Category Archives: Amazing Women

Self-Compassion Saturday: Andrea Scher

If you are like me, kind and gentle reader, there are certain moments or events, certain people and experiences that have changed you, transformed you in the best possible ways. And if you are like me you carry the memory, the love and gratitude for those times and people tucked inside your heart forever, the most precious of things held close.

One of the people I treasure in this way is Andrea Scher. I wrote her an open love letter exactly one year ago, posted Saturday the 16th of June in 2012. That post even included the above picture! I didn’t know either of these things until I started writing this post today. This is the exact kind of magic that Andrea attracts, generates, inspires.

self-portrait by andrea scher

self-portrait by andrea scher

I’ve lost tract of the number of classes I’ve taken with Andrea, but each one of them has been that particular kind of magic. The first Mondo Beyondo session I did, my first class with her, happened at the same time I started this blog, inspired me to finally start. That experience came full circle when Andrea invited me to be her teaching assistant for the most recent session of Mondo Beyondo. She has always been so incredibly generous, and her wise and compassionate coaching is helping me to create some of my own future ecourses, and beyond that to create a life that I am utterly in love with living. I am who I am right now in large part because of her support and encouragement. In the open love letter I wrote to her, I said,

Andrea Scher has been the sun at the center of a universe of amazement and goodness, the shiny middle that all the other bright and precious things orbit around.

Photo by Mara

Photo by Mara

I found Andrea Scher’s original blog, Superhero Journal, at a time when I was so brokenhearted, such a mess, so stuck, so tired. I didn’t know how to keep going, where to even start. I was searching, my view clouded by grief, knew that I had abandoned myself and my dreams, but didn’t know how to find my way back.

The person I am today: writer, artist, warrior, brave, open-hearted, funny, strong, joyful, sane, is possible in part because of Andrea Scher. She invited me to expand my idea of what was possible. She encouraged me, was kind and honest. She was constantly admitting the things that are hard and messy, while still pointing out what’s beautiful and precious. She reminds me of this quote from Muriel Rukeyser, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Split open, and through the cracks, the light would get in (or maybe get out?).

I’m so happy to be sharing Andrea’s answers to my four questions today.

andrea scher, taken by laurie wagner

andrea scher, taken by laurie wagner

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

I’ve heard that compassion means “to suffer with.” What a gift, right? To not have to suffer alone, to allow somebody’s suffering but sit right down next to them and maybe even hold their hand.

Self-compassion is learning to suffer with ourselves. It’s extending the same kind of kindness we would to a dear friend. It’s learning to sit with ourselves and allow our suffering, to hold our own hand.

Practically, this means that we can acknowledge when we are suffering and not push it away, or tell ourselves it’s not that bad, or you don’t deserve to complain… These are some of the things I used to tell myself, echoes of what some important grownups in my life affirmed. For me, self-compassion is allowing myself to feel my feelings (even if they make others uncomfortable) and letting them move through me. (They always do)

Then it’s about using a kind voice to ask good questions: What would help right now? What do you need most? or What feels hardest?

image by jen gray

image by jen gray

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

Mostly, I learned from going through hard things and NOT being particularly compassionate with myself. This kept me stuck so much longer than necessary.

I cultivated a kind inner voice when I became a parent. Once I became a mother I noticed what my own self-talk sounded like – You idiot! You’re always messing things up! This was not a voice I wanted to pass on to my kids! So I practiced speaking really gently to my son. Over time it became a habit and I started addressing myself this way too. What a beautiful side effect of practicing non-harm and gentleness.

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

Recently, I learned a beautiful exercise from Kristin Neff. When you are having a rough moment, try this: Put your hand on your heart, close your eyes and say, “This is suffering.” Then take a breath and say it again.

It’s such a simple practice, but really profound.

eyes_closed_self_700

self portrait by andrea, eyes closed

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

This is going to sound very unscientific, but I must have carved a deep neuro-pathway in my brain that goes like this: Someone gets annoyed or angry with me. I completely FREAK OUT and do whatever I can to make it better (including betraying myself and my truth in the process) and if I don’t get a response from them or they are still angry, I believe that I must be a horrible, broken and unlovable person who doesn’t deserve to be alive.

I know. Totally dramatic, right?

