You Are Meant to Rise Again.

“This is not a competition,” the TEDx organizer told us. “We’re calling this Salon an audition for TEDxBirmingham, but remember that this is your TEDx talk … and one or two of you may be invited to present at the larger event.” I nodded, feeling a blush creep up my cheeks. I’d been caught red-handed, thinking competitive thoughts. Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that it was a tremendous honor to give one 4-minute TEDx talk. …
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How to Persevere When Rejections Knock You Down

It’s the moment every writer knows and dreads. When I finally open the email, it’s just as I feared. My essay wasn’t chosen; try again next time. No matter how many times this happens – and for writers and artists, it happens a lot – I still feel a swirl of emotion. Depending on how much I wanted an acceptance, I’m by turns frustrated, disappointed, or angry. If you’ve received such a rejection, then you know the feeling. It’s as though you’ve offered your best wine to an honored guest, only to see them sniff the glass and turn away. ...
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What Would You Do With No Arms and No Limits?

Have you ever seen someone whose courage just took your breath away? Well, I have; his name is Richie Parker. At the time of this writing, Richie is in his 30s, and he works as an engineer for Hendrick Motorsports. Before I share the rest of the story, though, I have to tell you that this is not the post I had planned for today. But my birthday is coming up; this week, I’ll be 29. And people keep asking if I’m worried about nearing the big 3-0. Part of me understands the anxiety. But another part of me thinks ...
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To the Writer Who is Just Starting Out

To the writer who is just starting out: before we talk about blogging or book deals, let me tell you a story about Maroon 5. One of my closest friends from Vassar once told me about how he saw Maroon 5 play before they hit the big-time. It was at a bar in Boston, as I recall. I was quite impressed, because at the time, “Songs About Jane” was everywhere. It played at parties, at my on-campus job, on my roommate’s computer. Maroon 5 was a big deal then, and they’ve become a bigger deal since. But the people in ...
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Contentment is NOT a Foreign Land. (Plus, the Trailer!!!)

One morning, I sat down to write feeling crazy and desperate. I was deep in the midst of a waiting season, and -- much as I'd like to think otherwise -- I'm not the most patient person. (Maybe you can relate?) I wrote: “It's all hopeless. So many times I've put my heart out on the line – in a post, a proposal – and received no response. Hearing nothing is worse than hearing no. Ask any writer, any artist. You can move on from a 'no.' But a 'nothing' can eat you alive. I hate the uncertainty of it ...
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Tempted to Throw in the Towel? Read This.

I love hearing about the times they almost gave up. Field of Dream(ers), 2013 And by 'they,' I mean our heroes. You have your own examples: how Albert Einstein was considered a slow learner in grade school, how Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. As a writer, I take heart every time I hear about a literary great who almost threw in the towel. I love reading about how the Bronte sisters almost didn't submit their novels for publication (or claim authorship after they were published under male pseudonyms), or how Madeleine L'Engle tried ...
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Completing the Party: Thoughts on Grace

This is the (edited) text of a talk I gave at Living Spirit Church on Sunday, April 28th. Enjoy!  Once upon a time in 2008, I was on routine at L'Arche*, feeling downcast. Most of the assistants on our house team were leaving that summer. Yet even as I dreaded saying goodbye, I saw a silver lining: I'd build stronger relationships with those who remained. You can't always get what you want ...   I wanted to mark this place and time when I decided against despair. So I asked Theresa** and Cassandra** if they'd like to do ...
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Commitment Is (Not) For The Birds, Or, Show Up and See What Happens

Sometimes, it's all too much! I'm going to tell you a secret: I don't always feel like showing up to write posts every week. Much as I love to write, sometimes, I just don't feel the love. My mind kicks in with complaints: "Again? Can't I skip it?!" Often, I feel resistance because I'm scared to write about what's most alive in me, but other times, I just want to play hooky from the written word. And I have a feeling that it's true for you, too. It can be hard to summon the dedication it takes to ...
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When You Feel Like Giving Up … Welcome to the Family.

There's nothing like a learning something new to show you the truth about yourself. Long-time readers may recall a post entitled, "What To Do When You Feel Like Giving Up." It's the story of how, last July, I faced the challenge of learning to water-ski. This year, I have to say: water-skiing ain't got nothin' on learning to drive a stick-shift. (Even though we've moved to Alabama, I don't talk like that. Yet.) *** Learning stick-shift has been like traveling back in time -- once again, I am 16, and I have no idea how to drive a car. My ...
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Bittersweet Endings: Beginnings in Disguise?

Being filmed for a documentary is a peculiar exercise. I say this because, for the last six months, I've been working with filmmaker Edwin Mah on a documentary about finding meaning in your most challenging relationships, simple living, and loving someone with special needs. It's wild to think that an actual filmmaker is making an actual film about the things I love and strive for, but so it is. As such, Edwin has filmed several interviews with me, my yoga practice, my tiny studio apartment ... and last week, he filmed me and my friend Leo* at McDonald's, Leo's favorite ...
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