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Tips for Adulthood: Create an Image File

leather jacket

Photo by Yehor Milohrodskyi on Unsplash

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

I’m a great fan of decluttering. On a therapeutic level – and especially if you’re in the midst of a life transition – it feels cleansing to shed something. On a practical level, when you declutter, you also discover things wonderful things you’d forgotten about entirely.

When I was clearing out my own stuff recently I happened upon a folder that I didn’t recognize at first. It was entitled “Image Folder,” and it took me a minute or two to clock what it was.

Back when I took some time off to re-think my life a few years back (Chapter 326c), I assiduously tackled Julia Cameron’s The Artists’s Way as a tool for getting in touch with my creative self. Among the many techniques Cameron advocates for igniting your creativity, one that I’d completely forgotten about was her suggestion to create an image file:

“Start an Image File: If I had either faith or money I would try…List five desires. When you spot them, clip them, buy them, photograph them, draw them, collect them somehow. With these images, begin a file of dreams that speak to you. Add to it continually for the duration of the course.”

Here are five dreams that jumped out of my own image file:

a. Write and perform. Not surprisingly, my file contained several images of pens and microphones. This was clearly a nod to my desire to write and perform more. But there’s also a photo in there of someone jumping really high on a trampoline. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what that symbolized. And then I realized that it was an exhortation to have fun and take more risks. Or at least that’s how I interpret it now. That’s exactly what I’ve started doing with my new memoir writing project, which is all about family.

b. Travel and explore. Also unsurprisingly, the file contained several photos of assorted travel destinations. Some were of your proverbial sandy beach, but others showed a dense wood and an English stately home. When we first moved to England 14 years ago, I dragged my young kids to countless stately homes (think Downton Abbey) for tours of the houses and grounds. I believe that this image, in particular, was a reminder to “Be British” – a New Year’s resolution I set years ago to get to know my second home country better.

c. Be more fashionable. Don’t get me wrong. Most days I still amble about looking like a graduate student who is 5 minutes shy of eating her next Stouffer’s frozen pizza. Interestingly, however, my image file also contained a surprisingly high number of photos of lithe women wearing long, flowing blouses and – in one instance – a super-cool black leather jacket. Interestingly, there was also a picture of jewelry in there that looked exactly like the necklaces I’ve subsequently inherited from my mother.

d. Invest more time in cooking. One of the more surprising photos in the file – for anyone who knows me well – was picture of a bunch of spices. During that sabbatical year I took off to kick-start my career, I started investing more time in cooking. Among other things, cooking sated my inner project manager. Because I wasn’t working, I needed an outlet for that side of my personality. Once I settled into my new career as a communications consultant, however, the cooking goal fell somewhat to the wayside. But I’ve returned to it during lockdown. The new rule is that I make only three meals a week, and the other three members of my family each have to contribute one of their own. (The seventh night we do takeout, per the Lord’s Commandment that you have one day of rest.) We mainly draw on the New York Times Five Weeknight Dishes for inspiration. Not surprisingly, we are eating a lot better now.

e. Drink better beer. I was far from shocked to discover a photograph of a large glass of beer. In the immortal words of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, “I like beer.” In the years since I’ve become a lightweight in the drinking department, I’ve become a real connoisseur of low-alcohol beers (which I define as beer with an APV under 4%, but most people classify as under 3%.) That may sound wimpy, but I live within spitting (stumbling?) distance of a veritable beer emporium which houses some 400 plus types of beer. (I choose my neighborhoods well.) And in recent years, there’s been an explosion of high-end, low-alcohol beers from which to choose.

What made me so happy about discovering this file was that I feel that in the three years since I made it, I’ve moved forward on all five of the dreams captured in those images. It’s still a work in progress, but I see all of this as part and parcel of moving towards my future self.

So this week’s challenge is to go out and collect images that inspire you to be your future self. Tell me what you find in the comments section…

Five Reasons Overseas Ballots Matter

vote

vote
Lisa Gilardi Help Tip the Vote

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

2020 is an election year like no other. A global pandemic, domestic unrest and an economic downturn have motivated many voters — and not just those in swing states — to go to the polls.

