Burn the Boats and Ani DiFranco Quotes

Every morning I like to read before I start my day with something that will lend my mind in a positive direction. Instead of endlessly scrolling on Instagram to where there are a thousand things happening by people that I enjoy but will effect my life none whatsoever, I like to direct my thoughts. I started that journey this morning with Burn the Boats by Matt Higgins.

When I bought this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I was expecting a lot of “go after your dreams” encouragement. WhatI found though is that this book is much more than that. I guess partly because the words of Mr. Higgins carry a lot more weight because of his personal experience. They come across as matter of fact, instead of starry eyed, blind hope.

Today, reading in Chapter 3, there were a few things that really hit me hard. While I was writing this article, Ani DiFranco songs that went along with what I was writing kept coming to mind. So after each of the three points today, I included a quote from an Ani song and the song itself. Here’s the first thing that struck me while reading Burn the Boats today.

Sometimes people will spot greatness in you before you see it in yourself.”1 As a singer-songwriter, I have this happened to me a few times. Once was a nursing co-worker came to see my show. Instead of saying the usual comments, she said something that struck me. She said, “You are a different person when you perform. You can tell that is really who you are. You can tell you are so happy doing it.” Sometimes we can dismiss these little gems, from other voices in the name of being realistic. This becomes more evident when we blame our failures on our gifts or dreams instead of where our plans or systems failed.

And generally my generation wouldn’t be caught dead working for the man

And generally I agree with them,

Trouble is you gotta have yourself an alternate plan

And I have earned my disillusionment

I have been working all of my life

And I am a patriot

I have been fighting the good fight2

Ani Difranco, “Not a Pretty Girl”

“Our risk tolerance doesn’t increase as we get older.”5 Just Do It. We’ve been hit with the do it now advice more than once. But still we hesitate. Why? Higgins points out, “We delude ourselves into thinking we’ll be able to handle more risk with more experience and more seasoning. But it’s never going to be easier to take a gamble than it is today.”5 Lately, I’ve also been reading and am about finished with the book Aha by Kyle Idleman. I love what he says here, that coincides with the theme of Burn the Boats, “Immediate action may be where most of us get stuck, but it’s important to recognize that without action, the story never changes.”8 In his book about revelation and insight, Kyle talks about the age old story of the prodigal son.7 It’s the turning point moment when the son who left his father, went out partying and spending all his money has hit rock bottom. He’s sitting in a pit with the pigs and there are two crucial actions that Idleman points out about the story. First “He came to his senses”, and then “he got up”. Basically when he realized where he was and what he needed to do, he didn’t hesitate. He took immediate action.

“‘Cuz they can call me crazy if i fail
All the chance that i need
Is one-in-a-million
And they can call me brilliant
If i succeed
Gravity is nothing to me, moving at the speed of sound
I’m just going to get my feet wet
Until i drown”4

Ani Difranco, “Swan Dive”

“Even a ‘safe’ path contains endless possibilities for failure.”3 Blockbuster, Borders Books and Music, and Bed Bath and Beyond are a few major retailers that were giants in their day. There is no such thing as a sure bet. My dad always wanted me to get a job that pays well and has good insurance and maybe even a matching 401K. This is the middle class formula for making a living and doing well. But what happens when your company’s industry is no longer there? Or if your new boss just doesn’t like you? I think the worst risk of holding a “good job” is the belief that you are better off than you really are and the routine of doing that job. In Matt’s book Burn the Boats, he says, “Any time you are depending on someone else’s behavior for your prosperity, there is a risk. You should want as much control over your fate as possible, as much power to plot your own future. “3

No I don’t prefer obscurity
But I’m an idealistic girl
And I wouldn’t work for you
No matter what you paid
And I may not be able
To change the whole fucking world
But I could be the million
That you never made6

Ani Difranco, “The Million You Never Made”

A Few Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Who has spotted greatness in you before? What did they say?
  2. Are you justifying excuses by merely procrastinating? What will that cost you in the end?
  3. Is the “safe” path really going to be safer for your long term goals? What makes the “safe” path dangerous?


  1. Burn the Boats, Matt Higgins pg 61
  2. Ani DiFranco Lyrics from the song “Not a Pretty Girl” from the album Not a Pretty Girl
  3. Burn the Boats, Matt Higgins pg 62
  4. Ani DiFranco Lyrics fro the song “Swan Dive” from the album Little Plastic Castle
  5. Burn the Boats, Matt Higgins pg 63
  6. Ani DiFranco Lyrics from the song “The Million You Never Made” from the album Not a Pretty Girl
  7. The Holy Bible, Luke 15:11-32, NIV
  8. AHA, Kyle Idleman pg 150

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Influenced lyrically by songwriters like Ani Difranco and Dar Williams, Sarah Popejoy’s folk introspection mixed with activism are the key ingredients that fuel her writing. At the same time, Sarah’s sound gravitates to the dirty, country blues akin to Lucinda Williams. Born into a musical family her father Brad Popejoy played bass guitar for a band called Front Page News released on Dial Records, while her Grandmother, Gwen Popejoy Bonnell, was part of a successful singing trio that toured Oklahoma in her younger years. With two studio albums recorded in Nashville under her belt, Sarah is no stranger to recording and producing. Her extensive touring credits include performances at Cambridge’s Club Passim’s Cutting Edge of the Campfire, Blue Bird’s Sunday Showcases, and opening for Debbie Campbell at her Summer’s Fifth night in front of a crowd of over 10,000 people. She has made appearances on BBC News, American Songwriter Magazine as a lyric contest honorable mention winner, her song "Father's Love for His Son" was talked about in Dar Williams latest book Writing a Song that Matters. Moving back home to Tulsa, what Rolling Stone calls the next Austin, Sarah is producing her 3rd studio album called “The Oklahoma Storyteller”, set to release at the beginning of 2024.

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