Life is About More Than How To and How To Be.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Life is About More Than How To and How To Be.
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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.

We don’t edit these because we want people’s stories to be heard as they tell them.

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

This week, I’m telling one of my stories.


“How do I become an artist?” I used to ask my mom this all the time when I was little.

“Nobody in our family has an artistic bone in their body,” my mother said every time I asked. She’d light a cigarette. She’d take a drag. She’d offer me a Pepsi, cold from the fridge, always poured over ice and never in a can because we weren’t that kind of people either. “Not one bone.”

“Our family” only meant her family. One of my grandmothers painted all the time, hiding away her canvasses, horrified by how bad they were. None were ever bad, but they were dark, dripping with sadness, a sadness that also came out in her poems. One of my father’s sisters did batik, made jewelry. Another aunt did ceramics.

That wasn’t about me though. My only genes, according to my mom, came from her. And so I was left wondering, “How do I be an artist if there isn’t an artistic bone in my body?”

And I gave up even though I was a kid who didn’t think with words, a kid who was haunted by images and color, the smash-up of form and hope always twirling around in my head.

And then my mother was dead. And my father was dead. And a brother and aunts and uncles were dead and grandparents and two best friends.

The grief grew in my fingers and writing stopped being enough. But I was lost because I still didn’t know how to be an artist.

I googled it. Google did not help.

And then I just started. I’d paint out the images in my head, disappearing women, angel-women (never men) watching landscapes, cruelty hidden as trees, shapes in the water that nobody would ever see but me.

A local artist that I love asked me about my oil technique and I said, “Oh, I’m too cheap for oil. I use acrylics.”

She gasped. I figured I was doing something wrong and didn’t post a photo of my art for a long, long time. I assumed that gasp meant that I was breaking the artist guidelines, the rules somehow.

Where could I find the rules? I wondered.

We all tend to look for the rules, the how-to-do-things when we first start out in our careers, our relationships, our lives.

“How to be a . . . ” is a pretty hot topic, right?

And it makes sense that we do this. We go to school. We learn that there are rules to abide by, ways to think, certain methods we should follow to solve math problems, right essays, grammar rules, behavior rules, etiquette rules.

Do well with the rules and you might get As, high marks, praise from the teacher.

But there is a certain joy that happens when you don’t know the rules, when you aren’t typing away every day on your masterpiece even though you don’t know about three-act structure, painting skies that look like envelopes drawn by three-year-olds, and singing songs that are completely, unintentionally offkey.

Art is like that.

Being brave is like that, too.

Art is when you see/read/hear/feel something and your emotions become bigger or even better? They become something you’ve never felt before. Art is something that pushes you beyond your own self. It can make you remember. It can make you think. It can make you forget to remember all over again. It can make you brave.

Because yes, there is a certain bravery to put yourself out there in your art. But there’s also just a bravery in putting yourself out there and living—living a whole, big, amazing life—a life where you’ll mess up massively and succeed hugely and fail and love and lust and fall down and sometimes not want to get back up again.

Being brave is determining for yourself who you are and not caring if you don’t fit the genes, if there aren’t artistic bones in your body. Being brave is doing things despite the rules. Being brave is being you. The real you. You can do that. I’m positive of 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.

When Your Patient Teaches You a Thing or Two About Living

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
When Your Patient Teaches You a Thing or Two About Living
/


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.

We don’t edit these because we want people’s stories to be heard as they tell them.

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

When Your Patient Teaches You a Thing or Two About Living

This is a story from the wonderful Donna Roberts. Thank you so much, Donna!

I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. — R. Kelly
(Note: names and minor details changed to protect privacy)

The thing about clinical work is that each day you never know what’s coming. You can be working with a patient in the most clear-cut treatment plan with everything going textbook perfect and suddenly . . .

“Hi, Joe. Nice to see you.” And it was. Joe (not his real name) was a regular in my therapy room, but unlike some others, a willing and enthusiastic participant in his treatment program. He worked hard in session and practiced the suggested exercises in the times between visits. He was open, expressive and insightful — all elements of the “perfect patient.” We usually both felt good after a session.

That’s not to say that there weren’t painful struggles in his treatment program. Joe, like many of us, had his own demons to confront, his made more powerful and debilitating by his bipolar diagnosis. But he embraced the challenge, knowing that working through his “stuff” meant some pain for each gain.

Joe’s condition was stabilized by medication prescribed by his psychiatrist. My role was part two of his treatment plan — the talking cure — the “fun part” we called it.


