Monday, November 18, 2019

Top Ten Stress-Relieving Tips

Improve your quality of life and stress less with these effective ideas.

It's a fact of life: Everyone experiences stress. But when it goes unmanaged, daily stress can harm your health and reduce your quality of life. Fortunately, stress doesn't have to overcome or overwhelm you. Gain control and live better with these stress-reducing suggestions.

Make a list. Write a to-do list, breaking down tasks into smaller steps. Prioritize the items and tackle them one at a time.
Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet. Avoid — or limit — alcohol and caffeine.

Set realistic goals. Don't expect perfection from projects or people — including yourself.
Mind your schedule. Don't take on too many responsibilities or agree to attend too many social events. If you're overwhelmed, eliminate some obligations or share the work.
Talk it out. Call on the support and guidance of good friends and family.
Exercise regularly. Thirty minutes of physical activity a day can help fight stress.
Set aside time every day for stress management. Meditation, deep-breathing exercises, yoga and guided imagery are all good techniques to try.
Have fun. Spend time each day doing a hobby or other activity that you enjoy.
Resolve conflicts. Work toward repairing — or coming to terms with — any broken or difficult relationships.
Visualize success. Imagine how difficult situations might be resolved in a less stressful way.

By managing — and reducing — the stress in your life, you can make better, healthier decisions and improve your overall wellness.

Zadie Smith

I love portraits. My house is decorated with lots of faces, all kinds of people. I love people’s faces. Thinking about them. I can get started quite quickly if I have a good face in front of me.

Imbolo Mbue

When and where do you write?

I write sitting at the dining table in my living room, usually early in the morning or late at night.

Imbolo Mbue

Larry Brown

There's no such thing as a born #writer. It's a skill you've got to learn, just like learning how to be a bricklayer or a carpenter.

Isak Dinesen

All sorrows can be borne, if you put them into a story.
ISAK DINESEN (Karen Blixen)

Mary Karr

Doubt runs through me every day I work, like the subway’s third rail.

Alice Mattison

Being stuck is good—it means that what needs to be written is intense, maybe painful. Or it’s complicated and requires careful consecutive thought. It’s often possible to get unstuck by asking oneself simple, sensible questions (like, “What do I already know about this story?” or “about the next scene?”). But maybe I’d write better books if I let myself remain stuck longer.

What is your advice to new writers?

KITE is all advice, so it’s hard to choose. Also, not everybody needs the same advice. My guess is that the five things I say to students most frequently are: 1. Never mind whether it’s good. Write it whether it’s good or not. 2. Protect your writing time. 3. Plot is whatever provides forward momentum, and, yes, you can make up a plot. 4. If you say what’s happening, the reader will know how it feels, so you don’t have to say. 5. Write when you’re sleepy and stupid, so your strongest feelings get into the work.

Alice Mattison’s new book is THE KITE AND THE STRING: HOW TO WRITE WITH SPONTANEITY AND CONTROL—AND LIVE TO TELL THE TALE. She is also the author of six novels, four collections of stories, and a book of poems. She teaches fiction in the low-residency MFA program at Bennington College.

Interview here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


“You have to learn to write from the very center, and to have the courage to look at that center.”
Vivian Gornick

“If you don't leave home you suffocate, if you go too far you lose oxygen.”
― Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

“What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense that the writer is able to make of what happened.”
― Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative

“I began to realize what everyone in the world knows and routinely forgets: that to be loved sexually is to be loved not for one's actual self but for one's ability to arouse desire in the other...Only the thoughts in one's mind or intuitions of the spirit can attract permanently...”
― Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir

Vivian Gornick

“There are two categories of friendship: those in which people enliven one another and those in which people must be enlivened to be with one another. In the first category one clears the decks to be together; in the second one looks for an empty space in the schedule.”
― Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City: A Memoir

The GP made me cry with his kindness

In a period of revelation and enlightenment, I joined the gym and upped the aerobic exercise. Over the next few weeks the flushes stopped, my mood lifted, I dropped a couple of pounds and the ‘old me’ gradually came back. Rachel, 59, Kent

Behind the Mask

Those undisclosed selves: They really do long to be seen and heard.


Caffeine and Cortisol

So the best times to drink coffee — or caffeine in general — is between 10 a.m. and noon, and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Raymond Carver

There are significant moments in everyone's day that can make literature. That's what you ought to write about.

