thinking thursday

By on Jan 29, 2015

mind Having watched money and connections land many a book on the best-selling lists, I find this to raise an interesting point about the dangers of pretending privilege doesn’t exist.   ”Because in this world where women will sit around discussing the various topiary shapes of their bikini waxes, the conversation about money (or privilege) is the one we never have. Why? I think it’s the Marie Antoinette syndrome: Those with privilege and luck don’t want the riffraff knowing the details. After all, if ‘those people’ understood the differences in our lives, they might revolt. Or, God forbid, not see us as somehow more special, talented and/or deserving than them.” I cannot get enough of this. I included it, with his blessings, in a book of mine. I read it often. body This is amazing and very cool and beyond the binary. Go big or go home seems to be the...

poetry wednesday : cusp

By on Jan 28, 2015

Cusp by Erin Coughlin Hollowell Puzzle of bones, try to take time out of a watch, stop sundown. It’s all the same weave, all warm from the compost, erasing the written page to blankness. In the morning, the shadow of a hawk split the yard. Inside your ear, mother’s voice— stay away from that wall or you’ll fall, you’ll feel, you’ll see over. There’s another world inside. In your pocket, you carry twelve black stones, rosary of willing deceit, accounting of misspent deeds. If sand fills your mouth, spit. If salt burns like a flame inside you, ignite. Any shard can split open your precious whole. There is a crust, a crypt, a bomb crouched inside. You witnessed blue fragments of birds stabbed crimson by black beak. Maybe it is blood. Maybe it is only berries, too ripe. Everything tumbles.   You can find this poet here. Art from...

book stack tuesday : the art of asking

By on Jan 27, 2015

My head nodded in recognition throughout this book. So far, I’ve read it twice. There is more to say, but I’ll start here: I’ve had some experience with asking*, which taught me a lot about generosity, and giving, and community, and vulnerability, and expectation, and judgment. So I was interested to read Amanda Palmer’s take on it–what has she learned about asking and giving in her life before, during, and after her million dollar Kickstarter campaign, which is how many people know her. First, I felt such a kinship with her in the ways she described her relationship to her community of “fans” who were more friend than fan. Her descriptions of a community built around relationship, not numbers (to the chagrin and befuddlement of her record label’s “business plan”), mirrors my own. Having embarked on a 43-city U.S. tour for my...

balance your power

By on Jan 26, 2015

I was in my early 20s, in graduate school studying literature (mainly American) and art history (mainly the figure of the artist in fiction). There’s a huge employment market for people who have studied the figure of the artist in fiction, of course. My thesis was entitled “The Solids of Uccello: Near Recognitions of Reality in William Gaddis’ The Recognitions.” It was a heady time, indeed. I was studying in an English Department then ranked first in the nation, in a school known as Mr. Jefferson’s University that until 1970, just twelve years before, had been an all-male bastion. The competition was fierce in the English department, though I didn’t realize just how fierce for quite some time. I thought it was all about the love of literature—and it was, in large part, but with an undercurrent of beating the other M.A. students for the few, precious slots in the Ph.D. program. It was...

about strong offers

By on Jan 24, 2015

I am pleased to be part of the Storytellers Summit, which has been taking place this week featuring amazing folks talking about story, in all its forms. Today (Saturday, Jan 24th), I’ll be at the Summit talking about making strong offers. I hope you’ll join in for this final day of the Summit: 11:00 EST, The Power of Writing in a Community – Laura Davis (I know you can’t join me on FB.) 1pm EST, Author Entrepreneurship - Beth Barany 2pm EST, Making Strong Offers - Patti Digh 3pm EST, Storytelling in Crowdfunding for Independent Film - John T. Trigonis 4pm EST, Single Motherhood and Other Excuses – Anna Kunnecke Go here to register. It’s free! See you...

strong offer friday

By on Jan 23, 2015

I think it is important to make strong offers that are not attached either to people responding well or poorly to them. It’s just as easy to be swayed by positive response as it is by negative. Either one may take you off your strongest intention by influencing your next step. Your job is to do the work, not get the audience to love you, or care if they hate you. When that gets personal, that’s when detachment really counts. That’s when remembering The Four Agreements means something. Deep breath. From My Orange Desk I heard today from people in Australia and Iran and Ireland and beyond about my latest letter, “From My Orange Desk.” If you’d like to receive it every other Thursday, go here to sign up for it. You know I love teachers. I love to support their work in the world. And I am in love with this 11th grade teacher who is celebrating her 25th...

