Claw Your Way Out

Success doesn’t ride on the coattails of forgetfulness or excuses. It rides on doing and getting things done!

You ever have one of those days where you wake up, claw your way out of bed to start your day and after five minutes the only thing you really want to do is go right back to bed?

As I write this I have been awake for approximately one hour and fifty minutes and returning to the sleeping realm still seems to be the only thing my brain can concentrate on.

But, I have work to do, work outside of and away from the house and my beloved wife, Carrie, is counting on me completing my Thursday assignment of authoring a blog post.

I never want to let Carrie down, so regardless of what my brain is telling me I have sat down in front of my computer and started to type. Why would I torment myself this way, you may ask.

The answer is simple.

We all have responsibilities, usually to many people who are counting on us to get one or more things accomplished and usually within a certain frame of time.

The only way to get anything done is, simply put, just start doing it!

If you never start, it will never get completed.

Not only do you need to start, you need to persevere, come back to it if you have to take a break, but never stop doing it or it will always go unfinished.

That includes writing.

Maybe you don’t feel like writing on a given day, maybe you are experiencing writer’s block or maybe you have a long ago forgotten unfinished work.

Whatever it is, you need to sit down and just start!

Just put words on paper or screen and let them flow forth from you. They don’t have to be perfect, nothing is the first time around, but pretty soon you will have a much increased word count.

As you write you may even have an epiphany, a new idea or path for your story to take. Some of the best ideas come from just letting whatever thoughts and words ooze out of your noggin.

After you have logged a few paragraphs or pages, you can go back, reread your beautiful work, do a little editing (because you were just going with the flow the first time around) and most times you will find that there is something within that dribble that you can really use. It may require a little tightening up, a little changing around, but it’s there, a story, or at least the bones of one.

As you complete this sequence, hopefully you will find yourself getting into the process more, your body feeling more awake and excited about the drudgery that you had no interest in even beginning a short while ago.

Now, I realize that we have all read or heard this advice before. I am simply reminding you of it.

Sometimes we need reminders about the tiniest and most simplistic of ways to fool ourselves into doing something we don’t want to. We all forget and we all make excuses, but success doesn’t ride on the coattails of forgetfulness or excuses. It rides on doing and getting things done!

YOU can do it, just start, go grab your dreams and don’t forget to love your way through it!

Shaun

Shaun clawing his way into a hat.

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Why Do You Write?

A few years ago in our Vermont College MFA blog, someone wrote about why they write when they know they’ll never get enough money to pay bills, etc….

Her reasons were interesting and somewhat inspiring, but had nothing to do with why I write.

Making Sense

I write to make sense of things, because I want to believe that lives are part of a bigger picture, a bigger connection, and because it’s the only way I can dig deep into the meaning of the stuff that goes on.

I guess I think of all writing like a poem, a way to get to the universal through the specific.

That same time as the Vermont College blog, two people I knew and liked died. One was a little, old lady named Mrs. Blanche Clark who used to live next door to me.

On 9/11 she and her husband and all the neighborhood families gathered outside with candles. She had a lung disease and couldn’t be near the candles and she kept moving so she could be down wind. She wanted so badly to be there and she was. She was beautiful.

The other person, was a boy really, Benny . He was in his early 20s. He used to be a high school star athlete, got addicted to heroin, then recovered, straightened out and got engaged, got religion, got a lot of things really.

He was a spark plug boy, always lighting up rooms. His dad works at an assisted living center on the third shift. Benny was keeping him company until 2 a.m. and then headed home.

He hadn’t put his seatbelt on yet, just turned out of the center onto the main road when a lady with a super high blood alcohol content smashed into him. His body was in the backseat when the firefighters came and cut him out. I hate that. I hate the thought that his body went backwards when Benny had finally gotten his life to go forwards.

Sometimes Things Don’t Make Sense

I can’t make super sense of it all. But that’s why I write. Because I’m trying to, I guess. Although, then I write such stupid things occasionally like Children’s Author Picture Book Porn Collaborative Workshop, that maybe that isn’t the reason I write at all.

