Unplug Yourself and Bark Back and Find Your Agency

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Unplug Yourself and Bark Back and Find Your Agency
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There’s an Anne Lamott quote that says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes—including you.”

And that’s a lovely quote and quite true in so many instances, but also sometimes? Sometimes it can feel next to impossible to unplug.

Sometimes that unplugging has to be a dramatic event where you realize that you have to rescue yourself from the habits that are controlling your life, or the people controlling your life and you have to actually take your own control of your life.

I know! I know! Terrifying.

But the first question is: how do you actually take control over your life?

Over at the greatergood, there are some potential possibilities that we’re going to share here. It’s a great article written by Anthony Rao and Paul Napper back in 2019.

Controlling Stimuli

They write:

“Agency begins with what you let into your mind—meaning what comes in from your environment. If you are lacking agency, it’s likely your attention is being hijacked and you need to figure out how to restore it.”

A phone next to you when you’re reading? It’s probably going to distract you, they say. But walking outside? It lets your brain recharge.

Same thing with email notifications. 

Another thing they suggest is . . .

“Associate Selectively”

They write:

“It’s impossible not to be affected by those around us—it’s easy to “catch” their emotions, for example, and our brains tend to synch up when we associate with other people. That means you should set boundaries with difficult people, disentangle yourself from negative online interactions, and be more conscious of how you might be vulnerable to “groupthink”—pressures to behave or think in ways that are contrary to your values.”

How do you do that when that person is your kid? It’s a good question. But they suggest making sure you have a lot of interactions with people who want to help you cultivate your skills and talents, grow to your potential, and help you with your positive beliefs. Volunteering and just chatting can help.

Move Around

Get up. Off the couch. Off the chair. Stretch. Walk. Dance. As often as possible.

Learn

They write: “People with high levels of agency are continually learning more and expanding their capacity to learn by adopting a more open, collaborative approach to everything in life.”

There’s a whole lot more we’ll talk about next week too, but for this week, try this:

  1. Put your phone in another room while you work.
  2. Go outside and walk if you can.
  3. Get up every 40 minutes and move around for five. Set a timer.
  4. Chat with someone positive or sign up to volunteer somewhere.
  5. Sign up for a free class or even listen to a podcast like this. Take some time to learn something.

And think about this:

“You can’t buy, achieve or date serenity and peace of mind,” Anne Lamott says in a TedTalk about being sixty-one. “It’s an inside job, and we can’t arrange peace or lasting improvement for the people we love most in the world. They have to find their own ways, their own answers.”

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Bark. Communicate your needs and sometimes the neighbor will bark back and you’ll feel less lonely.

Sparty

LINKS WE USE IN THE PODCAST

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_feel_more_in_control_of_your_life

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/help-i-found-a-weird-way-to-calm-the-dog-next-door-my-neighbor-is-furious-about-it/ar-AAVAHvE

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 “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Is My Beer Okay and the Problems With People Pleasing

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Is My Beer Okay and the Problems With People Pleasing
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When Carrie was growing up, she spent a lot of time trying to make sure her mom didn’t cry or get too mad or sad.

“One of my earliest memories is actually yelling at my poor dad, telling him that I hated him because he made ‘my mommy’ cry. I was younger than four and I had no idea what was going on with them, but to my little four-year-old brain, keeping my mom happy was my job and duty.”

But what that taught Carrie was that you have to please other people to keep things from erupting into chaos. Her mom didn’t consciously teach that to her at all, and her mom had a lot of people pleaser in her, too. And then a bad relationship with a man with alcohol issues and abusive tendencies made it even worse. How can you have a want when that want might mean you’ll get pushed up against a wall?

The problem with being a people pleaser is that you spend so much time thinking about how your actions impact others that you forget to make decisions on what you yourself want to do.

So now when she’s asked things like, “What’s your favorite food? Where do you want to go to dinner? Where would you like to go on vacation?” She freezes up.

She’s lost the ability to make decisions for herself because she’s afraid of the consequences and because she wants everyone else to be happy.

Tiny Buddha has an article about three questions that you can ask yourself if you’re a people pleaser to help you reorient to putting yourself first occasionally and not do the Carrie freeze.

Those questions are:

  1. Is this my priority? Not other people’s?
  2. What is important to me?
  3. How will I feel after I make this decision?

