15 Great Epigraphs to Inspire Your Theme for a New Year

Epigraphs are a funny kind of thing. For a body of work as insular as a book, an author choosing to begin one’s own words with the words of another, the inclusion of an epigraph is akin to appointing a gatekeeper at watch. It may have taken me a full week and some change to firm up and put, pen to paper, an epigraph for my agenda and theme this year, but I found mine.

The older I get, the less impressed I become with originality. These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity as a quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. (Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert)

Much like my love for digesting first lines of novels, and some memoirs, I look to epigraphs as a clue. A key, mind you, that will help me to access deeper meaning and messaging of the author. For a memoir essay I submitted for publication years ago, I led my own story with an epigraph.

Much like an amuse-bouche, a well chosen epigraph gives a delicious promise of what is yet to come.

Epigraphs may seem trivial and trite, but I look to them as an indication of what was inspirational to the author during, or through the result of, creating the book, essay, or poem.

Read on for 15 great epigraphs to inspire your own plans for this new year.

You are all a lost generation. — Gertrude Stein in conversation (The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway)

In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones. — Sufi proverb (The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood)

Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. –C.K. Chesterton (Coraline by Neil Gaiman)

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way. — Juan Ramón Jiménez (Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury)

Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her; If you can bounce high, bounce for her too, Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!” — Thomas Parke D’Invilliers (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

… and so who are you, after all?

— I am part of the power which forever wills evil and forever works good. — Goethe’s Faust (The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov)

Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. — Charles Lamb (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

The reader should realize himself that it could not have happened otherwise, and that to give him any other name was quite out of the question. — Nikolai Gogol, The Overcoat (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri)

No one knows how to love anybody’s trouble. — Frank Stanford (Look! Look! Feathers by Mike Young)

Death is but crossing the world, as friends do the seas; they live in one another still. For they must needs be present, that love and live in that which is omnipresent. In this divine glass, they see face to face; and their converse is free, as well as pure. This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. — William Penn, More Fruits of Solitude (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling)

I learned courage from Buddha, Jesus, Lincoln, Einstein, and Cary Grant. — Miss Peggy Lee (Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion)

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. — Ecclesiastes (The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton)

Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay

To mould me Man, did I solicit thee

From darkness to promote me? — Paradise Lost, X, 743-45 (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

Behind every great fortune there is a crime. — Balzac (The Godfather by Mario Puzo)

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

Per G.G., Chief of Ordnance. — (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain)

My Own True North - 15 Great Epigraphs to Inspire Your New Year

And one more, a bonus, because I love Tom Robbins so dang much, and I could devote a list entirely to the brilliance of his use of epilogues. And, of course, it must be of Kafka, who I read ridiculously early in life, and who ignited my obsessive love of literature.

You don’t need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Don’t even listen, simply wait. Don’t even wait.
Be still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you.
To be unmasked, it has no choice.
It will roll in ecstasy at your feet. —Franz Kafka (Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins)

What is your favorite epigraph? Better yet, what is leading your inspiration this year?

XO, Jennifer

15 great epigraphs from litrature to inspire you my own true north

15 great epigraphs from literature to inspire you - My Own True North


15 Great Epigraphs in LIterature to Inspire You - My Own True North


15 Great Epigraphs in LIterature to Inspire You - My Own True North



New Year Resolutions and Goals for 2018

And, just like that, 2018 is here. New Year Resolutions get a bad wrap, and while I have played around with linguistics, in the past, I stand on the sideline for resolutions. Anything that builds motivation and feels fresh is something I like getting into. Some years are more ambitious than others, but I always start the year with an intention and focus.

It occurred to me, when I was journaling about my New Year Resolutions, this is the first year I do not write “finish PhD” as a goal for my new year.

Whatever you want in your mix, major life goals or small focal points, or to take better care of yourself, or boost up some self love, write something down to satisfy your craving! A friend of mine even includes a theme for her year.

