Good Stuff Starting Soon: Reverb and Winter Joy Retreat

On December 1st, two of my favorite holiday traditions are starting: Reverb and Winter Joy Retreat. This will be my fourth year doing Reverb and my second (third?) Winter Joy Retreat. There is still time to sign up for either one or both, if you’d like to join us.

Winter Joy Retreat: Edible Memories combines two of my favorite things, eating and writing. It is “a 14-day annual end-of-the year event that combines inspiration, introspection, connection, fun, and creative expression. It is a fabulous way to relax, rekindle your creative spark, and reconnect with yourself and others as one year finishes and a new one comes along with fresh new possibilities.” There’s an amazing collection of contributors, some of my favorite people.

wonderfulpeopleReverb is my absolute favorite practice for reflecting on the year that’s winding down and contemplating the year to come, hosted by my friend Kat. This year’s theme is Alchemy, and for three weeks starting on December 1st, “you will receive a reflective writing prompt each day for the first three weeks of December. These have been designed — with the assistance of eight amazing women — as guideposts. Together, we will reflect on the gifts and disappointments of the year that’s passing and make space for a magical new year.” I blog my answers to the prompts, but you can do them privately in your own journal and keep them to yourself, or there’s even the opportunity this year to share them on Facebook on the Wolf and Word Facebook page.

Reverb BB

Gratitude Friday


Such a gorgeous color

1. Adele’s return, her new album, new interviews and videos.

2. Thanksgiving, a yummy dinner with good friends who even let us come over early and take showers, (one more week and our bathroom will be done!).

3. Time off from CSU work. The rest of my life is just so wonderful. Even the work doesn’t feel like work.

4. Rest. Naps, reading books, cuddling with the dogs, the quiet of a snowy day.


5. My tiny family. Texts from my brother, talking on the phone with my mom, walking with the dogs, laughing with Eric.

Bonus joy: Cooking, listening to podcasts, Tig Notaro’s new comedy special, warm cheesy biscuits, sparkling apple cider, a quiet house, down blankets, going to the gym, yoga, my Kindle and all the books on it, twinkle lights on a dark morning.

Three Truths and One Wish

The food on the right is not any worse than the food on the right, and my worth or health can't be measured based on which one I choose to eat.

My health or worth can’t be measured based on what I choose to eat.

1. Truth: Once I become aware of something, I start seeing it everywhere. This phenomenon was described to me in grad school as the palladium window effect. Once you know what palladium window is, you start noticing them everywhere. This happens to me every time I get a new car. I go from never even noticing white Toyota Highlanders to suddenly seeing them everywhere. Or now that I have a Cattle Dog, I see them all over. It’s not really because there’s more, it’s just that I notice.

2. Truth: As I’ve raised my awareness about body issues, I’m suddenly seeing shaming and bullying everywhere. In the media, in advertising, in the news, in healthcare, and especially on social media. My health plan at work wants to offer me a “reward” if they can measure my height and weight, record and track it, see where I land on the BMI scale, but I know it’s only so they can start to “counsel” me about my choices, that they intend to promote a particular lifestyle as the only healthy option. My gym starts ramping up its messages about healthy eating and exercise, warning that if I’m not careful I’ll gain weight over the holidays, making it very clear I should be worried about that. On my Facebook feed, someone posts a meme of “Crispy Creme Barbie” and it breaks my heart because the woman pictured, blonde and dressed in typically Barbie clothes (short skirt, low cut top, high heels, everything bright pink) looks just like a woman who came to my yoga class that same morning. What right does anyone have to assume they understand someone’s experience or can assess someone’s health based solely on how they look?! And if the woman in my yoga class went straight from yoga to eat a donut (or more), what right does anyone else have to judge, to criticize her choice?! And how does anyone know she’s not perfectly happy and healthy — just as she is?!

