Chronic Dieting: The Hail Mary Pass
August 12, 2013
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Internet Inspiration – August 16, 2013
August 16, 2013

Book Club – Tiny Beautiful Things

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I first read about this book via Rachel Turiel of 6512 and Growing. She very aptly described this book as “a gift to humanity,” and I have been unable to describe it better. It is a compilation of entries from Dear Sugar, an advice column that used to be offered by The Rumpus, an online literary magazine. Sugar is Cheryl Strayed, who has now gained fame and a bestselling book in the form of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail.

The point of this book is to navigate life with loving kindness, dignity, strength, and integrity, and Cheryl Strayed cuts right to the true, underlying questions from all her readers. She is an archetype of the coach and woman I aspire to be, and I highly recommend reading this book and keeping it around. I’m happy to lend you my copy if you don’t mind highlighting and annotation, but I’d better get it back.

Here are some excerpts that stuck with me:

Part One: It Was Always Only Us

“They live on Planet Earth. You live on Planet My Baby Died.”

“All those people in the wonderful [It Gets Better] videos? Each and every one of those people rose at a moment in their lives… and at that moment they chose to tell the truth about themselves instead of staying “safe” inside the lie. They realized that, in fact, the lie wasn’t safe. That it threatened their existence more profoundly than the truth did.”

“Our kids deserve that, don’t they? To be loved shimmeringly? Yes, they do. So let’s get to it…. That’s the gift you have to give to your child….: to love with a mindfully clear sense of purpose, even when it feels outrageous to do so.”

“Transformation often demands that we separate our emotional responses from our rational minds.”

“Your hurt feelings are lingering in part because you so quickly attempted to brush them aside.”

Part Two: Whatever Mysterious Starlight that Guided You This Far

“It feels lame because we like to think we can solve things. It feels insufficient because there is nothing we can actually do to change what’s horribly true. But compassion isn’t about solutions. It’s about giving all the love that you’ve got.”

“Your impulse to swoop in and set these lovebirds straight tells me that you’re  overestimating your power and influence, and you’re also disrespecting Jill’s right to romantic self-determination – which she absolutely has, no matter how maddening her decisions may be to you.”

“Because no matter how experimental he is, his life isn’t an experiment.”

“Acceptance has everything to do with simplicity, with sitting in the ordinary place, with bearing witness to the plain facts of our life, with not just starting at the essential, but ending up there…. Acceptance asks only that you embrace what is true.”

“Your disappointment is justified; your paralysis understandable; your conundrum real.”

“… who we become is born of who we most primitively are; that we both know and cannot possibly know what it is we’ve yet to make manifest in our lives.”

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success.”

“And then there is a deep longing to feel legitimate in the world, to feel that others hold us in regard.”

“Yet here I am because there I was….”

“To do as you are doing in asking If there were a God, why would he let my little girl have to have possibly life-threatening surgery? – understandable as that question is – creates a false hierarchy of the blessed and the damned. To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion. It implies a pious quid pro quo that defies history, reality, ethics, and reason. It fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising – the very half that makes rising necessary – is having first been nailed to the cross.”

Part Three: Carry the Water Yourself

“Be a warrior for love.”

“It’s not Will I ever find someone who will love me romantically?… but rather Am I capable of letting someone do so?

“Because what you’ve got left after the fools have departed are the old souls and the true hearts. Those are the über-cool sparkle rocket mind-blowers we’re after. Those are the people worthy of your love.”

“Certainly, an ethical and evolved life entails a whole lot of doing things one doesn’t particularly want to do and not doing things one very much does, regardless of gender. But an ethical and evolved life also entails telling the truth about oneself and living out that truth.”

“Real change happens on the level of the gesture. It’s one person doing one thing differently than he or she did before.”

“There are so many tiny revolution in a life, a million ways we have to circle around ourselves to grow and change and be okay. And perhaps the body is our final frontier. It’s the one place we can’t leave. We’re there till it goes. Most women and some men spend their lives trying to alter it, hide it, prettify it, make it what it isn’t, or conceal it for what it is. But what if we didn’t do that? …. What is on the other side of the tiny gigantic revolution in which I move from loathing to loving my own skin?

“… romantic love is not a competitive sport.”

“Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.”

Part Four: You Don’t Have to Be Broken For Me

“I can only say you’re worthy of [love] and it’s never too much to ask for it and that it’s not crazy to fear you’ll never have it again, even though your fears are probably wrong. Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hulabaloo.”

You don’t have to be broken for me. I didn’t have to be broken for him, even though parts of me were. I could be every piece of myself and he’d love me still. My appeal did not rely on my weakness or my need. It relied on everything I was and wanted to be.”

“… boundaries have nothing to do with whether you love someone or not. They are not judgments, punishments, or betrayals. They are a a purely peaceable thing: the basic principles you identify for yourself that define the behaviors that you will tolerate from others, as well as the responses you will have to those behaviors. Boundaries teach people how to treat you, and they teach you how to respect yourself.”

“We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”

“… you can’t fake love and generosity of spirit.”

“… the word “prestigious” is derived from the Latin praestigiae, which means “conjuror’s tricks.” …. This word that we use to mean honorable and esteemed has its beginnings in a word that has everything to do with illusion, deception, and trickery.”

“Desperation is unsustainable.”

“Sometimes the greatest truth isn’t in the confession, but rather in the lesson learned.”

“My grief is tremendous but my love is bigger. So is yours. You are not grieving your son’s death because his death was ugly and unfair. You’re grieving it because you loved him truly. The beauty in that is greater than the bitterness of his death.”

Part Five: Put It in a Box and Wait

“We are complicated people. Our lives do not play out in absolutes.”

“Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.”

“It’s a truth. And like all truths, it has its own integrity. It’s shiningly clear and resolute. If you are to succeed in fulfilling your meaning, everything that happens in your life must flow from this truth.”

“There’s a day ahead that’s a shimmering slice of your mysterious destiny. All you’ve got to do is show up.”

“… contrary to your claim that you don’t regret what you did, you know you could have done this differently, better, or not at all.”

“But the reality is we often become our kindest, most ethical selves only by seeing what it feels like to be a selfish jackass first.”

“… we do not have the right to feel helpless, …. we must help ourselves. That after destiny has delivered what it delivers, we are responsible for our lives.”

“The useless days add up to something…. These things are your becoming.”

“Say thank you.”

I hope these resonated with you, and trust me when I say that in context their power is exponentially more pronounced. Enjoy.