WHEN: December 2016 & October 2015 VERDICT: The first time I read this book in October of 2015 I devoured it. I’ve come back to it again now more than a year later, and I’ve loved it just as much the second time. In between, I’d find myself thinking about some quirky habit I’d read…
“Why do we bother with the rest of the day, the swale of the afternoon, the sudden dip into evening, then night with his notorious perfumes, his many-pointed stars? This is the best— throwing off the light covers, feet on the cold floor, and buzzing around the house on espresso—” A few stanzas from Morning,…
We got engaged a few months ago on a cloudless Sunday afternoon. Cesar was in cahoots with some of our good friends — the ones whose wedding we met at — and they suggested and planned a picnic to Kirby Cove. I’d never been, but it’s well known as one of the most incredible spots from which to see the Golden Gate Bridge and an expansive view of San Francisco.
In the past, I’ve been drawn to elections and politics, democracy in action. But I’ve already had more than enough of this election cycle, and it’s just getting started. I think it’s safe to say that our political discourse is in a state of disaster, too many people shouting and not nearly enough listening or quality conversation. I have some hopeful thoughts inspired by a quote from Mr. Rogers about what each of us can do to make it better.
After watching a recent show on food waste by John Oliver, I couldn’t stop thinking about one of the most surprising problems he mentioned on the show — in his words, how “our own habits and misconceptions” contribute to food waste before it even reaches the grocery store or farmers market stand. About 26% of…
Last summer, my Mom gave me this copy of The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. She had probably mentioned this book at least a handful of times before, but I was finally open to reading it. I can be a little stubborn, especially about what I read. As I read and worked through the twelve weeks of material, I thought a lot about the legacy of sharing this book with my mom. Her life, creatively lived, along with her love of fine art, gave me the permission to love art too, to admire artists and writers, and to begin to pursue writing myself. If she hadn’t been so committed to creativity as a way of life and largely incapable of living any other way, I may never have begun writing in any earnest or my writing might have stayed locked away in my journals. Now after decades of filling page after page, I understand that inability to live any other way, and I’m finally learning to embrace it.
Writers deal in words, descriptive and evocative, and reading regularly is one way to ensure you always have fresh supply in mind when you sit down to write. No surprises there! But this technique is valuable beyond writing. It will make you a better communicator and give you the specificity to describe moments and meaning in your daily life.
When I began reading The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, I also began her recommended daily practice of writing morning pages. Since then, a little more than 6 months have past, and morning pages have become a key part of my life. I’ve become accustomed to waking up early each morning to write three pages longhand straight from my stream of consciousness, for my eyes only.
They’re intended to be as whiny or petty or angry as they need to be that day. (And sometimes they are.) Whatever comes out, no judgment. Getting all that crap down on the page and off your mind is the goal. It lets you get on with the rest of your day and your creative endeavors without all that weighing on you.
To say that they’ve changed my life isn’t hyperbole at all.
As you consider the year ahead, maybe making New Year’s resolutions, maybe not, I thought I’d share a poem that’s meant a lot to me this year. I’ve read it many, many times over the course of the year as I’ve made some big changes in my life and will continue to do so as…
Spending Thanksgiving in San Francisco this year meant less time devoted to travel and much more downtime. Last weekend that led to catch-up phone calls with family across the country and lots time for reflection, almost an early year-end review.
Early in the year, I started keeping track of what I was grateful for using an app called Lift. I really enjoyed the act of stopping for a moment (often on the bus) to think about what I was grateful for on that day, in that exact moment. I didn’t over think it either. It was more of a stream of consciousness exercise.
Somehow, I’ve kept up the habit for most of the year with intermittent streaks of more than 30 days in a row. (Right now, I’m on day 34 of a new streak!) It hadn’t occurred to me when I started doing this how much fun it would be to look back on the year through this lens.