When you know what your priority is, what kind of life you want, what is important, then you can make the decisions that make you happy, the ones that help you grow.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

The thing is to be in your moment Right now. Where are you? Are you stuck in a car and can't open the door? You can still smile out the window. The car will move again. You will move again. You've got this. You're so full of light. xo Sparty Dog (apologies for the hearts)
Sparty Dog

Be who you are and know what you want.

LINKS WE REFERENCED


https://www.ketk.com/news/weird-news/video-florida-man-struck-by-car-leaving-store-asks-if-his-beer-is-ok/

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 “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Hiding Your Boobs Is Your Body Language Your Own Worst Friend Six Hot Tips About Better NonVerbal Communication

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Hiding Your Boobs Is Your Body Language Your Own Worst Friend Six Hot Tips About Better NonVerbal Communication
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Friends, sometimes your body is putting out a message that you might not want out there.

What am I talking about?

Well, here we go.

Shaun is a big, tall, broad-shouldered, thin-lipped man with large eyes and a large presence. When he crosses those strong forearms across his trunk and stands against a wall at a party, he is definitely sending a message to everyone glancing his way.

And what’s that message?

Go away.

Carrie is a short, buxom woman who tends to hug her purse to her chest whenever she’s sitting down at a restaurant or at a poker table. She’s definitely sending a message too.

And what’s that message?

Carrie is super insecure about everything and she’s clutching her purse like a baby blanket.

Neither of these are really the messages we intend to send. Shaun is just trying (usually) not to take up too much room. Carrie’s trying to hide her chest because that’s what she’s mostly insecure about. It’s hard when people stare at your breasts all the time.

But the point here is that we aren’t always cognizant of the messages that our bodies are putting out.

It has been suggested that body language may account for between 60 to 65% of all communication.

Verywellmind citing Foley GN, Gentile JP. Nonverbal communication in psychotherapy. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010;7(6):38-44.

And sometimes we can’t control what we’re putting out.

That same article cites a study by Kleisner, Chvátalová, and Flegr which says,

One study found that individuals who had narrower faces and more prominent noses were more likely to be perceived as intelligent. People with smiling, joyful expression were also judged as being more intelligent than those with angry expressions

Verywellmind

So, some things we can’t control unless we have a lot of money for cosmetic surgery, but some things we can, right?

We can all remember that a closed body language often means that we’re telling people nonverbally that we’re hostile or anxious. An open body language often means that we’re telling people we’re open and friendly.

Knowing how you move in space, how you take up space (or don’t), is really helpful in understanding the impressions you give to people and the impressions others give to you, too.

So you want to improve those skills, right?

Verywellmind has another article all about tips to improve your nonverbal communication and they suggest doing the following:

QUICK TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS

One.

Actually pay attention to other people’s gestures and expressions.

Two

Notice when the words and the body don’t match.

Three

Think about your tone of voice and other people’s tones.

Four

Make eye contact like a boss.

Five

Ask questions to help you figure things out. They suggest

“So what you are saying is that…”

“Do you mean that we should…”

“What I’m hearing is that you think…”

verywellmind

Six

“Look at Signals as a Whole”

A person might be smiling and clenching their fist, you know? That doesn’t usually mean they want to go belly dance with you.

Hot Tip For Body Language

If you are standing at a party and don’t want to do a Shaun or Carrie, do this:

  1. Let your purse hang down. Don’t clutch.
  2. Pull your shoulders back.
  3. Stand with your feet a bit apart and planted on the floor. Pretend you’re a female country singer, they are always standing like that.
  4. Don’t wiggle around. Stand in one place

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 “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

RANDOM THOUGHT LINKS

https://news.sky.com/story/prince-charming-mannequin-mistaken-for-body-rolled-up-in-carpet-on-motorway-12518465

https://news.sky.com/story/mafia-fugitive-arrested-after-being-spotted-on-google-street-view-in-spain-12509812

https://news.sky.com/story/police-officers-fired-for-ignoring-la-robbery-in-progress-to-play-pokemon-go-12513520

Courage in Unlikely Places – How Thinking of Others Helps You Be Courageous

Today is Be Brave Friday, and I don’t have a ton of insight. I know! I know! Way to sell a blog post, Carrie, right?

Me and Em not being scared.

So, I thought I should look to some wordsmiths instead.

Courage is found in unlikely places.

J.R.R. Tolkien

There’s something that compels us to show our inner souls. The more courageous we are, the more we succeed in explaining what we know.

