Fear is a vicious cycle. Guilt, shame, and blame imprisons your joy and innate sense of worthiness. Exploring beliefs and personal narratives through the lens of morale is a pragmatic way to break the cycle of fear and initiate virtuous cycles of love.

Welcomed back to the Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Hussein Al-Baiaty, and I’m joined by author, Violetta Jean, who is here to talk about her newest book called Morale Matters. Let’s flip through it.

Hello friends, and welcome back to the Author Hour show. I’m super excited today because I get to have, not only a guest but a friend. Her name is Violetta, and she is here to share with us her beautiful intimate book of a journey about the ideology of morale and how that impacts our lives in so many unique ways. Violetta, thank you so much for joining me today, I really appreciate your time.

Violetta Jean: Oh, thank you, it’s my pleasure.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah. So I watched you start with Scribe, obviously early on at the very beginning, and this book is a beautiful manifestation of these things and these journeys that you’ve gone through. From the beginning, it was really beautiful to see you pour your heart into it in the sense that I really want to create this for my children, and I just found that very profound and powerful.

But before we get into the book and all the amazing things that you share, I would love to give our audience perhaps a little bit of a background, maybe where you grew up, someone that inspired you while you were growing up and perhaps led you on this journey or maybe you pointed yourself in that journey. But in any case, I’d love to know a little bit of your background.

Violetta Jean: Ah, well, I had a childhood where I moved around quite a bit, which was a lot of fun. Actually, for me, I didn’t find it terribly difficult. I was born in the South, in Florida, and lived in Georgia, Tennessee, and then moved up to Wisconsin and then back down to Florida. So I’ve lived a lot of places. The west coast, the Washington State, I’m in New England now, and it’s been quite a journey.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I love that. That’s amazing. So when would you say someone came along and perhaps inspired you to, you know, move in the direction that you, whether got into the type of work you got into or just inspired you, somewhere along your journey?

Violetta Jean: Yeah, I think, my first interest when I was a young woman was in psychology, and I’ve always been kind of drawn to just understanding the human experience and seeking joy, this much joy and health and you know, wholeness in the human experience as possible, and I got my undergrad in psychology and did a little bit of work with different groups and ended up going back to school for nursing.

I was very drawn to that field as well, incredible experiences as an ER nurse and ended up working as a research nurse, which was really fun, and then my children started coming along. I have three children and was very involved in that raising them. They were quite close together, and the point where they kind of, were becoming a little bit more independent, having a little more free time in terms of my focus, this inner artist kind of came back to life that had been really very silent since I was a young child.

So I just was born singing, I love music. Yeah, the inner artist kind of started coming back, and I started writing in a different way and writing music as well and journaling that kind of led to this book actually, just you know, trying to find that joy, that wholeness in life that I think we’re all seeking.

The Necessity of Morale and Rediscovering Who You Are

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, I love that so much. I’m glad you took us there because it kind of starts to bring us into the book a little bit, and that journey in and of itself of the different chapters throughout life, right? As we phase in and out of the things that we are passionate about, there lies dormant the inner artist ever so wondering when the time will come, right?

And I think, I can totally relate to that on so many levels, you have no idea. I deeply resonated with your book in so many components, especially when it came to fear, when it came to love and how we transcend, I guess, or build a bridge between the two, and you talk about that so beautifully.

I love this topic very much because my next book that I’m working on now is about these ideas of creative fields, and I’m excited to talk about this, except for I want to frame sort of what your book is concentrated around, how you use this tool of morality and morals and just morale in general but how you frame it and bring it into context is actually beautiful.

So could you share with me and the audience how do you define that frame of morale?

Violetta Jean: Yeah, I feel like I have to start that question with kind of what led me to being so fascinated with morale. It was a response to just seeing a lot of despair around me, which I kind of consider the state of just the absence of morale are just critically low, low as a morale. Again, morale being cheerful, confident, engagement with the sacred work of living and just as a mother, it’s very concerning to hear stories of children and young adults and people of all ages who are struggling so much with despair.

So it kind of just led me to get really clear for myself, how do we find joy in daily life, you know? How do we accomplish what it is we’re trying to do with our lives, our purpose in everything, and the term morale is kind of developed and this really began to represent this whole thing that I was seeking. It’s just such a simple concept. I think it’s pretty easy to recognize in oneself and others and in groups, and I love the concept because it speaks to the spirit and the presence of something much deeper than what we’re seeing on the surface.

