A Conversation with Nancie Carmichael, Author of Surviving One Bad Year
Introduction From the Author
I am one of seven children, born to wheat and cattle ranchers in northern Montana. Mom and Dad, stalwarts in the community and our church, gifted me with a childhood under the Big Sky. I spent a lot of time outside, seeing the Rocky Mountains of Glacier Park off to the west…hearing meadowlarks and red-winged blackbirds in spring…going to a country school all eight grades, memorizing poetry…taking piano lessons…being a bookworm, not having a TV. These things shaped me: To this day, I love being outside—watching for birds, savoring the seasons. My husband and I live in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, and I love nothing more than to walk along the MetoliusRiver near our home, or hike in the mountains with friends and family. And I still love playing my piano, a form of journaling for me. And I’m still a “bookworm”!
Q&A What motivated you to write this book?
When we went through our own hard year that seemed to have no pain-free ending, I was carried through it by reading the Bible, which became literally life-sustaining. Later, as I looked back over the year and read through my journals, I realized we did get through it. Not always perfectly, and sometimes it was messy. But we were still “us;” we were okay. In that year, we learned important things. So I wanted to write a book to give hope to others that no matter what they’re facing, they too can survive, can have a fresh start. Each morning we are given new mercies, and we get through it that way, taking it one day at a time. I originally started the book as a daily devotional, with the idea of a new “daily mercy.” As things do, it evolved.
Why did you choose this topic?
I felt as if the topic chose me. I write out of what I’m most passionate about, to give voice to it, so my passion to share my own hope is what birthed the book. I wanted to re-affirm what I knew and learned.
What do you want readers to take away from this book?
First of all, I want to give the reader hope—that he or she can get through impossible, life-crushing disappointments and loss, and that life can be good again. I want the reader to feel empowered to take actual steps to help facilitate their healing. And ultimately, I want to encourage the reader to trust God, no matter what.
What was difficult about writing this book?
Hearing and entering into the painful stories of people I interviewed for this book was difficult. But I emerged hopeful, that if they can survive, others can, too. But they were hard to hear.
What is the un-said message of this book?
As an adoptive mom to my daughter (and mom to four biological sons), I thought I knew about adoption. I did—but I knew only one side of it. When I helped my daughter relinquish her baby, I learned the other side of adoption. I’ve come to believe we often have a romanticized view of adoption. In many adoption stories, the birth mother is ignored or discounted, or seen as deficient in some way. I believe my daughter and her now-husband are extremely courageous for realizing their child needed parents who were ready to be parents. Some day I may write a book about adoption. I’m interested in seeing how an open adoption—depending on the circumstances—can be a wonderful, viable arrangement.
What did you learn about yourself in writing this book that you didn’t know before?
I was reminded that so much of life is about letting go—how to love and let go. It’s a curious paradox, but essential to growth in every way. And I was reminded how hard it is for me to let go! I hang onto people and things like a bull-dog.