Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alain De Botton Breaks Down Status Worries at TED

Highly recommended viewing to put your job worries in perspective:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Poem of the Day

When your spirit is wealthy
you take gold lightly.
Ink dries when too thick;
a light wash is often deeper.

Leftover mist by the water
where red apricots flower in the forest.
By my ornamented house, the bright moon
and a painted bridge in greed shade.

Gold goblets are brimful of wine
as I play the zither to entertain my guests.
I feel so happy, fulfilled.
My heart is exhausted with joy.
-Sikong Tu

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Video of the Day: An Economy in Accordance with Our Hopes

Tim Jackson on prosperity without growth.

Threatened by Beauty?

I have posted an article on my sister blog "One Writer's Thoughts."
I make the argument that not only does a consumer relationship to beauty make us insecure, it also robs us of the ability to enjoy the simple aesthetic pleasure of physical beauty.

Our deeply held assumption is that we are not only meant to look, we are meant to look like the beauties we see in media. Who said that? Who told you that someone else’s beauty is something you should strive to “attain?” My guess is that they were trying to sell you something.

The problem is not that models are beautiful. It is not even that they are impossibly beautiful—extraordinarily young, skinny and photoshopped. It is only our relationship to the images that is unhealthy and dangerous. The danger is in our unshakable belief that our beauty ideal is aspirational, that perfection is something we should always strive towards.

What marketing does that museums do not is to transform our natural appreciation of a beautiful form into a push to buy a product. A model is presented with a call to action—buy my make up, buy my jeans. Advertisers create the implicit promise that not only can this beauty be contemplated, it can be imitated. And it is easy to do so, just buy the jacket, the perfume, the deodorant, the car. If it is so easy to become beautiful, if all you have to do is buy a shampoo, then it really is a personal failing if you don’t make the effort.

The real problem is not that the physical form of the model is “unobtainable” by most of us, but that we think of beauty as a product, as something we should “obtain.” We tyrannize ourselves with the belief that we should possess anything we see that pleases us. "I see physical beauty, it pleases me, I should have it."

That is a shame, not only because of the way it makes us feel about ourselves, but also because it robs us of the joy of simple aesthetic appreciation of rare physical beauty. We should celebrate the capricious twist of genetic fate that creates a Heidi Klum, and be grateful that it occasionally happens.

You can read the entire original article by following the link above.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Did You Go to College So You Wouldn't Have Regrets?

That may not have been the best plan. The journal Social Psychological and Personality Science has published the results of its study on regret. (No, I don't read psychological journals in my spare time. I read about it on Mind Hacks.)

Among their findings was this: "Americans with high levels of education had the most career-related regrets. Apparently, the more education obtained, the more acute may be the sensitivity to aspiration and fulfillment."

Want to know what else people regret? Follow the link above.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I really am in this game seriously for something besides money and... I'd rather live on less and preserve the one duty of a sincere writer-- to set down life as he sees it as gracefully as he knows how."-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sister Blog Launched

I have launched a sister blog Musing on Muses in anticipation of the release of my novel in the Fall. The link above will take you to my welcome message and an explanation of what the difference will be between that blog and this.

I will keep up with Broke is Beautiful whenever I come across a story or something in a book that I think will be of interest to people who want to think about money and consumerism and measuring values in units besides dollars and cents.

The new blog will be a repository for my more general thoughts. I'll be talking about the process of writing, and the writing life and delving into the creative force, the muse and spirituality from time to time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wealthy Poets: The Riches of the Artistic Life

Over at The Life Poetic, a fellow writer, Sage Cohen, puts the "broke and beautiful" life in poetic terms arguing that "starving poets" should stop buying into the notion that artists are supposed to struggle and that less money equals less wealth. (Remember the origin of the world "wealth" is simply "well being" and you don't need money to have it.)

If we don’t question the popular paradigm that aligns “wealth” with money and we make the pursuit of cash a primary goal, we may find that we have little time left over for poetry. And on the flip side, if we neglect our material needs in pursuit of a life poetic, we are likely to end up in real, uninspiring distress.

But if we agree that a prosperous life is one with time to literally and figuratively smell the roses, and then luxuriate in the time to write about it, then we are establishing a root system for a new “poetry of prosperity” — one which we feed and water with our attention and our words. By recognizing, welcoming and prioritizing both our material and creative needs, we have a far better chance of striking a balance that feels like true wealth and can sustain us over the long term.

While you're at it, you can visit Cohen's blog at Writing the Life Poetic.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are You Typical?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Are Marriage and Consumer Culture Incompatible?

This is the thesis of the book Why Love Will Always be a Bad Investment by Kurt Armstrong. The book has been featured in Sojourners. Reviewer Brittany Shoot writes:

Through a series of vignettes from his life, he posits that covenantal love is at direct odds with modern consumer culture, which sells the idea that life is competitive, sex is a commodity, and love is scarce. Most of all, consumerist ideology is rooted in the notion that we must abandon what we have the moment something better comes along. As our larger narrative about everyday life becomes inextricably intertwined with the consumerist mentality, romantic comedies, diamond jewelry commercials, and sex selling products as diverse as deodorant and fast food can force the most happily wedded couple to reconsider what constitutes happiness, what it means to live in marital bliss.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Broke is the New Rich Says HuffPo

Fitness coach Penny Hoff has come out of the closet as a broke person in the pages (I'm old enough to remember when magazines had pages) of the Huffington Post.
Today, we are a statistic; we are one in every six families in the country. We are no longer the upper middle class. As a matter of fact I saw a frightening chart the other day that put our family of five under the poverty line. We are poor. Shocking to me, but nothing new in 2011.

But something unprecedented happened since last Wednesday.

In the words of author Gene O'Kelly, not only have I let go of something precious but I've also gained something precious, and that is the palpable sense of being carried by my community when I couldn't walk through this letting go process by myself...

This week, I have been given the gift of community and friendship that almost (almost) eclipses the loss that I will feel leaving this street and this house.

I should also mention that releasing the bondage of all my "stuff' is very similar to the experience of shedding unwanted pounds. We start to feel what it feels like to be free of unnecessary weight that we didn't know was weighing us down until it was gone. Finally, we can breathe.

So if this is the way it feels to be Broke, then I am the Richest Broke Girl in all of history. Bring it on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Is the Book Good? How Many Copies Did It Sell?

Interesting observation today in an article in The New Republic which contemplates the "end of book stores" and their role as quality gatekeeper. Writer Nicole Krauss asks:

Why does The New York Times Book Review, one of the last book-review sections of a national newspaper left in this country, dedicate six pages that might otherwise be given over to reflection on books to their commercial ranking instead?

If between the lines of those new best-seller lists is an obituary for bookstores, there is also one for The New York Times Book Review itself: Soon all that might be left of it is a bundle of best-seller lists. It is not the notion of a best-seller list that rankles: Commerce is a part of literary life, and the commercial distinction of a serious book—not everything that sells well is dross—lifts the spirits and the bottom lines of publishers and writers. But six pages of Dow Jones-like charts? Why this obsession with the money side, even while everyone agrees that salability has little relationship to quality? The independent spirit of the bookstore is, at its best, a much-needed bulwark against this obsession.

Yes, the technology is real, and, yes, e-books will exist—but why to the exclusion of books and bookstores? Is convenience really the highest American value?

Oh and by the way, there was an article on Broke is Beautiful and my book signing event at the Baldwin Public Library in the Birmingham Patch today.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Discussion and Book Signing

I will be giving a discussion and book signing at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, MI tonight at 7PM. It says until 8:30. I think I need a longer speech...

More information on the event is available via Yahoo Birmingham.