Thursday, June 3, 2010

Life is a Verb: Review and Summertime Meme

I have a rather "unique" perspective of the world.  One day I was talking to a colleague explaining my view on weekends.  I told him that my favorite part of the weekend is Friday night.  The week is officially over, and I have two full days to look forward to.  Friday night is full of possibilities.  But once Saturday morning arrives I usually have added a few chores and errands to the weekend time.  And when Sunday comes I am busy preparing lesson plans and grading papers.  So really...for me...Friday night is the ultimate weekend day and I almost consider the weekend over by the time Saturday night rolls around.

I know, rather warped, but it is who I am.  And so when I was considering when to offer this weekly summer meme, I thought perhaps Thursdays would be best for me:  the day before that gloriously free  Friday night.  The day that I might begin to dream of fun weekend possibilities, rather than weekly responsibilities.  So there you have it...the Life is a Verb Thursday has officially started.

Why Life is a Verb?  This is a book written by Patti Digh in 2008 in response to the death of her stepfather.  Here is the description from the back of the book:
The death of her stepfather just 37 days after being diagnosed with cancer woke Patti Digh up, scared her, and made her examine her own life.  She realized that living your best life doesn’t mean ditching your job and sailing around the world – it means living each individual, glorious, simple day with more intention.
Patti has decided to challenge herself - and the rest of us - to live our lives as if we only had 37 days left (I keep hearing the Tim McGraw song "Live Like You Are Dying" playing in background).  In pondering this subject, she has discovered six core practices for living life without regret (and for those of us who like alliteration - she has conveniently found a way for them all to start with 'I" since our lives begin with us):
  • Say Yes (Intensity)
  • Be Generous (Inclusion)
  •  Speak Up (Integrity)
  •  Love More (Intimacy)
  • Trust Yourself (Intuition)
  • Slow Down (Intention)
She has several entries in each of the six categories, typically introduced with a short anecdote followed by some exercises.  While I am sure the writing exercises (what she deems “action” steps) and long-term exercises (what she terms “movement”) are wonderful, I found while reading the book that I was struck by some small paragraph tucked within the anecdotal section.

In taking notes on the book, I discovered twelve passages that really seemed to speak to me and the place where I am on my own particular life journey.  It just so happens that I have about twelve more weeks left of my summer vacation before I begin another academic year.  It is my sincere desire to take one of these thought-provoking statements each week and truly meditate on how it impacts my own life.  If you would like to do the same, please feel free to join me on this summer of self-discovery.  You may come back here and leave a comment with a link to your post.

So the first statement I am going to ponder is this:

I once read of a man who went into a kindergarten class and asked how many of the kids could sing – every hand shot up immediately.  How many could dance?  Same response.  How many could paint?  Again, all hands shot up eagerly.  He then went into a college classroom and asked the same questions.   Did he get the same response?  No.  No hands went up.  What happens in those years between five and eighteen to our sense of joy and possibility and personal command of the universe?   We learn to mask ourselves…..Don’t say you can paint, because someone else might paint better than you do and people will judge.  Don’t say you can sing, because you’re no Johnny Cash.  Don’t say you can write if you’re not on the New York Times best-seller list.  (page 39-40 of the Intensity section)


  1. I think I said yesterday or the day before that you have really made lemonade out of lemons this summer. YOu have turned your disappointment in the cancellation of your travels to something very positive. I love this mission of yours. While I may not post about it, just because I'm going to be on the run most of the summmer, but I will most certainly meditate on it. May we all find the five year old inside of us this week!

  2. You just inspired me to order the book from Amazon. I will receive it on Saturday & plan to participate with you. I am heading into the summer at this moment, too. My youngest graduates from h.s. tonight & starts his first college class on Monday. What a great idea. I'm looking forward to this project!


  3. I hope you are raising your hand when asked, "Are you a writer?" This piece is beautifully written. I have a crazy summer ahead of me but I will not miss one of your Thursday Life Is a Verb pieces. I think you are a writer of inspirational pieces.

  4. I love your idea! I want this book! I'm going to order it right now and play right along with you! I'll come back and link up to your post as soon as I write my post in just a bit! I so love this idea!
    I started back to school 4 weeks ago to finally finish my degree, and with a few other choices I've made in my life this year, I've decided it is my Year of Living Deliberately rather than allowing life to "happen to me" your idea really resonates with me!

  5. ok...i just posted about your meme and i've ordered the book and i will be journaling about the statement...anything else on the "to do" list?

  6. My library system doesn't have this book... I've put it on my amazon wish list, but I hate to order any more books after my recent sprees at The Strand. Another post like this next week, and I may have to click on "place order" instead! Very thought-provoking indeed...

  7. How inspiring. Thanks for this post. I really need to read this book. What a great idea.

  8. 37 Days is one of my favorite books! I'm glad you're enjoying it. Have you checked out Patti's blog at ?

  9. I am in love with the idea of this book ... and the example you gave! So true .. what does happen to us to beat all the confidence and joy out of us?

    I'm adding this to my wishlist, and I hope you will share more about your journey.

    And I'm with you Friday nights ... there is magic in the possibilities ... and plain old reality on Saturday morning.

    Wonderful post ... I love it!

  10. Wow - what a thought-provoking anecdote. I'm just struck by that. What, indeed, does happen to us to create that change? How do those barriers get built? More important, I wonder how much potential grown-ups are wasting within themselves.

  11. That thought is something I've wondered for a while. When I look at myself, I wonder what happened? Why am I more selective about what I want to raise my hands for? Why am I being so anal by looking at all pros, cons, and is-it-necessary's? Why can't I jump into it and figure the mechanics later? Why can't I be less sentimental and just enjoy life? When I see people like that, who don't know a thing about drawing, but will still take that pen and doodle, I don't look at the picture at go - What a lame attempt. Instead, I look at the person at wonder - what an admirable enthusiasm!

    It is quite sad how we lose our innocence between 5 and 18. We don't need to be bouncing on our soles. We can just be more enthusiastic in life.

    Good meme! Can't wait to check out the rest that you come up with!

  12. What a fabulous idea! I may participate or not, but I'm definitely going to be reading your thoughts and those of others who play along.

  13. Wow, what a great passage to highlight. It is so true that we tend to limit ourselves because we are worried about what other people will think. Since I've gotten older I care less and less what others think (in a good way). I would raise my hand and say I can sing and dance and paint...well maybe not paint!

  14. Better late than never ... I finally wrote a post about my thoughts on this paragraph you shared. Here is the link:


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