Who You Are Is Enough But You Can Still Be Even More

Sometimes it feels almost impossible to feel like you are enough, that all your work and all your love matters to the people you want it to matter to. Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you love or try or work, you can’t get it right, make a difference.

Here’s the thing: You can’t save the world.

Sometimes you can’t save even one person. But if you try and you love and you listen, you are doing your absolute best and your absolute best is a gift to those people; and it’s a gift to yourself.

That doesn’t mean you will always be awesome and perfect, understanding and full of empathy because nobody can always be that perfect.

But trying? Loving others. Listening. Being.

It is important.

Yet, it’s so hard to believe.

 

I was recently talking to someone brilliant, 24 years old, beautiful, good, and that person thought that they had already wasted their life.

There are a million metrics and achievements this person has already notched off – things that I can’t even imagine achieving. That didn’t matter. It wasn’t enough.

They called themself a loser. Their life, they claimed, was a waste.

But from my viewpoint as someone who is not that person? All I can think about when I think about them is wow.

Just wow.

What an incredible human.

If I can believe that about them why is it so hard for them to realize how cool, amazing and wonderful they are? Why is it so hard for so many of us to believe it about ourselves?

Half the women I know have created themselves and their dreams and expectations in the likeness of a rom-com, which is explained so well in this column by Heather Havrilesky in Vulture. She wrote:

But your concept of yourself makes no sense. You got it from a rom-com. Age 35 is not an expiration date on your beauty or your worth. It doesn’t matter if every single human alive believes this. It’s your job to cast this notion out forever. I’m 48 years old and I’m determined not to tell a story about myself that started in some beauty-product boardroom, among unimaginative corporate marketing professionals. I fail at this quest often, but I’m still determined.

But then there are a bunch of us who don’t or didn’t care about rom-com images. Some of us have massive savior complexes. Some of us want glory. Some of us want to be remembered forever. Some of us have modeled our lives off Marvel movies and Captain America or Ancient Macedonian kings. We’re not much better off.

From fourth through eighth grade my true life ambition was to take a bullet meant for Bono of U2. I would dive on stage, heroically be killed, die in his arms painlessly somehow. And all of Ireland would be so overcome by my sacrifice that they would instantly broker peace. The entire world would do the same.

Saviour complex, much?

220px-U2_October

I was a weird kid, obviously, raised on too much Doctor Who and Star Trek. But I wasn’t about romance or babies. I wasn’t into getting married. I didn’t want to be defined by my husband or my marriage or my kids. I wanted to define me. I know! I know! The horror.

But we don’t have to be saviors either. There is so much pressure to be something that our culture, our society, our books and movies and television show, Instagram photos and YouTube videos want us to be.

But what makes us feel truly like we have a purpose, that we aren’t a waste of space and resources, that we matter?  For a lot of us, connections, doing good, friendships. For some of us that still isn’t enough? We are on an endless quest for more, to be better, to do better, to make the most of our time on this earth. Or we are on an endless quest to meet the expectations that society has placed upon us.

We have to find a way to discover who we are and what we want.

Superheroes

Havrilensky wrote:

I’m going to choose to embrace narratives that make me feel more alive and able to contribute whatever twisted crafts I can to this world, while I can.

I’ve been posting a piece of art or a video on my Facebook every Friday because it is what scares me. There’s this weird vulnerability in those forms of communication that make me feel especially vulnerable, but I want to be a better artist. I want to be unafraid about who I am. Those scary Friday posts are part of me going for that instead of just hiding my paintings in the basement.

I grew up poor but in a pretty intellectual household. There were assigned roles. I was the quirky weird one wearing Snoopy shoes. My brother was the ambitious gorgeous one. My sister was the good one. I was the one who read books, who was nerdy and self-righteous. I heard narratives about who I should be all my childhood. I bet you did, too.

Superheroes-2

Mine were: 

You’re shy.

They thought you were blind when you were born. You still don’t notice things.

You are weird.

You are smart. You’re the smart one.

You aren’t an athlete. You have weak ankles.

