Monday, September 08, 2008

Review: Life is a Verb

37 Days to Wake up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh (pronounced "dye"). Skirt, 2008. Advance Review Copy. This book came out just last week. It's a collection of inspiring essays from Patti's blog 37 days. In 2003 her stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer and he died just 37 days later. Patti was close to him in those last 37 days and his life and death caused her to look more closely at her own life. She began asking herself what were the most important things to be done if one has only 37 days to live. Her questioning overflowed in her blog in a series of heart-felt essays about the real stuff of living that, in the end, make life most meaningful, joyful and powerful.

The book is divided into section based on the six principals of Patti's focus, or "practices for intentional living":
  1. Intensity: Say Yes
  2. Inclusion: Be Generous
  3. Integrity: Speak Up
  4. Intimacy: Love More
  5. Intuition: Trust Yourself
  6. Intention: Slow Down
In each chapter she starts with a story from her life or the life of someone close to her. The examples are touching, funny, direct and flavorful. Her writing flows with warmth and joy. At the end of each chapter there are two challenges or activities. One can be done right away (it's an action) and one is to be done over time (movement). The prompt is to take up a challenge over the next 37 days and to write about or otherwise express how it effects your life.

As I was reading through the book I found many areas of challenge that I would like to follow up. I decided to just chose one thing to do for the next 37 days, with the hope that I can keep my life simplified and challenged at the same time. September is a hard time to take up additional challenges, what with all of us back in school and our schedules so hectic. I've decided to commit to spending at least 10 minutes a day with my sons doing nothing but listening and watching them. As part of my 365 photo project I'll probably be photographing them. As busy as we are, it's the little times together that often get cut so I think this focus will be an island of connection for all of us.

All the art in the book was created for her by readers of her blog. The collages are thoughtful interpretations of the themes of each chapter and they are quite beautiful. I think it's remarkable that so many talented people chimed in and that she was able to publish all of them as part of her book. In addition, in the past month she's been publishing essays written by her readers telling how they are inspired to invest in their lives with the "37 days" challenges.

To read some of Patti's essays, go to her web page here, scroll down, and click on the links in the sidebars: "Favorite Essays" and "Patti's Recent Articles".

Patti is doing book tours this fall, reading from Life is a Verb. The full schedule is here. If she is in your area I encourage you to attend and let her know you are in the audience. She loves to give out little gifts to her readers. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants more out of life.

5 comments:

Shelley said...

Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did! Thanks for helping to spread the word, too...

I love the 10 minutes a day idea... hope you'll let us know how it goes...

laurasalas said...

Sounds like a terrific book. This kind of topic has been on my brain in recent months...I'm going to go put this on reserve right now.

Mary Lee said...

There's a real power in doing a little bit (10 minutes a day) on a long-term basis. Think of it. In 6 days, you will have accumulated an hour of observation and listening. In a month, five hours. In five months, a whole DAY'S worth. I'm really coming to believe that it's the small stuff that really counts. You are giving your sons a great gift.

Cloudscome said...

WOW mary lee what a great affirmation! Thanks! :)

e.beck.artist said...

hi ... thanks for stopping by my blog ... yes, of course, you can follow me to flickr!

i love the notion of you challenging yourself and doing life as a verb ..... e