Improvised Life » rules for living If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 07 Jul 2015 17:20:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Practice: A Do Nothing Day (via Grant Snyder + Neruda) Thu, 11 Jun 2015 06:59:45 +0000

Grant Snider

At Grant Snider’s very wise Incidental Comics, we found THIS brilliant idea: take a day to do nothing. Only we’d change one word in the last panel of Snider’s comic about the worthy “pursuit of aimlessness”(more…)

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Eccentricity Means Being Yourself (Salvador Dali as Role Model) Tue, 09 Jun 2015 06:20:18 +0000

When I was a little girl in the sixties, my mother to used occasionally take me to the St. Regis hotel for lunch in the little lounge next to the famous King Cole Bar (With paintings by Maxfield Parrish, it was where the Bloody Mary was invented).  We’d sit side-by-side on the banquet as Albert, the ancient head waiter, would serve us lunch. Across the room, we often saw Salvador Dali lunching with his pet ocelot Babou, who lived with him in his suite upstairs. Dali described Babou as a normal cat that he had “painted over in an op art design.

At the time, I had no concept of what I was witnessing: eccentricity in full glory. (more…)

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Is-ness and Poetry via The Wire Thu, 04 Jun 2015 06:24:22 +0000

(Video link here.)  Derek Donahue found all of the tautologies —phrases in which the same thing is said twice —from the great, gritty HBO series The Wire and supercut them into one video. Writes the ever-wise Jason Kottke, “these types of phrases characterize the immovable forces the characters feel govern their lives and actions: poverty, bureaucracy, addiction, institutional corruption, ethnicity”.

When we wrote a few down, they seemed more like some seriously ‘street’, existential koans— succinct paradoxical statements used for meditation in Buddhism. Here are our favorites, ESPECIALLY the rather cosmic ones at the bottom. They can be reshuffled to form curiously illuminating poems. (more…)

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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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