Aiming to inspire, engage, inform, and entertain, and to mitigate midweek malaise.
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You are enough.
You are loved.
You choose your mindset.
You are not alone.
Quote of the Week
Among the themes rolling around in my head these days are the ideas of limiting beliefs and personal narratives. It’s not just books that are stories; our whole lives are stories. Our lives are not about what happens to us nearly as much as they are about the stories we tell ourselves about what happens to us. About the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we can and can’t do, what we will be or could never be.
As Mark Twain said, “What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those of other things, are his history. These are his life, and they are not written.”
The above quote is from Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast, which I’ve been listening to lately. It’s worth pondering. What if we could change our lives by telling ourselves a different story?
In a later episode of the podcast, Seth goes on to say this: “If your story isn’t helping you, find a new one…. If you’re telling yourself a story again and again and again, a story about being incomplete or insufficient, a story about unfairness, a story about having a loser’s lip, well, you don’t have to tell yourself that story. The story is a choice…. It’s the stories that we rehearse that become important. So if you’re rehearsing a story that isn’t helping you get to where you want to go, the giant learning here is to stop rehearsing that story. To start telling a new story.”
This Week’s Treasures and Inspirations
Reflections on Anger
If you’ve never heard of Brain Pickings, I highly recommend you check it out. Last week, the curator of Brain Pickings, Maria Popova, re-posted a 2015 post about David Whyte’s reflections on anger (“Poet and Philosopher David Whyte on Anger, Forgiveness, and What Maturity Really Means“).
I’ve always thought of anger as a coping strategy for fear. However, this writing offers a truly thought-provoking new perspective. David’s words struck my heart, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since (all emphasis mine):
“ANGER is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family and for all our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. What we usually call anger is only what is left of its essence when we are overwhelmed by its accompanying vulnerability, when it reaches the lost surface of our mind or our body’s incapacity to hold it, or when it touches the limits of our understanding. What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.
“What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it. What we call anger is often simply the unwillingness to live the full measure of our fears or of our not knowing, in the face of our love for a wife, in the depth of our caring for a son, in our wanting the best, in the face of simply being alive and loving those with whom we live.
“Our anger breaks to the surface most often through our feeling there is something profoundly wrong with this powerlessness and vulnerability… Anger in its pure state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics.”
I went digging to find out more. Check out the video at The Global Oneness Project site, which shares this about the word: “Youth worker and community leader Orland Bishop explains the meaning of the Zulu greeting Sawubona (“We see you”) as an invitation to a deep witnessing and presence. This greeting forms an agreement to affirm and investigate the mutual potential and obligation that is present in a given moment. At its deepest level, Orland explains, this “seeing” is essential to human freedom.”
Anything that does not bring you alive …
What to Listen To
More Seth Godin!
In case it wasn’t obvious, I’m listening to a lot of Seth Godin lately. As I write this I’m in the middle of his interview with the You Turns podcast. Granted, the way the people sounds reminds me a little bit of the SNL Schweddy Balls skit, but the content is far better. About fear, and diving in, and imposter syndrome, and all sorts of good stuff.
What to Watch
If you liked Making a Murderer …
Did you watch Making a Murderer season 1? If so, you must dive into season 2 (on Netflix). The way attorney Kathleen Zellner investigates every aspect of the crime, recreating every bit of evidence (or discovering it can’t be recreated), bringing in top experts, and tearing apart the original narrative of the prosecution piece by piece, is incredible. She is amazing. If ever I am wrongly accused of a crime, please call her for me.
Travel Inspiration for the Week
The “Venice of the Netherlands”
From Google (I can’t find that this is from a specific website … this is just from the little box on the right of the screen when you Google “Giethoorn”): “Giethoorn is a mostly car-free village in the northeastern Dutch province of Overijssel. It’s known for its boat-filled waterways, footpaths, bicycle trails and centuries-old thatched-roof houses.”
I’m just saying. Do a Google image search on Giethoorn. Then start your planning.
The Writing Update
What’s up in my writing life
Many of you may already know that I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I think the term is nothing more than an excuse, and it would be far wiser—for a person who actually wants to succeed at writing, anyway—to think of it as “something is getting in the way of my writing and I need to figure out what it is if I want to finish this.”
That’s what I faced in the last week. I was writing along at a really fast pace, and then one day I was just struck with this “I have no idea what I’m doing” terror. The certainty that I can’t possibly succeed. Mysteries are complicated, I’ve learned; at least, they are for me. You have to figure out how many clues to leave, when to leave them, what red herrings to drag across the trail. You don’t want to leave out too much because that will annoy the reader, but you don’t want to put in too much because then what’s the point? You have to have multiple suspects, with believable motives. You have to introduce the actual murderer without making it obvious, but also while making sure their guilt remains plausible. It’s a very fine-wired tightrope and it’s scary.
What’s the remedy? Whether I practice it or not, I know how to break through the “block”—you have to just sit down and write. Push through it. Stop cleaning the house, stop doing the laundry, stop organizing all your photos from 1980, stop all the procrastinating, and write. Whether the stuff you write is great or awful, to get past that fear you have to just write. (And then edit later.)
I think many writers, especially at the beginning of their writing careers, may fall prey to the romance of the idea of writer’s block. Or to the idea that you only write when you’re inspired. I once met an aspiring screenwriter who told me, “You know you’re a real writer if you only write when you’re inspired.” I didn’t argue with him because I knew there was no point. But I guarantee you that if you interviewed a hundred professional writers, most if not all of them would tell you that only writing when you’re inspired is a luxury of amateurs.
If you want to be a writer, you have to write.
When it’s scary and you don’t know if you can do it (Pamela Stucky, I am talking to you here!), you still have to sit down and write.
That’s all there is to it. Butt in chair, as they say. Write.
The ABCs of Life