#reverb15: Oracle Reading


As she did last year, Kat kicked this year off with an oracle reading on the eve of our beginning. She selects a set of three, and participants are asked to pick one. Kat’s guidance was this:

You could take a moment to close your eyes, breathe deeply and take your attention to a specific part of your body that seems to have something to say to you. Or you could ask a question, something that’s been niggling you for a while. Maybe you could invite a new word or idea to help you honour and release the year that’s passing.

The theme of this year’s Reverb reflective writing challenge is ALCHEMY, so you could use it as an opportunity to dive deep and explore the opportunities for alchemy that are beckoning in the new year.

However you feel called to accept the offering, all you need to do is glance at the stones below and choose a number quickly, without giving it too much thought.

As I did last year, I hesitated to pick. When I opened her first email, my eye was immediately drawn to the star, but then I thought about how the feather reminded me of one that’s on my writing shrine. When I did as suggested, closed my eyes and took a deep breath and contemplated alchemy, what arose was a longing to figure out how to integrate my desire to make a living financially with my desire to make a life creatively, how to blend paid work and heart work, how to balance my effort with ease. When I opened my eyes, I focused on the stones rather than what they were paired with, and this time, it was definitely the third one that seemed right. It was the smallest and almost perfectly round.

From Kat,

If you chose STONE 3, you are invited to open up to OPPORTUNITY.

What feelings, images and ideas does the word OPPORTUNITY evoke in you?

Below is one interpretation of the mandala:

“This mandala carries the spirit of the woodpecker. He brings his optimistic and determined approach to life, finding abundance in the seemingly ordinary. He reminds us to continue to knock on the doors, in hope that the right one will open, revealing something truly amazing.

If you are contemplating upon this mandala, your spirit may be asking you to seize the day. If you are feeling unfulfilled, it is time to create a big opportunity, regardless of whether you feel one exists or not. Seek inwardly to reflect on what you might be lacking right now, and light the flame to guide you towards the creation of something amazing from this darkness.”

In light of what I was contemplating just before I picked, that seems just about right.

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. December Reflections with Susannah Conway. “This project has no real rules – the idea is to simply take a photograph every day(ish) for the whole of December. That’s it. Pause, look around you and shoot what you see. Reflect on how the year’s gone down. Enjoy a bit of mindful creativity in the run up to the new year.” 31 photo prompts, three ways to share your pictures. I’m in!


2. An Ancient Chinese Ginkgo Tree Drops an Ocean of Golden Leaves. This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

3. 29 Playlists To Listen To When Everything Sucks. I haven’t listened to any of these yet because I can’t stop listening to Adele’s new album, but when I do, I will.

4. F*ck That: A Guided Meditation. This has been floating around for a bit, and I finally listened to it. *gigglesnort*

5. How Lowering Your Standards Leads to Greatness from Jen Louden. I’m always open to lowering the bar. In this post, Jen gives us permission.

6. You are Allowed, from Mara Glatzel’s latest newsletter. This is the kind of thing you should print out and hang on the fridge. Click the link she includes to hear her read the list to you, close your eyes and listen to all the things you are allowed. And when you are done, go sign up for her newsletter for more of this sort of goodness.

7. A Little Guide for More Comfort and Joy from Be More With Less. Courtney consistently writes things I have to share. I feel like she’s a version of me, wiser and more compassionate with a simpler more fulfilling life, some years down the road sending me messages from my possible future, reminding me to not give up, to keep trying.

8. Body Gratitude Print Out for the Holidays from Curvy Yoga. What a great practice.

9. How to be generous from Danielle LaPorte. It’s funny to me how the antidote to poverty mentality, a feeling of scarcity, is to give more away, to let things go, to have less, to be more generous.

10. Breathe, an offering from the wonderful Julia Fehrenbaucher, “an eleven week, (self-directed), deep breathing, creative recovery retreat for your spirit.”

11. The Biggest Legal Mistake Freelancers Make from Paul Jarvis.

12. How To Read A Book. I developed a bad habit of reading multiple books at a time while I was in graduate school, but according to this list, that means I’m doing it right.

13. Two Dog Pals Separated At The Shelter End Up In The Same Loving Home. This makes me so happy. And, I have a serious crush on Mr. Riley!

14. I Quit My Boring Office Job To Start Making Mini Paintings On Recycled Wood. I’m glad. She makes some beautiful things.

15. I Doodle Introvert Comics To Express How I Feel. Love these! Her website is great too.

16. Scientists now think that being overweight can protect your health. Oh, snap!

17. #whatayogilookslike: Spotlight on Laura Sharkey.

