5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Monday, February 26, 2018

How's the Weather?

By Courtney Pierce

The late-great David Bowie had the best advice for weathering tough times: Turn and face the strain. I’ve sung that line from Changes a hundred—maybe even a thousand—times in my fifty-nine years. Like many other baby boomers, I’ve lost a job or two, lost family members, and lost a husband (not by death, but a loss nonetheless). Any one of those derailments of life is particularly tough on the psyche.

But as is the way with Mother Nature, traumas are balanced with great joys. I’ve excelled in a career or two, won the hearts of two parents and two sisters, and gained an amazing husband and a stepdaughter from the ashes of devastation.

I owe it all to checklists. Don’t laugh. I’m completely serious.

I make lists about everything: complicated things, mundane things, and lists of lists I should make. Emotions are difficult for me to process, so when they’re part of a list, I can keep those tears and fears at arm’s length. We writers banish these big things to the page, not on our sleeve.

Rationalize, monetize, organize. Salute!

But then I think about the stupid things that many people deem to be traumas, like losing keys or trying to squeeze into those favorite jeans that don't fit anymore. Sometimes there’s no trauma at all, only an endurance test of the daily assaults of life. How much time do I spend deleting spam or interrupt a game of Scrabble to check my work email? I need to make sure someone else’s trauma doesn’t become mine. I’m never prepared for the Wi-fi router going out or my laptop inching like a slug from Internet slow-downs. And what about when the Bluetooth on the Bose has ceased to pair with the music library on my phone?

What the heck? Stop the presses! Is this fake trauma like fake news?

But nobody dies from these things. No one’s kids are maimed. Let’s put the challenges in prospective in our instant-gratification, now-means-now world. All anyone really needs to re-calibrate is to lose electricity for a week or two.

The absence of a 60-cycle hum of appliances makes me take notice. Ahhhh… After a day or two, I get used to the lack of rush from the heater or air conditioner. The still atmosphere makes my skin soft and supple. No ambient light from neglecting to turn off the switches ceases my huff and puff about the electric bill. No phone, either, without cable or satellite. We learned our haste from a pattern of waste.

I say a silent “thank you” when the power goes out. My urge to reconnect with my neighbors is powerful, and I reach out to friends for a long overdue lunch to become grounded again. If you’ve been through a hurricane, tornado, flood, or any natural disaster, then you know what I mean. The pull to walk away from technology is overwhelming after a couple of days without it. Then I dread that power coming on again. The respite is over. Back to normal life.

But what about emotional disasters? Relationship-changing disasters are quick to slice and slow to heal, űber-sore like an infected paper cut. I won’t lie, they carry a sting that’s hard to let go. Long after the clean-up of carnage is done, the invisible arrow still protrudes from the chest. Try as I might, I can’t yank it out on my own. Only those close to me, with a commitment of mutual love, know how to twist  and inch out that spear. 

My two sisters are quite colorful, Siblings can be wonderful at alleviating relationship stress. 
We subscribe to the “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” rule for weathering the traumas of life. It's up there with the 7-second rule for food items dropped on the floor and headed to the mouth. Here's our recipe:

Shut off the T.V. . . .

Shut off the radio . . .

Close the browser . . .

Pour a big glass of wine and make a bowl of popcorn . . .

Then take stock.

Photo: Loma Smith
Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her new family. She writes for baby boomers. By day, Courtney is an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, she is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and She Writes. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal. 

Check out all of Courtney's books at: and Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including

The Dushane Sisters Trilogy concludes with Indigo Legacy, due out in early summer, 2018. There's love in the air for Olivia and Woody, but will their family history get in the way? Ride along for the wild trip that starts in a New York auction house and ends in a mansion on Boston's Beacon Hill.  And the sisters finally get the answers they've been seeking about their mother.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."


Sarah Raplee said...

You are so right that we tend to magnify the importance of normal life stressors, like the internet going down for a few hours. For the Big Bad Events, we forget the importance of quiet, restful contemplation, until we're forced into it through circumstances.

Great post!

Diana McCollum said...

I really enjoyed your insightful post. I always say "This to shall pass". and then I reflect on other life traumas that did pass. Thanks again!

Judith Ashley said...

Courtney, you are correct in saying that many things that are seen as traumatic are really not. We do get used to our comforts (like AC in the summer and Heat in the winter, hot & cold running water). But those are inconveniences and while we may be uncomfortable, for that vast majority of us, it is not life-threatening. I give myself parts of days each week when I do not watch t.v. or hours when I do not use the computer. I like being disconnected to the vast electronic universe so I can be better connected to The Universe.

Maggie Lynch said...

Great post, Courtney! It makes me think back to my childhood when I could "run away" from my stressors by climbing the tree in my backyard. I could climb so high among the branches that no one could see me among the leaves. I was also the oldest and must climbing adept, so my siblings wouldn't follow either. I could set there for hours contemplating the universe and put my daily troubles in perspective.

In my early adult life I would take hikes in nature almost every weekend to get perspective, often camping out with good friends. Of course, that was all before we had an entire computer in our phones and could easily connect with anyone in the world in microseconds. I admit to missing those days.

The problem with always being electronically connected is it gives me a false sense that I can also always be "on" and working. Or should be. I wonder if people who have grown up with these devices feel the same way. If so, it is exhausting.

One of my goals for 2018 is to find a way to disconnect and be in nature every week. Maybe choose a day off from the devices. I can work in an hour a few times a week, but I'm finding that's not enough. I guess I'll have to find a tree to climb. :)

Looking forward to Indigo Legacy. Can't wait to read the end of that series.