Here is a list of things that have inspired me this summer.
1. Goaty Goodness at Heifer Village in Little Rock.
Heifer International has a lofty, yet imperative, mission: to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. The organization’s obvious commitment to that mission is evident from the award-winning “green” engineering and architecture of the exterior to the educational and museum-like design of the interior. In May I attended the Village’s one year anniversary party to check out the place and to buy a goat on behalf of participants of a pay-what-you-can yoga class. I’m here to tell you from first-hand experience, goaty goodness abounds at that place.
This trip was shortly after the start of the BP oil disaster. My fill of Goaty Goodness sustained me through the long summer of stressful news reports. It is reassuring to know that close by there is a group of committed individuals working together to care for the earth and each other.
This we know:
All things are connected
Like the blood
Which unites one family,
Whatever befalls the earth
Befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
Man did not weave the web of life:
He is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web,
He does to himself.
2. The book Writing to Change the World
I purchased this book at Heifer International because it seemed like something I needed to read. Mary Pipher, the author, is a therapist, writer, and professional speaker. I’ve read many books on writing, and as it turned out this book wasn’t for me; it was for my students, which is to say it really was for me. While I didn’t find any new astounding tips on writing, I did find some good tips on public speaking that reinforced the lessons I’ve been learning about presentation skills (e.g., how to deal with inappropriate questions people may ask). I also picked up some good ideas to use as assignments for my diagnostics class. There was also a great piece of advice in there from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“Develop skin as tough as a rhino’s hide. You cannot take anything personally. You cannot bear grudges. You must finish the day’s work when the day’s work is done. Don’t be easily discouraged. Take defeat over and over, pick yourself up and go on”
And a few other quotes I found particularly meaningful:
A book ought to be an ax to break the frozen sea within us.
– Anton Chekhov
Daily life is always extraordinary when rendered precisely.
– Bonnie Friedman
With storytelling we enter the trance of the sacred. Telling stories reminds us of our humanity in this beautiful broken world.
– Terry Tempest Williams