18. Why this woman’s “badass undie” selfie is starting a viral movement.

19. Adam Kurtz, a great artist interview on Lisa Congdon’s blog.

20. ‘You Can’t Prepare Yourself’: A Conversation With Adele. Because, I’m obsessed.

21. Jimmy Fallon, Adele & The Roots Sing “Hello” (w/Classroom Instruments). Seriously: my brain = all Adele, all the time. Her voice here gives me goosebumps.

22. Sensitive-The Untold Story, a documentary.

23. Move Over Turducken, PIECAKEN Is The Dish To Beat This Thanksgiving. I don’t know how to feel about this…

24. 75 inspiring gratitude prompts from Positively Present. These would be great journal prompts or conversation starters.

25. December Encouragement Notes from Esmé Weijun Wang. This is a free offering. “I’m making this because I think we all need a little extra push and a little extra comfort in December, and because I’m grateful to all of you who make this online space something to be excited about.”

26. What is Literature for?

27. The World Will Be Saved By Waffles, a beautiful post by Erica Staab, which she ends with, “When we can offer a soft place to land for those we love, when we can share with one another our little acts of love, we light up the world. And we could all use a little more light in the world.”

28. Chronic Dieting: The Socially Acceptable Eating Disorder. I lived this, could have written this post, but since I didn’t, I’m so glad Caroline Dooner did.

29. The Real Difference Between Artists and Everyone Else. Spoiler alert: “Making things makes you an artist.”

30. My sister is a heroin addict. This isn’t my exact story, but I’m living a version of this and it sucks.

31. Pet Every Single Dog. This event on Facebook is so perfect. I’m in!

32. Flora Bowley’s Bloom True ecourse. “Enjoy 25% off my five-week, deep dish, transformational, painting course now through December 1st, and savor the freshly designed course at your own pace for one full year. You can also give this as the most rocking gift ever! Use coupon code: btgratitude to receive your discount.”

33. 24 Tweets That Will Make Every Nurse Laugh Out Loud.

34. World’s Largest Spice Company to Go Organic and Non-GMO by 2016. Cool.

35. Wisdom from Jeff Foster, “Heaven is this moment. Hell is the burning desire for this moment to be different. It’s that simple.” It’s also that complicated.

36. The Power in Writing About Yourself.

37. Love List Selfie, a little project and short interview I did with my dear friend Sherry Richert Belul.

38. Dharma of Writing Group a great offering from Susan Piver and Kate Lila Wheeler.

The Dharma of Writing is an ongoing two-hour online monthly gathering designed to help you enter your own writing with the support and companionship of other writers…At each session, we will practice meditation together and then actually write. Each person will work on his or her own project with the quiet, supportive companionship of writers all over the world. We will convene using the video conference platform, Zoom. Sessions will be recorded and links sent to all, so if you can’t join live you can still participate.

39. Wisdom from poet Andrea Gibson, (thanks to Jessica for the original share),

Just to be clear
I don’t want to get out
without a broken heart.
I intend to leave this life
so shattered
there better be a thousand separate heavens
for all of my separate parts.

40. This Man’s Wife Cries About Absolutely Anything So He Started Writing The Reasons Down.

40. Neil Gaiman and Georgina Chapman – Donate to UNHCR – UN Refugee Agency. “Together with UNHCR, international best-selling author, Neil Gaiman, and co-founder and designer of Marchesa, Georgina Chapman, are developing a storytelling project highlighting the Syrian refugee crisis.”

41. Couple Lets Their Dog Film Their Wedding And The Result Is Better Than Most Wedding Videos.

42. How to get out of a rut. Good advice.

Day of Rest

image by Jan Tik

image by Jan Tik

This is one of my favorite pictures, and it always reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. I sent the quote to Justine last week because she’s living something really hard, and yet she is still grateful, still risks her heart by keeping it open to love. It’s the human experience to continually be cycling through joy and pain and back again, to live the good news and the bad. There are reminders of it everywhere, of both what is hard and “the tender gravity of kindness.” In my Facebook feed, in my student’s writing, on NPR as it plays on the radio in my kitchen in the still dark of early morning, in emails from friends asking for support and in the way I try to answer with something that will help even though I really have no idea what to say, in the way we all keep trying, keep going in the face of all the hard things, how we still manage to notice the gorgeous sunset and enjoy the warm slice of pie or Adele’s golden voice — life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal. Keep your heart open. Don’t give up.

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. ~Louise Erdrich

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 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.