Saturday, October 21, 2017

Patton Oswalt on His Wife Michelle McNamara’s Tragic Death

"A lot of times with grief, it's not that you can plan what to avoid and what to go to. Memories can ambush you. And you get used to that. The plans and contingencies I make don't matter. This thing is going to have its way with me one way or another."

(Sent from my phone)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Grief, loss, death and waves

(From Reddit)

"My friend just died. I don't know what to do."

A lot of people responded. Then there's one old guy's incredible comment that stood out from the rest that might just change the way we approach life and death.

"Alright, here goes. I'm old. What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here's my two cents.

"I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don't want to. It tears a hole through me whenever someone I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don't want it to "not matter." I don't want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can't see.

"As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

"In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything... and the waves come crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

"Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of wreckage, but you'll come out.

"Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too. If you're lucky, you'll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks."

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

You be you

Society tells us we should be beautiful and strong and successful to be valuable. But even though my husband's mom was all those things, not a single person has stopped over since her sudden and unexpected loss to say "we miss her, she was so beautiful!" "We are so sorry for your loss, she lived her life right!" (Isn't that what we do, look at our peers or things we want and say to ourselves, "this is how I *should* live, this is the 'right' way to be"?)


People remember kindness and sweetness and generosity and compassion. How you made them feel. That they always felt welcome in your presence, that they felt loved and appreciated. They notice positivity and how you never said negative things about other people. That you walked through life with love and an open heart.

So many or the things we place value on in this life don't really matter in the end.

Do not worry about bad hair days or "extra weight" or pimples or wrinkles or any of the other things people scrutinize when they look at themselves in mirrors. You be you, and know you are loved.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Redemption Song by Kevin Young

Finally fall.
At last the mist,
heat's haze, we woke
these past weeks with
has lifted. We find
ourselves chill, a briskness
we hug ourselves in.
Frost greying the ground.
Grief might be easy
if there wasn't still
such beauty — would be far
simpler if the silver
maple didn't thrust
it's leaves into flame,
trusting that spring
will find it again.
All this might be easier if
there wasn't a song
still lifting us above it,
if wind didn't trouble
my mind like water.
I half expect to see you
fill the autumn air
like breath — 
At night I sleep
on clenched fists.
Days I'm like the child
who on the playground
falls, crying
not so much from pain
as surprise.
I'm tired of tide
taking you away,
then back again — 
what's worse, the forgetting
or the thing
you can't forget.
Neither yet —
last summer's
choir of crickets
grown quiet.

(Sent from my phone)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

You will always be too much of something for someone...

"You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge." - Danielle LaPorte, The Positivity of Pride

Friday, September 15, 2017

How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit

"Listen to your own feedback and remember that you move forward through mistakes and stumbles and flawed but aspiring work, not perfect pirouettes performed in the small space in which you initially stood. Listen to what makes your hair stand on end, your heart melt, and your eyes go wide, what stops you in your tracks and makes you want to live, wherever it comes from, and hope that your writing can do all those things for other people. Write for other people, but don't listen to them too much."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Education quote from The West Wing

"...Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense.

"That's my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet."

- Sam Seaborn: The West Wing.

(Sent from my phone)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Which hobbies or experiences have made you a better designer? (Ask a Designer: Frank Chimero – Framer)

"Here's what I believe: Reading and meditation open up your head and re-establish a better pace of time versus the frenzied internet. Cooking balances out the sensory experience of design work by giving you texture, smell, and taste. Personal loss forces you take your job a little less seriously. Self-reflection and good relationships help you see yourself as a part of the family of things. These don't necessarily have much to do with design, but if I take care of my whole self, the part of me that is my job follows. Nothing else has ever worked."

(Sent from my phone)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Seth Godin, on the (non) value of negative feedback

"I never met an author who said 'I just finished reading all the 1-star reviews of my book on Amazon and it made me a better writer.' Limit feedback from people who don't make you better. Don't engage. It will get in the way of your work, and your work is too important." Seth Godin

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The greatest holiday gifts

"Given that the greatest gifts loved ones can give us are acceptance of our frailties and gratitude for our strengths, holidays are great opportunities for people to give one another chances to shine. Ask for things they give well, and erase expectations for things they rarely or never produce."

Carolyn Hax

Monday, September 4, 2017

Art show

Wooded Snowfall
Reaching for the Sun
Assateague National Seashore

Saturday, September 2, 2017

On the "R" word

This is a couple years old but timeless:


After Ann Coulter referred to President Obama as a "retard" in a tweet during Monday night's presidential debate, Special Olympics athlete and global messenger John Franklin Stephens penned her this open letter:

"Dear Ann Coulter, Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren't dumb and you aren't shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult? I'm a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public's perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night. I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have. Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next. Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift. Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are – and much, much more. After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV. I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash. Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor. No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much. Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged."

A friend you haven't made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger Special Olympics Virginia

(Sent from my phone)

Friday, August 11, 2017

People often try to have different feelings than they do

"What I often encounter in my work, is that people try to have different feelings than they do. They say "I want to feel happy" or "I want to feel comfortable with my body" or "I don't want to be scared anymore". It's often hard to give up on the aim to have or don't have a certain feeling.

"Feelings are never stable. Our feelings change every few seconds. We can't control what's going to happen next and which feelings will result from whatever happens. To have this goal of having a certain feeling is not a very achievable goal.

"Instead I recommend this way of viewing feelings: the feeling is never the problem. The problem isn't that you're scared or uncomfortable or unhappy. That's not the problem. The problem is that your needs aren't met. It's good that you have those feelings, but you need to make sure to not stop at the feeling, but connect to what your need is that creates the feeling. Imagine a world where you can't feel the feeling hunger. You'd never know that or when the body needs food. You'd starve and not even know it.

"It's good that you have those uncomfortable feelings. They tell you that your needs aren't met. The problem is that in our culture, you're not at all trained to connect your feelings with needs. Most of us don't know what we need. So what we're trying to do is to change our feelings. That can only work short term. Instead,  look for your need and find a way to meet your need. That's what will make a difference." Marshall Rosenberg 

(Sent from my phone)