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13 October 2011


2011-10-13_11-23-00_385I loved talking with Ishita Gupta. She called on a Saturday. We talked and laughed for a long time. I felt like I had known her before, but we had just met.

I’m exhausted by all the striving I see online. I don’t know where the line is drawn between striving to passionately say what you need to tell the world and striving to be cool or trend on Twitter.

What I take from death, along with how much I miss having the people in my life, is a sense of urgency. What do I do if this is the last year of my life? So my grief gives me a gift, it gives urgency to being really alive in the time that I have.

Her interview with me appears in fear.less today. I hope you'll enjoy reading it.

12 October 2011

poetry wednesday : call today

SunflowersSunflowers in a Field

Sunflowers in a field.
Goldfinches everywhere.
They gorge on seed. They rise
To rest along the power line, then fall
Like drizzled lemon drops, like lozenges
Of candied yellow light.
Two weeks a year, goldfinches
Gather on sunflowers here.
These evenings after supper,
You see them in the honey-soft glow
As if they'd trapped and somehow stored
The rapture of September's sun.
You see goldfinches flicker
Among sunflower lanes,
Through mortal tides of light,
Through streams of apricot and chardonnay,
And you resolve to live
Your life with greater sympathy.
Sunflowers bowing their char black dials,
Their petals twist and writhe
Like fires, like silk coronas blazing west.
How inconceivable, then,
The pewter cold-front clouds,
The shabby settlement of crow and wren.
Though no one hears the oath,
You shall, you tell yourself,
Forgo deceit, increase the tithe.
Atone. Forgive. Embrace. You watch
Goldfinches and sunflowers both
Begin to fade. By subtle green degrees
They shed that bullion luster of the sun
Until the finches ricochet
Like flints among the drowsing flower heads.
Perhaps, as I have done,
You'll pace the darkling half mile home,
Intent on picking up the telephone
To reconcile with long-lost friends.
You will apologize, concede.
You'll vow to never, ever, ever let
Such distance grow again.
But then you reach your door and find
The day diminished to a thin blue rind
Of light above the township silhouette.
How nice a hot bath sounds.
Dessert. An herbal tea.
Perhaps you'll read the Arts
And Leisure pages of The Daily News.
With every stair you climb
Sleep settles just a little more behind
The knees, beneath the shoulder blades.
The calls, you tell yourself,
Perhaps some other time.

-Daniel Anderson

I understand the distractions, that hot bath, that reading, that sleepiness. But make the calls anyway. Today.

[image from here]

10 October 2011

mindful monday : stillness

2011-10-08_21-27-43_809 Sometimes you just need to stop. Halt. Breathe.

That's where I am now.

Breathing. Halting. Hibernating.

I'm on sabbatical for a little while from Facebook and social media.

I'm contemplating my new orange desk, the one I wanted, the one I ordered, and the one I got delivered to my front porch yesterday. It is the color of clementines. I love it. My orange desk.

And I found the right color to paint the walls in my attic office as-yet-created: It is by Valspar, and it is not white as I imagined those walls might be, but "Stillness." Yes. Stillness.

That's where I am now. Not in the attic, but resting. In stillness. My 3x3x365 duties this week are kindly being handled by friends in New Jersey and Illinois and Nebraska and beyond. My Facebook profile is standing still except for automatic posts from my blogs. My Google+ and Twitter have ground to a halt. And I'm okay with that. My phone is unanswered. I need rest. And rest I am getting.

So, today, just a wee link to a radio interview with me that was recorded recently and that will play tonight (Oct 10th) at 7pm. I hope you'll listen in. I loved LOVED talking with Lesley Riley, the host of the show. She and I might do it again, and again.

I am heading back to bed. To read, perhaps. I have a large stack of books on my bedside table to read or re-read. You? What are you reading?

Reading is an amazing gift. Sleep is also good. It is not overrated, as it turns out.

Here's to more stillness in our lives, yours and mine.

[The gorgeous orange paperweight was a gift from glass artist, teacher, and songwriter Tamara Mangum Bailie.]

03 October 2011

mindful monday : clarity of process

JohnnyDepp26 I'm actually in the process of streamling business processes.

Given that I didn't really have any business processes to begin with, it is an exercise in creating and streamlining all at the very same moment.

It is relieving me of stress in ways I never imagined, stress I never really knew I had, but felt. Deeply, deeply felt.

So, as I joked with Jen Louden and Susan Piver during our recent writing retreat in Boston (to be repeated in the Asheville, North Carolina, area in October 2012!), I NOW HAVE MY VERY FIRST SPREADSHEET! WHOLE-E-COW!

I also have a method for capturing business expenses and recording them (Fujitsu portable scanner + Expensify), for capturing notes and images and files I want to be able to find again--without using paper (Evernote), for keeping track of passwords and generating safe ones (Roboform), for keeping track of money (QuickBooks online), for project management (ProjectTurf), and for online contracts (Our Deal).

I will actually have a workflow set up by the end of October that will hum along like a well-oiled machine, for the first time in my 52 years on this planet (this time around).

Can I tell you how relieved I am? What? I already mentioned that? I AM MENTIONING IT AGAIN. That's how important it is.

My calendars are all synced.

My Verizon bill is still too high. But when I took my Droid in and told them I was unsatisfied with the sound, they gave me a brand new one, for free.

My scotch tape is in ONE PLACE in my house.

