Single Lady Quotes: bell hooks

From Goodreads

I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.

As a young writer, I aspired to be a poet like Ntozake Shange, who distilled so much of the black girl’s experience in her poetry and a warrior like Alice Walker. Intellectually, I yearned for the freedom, clarity and possession that marked bell hooks’ work.
bell hooks was the first black woman intellectual I admired. I read Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life – a conversation between bell hooks and Cornel West, when I was 13, and never stopped admiring her work. It also allowed me to envision myself as an intellectual in my own right. hooks has written over 30 books.

“To return to love, to get the love we always wanted but never had, to have the love we want but are not prepared to give, we seek romantic relationships. We believe these relationships, more than any other, will rescue and redeem us. True love does have the power to redeem but only if we are ready for redemption. Love saves us only if we want to be saved.”

“Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust.”

“One of the major tasks black women face as we work for emotional healing is to understand more fully what love is so that we do not imagine that love and abuse can be simultaneously present in our lives. Most abuse is life-threatening, whether it wounds our bodies or our psyches. Understanding love as a life-force that urges us to move against death enables us to see clearly that, where love is, there can be no disenabling, disempowering, or life-destroying abuse.”

“It is the absence of love that has made it so difficult for us to stay alive or, if alive, to live fully. When we love ourselves, we want to live fully…When we love ourselves, we know that we much do more than survive. We must have the means to live fully.”

“Exclusion and isolation, whether they occur through overt or covert acts, have always been useful tactics of terrorism, a powerful way to coerce individuals to conform, to change. No insurgent intellectual, no dissenting critical voice in this society escapes the pressure to conform….We can all be had, co-opted, bought. There is no special grace that rescues any of us. There is only a constant struggle to keep the faith, to relentlessly rejoice in an engagement with critical ideas that is itself liberatory, a practice of freedom.”

Remembering my first love

Our story is “Invincible Inside Our Love”

My copy of the 1994 Emma Willard School yearbook is embossed with the nickname Bambi.

What can I say? I was in love.

That was what my first love, John, called me. I wrote about us for the anthology mentioned above, which was five years in the making. Here’s a little more about it.

Here’s a little bit of writing from the book:

John was coffee-colored, with a false front tooth he sometimes clicked in and out of place. I adored him with the teenage innocence that allows us to truly give one hundred percent of our hearts. He would become my Panda bear, though at six feet tall and with a baby face, he looked more like a grizzly. He called me Bambi because of my big brown eyes.

The winter I turned fourteen, John was sixteen. He worked as a locker room attendant at the Columbus Avenue Boys and Girls Club near his high school, Dewitt Clinton (the alma mater of James Baldwin.) I had started to the club with my high school classmate, Lanell, who introduced us.

In the Bronx, where we grew up, John and I were both so tall we seemed to rule every city block we wandered together. We dressed alike in Tazmanian Devil t-shirts or camouflage outfits.

My friends couldn’t stop laughing when we showed up at a junior high school reunion dressed like GI Joe and Jane. But I didn’t care. In the Bronx — a tough world of cracked sidewalks, drugs and violence — we were invincible inside our love and nothing else mattered. We could be kids together, playing Streetfighter on his Nintendoo, or , too grown for our own good, be engaged for a few months based on a pretty cubic zirconia ring and John’s promise to love me as long as I loved him back.

All I loved more than John was books. All I had, really, was school…it was my only way out. And when I got a chance to go to boarding school, I had to take it. John, not one to show his emotions easily, cried. I went to the elite Emma Willard School on scholarship, trying to keep one foot on the manicured lawns there and another on the crack-infested streets of the Bronx. I sent him drawings from school as if I were a budding artist in prison. And we talked on the payphone a few paces from my room most nights of the week. But before I left Emma, our relationship was over.

As big and comfortable as our love was, it taught me that not all love can withstand change. While John had protected me from the world, he had also kept me from dropping my defenses and growing beyond the survival tactics of anger and bravado that come with growing up in the ‘hood.

Please tell me you had your own embarrassing nickname. Did you have one for your first love?

The Romantic’s Disclaimer: A book excerpt

I love romance and thinking about love. It’s an affliction that was only worsened by a childhood reading list of titles by authors like Sidney Sheldon, bell hooks, Cornel West and a lot of Harlequin Romances, Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel.

