That they loved…

twoIn my Wild Writing class yesterday, Laurie offered “On the Lemur” by poet Lisa Jarnot as a prompt. The line I chose to work with was “That they loved…” When I read what I’d written, Laurie said it could be a blog post, and because I trust her and also liked what I wrote, I’m sharing it with you here, kind and gentle reader.

That they loved to yell at the garbage trucks, the people with dogs walking down our street, the cats in our yard, the delivery trucks — the UPS and the FedEX, both with the same squeaky brakes. That they loved to bark and bark until they were just barking at each other or barking at nothing, or just barking so I’d tell them to come inside and they’d be so happy when they listened to me and shot back in as fast as they could go through the dog door that I’d give them a cookie in thanks. That they loved to sleep when I didn’t need them to but the second I needed quiet, needed for them to settle down, they would explode in a burst of noise. That they loved how that felt, that surge of energy, that feeling that if the people or vehicles or animals left they knew it was because of the noise they’d made and they felt success, again. That they loved to check every inch of the yard to see who’d been where, peed on what. That they loved to go back to sleep after breakfast, leaving me quiet time to meditate and write before having to leave the house on the long walk, which starts now in the dark and apparently there might be bears so we need to be awake, alert, ready, aware. That they loved watermelon and carrots and blueberries and frozen green beans and the skin off the smoked salmon. That they loved getting ready, getting to ride in the car, hanging out in the back yard or on the couch. That they loved even getting to go to the vet because they got cookies and Dr. Mulnix always told them how good they were but now he’s gone, not retired like he’d planned but gone gone and I’m afraid to go back, afraid the first time we go and he’s not there, that in the knowing why I won’t be able to stop myself from crying. That they loved that dumb fighting game they play where they lie on the floor and knock their teeth into each other, slobbing all over each other’s heads, getting dog hair everywhere. That they loved. That they loved has saved me, again and again, and will keep doing so as long as they do.

Gratitude Friday

lastsummerberries1. Summer berries, still. Eric brought these to me yesterday morning, and said “don’t give up on summer yet.” Then he told me he thought there was bear poop in our front yard. I went out and checked later, and he was right — a pile of bear scat next to the tomatoes, near a sunflower head with all the seeds picked out and gone. There have been bears in our neighborhood before so it isn’t unusual, but it’s still pretty cool to live somewhere that BEARS might be in your garden!

chewtime2. Chew time. After working a bit with Sarah Stemming, my favorite dog trainer, we determined the dogs, especially Ringo, needed some challenges, that they got plenty of physical exercise but needed a bit more mental. One of the things we are doing for them is giving them Kongs, stuffed with Taste of the Wild Pacific Salmon soft food and then frozen. I’ve always done this for our puppies, but for some reason got out of the habit when they became dogs. I think it’s because I somehow felt guilty, like I was just giving them something so they wouldn’t bother me for a bit, but it’s actually really good for them to be able to chew, to work a little for their food, even when they are big dogs.

newglasses023. New glasses, four pairs. I posted this picture the other day on Instagram with the caption, “this is what tired looks like.” I broke my only pair of distance glasses last week, and I decided to try the online store Eric got his last pair from. I got four pairs of glasses for the same price I usually pay for just one, although I’m conflicted about this sort of thing. I want to buy local, but when I can get four pairs of nice glasses online for less than one pair locally, the Kmart kid in me kicks in and I can’t pass up the deal. Sometimes a cheaper price, getting a deal, trumps my other values. Like when I go to the grocery store to buy raspberries and the organic ones are $3.99, but the non organic are on sale for .99 cents, I choose price over my desire to eat safer food. And I buy them with the further complication that any kind of raspberries from the store aren’t local, come in a plastic container, etc. etc., but they are such a good source of fiber and yumminess — being a modern human is complicated. I’m grateful that these are my “problems.”

ringosquirrel4. My dogs are cute. You can’t see it very well in this picture, but there was a squirrel in the corner, on the ground, and Ringo was transfixed. He watched it for almost five minutes, and then tried to sneak up on it, but it got away, as they always do. We feed lots of squirrels by way of our compost pile, which you can see just over Ringo’s head in this picture, so they love our yard. Ringo and I had our Tricks and Games class last night, and he loves it so much, did such a good job, even though we hadn’t practiced at all last week. More cute: when I get home from work, Sam always has to go get a toy and bring it to me, whines and wags his tail so hard his whole body moves. Ringo is always more interested in seeing Sam, (he’s is in his crate when we aren’t home, but Sam can go where he wants, so Ringo misses him too). This morning Sam got into bed with us and then fell back into a deep sleep. His feet were against my back, and he started dreaming he was running. It was like a free massage. :)

