Good Stuff in February 2023 ✨
Things that caught my eye, ear and/or heart this month
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Here’s Lisa’s description of the conversation:
Our conversation revolves around our mutual love for story telling – and, as Ruth’s words above so eloquently express — how story telling about our personal experiences can profoundly heal, educate and connect us to others.
The truth of that last line warmed me from within.
This is what we’re doing here in this little online gathering. In the public comments and in our paid community, we’re listening to each others’ stories and telling our own. We’re getting glimpses of each others’ families and lives. This experience is indeed affirming, and I, for one, feel less lonely.
I want you to know how grateful I am for this. If you’ve left a comment, sent an email, or joined this community, you’ve passed along a spark of energy I’ve sorely needed. After three pandemic- and grief-shaped years in which “normal” nudged closer to “alone,” and the narrative of division continued to blare, your voice made a difference. Your voice was evidence of widespread, everyday kindness quietly humming beneath the noise.
People often raise an eyebrow when I talk about kindness. Really, Asha? Cynicism feels so much safer right now. But I know kindness when I see it. I feel it. You demonstrate it every week.
With that in mind, let me share some more good stuff I found this month.
This is Parent of Adults by Asha Dornfest, a newsletter for parents who suspect the empty nest is just the beginning. Subscribe for free.
Brad Montague on persevering through creative uncertainty is an author, illustrator, and beacon of joy. We met in 2015, when his brother in-law and creative collaborator, Robby Novak (AKA Kid President) and I spoke at the same conference. Brad recently shared this encouraging series of reflections and they were just what I needed to hear at the time.
Your best work will happen in the interactions that are one on one, face to face with the people right next to you.
Also, check out Brad's newsletter,.
Ross Gay on the proximity of pain and joy
Ross’s first essay, recalling his father’s illness and death from liver cancer, practically explodes into glittering shards of love.
There is a poem, maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s this one, I’m sure my mother would love to read it, called something like The Catalog of Wildly Kind Things My Parents Have Done For Me.
The point he hits repeatedly (as only he can) is that great joy often accompanies, or is adjacent to, great pain. Which is not to say any of us wants it this way. But pain is inevitable, and after we go through it, at some point, joy awaits.
Bonus read by another Asha! In Joy Together is's deeply personal reflection after reading Inciting Joy. From her newsletter, .
Kelly Corrigan on interpreting discomfort
Yeah, I know, another link to Kelly Corrigan’s podcast. What can I say?
I’ve experienced quite a bit of, uh, discomfort these last few years. Our kids and young adults have, too. You, too?
In this short episode, Kelly wonders:
Does discomfort mean that something’s going wrong?
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it’s the predictable (and temporary) symptom of learning. Or as I call it, another @#$% opportunity for growth.
I’ve been noodling this idea in my journal. I’ll follow up in this Saturday’s community post for paid subscribers. In the meantime, have a listen.
Listen: Mental Health Check on Interpreting Discomfort on the Kelly Corrigan Wonders podcast
Bruce Feiler on parenting young adults
I’ve read's work for years. He wrote Secrets of Happy Families, Life is in the Transitions, and other thoughtful and nuanced books. He's super-kind on Twitter, too.
Bruce shared surprising research that swam against the usual scolding of "helicopter parents" and pointed to the benefits of parental involvement with young adults.
Emotional support from family members, from listening to nudging to loving, is welcome at all times of life.
Grain of salt disclaimer: this is only one study, families are all different, and my gut tells me that “presence” is distinct from “helicoptering.” But it’s refreshing to see research that allows for a broader, less shaming narrative. The Goldilocks ideal of “just enough” parenting is a mirage, so I say we give ourselves some grace.
Courtney Martin on the ephemera of care
This luminous piece bywas especially poignant from my vantage point as both the parent of adults and the supporter of my own aging parent. My roles of mother, daughter, and self have combined into something wholly new. Courtney helped me see that metamorphosis differently.
If I slow down enough while I’m braiding her hair, or snuggling in bed with her little sister after lights out, I can feel the way my body is getting absorbed into their bodies and becoming a part of this eternal return of this season of parenting. Everything happens over and over and over again and it will never be like this after it stops being like this.
Read: The art of care mostly disappears in
Julie Lythcott-Haims on keeping the home fires burning
Now HERE is some good stuff! Author and Palo Alto City Council member (!)has easy, fun-loving suggestions for stoking the romance in your long-term partnership. A welcome reminder that sexy is a state of mind.
If you want love that lasts, then I want that for you. And, I want to help.
Have a good weekend, friends (it’s almost Friday, after all).
Have you come across good reading or listening we should know about? Drop a link in the comments! Or share what you think about any of the stuff I mentioned.