Maya Angelou

Courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace.

Nelson Mandela

I am no Tolkein, Angelou, or Mandela, but there’s a great compulsion in me to edge toward peace at all times, to expose my innermost self, and to learn and learn and seek, which is why I hope to find courage in unlikely places as I contemplate some big writing leaps this weekend.

It’s a time for new projects–projects I’m a little afraid about, honestly.

And speaking of projects, this is a giant (for me) painting that I’m working on. I’m not done with it yet, so try not to judge too harshly.

Unlikely Places

Courage is sort of an elusive beast for us sometimes. I get anxious just posting, but what helps me to move past anxiety and fear is to stop thinking about myself.

I’ve been so lucky because I get kind people giving me feedback that my random thoughts and bits of brave have helped them get brave, too. That’s mind blowing to me actually. But it helps me to keep posting and keep revealing.

Here’s the thing: If you only think about YOU, fear starts taking over.

When fear starts taking over, it’s harder to act.

I could never post a poem or painting or podcast because I’m scared about being ridiculed or exposing my vulnerability, but when I stop focusing on me and what could negatively impact me, I allow myself to make connections with others and hopefully help them, too.

One of the easiest ways to take action, to move forward, to be courageous is to think about other people, the world outside your brain. If you have a sense of purpose (even if it’s to make someone else less awkward at a board meeting), then you can eat away your fear.

Caring about others, caring about helping others helps us shift the focus away from ourselves, but it also helps us push down our fear to a back corner in where it belongs.

POSTS AND PODCASTS THIS WEEK

And just to catch up, here are the posts from this week!

Shaun blogs about the four elements of a successful relationship.

I blog about our poor fence and the poor trees that keep come smashing down.

On Write Better Now, how to make your writing more intense.

On Carrie Does Poetry, I read the aptly titled poem, “You Aren’t Allowed to Write About Me.”

This week’s humorous, but yummy recipe was Microwave Raspberry Sauce of Wordle and Wine.

On Dogs are Smarter Than People, we talk about pot brownies, intention and the Rock. Yowza.

And our live podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, we talk about the weirdest songs ever.

And if you haven’t checked it out yet, my author interview with Tony Quintana on Dogs are Smarter Than People’s bonus edition.

POEMS EVERYWHERE!

Over on Medium and my social media, I post motivating daily thoughts from my animals. On Medium (and only on Medium), I post poems that I’ve written (usually) every weekday. You should check it out! And clap or something so I can make $1 over there this month. 🙂

How About You?

There you go! And how are you doing? Are you hanging in? Being brave? Thinking thoughts? Sharing new things?

NEW BOOK OUT

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

Man, Are You Toxic? How to Start to Get Over It

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Man, Are You Toxic? How to Start to Get Over It
/

So, this week in our attempt to make your life a little bit better, we’re talking about being toxic and we are specifically talking about men being toxic.

And to do that we first have to define what toxic masculinity is.

Maya Salem in a 2019 NYT article writes that it’s:

  • Hiding your emotions, pretending you aren’t upset
  • Making sure everyone thinks you’re hard. (not your muscles, but your brain/soul/emotions)
  • Violence=toughness=powerful

“In other words: Toxic masculinity is what can come of teaching boys that they can’t express emotion openly; that they have to be “tough all the time”; that anything other than that makes them “feminine” or weak. (No, it doesn’t mean that all men are inherently toxic.)”

Salem

But toxic masculinity is more than that. It’s a set of beliefs that a lot of men believe about themselves and that a lot of women believe about them, too.

What are those damn, stupid beliefs. According to Dr. Axe, they are things like (all the italicized below is a direct quote, but the format in the notes is hitching:

  • Manhood is defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.
  • Men should not be interested in “feminine things” because this makes them appear weak
  • Men shouldn’t display “feminine” traits such as emotional vulnerability.
  • Men and women can never truly understand each other or just be friends, for reasons like men are always interested in sex.
  • Real men are strong and don’t show emotional signs of shame or weakness.
  • Anger and violence are useful ways of solving conflicts.
  • Men are not suited to be single parents/the dominant parent in a family.

So, you might recognize some of those beliefs in yourselves or in others, rights? And it’s kind of a lot of bullshit.

