Sunday, January 21, 2018


Sunrise - Portland, ME (2013) - J. Grandbois

This morning I noticed the sunrise.
I didn’t take a photo of it,
or seek a deeper meaning in it,
or think about what adjectives I might ascribe to it.
I just noticed it.
And the winter air on my face,
and the warm cup of coffee in my hand.
And the dark silhouette of the tree,
and the frost on the windows of the cars in the parking lot.
And the caw, caw, caw, of the crows in distant pine.
This morning
as I leaned against the carriage house door.

- Joie Grandbois, 2018

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My Catastrophic Thinking...

Content warning:  This post includes discussion of extreme anxiety and some of the less than healthy ways I have dealt with in the past.  It does reference self harm and substance abuse. 

In the world of "You are not alone..." today I'm pondering my habit of catastrophizing. There was a meme that went around social media not too long ago:

Anxiety Girl - able to jump to the worst conclusion in a single bound!
Catastrophic thinking is like that, except I don't just go to one worst conclusion, my brain likes to supply me with a range of catastrophic options - four, five...hey let's go all out! Here are ten horrible scenarios for you to play around with for the next eight hours. Sleep? You think you might sleep? Muahahahahaha, you foolish woman!! Here, have two more horror stories to obsess over.

It is exacerbated by the belief that whatever the catastrophe is must also be my fault...somehow. Even if it is quirk of being born - "this terrible thing would not happen if I didn't exist." Yes, I recognize this is 100% irrational as my birth is something I really had zero control over, but the thought, however irrational it may be, is still there. And there is this belief that I am inherently flawed and thus I am always one moment, one step away, from causing something awful to happen.

I don't find the concept difficult to explain, I think everyone at least once in their life has experienced their thoughts going from zero to disaster in a moment. What is difficult to share is how paralyzing, all consuming, and debilitating it can be when it is happening. Once the thoughts appear they rise to a mental volume that does not allow for other voices to be heard. I find myself unable to focus on other things - important things like, eating, work, school, class planning, writing, painting, etc.  It takes over.

It is also difficult for some to understand just how irrational it can be.  An extreme, but true, example... 

I'm in a car.  I hear a thump in the back. My mind goes right to, "Oh you hit a dog...a cat...a small child...that thump was surely something alive."   

I stop the car. I see nothing.  I do get on my knees in the mud to look beneath it  I walk a quarter mile along the road the way I came. Nothing. 

I get back into the car and as I do I see the half empty bottle of windshield washer fluid against the back door.  Rationally I know the sound was this bottle rolling around the back of the car, but I still roll it into the door four or five times myeslf until I'm fully convinced that is what made the noise. 

Other times it is simpler...

My boss says she wants to talk to me.  My brain kicks into action and tells me that I am surely about to be fired.  How will I pay my rent?  How will I feed the cats?  In a few short seconds my mind takes me from happily employed to homeless and alone, and feeling the shame of my former friends seeing me dirty and begging on the street. 

It turns out she wanted to give me a raise...

It is like gas lighting myself. It is crazy making.  

I have not always dealt with this well.  I have self medicated with wine, bad television, and various sleep aids.  These are actually an improvement as many years ago I would cut myself for release.  I stopped that when I discovered that I could put an elastic around my wrist and flick it over and over until the pain of the sting was stronger than my horrible thinking. There have been times when I would have done just about anything to quiet the screaming going on in my head. 

Today, there are other things I do.  I try to remind myself that most of what happens in life is beyond my control and even if the worst thing does happen there is nothing I can do about it.  I breathe.  I reach out to the one or two trusted friends who I know won't dismiss my feelings.  I look back to other times and remind myself that the worst case almost never happens, and then tell my mental monster to shut up with it chimes in with, "But wait a minute...remember that ONE TIME..."

It comes and goes, and the past few weeks it has been back full force.  I have turned to wine more than once to quiet my mind.  I know it is likely to get worse before it gets better so I've made the decision to start therapy again just to deal with this particular issue.  I would encourage anyone who deals with this level of anxiety to seek help.  I know from past experience life does not need to feel like I am living in the midst of a never ending personal apocalypse. 

I believe it will get better. 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My Tiny Heart

Dirty tear streaked face; sticks in her hair.
My Tiny Heart lives in a cave.
She loves food and eats with her hands.
She digs holes in the dirt to bury her feet.
When she is alone she dances.
When she is not, she watches.

My Tiny Heart speaks in sounds
A quiet hum of a tune you must stretch your ears to hear.

She will smile so brightly when you tell her she is smart.
Or pretty.
Or that you caught her dancing and it made you want to dance too.

And on the turn of a moment
She will push you out of the cave door.
Chase you out with ash and rocks.
Run into the dark until all you can
see are two wide eyes that never blink.

She’d claw off her own skin
right down to the bone
to find the flaw she knows must be buried there.

I wait, and pretend I do not see her there hiding in the cave dark.
I leave her warm blankets
And soft hugs wrapped in pretty paper.
I hum every happy song I can think of
And when she screams I hold her in my arms until
the rage, and fear, and loneliness is tired out of her.

My Tiny Heart
Child heart.
Overflowing emotional wild heart.
Does not know how to ask for what she wants.

I tell her I will not leave her.
I tell her she is as beautiful when she screams
as she is when she dances.

- Joie Grandbois, 2018

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ordinary Day

Today was a busy day.  I think busy days are ordinary days for most of us.  We live lives packs pretty full from rising to bed.

