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I use an app called “We Croak” that reminds me, five times a day, that I will die one day. Could be any minute–so the notifications appear on my phone at any time, day or night. Totally random. And the notifications come with quotations. This is the one that appeared this morning when I clicked on it. Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets of all time, and she said this:

“In the bigger scheme of things the universe is not asking us to do something, the universe is asking us to be something. And that’s a whole different thing.”

She’s 100% right about the difference between doing and being. I happen to believe that the universe is personal, and it is God who is asking us to be something and not do something. What’s the difference? Today it means I’m not going to worry about the fact that work is not coming easy to me. That I’m having a hard time focusing on writing or even reading. That the article I wanted to work on today is not going to happen the way I visualized it. Instead, I’m going to delight in the fact that I’m here, and that my primary work is to learn how to be someone who loves others well.

Spring Retreat and Master Class is Up and Ready!

It’s finally here! After spending most of the break updating and providing new content for you all, I’m happy to announce that the Spring Retreat and Master Class is ready for enrollment. There are a couple of completely new sections, including Getting Things Done for Academics and How to Re-think your assignments. Enroll for 25%

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The Importance of Real Rest

It’s December, so I know that we are all grading, grading, grading right now. Because I am. But while COVID presents challenges it also presents opportunities: at this moment I’m delivering my final exam to my students across the country, while I’m in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where I’m on my annual writing group retreat.

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Are you living in an echo chamber?

Sometimes you just have to teach off script. Here’s why. I’ve been teaching American literature for over 25 years, and it enables me to raise all kinds of issue of central importance today, including our persistent failure to move beyond the racist attitudes present at the founding of the United States. But sometimes we need

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