On this episode of What Dreamers Do, host Carla Gover talks with Appalachian Author Bobi Conn about her work, her writing process, overcoming trauma, and offering a counter-narrative to stereotypical, pop-culture representations of the region. The two friends also riff about their personal experiences with healing and success, encouraging listeners to find their own path and express their best selves to the world.
The episode wraps up with a discussion about Bobi’s two existing books as well as her upcoming novel, which all explore universal themes and Bobi’s lived experiences and struggles, with a focus on women's lives.
Bobi Conn was born in Morehead, Kentucky, and raised in a nearby holler, where she developed a deep connection with the land and her Appalachian roots. She obtained her bachelor’s degree at Berea College, the first school in the American South to integrate racially and to teach men and women in the same classrooms. After struggling as a single mother, she worked multiple part-time jobs at once to support her son and to attend graduate school, where she earned a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing.
In 2020, she released her first book, an elegiac account of survival despite being born poor, female, and cloistered. In her honest and vulnerable memoir, we find a testament of hope for all vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls caught in the cycle of poverty and abuse.
Bobi's second book, a novel called "A Woman in Time," was published in 2022 and draws inspiration from the true stories of her great grandparents. It portrays a woman who challenges the constraints of life in Prohibition-era Appalachia in this sweeping and richly rewarding novel about endurance, survival, and redemption.
Post-Roll with information about the Appalachian Flatfooting & Clogging Academy
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All right. Welcome dreamers. We're sitting here today on a comfy couch, nestled in the foothills of Bria, Kentucky. Actually, we're within a house on that couch in the foothills of Bria, Kentucky, and I am with my good friend and author among other things. Ms. Bobby Kahn, thank you so much for being on the show today. Thank you so much for having me. Um, it has taken us long enough to do this, but that's. Just how it goes sometimes, I think, yeah, next time we'll have to find that couch in the woods. Like directly in the foothills. Yeah. A couch actually sitting out in the middle of the woods. That's really, that's the ideal place for a podcast like this. But we'll make do today so we're gonna be talking about creativity, about writing, uh, about your process and whatever else happens to drop into our minds. Bobby, For those of you who don't know her has a philosophy undergraduate degree from Bria College. So our, chats often skew fairly philosophical anyway, so, you can be a fly on the wall to that. But I was thinking that maybe for, for people that have not read any of your books, and don't know anything about you, maybe you can just give a little cliff notes. Bobby Kahn 1 0 1. Yeah, sure. Happy to do that. Thank you. My first book came out in 2020 that was a memoir about one of our favorite beloved topics, which is Appalachia. And I really wanted to explore, how stereotypes can arise and especially about marginalized cultures, and then how those tend to fall apart or create a very limited perspective for people who haven't. Lived inside of a subculture. as well as of course my personal journey and experiences, a lot of which are universal, and then some of which is, very specific to the culture I grew up in. Among a bunch of other issues, of course and topics that are near and dear to me. my second book was a novel. It came out in 2022. It's called A Woman In Time, and that was inspired by, some true stories about my great-grandparents who were, my great-grandfather was a moonshiner during prohibition and the Great Depression. And I grew up hearing stories about his exploits as well as some of the things my great-grandmother struggled to, to live with and had to contend with as a woman in her time. And I really wanted to look at, what women's lives during that era and in that specific context. Might have looked like and, pay homage to those women. The, the women who are, ultimately, you know, we're all beholden to them for bringing us into the world. I. And so my writing typically thus far explores, lived experiences. It's often set in Appalachia and, you know, definitely has a focus on women's lives and, the lives that I have witnessed or have some sort of like firsthand knowledge of. And then trying to tease out, the universal themes that connect all of us. Yeah, that's really, that's really interesting because, you know, I've read your books and I know you, and I've also heard personal stories and I think, you know, that I'm all about having, a actual people from Appalachia help define more, strongly define the narrative about Appalachia versus it being defined by Hollywood or being defined by writers who didn't grow up with the culture and. One of the things that has always struck me when I reflect on Appalachia is how we are defined