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

The Worst Thing

February 17th, 2015

Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is that your plans work out.

— Ed Allen, sermon, December 21, 2008

Numbing or Nourishing?

February 14th, 2015

Are my choices comforting and nourishing my spirit, or are they temporary reprieves from vulnerability and difficult emotions ultimately diminishing my spirit? Are my choices leading to my Wholeheartedness, or do they leave me feeling empty and searching?

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 147

A Recovering Higher Power

January 23rd, 2015

I’m a recovering higher power: I deeply want to fix and rescue everyone, but can’t.

— Anne Lamott, Small Victories, p. 268

Sweet Spots

January 20th, 2015

I’m learning that where sweet spots are concerned, we’re not limited to just one. At different times in our journeys, if we’re paying attention, we get to sing the song we’re meant to sing in the perfect key of life. Everything we’ve ever done and all we’re meant to do comes together in harmony with who we are. When that happens, we feel the truest expression of ourselves.

— Oprah Winfrey, What I Know For Sure, p. 45

A Connected Life

January 19th, 2015

Living a connected life ultimately is about setting boundaries, spending less time and energy hustling and winning over people who don’t matter, and seeing the value of working on cultivating connection with family and close friends.

Before I undertook this research, my question was “What’s the quickest way to make these feelings go away?” Today my question is “What are these feelings and where did they come from?” Invariably, the answers are that I’m not feeling connected enough to Steve or the kids, and that this comes from (take your pick) not sleeping enough, not playing enough, working too much, or trying to run from vulnerability. What has changed for me is that I know now that I can address these answers.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 146

Get a New Bedtime Story

January 12th, 2015

Forgiveness sure doesn’t begin with reason. The rational insists that it is right, that we are right. It is about attacking and defending, which means there can be no peace. It loves the bedtime story of how we’ve been injured. The rational is claustrophobic, too. The choice is whether you want to stay stuck in being right but not being free or admit you’re pretty lost and possibly available for a long, deep breath, which is as big as the universe, stirs the air around, maybe opens a window.

— Anne Lamott, Small Victories, p. 114

Lack of Forgiveness Isn’t Worth It.

January 4th, 2015

Left to my own devices, I’m a forgiveness denier — I’ll start to think that there are hurts so deep that nothing can heal them. Time alone won’t necessarily do the trick. Our best thinking isn’t enough, or we would all be fine, instead of in our current condition. A lack of forgiveness is like leprosy of the insides, and left untreated, it can take out tissue, equilibrium, soul, sense of self. I have sometimes considered writing a book called All the People I Still Hate: A Christian Perspective., but readers would recoil. Also, getting older means that without meaning to, you accidentally forgive almost everyone — almost — so the book would not be long.

— Anne Lamott, Small Victories, p. 105-106

God Must Exist.

January 2nd, 2015

No one can prove that God does or doesn’t exist, but tough acts of forgiveness are pretty convincing for me. It is so not my strong suit, and I naturally prefer the company of people who hold grudges, as long as they are not held against me. Forgiveness is the hardest work we do. When, against all odds, over time, your heart softens toward truly heinous behavior on the part of parents, children, siblings, and everyone’s exes, you almost have to believe that something not of this earth snuck into your stone-cold heart.

— Anne Lamott, Small Victories, p. 105

The Beauty of Our Cracks

January 1st, 2015

Just as our experiences of foreboding joy can be located on a continuum, I found that most of us fall somewhere on a perfectionism continuum. In other words, when it comes to hiding our flaws, managing perception, and wanting to win over folks, we’re all hustling a little. For some folks, perfectionism may only emerge when they’re feeling particularly vulnerable. For others, perfectionism is compulsive, chronic, and debilitating — it looks and feels like addiction.

Regardless of where we are on this continuum, if we want freedom from perfectionism, we have to make the long journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.” That journey begins with shame resilience, self-compassion, and owning our stories. To claim the truths about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, and the very imperfect nature of our lives, we have to be willing to give ourselves a break and appreciate the beauty of our cracks or imperfections. To be kinder and gentler with ourselves and each other. To talk to ourselves the same way we’d talk to someone we care about.

— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, p. 131