Fearless Fridays: A New Feature at The Green Study

These days a person can wake up feeling small and anxious. I often do. This morning was a good example. I’ve been nursing a hamstring injury for over a week and the first walking hours are the worst. The sky is dark and cloudy and it is predicted that we’re getting 10-14″ of snow tomorrow. My daughter has been sick the last few days. Those are local issues. Add all the political turmoil and malevolence in the world and it’s a quick spiral to the bottom of the mood barrel.

It’s my nature to go dark. I have to resist it on a pretty regular basis. I am a practiced skeptic and cynic, which has served me well in many ways, but sometimes it shuts out the joy and the gratitude. Now, if you’re like me, gratitude feels like a trigger word, having been beaten to death by the Pollyanna meme-making journalers of the world. I feel gratitude in a hundred small ways, but talking about it feels like bragging. What doesn’t feel like bragging is talking about the great things that other people are doing.

Feacanstockphoto13410470rless Fridays are about what happens when we don’t let anxiety rule our lives, when we stay open to the good things in the world, and take time to recognize them. On Fearless Fridays, I’ll talk about the awesome things other people are doing. If you just got published, or you witnessed an act of kindness, or you have someone in your life who amazes you, drop your story into my contact page or email it to TheGreenStudy (at) comcast (dot) net and I’ll run it on a Fearless Friday. If you’re a blogger, it’s an opportunity to advertise your blog, but this is open to anyone who would like to share.  These will be 100-300 word stories, subject to editing for clarity and space.

To kick off the weekly feature, I’m sharing some good news and giving a shout out to a couple of friends.

Congratulations to Lisa Ciarfella at Ciarfella’s Fiction Corner: Writing Fiction Now

LisaCiarfellaLisa recently earned her MFA from California State University, Long Beach. Her writing slants dark, towards the Noir, crime fiction and hard-boiled, channeling inspiration from greats like Jim Thompson, Paul D. Marks, and Paul Brazill. She’s been featured on PulpMetalmagazine.com, Nowastedink.com, Ashedit/.com, and will be soon at OutoftheGutteronline.com. By day, Lisa shepherds high school kids with their daily grind, and on the weekends, likes throwing Frisbees around the beach with her pups and catching ball games. canstockphoto4927438

Lisa has just published a couple of stories – congratulations!  Check out her blog or one of her published pieces at “Last Night’s Lift” at Near to the Knuckle.

Thanks and Best Travel Wishes to Sandy at A Mind Divided

I met Sandy through blogging. Over the years, we’ve met for coffee and emailed and texted. Sometimes more than others. She is one of those people who I admire for her tenacity of spirit and her persistent dedication to creativity. My favorite thing about her is her laugh – it’s an honest laugh that makes you feel like you earned it.  Several of her gorgeous, quirky handmade cards grace my study.

canstockphoto1542595She decided to take a big step and move to Oklahoma to be near family after living in the Midwest for many years. For most people, this is a life stressor, but for Sandy, who has lived with literal ups and downs of bipolar disorder, this is a leap of faith. Sometimes those journeys that seem so ordinary are really these amazing feats of courage. I wish her the best in her travels and that she finds great joy in her new home.

Sometimes You Just Have to Be Kind

One of my best friends has been having a really tough last week or so. I thought about her today while running errands. I was feeling very grumpy and yelled at least once at no one in particular Get off your goddamned phone and drive! These days I recognize not only how toxic my anger can be, but also how frequently it arrives. I pull myself back and try to imagine the person I’m yelling at – what kind of day are they having?

canstockphoto34597907It’s funny how we’re all sympathy and light for those closest to us and can be so unkind to strangers. I had the weird thought of what it would be like to see that person’s day, to be in their body with all its twitches and pains. What was their work like? Was it backbreaking or soul-crushing or a little bit of both? Was one of their parents or children ill? Is their spouse cruel or indifferent? We become so incurious as to they and them, when they are us and we.

Kindness is not only something we extend to others, but also to ourselves. My friend is a widow with a 14-year-old son who has autism. He is nonverbal. He bites her sometimes and has a laundry list of triggers and compulsions. She knows them by heart. She has built a life for the two of them with a lovely home and routines that comfort her son.

canstockphoto53672507Sometimes she berates herself for not doing more, for not being a better parent. But she doesn’t see what I see. She doesn’t see how amazing she is to get up each day, taking care of his needs while trying to meet some of hers. She doesn’t see how persistent she is – that even after weeks of the flu or one of his meltdowns, she plows forward. She doesn’t see how very capable and loving she is, despite the challenges of the day. I see it and I wish she would, too. It’s the oddest human quirk, how we can easily see in others what we don’t see in ourselves.

