Archive | December, 2016

Some Words In 2016

30 Dec

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I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

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As people are wont to say, this is not like coal mining or anything, but why do people qualify what they find difficult in terms of extremes? Why is it so uncomfortable just owning that sometimes, life is difficult, and books are difficult and exposing yourself is difficult even if it is something you have chosen to do, with sound mind and body.

Roxane Gay

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Last night I wept. I wept because the process by which I have become woman was painful. I wept because I was no longer a child with a child’s blind faith. I wept because my eyes were opened to reality….I wept because I could not believe anymore and I love to believe. I can still love passionately without believing. That means I love humanly. I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence.

Anaïs Nin

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‘If you’re teasing me, Westley, I’m just going to kill you.’
‘How can you even dream I might be teasing?’
‘Well, you haven’t once said you loved me.’
‘That’s all you need? Easy. I love you. Okay? Want it louder? I love you. Spell it out, should I? I ell-oh-vee-ee why-oh-you. Want it backward? You love I.’
‘You are teasing now; aren’t you?’
‘A little maybe; I’ve been saying it so long to you, you just wouldn’t listen.“

William Goldman, The Princess Bride

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Time is a great deadener; people forget, get bored, grow old, go away.  She said that not much had happened between us anyway, historically speaking.  But history is a string full of knots, the best you can do is admire it, and maybe knot it up a bit more.  History is a hammock for swinging and a game for playing.  A cat’s cradle.  She said those sorts of feelings were dead, the feelings she once had for me.  There is a certain seductiveness about dead things.  You can ill treat, alter and recoiler what’s dead.  It won’t complain.

Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the only Fruit

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This isn’t the part of the story when the woman overcomes her challenges and is rewarded with new love. It’s not the part when the rain washes away her fear or rinses off her grief.

This is the part when the clouds part so briefly she might have imagined it, when the promise of light is made and then brutally withheld, when restoration begins to seem possible but is not yet realized.

This isn’t the happy part of the story, but that’s O.K. This story isn’t finished.

Lily Brooks-Dalton, New York Times Modern Love

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No subsequent love of mine has ever felt as innocently sure and safe as the one I left behind that summer, and some part of me still mourns that loss. But each new love has expanded my sense of what I might encounter, what I might claim. It seems to me that freedom is both its own lesson and reward, and I have come to accept and even to welcome the rawness that change brings, the sting of new skin meeting the world.

Amy Bonnaffons, New York Times Modern Love

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Maybe because we live in an age of so many choices, most of them meaningless, we romanticize the notion that falling in love isn’t a choice but something that happens to us. That love tells us what to do, not the other way around. Love is the authority figure, and if love tells us wrongly, then we can’t be held fully responsible.

Justin Tyler Clark, New York Times Modern Love

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The thing is, you don’t really have to believe what you write in a blog for more than the moment when you’re writing it. You don’t bring the same solemnity that you would bring to an actual essay. You don’t think, is this what I really want to say? You think, This is what I feel like saying at this moment.

Nora Ephron, The Last Interview and Other Conversations

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If I’d stayed there, would I always have been happy? No, I suppose not. People move away, grow older, die-hard and the bright belief that there will be another marvelous thing around each corner fades. It is now or never; we must snatch at happiness as it flies.

J. L. Carr, A Month in the Country

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Nostalgia is so certain: the sense of familiarity it instills makes us feel like we know ourselves, like we’ve lived.  To get a sense that we have already journeyed through something–survived it, experienced it–is often so much easier and less messy than the task of currently living through something.  Though hard to grasp, nostalgia is elating to bask in–temporarily restoring color to the past.  It creates a sense memory that momentarily stimulates context.  Nostalgia is recall without the criticism of the present day, all the good parts, memory without the pain.  Finally, nostalgia asks so little of us, just to be noticed and revisited; it doesn’t require the difficult task of negotiation, the heartache and uncertainty that the present does.

Carrie Brownstein, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

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I mean “God” as shorthand for the Good, for the animating energy of love; for Life, for the light that radiates from within people and from above; in the energies of nature, even in our rough, messy selves.

Anne Lamott

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Maturity is the ability to live with unsolved problems.