Experts are predicting record turnout. But what about those Americans living abroad? If you’re an American living overseas, here are five reasons your vote matters:

Read the rest of this post over on the Vote from Abroad blog

Why Taking Vacations Is Hard

vacation
Image: Chen Mizrach via Unsplash

When my mother died earlier this summer, I went back to the U.S. for two weeks and cleaned out her apartment. Most people wouldn’t consider clearing out their mother’s apartment a holiday. Trust me, it wasn’t.

And yet, I came back feeling like I didn’t deserve another break, even though – after her death and five months of lockdown – I was completely burnt out. My daughter pleaded with me to take a vacation in Europe while it was still possible and still cheap. (American friends who can’t even travel to the next state right now, apologies for what is to follow…)

I said yes, even though it felt wrong. We went to Venice and Malta for 10 days. I’d not been to Venice in 22 years. But with the most amazing walking tour book EVER in my hand, it was like discovering the city all over again. Meanwhile, I couldn’t even place Malta on a map before we went there. Now I’m completely au fait with the island, including the likes of the proverbial Blue Lagoon. (Paging Brooke Shields…)

Needless to say, that trip was the best thing I did this summer. It was fun, culturally stimulating, and totally relaxing. I bonded with my daughter and enriched my understanding of the world. (Top tip on Malta? Don’t eat the horse. Or the rabbit liver…ahem.) Lord knows when – in the current environment – I’ll be able to travel again.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is me. Work was slower than usual this summer due to Covid. That – ironically – created more time for a vacation. Lord knows there have been many summers over the past 15 years where the best I could muster was astaycation, a micro-trip, or no vacation at all. And yet, I felt that on some level I didn’t “deserve” to go away this summer.

Moreover, as an American with that firmly ingrained notion of “two weeks of vacation per year” lurking somewhere in my subconscious, it seemed like I’d already clocked my time when I went to the U.S. This, despite all the research telling us why vacations are actually good for productivity.

And let’s face it. When your work mantra is “more,” rather than enough, taking a vacation will always feel wrong.

But on the principle that if you want to change your life, you need to actually practice being your future self, I took the plunge and don’t regret it at all. I think about that trip every day. In fact, now that work has ramped up considerably, I firmly believe that trip is helping to fuel my energy.

How about you? Have you ever struggled with taking vacations? How did you cope?

My 10 Favorite Examples of British Slang

Union Jack flag
Image: Union Jack British Flag by Pete Linforth via Pixabay

From time to time, I enjoy sharing the wonderful peculiarities of British English I encounter during everyday life over here in the U.K. A few years back, I singled out that inimitable term, trouser tenting, to capture that moment in the morning when a gentleman might be – how to say? – more alert, aroused or otherwise excited.

Having just hit my 14th anniversary living in London, I long ago accustomed myself to the myriad ways in which Britain and America truly are – as George Bernard Shaw once put it – “two countries divided by a language.” The word “quite” for example, which means “very” in the United States, means “not very” when used here. (She’s “quite nice” means she’s just OK.) In a similar vein, if you “table” a motion in the UK, that means you’re opening it up for discussion. In the U.S., to table something is to remove it from consideration.

Still, it is the everyday differences I enjoy most. Here are ten of my favorite examples of British slang you might want to think about incorporating into your linguistic arsenal:

Read the rest of this post over at Better After 50

How I Remember My Mother

funky bracelet
Happy funky jewelry by SilverLines Jewelry via Flickr

When my mother died earlier this summer, my siblings and I decided to postpone her memorial service. At the time, the maximum amount of people allowed at an outdoor funeral in New Jersey, where she lived, was 30 (due to Covid). Just our family alone – with all of my nieces and nephews – would nearly hit that target, without even beginning to move into other family and friends. And once we factored in that her four closest surviving friends are all in their 80’s, and thus at high risk, we decided to wait.

I’m not sure that was the right decision. I’ve watched at least three other friends bury their parents this summer, and all of them opted for the small – but immediate – funeral. I have this gnawing fear that by the time a vaccine is developed and travel is safe again, it will be too late. We will have forgotten her.

That is, of course, an irrational fear. I was blessed with two parents with very strong personalities. It is literally impossible to forget them. I’ve also realized that without even intending to, I am now actively engaging with my mother on a daily basis in ways that bring her strongly to mind.

Books

I’ve mentioned before that my mother was an avid reader. That’s putting it mildly. One of the last things I did before vacating her apartment was to carefully parse out her books amongst my siblings. I chose non-fiction for my oldest brother, fiction for my sister and a blend of fiction and poetry for my own family.