I’m writing more about this in another book, but it’s important context: my mother, a single parent with undiagnosed bipolar and borderline personality disorders, left me alone as a child and teenager for long stretches of time while she was working or going to school.

In those long, often boring, stretches of time, I became a writer, a dreamer and a hopeful romantic. I also learned how to live by watching television, movies and reading a lot. My life experience and the people I was blessed to meet along the way helped dispel or reinforce relationship notions in one way or another.

But my earliest ideas about love and romance came from a mixture of popular culture references like The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker, the love poems of Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez and June Jordan and so many television shows and movies from the 80s and 90s that I couldn’t even start to list them all. (Scenes from The Women of Brewster Place still pop up in my dreams, for instance.)

Having all the time in the world to jump from one seedy or sappy narrative to another was the best structure I had to craft a robust inner life. The soundtrack of my youth is all Jodeci, New Edition, Boyz II Men, Bell Biv Devoe, Johnny Gill, Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige and Bobby Brown: baby-making music.

Yes, and I loved them anyway

The images from those books – A painting of the blond Fabio caressing a damsel in his arms; descriptions of the dark-haired and ruthless Lucky Santangelo getting her revenge as a scorned lover in Los Angeles; the bucolic love stories of Danielle Steel involving horses and green fields – worked in tandem with music lyrics to feed the epic story that the love of a man was just over the adulthood horizon. To love and be loved was the central goal of womanhood, so if I was really going to grow up and be a woman, I needed to know these plots and their narrative arcs.

One of the consequences of my mother’s mental illnesses, though, was that I had a misshapen sense of what it meant to be intimate with another person. The side effects of bipolar disorder include euphoria, manic depression and violence.  Almost right up until my mother died in January 2012, she was always in love with somebody or something. She was never without a suitor.

Mom loved love. “I think he’s in love with me (smiles but serious)”: this was her constant refrain. I only know of one black man she courted seriously – my father – but the rest of her lovers were like representatives of the United Nations: white, Mexican, Pakistani, Russian.

Mom was loud, bipolar and a beautiful disaster, as Kelly Clarkson sang. I was her polar opposite: quiet, observant and reserved. While she spun through the world, giggling at one intimate encounter or another, I became a student of people and relationships.

For women, mothers are the templates for womanhood and what we believe about being a woman in the world. As a result, I believed that love and sex were interchangeable. Sex in exchange for affection looked a lot like the dramatic, florid romances I read.

Unfortunately, it would take many years to learn the difference between sex and love.

Single Lady Books: Why You’re Not Married Yet by Tracy McMillan

From Tracy McMillan’s website

Updated, July 23, 2012:

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.

  • Unlike some “dating experts,” Tracy McMillan is transparent about the fact that she was married a few times and divorced a few times.
  • I liked that she wrote from the perspective of a single mother of a boy, because I have no idea what that’s like, but I imagine that it would help you put things in perspective in the dating world.
  • There is so much spiritual stuff in the book. Advice about self-love and avoiding self-loathing and self-sabotage. Advice about women leaning into their feminine energy. Advice about being willing to welcome another person in your life. I was shocked. I literally had to glance at the cover a couple of times to make sure I was reading what I thought I was reading.
  • I learned not to judge writers based on the snippets of their writing and glimpses of their online presence before reading their whole manuscripts. I certainly don’t want that for my work, after all. Writers write for readers to read their work. So I’m thankful she wrote this and I’m glad I read it. If you pick it up, I’d be curious to hear what your thoughts were on the book.

 

From July 19, 2012

I have so many feelings about Tracy McMillan for a lady I’ve never met and didn’t think I even wanted to know.

What I’m learning from reading her book is that we might actually have a lot in common. And I don’t want to laugh, but she’s quite funny. And some of what she has to say is really helpful. Here’s an early overview of McMillan and her new book from SandraRose.com.

Why You’re Not Married opens with a quiz and a brief explanation of her three marriages in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. She writes openly about her abandonment issues, spurred on by foster care. She writes convincingly about how raising her son has given her insight into how women can learn more about men so that if they want to get married, they can figure out how to be a better wife.

So that was the part that rubbed me the wrong way: I had the impression that she was offering advice to all single women everywhere about why they’re so unlovable. She’s actually targeting her advice, so that made me feel a little better.

“The bottom line is that marriage is just a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone even when you feel they don’t necessarily deserve it,” she writes. “And loving is always spiritual in nature — because people are flawed and it’s hard to love flaws.”

