David Carr: Try harder. Create something with your own dirty little hands.


David Carr died last week. He overcame drug addiction, survived cancer and struggled with alcoholism. He was a best selling author, a top media columnist at The New York Times and a member of the faculty at Boston University’s communications school.  He was a “mentor to young reports and a blunt critic of those who didn’t measure up.” Here’s a excerpt from today’s paper:

NY Times: David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students:

David was interested in people, not their résumés. He didn’t care where someone went to college or who their parents were. So instead of giving his students a standard biographical blurb…David told them this, under the heading “Not need to know, but nice to know”:

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech…Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.”

He encouraged teamwork. “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people,” David wrote, adding, “Evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you…”

Mikaela Lefrak, 26, was his teaching assistant his first semester. “He didn’t want us to sound like everyone else,” she wrote in an email. “He wanted us to sound better. Extended metaphors should be indulged and encouraged — the stranger, the better. And clichés were poison. ‘Try harder,’ he told me constantly. ‘Create something with your own dirty little hands…’ ”

David warned there would be a heavy reading list. “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings,” he wrote. “Skip or skim at your peril.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. You can find it here:  David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students.

His best selling book, “The Night of the Gun,” is a memoir of addiction and recovery. I highly recommend it.  Maria Popova at Brain Pickings shared some excellent excerpts from the book in her post: Addiction to Truth.

And here are links to some of my favorite quotes by Carr:

Carr lived in New Jersey with Jill Rooney Carr and their three children. He was 58. As Scott Peck would say, he took the road less traveled and many of us are better for it.


Credits: Photograph of David Carr in 2008 –  NY Times


New Year’s Resolutions worth keeping

black and white

15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015, The Huffington Post, Lindsay Holmes:

“How we speak — to others and to ourselves — has a huge impact on our overall outlook. So isn’t it about time we started paying more attention to what we’re communicating? Below are 15 phrases that will transform the way you think, feel and act in the coming year. Using your words to change your life? Now that’s a resolution worth keeping.”

  1. “Because”
  2. “Can you help me?”
  3. “I”m too busy”
  4. “I don’t”
  5. “No”
  6. “I’m grateful for _______”
  7. “Oh well”
  8. “Let’s Go”
  9. “Just breathe

The entire list and the background explanation on each word/phrase: 15 Phrases That Will Change Your Life In 2015.

Photograph by Bruce Weber of River Phoenix from Live Journal

How do you make it lie down?


…I’ve never seen anything as strong or as stubborn,” he says.
And I think,
how do you tame a wild tongue,
train it to be quiet,
how do you bridle it and saddle it?
How do you make it lie down?

~ Gloria Anzaldua, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue“, From Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Credits: Photograph of Australian Blue Tongue Lizard: Tammy Puntti. Poem Source: The Chateau of My Heart

The weight of you

Tom-Hiddleston  Tom-hiddleston-2

Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.

~ John Eldridge

Credits: Quote – Schonwieder. Photograph/Gif.

Pause. Then, ask yourself 3 questions:




Ouch. Hitting close to the bone here…

Source: themetapicture

Get. To. The. Point.


Excerpts from the Joseph McCormack’s Book Brief: The Brevity Mandate

“Here are the daunting challenges we all face every day to be heard: Attention spans are in a tailspin. In 2000, the average attention span was 12 seconds and now it’s only eight. Professionals are interrupted 6-7 times an hour, often unable to get back to the task at hand. More than 43% abandon complicated or lengthy emails in the first 30 seconds. And the majority of people admit ignoring half the e-mails they get every day.”

“The more you say, the less people hear”

“The business world today is full of information overload and there is not enough time to sift through it. If you cannot capture people’s attention and deliver your message with brevity, you’ll lose them.”

“The discipline to capture and manage elusive mindshare now shapes and defines professional success. Shorter emails, better organized updates, and tighter and more engaging presentations are immediate indicators that you’ve got what it takes to succeed in an attention economy.”

“Getting to the point is a non-negotiable standard.”

Find book on Amazon here.

Which one are you?


Hmmmm. If, like, a friend has multiple social personalities — like say a Dash. An Exclamation Mark. A Question Mark. Do they merge to create goodness?

Source: Ilovecharts

The first rule is comfort in, dump out

chart-comfort in-dump out

How Not to Say The Wrong Thing by Susan Silk and Barry Goldman

It works in all kinds of crises – medical, legal, even existential. It’s the ‘Ring Theory’ of kvetching. The first rule is comfort in, dump out.

…Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

Source: SwissMiss

Yup. That’s how they (thoughts) roll.





What’s in a name?

Guy Mortier portrait by Stephan Vanfleteren

It opened with the intention of a feather-light, human touch of good will.
And it hasn’t closed.
Like a snag on your favorite sweater that you keep pulling and pulling.

It was 4 weeks ago.
End to end it couldn’t have lasted more than 7 seconds.
She’s an executive assistant on another floor.
I was passing by to get to a meeting. In a hurry.  (“‘Only the sick man and the ambitious,’ wrote Ortega, ‘are in a hurry.’” DK: Which one are you?)

Good morning x?”
“Really Dave, you’ve worked with me for how long, 5-10 years?  And you still don’t know my name.”
I’m so sorry,” stealing a glance at her name plate. She caught the glance.  Damage done. Twice, in seconds.

Later that week, I pass by her desk. And pause.
She talking to a colleague.
I refuse to speak to him.”
He turns to me: “Wow, what have you done to her?”

Colaianni’s whispers: “When I hear my own name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through my back or my hand or my chest as through my ears… “

Note to Self: And when I don’t hear my own name or someone calls me by the wrong name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through the back of their hand to my face, my chest, the back of my head…

“All things are engaged in writing their history. The planet, the pebble, goes attended by its shadow. The rolling rock leaves its scratches on the mountain, the river, its channel in the soil, the animal, its bones in the stratum, the fern and leaf, their modest epitaph in the coal. The falling drop makes its sculpture in the sand or the stone. Not a foot steps into the snow or along the ground, but prints, in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. Every act of the person inscribes itself in the memories of its fellows, and in his own manners and face. The air is full of sounds, the sky of tokens, the ground is all memoranda and signatures, and every object covered over with hints which speak to the intelligent.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Credits: Portrait: Stephan Vanfleteren. Emerson quote – Thank you Makebelieveboutique. Shakespeare Quote for blog title “What’s in a name?” – Soulsentences. Ortego quote: George Sheehan – Running & Being. Louis Colaianni quote from The Joy of Phonetics and Accents.