I'm "F.I.N.E" - An Alternate Definition.

Every day when you
are out and about, you often are greeted with hi or hey. But the number one opening I hear the most is, "How are you?"  Sound familiar? I think most people say it without thinking.

I have gone through cycles of being honest and admitting it wasn't a great day or I was having a bad time, with or without elaboration.  Some people actually want to know, but so many times you see the other person's eyes glaze over if you answer truthfully. I finally went back to non-committal responses such as breathing in, breathing out; doing okay; or crazy day. Then there is the ultimate response that is most common, "I'm fine." I think the last is the response is the go to for most. 

There is a Canadian author I adore, Louise Penny, who has created an amazing murder mystery series set in Quebec and centered around a man called Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (although his place within the Sûreté du Québec, changes several times over the series). She has 16 books in this series in publication, with a 17th due for release August 24th, 2021.  Many have been NY Times best sellers. I have read them all.

Penny created so many amazing characters to fill this large series, but none is quite as interesting as a slightly mad poet named Ruth Zardo.  In one, Ruth had just released a new book of poetry titled, "I'm F.I.N.E."  Somewhere along the way readers discover Zardo used the initials to stand for F**ked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Egotistical. Hilarious. It hit such a mark that Penny has tucked the phrase in just a few other books in the series. When that surprise reference appears, all the characters pause for a moment and smile, as do I.

The first 3 letter seem the most relevant to me.  I honestly don't know many people who are truly egotistical, although I am sure we all have moments of it. No one is perfect. Then in a web search I found posters that changed egotistical to emotional. I loved it.  Emotional is something we can all relate too. After the last few years dealing with all the conflict. politics, pandemic, isolation, racist events, and more that we've been immersed in, we are all allowed moments of feeling F.I.N.E. - F**ked up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

Many days I cope just fine, but there are others I get overwhelmed.  I don't feel like myself and I go down the rabbit hole to hide away for awhile. Somehow bringing this crazy quote to mind actually raises my spirits, but that might be partly because, after 15 books, I have a great visual of Ruth Zardo in my head. Regardless, it reminds me I am not alone. Many others are struggling too. 

I have been doing my best lately to step back from the negativity around me, to change what I watch and read to something light hearted for a few weeks, to get out and surround myself with nature, and to move/exercise in a way that I enjoy. It makes a difference.  If you also struggle, first try some of the tips above. Need more? Try reading a few of the Gamache books until you can get a great visual in your head of this crazy poet. Then hold that image while you repeat, "I'm F.I.N.E." until it hopefully brings a smile to YOUR face, too. 


  1. Penny knows and shares her people with us! There is room in the village for all kinds. The mad poet is our town fool, our linguist, our portrait of societal mayhem and the Art that can come from that. Louse Penny makes us read, talk and maybe even write! Kudos, Marilyn for reminding us to listen to the poets!


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