Made to Shine

April 24th, 2015

Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner’s manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.

— Oprah Winfrey, What I Know For Sure, p. 109

Keeping a Journal

April 21st, 2015

Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you reread your journal you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and same experiences.

— Thomas Merton, A Thomas Merton Reader, p. 195

Libraries and Democracy

April 12th, 2015

When a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open, too.

— Bill Moyers, Foreword, The Public Library, by Robert Dawson

Love Working Through Us

April 6th, 2015

I have to believe that a real higher power is struggling in this as much as we are. But horribly, if healing and care are going to get done, it will be love working through us. Us! In our current condition, not down the road, when we are in the fullness of our restoration, in wholeness, compassionate detachment, patient amusement. Us, now. It has taken years for me to get this well, which is to say, half as reactive and a third less obsessed with my own neurotic disappointing self. I don’t agree with the pace of how slowly we evolve toward patience, wisdom, forgiveness. Anyone would understand if we gave up and settled, the way people settle for terrible marriages. But these are our lives. So we try, we do the work of becoming saner and more authentic, which is hard enough without truly monstrous people crashing into our lives, often — not always — through marriage, although I am not going to name names. Well, maybe just one. . .

— Anne Lamott, Small Victories, p. 268

Courage

April 4th, 2015

Daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. It’s even a little dangerous at times. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 248-249

Release From Me

April 1st, 2015

Forgiveness is release from me; somehow, finally. I am returned to my better, dopier self, so much lighter when I don’t have to drag the toxic chatter, wrangle, and pinch around with me anymore. Not that I don’t get it out every so often, for old time’s sake. But the trapped cloud is no longer nearly so dark or dense. It was blown into wisps, of smoke, of snow, of ocean spray.

— Anne Lamott, Small Victories, p. 118

Your Gift Zone

March 27th, 2015

Your Gift Zone isn’t static. It is constantly generating a living stream of impulses toward intimacy and authentic self-expression. It wants things. It reaches for life. It needs to connect — and it tells you how. In your Gift Zone you might feel a desire to listen to a piece of music or to go for a walk, to be alone or to reach out to someone. Your intimacy journey becomes an adventure when you act on the promptings of your Gift Zone. Doing so will change your love life from the inside out. It will begin a wave of unknotting and self-expression that will ripple into the ways you love and the way you live.

— Ken Page, Deeper Dating, p. 26

Hope is a function of struggle.

March 21st, 2015

I used to struggle with letting go and allowing my children to find their own way, but something that I learned in the research dramatically changed my perspective and I no longer see rescuing and intervening as unhelpful, I now think about it as dangerous. Don’t get me wrong — I still struggle and I still step in when I shouldn’t, but I now think twice before I let my discomfort dictate my behaviors. Here’s why: Hope is a function of struggle. If we want our children to develop high levels of hopefulness, we have to let them struggle. And let me tell you, next to love and belonging, I’m not sure I want anything more for my kids than a deep sense of hopefulness.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Daring Greatly

Meaning Through Reduction

March 5th, 2015

Writers reduce when they write, and readers reduce when they read. The brain itself is built to reduce, replace, emblemize . . . Verisimilitude is not only a false idol, but also an unattainable goal. So we reduce. And it is not without reverence that we reduce. This is how we apprehend our world. This is what humans do.

Picturing stories is making reductions. Through reduction, we create meaning.

These reductions are the world as we see it — they are what we see when we read, and they are what we see when we read the world.

— Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read, p. 415-416

When the Pattern Breaks

March 2nd, 2015

Stories are about the dropped stitch. About what happens when the pattern breaks. Though there is a certain poetry in the rhythm of the everyday, it is most often a shift, a moment of not-always-so, that ends up being the story. Why is this moment different? What has changed? And why now? We would do well to ask ourselves these questions when we’re at work. This shift can be a massive one (here I am thinking of the dystopian novel in which the very rhythms of the universe are called into question: the sun no longer predictably rises in the east or sets in the west; a meteor is hurling toward earth; the oceans are rising), or it can be as subtle and internal as the Steven Millhauser story, “Getting Closer,” in which a nine-year-old boy on vacation with his family feels, for the first time, a searing, wordless awareness of time’s passage.

Why are we writing about this moment, and no other? And what can we do — stylistically, structurally, linguistically — to get inside it? How can we reveal the innards, the pulsing truth of this character who is — let’s face it — at some sort of juncture, because if he isn’t, why would the story be worth telling?

— Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, p. 136-137