You aren’t an artist. Nobody in this family is an artist.

Superheroes-3

But who I thought I was meant to be was also defined by what was said about my much older siblings but never said about me: 

Your brother is so successful.

Look at his dimples. He’s so beautiful. People just stare and stare at him. What an athlete.

Your sister is so kind. Her heart is so big.

Your sister loves children. Your sister is so good.

plot pacing and proms writing tips
Me in a U2 shirt, hiding my face because I’m the quirky one, not the good looking one.

Those narratives shape us. Combine them with comparing ourselves to television tropes and superheroes, rom-coms and Instagram perfection and it’s hard to be okay with who we are. Shakespeare said that comparisons are odious. There’s a reason for that. They make us feel shame. They make us feel jealous. They make us feel less. Or they make us think of others as less.

Here’s the thing: Nobody is less. I’m going to leave you with two solid paragraphs of Havrilensky because her article is brilliant and true.

What if you just decided that you’re an artist, today, right now? You’re sensitive and erratic, maybe. You’re maudlin and also expansive. What would it look like to own that identity, as a means of making art, sure, but also as a means of owning your FULL SELF? You wouldn’t feel as angry at other artists. You would recognize them as kindred spirits. You might notice how your shame matches theirs, and fuels all of you. You might feel proud of your small creations and you might start to see how every single thing you’ve done, every place you’ve been, every town you’ve lived in and left, every friend you’ve gotten to know and then forgotten, they all add up to a giant pile of treasure.

You are 95 years old, looking back at your 35-year-old self, and this is what you see: a young woman, so young, so disappointed, even though everything is about to get really good. She doesn’t see how much she’s accomplished, how much she’s learned, how many new joys await her. She doesn’t know how strong she is. She is blindfolded, sitting on a mountain of glittering gems. She is beautiful, but she feels ugly. She has a rich imagination and a colorful past, but she feels poor. She thinks she deserves to be berated because she has nothing. She has everything she needs.

What is it that you want to be? Who do you want to see? Be that person. Love that person.

Writing and Other News

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. 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!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. 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!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

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How to Be a Better Friend and Avoiding the #DEADTOME List

People lie – a lot.

 

And one of those lies is that they have a lot of friends. Or the opposite –  that they don’t need friends. Or maybe that they’re friends and their friendships are all super perfect.

 

We all know that one is a lie. Nobody is perfect – not in an all-encompassing, always-right way. Those one-dimensional stick figure cut-out representations of friendships are best left to television shows and bad fiction, not in our own narratives.

 

Real friends are gritty and confusing and beautiful and triumphant. Real friends know that you don’t always have your stuff together and they love you anyways. Real friends have your back when you’re sobbing into the phone hysterically and real friends don’t tell your secrets or lie about you.

 

Unless they do.

 

And those friends then sometimes become the people about whom you’re sobbing into the phone uncontrollably. You forgive them. Or you don’t. But you are definitely aware that they aren’t perfect.

 

None of us are.

25299960_1617558174932915_1909905263665294010_o

 

According to a 2017 article by Lydia Denworth for Psychology Today, there are three main elements to friendships. Those are:

Spending time with each other

Focusing on the positive parts of your friend and friendship, and

Helping each other.

 

What does that mean? The more time you spend with someone or thinking about them, the stronger the bond. The more you are silly, goofy, tell stories, dance around, build Legos with your friends, the more you associate them with happy chemical messages to your brain. The more you help your friend and your friend helps you, the more stable and good the friendship. (As opposed to those one-sided friendships where someone is trying to gain status through you, or always complains to you but never listens back, or always makes you pay the bill, etc.).

 

Allegedly, we have about five of those friendships in our whole entire lives. Those good friends? They are hard to find.

46482619_10157047105579073_5371350713865601024_o
Yes, this is my actual childhood handwriting.

 

When I was a little kid, I used to catalogue my friends. I don’t do that anymore. But back then, I basically created concentric circles of BEST FRIEND, GOOD FRIEND, POTENTIAL GOOD FRIENDS. People could move from place to place if I spent more time with them or felt closer to them. People could also fall completely off the charts. It’s all really childhood drama, and kind of extra, but it was there – this cataloguing, this being in ‘good graces’ versus ‘bad land of friendship exile.’

