Inspiration from Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life”

betty ming liu Health, Inspiration, Writing how-to's 20 Comments

Lately, life has been about Too Many Things To Do & Feel. But today brings calm. I’ve come full circle and back to a bit of inspiration that saves me. It’s a helpful gift that I’ve shared with many friends, students and readers. So here it is again, for you….

The passage comes from a classic memoir, the bestselling Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.” When BbB first came out in 1994, I bought it right away. I loved her rambling anecdotes about teaching, writing and being a single mom. In 2000, when my marriage ended and I set out on my own, her insightful tales took on new meaning.

Over the years, I’ve used BbB in some of my writing classes because Lamott is just that good. In fact, we recently finished reading it in one course. As usual, students either loved or hated her conversational style. Mostly, they found her wonderful.

Even without reading BbB, I find people really appreciate one particular section — the passage that gives the book its title. Sometimes I read it in class. Recently, I shared it with my goddaughter in the hours right after her mom was killed in a horrifying car accident. I’ve turned to it during my recent bout with terrible back pain, which was a time to reflect on the State Of My Life and how I make myself crazy.

So, here we go:

Bird by bird 500

This passage has become part of me. Whenever I’m ready to give up, I think about bird by bird. This little flock has held me steady through  financial stress, relationship demands, daily life pressures — the tough stuff. Of course, I also go bird by bird when I’m in the zone, writing and painting.

Birdies are with me now as I try to pull myself together to…enjoy the day. Today’s goal is to go easy on myself. Inhale and exhale. Smell the roses and, maybe even eat them.

So take a moment to be in the moment. It feels much better than rushing around beating up on ourselves. If it helps, share your mania and your BbB solution with a comment.

I’m happy to go first ! I’m a genius at created ambitious, unworkable deadlines. This leads to the pressure of uncompleted projects everywhere. Whether it’s about cleaning the house, grading student homework assignments or something for the blog, I’m constantly feeling behind schedule.

But lately, I’ve been breaking down my tasks into smaller chunks. Working with little bites calms me down. Now, there’s pleasure (sometimes) in getting things done (sometimes). I’m learning moderation (sometimes) in matters of time management. How about you?

(Note: I first posted this passage in 2010. I’ve freshened it up here with a new layout and details.)

Comments 20

  1. Pingback: Sixty is the new serenity | betty ming liu

  2. Pingback: Letter to my inner child - betty ming liu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.