by our problems in a way that other areas which also have problems aren't, you know, other areas have drug issues or crime or you know, whatever cultural, social issues they have in that part of the world. but it seems to define us heavily in a way. As Appalachians, that isn't always true of other places. And so you don't shy away from talking about the problems in our area. You know, your books they touch on, you know, different kinds of abuse and drug use. You know, some of the societal problems that we struggle with. So how do you balance telling an accurate story with some of the issues and problems and challenges that we all have in our families and communities, but also trying to help shift that narrative so it's not just a stereotype? Yeah, I think that's a great question and it's was a really important one for me to think about a lot while I was writing my memoir, because I certainly didn't want people to read it and, you know, interpret it as just sort of, More ammunition against Appalachian or hillbilly culture and for me, one way to do that is to balance the, negative experiences and the negative, like socioeconomic issues that we're facing with, with an understanding of the. The beauty and the, the very close, tight-knit relationships that a lot of us also have experienced in Appalachia. Like, you know, the having a granny, for instance, is one of those things. Granny or grandmother of a matriarch of the family. That's one of those, aspects of Appalachian culture that I think isn't typically broadcast to the outside world. You know, that, we have often have these women who are responsible for, you know, providing so much love and stability for our families. And, as when my memoir came out, I had a lot of people respond to that aspect of my writing, uh, as. I had a lot of people respond to that theme in my writing really strongly. Even,, people from all over the country, people from other ethnicities, just because it is a universal experience. but on the other hand, it is something that's very special about Appalachian culture. Mm-hmm. So I wanted those, I wanted to bring those beautiful aspects. Of our culture to the forefront, to show, you know, the complications, the, the challenges and difficulties are not the full picture. That's, that just happens to be what is, often broadcast to the rest of the world. And then sometimes, lampoon or, you know, made into characters. Mm-hmm. So there's that. And then I think the other element. I think the other piece of balancing out the negativity and the stereotypes is to, to question whether, as you said, those challenges are specific to our culture. And of course we know drug abuse is not specific to Appalachian culture. Mm-hmm. Poverty is not, neither is child abuse or spouse abuse. Mm-hmm. so, I wanted my memoir to really challenge people to say like, why would you believe that these things are specific to this culture? and, and what might have given rise to that. And I think it's a really complicated, combination of classism and also just the, the role that Appalachia has played in our country's history and in our economic development that. You know, it, it, the culture has been lampooned and, derided for so long, and yet it hasn't been challenged like that. That perspective has not been so thoroughly challenged in our, collective minds. Yeah. And we have to examine the reasons why that's so. And I know you and I have had a lot of conversations about, you know, how can you have an accurate conversation, any kind of real conversation about Appalachia and issues facing it without looking at the role that extractive economies and sort of a colonial model of that. the economy here as, as it relates to the economy of the rest of the United States has played. You know, that's just, it's a thing and I don't think it's talked about enough, so, Yeah, I mean, I didn't even understand that until I went to college, probably. You know, I, I think a lot of people around the country, including within Appalachia, don't understand the history of Appalachia and how, you know, our coal and our lumber fueled the development of the rest of the country while none of the, um, you know, financial. Gain was put back into the region in the infrastructure. So, mm-hmm. Yeah. I think it, there is a serious lack of understanding, well, I think that's one of the things that can be so profoundly damaging about the stereotypes that exists about Appalachia is just how deep it runs and how much we are raised to believe it without ever examining it critically. And thank goodness, I think it was probably for me in college as well. Uh, when I started to, to look at that from a different perspective and realize that we're not just all backwards and ignorant and this is just, we don't deserve any more than this because that's kind of what you unconsciously soak up. It's not like anybody is outright saying that to you for the most part, but it's just kind of the, it's just kind of the overall attitude. And another thing that you kind of touch on in both of your books that I've read so far that um, is sort of paradoxical and has always. Uh, confused me a little bit is the fact that in, many parts of Appalachia, many households or churches or communities, there's sort of a patriarchal men wear the britches kind of a, uh, mentality where in reality it's these little grannies that are totally holding families and communities together. And, um, I know certainly in your memoir that comes out, but also even in your, uh, your book of Woman in Time, the different characters, um, express that in different ways. Some of them are more oppressed or have a harder time asserting their power. Some of them get to be more empowered because of their. Life circumstances. So I'd be interested to hear any more of your thoughts about that or how you tried to incorporate that. Yeah, I think it's, uh, it's a really fascinating, um, phenomenon that, you know, we do see these dis disempowered women, you know, they're not politically empowered or socially, and perhaps not personally, but within their homes, they do possess a lot of power. Mm-hmm. In my novel, A woman in Times specifically, I wanted to explore where did that power come from, you know? And I do think that it probably has something to do with the, um, emotional strength that a lot of women have to have in order to, you know, be mothers and, um, to take care of their children and the love that just. Typically naturally flows from that experience. Um, I'm sure there's some much more complex psychological and maybe sociological factors at play that, that I can't quite parse out. But, um, one of the, one of the things that seemed to arise for me as I was, you know, letting this story unfold and learning through it, Was that, um, these women gain strength through experience and um, through the specific kind of maturation that they go through, um, as they our mothers, as they interact with the natural world, um, as their spirituality deepens. And then, At the same time, um, I had a really interesting experience at a book festival one time when I was sharing that theme with someone who had stopped to look at my books and think about purchasing one. And I said again that I was curious where this women's power came from since it wasn't an external power. And um, she said it comes from other women. And I thought that's a really fascinating answer. And you know, I think that kind of holds true in the story that I wrote because you see the, the mother, the grandmother, the, the aunt, and then sister-in-law, those relationships between these women help, um, support the women and girls and help them. Um, prepare to step into their roles as, as pillars of strength in their families and in their communities. Yes. And what you see, um, you know, what I saw in a woman in time reading that is that the female characters, they have this, this knowledge, this wisdom, this skillset of, you know, um, the plants and the herbs making medicine, um, and. Knowing how to take care of the animals, knowing how to take care of the garden. And it's almost like in some instances, they're actually having to do those things because the men are incapacitated or, you know, uh, gone. And so the women are having to have the take, they have a knowledge that's almost like that the men don't even understand. They have. Right. Uh, the, the men don't even, they're not even cognizant of how much the women are holding things together. And it kind of reminded me a little bit of another book that I love, the Doll maker, um, by Harriet Simpson, Arno in, in the main character Gerdy. Um, I don't know if you've read that one. It's, you know, one of those tomes of, of Appalachian literature, but she, they live in Appalachia and she has, uh, been squirreling away money and her husband thinks, oh, we need to move to Detroit. I need to get better work. We need to make some money up there. And he doesn't even realize how much money that she squirreled away in her jar. She's just so connected to the land and she loves it so much. They wind up moving, spoiler alert in the doll maker. They wind up going to Detroit. Um, but just this idea that the women have a power that's almost invisible to the men in their lives, but it's still holding everything together. Yeah, and I, I think that's, um, you know, obviously we don't want to have that come across as a negative theme toward men or a negative message or anything like that, but it seems to hold true in my life and in so many of the lives of other women that I know personally and, and in so many stories that there is this. Kind of connection. Um, maybe an, an awareness or certainly a depth of emotion oftentimes that seems to be specific to women and women's lives. And, you know, there's something really beautiful about that and I, I love to celebrate it and explore it, um, to understand it better. Yeah. Well that, um, it kind of reminds me of something else I wanted to touch on. I know. You know, your memoir's been out for a while now, and I know you've talked a lot about that. So I'm, I've kind of had a few more questions that I wanted to ask you about a woman in time. Um, and one of the things I found really interesting about the book, because it's something I've wondered about a lot, is you just kind of touch on at these different moments that the