 

I’m not sure if I’ve grown up all that much, honestly.

 

Once a friendship goes toxic, I pull back. I give people second and third chances, but if they’re using me too much? I don’t ever reach out to them. If a friend lies to me? I don’t trust them much again. If a friend lies to someone else about me and I find out? I don’t trust them either.

44526547_10217306216311600_4607521708331499520_n 2
My friends and I at an SNL party. These are good friends because…SNL party. 

But here’s the thing – I still love those people, those no-longer-trusted-as-much friends. I love my friend that I caught cheating at a game night because he’s addicted to secret, social dangers. I love my friend that name drops constantly because she’s so insecure. I love my friend that lies because she hates her own life so much that she doesn’t remember what truth is anymore.

I will forgive almost everyone anything, until I won’t.

That’s because I know I’m not perfect either. I don’t dwell on my imperfections, the times I failed, but I have failed. A ton.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

One time at my friend’s super-low-stakes weekly poker night, I explained that there are only five local people that are on my #deadtomelist. One called firefighters and my writing schmaltzy and then suggested I didn’t know what the word schmaltz meant.

He’s off that list now. He doesn’t matter.

One is a man who hurt dozens of women, a narcissist with a lot of issues.

He’s still on the list.

So, is the man who stalked me around town. So, is the police officer who wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell him about the man who stalked me around town.

And there’s one more person that I’m not going to mention.

You’ll notice people actually moved off that list, which I guess wasn’t named #foreverdeadtome, but just #deadtome.

Everyone at poker really wanted to know the names on my list. That’s because they didn’t think I could hate because I focus so much on love. But here’s the thing – I can hate. Everyone can hate. I just don’t dwell in the hate. My hate (when it happens) flies up like a rage, explodes like a firework and then disappears almost instantly except for a name on a list.

 

#Deadtome

He who hurts women

He who stalks

He who protects he who stalks

She who I will not mention

 

Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us. – Charles Spurgeon

 

I’m privileged in that I don’t have to or need to dwell on that hate and I’m lucky.  But the people who have done the absolute worst to me? The horrible things? They aren’t even on the #deadtomelist.

 

That doesn’t make sense, right?

 

But to me, for my mental health? Those people are so dead to me that they don’t even exist in my brain anymore. My brain is too full of beauty and friendship, of stories and dogs and cats and manatees, to get used up with them and their hurt and their evil. These people flash in my consciousness every once in awhile, but then they’re gone – so dead to me that I forget their existence.

 

The space they could inhabit? I fill it up with dreams, with friends, with love. So, that’s what I do.

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival talking about my Moe Berg book that’s detailed below.

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and boy a print here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it sound fun. You can buy them here or anywhere.

 

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. 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!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast – Don’t Be (or Write) A Sucky Friend

Here’s this week’s podcast link! 

This week, we couldn’t think of what to talk about in our podcast and we went to Carrie’s Facebook page and had an ask for ideas.

Public Safety Dispatcher Marie Overlock and Firefighter Lt.  Amilie Blackman, both suggested, ‘friendship,’ so it won out and we’ll save Matt Baya’s suggestion of cow hugging for a later date. Because… cow hugging!

Friendship and children’s books are a pretty natural combination. Carrie’s own books are big on friends even when they are full of romance.

Friends matter. And there are so many beautiful examples of friendships in children’s books, but let’s go with this Maine classic from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

Wilbur blushed. “But I’m notterrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.”

“You’re terrific as far as I’mconcerned,” replied Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my best friend, and Ithink you’re sensational. Now stop arguing and go get some sleep!”

In our life, Carrie is Wilbur and Shaun is Charlotte. Just so you know.

DOG TIPS FOR FRIENDSHIP AND LIFE

1. You do not have to be everyone’s friend. Choose wisely. Pick the people who don’t bring you down. That’s the base for the friendship that you get to build on.

