We’re welcoming Aimee Hix to the blog today! We’re so excited about her debut novel, What Doesn’t Kill You, which is out TODAY! Go get yours now if you haven’t already.
Take it away, Aimee!
The blog title may be Wicked Cozies but there is nothing wicked about this group. I’m a Southerner and I know a few Southern grandmas could take lessons on hospitality from these ladies. I have been generously welcomed as a friend and invited in to take the podium once again and I could not be more grateful.
In the years that I’ve been attending Malice Domestic I have been warmly welcomed by everyone I’ve met. The mystery community surely is the kindest, most welcoming group of people. I wouldn’t be in the position to be guest blogging if it weren’t for all the help and support I’d gotten while writing my book, and editing it, and querying it. I’m like 99% a group-made success story. The remaining 1%? Twizzlers.
But while I love Twizzlers what I love even more is gratitude.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
I didn’t understand, truly understand, gratitude for the longest time. I was under the mistaken impression that it just meant being grateful for the good things in your life. That makes sense, right? And for most of my life, I held that belief. Except what happens when things aren’t good? When things don’t go the way you want them to? When the answer back from the Universe is hold on a little longer or even no. Then what?
What then is that you become less grateful with each disappointment and, eventually, you’ve forgotten to be grateful at all. Even if you’ve had a hard life and no one taught you what real gratitude is about then maybe you’ve never had the chance to be truly grateful. Or maybe you’ve had a wonderful life and with nothing to compare it to being grateful isn’t something you’ve had to think about. Isn’t it funny that two people who’ve had vastly different circumstances can both be lacking in this most fundamentally life-changing act.
Gratitude is different than just being grateful. It’s an extra step beyond grateful. It’s recognizing that all the things in your life, good and bad, add up to the entirety of your existence – what you know, what you’ve learned, what you’ve unlearned, who you love, who loves you, how you treat people and how you expect to be treated. Yes, bad things still happen – loved ones die, catastrophic illness happens, jobs are lost – but in the midst of that if you’ve found gratitude and have invited it in there is a small voice that reminds you, ‘it’s all going to be okay.’ Gratitude can banish fear because with it you remember that good things do happen and will happen again. With gratitude you remember that having a moment to breathe in and out and just sit in stillness can return your equilibrium.
I’m not always great at letting gratitude banish fear. I didn’t learn about gratitude until these last few years. I grew up in a family that was always waiting for the other shoe to drop … and so it always did. Why? Because when you’re a hammer, you’re looking for nails, and eventually everything looks like a nail. I grew up in a family that never asked for help and never accepted help. Why? Because if you need help then you’re vulnerable. You’re not the hammer, you’re the nail. And I knew deep inside that the mentality of staying closed off and pushing people away wasn’t strength; I just didn’t know how to change the pattern I’d learned. I knew I had to because it wasn’t making me happy peering around every corner watching for something bad to come after me.
The trick? You may have figured it out. Most people do long before I did. It’s the easiest thing in the world … you just ask for help. Or, even easier, you accept help when it’s offered. I did both because I wanted to fast track some changes.
And it was easy. Okay, it was easier than I thought it would be. I chose people who were kind, who seemed to genuinely want to help. I chose wisely because every person I accepted help from treated me kindly, as if they knew it was not something I was well-experienced doing. The people I asked for help were just as kind and gentle.
It gets easier every time I do it.
And the cool thing is that the circle of people who I ask for or accept help from keeps expanding.
Which brings me to the other point about gratitude and one that I thought was a hippy-dippy fake sell-more-books-if-you-do-it-right-money-will-roll-in-and-you’ll-have-a-mansion-and-sports car-and-vacation-home-in-Fiji. Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.” *snort* Yeah, right. Except that’s not what it means. It means ‘what you focus on, what you make important, what you are filled with gratitude for, you’ll recognize when it comes to you’. Like when you’re looking to buy a car and then that kind of car is all you see on the road? They were always there, your focus was just on something else. And it goes a step further … you’re a part of the club so the other people who own that car notice you too. They’ll smile at you, wave, let you in when traffic is backed up.
Gratitude breeds abundance – not money or sports cars or houses in Fiji but an abundance of what you’re focusing on like vulnerability and friendship and love and care and being a part of something.
And it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s still scary and I shrink back down into the shell with just enough room for me (and maybe my sweet Little Big Dog) but gratitude reminds me that that’s not the only space for me. And abundance reminds me that soon that shell will be too small and I won’t fit anymore because of all the abundance I have now.
And I’m so grateful for that. And I have such gratitude for that. Because of all the people I’ve allowed in I’m growing too big for the solitary shell. Gratitude breeds abundance in the very best way.
About What Doesn’t Kill You:
Favors are for suckers, especially when they lead you straight to a dead body. Willa Pennington thought that becoming a PI would be better than being a cop. She thought she’d never have to make another death notification or don a bulletproof vest again. She thought she’d be safe. But she couldn’t have been more wrong, because Willa’s real problem is that she’s always sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. And people really don’t like that. Now, agreeing to do a simple favor has netted her a dead body, a missing person, and an old friend who just may be a very bad guy. If whoever is trying to kill her would lay off she could solve the murder, find the missing girl, and figure out if the person she’s trusted with her life is the one trying to end it.
An inability to pass the sight requirements and a deep aversion to federal prison prevented Aimee from lying on her FBI application so she set her deficient eyes on what most Northern Virginians do for work – the non-law enforcement side of the federal government. After twenty years as a federal contractor, she retired and turned to murder. Fictionally, of course. Aimee lives in Virginia enjoying LASIK-corrected eyesight with her family, two dogs, and all her killer thoughts.