Why do you guys write?


Fun? Spite? Boredom? Love? Because you are chained to your laptop? Because someone once told you that you were a good writer (and I am sure you are)?

Why?


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

What Happens to Your Mom When You Hit the NYT Bestsellers List

So, I thought I should tell this story about what happened with my mom when my books debuted on the NYT Bestseller Kids Lists. This was back when my mom was alive and everything.

First off, I should probably say for the five years or so before this my mom had been super sick with diabetes and all these horrible complications from it. She’d almost died a couple times. She’d been in the hospital a ton. And basically, that stunk.

The point is that she’d been through a lot.  

And when she called me after hearing the news about the whole New York Times thing she screamed into the phone, “Oh my gosh. Ohmygosh. Oh God, Carrie. I’m hyper. I’m hyperventilating. I’m hyperventilating I’m so excited. Oh my gosh, I’m hyperventilating. I am so proud of you. Oh, I am so very very proud of you.”

Which pretty much cracked me up because it was cute!

Anyway, she had to get infusions or transfusions or something that same week.

She talked to the lab tech/nurse lady one day (the day before the NYT thing) and then the lady called back the next day after my mom had learned.

The woman who was super nice said, “Betty? What’s going on? Something happened. Your voice is different.”

At this point my mother had her prou- mom moment and told her. The woman was all excited for her. It was hard not to be excited for my mother. 

My mother’s appointment was the next day and when she walked into the waiting room the receptionist said in a frantic tone, “She’s here! Betty’s here.” 

Then everyone who worked at the lab came out and started applauding as my mom walked to the check-in desk.

One of them, she said, yelled, “It’s the mother of the New York Times bestselling author.”

So, I have to say three things:

1. I think the best moment in all of this totally belongs to my mom and I am so happy about that.


2. I hope all of you who are trying to be writers or have other awesome goals get a moment like that where you achieve something with someone’s support, and they get to celebrate too. 

3. Even before COVID-19 healthcare workers, grocery store workers, farmers, first responders, teachers? They were making impacts. They were making a difference. They were making people like my mom feel so special. We should make them feel special too.


HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

Shaun Takes Over the Blog: Hunt and Peck Method

I believe that the stories that come from the heart are always the best ones!

            I don’t know what the productivity rate of the average author is, but in this house, it is high. Real high!

Not from me of course. You can’t possibly be productive when, no matter how much you type, you absolutely refuse to give up the two-finger hunt-and-peck method. Well, I actually use three fingers because I use my right thumb to hit the space bar as I use both of my middle fingers to find the appropriate letters. Carrie says that I am a pretty fast hunter and pecker, but when I watch her type, I am convinced that my method is the inferior one.

            Hardly any of that has anything to do with my point though, so please forgive me.

My point is that Carrie is always working on more than one book (of her own making) at any given moment. I am usually tasked with helping her edit her works at some point in time. My reading skills are far superior to my typing skills, and I love helping her out because then we can talk further about other aspects of her books and I get to read them before they are actually printed.

At this very moment, I have chapters from three different books of hers on my desk awaiting my attention as soon as I am done hunting and pecking this out. One of the books has been submitted to her agent and she is doing recommended edits on that, the second one will be self-published and she has not decided which route to go with the third.

            Part of my point is this; it doesn’t matter how much you produce or how many times you read your own manuscript (No matter what kind of superior editor you think you are.) you will always miss some of your own mistakes. It really pays to hire someone to edit your work for you! Of course, you must edit it yourself first, but I would always advise an author to employ an editor, even if it is someone who you are paying with home-cooked meals or similar wages.

            This is especially true if you decide to self-publish your work.

Carrie and I have been purchasing a lot of self-published books lately. She loves to support other authors, and while some are very well edited and formatted, some are definitely disappointing. You work very hard on making your masterpiece come together, shouldn’t you see it through to the very end and produce a book to be proud of for more than just the amazing words that are on the paper? So, this is where I make my shameless plug for Carrie. Not only does she offer editing for other authors (I never touch a paying customer’s work, I promise!), but she can format your self-published book and help you to be a better author. You can find information about all of the professional she offers at carriejonesbooks.blog. Or at the links below.

