Category Archives: A Human Thing

An Open Love Letter to Judy Clement Wall

This is my adorable and amazing friend Judy Clement Wall. I have never met her in person, face-to-face, but I get to enjoy her writing, her art, her big heart, loving and kind, from a not so far afar. In both moments of celebration and grief, Judy has offered her encouragement, inspiration, and support. I am so lucky, so grateful.

I can’t remember how I first encountered Judy’s work, but I do know the first community project I took part in was her collaborative project with Julia Fehrenbacher, 41 6-word Days. I don’t know anymore which of their blogs I encountered first, but remember seeing Judy’s “Choose Love” icon and feeling compelled to click on it. I immediately adored her gentle, kind, brave and funny spirit, and her ability to connect people.

Everything she writes, (she has two blogs, A Human Thing and Zebra Sounds, because one is not enough to contain her, as well as various other essays and books), invites readers into a conversation, into connection, to community. It might be her superpower, that and love, which is also her religion.

Judy always challenges me to open up a little more, to contemplate, to feel and to think. We have a lot in common: writing, dogs, hiking, and yoga. We also both apparently tend to be a little Lucille Ball-ish, slightly clumsy and adorably goofy from time to time. We both are in love with love. I think it’s the answer to every question, and she wrote a manifesto about it.

a doodle by judy

I admire Judy for many reasons. She’s a mom, (dogs and kids), a wife, a yogini, a warrior of love. She’s a shared project instigator, a master doodler, a practitioner of hiking, a seer of beauty. But most of all, I admire and aspire to her writing success. She’s both self and other published, (I’ve heard a rumor she’s working on a novel, among other things), committed to her work, to engaging with the world and her experience, and sharing that with her readers, inviting them to do the same.

I will be tender with other people’s hearts.
I will be fearless with my own.
~Judy Clement Wall

I wrote and am mailing her a long, loopy love letter today. You should check her out, keep an eye on her, connect with her amazingness, and if you feel so moved, write your own love letter to someone in your life, formalize and verbalize, embody the love you feel for them. You can never go wrong with a thank you, with a love letter.

P.S. Further proof that Judy has the biggest heart, that love is one of her superpowers: Just hours after I hit “publish,” she’s already thanked me in three different ways for this one, single post.

Something Good

no matter what the weather, the sky is always blue

1. More by Erica Staab, one of my favorite bloggers. Probably because she says things like this “One of the gifts of grief (be it from a death, a loss of a dream, a loss of the life you thought you wanted etc.) is that when your heart is broken open it naturally creates more space for love if you let it.”

2. The Daily Post at WordPress.com. This seems like a good site to keep in your back pocket if you are a blogger who ever feels stuck about what to write. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll also see a list of daily writing prompts, or check out the “Inspiration” section.

3. John F. Ptak Relief Fund. Read Patti’s post, “Community is a Verb,” or visit the Team Brilliant Facebook page. If I or anyone I love finds themselves in this situation, I can only hope to be helped by so many kind, generous people, which is the best reason to help: at some point, we are all going to need it, so it’s good to give it when we can.

4. What the world needs from you by Marianne Elliot. Such a good list.

5. This quote: It doesn’t have to be pretty or smart, just honest and true. ~Mark Nepo

6. This quote: Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what
dies inside us while we live. ~Norman Cousins

7. We think we move through the world unseen, a heartbreakingly beautiful post by Andrea Scher. Have I told you lately how much I adore her?

8. You just call out my name on A Human Thing by Judy Clement Wall, another writer, woman, badass that I completely adore. This post is good for all kinds of reasons, but specifically because she says something I’d been trying to verbalize, in reference to the loss of the amazing writer David Rakoff,

Critics, when they review Rakoff’s essay collections, often focus on his pessimism and his razor sharp, sarcastic wit, but underneath that
is the thing that drew me to his work: a defiant sort of sweetness, an underlying hope.

9. Because he was so sweet, his loss so sad, and because you may not know who he is and need to see for yourself, and because cancer sucks, takes from us the most beautiful of things:

When I watched this video, knowing that he was gone, the dance at the end broke my heart, but at the same time was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.

10. Two more things about David Rakoff: Our Friend David Rakoff by Ira Glass and On Already Missing The Angry, Passionate Writing Of David Rakoff.

11. 50 amazing gifts from living in the now and Overcoming perfectionism in a culture that promotes it on Tiny Buddha.