You can be male; you can be a man and be nuanced. And there isn’t some dichotomy of man strong/woman weak. We’re not even going to begin to talk about how tough female sex organs and birthing organs are, right?

Sigh.

That is a rant for another time.

Moving on, masculinity theory has its origins in gender theories and has been expanded by the work of Raewyn Connell (Australian sociologist), Dr. Ronald Levant (researcher) and others who speak of the patriarchal dividend. And according to Dr. Axe, it’s about:

“A set of values, established by men in power, that functions to include and exclude, and to organize society in gender unequal ways. It combines several features: a hierarchy of masculinities, differential access among men to power (over women and other men) and the interplay between men’s identity, men’s ideals, interactions, power and patriarchy.”

So, what are those values? We talked about some of them, but those aren’t all. Let’s go at it from another angle.

Over on Tiny Buddha, Charles Razook writes:

“Toxic masculinity has bred men to be the life of the party. Drink hard. Smoke cigarettes. Do drugs. Be indomitable. This behavior always necessitates sleeping in to recover afterward and lower productivity.

“For women, on the other hand, there is more of an emphasis on looks, composure, and output. Essentially, on being perfect.

“This may sound misogynistic, backward, and antiquated, but unfortunately, these expectations still affect our society, though they are slowly changing. And the result is not very positive for men or women.”

How does this hold us all back? That’s kind of the question, right?

According to Scientific American,

“But this scramble for dominance and denial of emotion comes at great cost. It blunts men’s awareness of other people’s needs and emotions, drives domestic and sexual violence, makes aggression look like a reasonable way to solve conflict, forbids seeking health care (and even thinking about seeking mental health care), and pours fuel on the fire of drug and alcohol abuse

“Toxic masculinity even invades life’s small pleasures. To paraphrase the comedian Bill Burr, the man box means you can’t admit a baby is cute, hug a puppy, say you want a cookie, order banana pancakes, or carry an umbrella in the rain (“Get those shoulders up!”).”

And how do we fight it?

  1. Allow your kids and your men to have emotions and express them, damn it.
  2. Call out people for being nasty trolling idiots.
  3. Look at your kids’ role models. Are they toxic?
  4. Remember toxic people can change. Your mistakes don’t have to destroy you. Just thinking they do is toxic.
  5. Admit that culture and society has helped shape you and your personality and belief systems.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be afraid to explore who you are and why you are that way.

Links

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-fight-toxic-masculinity/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-the-wild-things-are/201810/toxic-masculinity-what-is-it-and-how-do-we-change-it

https://www.ladbible.com/news/weird-man-who-called-womens-swimsuits-pornography-loses-his-job-20210909

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 “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we are transitioning to a new writer podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW! You’ll be able to check it out here starting in 2022!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
best poetry podcast by poet
Carrie Does Poems

Don’t let your fear make you into a monster.

I’m releasing a book today and if you could buy it? That would be great.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about memory and fear and being unapologetic in your joy and your fear.

It begins with fear and memory.

Sometimes, other people seem to remember my life better than I do. I’m not talking about Facebook posts here either—those tiny little moments that are forever embossed in the narrative of a social media life, tiny moments that strung together help define me even if I don’t always remember them.

But they do help me remember.

I see the images on ‘memories’ on social media and think, “Look, I was fitting people into wheelchairs in Belize, in Panama. Look, here is where my marriage almost broke apart but didn’t. Look, here is when I stopped. Just stopped. Oh, a pretty sunset. I must have started again or pretended to.”

But there are other kinds of memories that often don’t make it onto social media.

There are things I deliberately don’t remember—usually bad things—those painful moments that I push into the back of my head so that they aren’t they main things defining me and I only bring out to help other people (hopefully).

Robin Williams has said, “The things we fear the most have already happened to us.”

Which doesn’t quite explain my mom’s phobia of birds, but does explain so many other things and choices that we make as people.

But the Williams’ quote does make me wonder why we are so afraid, especially us writers.

Failing just means nothing changes.

Success? That’s where the unknown happens.

We become so used to shrouding ourselves in doubt and fear that we don’t realize that we can shed those things, but also? We don’t realize that we can put on new clothes, new positive emotions.

We don’t have to bond with each other in collectives of despair and mutual fear, but we can reach out and up, and lift ourselves and others into something good, something brave, something that isn’t full of fear and doubt, but bravery.

How cool would that be?