            Now that I have done my professional and husbandly duties (which I truly love doing), let me say that everyone has a story to tell and those of you that take the time to try and capture it in some medium deserve mad respect!

Let me also say that if you are writing because you want to make bags full of money, I can very much appreciate that, however, you may want to first concentrate on telling your story in the most heartfelt way possible. I believe that the stories that come from the heart are always the best ones!

Follow your heart and have a most incredible week, people!

Shaun



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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

Finding a way past fear using love and death

Sometimes, when I am afraid of what might happen, of mistakes I’ve made, of mistakes I might make, I tell that fear that I know it’s there, but that I know I am there, too. And that’s okay. You don’t need to be fearless. You just need to be you.

Who we are is something deeper than the things that have happened to us. It’s an essence that you can feel.

There are two instances that help me describe that feeling—that soul knowledge of myself or someone else.

When our dog, Bethlehem died, she was just under two years old and a giant Komondor/Great Pyrenes mix. My husband (at the time) wouldn’t come with me to the vet for her final moments because he had to work and he said he couldn’t handle it. So I carried her 150-pound mass up these tottering wooden stairs to the vet’s office. Cars zoomed by outside. I struggled until someone pulled into the lot, ran up the stairs and helped me, taking her back legs so we can carry her inside.

            I’m not the physically strongest person and I couldn’t thank him enough for helping.

“My soul wouldn’t have been able not to help,” this random man said.

I’ll always remember that.

My soul wouldn’t have been able not to help.

He didn’t even have an appointment. He just saw us struggling and came.

            Bethy was our first family dog and adorable. Em, our daughter, adored her. She let us dress her fluffy self up as a ballerina, as a firefighter, she let cats sit on her back. She barked at any and all threats.

We all loved her so much.

She grew a cancerous mass the size of a football on her leg. It took two weeks to go from nothing to something massive, something that the vet said had already invaded her system. She faded so quickly.

            We had no choice, they said.

            So I made the appointment and after that man helped us up the stairs, I sat on the floor with her, holding her head as she stayed still on the floor, sideways. I cried silently. The vet’s assistant started to weep. The vet teared up.

And the moment Bethy was gone, the entire room filled with peace. It was as if Bethy’s soul had taken up the entire space.

I will always remember that feeling and cling to it when I doubt about things like souls and essences and life after your body is no longer useful.

            The other instance is a bit more chill. You know how sometimes you are only barely awake and you turn to the person you’re sharing a bed with and your brain can’t even form their name yet or you can’t even remember who they exactly are or look like, but you just recognize them there in the dark next to you?

            It’s like that.

            That’s what our souls are like.

            They are an essence, a recognition, a comfort, a realization. They can fill up an entire room and also speak to half-asleep brains in the dark.

            Sometimes, when I am afraid of what might happen, of mistakes I’ve made, of mistakes I might make, I tell that fear that I know it’s there, but that I know I am there, too. And that’s okay. You don’t need to be fearless. You just need to be you.

            Fear can protect us from actual dangers (like running into the woods at night when you hear a predator) or stepping in front of a bus. But it also can keep us from taking some more lovely chances and opportunities.

            And sometimes people in power use that fear to twist us into hating other people.

            Fear has got a lot going on.

            But love has got a lot going on, too. And that’s what you’ve got to cling to–the love part–even when the fear is calling to you to sink into its hollow. You’ve got to go for the love and the light and cling to it whenever you can.


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!


If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Transform Your Character and Make Your Story Rock

Stories help shape how we think and make decisions, provide order via narrative structures that are familiar. There is comfort in that familiarity.

You hear a lot that emotion matters in your novel and that you want to make the reader feel things. There’s even scientific proof that people do this. Paul J. Zak wrote  How Stories Change the Brain and said that character-driven stories with emotional content caused oxytocin synthesis. He backed it up with science.

