Day of Rest

My heart and mind have moved in and out of a state of anxiety and discomfort this week. I’ve felt confused and disappointed, bewildered and depressed. I have witnessed a lot of conflict, both internal and external.

  • I watched as a poet schooled people, specifically white people, on how to (and not to) engage with her work. It was painful to read, to dig deeper and see the comments, to know that I was in no way prepared to understand or take part in such a discussion.
  • Another conflict arose around the sharing of one artist’s work by another without credit being immediately given, with the original artist sharing exactly why the situation was problematic. I see this so often, when something could easily be searched, the original author discovered and credited, but we don’t take the time, don’t take it seriously enough.
  • Someone who recently left his teaching position in an MFA program wrote Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One, to which Chuck Wendig wrote a rebuttal, An Open Letter To That Ex-MFA Creative Writing Teacher Dude. Everything about this discussion makes my heart hurt.
  • People argued over the color of a dress, and then many others complained about them wasting time on the issue when there were so many more important things to be thinking and arguing about.
  • A woman who called herself the Wellness Warrior died and a cancer surgeon wrote this article reflecting on her death. The whole thing hurts, is so confusing.
  • MindBodyGreen published this article, 5 Reasons To Eat Gluten (Funny), (I didn’t find it funny at all, less so because it’s written by an author who thinks sugar is evil and claims to have cured her thyroid disorder through her good choices) AND they also published 5 Red Flags That Show You’re Taking Healthy Eating Too Far, which essentially says the exact opposite as the other article. I like this website, but the contradictory information they publish can be so confusing.
  • A writer whose work normally leaves me so inspired, so encouraged, is offering a new program, “not a diet but a DO IT,” and everything about it feels so wrong, makes me so sad. It also just so happened to be National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
  • I continued to fight with myself about Ringo’s injured toe — thinking I had maybe made a mistake not taking him to the vet when it first happened, unsure if it was going to heal, worried it would get infected, watching how I obsessed over needing to be right and in control. When I wasn’t fussing about that, I was worried I’d have to cancel my Saturday morning yoga class again due to weather, and I was a little relieved by the possibility, which I immediately felt guilty for.
  • I seem to be hellbent on running myself completely ragged — Feast, the Open Heart Project, the Daily Dharma Gathering, teaching yoga, more yoga teacher training, reading all the books, practicing, studying, blogging, a demanding job that keeps asking for more, a body that is tired tired tired, a mind and heart that are bewildered.

I know that for many people, most of these conflicts would be intellectually interesting but not have a real impact. Many other people can observe these things from a distance, manage to not take them personally. I’m not like that. I’m porous. When there is discord, I’m like a tuning fork that responds, echoing the pain from somewhere deep inside of me. When I was feeling at my worst this week, had sunk down to that place of “why should I even bother?”, I saw this. A sweet little short film that captured exactly what it can feel like to be me.

I need to check myself before I wreck myself. I am attempting a major shift to a whole new paradigm, and I need to be gentle with myself. This is going to take time. I remind myself that there are three stages to knowing: first you know something intellectually, then you feel it, and then, finally, you embody it. I have to remind myself how deeply worn the groove is of my habitual patterns, deep ruts worn into my brain, a connection between first thought and action that is lightning speed, and to interrupt it would be like trying to get off a a roller coaster half way through the ride. It’s such a long process to shift things and it’s easy to get impatient, to feel like it’s never going to happen.

The best I can do for now is to try and keep from generating more suffering. I can continue to practice, to simply be with myself and allow things to arise without an agenda. Rest in the moment, relax into basic goodness. Rest, relax, release, surrender. May we all be gentle with ourselves, kind and gentle reader, as we do the things that are not simple, not easy, but still so important.

Gratitude Friday

1. Quiet. Time and space, stillness.

2. Ringo’s toe healing. It’s been tough to keep his activity so restricted, especially when there’s a yard full of snow to run in, but he’s been such a good patient. It’s also given me the opportunity to really work with the anxiety I have around the dogs being hurt or sick, the ways that I make myself suffer and struggle, worrying about doing the right thing, not making a mistake, trying to control things. It’s been so uncomfortable, but also so helpful.

restriction3. Snow. It’s restricted my movement and I am feeling ready for winter to be over, but I also know it will soon be over, so I’m also appreciating it while it is here. I walked the dogs for two hours yesterday morning in 17 degrees while it was snowing, and it was more beautiful than miserable.

4. Pay day. I am so lucky to have a job, to be able to pay my bills and tuck some money aside, to have the luxury of spending a little on things that aren’t really necessary.