With his more severe symptoms under control, Joe’s problems were not all that uncommon — relationships, work, stress, etc. We just had to approach them from his unique history and dysfunctional behavior patterns.

That fateful Friday started like any other session with Joe. He was calm and chatty and we exchanged some trivial dialogue before getting to the more serious work. I had tentatively penned in “communication skills” as a topic for the session, but only if Joe didn’t lead us down another path.

Joe turned pensive and quiet. I was just about to suggest the communication topic when he took a deep breath and said, “I think I want to go off my meds.”
I tried not to look surprised, but I was. While this is a typical reaction for many on psychiatric medication, it was unexpected from Joe. He had been faithfully following his medication regimen for almost five years. He had few side effects and had frequently expressed agreement that they normalized his behavior, for the better.

I was curious why he would say this now. Was he facing a crisis? Was he experiencing negative side effects? Did he Google his condition and become convinced he should try the latest wonder drug or fad? I even wondered if he was joking, trying to jump start a lagging session. And, to be honest, I was a little bit scared. Joe’s more serious symptoms had always been under control in my therapy room, courtesy of his effective medication. They made his problems seem normal and, more importantly, manageable. The full-blown symptoms of bipolar disorder were another matter altogether.

So I said what all therapists say when they don’t know what to say, “Well, Joe, tell me more about that.”

And thus began the most intense conversation I ever had with a patient in therapy.

He looked out the window, off into the distance and said, “It’s me. I’m losing me. I think the meds are taking away what it means to be me.”

“You’re losing the sick you.”

“That may be the only me there is.”

I let the silence get uncomfortable waiting for him to explain.

“You know, I’ve never really talked about it, but when I am manic I feel like I can fly! Like. I. Can. Fly. The world is mine.”

“I understand. But Joe, it’s not and you can’t.”

“Who says?”

“The healthy you knows this is true. We’ve talked about that.”

And then he focused his gaze directly on me and asked me questions that shook me to my core — my healthy, non-bipolar core. His voice was raised, but not in anger, with a deep and heart-felt passion for what he was saying.

“Have you ever felt anything that intense? Have you ever lived that fully? Have you ever felt that deeply?”

Taking a deep breath and donning my therapeutic persona again, I replied, knowing my argument would hardly stand up to such emotion.

“But you’re a danger to yourself when you’re in that state.”

“I’m a danger to the real me when I am so subdued. I get it. I get where you’re coming from. It’s not you. You don’t want to live that way. But how would YOU feel if everyone told you that you had to? Wouldn’t a little piece of you die inside?”

I knew I was defeated here. Arguing with him would just entrench him more deeply in his convictions. I couldn’t match his intensity in that moment. I needed to stop fighting him and accept him where he was.

“Joe, you know I cannot recommend that you do this.”

“I know,” he replied calmly.

“I don’t have the authority. I’m a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, so I cannot make judgements or decisions about your meds.”

“Yes, I know.”

What we both knew, but didn’t say, was that he would be taken to the psychiatric ward for observation and consult.

The time between making the call to his psychiatrist and when the orderlies escorted him to the other ward, could have been awkward and tense. But Joe made it pleasant. We chatted about the trivial things that make up casual conversation — the weather, the Yankees.

Then, just as he was about to walk out the door, for the last time, Joe turned to me with one final piece of advice.

“Live a little, Donna. Just once do something that makes you feel like you can fly. Don’t always play it so safe.”

And while his words did not turn me into a risk taker they do come back to me from time to time when I stand on the brink of something I’m afraid of. And they make me just a little bit braver.

And sometimes . . . I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky.

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
/

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 – Confronting Anxiety and Riding Bikes

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
BE BRAVE FRIDAY - Confronting Anxiety and Riding Bikes
/

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.

Also, a super shout-out to Chantal for being brave and doing the thing that I, Carrie, probably really need to do. You’ve got this, my brilliant and amazing and shiny friend. I’m so proud of you.


I started with a therapist to finally get help with my severe illness anxiety disorder. We had our second session yesterday and I’m feeling really hopeful I can finally get control of it.

  • Chantal Watts

I’ve mastered three traditional set dances this year, learning them mostly over zoom! White Blanket, The Three Sea Captains, and King of the Fairies. These are the really traditional dances, and they are HARD.

I’m 44 years old and have what is probably rheumatoid arthritis in my legs, but tomorrow and Saturday I’ll be performing with my Irish Dance school for the eighth year! I never did dance as a kid for more than a few lessons, because I was so bad at it, but at age 36 I decided to take a class for fun when my kids did, and now I put my introverted self into a variety of spangly costumes and Riverdance my lil heart out! I’m not great. It hurts like a BITCH the next morning because of the arthritis, but I DO IT ANYWAY.