I suppose I am making progress because I have a consciousness around this string of thoughts. It’s still very painful though… Next time, I’m going to put my hand on my heart and simply say: This is suffering.

andrea_cherr_497

You can see why I adore her so much, right? Since she sent me her answers, many times I have closed my eyes and put my hand over my heart. In that moment, imagining Andrea’s kindness, her smile, contemplating my love and gratitude for her is a path towards loving myself, her light leads the way. To find out more about Andrea, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Laurie Wagner.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning

i'm still standing

You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~Buddha

For just a minute, I am taking a deep breath and sinking into this moment. Eric is in the kitchen making pie crust — I’ve had a thing about pie lately, buying store made versions that claim to be Marionberry but aren’t quite, and he wanted to make me a “real pie.” Emeli Sandé is singing Next to Me, part of a mix I made myself on Rhapsody that I listen to while I write. Both dogs are asleep in their beds behind me. The window is open and I can hear the wind blowing, see the blue sky and bright green of my lilac bushes and the trees above. My hair is still wet from a shower, and I’m wearing clean soft cotton pjs and my favorite sweater.

*sigh*

I feel pretty content right now, in this moment. But I don’t always feel like this. I struggle, I suffer, I smash myself to bits. There are old, habitual ways of thinking and being that no longer serve me, and yet I still act them out, get stuck.

It came to me recently that at the heart of all of my issues, underneath every irritation or sadness was one thing. And when I realized what it was, I felt a deep longing, an intense hunger to understand, to heal, to transform that suffering, and I knew that I was connected to a tribe of wise and compassionate women who could help me, if only I was brave enough to ask.

pathgate

So I sent a request to them. It started like this,

Dear Beautiful You,

I said a prayer and took a deep breath before beginning this message to you. I am so worried it will come off like a creepy sales pitch or inappropriate request — it isn’t. This email, this request is an utterly authentic wish from the deepest part of my heart, an expression of my ongoing longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world, and to be of service. It isn’t about my blog stats, building my own worth or value, or any other self-serving, self-fulfilling ego bullshit. This is not about little me, this is about Big Love. In fact, it would be so much easier for me to not do this, to not ask, but I feel compelled to, and as Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home.”

I am writing to you with a tender heart full of longing. I am writing to YOU because you are a wise and compassionate teacher, writer, healer, artist. I am writing because I have big questions and I think you can help me answer them.

“How can I help the harm that has been done unravel itself? How can I help others find their own wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor?” (Pema Chödrön actually said that, but they are also my questions). As a writer and a teacher myself, the spark for the enclosed request came to me as these things always do: I was curious and confused, felt a hunger to understand something.

I was struggling and went to a new doctor to seek medical advice, to determine if the cause for my suffering were in my body. The help I was offered, the “answer” I was given didn’t sit right with me. In fact, every cell of my body said “that’s not it.” That very afternoon, I left for a meditation retreat led by my dear friend and teacher Susan Piver. In that safe and supportive space of contemplation the real answer, the true path, revealed itself: self-compassion.

Great! – and yet, what is that, how do I do that?! Having been in a long term abusive relationship with myself, I don’t know how to be in love, to be loving, to fully and completely accept myself. The momentary sadness of not knowing faded when I realized I knew many amazing, wise and compassionate women who have been my guides already in so many other ways – I could ask them.

So I ask you, humbly and with such gratitude and love, these four questions:

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

As a writer and a teacher, part two of anything I learn is the strong desire to share it, the knowledge that if this is helpful to me there are others who also must need it. So my intention, my wish is to not only benefit myself from your answers, but to share them in two ways:

1. “Self-Compassion Saturday,” a once a week post on my blog that includes an introduction to your other good work, explains why I asked you specifically, gives your answers and link(s) to your work.

2. When all the answers I get have been posted, I’d like to collect them into a PDF ebook that can be downloaded by anyone for free – not a “follow my blog/sign up for my newsletter and get a free gift” thing, but a truly free gift to anyone who would benefit, an offering made from love.

mettaprayer
This is the plan, kind and gentle reader: one post each Saturday until they stop coming, (29 women have said “yes”), and then I’ll create an ebook including the whole collection that anyone can download for free. These women’s willingness to be a part of this project, their generosity and kindness, has left me gobsmacked, so full of love and gratitude. And each response that I’ve received so far to the four essential questions has been a gift filled with compassion and wisdom that I can’t wait to share with you.

First up, next Saturday, is Artist, Author, Actionista Mary Anne Radmacher, (I’ve written about her before). She had her responses to me less than 24 hours after I asked, and even answered three extra questions! It’s so good.

