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Self-creation

Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist family in Idaho.  Even though she had never seen a doctor and had never sat in a classroom when she started college, she earned a Ph.D. from Cambridge in 2014. Westover came to believe “that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was […]

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Something particular and real

Mary Oliver, who died last month, wrote “often of mortality, but with a spirit of gratitude and completion,” her obituary stressed. The poet once wrote: When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder If I have made of my life something particular and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full […]

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Create meaning

After tragedy, you don’t find meaning, Elaine Pagels, a professor at Princeton, told an audience at Arts & Letters Live in Dallas recently. “You create meaning.” Pagels writes about the death of her 6-1/2-year-old son and her husband in her new book Why Religion?

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New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t know about you, but I seem to recycle my New Year’s Resolutions. I plan to eat healthy foods, unclutter and update my house, and read more. No matter, the fact that I continue to make the same resolutions indicates what is important to me—and how difficult some goals are to achieve. I’m trying, […]

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Let’s invite one another in

“In sharing my story, I hope to help create space for other stories and other voices, to widen the pathway for who belongs and why,” Michelle Obama says in her book Becoming. And, she adds, “Let’s invite one another in. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let […]

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What was right for the country

Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress. It made segregation illegal in most public accommodations—including restaurants and bus stations. LBJ knew what he was doing was right for Americans—but he also knew that it wasn’t a good political move for him or the Democratic Party. “I think we’ve just delivered the […]

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Three attributes of leaders

Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times, says that a president needs three attributes: • Humility—the understanding of your limitations • Empathy—the ability to understand other people—people from other races, backgrounds and classes • Resilience—character developed through a past history of failure and success “People don’t change fundamentally,” Goodwin said. “Everyone is broken […]

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Color or religion or place of birth

“To deny a man (or woman) his (or her) hopes because of his (or her) color or race, his (or her) religion or place of his (or her) birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny America and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for America’s freedom,” Lyndon Baines Johnson […]

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March ahead

“We must make the pledge that we will always march ahead,” Martin Luther King Jr. once said. I found this quote recently when I visited the LBJ Library in Austin. –Joy

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Look fear in the face

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face,” Eleanor Roosevelt once said. “You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” We found this quote in Adam Hamilton’s book Unafraid.

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