12. This quote: Perfectionism is a form of self-aggression. ~Me

13. This online radio station: Lush on SomaFM.

14. 50 People, One Question. What’s your secret?

15. Uncharted Waters on Sas’ Magical Mystery Tour. I loved this post, and I want to go to there. She makes me believe it’s possible.

16. My message from The Daily Flame, which just so happened to be the exact thing I needed to hear.

Dearest Jill Salahub,
It’s all okay.
I promise.
It may not look the way you anticipated it would look, but I swear to
you, it’s all going right according to plan. Soon you will see the method to The Universe’s madness.
You will find the gifts in the uncertainty and disappointment. You will understand why it’s taking so long to get where you’re trying to get.
Be patient, love. All this – and more – is coming your way.
Speaking the truth,
Your Inner Pilot Light

17. Confessions of a control freak (dentists and book launches) on Writing Our Way Home, another message I needed to hear, especially this part:

For me, faith doesn’t mean an assurance that all will be well. Things often don’t go well. Instead it means being able to relax back into the dentist’s chair, and trusting that whatever happens, whatever discomfort I’m in, it will pass.

And a deeper holding, too. Something harder to put into words. Something about it being okay even when it’s not okay.

It will pass, and I’ll find myself on the other side.

18. Write Yourself Into Motion with Alex Franzen at 27 Powers. This would be, will be, so awesome.

19. Mamahood + Business: Dr. Brene Brown, an interview with Kelly Rae Roberts. My favorite is when Brene’ says this, “A long time ago someone told me that a good marriage is not 50-50. A good marriage is having a partner who’s willing to show up with 80% when you only have 20% and who can count on you to do the same.” Poor Eric has had to be 95% in the past few days, so I know this is true. I also love Brene’s list of what she wants for her kids–I want that for myself!

20. Linus, the sweetest accidental adoption story.

21. Posie Gets Cozy. The pictures on this blog are dreamy.

22. This quote: Wherever we are there are voices saying: “Go here, go there, buy this, buy that, get to know him, get to know her, don’t miss this, don’t miss that,” and so on and on. These voices keep pulling us away from that soft gentle voice that speaks in the center of our being: “You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.” Prayer is the discipline of listening to that voice of love. ~Henri Nouwen

23. This quote: When we drop the idea that we’re supposed to be having a certain kind of experience and open ourselves to the experience we are having, then we avoid nothing, and we fear nothing, because we are right here with ourselves. ~Cheri Huber

24. Liv Lane’s favorite blogs. We like a lot of the same things, so I imagine I will get lost for a while in these lists.

Something Good

1. We saved the Lyric! I absolutely love the design for the t-shirts they made for those who contributed. “Let There Be Light”? Perfect.

We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives in which we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others. Nor is it so remarkable that our greatest joy should come when we are motivated by concern for others. But that is not all. We find that not only do altruistic actions bring about happiness, but they also lessen our experience of suffering. Here I am not suggesting that the individual whose actions are motivated by the wish to bring others happiness necessarily meets with less misfortune than the one who does not. Sickness, old age, mishaps of one sort or another are the same for us all. But the sufferings which undermine our internal peace—anxiety, doubt, disappointment—these are definitely less. ~Dalai Lama

To celebrate, I am going to see a movie there this Thursday with some friends. From the trailer and a few reviews I’ve heard from people I trust, it is going to break my heart.

2. Oh, Mr. Brilliant by Patti Digh. I think I mentioned last week that I was super sad that Patti had just found out her husband had cancer. This post tells a little bit more of their story, ending with a way you can help them. This is further proof of how strange life is, beautiful and brutal.

3. A Weekend of Pies on Soule Mama. You don’t even have to read this post, just look at the pictures and be prepared to drool, (and yes, this list just moved directly from a post about cancer to one about pie, life is like that).

4. Aimee Mann is coming to Colorado! Okay, so maybe Eric is the only reader that really cares about that. We love her, (I have ever since her Til Tuesday days), see her every time she comes to Colorado, so I was really excited when she announced tour dates this morning and I was able to get tickets. Her new album is releasing September 18th, but you can preorder it now.

5. How to Turn Every Email Into a Mini Meditation from Jonathan Fields. I really like this idea, might try it.

6. Fear + Happiness, or Eight Ways to Let Go of Fear from Katie Swanberg. This is a goooood list.

7. And in related news, Go Small, Be Happy from Tammy Strobel.

8. A reminder to let go, from Lao Tzu:

By letting go it all gets done.
The world is won by those who let go.
But when you try and try,
the world is beyond winning.

