Why I Write Pieces I’ll Never Publish

Sun setting over a Tennessee lake

The writing I do falls into three broad categories:  (1) blog posts; (2) pieces that might someday be published (personal essays, poems, fiction); and (3) things I write only for myself (and I suppose the writing I do for work is a fourth category, but that’s a whole different animal).  Today, I’d like to talk about the third category.  What’s the point of writing things that no one else will ever read?

Read more

My Wardrobe Challenge

Clothes hanging in a closet

If you use Pinterest or read women’s magazines or websites, you may have come across this concept:  Turn around all the hangers in your closet.  After you wear something, hang it up with the hanger facing the other direction.  You will easily be able to see which clothes you’ve worn and which you haven’t.  After six months or a year, donate or sell any items you haven’t worn.

It’s not a bad idea, but because I fully Marie Kondo-ed my closet last year (more about that later) and am generally pretty good about regularly purging clothes that are in poor condition or don’t fit well, this concept didn’t seem all that useful to me.  But it sparked a slightly different idea.

Read more

Rethinking Gift-Giving

Oil painting of a cluster of tomatoes at different stages of ripeness and a small ceramic pitcher on a rumpled blue tablecloth
Still Life with Tomatoes, 2009. For details or to purchase, please contact Alexis (contact form in menu bar).

I recently came across this post on gift-giving from Mr. Money Mustache and thought it was worth sharing.  The post is several years old and references Mother’s Day, but it applies to all the occasions on which our culture tells us we are supposed to give gifts.

Ideally, gift-giving should be a way of expressing our appreciation for the people we love, making their day a little brighter, and perhaps easing their burden.  At its worst, gift-giving can become another obligation, and the gifts we give can sometimes add to the burdens of the receiver as well as the giver.  I’ve gone to holiday gatherings without gifts to give and have been embarrassed when others brought gifts for everyone, including me.  The gifts were not personally selected for each individual, but were, I suspect, bought en masse out of either a sense of requirement or a desire for the gift-giver to feel good about herself.  These gifts were not meaningful, but they provoked feelings of guilt and obligation in me.  That is not what gift-giving should do.

Read more

A Curiosity Manifesto

A massive white sculpture of a head in a waterfront park in Seattle

I’ve become convinced that curiosity is the solution to most of our problems, individually and globally.  How can that be, you ask?  How could centuries-old conflicts, climate change, interpersonal strife, and disease epidemics be cured by mere curiosity?  Well, you’re on the path to finding answers simply because you’ve begun by asking questions.

Read more