Women’s History Month — Anne Lamott

The thing I love about Anne Lamott is her brutal honesty. She admits her vulnerabilities, foibles, mistakes. She’s not shy to say who she is and she writes about all of the things I love — writing, family, nature!

She has written many books that I can relate to. Her latest book, Almost Everything: Notes on Hope is staring at me in the faculty library at school today. For some inspiration this morning, I leaf to a random page:

“Empathy begins when we realize how much alike we are. My focus on hate made me notice I’m too much like certain politicians…I, too, can be a blowhard, a hoarder, needing constant approval and acknowledgement, needing to feel powerful.”

– Lamott, Almost Everything

Then she talks about the Motley Old Us. How we, this ragtag collective, share “outdoor concerts, community hikes, birthday parties, worship services, street fairs.” The best things in life! Yes, I am one of her motley crew — in community. Yet I am also a solitary someone who needs approval and, at times, feels separate from the ‘in’ crowd and, even, the motley crew.

I remind myself to be ‘a friend among friends, a worker among workers.’ I think I’m paraphrasing from the AA Big Book. On a daily basis, this is all I can do — seek to connect and be a part of the communities in which I find myself. I want to bring healing and hope and radical unconditional positive regard for others — even people I hate, even people who do not yet know how much damage they have done .

This morning I’ve already connected on the crosstown bus with my neighbor and at the diner with the Greek manager. Both of these gentle people shared a meaningful loss with me and I felt a greater connection to them.

This push towards community and this respect for personal writing — these are reasons I like, admire, and, yes, am super jealous of Anne Lamott. She has written more than ten non-fiction books and seven non-fiction books and oh, yes, she has a Guggenheim Fellowship. I console myself — I have a lot too.

So welcome March — Women’s History Month — today we celebrate Anne Lamott. Incidentally, I’m going to celebrate this month by profiling a few of the many women I love — I am choosing living women — some women I know and some I wish I knew.

This is my living history month. I’m writing these quick moments in 10 to 20 minutes.

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Awesome writing circle

Magic happens when people write together and then read what they’ve written. I know it sounds corny but it’s true. Take the raw materials from your life, weave a story, and experience the alchemy.

In last night’s MeetUp group at Rutgers Church, seven of us gathered and each had about ten minutes to read what we’d written. Then we briefly talked about the craft of writing. We went around the circle and read. We laughed and we cried. Just hearing our work out loud changes what we’ve written.

Sometimes a group can gather, as I’ve done too at a Wednesday writing group at the Interchurch Center. We each start with a blank paper and pen. And creative prompts are shared — inspired from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, or Dan Wakefield’s The Story of Your Life. This last book is the one I used at the International Women’s Writing Guild this summer.

me and mom
Here’s me and my mom at the summer conference of the International Women’s Writing Guild.

The creative prompts we wrote from then were:

  • I felt safe when…
  • My mentor or hero was…
  • My first job was…
  • I was really angry with…

Because this is the season of Thanksgiving, it’s always awesome to write about:

  • When I felt grateful, I…