That’s a wrap

At the end of the year, I like to reflect and look forward. I used Sharon’s Annual Letter idea this year, and the realizations I had were varied and meaningful. Rather than sharing some of these intensely personal nuggets, I thought I would compile some of the material I used throughout the year that guided me.

That’s what I am sharing today. I think of it as a framework, or building blocks, of how I got to where I am today (which is a really good place). I am sharing with you a giant list of quotes from my paper journal, quotes I started collecting last fall and have continued to collect, though in lower volume, since then. These are the guiding principles of my growth, from October 2016 to now. Of course, these only scratch the surface. But maybe one or two will spark something for you as they all did for me (some were more of a punch in the chest than a spark).

At the bottom of the list, I also share the main books, websites/blogs, podcasts, and documentaries, plus one app, that were relevant to my development. Some have waned in importance while others have grown, but all mattered at some point in some manner along the way. When I heard Brooke interview Cait yesterday, Cait said that she too had spent a long time immersed in books, blogs, and podcasts, and the growth she experienced there was enough to learn to trust herself to sit with her darker feelings instead of numbing them, which enabled her to take the next step and see a therapist, not because she felt broken, but because she felt ready to do the deeper work. I had this same experience. So I think of these resources as great starting points. But they don’t do the work for you. That’s on you.

This entry is a smorgasbord of personal development wisdom and kitsch to mark the end of some kind of era. I hope you’ll take from it what you want. I didn’t attribute any of the quotes. Maybe some day when I’m not reading a novel per day for comps, I’ll go back and attribute them. For now, the insight should be enough. Some are paraphrases, often in Maria Popova’s words (I gain my supplementary humanities education from her and Krista). Some you’ll recognize as they are famous Joan Didion or Victor Frankl or Annie Dillard quotes that get splattered all over Pinterest and Instagram. Some are from guided meditations or my therapist! Some are coaching principles. Some have my annotations in italics. You can Google your favorites if you really want to know. If you can’t find them, just ask and I’ll happily track them down for you.


11/1/16: Circumstance leads to thoughts which lead to feelings which lead to actions which lead to results which lead back to circumstances and so on. Remember this as you choose your thoughts, especially if you’re not getting the results you want.

11/2/16: Our thoughts are opinions, not facts. Your feelings are fueling all of your actions.

11/7/16: Authenticity is not needing external approval to feel good about your actions.

Progress, not perfection.

11/19/16: State, Story, Strategy = What you focus on –> the meaning you give to it –> what to do. This creates your life.

11/28/16: 1. I define my success 2. The grass is not greener. 3. Saying no to one opportunity means saying yes to something more meaningful. 4. It’s rarely too late. 5. Every season ends. 6. Giving myself fully is success. 7. I can’t have it all and that’s okay. 8. Choosing a manageable life is choosing a good life. 9. There will be time. 10. This life right here, right now is beautiful.

12/1/16: From Covey = Thought –> action –> habit –> character –> destiny

12/6/16: …the ongoing process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with those most important things.

12/13/16: keywords from personal mission statement: authenticity, compassion, resiliency, gratitude, joy, trust, intuition, creativity, play, rest, calm, stillness, meaningful work, laugh, sing, dance, love of learning, forgiveness, curiosity.

12/14/16: The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.

12/21/16: Are you being more loyal to your dreams or to your fears?

12/22/16: We become creative when we forget our beliefs, stories, and rules about what’s supposed to happen. Where we think we need more discipline, we usually need more self-love.

1/1/17: You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.

1/2/17: Mantra: simplicity, patience, compassion.

1/3/17: The stillness you are busy trying to fill is the origin of your authenticity and truth. Why then, may I ask, are you so afraid of what you thirst?

1/11/17: Nobody can do it to me. Nobody can do it for me. If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.

1/13/17: Stop trying to come up with the perfect plan before you start. Focus on what matters the most. Do just one thing at a time to do the best and most focused job you can.

1/14/17: A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

1/26/17: Assume nothing.

1/28/17: Decisions, not conditions, determine my destiny.

2/14/17: When you think with an abundance mindset, the world becomes an abundant place. When you think that everything you need comes to you in the perfect time, it does. When you think of events in your life as opportunities instead of challenges, then they become opportunities–stepping stones to the next great adventure. When you trust your intuition to be your guide, to give you awareness, clarity, and focus, it does.

2/22/17: Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief. for relief, for misery, for joy.

2/24/17: What I let go of: the need to be perfect, the need to be busy all the time, self-criticism, blaming, judging, making assumptions about what other people feel, want, or think, competing with others. chasing happiness, worrying about the future, pleasing others.

2/28/17: Rest in the uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect yourself. Befriend who you are already.

3/2/17: Let go of the storyline and open to what is. We have a certain life, and whatever life we’re in is a vehicle for waking up. Resisting is what causes suffering.

3/5/17: 3 futile strategies = attacking, indulging, ignoring. Try fully experiencing what you’ve been resisting. Become inquisitive about your habits.

