The Three Dimensions of Character

Have you ever described someone as shallow or superficial? Lacking depth? Most of us offer these unkind character sketches at some point. They’re based on what we see: actions and behaviors. To understand what drives those actions and behaviors, we need to understand a person’s history. In

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Be the Hope

My brother, Jim, would be fifty-four today. We lost him to suicide seven years ago. Like many before, he lost a battle with depression. As of 2018*, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. That works out to an average of one

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All About Breastfeeding

What does breastfeeding have to do with postpartum mental health? Plenty. I explored the intersection of these topics recently on the All About Breastfeeding Podcast. Host Lori Isenstadt, a lactation consultant and breastfeeding expert, points out that breastfeeding mismanagement can pose unique hurdles for women with perinatal

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Monday Mindset: On the Real Things

This week will be one of the worst in U.S. history. The death toll from COVID-19 is expected to soar to a dark summit. The emotional load will be heaviest. We watch daily briefings like children eating vegetables: We hesitate. We flinch. We hold our noses, and

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Writing Character: Where to Begin?

Define story in one word. Did you say “character?” Maybe “plot?” Many people do, according to author Larry Brooks. It’s not quite right, though. The essence of story is conflict. With conflict, a force opposes your protagonist’s goal. It stirs dramatic tension and readers’ emotional investment. Without

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Friday Fact: On Little House

My daughter and her class are reading Little House in the Big Woods, the classic by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s the first in a beloved series based on Wilder’s life. With my kids’ school moving online this month amid the pandemic, I’ve been a teacher by proxy.

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Monday Quote: On Inspiration

Fine art inspires me. If my brain ever feels hollowed out—as it sometimes does in the thick of motherhood—I spend an afternoon strolling the galleries of Chicago’s Art Institute. Without fail, it offers me a new window into a story I’m mulling, writing, or editing. Many of

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