Megan Kruse: The Driving Force of Desire

"I know there are people who have always known their destinations. When I worry that I’m getting nowhere, I try to remember the power of never attaining. What would it mean to want for nothing? I can only think that to stop wanting would snuff out the candle of the glittering next life."

My Seven Healthy Obsessions

Cooking has always been celebrity chef Jesse Schenker's first passion and true "addiction." After getting out of jail, he flipped the switch and put the same tenacity and passion that he had for drugs into his cooking. Here are some of his other healthy habits he's become addicted to.

5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship

I’ve learned (the hard way) that trying to ignore these behavior blunders can strain my relationships, which only compounds the original error. That’s why, lately, I’ve started to employ an old childhood ploy: the do-over. It’s like an apology wrapped in a second-chance.

Pico Iyer on the Art of Doing Nothing

The less time you spend frantically running around, the more productive you are likely to be. It is the pauses in a piece of music that gives the piece its beauty and its shape; always keep pushing forward at full speed, and you end up out of breath.

Gratitude and Passion: To Love One Thing

It doesn’t matter if you plant a thousand tulips or if you plant one tree and love it into a forest. It doesn’t matter if you bake muffins or write poems, or if you give birth to a child or instead choose to dote on and nurture a furry, four-legged babe. When you do one thing you love, you show your gratitude for being alive.

10 Things You Can Toss With No Regrets

Are you still hanging onto those skinny jeans that haven’t zipped since two kids ago, or a grudge against a co-worker who snitched on you that’s long past its expiration date? Let’s face it, we all have stuff from our past that could be tossed to the curb to make room for bigger and better things.

Will You Be My Mother?

When a girl at the Genocide Museum in Rwanda asked me to be her mother, she gave voice to my own silent question—and fears.

What a Leap of Faith Looks Like

Many of us dream of dropping out of our lives to find something we can’t completely name. But what would taking time off from work and family really look like? And what might you find?

Jenna Blum: Recycling Love

I couldn’t put love in the garbage. Wasn’t that the worst kind of karma—to put any manifestation of love in a blue plastic box with soda cans and junk mail, to be tossed out in the alley—even if that love no longer existed? Which raised the question: didn’t love, once it had existed, still exist in the universe?

Jean Kwok: Dancing My Way to Grace

"At the beginning, I was truly the worst student in every dance class. One dance teacher had to stifle a giggle in her sleeve after seeing my legs tangle themselves up. But I still loved it and I wanted it: I dreamed of finding grace – of becoming fierce, strong, in control of my body. And so I persevered."

Ann Hite: Can Children of Dysfunction Beat Their Fate?

"We never talked about our childhood. We even tried our best to pretend Mother was normal, an old trick of ours. It was as if none of the bad times had happened. Who said children from dysfunctional parents had to pay a price? We were successful, smart, and good-looking individuals. We beat our fate..."

Julia Fierro: Finding Empathy for My Father

My method for “getting by” was born in the kitchen with my father. I felt sorry for him. I imagined what he was feeling as he wept into his arms, and it was so much easier to feel his pain instead of mine. Now, at thirty-seven, I think of that little girl working so hard to forgive her father, and I know she was too generous."

Patry Francis: Courtesy as a Spiritual Practice

Terry McMillan once wrote, “Whatever you write should lead to a higher level of understanding"....but did I really need to spend years creating a fictional character who could teach me about courtesy?

Susanna Sonnenberg: The Line Between Stepmother and Mother

You remember it when someone says she will be your mother. Maybe my stepmother was tipsy, and I was, too, and her dizzy proclamation just tumbled out... Maybe she didn’t know that her statement bound me to her. I thought she meant what she said, and, flushed with extravagant gratitude, I reached forward, all of me did.

My Mother’s Secret, My Secret

One time, when I was a young mother, afraid that my love was not enough for my two sons, my mother shared a secret with me. This was, by far, the bravest thing that I have ever witnessed her doing.

