Living Fully in the Season of Hope, Peace, and Love

Nov 28, 2023 6:16 pm

Hello ,

As the last echoes of Thanksgiving laughter fade and the first snowflakes delicately blanket the world in a quiet hush, we find ourselves standing at the threshold of another magical season. 


Toby and Shelley celebrate Thanksgiving alone, dreaming about a big family gathering next year in South Carolina.

With the aroma of cinnamon and pine in the air, we eagerly turn our gaze toward Christmas, a time when the spirit of hope, peace, and love takes center stage amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations.

In the whirlwind of shopping lists, elaborate cooking plans, the joy of gift-giving, and the anticipation of travel, it's all too easy to lose sight of the profound essence that defines this time of year. 

Beyond the tinsel and twinkling lights lies a deeper current – the undercurrent of shared humanity, the warmth of connection, and the universal yearning for a world touched by kindness.

This holiday season, let us collectively reflect on the significance of hope, peace, and love that the frenetic pace of the festivities can sometimes overshadow. 

In the midst of the material abundance and the orchestrated chaos, we invite you to reconnect with the genuine spirit of the season, find joy in the simple things, and revel in the beauty of being surrounded by loved ones.


Snow on the Sandia Mountains and geese along the Rio Grande tell us that winter is coming to New Mexico.

Amidst the shimmering ornaments and the aroma of home-cooked meals, remember the gratitude in a quiet moment spent with family, the joy inherent in laughter shared with friends, and the profound peace found in the embrace of nature's winter wonders. 


A Christmas Angel waits for us in South Carolina!

Wishing you a season filled with warmth, wonder, and the timeless magic of the holidays.

Shelley & Toby

Journey to Redemption: Exploring the Hero's Journey and Personal Growth on a Train

by Shelley Carney

We have an interesting coincidence.

November 22nd, the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas. 

It was Jim Garrison who made his fame after this for having prosecuted several people that he believed were part of the big conspiracy in the assassination.

It eventually ended up in a book. Then in a movie called JFK. 

That's the same Jim Garrison.

So, you met him when you were just a 15-year-old kid.

On the Trail of the Assassins: One Man's Quest to Solve the Murder of President Kennedy by Jim Garrison. On March 1, 1967, New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison shocked the world by arresting local businessman Clay Shaw for conspiracy to murder the president. His alleged co-conspirator, David Ferrie, had been found dead a few days before. Garrison charged that elements of the United States government, in particular the CIA, were behind the crime. From the beginning, his probe was virulently attacked in the media and violently denounced from Washington. His office was infiltrated and sabotaged, and witnesses disappeared and died strangely.

Welcome, readers, to another exciting episode of "Our Story Your Story," the podcast where hosts Shelley Carney and Toby Younis unravel the layers of captivating tales. 

In this episode, the spotlight is on chapters 35 and 36 of "A Gypsy's Kiss: A Treasure Hunt Adventure," a journey of redemption and personal growth that unfolds on the rhythmic tracks of a train.

Watch the video or download the podcast episode.

The Hero's Journey and Personal Growth

Life is a series of experiences that shape and mold us into the individuals we become. 

“A hero's journey is ultimately a teaching tool. We can learn along with the character because the character goes through a change, usually upleveling in his life. He’s grateful to the people he met along the way, the mentors, the people who helped him, the people who taught him lessons about life, about himself, and his relationships with other people.” — Shelley Carney

The hero's journey, a concept explored by Joseph Campbell in "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," Christopher Vogler in "The Writer's Journey," and Syd Field in "The Foundations of Screenwriting," serves as a guiding light in understanding our own journeys. 

“The archetypes are individuals you meet along the journey, and they include the hero, a mentor, as Mr. Kudrow was, and the threshold guardian as Jim Garrison was. All of those characters appear in this book in various forms, and they do in any story that makes up the hero's journey. Because the hero is never in a vacuum. He's got to have people around him to make the story interesting.” — Toby Younis

It's not just a narrative tool, but a roadmap for personal growth, helping us navigate challenges and emerge stronger.

The Train Journey as a Metaphor

Imagine the rhythmic clatter of wheels on tracks, the scenic landscapes passing by, and the promise of a destination. 

The train journey in chapters 35 and 36 becomes a metaphor for the journey of self-discovery we all undertake. 

Frequently, I consider the whereabouts of the BSA, what happened to the cash tucked away in the secret compartment above the oil tank, and what Uncle Carlos will say and do when I show up without her. I also wonder if I’ll be kicked out of St. Michael’s for running off. When I left, I hadn’t thought about what might happen if I came back. I was all set to keep on riding. A Gypsy’s Kiss: A Treasure Hunt Adventure, Chapter 36

Through encounters, reflections, and anticipation, the train becomes a vessel carrying not just the protagonist, Miguel, but also the lessons and revelations that shape his character.

“This is finishing up the hero's journey. He had this calling. The calling was Mardi Gras. Then you got there, you had your fun, met people, and you did your thing. Now it's time to go home and pay the piper.” — Shelley Carney

As readers, we can draw parallels with our own experiences on trains or other modes of public transportation. 

We can visualize the conversations with fellow passengers, the quiet moments of reflection, and the anticipation of what lies ahead. 

“You could travel from one end of the train to the other and experience a certain amount of social interaction. It was really up to me because people saw me as a child. The women on the train were especially social. They would work to start the conversation and try to make me comfortable, so I didn't feel alone. By the second morning, I was sitting with someone at the breakfast table.” — Toby Younis

These shared experiences echo the universal nature of personal growth and self-discovery.

Click here to read the rest of Shelley's entertaining article on our blog.

Here's our next week in content:

7 pm MDT, Thursday, November 30, 2023. Our Story Your Story with Shelley Carney and Toby Younis. Premier.


Journey of Choices: Freedom, Family, and the Fountain Pen | A Gypsy’s Kiss Chapters 37 and 38 | Our Story Your Story

Join hosts and authors Toby Younis and Shelley Carney in an insightful episode of "Our Story Your Story." In this installment, they delve into the captivating chapters 37 and 38 of "A Gypsy’s Kiss: A Treasure Hunt Adventure." The teenage protagonist, Miguel, faces a crossroads in his life, torn between the allure of freedom through travel and the responsibilities waiting at home.

Explore the symbolism behind the lending of a favorite fountain pen and unravel the impact of chance encounters on decision-making. The hosts discuss Miguel's evolving character, the contrasting perspectives of freedom, and the profound theme of choosing the life you already have.

Toby and Shelley lead a thoughtful discussion on the emotions of conflict, compassion, and acceptance woven into the narrative. Tune in for a captivating exploration of self-discovery, connection, and the poignant realization that true freedom may lie in the choices we make within the lives we already lead.

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Shelley and Toby

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