women, even though these women in the book are Christian women, um, They might have a few elements in their folklore, in their family folklore or spiritual systems that hearken back to, uh, maybe other religious systems that were coming from the British Isles. You know, what, what we would call paganism and I think that's very visible to see in Appalachia, probably. These traces of both Native American indigenous, uh, spiritual systems and like maybe Celtic British Isles, Irish, Scottish spiritual systems that have a little bit more, um, a little bit more focus on intuition and divination and reading the signs and watching the birds and watching the trees. And so your book touches on that. And I'm curious about, were there any family stories in your family that kind of hinted at those, those other origins besides just the, the Christian origins? Because I think those are, those are pretty obvious, um, that how the, those have come through, or did you do some research, you know, how did, how did you weave those elements in? Yeah, I, I'm so glad you brought that up because I really love that topic too, and I was so excited to write about it. Um, it wasn't really present in my family history, um, in the same way that, that it's in a woman in time. But one of the things that made me start thinking about how the, that generation may have, you know, um, incorporated singing and prayers and, and these sort of more mystical elements into their healing work and their, um, their worship. It was the, uh, experience in the evangelical church I grew up in where there was an anointing with oil and, um, praying and laying on of hands. Mm-hmm. You know, it, it just occurred to me that those are not, um, Those are not practices that every Christian sect employs. Mm-hmm. Um, and they do kind of have a somewhat more mystical flavor to them because of like the anointing of the oil, right? Mm-hmm. It's related to biblical passages. Um, but it's this idea that there's this transmutation that can occur, um, and that there's physical items or, um, Products that we can use and combine that with prayer, um, to, to achieve a physical healing. I think if you really look at that, that that is a very mystical kind of idea. Um, of course by the time I was growing up in church, the idea of mysticism was fairly frowned upon. Mm-hmm. Anything that smacked of magic would've been, um, seen as, Like the devil's work. Yeah. Demonic. Yeah. Um, but, but it made me want to look back further into in time and ask what kind of practices may have been left over from those British isles, you know, the, the, the closer connection with, with the Earth and that mixing of old folklore with, with newer approaches and a. Really, um, a changing understanding of Christianity that I think must have occurred in the US pretty early on. But I don't think that really reached Appalachia and fully, um, fully infused the Appalachian practice of Christianity immediately and not at the same pace. Right. But it did. The rest of the country, the rest of the country. Mm-hmm. So I did a little bit of research. I did some interviews with people to just make sure that my somewhat, um, tenuous understanding of that was, was correct and that I was writing it accurately for the time and place. Um, and then that's also why, you know, there's some scenes where, uh, John. One of the patriarchs of the family, you know, he's going to town, he's interacting with traveling preachers, they're going to revivals mm-hmm. On a yearly basis. And that's how this more, um, common commonplace and like a different understanding of Christianity, I would say a more firmly entrenched, entrenched patriarchal. Christianity, um, becomes more and more, it encroaches more and more, it encroaches more and more on the Appalachian folklore version mm-hmm. That we see initially. So that's another theme that I wanted to explore in the book is, you know, how, um, technology and this, you know, they're on the cusp of industrialization, so, How those things, uh, influence religion and the spread of certain understanding of religion and start to, um, dampen or maybe just make it more challenging to practice the, the old folklore and the medicinal, you know, wisdom and healing arts that the women are still carrying on. This relates to what we were talking about last night. In terms of the ballads and, um, you know, as a armchair ballad scholar and a ballad singer myself, one thing I've learned, and one thing I've known from listening to so many ballads from both the British aisle and the United States, is that as the ballads came across the Atlantic, and as people settled here over time, I don't know when it happened, like you're saying, it could have probably happened later in Appalachian than it did in other, um, Other parts of the United States, but the ballads began to be stripped of all of their, um, supernatural references. Mm. So there's all these ballads that have ghosts and, and fair falk and, uh, different kinds of supernatural elements in the British Isles. And I think those over here began to be associated with witchcraft or with the devil. And so the ballads here tend to be more, you know, they're