Molly Carroll, 46, at her home

Dan Duggan recommended Molly to me. She's a busy lady these days as she's about to release her second book, but she made some time to meet with me at her home. And as soon as I walked in, I felt like I was visiting an old friend. Molly is so warm and bright and flashes a big smile that also shines through her eyes. We chatted for a bit both before and after the interview and then ended up outside afterwards with our dogs in the park near her home. I got to see her engage with another stranger in the park and saw that she extended the same courtesy and friendliness to them. I was really warmed by that. Molly’s good people, as they say. Take it from me. 

Who are you?

I'm Molly Carroll. It's funny when you ask that question because I'm reading an amazing book right now called Awareness by Anthony de Mello. Anthony de Mello has passed but he was a Jesuit priest from India. We attach who we are to our persona. So I'm sure most people would say, I'm an author. I'm a mother. I'm a wife. And I'm trying to remind myself that I am all those things - I'm a therapist - but I'm also kind of just like a human being having a human experience. And what comes along with that. And not attaching so much of who I am to my labels and titles and things like that. I would say one thing that I'm very, very proud of: I'm a diehard Nebraskan. I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. So I love the state of Nebraska. I think it's an undervalued state and it's a beautiful place with beautiful people. I'm really proud to be from Nebraska. 

Where do you come from and what brought you to Bend?

I'm from a very large Irish-Catholic family. I grew up in the Midwest the majority of my life. But I left - and that was a really interesting journey - I left and went to school in Arizona. And then I lived all over. I traveled and skied. I lived in Colorado. I lived in Whitefish, Montana. And then that was the first time that brought me to Bend. So I came to Bend in 1995 on a fluke. I was just driving through and actually applied for a job as a teacher - I was a teacher at the time - and got the job. At an old preparatory school in Sunriver that's now closed. And lived here for two years. And then traveled on to Barcelona - got a job internationally - and taught at an international school for a couple years. And lived overseas, which was an amazing experience and I learned a ton about myself. And then brought me back to San Francisco where I was only supposed to be for six weeks and ended up staying almost 10 years. So then that brought me back to Bend. I was a teacher in San Francisco as well and got some other careers - got my Master's in counseling psychology and started two after-school programs for kids and then became a therapist. And then after my husband and I had our first child we knew we wanted to... the city was just too much. 

I actually will tell you a story. I don't know... it's just what it was! I was pushing my baby stroller along Golden Gate Park - we lived on the skirts of Golden Gate Park - and I was pushing my son in my little stroller on a walk and I felt this bump. And I looked down and it was a syringe. And then I was like, Oh, gosh. Great. I lived in the city, I mean I've seen syringes before. And then I keep walking and something gets stuck in my tire and I'm like, Oh, what is that?! It was a condom. And I was like, Shit! And it was at that moment that I called my husband and I'm like, We gotta get out of here. I love the city. My soul is in that city. I looove San Francisco. We never lived outside of the city - we always lived in the heart of it. But I knew for the well-being of our family. We were fortunate enough to be able to come back to Bend in '06 and we've been here ever since. So you could say a condom and a syringe got me back to Bend (laughs). 

What does community mean to you?

The first word that comes to mind when I think of community is support. I think when you're struggling and you're having a really hard time, you really see your community. It's that quote - I think it's by Maya Angelou - Everyone looks beautiful in the sunshine. It's when the clouds come in that you see people's true colors. And I feel like the community, for me, in Bend has been about support. Because in the ten years that I've lived here I've had to deal with a lot of tragedy. My best friend's husband died and he was a big part of this community. And I got to see how beautiful Bend was in supporting her and her family and our group of friends. And then my father dad. And I got to see how beautiful my community was when my father passed. And the people that showed up at my door or just dropped off food or picked up my kids when I couldn't. You know, your brain just isn't the same. 

The first thing that comes to me with community is support. Is showing up. Because the older you get - and I'm not even that old - things just happen. You know, people die. People get cancer. It's just life. It's the impermanence of life, from a Buddhist philosophy. So it's not necessarily a sad thing, but it creates a lot of uncomfortable emotions. And when you're in that essence of uncomfortable emotions, you need support. And you need to know people are here. So the one word that stands out more than anything in community is support. Is showing up. Showing up for each other. And I think Bend does a great job of that - they show up. 

What do you most appreciate about this community?

The other thing that I think that I appreciate is this evolution. Bend is evolving. And I'm in awe of the consciousness of the evolution. Even regards to what we were talking about - in the sense of the growth. I've sat in City Council meetings - I'm very passionate about trees. I wrote my Master's thesis on the healing aspect of nature through a metaphor of trees. So I had to study the ecosystem of trees - the root system of trees. And I went to a City Council meeting with this amazing woman in town who's fighting for these trees - because we're cutting down a lot of trees with the growth of Bend. And I just think everyone was open-minded. You know? There were builders there and there were investors there and there were environmentalists there - all in the same room. And I really appreciate that Bend is a place that I think... we're okay with evolving and opening our eyes to everything that needs to come with the evolution and the growth of Bend. So that's one thing that I appreciate. It's evolving artistically - there's amazing art communities coming in. It needs to evolve more with diversity. But it's evolving more in its essence of spirituality and awareness around the world. I was talking with my sister - I was just home a couple weeks ago - she lives in Kansas City and she was like, Do you guys talk about politics? And I'm like, Yes! Look at my Facebook feed. We talk about politics and we talk about worldly issues. Even though we're a small community, we're very worldly and intelligent about what's going on in the world. The evolution and evolving is important to me. 

