Improvised Life » rules for living If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 26 May 2015 17:07:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Community Starts with One, Saying YES Wed, 20 May 2015 06:54:52 +0000

These three surprising examples of communities reminds us that community starts with one person reaching out, taking action...and then another, and another.... ]]> 0
Wondrous Spinning Gif + Anne Herbert’s Inimitable Wisdom Thu, 14 May 2015 20:06:16 +0000

We love this beauty of a gif from the great intepid gif-artist DVDP. It reminds us of the very wise words of the mysterious Anne Herbert: (more…)

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Role Model: Mr. Clean Enough (Roz Chast) Thu, 30 Apr 2015 06:06:41 +0000

Roz Chast/The New Yorker

The great Roz Chast's recent New Yorker cartoon really hits home. Having once been quite a serious neat-o-phile, I've learned over the years that the principle of "enough" can be quite liberating.  It's a variation of a philosophy I first learned from a therapist friend...]]> 1
Peace Practice: Viewing the Glass as ‘Already Broken’ Mon, 27 Apr 2015 06:29:29 +0000

Sally Schneider

At Zen Habits recently, Leo Babauta shows ways to apply a compelling daily practice from Achaan Chah, the Thai meditation master, described by Mark Epstein in Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective: (more…)

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Diane Ackerman: “Live as Variously as Possible” Thu, 16 Apr 2015 06:44:50 +0000

For our morning read, we opened our dog-eared copy of Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses at random and found this perfect, heartening hunk of philosophical cake, a perfect accompaniment to the great DVDP’s luminous gif: (more…)

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Must Read: Anne Lamott’s “Everything I know” Mon, 13 Apr 2015 06:22:29 +0000

One of the best, wisest, funniest book about writing and LIFE is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Written over 20 years ago when Lamott was 40, it is packed with enduring wisdom.

When she discovered she was turning 61 last Wednesday, Lamott decided to “take the opportunity to write down every single thing I know, as of today,” on her Facebook and the post went viral. We recognize some from her many books.

Here’s a tonifying excerpt to start your week — with our favorites bold-faced. (You can read the whole thing here.): (more…)

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Kahlo on Being ‘Frightened of Seeing…the Open Life” Thu, 09 Apr 2015 06:34:53 +0000

Frida Kahlo

Out of my diary of dinner parties I came across recently dropped a thank you note with this lush image by Frida Kahlo. It’s called “The Bride Who Gets Frightened of Seeing the Open Life”, (or as some have translated, “Life Opened” (“La novia que se espanta de ver la vida abierta“).

The postcard, which was sent in 1993, more than twenty years ago, curiously presaged a theme that would eventually become a big part of Improvised Life: how to antidote the many fears, taboos, “NO’s” we can feel about living richly, with full expression, whatever form an “open life” might take.

Kahlo embraced that practice head-on. (more…)

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Reflecting on Difficulty: 5 Questions that Transform Thu, 02 Apr 2015 06:15:20 +0000

At the height of a recent crisis a few months ago, our friend Chris Eldredge send me this note: I’ve been reading Jack Kornfield’s “A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life” and saw this. I thought it might interest you. (more…)

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5+ Happiness Generating Questions Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:50:00 +0000

As ever, Neil Gaiman nails it. But there’s a question in his wonderful words, one that many people we know have been asking themselves: What Do You Have that Nobody Else Has? What is the particular flavor/quality/aspect/talent/vision unique to you? And even more importantly, what are ways it can thrive in the world?

Ko Im over at Thought Catalog (via 99U) poses additional questions about ones SELF that he says will prompt you to discover patterns that point you toward greater happiness: (more…)

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‘Create Dangerously’ (Camus), ‘Every Wall is a Door’ (Emerson) Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:52:12 +0000


In the final paragraph of Camus’ last published essay, Create Dangerously, we found this radical idea:

One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. ‘Every wall is a door,’ Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is—in the very thick of battle. For in my opinion…it IS there…

…As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundation of his own sufferings and joys, builds for all.


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John Cage: Saying YES to Unpredictability Tue, 10 Mar 2015 06:52:01 +0000

We opened the John Cage’s enduringly great A Year from Monday and found this extraordinary set of questions*:

How immediately are you going to say Yes to no matter what unpredictability, even when what happens seems to have no relation to what one thought was one’s commitment?

The kind of YES he’s talking about is full committment: (more…)

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View Shifter: Mister Rogers’ Perfect, Tiny Meditation Thu, 05 Mar 2015 08:14:14 +0000

(Video link here.) Every so often, we check in with artist/educator Paul Zelavansky’s YouTube channel, where we find salient, carefully-edited clips of Mister Rogers’ wisdom. They are as transformative for adults as it is for kids. Zelavansky opened our eyes to the power of Rogers’ work.

“Taking a Breath” is a perfect .58 seconds to view any time you need a shift.

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Desmond Tutu on “Random Kindness” and Becoming “Life Artists” Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:08:59 +0000

Over the years, we’ve written often about the great Anne Herbert, the extraordinary writer that long-ago coined the phrase “Practice Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty“, and the curious little book of that name that was published in the ’90’s. Long out-of-print, its charm and power continued to resonate, inspiring an updated edition, now with full-color drawings by its original illustrator, Mayumi Oda, and a moving Forward by Desmond Tutu that is, in itself, rich with wisdom. He writes: (more…)

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O is for ‘Onward’ and Moving Through Fear Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:28:06 +0000

Oliver Jeffers

At Brain Pickings today, we stumbled on this wonderful illustration from Oliver Jeffers’ charming kid’s book, Once Upon an Alphabet. It’s a sign we’d like to print out and hang on our wall, a quiet, potent reminder.

ONWARD! is the word we find helps most in times of fear, anxiety or overwhelm — a new project or an exhausting one, an idea we’re trying out, NOT knowing where we’re going. (more…)

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