“Why blissy? Why not happy, or joyful, or something else?”

This past March I was honored to speak with Stephanie Affinito and appear on her Get Lit(erate) podcast. Stephanie describes herself as a “book-loving, notebook hoarding bookologist on a mission to changes lives one book and one notebook at a time.

Our conversation was amazing … and she asked a question no one has yet asked about my book 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. She asked “Why blissy? Why not happy, or joyful, or something else?”

What came out of that discussion was a wider understanding of the word. And it absolutely supported my belief that we can hold two (or more) emotions at a time. Most importantly, it helped me truly define what “bliss” means to me, and why I reached for the word specifically when I wrote my book — even though my life at that point was far from perfect, happy, or secure.

I hope you enjoy the podcast … and I’d love to hear your own ideas about bliss, and what makes a blissy life for you.

(And if you’re new here, welcome to the tribe. It’s great to connect.)

Rules for a Blissy Life by Carol Pearson -- a podcast

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Snapping Back at the Rabbit Hole

Snapping Back at the Rabbit Hole

My friend and former colleague @Jeff Wozer is a low-key philosophical genius and popular keynote speaker on digital moderation. Years ago he shared a tip for getting unstuck from mindless social media consumption … and it stuck with me. His advice? Before you jump online again, slap a big old rubber band on your wrist — you know, the kind you’d wrap up a bundle of papers in. Nice and thick, with a good “snap.” Go online to do your thing … but … anytime you find yourself mindlessly scrolling, give it a nice “thwap.”
It worked.

Then I forget/neglected to practice this.

This morning, with the intention of being mindful as I went about my projects today, I found myself on TikTok, watching women in cars eating the tres leches cake from a popular cookie shop. I mean, I was drawn IN.

And I looked up, startled by a text message, and had NO idea how I had gotten there. I had to mentally backtrack to a party I’m invited to this weekend, and my research on dessert recipes.

Thwap.

I had been sucked in, drawn down, and mindlessly transfixed. Fortunately, I’m currently reading The Wealth Money Can’t Buy, Robin Sharma‘s newest book. (No affiliate links here; I borrowed a copy from my public library … ) This book is also drawing me in, in a positive way, while mindfully transfixing me with goodness and centering me in a whole new way.

It’s that good.

The challenge for me (and so many of us) is this: social media is important to the work we do. At the same time, it’s rife with distractions, emotional triggers and garbage. What to do?

I will continue to use social media — judiciously, appropriately and responsibly — armed with a new awareness of WHY I’m on there. It’s not for the dopamine rush; it’s not to ease loneliness; it’s not to compare myself to others to gloat or feel awful. My why is to connect with kindred souls, while I share my passion for helping others achieve breakthroughs that lead them closer to their bliss.

That’s my why. Why are you on here? I’d love to hear.

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Where light shines

Where light shines

This morning I was getting ready for my yearly physical, and my mind wandered back to last year’s appointment. It was maybe three weeks after my mom died, and two months after my granddaughter was born. 

I sat in the parking lot, mask on, waiting for the nurse to come out and do a Covid symptom check. She approached the car, looked at me and stopped.

“You’re so beautiful!”

That was not at all what I expected to hear. Maybe “you look sad” or “are you having trouble sleeping?” or even “are you okay?” would have made more sense.

She finished her temperature check, asked about symptoms, then said she’d call me in when they were ready.

I had to understand her reaction somehow; I pulled down the visor and stared into the mirror. Above the mask I saw my eyes … large, oddly bluer than normal, and filled with … something. Grief? Joy? Anxiety? Loss? Love? All of those things, surely, with the rollercoaster of emotions my family had been on.  

This morning, as I thought back on that, it hit me. What she saw was my vulnerability. In those weeks, I had no choice but to let my authentic emotions rise to the surface, where they visible to anyone.

Maybe this is exactly what “beauty is more than skin deep” means. Our emotional hearts and all the messy feelings they hold are truly beautiful. We know it deep within ourselves. And if we can find a way to allow them, through being vulnerable, to rise to the surface, the whole world recognizes and respects them. 

Shine on, my friend. 

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F*ck around and find out

F*ck around and find out

F*ck around and find out. 

The over-used Twitter meme says it all. Do something; reap the consequences. Take something away; reap the consequences. Unintended consequences aren’t always predictable. It’s the intended consequences that scare me.

Take away existing human rights, and the unintended (but c’mon, not unexpected) consequences might be a backlash at the polls, public protests (nonviolent or not), economic pushback, social chaos.

The intended consequences are quite different … and we can only guess the motive. Economic hardship for a particular group? Ostracization? Criminalization? Shame? Worse?

The recent Supreme Court’s ruling, worded to grant a return to state control on abortion, will have consequences of both kinds.

The publicly touted social consequences this – to eliminate or at least significantly reduce abortion under the banner of morality – is a fallacy.

Abortions will only become more expensive, more dangerous, with more dire consequences for all people involved. 

Is that the true intention here? 

Because let’s not kid ourselves. If you’re wealthy or well-connected, safely ending an unwanted or medically dangerous pregnancy will continue to be quite possible. 