Do you have thoughts regarding Bend's growth?

I might be the opposite of what a lot of people have said. I don't mind the growth. I lived in big cities. I see the beauty of big cities. I appreciate interesting restaurants and I appreciate more speakers coming. As a writer and a curious person, I yearn for interesting people with different ideas and different philosophies and different politics even. I think when a community grows it brings more of that. It just does. But, that being said, it breaks my heart. I lived here in 1995 when there was 18,000 people. And it breaks my heart to see all the growth in another way, too. All the neighborhoods that used to be trees that I'd run in. Almost kind of like, if there's an empty piece of land it's like gobbled up in two seconds and developed. So I worry about the rapid pace of the growth. And are we being conscious enough? Not even necessarily of the numbers of people and the traffic, but I feel more of the soul of the land. You know? Like the crying of the soul of the land more than anything. That's what's the hardest piece for me. I see a tree a cut down and like my heart aches. Or I see a plot of land that was beautiful and now it's just dirt. Did you ever read Wump World, that children's book? It's a beautiful book. It's about these beautiful creatures called Wumps that lived in this beautiful land. It tells the story of growth and development that isn't done consciously. So I sometimes get that Wump World feeling driving around that makes me sad. So it's a two-sided coin for me. I appreciate it and it also kind of breaks my heart a little bit. 

What do you wish for the future?

That's an interesting question because I'm writing a piece write now about what happened in Las Vegas. I thought of this metaphor today as I was writing the piece and I imagine it as the first crack that happens in your windshield. The rock hits the windshield and it's just a little crack. You think, Oh, shoot. Oh, great. But you don't do anything about it until it starts spreading more and more and more and more and pretty soon this crack has spread across your entire windshield of your car and you don't see things the same way. It's splintered, it's split, it's broken. And I keep thinking that our world and our present moment and our future are a little bit like that right now. We're all seeing this slow crack develop and we're all kind of sitting back, waiting to see what's gonna happen. Or we're sitting back, waiting for someone else to fix it and for someone else to come in and save the day. Right? Me included. So I think for our future right now, not to be dire, but I think we're in a little bit of a cracked-windshield situation. I think this crack is slowly growing and there's gonna be a time that it's gonna shatter and we're gonna have to fix it. And I think we're all sitting back and kind of watching it grow. Just to see what happens. Not to be pessimistic or dire about our future, but I think there's gonna be a massive awakening that's gonna happen in the next couple of years. I'm a glass half-full person. I'm actually a very hopeful person, so what my hope is is that this crack is gonna happen - this awareness, the awakening's gonna happen... we'll figure it out. So I worry a little bit about the future. I worry about my kids. I worry about the environment for my kids. I think that we're survivors. I think we'll survive as a species, but I think that we have some uphill battles to climb. Our day-to-day life won't be affected as much, but I think that there's gonna be some things that have to be changed with technology and the environment. I think the future is gonna be very, very interesting. 

I might just ask you again, though, what do you wish for the future? 

Awakening. To wake up. People to start looking at what's really happening. Me included. 

What would you do if you had more time?

People who know me are probably gonna laugh at this one. My whole life I've been given a hard time because I'm a really early riser - that I get more done by 6AM than most people get all day. I've been just trusting with the first things that comes to my mind, practicing this intuition. The first thing that I would do is spend more time with my kids. I'm embarrassed to even admit that. That's hard and you're gonna write that. I think I would spend more time with my kids. I think I would spend more time in nature. I go, go, go. I love a full plate. I love a lot on my plate, you know? I had this crazy experience. I had this total breakdown with my husband. I had this tight attachment to the success of my next book. Oh my gosh. It's just gonna flop. Why do I do this? Why can't I just be at home all day folding laundry? Or be happy going to an exercise class and being with my kids? Or having a cup of tea, reading a book? I go, go, go. I love a full plate. I love a lot on my plate, you know? Luckily that day we were leaving to go to the Wallowa's. We go camping. We set up camp. My husband was great. He was like, Molly, it's gonna be okay. What's gonna happen is gonna happen. It's out there. It's done. So we go to the Wallowa's. I climb out of the tent, I get a cup of coffee, and I'm walking down to this lake - my kids are fishing down by the lake. And I walk down to the lake and I hear this huge voice come in. Huge. It says, You are all fucked up. You have got this all wrong. If you are seriously gonna attach your worth and your being to the success of this book, you are fucked up. It is messed up. There are only a few things that matter: Love, family, friends, nature, and intuition. That's it. And so in that moment I cut this cord. And ever since then I've had this release around attaching to things or ideas or concepts to success or to identification of worth or whatever. And I've really realized that time is so precious and that it's around my family - my kids and my husband - and my close friends. And my big, extended family. Time is.... we won't even go into quantum physics. There's really no time. But, if we want to look at space and presence, it would be around being more with my children and my husband and nature and writing and reading - I love books. I'm often now reminded of that - that's really what's important.