My Own True North - New Year Resolutions

Here are some ideas to help you get started (as you may infer, I’m practically the conductor on my own self-love train for 2018).

Be kind to yourself with the thoughts you let yourself think about you.

Commit to a set bed time and routine.

Stock healthy snacks, including slicing up the veggies when bringing home to have ready-to-crunch goodies on hand, at all times.

Clean up after yourself, daily! You’ll feel better when your entire personal spaces are clean, tidy, and shiny. This includes home, car, desk, etc.

Superfoods. Apple cider vinegar, bee pollen, probiotics, and healthful(l) foods.

Gratitude. Create a journal dedicated to expressing your gratitude for that which is good. Last year, I had a fun day planner I used to record my daily thoughts. Two years ago, and this year, I will write on scraps of paper to go into a gratitude box I will read on New Year’s Day 2019.

Community impact. Find a cause you can contribute to, and volunteer a minimum number of hours per month. Your community needs it, and you will feel better for it.

Social media breaks! I’m thinking about taking one day a week away from all social media.

More baths, at home facials, massages, and other pampering activities fir yourself.

Eliminate toxins from your life. This includes any excessive wine down Wednesdays, household cleaners, and toxic friendships.

I firmly believe in you do you, so let me know, what are you doing, now that we’ve passed New Year’s Eve?

XO, Jennifer

My Own True North - New Year Resolutions


Dreaming of a White Christmas

Well, well, well, ho, ho, ho, and no need to be dreaming of a White Christmas! Dear readers, how have you been this year? Naughty or nice… or maybe a dash of both? If you’re anything like me, you will probably answer a little bit of both. If you are anything like Edie, well then, you are so far down the naughty list you couldn’t reach Santa to try to explain even if you would try.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

This year is a season of even more austerity than the last. However much I enjoyed about the anticipation of gift giving, and receiving, I crave more extensions of goodwill and family. Perhaps that is because I have less expendable money than in prior years. Perhaps it is because I have so much more time to give to my community, and to my family, than I have had before.

Whatever makes your season magical, beautiful, and bright, may your days ahead be merry, be joyful, and light. I wish you the ever loving spirit of Old Fezziwig to fill your heart. ‘Tis the season!

XO, Jennifer

Dreaming of a White Christmas



As We Approach Winter Solstice – Taking Time for Yourself

I’ve been fully submerged in teaching, writing, and researching new work opportunities. It is true that I have been looking for a long while. As much as I am ready to return to work, I did not radically dismantle my life last year so I could jump back into a similar situation of overwhelm and undervalue. All too keenly aware of a slower time table than I wanted for my next transition, my intention and specificity will remain. Late December always brings me especially reflective mind wanderings. As I write, I look out the window of my office to the waning, foggy, light. Tonight is the Winter Solstice.

Winter is coming. The long night. No, really. Tonight, the longest night of our year will be here. The northern axis will begin shifting toward the sun when we wake in the morning. Our days will slowly begin to get longer.

As We Approach Winter Solstice - Taking Time for Yourself

Tonight is an especially beautiful time for personal reflection and looking inward.

There’s something about the Winter Solstice that pulls to me. This darkest day and longest night of the year is a personal invitation to look into yourself and see what you want to set right, straight, and out for the days, and year, ahead.

Today has been particularly ponder-filled, for me. Tomorrow marks one week to a milestone birthday. I’ve been taking personal inventory rather heavily this year. In my social solitude, there has been much time for personal thought.

I think of winter as a season of regeneration of energy. Location helps. Situated within a cold state, with a winter storm on the horizon promising sub zero temperatures, I watch birds and squirrels busy themselves among bare branches of trees. I’m witness to activity I don’t see in Spring, Summer, and the better part of Fall. The physical transformation is visible.

A steady reminder of my own opportunity to turn inward, reflect, redraw energy, and prepare for cyclical regeneration.

Tonight, give yourself some quiet space.

