Category Archives: Link Love

Ten for Tuesday

It’s been way too long, readers! But I promise to be around here more, especially as we get ready for the release of God, Improv, and the Art of Living–next week! Pre-order.


1. Crayons in the Hydraulic Press

Also non-Newtonian fluids and lots of other stuff. Prepare for the absurdly amazing, narrated with a Finnish accent.


2. The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right

Carbs, trans fats, paleo and more. Long and sensible.


3. To Raise Resilient Kids, Be a Resilient Parent

Ms. Lewis said that anger, tears and other outbursts are a natural part of any child’s development — what she calls “the messiness of childhood.

But parents who are unable or unwilling to confront that messiness may view their child’s outbursts as a problem that urgently needs to be solved.

And this is such an easy trap to fall into, despite our best efforts as parents. And when you have more than one, it’s even harder, as one kid’s “sad outburst” is another child’s “late for the lacrosse game.”


4. How to Say Jackass in Many Languages

I share because I care.


5. His church had 15 idle pianos. So he started a music school for poor kids.

A friend is pastor of this church and shared this article after the man passed away earlier this spring.

In 1969, the year a federal judge ruled that Charlotte’s schools were illegally segregated, the white organist and choir director of First Presbyterian Church had 15 pianos in the basement that sat unused most of the time.

Henry Bridges also noticed that the poor, mostly African American kids who lived around the uptown church needed something to do. He invited them in and started to teach them piano.

So began the Community School of the Arts. Bridges recruited four of the best piano teachers in Charlotte — one of them, Dzidra Reimanis, 90, still teaches there — and winnowed an initial 20 students from more than 150 applicants. The children were taught five days a week in piano, choir and music theory. All of it was free.

Well done, Henry Percival Bridges, good and faithful servant!


6. On Becoming an American Writer — Alexander Chee

A luminous yet urgent call to action for everyone who writes.

I began this essay as an email I wrote to my students during that first weekend of the Iraq War. I had felt a sudden, intense protectiveness of them. I didn’t want my students to go into the draft, rumored then to be a possibility. I wrote to them that weekend and told them that art endures past governments, countries, and emperors, and their would-be replacements. That art—​even, or perhaps especially, art that is dedicated somehow to tenderness—is not weak. It is strength. I asked them to disregard the cultural war against the arts that has lasted most of their lives, the movement to discredit the arts and culture in American public life as being decorative interruptions of more serious affairs, unworthy of funding or even of teachers. I told them that I can’t recall the emperors of China as well as I can Mencius, who counseled them, and whose stories of them, shared in his poetry of these rulers and their problems, describe them for me almost entirely. And the paradox of how a novel, should it survive, protects what a missile can’t.


7. Google finds STEM skills aren’t the most important skills

In 2013, Google decided to test its hiring hypothesis by crunching every bit and byte of hiring, firing, and promotion data accumulated since the company’s incorporation in 1998. Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.


8. The Acrobatic Entanglements of Everyday Objects by Mauricio Alejo

So fun. Favorite:


9. Church Is What We Create with Each Other

So lovely.

When you are part of a church you accept people’s offerings, even the ones you don’t necessarily want. One week their announcements will bore you and the next week they will make you weep, and sometimes it will be the same announcements. And sometimes during a hymn they’ll start a harmony and you’ll join, and your voices will become a conversation, an expression of love between people who by many measures barely know each other at all.


10. Finding Holiness Beyond Houston’s Scores of Sacred Spaces

Holiness and Houston. Two of my favorite topics.

I should probably note that I’m not religious. But I believe in holy spaces. Or at least the notion that holiness can seep into mundanity. One time I was in Saint Catherine for a family reunion, stuffed in this cabin church service along the mountains, and the pastor dwelled over the Word for so long that everyone’s stomachs started rumbling in unison. Our own improvised praise song. Even when we began to audibly grumble, the man just kept doing his thing…

That is, for me, where most of my credence lays: in the blips of illumination through daily life. In spaces that have stood for as long as there have been people. Spaces that will stand well after you and I are gone.



Ten for Tuesday… Including a Special Offer!

Remember when I used to blog regularly?

Yeah. That was fun.

Things are changing in the social media intertubes, and my online writing habits are also shifting… plus I’m noodling about a new website and how to merge what happens here with my coaching website. In the meantime, I still love bringing links to you. So… onward. And make sure to catch the special invitation at the end!