So that wraps up Fearless Friday. Share your stories, thank your friends, be kind to strangers. And drop me a line so that I can share your stories here.

Wishing you all a Fearless Weekend!

24 Comments on “Fearless Fridays: A New Feature at The Green Study

    • If only we had “taglines” like in the video to guide us and remind us through the day what other people are experiencing. It’s interesting as a writer to think about the intersection of two people’s disparate experiences and moods and what that looks like. It is hard to ignore that our thoughts and actions can transform those interactions for ill or for better.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for including me, Michelle. I will be too far away soon to slurp good coffee with you anymore, which makes my heart ache. But we’ll always have Mountain Mudd. And music exchanges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been to Oklahoma several times and I’m sure I’ll be there again. I like my road trips around the country too much. And we’re writers, friend – so please let me know eventually what your new address is. Mountain Mudd knew you were moving, so they closed down. Such a bummer! Still, I look forward to hearing about your next adventures!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. How absolutely interesting that “gratitude” is a trigger! I’m probably a bit of a Pollyanna-blogger, it feels like a lifeline to me, the farthest thing from bragging. But it’s ok if you hate that! I tend to go dark and irritated too at times, but my reaction is to tap into idealism/unreality and throw off my Puddleglum attitudes by looking for something, grasping for ANYTHING good in the darkness. I look forward to these Friday posts, great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I probably shouldn’t even use the word “trigger” since the context of that word has changed dramatically over the last few years. Gratitude talk is like the rest of the positivity movement – as a personal pursuit it’s worthwhile, but as a public display it can become something else. Sometimes, too, what I feel deeply is not something I feel compelled to talk about, but rather something I just live.

      We’ll see how the posts go – getting people to do homework is tough!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That makes sense, Michelle. There is a lot of very annoying in your face positivity crap going around, I get that. Do you think people can write from different places, motivations etc, without falling into the “movements”, so to speak? So some might write from a dark place, or some might write from an optimistic place? I’m not sure I buy into the idea that one must be tortured, high, or drunk to write anything of worth, know what I mean? Although, I tend to be very emotional and times of low or high emotional tend to be the times I feel the most like writing it out? So your deep feelings don’t fuel your writing? I’m very curious and what to grow in this.

        Good luck with the guest posts!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Such great questions. I didn’t mean to cast aspersions on anyone else’s motivations. What I am comfortable with or what feels authentic to me will be completely different for someone else.

          The thing I really try to do when writing from whatever emotional space I’m in, is to be circumspect – to see the lesson in the moment. Sometimes that moment is a happy one or a real downer, but I always feel that if I can write my way to the lesson, it’s been useful. And that’s a lot of what guides my writing here.

          For most of my life, I’ve been an emotional writer. It’s changing as I lean into writing fiction and sharpening my skills, because I have to be more consistent in my work habits and can’t wait until I’m in the right mood. But I definitely don’t fall for the tortured artist myths! Sometimes art can come from a dark place, but it can equally come from the light.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks sooo much Michelle, for sharing my writing bio and story links above!

    Championing another author’s success on your own blog is totally fearless and super cool! And you can bet I’ll pay the gesture forward somehow soon!

    To all your readers: drop on by any time! The water’s warm!

    Like

  4. Michelle, a small token of gratitude…

    I know you deleted your FB account and I totally respect that. I would too if it weren’t for the awesome crime fiction writing community I’ve found there. But I just shared out your post here as a small token of gratitude, and so here is the link for anyone who might want to have a looksie!

    https://www.facebook.com/lisajohnljc

    Ciao, all!

    Like

  5. Great post Michelle! I like this idea of focusing on others and speaking your gratitude and admiration for them.
    I have those moments when I’m cranky and yelling in the car too. I usually need to take a good look at myself and ask what the hell is wrong with ME that I’m so worked up today? And try to give other people slack because as you mentioned, who knows what their day or week or life has been like.
    As always love your willingness to write about your thoughts, and even your warts, and how you keep it 100 percent.

    Liked by 1 person

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