love ballads or murder ballads or, or those ballads that are like, The bad mother ballads. I don't know if you've heard those where, you know, the, the mother goes off and leaves the kids at home or Right. You know, her baby dies and she regrets it because it's cuz she wasn't acting right. You know, that kind of thing. But, yeah, it's, that that gradual process where some of the earlier influences on the culture become obscured to history due to the, more modern religious influences. But I feel like I have to tell this story. Um, I feel like somehow the book got a divine blessing or seal of approval because, um, you know, I went to Ireland, I'm telling this to you listeners because Bobby knows this, but I went to Ireland last summer and you know, I was bringing back souvenirs for my friends and I was in a little Irish gift shop and I saw this, woven cross of St. Bridged and I know they say her name a different way over there, that Saint, but. I'm gonna say St. Bridget, and it was just a little straw cross and it wasn't very expensive, but I knew it would be light in my suitcase, and I thought, this just seems like the right thing to bring to Bobby. And I brought it back and she was like, oh my God, these are in my book. So I felt like that was very much a synchronicity. Oh, absolutely. I still, I'm so glad you brought that up because. I, I'm always wanting to tell that story to people because again, you know, it was, I did some research just to, to look into what were some of the symbols that may have survived up into this point in Appalachian culture coming back from the British Isles. that might have been, specifically woven into healing and praying. And, um, yeah. When you showed up with that, I was just blown away that, you know, you tapped into that, that aspect of, maybe a shared moment of consciousness that we had without knowing it. Yeah. Well that's, one of the most interesting elements of the book to me, is just their, folklore and their herb lore, and, The medicines they make. And obviously, you know, there's all the human drama, all the, um, the struggles especially that the women have in, in one case, especially dealing with, you know, a violent, husband and I, understand that this is based on, you know, some of the stories in your family, maybe like a fictionalized family story, right? Yeah. With fictional ailments. So I recommend reading it if, you like, you know, Appalachian historical fiction. But there's now you're, you're done with your third book and it's in the editing phase right now. So I feel like we need to keep moving forward. You've got a lot going on. Yeah. Um, so I'm working on this third book. It'll be. We'll be wrapping up developmental edits in about a month, and then, um, you know, going through proofreading and all of that. We don't have a publication debt in stone yet. We don't have a publication date in stone yet. Um, but I, it looks like it might be May of 2024 when it comes out and it's a fictionalized telling of my mother's story. Um, so. She read my memoir and, you know, really had a desire for people to understand her story, which I thought was, you know, really interesting. And of course a natural inclination that, um, most of us would want to have, especially of some of our life was made very public as my mother's was through my memoir. And it's a difficult story. It's a painful story, so, yes. Yeah. And, You know, I, I had a lot of goals when I, I started working on her story, and again, it is a fictionalized version, so, you know, to, to paint a really rich picture. Um, I created a lot of scenes and details and even some characters that aren't real, dialogue, you know, because memory being what it is, you can't necessarily come up with a very rich, description. Of somebody's young life once they're in their sixties. Mm-hmm. Right. Not for an entire book perhaps. So, I set out to understand her story better, while also looking at, um, how. Women in her time and place, which, you know, she came of age in the sixties in rural eastern Kentucky. Um, you know, what was her experience like? Technology being where it was and what it was at that point. Transportation being what it was, um, you know, still so very limited compared to what we're experiencing today. And so I wanted to see. What kind of possibilities did she have in her, um, range of, of understanding and then, you know, how did that affect the choices that she made? How did that affect, um, my life coming out of it? But I really wanted to give her a voice first and foremost, and, and. In a way this book functions like, um, a fictional prequel to my memoir. But I will say, you know, a good number of the events within the book are true and they're true to her telling. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, like the major structural points. and I would say overall the plot, interestingly enough, follows what she has shared with me for the purposes of the book. I remember you saying that parts of the book you wrote in first person as if you were her. Do you feel that changed your perception of her or did that change, uh, your feelings of connection to her? What was that like? Yeah, it was, it was pretty intense. the book is divided into three parts, and they're each called books as, as you've seen mm-hmm. In other books. So book two specifically is written from her characters first person point of view. Mm-hmm. And I wanted to do that because, you know, I want the reader to be sunk into her perspective and be seeing the world as she sees it. And also at the same time, um, To, to experience some discomfort when they realize what this character is going through, what they feel, what the character is going through. Mm-hmm. So that's something that I've always enjoyed infusing into my writing is, you know, really trying to draw people into the characters and into their perspectives. And then of course, create a little bit of, um, Cognitive dissonance. Really. Tension. There's tension. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, for me, the whole experience just made me feel, um, compassion for my mother in a new way that I had never felt before. I think, you know, it's intellectually I could, I've, I'm at a point in my. Um, development where I could say, oh yeah, um, you know, she's her own person. She's an individual. She's not just my mother. And you know, she has her own experiences that, you know, make her who she is. But I think as children, looking at her parents, you know, it is kind of hard, at least it always has been for me. It's hard to separate my experience of them. from their experience of their own lives mm-hmm. Or my idea what that might be for them. So I think as children we have a naturally self-centered view of our parents that, you know, begins at birth then just extends throughout our lives, if left unexamined. Mm-hmm. And this really gave me a view of her. At least a possibility of what her experiences and feelings and thoughts might have been like. That kind of blew me open, you know? Um, it, it transformed me in a way that I, I said I wanted to experience. Mm-hmm. But I couldn't comprehend it until it really happened. Yeah. I don't think it gets more examined than that when you actually, you know, other than actually becoming somebody else. That's a pretty, uh, Rigorous exercise in putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Yeah, it's, it's something I'd like to, um, I'd like to help other people do. I think that it could be really healing and, beneficial, you know, especially for the people that we struggle with, the relationship or have resentments or, you know, any, any sort of lingering, unresolved, difficult emotions with, I feel like it, it's a. Surefire way to, to change one's perspective about that other person. So you're kind of touching on writing as healing as a tool for healing really? Yeah. And not, not healing. Like now I feel better or I feel, you know, I was unhappy and now I'm happy. But more so, um, I don't know, like I feel like. My, my view of my mom and my dad now after writing these books is more, my, my view is more complete and I see that there's a lot more complexity and therefore I, I'm in a position to give a lot more grace and mm-hmm. And just accept that we are humans having this, you know, Crazy human experience, that there's no blueprint for, no instruction manual. And um, you know, so rather than saying, oh, I'm happy and I feel healed, like, I think sometimes we think of healing. I. You know, it's gonna make you have that kind of outcome. It's more so that I just have a, such a greater level of peace and acceptance for what has happened and then a sense of intention for what I'm doing going forward. Well, I think, you're one of those people who is not just a gifted artist, but you have a teacher's heart and. It sounds like you're expressing that you would like to help other people maybe do in, in your writing workshops or in in writing courses and things like that. I'm sure you have many ideas of things that you wanna teach, but I know that you have a heart for sharing your writing, especially you have a heart for obviously exploring these topics you love and elevating the discourse about Appalachia, but also. helping people who have experienced trauma of different kinds find their own roadmap for creating a better life for themselves because, you know, I know that's very much the path that you're on. Yeah. Yeah. Funny you say that., my intention for my next book after wrapping up this third one is to, write a book that I. Looks again at my personal life and experiences, um, while, while really examining what developmental face they occurred at, you know, where I was at developmentally. And therefore, what was the sort of natural impact and outcome of those experiences. because our understanding of, of trauma and the impacts on the human brain and on human behavior, Just, you know, our understanding just keeps getting stronger and stronger. but a lot of people who are having those negative experiences or who are dealing with the, the fallout from PTSD or whatever else they might have going on, you know, they're not, necessarily going and reading the research and finding, uh, the solutions that are going to help them resolve these issues. So, I wanna take a very creative storytelling approach to looking at