2. Don’t pretend to be who you aren’t. Don’t be Captain Boasts a Lot. Don’t Be Mrs. One Up or even Madame Fixes Everyone Else’s Problem.

3. Listen to your friends.

4. Realize you and your friends don’t have to agree on every damn thing in the world to be friends.

5. Be honest. Don’t pretend to agree on everything in the world.

6. Don’t be talking about your friend behind their back. That’s not cool.

WRITING TIP OF THE CAST

 As writers, we have to make friendships seem real in our books, right? So to do that we have to know what makes a friendship real. 

We think there are four basic elements to friendships.

  1. You have to be able to initiate things – conversations, communications, texts. And you also have to actually respond when your friends initiate these same things.
  2. You have to have Friendship Situational Awareness – what does that mean? It means you can understand the social scene, your friend’s attitude, needs, issues, and strengths and you can love them despite their occasional annoying mouth breathing moments. Be aware of what the appropriate responses are to your friend’s needs. Don’t tell them they are beautiful when they just want a hug. Don’t mow their lawn when they are looking for kimchi.
  3. Interact in a nice way. Seriously. If I’m reading a book and the friends are total schmucks to each other and don’t exhibit any caring or generosity? I don’t believe that friendship. I don’t believe it in real life either.
  4. Listen to your friends and focus on what they are saying. Don’t be staring at your phone or out the window when they’re talking to you.

Bonus Tip: Don’t put your friend’s head in your mouth and slobber on it.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. 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!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Don’t Make Sucky Friends (in life and books) – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

This week, we couldn’t think of what to talk about in our podcast and we went to Carrie’s Facebook page and had an ask for ideas.

Public Safety Dispatcher Marie Overlock and Firefighter Amelie Bacon, both suggested, ‘friendship,’ so it won out and we’ll save Matt Baya’s suggestion of cow hugging for a later date. Because… cow hugging!

Friendship and children’s books are a pretty natural combination. Carrie’s own books are big on friends even when they are full of romance.

Friends matter. And there are so many beautiful examples of friendships in children’s books, but let’s go with this Maine classic from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.”

“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my best friend, and I think you’re sensational. Now stop arguing and go get some sleep!”

In our life, Carrie is Wilbur and Shaun is Charlotte. Just so you know.

DOG TIPS FOR FRIENDSHIP AND LIFE

1. You do not have to be everyone’s friend. Choose wisely. Pick the people who don’t bring you down. That’s the base for the friendship that you get to build on.

2. Don’t pretend to be who you aren’t. Don’t be Captain Boasts a Lot. Don’t Be Mrs. One Up or even Madame Fixes Everyone Else’s Problem.

3. Listen to your friends.

4. Realize you and your friends don’t have to agree on every damn thing in the world to be friends.

5. Be honest. Don’t pretend to agree on everything in the world.

6. Don’t be talking about your friend behind their back. That’s not cool.

WRITING TIP OF THE CAST

 As writers, we have to make friendships seem real in our books, right? So to do that we have to know what makes a friendship real. 

WE think there are four basic elements to friendships.

  1. You have to be able to initiate things – conversations, communications, texts. And you also have to actually respond when your friends initiate these same things.
  2. You have to have Friendship Situational Awareness – what does that mean? It means you can understand the social scene, your friend’s attitude, needs, issues, and strengths and you can love them despite their occasional annoying mouth breathing moments. Be aware of what the appropriate responses are to your friend’s needs. Don’t tell them they are beautiful when they just want a hug. Don’t mow their lawn when they are looking for kimchi.
  3. Interact in a nice way. Seriously. If I’m reading a book and the friends are total schmucks to each other and don’t exhibit any caring or generosity? I don’t believe that friendship. I don’t believe it in real life either.
  4. Listen to your friends and focus on what they are saying. Don’t be staring at your phone or out the window when they’re talking to you.

Bonus Tip: Don’t put your friend’s head in your mouth and slobber on it.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. 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!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

 

Don’t Make Sucky Friends (in life and books) – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

 
 
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