Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Beauty of our Everyday World . . . and of Reading.

It is no new news that many of us deal with daily depression and anxiety. Those of you who know me personally are aware of my own struggles with these minor disorders--and I've been working to find ways to bring more light, happiness, and meaning to my life.
This past weekend, my husband and I went out for a lovely day together at the Henry Doorly Zoo. We keep a yearly membership to the zoo because we live in downtown Omaha, right close to where so many cultural things are--including the zoo. Going to see the animals is always a therapeutic experience for me. It's relaxing, eye-opening, and even enlightening every visit.

As our stay at the zoo was coming to a close, we were heading through the main building containing the Lozier Imax Theater. We noticed that a move was about to start soon, and seeing as we get free tickets as members, we decided to stick around for the showing.

The movie in question was Backyard Wilderness 3D.

I was expecting the usual array of cute animals interacting with one another in their natural environment. While I certainly did get my fill of that, I also had my eyes opened to so much more.
The story of the movie revolves around an average suburban family in upstate New York going about their day to day lives and how they eventually discover the wonder and beauty of the animals, plants, and wilderness right there in their backyard.

We see cute mice, deer, coyotes, frogs, salamanders, and so much more.

For me, however, it caused me to slow down and remember just how remarkable the day to day, in and out of life, really can be.

With everything that seems to be difficult, hard, or evil in our world, there are equal parts of beauty and goodness that go overlooked day after day--and that is the real evil. Missing the good that is always there.

Nature and all its animals keep growing and changing and adapting and moving without ever once stopping to think about politics, war, crime, or religion. They live their lives and do their part to keep the natural world moving.
So, why should we do anything different?

As the film ever so simply states, "In nature, there is no good and bad." How true that is. Everything strives to thrive, to eat, to live.

As I come back to what I said at the beginning, I deal with daily depression. I wake up staring at the blank white ceiling and often wonder what the point of living is. I get on the computer for work and see post after post of sad, depressing, or downright angering news--both real and contrived. I see people act meanly and spitefully in their comments and opinions when there is no reason to. Chronic illness and sickness only push me down further until I can barely stand it any longer.

Well, the truth is, none of us have to or should wander through life in a haze of constant depression. Instead of looking down we can look up and see the wonders that the world does offer--and choose to stop being afraid.
Finally, finally, I realize what drew me to reading and eventually writing cozy mystery fiction years back. It wasn't only the close relationship with my mother, sitting together and watching Masterpiece Theater Mystery, Miss Marple, Agatha Christine, and Sherlock Holmes. It was also the realization that murder mysteries, despite being about one of the worst crime a human can commit, actually focus light on the best and most beautiful parts of our world and our lives.

All the main characters in cozies are people who find joy in life. Either through cooking, knitting, writing, or any other assortment of daily activities, these women (and sometimes men) know how to love themselves, their family (included fur babies), and life in general. Not even something has scary as murder can remove that from their lives.

Best of all, the crime is always solved and safety restored.
Over the past six or so months, I've struggled to write much of anything, finding it pointless. I often find myself wondering what the point is, if any, to writing these stories. All of the negative comments, thoughts, and opinions from a career full of struggling to defend genre fiction come back and weigh down on me.

Then, as I've had all these thoughts and feelings today, the realization dawned. I write these stories not only to remind myself of the goodness and happiness in the world but to share that with you--the readers. If I can help remind you that life is good, give a moment to relax and unwind, or even just a second to escape a hard day . . . then I realize how important my job actually is.
I don't have to be Jane Austen or even the next Joanne Fluke or Leslie Meier (two favorite authors of mine who inspired me to write) to have my work be meaningful. All I need is readers who buy the books and receive something worthwhile from them in their lives--even if it is small.

And all of that just from watching a cute documentary? Life trully is wonderful! And I hope to remember that each morning I wake up to remind myself there is something lovely worth living for.


  1. Carolyn, Although you may not realize it, there are many appreciative readers similar to me. Living with significant disability and severely restricted on many levels, books (especially cozy mysteries) provide a vicarious escape from the hardcore, difficult existence my genetic inheritance determined at the moment of creation unbeknownst to my parents. Those works, a labor of love, help me maintain my sanity in a life filled with lots of extremely difficult unknowns. Your books and those of other superb authors are like a lifeline. Getting lost in a plot can eliminate a negative state of mind of bring up laughter so marked tears flow. Honextly, I try very hard to to openly acknowledge one thing I am grateful for at the start and end of every day. It does help. I know Summer appreciates your efforts and so do i. So you now have two individuals to be grateful for today! I realize you do not know me, but trust me when I say everyday is a gift. Life is precious and precarious. My family and service dog, Susy, are my greatest tangible blessings. They are priceless gifts. I'm positive you have some as well. Hoping you have a wonderful evening and great tomorow.

  2. Carolyn. My heart goes out to you. I had to take early retirement due to anxiety and panic attacks. The daily struggle can be overwhelming. Reading is one of my escapes since I now have become physically disabled as well. Please know your readers sincerely appreciate your books. They are important, but you are the priority. We appreciate that you can only write as your health permits. I wish you peace and comfort that we support you from afar.

  3. Your books bring joy to me and allow me to escape to fun and interseting places, even if fictional. The internet allows me to communicate with you, which I really enjoy. I have friends that keep a gratitude journal and have found it doesn’t have to be big but can be as simple as enjoyed a movie today or the sun was out. Hopefully this will help you. Most of all though, please wake up knowing people are excited to read your books and go to sleep knowing people are having fun reading your books. Hugs!!