The GraciePress Newsletter

By J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter - Still More Vintage “My Life With Gracie”!

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The GraciePress Newsletter - Still More Vintage “My Life With Gracie”!
August 2022 is our 4-Year Anniversary Month! We started drawing pictures and writing stories to go with them as My Life With Gracie, a blog on WordPress, four years ago. Amazing! Even though we have moved from a blog to a newsletter, we are still very appreciative of you, our fans!
This month in the newsletter, we will look back at our original illustrations and stories from four years ago. This week’s three posts feature marshmallow candy chicks called “Peeps”. They were one of the items I once stocked at a nearby Navy Commissary with a real friend of mine, Dennis.
This is one of my favorite sets of 3 illustrations and posts because if you know Pearl from our other stories and books, you know painting herself yellow to look like a Peeps marshmallow Easter chick is exactly the kind of thing she would do!

My Life With Gracie…Your Real Friends
Friendship is a curious thing. It’s not always easy to figure out. What makes a friendship happen? What keeps some of the oddest friendships together for life? What makes a friendship end?
With friendship for baby chicks, at first they are just a mass of peeping fluff and excitement with all of them all over the place all of the time! Eventually patterns form and connections happen.
One of the most curious things I’ve found is that if you have only two of the same kind of chicks being raised in a variety of chicks, those two will eventually find each other and become friends. That is a mystery to me.
There just seems to be something on the inside helping little chicks to find others of their own kind who are compatible with them. But it’s not with how they look on the outside.
How do they know what kind of chick they are? It’s not like they can look at themselves in a mirror! They can’t really see their own feathers yet. They can’t look down and see that they are a ball of white or black or yellow feathers and then find their matching chick. Somehow they just know.
My own theory is it has something to do with the sounds they make. Maybe it’s a specific pattern of peeping. Maybe it’s a specific sound pitch. No matter how it happens, they are able to identify others as “friends like me” even with all of the noise they are all making.
People are a lot like that too. Only its not about sound patterns and pitches. With people, it’s more about the content of what is said. Kind hearts on the inside send kind words to the outside.
My Life With Gracie reminded me just because someone looks like a friend on the outside, you won’t know for sure until you listen to what’s on the inside.
My Life With Gracie…Your Real Self
If any of my chickens ever tried to disguise herself as a Peeps marshmallow candy chick, it would be Pearl!
From the day I brought Pearl and Blanche home from the post office, Pearl was different. (Yes, that’s where chickens come from…at least when you live in the city.) They were the only two raised by themselves, and that may have made some difference. 
Pearl was always noisier and more active than Blanche, and she never seemed to be able to settle down. Pearl wanted to entertain and be entertained. Blanche just wanted to eat. 
Mishaps just seem to follow Pearl even today. She can’t help but turn over the food dish or the water bottle or climb on top of Blanche or one of the others to get to where she wants to be. I don’t like to admit this, but Pearl was my least favorite of all my chickens. She didn’t fit my idea of what a chicken should be.
I hoped she would get better when she and Blanche were introduced to the other chickens, but she just got herself into more trouble. Scolding didn’t help, not from me or from the other chickens. Reasoning didn’t help. (Can you even reason with a chicken?)
I could tell she wanted to be good like the others especially because none of the others really wanted to be around her, not even when it was time to roost at night. She tried to be like the others with all she knew how to do, and then the next minute there would be another chicken calamity.
She was an outcast. Perhaps that’s what changed my mind about her.
Then I realized no matter what any of us did, she was going to be Pearl, and we really shouldn’t have been upset with her for being herself. Pearl simply loves being a chicken. Sometimes her exuberance and joy causes her to get carried away.
When we all started appreciating her for who she was, she actually began to calm down…well, somewhat! 
Perhaps if she had been raised by a Mama Chicken instead of a Chicken Daddy, things would be different for her and she would have struggled less to be liked. Now she seems to understand how we appreciate her for being the crazy chicken she was hatched to be.
My Life With Gracie made me realize it’s never good to cover up who you really are just to be liked.
My Life With Gracie…Your Individuality
There is no doubt in my mind Pearl loves being a chicken. More than that though, Pearl loves whatever part of “chicken-ness” she has been given in extra abundance. 
Maybe the key to appreciating individuality, especially our own, is found in looking at what we have in abundance rather than what we are lacking. What if the things that make you an individual are things that most other people have, but you just have a “heaping helping” of them?
When we try to compare ourselves to what is popular all around us, like “mass produced” Peeps marshmallow candy chicks, we will almost always come up lacking. We totally miss how boring exterior sameness can be.
True individuality is something that wells up from the inside, not something that is stuck on the outside.
Chickens have what I call a “group or flock personality, ” but there is also an “individual personality.” I think maybe their “group or flock personality” helps keep them together for safety and protection. Their “individual personality” is what gives them an extra edge into their Chicken Daddy’s heart!
After extensive consultation with both Pearl and Gracie, my best advice for today is simply to embrace whatever is in you so abundantly it makes you so joyful you think you might just explode…even if it makes you look a little different or even goofy!
My Life With Gracie (and Pearl especially) showed me the value of being an individual.
Until Next Time…
Thanks so much for reading!
John, Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia
Did you enjoy this issue?
J.R. Spiers (with help from Gracie)

The GraciePress Newsletter brings you the latest news, stories, illustrations, special offers, and free gifts from Gracie, Bessie, Blanche, Pearl, Emily, and Amelia. They are the inspiration behind all of the books published under The GraciePress imprint.

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From A Small Backyard Garden and A Most Wondrous Place in Portsmouth, Virginia