Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally Sale-$13.57!

Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally. Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally

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In October 2003, Patti Digh’s stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later. The timeframe made an impression on her. What emerged was a commitment to ask herself every morning: What would I be doing today if I had only 37 days left to live? The answers changed her life and led to this new kind of book. Part meditation, part how-to guide, part memoir, Life is a Verb is all heart. 

 

Within these pages—enhanced by original artwork and wide, inviting margins ready to be written in—Digh identifies six core practices to jump-start a meaningful life: Say Yes, Trust Yourself, Slow Down, Be Generous, Speak Up, and Love More. Within this framework she supplies 37 edgy, funny, and literary life stories, each followed by a “do it now” 10-minute exercise as well as a practice to try for 37 days—and perhaps the rest of your life.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #2321 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-08-26
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 240 pages

Features

This book contains a radical thought: Your life is bigger than headline news5
In the beginning, this book really annoyed me.

Here’s the set-up: “In October of 2003, my stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later.”

Tragic. Though I can’t imagine, I can empathize. But then comes the goopy stuff:

“The time frame of 37 days made an impression on me. We often live as if we have all the time in the world, but the definite-ness of 37 days was striking. So short a time, as if all the regrets and joys of a life would barely have time to register before time was up….”

“I tried to reconcile the fact that this fearful death was happening with the understanding that I needed to make something good out of it. What emerged was a commitment to ask myself this question every morning: What would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?”

Well, you know the answer. Savor every second. “Enjoy every sandwich,” as the dying Warren Zevon put it. Buddhism 101. The punch line of a million self-help books.

So was I moved by Ms. Digh’s approach to her theoretical last 37 days — pumping out reams of writing so her young daughters would have some idea who Mom was? No. And not because I’m hard-hearted. It’s just that I’ve heard all this. Many times, most recently in “Improv Wisdom”, which I consider the last word on Showing Up and Being Here.

But I stumbled on, past the beautifully designed pages with the lovely art and the super-sincere poems by poets I’d never heard of, until I achieved the entrance to Part One. “Inhabit Your Story.” The predictable moral arrived on schedule: “Find the change you can make and make it.”

On to Part Two: “The Six Practices for Intentional Living.” Which includes: “Dance in your car”, followed by “carry a small grape” and “always rent the red convertible” and “say wow when you see as bus”.

What was I doing in this Birkenstock gulag, surrounded by Good Thoughts?

But then I hit the story of Ms. Digh sitting on a plane next to a boor, and how they became close friends. The next page brought another compelling story. The Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, sick in India, is bothered by a large brown woman who crowds her on the couch of the hotel lobby. For days. On the fourth day, the woman’s husband shows up to say he had been sending his wife there to pour her warmth and life energy into the body of the dying Woodman. The woman had, Woodman decided, saved her life. And then came the story of Digh’s college lover, back in 1978. Richard was African-American. Her parents were less than thrilled. The relationship withered. Flash-cut to now. Richard is now Amanda. He wears his old girlfriend’s earrings.

Tell me enough stories, and one will be an arrow to the heart. Richard-and-Patti was, and then, suddenly, they all were — and advice like “Go to a black barbershop to get your hair cut if you’re a Caucasian” no longer seemed monumentally trite. Reading on, I learned about hikaru dorodango — shiny Japanese mud balls — and how to make better ones simply by making more. I learned how to disagree by saying, elegantly, “I don’t see the truth in that.” I was reminded what a dollar can mean to the person ahead of you in the supermarket line. I encountered some very wise quotations, like this, from Eric Hoffer: “You can discover what your enemy fears by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”

In short, as I read on, I found myself getting sharper and smarter. I considered why it might be better to make a mistake — and learn from it — than strain to get everything right. And I read the obituary Patti Digh wrote recently for her father — who died in 1980, when she was in her teens — and misted over.

The stories in the news these days are so big. Tectonic plates are moving. History is being made. But then, it always is. “Life is a Verb” is a reminder that our lives are bigger than the stories in the headlines. A small thought? Not to me. Now I have to go back to the beginning and start again….

Equal measures Joy, Responsibility5
Inspired by the death of her step-father (and informed by the death of her father), Patti Digh’s book offers advice, nudges, and insistence toward joy and responsibility (not quite the word I want), in equal measure.

With essays like “Dance in Your Car,” “Follow Your Desire Lines,” and “Always Rent the Red Convertible,” Digh urges us to loosen up, take chances, take hold of this “one wild and precious life” (as she quotes Mary Oliver).

But she assumes a life of joy will be a life touched and shaped by other people, and she includes their care in her instruction manual. “Save Face for Someone Else,” and “Wear Pink Glasses” offer models of graceful ways of being with, seeing, and upholding other people. “Love Unloveable People” gently offers each of us a daunting challenge: to respond to what is good in everyone.

Digh doesn’t overlook the challenges of relationship, including our relationship to self. From “Choose Your Seatmates Wisely,” to “Burn those Jeans,” “Don’t Sell Your Red Shoes” and “Say Wow When You See a Bus,” she offers fresh perspectives on familiar situations and straight-jackets of “propriety,” inviting each of us to find a way to be a little more authentic.

The essays alone would be engaging and provocative, as Digh has proven in her blog, 37days. In the book a precious few are arranged to illustrate her six-point guide to a life marked by Intensity, Inclusion, Integrity, Intimacy, Intuition, and Intention. Each is followed by a short exercise to help the reader respond to and integrate the example, and a longer “movement” exercise that readers are invited to take up for 37 days: be alone for 30 minutes every day, write ten letters (in longhand) over the course of 37 days, ask yourself at lunch (for 37 days) “Am I becoming someone I respect?”

Digh suggests we take on that last question at lunch, so that we have the afternoon to save ourselves, if we are failing. It is just this kind of gentle wisdom, this confidence in all of us, that leads me to embrace this book.

Thoughtful Joy5
It makes you think about how to live your life better - not necessarily more organized or efficient or more anything, unless the “more” is some part of your own personal “better”. The writing exercises are excellent, bite-sized, and spur you to much deeper consideration of the topics. And the writing itself is funny, real, down-to-earth and extremely moving. I’ve bought one copy and will buy several more as gifts.

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