Happy Monday Posts #29: Brevity

Tonight, I present a few quotes on brevity. (The late hour I am posting should explain the topic choice … and the short introduction.)

 

“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” — Blaise Pascal (from The Provincial Letters:  Letter 16, 1657)

 

“It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

 

“I’d like to get away from earth awhile/And then come back to it and begin over./May no fate wilfully misunderstand me/And half grant what I wish and snatch me away/Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:/I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.” — Robert Frost (from Birches)

 

“Like all sweet dreams, it will be brief, but brevity makes sweetness, doesn’t it?” — Stephen King (from 11/22/63)

Happy Monday Quotes #28: Procrastination

I read a little article in The Atlantic last week about writers and procrastination that caused me a fair amount of existential pain because it struck too familiar a chord. While my work ethic is pretty strong (it would have to be in order for me to run my own business for 10 years and not be homeless), I definitely have a procrastination problem that, at its worst can cause anxiety that spreads to all areas of my being and can, at times, add unnecessary drama to my life.

 

However, no matter how hard I try to approach projects the “right” way by making an outline/plan of attack and then researching in frustrating, teaspoon-measured increments, I find I need to create a little bit of “Will I or Won’t I Finish This on Time?” tension in order to produce my best work. In college and grad school, I was always someone that wrote papers the night before (after thinking about them for weeks) and often saw the sun rising the next morning as I was printing out the final pages. I am very comfortable in the chaos that is, as the article says, “the unstructured world of work” and have the “A”s to prove my strategies (mostly) worked for me, but I still always wish I had the discipline to work well without crazy amounts of pressure.

 

In acknowledgment of the writer’s flaw I will likely never entirely exorcise, here are some musings about procrastination.

 

“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.” — Mark Twain (from More Maxims of Mark)

 

“Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.” — Steven Wright

 

“But indefinite visions of ambition are weak against the ease of doing what is habitual or beguilingly agreeable; and we all know the difficulty of carrying out a resolve when we secretly long that it may turn out to be unnecessary. In such states of mind the most incredulous person has a private leaning towards miracle: impossible to conceive how our wish could be fulfilled, still – very wonderful things have happened!” — George Eliot (from Middlemarch)

 

“From now on I hope always to stay alert, to educate myself as best I can. But lacking this, in Future I will relaxedly turn back to my secret mind to see what it has observed when I thought I was sitting this one out. We never sit anything out … We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” — Ray Bradbury

Happy Monday Quotes #27: Sweetness

I’ve been listening to some sweet little love songs this morning, and, while plotting my return to music, finished writing a few of my own late last week/over the weekend. Because sweetness is underrated, here are a few delicious quotes on that fuzzy, warm, gooey feeling when you realize your proverbial pockets are full of it.

 

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene/The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:/Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,/And waste its sweetness on the desert air.” — Thomas Gray (from “An Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard”)

 

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” — Chuck Palahniuk (from Diary)

 

“Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.” — Andy Rooney

 

“It is the tenderness that breaks our hearts. The loveliness that leaves us stranded on the shore, watching the boats sail away. It is the sweetness that makes us want to reach out and touch the soft skin of another person. And it is the grace that comes to us, undeserving though we may be.” — Robert Goolrick (from The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life)

Happy Monday Quotes #26: Compromise

I’ve been exceedingly hard on myself lately, as life has been throwing some cogs in my usually fast-turning wheels in the form of unpredictable weather, disappointments, illnesses, deaths and other unexpected, unfortunate events that have prevented me from accomplishing  everything both personally and professionally that I want to accomplish on my desired timeline. As a result, I’ve had to make a few compromises with myself and cut myself some slack. And I have not enjoyed having to do this. The word “compromise” when it comes to art I create, work I do for others and my half of friendships, relationships, etc. is a very dirty word in my vocabulary.

 

For instance, last week, something had to disappear from my schedule. And it was Happy Monday Quotes. I know no one is waiting with breath drawn for this post every week. But I still felt lazy. And then, I decided to take Thursday off, because it was the most logical day to take a break, vowing I would work through the weekend to make up for it. Unfortunately an unplanned ER visit on Saturday and necessary recovery time afterwards threw that whole plan out the window. Even as so many aspects of my life are filled with love and joy, there are still some aspects that haven’t quite caught up yet.