5. Friday. Y’all, I’m so glad.

Bonus joy: cool mornings, good books and good tv and the money to be able to buy both whenever I want, physical therapy, my foot getting better, a warm shower, ordering the materials for our bathroom remodel (now that it’s so close, I can’t believe we are finally doing it), Rocky Mountain Popcorn/Caramel, a cute video of a parrot with a paper towel, a new notebook, Wild Writing class, Whine About It, an excuse to buy more toys for Ringo (it’s for training, yo), a boss who thinks I’m brilliant (those were her exact words yesterday).

Three Truths and One Wish

endofsummerharvest1. Truth: I am mourning the end of the summer harvest, hard. When I went to the grocery store the other day, the watermelons were from Texas not Colorado, and the corn looked terrible, wilted with fat kernels that meant it would taste more starchy than sweet. Even though I bought the oregano and purple onion I’d need to make more roasted tomato soup, I’m not sure there are enough tomatoes left. Eric hasn’t brought me any strawberries from our plants out front for days. There’s only a few grasshoppers and the bees are almost all gone. The weather is cooler and the leaves are starting to finally turn and drop (much later than usual), and while I was ready for it to not be in the 80s every dang day, I’m sad.

2. Truth: There are times at my CSU job when I feel like I’m just wasting time. Yesterday it was when I was coding a departmental faculty and staff picture board, converting an older version to a page on our WordPress platform. It felt so tedious, so unimportant, so dumb, and it hit me that this is how I’m spending a large amount of my time. I tried to cheer myself up by telling myself this time would be converted to funds that I could use for better things, but it didn’t really work.

3. Truth: I don’t need to be great or popular or adored. I was telling a few friends, fellow yoga teachers this after my class yesterday morning. I told them I was happy that I’d had three return students, which is a big deal for a 7 am class, and how I don’t let myself believe it means I’m so good that they came back but rather it means I don’t suck, and that’s all I want. That makes me happy. That’s good enough for me. I know that if I keep at it, I might someday be adored by a few students, a couple of humans, and in the meantime I’m so grateful to the ones that keep showing up, keep allowing me to practice with them.

One wish: That we can feel at ease, content, satisfied with all the ways that things are changing, as well as all the ways that they are staying the same.

Something Good

image by Eric

image by Eric

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. ~Hermann Hesse

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

1. My Cup Runneth Over by Jena Schwartz. This is real life — a mess, and some kind of magic.

2. Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert on Creative Courage and the Art of Living in a State of Uninterrupted Marvel on Brain Pickings. She was also recently interviewed on Good Life Project radio, Elizabeth Gilbert: The Creative Life.

3. I am my own worst enemy by Paul Jarvis. (Just to be clear, I am one of his rat people, “the people that get what you do, appreciate it, and love you for it”).

4. Wisdom from Seth Godin: The 2% who misunderstand you, and The banality of the magazine rack, and Dreams and fears.

5. Yoga, spinning and a murder: My strange months at Lululemon. I love what this has to say about being who you really are.

6. Francine’s interview, from Human (the movie). “Born in 1933, Francine Christophe was deported with her mother at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944. Released the following year, she continues to share her experience and memories, particularly with the younger generations.” (Confession: I’ve had a lifelong obsession with stories from the Holocaust, specifically the way that moment in history brought out the best and the worst in those involved).

7. Human, the movie, Volumes 1-3, which you can watch online, for FREE.

What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.

8. Bryan Chapman of Mississippi has hummingbirds drinking out of his hand!

9. Author Lauren Myracle calls on overprotective parents to stop banning books. Find out more about Banned Books Week, Sept. 27- Oct. 3, on the official website.

10. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa, “In the garden of gentle sanity, may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness.” I love this quote. I also hate this quote.

11. Uh-oh. I think my new favorite album might be Ryan Adams’s reimagining of Taylor Swift’s 1989. NPR did a really good piece about it, No Blank Space, Baby: Taylor Swift Is The Soul Of Ryan Adams.

12. Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation, a great review of a great book.

13. 10 Reasons We Should Defund Planned Parenthood IMMEDIATELY. *gigglesnort*

14. Jenny Lawson “The Bloggess” Gets Furiously Happy con Queso with an Interview, an Announcement and an Old-School Giveaway.

15. So much wisdom from Alexandra Franzen, How to love your work… even when you don’t love your work, and How to avoid being someone’s “assistant” for the rest of your career and finally do your own thing, and 7 beautiful, meaningful writing projects that you can finish in a single day. Because finishing is sexy.

