READINGS | “Please Take Care of My Friend: Heart Advice from a Stranger”

One of WestVirginiaVille’s missions is to share the wealth of worthy writing that has appeared elsewhere in the Appalachian mediascape. This piece first appeared in January 2020 on the author’s website: photo, july 2020

By Andréa Fekete

Don’t eat any crap food. Eat clean. It’s one reason you’re sad and drink more water. I can tell you don’t just like I can see you blaming yourself and feeling guilt too often about things that don’t even belong to you. 

Stop thinking so much and be present in your body and the moment. 

Pick 5 things you can smell, see, touch or hear when you start to feel anxious because it grounds you. Say them out loud. 

Try to exercise some way half hour a day at least. Sit in the sun every day. Write down all your feelings in a poem and read them to someone who loves you later, if you want to feel heard. They’ll listen. 

Take a first aid kit with you. Don’t be a hero, always tell someone where you are going, so if you get lost, they’ll come find you and bring you home. 

Don’t drive if you’re upset. Don’t beat yourself up. Know you’re lovable and inspire others even if you’re not feeling it. Meditate. Sing. Even badly. It changes the brain right away. 

Stop working for a minute and just breathe and sit with the discomfort. You can do it. Eventually you’ll be free. Baby steps. Remind yourself everything changes and passes, and you’re not stuck and it’s never too late to turn it all around. 

You’re sweet and kind and will be whole one day and you’ll find all the things you deserve. I know you don’t think so now. Keep your chin up. 

And remember, the sweet is never as sweet without the sour. 

PS—I love you. Just as you are. Although it doesn’t mean much coming from me. You should try it sometime.


Andréa Fekete’s literary novel of the historical coal mine wars, “Waters Run Wild” (2010, 2018), explores women’s & immigrant life in the coal camps of West Virginia. She has one poetry chapbook, “I Held a Morning ” (2012). Her poetry & fiction appear in many journals & anthologies such as Chiron Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Kentucky Review, The Montucky Review and in anthologies such as “Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods: Fiction & Poetry from West Virginia,” among others. She & Lara Lillibridge co-curated “Feminine Rising: Voices of Power & Invisibility” (2019), a collection of poetry & essays from 70 award-winning & emerging women writers in 12 nations & every corner of the US. The book took Silver in Foreword’s Indie Book Award of the Year in Women’s Studies, placing above Oxford University Press. She taught college English & writing for almost 15 years at universities in West Virginia, Kentucky & Ohio. She is founder & CEO of Guest Room Press where she serves as manuscript consultant for adult commercial & literary fiction, offers writing instruction, public speaking lessons, & motivational coaching. Her newest chapbook, “Dear Lovely,” will be released in Fall 2020. 


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