Noted. What follows are chapters that explain why a woman who wants to be married might still not be married. They include “You’re a bitch,” “You’re Shallow” and so-on. The bitchy chapter essentially says that men want to marry people who are nice to them and if you’re not nice, they won’t want to put a ring on it. Because “female anger terrifies men.” She says that being a bitch has become synonymous with being modern, but it’s really just when women are angry and they have tension around their mouths.  She also writes that “bitch energy” can be useful, but even if you’ve had a lot of therapy (check!) having boundaries really just means that you’re angry.

You know what her first tip is? My least favorite command in the universe. Smile!

I think she actually meant this and was not being sarcastic, by the way. Because sarcasm is the mark of an angry, single bitch. Allegedly.

My notes from the rest of this chapter include the suggestion that the best way to change bitch energy is to learn how to be sweet, because most guys want to marry a sweet person. And one way to be sweet and nice is to learn how to cook. Because cooking is nurturing.

OK, but what if you know how to cook and you smile and you’re still single? Well, apparently you have other problems that you’re in denial about. She outlines those later. I’m about halfway through the book.

I like the parts of the chapters that are subtitled “Spiritual Stuff that Will Help You Change.” That’s awesome. There’s some good advice in there. Like, some really good advice about learning forgiveness, letting go of anger and bitterness, learning how to reframe your story so that you’re not the victim and much more.

Then I got to the second chapter, entitled “You’re Shallow” and I had to take a break. I have never in life chosen to date a man based on what he had. I’ve gone so far in the opposite direction in my life that I ended up supporting men with less than I had to prove that I wasn’t shallow – to myself and others — even though I’m not rolling in the dough over here.

So I don’t know who these women are who have this problem, but according to McMillan, and Tyler Perry and every damn body else who targets women for dating advice, gold diggers are real, so I guess this is for them.

When I feel like I want more “get real, sister” advice, I’ll revisit the book and let you know how the rest of it turns out.

100 million single people…and it’s still rough out there.

A book excerpt from Single & Happy:

I could not believe no one had written a first-person account of dating as a single woman in the 21st Century and how to cope with all the shenanigans that come with the package, because no matter how brilliant, sexy, big-boobed, erudite or compliant with societal norms a woman is or is not, it is really rough out there for single people. The insinuation that singles should be coupled or something is wrong with them doesn’t make it any easier.

Not just a little bit rough, honey. It is incredibly hard to find like-minded people with true commitments to self-awareness and goals that are scheduled beyond a calendar date in the next couple of weeks. There are books on weight-loss, getting your money right, how to be more devoted to God, and of course, how to get a man. What I really needed for a good decade, though, was a book on how to be happily single.

The book I wanted to read and kept waiting for was one that would inspire other single people to slog through the ridiculous maze that comes with being alone in a culture that devalues single people.  I wanted to create a space online for others who were uncomfortable with the dominant cultural narrative in the United States that continues to profit those who constantly tell singles that we are incomplete, not enough, not worthy and amoral if we are content to live, travel, dine and go to the movies by ourselves.

I also wanted to celebrate the beauty and community available to a vast network of singles that did not rely on anything but a community of singles and our allies for exposure.

I’m not interested in being the anti-Steve Harvey, the new Oprah or any kind of New Age guru, relationship expert or life coach. I am just one nerd in a big world who does the best that I can to make sense of an influx of information, social cues and daily life. The narrative that casts single people as the avatars of loneliness, as Michael Cobb has written in his new book, just happened to get stuck in my craw as I was making a lot of transitions in my life. As other journalists will tell you, sometimes you can’t just let a story go.

My motto is to take what is useful and leave the rest. I hope that the stories and information here will be applicable across gender identities, sexualities, ethnicities and economic backgrounds. My intention is to celebrate and document the moment we are all in. While I bring my own biases to this predicament as someone who has been self-reliant and a loner since I was very young, I wholeheartedly believe there is something valuable her for most dating adults.

And we are a huge tribe. In 2010, almost half of all American adults, 100 million, were single – the highest rate in recent history. While those singles spent $2 trillion a year on consumer products, according to Boston Magazine, marketers were still marketing mostly to a culture wedded to heterosexual relationships. But outside of the blogosphere, aside from isolated examples of singular (pun intended) narratives of single people and their journeys, there are few stories that contextualize single life in a positive way.