3/11/17: The people who repel us unwittingly show us aspects of ourselves that we find unacceptable, which otherwise we can’t see.

Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.

3/14/17: Top 5 Regrets of the Dying = I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. I wish I hadn’t worked so much. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

3/27/17: It is better to follow the voice inside and be at war with the whole world than to follow the ways of the world and be at war with your deepest self.

3/31/17: Assume everyone is doing the best they can with what they know and the resources they have.

4/1/17: Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

4/3/17: The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness–even our wholeheartedness–actually depends on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls.

4/17/17: Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or impossible place matters more than anything.

4/25/17: Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!

Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it, make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.

5/4/17: Cultivate a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.

5/18/17: Character–the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life–is the source from which self-respect springs.

5/22/17: Pay no attention to appearing. Being alone is important.

6 Pillars of a Whole-Hearted Life: 1. Live passionately and take risks, no matter how vulnerable they make you. No one ever died saying, “I’m sure glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I lived.” 2. Put your shadow’s power in service of your light. Wholeness does not mean perfection; it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of your life. 3. Do not be afraid of what is alien or other in the outer world. 4. Take on big jobs worth doing, like the spread of love, peace, justice. Refuse to be seduced by our cultural obsession with being effective as measured by short term results. Be faithful to the long haul, to your gifts, to your perception of the needs of the world, and offering your gifts to whatever needs are within your reach. 5. Violence is what happens when we don’t know what to do with our suffering. Sometimes we aim it at ourselves–overwork, substance abuse. Sometimes against others, by trying to claim superiority over them. Allow your pain to create a greater capacity for love. 6. Hold a healthy awareness of your own mortality.

5/23/17: And yet we continue to grasp for precisely that assurance of the future, which remains an abstraction. Our only chance for awakening from this vicious cycle is bringing full awareness to our present experience–something very different from judging it, evaluating it, or measuring it against some arbitrary or abstract ideal.

5/25/17: How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

Don’t make life a ceaseless seesaw oscillating between the extremes of haste and procrastination.

5/30/17: True self, when violated, will always resist us, sometimes at great cost, holding our lives in check until we honor its truth.

How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity–the true self within every human being that is the seed of authentic vocation.

6/12/17: Anger is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness. It’s the hiding from the full measure of our fears and our uncertainty and our vulnerability.

Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the original wound but draws us closer to its source. Forgiveness is an act of compassion, not forgetting. You assume a larger identity than you had when you were hurt. This person can put an arm around the hurt person inside and the person who did the hurting. It allows us to shape a future we want for ourselves. It requires time and application, and we know this but somehow we still must go through the cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing, and eventual blessing.

6/15/17: If we bring forth what is within us, it will save us. If we do not bring forth what is within us, it will destroy us.

She didn’t want to be liberated from her emotions but to have their importance confirmed.

6/19/17: Be where you are. Do things in joy.

6/29/17: A person’s authentic nature is a series of shifting, variegated planes that establish themselves as she relates to different people; it is created by and appears within the framework of her interpersonal relationships.

Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue…Temperament is the wire on which the beads are strung.

7/22/17: The secret of happiness = find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.

Prestige warps your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

When you do something that is basically guaranteed to succeed, you’re closing the possibility for discovery.

All things are uncertain and that’s what makes me feel reassured.

One has to discover everything for oneself. And get over it all alone.

There is more to understanding the human condition than science and secular literature generally admit.

It is a fault to wish to be understood before we have made ourselves clear to ourselves.

A friend is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

7/31/17: Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in your journey.

The real battle is always in your mind. And your mind is in your control, not the other way around.

When you’re too obsessed with a goal, you begin to think who you are right now isn’t good enough.

9/19/17: People don’t want to be told what they’re doing wrong. Share how you feel, then the ball is in their court. If they play, keep them around. If not, don’t.

9/20/17: How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.

10/17/17: Be. Receive. Give thanks.

Inspiration is for amateurs–the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will–through work–bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great idea. And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you did yesterday, and tomorrow you are going to do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.

12/10/17: You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there but you need to know where you want to go.


Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, Byron Katie

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson

Anything by Brené Brown

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert

Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, Tara Mohr

Anything by Pema Chödrön

Anything by Parker Palmer

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, Todd Henry

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

WEBSITES/BLOGS, with Maria Popova, with Catherine Beard, with Leo Babauta, with Caroline Rector, with Cait Flanders, with Courtney Carver, with Jennifer, with Alexandra Franzen (or her YouTube channel for Marie TV), with Marie Forleo


The Lively Show, hosted by Jess Lively (especially the interviews from the early seasons)

The Good Life Project, hosted by Jonathan Fields (the interviews)

Super Soul Conversations, hosted by Oprah!

The Slow Home Podcast, hosted by Brooke McAlary

Design Yourself, hosted by Sharon Lipovsky

Design Matters, hosted by Debbie Millman

On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett


Insight Timer (the guided meditations!)


Innsæi: The Power of Intuition

Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things


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