1. Young Children Accompanied by Wildlife Take a Stance Among Urban Decay in Paintings by Kevin Peterson

Captivating contrasts.


2. Email Charter

A colleague recently linked to this list of guidelines for email, to make messages leaner and more helpful. I found them intriguing. What do you think? There are 10 in all; here are the first three:


3. Letter of Recommendation: Spoilers–NYT

An excellent philosophical defense of spoilers. As someone whose enjoyment of a movie isn’t ruined (and may even be enhanced) by knowing what happens, I appreciate this greatly. Jenna Wortham, by the way, is half of the podcast Still Processing, which is my new favorite. So flipping smart.


4. The Problem with Seeking the Best for Your Kids–On Being

Every person has to come to terms with — even if just to themselves — the gap between what they believe and how they live their lives. If you happen to be a parent, though, the gap can feel particularly wide and meaningful, the explanation even more garbled and urgent. Ultimately, you’re not just answering to your own conscience, but to your children. They will want to know, they might already want to know, why you did what you did. Why send them to this school? Why make the sometimes Herculean effort to get them into clean clothes and in these particular pews on a Sunday morning? Why live in this neighborhood? Why befriend these people and not those? Why care so deeply about certain rules and let other things go? Kids ultimately care, not just about how you shape them, but how your shaping of them shapes the world.

Thank you to my friend Alex Hendrickson for posting this article recently. Some good reflection and conversation followed.


5. The Key to Raising a Happy Child–NPR

Speaking of children…

Instead of trusting kids with choices — small at first, but bigger as adolescence progresses — many parents insist on micromanaging everything from homework to friendships. For these parents, Stixrud and Johnson have a simple message:

Stop. Instead of thinking of yourself as your child’s boss or manager, try consultant.

On a personal note, I have found that getting trained as a coach has changed how I parent. The premise of coaching is that clients are “creative, resourceful and whole.” Aren’t our children as well? Yes, there is knowledge we have that they don’t, and it would be cruel not to share that. But “listening them into a path forward,” which is my friend LeAnn’s definition of coaching, seems like a good goal for parenting as well.


6. One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings–Glennon Doyle Melton

I love this approach to figuring out which children are being excluded and may need extra TLC.


7. We Got Rid of Some Bad Men. Now Let’s Get Rid of Bad Movies–Lindy West, NYT

When I was growing up, I didn’t chafe at the shallow, exploitative representations of my gender that I saw on screen; I took notes. I added item after item to my mental lists of how to be a woman and the things I should yearn for and tolerate from men.

From makeover shows, I learned that I was ugly. From romantic comedies, I learned that stalking means he loves you and persistence means he earned you — and also that I was ugly. From Disney movies, I learned that if I made my waist small enough (maybe with the help of a witch), a man or large hog-bear might marry me, and that’s where my story would end. “The Smurfs” taught me that boys can have distinct personalities, like being smart or grumpy, and girls can have only one (that personality is “high heels”). From “The Breakfast Club,” I learned that rage and degradation are the selling points of an alluring bad boy, not the red flags of an abuser. From pretty much all media, I learned that complicated women are “crazy” and complicated men are geniuses.

…We need new work that actively challenges and counterbalances old assumptions, that offers radical models for how to conceive of ourselves and how to treat each other. We need artists and studios fighting for diverse work made by diverse creators for diverse audiences because it’s the right thing to do, not just because “Black Panther” is hurtling toward a possible billion-dollar worldwide box-office take.


8. Women Surround Crying Mom Whose Toddler Was Having A Meltdown At The Airport

A simple act of kindness from strangers. Fight back with beauty!


9. Looking for a New Read?

Michael McGregor, professor of creative writing and frequent writing coach at the Collegeville Institute, recently compiled a list of upcoming books by students and coachees. I’m touched that he included God, Improv, and the Art of Living, which is available for pre-order. Some cool-looking books here!


10. And on that note…

I am putting together my street team for the launch of the book, and am looking for people who are willing to:

  • receive an advance copy
  • write an honest review of the book on Amazon as close to the May 8 drop date as possible
  • talk it up on social media
  • and generally share enthusiasm about the book.

Is that you? If so, contact me at the contact link here at my website, and I’ll get you set up. Thank you!

Ten for Tuesday

Away we go…


1. Food Trends–Mari Andrew

From her wonderful Instagram feed. Robert and I chuckled in recognition, reflecting on many many meals, and many meal trends we’ve shared together:


2. Our One Fight

Interesting series from Slate, in which couples write thoughtfully about the fights they have and how they are mostly variations of one specific fight.