I think we are able to hear someone’s voice or see somebody’s posture or just be in the presence of somebody and can sense that spark, that presence of morale or the absence. So I guess as a mom, I just, I know what it’s like when there’s just really not a lot of joy in your days and you’re kind of just going along and not building your life around that value of just the human dignity of being able to enjoy this experience of life and being engaged and feeling like you’re contributing.

You know, that confidence piece that you’re contributing, and you know what you’re trying to do, and you feel like able to move forward in the ways that you want to and grow and evolve, and so that was really the beginning of the journey. Just recognizing that I needed to have that worked out just for my own benefit but as a mom, also to be able to demonstrate that and hopefully teach that to my kids that that is what we’re here for, to feel good and feel joy and to be engaged with life.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that is so powerful, and it’s so timely. I feel like, like you say in your book, because, I feel like the world around us feels that way sometimes, right? It’s in a place of despair and it’s, we want to help, and we went to do all these things, but also it’s extremely tiring and extremely exhausting to just think about the endless things that happen around us and the things that we can’t control.

However, we do control things, and that’s our state of mind, how we react and respond to things and create the space, but from that, what kind of actions do we take? What kind of example are we setting, whether we know it or not and as a mother, that I feel like that pressure is, I don’t know, probably tenfold in the sense that your kids are not only needing your for sustenance but also needing you for guidance in some way shape or form especially the very early age sort of compass.

And so this journey of morale starts to take you from one place to another, but so you sort of reintroduced, I guess, a piece of you that’s art, and then you introduce motherhood, and all of these things start to, of course, in many ways, for me, it was fear. Fear has always plagued me in the sense of wanting to fit in, growing up in America, you know, all these things.

So it plays a weird role in how I go about living life, but it wasn’t until I even noticed that it was there that I started seeking out ways to help myself reframe that. What was that like for you? What was that journey of sort of perhaps uncovering some of those fears and realizing how to navigate it?

Violetta Jean: I resonate with the feeling that you don’t even know it’s there. It just feels like who you are, this is your life, this is what it’s always going to be like, this is what it feels like to be you, yourself as a person. It’s hard to recognize that fear is really a filter, it’s this filter made of all these beliefs, and so many times, limiting beliefs that we pick up along the way about what we can do, what we deserve, what we’re worthy of.

It takes a lot of courage to start to look at that because I think we try to avoid things that are painful to look at, but it’s the only way to just kind of realize that they’re story, their beliefs, they’re just that… we are entitled to with the creativity and imagination that we’re born with, our intelligence, to create that story on purpose and create the story that supports. You know, the word I use is, supports the morale that I want to live in.

I want it to be cheerful and engaged and confident, and yeah. I think that’s the way I go about dealing with fear. Love and fear, everything. They say there’s only two emotions, love and fear, and it’s funny, the word fear. I think a lot of people don’t recognize that they actually are in fear. They think it’s, “Oh, I’m just anxious about this” or “You know, I’m just… this situation is overwhelming” or “This person says something unkind.”

So many different names for it, and then just depending on how you name it, that decides if you feel like you have any control over it.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: So powerful. I love this so much. I can’t even — again, I can’t even tell you because it’s something that obviously we all struggle with. This is the — I’ll go there for a second if you don’t mind like — what the Prophet Mohammed said that the biggest holy war is our internal war, is our internal dialog, right? And that’s the holiest of the battles, right? Because it’s the one that we technically have to try to win every day, and you ruin that every day by practicing morality.

By practicing ethical behavior, right? And of course, no one’s perfect, right? These are all things that we’re seeking to get better at in different ways, and everyone comes to it in a different way. However, I strongly believe that art bridges the two, and it starts to make the two at least, talk to one another, to understand one another, and I think we fear what we don’t understand and we don’t understand fear, you know what I mean?

Like I didn’t understand it ‘till like, you know, my late 20s, maybe early 30s, which is like a really long time not to know something so huge as a part of you. Like, I just… like, where, who, why am I not been taught this, you know? But that’s not for people to teach you. It’s for you to understand and unfold because it’s the hardest thing to even recognize that there’s something off or something that’s not moving you in the right direction.