3. Truth: Judgement, criticism, bullying, and shaming will never create change, it only generates more suffering. This is so clearly true, but when I speak out about the shaming I see, the pushback is often that I’m too sensitive, (or better yet that I only think that way because I’m fat). This has always been my experience with bullies — they never take responsibility for the suffering they generate. Rather, the victim is just being too sensitive, can’t take a joke, is weak, needs to toughen up, needs to drop a few pounds. Two middle schoolers in my community committed suicide this week, and at least one was the result of bullying. Someone who stands in judgement of another, who moves beyond that to direct criticism, to bullying and shaming, is practicing a particular form of aggression. If, like me, you ever find yourself thinking how much better you are than someone else, you (we) are doing it too. We are guilty. At its worst, judgment becomes violence, and even at its “best” it generates suffering — and we don’t need anymore of that.

One wish: That instead of judging, criticizing, bullying, and shaming, we extend ourselves in compassion, love, and support, that we offer our help to those who need it and keep our “help” to ourselves when it’s unwanted.

Something Good

Lory State Park, image by Eric

Lory State Park, image by Eric

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Adele’s latest album, 25. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since it was released. And this prank she pulled on a group of Adele impersonators is so sweet.

2. Wisdom from Susan Piver, “Love is the least safe thing there is. It’s fierce. You can’t domesticate it. It’s wild. When you find it you should rejoice. When you lose it you should grieve.”

3. 31 Days of Gifts You So Deserve from Be More With Less, “is like an advent calendar in your inbox designed to deliver the gifts you so deserve. The gifts are meaningful, some are magical, and all of them remind you to fully embrace the simplicity and meaning of the holidays with purpose and intention.” Added bonus? Pay what you want! This would make a great gift, for yourself or someone else.

4. NIH to retire all research chimpanzees. Fifty animals held in “reserve” by the US government will be sent to sanctuaries. This makes me so happy. Here’s one reason why, Chimp With Darkest Past Takes Comfort In Tiny Troll Doll.

5. Outlaw Willie Nelson Opens Up In Two Classic ‘Fresh Air’ Interviews. Confession: I adore Willie Nelson.

6. In ‘Just Eat It,’ Filmmakers Feast For 6 Months On Discarded Food.

7. Roasted leek and white bean galettes, a recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Yum. And this Honey Maple Roasted Carrots recipe from the Cafe Sucre Farine. (I get a little obsessed with roasted veggies this time of year.)

8. Florida Teacher Starts Each Day Complimenting Students One by One.

9. Finding Your Way Back to the Practices that Serve Your Soul, Willo O’Brien on Medium. This, in particular, is brilliant, “Fully allowing and feeling the emotions. Letting them be and letting them come through. Listening to what they have to say, giving them love, compassion, and space. This is the ultimate practice at the heart of it all.”

10. The incurable creative virus from Paul Jarvis. Have I told you lately how much I adore him? (P.S. Here’s a call for stories that will be published in the book this piece will also be in).

11. 365 Collage Journal Flip Through from Jamie Ridler. This looks like a fun project.

12. “You can always just listen” from Judy Clement Wall.

13. One letter can change your life–or someone else’s, “a free digital booklet all about the art of letter writing” from Alexandra Franzen. With the holidays coming up, this is a great practice to start cultivating.

14. Good stuff from Chookooloonks’s this was a good week list: let us attempt to spill light, and Still learning lessons, and Karen’s advent of light journaling course.

15. The *new* Black Friday hosted by the amazing Sherry Richert Belul. “This Black Friday, go with the new black: Spend at least part of the day making a Love List as a holiday gift for someone you love.”

16. Good stuff from Susannah’s Something for the Weekend list: Visible Mending as an art form, and Shinning the Light on Sensitivity, and Elizabeth Gilbert on dealing with criticism.