3. After Surgery in Germany, I Wanted Vicodin, Not Herbal Tea

I’m not sure where I land with this article, in which the author receives a hysterectomy and her German medical team prescribes nothing but Ibuprofen afterwards. I don’t want people to suffer needlessly. But runners will tell you that there’s a difference (or can be) between pain and suffering. And it doesn’t surprise me that the United States prescribes painkillers at a higher rate than other countries. As we come to terms of an opioid crisis, we need to think more about that. And as the author’s surgeon points out, pain conveys important information:

“Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”


4. Photographer Jonathan Higbee Discovers a World of Coincidence on the Streets of New York

More at the link, but here is a favorite:


5. Combatting Homelessness with the Power of Running–and Encouragement

A story about Back on My Feet, a wonderful organization. Via the Baltimore Sun:

Owens, a graduate of a local addiction recovery program, is a volunteer team leader for Back on My Feet, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that, in the words of its mission statement, “combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.”

The national organization encourages men and women who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to take part in regular early-morning group runs as a point of entry to a longer-term program of personal empowerment.

Makes my heart happy!


6. Free Downloadable Coloring Books from the World’s Great Collections

Get out those colored pencils and enjoy!


7. Liturgy  in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Here my friend, pastor Ashley Goff describes the worship practices and liturgical moves that helped the congregation she serves process the death of a longtime pastor, my friend Jeff Krehbiel. Beautiful.


8. Women Are Afraid Men Will Murder Them: A timely lesson on why sexual coercion isn’t consent.

The Asiz Ansari story seems like ancient history in Internet years, but this article is one that has endured for me:

Ask a man to tell you about his worst date and he’ll tell you a funny story about a lady who showed up dressed as a cat. Ask a woman to tell you about her worst date and she’ll tell you about a man who followed her home shouting that she was a whore.

The threat of violence is something that women consider when we walk home alone at night. It’s also something we consider when we walk home with a man on a first date.


9. Yes, You Are Probably Desended from Royalty. So Is Everyone Else.

Makes my head spin!

One fifth of people alive a millennium ago in Europe are the ancestors of no one alive today. Their lines of descent petered out at some point, when they or one of their progeny did not leave any of their own. Conversely, the remaining 80 percent are the ancestor of everyone living today. All lines of ancestry coalesce on every individual in the tenth century…

If you’re a human being on Earth, you almost certainly have Nefertiti, Confucius, or anyone we can actually name from ancient history in your tree, if they left children. The further back we go, the more the certainty of ancestry increases, though the knowledge of our ancestors decreases. It is simultaneously wonderful, trivial, meaningless, and fun.

I think it’ll preach.


10. With a Little Help from Their Friends–A Spotify Playlist

I shared this on Facebook, but in case you missed it–my brother created a playlist of the Beatles’s entire discography, performed by other artists. What a labor of love! Very fun listen.




Ten for Tuesday

It’s been a long time since I did a Ten for Tuesday post! Some of these links are “old” by Internet standards, but the Internet is a big place, so in the spirit of ICYMI… here are some things that inspired, confounded, and/or delighted me recently.

1. Science shows why it’s important to speak — not write — to people who disagree with you

Beliefs that are communicated by voice make the communicator seem more reasonable, even human, according to Schroeder, an assistant professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. But those same beliefs are stripped of the humanizing elements when the opinions are communicated on a piece of paper.

Facebook arguers, take note!


2. Recy Taylor’s brutal rape: the NAACP sent Rosa Parks to investigate

Parks was a civil rights hero before she ever sat down on that bus. Read the fuller story of the incident Oprah mentioned in her recent Golden Globes speech.


3. Realistic Birth Announcements

Humor… or is it?

On September 8th, my wife brought baby Jax into the world. I love him more than I have ever loved anything, but if you subbed him out with any baby from the nursery I honestly would not notice.


4. How to Raise a Sweet Son in an Era of Angry Men

This mother of a sweet son and spouse of a sweet man applauds this article.

Boys have always known they could do anything; all they had to do was look around at their presidents, religious leaders, professional athletes, at the statues that stand erect in big cities and small. Girls have always known they were allowed to feel anything — except anger. Now girls, led by women, are being told they can own righteous anger.Now they can feel what they want and be what they want.