5. My brother. It’s his birthday today. I came from a big extended family, but only have one true sibling. I’m so grateful for him.

meandchris02Bonus joy: Gortex, wool, down, snow tires, heat, feeling like I know what I’m doing, making someone laugh, laughing with Eric, kale salad, chocolate mini muffins, having things work out, losing my keys and then finding them, a good hat, birds, foxes, dog sighs, cancelled plans, taking it slow, reading, eating when I’m hungry, water, how our bodies can heal without needing us to take charge of the process, sleep, tears, the beach, long walks, warm slippers, grapefruit juice, practice.

Three Truths and One Wish

From our walk this morning

From our walk this morning

1. Truth: I generate my own suffering. When I think about any problem I have, distill it down to its most essential and most fundamental quality, I can clearly see that it is resistance, disappointment, a rejection of reality — this is what makes me suffer, and it is of my own making. I choose how to think about and respond to what arises, and I don’t always make the best choices.

2. Truth: I get upset about the possibility of making a mistake. I try so hard to prevent it, get obsessed with how to fix whatever is “wrong,” can’t stop looking for ways to prevent complications, spend way too much time preparing and worrying, am constantly second guessing myself, and fall into an utter panic when I think I’ve messed up or made the wrong choice and somehow caused more suffering.

3. Truth: The only antidote is self-compassion and surrender. I can trust myself to do my best. I can forgive myself when things go wrong. I can let myself off the hook. I can be with my own pain, gentle and open. I can remember that life is part preparation and part letting go. I can relax.

Another one from our walk this morning

Another one from our walk this morning

One Wish: That I know deep down in my bones that I can’t control everything. That I find ease in that awareness. May all those like me soften, be gentle with themselves, ask for help when they need it, let go of any expectation of perfection, and may we all surrender to our experience just as it is — tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal.

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Danielle LaPorte on Facebook,

Want to get unstuck? Maybe it’s time to stop analyzing it.

You can work out your family of origin issues, and neuroses, and past life traumas with your shrink or your shaman. You can talk talk talk it out all day long (I know, I’ve done it). You can trace the cause of your wounds and why you’re so stuck. But at some point, eventually, who cares WHY you’re stuck. Instead of focusing on how you got to where you are, you’ve got to shift your attention to where you’d rather be.

I’ve had at least a thousand conversations about success and desire. And I’ve noticed that when someone starts over-explaining WHY they’re stuck, it can be an indicator that they’re not 100% interested in getting unstuck. Recapitulating the past can provide a lot of comfort and confirmation. But…

Too much analysis can create paralysis.

As the saying goes, “Who cares why the elephant is standing on your foot? Just get him off.”

When I worked one-on-one with strategy clients, I began starting our session with this: “I’m asking you, for this hour together, to try to not talk about your past. We’re here to create your future, let’s just declare that the past has little bearing on where you want to go.” Some folks squirmed, could barely resist slipping into old stories. Some people were like, “What a great idea. I’m so tired of my story. Let’s move forward!”

Sometimes you can’t see why you were stuck until after you get unstuck. Hindsight and high-sight solves a lot of mysteries. In the mean time, you’ve got a new story to write, and it looks nothing like your past.

2. 6 life lessons from 6 years of blogging on Positively Present.

3. An apparently hungover Jimmy Fallon talks about the ‘epic’ SNL 40 after-party.

4. 34 Stunning Photos That Dispel the “Yoga Body” Myth.

5. You Have a Right to Refuse to be Weighed from Be Nourished.

6. The Source of Contentment on Zen Habits.

7. chinos are my kryptonite from Sas Petherick.

8. Patti Smith on The Biggest Misconception About Her.

9. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert: Own Your Shit and The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself — And All The Women Around You.

10. Be Kind, James Martin describes three simple ways you can be nicer to others this Lent.

11. Aka On Aloha.

12. Good stuff on Elephant Journal: All-Natural Yoga Mat Cleaning Recipe and 14 Creative Ways to Love Ourselves.

13. My favorite quotes on A Design So Vast.

14. My Own Life, Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer.

15. Anne Lamott On The Really Hard Parts of Being Human. She tells the truth and through some sort of magic makes me feel okay about it.

16. Wisdom from an anonymous stranger, “The act of improving lives in the world is in no way inferior to the act of adding lives to the world.” (Thanks for sharing, Andrea).

17. Russian Photographer Captures The Cutest Squirrel Photo Session Ever on Bored Panda.

18. Wisdom from Geneen Roth: On Beauty and The Naked Now.

19. When you’re blue … Find a sliver of light within the darkness from Sherry Richert Belul.

20. Actress has perfect response to body-shaming movie critic.

21. All Good Things on Pugly Pixel.

22. From Pugly Pixel’s Links Loved list: You’re doing a really great job, and TEDxConcordiaUPortland – Cheryl Strayed – Radical Sincerity, and The Elements of HTML.

