Category Archives: Jen Lemen

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Isabel Foxen Duke,

YES, I truly, love and accept my body exactly the way it is — I think it’s cute, I think it’s sexy, and I like the way it looks in my clothes. But that doesn’t mean everyone else thinks so.

The unfortunate reality is that while, I choose not to participate in body-shaming, body manipulating activities (like diets), that doesn’t mean other people aren’t, OR that other people don’t think I should.

No matter how “okay” I am with my body personally, I still have to navigate living in an insanely fat-phobic, thin-privileged, diet-culture world. And that will likely continue to be the case until the day I die (although, God knows I’m doing everything in my power to try and change it).

A big part of doing “body image work” means learning how to handle having different opinions about weight, beauty, and/or “health,” than other people. And that’s something that, unfortunately, doesn’t go away.

At the end of the day, accepting our bodies doesn’t mean that life becomes all rainbows and unicorns — it simply means that instead of making the globally pervasive thin-ideal our problem, we start to see it for what it is: society’s problem.

2. The First 5 Most Frustrating Things About Simplicity (plus solutions) from Be More With Less.

3. Good stuff from Alexandra Franzen: Standard Out of Office Messages Are Boring. Try This Instead, and Good Question, and What are you devoted to creating… in the new year? [a worksheet to help you focus & find the right words].

4. A Better Organizational Strategy: Throw Away Everything That Doesn’t Make You Happy.

5. “On the All of It” – Going Om from Marianne Elliott. (Thanks for sharing, Tina).

6. The tiny cost of failure from Seth Godin.

7. Good stuff from Medium: How to live like a motherfucker, How to Write, Tell a four-word story, What Habits Are Best for Creativity?, and On Kindness.

8. The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit on Zen Habits.

9. Let yourself have days to be a perfectly imperfect human being from Brave Girls Club.

10. I Won’t Let You Down by OKGo.

11. Shared on Positively Present Picks: Weekend Do: Rest and Reset and Amy Poehler’s Radical Niceness.

12. 9 Essential Books That Will Transform Your Writing Forever, shared on Tammy’s Happy Links list.

13. The Here Year: Wellness on A Design So Vast.

14. Where Would You Sleep In This 86-Square-Foot Paris Apartment?

15. Wisdom from Krishna Das, “Love is what we are; we don’t get it from somebody, we can’t give it to anybody, we can’t fall in it or fall out of it. Love is our true Being.” Also from Krishna Das,

As far as I’m concerned the only thing we need to renounce is our self-hatred and judgement of ourselves, and our sense of unworthiness, and our sense that we are not worthy of love. This is where we should start. If we could just work with that place a little bit the whole quality of our lives would change.

16. This Woman Set Up An Instagram To Show The Shocking Truth Of Being A Woman Online on BuzzFeed.

17. Wisdom from Dan Pearce,

Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called “perfection,” which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.

18. Addiction recovery takes body as well as spirit, a piece about Jennifer Matesa and her new book, (it’s SO good), The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober.

19. Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper. How to Not Cheat on Your Creative Life. from Rachael Maddox.

20. Molly Crabapple’s 15 rules for creative success in the Internet age.

21. Truthbomb #659 from Danielle LaPorte, “Take up space.”

22. Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question.

23. Anne Lamott: “We stuffed scary feelings down, and they made us insane” on Salon, in which she says,

Grief is just so scary. Our grief and rage just terrify us. If we finally begin to cry all those suppressed tears, they will surely wash us away like the Mississippi River. That’s what our parents told us. We got sent to our rooms for having huge feelings. In my family, if you cried or got angry, you didn’t get dinner.

We stuffed scary feelings down, and they made us insane. I think it is pretty universal, all this repression leading to violence and fundamentalism and self-loathing and addiction. All I know is that after 10 years of being sober, with huge support to express my pain and anger and shadow, the grief and tears didn’t wash me away. They gave me my life back! They cleansed me, baptized me, hydrated the earth at my feet. They brought me home, to me, to the truth of me.

24. Wisdom from the Journey of Love deck by Alana Fairchild, (shared by Susannah Conway),

There are many teachers on this path, some humble, some wise, some great companions on your life journey and some who will enter in and out of your life quickly, perhaps imparting a helpful word or teaching you a more challenging lesson about trusting and relying upon your own wisdom. The greatest teacher, however, is Life itself. You can trust your own experiences and know that it is the divine spark within you, the life within you, that is the one true teacher who carries you home in reawakened reunion with the Divine.

25. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The Buddhist master Shantideva set forth a path for training in spiritual warriorship. In his text The Way of the Bodhisattva, he explains how the bodhisattva or spiritual warrior begins the journey by looking honestly at the current state of his or her mind and emotions. The path of saving others from confusion starts with our willingness to accept ourselves without deception.

You would think that a training whose intention was to prepare us to benefit others would focus exclusively on other people’s needs. But the majority of Shantideva’s instructions entail working skillfully with our own blind spots. Until we do this, we are in the dark about how other people feel and what might soothe them.

26. Wisdom from Susan Piver,

Meditation is more than a technology to employ on the path to success or even health. It is a method for communicating with your own brilliance. It is a way to relate with the mystery of your life. Something, everything, is trying to communicate with you. When we use meditation as a means to instruct our reality rather than listen to it, the magic disappears.

27. Because I Love to Make You Laugh and Why I Failed Nutrition Coaching 101 from Sue Ann Gleason. The video at the end is still making me laugh.

28. Why You Have To Destroy Doubt To Create The Life You Want on MindBodyGreen.

29. none of it was a mistake on Effervescence.

30. Wisdom from Jo Pillmore, “We are not here to be perfect. We are here to be whole.”

31. Free Mandala Workshop from Julie Gibbons.

32. Beautiful Things, River Teeth’s weekly column which “features very brief nonfiction that finds beauty in the every day.”

Glimpses, glimmers, meditations, moments, reflections, refractions, interrupted shadows, river shimmers, darkened mirrors, keyholes, kaleidoscopes, earring hoops, slabs of cracked granite, cracks where the light gets in. Beautiful things.

33. Little Hamster Bartenders Serving Tiny Food and Drinks on Bored Panda.

34. What Has Become Clear from Gerri Smalley.

35. Woman Photoshops Herself Into Her Mom’s Childhood Pictures For Touching Photo Series.

36. Note from the Universe, “If you keep asking ‘May I?’ Jill, I’ll keep asking ‘Will you?’ It’s never been up to me.

37. Holiday Hungers from Rachel Cole.

38. Thrive on Chookooloonks.

39. What It’s Like As a Bartender to Watch Your Awkward Tinder Date.

40. Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ Fits Almost TOO Perfectly With Aerobic Dance Video From 1989. Having lived through the Jane Fonda french cut leotard and big bangs era myself, this made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

41. Wisdom from Galway Kinnell, (shared by Lindsey),

To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.

42. Ready as I’ll ever be, from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

43. Where to Begin? Judith Kitchen from Jeff Oaks.

44. The Disease of Being Busy from On Being.

45. After A Death, Should We Get A Dog? Brain Study Signals “Yes.”

46. Navigate Your Life: Anna Guest-Jelley, an interview with Jennifer Louden.

47. Wisdom from Jen Lemen,

i don’t know if this path is for everyone.
i don’t know if it should be.
but if it is for you, i know how incredibly painful it is to pretend otherwise, and how difficult it is to constantly question yourself because you have this pain and this truth pulsing inside you that makes it nearly impossible to blow anything off or to try to be like everyone else.

48. Antonya Nelson’s Ten Writing Rules.

Something Good

1. I already shared this yesterday, but it’s so good, I want to make sure you didn’t miss it, NPR First Listen: Tycho, “Awake,” a beautiful album.

2. Don’t Quit, from the Fearful Adventurer.

3. Sou Fujimoto’s Tree-Inspired Tower Sprouts Balconies Like Leaves.

4. finding yourself: a workbook from Positively Present.

5. 8 Lessons from Small Space Living from Be More With Less.

6. Interview with folk rock singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke.

7. Unloved.

8. Wisdom from poet Andrea Gibson, “Everyone’s chest is a living room wall with awkwardly placed photographs hiding fist-shaped holes.” And because I love it and it’s been awhile since I shared it, more beautiful from Andrea, “A letter to my dog: exploring the human condition.”