  • Jessica Day George

I’ll turn 45 years old next week, and I just learned how to drive a motorcycle (and got my license) in May! 

  • Teresa Cole

I put my first completed book out there and I’m waiting on 4 beta readers to get back to me… 

Melissa Lyn Sawmiller

And finally, Fiona!


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.

What Did You Do When You Were Eight? Do it Now. Be Happy.

So, at dinner last night, Carrie introduced me to this little crumb of life coach theory. She asked me what my three favorite things were to do when I was eight years old.

I looked at her like she had three heads and asked her how she expected me to remember such information at my age.

Of course, she hates it when I deflect her questions with another question in an effort to stall or just change the subject, but I hate having to think about myself in an introspective way.

However, she was dead set on me answering this question and not letting me get away with my techniques of conversational derailing. I answered her. I answered her because I pretty much knew the answer and I love her and didn’t want to disappoint her yet again.

My answer was that I loved to read, run around in the woods collecting forest creatures that have no business being pets for the sole purpose of making them pets, and I loved to fish.

Carrie was not surprised by my answers and went on to tell me that these things are what I am supposed to be doing now. These things are what would make me happy if I was able to just do them for the majority of, or a good portion of, my adult life. She, as always, is right.

Nothing would make me happier than to be able to run around in the woods looking for Bigfoot or to be fishing all of the time. Reading can be accomplished on the days when the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities.

But how can this be possible as an adult I asked her. Her response was that the things we loved to do most often when we are of a semi-independent childhood age are what we should do all of our lives to maintain our best lifestyle. The lifestyle that makes us the most happy and content.

I looked at her with a face that she knew meant, “this is impossible, woman.” I have too many responsibilities to ever be able to do that. Knowing me as well as she does, she went on to explain that this is indeed the trap. The responsibility trap that keeps a majority of us from doing what we really want. The trap of social expectations!

We don’t really have to live to make as much money as we can. We don’t really have to live to live up to someone else’s expectations. What we should be doing is living to live the best life that we can, for us.

I REALLY need to start doing the things that I love to do! I need to take my own beautiful and loving wife’s advice and start doing more of what makes me the happiest. So does she.

Don’t waste your life away not doing the things that you love people!

And as you do those things, remember to always Love Your Way Through It!

Shaun

Be Brave Friday: Don’t Small Down Your Self or Your World

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Be Brave Friday: Don't Small Down Your Self or Your World
/

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.


This week’s Be Brave Story is from the wonderful Sheri Boggs!

Sheri, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

You are so brave and so wonderful.

xo Shaun and Carrie


I have a story of bravery to share. It isn’t big, bold physical bravery but rather small, mild bravery in which my foe WAS MY OWN MIND. 

I took violin for a few years as a kid and started taking adult violin lessons in my late 40s. I was not great and probably would have given up a long time ago if not for my teacher, (let’s call her Ms.X), who is hilarious and reminds me of Candace Bergen. Half the time my lessons consisted of us ranting about politics or her telling me some marvelously gossipy story about when she played with our local symphony.

A few months before the pandemic we decided I was ready to join the New Horizons Orchestra. New Horizons is an international organization with orchestras in cities all over the United States. Anyone is welcome, regardless of experience or skill, and their motto is “Your Best Is Good Enough.” My first time there, however, I realized I would need significantly more than my best. Everyone seemed to be a music teacher, a retired symphony member, or someone who practices for three hours a day. I stared in bewilderment at the sheet music (a medley of tunes from Chicago) and struggled to keep up. My bow was barely able to land on the right string much less hit the right note. 

Needless to say, when everything shut down I was relieved not to have to go back and be so noticeably behind everyone else. I also quit taking violin lessons, falling into a Covid-related funk and reasoning that Ms. X would only want to deal with Zoom for her most promising, high school and college-aged students. I didn’t touch my violin for a full 15 months. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Ms.X emailed me to see how I was doing and to let me know New Horizons was starting up again. I wrote back that everyone had been super nice but I’d felt embarrassed the few times I went, I never had time to practice, and I wasn’t planning to go back. She wrote back that she would “entreat me to reconsider,” claiming that, “some of those people have no talent whatsoever and I would know because I taught some of them.”  She assured me that New Horizons is about the joy of playing and that I was already way ahead of some of them, even if it didn’t feel like it.

