even cartoon birds. So, we never had bird feeders. And the crows cawing in the trees, the jays making the feeders rock with their weight, the graceful hovering of hummingbirds, and the tiny steps of finches thrill me like they are magic, forbidden magic.  

My mother would not be able to go in our backyard.

All my life, I’ve wanted to have a bird land on my hand. I’m not sure where that urge came from. A passing romanticism? A proof that my soul was good enough for a bird to trust? A way to convince myself that I was linked to something bigger and more profound than I was?

Sometimes when I go out into our backyard, the birds startle and rush into flight and I coo to them, “No. I’m not a threat. I’m not a threat. I’m just here. . . .  Um, we gave you the food in the bird feeders. Friendsies?”

The pigeons are usually the boldest and they’ll just watch me from the eaves of our house and sometimes they’ll coo back. A tiny trickle of adrenaline will rush through me and I’ll whisper, “Yes.”

Sometimes, I think that the backyard birds are elusive, but they probably just want to be safe like I do. But sometimes in that urge for safety we miss opportunities. We are stuck wondering: What is it to be whole?

It’s so much easier to answer: What is it to be broken?

When I was little, after my stepfather died, I would go out into the woods and flop in the tall ferns, smell the New Hampshire soil above the hard granite and stay absolutely still.

Waiting.

If I was still enough, I hoped, a bird would think I was just part of nature, that my cords were dirt and my K-Mart shirts were flowers or stones. If I was still enough, I was sure, a bird would come and land on me. We’d be—connected.

The world would go on all around me. Squirrels would hop from pine tree to spruce to oak to maple. Chipmunks would scurry along the ground. Birds would alight and gather. Deer would tiptoe by.

And I’d be waiting. Hoping a bird would come along, land in my small, upturned palm and claim me as part of it all—connected.

But I already was. I just didn’t realize it. A deer smelled my hair. A chipmunk scurried across my stomach. A squirrel would drop acorns near my feet. My spine rested against the ferns, the moss, the soil and for hours would feel the rustlings of a world beneath me, rooting. Connected.

Sometimes, my mom would come and find me and yell, “What are you doing out here? You’re going to make yourself sick.” She’d hurry me back home, complaining of the dirt on my legs, the flicks of moss, the ferns that had somehow twined themselves into my hair. “Look at your fingernails, Carrie! What am I going to do with you?”

I’d be ordered into the bath or shower, to clean my nails, wash my hair, and be just myself again.

To be whole is to be afraid, to long for safety, but also to stretch beyond it. To be an artist or a writer or even a person is to remember that we are not just individuals, scared all by ourselves, acting all elusive even when our hearts pine for connections. Mortality is terrifying sometimes. Pain? Not so fun. Fear and rejection and ridicule sucks.

Like the birds often fear us for our predatory natures, we can really fear each other, fear exposure to trolls, to negative-nellies, to grumpy people in restaurants, shops, or even our own Facebook, Twitter or TikTok pages and of bigger villains who do unspeakable things.

When we try to connect, we can be admonished by people who love us and look after us, people like my sweet, fearful mom who worried about the dirt I was collecting, the potential bugs, ants, ticks, predators.

But we’re bigger than those fears. We’re more than our resentments, our pain. We’re more than our flaws and egos. We are part of something huge and connected and divine, connections so massive that it’s hard to comprehend sometimes.

A bird can’t land on our hands unless we show them our palms.

We can’t heal or help or love other people unless they step outside.

This weekend, I went on the hammock in the backyard to read a book for work and less than a minute after I flopped down there, a sparrow alighted on my shoulder. She was barely on me for five seconds and her wings fluttered and beat the whole time.

But she was there.

It’s okay to be elusive sometimes, even fearful sometimes; it can help protect us, but we don’t want our fear to become our prison. We are bigger than that, our whole nature is bigger than that. We just have to reach out our hand and let the bird land in it and settle for and rejoice in a shoulder, and we have to be the bird and not always fly off or hide away, building our nests bigger and bigger until we can’t find the way out.

There is a way out if we want. We have to want it.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

BE BRAVE FRIDAY – Blind Faith: Lessons from a Scruffy Ball of Fur

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
BE BRAVE FRIDAY - Blind Faith: Lessons from a Scruffy Ball of Fur
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On BE BRAVE FRIDAYS, we share other people’s stories (unedited) to build a community of bravery and inspiration.

Please let us know if you want to share your story with us and we’ll read it here and post it on our social media and website.

This life is too short to not be brave. We can do this together.

I wanted to share my be brave moment too! I have spent my whole life bouncing around jobs and never finding one that stuck. I thought teaching would be it but after this year, I already hate it. So I sat down and asked myself what I actually want in life. I want to write. I want to make money through my love of words. I want to create artwork, make cosplays, talk about books, basically anything that means I can work my own schedule and my own rules while fuelling my love of creation.

