Stop calling things "too sentimental"

They told me she hadn't eaten in a week

They told me she hadn’t eaten in a week.

That she’d just said the day before how much she’d love a bagel, of all things.

I didn’t know that last August when I bought a dozen and left them, warm and fresh, in the community kitchen at hospice one morning.

When her family found them they couldn’t believe it. They loaded one up with cream cheese and took it right to her, and she ate the whole thing.

Sitting up in her hospital bed the young woman in her twenties, dying from cancer, savored every bite of her bagel.

And when the hospice staff told me about it that afternoon, it made me cry.

Everything made me cry that week, when my Mom and I were 5-day residents at hospice during my 95-year-old Grandmother’s final days.

When I bought the bagels that morning, I’d only wanted to give something to the world in the middle of all my sorrow. In the anticipation of grief.

Sometimes that’s all we can do: give.

My Grandmother would have loved to know about those bagels. I wish I could have told her (she’d have cried, too).

She’d love me telling you about them, though.

Because she knew something, all her long life:

Being sentimental is the good stuff. It connects us, if we let it.

Probably now more than ever.

  • 🧠 Learn: the history of “sentimental,” how Medium is doubling down on it (and why it’s a great time to write there)

  • ❤️ Love: the song “Both Sides Now” like you’ve never heard it; 2 poems to remind you sentimental can be small and everyday

  • ⍰ Curious: Notes from Ann Handley & Steven Spielberg, and a thought on always saying the “thank you”

Editing on Medium, and reading online, every day I see a lack of emotion. A missing sentimentality. There’s plenty of agenda, and stories galore to lure you toward “buy” buttons . . . but a sense that sentimental is for saps.

You know, sentimental didn’t always mean saccharine. It didn’t mean maudlin, smarmy, cheesy, or mawkish.

It used to just mean feeling. Emotion.

Some time in history—probably with the 18th century Age of Reason, when everything had to answer to logic—it became the word we toss around now, pretending it’s a character flaw.

Call me sentimental . . .
That’s just too sentimental . . .

But sentimentality is uniquely human.

That’s why it’s never been a better time to write on Medium.

Medium is doubling down on humans, to differentiate from other platforms where cranked-out content rules. Twitter is templated to death, and other sites are a miasma of fakery (hi, Threads). But Medium, tiny though it is in comparison, is saying:

We value real, human stories and sentiment and we want more of them.

One huge creator told me in May that Medium is dying.

I think he’s wrong.

Maybe he’s reached the limit of what it can do for him, but I see potential (especially every time I edit an article clearly written by ChatGPT).

Medium’s eliminating the 100-follower requirement for their Partner Program, and while you need to subscribe ($5 a month) in order to earn . . . y’all, you CAN make $5 a month on Medium. If you can’t, I will help you.

If you’re not on Medium yet, go try it. If you need guidance please don’t waste your money on a course, I have this free guide for you.

A song full of sentiment, in a way you’ve never heard it: Both Sides Now.

This beautiful poem, always.

Sometimes sentimental lives in the little, everyday things.

(share them!)

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.

William Wordsworth

Anne Handley has some incredible words in her newsletter #143 on Sinead O’Connor—and why sentimentality matters in storytelling.

I read a tweet recently from someone asking if it’d be too sentimental to send her son’s school a thank you. When you get a chance, always say the thank you.

Steven Spielbergs’ response to criticism that “art can’t move you.”

🧠 and ❤️