A short list of things I’ve outgrown the need for evidence to support:
Proof is in the pulsing of my heart.
This is not a foolish statement.
Your love for me is inside my love for you. Needing proof of it is like needing proof that I myself exist. If someday it turns out I don’t (by some unimaginable standard) actually exist, then and only then can you speak to me of the need to rationalize Love.
Read my new novel, released like a valentine this month… The LOOK unravels life, love and the mysterious, precarious, perilous truths funding our existence: It’s here!
Outside opinions. Prevailing energies. Generation gaps. Awkward rebellions and synergistic home comings.
Tucked secretly in a subway seat speeding through life’s dark tunnels, the guy beside you pulls out a purple onion and a knife.
First slice is messy and pungent. The next comes clean.
He hands it to you innocently: a single disk of concentric circles with artistically imperfect symmetry. Each ring inside the other, thin containers of the connections you two are making, separately together. Train car lurches – a woman stumbles closer, catches sight of the slice in your hand. Not sure if you’re being tedious or generous, you offer it to her a bit too emphatically. She refuses. Who can blame her?
Are you a child or a grown-up? A banker or a grocer? Are you traveling for work or for pleasure? What color are
your eyes? How authentic is your stamp? What matters most is that you in this moment realize, the story is something that you hold. It has layers and options, symbols and trajectories. Every single day, the details keep arriving because You are here.
If he had offered you a peach, would you be happier?
If the woman traded places with you, would you have preferred it? Press up through the center of the slice: a stack of separated circles expands into new dimensions.
Daily we wake and feel our way onto the ride, climb stairs, enter the stream, stake our claim on the scenery.
Choose circles of love, even if they’re poignant.
Choose rings of adventure and passion, even if they’re odd and imperfect. Choose pungency, then add your sweetness. Fill the space you’re in with gifts and choose to be one, too.
Most people mistake Yang and Yin as opposites. Hot and cold; night and day; hard and receptive. Each sounds like the opposite end of a spectrum. But it’s more accurate to speak of Yin and Yang as complements. One doesn’t make sense without the other; they complete the spectrum and provide meaningful context for all of the in-betweens.
Yang is action. Yin is substance. In the beginning, when nothing else existed, Yang was the impulse to make something out of nothing and Yin was the something that longed to be made. Two halves of one whole, each lurking within the other. Activity without substance is pointless. Substance without activity is worthless. So the two existed within the one, which was the thought that brought them together.
Thinking makes it so.
The thought of activity within substance brings that substance to life. The thought of substance within action brings that action into context. Thought is the beginning and the end of everything that results.
How you think – the way your mind is wired – defines the story of your life. Not a little bit, but completely. Information flows in from outside your mind, but all of it is acted upon by your mind before you accept or reject it. Which is a roundabout way of saying that there is no actual outside influence on who you are or what you make of yourself in this life.
You collect the data; you reject the data; you interpret the data; you invent, seek out or refine the data. You tune it out; you dial it up. You are the source of all thinking that choreographs the way Yin and Yang transform into your experience.
This is true whether you’re consciously engaged or not. If you’re stressed out, suffering, apathetic, bored, frustrated or overwhelmed, you’re not yielding enlightened thought to your destiny. If you’re turned on, congruent, empowered or, at the very least, interested, then you’re consciously creating something worthwhile. You are the Big Bang.
Every action is a choice and there are only three types of actions to choose from:
Things you want to do.
Things you want to have done.
Things you don’t want to do.
You want to have done the laundry (clean clothes are delicious).
You want to have paid the bills (clean slates are liberating).
You want to have completed that assignment (fulfilled promises are your gain).
You don’t want to bark at your kids or co-workers (grouchiness isn’t sexy).
You don’t want to skip breakfast (running on fumes wears you down).
You don’t want to argue for your limitations (you know you’re capable of greatness).
You want to live a jazzy, very cool life.
You want to summon inspiration and encouragement from all available resources.
You want to be true to yourself, no matter what.
Keep clarifying what you want.
Be picky, in favor of delight.
Typos, missing words, nebulous clarity, awkward phrasing, bumpy transitions: they’re all difficult to see when the work is close to your heart, freshly sprung from your noggin. It’s hard to proof your own work.
Every day I read and reread passages I’ve written and miss things an outsider would easily catch. It always amazes me when my eye nets an error in a sentence I’ve looked at five or six times, having consistently overlooked the obvious. So I’ve made a habit of applying a few special tricks to enhance my ability to catch these things more swiftly and smoothly.
You’ve got to set it aside. Walk away. Forget about it. Let it ferment. In a dark, cool place. For as long as you can stand it. Time creates distance between your passion for the story and the technicality used to tell it. That distance helps you be a much better detective.
Letting the pages go unread for a few days is ideal. A week is even better. In a month, you’ll see more. Naturally, when you’re on a deadline and it’s due tomorrow, you don’t have that luxury. Still, you have to walk away and let it sit. Stretch whatever time you have as long as you can, then reap the benefit.
In life, this is equally helpful. That argument you can’t seem to win, with yourself or someone else. The idea that feels so big, it scares you. The nagging self-doubt or heartbreaking decision you have to make, but just can’t get your head around. Identify it, then walk away from it for a day, a week, a month if you can afford to. Walk away cleanly, openly, inviting objectivity to meet you on the day when you return to look at it again.
When you don’t have time — and even when you do — the next best trick is to change the way the words dress up and present themselves to you. Changing fonts and margins is a tremendous boost to your x-ray vision. A new typeface can make hidden glitches instantly visible; what was burrowing down into obscurity in courier new suddenly declares itself loudly in arial.
When I’m ready to reread, I always make a second version of the document with wider or narrower margins, dramatically different fonts and adjusted spacing. It’s not only helpful for my sleuthing; the altered appearance also refreshes my interest in reading something I may have already written off. It looks more enticing and allows me to approach it with virginal enthusiasm.
In life, we should all do this more often. That coworker who bores and annoys you. The commute that delays and maddens you. The drudgery and familiarity dimming your light. Find a new way to dress it up. You may not be able to change another person’s behavior or what they’re wearing (saying, doing, projecting) but you can absolutely change your mental fonts and margins when you’re around them. Speak and interact with them differently. Find a new angle, a new story to tell about your character. In traffic, change your music and upgrade your self-talk. In drudgery, be the new.
This little trick works well with the first two. Between courses in a restaurant, the chef might send out a small dish of sorbet to serve as a palate cleanser. When you need to effect mental distance and refreshed perspective, a quick hit of someone else’s writing can function as sorbet.
I like to pick a book by an author with a wildly different style from mine, read a few paragraphs, then let that cadence stick when I return to the work. The contrast offers shadows and jabs that jostle the words in my focus. It helps me shake things loose well enough to see them distinctly, apart from the love affair I was having with them when it all got started.
CAVEAT: This one can be tricky if you’re not running high on confidence in your own voice. An author you look up to can be inspiring on a good day, devastating on a self-doubting day. If you feel yourself wobbling, choose a nastier sorbet. It’s not important for you to like the taste for it to serve its purpose. Read someone whose writing is imperfect, clunky, bad in your opinion. Take only a small dose of their disaster, then detach with kindness and return to your own.
In life, embrace every spoonful of sorbet available to you. In bitch-n-moan scenarios, choose appreciation and gratitude – about anything, related to what you’re going through or not, it doesn’t matter. A small hit of appreciation can obliterate the most stubborn mental prison and make the world in you newly ready to spin up a worthy sunrise.
I wish you well! -Laurie