 

We all need to go a little bit easier on ourselves sometimes and realize that a day,  a week, a month or even a year of slowing down does not mean we are lost causes. Life will force us into mandatory break mode when we think we don’t need it, but often it is to help us rest our hearts and heads to grow into what we are becoming and be ready for the bountiful times that will show up to delight us when we least expect them.

 

Here are a few quotes about the beauty of compromise.

 

“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?” — Ayn Rand (from The Fountainhead)

 

“Can compromise be an art? Yes–but a minor art.” — Joyce Carol Oates

 

“There’s more than one way to skin a cat, my father used to say; it bothered me, I didn’t see why they would want to skin a cat even one way.” — Margaret Atwood (from Surfacing)

 

“They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?” — Princess Diana

 

Happy Monday Quotes #25: Questions

I was trying to figure out how to theme this week’s “Happy Monday Quotes,” and I was coming up blank. As I started to think about asking people on Facebook and Twitter for ideas, I realized how much of my life is spent asking and answering questions.

 

I really love asking questions. Even when they bring something unpleasant to the surface, this unpleasantness presents the potential for growth. And when I find out something new, unexpected or delightful, of course, my world is changed for the better. I was taught by parents, teachers (the good ones) and others to ask a lot of them, because that is the only way to learn about how all the fascinating things in the universe work, plus about how people’s brains think and how their hearts feel. (However, truth be told, exposing my secretly-tender underbelly enough to answer those pesky feeling questions when they are asked of me is not easy at all, but I digress …)

 

So, here are some quotes on the theme of questions of all types — big, small and in between — that lead to new discoveries and a richer experience of the world.

 

“Where do one’s fears come from? Where do they shape themselves? Where do they hide before coming out into the open?” — Agatha Christie (from The Moving Finger)

 

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.” — Rainer Maria Rilke (from Letters to a Young Poet)

 

“Indeed, the only truly serious questions are ones that even a child can formulate. Only the most naive of questions are truly serious. They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answer is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limit of human possibilities, describe the boundaries of human existence.” — Milan Kundera (from The Unbearable Lightness of Being)

 

“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.” — Madeleine L’Engle (from A Circle of Quiet)

Happy Monday Quotes #24: Laughter

The past couple months have been a little rocky on a few fronts, but one thing I’ve had in spades, thanks to friends, family and other favorites, is laughter. While my stomach is one of the ways to my and many others’ hearts, laughter is always the direct route to endearing all of me. In honor of all the one-liners, forwarded memes, impromptu stand-up routines, elaborate concept jokes and parody songs that just keep flowing in a steady, delightful stream, here are a few quotes on laughter.

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” — Oscar Wilde (from The Nightingale and the Rose)

“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“…it was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.” — John Steinbeck (from The Grapes of Wrath)

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.” — Erma Bombeck

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh.” — W.H. Auden

Happy Monday Quotes #23: Acceptance

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many different types of acceptance. This concept seems an especially fitting thought for the week of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday — a time when we think about the differences and similarities between all of us as humans and enjoying the thankfully colorful world in which we live.

 

Like everyone else on the planet that has a soul, I have definitely struggled with self-acceptance and with acknowledging and even embracing my many imperfections. I have kind of a double standard when it comes to acceptance and love, because, while I am a harsh critic of my own imperfections and feel endlessly frustrated by the (many) mistakes I make, I often end up loving people because of rather than in spite of their flaws. Because, it is our flaws that make us most vulnerable and in which we can see our grittiest, down-and-dirtiest and also most beautiful humanity. And it is that humanity that makes real change, growth and deep connection with each other possible.

 

In the spirit of loving ourselves and each other and accepting the good, bad and grey areas within, here are a few quotes about acceptance.