According to Pamela B. Rutledge in Psychology Today,

“Stories are authentic human experiences. Stories leap-frog the technology and bring us to the core of the experience, as any good storyteller (transmedia or otherwise) knows. There are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful.”

According to her those reasons are:

  • Stories “connect us to a larger self and universal truths.”
  • Stories connect us and sometimes they are collaborative. “Through stories, we share passions, sadness, hardships, and joys. We share meaning and purpose.
  • Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others.”

She also says that stories help shape how we think and make decisions, provide order via narrative structures that are familiar. There is comfort in that familiarity. We know the story will be resolved and that makes us feel safe. And she believes that our brains are wired for them because they engage parts of our brain and spark our own imaginations.

So, we know that stories are meant to move us, but as writers how do we do that?

For a story to be good it needs to create emotion in the reader.

To do that, stories almost always have:

  1. Character (who your story is about. It can be about a condom as long as that condom is a character.
  2. A Big Want. Something that your character wants more than anything else, something that compels your character to action in order to get that big want.
  3. Conflict. Something that keeps the character from getting that want right away (or possibly ever).

That’s super simplistic, right? But those three elements are essential to story. Readers want to cheer on characters and sob with them. They want to feel the character’s transformation as they/he/she meets obstacles as they try to achieve those damn goals.

The best stories (especially in the YA genre) involve a change in the character, a metamorphosis, a transformation.

Who the character is at the beginning of the story often shouldn’t be who they are at the end of the story. There are two main different levels of transformation.

  1. The outside world changes. They have a car or a house now. The villain is gone and they are safe. This is the easy transformation.
  • Their personality changes. They are no longer reactive, but proactive, not a wall flower but an exhibitionist. They are brave now. They are a coward now. This is true for Bilbo Baggins or Harry Potter or Anakin Skywalker. They realize that they were wrong about something (a big lie that ruins their personality/life) and then they transform because of the truth. Sometimes that transformation is negative (Anakin, we’re looking at you!) and sometimes it’s positive.

There are other possibilities for smaller transformation. The character might grow but not change like Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby. This is called a growth arc usually. They have grown and learned some shit, but they are still their essential selves.

And there are also the no-transformation arc. Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, every sitcom character experience life, but they don’t really transform because of the experience.

RESOURCES

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201101/the-psychological-power-storytelling

(Paul J. Zak. “How Stories Change the Brain.” Greater Good. 27 July 2016).


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

Assumptions Suck in Books and in Real Life

Loving yourself and loving your way through it has a lot to do with forgiveness, but it’s okay to sometimes struggle with the concept of forgiveness, whether it’s about forgiving yourself or other people.

My husband is a tall, rugged white man. People look at him and assume that he played football, not just in high school, but college. Sometimes they assume he was pro.

            Those assumptions don’t stigmatize him, but that’s because he’s pretty lucky.

            We aren’t all that lucky all the time.

            But it’s important to look beyond people’s outsides and not make assumptions or to give advice like it’s absolute edicts. We all live in slightly different bubbles with different backgrounds and sometimes those worlds aren’t going to jive or mesh or even make sense.

When I was talking to him about some editing work I was doing on a self-help book, he looked at me and asked, “It must be nice for these people to be able to have the time and money to run off to a yoga or meditation retreat for three weeks.”

“I know, right?”

“Does this person think everyone can do this?”

“Kind of.”

            Both of us come from poor even though we aren’t poor now. Our parents were hard-working and our mothers were mostly single, but they didn’t have the ability to move beyond their economic brackets. His mom was derailed by lupus. Mine was derailed by diabetes and some bad decisions.

            The point is that both of them would have loved to have spa days and meditation and yoga retreats, chances to pamper their minds and bodies. But they were too busy surviving to find the money to spend on that.

            There are a lot of people posting Medium articles and blogs about how to balance work and life. They are often written by single guys in their late twenties. And it seems like they have it all figured out.

            And I hope that they do because that would be wonderful for them.