23. Another New Rape Suit Against Bikram Choudhury Makes It the Sixth, and It Keeps Getting Worse.

24. Premiere: Ingrid Michaelson’s “Time Machine” Video Gets Gloriously Hijacked By Rainn Wilson And Donald Faison.

25. On Getting Older from Lisa Congdon.

26. Buddhism A-Z: Your Basic Buddhist Library.

27. 3-Year-Old Taekwondo Devotee Recites Student Creed, Slays Us With Cuteness.

28. A Body Story from Meg Worden.

29. 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, a page with links to all the posts written for this project.

30. “Oh, Kristen Wiig, why can’t you be in EVERY movie?”

31. CT Scan of 1,000-Year-Old Buddha Statue Reveals Mummified Monk Hidden Inside.

32. Calm.com

33. bohemian beach vibe on SF Girl by Bay. Why doesn’t my crappy, old, beat up stuff look this good?

34. A common “intuitive eating” pitfall from Isabel Foxen Duke.

35. The trolls inside from Seth Godin.

36. 300 awesome free things: A massive list of free resources you should know. (Thanks for sharing, Jen).

37. Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech on wage equality just won ALL the awards.

Day of Rest

daring to ask.
to wake up the want, heed the hunger, make an alter of your heart.
yes, there is the showing up and doing the work and walking forward without certainty. it’s not a promise or assurance of a plan. but in the presence of the opening and the choosing, there is this chance to also just own up and ask for what we really want. specific. clear. direct. (because the answer just might be yes.)
so here we go. ask.
~‎Isabel Faith Abbott

#1000Speak

Yesterday I was supposed to take part in the blogging event 1000 Voices for Compassion. 1000 bloggers writing posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement, care for the environment, etc., all published on the same day (Feb 20th) to “flood the Blogosphere with GOOD!” I first heard about it from my friend Lisa, who has a blog called Flingo. I have a fondness for the number 1000 and as you might already know, compassion is one of my favorite subjects.

But things didn’t go quite as planned. I came home in the early afternoon because Eric was working late and I needed to take the dogs on their second walk. It was supposed to rain and then snow, so we went a bit earlier than usual. My plan was that after we walked, we’d all get in the car, go to the feed store to get dog food and treats, then to the grocery store, and hopefully we’d get back in time for me to finally take a shower (the whole day had been so busy, I hadn’t had time yet), and I’d feed the dogs dinner and write my blog post before Eric got home.

That’s not what happened. At the beginning of our walk, Ringo stubbed his injured toe, and I thought we were going to have to turn around and go straight home, that I might have to take him to the vet after all, but I checked his foot and it was fine, and he went on without any other issues. I however was close to the end of my rope. I’d been worried about him all week. My mind was absolutely fixated on it. It was the same old story — I had myself in knots trying so hard to do the right thing, to not make a mistake, to keep him safe, but was so anxious something would go wrong, was so aware that no matter how much I prepared or how hard I tried, something could always go wrong. I worried I should have taken Ringo to the vet sooner. I worried that we weren’t caring for the cut “right,” that maybe we shouldn’t be walking him so much. I worried it would get infected. I worried that maybe his foot or even the whole leg would have to get amputated. I worried he’d get so sick he’d die. This is how my brain works sometimes, kind and gentle reader. Losing Obi and Dexter to cancer has given me a weird case of PTSD when it comes to my dogs.

I was feeling frazzled. So when Ringo picked up the black knit toddler’s glove he’d wanted to get each time we walked past it, I didn’t tell him to drop it this time. He walks so nice when he’s carrying something that it’s tempting to just let him. Sometimes he finds a plastic water bottle or tennis ball or a single adult sized glove and I let him carry it for as long as he wants. It keeps him occupied (this boy gets bored on walks) and from eating other stuff off the ground he shouldn’t because something is already in his mouth. The kid’s glove was really too small, and I thought to myself “it’s probably a bad idea to let him have that, and for sure Eric wouldn’t want me to let him,” but in the moment I decided that something that would make him walk nicely for me for even just a single block was worth what I thought was a minor risk.

I was wrong. I let him carry it for a block, and as we rounded the next corner, I turned to tell him to drop it. At the same time, a dog in the yard we were passing started barking at us. This next part all seemed to happen in slow motion — I realized the challenge of the dog in the yard had made Ringo decide to swallow the glove. I threw the leashes down and grabbed Ringo, putting my fingers down his throat. I could feel the glove, but my fingers were too short and kept slipping. I couldn’t get a good grip and Ringo was biting down, fighting me. I had to pull my hand out and quickly try again. This time, the glove wasn’t there. He’d swallowed it and was looking at me like “what, Mom?”