For me, I’m reframing it as my warrior, and this is kind of how I talk about it in my book. There’s like a bodyguard, but we have completely misunderstood, miseducated, and mis-trained this amazing billion-dollar soldier that we don’t use wisely for these battles, right? And so it’s like that retraining, which I love. So you have a very sort of… so many moments in your book that really drew me in and hooked me.

But you talked about that power of not only imagine but, you know, the impactful moments where you reclaimed the innocence, and you know, find this inner worthiness, which is so profound for me. Can you sort of take us there a little bit and for you, when those kind of moments happened where you sort of rediscovered these components of you, I guess if you will. Re-establish them so that you could build that confidence, I guess.

Violetta Jean: The way I would describe it — and to sound like I’m not answering your question right away, but I feel like we’re all involved in this, you know — I would describe it as a sacred evolution. Like any plant, we are striving to grow, and we encounter these situations where we feel stuck, feel this desire, this kind of innate need to keep growing and developing.

But there is something that is making that painful or difficult or seemingly impossible, and I think those are the moments that you really come face to face with your fears, with the limiting beliefs because that is what holds us back from becoming, and being, expressing who we want to be.

I would say that just kind of my personality and kind of just, you know, messages we receive in the world as I really trusted that the methods of fear were what was going to help me become who I wanted to be and express what I wanted to express, you know?

It’s like this message of, be hard, be judged, judging yourself and your actions, and if you just keep on doing that long enough, then all of a sudden, you’re going to break though and some happy and, you know, loving and joyful and I was just… really as a mother, I wanted to be a perfect mother, and that is, in and of itself fear, you know?

And so it was a hundred percent trusting fear to be a better mother, to be a better person, to be a better spouse, all the things, and it just got to the point where I could see that that was really not working because it’s using that kind of tool on yourself to become what you’re trying to become.

It’s really the opposite of what we need to open up our hearts and thrive and be loving and joyful with our kids and just show them that life is this incredible experience, difficult and hard and incredible, exquisite, joyful, beautiful at the same time and so that’s just kind of motherhood is really what was a strong enough motivation for me to confront my fearful beliefs.

My relationship with just believing that fear would keep me safer, fear would motivate me to be what I wanted to do, to be what I wanted to be and do what I wanted to do. So with motherhood, I know I didn’t want to teach my kids that, like 100% not. It’s just, you know, it led to very low morale.

I felt not a lot of joy, I didn’t feel confident that I was being who I wanted to be or that what I was doing was leading me towards where I wanted to go, and so that was the experience for me personally that it was enough of a – it was just too important to keep going in that direction, and I needed to find a new way to be.

Moving from Fear to Love

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, that’s so powerful, and you sort of started showing that energy, of course, into the understanding of morale and sort of how it uplifts us and brings us to this new plane of, I guess, existing in the sense of, this is a place or a platform that I can see my day-to-day actions in a positive way and let go of the sort of, I guess in my perspective and how I read things was that sort of let go of the controlling aspects as much I can, which is like surrendering.

Then allowing whatever to happen, happen, and I will get better at reacting and responding in ways that are more aligned with the ideals of morality or the ones that I want to move forward with. I think that’s so powerful because it puts that choice in your hands, and as you start to kind of build this bridge or this transfer of energy if you will from fear to love, what happens? What was happening in your life?

What were you creating? Can you describe that a little bit? How you sort of, I guess, you can’t fully shift everything from fear to love, right? There’s got to be a balance, but in your — I guess to shift the weight back a little bit to create a balancing sort of effect, if you will, for you, what was the day-to-day…? I am not trying to talk about like hacks or anything like that, but what were you starting to do differently that was starting to manifest in reality, that inner world, external world, what was happening there?

Violetta Jean: It was kind of interesting as, you know, there was a collection of stories that I had heard on the news, and then something kind of near and dear to me happened that really just brought my focus in to, this is the most important thing in your family right now is to figure out how to live more joyfully and really see more of the sacred in this experience of life and to see more of the sacred and who we are as human beings, you know?

It really was an intentional decision to stop and reassess and just kind of look at my own energy and my own thoughts and my own beliefs and everything, and the funny thing is that as soon as you kind of bring your awareness, awareness is just so tremendously powerful. You bring your awareness to what it is that you’re doing, and you can recognize how inefficient it is.

