9/28/2008

Life IS a Verb


I am holding in my hands the book Life is a Verb, written by Patti Digh.

Oh, wait - did I just say written by Patti? Well, it is, the words are hers. But the sense I get when I read her book, or her blog, 37 Days, is more that Patti is one part of a lovely interconnected web of people, places and experiences, and while she does write from her unique perspective from her place on the web, she's also able to take a deep breath, somehow put herself above it all, and write from a place of seeing the connections within the web. Still with me? That was a long sentence! So, Patti wrote the book, but without the connections and the people and circumstances populating her blog, and Patti's openness to seeing those (connections AND people), there wouldn't be a book. When I say "above it all", I don't mean better than us, or disconnected - it's just about the visual perspective on that one. Because one beautiful thing about Patti is her absolute humanity, and her willingness to share that with us, as well.

Patti is a writer who knows she's not alone in the world, and her writing and experiences show that. She is able to write about people in a way that leaves me feeling like I know them, which to me, means she's made a soul connection with each one -- and, to me, too. Yaron is my friend, too, and I still tear up over the loss of Meta, and I feel a part of her circle of love, even though I've never met either person. Tess is one of my favorite children on the planet, and if I should ever meet her, I know we'd be great friends. There are many stories with Tess - here's one, and here, and here. Hmm... maybe Patti should write a Tess book?

OH! Book! This is supposed to be about the book:

So, OK - Patti started her blog as an instruction manual for her daughters, should she pass from this life without having had a chance to tell them what she felt were the most important aspects of living. She wanted to leave them something so they could know HER, as a person. You can read more about that here, and why it's called 37 Days. It has turned into an instruction manual for all of us, and a way of learning how to connect more deeply and live more intentionally. She gathered 37 of her essays from her blog, and collected them into Life is a Verb.

This is the first book I have ever read where I just dived right in. With most books, I start from the front cover, read everything in order, read the table of contents to see how it's laid out, read the introduction and preface to read what the author's intentions were. Not this one! It's SO gorgeous, and inviting - I opened it to a random page and began reading. Then I stopped reading, and started flipping through, looking at the beautiful artwork, all created by readers of 37 Days. That's a story in itself! The book itself is gorgeous. If you're asking why you should buy a book, when there's a blog with the essays in it, that's a reason in and of itself - the sheer beauty of it. The heft in your hand - it's the perfect size! Plus - it's, um, a book. Hel-lo!

So as I was flipping through, I noticed she had actions to do after reading, or movements, designed to help bring awareness to what she wrote about, to open us up a bit, maybe challenge us a little. It could be because I was a rebellious, contentious child who wasn't allowed to be rebellious or contentious, so it didn't really come out 'til I was a grownup, but I don't do the assignments or actions in books where you have to DO stuff. What? It's a book! I'm just supposed to read, all cozied up with hot tea and pillows, maybe a blanket. I just skipped over those. And I read essays that I hadn't read before. One great thing about Patti's blog is that she has been writing a while, so there are still surprises when I dip into the archives. One essay that I hadn't read before was Squeeze in Next to Someone, Arm-to-Arm, and it's now my favorite essay because of the mystical feel to the story, plus I love the feeling of someone's warm arm next to mine. I have a feeling that whatever essay I read next will then be my favorite, but that's OK.

In going through the book, I came to see that she had organized it into parts, and the second part was divided into chapters, each one focusing on one of the six practices for intentional living, the pattern she found when she started to form the book. I'm sure I would have read that in the introduction, if I had read that. I think Bust Your Toast Rules gave me the impetus to break free of my book rules. I feel so reckless! I didn't even know I had book rules, until I opened this one and started reading that random page. Anyway, the six practices are: Say Yes, Be Generous, Speak Up, Love More, Trust Yourself, and Slow Down. I think I could post those around my house, and they'd help me live a more intentional life, but now I have essays and stories for each one, essays and stories that touch me deeply, open my heart, help me feel connected.

I flipped through some more, reading more deeply, looking closely at the art. Then I read an action, and it was a free write. Oh! I can do that!! AND I trust Patti enough to go where these actions will take me, and I can trust that doing them will help me see things from a different perspective, will open my heart ever wider, because that's where we're connected, you see. So, I did it - and had so much fun, I'm looking forward to doing more! That's a first!! I'm actually excited about doing the exercises in a book!

I do hope you buy Life is A Verb - for the connection, for the different perspective, for the opportunity to look at your life with fresh sight, and insight. For the opportunity to get to know Patti Digh, a beautiful person. For this review, I almost just wrote, "What he said", Rick wrote so perfectly about Patti and the book. Go read that review for a beautiful perspective. Buy the book to see the art, to dive in, in your own way. Buy the book to support lives lived more intentionally. To live your life more intentionally.

This weekend, I am here - with Patti! My birthday weekend! Today, the 28th, is my birthday. I could have interviewed Patti for this review, but even in thinking of doing that, I got all tongue-tied, just in my mind. I couldn't even form any questions to write to her! If I ask her any questions at the retreat, I'll let you know.

5 comments:

ps pirro said...

Caren, this is a great, exuberant, delightful post. I'm loving this book too. It's on my desk and I read a little of it every day. Happy birthday!

xox, Peggy

carri said...

The book sounds wonderful. Happy Birthday!

::::wifemothermaniac:::: said...

I've been following her blog too for awhile and after reading this I'm REALLY compelled to get her book now :)

Anonymous said...

hey caren-- i finally got around to reading this post due to a prompt from patti, an essay about you, and a link to your blog! i see the time you posted this and i'm thinking 'where was i at 5am on sunday?' oh, i think i was out on the deck with my coffee, enjoying the early morning quiet. anyway, i'm so happy to have had the chance to get to know you! keep in touch-- jylene

tysdaddy said...

Cool looking book. Thanks for the suggestion . . .