9. From Austin Kleon, Show Your Work! Episode 1: Vampires.

10. 12 Amazingly Achievable Things To Do Today from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

12. From the utterly brilliant Justine Musk, are you a cup of tea…or a shot of tequila? in which she says:

You want to be a focused, highly skilled, freak version of yourself.

You want to dig down deep to find that unique part, that weird and maybe slightly psychotic part, that beautiful raw fucked-up part, that you spent a lifetime learning to hide in the first place.

13. Piecing Together Connie’s Sky from Judy Clement Wall on her blog A Human Thing. Yes, I am slightly biased here: Judy talks about a post I wrote, and I adore her…but that doesn’t change the fact that this is real and true and important.

14. And to close, a picture of Blue, a most adorable puppy that’s up for adoption at Animal House. That face! *sigh* And I am a sucker for a dog named Blue.

Something Good

view of the high park fire as seen from my corner this afternoon

Kind and gentle reader, today’s post is hard. I need something good more than usual, keep asking Eric to “tell me something good,” but all I really want him to tell me is that this fire will stop, that no one else will lose their home or get hurt, that all the animals will be safe, that our favorite places to hike won’t completely burn up, and that it won’t reach us, that we aren’t in danger. The lizard part of my brain is having such a hard time with it, keeps screaming at me “grab the dogs and run!,” and my heart is just breaking for all the hurt and damage. The High Park Fire, as of the last update, was started by a lightning strike, has burned 36,930 acres and 100 structures, and is 0% contained.

So in light of all that, it feels a little silly, naive to share a list of things I saw this week that I thought where awesome, but at the same time, it feels more important than ever…does that make sense?

1. If you are interested in helping, one way to do so is to donate to the Larimer County Humane Society. They have taken in pets from evacuated homes, are “currently providing temporary shelter for cats, small mammals and farm animals (the size of a goat or smaller) displaced due to the High Park fire,” but are at capacity for dogs (in Colorado, we love us some dogs, so there are lots of them). They need help feeding the animals, so have set up a way for you to give a donation online. I’m sure there are plenty of other places to donate, this just happens to be the one closest to my heart.

2. The Denver Botanic Gardens. We needed a break from worrying about the fire today, so we took a spontaneous trip to Denver to look at things that were lush and alive. We walked around for over three hours, and I took lots of pictures, and we got lots of ideas for what to do with our new beds in our front yard. We were laughing at ourselves, because if you add in both dog walks, we did about 4.5 hours of walking today.

hidden bench, can you see it?

dreamy purple clematis

3. Kizuna exhibition at Denver Botanic Gardens. As a lover of most things Japanese and all things bamboo, I adored this strange and wonderful instillation spread throughout the gardens. “This season’s signature exhibition, Kizuna: West Meets East, brings together two installation artists working in bamboo: Tetsunori Kawana and Stephen Talasnik. Through different working methods, both artists employed this versatile natural material to create large site-specific works for the Gardens.”



4. I want to make this list: Jamie Ridler’s Discovering Delight. In fact, I think we should all make this list, throw out our “to-do” lists and live this one instead. I will if you will…

5. 7 Ways to Celebrate Summer from Positively Present. This list is a good start, but I bet if we tried really, really hard, we could think of more than seven ways.

6. How to Make a Living as an Artist at Create as Folk, by Laura Simms. Be sure to watch the video, if for no other reason than Laura is just so stinking cute.

7. How to Unstress and Truly Enjoy Your Vacation from the Positivity Blog. Can you tell where my head is at?

8. Welcome to the World, Book Baby by Susannah Conway. This is a really great post about her new book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, how it came to be, and links to her virtual, online book tour.

9. Really cool terrariums by the slug and the squirrel.

10. Photo a Day, June Challenge List. I wish I had time, because I love this idea and think it would be really fun, so I’ll save the link and maybe do the one in July.

11. A sweet little video about life and how fast it goes by, in honor of the baby robins next door who are learning how to fly today.

12. The color of. Oh, I could waste so much time here…”a system created to find out the colour of anything, by querying and aggregating image data from Flickr, a popular online photo sharing community. It is an attempt at answering a potentially complex and abstract question in an objective manner, by using simple algorithms on data originating from subjective human perceptions.” You can search any term. Here are the ones I just made.

Love is cooler, calmer, gentler than fire, but they are clearly similar.

