Conversations with Friends: Denise Correll

I recently sat down with Denise Correll, a kind-hearted friend and founder of The Grateful Messenger, who always leads with compassion and humor. I’ve edited our conversation down to this, a homily on what to do in the face of fear. 


My conversation with Denise opened with a sense of mutual seeking: do you feel what I’m feeling? 

 A few minutes in and several “mmhm’s” and “yeses” later, I said, “I feel like you’re confirming so many things, and as much as they’re hard and challenging, it also makes me feel better: someone else understands, someone else feels this! And I’m not crazy.” 

“Yeah,” she laughed. “It’s definitely the ‘I’m not crazy’ place.”


There seemed no other place to begin, so I began our interview with the collective state of things: how are you feeling about the world right now?

She started her reply with the answer, with what’s at the root of the change we’re seeking: unity. “I think we’re trying to find each other,” she said. “We’re trying to find like-minded folks to get through this turmoil, but also to enjoy being here on the planet.” Change begins when unity rises from diversity and marches forward with the flag of love. 

The problem is that fear blocks out the light; fear walls us off from love. And we cannot come together positively if we’re acting from fear: “Everything’s so fear-based now,” she added. “And,” she paused to consider her next thought, “I hope this comes out right: I don’t . . . have the patience to spend time with people who are staying in the dark, fear-based place. I just don’t have the energy for it anymore.” 

She’s right. She didn’t say that out of harshness or antagonism, but truth. She was speaking the tenets of change, anticipating the playbook for collective action. No, we cannot afford to cede our optimism, our hope. This does not mean that we must falsely assume the journey is easy or that what’s ahead is not challenging or dark or uncertain—there is no blindness in this—but we must retain our resilience. It is our greatest asset.  

Still, there seems to be, at times, an unmitigated gulf between us which may leave us gasping for reprieve: how do we deal with this? How do we hope? “I think the polarity between dark and light is so extreme right now,” she said before feeding me the answer: “There’s something bigger at play now.”

Yes, that “something bigger” is where our resilience lies, where our trust finds its source. It’s when the battle feels so very large and consuming, when our anger and our sadness are at all-time highs, collectively, that we must know our own power: that we are on the precipice of change if only we become that change. Let us not grow weary in doing good. For in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

“I don’t know how we’re going to break through this,” she told me, “but I have the utmost faith that we are. . . . There’s a revived passion that I truly, in my heart-of-hearts, feel is the shift we’ve all been anticipating and waiting for.”

Yes, may faith be our mantra and may this knowingness—this knowingness from a place deep within our guts that we cannot see, only feel with the guiding force of intuition—lead us. 

And, like Denise, may we lead with love and with humor. Hard times require kindness, faith, and laughter. 

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