I must go now. I smell pie :)

Not Knowing Where to Start

This is one of those posts, kind and gentle reader, that is at this moment as much of a mystery to me as it is to you. All day I have been thinking about what I wanted to tell you, what I had to say, to share, without being sure exactly what I would write. There is a big shift happening in my life right now but it’s not entirely clear to me how this is going to work out so I haven’t formed a neat and tidy way of communicating it. All I know for sure is that I want to tell you the truth.

I finally had an appointment with my new doctor. I have been struggling with fatigue for the past few years, have hypothyroidism and a family history of diabetes, (all kinds, on both sides), am most likely perimenopausal, and don’t get enough rest. I am a highly functioning food addict who has struggled with disordered eating for 30+ years, having gained, lost, and regained the same 20 pounds at least that many times. I want to be free of it, this struggle and dis-ease. I want to be strong, healthy, and whole, with the energy and stamina necessary to do the work I long to do, to live a full life.

Things have to to change. A series of unfortunate incidents with my previous doctors made me realize that I wasn’t being cared for as well as I should be, that I needed to seek out a new perspective, someone who would view me as a whole person (not just a body) and consider all the potential healing modalities available. I chose someone who practices Integrative Medicine, which according to her, “evaluates the patient as a whole. It does not view the patient as a chronic disease, an illness, a list of medications, or a recent hospitalization–but rather as a complex being made up of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual parts all interdependent and woven together. All of these elements are respectfully addressed in developing strategies to treat illness and more aggressively prevent disease.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It was good. But, we have some work to do. I have something to teach her about dealing with people who have a history of dis-ordered eating and self-loathing. For starters: don’t call them obese, no matter what the BMI chart says. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call them obese repeatedly. Call them curvy, solid, voluptuous, thick, full, well-rounded, sturdy, slightly heavier than optimal, weighted down–but don’t call them obese.

Brave Belly

I get it. I need to lose some weight. It’s the same weight I’ve been losing and gaining for years. I already knew that. I get it. It’s there, in part, because I am an incredibly sensitive and porous person, without natural thick skin or any other kind of protective barrier between myself and the energy of my environment, the suffering of every person I encounter, the meanness and brutality of life. I am easily hurt, and I eat my feelings. This in turn makes me bigger, more stable and substantial, heavier, harder to knock down, safer, calmer (at least in theory).

What she said hurt me. I’m pretty sure she thought I was confused about my situation, didn’t realize it was serious, and that this “truth” would motivate me to change. In reality, it sent me into a shame spiral. Thank goodness that same afternoon I was leaving for a retreat with Susan Piver, had a safe, supportive space to go in which to process what she’d said. I truly believe that without my practices, the support and wisdom I have access to, she would have only made things worse with that one word. I’m hoping the next time we meet, I can effectively and kindly communicate this to her so that she is better able to help the next person like me, a person who might not have the support, the tools I do to process and cope.

whole

For now, I get back to the work of educating myself. Along with Susan Piver, her support and wisdom and our shared practice, I am so grateful for the work and friendship of Rachel Cole. Both of these amazing women, (along with such writers and healers as Geneen Roth and Tara Brach), remind me to always approach myself, my struggles, with gentleness, to give myself space and compassion. In this way I can face this transition, which is going to be so difficult, with wisdom and lovingkindness–because this is so much more about loving myself than about what I do or don’t eat.

I can also count on the people in my life who love me to support me, encourage and help me, to make me smile, to laugh. Like my trainer, who after hearing what my doctor had said was extra encouraging to me when we worked out, telling me much more often than normal what a great job I was doing, (seriously, it was adorable). And my husband, who told me “we’ll figure this out, you’ll know what to do, and I’ll help you,” who loves me, is more concerned with the size of my heart and how much I love him back than a set of numbers anyway, who won’t judge me when I eat a cinnamon roll the size of my head. And my courage circle and other friends who reminded me of how much I am loved, of my real value, my truth worth. And my friends who gave me recommendations when I asked them for a kind and gentle therapist who works with dis-ordered eaters.

I can find and accept help, but more importantly I can trust myself.

Day of Rest

packagefromsusannah

I got the most precious package in the mail yesterday. It got me thinking about how grateful I am for all the amazing women in my life. This morning as I was writing in my journal, I made a list of names. It took up two full pages, and I wasn’t even done–friends and teachers and artists, women who offer support, wisdom, inspiration, and encouragement.