Bacon Grease

The lady ran out of the third floor balcony and tossed hot bacon grease out of her cast iron frying pan. A gust of wind came from the west slapping the fat against the house. The stain will be there for a while, possibly years. This is just one of the interesting things the landlord misses because he's never here. Last year a tenant abandoned her children in the 2nd floor apartment. The kids were only 11, 6, and 2. The mother went away and lived with her boyfriend for 12 months. You can imagine how badly this went for the kids left behind unable to speak English. They didn't go to school, or eat nutritious food or know how to bathe or clean or cook. When the oldest tried to make a pot of rice she forgot and it burned. Smoke detectors went off and neighbors rattled the doorknob shouting "are you okay?" They were told never to answer the door. The garbage piled up to the ceiling. Flies, maggots, and no relief from the summer heat; the children never saw the light of day for a year. It's tragic and criminal but I blame the absentee landlord. How can he sleep at night? For him it's only about money and never about people.

Judith Orloff

“Look at your life as your main career and your divine classroom.”
― Judith Orloff


I hear the sounds of the carpenters taking off the Victorian details from the porch across the street. "The happy house is getting wrapped in gray vinyl," I told my husband when he walked in last night. "It's sad and I can't obsess, I must try to remember it the original way."

Mary Gaitskill

“Writing is.... being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.”
― Mary Gaitskill

Dalai Lama

When individuals are too self-centred, they tend to be prone to fear, suspicion, anxiety and anger. Compassion and restraining from harming others, act as an antidote to this. Scientists say that it is basic human nature to be compassionate, because we are social animals.

Joy and happiness are mental events and, according to our day to day experience, mental satisfaction is superior to physical pleasure. We need material development, but it’s a mistake to depend on material things alone to find happiness. We also need to be warm-hearted.

Anger, suspicion and jealousy disturb our minds. The antidote to these emotions is to cultivate patience and tolerance. Who provides us the opportunity to develop it? The one we call our enemy. Therefore, we can see him or her as a teacher.

Tackling destructive emotions and practicing loving-kindness is how we should live in the here and now. I am convinced we can become happier individuals, happier communities and a happier humanity by cultivating a warm heart, allowing our better selves to prevail.

Our modern education systems don't reveal much understanding of how to transform our emotions. To do so, we have to use our intelligence. We need to conduct ourselves with non-violence and on the basis of compassion, cultivate respect for others.

For me the best introduction is the human face. When I see two eyes, one mouth, one nose, I know I’m dealing with another human being like me. I’m like those young children who don’t care about their companions’ background so long as they smile and are willing to play.

Optimism does not mean being blind to the actual reality of a situation. It means maintaining a positive spirit to continue to seek a solution to any given problem. And it means recognizing that any given situation has many different aspects—positive as well as problematic.

In today’s world, despite ample material development, too many lack inner peace. One way to counter anger, jealousy and competitiveness is to cultivate non-violence and compassion towards others.

A fundamentally positive approach is to take account of the oneness of humanity. Dividing the world into 'us' and 'them' might have worked in the past, but it doesn't any more. We have to talk through our problems with our opponents, thinking of them as our fellow human beings.

Every morning when I wake up, I dedicate myself to helping others to find peace of mind. Then, when I meet people, I think of them as long term friends; I don't regard others as strangers.

As human beings we are all the same. We have this marvellous intelligence, which sometimes creates problems for us, but when influenced by warm-heartedness it can be really creative and helpful. This is the context in which having moral principles is of such great value.

-Dalai Lama

Do What you Love

Depression is a thief of joy. It robs us of the activities we love. It tells us that what once gave us pleasure is now pointless. But depression is a liar, too. Article by Julie Fast

Mose Allison

Your Mind is on Vacation

Love of Lentils

Last night I had no plans on what to make for supper but then I remembered that I had lentils. I rinsed them and put them in the crock pot with water and two chicken bullion cubes and started adding things; garlic, onion, celery, carrots, potatoes crushed tomatoes, wine, salt, ginger. In 45 minutes it was a delicious soup and it's even better today.

Thursday, November 14, 2019


“I often think about bachelors, a life of pure decision, of thoughtful calculations, of every inclination honored. They go about on their own, nicely accompanied in their singularity by the companion of possibility. For cannot any man, young or old, rich or poor, turn a few corners and bump into marriage?”
― Elizabeth Hardwick


It was soothing to nurse a cold with hot tea and a good book of John Cheever short stories from my local library. I've decided that receive-mode at its best is about reading.

Counting the Cats

“One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself.”
― Bobbie Ann Mason, Shiloh and Other Stories

One Reason

“One reason to fashion a story is to lift a grudge.”
― Bobbie Ann Mason, Clear Springs: A Family Story