So I had made this decision, and I started to write the book kind of just to if something was to happen to me and my kids were on their own, what would I need them to know about making it through hard times? What would I need them to know about how precious they are or how much I love them? What would I need them to know? So that was just my focus, and my attention was moving to this kind of really powerfully loving states.

The book really is kind of flowed from there, and I kind of realized somewhere along the line that I was basically being drawn to like leave this container of unconditional love for my children that they could come to it, whatever something happened to them or they’ve done something or whatever the situation is where they are experiencing this hard times that innocence is still possible. And to me, innocence is just a state of being in relationship with love where you’re not drawing yourself outside of the circle of love for any reason, and it is available every second of the day, it is completely independent of what’s happened to you or what you’ve done because it’s just, it’s always an option to turn towards love and to be nurtured and just return to innocence. That’s where in my opinion — I wrote the subtitle of the book is revealing because I think that these things are naturally there when we’re free, when we’re in a loving state, when fear doesn’t really have us trapped or held in some kind of an unhappy place and energy of I think our — I truly believe that our natural state is a joy of being alive, just experiencing everything and what was kind of interesting is unexpected, I’ll tell you, is what happened with just kind of releasing a lot of like just out of knowing like they honestly get into the point where I don’t trust fear to make me a better mother.

I fundamentally believe that the ways of love are going to get me where I want to go, and it’s just gradual process because we’re holding on, we’re using excessive force and pressure and judgment and blame and guilt. All these things that we’d use, it’s a little bit of a process to start letting those go and start trusting just kind of your own nature, you know? Your own beautiful desires and goals and just, you know, trusting all that to unfold with the energy of love.

So as I did that, it was releasing limiting beliefs. I was kind of becoming much freer. The joy doesn’t – it is not something that I don’t think we have to force. I think it just comes when we’re free, when we’re in innocence, and so from that state, all of a sudden, that’s where my little child was, you know, my little artist, my little singing self was just in there waiting, and she’s like audacious as ever.

She’s like, “Let’s go,” you know? I start writing and singing it, so that was just completely – but it’s beautiful because I don’t think there’s anything better I can do for my kids than to role model me sharing my gifts with the world and having the confidence to pursue my dreams and do that. So that’s a lot of the story that, of course, I used in the book. I believe the sacred bond to my children and my family of origin, and my husband and I don’t want to use details of our, you know, relationships in a book, to me doesn’t feel right. So yeah, that’s kind of how I have illustrated the journey in the book.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Yeah, it is so profound, and I love it because there is again, why I resonate with your story in particular ways. It’s this idea of going from scared or what we think we are scared, right? And turning that into sacred. It is literally the same work, just with some letters moved around, and they both totally have complete emotional responses, right? So I love the word sacred, and I love that you use it so eloquently.

It’s because it’s what we transfer into what we become, that’s the sacred process that we cherish, and I think that’s the thing that we want to pass on is those learned opportunities that are sacred to pass down or pass on, and I feel like when I wrote my first book that those ideas that I was passing on to my nephew, right? Were those things that I felt were sacred to me, right? And how they help me in my challenges, and so I love that because, for me, it just completely resonated.

But this shift from being scared to being in a place where no, this is a non-negotiable. Like when you say something is sacred to someone, that’s like a, “Okay, man, you know that’s ancient,” you know what I mean? Like there’s something very visceral and spiritual and connected to something so you just feel it. Like as soon as somebody says sacred, it is connected to divinity in a way, and it’s hard to describe.

But only you, of course, what’s sacred to you and what’s meaningful to you really comes through, which in your case is the power of morale and why it matters. So what was your favorite part of pulling the book together, and what did you learn from that journey?

Violetta Jean: I think writing this book was definitely a difficult journey. I think the hardest part for me, getting to the point where I valued my voice, what it was I had to say enough to put it out there, just really wrestling with a lot of vulnerability, and that was the hardest part of the journey and so and still, I think I’ve sent out advanced copies to you know, my wonderful family who is of course, very you know, they’re supportive and all of that.

So it’s begun, just people are reading it and just the process of working with everyone at Scribe, that is probably my favorite part is just these other people having this conversation that you know, manuscript is kind of a conversation I think, ideally when you’re entrusting relationship with the people that are going over your work and giving you feedback and asking questions, and I think that’s been the most, you know, the relationships that have formed have been very satisfying.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: What did you learn from that journey? What was your biggest takeaway?