I have a clear vision about where my life is headed, an “exit” plan that will make my paid work and my heart’s work one and the same. I aspire to make my living, my loving teaching ecourses and workshops and retreats and “face to face” courses, blogging and writing books, maybe also offering some kind of one-on-one creative coaching or therapeutic support. Writing and yoga and meditation would be at the center of these offerings, my core practices, with the intention of bringing women into relationship with their creativity, opening their hearts to what is and who they are, and helping them to develop trust and faith in their own basic goodness–their essential wisdom, kindness, and power.

I feel so lucky that I have support and such amazing role models. The books and blogs they write, the classes and workshops and retreats they offer, the art they make, the friendship they extend, their open and tender and brave hearts. I aspire to be like them, and in so doing be more deeply and authentically me.

superhero earth necklace made by andrea scher, a gift to myself

Today I rest in honor of the essential kindness, wisdom, and power of all women. I offer my rest, my self-care, my gentleness, my joy, my mindfulness in gratitude to all those women who’ve shown me how to sink into myself, how I might love myself, and what I have to offer. They have collectively crafted a map to the center of my own heart, at the same time that they have urged me to trust myself, to make my own way.

Something Good

1. The moment of highest leverage from Seth Godin.

2. I Know I Need This Now Because I Don’t Have Time for It and Enough, wisdom from Marianne Elliott.

3. Do People Know They’re Alive? a beautiful post from Laurie Wagner, and a question worth considering.

4. This quote from Kate Courageous, “Safety is an illusion we invoke, in order to grasp onto another illusion–control,” and this one, “Control is just another expression of fear, after all.”

5. Poetry (the good news and the bad news):

As you unfold as an artist,
just keep on,
quietly and earnestly,
growing through all that happens to you.

You cannot disrupt the process more violently
than by looking outside yourself for answers
that may only be found by attending to your innermost feeling.
~Rainier Maria Rilke

6. Have I told you lately how much I adore Anne Lamott? She posted this on Facebook this week:

But what I believe, and what my moderately left–and right–wing Christian brothers and sisters believe, is that Jesus preached a gospel of radical sacrifice, of giving away everything we possibly can–our time, our money, our prayers–to the have-nots, the same old/same old suffering people of this world, widows and whole nations.

Let us go in peace then, to be people of goodness and service and sacrifice. I keep trying to do better, like most people do, but I don’t have a magic wand. I am learning as I go; and boy, am I humbled by my failings. And “humbled” is always a great place to start anything, from being a better parent, writer, mate; or still, after all these years, trying to save the world.

7. From Pema Chödrön, (who I also adore):

Abandon All Hope and Fear: Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives.

In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”

8. He still doesn’t have a name, but boy oh boy is he cute, (by Allison Mae Photography–do yourself a favor and go to her site and see the rest of her pictures for a whopping dose of the super cutes).

9. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~Maya Angelou

10. Photos of Children From Around the World With Their Most Prized PossessionsThe two with just a single stuffed monkey are my favorites.

11. You will be called on to expand. And this is why we practice. a beautiful reminder from Danielle LaPorte.

12. 18 principles for highly creative living from Justine Musk.

13. Foster the Folk: Daria Marie & The purpose of plainness.

14. From SouleMama, baby chicks in teacups, because.

15. “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius, from The Daily Rock on 37 Days.

16. 40 Days of Deep Wisdom, another brilliant offering from Erica Staab, “a free eCourse designed to help you tap into your own inner wisdom.”

17. Shared on this week’s Positively Present’s Picks: Nine Creativity-Sparking Tips from Daring to Live Fully, How to Find Your Purpose on Think Simple Now, and 5 Easy Ways to be Nicer to Yourself on Pick the Brain.

18. Shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list: How I keep my (natural) beauty routine sane on Simple Mom, Smitten Kitchen, Joy the Baker, Sprouted Kitchen, Super Snack Suggestions from Kate Skinner Nutrition, and this gloriously weird dude and his crystals,

19. How to Make a Major Life-Changing Shift from Stuck to Unstoppable, an interview with Bridget Pilloud on Below Zero to Hero.

20. Oh my, how I adore Zooey Deschanel.

20. What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 30s, by Margaret Wheeler Johnson on The Huffington Post.

21. Girl Rising Montage, a documentary with a powerful message–Want to see change? Educate a girl.

21. This explains so much for me, “Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.” ~Shakti Gawain

22. Find the Others, from Ze Frank.

23. This Dad’s Stamp Of Approval Might Be The Best Thing You See On The Internet All Day. My wish is that every kid has parents like this, is loved like this.