how traumatic events can impact us. Why they would impact us at a certain way, at a certain point in our development. And then what are the, what are the steps that have to be taken, um, when to just get your brain functioning properly again, because it's really hard to. I have success in any sense if, um, your brain isn't functioning properly, which is just a completely understood impact of, uh, trauma mm-hmm. At this point. Mm-hmm. But it's not something I think we socially understand and it's really not something I personally understood until very recently. Even past my memoir being published, you know, I've had, um, certain therapeutic experiences that have put me in a place where I think I can share some, some tools, um, and effective techniques with the rest of the world so that, um, you know, other people can get to their, their better outcomes a lot more quickly and without as much grasping as me. Mm-hmm. And a lot of other people have done. Yeah, I don't think we societally have the right kinds of systems in place to help people navigate that, that journey of trauma. I mean, we're letting so many people fall through the cracks. Um, and, and maybe even in some cases, unfortunately, writing people off, you know, drug addicts or whatever, we're writing people off that really should be having a better shot at redemption, you know, and of having a meaningful life. So I'm all about the, um, You know, this idea of, of sharing your, what's worked for you. And one thing I notice is that I think whether it's for, for healing trauma or healing, um, whatever kind of negative programming we have or just achieving different kinds of success, whether it's financial success, relationships, success, we humans often look for that one magic bullet or that one thing that's gonna help us. Finally be the people we wanna be. And I think you are like a poster child. I've been knowing you now for close to 10 years, right? Um, yeah. You are a poster child for, it's not necessarily just one thing. You're gonna keep trying all of it, you know? Right. If it's essential oils, if it's meditation, if it's biofeedback, if it's tapping, if it's whatever, you know, therapy, you're gonna like keep. Reaching for those tools until you, you feel better, and then you feel better, and then you feel a little better, and then you're able to do more of what you wanna do and what we came here to do. And that's, I mean, that's what it's all about, right? We are trying to get to where we can express, share our best selves with the world and be happy. Yeah. You know, people have asked me before, um, especially after reading my memoir mm-hmm. Like why would, what made it to where you got out? Whereas, you know, perhaps. 95% of the other people in these situations aren't gonna have that same outcome. And when I look at myself and my journey, you know, I've always been very much a seeker. Mm-hmm. And I would say I've had to be very stubborn. I am a, you know mm-hmm. Stubbornness has been my friend in, um, you know, my path forward and my path and in creating a better and better life. And when I. I thought about that and examined it. I thought, you know, we really can't expect other people to do what I did because what I did didn't make sense on paper so much of the time. You know, I invested money into my wellbeing that I really, you know, any good financial planner would've told you I should have been spending that money elsewhere. Mm-hmm. Or saving it or whatnot. You know, and, and that stubbornness that I have and even some of the resources I've had, a lot of people aren't going to be able to follow that path. So I think it's really important that we figure out, you know, an attainable and sustainable way to get people, um, to a nice, healthy functioning place as quickly as possible without expecting them to. Okay. Just draw on inner resources all the time. Um, because it's not practical, you know, most people aren't going to be able to conjure up those inner resources, um, like out of thin air. Mm-hmm. And also it's in our collective. Best interest to, to have a healthy functioning society. You know, when we look at like, homelessness problems, um, and the scale that they've reached mm-hmm. In, in some cities, you know, and that, and understanding that mental illness is a big, um, component of, of that problem. You know, we can't ignore each other's problems forever. Um, because we are an interconnected society. Mm-hmm. We are societal animals. Um, it's important for us to, to be able to work together because we do in some ways become each other's problem whether we like it or not. Absolutely. It's the phrase you hear a lot that I think is just, it says it all in the social justice movement is none of us are free until all of us are free. Yeah, definitely. Um, and I've, I've, I think I'm, I tend to be an altruistic kind of person, but for the longest time I have felt like, you know, even the most self-interested among us should be able to see how, um, having a, a healthy collective and a healthy environment. Are critical to our own self-interest. 