Violetta Jean: What I didn’t expect until I was in it is that, in a way, a book is done when you decide it’s done. I think I thought it would be like as concrete as like going to the store and buying a banana, you know? But it’s like this thing just keeps evolving, and you’re like, “Well, should I put this in, or you know, is this too much?” or “Should I take this out?” or meanwhile, this book was years for me.

I was working on this, and it was the ideas behind it and everything were developing over years, and a very distinct part of my spiritual, mental, emotional journey through life is just figuring out this piece of like how to engage with life from this place of morale of just really putting that above everything else, you know? It is more important than the goals or this or that.

It’s like, how am I experiencing my life? How do I make this what is driving my life and make that be love? So that was like a very profound period, and so for this, the whole time that that was really the focus of my life, this manuscript was there, and it was just growing and changing and going in different directions, and I started writing songs, and it was like, “Should I include the songs in the book?” and all the songs are totally related to what I was going through because they’re like two flowers on the same bunch, so at the same time.

So that was my favorite part, is just like realizing that everything is evolving. There is no done, there’s no end, you know what I’m saying? Like it’s not so concrete that we get to —

Hussein Al-Baiaty: It’s all interconnected.

Violetta Jean: We get to say, “Okay, I’m done working on this book” because I am kind of just ready to move on from that, that place, and so it was definitely time to just move on.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: One of the hardest things to learn, of course, as an artist to know when it’s time to stop the one thing so you can continue the other thing, right? No, I totally feel you too, like I have painting like crazy. I’ve fallen in love, and sort of that was my thing, the inner child thing that I have avoided for a while was the painting and the graphics and the art, but I did it for a long time, but it was for like business.

I feel like that kind of sucks the joy out of it in some way, shape or form. So canvass painting was my way of sort of communing, and it totally, I mean, in the last year, just a resurgence, and now, it’s like and just like you said, like the singing was complimentary to the writing and vice-versa. I feel like the canvass is contributing to the new writing and vice-versa. It’s like you’re 100 percent right.

When you are in this flow of allowing and going into the sacred, right? Instead of being scared, we really find, yeah, we find some of our self and it’s beautiful to put that in its place in our life, in our daily work. So thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with me today. I am humbled to have watched your journey unfold literally in front of me through the mediums of Scribe, and I’m so grateful to have been a small part of it in any way, shape, or form.

But it’s so amazing to see the book out in the world and celebrate it and I can’t wait you know, as I know here’s the thing about a book like yours, it gets more timeless as time goes on in that it becomes more valuable for your kids and your family as time goes on because it is such a beautiful archive of time and who you are and there’s nothing better to cherish from our loved ones I feel like than in the sort of encapsulation like a picture does but words really go deeper.

Violetta Jean: Wow, that’s beautiful. That is a beautiful way of saying it.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: So I commend you. Aw, thank you. Well, that’s how I felt from your book. I just feel like this huge – seriously, I feel so connected to my spirit. It makes me want to just go paint right after this. So again, it’s so inspiring, truly. So if you are listening out there, please, go get my friend’s book. The book is called Morale Matters: The Joy of Revealing Innocence, Empowerment, and Sacred Work in Personal Mythology.

Besides checking out the book on Amazon, where people can find it and buy it, of course, where can people find you and connect with you? Is there a website or something like that that we can connect people to?

Violetta Jean: Sure, I think the simplest way would be to go to my website, violettajean.com, and I have links to my Instagram, is my kind of social media platform of choice. As a busy mom, I am not aiming to keep up five different things, so Instagram is where you’ll find me, and then I also have links to my YouTube channel. I have recordings of my original music as well and a link to buy the book, of course, and can join my newsletter, all from my website, and that’s violettajean.com.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: Beautiful, I’ll be visiting that right after this. Thank you so much, Violetta, I appreciate you.

Violetta Jean: After you paint, after you get your painting, that little child wants to get out and play.

Hussein Al-Baiaty: I promise. Yes, it does and you totally brought it out, so I appreciate it. Thanks again for your time, your energy, and the space that we got to create this beautiful conversation around today. Thank you for all of that, I really appreciate it.

Violetta Jean: My pleasure, and thank you so much, Hussein.