Tag Archives: Cheryl Strayed

this piece of writing made my heart stretch

4 Oct

I am in awe of Cheryl Strayed’s writing. I find it so raw, honest and human. She’s so brave in her choices as a writer and it opens something up in me. After finishing her memoir “Wild“, I ran to the bookstore to buy another book of hers, entitled “Tiny Beautiful Things“. It’s a compilation of her Dear Sugar posts which was an advice column she wrote on Rumpus. Before reading this book, I thought “advice columns” were silly.  But her column blows my mind. She has an uncanny ability to read between the lines of a question. Her responses are so thoughtful, deep and soulful. She’s also not afraid to share herself and the result is exquisite.

I devoured “Tiny Beautiful Things” on the plane heading back to LA on Monday. Each post awakened something different in me and made me feel closer to humanity. But the last post made me laugh and cry and it brought me to my knees. I wanted to share it with you because it may be my favorite piece of writing ever.

……….

Dear Sugar,

I read your column religiously. I’m twenty-two. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early forties. My question is short and sweet: What would you tell your twentysomething self if you could talk to her now?

Love,

Seeking Wisdom

………

Dear Seeking Wisdom,

Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea.

In the middle of the night in the middle of your twenties when your best friend crawls naked into your bed, straddles you, and says, You should run away from me before I devour you, believe her.

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

When that really sweet but fucked up gay couple invites you over to their cool apartment to do Ecstacy with them, say no.

There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.

One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You just don’t know it yet.

You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold one really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin, you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus with holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.

Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naive pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t “mean anything” because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry  and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave your under arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you.

Yours,

Sugar

Dig deep

17 Sep

My desire to write a book has been tugging at me a lot recently. I can’t think of anything more gratifying than accomplishing this goal. It’s been something I have wanted to do since I was 20. It’s always been one of those “one day I will” goals. Like “one day I will” fly to the moon. Six months into writing this blog, I wrote a book proposal for 365 til 30. I was pretty proud of this 50 page document at the time. I thought I did a pretty good job considering I had never written a book proposal before. I thought it was where it needed to be. But now when I look at it I realize that I only scratched the surface. Actually, I’ve only dragged a tiny sewing needle across the surface of it. There is still so much that needs to be explored. This new-found realization both excites me and terrifies me. I think the biggest question that needs answering isn’t…why was my life was such a mess when I turned 29?

Knowing that I needed some inspiration and guidance, I reached out to a writer friend whom I admire and respect greatly. She’s so damn smart and honest that I just knew she’d help me unlock something. We spent a few hours talking about my book and I left feeling inspired. Her notes to me were simple- Dig deep when writing my book, be willing to go to the places that scare me and get in a writing class so I can be surrounded by other writers.

I immediately went home and scoured the internet in search of a writing class that suited my needs. I finally stumbled upon a class called “Memorable Memoir” and thought it sounded perfect, so I signed up and my first class is tonight. I think this most definitely constitutes a new “artist date” with myself, don’t you think?

I’m excited to see what will come from this experience.

Lastly, I want to share Cheryl Strayed’s advice to writers because I just love it. I plan on reading it every single morning until I have a finished book in my hands.

1. Write a lot.
2. Don’t be in a hurry to publish.
3. Find the work that moves you the most deeply and read it over and over again. I’ve had many great teachers, but the most valuable lessons I learned were from writers on the page.
4. Be brave. Write what’s true for you. Write what you think. What about what confuses you and compels you. Write about the crazy, hard, and beautiful. Write what scares you. Write what makes you laugh and write what makes you weep. Writing is risk and revelation. There’s no need to show up at the party if you’re only going to stand around with your hands in your pockets and stare at the drapes.

happy list

6 Sep

things that have been making me happy recently…

– spending hours (yes hours) watching “Breaking Bad” with Brian. We got to the “Breaking Bad” party late but we are making up for lost time. We are obsessed. The other night we watched 3 in a row- that’s close to 3 hours of television! We would have watched more but we had finished the DVD. We’re like addicts over here.

– my yoga practice. My time on the mat keeps me sane. 

– elephants. My obsession started when I learned that I can ride an elephant when we are in Nepal! This is going to be me-

– putting my vision boards in full display again. I think Brian was a little surprised when he got home from work and it greeted him at the front door! I mean, don’t I look beyond happy in that middle picture?!

– the book “Wild”- Cheryl Strayed is an incredible writer. 

my weekly hikes in the Santa Monica mountains

– spending mornings writing at my favorite coffee shop

– this quote

“Write like a motherfucker.” ― Cheryl Strayed 

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What’s been making you guys happy recently??