All summer, I’ve been reading those books. I started with a John Le Carre thriller, Our Kind of Traitor. It isn’t even one of his most celebrated spy novels, but I enjoyed it thoroughly nonetheless. Then I moved on to a beautiful novel about music by Vikram Seth (of A Suitable Boy fame), called An Unequal Music. Right now, I’m reading a collection of short stories by Alice Munro.

As I make my way through these books – but particularly the Alice Munro, because she was one of my mother’s favorite authors – I feel very connected to my mom. I imagine what she might think about the characters, or how a particular reference to the Great Depression or World War II might resonate for her. I have this odd sensation that I am actually reading the book with her. And that is a beautiful thing.

Jewelry

A second way I am connecting to my mother is through her jewelry – (which, in his inimitable Jersey accent, my dad pronounced as “JEW-luh-ree.”) Because I gave all of my mother’s paintings to my siblings, I took her jewelry, which felt like a fair trade.

The funny thing about my mother’s jewelry is how out of keeping it was with the rest of her look. My mother’s style was exceedingly down-to-earth. She didn’t spend a lot of money on clothing and almost never wore make-up, save the odd dot of eye shadow or lipstick.

How odd, then, that her jewelry collection would be so eclectic and playful. She wore large, ceramic bangles…long, colorful beads…and silly, irreverent pins that poked out from her shirts. Underneath the practical, organized self she presented to the world, my mother’s inner actress beamed through in her accessories.

I wear that jewelry every day now. Some of it suits me and some of it doesn’t. But it doesn’t matter. It makes me feel close to her.

Sayings

The final way I invoke my mother on a daily basis is through her speech. Like many of us, my mother evolved an odd collection of sayings over the years, some of which she surely inherited from her own mother and some of which she invented.

She liked to describe rainy days as “soggy,” as in “It’s soggy out today.” She loved the Yiddish word “farmisht” (also pronounced “fermished”). This word literally means “crazy or messed up,” but my mother extended it to mean “broken” or “not working,” as in “These batteries are fermished.” She also dutifully “wogged” her back every morning – her term for exercising and stretching. (At least two of my friends have written to me since her death telling me that they have appropriated this term from her. Love.)

If you lost something, and it was visible to the naked eye, she’d say “If it were a snake, it would bite you!” But if you looked for the item, and no one could find it, she’d joke: “I saw seven guys running down Heights Road with it!” (Heights Road was the street I grew up on).

I find myself using these expressions regularly now. Each time I do so, my face brightens with her memory.

If you’ve lost someone close to you, how do you invoke their presence in your daily life? Please share in the comments section.

How to Move Forward After a Major Life Change

swimming pool
swimming pool
Swimming pool hair girl by voodoovood via Pixabay

The aftermath of a parent’s death – especially when it’s your second parent – provokes a range of feelings: confusion, loneliness, anger, regret…and, of course, sadness. Sooner or later, however, you’ll find yourself back in “normal life” and wondering what to do with yourself.

As I undergo this grieving for my own mother’s passing, I find myself reflecting – in real time – on how one manages the complex array of feelings that accompany re-entry. Here are some tools that are helping me:

Decluttering

The first thing I did when I returned home from clearing out my mother’s apartment after she died was to start clearing out my own home. I didn’t intend to do a full-scale decluttering. But as soon as I pulled on one string – clearing out a filing cabinet that was so over-stuffed with workshop materials I could no longer close it – I found that – almost seamlessly – I began moving on to other drawers, inboxes and rooms. (Well, OK, not this one…) The purge took a couple of days, but boy, did I feel lighter afterwards.

In a recent article on managing transitions, best-selling author Bruce Feiler talks about how helpful it can be to “shed something.” He has in mind something a bit more abstract than emails: “mind-sets, routines, delusions, dreams. Like animals who molt when they enter a new phase, we cast off parts of our personality or bad habits.”

Sure, yes, that too.

But as an erstwhile disciple of Marie Kondo, I also believe that tidying can be a useful vehicle for preparing for that new mindset. If we can get rid of all our excess stuff, and pare down to the things we really love…err, “spark joy,” we’ll see our lives more clearly, and be able to enact change in the new status quo.

Swimming

Because of the Coronavirus, it has been four and a half months since I last stepped into a swimming pool. I was so excited when my local gym finally re-opened that I signed up to participate in their “test day” to try out the new, socially distant workout procedures.