Prohibition did nothing to rid the country of alcohol. Instead, it plunged the industry into the hands of criminals. And that is what this ruling will do – create an entire unregulated industry to meet the need. As a country we’ve seen that horror show. The highest court in our nation decided years ago to not let that happen anymore.

And what’s next? We already know the stated intention of at least one SC justice – to “reconsider” existing rights around birth control and same-sex relationships (married or not). 

What are the unintended consequences of this? And more importantly, what’s the intended? 

Listen to your heart – speaking far deeper and quieter than the rhetoric in your brain – does it abide by these consequences in a society founded on basic, inalienable rights? If so, you have a right to believe this is all a good thing. If not, you have a right to be horrified, and to raise your voice against it. This is not a political statement.

Honor what you hear in your heart … at the end of the day it’s the only way you’ll be able to authentically face the consequences. Unintended or not.

Own your truth and speak it. If it helps just one person, it’s worth doing.

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Rule #1 — Get to Source

Rule #1 — Get to Source

Get to source.

It’s the first rule in my book. It’s helped me make tough decisions and wade through grief. It’s helped me stay focused in my work, and balanced on the roller coaster of the last two years.

Today I was reminded it’s also a good policy when you’re reading and sharing information. The news lately wavers from the disastrous to the unbelievable, as our country convulses politically and philosophically. And people are quick to share … all too often without getting to the source of the news.

It’s human nature to latch on to information that confirms our world view — or the world view we many think we should have because the people around us do. So it’s also human nature to hit that like button and share without digging deeper.

How refreshing to have a friend text back today and say, “Hey, about that thing you shared with me … do you have the original source? I want to learn more.”

It was a good reminder for me to slow down a bit and be more thorough in my own sharing, verifying the the sources and context of the conversation.

The news is coming fast and furious these days. So check the source … and then check in with yourself. Are you sitting with the information you consume, letting your authentic self feel it out for truth?

It’s okay to have an opinion that doesn’t agree with mine, or theirs, or anybody. Just make sure it’s honestly your opinion. Our truth will resonate within our hearts when we take the time to get to source.

On the other hand, pardon me if I don’t share your enthusiasm, if your opinion sits as ugliness in my heart. That’s the way it is sometimes. I choose to surround myself with the resonance that works for my heart. Anything less would indeed be inauthentic.

We don’t have to believe as our spouse or sisters or brothers or kids or neighbors do, or our co-workers, clergy, politicians or anyone else. To live a truly authentic life, we must take time to be still, to listen to our hearts, decide how we feel, then choose how to act on those feelings … or not.

Get to source. Oh, and register to vote 😉

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Two weddings, two babies and two funerals … a pandemic love story

Two weddings, two babies and two funerals … a pandemic love story

Almost two years of life during pandemic.

How can time feel like a slog and a sprint in the same moment? How can our hearts process it all when life comes at us with this kind of intensity?

The bittersweet joy of a wedding, with the oldest generation notably absent, followed four weeks later by Dad’s death. 

The thrill of a new engagement, at the beginning of that oddly quiet and strange holiday season we all stayed home, miles apart.

That Christmas day itself, the early morning “we’re pregnant!” call from the newlyweds, followed that night by “it’s a girl!” from  the not-so-newlyweds. The anxiety and concern. When will it be safe to visit? Will all this be over when the next baby arrives? 

A moment of serendipity with my sister, finding the perfect dress for next spring’s wedding (Will we all be able to gather safely by then? I have hope. I buy the dress.) during time that was meant for visiting Mom … until the latest lockdown at her facility nixed that plan.

Then, just two weeks later, another baby born and given Mom’s middle name; we couldn’t know Mom would pass just six weeks later.

Through it all, a growing realization that some of my closest family is my chosen tribe, the ones who are just enough removed from the immediacy of it all to open their arms wide and let me rest there a bit. 

There has been love. Big, heaving gobs of love that rose from frustration, celebration, disappointment, anticipation, grief, joy, loneliness, and uncertainty. My heart now understands it can hold two or more emotions in any given moment, where happy sits hand-in-hand with sad, and grief is comforted by grace.

The past 18 months have been an epic love story for this family, with enough requisite plot twists and revelations to make it a juicy read. We are stronger together than we’ve ever been. I am grateful.

Some might call it a drama; at times it feels more like a rom-com. Really though, it’s a mystery. It’s life, in 2021. It’s love, pandemic-style. And there is no telling where this beautiful, crazy love story goes from here. 

To the beautiful, amazing, soulful people in my family — by blood, by marriage, and by choice — you are my heroes.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, on Etsy, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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We are not prepared for this …

We are not prepared for this …

I learned at a young age the value of being prepared. The snow scraper and kitty litter stayed in the trunk October through April (if you get it, raise your hand). Now perched in coastal NC, I replenish the “Spam, hash and Oreo stash” faithfully every May (again, show of hands and shout out your own variation of storm prep essentials).