            But here’s the thing: Nobody else’s journey and circumstances are going to 100 percent work for you.

            Here’s another thing: Even your own methods and journey aren’t going to work for you 100 percent of the time.

            That’s okay.

            There’s no one path to love, to happiness, to success, or even to publishing a book, let alone writing it. There’s no one way that we are supposed to be. You’ve got to embrace that, embrace who you are and persevere.

Loving yourself and loving your way through it has a lot to do with forgiveness, but it’s okay to sometimes struggle with the concept of forgiveness, whether it’s about forgiving yourself or other people.

            It’s really good to try not to force other people to prescribe to your timetables about forgiveness. We all move at different speeds. That’s okay. We need to give ourselves and other people the space to determine their own damn pace.

            It’s important for us all to remember that our advice might not work for everyone and give space to our assumptions that it will. Not everyone who looks like a football player was a football player. Not everyone can practice self-care via a three-week meditation retreat. It’s okay. We are all okay.


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

Love Your Way Through It

Compassion and empathy makes you stronger. You don’t need to walk through this world with a big stick, scream from a bully pulpit or sermonize with fear. Empathy and kindness for even those who hurt you—or those who try to hurt you—only makes you stronger.

It’s really easy to get all wrapped up in status and ambition, to fall into the syndrome where you think the grass is always greener everywhere except your lawn, to be jealous at other people’s accolades or family’s or looks or luck.

            Shakespeare said that comparisons are odious. And that long-dead white guy was right.

            Comparisons make you feel like poop.

            I know that a lot of people try to make themselves feel better by comparing themself to others and find the others lesser.

I’ve had people do it to me all my life. I bet you have, too.

My husband before Shaun was a hospital CEO in a small, local hospital. I was volunteering to decorate for one of the hospital’s two annual fundraisers. I was up on a ladder wearing my favorite Snoopy shoes and jeans, hardly hospital CEO wife clothes, but good stuff for climbing ladders, hauling tables and putting out poinsettias.

My hair was its natural color and in a lopsided ponytail. I had no make-up on.

I’ll never forget these two wealthy ladies about two decades older than me loudly saying, “What does he see in her?”

            I tottered on the ladder a bit and the person helping me knew that I heard. It would have been impossible not to hear.

            “Don’t listen to them. They have miserable small lives and they’re jealous. Just jealous shrews,” the helper said.

            She might have been right, but it didn’t matter right that second.

I heard their words and for a moment they hurt me, but then I just felt so sad for them. How lonely their lives must be if they had to say that about me. How sad.

All I could do was love them when I thought about the hurt that they must have had inside of their hearts.

            Neither of those women probably even remember that moment, but I do, and I also remember that I made a choice.

            I could have luxuriated in that hurt instead of acknowledging it, seeing it, and then letting it pass through me.

            I could have lashed out at them and matched their pettiness with my own.

            But instead I chose empathy. I had the luxury and safety of doing that because I’m secretly pretty secure in who I am. I love myself even when I suck. I chose to love them when they sucked, too.

            A translation of Dhammapada verse 223 makes it so that  Buddha once roughly said, “Silence the angry man with love. Silence the ill-natured man with kindness. Silence the miser with generosity. Silence the liar with truth.”

Some translations use ‘overpower’ rather than ‘silence.’

Overpower the angry man with love.

            Love your way through it.

            Compassion and empathy makes you stronger. You don’t need to walk through this world with a big stick, scream from a bully pulpit or sermonize with fear. Empathy and kindness for even those who hurt you—or those who try to hurt you—only makes you stronger.

Let’s all be strong together, okay?


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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

Be Brave Friday – Sometimes It’s Hard to Spread Love – Do It Anyway

Every week day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I post something from my dogs (Gabby and Sparty) or my cats (Marsie, Cloud, and Koko).

I often wonder if there’s a point or if I’m just annoying everyone I know (and don’t) who follow me on social media.


I often think about how I give my thoughts and words to my dogs and cats because it’s the only way I can feel brave enough to say how I feel.


