Building readers

I’ve been driven lately to find ways to eliminate technology from my life, not find ways to incorporate it. I’d like to think this interest started from some deep-seated awareness that we are all less connected by being tied to our phones 24/7, but I actually think it’s because I was taking a walk the other day, and while I looked down at my phone to advance the song or reply to a text message, I missed one of those e-scooters that was stranded in the middle of the sidewalk, and I tripped. Some epiphanies are like finding yourself slowly enveloped in warm light, and others hit like your palms grazing newly laid cement. Either way, since that day has made it more difficult to hold things in my palms, I’ve sought out paperback books again, and have slowly rediscovered how much I love to read…and while I discovered the following Long Reads piece only with the benefit of technology, it’s author Irina Dumitrescu does such a superb job of talking about reading…it’s got me contemplating whether we’re doing enough to build readers? Or whether we’re going to let technology lead the way, which is such a terrifying idea…anyway, some deep thoughts for a Monday afternoon…read this article and enjoy!

An Apology Tour

Longreads has a great piece about a writer who launches himself on an apology tour — reaching out to those in his past who he's felt he's wronged in big (and little) ways. It's a moving depiction of how difficult it is to realize "I've done something wrong. I've hurt someone and I need to apologize." It's an interesting concept: that we stop apologizing for insignificant events outside our control (like dropping an uncatchable pass) and start being aware of when true apologies are due. I certainly feel like I could work on my own list and get apologizing 

The Death Row Book Club

I've just returned from a few days in Arizona, where I was captivated by the desert — in particular, the botanical gardens in Phoenix were like an unexpected beautifully wrapped present that I had the best time unwrapping. While I was away, I spent a lot of time reading (as I'm wont to do when I have any amount of free time) and I was taken by this piece about an inmate sentenced to death who started a book club. The writing is beautiful, the story is sad and hopeful and sad again, and it's part of a longer story that I will be reading soon enough: The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton is now on my list for my own book club.. 

Creative Tooling

As someone who works in an office, I don't typically think about anything around me as a tool that can enhance or promote creativity. Yet, this compelling read suggests that for many fo us, the right tool can give permission for our most creative ideas. I'm not sure my laptop can suffice as both my primary messaging resource, news outlet and creative tool, but I do wonder if any of the other items in my office might suffice — I've long left the habit of handwriting in journals to prompt creative thoughts, but it's worth considering whether I should reintroduce the process as I continue compiling my poetry manuscript. What creative tools do you use or what pedestrian items might you be ignoring that have the potential to light the creative fire? 

How to Be Happy

I spend a lot of time meditating — I'm currently on a streak of meditating more than 120 days in a row, and while I am a little ashamed that I'm in a competition with myself to see how many continuous days I can go, I am more than a little compelled to just do it every day because it gives me unbelievable perspective. I am loathe to admit that I suffer from any type of diagnosable anxiety disorder, yet, I am a worrier through and through. It started when I was very young — I worried that my stuffed animals wouldn't know where I was all day when I left them to go to school; I worried that my siblings would be hurt while playing with friends; I worried about how the dog next door was handling the thunderstorm. In some ways, I see that childhood worry has transferred into a penchant for anxious behavior; and in many other ways, I am well aware that social media, my phone, and a constant pull to be distracted significantly enhance any disposition I might have to be anxious. So it is not without reason that I sought a way to mediate anxiety, and I am lucky that a daily meditation practice helps keep most anxiety at bay. What is pleasantly surprising about meditation is that it has poured over into my ability to be happier and my ability to minimize negative thinking. When I am focused on how transient each moment is, I come to appreciate them more, even when they aren't fun. All of this is to say, that the New York Times has a fabulous post up now about "How to Be Happy" and it's worth your perusal. 


The power of storytelling

For most people, the term 'storyteller' doesn't conjure an image of a successful CEO, a young professional rising through the ranks of a law firm, or even of a legislator working to pass a key piece of legislation, yet being a storyteller isn't mutually exclusive with any of these individuals, and in fact, storytelling is a valuable tool each of these professionals should use in reaching their goals. There is a large body of research that indicates how powerful storytelling can be in making a deep, meaningful impact on an audience, and whether you're looking to impress a potential client, a boss or colleague or a constituency, improving your message, or story, is a key to success. 

To learn more about how storytelling can improve your professional life, check out the following resources: