I give my freshmen students a list of 500 of my favorite verbs. I tell them about grapple and fritter and elucidate and debunk. I tell them how much I love the verbs restore and lavish.
I leave class and hear the verbs all around me. Some shimmer and delight; others depress and discourage. I deflate when I think about criticize, complain, weaken and diminish. I brighten when I hear celebrate, proclaim, manifest, and renew.
After all these years of teaching writing, I start to see my life in verb form. I work to make them the kinds of verbs I want:
Pray. Bake. Nurture. Teach. Discover. Write. Love. Enliven. Converse. Organize. Inspire. Connect. Encourage. Laugh. Shine. Hug. Rest. Hope. Mentor. Reveal.
I’ve learned. Get rid of anything feeble, negative, or critical. Edit out the verbs that don’t make your life jump off the page.
Living with flair means we choose the right life verbs.
Journal: What 10 verbs animate your life?