So, much to my own surprise, I went to my first practice this week! I was again completely lost in the sheet music and unsure what key we were even playing in but it felt good to be there. Everyone was so welcoming and if anyone heard me scratching away at the wrong string with my bow, they didn’t say anything. I came home, practiced, figured out the key, watched videos of other people playing the pieces, and practiced some more. I plan to go back next week. 

The takeaway for me is how, when I’m anxious, I try to make my world smaller and talk myself out of things where I have to experience being awful at something, but what actually helps me is to keep pushing outside of my comfort zone, and letting my world get bigger. I had fun, seeing a few familiar faces and occasionally hearing my violin blend in with the violins all around me. 

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 – BEING BRAVE FOR A DOG AND YOURSELF

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.


This week it’s Carden’s story that Shaun reads on the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine.


Carden’s Brave Story

Hey Carrie and Shaun!

I thought I’d love to share my story of being brave today! It fits the today’s “dog” theme, too.

So, today I went to the Can Do Canines campus, a service dog organization here in Minnesota, to do a walking evaluation with different dogs.

I was born with spastic cerebral palsy that effects muscle tone in my legs, and causes me lots of trouble with balance and walking comfortably.

Today was a BIG day for me, because up until now Ive been waiting for a mobility assist dog for up to 2.5 years — the first organization I applied for ended up not working out.

But Can Do Canines has gone much smoother.

Going in today I felt nervous, but also very, very excited! I’m a dog lover at heart, and getting to meet these dogs (even though they were already matched with their forever homes) made things feel that much more real. Then came actually walking with the dogs.

I felt a RUSH of anxiety because I had no clue how to walk a big dog, much less the commands and timing of getting the dog to walk forward with me, say “good doggo”, ya know, all that good stuff. It was SO NEW and different and also a little scary.

I felt somewhat in over my head, like “how am I going to be able to function and have a healthy relationship with a dog? How do I learn all these commands? How do I remember commands and to praise consistently? How how how?”

— a lot of it was fear of not being good enough. A good enough student, a good enough handler, a good enough person in general. Internal frustration bubbled up to the point where I wanted to throw down the leash and call it quits. But something else in me knew I could come through.

And then, just like that, I suddenly heard a voice in my head go “aahhh SCREW IT!” and I didn’t feel nearly as anxious!

I took some deep breaths, took some sitting breaks (it was a lot of walking), and made sure to look into the eyes of the 3 dogs I had “tried out”.

All I need to do right now is to focus on the task at hand: walking briefly with a dog to see which harness, height, and handle feel like the best fit for me….thats all. Of course new things, even things I’m looking forward to and that can help me live a more healthy life, can feel scary. But it won’t ALWAYS be scary. Having compassion for myself, and the new dog at my side that I just met minutes prior, helped me push through and enjoy my time much better!!


Carden, we are so proud of you and psyched that you’re getting a dog. You two are going to be amazing together. We know 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.

  • Carden Levi Olsen

BE BRAVE FRIDAY – THE STORY OF GABBY THE RESCUED DOG

Hey! It’s BE BRAVE FRIDAY and this Friday, I’m . . .? Well, I’m not feeling it.

You know how sometimes you just are running a low on your positive charge on your internal battery, but your negative charge is kicking butt? I’ve been like that all week. Even though June is such a gorgeous month here in Maine, this happens to me a lot because June is when my mom died and my dad.

It was especially bad earlier this week where I didn’t want to post one of my animals’ daily positive tweets, something that I do every weekday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Doing that seemed beyond me. I kept thinking, “Who am I to write these things?”

But then I remembered that there are kids in a cancer treatment program that look forward to those and share them. And I remembered all the times people have sent me messages about how much those little posts and tweets meant to them or came at a right time.

That morning, I sat and stared at the computer waiting and waiting for my brain to readjust enough to post something that might be helpful to someone and I couldn’t get anything at all.

And I remembered that what I feel is transient and I remembered that these posts aren’t about me. They are really about just being a momentary vessel for hope and occasionally humor and thought. And I remembered that just one tiny bit of a spark of anything can form into a lifeline.

So, I closed my eyes and I typed.

This is what happened.

It wasn’t brilliant, but it was something. It was a forward step.

Sometimes all being brave takes is a forward step.

This week, our BE BRAVE FRIDAY video is breaking format a bit. Already? I know! I know!

But I just wanted to quickly tell the story of our dog, Gabby.

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.

It not just about thinking positive; it’s about doing positive.

We’ve all heard that if we just think positively everything will be better.

We have journals and lists that we create every night or morning of how we’re blessed.

Then there’s the mantra, “Change your thoughts, change your life.”