1000%. I don't care if you're a multi-billionaire. I. If there's no clean air and no nice city for your children to walk down the street and spend their billions in, if there's not a good society for them to participate in and feel safe and happy and watch beautiful art forms, uh, what good does your money do you, you know? Yeah. And I think that's a lot of what the fight is right now is between this, this gulf of crazy ultra billionaires who don't seem to care much about the collective and, and. The have nots who just want a way to, you know, live and make a living and have a place to live. And yeah. And I feel like if I can come up with that, um, conclusion, you know, that it's in their best interests. Yeah. It's in all of our best. That, you know, there's, there's gotta be a growing awareness and understanding of that. And so the next step is, How do we do it? You know, how the hell do we get there if we know that we need to start, um, resolving and healing some of these issues that have become, you know, so firmly entrenched and widespread? I. That's a million dollar question, but I reckon we can start just like Granny said and take care of one another. Yeah, yeah. And you know my book, you know, paperback copy will be 1495 or so, so hopefully that'll be not even a million dollar answers. It all comes back to Appalachia. I keep saying, you know, people have been sending mission trips to, to Appalachia for a hundred years now, but it's time for us to send some mission trips to the rest of the United States and just teach people how to. You know, raise a garden and take care of your neighbor and have a work party and all those things that we got to grow up doing. Uh, yeah. Mutual aid certainly is, has been a, um, a feature of our culture for, yeah, before it was called Mutual Aid, right? Long before it was cool. Um, well, I know we're just about out of time, so I always like to try to bring this back home to my listeners who I believe care a lot about. Uh, living their best lives and being creative and infusing that creative, energy into their own lives. So, do you have anything that you would consider, you know, like a best practice or advice you'd give to people that want to be more creative or express themselves? Or you can give advice to a writer? I don't know. I'm springing this on you. So, yeah, a couple things come to mind. Um, You know, the first thing that I had to do as the precursor to write my memoir was to go to grad school, for, an MA in English with an emphasis on creative writing. Now, that's not the only path, but the point of it for me was I needed some structure in my life because at that time I was a young single mother. I was, working full time. Okay. And I don't think that, I didn't have the discipline at that time to sit down and write for myself and do something, that was actually gonna create an output. Mm-hmm. That was really meaningful. Mm-hmm. I didn't have a book in, in mind or anything when I sat down or set out to go to grad school. But looking back, I can see how having that structure, in my life, Made it much more easy for me to tap into my creativity. So anytime I speak with, aspiring writers or writers who've just not been able to, find their inspiration for a while, I encourage them to take a workshop or join a writer's group, find some sort of community or, program that's gonna work for them. And, You know, give them, give them the impetus that they need to sit down and do that. And then of course, the other piece of it for me is cuz now I'm also, you know, a mother and, um, working full-time and take, taking care of a lot of other things. I have to be really disciplined now. So I do have that discipline I didn't have, you know, 15 years ago. Mm-hmm. And, I've created word count goals for myself. I have put myself on a schedule to write. I feel like it's really important to not wait for the inspiration to strike. If you do have a creative goal, you know, you might not get to the point just walking around in your daily life where you know, the muse visits you and you're ready to. To create your next best amazing piece of art. But if you're sitting in your chair in front of your keyboard and you've told yourself you're not getting up until you've got 250 words tight, then the muse has a lot better chance of knowing when to show up. That's a great point. That's a great point. I love it. Well, I think that's a perfect note to end on. You gotta make some space for that muse to come and visit y'all. Yeah, let her know when, when she's allowed to show up, let her know that you're gonna have a dedicated time just for her. Well, thank you so much. I'm so glad we finally got a chance to sit down and do this. And, um, I know you have a website. I'd like to get that information for people. And also you post your Boston Terrier, Appalachia and writer life content on Instagram. So do you wanna share those addresses with us? Sure. Uh, the website's bobby conn.com and um, I'm on Instagram just as Bobby Conn. So c o double N? Yes. B o b i. You'll probably see it on some podcast notes, but, um, it's pretty easy cuz then there aren't a lot of names like mine. That's right. All right, well keep dreaming everybody. We'll talk to you next time on. That's what Dreamers do.