I’ve been thinking about how to be resilient this weekend, how to bounce back from challenges and setbacks. On one day, you encounter obstacles and the stresses of life. Stuff that’s important that may not work out. Important stuff. So what helps us recover? Talking with friends. The support of a loving spouse. Even a neighbor’s kind words can change one’s whole outlook. When I noticed this quote from Robert Jordan, I realized I needed to be more like a willow tree and not an oak so that I could bend with the wind when life gets stormy.
The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.–Robert Jordan
Spring is a time of change. Emerging leaves, melting snow, blooming flowers. So don’t be afraid to change, even in a tiny way. Step away from your desk, your counter, your indoor work space and go outside. Being outside changes your perspective. There’s a temperature you can’t control. A vista greets you, sometimes narrow or wide or small. And maybe sun, wind, maybe rain. An open freshness surrounding you. It always amazes me how a short walk beneath trees or a moment of staring at the sky can settle the spirit.
The composer Gustav Mahler knew this. He implies a restlessness, a fidgeting with life in winter, perhaps even a dissatisfaction. Whatever he meant, he captured how his angst disappears and settles down in spring.
This week I wish you a settled spirit.
“With the coming of spring, I am calm again.”– Gustav Mahler, composer
My husband and I were eating lunch at our local brewery the other day. I explained to him how, even though I was taking on the daunting task of blogging every day for September, I was ready to lower my standards if I had to to complete the task. He, a software architect, thought it was a good idea. He said, “Like they always say in engineering: don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.” Engineers often slow or stop a project in the name of perfection. Sometimes perfect doesn’t get you to the finish line. My husband attributed the idea to Voltaire, the French writer and philosopher, who credited the concept to an Italian proverb. In other words, don’t get mired in every last little aspect of your project being perfect. Instead, get the project finished. Allow it to be good enough.
So here’s a saying to keep in mind for this Labor Day and the coming week:
Perfect is the Enemy of Good.
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I’ve been thinking about this quote from Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux. It feels appropriate as families across America will be celebrating the 4th of July. He reminds us that the place you grew up is valid material for creative expression, no matter how humble or obscure it is.
People own the territory they are born into. That’s the richest ore writers can mine…. Get in touch with where you’re from, even if it’s a subdivision in Kenner, Louisiana, that is your literary heritage. If you look at it closely enough, you’ll see that it is as exotic and unique as some Central or South American culture in the mountains.
Photo by Ashley Moore
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The idiom “with might and main,” is an old literary phrase that’s gradually dropped out of modern use. It translates to “with as much strength and effort as possible.” I kind of love it. It’s dramatic, it’s antique. I thought it was apt for how I could approach Mondays, similar to “seize the day.” Monday rings in a new week, a fresh slate, a new window of time to accomplish things. How ever I failed the previous week, Monday gives me an opportunity to redeem myself. So join me in seizing the week with “might and main.” To inspire you, I’ll be posting a weekly quote about motivation, self-growth, art, or literature.
I started work on a new novel this summer. So I’ve been rereading Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth and Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. Both beautifully outline the structure and power of stories. In real life, we are the heroes of our own stories. Here’s a Joseph Campbell quote to inspire you to take risks and forgive your mistakes. Have a great week.
It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. —Joseph Campbell