Monday #29: What Would You Say?

Patti Digh

I’ve been Digh-nified lately. By a woman named Patti Digh. Patti is a mother, a speaker, a thinker, a philosopher, a storyteller, the author of six super inspirational books on living and creativity and the keeper of a blog called 37 Days.

life-is-a-verb (1)

Digh’s awareness of life and living changed in 2003 when she was witness to the death of her stepfather who had lived vibrantly his whole life. One autumn morning he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died just 37 days later. The clichéd question is a familiar one: If you only had (fill in the blank) left, how would you live your life? Life Is A Verb is the result of the awareness she came to after this life-changing event and, if you want to know which Digh book to read to begin your Digh-nification, this is the one. In her journey to create this book, Digh traveled the world and spoke to many people about living a fuller, richer life and repeatedly heard the same six refrains. I love this…


INCLUSION: Be generous.

INTEGRITY: Speak up.

INTIMACY: Love more.

INTUITION: Trust yourself.

INTENTION: Slow down.

As a truly topnotch storyteller, Digh has done a breathtaking job of placing the stories of her own life onto the pages of this book and weaving them into her “Wake Up, Be Mindful & Live Intentionally” philosophy. The book is filled with inspirational quotes and poems from some of the most influential souls in history, and is formatted in an easygoing way that allows you to open it up to any page and get a good mindset going pronto! How about this poem, called “God Says Yes to Me,” from Kaylin Haught:

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is

Yes Yes Yes.

What’s more, it is an activity book packed full of thoughtful prompts that you can use for conversation or writing and journaling. Try this one on for size:

Your memory is going to be completely erased in five minutes. You have only that amount of time to write down everything you want or need to remember. Start writing.

And, it’s a pretty thing, with pages that are illustrated by blog followers from around the world and big, wide margins that readers are encouraged to use for their own personal marginalia.

I’m going to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with journaling. What I’ve discovered about myself is that, with the exception of the journals I kept for my sons when they were babies, toddlers and growing up, when I pour my heart and soul onto the pages of a private “diary,” I am usually mortified to read these words sometimes as soon as a few months later. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I spend so much time here at 52 Mondays writing about others? Hmmm. Better meditate on that one. But, lately, I have been teaching classes on art journaling and collecting lessons and projects for my own art journal. And, because I’ve recently learned the power and value of kaizen–good change through small, small steps–I’m ready to try again with some very small personal, journaling exercises.

four word self help

Enter Miss Digh again. It’s a book called Four Word Self Help book and it mimics the well-known six word memoir movement but asks for the participant to consider four words that provide “simple wisdom for complex lives.” I like this idea because I have always gravitated toward writing templates and use them whenever I write with both children and adults. There is something wonderful about having some scaffolding for that blank, white page because it drives away the fear of having to come up with an idea out of nothing. Four words is, perhaps, a simplistic way to view self-help, however, there is some elegant simplicity in the brevity of the exercise. Some winners from the book are: Live In Present Tense, Always Assume Positive Intent, Get Lost More Often, Claim Your Own Mistakes, and Find Your Way Home.

This Wednesday I am going to bring this activity to my adult art journaling class because, in it, I have some people who insist that they are not artists and not writers but who want to get in touch with something creative inside their being. I think four, little words is a good place to start.

My four words of self-help are: Play More Worry Less.

So, what would you say? What are yours?

TRY THIS WEEK: Your four words.


About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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4 Responses to Monday #29: What Would You Say?

  1. Kathy McNeil says:

    My self-help phrase is whittled to 2 words-“Carpe diem!”

  2. Sheri Fuchs says:

    Thank you for turning me on to another great artist 🙂

  3. Susan Medyn says:

    What a cool story. And I love your mantra. Mine is “You have everything within you to be.”

  4. James Tadych says:

    Dar Honey play more worry less BRAVO Dad

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