13. Quotes from Ray Bradbury on Brain Pickings. Ray Bradbury passed away this week at the age of 91. I adored him for most of my life, and am sad he’s gone, but glad he left such a wonderful legacy.

14. Want To Know Yourself Better? Ask Yourself These Questions from the Happiness Project. These look good.

15. You Can Be at Peace from Jennifer Louden. Oh how I adore her…

16. I love Rosie Thomas, and apparently, so does Susannah Conway, who shared this link to an interview with Rosie. I love hearing stories about how someone “finds art” or “becomes an artist,” those magical origin stories, and this article also pointed out that Rosie has a new album that I didn’t know about, which I am listening to as I write this post, (oh, and it’s really, really good, so #16.5 on the something good list is her new album).

17. Do These Petals Make My Stem Look Fat? by Sunni on the Daily Breadcrumb. Oh that Sunni, so precious, so brilliant. This post, which I adore because maybe you’ve noticed by now how much I love flowers?, also reminds me of this quote: “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change,” (Buddha, who is precious and brilliant as well).

18. This quote, shared by Judy Clement Wall in her latest post on A Human Thing: “You can’t control what other people think about your art. Think about the part of yourself that you can control, which is your ability to be kind and loving and creative.” ~ Ann Patchett, Yoga Journal

19. Calm.com, my new favorite website. Go ahead, try it and you’ll see what I mean.

20. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zero, Man on Fire.

i’m still standing

An Ode to the Backyard

the sky over my backyard

This post is Judy Clement Wall’s fault. A little over a week ago, on her Zebra Sounds blog, she wrote a post that was an ode to hiking. In a related post a few days later on her A Human Thing blog, she wrote about places of solace, and asked readers to share theirs in the comments. This led to a conversation between Judy and I in the comment thread about my love for the backyard, where I said “someone should write an ode to the backyard” and she replied “you should.”

Okay.

sam and dex in the backyard

An Ode to the Backyard

My whole life, from the very first house I remember living in (we moved there when I was still a baby), the backyard has been a place of solace. I find comfort and relief there, safety and peace. Almost everywhere I have ever lived, the backyard has been my favorite spot.

According to me, a good yard needs four things:

  • Lots of green stuff, (bushes and trees and grass and fruits and vegetables and flowers and at least one Lilac)
  • A privacy fence
  • Chairs and a good mix of sun/shade for sitting
  • Dogs

obi (oh how I miss that boy) and dexter in the backyard

The first yard I remember was magic. We lived in a small house (by today’s standards, but the same size as the one I live in now) with a huge yard, almost a full acre. In fact, the yard was so big that when my mom and dad sold that house over twenty years later, they sold the “garden” as a separate lot and someone built a house on it.

I remember a huge cherry tree, plums, lilacs, a weeping willow, maples, birch, pine and fir, and a hazelnut. When I was in the second grade, a forester visited our class and gave us all Douglas Fir seedlings. I planted mine in the corner of our yard, years later buried my hamster underneath it (apparently my second hamster, my dad informed me a few years ago–the first one had died and he’d replaced it because he knew I’d be upset). The last time I saw that tree, it had grown to over 25 feet tall, and made me feel small, old and so young all at the same time.

I remember pink roses, purple irises, tiger lilies, bluebells, and in the garden raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. There was a long slopped hill that we attempted to sled on when it snowed (which wasn’t often or much where we were in Oregon), and a long, wide field of grass below that saw many a football and baseball game. Our patio was a big enough stretch of concrete for both a basketball hoop and rollerskating. There was a family of Quail that lived in our backyard, came back year after year to have their babies, protected from the neighborhood cats by my dad. Quail babies are still one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen in my life, running in a line behind their Mama.

I remember my favorite spot, under the biggest maple tree. I would take a book and my green blanket and sit for hours under that tree. When I looked up, this is what I saw:

it was magic, it was medicine

Over the years, Eric and I have shared a few backyards, (we moved 12 times in the first 10 years we were married).

our very first backyard

this one was so small, I “mowed the lawn” with a pair of grass clippers

The backyard we have now, at the house we’ve lived in for 12 years, where all of our dogs have lived, is one of my favorites. When we were looking, we kept telling our realtor how important the yard was to us, that we planned on getting dogs, that it was in fact the whole reason we were looking for a new place (our condo had a patio but no real yard), but I don’t think she really believed us until we picked the one we would buy. She kept showing us nicer houses with little to no yard. When we picked this one, she said “I guess you were really serious about the yard being more important.”

obi at six months old, the first boy to enjoy our yard. i’d give just about anything to see him back there again…

the current residents, “helping” the mom garden

why the backyard needs grass

We live just a block away from an elementary school, so during the day, while they are at recess, our backyard fills with the sound of kids playing.