9. Wisdom from Tulku Thondup,

Generally, we go through life with little awareness of what we are doing, let alone the peaceful and joyful nature of our lives. We mostly think about the past and dream about the future while missing what is happening right now, in this moment. If we are not aware, we are not fully living. We are like sleepwalkers or zombies. To be alive and healthy, we need to wake up. In Sanskrit, the root of the word Buddha is ‘‘to be awake.’’ That is what true healing is, an awakening. As with a flower growing up from the ground and opening its petals in the sunlight, the process is generally quite gradual. Sometimes our spiritual growth seems slow and uneven. We can take a step backward or be filled with all sorts of doubts. We need to remind ourselves that the healing path is the right one to take.

10. desiderata on Chookooloonks, Karen Walrond’s blog, sharing the poem of the same name, which reminded me of this line, “With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” She also has a great list of links on her latest “This was a good week” post. My favorites were these wedding photos (this whole site, all his pictures are magic, the way they capture love and relationship, humanness and connection), and this is 50, (which is only four years away for me!).

11. Wife And Mother: “You’d Never Suspect My Junkie Past” from NPR. The last lines are amazing…

I feel no shame when I say I’m a recovering addict. The battle has made me a warrior. As someone lucky to survive, I want to tell others not to give up. Life can be pain and suffering, but numbing that pain also numbs the love that heals it.

12. Note from the Universe, “Jill, fear just means you’ve forgotten how deeply you’re loved, how safe you are, and that happiness will return, like you’ve never known it before.” Yes, please.

13. 4 Reasons to Love the Body You Have on the Yoga Journal blog.

14. Jen Lemen still posts on Hopeful World, but I miss her old blog. I ran across this part of a poem from her, saved as a note on my Facebook page.

Love Will Find You Out
At the end of your unraveling,
you will look down and see your own feet
that have carried you so, so far
and you will decide for once that it is okay
to sit down
to rest
to hold out your hands
to lift up your head
to open your heart
to the possibility that you were never alone after all
not for one minute

That Love was right there
in her terrible silence
not quite sure how to say it so you would believe her
that you were a thing of rare beauty on the earth
That She still has your macaroni necklace
That She’s been following you around,
making maps of all the places you’ve been lost,
so you’d know how to get back when the time came
to put it all to rest.

See what I mean?

15. Read this, next time you want to give up on making a difference from Marianne Elliott. This is an older post, but it’s worth rereading — again and again.

16. Wisdom from Kris Carr on Facebook,

It’s possible to seek from a place of fullness rather than lack, excitement rather than fear. To know that even though you may be confused about a particular topic, you’re not incapable.

You’re not a project to be checked off and accomplished. Your deep capacity to heal and grow is always present. Always. You don’t need a book or a doctor or a shaman to guide you. You just need to know how to go home to yourself on a daily basis.

17. How Many Of These Do We Get? by Justine on Allowing Myself.

18. Intimate portraits spotlight shelter animals and the humans who love them, an article about one of my favorite projects, Why We Rescue.

19. 32 Truths Every Adult Should Know on Elephant Journal. This list made me giggle.

20. Wisdom from Shanti Zimmermann, “I have yet to meet a body that doesn’t love its person.”

21. Less show. More soul. from Jonathan Fields.

22. Wisdom from Danielle LaPorte, “Art is about self expression. Sharing art is about being of service.”

23. Sometimes you don’t need a budget from Seth Godin.

24. From Brave Girls Club,

Your heart knows what step to take next. It may not know what step to take after that, but it does know exactly what to do next. Take it day by day. Take the step today that your gut is telling you to take. Tomorrow, take another step. Sometimes….all we can do is what we can do today. Sometimes all that we can do is what we can do in THIS MINUTE. Please don’t get caught up in the feeling of overwhelm that comes when we try to figure out what to do next month, next year, in 5 years. Sometimes all we know is where we are supposed to be moment by moment, and that is 100% ok.

25. These 16 Fluffy Animals Will Make You Say Awww on Bored Panda.

26. Newsletter from Mara Glatzel, “The Only Thing on My Bucket List this Year.”

27. Weightless Again: In her suicide note, my sister spoke of not wanting to be a burden on Purple Clover, which ends this way,

We play triage all the time, tending to the sickest one first and hoping that death doesn’t overtake the rest. We take each other at our word: I assume you’ll tell me if you’re so down you want to die, and I’ll try and convince you that the weather will change if you wait long enough. For her I think it never stopped raining.