thinking thursday

By on Jan 22, 2015

mind I love a good documentary. Let’s all watch these and then talk about them. And then we can watch these and talk about them. You might find this Aspie quiz of interest. Ram Dass on navigating the mind fields: “When I started to dive deeper into my being, I began to rest in a place where I simply became an environment for people to run through their projections without my buying into them. When I see people start to talk now it’s very much like the Dr. Strange comic books, where you see the thought bubbles of people, and they go around encasing each other in these bubbles. Each person tells you who they think they are, and who they think you are.” Later, he tell us, “Just notice yourself with poignancy. Be compassionate. You’re a poignant human. And you’ve got all your stuff. You’ve got lust, greed, hatred, ill wills, agitation and doubt. That’s what you are...

poetry wednesday : what came to me

By on Jan 21, 2015

What Came to Me by Jane Kenyon, 1947 - 1995 I took the last dusty piece of china out of the barrel. It was your gravy boat, with a hard, brown drop of gravy still on the porcelain lip. I grieved for you then as I never had before.

book stack tuesday : nerdy, shy, and socially inappropriate

By on Jan 20, 2015

One day as I sat in Malaprop’s bookshop in downtown Asheville, NC, I saw a man fall into the street and hit his head on the curb. I ran out to see if I could help, surprised at the people looking at him but not moving to help him. As I got to him, I heard several people whisper that he must be drunk. Drunk or not, he hit his head. I helped him to his feet and got him into Malaprop’s to my table so he could recover a bit. He wasn’t drunk, though he said that many people say that about him. He had a neurological disorder that made it difficult for him to walk. His aide had just gone to park the car and would be looking for him. So many times, we assume. We don’t know, so we fill in the spaces with our own story: A man falling into the street at 10am? Must be drunk; let’s steer clear. I’ve known this from the inside out, taking Tess to restaurants or...

live a story of wholeness

By on Jan 20, 2015

She came into the world quickly. And loudly. She was a screamer from the beginning. Even our neighbors commented on the decibel level. Everything set her off—invisible things, hunger, crowds, things we could not know. We worried when she got old enough to scream, “Help me, help me,” that people passing by the house, or neighbors even, would call the police. I know I would if I heard that. But no one did and we lived for years with sometimes up to five or six tantrums a day that would last, or could last, for hours each time, each accompanied by “Help me,” by which she meant she needed our help to be able to stop. Her anger was palpable. It was something I could feel in the air, as if I could reach out and grab it, hot to the touch. Like lava, unmanageable, and deadly. I took her to The Hop, her favorite ice cream shop, for a friend’s birthday when she was about five years old. It was...

i have a dream too.

By on Jan 19, 2015

  Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream, a dream worth pausing to remember on this glorious afternoon amidst the pomp and the circumstance. I have found as I’ve made my way into adulthood in this life of mine, that I share his dream. And I have dreams of my own. I have a dream that we won’t fool ourselves into thinking Dr. King’s dream has been realized. I have a dream that one day we will stand in lines all night long to find solutions to child abuse and child hunger, just like we stand in lines all night to buy iPads, and Harry Potter books, and tickets to the next Star Wars movie. I have a dream that one day we will show up by the thousands in small towns across this nation and this world to show support for dismantling racism, just as we’ve shown up with incredible energy to win the right for a Google Fiber network to be put in our town. I have a dream...

strong offer friday

By on Jan 16, 2015

What has taken the place of your work has become your work. So if worrying about what people are saying about your work takes up most of your time, then that has become your work. If making excuses for why you don’t have time to write occupies your days, then that has become your work. If relentlessly checking your Amazon page ranking or Facebook friends or number of Twitter followers is your preoccupation, then that has become your work. Be honest about what your work is, what it has become, and what you want it to be. Here are the strong offers I’m making now: WRITING “From My Orange Desk” is a new letter (not newsletter) I am sending out twice a month to subscribers. Handwritten, like letters used to be. From the heart. With a single intention–to explore. SPEAKING I’m pleased to be part of Julia Roberts’ free Storyteller’s Summit,...