Anne Lamott

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Remembering birthdays doesn’t photograph. Being the first up to make a brew and wrestle the papers from the letterbox doesn’t have a checkbox on the dating site. There’s no app for “partners who just want to tell you that you’re enough.” I marvel at the marriages of my friends and their parents, too, how accepting they are, how full of compromise and trying, and I think, I don’t know if I can do that. But the point is, surely, that with the gentle ones, the ones who will chat to your mum on the phone when she calls and buy the book you commented on at the weekend as a surprise and save the ripest avocado for you, tomorrow, because you like avocado for breakfast, it doesn’t much seem like compromise at all.

Laura Jane Williams

 

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Travel by foot.  There is so much you can’t identify at top speed.

Cheryl Strayed

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We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.
T.S. Eliot, The Cocktail Party

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No one got the instructions. That is the secret to life. Everyone is flailing around, winging it most of the time, trying to find the way back out, or through, or up, without a map. This lack of instruction manual is how most people develop compassion, and got they figure out how to show up, care, help and serve, as the only way of filling up and being free. Otherwise, you grow up to be someone who needs to dominate and shame others, so no one will know that you weren’t there the day the instructions were passed out.

Anne Lamott

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“Don’t you think saying goodbye to your child will make death more painful?”

“Wouldn’t it be great if it did?”

Paul Kalinthi, When Breath Becomes Air

 

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Grace means you’re in a different universe from where you had been stuck, when you had absolutely no way to get there on your own.

Anne Lamott

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Unbearable suffering awaits us all. A brief glimpse through history can confirm: none of us are guaranteed a happy life. If we want meaning we have to create it. If we want to find peace, we need to know there’s a purpose for suffering.

Brianna West, Soul Anatomy 

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We all have to start somewhere if us want to do better, and our own self is what us have to hand.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

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I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson

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We’re not born with unlimited choices.  We can’t be anything we want to be.  We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny.  We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become.  We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.  Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. The artist must be like the Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

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You can do it

Do you understand how amazing it is to hear that from an adult?  Do you know how amazing it is to hear that from anybody?  It’s one of the simplest sentences in thew world, just four words, but they’re the four hugest words in the world when they’re put together.

You can do it.

I can do it.

Let’s do it.

Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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Is fake love better than real love? Real love is responsibility, compromise, selflessness, being present and all that shit. Fake love is magic, excitement, false hope, infatuation, and getting high off the potential that another person is going to save you from yourself.

Melissa Broder, So Sad Today

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We frequently long for things not because they are actually missing, but because the state of longing gives us the illusion of movement — something always out of reach to strive for. This can be a romantic experience, poignant or full of feelings, which places us in the center of what we think it means to “really feel alive.” If, however, the feelings should become too much, remember that there is also a romance in learning to want what we have.

October horoscope–Melissa Broder for Lenny Letter

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There are a few people out there with whom you fit just so, and, amazingly, you keep fitting just so even after you have growth spurts or lose weight or stop wearing heels. You keep fitting after you have children or change religions or stop dyeing your hair or quit your job at Goldman Sachs to take up farming. Somehow, God is gracious enough to give us a few of those people, people you can stretch into, people who don’t go away, and whom you wouldn’t want to go away even if they offered to.

Lauren Winner, Girl meets God

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Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she showed up speaking English and suddenly I could speak with all the complexity and nuance that I hadn’t even realized was gone. With Lucy I was a native speaker.

Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

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It must be hard to be a mother. All those years of knowing everything about your daughter, of dressing her and bearing her and being intimately acquainted with her every need and want, and then one day you wake up and realize you don’t even know what kind of dress to buy her at Clery’s.

Jessie Ann Foley, The Carnival at Bray

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You can never have too much sky. You can fall asleep and wake up drunk on sky, and sky can keep you safe when you are sad. Here there is too much sadness and not enough sky. Butterflies are too few and so are flowers and most things that are beautiful. Still, we take what we can get and make the best of it.

Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

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In my expertise have, there’s no secret to accomplishing almost any goal worth having.

Lauren Graham, Talking as Fast as I Can

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Life is never predictable. Life is never really manageable. If your mindset is always “i’m just surviving,” it seems to me that would wind up being your mindset for the rest if your life. You’d just get stuck in it.

Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

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You can love someone down to their core and they can love you right back just as hard, and if you traded diaries you’d learn things you never suspected. There’s a part of everyone deep down inside of them not meant for you.

Mindy McGinnis, The Female of the Species

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Having to fight for the thing you want doesn’t mean you deserve it any less.