24. I Don’t Like You, but I Want You to Want Me. from Positively Positive.

25. This quote, shared in this post by Hannah Marcotti, “And if you feel free, you feel empowered. And every negative emotion that exists—hear this—every negative emotion that exists is because there is some sense of loss of freedom somewhere in there.” ~Abraham

26. Austerity and the Arts — and George W. Bush on Pop Matters, in which author Josh Indar says,

In the end, I decided that doing art during a recession is about the same as doing art during any other time. You have to believe in it, be open to it, trust it, do it. You have to embrace it as blindly and fervently as a spinning Sufi if you want to get anything out of it.

27. My Amazon bestseller made me nothing on Salon, (in case you are a writer and not depressed enough by the previous article).

But the truth is, there’s a reason most well-known writers still teach English. There’s a reason most authors drive dented cars. There’s a reason most writers have bad teeth. It’s not because we’ve chosen a life of poverty. It’s that poverty has chosen our profession… Even when there’s money in writing, there’s not much money.

28. Susan Orlean on Writing, on Brain Pickings, (in case you are a writer, and that doesn’t change no matter how depressing those past two articles were), in which she advises writers that,

  • You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.
  • You should read as much as possible. That’s the best way to learn how to write.
  • You have to appreciate the spiritual component of having an opportunity to do something as wondrous as writing. You should be practical and smart and you should have a good agent and you should work really, really hard. But you should also be filled with awe and gratitude about this amazing way to be in the world.
  • Don’t be ashamed to use the thesaurus. I could spend all day reading Roget’s! There’s nothing better when you’re in a hurry and you need the right word right now.

29. First Grade Proverbs.

30. Have Faith That Slowing Down Will Be Good for You, on Tiny Buddha.

31. The Big, Scary Thing I Do Every Week, from Life in Z-D.

32. Living with Less. A Lot Less. on the New York Times.

33. Wisdom from Geneen Roth:

If you are waiting to be thin or thinner, to be happy, happiness will elude you no matter what you weigh. If you are waiting to really begin your life until you have success or a relationship or the perfect place to live, you won’t get that sought after joy.

What we want most, what we think we can only have if we meet certain conditions, is to inhabit our lives. To love our sweet lives. And if you believe you need to get “there” to enjoy “here”, the problem is that when you get there, “there” looks very much like “here.” Because wherever you are, you are always here, where you are.

The challenge is to pay attention here. To be alive here. To learn how to wake yourself up here. It’s a habit, this learning to be awake and alive because we are so used to distracting ourselves and deadening ourselves. And we carry this old belief that it’s impossible to do it any other way. But that’s not true. Anyone can learn this. There is so much goodness here, right here, in the middle of our messy imperfect lives, right in this very second, that it turns out that here is, after all, as good as there. (Which is not to say that your body wouldn’t be more comfortable at a different weight or that you wouldn’t feel a sense of satisfaction in success).

When we pay attention, there is nothing missing. It’s all here. And you don’t have to wait to get it, you don’t have to achieve anything to be in it. Will you allow yourself to have the messy imperfect life you have? Will you stop, even if it’s just for today, waiting for your life to begin and realize that it’s already begun?

34. Andrea Gibson: “Letter To A Playground Bully from Andrea (age 8).”

35. Exit 245 – Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia) [Official Music Video]. I’m a total sucker for glee club music.

36. More good stuff from Brain Pickings: Sorted Books Revisited: Artist Nina Katchadourian’s Playfully Arranged Book Spine Sentences, and The Adverb Is Not Your Friend: Stephen King on Simplicity of Style.

37. From my Inner Pilot Light,

What do you mean it will never happen? How can you say you don’t deserve it? Why would you ever think such things? Let me clear things up, my darling. It will happen. You do deserve it. I was just making sure you really wanted it. Do you?

Yes, please.

38. This quote from Satya,

The trouble with making space is that it might mean you do have to go somewhere unpleasant. You might realise that you really don’t like your job, or that you feel lonely. You might have to admit that you haven’t a clue about what you’re doing. This is the most common reason for keeping our lives nicely filled up. We don’t want to risk falling down into the gap.

40. Desire: A Story, a beautiful post from Sunni on The Daily Breadcrumb.

41. Quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer, shared on Facebook last week,

It seems fitting tonight to offer a nod to St. Patrick’s Day with a quote from my friend John O’Donohue: “Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey,” from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom.

42. This quote from Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, “At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.”

43. The Still Point of the Turning World, a beautiful reflection on a heartbreaking but beautiful book on A Design So Vast. I really want to read this book, even though I know it will wreck me. Lindsey shares a quote in her post from the book,

This is precisely why grief, like love and any other foundational, deceptively simple human emotion or state of being, is the terrain of artists. And it is a writer’s even more specific job to give voice to loss in whatever ways she can, to give shape to this unspeakable, impermeable reality beneath all other realities.

44. How to do less and live more, from Kris Carr, in which she says, “lately I’ve been wondering if we’re busier than we really need to be.”

45. I’m actually not that busy. a good reminder, a dare from Andrea Scher. I’m in!

Something Good

1. This quote from Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, “The purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.”

2. Street Compliments from Soul Pancake.

3. This quote from the Dalai Lama, “These days, in our materialistic culture, many people are led to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. Consequently, when they don’t have enough of it they feel let down. Therefore, it is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves, and that it is related to nurturing our natural inner values.”

4. Harlem Shake Karme Choling edition. I only learned this week what the Harlem Shake is, and thought this was an especially funny version.

5. Please Mind the Gap on Scoutie Girl, which says “How is it that we suddenly don’t know how to just do nothing? All those empty spaces seem like such an inconvenience. A total waste of time when I could be being productive.” Exactly. And this, “But the spaces in between can provide some of life’s most meaningful moments,” and “We need space to breathe, to ponder, to take in the world around us, to rest, to be inspired.”

6. I am in love with Kid President, and Soul Pancake. Here, Kid President Interviews Rainn Wilson.

7. Illustrator Emily McDowell.

8. Tara Brach shared this poem on Facebook, and I just love it.

Spacious

Dear you,
you who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still

I know you’re tired
I also know it’s not your fault
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes
You’ve forgotten something again
You need to prepare for that or else
You should have done that differently

What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled
~Kaveri Patel

9. This quote from Chögyam Trungpa, “Before we produce anything at all, we have to have a sense of free and open space.”

10. The 20 best interiors blogs. Eye candy.

11. A few more posts on The Radiate Sessions, one from Kelly Rae Roberts and one from Andrea Scher.

12. Melt Your Emotional Blocks: Emotional Freedom Technique on Kris Carr’s blog. As with all good things, this might be crazy, might be magic. I tried it a few times this past week when I was feeling overwhelmed, and it really helped calm me down.

13. Perfectly Imperfect Self-Care from Rachel Cole.

14. When People Want You To Stay in The Shadows from Katherine Stone.

15. Writing advice from Cheryl Strayed, shared in her website’s F.A.Q.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?
1. Write a lot.
2. Don’t be in a hurry to publish.
3. Find the work that moves you the most deeply and read it over and over again. I’ve had many great teachers, but the most valuable lessons I learned were from writers on the page.
4. Be brave. Write what’s true for you. Write what you think. Write about what confuses you and compels you. Write about the crazy, hard, and beautiful. Write what scares you. Write what makes you laugh and write what makes you weep. Writing is risk and revelation. There’s no need to show up at the party if you’re only going to stand around with your hands in your pockets and stare at the drapes.

Amen.

16. Recipes shared by Soule Mama that I want to try: Smoky Corn Chowder and Oatcakes.

17. Belief Without Compassion, a post from Jonathan Fields.

18. The Power of the Numberfrom Back to Her Roots.

19. Trust: My Sober Familya post about staying sober long term on Guinevere Gets Sober.

20. Brilliance from Susan Piver,

I’d like to take a moment to remind you of the pointlessness of guilt and shame, especially in regard to your spiritual practice. We are all going to miss days, weeks, or years. We are all going to become confused at various points along the path. None of this means that you are bad or stupid. It’s so strange to have to say that, but believe me, I have to say it to myself about 1 zillion times per day. For some reason, we are prone to think the worst of ourselves. But neither guilt nor shame have ever led to breakthroughs in wisdom or compassion, at least not for me.

21. Paris and proposals. Spoiler: I said “no.” from Make Me Joyful.

22. We Found Our Son in the Subway, a wonderful adoption story, and a story about how a family was made, by Peter Mercurio.

23. MOYO Magazine Issue 3.

24. You already have permission, a brief yet brilliant post by Seth Godin.

25. I just love the #StuffMyGirlSays – the interview with my 5 year old on Bliss Habits. I think every parent should do this–no I demand that you do! (and email it to me)

26. The One and Only IvanI am reading this book by Katherine Applegate right now (yes, it’s for kids) and am so in love.

27. Stardust: A Mesmerizing Short Film About the Voyager 1 and the Wonder of the Universe and Words To Live By: 5 Timeless Commencement Addresses on Brain Pickings.