I can’t describe how refreshing it was to put my head back underwater again. Swimming confers many benefits, but one of them is mindfulness. There’s something about swimming up and down those lanes, and following that black line, that really puts you in the moment. I always feel more focused and relaxed when I emerge from the water.

Swimming is also, quite literally, cleansing. Research shows that there is a link between water and generating new ideas. I find that as I re-enter the pool this summer, I am not only re-discovering a natural way to calm down and strengthen my body; I am finding inspiration.

Rewrite Your Life

Which brings us to creativity. As Feiler points out in his essay, a life transition is fundamentally an exercise in meaning-making.

A parent’s death will, invariably, trigger all sorts of memories – some good and some painful. These will flood you when you least expect it. As Feiler writes, transitions can and should be “healing periods that take the frightened parts of our lives and begin to repair them.”

I have long felt on the brink of writing something much more deeply personal about my life – something rawer and more revealing. When I met my future self in an exercise recently, she gave permission to put down the manuscript I’ve been trying to publish for the past two years and pursue this new writing project. It’s one I’ve been taking notes on for ages, but have feared writing because it’s so personal.

“It’s OK to move on,” she was telling me. “Write the book you’re afraid to write.” I feel that my mother’s death has empowered me to do just that. I am embracing this moment to embrace myself, which is part of owning my story. Let the healing begin.

This post was originally published on Sixty and Me.

How Employers Must Adapt to an Age of Longevity

older worker with hoe

I absolutely loved The 100 Year Life, a book by two London Business School professors, Lynda Gratton and Andrew J. Scott. It was one of the first books to examine how our ability to live longer lives will transform the world of work. Whenever I encounter middle aged friends who feel stuck in their job/career/marriage/fill-in-the blank, I say “Read this! You’re going to live to be 100. Make the most of it!”

If you’re familiar with The 100 Year Life and/or the related research on aging and the future of work, the first two-thirds of the book’s sequel – The New Long Life: A Framework for Fourishing in a Changing World – covers familiar ground. There’s a lot more data in the second book, and an explicit focus on how advances in technology intersect with ageing trends.

But I was mainly interested in the final third of the book, where the authors stop identifying challenges and start talking about solutions. There are loads of actionable ideas in here for how we adjust work, school and public policy to accommodate longer, more productive lives. In an earlier blog I explored why it’s in the interest of businesses to adapt to embrace an ageing workforce. Here, I’ll zero in on the potential changes we need to see in the workplace to support this age of longevity:

Read the rest of this post over at The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing blog

Tips for Adulthood: Five Reasons to Clean Out Your Inbox

inbox full

On occasional Wednesdays, I offer tips for adulthood.

I was back in the United States recently, clearing out my mother’s home after she died. There were the more obvious, big-ticket items to divide among my siblings: artwork, jewelry and the like. And then there were the more random things to sort through: her enormous collection of greeting cards for every conceivable holiday, a lifetime supply of emory boards, and the chipped, ceramic figures from an erstwhile Christmas manger.

The decluttering bug firmly implanted, I returned home and immediately started clearing out my own home. But I decided not to limit my cleaning frenzy to actual stuff. I also did a virtual declutter.

I’m not one of those die-hard, Inbox Zero types. I’ve come to accept that there will always be a certain base level of flotsam cluttering up my inbox. Otherwise, I’d do nothing but eliminate emails all day long.

But there comes a time – and everyone has a different threshold – when you just can’t bear to look at your inbox splitting at the seams anymore. If you’re like me, you probably dread the idea of sitting down and going through it. Maybe there’s stuff in there that you’re trying to avoid. Or you fear that by managing your inbox, you will necessarily *not* be doing something else with your time.

Today’s post is meant to help you see that by setting aside time to clear out your inbox, you’ll actually feel calmer *and* more productive. Here’s why:

1. You get ideas. I’ve posted before about how I come up with ideas, whether it’s taking a “thinking shower” or going outside for a walk. When I get those ideas, I usually write them down in a little notebook I carry around. But sometimes – and especially if it’s an idea that I plan to save for a later date – I write myself an email about the idea with the thought of subsequently storing it in a file on my computer. Except that sometimes I never actually complete that second step. And so the idea – which has subsequently flown completely out of my mind – is essentially lost, drowning in the sea that is my inbox until I find the time to rescue it (which could be weeks, if not months.) Clearing out your inbox reminds you of those little gems that are hiding in the recesses of your brain.