16. One-Pot Butternut Squash Alfredo. I bought two butternut squash at the grocery store this weekend, not really surewhat I was going to do with them exactly. THIS, this is what…

17. Why I Almost Didn’t Tell You About the Book I’m Writing from Be More With Less.

18. Good stuff from Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletter: Thoughts on authenticity from the documentary The Search for General Tso, (we watched this documentary, and I agree with Austin’s assessment of it), and Everyone lies about writing, and a great video tutorial, How to make a newspaper blackout poem.

19. I never should have followed my dreams. “I quit my steady gig to fulfill my potential. Instead I went broke, and got fired from a job in doggie daycare.”

20. Six-year-old’s heartfelt lecture to mom and dad. An adorable little girl’s words of wisdom have gone viral after her mother uploaded a video of her pleading with her divorced parents to be friends. The video has been viewed more than six million times. In the video, Tiana tells her mom, “I think you can do it. I think you can settle your mean heights down to short heights … I just want everything to be settled down, nothing else. For everything to be as good as possible. Nothing else.” She’s so earnest and sweet that you can’t help but want to try harder to be nicer after listening to her.

21. 15 Celebs Answering Badass, Inspiring Questions On The Emmys Red Carpet, because it’s time to start asking more than “What are you wearing?”

22. Grab your tissues: This couple’s wedding day was all about their ailing dog.

23. A hedge fund bro bought an AIDS drug, then raised the price from $13.50 to $750. Compare that to Kickstarter Focuses Its Mission on Altruism Over Profit.

24. He Wears Nail Polish Because He’s a Good Father.

The only thing that is missing from this video is Nathan’s backstory. He’s even more amazing than what they show here — in 2011, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer, and nine days later, his wife Elisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nathan beat his cancer, but Elisa died in March of 2014.

25. It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers. *gigglesnort*

26. Andrea Scher has a new website just for her photography. I was lucky enough to do a session with her. She’s fantastic.

27. Japanese Photographer Documents The Beauty Of Everyday Life In Japan. Confession: I’m a Japan-ophile. Even though I long to, I’m afraid to travel there, worried I’ll love it so much I won’t want to come back.

28. Library Haul – September 2015 on Allowing Myself, one of my favorite blogs/bloggers. I love Justine’s description of the power of books and reading, “Non-fiction holds my attention. Fiction keeps me afloat. Reading calms and centers me in a way that not much else can.” And if you need more proof of why I love this blog, just read Tiny Shifts — honest, vulnerable, tender, and sad, but so inspiring. Justine writes about what is hard, but she makes it clear she’s also not giving up. Tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal.

29. Meet the blogger who turned her battle with an eating disorder into a body positive movement.

30. 100 questions to discover yourself from Positively Present. I love this kind of thing, use them as journal prompts, as well as regularly torturing friends and my significant other with them.

31. A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are, more on the topic “is blogging dead?” (which honestly is a silly question, akin to something like “are books dead?”).

32. permission on Chookooloonks.

33. AngelList, a platform for startups to hire people. If I were looking for a job, I think I’d check this out.

34. A Person You Should Know: Courtney Carver. I shared this site on a Something Good list a while back, and the creator Josh Spector asked who I thought he should profile. Courtney is one of the people I suggested.

35. A White Artist Wrote ‘Black Lives Matter’ 2,000 Times. But His Mural Almost Said ‘All Lives Matter.’

36. Is Teaching Yoga Your Path? 8 Qualities of Excellent Teachers. “Considering yoga teacher training? 90 Monkeys co-founder Amy Ippoliti suggests you start by asking yourself some tough questions.”

37. Spiritual practice won’t stop shitty things from happening to you. However…, a reality check from Danielle LaPorte in which she makes some important distinctions about the benefits of practice.

38. Alison’s Story, another installment of the Transgender in Colorado series from The Denver Post.

39. To the stinking alcoholic at the liquor store last week from Renegade Mothering. I’m sharing this with someone I love. I hope she reads it. I hope she gets it. I hope she stops before it’s too late.

40. When the Everyday Calls For Super Powers and a Good Plum Tart on Flingo.

41. 8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Make In A Muffin Tin. Too bad the pictures they used for this post are so horribly unappetizing.

42. Watch Shiva Rea’s Moon Salutation.

43. Why I Quit Teaching Yoga & Hope to Never Go Back on Elephant Journal. The reason is not at all what you’d expect, and makes me think all of us yoga teachers should do the same thing.