17. A Funny Thing Happened When I Was Typing My Suicide Note…

18. Health at Every Size Lies from Dances with Fat.

19. READY ♥ SET ♥ REFLECT an online retreat being offered by the amazing Susie Stonefield Miller. This is for “anyone who is yearning to take some time to reflect on the past year, to let it inform this next year, to choose a word for the year and to make a gorgeous deck of inspiration cards,” and will include “short guided meditations with art journaling prompts, video tutorials, thoughtful worksheets, and community connection.” Good stuff.

20. Planning Day: Design Your 2016 from Jamie Ridler, a webinar to help you design the year you want.

21. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “…each minute we spend lending ourselves, our time or talents or energy or thoughts to something that we really want little or nothing to do with is time is stolen from the things that really do matter to us. Each minute spent with the parts of our life that we want to be free from is a minute that we are not at peace….a minute that is spent feeling miserable instead of joyful.”

22. Buddhism by the Numbers: The Four Noble Truths, a simple, clear description.

23. Ladybug take off – in slow motion. Nature is so fascinating, so amazing.

24. How our Feelings Weigh Down our Bodies on Elephant Journal.

25. 10 Things Black People Fear That White People Don’t (Or Don’t Nearly as Much).

26. 5 ways Christian fundamentalists completely misread the Bible.

27. The Gnomist: A Great Big Beautiful Act Of Kindness.

28. 20+ Cute And Funny Puns By Arseniic. Part of me feels like I’m too smart and too grown up to laugh at these, and the other part is laughing her thunderpants right off.

29. WATCH: A French Father Tries To Explain The Attacks To His Young Son. Sweet and heartbreaking. The way he smiles at his dad at the very end is worth the entire thing.

30. Three Reasons Frozen is Better.

31. Artwork is Work, Supporting the Arts Means Paying the Artists, a really great bumper sticker.

32. Nurse Writes This Heartbreaking Letter To The Parents Who Just Lost Their Daughter.

33. 48, written by Christine Mason Miller on our shared birthday, in which she says,

For now, while I’m able, I’m going to keep creating, feeling, living, crying, laughing, breathing deep breaths and being of service in whatever way I can. I will continue opening up my home to those I love. I will keep on trying to create the best I can create, whatever that means.

Today, I am turning 48 years old. Today, I am in awe of everything my first 47 years have given me. Today, I’m here to do one thing: LIVE.

34. Company is Coming. This is funny because it’s true. Anyone who is hosting Thanksgiving this year understands how it feels, the particular way you can lose your mind getting the house ready when you have people coming over.

35. Liz Kalloch’s redesigned website. LOVE it.

36. Watch Anthony Bourdain’s Mind Get Blown Eating At The Waffle House With Sean Brock. I always wonder where I’d take Anthony if he ever visited Fort Collins. Where would you take him where you live?

37. This quote from Arundhati Roy’s War Talk, which seems especially timely.

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.

The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

38. Horse Head Squirrel Feeder. This is the best, a great gift idea.

39. Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West on The Onion, (just in case you thought it was for real).

40. Gluttony? It’s the holiday season; don’t judge yourself.

41. Funniest Parenting Tweets: What Moms And Dads Said On Twitter This Week. You don’t have to have your own kids to see the humor here.

Day of Rest

sharonsalzbergSharon Salzberg posted this photo on Facebook this morning. Considering how hard I try, how much I push myself, how turned around and tied up in knots I get trying to accomplish ALL THE THINGS, it was a really good reminder for me. Life is one part preparation and one part letting go. I must balance my effort with ease — if I don’t, I will suffer.

Winter Joy Retreat: Edible Memories

nourish2015As you may or may not remember, my word for this year is nourish. I don’t blame you if you don’t remember, kind and gentle reader, as it has slipped my mind at times too. I picked it initially because I loved its double meaning: to feed and to cherish. Those were both things I felt I sorely needed.

The last traditional New Year’s resolution I made was to be a better friend to myself. After that year, I heard about the practice of picking a word instead, a single word that would guide me and help me focus on what I really wanted, an intention that would act as a sort of mantra. The first year I picked retreat, then freedom, then home, and this year nourish. Those first few years I was more immediately focused, had a clearer intention, even did mid-year reviews on the blog.