4 Keys to Building Long-Lasting Love

Marriage is good for your health, according to a recent study by the Duke University Medical Center. But what does it take to sustain a strong, long-lasting marriage, even after the kids are grown and gone?

Sue Monk Kidd: The Invention of Wings

Inspired in part by the abolitionist and feminist Sarah Grimkë, Kidd explores the relationship between an urban slave in early-nineteenth-century Charleston and her young owner, both struggling to be free of the religious dogma of the time. Here more from this spiritual and thought-provoking author on the latest Oprah 2.0 Book Club pick:

The Wrong Sister: Bite-sized e-Book from Caroline Leavitt

Best-selling novelists like Caroline Leavitt are finding that the new e-book publisher is a great way to get their work to readers in bite-sized stories (about 8,000 words) that are just right for a morning commute or bedtime read. Here’s an excerpt from Leavitt’s new Shebook, The Other Sister.

Robert Jeffreys: Boy Interrupted

"I never considered the possibility of my dad hitting me before. I look at him in disbelief while gasping for air, trying not to appear weak. I wipe away tears and try to look at him... I never before considered how hard it was for him, losing his job."

Therese Walsh: Grief and Mother-Numbness

Parents are the bedrock for their children. I’d lost part of my bedrock at a time when I needed to be one, to create one for my daughter. I felt numb after losing my dad. I questioned the idea of bedrock, of core stability, in general. Maybe there was no such thing.

Deborah Jiang-Stein: Staring down Stigma

If I've learned anything from my unique entry into the world and living with the facts of my birth in prison to a chronic heroin addict, it's how to integrate the deepest of pain, grief, and fear into acceptance and ultimately live a life filled with purpose, intention, and play.

Modern Love Editor Daniel Jones on Love

“We learn more from stories than from advice or anything else. We learn how to live our lives through stories. And that’s very powerful for writers, too.”

Wally Lamb: The Healing Power of Story

Lamb was facing his own struggles when he began volunteering at the prison. He’d been stricken with writer’s block and was sinking into depression, while facing moving his parents into an assisted living facility. Hearing the women share their stories, seeing how healing it was, inspired him to write again.

Gina Frangello: Our Collected List of Maladies

My mother used to be 5'2'' but is now something like 4'10'', and something in her tragically bruised, swollen, and braced appearance called to mind the black comedy of a Tim Conway sketch on the old Carol Burnett Show. I know he used to do a shuffling old guy, but did he maybe once wear a neck brace, too?

Beth Kephart: Our House Is Still our Son's Home

Our children move on, their lives accelerate, their worlds are as big and as glorious as they make them, and that, of course, is what we want best and most, what gives us peace. Throughout it all, the old house stays where it was on the leafy street...

Jane Hirshfield: Why Write Poetry?

"Poetry is a trick of language-legerdemain, in which the writer is both magician and audience. You reach your hand into the hat and surprise yourself with rabbit or memory, with odd verb or slant rhyme or the flashing scarf of an image."

The Gifts That Can't Be Stolen

When a thief stole a sapphire ring that had belonged to my great grandmother, I called my mom to find out how much the ring was worth. But the true value of the ring wasn't the insurance money. It was the stories my mom told me how her Gram Esther helped to raise her after her own father died...

Robin Black: My Daughter's Search for Words

It took me many years to realize both the similarity and the very crucial difference between how my daughter and I spend much of our time. As a writer, I work all day to find the words I need, while my daughter, because of her expressive language disability, also works all day to do the same.

Interview with Gish Jen: Tiger Writer

"It used to be that we expressed our individualism through writing novels and that was liberating. But now, I think, that same individualism has become codified, and a kind of prison."

Writing Fiction is My Anti-Depressant

Eight years ago, I began to consider that my chronic depression may actually be a kind of gift that I wasn't utilizing. That’s when I began writing fiction.