And sometimes when I see these things I get a little ragey because it isn’t always that easy. It’s hard to always think positively when your dog has just died or you’re in a war zone or your being hurt.

We’re all allowed to be a little ragey sometimes or sad or gleeful or even covetous. That’s because we’re human, but it’s also because of something even more important that we all need to remember.

WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS.

We can think, “I am Jesus” all day long but that doesn’t make us Jesus. We can think, “I am Beyonce” or “I am the president.” But it doesn’t make us so.

What makes us who we are?

The things we do.

I have a friend who does one act of kindness after another, who cares passionately about the people she loves. But people can annoy her sometimes. Injustices REALLY annoy her.

And after she has a judgement-free rant, she’ll say, “I’m so awful. I know! I know!”

But that’s the thing.

She’s not awful. She’s amazing. She’s one of the best people I know. And that’s because who she is isn’t just about her thoughts. Who she is stems from her actions, her choices, her decisions.

When she needs to persist or overcome, she doesn’t give in to her thoughts of doubt, her insecurities, or even her anger. She acts. She makes a difference.

How cool is that?

Yes, it’s important and super healthy to have a positive outlook. But it’s not always possible, and when you don’t achieve that? It doesn’t make you bad. If you think you’re bad, then you’re just going to end up in another negative thought spiral.

You’re too awesome for that.

And you can’t sit around waiting to be happy, hoping that this will be the day where you aren’t in pain, or someone isn’t a troll, or the basement doesn’t flood. You have to make the choice to be happy and take the actions that help you feel that if that’s what you want to feel.

You can think about changing all the time, but actual change come from doing the work, the actions, making the choices and going for it.

You can do that.

So, how do you do that?

DO THINGS

Acting/doing/participating in something takes you away from negative thoughts and thrusts you into the action, gives you focus. People in Asia and Europe have talked about the flow state for a long time. People in sports tend to call it being in the zone.

But it’s a place, and damn it’s beautiful.

To get there though, you have to do the action. That might be running, writing, painting, climbing, figuring out a theorem, creating a blog post, but it happens because you are doing an action. Do the things.

PUT YOUR THOUGHTS IN THEIR PLACE

Really. This isn’t new either, but it works. When you feel that negative thought spiral coming on, call it out. Say, “Yo. Negative thought. Just because I forgot to close the bedroom door before we made the sex and forgot my avo and Aunt Rose Marie were coming over does not mean ‘I am so stupid.’ It just means I was so in the moment that I forgot to close the door.”

You’ve got to try to see those negative thoughts for the bullies they are and sometimes all they need to chill out is just to be noticed.

I have wicked social anxiety. It’s like a weird kind of stage fright. And the only way for me to battle it is to just act right through it. So I get in the car and drive to the party and tell my negative thoughts that nothing horrifying will happen and my actions won’t make people go to jail. I go to the board meeting. I do the live podcast. I buckle up and stare down the negative thoughts and once I’m doing the actions? It helps tamp down the anxiety. But if I hesitate? That fear builds up and up, gaining so much power that it’s a vicious battle to tamp it back down.

And I love people. I love the joy of public speaking. I love moving people and inspiring them in person, right? So, it’s almost like my fright is excitement gone terribly wrong. It’s almost like a part of me thinks, “Who am I to get to do this? To be this happy? To have people listen to me?”

For a kid with a speech defect (and now an adult with one), that’s a pretty amazing thing. Middle-school Carrie would have never imagined it.

Pay Attention To The World Like A Tourist or a Poet Would

I know! I know! Poets and tourists don’t seem to go together, but they both search for experiences and explore their worlds.

A Roman emperior, Marcus Aurelius, would detail the world like the best of writers or artists. Ordinary things became extraordinary under his pen.

Noticing things is an action. Seeing things is a gift. Empathy and understanding can be byproducts of observation. Be present. Don’t overlook the ordinary. You’ve got this.

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 – RINGING THE BELL AND CHANGING MEDICATION FOR DEPRESSION

So, today is our first BE BRAVE FRIDAY featuring the stories of people who are not Carrie.

Why are we doing this?

We’re doing this because in a world where everything can feel like crap and overwhelming sometimes, it’s good to celebrate and lift each other up.

We don’t censor these letters and stories. We read them verbatim. You can be anonymous or like Dee and Tez, you can tell your name.

Let us celebrate you. Let’s inspire each other, okay?

I hope you’ll take a second to listen to Dee and Tez’s story.

Trigger warnings: Mental health, cancer, ill parent.

Awesome warnings: Braveness. Persistence. Facing your fears.

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.