sunday sounds : the last words remain

This Sunday Sounds brings us the only surviving recording of one of my favorite writer’s voices – author Virginia Woolf.It is part of a BBC radio broadcast from April 29th, 1937. The talk was called “Craftsmanship” and was part of a series entitled “Words Fail Me.”  The audio is accompanied by a slideshow of photographs of Virginia Woolf. Leave behind a recording of your voice, I urge you. I can no longer remember the sound of my father’s voice. This is why I have recorded my books as audio books, to leave behind my voice for my...

BookStack Saturday

Almost every Saturday, I’ll post my BookStack for that week: the books I’m reading or have read during the previous 7 days. Sometimes, with commentary. Sometimes, without. From the top, a small and delightful book sent to me by my friend Lila, Robert Deyber Miniatures is a collection of sixty handcrafted stone lithographs that identify with the Hudson River School of 19th century painters who showed us the sky with its great cloud formations. Deyber’s clouds, however present and 19th century they are, are background to a surrealism I find utterly delightful. The Hard Conversations Book Club is reading Transgender Explained for Those Who Are Not by Joanne Herman, herself a transgender woman. I’ve just started this book for our conversation in a few weeks and will have more to say about it later. I love Ron Carlson’s short stories, and they are often on my BookStack to re-read, particularly when I’m recuperating or traveling and need something good to read in bite-sized bits. The News of the World is one of my favorites of his collections. Art & Fear is a perennial favorite. I’ve read it many times, and this week read it again, along with Ted Orland’s newest book, The View from the Studio Door. If you are a creative, you owe it to yourself to read these two short books. I’m always interested in change and as part of that interest, I’m actively investigating what makes a habit a habit. I found Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean at the local library and am appreciating his scientific approach about brain science–and because Felix has Autism and lacks executive...

Strong Offer Friday : From My Orange Desk, From My Vintage Typewriter

After Felix, formerly Tess, was diagnosed with Autism, I stood back and examined my life. And, as many of you know, I took myself off the road and taught myself how to teach online instead. For three years, I didn’t travel – or very rarely – and this after years of being on the road every week because that was where my work was. I closed shop on a lot of things, including a lot of my own writing, like this blog, my newsletter, “From My Orange Desk,” and more. I had to focus on Felix and on John, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer less than a month after Felix’ diagnosis. Then I ended two disastrous business partnerships, and closed down even more. Now I know that at least part of that closing down process was because I was suffering from PTSD, but I didn’t know that at the time. Feeling healthier, I’ve started writing again, and offering classes again, and balancing more adeptly the “this” and the “that” of my life, which is less this and that than it is life itself now, no false binaries in sight. My strong offers are stronger now, and more deliberate. They are more informed and intentional, more mindful. I hope you will join me for some of them. If you would like to receive my bi-weekly letter, “From My Orange Desk,” in which I deliver soul-help every two weeks, go here. It’s free, and it’s starting up again in March 2016. My monthly letter, “From My Vintage Typewriter,” will start soon, by subscription only, and will include writing seen nowhere else. More on...

Thinking Thursday : the reductive simplicity of other people’s problems

Some things I have found around the Web this week, and that I suggest you read. MIND The reductive seduction of other people’s problems is an important read. The opening example is an eye-opener, followed by this: If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable. Of course you’d want to apply for prestigious fellowships that mark you as an ambitious altruist among your peers. Of course you’d want to fly on planes to exotic locations with, importantly, exotic problems. Felix is interested in math again now. I have a feeling I’ll be hitting this list hard and often: Math 101: A reading list for lifelong learners This tree beautifully reveals the relationships between languages. BODY I think I have the soul of a Canadian, if not the tolerance for cold. 8 things to remember when everything is going wrong. This is a very important list. How we used to die and how we die now SOUL A 225 year old tool for measuring the blueness of the sky makes my soul sing. Meditation changes our brains. Want to reduce inflammation and prevent disease? Look to mindfulness. SPEAKING UP 22 Respectful Ways to Respond When Someone Uses the R-Word FIVE THINGS Five things I love. (And no, I don’t do any affiliate links, ever, ever, ever. I only post things I love, without any reason to do so other than that I want to share them.) 1. Zhena’s Coconut Chai tea is a longtime favorite. It and Revolution Earl Grey with Lavender are the two...

How do you cry for a life not fully lived?

My mother died “unexpectedly” on December 21st last year. I say “unexpectedly” in quotation marks because honestly she had been wanting to die or trying to die, or at the very least had been trying to be sick enough to die, but then survive, for my whole life. I haven’t yet cried at her passing because it feels like she left so long ago, she was so un-present for most of my life, especially past 1980 when my father died. I think when he died she felt disposed of again, as she was when she was just two and her mother died. Her stepmother not only didn’t want her, but was cruel to her, to the point that Mama’s older brothers and sisters, themselves still children, finally took her out of that situation. I would love to find that stepmother now, and just watch who she is and how she is now, but she is long dead, I’m sure. I would love to have had a word or two–or three–with her before she went. And I would love to ask my Granddaddy about that time, too, but I only knew him as an old man who had a debilitating stroke at 65, at which time I imagine the evil stepmother left him, unless he had the good sense to leave her earlier; when I knew him, he lived alone in a nursing home and I loved him so. I imagine as an adult, I might have asked him, “How did you let this happen?” but as a child, I found in him a soulmate, someone who delighted in small things,...