I grew up in a family full of fear. My mom was afraid of birds, swimming, bridges, closed in spaces, big open spaces, bugs, dead animals, storms, miscarriages, eventually cats, so many things—too many things. One of our big family stories was how when my sister was a toddler she was terrified of grass. She’s worked her way through that, thankfully. And my mom worked her way through moments that she didn’t want to remember. They were both brave even when fear seemed overwhelming.

But what was cool about my family—especially my extended family full of steps and halves and diversity—is that when something awesome happened? Almost everyone celebrated. There was no jealousy, just joy. There was hardly any “that should be me,” only “look at you go!”

So often our insecurities make us want to tear down the joys of others, even the tiniest of happiness. And that? That’s what matters. That’s what drowns us and our own creativity and propensity for joy.

We all know someone who is a bully even as a grownup, always looking for angles to pull others down. And no, I’m not just talking about people on Twitter, but people who elate in other’s miseries. Usually? Those people are bullies, blowhards and buttheads (I wanted to use the swear word there) because they are so insecure and riddled by fear that they last out.

That doesn’t make it hurt any less when they lash out at you, but you don’t want to be like them, you know? Don’t let your fear make you into a monster.

We need to spend less time pulling people into our own fear and insecurities and more time lifting people up into bravery and light.

One of my acquaintances was having a miscarriage once and was trying to get to the hospital, walking, because it happened during a walk around town. Panicked, she called another of our mutual friends who was out of town. And then they called me.

I have lost babies. Not many people know that.

I was on massive bedrest for five months for Emily (the baby who made it) to try to keep her inside me long enough to increase her chances. Pregnancy is a scary place (and joyful one) for me.

When I drove my acquaintance to our local hospital, cars were blocking intersections, tourists were yelling at locals and vice versa and in my car the unthinkable, the harrowing, was happening. It was terrifying. The fear was all over her beautiful face, in the shake of her voice, and there we were moving through all these happy families, all this joy and chaos and in my little car something very big was happening very quietly.

I was grateful and lucky to be there for her as she endured those horrible moments with such grace, and I am grateful and lucky to be there for anyone’s tragedy and celebration because it means that I was there. That I am there.

That’s what we have to be.

There.

Despite the fear.

Despite the worry.

Despite everything.

And when we are there in the moments of our lives and others’ lives, we can choose to react with fear or with compassion, with jealousy or with joy. We get to define that in our choices over and over again, and we damn sure aren’t going to be perfect each time, but what we can do? Is try.

Try to be unapologetic in your joy, in your success.

Try to take off that shroud of fear.

Try to stand with people as they fight for things that matter.

Try to be unapologetic in your moments, in other moments, to be there, to truly be there.

Try to live bravely, to create bravely, to love and mourn and sing bravely.

We can do this. Our past sorrows and fears are there, they can be remembered when we feel strong, but we get to choose how and if they define us in the moments that we are living now. That’s pretty powerful stuff. You are pretty powerful stuff!

NEW BOOK ALERT!

INCHWORMS, the second book in the DUDE GOODFEATHER series is coming out September 1!

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.

You can buy it here!

Find Your Couch, People!

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification. And no, we don’t always agree. 🙂

And I did not freaking fall asleep on the couch today. I was there for five minutes, so he is a lying liar who lies.

best podcast ever

It is 3:35 in the afternoon here where Carrie and I live. It is quite hot for our part of Maine, which is on the coast and usually runs a bit cooler than the inland areas and my phone is telling me that it is 84 degrees. Not horrible, but hot and humid enough to make a person want to just lie down on their couch for a minute after working for eight hours already with a guaranteed two hours of work left in the day.

Yes, Carrie just laid down on our couch, “for a minute.”

I don’t blame her one bit! If anything I am a bit jealous because I still have to write this blog, mow our lawn and produce dinner. Okay, I will be honest and tell you that our lawn is small and  dinner will be pizza from a place just down the street. I will even drive to pick it up when it is literally a three minute walk! Despicable I know, but I had to flesh out my remaining to do list items a bit, because she still has real work to do.

Anyway, Carrie is on the couch, supine.

I am very happy for her because she, honestly, works very hard, every day! I am not exaggerating at all, she does.

I am concerned about her though.

You see, Carrie and our couch have a very special relationship. Every time she lies in the arms of the couch it does something to her. Something special I suppose. I mean, why else would she fall asleep almost immediately? It must be something better than whatever I do when we lay down in bed at night and she has trouble falling asleep.