28. Geneen Roth: Compulsion vs. Awareness, a one minute sound clip.

29. Shared by SF Girl by the Bay, Craftsman and Wolves.

30. Creative BadAssery with Justine Musk, in which Jennifer Louden interviews Justine Musk.

31. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list:  Relax! You’ll Be More Productive, which says,

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.” And, “Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably.

Also from Susannah’s list, The Empathic Civilisation.

32. From Positively Present Picks, this quote:

Dogs don’t know about beginnings, and they don’t speculate on matters that occurred before their time. Dogs also don’t know — or at least don’t accept — the concept of death. With no concept of beginnings or endings dogs probably don’t know that for people having a dog as a life companion provides a streak of light between two eternities of darkness. ~Stanley Coren

And these links, Meet the Rules of the Internet and 4 Ways To Deal With Negativity in the World, on Pick the Brain blog.

33. This quote from Ram Dass,

You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of mind shines through unobstructed-and the natural state of mind is pure love.

34. 30+ mantras for people who over-work, over-commit, and are generally terrified of “missing out.” from Alexandra Franzen.

35. Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante at TEDxUniversityofNevada. One thing referenced in the talk, Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes comes from a study with some very interesting results.

36. 4 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative World post on Belief Net by Marianne Elliott, in which she says,

An open heart can leave us feeling unstable. We balance this by cultivating a steady mind. Meditation trains our mind to hold steady under the onslaught of disturbing images, thoughts and feelings, helping us maintain a sense of center when the world spins out of control.

Word.

Something Good

halffrozenriver

1. Ronen Goldman has been recreating his dreams in photos for the past six years. Some weird dreams that made for amazing photographs.

2. The Self-Acceptance Project: Finding Our Sense of Fundamental Worthiness, a free 20-week Video Event Series from Sounds True, beginning Monday, March 4, 2013. There are an amazing group of teachers involved with this, and did I mention, it’s free?

3. From Justine Musk, creative badass, “those who tell the stories, rule the world.”

4. This quote from Seth Godin, “It’s not what you’ve got. It’s about how brave you’re prepared to be.”

5. “Dear Internet” by Tina Fey. Just one more reason to love her.

6. This quote, “The most solid advice . . . for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” ~ William Saroyan

7. This quote from Geneen Roth, “Huge and lasting transformation is possible but it isn’t about striving to be different than you are. True change is allowing yourself to be exactly what and who you are—and becoming aware of what’s standing in your way.” And this one:

You can do it. You can rescue yourself. No matter what you believe about your competence or your worth, no matter if you weight 400 pounds on the scale or in your mind, you can change. You can become every courageous inch of yourself. But you have to act. You have to make an effort. You have to find a path or practice that knocks at the door of your heart, and then you have to do it. Keep doing it even if you don’t feel like it on an particular day. If you do nothing, nothing will change. If you act, if you make an effort, then little by little, bite by bite, morning after morning, you become the promise of yourself.

8. When Love Wins on Kind Over Matter by Jo Anna Rothman.

9. This quote from Pema Chödrön:

The Beginning of Growing Up: Opening to the world begins to benefit ourselves and others simultaneously. The more we relate with others, the more quickly we discover where we’re blocked. Seeing this is helpful, but it’s also painful. Sometimes we use it as ammunition against ourselves: we aren’t kind, we aren’t honest, we aren’t brave, and we might as well give up right now. But when we apply the instruction to be soft and nonjudgmental to whatever we see at this very moment, the embarrassing reflection in the mirror becomes our friend. We soften further and lighten up more, because we know it’s the only way we can continue to work with others and be of any benefit in the world. This is the beginning of growing up.

10. This quote, “The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment.” J. Krishnamurti

11. This quote, “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream.” Don Miguel Ruiz

12. This quote from Cyndi Lee:

When we really see, in our mind’s eye, a person we think we don’t like, and instead of solidifying our reasons for hatred we honestly wish them happiness, good health, safety, and an easeful life, we start to forget what we thought we hated and why we felt that way in the first place. A sense of equanimity toward everyone arises as we do this practice—we feel compassion for those who were once invisible to us, and our disregard and apathy morph into concern for their well-being and safety.

13. This quote from Tama J. Kieves, “The more you do what you love, the more you realize your direction. It’s like remembering night-dreams, the more you write them down, the more you remember. The truth is always present. You just have to honor your inspiration before you have clarification. Doing what you love will make everything clear.”