The stories I found lacking are those that express the fun, joy, humor and moments of serenity that come with single life. The Boston Magazine story was one and Kate Bolick’s now-infamous piece in the Atlantic was another. What are some of the positive stories about single life you’ve seen?

Single Lady Books: Swirling – How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed

 

Yikes. I have to start with a disclaimer.

I do my best to support other black women writers because I love reading work that mirrors my life and experiences.

My sense, though, is that constructive criticism is quite rare in general, but specifically in the black community. Reactions to media about or for black people are viewed as either love (whether that love is merited or not) or hate (even when there may be constructive criticism embedded in that hate).

When it comes to popular culture analyses, I’d like to think I operate in the gray zone. Pretty much everything that comes out of the black community about dating these days, though, makes me feel like a hater. Not because the books we produce are not valid, but more because they don’t tend to make a lot of room for people to be who they are and bring that to relationships. The message echoes that most singles are faced with in popular culture: If you change X about yourself, you will find your soul mate.

I very rarely hate or loathe anything. It’s not in my nature. I can usually see how something could have been better or more edifying while I’m digging through it, and that generally leads to irritation. When most responses to creators/creatives who produce things are wide acclaim, praise and cute blurbs, then saying anything negative at all usually gets reduced to haterade.

Anyway, one more thing before I dig in: just because the book doesn’t resonate with me doesn’t mean that someone won’t find it useful. I operate on the principle that you should take what is useful from anything and everything and leave the rest. I’m planning to give my copy away to someone who thinks they might get something from it (That means you, actually, if you want a copy.)

I didn’t find a lot that was useful in Swirling. Christelyn Karazin and Janice Littlejohn wrote truthfully and candidly about their relationship experiences. Karazin spearheaded a 2010 initiative called No Wedding, No Womb as a “declaration and acknowledgement that the out-of-wedlock situation in the black community has reached a critical mass.”  Littlejohn, a journalist and filmmaker, and Karazin attended the same college and became friends.

The book feels like 70 percent Karazin and 30 percent Littlejohn, but the percentage should be flipped. Much of what we know from the legal stories to the Hollywood stories about interracial dating was rehashed by Karazin, who writes like she has a point to make to the reader. She is down, she is sassy, and she found her prince who happened to be a white man, despite the haters in her family and in her community. Here’s one example of what I mean:

My husband and I jumped the broom the day we married. My mother insisted on it, perhaps as a not so subtle reminder to me from where I’ve come. So with clenched teeth and sweaty palms, I took the leap with my white husband, and into a world that was neither black nor white, but brushed with wisps of gray. An interracial marriage is truly risky. You join the ranks of odd couples who abdicate their anonymity and risk ridicule…Someone stares a millisecond longer than what is comfortable and then you wonder. A salesman snubs you and then you speculate. You weren’t invited to a party and you can’t help but think, Is it because my husband is white?

Is it because I’m black?

 

I think I understand why she writes this way – a lot of popular culture narratives suggest that black women are undesirable, not only to black men, but definitely to men of other races. But it made reading the book painful, frankly. I still appreciate Karazin and Littlejohn for working against that myth. But I felt like their game needed less defense all around.

In Swirling, they also aim to empower black women who limit their options to black men to care enough about themselves to try interracial dating. There are some great tips in here about learning how to be your own great partner with a list of cities where interracial dating is more widely accepted.Littlejohn saves the book from being a little narcissistic and overly haughty, while Karazin clearly is the originator of words like “rainbeau” the term the authors use for men who are not black in the book. There are a few interviews in the book with racial and culture experts, but the main source of information comes from Karazin’s blog.

The language is a little girlfriendy/condescending. I like ice cream, also, so I wanted to really enjoy the swirling metaphor, but after a while, it really, truly annoyed me so much that I’m surprised that I finished the book.

I kept wondering while I was reading Swirling if the people who really need it — black women who are so scared of what other people will think that they need a handbook to empower them to date someone of another race — would actually buy it and its message.

The takeaway is that there are men of all colors who will date straight black women if only they will have the courage to pursue men of all ethnicities. If you think you know that already (and I think I’m pretty good on that, thanks) then you don’t need to read this book. I hear it may become a movie, so you could just watch that. Maybe it’ll come out around the same time as the sequel to Think Like A Man.