Okay, perhaps a tiny bit jealous.

Actually, as a most incredibly loving husband, I am happy for her! I am happy that she has a place to go where she can actually relax and free her brain from the woes of the world. Maybe if I wrap myself in smooth and supple leather before bed at night she will be able to sleep like this next to me.

My real point here is that everyone should have such a place!

Find your couch, people! Find that place where you can relax so much that even the constant text notifications on your phone don’t rouse you from your repose.

You deserve it!

You need it!

I am going to go mow our lawn now. Hopefully I will remember to awaken Carrie before her 4:30 Zoom meeting with a client.

Peace be with you folks, y’all deserve it. And, as always, remember to Love Your Way Through It!

Shaun 

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

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

Carrie Jones Books
Carrie Jones Books
Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.
/

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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

Carrie Jones Books
Carrie Jones Books
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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

Stopping Doomsday Thinking

A lot of great clients and students that I’ve worked with have what I like to call Doomsday Thinking. I’m pretty sure I didn’t coin that phrase.

What is doomsday thinking?

It’s basically catastrophic thinking.

In Psychology Today, Toni Bernhard J.D. writes, “The term refers to our irrational and exaggerated thoughts: thoughts that have no basis in fact, but which we believe anyway.”

Those thoughts become so big and so distorted that we get anxious.

I am a pro at doomsday thinking

I basically had these kinds of thoughts until last year.

Those negative, spiraling thoughts can become so big, so huge, that it’s almost impossible to be happy about who we are, what we’ve done, what we will do, or our life.

We forget there can be good outcomes too.

Instead, we think about all the bad potentials and build them up like super stores, giving them so much space in our thoughts that they take over.

The why is it always me syndrome.

One of my most brilliant and adorable relatives does this all the time. She gets stuck on a highway coming home from work because of a traffic jam and thinks, “Why does this always happen to me? The universe hates me.”

When in reality, she’s not alone in that traffic jam, right? It’s almost self-absorbed to think that the frustrating things are out to get you and only you.

Or, we get rejected when we send our book to an agent and think, “This is impossible. I will never get published. I am doomed to suck forever. I give up.”

When in reality, you don’t suck at all. Writing is subjective and that particular agent just wasn’t for you.

Change happens.

In doomsday thinking whenever something bad happens, we assume that this is the way it will always be. It isn’t.

The world is chaos and full of change.

I just was texting with one of my friends the other night and I wrote, “I bet Five-years-ago Steve would never have imagined this.”

The this was good stuff happening in his life. And he hadn’t. He hadn’t predicted any of it.

We’re all like that. I didn’t imagine I’d be where I am five years ago. That’s because change happens. Even the bad doesn’t stay always bad. We can’t predict the outcomes and all the variables even when we think we can.

Here’s the good thing about change

Since things change, it means that you don’t need to stay stuck forever. And you don’t need to stay in those negative thought patterns forever either.

Why not? It’s pretty easy to lean into your internal critic, right? But you don’t have to. You can stay calm. You can take chances and make choices and shut them up.

We all have inner critics, but we also need inner cheerleaders

I used to imagine my inner critic as John Wayne (the dead movie star/cowboy). He was so harsh on me. Always telling me to work. So, I created an inner cheerleader who turned out to be the Muppet, Grover. Yes, from Sesame Street. My brain is a weird place.

John Wayne and Grover would duel it out for supremacy in my head.

Weird! Weird! I know. But by giving an identity to that negative voice/inner critic, it helped me to recognize that doomsday thinking and shut it down so that I could take chances and risks and do things.

Allow yourself to treat challenges and projects like you’re playing

Another thing that helps is giving myself a chance to play and fail. You can do this, too.

Find something you’ve wanted to do. Start a blog? Make a video? Learn to paint? Ride your bike every morning? Make it something that excites you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give yourself a time frame. I have 30 days to do this! That sort of short timeframe.
  2. Schedule time into your day/week to do it.
  3. It helps if you have an end project. So, tell yourself what your end product will be.
  4. Do it.

By giving ourselves a product and a timeframe, we give ourselves a chance to try things. It doesn’t seem like a forever-worry that way and it usually shuts up our doomsday thinking and John Waynes a tiny bit.

You’ve got this. I believe in you. You need to believe in you, too.

xo

Carrie

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

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