2. You take action. Once you’ve been reminded of that cure for cancer you came up with while jogging one Thursday afternoon back in March, you might actually be inspired to do something about it. In my case, my virtual decluttering prompted me to send off an essay I’d written (gulp) 18 months ago to a major media outlet and also to get in touch with an agent I’d flagged but never actually contacted. Those were both things I’d been meaning to do for ages. But until I happened upon those items in my inbox, they were languishing on my long To Do list.

3. You reconnect with people. Scrubbing out your inbox also reminds you of friends and relationships that matter. I just found an email that was several months old from a friend who’d moved to Colorado last year. In it, she not only brought me up to speed on what she’s been up to, but reminded me of an idea I’d been meaning to write about for ages (See #1). Another email from an old friend reminded me that his father had passed away. While I’d already sent him a condolence letter, I remembered that I also wanted to send his mother one as well.

4. You feel accomplished. If you’re like me, half of your inbox is filled with things like “Buy bananas!” “Get birthday present for X!,” “Write post on Z!” In other words, half of your inbox is filled with things you’ve already done. (And we all know the joy of retro-actively crossing things off our to do lists!) With the rest of the items, you’re hopefully either executing them (see point #2) or storing them in a virtual home. Either way, you’ll feel like you’re getting stuff done.

5. You relax. And this is perhaps the greatest benefit of all. There’s nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned declutter, whether real or virtual. It takes years off your life…removes pounds from your body…lifts scales from your skin. (O.K., I”m mixing metaphors a bit but you get my drift.) Short of doing yoga, there’s really nothing quite so soothing.

The Personality Traits We Inherit From Our Parents

tennis racket

tennis racketOne of the beautiful aspects of losing someone you love is that people send you their memories of that person. When a friend from high school learned that my mother had died, she shared that news with her own mother, who played tennis with my mom for years. My friend shared this story via email:

One time our mothers were playing on a way back court. They see your father approaching. He strode past all the courts straight through to the one where our mothers were playing, lifted the latch and came onto the court. He had several ties hanging around his neck and called out, “Daryl! Which one should I wear?” Apparently, he had a big court appearance and wanted to look just right.

The vignette captured my parents’ respective personalities – and the dynamic underlying their 50-year marriage – beautifully. My mother was the brains behind the operation and the one who made sure the trains ran on time. My Dad brought the charm and unpredictability.

Behavioral Styles

This story got me thinking – again – about personality types. One of most popular workshops I deliver to corporate clients focuses on communication styles. The model draws on the  work of two psychologists – Robert and Dorothy Grover Bolton – and their model of “behavioral  styles.”
Bolton & Bolton argue that two main dimensions can explain and predict how people behave: assertiveness and responsiveness.
Assertiveness is the degree to which people’s behavior is seen as forceful and directive.  Responsiveness is the degree to which people are seen as showing emotions or demonstrating sensitivity.
The two dimensions yield four resultant “people styles”: quick to action but less demonstrative is the Driver type – these are the “Get it done, damn it!” types. Bold and impulsive, but also charismatic are the Expressive types. These folks are the life of the party. Less assertive but deeply empathetic are the Amiable types – your classic “people people.” And finally, thorough and detailed, but emotionally reserved, are the Analytical types.
In a professional context, the model is meant to help you identify your own type, appreciate how others may see you and – crucially – learn how flex your style so that you can get along effectively with different types you encounter at work. From a personal standpoint, what I find interesting about this model is how perfectly I can place my parents into two of those boxes. My mother was your classic Driver:  highly organised, efficient and action-oriented, but at times practical to a fault. My father was a vintage Expressive: an enthusiastic storyteller who connected with people easily, but couldn’t keep track of details.
I’m right on the line between the two types: organized and logical on the one hand, but lively and voluble on the other.  I’ve written before about how my current portfolio career as a communications consultant suits me well for psychological reasons: it combines the pragmatic trouble-shooter of the editor, with the animated cheerleader of the coach. But until my friend sent me the story about the tennis court, I’d never linked this dichotomy back to my parents.