44. Watch These Dancers Tell A Breakup Story In A Way Words Can’t Convey.

How to be Happy in Tiny Slices

feathergrassseedAfter spending so much time bitching about the heat, and having it last for so much longer than usual, I find myself today feeling melancholy about the end of summer. Eric is hiking with the dogs, and I’m trying to not feel too sorry for myself that by the time I can go with, the aspens will have dropped all their leaves. I was at the grocery store this morning and noticed that they had de-icer, ice scrapers, and snow shovels on display. Ringo will turn two years old in another few months, the day after I turn 48. It’s all going by so fast.

A few weeks ago, at the last minute and not knowing how I was going to fit it into my schedule, I signed up for Laurie Wagner’s online Wild Writing class. I’ve taken an online class with Laurie before, (Telling True Stories), and been lucky enough to do a few sessions of Wild Writing in person with her, sitting at the long wooden table in her dining room at 27 Powers. It’s a particular kind of magic, that place and that person and that practice. To say it’s transformative doesn’t even begin to explain it. Now that I’m back at it, I can’t believe I waited so long. As much as I do to be present and awake and engaged, this practice in particular makes me come alive.

Last week, one of the prompts Laurie shared was by one of my favorite poets, Maya Stein, a poem called “How to be Happy in Tiny Slices.” Maya has a way of writing an ending, a final line, a last moment that breaks the whole poem wide open, every time, and this poem is no different. I liked what I wrote in response to the prompt, a messy start to something or simply a glimpse of something passing, and wanted to share it with you, kind and gentle reader.

How to be happy in tiny slices: Feel the pop of the cherry tomato and taste the warm sour sweet of its juice. Notice the tiny yellow birds, pause to watch them knowing they are rarely still enough to allow themselves to be seen. Slide the mala beads between your fingers, noticing how they go from cold to warm in the heat of your hand. Halfway through, when the words of the mantra no longer make any sense at all, translate them to what you need, like on the dark mornings when the only thing that works is “it’s okay, I’m okay, everything is okay,” even when it’s not. Taste a fresh peach, the tart bright sweetness, knowing it won’t last, that even the very next bite of the exact same peach won’t taste the same. Remember all those that will never taste another peach or cherry tomato and how weird it is to be human and never really know which one will be your last bite, and how tender and sad it is, that hope that the last bite, if it’s to be the last bite, be sweet. Feel the way the sun warms his fur, smell that spot on the top of his head, remember what it was like when he was just a baby, at the same time you know how awful it will be when he goes. Sit in the sun. Be still. Be quiet. Breathe. Move, as Osho says, the way joy makes you move. Sleep, put clean sheets on the bed, take a shower and put on clean pajamas — but wait, I said that all backwards, didn’t I? So next would be to wake up, and when you wake up, get up. Stretch. Drink some water. Meditate. Light the candles. Turn down the lights, get a blanket for your lap, make sure you have your favorite pen, put one word in front of the other. Forgive them, let it go, start over. And when you find yourself confused, off track, stuck in a dream or caught up in a feeling, let go and come back.

Gratitude Friday

berrypie1. Pie, and the man who makes it. Our favorite kind lately is mixed berry — blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry. So good.

Tomato Tower, image by Eric

Tomato Tower, image by Eric

2. Our garden, which is starting to wilt and die, but is still producing tomatoes and a few strawberries, and the sunflowers are functioning like the world’s largest bird feeder. Yesterday morning, there were at least 20 birds, three or four different varieties, all feeding on the seeds. It was magic.

3. My first workshop! I’m so excited to be offering this.

Writing Jill Salahub4. My CSU office, finally unpacked and moved in, almost six weeks after I got back! It makes a huge difference. I was starting to feel like I worked in a storage closet.

eddy312 eddy31202 eddy312035. Fall color. Eric took the dogs hiking last weekend and it felt like everything was right with the world. Now if my dumb foot would just heal already so I could go with them sometime soon…

samaspens ringoaspens6. Kitchen counter love notes. They really are the best thing about being back to work at CSU.

kitchencounterlovenote02Bonus joy: Being able to do a bit more because my foot is a bit better, physical therapy and massage, Eric walking the dogs twice every day for me because I can’t right now even though it is hard for him, Ryan Adams’s cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989, quitting my therapist (this is kind of a big deal and I’ll say more about it later, but I told her it’s kind of a dumb profession where your measure of success is when your clients don’t need you anymore), Tricks and Games class with Ringo which is fun and totally wears him out, the following picture of him last night after class being Exhibit A.