Anna Kendrick, Scrappy Little Nobody

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See: 2015, and 2014  in words

The Best Films Of 2016, These Are Not Arguable

20 Dec

1. Edge of Seventeen

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve never, ever seen a more accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a teenage girl than Hailee Steinfeld in this movie. Ever, ever, ever.

She is self involved and full of self-pity. Everything is the biggest deal in the world. She is fairly awful and just trying to figure it out but how can she when everything is falling apart all the time? She is me as a teenager. She is me now, if I’m being honest.

I’ve claimed that I am forever 17, but I think the truth is that, yes, I am forever 17, but as I get older I get better at holding in some of the harsher edges of 17. My first instinct is still to respond like a brat, to pout and to eat a Slurpee on the side of the road, but now I maybe just eat the Slurpee and call my Erwin. Now I’m 17 with a little more perspective.

It’s better over here.

2. Hello, My Name Is Doris

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I wrote about this movie before and it’s stuck with me ever since I saw it. And not just for the costumes, which are truly my dream aesthetic. I don’t want to dress like Sally Field when I’m 70, I want to dress like her now!! I’m trying every day!!

The film has stuck with me, though, for its portrayal of female friendships and how incredibly life-changing and life-forming and life-affirming they are. My female friendships are the thing in my life I am most proud of and rely on the most. They are my perspective and my balance and my plates of stuffing after I’ve humiliated myself yet again.

Sally, also, was something to celebrate. A complicated (read: human) woman full of the depths only a 70-year-old can bring to the screen.

It was beautiful. I loved every minute of it.

3. La La Land

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Everyone is into this one so I don’t know what I’m really adding to this conversation.

This film is all that I adore about going to the movies. A believable love story between two very believable people. Ryan Gosling. Dancing in the streets of LA, music, and a hint of magical realism because all movies are just a bit of magical realism in the end, aren’t they?

It also has depth and conversations to start. Questions about life and relationships and choices.

If you want to have these conversations please contact me because I have a lot more to give in these conversations conversationally.

4. Sing Street

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Speaking of musicals! While not technically a musical, this is one of my favorite music movies in a very long time. I love, love music movies. Perhaps the official term would be Movies Heavily Featuring Music And People Falling In Love To Said Music.

They fall right behind Two People Talk For 90 Minutes And Nothing Really Happens But They Are Forever Changed movies.

But Sing Street!

Ireland. The 80s. Teenage misfits.

I particularly love when teenagers are in a band. It almost feels like only teenagers should be allowed to be in bands because at that point everything is so incredibly sincere and full of emotion. No one can be in a band like a teenager can be in a band. There are costumes and music videos and intensity and the beginning of young love and!

Bono endorsed this movie, so get on it already.

5. Lemonade

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The best memoir that’s come out…oh gosh. I don’t even know.

Up there in the best memoirs of all time.

A universal story in the specific. A woman in command of her narrative and her body and her life.

I’ve not stoped talking about it since.

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with the darkness of the world I remind myself that yes, I live in the time of some really horrifying people, but I also live in the time of Beyonce.

That’s a gift I was given.

So were you.

The Best TV shows of 2016

19 Dec

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1. CRAZY EX GIRLFRIEND

Ok listen I feel like I have to shout here. This show has like NO ratings. No one is watching this thing. People are already saying it’s going the way of Arrested Development or Freaks and Geeks. A weird little show doing weird little things to a weird little audience that will likely be cancelled way ahead of its time. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. WATCH THIS. It’s on Netflix so you can start there, but then join me in giving your Friday nights to this important cause.

If this doesn’t convince you please watch these music videos. PLEASE.

 2. This is Us

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I’m following along with the rest of you and I’m liking it and that’s about all there is to say.

 3. Fleabag

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In the words of my brother, a devastating show.  It is well paced and well acted and it is remarkably devastating. I’ve heard this year described as the year of the complicated female on TV and I say every year should be the year of the complicated female and wow-e-zow the ending and let’s just say female not complicated female.

 4. Insecure

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Another one of those female shows! It’s like I have a type or something! Issa Ray is phenomenal phenomenal phenomonal and her friend Molly is equally wonderful. It’s their love story, above all.

 5. Fuller House

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What? What is this doing on the list? Listen, everyone is like ugh Fuller House is so lame. I watched it in a day.