Because our neighborhood was built in the early 60s, there are lots of mature trees. In the early morning, this time of year, the sky is filled with bird song.

the view from my chair

succulent garden on the back step

There’s a Jeb Loy Nichols song called “Heaven Right Here” that is its own ode to the backyard.

So I’ll just take my time
And relax my mind
So I’ll stop – slow down
Watch the sun go down

Come on over to my yard
Sit around and let your troubles all disappear
Come on over to my yard
‘Cause right now heaven’s right here

raised beds, lilacs along the fence, a gifted garden of flowers, and a chipmunk we adopted after he was abandoned by the previous owners

sweet boy tomato plant

Maybe it’s because there is farming in my blood, encoded in my DNA, that makes me want to pick, plant, dig, and tend the earth, and this gives me a place to do so.

Maybe it’s because I love dogs and they love being in the yard, playing and lounging, rolling in the grass and chasing squirrels and barking and peeing on stuff.

Maybe it’s because I love to read and it’s a quiet, comfortable place to do so.

Maybe it’s because I am an introvert who loves solitude, being alone, but also loves nature, would rather be outside and barefoot.

Whatever the reason(s), I love a good backyard. It’s a place to retreat, to rest and relax, to read, to play, to listen, to be calm and still and quiet. It is my place of solace, magic, medicine, a living meditation on the preciousness of life.

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie's post

What do you wish to experience?

Contentment. Satisfaction and peace, surrender and acceptance, ease and relaxation, fearlessness and joy, simplicity and engagement.

Love. On every channel, all the time, 24/7. Know it, feel it, be it. Love, love, love. And then, more love. Keep it coming, keep it going.

Health. Full body and full life wholehearted and embodied wellness. I want to light up, shine with it, glow, radiate.

Confidence. Certainty, courage, daring, determination, faith, tenacity.

Self-love. This is most likely a combination or culmination of the rest, what is at the center, the heart of everything else, its foundation, but it seems to be worth an independent mention. I want to move through the hours and days of my life with supreme confidence in my innate wisdom, compassion, strength, and fundamental goodness.


That part of the list is states of being, but there are also “things” I wish to experience.

Playing the ukulele well enough that I wouldn’t embarrass myself. The secret wish underneath is to someday be able to do a duet with Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Just once, please. But I have a lot of work to do first, like learning to play.

Publication. I’m okay without it. I have a full writing life, even if it never happens. Writing is like prayer for me, a spiritual practice, and I am utterly devoted to it. But…I’d also like to be published, as in paid for my work, as in people curled up in hammocks or in front of a fire on the couch cuddling with their dog reading my books.

Paid work that isn’t work, but rather pure love, aligned with my calling, maybe even God’s work. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating that I don’t need what I love to pay my rent, or turn into a business, and yet…it might not be the worst thing if what I love, the work I would do regardless, the thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night thinking and planning, the stuff that makes me wake up and rise at 4:30 am every morning, and the money, the means to take care of what needs taken care of, would be in the same location at the same time, would feed each other, work together, and then I could just do what I love, all the time, instead of trying to juggle full-time paid work with everything else I want to do. It is sometimes like trying to live two lives, and that can be exhausting, and lonely.

Hike the Appalachian Trail with Eric.

My very own writing cabin.

A whole summer in Amsterdam.

Dathun, a month long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center.

An in-person workshop with Brene’ Brown.

P.S. The magic power of wishing, part two: Holy wow! Brene’ is going to be in Boulder for a two day workshop in May, and I am going.

A yoga retreat with my friend and yoga teacher Jessica.

A writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg.

Church with Anne Lamott.

A meet-up with Susannah Conway. Really, what I would love is a long weekend on the beach with her, writing and blogging and taking pictures and talking and taking long naps and eating and laughing.

P.S. The magic power of wishing: I just found out this morning, less than 24 hours after making this post, that Susannah is going to be at the World Domination Summit, and has proposed a writing workshop. Even if the workshop doesn’t go (it so will), there is a very real chance that I am going to be able to at least tell her in person how much I adore her. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true!