I’m back in Central NY this week. Relentless rain leftover from Fred the Storm finds me and my sister digging up memories of Mom furiously digging ditches around our childhood home during another leftover storm to keep the water from pouring into the basement. I had no idea at the time how strong she was.)

Emergencies we can handle. We are completely unprepared for the long, slow drawn-out crisis of “life as we know” it at this age, at this point in our lives, during this season in our country’s history. My long-planned visit to see Mom (the main reason I’m here this week) has been cancelled due to Covid. I know what to do in an emergency … but what about this kind of non-urgent yet highly important non-crisis?

How have we been prepped to watch our parents as they age, as the people we know slip away and are replaced by people still familiar yet wholly strange? 

How are we prepared for being the grownups in the room, on social media in online conversations or face-to-face interactions in the world, as society convulses in the weirdest ways? What prepared us for waking up from the American Dream to the reality of masks, hand sanitizer and relentless debate?

Nobody told me to be ready for any of this. And it’s not just me. It’s so many of my friends when we get real about what’s going on in our lives. 

Nobody warned us about dying parents and stressed out kids and ugly neighbors and divisions that can’t seem to be bridged by simple common empathy. Nobody mentioned we might go days without a decent night’s sleep, for no apparent reason. Nobody thought to tell us that our mental health was as real — and as vulnerable — as our physical health. Nobody warned us there would be days when, after a productive and largely successful earlier part of our lives, we would have to learn all over again how to do life.

I’m tired. I’m worn out with it all. Trying to make sense of it all. Trying to keep a positive light shining. Trying to hold on the what matters, even as we accept what’s new. It’s too much. And it has to be done regardless. So I go back to what I know. 

I know my way around a bag of kitty litter on black ice in a freezing wind. I know how to recover when the car starts to fishtail. I know where my portable Coleman stove is at all times. I can always boil water. 

So that’s where I’ll start … with what I know. 

I know the world is absolutely loaded with gorgeous, kind souls. I also know that many of those gorgeous souls are feeling the same way I am. Disoriented. A bit adrift. Wondering how we got here, yes, but not wasting too much energy on that question when faced with the more urgent questions of what do I do now.

What I know with all my heart is that I can’t let my questions distract me from the joyous parts of the life … the reunions, new beginnings and happy stories deserve, no, demand, my attention. Your tribe, your circle, your people deserve your presence.

We are not hothouse flowers. We do not wilt when things aren’t just so. We have good roots, strong stems and lasting beauty that changes with us. Our voices are still clear and true.

So maybe we have not be adequately warned so about life as we now know it. Let’s lean in to the gorgeous, kind souls that surround us, and figure it all out together. 

Feeling it.

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We forgot to tell the bees …

We forgot to tell the bees …

I don’t remember where I first heard of “telling the bees,” but I had a beautiful reminder of the soulful tradition when I read The Beekeeper’s Promise last summer. 

The practice of notifying the hives or telling the bees when a momentous event (usually the death of the master or mistress, but also births, weddings, children, etc.) appears in many European folklore traditions, as bees are often seen as a link between the physical and spiritual worlds. Some say it has its roots in the Celtic culture; this resonates with my soul beautifully.

I though back to this when my dad died in October. He wasn’t a beekeeper … yet he had a large and far-flung “hive” of family and friends. His address book (translated to an Excel spreadsheet over the years) was massive. My siblings and I spent hours on the phone reaching out and sharing the news of his passing. In the process we shared laughs, tears and a reconnection with people we hadn’t talk to in years. It was healing just to have those conversations, even while we knew we were sharing sad news.

Because Dad died during the pandemic, gathering was limited to family and the closest friends, with a private funeral Mass and no calling hours. Still, we felt so very grateful we at least could gather in church to send Dad on his way. His faith was strong; not having a funeral would have been unimaginable.

So many thousands of others this past year weren’t so fortunate. The unimaginable became the everyday. So many missed funerals, cancelled weddings, newborns with no grandparents to visit … so much loss of all kinds. Lost jobs, lost incomes, lost friendships, lost beliefs, lost hopes … in too many cases even lost faith as the things we used to believe were bedrock began to crack into pieces.

Collectively, we had no way to tell the bees. 

Life continued.

For many it looks entirely different now … even if nothing really changed on the surface. For me, it’s a greater clarity of what’s important in my life, and what I can (should) gracefully and gratefully let go. It’s the gathering of the tribe, when we reconnect back around a central hive and share our stories. It’s the moments around a fire pit, the shared meals, seeing the band play live again.

Just beginning to tell my stories again, I’m exploring my feelings and realizations — even though I don’t have it all figured out. For me, writing is how I get there. Putting the foggy gray feelings into black and white forces me to makes at least some sense of it all. 

I’m not the same person I was in the winter of 2020. Yeah, I miss her. She was a lot of fun, relaxed, happy, productive. Still, I’m learning to embrace who I’ve become. She’s still fun, with an extra portion of grace and strength and some eyes-wide-open disbelief at some of the things I never noticed before. 

I need to speak my truth of the loss and fear and darkness of last year, so my hive begins to understand. 

I need to tell the bees.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, on Etsy, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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