Mine began at 6:00AM and included working both of my jobs, working on an email newsletter, a nap, feeding myself, teaching a dance class, an episode of RHONY and being interviewed on a radio program to help promote  the 2017 Pagan Unity Day.

I'm tired.  And I have a bit of headache.

I've another ordinary day tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ordinary Emotions

I awoke this morning feeling...

...a little sad
...self doubt

The anxiety is in part due to a very full plate in the coming weeks and I'm definitely worried about getting things done (and done well).  I'm also anxious about a close friendship that has hit some bumps and I'm not totally clear where things stand with this person. The sadness and self doubt are leftovers from the reemergence some old pain and hurts that I'm still healing from.  The hope is because unlike many other days, today I can identify what it is that I'm feeling and why.

When I went to bed last night I was feeling pretty good.  My day had a bumpy start but I managed to stay focused on work.  I had lunch with a friend, taught a dance class and hung out with other friends after.  I went to bed feeling fairly content and grateful for the people in my life.   I feel like I slept fairly well.  I don't recall my dreams from last night.

I got up, wiped sleepy bits from my eyes, fed the cats (dealt with a momentary hissing match - they are still adjusting), said good morning to my housemate, made coffee and, yes, took a moment to write my thoughts in my journal - which definitely helped with the hopeful part.

And now I'll go on with my day, feeling what I'm feeling.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ordinary Morning

I have a fantasy morning routine in which I wake up with the sun feeling alert and rested.  I have a glass of water before putting on my walking shoes and heading out of the house for a morning stroll.  My walk takes me past some beautiful place by the sea, or through a field of blooming wildflowers.

When I arrive home I meditate, after which I brew a fresh cup of some fantastic roast of coffee.  I sit and write in my journal, noting the flowers I saw on my walk or thoughts that came to me during my meditation.  I'll probably make a few lists of things I want to do that day.  I'll check the time and to my delight, I've a few minutes to spare for a bit of yoga.

The key word here is FANTASY.

My mornings do start early; I try to get up two hours before I have to start work (today that means 6:00AM as I'll log into work at 8:00).  I feed the cats, and then peruse Facebook on my phone while waiting for the kettle to boil.  The coffee part is mostly right as I do buy at least decent coffee and I make it by the cup in a small french press. At some point I'll realize I've become lost down an internet rabbit hole and I've only 15 minutes left to get dressed and make a second cup of coffee.  If I'm lucky, and I plan ahead, I may find time to write in my journal.

Lately there is about a 50/50 chance that after I feed the cats, I'll go back to bed, forget to set the alarm and find myself waking up ten minutes before work begins.

Every once in a while, when the stars align properly or I'm in the midst of a period of dedicated self improvement,  I'll have my coffee, read the news, write in my journal, get dressed and upon looking at the clock realize that I actually do have ten or so minutes to spare for meditation.  

After which I of course pat myself on the back for having such a well organized morning routine.

What is your ordinary morning?

Monday, July 31, 2017

30 Days of Ordinary

Ordinary Feet




1.  with no special or distinctive features; normal. (courtesy of

It could be an act of resistance against the sort of life society says I should be living these days.

Maybe it is a reaction to the "just-so tousled hair, profile facing a horizon of ocean/mountains/trees, tagged with a quote about living an authentic life" photos that seem to fill my Instagram and Facebook feed lately.

Perhaps it is in response to comments that have come my way recently that lead me to recognize that the way others perceive my life to be is so wildly different from what it actually is (thank you social media). 

(I really, really hope it is not some subconscious, sideways humble brag...OMGoodness, look how damn NORMAL I am!!!)'s just assume your motives are 99% noble and actually get to the point.

I have long been an advocate for honesty in social media. If you are having a shitty day you should feel absolutely free to say just that. If you really put a lot of work into accomplishing a long desired goal, brag away! And people do. In fact my social media feeds seem to be exercises in extremes that waver between "the world is falling apart" and "I LOOOOOOOOOVE my friends!!! MUAH!"

And I'm just as guilty. When I post at all these days, what I have I put out there has become a carefully cultivated garden of outrage, how I keep my shit together, and hey, hope y'all have a happy, happy day - thankful to be alive, with long, long periods of silence and cat pictures.

If it isn't carefully thought out, edited, and filtered it isn't shared. I find myself, despite my best efforts, creating a very careful presentation of my life...even when talking about the not so great stuff. Even my sad days have to be perfectly sad or I don't share them!

What it is missing is the day to day.

What is missing is the ordinary.

So here is where I announce my idea, my project, 30 Days of Ordinary. Each day I am going to write about or share a photo of something ordinary from my life. I'm not totally sure what that means yet, but I've a few rules I'm setting for myself.

1. Photos must be unedited (not filters, or color changes, etc) and when I take them I'm allowed two attempts.

2. Ordinary does not mean boring. I can write about said above extremes or something that I find exciting, but it has to be honest. I'm not allowed to embellish or edit to make things look 'not so bad' or 'not so good.'

3. Performance photos are not allowed unless it's process oriented. Performance is a step outside of the ordinary and I tend to do myself up to hide imperfections, but practice photos are fine.

So here we go. Thirty days of ordinary...

NOTE: I lay no claim to 30 Days of Ordinary. If you wish to do your own 30 Days of Ordinary feel free! I'll be sharing photos on Instagram (@spinsterjane) with the hashtag #30daysofordinary. I'd love to see more!