So that’s my be brave moment. I’ve allowed myself to finally voice my dreams and start to plan how to make them a reality instead of forcing myself to grind through whatever job I’m currently working because I’m so scared of what people will think of me being a failure again.

I’m absolutely terrified. But I’m also excited for the first time in what feels like forever. I may fail, but I may also soar. I won’t know until I take the leap. And that leap is happening in 8 days

Kirsty Elizabeth

Blind Faith: Lessons from a Scruffy Ball of Fur

Just after our family moved to Europe, our sweet cat Muffy passed away. We were all devastated, especially her sister Squeakers. That’s how we found ourselves at a local home for wayward animals, adopting a kitten. “To keep Squeakers company,” we said, fooling no one. 

We arrived with my multi-lingual mother-in-law Denise in tow to help interpret, and we met four adorable, orphaned kittens clearly meant for us. Unable to pick just one, we brought them all home, to Squeaker’s abject horror. Within hours everyone had cozied in, save Squeakers, protesting adamantly from her hiding spot under the couch.

Intent on helping further, we donated cases of food to the overwhelmed center and, in the process, met the center’s latest arrivals. Lots of frisky animals ran up asking for our attention.

Denise was focused on something else, but we were too distracted to notice.
I should mention here that Denise is legally blind. One eye is barely usable since a botched cataract operation, while the other blacked out after a stroke. All of which has left her depressed. Tilting her head this way and that, she manages some meager vision. And as we made the food delivery, she was intently focused on the grubby, orange ball of fur huddling in the corner.

Asking what it was she was seeing, Denise learned it was a new arrival, a gravely ill kitten with wounds in both eyes. The director explained the kitten was an injured sibling of the same litter we had taken home found cowering nearby. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. Our gang of four had another sister — and one who needed immediate care. Needless to say, we grabbed the blind, sick kitten and raced her to a veterinary clinic.

There we learned that her injuries were grave and her life was in danger. If she managed to live through the trauma, said the vet, the kitten might retain some vision. They cautioned us because the kitten seemed to have already given up. And so we began a series of treatments and operations we hoped would regenerate the health and sight of a very sick kitty.

Months passed . . .

We call her 3P. Piccola Peste Preziosa in Italian, which translates to Petite Precious Pest. She is a scamp and has more guts than the rest of her siblings combined. She adores Squeakers, who loves her dearly, all the while pretending not to. She is healthy and happy, recovering total vision in one eye and partial in the other. Her once grubby, malnourished self is now a blaze of beautiful, dappled cinnamon. And, what’s more, she has given Denise a reason to live, and shown Squeakers how to love again, teaching by example how to dance with courage and dignity despite the odds.

What Psychology Tells US

Learned Helplessness is a powerful psychological concept first observed in animals and later applied to human behavior. Experiments have shown that when repeatedly subjected to situations beyond their control, animals fairly quickly adapted to the adverse conditions and subsequently failed to even attempt to escape the negative situations.

In a nutshell, it explains how we get stuck, how we fall into defining ourselves by our least common denominator, how we let temporary limitations become permanent handicaps, how we fail to believe in ourselves above all. It explains why we don’t try, try again when at first we don’t succeed. Just as its name implies, we learn that we are helpless to control our fate and thus we stop acting in our own best interests, becoming victims of our own self-limiting thoughts. That is, until we find a way out of that dark tunnel. Until we find hope.

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor, authored Man’s Search for Meaning, which, in its original form translates more exactly to Nevertheless, Say Yes to Life. In these memoirs, he explored the importance of finding meaning in life despite external circumstances, no matter how brutal. Frankl insists, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

This lesson came to us in the form of a scruffy ball of fur, who said yes to life and in turn enriched all of ours.

Donna Roberts

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Be Brave Friday

Someone very kind won something from someone else very kind and gave it to my dogs just because I post picture of those dogs here on weekdays.

And that kindness?

That need to help, to grow, to help others, to lift each other up and recognize it when good happens? I

t’s not schmaltzy. It’s brave. It’s beautiful. It’s love. And it’s how us humans are meant to be.

I am so grateful to Jack Russell and Megan Smith and to all of you cool humans who are so kind to me and who try to grow, evolve, love, encourage and change.

Here’s my painting from today. Love to all of you.

Brave towards mountains

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 235,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


This week’s episode about archetypes and if your sex life was a hashtag. Cough.

This week’s bonus episode with Vivian Garcia Rodriguez about cosplay, book boyfriends, and being brave enough to get rid of people who hurt you.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things. Find out more here.


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.