The first part of this year, I thought a lot about what nourish meant to me, what it would mean to have that in my life, to experience it. But then I got sick and was down for a long time, and when I was finally better, my foot was hurt and has taken such a long time to heal. I tried to rest and take care of myself, but I was confused about what was happening and what I really needed, what I was “supposed” to do, how to “fix” it. I got depressed.

Just recently, however, I’ve felt the fog lifting. I’ve been practicing, reading and listening to podcasts, taking part in some ecourses and other experiences that have helped me see truth. Some of the things I’ve learned, in no particular order:

  • I need more rest, and that is NOT a sign of weakness. I am allowed to rest, it’s okay to be tired. Sometimes the wisest, most compassionate thing is to quit, to do nothing.
  • Because I’m sensitive and tender and keep my heart open, the will it takes to just get out of bed or to leave the house on some days is fierce. This can get confusing when I need rest or quiet or to be alone, because that big will wants to say “suck it up, keep going, get out there,” but that only leads to collapse. The trick is to balance the will with gentleness, to know when and where.
  • Heart-centered work isn’t just about what I can offer the world, it’s about supporting and nourishing me too.
  • Discernment and receptivity are essential to my process, to my life, but they also require a lot of effort and therefore a lot of rest.
  • I am driven by what other people need and want. I have to be so careful to not abandon myself in the pursuit of easing the suffering of others.
  • Breaking old habits takes a really, really, really long time, especially under stress or in chaotic conditions.

WJREdibleMemories600x481As the holidays wind up and the year winds down, I am doing a few special things to support myself, to treat myself. One is taking part in the Winter Joy Retreat hosted by Jena Schwartz and Cigdem Kobu. Just to be clear, I’m an affiliate for everything Jena and Cigdem do through The Inky Path because I absolutely and utterly believe in their work and their mission, and want to share it. Separately these women offer amazing things, but together they are a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve done Winter Joy Retreat before and loved it. I am so excited about this year’s focus on writing and food, and the women contributing are some of my favorites. Edible Memories: A Writing Retreat on Food as a Metaphor and a Feast for Memory is described as “a 14-day annual end-of-the year event that combines inspiration, introspection, connection, fun, and creative expression. It is a fabulous way to relax, rekindle your creative spark, and reconnect with yourself and others as one year finishes and a new one comes along with fresh new possibilities.” Yes, please!

Gratitude Friday


1. Time with friends. I got to spend some with three of them this week. I hadn’t seen them in awhile, and it was so good to be with them. We ate, laughed, cried, got covered in dog hair, and talked about important deep heart stuff.

2. My birthday. I’m happy to be celebrated, but also feel so grateful and lucky to get another year. I got to talk to my mom and brother, received some sweet gifts, was the center of a day long love fest on Facebook, and Eric made me a pie.


3. Winter lights in Old Town. I just love them so much.


4. Ringo Blue turned two years old yesterday. I posted this picture on Facebook and Instagram, with this caption: “The first time I heard about him, I felt a flutter of knowing. The first time I saw a picture of him, I knew. The first time I held him, I was sure. Today when I was taking pictures of him as he tried not to fall asleep in his favorite chair, I could tell when he looked at me that he knew too.”


5. Eric. For the pie, for walking the dogs every day twice a day while my foot rests, for taking them hiking too, for the sweet birthday card and the pie, and for making me laugh.


Bonus joy: Two weeks down on the bathroom renovation and two to go (the latest: we have walls and they got painted today), the half bathroom at the back of our tiny house, how (mostly) good the dogs have been with all the chaos, a weekend off followed by a whole week off for Thanksgiving break, yoga, a chance to sub for my favorite class next week, sleep, clean water, Susannah Conway’s new ecourse “The Inside Story: Running a Heart-Centered Business” which is so good and perfectly timed it’s blowing my little mind.