He seemed totally fine, and there was nothing else to do but get home as fast as we could. My finger was bleeding and my hand was bruised and scratched up, my breath was shallow and fast, and I was crying a little. I called the vet as soon as we walked in the door and he said that even though Ringo would probably pass it, if I didn’t want to risk it, I could bring him in and they’d induce vomiting so he’d throw it up.

This wasn’t the first time Ringo ate something he shouldn’t have. I knew all too well the anxiety of waiting for something to pass through — rocks, sticks, a wooden peg from one of our dining room chairs, part of a leather glove. Wolverine, Hoover, Danny Glover, Ringo Blue is notorious for eating anything he can get in his mouth, no matter how gross or seemingly inedible. We once had an emergency vet recommend we walk him wearing a muzzle. We laughed at her suggestion, not because we thought it was a ridiculous idea but because we knew Ringo would just try to eat the muzzle. He doesn’t have a bed or blanket in the crate we leave him in when we go to work, and there’s no cover on it. The curtains that used to hang down near his nighttime crate are tied in a knot up high so he can’t reach them and are missing a chunk of the bottom corner to evidence why. I say “leave it” or “drop it” at least 50 times on every walk. Ringo can’t be left unsupervised in the backyard, and even supervised he can only stay out for 5-10 minutes because he’s gets into everything. The only time he gets to play with soft toys is for a few minutes while I’m watching him, taking it away as soon as he starts to try and shred or rip it — I don’t care if he ruins a toy, but any part he chews off, he wants to swallow. We pulled him out of daycare because they weren’t watching him closely enough when he was outside and one day he ate a bunch of rocks and sticks and got sick.

dannygloverI took Ringo straight to the vet. I decided I’d rather get the glove out of him than risk what might happen if we left it in. When we walked in, the girls at the counter called out “Mitten Boy!” One of them took him in the back, and about five minutes later, our vet came up front with a rumpled black glove in a plastic bag.

We ran our errands and I got my shower, but I didn’t write a blog post. I worried that Eric would be disappointed or mad that I’d let Ringo carry the glove, but instead he was grateful I’d taken care of him, got him to the vet. He kept telling me what a good mom I was, that he was sorry I’d had to go through that, was so glad Ringo was okay. I didn’t even beat myself up for it, which is pretty unusual. Usually if something goes wrong, I’m quick to blame myself, smash myself to bits for it, but this time I didn’t. I could see things for how they were. It was a dumb mistake. It wasn’t intentional, and I dealt with the consequences. I’ll know better next time. And of course, I would never hurt Ringo on purpose.

I did freak out a little later, thinking about what might have happened if instead of swallowing the glove, it had gotten stuck where I couldn’t reach it, that Ringo could have choked on it before I could get him to the vet. That’s how life is — no matter how diligent we are, no matter how prepared or careful, we can’t control everything. Shit happens. Every moment of our life comes ripe with risk. We are never safe, even when we imagine we are.

The only thing we can do in the midst of this chaos, the only thing we can trust is compassion. We forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. We let others help us. We are kind to someone who is hurting, comfort them however we can. We try as best we can to ease suffering where we find it. We don’t give up.

Gratitude Friday

iloveyoubecause1. Eric. He made me this. On every slip of paper inside he wrote something he loves about me. He’s also been calming me down all week about Ringo’s foot — he was running around the backyard like a wild man and stubbed his toe so hard he cut it. I have so much anxiety about anything that happens to the dogs after losing Obi and Dexter to cancer, the smallest thing seems like an emergency, and Eric does such a good job of keeping me from losing my mind — in this and everything else.

2. Ringo and Sam. I’m so grateful that even though Ringo cut his toe, he can still walk on it and isn’t messing with it and it doesn’t seem to hurt — in fact, he doesn’t act like there’s anything wrong at all, doesn’t understand what the fuss is all about. I’m so grateful that he and Sam play so happily together. I’m so grateful that Sam’s health is good and he’s so sweet.

"Can we haz a treat?"

“Can we haz a treat?”

Ringo fell asleep waiting for Sam to give him a turn with the toy.

Ringo fell asleep waiting for Sam to give him a turn with the toy.

3. Feast and the Open Heart Project and the Daily Dharma Gathering, the way that they all work together for me.

4. The Self-Compassion Saturday project, and the ways it keeps on going. Psychology Today posted a link to Barb Markway’s article about it from last year on their Facebook page (which has 5.4 million followers!), so even more people are getting to see it.

morningriverreflection

5. The Colorado sky, the Poudre River, getting to see the sunrise while I’m out walking the dogs.

Bonus Joy: lunch with friends, reading, having methods to work with my anxiety, laughing with Eric, fun stuff to work on, emails from my mom, pictures of people’s cute dogs and cats and kids on Instagram, the foot of snow that’s on its way here, the promise of rest.