When I shared this insight with another friend of mine, he concurred. He’s worked for nearly two decades in assorted senior roles in a global financial services company. A couple of years ago, he started coaching younger colleagues in the company on the side, and he now leads the company’s talent development division. As he explained it:

“My mother was a school teacher who once told me that she loves nothing more than seeing a child develop. After business school, my father took a job with Yellow Freight in Kansas City where he worked for about 25 years.  He was a company man… very loyal and got a lot of his value through his contribution at work.
While the links to my father were apparent early in my professional career, the links to my mother were a little more subtle.  Over time though, I realize that working with individuals on my team and helping them develop is what provided me the most reward.  In some ways, my most recent role has consummated that professional marriage between my mother and father.”
What our parents leave us 

I wrote recently about the things our parents give us when they die. (In my case, this amounted to a life-long love of writing and a bottle of instant decaffeinated coffee, among other treasures.) But we take other things forward as well: who they were as people and how those traits embed themselves within us.

As I settle into a prolonged stage of reflection – and grief – over the deaths of both of my parents, I take comfort not only in their memories, but in how they live on within me.

Image: Tennis Racket and Balls via Wikimedia Commons

What My Mother Left Me When She Died

flowers in a vase

flowers in a vaseI lost my mother recently. It wasn’t to Covid19, thank goodness. But it was very sudden. Because of the virus, I was not able to make a planned trip to spend Easter with her this year. Indeed, and like so many other families who have lost a parent in the last few months, none of her four children were able to see her during the last few months of her life.

What I Notice

When you lose someone you love, memories of them resurface when you least expect it. Some friends here in London sent me some beautiful flowers when they heard of my mother’s death. As I went to change the water one day, I found myself reaching for the sugar bowl. My mother always told me that if you changed the water on flowers every day – and added a teaspoon of sugar – the flowers would live longer. She was full of practical, everyday wisdom like that.

Then my husband opened our pantry and noticed a jar of instant decaffeinated coffee lurking in one of the back corners. The bottle was a holdover from my mother’s last visit some two and a half years ago, the last time she was able to travel alone. I don’t think either one of us ever actually clocked that jar before. It had blended into the obscure architecture of the back cupboard, along with other, long-neglected items like a bottle of yeast extract and a can of Brunswick Canadian Style sardines.

Suddenly, that jar was all we could see. Neither one of us could bring ourselves to throw it out, even though there is no way on God’s earth that either one of us will ever drink instant coffee in this lifetime.

Rituals and Values

Another thing that happens when a parent dies is that you begin to appreciate all the myriad ways you’ve begun adopting their idiosyncratic habits. Ten years ago, I wrote a blog post about five ways I was turning into my mother. These included things like carrying a large library book with me everywhere I go, lest things get dull…doing extensive back exercises every morning, much to the chagrin of my teenaged children…and re-purposing everything I possibly can to save money, including – yes – tea bags.

That list of shared behaviors has grown. When my mother moved from the last house she owned into a small apartment in an independent living facility, she could only bring one bookshelf. A voracious reader (see library books, above), she had amassed an impressive collection of novels, history and plays over the course of a lifetime. But she chose to bring only poetry with her to her new home. I’ve never read poetry in my life. A few months ago, I started reading it too.

I’ve also begun replicating her values. My mother became active in the League of Women Voters when, as a young mother with four children, she moved to a new town where she didn’t know anyone. That political commitment carried on for the next 50 years. Right up into her mid-80’s, she was still making phone calls for her local congressional candidate of choice.

I’ve never been particularly politically active, save attending the odd protest here and there and supporting causes I believe in on social media. This year, I joined a team of virtual volunteers leading the charge to get out the vote among Americans living overseas.

The Gift of Writing

The greatest gift my mother gave me – and certainly the one with the longest staying power – was teaching me how to write. My mother wrote plays, children’s stories and a terrific family history I’ve had occasion to re-read in the wake of her death. When I was in high school, she would sit with me for hours and go over my essays, advising me on structure, wording and tone. Everything I know about writing I learned from her.

When I took some time off years ago to work on a novel, she sent me a poem about writing, which I posted on my blog. It was partly a poem about resilience: about falling down and getting back up, which is, of course, what writing is all about. It was also about how much we feel is riding on those words. But it was also about mothers and daughters, and how we connect through the shared struggle of writing…and life.

I end this post with the closing verse of that poem, called The Writer by Richard Wilbur:

It is always a matter, my darling,

Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish

What I wished you before, but harder.

Image: Dahlias in a vase via Pxfuel

This post originally ran on Sixty and Me.