June, 2013

you + your shadow: who is the “necessary opponent” in your life story?

If you don’t have any shadows, you’re not in the light. — Lady GaGa

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I came across a phrase I liked in John Truby’s excellent THE ANATOMY OF STORY: necessary opponent.

Truby uses it in the context of storytelling, but you could also apply it to life.

In fiction, when you’re thinking up your protagonist, you can’t create him in a vacuum. She exists within – and is defined by – a web of other characters.

And no hero can be a hero without an antagonist.

I’m not exaggerating, writes Truby,

when I say that the trick to defining your hero and figuring out your story is to figure out your opponent. …This relationship determines how the entire drama builds…Structurally the opponent always holds the key, because your hero learns through his opponent. It is only because the opponent is attacking the hero’s great weakness that the hero is forced to deal with it and grow. click here

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Jun 22, 2013 · 10 Comments / ADD YOURS

KITTENS (flash fiction)

“It’s raining kittens,” said Molly.

He didn’t believe her.

“Look out the window,” said Molly.

A kitten splatted against the glass.

“Holy shit,” said Derrick.

Kittens tumbled onto the driveway, the SUV, the yard, the surviving ones meowing and staggering in the grass. The sky was dark, the sun lost behind furry bodies. Derrick boarded up the windows.

“Must be the apocalypse,” he said. click here

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Jun 21, 2013 · 5 Comments / ADD YOURS

a 16-point guide (sort of) to the art + mystery of charisma

You don’t learn how to be fascinating, you unlearn how to be boring. — Sally Hogshead

Danielle LaPorte, James Altucher and I got together online for a live conversation about charisma. Check out the recording here.

1. Charisma is contextual. Nobody is charismatic to all of the people all of the time. A person can be charismatic in one area of her life and not so much in others.

2. Charisma is a process. It exists in the spaces between people. It’s like the Force, or an awesome conversation that never ends. A charismatic person can turn it up, or down, or off. It’s not a static inborn trait planted there by nature or God/dess (or Yoda).

3. Charisma is authentic. It works from the inside-out. You can put on the right body language, you can fake it til you make it, but that’s kind of like copying the symptoms of a cold without actually having a cold. It comes off as contrived, and maybe hollow, and people are quick to sniff that out.

4. Charisma naturally emerges when you are centered and comfortable in your skin, when you put your focus on the other person instead of yourself. click here

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Jun 20, 2013 · 1 Comment / ADD YOURS

soul on wings

He would have been 11. The night before his birthday my close friend Joanna came to my door carrying a small antique Indian trunk with images of butterflies pressed against the lid. Inside were keepsakes, photographs, a journal with Nevada’s name embossed in soft blue leather, a letter to Nevada from my mother. Perhaps this is my first letter to him.

And it is a love letter, however struck through with grief. After a decade of learning to carry it, I have come to love this sadness created in a baby’s image when he died of what they termed “a SIDS-related incident” at ten weeks; it popped my heart like a balloon and when that happens, after the pain starts to fade and you’re no longer trying to claw it out of your chest, the world comes into you, the pain itself turns to something strangely beautiful, because it’s sacred. My firstborn son’s life was sacred, and his death, when he died in my arms after we took him off the machines, brought me to the edge of the god/dess realm, a god/dess I didn’t even think I believed in.

It’s hard to explain.

But he was blue-eyed and black-haired and a big, healthy boy. We named him Nevada because he was conceived at the Burning Man art and music festival held every year in Black Rock, Nevada, there amid the art cars and glowing lights and orange sand with that stark acrid scent that gets into everything. click here

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Jun 11, 2013 · 13 Comments / ADD YOURS

how reading can help you through your life crisis

Roughly five years ago, two things happened: my husband filed for divorce and I got my first Kindle.

I grew up in a small town where I never fit in: bullied, physically by boys and then later, once the boys changed their tune, psychologically by girls. I looked to books for guidance, wisdom and solace.

I read so ferociously that by the time an adult in my life tried to deliver some Life Lesson – ranging from menstruation and sex and first love to rape and the Holocaust and the HIV virus (I came of age during the AIDS epidemic) – I had already absorbed the knowledge through my reading (and in some cases knew more than the adult, which no doubt totally endeared me).

It was books that opened up the world and demanded I explore it. So I struck off: as an exchange student, as a university student on scholarship, as an ESL teacher in Japan, and then as a writer and “startup widow” in California.

When my marriage fell apart, my overwhelming impulse (aside from protecting our kids from the immediate ugliness) was to read.

Converting from print to Kindle enabled me to read even more. click here

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Jun 6, 2013 · 9 Comments / ADD YOURS

the goal isn’t to conquer each other

You are not origami. Unfurl.Kelly Diels

As men and women, we are the same but different.

We are different but equal.

Let’s celebrate difference, between and among the genders. Let’s meet it with curiosity, not judgment. With tolerance, openness, and a sense of (fair) play.

The goal isn’t to conquer each other, but to find wholeness.

And joy. click here

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Jun 4, 2013 · 4 Comments / ADD YOURS
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