The Power of Poetry

Four poetry books stacked on a counter

While searching for Monday’s Quote of the Week, I found myself traveling down a rabbit hole of poetry about autumn.  I don’t often take the time to read and contemplate poems at length, but when I do, I’m rarely disappointed.  There’s something about a poem that can communicate a feeling so profoundly.  Free from prose’s need to explain everything in complete sentences, poetry can make its point through images and metaphors, playing with rhythm and structure in ways that make the reader appreciate language like never before.  A great poem has the power to make me feel connected to its author through universal human experience, conveyed with just the right words.

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Grammar and Usage Rules that Aren’t

An abstract image of crumpled fabric.
Monotype, 2004.

As a lawyer, writer, and general nerd, I consider myself a bit of a grammar and usage stickler.  Language is always changing, though, and there are many rules to keep straight, so when I’m not sure about something, I look it up.  That’s what I did recently when I came across a post on social media declaring that people shouldn’t use the word “entitled” when they really mean “titled” (when referring to the name of a book, for example).  This person vehemently insisted that a book could not be “entitled” anything, but could only be “titled.”  It turns out he was wrong, though I’m not sure he could be convinced. Read more

In Praise of Old-Fashioned Letter Writing

Embellished stationary, matching envelope, and a pen, perfect for writing a letter

In the wake of my father’s death, I received a number of cards from friends and family members expressing their condolences.  I truly appreciated these tangible expressions, which came in a slow stream over the course of several weeks.  I could read the cards and display them in my home to remind myself of the sentiments they shared, and I didn’t have to immediately come up with words to reassure the sender that I would be ok.  Unlike when I received a call or text message, I didn’t feel the need to say anything.

Receiving these cards led me to think about letter-writing, something I used to do fairly often.  When I was in college, before texting had reached its current level of ubiquity but well after emailing had taken hold as a common means of communication, I regularly exchanged letters with long-distance friends.  Reading and writing them took time, but that time was enjoyable.  Rather than dashing off quick texts in the middle of everyday activities, I would set aside half an hour or so to think about what my friend had written to me, respond thoughtfully, and share what was most important in my life at that moment.  I had no real expectations with respect to these letters.  Sometimes a friend would respond fairly quickly, and other times I would not hear back for weeks, or longer.  I didn’t take the delay personally.  I understood that my friends were busy people who were living their lives and would respond when they had the time to do so.  Receiving a letter in the mail was always a pleasant surprise that brightened my day; it was never something I expected.

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Guest Post: I Miss My Brother

 

Drawing of a woman sitting on a bench

I believe in the therapeutic and transformative value of writing, and I’m a big proponent of telling your story.  Today, I’m happy to share an essay that was submitted by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you have a story you’d like to share, feel free to send it to me using the “Contact” link in the menu bar.  

When my twin brother got married, I made him a big scrapbook. Full of pictures of us growing up together, it took me a lot of time and money to make. I put in pictures of him playing sports, us playing soccer and wiffle ball in the backyard, us opening presents on Christmas morning. I put in pictures of our childhood dog, pictures of us graduating high school together, and pictures of us holding hands as babies.

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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?

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The Weekend Listen – Series Finale

A pair of wireless headphones for podcast listening

Happy Friday!  I want to give my sincere thanks to everyone who completed the reader survey.  Your feedback has been very valuable to me.  (If you haven’t taken it yet, the survey is still open.)

One of the things I learned is that most of you don’t listen to podcasts and don’t plan to start listening to them any time soon.  With that information in mind, I’ve decided to discontinue the Weekend Listen series.  A few of you commented that you do appreciate the recommendations and enjoy hearing about new programs.  If you’re in that camp, don’t despair — you can follow me on Twitter, and I’ll share some of my favorite episodes there.  Additionally, because the things I listen to inform my thoughts, I’ll probably continue to reference podcasts in my posts, using interesting interviews and discussions as launch pads for longer, more substantive posts.

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Tell Your Story

My One Line A Day Five Year Memory Book, with a pen on top

I’m a big believer in the transformative and connective power of telling your story.  It’s been almost a year now since I began my practice of writing creatively on a nearly daily basis, and I have learned so much about myself in the process.  While most of what I’ve written has never been shared publicly, taking the time to reflect on the events of my life and how they’ve shaped me has been truly invaluable from a personal development perspective.  And while I was a little nervous about starting this blog and putting my thoughts and personal stories out there on the internet for anyone to read, I’ve been so moved and encouraged by the feedback I’ve received.  I love getting an email or comment from someone who can relate to what I’ve posted, and this blog has helped to deepen the conversations I have with some of the people in my life.

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The Weekend Listen


I listen to a lot of podcasts while driving, working out, and doing chores around the house. In this weekly feature, I’ll tell you about one episode I particularly enjoyed that week.

Continuing this week’s love theme, Modern Love: the Podcast shares three of the most popular essays from the New York Times’s Modern Love column, read by well-known actors.  Colin Farrell reads Gary Presley’s “Would My Heart Outrun Its Pursuer?”, Gillian Jacobs reads Mandy Len Catron’s “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” and Tony Hale reads Steve Friedman’s “Just Friends? Let Me Read Between the Lines.”  You may already have read these essays, but they’re worth revisiting.

Happy listening!

Are you listening to a great podcast that I haven’t mentioned yet?  Please let us know in the comments!

A field of yellow flowers under a gray sky, the sun low and obscured by clouds

The Weekend Listen

A pair of wireless headphones for podcast listening

I listen to a lot of podcasts while driving, working out, and doing chores around the house. In this weekly feature, I’ll tell you about one episode I particularly enjoyed that week. (I do not receive any compensation for these recommendations.)

I had a hard time choosing a podcast for this post because I listened to several this week that were so good.  The one I initially selected is pretty short, so I decided to pick a second bonus episode this time.

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