If you are watching it in a day it is doing something really right and just because it’s not the really right of, say, an Emmy winner, that doesn’t mean it’s also really, really right in its own way.

Team Steve Always and Forever. And not in the T Swift way.

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Reality TV shows of mention include Fixer Upper and Married at First Sight fight me.

Roommates You’ll Have In Your Twenties — Part 4

18 Dec

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PARTS 1, 2, and again created with the person who makes me laugh most– Hilary.

76. The roommate who thinks she knows your diagnosis

77. The roommate who suggests couples counseling for the two of you

78. The “this relationship peaked early on and now there’s nowhere to go but down” roommate (approx 90% of all roommates)

79. The roommate who lies about everything

80. The roommate who just got certified in massage therapy and would LOVE to give you a massage for a small fee that isn’t so small

81. The roommate who doesn’t recognize you a year later

82. The has a crush on your boyfriend roommate

83. The you have a crush on her boyfriend roommate

84. The roommate who actually takes you up on that empty offer to go running with her sometime

85. The roommate who doesn’t pick up her dog’s poop on your bed

86. The roommate who answers “Why is someone saving these dirty ziplock bags?” with “Oh, I don’t know, maybe so they don’t sit in a landfill forever.”

87. The roommate who is starting a compost heap in the living room

88. The roommate who just discovered The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and needs you to as well

89. The retired roommate who should really move back to the East Coast with her family

90. The roommate who high fives you for being a virgin

91. The roommate who high fives herself for not being a virgin

92. The roommate practicing 4 bars of music for a singing auditions 500,000 times

93. The engaged roommate

94. The about to be engaged roommate

95. The “just waiting on the ring” roommate

96. The “just waiting for him to realize I’m the one” roommate

97. The “goes to prom as an adult” roommate

98. The cries about her acne roommate

99. The Real Housewives roommate

100.  The roommate with a tragic backstory that you can’t ask about but you have to know the details of

101. The roommate who takes two hours to get ready

102. The roommate who defiantly doesn’t wear makeup and open judges you for putting on mascara

103. The roommate who thinks she can cook, but can’t

104.  The roommate who criticizes the way you put on your lotion

 

My (Truthful) Hobbies

13 Dec

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1. Spending hours on Trulia looking at houses I cannot afford, but still putting “price limits” on there, because this is totally rational and realistic.

2. Looking up the Instagram accounts of the five or so people I do not know but am still interested in.

3. Making long lists of things I will do tomorrow without any thought of perhaps trying to tackle any today.

4. Texting my friends in the “Stronger Together” group message long, angry political rants and then emotionally accepting they will not respond.

5. Ruminating on the bad habits I never am able to end.

6. Making boxes of Kraft mac and cheese.

7. Scrolling through Netflix for a New Show That Will Change My Life and landing on nothing after an hour or so.

8. Wishing Fuller House had more episodes because that’s what I’m looking for on Netflix but I don’t really want to rewatch, you know?

9. Taking pictures of my neighbors’ (exterior) decorations without them seeing me.

10. Hot tub(bing?)

11. Talking about how much I love hot tubs and how all I want in life is a hot tub.

12. Randomly renewing library books on my library app.

13. Writing

 

Hobbies I tell people:

1. Yoga!

2. Hiking!

3. World peace!

The Year of Grace

12 Dec

For most of my life, I have thought the purpose of said life was to find joy. Life is about happiness, and seeking happiness and finding happiness and, in my case, hunting down happiness and wrangling it like the bear it is, trying to force march it back to camp with me.

Joy!!

Yoga has calmed this to some extent, teaching me how to breathe through pain, that whatever level I’m on is the level I’m on no judgment. Yoga isn’t about joy or happiness, yoga is about breathing through whatever comes, about accepting yourself and accepting the moment.

Meditation takes this to the next level.

I once described my mind during meditation like this:

In 10 minutes of meditation my mind can escape me thousands of times.  The task of recognizing it has lost its way, lassoing it and bringing it back to the present—that’s hard work.

It is hard work.

But what I’m realizing now, almost a year later, is that, once again, that was just the beginning approach. The better approach is leaving the lasso at home, leaving the extreme verbs and the aggression that I love so much, and gently bringing my focus back.

The better approach is seeing my thoughts go by and observing them without judgment. Pain isn’t bad. Joy isn’t good. I don’t need to go chasing after love or serenity, or jumping in front of hurt or sadness. I need observe them all, and when I get distracted by one, gently bring my mind back.