Walk and talk with Mary Oliver. This is most likely the craziest wish on this list, but I would just love to be near her and able to tell her just once in-person how much I love her, how much her words have meant to me.

Swim without fear.

Hike with Judy Clement Wall.
A walk on the beach with Julia.
Take pictures or paint with Andrea Scher.
Sit with Jen Lemen at her kitchen table.
Sit in stillness with Erica Staab.
Meditate with Susan Piver, (oh wait, I actually get to do this in a few weeks!).
Discuss writing with Margaret Atwood, and not embarrass myself.
Trust over a cup of tea with Kristin Noelle.
Make art with Patti Digh.
Take a yoga class with Jennifer Louden.
Ask Pema Chödrön one million questions.
Take a Nia class with Jamie Ridler.
Go on tour with Aimee Mann.
Teach an art and writing class for girls with Kandyce.
Draw with Hugh MacLeod.
Listen to Neil Gaiman read.

I could keep going with this list forever and ever…so many good people doing so much good stuff and I want to just hang out with them and soak up all that goodness and tell them to their sweet faces how much I adore them.

Something Good

1. Another day, another opportunity for a fresh start, to begin again.

2. “Where I’ve Been” blog posts. I can’t wait to try this.

3. The Pressure, a poem by Tara Sophia Mohr: Oh how I know this pressure, and want to discover what it might be like without it.

4. Gratitude Practice. Spending some time, every day, thinking about what you are grateful for, writing about it, or even saying “thank you” directly or publicly, is a path to contentment and joy. Here’s a freebie intended to help, “3 good things that happened today,” shared by way of a Scoutie Girl post, “art to inspire: the power of positivity.”

5. Slow down your writing from Kaspa at Writing Our Way Home. This is some really great advice, not just for writing Small Stones, but for writing practice in general.

6. Hannah Marcotti shared a list of some really good stuff to read, Beautiful faces. Magical Places. My favorite quote is from the post on Find Your Balance (because if you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know I struggle with finding balance):

When I say balance, I’m not saying, “Be like me.”
I’m saying, “Be more like you.”

7. I knew there was a reason I have been in love with Ray Bradbury’s work most of my life. His love of reading and writing is my own. He says:

Books are smart and brilliant and wise. Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.

8. How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love by Maria Popova. This is a really great list! And the blog where I found this post and the Ray Bradbury video, Brain Pickings, is really great too.

9. how to be original by Justine Musk. She is on fire lately. This post is all about the four qualities of a compelling creative voice.

10. 40 Days of Silence, a free ecourse from Erica Staab. I signed up for this and have been getting the daily emails. They are short but powerful, such good reminders! My favorite from this last week was a quote from an interview with John O’Donohue, (a really wonderful Irish poet, he wrote some of my favorite poems), which said “To return back into ourselves, there are three things needed”: stillness, silence, and solitude, and he explained why each was so essential.

11. A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted, a post by Erica Staab and a poem by John O’Donohue. I couldn’t stop crying when I read this, both Erica’s words and the poem. Erica said:

Tears sprang to my eyes as I thought how often we think we have the “wrong” answer. How often we are stuck in the thought that we should be anywhere else but where we are. How often we think that we are handling our grief, our children, our jobs, our friendships in the “wrong” way. And sometimes yes, things need to change, but more often than not it is only because we haven’t given ourselves the compassion and more objective look that we give to others.

12. Brene’ Brown’s latest TED talk, “Listening to Shame.

13. If you never saw Brene’ Brown’s first TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” I highly recommend it. Judy Clement Wall wrote a post today on a Human Thing, “What I know,” about that first talk’s impact on her. While her details are different, I had the same experience of that first video. It changed my life, helped save my life, in about a million different ways. Judy said:

It changed everything for me. Not that day, or that week, or that month, but over the course of the almost-year since I watched it. It was the beginning of deep down, gut-wrenching honesty, first with myself and then with my husband. It was the beginning of true fearlessness, of love like a religion, of faith.

Amen.

14. The wreck and the raw of post retreat. Dear reader, I am in the thick of this. I went to the Boulder Shambhala Center this weekend (along with about 340 others, and 1500 who joined us in a live, online broadcast) and received a new practice from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche that broke my heart wide open, which always leaves me completely exhausted, but in this really beautiful way, feeling everything that it means to be alive–the good, the bad, and the ugly. So today, I am attempting to take John O’Donohue’s advice from A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted and be excessively gentle with myself.