14. This quote, “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.” ~Thomas Merton

15. Go Public With Your Bad Self?, a perfectly timed (for me) and true post by Jonathan Fields, which also includes an inspiring Good Life Project interview with artist Lisa Congdon, who I’ve always liked and admired but am officially obsessed with after seeing this interview. I’m especially in love with her 365 Days of Hand Lettering project. Jonathan says in this post,

We all suck in the beginning. We’re SUPPOSED to suck (with the rare exception of that freakish apriori artist savant friend we all love to hate to love).

The thing that gets us from there to “Sweet Mother of God, YOU made that?!” is practice. Beginner’s mind. Being massively prolific, even if what we create on any given day is really, really bad. That, and having the vision of where we want to get to, the will to do the work, the faith that our efforts will yield progress and the sense of humor needed to forgive ourselves and be vulnerable along the way….

16. From my teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “We Need to be Warrriors,” in which he says,

Bravery is the key instruction in the Shambhala teachings. This is why these teachings use the image of a warrior: when confronted by great challenges, warriors rise to the occasion. When cowards are confronted by difficulties, they withdraw. The challenge of being brave points to one specific instruction—that we stop cowering from our basic goodness.

To be brave is to actualize our nature as an offering to others. In paying attention to the details of our daily lives in relation to each other and the environment, we proclaim our worthiness to be alive and to inhabit this planet. We empower our relationships with presence and appreciation, because when we see the goodness in ourselves, we recognize it in others. This form of warriorship builds and creates; it does not destroy. Being brave enough to fully embrace our humanity is how we will accomplish good things.

17. This quote from George Lois, “The joy of the creative process, minute by minute, hour after hour, day by day, is the sublime path to true happiness.”

18. Home, on Doorways Traveler by Lisa Field-Elliot. This:

i believe that light prevails. that even though each and every one of us will wind up in the most senseless of dramas where the smallest parts of our brains, and the arrested parts of our hearts, will make decisions that wound and hurt, i still have to believe that light will prevail.

Amen.

19. Love Will Find You Out by Jen Lemen. I’ve read it before, but she reshared the link this week, and I read it with fresh eyes, an open heart. It is so beautiful, and made me cry just as hard this time as it did the first.

20. 108 yoga images from 2012: through the lens and from the soul of Robert Sturman. I look exactly like this when I practice yoga. Wait…why are you laughing?!

21. “To realize your true nature, you must wait for the right moment and the right conditions. When the time comes, you are awakened as if from a dream. You understand that what you have found is your own and doesn’t come from anywhere outside.” Buddhist Sutra

22. Deep Soul Dive Episode #1: Andrea Scher of Superhero Life, an interview with Maggie Hollinbeck.

23. Singer-Songwriter Aimee Mann on Rejecting the Life of a Pop Star, an interview on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. I realized listening to this that I have been in love with Aimee Mann for almost 30 years. This is where it started, back in the tender wonder years, with Til ‘Tuesday:

24. Sherwood Anderson on Art and Life: A Letter of Advice to His Teenage Son, 1927 on Brain Pickings.

25. The Underground New York Public Library is a visual library featuring the Reading-Riders of the NYC subways.

26. This quote, “All that you are seeking is also seeking you. If you sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes

27. A good reminder from my Inner Pilot Light:

Feeling overwhelmed? Try taking steps to simplify your life today. Do you really need that long to-do list? Or can you cross stuff off and just accept that it’s not going to get done, at least not today? Do you really need all that stuff in your closet? Or can you sort through it and make room for spaciousness and expansiveness? Do you really need that crowded social calendar? Or can you just pare down to the activities that really nourish your soul? Must you really say yes to what others ask of you? Or can you give yourself the gift of NO? When you simplify your life, you make room for more of ME. And when you let me in, magic starts happening.

28. Magical (and giveaway!), a good review of a book that I clearly need to read on Walking on My Hands. This single line makes me want to read the whole book, “As Katrina begins her month of yoga teacher training at Kripalu, her teacher tells her, ‘You are not here to remake yourself but to remember yourself.’ “

29. 15 Bloggers to Watch in 2013, (12 are women–right on!).

30. And by now I am sure you are wondering “what’s up with all the quotes on this list?!” but here’s one last one, from Cheri Huber:

How do we end suffering?  By accepting everything, exactly as it is. Hearing that is like a knife in the heart.  Inside we shriek, no! That is the shriek of the ego devoted to suffering.  In fact, there is no choice other than accepting everything exactly as it is, because everything is exactly as it is.  It is as simple as that.  There is nowhere else to go.