 

“What’s been important in my understanding of myself and others is the fact that each one of us is so much more than any one thing. A sick child is much more than his or her sickness. A person with a disability is much, much more than a handicap. A pediatrician is more than a medical doctor. You’re MUCH more than your job description or your age or your income or your output.” — Fred Rogers (from The World According to Mister Rogers)

 

“The boy continued to listen to his heart as they crossed the desert. He came to understand its dodges and tricks, and to accept it as it was. He lost his fear, and forgot about his need to go back to the oasis, because, one afternoon, his heart told him that it was happy. ‘Even though I complain sometimes,’ it said, ‘it’s because I’m the heart of a person, and people’s hearts are that way. People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.'” — Paulo Coelho (from The Alchemist)

 

“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” — Helen Keller

 

“to love life, to love it even/when you have no stomach for it/and everything you’ve held dear/crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,/your throat filled with the silt of it./When grief sits with you, its tropical heat/thickening the air, heavy as water/more fit for gills than lungs;/when grief weights you like your own flesh/only more of it, an obesity of grief,/you think, How can a body withstand this?/Then you hold life like a face/between your palms, a plain face,/no charming smile, no violet eyes,/and you say, yes, I will take you/I will love you, again.” – Ellen Bass (from “The Thing Is”) (I’ve used this quote before, but it bears repeating.)

Happy Monday (Tuesday?) Quotes #22: Beauty

The holidays put me a bit behind on my “Happy Monday” quotes, but I didn’t want to let another week slip away, so here are some for your Tuesday.

I had quite a few ideas for quote topics today, but I decided to go with “beauty.” I have been noticing a lot of beautiful moments in my life lately — sometimes small, sometimes huge, overwhelming and all-encompassing. But all of them add depth and richness to my existence, make me aware I am human and incredibly fortunate to have thoughts, eyes, blood, skin, nerve endings and emotions.

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” — Anne Frank

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.” — Edgar Allan Poe (from Ligeia)

“As if you were on fire from within./The moon lives in the lining of your skin.” — Pablo Neruda (from “Ode to a Naked Beauty”)

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” — Marcus Aurelius (from Meditations)

Happy Monday Quotes #21: Joy

I’m not a huge fan of getting extremely personal in a public forum, but my heart has been steadily breaking since last week, and I feel compelled to share a few thoughts about the devastating passing of my dear friend Mary. I met her at Carleton College, where we were swimming lane mates and frequent troublemakers. She was my friend for almost 20 years and one of the very few people I count among my collection of life kindred spirits. Her voice has been such a presence that she often speaks through many of my favorite characters I have written in fiction pieces, and her sudden passing has left me raw, grieving and full of questions.

Mary left an imprint and a legacy that will stick with me. There are countless elements of my own way of being present in the universe that were influenced by her and that she also actively helped shape and nurture through the gift of her friendship. The biggest one actually relates to my previous post about stripping away fear and “doing it anyway”:  She always gave me the courage to disregard negative, unsupportive people’s opinions and to experience the world without fear, which is probably one of the main reasons I continue to build a business based on my passions – even when it is a struggle – and why my life is colorful, surprising and full of exciting sparks. She regularly pulled me out of my comfort zone, even if just because whatever trouble we were getting into was going to make an unforgettable, hilarious story. And I was happy to wallow in that discomfort (especially since she was usually right there with me, encouraging me to proceed with gusto even when I felt stuck at my lowest point). It is Mary’s specific, unrivaled zest for adventure that helps me get back on the road when I lose my way and resolve daily to boldly take the risky curves.

I can’t wrap my words around the magnitude of the hole her absence has left. Frankly, I struggled to find the “Happy” in this week’s quotes until I began to relive specific memories and realize how much happiness and powerful light she brought into my life for the past two decades. So, in honor of my dear friend Mary and our many, many hours, days, weeks and years of shared laughter plus all the fierceness and compassion with which she lived her life, I wanted to share some quotes about joy.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” — E.E. Cummings

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.” — Mother Teresa (from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers)

“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” — Emily Dickinson

“No matter what all your teeth and wet fingers anticipated, there was no accounting for the way that simple joy could shake you.” — Toni Morrison (from Beloved)

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss

Happy Monday Quotes #20: Beginnings

Because the beginnings of almost all new things can be delicious, messy, surprising, challenging (in the best way) and full of mistakes and enlightening moments from which to learn and continue to become someone stronger and better, here are some quotes. (I’m going to keep this intro sweetly short!)

 

“It makes me so happy. To be at the beginning again, knowing almost nothing…. A door like this has cracked open five or six times since we got up on our hind legs. It’s the best possible time of being alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong.” — Tom Stoppard (from Arcadia)

 

“Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.” — Horace

 

“…you want the sweetness of our beginning without the bitterness of our struggle — what are you asking — do you want light without shadow? …” — John Geddes (from A Familiar Rain)

 

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” — Meister Eckhart

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