Tuesday, September 29 2015

"compassion is not a pizza with eight slices"

Rising Strong Brene Brown I obtained Rising Strong (The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution) by Brené Brown through the LibraryThing early reader giveaway. I hadn’t heard of the author before but then noticed when I received the book someone quoting her on social media. I have forgotten the quote now but by my first sitting with the book, I had a quote I really liked as well that fit a context of something that was bothering me. It was when Cecil the lion was killed in Africa by the American big-game hunter dentist and there such an expression of mortification by so many people. In fact, it made me very sad myself. But there was also this backlash in social media against all the public outrage for Cecil, in the context of where was the social outrage for other horrible things that were happening such as the Ferguson-esque racial profiling and shootings, the Syrian refuge crisis, global natural disasters, and global natural disasters, etc. And that quote was: “compassion is not a pizza with eight slices.”

compassion is not a pizza with 8 slices

Whew, what relief to read that. It was how I felt! Yes, all these pressing social issues deserve some attention, but oh my – how exhausting and endlessly frustrating focusing on all the world’s problems can be! And if I can myself muster enough energy to do one good thing to confront a problem, even if it is only publically acknowledging an injustice– please don’t hate on me because I failed to mention so many others. I empathize with a lot more than I say.

This was not the only good part of the book for me, though. It got better. This book is about shame, feelings of doubt, problems that get under our skin that stem perhaps from our own emotions about ourselves and how we work through those issues (which I suppose amount to sensations of failure) and become better human beings as we rise stronger because of these experiences.

brene brown

Another part of the book that caused me to reassess my own feelings was this question that gets at how you look at life: “Do you believe that people are basically doing the best that they can?” You see, how a large sampling of people have answered this question, and ultimately how you answer this question, says a lot about your own personality. Drilling down into why you would answer that question in whatever way you do is a fascinating bit of self-discovery in this book and I don’t want to ruin it by trying to summarize it lightly or reveal its simple power. Suffice it to say, it is worth the read just for that piece, because it made me think throughout the rest of the book.

There are so many good jumping off places for thought in this book – the difference between shame and guilt, how "creativity is," as Steve Jobs once said, "just connecting things," and how “in order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die.”

Another great chapter was the composting chapter, where the author interviews a business advertising executive who talks about failure quicksand and her own experiences with the remaindering process of her first book. From that to millions of people listening to her TED talks! See below for an example – this one is about the importance of vulnerability.

I suppose this book could be classified as self-help, but it is also full of sociological study and as someone who is an expert in her field of social work; I think it would be an excellent book for either kind of curriculum.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

form is emptiness, emptiness is formHerSecretisPatience

I’ve been taking long walks downtown lately on the weekend – even today when I think we’ll hit 113 degrees Fahrenheit. I used to think of downtown Phoenix as a wasteland of sorts – nothing going on out of business hours – but new restaurants, an ASU satellite campus, the first Friday art walk, light rail and the ballpark have made it more lively and interesting over the past half decade.

There’s a big empty net around Polk and Central that has always seemed to me oddly zen for the area that went up about five or six years ago as a public art project. Today I looked it up and learned she’s called: “Her Secret is Patience.”


Wednesday, JUNE 17, 2015

Luz, Rebound makes IndieReader's List of 2015 Summer Reads to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Full post here.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

So Much of What I Learned about Love I Saw in a Character Played by Meryl Streep


I woke up on Saturday morning and found myself watching Out of Africa. The movie is 30 years old this year and it was decades ago that I last saw it. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford are amazing in it and the love story between them is powerful, though unconventional. The story itself comes from real life Karin Blixen’s (pen name Isak Dinesen) diaries, who convinced the brother of her lover to marry her and take her with him on a new life adventure of Africa in the early 1900s.

When I was growing up Meryl Streep was one of the most popular actresses, and today she is still considered one of the greatest. It occurred to me that her characters made an impression on me; perhaps taught me things about being a woman that stuck with me through my life.

In fact, in nearly every Meryl Streep movie I can think of, she is a strong woman, driven by her character, sometimes used but never possessed by men; a woman who loves profoundly and yet often loses someone she loved in the end, without breaking.

I wonder how many women have had their sense of self and love affected by Meryl Streep’s characters? I am sure there are legions, and I also wonder about which actress or characters shapes these thoughts for women today.

But what strongly impresses me when I mentally process Out of Africa this second time around is the fate of all the real life animals in Africa the movie captured on film. For such a beautiful movie with wonderful actors, I felt repulsed to see Robert Redford’s entrance into the film as a big game hunter loading ivory onto the train that delivered Karin to her home in Kenya. There is even a terrible scene where the two shoot a lion and lioness that charge them in the story and I found myself hoping that footage wasn’t real – thinking that it would be entirely criminal if it were. In the early 40s there were an estimated 400,000 lions left in the world. In the 1980s when this film was made, there were around 100,000. A 2014 estimate pegged the world’s lion population at about 23,000. And that’s only the lions.


World Wildlife Fund currently lists the following species as critically endangered.

Critically Endagered specise

A meaningful love story for the ages and our own life stories would be to do all we can to help preserve other species. I know Karin Blixin, who got down on her knees and begged for land to keep the tribe on her farm together, would agree.