Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 8.27.18 PMEverywhere I go, there’s a top ten list. “Top 10 Ways to Make Your Sneakers Smell Fresh,” “Top 10 Ways to Declutter.” As an stodgy history writer, I decried the top ten list for the longest time.  Now I write them.

“What? People have such short attention spans they can’t even read a paragraph?” I’d say in my former life, imaging historian James McPherson’s Civil War epic as a top ten.

I was wrong about brevity. Completely wrong. I stand beaten down and corrected. I now strive for brevity and clarity. I’m honored by your reading this, and do not want you to suffer, ever. “If you need a priest, get a priest,” said my friend who got me into this mess.  He advised me never to torture my reader. I love that line–a real writer’s slap in the face.

As I stood between several worlds, each with a different writing style and view on the quantity and quality of the written world, I transformed. The worlds of research, teaching, and Corporate America overuse words. The world of tech does not. Once I stopped having cold sweats encountering sentence fragments, I liked the world of tech; it became freeing. Zen.

Brevity has value. There is a reason six people in the world want to read anything historians write.  Historians are too obscure–and too darned long.  This year, I’ve taken a lesson from the tech people. I try to be brief, interesting, fun, and informative. I hope I have been succeeding.

Here, in honor of my 100th post, I’ll make my recompense complete by employing the Top 10 list, sharing some of my favorite posts about life, happiness, education–things that matter to me.

Failing at Music–Succeeding at Life, Part Two: This is a story of how I fell flat on my face in college.

A Formal Apology to Henri Matisse: I apologize to a dead artist for being so ignorant as to disrespect his work.

The Frankenstorm of the Century–Storm Prep, Rhode Island Style: Rhode Islanders are crazy. This proves it.

Teach Like a Soviet: In order to navigate the education system, I ask “How would a Soviet do this?”

What Is That Moment Where I Change Someone’s LIfe Forever?: We never know how we affect the lives of others. Sometimes we never find out. But that moment has the potential to exist every day.

Don’t Ban Dodgeball: Ban Life: Society’s propensity to restrict everything is silly. Beyond silly; it has crossed the line into stupid.

Carrying People through the Sand: Lifting each other up makes a difference–may we never fail to see the significance of our actions even to those our lives touch in slight measure.

Crumpled Paper Airplanes: Taking My Own Advice: Declan crumples airplanes. I tell him we must try in life without being afraid which turns out to be a giant hypocritical moment in parenting.

Separating Out the Geniuses: Traditional education values one kind of genius. Everyone is a genius. It would be great if schools would notice this.

Loser for Life: Tales of a Girl without Klout: In the beginning of this journey, I discovered the concept that Silicon Valley could, indeed, brand me a loser. Mathematically.

I am deeply honored have enough content to make this list, and even more honored that you read my stories. Nothing is more meaningful to me than the relationships I have made through writing. I am grateful I kept my promise to create–I’ve made friends, and my life has changed direction forever. Friends are the treasure we receive if we open our heart and mind to the experience; experiences are what make up the essence of life. I thank you, not only for reading, but becoming part of that essence, teaching me so much this year, and inspiring me to strive to improve each day.


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