Every once in a while someone will get cranky with me about them, send me a private message and deride me because I still believe in love and goodness and hope.

“Who are you,” they’ll ask, “to believe such things. To share them with the world like you’re so smart or some sort of goody-goody.”


But every once in a while, someone will give me the most beautiful gift, an act of grace, a surprise, and I will cry because I am so stunned and lucky and grateful and relieved that there are so many good people out there.

Those reminders are so important especially when everything seems to be falling apart or actually is falling apart.


In just this past month, Cheryl Rainfield and Richard Small gave me those moments. And I felt so lucky.

This time it was Nora MacFarland who sent me this.

I cried when I saw it. I cried when I opened her cards. I cried when I sent her a thank you message.

I have cried a lot lately and if you’re the type of person who cries, I bet you have, too.


Last year we became full-time parents to a little person with oppositional defiance disorder and she always says after one of her big moments, “Why are people so nice to you?”

And I say, “I’m not sure, but I think it’s because I love people so much so I try to be kind to them.”

“Even people you don’t know?” she says, pretty skeptically honestly because this is hard for her to wrap her head around.

“Even people I don’t know and especially people I do know. Sometimes those people can actually be the hardest.”


I have been so lucky in this life because I do get to know people who go out of their way to give; people like Cheryl and Richard and Nora and so many more. People who offer pea soup because they know I love it. People who tell me I can rant when I need to. People who just read my books and support me on Patreon. People who I get to be a part of their literary and book journeys.

I know how lucky I am. I want you all to be lucky too. 

Nora was so brave to send her amazing art to me, to make this, to share her genius. I hope you can be brave too. I know you can.

Loving your way through tough times, through big cultural hard times and personal horrors can feel almost impossible. But you can. And love and anger aren’t dichotomies that exist in separate spaces. It’s possible to rage and love and cry and hope all at once.
But I hope that as you go through these days, you turn as often as you can to love.


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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

I Don’t Understand Lipstick Tubes

Back before COVID-19, I went to a board meeting on a Monday night for a local non-profit.

The people sitting around the table are passing around a tube of lipstick. Full disclosure: I don’t wear lipstick. Ever. The last time I wore lipstick it was for a play. And someone else put it on me.

Anyways, there’s this piece of paper inside where the lipstick would go and it has the nonprofit’s helpline number and info on it.

The point is that a guy wouldn’t see it hidden in the lipstick, wouldn’t think to look for this kind of info in a woman’s lipstick if he were ransacking her things.

He might not be able to even get the lipstick open, they explained.

I’m not sure that’s terribly accurate in these times, but that was the point. The point was that a woman in danger would know what to do with that lipstick tube and a man wouldn’t.

So the faux lipstick gets to me and I can’t get the paper out. I turn it upside down. I stick in my finger and try to pull it out. Nothing works. Then I realize everyone is staring at me.

The woman next to me takes it:
 Here, Carrie let me try.

She then twists the bottom, which is what you are supposed to do with lip stick!!!!!

I make this total OMG face and then cover my eyes.

People laugh.

She gets all apologetic and hands me the lipstick: Here.

Me:

Me (Hiding):

Me:
 Thank you.

People continue to laugh.

Then finally the one man in the room goes: I wouldn’t have known to do that either.

Me: Yes, but I’m a woman.

Sigh.

You can tell I’m more of a lip gloss girl.

But also, the point is that gender roles don’t always apply. And that’s okay. It’s okay if you’re a man who can figure out how to work a lipstick tube and that I’m a woman who can’t.

We make assumptions about people according to our demographics (race, religion, age, gender, sexuality, height, bodies, you name it) all the time.

But those assumptions aren’t always going to be right and they shouldn’t be. Our ability to comply (or not) to assumptions and culturally imposed norms doesn’t make us any more or less of who we are–cool human beings. That’s part of the beauty of difference and diversity and individualism.

I hope you find a lot of beauty today in these horrific times.

I hope you get to be the person you are.


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!


Check out our latest episode about writing platforms here.