Life Changing Magic

There’s a three day conference coming up in April entitled “The Life Changing Magic of Sorting Your Sh*t Out.” I would love to attend, but it’s not cheap (about 2,000 US dollars) and it’s in Wales. I don’t fly, so it would have to include an ocean cruise. I don’t consider that a disadvantage, far from it, but it would add to both time and cost. 

I would guess that among other things the conference might address the question of what is important and what is trivial. I occasionally forget that. Several years ago the church shooting brought things into pretty clear focus for me, but time passes, and there are many ideas, events, organizations, movements, and philosophies that want me to put them at the top of my personal list; it’s hard to quiet all the competing voices. It’s particularly difficult for me because I’m a great believer in following (or at least glancing down) interesting paths that appear in my field of vision, especially if I have no idea where they might lead. After all, those paths will also have branches that may be worth exploring, and I tell myself that if things get too dark or angry or accusatory or judgmental I can always turn around.

Not that I always have. I’ve gone down a few dark roads over the years, sometimes so far down that the way back was difficult to see. That’s one reason that as I get older I’m less and less willing to pass judgment on those who are clearly on a questionable path. Sometimes pulling a U-turn is unimaginably hard. Besides, I have neither the qualifications nor the desire to advise someone else on their life choices. I’m still working on how to manage my own life.

So I am intrigued by the notion of a seminar about the life changing magic of sorting my sh*t out. I know about the conference because I stumbled across the website of an organization called “Do: the encouragement network” (, which I found because of Seth Godin, whom I found because I do self-publishing of my books, which I do partly because Sam Venable, in a talk at the Knoxville Writer’s Guild, recommended self-publishing. All of which is as good an example as any of the serendipity of staying open to the unexpected. The website might be a temporary distraction, or it might introduce me to someone who has something to say that I need to hear. I don’t know yet, and that’s okay with me. Being between what I already know and what I might be about to find out is probably my favorite place.

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A career working with teenagers on the fringes of society has made me both sensitive to and appreciative of the complexities of character and the struggles, inner and outer, that we all wrestle with in one form or another. My writing emphasizes character development over action, and, as a lifelong Southerner, the rhythms and cadence of the Southeastern United States influence both my spoken and written voice.

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