After six years of writing here, I am creating a new website for 37days, one that is free of bells and whistles and clutter, one that focuses on image and word and thought. (By the way, what would YOU most like to see on this site? Some have mentioned better searching capabilities... leave your wishes in the comments to this post).

I now know how to scan, email, and create expense reports. And I know how to train someone else to do that, too.

All my travel information is in one place. No more getting to the airport and not knowing 1) Where I am going; 2) What airline I'm taking to get there.; 3) When and how I'm coming back.

There is still much to do. Yes. But it is getting done. By October 31st.

This is no ordinary deadline, one of those we skip right over and suddenly it is the 4th of July. This is THE DEADLINE.

The attic will be empty so I can paint it all white, including the floors, and put my orange desk in there and my quilt by Jane LaFazio and my artwork by Mary Campbell and readers from around the world.

Yes it will.

What will you do to simplify your life and house and space and mind by the end of October?

Why the Johnny Depp photo? Because I am obviously freeing up time to stalk him more efficiently.


02 October 2011

Decatur, Georgia, I love you.

GA Center for Book3 One of my favorite places to read is at the Georgia Center for the Book at the Decatur Public Library in Decatur, Georgia. There is something about that space that I love; even more so, I adore the people who come there.

And I'll be there soon.

Tuesday, October 4th


I'll read from my latest book, "What I Wish for You," and talk about the book I'm writing now: "The Geography of Loss: Navigating New Territories of Grief and Regret."

I would love to see you there.

In Decatur, not in new territories of grief and regret.

(The day after, I am staying in Atlanta to see k.d. lang in concert for the very first time. I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THAT.)

25 September 2011

Boston area reading today!

Cover--WIWFY I'm excited to do a reading this afternoon (Sunday, September 25) at 4pm in the Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MA. If you're in the area, I'd love to see you there!

21 September 2011

poetry wednesday : when you come to love, bring all you have.

Sheets When You Come to Love

by Ann Fisher-Wirth

When you come to love,
bring all you have.

Bring the milk in the jug,
the checked cloth on the table—
the conch that sang the sea
when you were small,
and your moonstone rings,
your dream of wolves,
your woven bracelets.

For the key to love is in the fire’s nest,
and the riddle of love is the hawk’s dropped feather.

Bring every bowl and ewer,
every cup and chalice, jar,
for love will fill them all-

And, dazzled with the day,
fold the sunlight in your sheets,
fold the smell of salt and leaves,
of summer, sweat, and roses,
to shake them out when you need them most,

For love is strong as death.

[image from here]

19 September 2011

mindful monday : clean clementine lines

Orangedesk There are three rooms left to do, to clear out, to declutter and make spacious-er.

And the attic.

And the basement.

Oh at the stuff.

Some of it is boxes of papers I will never use again. I don't need them. I don't want them.

Some of it is mementos. I don't need them. I want them.

And then some things I feel I need and I want.

Sorting. Making photos of precious things I don't need to physically have anymore, but want a piece of, even if in the form of a photograph.

My attic office needs making: white, turquoise, clementine. Repainting something to resemble this simple orange desk. Lots of light. A space now filled with boxes and dark.

We throw too much away. Plastic bags full of stuff, of food, of paper. To sit in a landfill somewhere. That's because we buy too much in packages and we don't compost and we print things that don't need to be printed. We don't reuse what we could. I'm committed to changing that. Here are some helpful hints on reducing waste to which I'll be paying close attention.

And it's "No Impact Week." What better time to commit to reducing your impact on the environment?

How about we do a better job of asking and giving and reusing? This little house on a shoestring is such a beautiful example of that. I want to learn how to build things.

Part of my impulse toward simplicity and spaciousness is to create an internal spaciousnes as well, one that is hard to do when smothered from the outside in. I realize I need to get back to yoga and I need to also sit every day.

I don't. But I am going to. My friend Susan Piver can help teach me.



15 September 2011

thinking thursday.


[this is me pretending to be a news anchor. I am being thoughtful by finger acting]


Why fracking is no fracking good.

I am intrigued by the Big History Project. 

Is addiction in the head?


I'm definitely going to try this oatmeal recipe.

Oh, Hugh Laurie, we love your crankiness. And your music.


I love these women.

My favorite quote of the week: Every conflict is fought in self-defense. So when you're having a disagreement, ask yourself what you're defending. -Karen Maezen Miller

14 September 2011

poetry wednesday : september's lovely in new york.

911empire Advisory

by George Bradley

for Jim Kehoe
September’s lovely in New York, the sky 
Returned to baby blue, the breeze now mild
As breath, and if you’ve anything at all
Important planned, now’s when to do it: fall
In love, begin a book, beget a child,
Marry, get religion, learn to fly.

September’s stunning, even on so odd
An island as Manhattan, of all places
Least like landscape: climate cannot bungle
This month without a more than urban jungle,
Without an ice cap, or those desert spaces
Composed of dust and emptiness and God.

September’s drop-dead gorgeous or it’s plain
Disaster here, airborne catastrophe,
Some subtropical depression, say,
Originating half a world away
And gaining, as it moves across the sea,
The turbine fury of a hurricane.

Still, September’s dangerous days are few,
Whirlwinds tracked worldwide. You can assume
Responsible officials will foresee
Such turmoil; you can count on your TV
For early warning. There are those for whom
This hasn’t worked, but it should work for you.

I know a man who paused to say good-bye 
With care to those he loved one morning, fold
Them in his arms, and just that slight delay
Spared him on a bright September day
When air turned ash, the center could not hold,
The quickly dead fell burning from the sky.
[image from here]