Even if you only have a moment or two, give that much to yourself. What calls to you, and what will you call out to? In a season so often aligned with an over abundance of everything, make a slight break in the chaos. This night is about our Earth’s balance. And it is good enough for your balance, too.

Take a cue from nature. Rabbits and bears snuggle in their burrows. Frogs and lizards bury themselves in mud. They slow their metabolism to a crawl. Trees and plants have shed their leaves. For them, there is no one to impress. They receive the shifting season as they need – with rest.

As We Approach Winter Solstice - Taking Time for Yourself

Where there is darkness, there is light.

On this darkest night, consider your light.

Turn of the back-lit phone. Light a candle. The warm flicker of that flame has the capacity to help you center and be the center of your attention tonight than anything in your phone, tablet, or computer.

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold,

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn sank down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

~Robert Frost

I hope you have a happy Winter Solstice and coziest start to your new season!

XO, Jennifer

As We Approach Winter Solstice - Taking Time for Yourself

Favorite Thanksgiving Movies to Watch this Weekend

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I have a confession to make. But don’t tell my mom…. I *LOVE* hosting Thanksgiving! Menu planning for days and Pinterest prepping the perfect bougie table centerpiece gets me more giddy than ultra shoppers preparing for their Black Friday hunts. Girlfriend, over here, looooves her fancy tablescapes…. After the Thanksgiving meal has been packed away and all that remains is leftover punch (yes, I love boozy punch, too), what’s left to do is pull up the hair, slip on fuzzy socks, and begin the marathon of my favorite Thanksgiving movies.

I’m a holdout. No Christmas tunes will be welcome in my presence until AFTER Thanksgiving. While one is unlikely to find me anywhere near a casserole with marshmallows or fried onions, where I can be found is partaking in serious movie marathoning this chilly Thanksgiving weekend. Of course, I mean after the Christmas decorations are up!

Plains, Trains and Automobiles

Steve Martin. John Candy. Schedenfreude. For anyone who has every survived Thanksgiving travel hell… You’re welcome! I giggle like a fool every time I see this movie. Every. Time! That car rental scene…..

Home for the Holidays

What an underrated movie!!! Holly Hunter, Robert Downy, Jr., and Anne Bancroft. Oh my! If you haven’t seen this one, my recommendation is to skip the dinner roles, pass on the potatoes, and go straight for this delicious treat, instead!

Pieces of April

April (Katie Holmes) tries to build a Thanksgiving holiday for her estranged family and must rely on the help and grace of her East Village neighbors. This may not be one of the better known holiday films but it is as lovely as can be.

The House of Yes

Parker Posey. All the Yes! Thanksgiving is known to bring up many family dysfunctions to the surface.

You’ve Got Mail

One of my favorite films, ever, and it has not one but TWO Thanksgivings! And a second film in my list to feature Parker Posey! I think my favorite character is the circa-1998 AOL dial up. Oh, my gosh, I love this movie so darn much. Soooo freeging much!

Not because it’s Thanksgiving related but… The Big Lebowski

This marathon submission is NOT Thanksgiving related but one of my best Thanksgiving memories includes good friends, deep Tryptophan saturation, many beagles (and one tiny white scnhauzer), mega meal comas, and a home made drinking game with the signature drink of The Dude. Take note: there are many calls for “Caucasians” in the film. Rather than the film being Thanksgiving focused, I have one of my best Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving memories every time I watch it. Although, I must admit to being slightly overexposed to White Russians, now!

My conflicted movie inclusion or omission… Hannah and Her Sisters

I’m incredibly torn on this one. I… LOVE… Woody Allen films. I think he is despicable. No matter how much I go “bananas” for Annie Hall, Manhattan, Midnight in Paris, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and yes, Hannah and Her Sisters, I can’t help myself but to remember and be aware that the film I’m watching and love so much was made by a man who did things that are detestable.

What are you looking forward to this Thanksgiving?

XO, Jennifer

Thanksgiving movies to watch this season my own true north


A list of the best Thanksgiving movies to watch this season my own true north