I am a happy Single American: An excerpt from the book

I have been telling you a little about the book I’ve been writing, and wanted to offer you some excerpts of it while I slowly edit so you don’t have to wait forever for a finished product.

The year I turned 34, I had finished three full and seven half marathons and I’d been teaching journalism at the University of Texas as a lecturer for four semesters. I’d dreamed of being a writer for over twenty years, and persevered for long enough that I worked full-time as a newspaper reporter in some of America’s most scenic cities: San Francisco, Seattle and Houston (well, OK, now I live in Austin, which is much prettier than Houston.)

I owned a home – a huge feat for a girl who had once frequented New York City homeless shelters as a child — a beautiful dog the size of a mini-pony, a reliable car some jerk dented with one of those metal carts at Home Depot and a spectacular bill of health from doctors. After years of therapy for having financial issues, control issues, addiction issues and general issues, by the time I reached my mid-thirties, when my therapist said I was the most mentally healthy person she knew, I finally believed her. I had a rich network of friends around the world who respected my work and writing and emailed me dispatches from Mexico, Barcelona and Egypt.

I believe that we are each defined by the people in our lives. They are mirrors for us. I am probably unnaturally devoted to my friends because so many of them have acted as surrogates for family over the years.

I am also a single American.

“Why are you still single?”

This question has always grated on my nerves, but it’s only gotten worse as the years have gone by. It is what I like to call a back-handed compliment. A guy I met recently called it a slap kiss. It is meant to flatter you as in, “Why are you still single when crazy-as-a-fun house Becky got engaged six months ago?”

Before I did any research, before I realized that the problem was a cultural and social one and before I knew there were over 60 million other single Americans who probably shared my pain, I simply answered this question with the truth: “I don’t know.”

Sometimes the answer was different. “I don’t want to be in a relationship.”

The truth, more often, was a bit more nuanced, as any single person can attest. Dating, as I will write about here, is like everything else in the world that the Internet screwed up – incredibly rich with potential, totally, incredibly time-consuming and randomly ludicrous. I could not believe no one had written a first-person account of dating as a single woman in the 21st Century and how to cope with all the shenanigans that come with the package – no matter how brilliant, sexy, big-boobed, erudite or compliant with societal norms a woman is or is not, it is really rough out there for single people.

Not just a little bit rough, honey. It is incredibly hard to find like-minded people with good credit, self-awareness or goals that are scheduled beyond a calendar date in the next couple of weeks. There are books on weight-loss, getting your money right, how to be more devoted to God, and of course, how to get a man. What I really needed for a good decade, though, was a book on how to be happily single.

When they only date white girls & other musings on interracial dating

The drawback of being a creative person is that sometimes you have a thought & it just will not leave your skull.

I have a good spidey sense, so I can usually tell when I meet a man who has been believing that Psychology Today hype about black women being mannish or whatever. Still, it’d be nice to have some kind of hand sign, T-shirt, or whatever that would separate the WODAWGS — Will Only Date A White Girl — from other potential suitors.

Taye Diggs. Still fine.

I’m about to start reading  Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed by Christelyn D. Karazin and Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, so the question of interracial dating has been on my mind. The book seems to be a guidebook for black women who date interracially, which has been a hot topic in most media focused on single black women.

Specifically, I noted that Ralph Richard Banks’ book, Is Marriage for White People? was the most recent work to remind black women to broaden their dating options:

Banks writes with acuity and directness about the costs of that loyalty to black women who are most negatively affected by man-sharing and its consequences. He also mentions the skewed online dating market, where white men basically exclude black women outright (through silence or an explicit preference not to date us). He also offers a more balanced, objective viewpoint of how black women basically keep themselves from finding happiness in interracial relationships. Banks’ central thesis is that by dating outside of the race and marrying outside of the race more often, black women may save black love.

The reason it would be helpful to know if people only date within their race, though, is because you can’t ever take for granted that you’re not being fetishized as a black woman. And all of this talk about black women trying to get chosen because they’re so desperate, unfortunately, builds the mythical case that if a single black man is within a 50 mile radius, the nearest single black woman will hunt him down & trap him, Black Widow style.

As if you can make someone who doesn’t want you or anyone who looks like you in the first place want to date you with the stench of desperation alone.

When I was younger, I had a very simplistic glare reserved for black men who only dated white women — as if it were a personal assault against my very existence. I think my internal rationale was: One less date for me and what is wrong with me, anyway?  instead of Um, you can have that one, I’m good.