Even that is without judgment. I don’t beat myself up for getting distracted–I just come back.

I love the video above that so perfectly illustrates this.

My mind, for the majority of my life, has been me chasing after cars and trying to halt cars and generally standing in the middle of a huge car wreck traffic jam wondering why all my efforts aren’t working.

I FREAKING CHASED DOWN JOY LIKE AN OLYMPIC RUNNER, OK? WHY DON’T I HAVE IT?

I TRIED TO STOP THAT PAIN USING SHEER FORCE OF WILL, ALL RIGHT? WHY AM I STILL A MESS?

This is what I’ve realized now, or what I think today.

That’s the, excuse me, joy, of blogging, isn’t it? To find the words for a specific day in my life and then to look back and say, oh wait, those aren’t true for me anymore.

This is what’s true now.

What is true for me today is that I’m learning to let my thoughts go by without judgment. Joy isn’t the be-all-end-all. Pain isn’t the worst thing in the world. I don’t need to avoid or seek either with all my energies, because life will give me both. I need to sit back as they come to me and accept that they are coming.

The purpose of life, I think, is love. Not romantic love go chase it down in on the freeway of life, love, but simply loving what you have. Loving through joy or pain or serenity. Loving yourself when you forget and jump into traffic yet again. Gently loving yourself back.

Grace, I suppose.

That’s my word for the year.

I’ve never understood it, really, and I guess I don’t fully now, but this is what I do know.

Grace is that moment when all is dark and you go outside for a walk.

Grace is allowing yourself to be imperfect, loving yourself anyway. Writing even though you know it will be terrible. Forgiving yourself for that. Forgiving over and over–even, and especially when you don’t deserve it.

As Anne Lamott says, grace bats last.

It’s a big word, a complicated word, a word I’m still unpacking.

But the other day, while I was talking to someone and getting angry that they weren’t responding how I wanted I had the thought, “Give them grace.”

It’s seeped into my internal dialogue and it’s seeped into my life.

More grace, please.

Perhaps that’s the purpose of it all.

 

PS: My word for 2015, 2014, and 2012. I don’t know what happened to 2013, OK?

Validations from Lin-Manuel Miranda

3 Dec

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The other night a friend and I were texting long after we both should have been asleep. This is not a sign of good things. This is a sign of unhappiness, shared unhappiness even if the unhappiness has nothing to do with the other person.

As we ended our conversation and she said she should get some sleep, I wanted to sign off with something supportive. Something profound. An “I love you, you’re doing great,” but better, you know?

I realized I wanted to sign off like Lin-Manuel.

Lin-Manuel Miranda sends out morning and evening validations on his Twitter. If he weren’t who he was, our Shakespeare, a man who reads a sonnet at the Tonys, then we would roll our eyes. But he is who he is. He is powerful with his words and his words have power.

Today I’d like to share some of that power with you.

I’d also like to pass on the little I know, which goes something like this: More grace, for yourself and for others. Less Twitter. If things are falling apart after midnight, go to bed.

And now for Lin-Manuel.

For the morning:

Good morning. Your body sets your internal temperature. See if you can set your internal temperment, even if it’s cold out.

Good morning, you magnificent thing, you. Give Monday a good kick in the pants.

Good morning! Recess today. Chase your happy.

Good morning. I’m tired. You tired? At your own pace, vamos.

Good morning. Take a breath. Then another. Repeat. Move at your pace. You got this.

Good morning. Yes, this blanket is warm and this bed is comfy. It’ll be waiting for you. Let’s go!

 

For the evening:

Good night. One step at a time. Your pace. Your unforgettable stride.

Good night, you. Make new mistakes. Dream new things, repeat!

Good evening. Your body sets your internal temperature. Now check the thermostat on your internal temperature. Have a great night.

Good night. There’s your blanket fort, waiting as ever. Sweet dreams!

Good night, stunner. You’re just getting started. Your age doesn’t matter. The stars are out, the night warm, You’re just getting started.

Good night. Take a breath. Then another. Repeat. Shake off the day. Sweet dreams.

Good night, you magnificent thing, you. Monday is thoroughly impressed with you: ya came out swinging. Rest up for Tuesday.

Good night. I’m tired! You tired! A dormer, vamos.

Gnight! Stretch!