Why Sarah Silverman is Pretty Radical and Currently My Hero

By Angela Noel

January

Since my last post on performing radical acts of empathy, my friend Hayley posted a story on Facebook about comedian Sarah Silverman’s actions in response to a fellow who called her the c-word.

This twitter exchange, and how the guy responded to her outreach has been shared many times over. No one necessarily needs me to comment on it or to say any more about it. But I’m going to because when this kind of beauty happens just when I’m thinking about what it means to perform radical acts of empathy, I’m pretty sure that’s a sign from the universe. Continue reading “Why Sarah Silverman is Pretty Radical and Currently My Hero”

Performing Radical Acts of Empathy in 2018

By Angela Noel

January 4, 2018

In 2018 I want to perform radical acts of empathy.

I first heard the phrase, “reading is a radical act of empathy” at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis during an open house for writers.  Months later I heard author Kelly Barnhill, winner of 2017 Newberry Medal for her book The Girl Who Drank the Moon say the same thing on a children’s podcast, Brain’s On. “Reading is an act of radical empathy” she said, ” . . . It’s a reminder that my own point of view is not the only one . . . We have to be able to be another person . . . so we can stop being such selfish jerks.” Continue reading “Performing Radical Acts of Empathy in 2018”

The Seductive Power of Coffee and Clinging

By Angela Noel

December 28, 2017

I have a teensy weensy Starbucks addiction. The app seduced me. Though remembering my stupid password is probably the hardest and most frustrating trial of my life (and I’m including childbirth), I love the simplicity of paying with that barcode and walking away with an expensive little piece of indulgent heaven.

Because earning those reward stars (though my husband informs me they are worth less than a penny) makes me happy, I choose to go more often than I should. They’ve got me. They got me good. But this post isn’t about Starbucks or the wondrous app. It’s about a real jerk. Continue reading “The Seductive Power of Coffee and Clinging”

Reflections on the Little Drummer Boy

By Angela Noel

December 21, 2017

I begin to feel the holiday spirit the first time I hear “The Little Drummer Boy” each year. This song, written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941, helps me sight the essence of what I believe is my–maybe everyone’s–purpose here on this planet.

Let me explain. Continue reading “Reflections on the Little Drummer Boy”

Cognitive Bias Series: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

by Angela Noel

December 14, 2017

Stories are the software of our brains. They tell us how to act, what’s important, and what to do when something goes wrong. But every software program has bugs.

For example,  I recently stood in line with my son and husband at an amusement park. My son grabbed my arm. ”Mom,” he said, “remember that time you took a gun to the airport and you were almost arrested?” Continue reading “Cognitive Bias Series: The Stories We Tell Ourselves”

Love Letter: Dear Dad, I’m Sorry

A Guest Post by Mind Over Meta

December 9, 2017

I remember the morning when mum came into my room to tell me you’d passed away; I could hear my younger brother crying in his room. Nan and granddad came round, having lost their only child, and I remember the dimly lit rooms and deafening silences. I remember your funeral, I remember your friends all dressed in black. I remember time standing still and yet life carrying on.

You were just forty-six years old when you died. I was just thirteen. Continue reading “Love Letter: Dear Dad, I’m Sorry”

All I Want for Christmas: A Wish List

By Angela Noel

November 30, 2017

The holidays approach. This also means my birthday is soon to arrive. In fact, it comes the same day as St. Nick. I’m one of those Christmas babies who get gifts but once a year. And though I lamented that fact as a child, now in my fourth decade of life, I realize this collision of Christmas and birthday can, maybe, help me get what I really want this year. Because, while “double” the presents for a Christmas Birthday wasn’t realistic, I did tend to get a more valuable “combo” gift on occasion. And that’s what I’m counting on now.  Continue reading “All I Want for Christmas: A Wish List”

Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition

by Angela Noel

November 23, 2017

It’s Thanksgiving!

Weird thing about gratitude: In the act of calling to mind all the good things we have in our lives, we’re actually receiving a powerful benefit. As Alex Korb Ph.D discusses in The Grateful Brain, studies have shown that calling to mind what we’re grateful for has a direct effect on depression and an indirect effect on anxiety. As we express gratitude our brains increase dopamine production, making us both feel good, and increase our activity levels–a kind of “more of that, please” response. So offering thanks for the gifts we’ve been given is also a gift to ourselves. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition”

Cognitive Bias Series: Taming the Elves in Our Brains

By Angela Noel

November 16, 2017

Certain four-letter words get a lot of attention. I won’t write them here because you already know what I’m talking about. These words have power. Some studies have shown that cussing actually tempers the pain response in the brain. Preliminary theories tell us swear words trigger a “fight” response, helping the body dull sensations of pain.

But I want to talk about a different four-letter word: bias. The word itself won’t lesson pain. Its power comes from describing a whole host of unconscious actions governing our responses to all kinds of sensations and experiences. Saying the word out loud won’t increase or decrease pain, but bias operating in our lives just might. Continue reading “Cognitive Bias Series: Taming the Elves in Our Brains”

Twin Posts: What Does it Mean to be “Enough?”

By Angela Noel

November 9, 2017

Writing, whether for my own blog or for others, offers both joy and challenge. I’ve particularly enjoyed guest posting lately. Sometimes my host has had a specific idea of what he or she wants, other times not. In all cases, I seek a universal theme–the thread that connect us all.

It just so happens that the guest posts I wrote for two awesome bloggers happened to both be published this week. And both explore a core aspect of how I now view and operate in the world: being enough.

Whether you’re more concerned with relationships or work, there’s something here for you. Continue reading “Twin Posts: What Does it Mean to be “Enough?””