I believed that the person you chose to be with was a reflection of what you desired in yourself. And I desired (and still desire) black men. But at some point, particularly when I lived on the West Coast, I was surrounded by so many black men who were dating outside of the race that I became immune to it and finally just accepted that grown folk are allowed to choose their own mates. Eventually,  the presence of black men who only dated white women to the exclusion of other races (particularly black women) stopped hopping on my last nerve.

That only happened, though, once realized that I had limited my options based on what they were when I was younger. I didn’t date white guys until I was out of college, and even then, only sporadically. When I ventured into interracial territory, let’s just say it wasn’t as smooth as Something New made it seem.

I thought a lot of white men in popular culture were hot (looking at you Richard Gere) but because I never saw images of them with black women (there were rare exceptions…Iman and David Bowie, for starters) somehow the concept of white men who found black women attractive  seemed…distant. The kicker? I was shocked to discover that random black men (usually the ones who didn’t date black women!) felt some kind of way about that. Apparently, they, too, had a gaze reserved for black women who dated outside the race.

News reports say that the number of people dating and marrying interracially is creeping up as the taboo associated with dating outside the race starts to fade:

About 24% of African-American males married outside their race in 2010, compared to 9% of African-American females. However, the reverse is true for Asians, where about 36% of females married outside their race compared to 17% of male newlyweds. And intermarriages for white and Hispanic people do not vary by gender, researchers found. Intermarriages also vary by region. In Western states, about one in five people, or 22%, married someone of a different race or ethnicity between 2008 and 2010. That drops to 14% in the South, 13% in the Northeast and 11% in the Midwest. Interracial dating services have also cropped up online, offering those looking for love an opportunity to find their preferred matches.

I only have anecdotal evidence. Among my friends, I would say four out of 5 of the married black women I know have partners who are not black. Most of my friends are a little on the maverick side, granted, but still. Those are pretty interesting statistics. I’m interested in hearing from y’all about your interracial dating experiences. If you only date a particular race, why is that? And if you date interracially, have you noticed that society has become more accepting? I’ll be back with a review of Swirling shortly.

Top Posts in May: The Best Advice I Ever Got, Rihanna on Being Single and the costs of dating

The summer is approaching for many of you, but for me it’s already begun. I got news last weekend that I got accepted for a writing workshop I’ve wanted to go to for more than five years to work on a memoir I’ve written about five different drafts of over the course of my young life. And that’s just the short version of the good stuff the summer has in store for me, it appears.

Here were the top posts for May:

Pastor pens book with Call Tyrone in the title, encourages black women to stay single, wins this blogger’s heart

The costs of dating

Katie Couric and friends on life advice

One is not the loneliest number: Elephant Journal on feeling loneliest in a crowd

Rihanna says there’s a dating drought and I try not to weep

Amanda Hess on reframing romantic narratives

Single Lady Books: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Goodreads Cover Photo

Kate Couric is one of my virtual mentors, even though initially her perkiness got on my nerves, I have always appreciated her hustle.

And I admire the way she has continued to work and write about her very personal experience of losing a husband and raising two girls by herself while also commanding respect for herself in the broadcast journalism industry, which can’t be an easy feat.

I wrote about graduation/career advice at Bitch Magazine last week and it made me think about The Best Advice I Ever Got, which is essentially a compilation of advice from commencement speeches that has so much good stuff in it was a good thing I read it online, or I would have highlighted every passage.

Here were some of my favorite quotes:

Anna Quindlen
Acts of bravery don’t always take place on battlefields. They can take place in your heart, when you have the courage to honor your character, your intellect, your inclinations, and yes, your soul, by listening to its clean, clear voice of direction instead of following the muddied messages of a timid world. So carry your courage in an easily accessible place, the way you do your cellphone or your wallet. You may still falter or fail, but you will always know that you pushed hard and aimed high. Take a leap of faith. Fear not. Courage is the ultimate career move.

Katie Couric

I realized that whatever your path, whatever your calling, the most damaging thing you can do is let other voices define you and drown out your own. You’ve got to block them out and find that place deep inside you, shaken but still intact, and hold on to it.

Maya Angelou

My paternal grandmother, Mrs. Annie Henderson, gave me advice that I have used for sixty-five years. She said, “If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to your place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a brand-new path.”

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