On Reading and Pondering Deeply

Freedom Friday, Personal Narrative, Text Talk
Second Sokkai Gakkai president Josei Toda urged young people to read good books and to ponder things deeply. Even though Toda died in 1958, this advice is relevant today and is great encouragement for everyone. And, in fact, is a way to stay youthful despite your physical age. What makes a book "good" to begin with? Is it informative? Inspirational? Energizing? Does it make you see things differently? Laugh? Perhaps good books do all of these things. Perhaps something else entirely. A good book enriches me. It nourishes me in some way. A good books speaks to me, even if it's a psychological thriller with a love story at its center. A good book is not only worth reading, it is worth rereading. You come to it again to unlock new lessons, discover new…
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Magical thinking. Mixed feelings.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Text Talk
I'm reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. It's wonderfully written, yet halfway in, I'm not sure I like the book. Well, the book I like. It's my relationship to the book that puts me ill at ease. I came to the book from several sources. One. A mentor/advisor recommended it once she discovered my renewed interest in journalism and creative writing. She spoke highly of the author in general and this book in particular, so I added to my ever-growing List of Books to Read. Two. Every now and again I review the list of Pulitzer Prize winners and add them to the similarly growing, often overlapping List of Writers to Know. Three. Pearl Cleage's newest book arrived amidst much fanfare, and more than once I saw…
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I want to be free.

Personal Narrative, Text Talk
I didn't get the chance yesterday, but I'm back to reading Pearl's book today. It's so great. What makes it great? The truth! It's just life shouting out at you from the pages. Sometimes I recognize myself at various turning points. Sometimes I see where I want to be later in my journey. All the times I'm just enjoying truth line by line. It's funny. It's emotional. It's thoughtful. It's lots of things. The reading of it thus far has changed my relationship to writing. Partially because she's written many of my own thoughts and I can see, at least vicariously, where some of them end up over time. But mostly because it's encouraging. We know how things turn out later for her, and it's this pushing, prodding, growing process…
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Dreams, obligations and learning to say no.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Text Talk
How many minutes per day are enough to set aside for your dreams when you have a full 25 hours of obligations? Blue posed this question to me last week. I was between two appointments and missing Tananarive Due's Octavia E. Butler Celebration of Arts & Activism at Spelman College. (#OctaviaButlerSpelman). I was disappointed, but thanks to social media, I caught some of the proceedings later via live stream. Blue's question was a good one. He offered a response: Maybe the secret is minimizing your obligation footprint. But how? In the past my approach has been to start with dreams instead of waiting to fit them in later. "Later" isn't tangible. In fact, by definition, later is always some time other than the present. Starting with dreams means waking before sunrise to tackle priorities. Or it…
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Quote of the day

Text Talk
You must never slacken in your efforts to build new lives for yourselves. Creativeness means pushing open the heavy door to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the hardest task in the world. For opening the door to your own life is more difficult than opening the doors to the mysteries of the universe. ~Daisaku Ikeda
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Philip Hall and other loves

Text Talk
Judy Blume holds a place of honor in my childhood. She was far and away my favorite author, and if I didn't read all of her books growing up, it wasn't from lack of effort. Although she was firmly number one, I loved many books by many writers. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. Danny, the Champion of the World and Cheaper by the Dozen, were among the novels I read countless times. Some of my favorites still grace my bookshelves even now - either the original copies I read growing up, or new copies I bought as an elementary school teacher. My most cherished memories of teaching 4th grade include reading great books aloud to my students, engaging them in novel studies, or helping them make their way through their…
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New Year’s Eve

Personal Narrative, Text Talk
It's here. The last day of 2013. Can you believe it? I awoke to find an email from WordPress, detailing the milestones and stats for the year. My top posts included a brief remembrance of my mother, Marla's narrative on living with lupus, and the introduction of the Joy Jar - a beautiful idea I may revisit in the coming year. I also began writing about sexual violence and I spent a good deal of time pondering a theory of love, something I plan to do a great deal more of in 2014. My thinking and writing are always evolving and it's enlightening to see what resonates from month to month and year to year. I hope you'll continue to join me on the journey. Wherever you are in space and time,…
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What are you creating?

Productivity, Text Talk
I've come across a lot of things worth sharing as of late. Long ago I used this space, not only for musing, but also for sharing news articles or other things of interest. Sometimes a video catches my eye. Other times, it could be a picture. Today, it's a word. Something to ponder: There is no one lonelier or more unhappy than a person who does not know the pure joy of creating a life for himself or herself. To be human is not merely to stand erect and manifest intelligence or knowledge. To be human in the full sense of the word is to lead a creative life. ~Daisaku Ikeda
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Ask questions

Abolition & Justice, Education, Text Talk
As a graduate student, one of my favorite topics of discussion and research was inquiry. Asking questions, conducting investigations, and building knowledge through exploration are powerful tools for thinking and learning. As I continued in my studies, I learned of critical inquiry, which expands the idea of questioning to include a political or sociocultural lens. Developing conscientização, or critical awareness/awakening, is akin to taking the red pill. You start to ask sociopolitical questions and suddenly  you are hard-pressed to see anything as flat, uncomplicated or devoid of nuance. This isn't a negative thing, but it makes for interesting conversations. I mention all of this to introduce a quote by Angela Davis. I'm currently reading The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues,  a compilation of speeches she delivered between 1994…
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