You Don’t Have To Be Brave

If you stop to think about the amount of tragedies that can happen in life, it’s quite paralyzing.

The thought of failure, of losing a loved one, of all the ways a life can be turned around in a single moment can make you never want to leave the house.

Sometimes when I’m driving down the freeway or on mountain roads, I think about how little separates me from life and death. If I keep my hand still on the steering wheel, I’m alive. If I move it six inches either way, I ram head on into traffic or send my car barreling off a cliff. Six inches of hand movement between life and death—that’s all there is. [Read more…]

God Belongs To The Broken

This is my favorite poem ever:

“Every Riven Thing,” by Christian Wiman

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.

[Read more…]

Do You Get Tired Of The Noise?

Do you ever get tired of the noise?

The websites calling for your attention.

The potential Instagram shots.

The pins and tweets and posts.

The click bait and listicles.

I know I do.

[Read more…]

12 Tricks To Improve Your Writing And Stop Sounding Like An Idiot

For my job, I improve people’s writing.

In the past 18 months, I’ve edited more than 300 papers. And I find myself making the same corrections on almost every paper.

They are not complex changes. They are simple edits to make the language stronger. But they prevent the author from sounding like an idiot and instead help the author sound like an intelligent scholar.

I want to share those common problems with you so that you can start writing like the intelligent person you are.

So, if you are looking to improve your writing, here are 12 simple ways to do it:

[Read more…]

You Don’t Miss What You Willingly Give Away

Two years ago, I decided to give away all my books.

I had over 200, and they were my prized possessions. But I was moving across the country, and I had to fit everything into a ‘99 Camry. So some things had to go.

But honestly, it wasn’t just that I was moving. There was something about living with less that appealed to me. I wanted to be able to pack up my stuff and go. I felt my possessions were weighing me down.

Do you ever get that feeling? Like your possessions are closing in on you?

[Read more…]

Bon Iver And God’s Glorious Redemption

It was found, what we orphaned. –Bon Iver, “Beth/Rest”

This line has been stuck in my head for the past few months.

It was found what we orphaned.

It was found what we orphaned.

It was found what we orphaned.

I love it because it’s all about redemption.

[Read more…]

The Smallness Of Love

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal ran a story about a heartbroken Argentinean farmer who built a giant forest in the shape of a guitar to honor his late wife.

It’s quite a romantic story.

It got me thinking about the size of love. Does bigger love mean doing bigger things? Can you measure love by how big it appears on the outside?

I don’t think so.

At least in my 24 years (i.e., I’m not an expert) I haven’t found that to be the case. [Read more…]

How Vulnerable Is Too Vulnerable?

I’m currently on the job hunt, and I know that some employers Google applicants, so lately I’ve been thinking about how I portray myself online.

I try to be vulnerable here in hopes that you will read it and be encouraged and maybe not feel alone.

But I wonder if that reflects poorly on me in the eyes of employers. Maybe I share too much and maybe I should keep my flaws secret and maybe too much vulnerability is a shortcut to unemployment.

Or maybe it shows I’m human and real and taking practical steps to better myself. Maybe it shows that I care about people and am losing my tolerance for all the crap we do to make ourselves look perfect. And maybe employers would like that. That’s what I hope.

[Read more…]

How Not To Help Someone Who Self-Injures

Self-injury is an uncomfortable topic.

It’s complex and messy and stigmatized and probably hits close to home for a lot of people. It’s easier to pretend it doesn’t exist or doesn’t affect our lives.

But the reality is, nearly one in four adolescents self-injure, whether it’s cutting or eating disorders or some other form of harm.

And while cutting and eating disorders might not be as common post-adolescence, I think self-injury just takes on different forms, like excessive drinking, sleeping around, smoking, or living an unhealthy lifestyle. We know it hurts us, but it helps us cope.

The truth is, self-injury is very real, and it’s very present, and people around us are hurting.

And it’s time we start doing something to help. [Read more…]

How To Help Someone Who Is Cutting

It was 70 degrees today in Denver. People were outside in shorts and t-shirts, welcoming summer with open arms and exposed skin.

I passed one girl and noticed cuts up and down her arms.

I recognized them immediately. They were the end product of self-injury.

And seeing them broke my heart.

It reminded me that people are hurting. And people are cutting themselves to deal with the pain or the pressure or the loneliness.

An estimated 12–23% of adolescents today self-injure. Nearly ¼ of the adolescent population.

That number is staggering.

So what can we do? How can we respond? [Read more…]

Redefining Extraordinary

In order to do something extraordinary, you don’t need to change the world.

You don’t need to start a million dollar business, accomplish an athletic feat, or have a perfectly maintained Instagram feed.

You just need to do something extra than what is ordinary for you.

Extraordinary is a sliding, subjective scale, unique to each individual person.

The truth is, we were made to do extraordinary things. [Read more…]

Today, Just Show Up

Do something extraordinary.

Change the world.

Make a difference.

My veins have been pumped with these messages since I was young. The expectation was set: in order to live a good, valuable life, you have to do something impressive.

As a result, I feel a sense of urgency to be known, to be spectacular, to be great. It’s often paralyzing. And every day I don’t do something important, I feel like a waste.

This is the standard that has been imparted to a lot of us.

But here’s the thing: the bar was set too high. The expectations are crushing us.

So, I’m lowering the standards. [Read more…]

Your Past Does Not Define You

Winter Pathway
Doug Brown via Compfight

This is a baptism, I said to the empty passenger seat. I didn’t get a response. But I’m no theologian, I quickly clarified to no one.

The cornfields and pastures of western Wisconsin gave way to birch forests as I drove east. They waved their branches and beckoned me deeper in.

The drive was a familiar one. I went to college in Wisconsin and grew up in Minnesota.

I live in Denver now, but I still remembered the highways, the trees, the traffic. The way the clouds hang heavy, the sun reflecting off the snow, the feel of the steering wheel turning slowly through farmlands. [Read more…]

Book Review: The Plague of Doves

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 3.02.00 AMBook Under Review

The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich

What is the book about?

A murder in small-town North Dakota and how it shaped the community through the coming generations.

But what is it really about?

Luck, fate, power, time, self-discovery, the shocking nature of existence. [Read more…]

5 Ways Forgiveness Can Improve Your Health, Backed By Science

-MRGT via Compfight cc
-MRGT via Compfight cc

We’ve all been hurt by someone, whether it was parents or strangers or that person who broke your heart in college. And most of us are wronged fairly often, whether it’s someone cutting us off in traffic or being a jerk at the grocery store or a boss that doesn’t treat us fairly.

When we are hurt or wronged, there are essentially two routes we can take: forgive or not forgive (hold a grudge, stay angry, get revenge).

Forgiveness is typically taught as the right thing to do. It’s often considered a virtue. But does it help us lead a better life?

Specifically, is forgiveness good for our health?

Does it have tangible, measurable, positive effects? [Read more…]