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.

— Brené 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

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