There’s no commensurate lesson for boys in our culture.


5. Is there any point to protesting?

Happy second Women’s March, everyone! A review of recent books addresses the question.


6. He’s 22. She’s 81. Their friendship is melting hearts.

Their friendship began while playing Words with Friends:


7. Productivity Principle: Doing Nothing Can Help Get Things Done


Wise woman artist Ann Hamilton nailed it:

Our culture has beheld with suspicion unproductive time, things not utilitarian, and daydreaming in general, but we live in a time when it is especially challenging to articulate the importance of experiences that don’t produce anything obvious, aren’t easily quantifiable, resist measurement, aren’t easily named, are categorically in-between.

When is the last time you experienced that categorical in-betweenness? Probably when you were sick, eh?


8. 11 Things That Will Make You Laugh

Because sometimes you need the silliness.


9. How I became Christian again: my long journey to find faith once more

He found it through long runs and talk with an Episcopal priest. Lovely.


10. Sarah Silverman’s response to a Twitter troll is a master class in compassion

This story shines like the sun. It’s a few weeks old, and I wonder what the next step has been. Anyone know?


What has inspired you today?

Ten for Tuesday

It’s been a few weeks–been busy with the Healthy Holiday Streak (not too late to jump in!).

1. How the ‘Shalane Flanagan Effect’ Works

Was so excited when Shalane won the NYC Marathon! This story just adds to the joy:

But perhaps Flanagan’s bigger accomplishment lies in nurturing and promoting the rising talent around her, a rare quality in the cutthroat world of elite sports. Every single one of her training partners — 11 women in total — has made it to the Olympics while training with her, an extraordinary feat. Call it the Shalane Effect: You serve as a rocket booster for the careers of the women who work alongside you, while catapulting forward yourself.


2. Veteran who lost both legs completes 31 marathons in 31 days, runners trailing his every step

Marine Corps veteran Rob Jones wanted to change the narrative of the broken-down, wounded veteran struggling to transition to civilian life. So for the past 31 days, he kept running.

He ran to prove a point and to inspire. Jones, who had both legs amputated after being wounded by a land mine while serving in Afghanistan, ran the distance of 31 marathons over 31 days in 31 different cities.


3. Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild by Kathy Fish

resplendence of poets.

beacon of scientists.

raft of social workers.

A short poem with a poignant twist at the end.


4. Powerful [NSFW] Photos From The 2017 Birth Photo Competition Prove That Moms Are Badass

Raw, beautiful and fierce!


5. Brave Enough to Be Angry–Lindy West

Like every other feminist with a public platform, I am perpetually cast as a disapproving scold. But what’s the alternative? To approve? I do not approve.

Not only are women expected to weather sexual violence, intimate partner violence, workplace discrimination, institutional subordination, the expectation of free domestic labor, the blame for our own victimization, and all the subtler, invisible cuts that undermine us daily, we are not even allowed to be angry about it. Close your eyes and think of America.


6. Since You Asked, Roy Moore, Here Is Why Victims Of Sexual Violence Wait Decades To Come Forward

Seventeen good reasons here.


7. “I-Cut-You-Choose” Cake-Cutting Protocol Inspires Solution to Gerrymandering

Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates in Virginia received about 224,000 more votes than Republicans, out of about 2.4 million cast. And yet Republicans will probably end up with a 51-49 advantage. Why? Part of the answer is gerrymandering. I assume you’ve seen the maps–craziness!

I don’t have a lot of hope that our current partisan environment will be able to draw districts that are truly fair. But if we could, this article explains how it might work.


8. At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.

tl;dr — It’s fear.

I have seen similar evidence elsewhere. The question is, what quirk of the brain turns liberals into conservatives? I don’t like the frame that one side is more deficient than the other; we’re just deficient in different ways is all 😉


9. Can a Democrat and Republican make a marriage work?

I find political “mixed marriages” fascinating. And ultimately hopeful.

Rather, [Professor] Duncan suggests couples try to understand each other’s point of view and respect the right to feel strongly about something, which is what Chris says he has tried to do throughout his 40-year marriage.

“When your partner is someone from a different viewpoint, you really have to try to appreciate that viewpoint and understand that everyone’s got a valid point,” he said.


10. The Thirteen Questions That Lead to Divorce

Speaking of marriage… I missed the article in the Times two years ago that listed 36 questions that one psychologist says can “lead to love.” But this one appealed to the wicked side of my humor.