All posts by: Lisa Rivero

Y Is for Your Failure Resume

I will have to come back to discuss the topic of this (and the next post) in more detail later, but for now, please take a look at this “CV of Failures” from a Princeton professor and the Nature article that inspired it.

“Most of what I try fails, but these failures are often invisible, while the successes are visible. I have noticed that this sometimes gives others the impression that most things work out for me. As a result, they are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves, rather than the fact that the world is stochastic, applications are crapshoots, and selection committees and referees have bad days. This CV of Failures is an attempt to balance the record and provide some perspective.” Read more

Tina Seelig’s “Failure Resume” creative thinking exercise is similar.


Y-3This post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. 

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X is for X (10) eXistential songs that I love

A friend and I were talking about music this week, which has prompting some thought as to why I like some songs and musicians more than others. While I like a good nonsense pop song as much as anyone, much of my favorite music addresses existential questions and the inherent (but freeing) absurdity of existence: Why are we here? How should we live? How do we deal with regret? Shame? Loss? Memory? What does it all mean? These songs not only provide a needed break or background soundtrack; they also are food for the mind and soul.

Below are ten existentialist-themed songs that I love, in no particular order and the first ones that came to mind that I could easily share here:

  • Paul McCartney: “Fool on the Hill”
  • Talking Heads: “Once in a Lifetime”
  • Elvis Costello: “Veronica”
  • Annie Lennox: “Into the West”
  • Queen: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
  • Hamilton Soundtrack: “That Would Be Enough”
  • Prince: “Sign O’ the Times”
  • Tracy Chapman: “Change”
  • Traveling Wilburys: “End of the Line”
  • John Lennon: “Watching the Wheels”











XThis post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. 

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W Is for Why We Blog

“In journeys at sea that took place before radio or radar or satellites or sonar… [logs] helped navigators surmise where they were and how far they had traveled and how much longer they had to stay at sea.” ~ Andrew Sullivan, “Why I Blog”

Why do we blog?

Andrew Sullivan answered this question in a 2008 Atlantic article in which he began by discussing the original of the word “blog” and its similarity to a ship’s log:

“As you read a log, you have the curious sense of moving backward in time as you move forward in pages—the opposite of a book. As you piece together a narrative that was never intended as one, it seems—and is—more truthful. Logs, in this sense, were a form of human self-correction. They amended for hindsight, for the ways in which human beings order and tidy and construct the story of their lives as they look back on them. Logs require a letting-go of narrative because they do not allow for a knowledge of the ending. So they have plot as well as dramatic irony—the reader will know the ending before the writer did.

Anyone who has blogged his thoughts for an extended time will recognize this world. We bloggers have scant opportunity to collect our thoughts, to wait until events have settled and a clear pattern emerges.” Read more

When I first read Sullivan’s piece several months ago, it changed my relationship to blogging. A blog’s value for the blogger often lies in its inherent imperfection and “letting-go,” in its day to day immediacy.

For example, even in a very busy month like this one, the A to Z Challenge is a way for me to think throughout the day of how a specific letter of the alphabet relates to the rest of my life. However long or short the resulting post (and even if I fall a day behind), it is a record of those thoughts, of where I am at this moment.


WThis post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. 

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V Is for Viktor Frankl

“If we seem to be idealists and are overestimating, overrating man… we promote him to what he really can be.” ~ Viktor Frankl

Following up on a couple of posts recently about Holocaust survivor and existential philosopher Viktor Frankl, this clip from 1972 shows Frankl explaining the value of presupposing a will and search for meaning in others:

Being idealistic about others—assuming that they, like us, are trying to figure out the meaning of this thing called life, even when it looks as though they aren’t—also is a matter of choosing trust over pessimism. Doing so while keeping healthy boundaries and not allowing ourselves to be taken advantage can be tricky, but I keep trying to find that balance.


VThis post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. 

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U Is for Unraveling (via Joy Navan)

I’ve toyed with several ideas for U entries (unruly, unfiltered blog post, uber), and they all are rather lame, especially in light of my friend Dr. Joy Navan’s post: “U Is for Unraveling.” It makes sense, therefore, to send you over to her site today. Enjoy.

“What are some of the knots, the conflicts, that gifted elders experience that are waiting to be resolved in the final stage of our lives?

Untying involves setting one’s agenda for the years (days/months?) that remain. Agenda-setting or goal-setting involves taking stock of our resources and proposing goals that respond to those realities. Thus, having surveyed my resources, I will never run a marathon, but I do intend to train as a marathon writer and to finish the three books that are in different stages of writing, to publish a book of poems, to read, to connect with loved ones, and to maintain my mobility during my final years. I will call on all the resources at hand to assist in untying and resolving those goals.” Read more


UThis post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. 

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