28. It’s Too Much For Them: Grandmothers Reading Lyrics To Beyonce’s New Song. I am also confounded by these lyrics, so this made me laugh.

29. Wisdom from Vincent Van Gogh, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”

30. This poem by Kasey Jueds, first shared with me by Laurie Wagner and recently shared again by Sherry Richert Belul, reminding me of why I say my practices are writing, yoga, meditation, and DOG.

Claim

Once during that year
when all I wanted
was to be anything other
than what I was,
the dog took my wrist
in her jaws. Not to hurt
or startle, but the way
a wolf might, closing her mouth
over the leg of another
from her pack. Claiming me
like anything else: the round luck
of her supper dish or the bliss
of rabbits, their infinite
grassy cities. Her lips
and teeth circled
and pressed, tireless
pressure of the world
that pushes against you
to see if you’re there,
and I could feel myself
inside myself again, muscle
to bone to the slippery
core where I knew
next to nothing
about love.
She wrapped
my arm as a woman might wrap
her hand through the loop
of a leash-as if she
were the one holding me
at the edge of a busy street,
instructing me to stay.

31. Wisdom from Cynthia Occelli,

For a seed to achieve it’s greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, it’s insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.

32. Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye “When Love Arrives.”

33. When the dog stays at home alone.

 

Something Good

For those of you who are new to my blog, here’s the story behind my Something Good posts: When I am feeling bad, I will often ask my husband Eric to “tell me something good.” When I need something to hang on to, to make me feel better, something to show me that it’s not all bad. When I am in that dark hole, way down at the bottom, and the mean things with teeth are down there with me –”tell me something good.”

He’s really good at it, because even when all he can think of is “I love you,” it totally works. I mean, how great is it that the person that you picked and who said “yes” almost 20 years ago, and knows you better than anyone, knows all the embarrassing and ugly stuff, continues to love you? He usually is able to give me a whole list when I ask him, followed by a hug and “what can I do for you, how can I make you feel better?”

So on A Thousand Shades of Gray, Monday’s feature is: Something Good. I like the idea of gratitude generating joy, and the opportunity my gratitude has to spread joy when I share the good things, so every Monday, I give you a list.

Here’s this week’s list:

1. 5 Plants You (Almost) Never Have to Water on House Logic.

2. Stunning Self-Portraits by a 14-year-old Photographer on Bored Panda.

3. Diana Fayt’s Painted Rocks (& Other Lovely Things) from Lisa Congdon.

4. Be Brave: A Poem-Film for Anyone Asking for Courage to Create from Jeffrey Davis.

5. Cute Pets in Windows from Bold Italics, originally shared by Rachel.

6. Reflections on Fearlessness and Best Links (May), a great list of good stuff from Sandra at Always Well Within, (confession: one of my posts is on the list).

7. Reason to Forgive | DubStep, video of a 12 year old who is an amazing dancer.

8. You’re not needy. You’re starving. from Rachel Cole. Amazing.

9. Out of the water from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

10. Patrick Stewart Speaks About His Childhood, Domestic Abuse and PTSD. The woman involved in this specific moment wrote about it on her blog as well, Let me tell you a thing, about an amazing man named Patrick Stewart.

11. This message from Brave Girls Club came just when I needed it,

Dear Sweet Girl,

You don’t have to have special permission to take a break, you know. You have done enough. When you are tired, and weary and feeling worn out, you need to be kind to yourself and take good care of your body and your spirit.

Please be good to yourself, beautiful friend . . . the world is not the same without the best of you. The people that you love the most have better lives because of you and the people you have not even met yet will have enriched lives because of you.

Your life will be better, happier, more effective, more efficient and more meaningful if you stop and take care of yourself. No more putting guilt trips on yourself or letting anyone else do it. No more working yourself so hard that you can’t even feel anymore . . . it’s time to REALLY nurture and take care of yourself. You are a gift to the world, please take care of YOU. Today’s a great day to start.

12. There’s Just No Time from Paul Jarvis, shared by Laura of Create as Folk.

13. Rijks Museum Free Hi-Res Art Downloads shared by Pugly Pixel.

14. Introducing Prancercise, just silly enough to be kind of awesome.

15. Be the Giver from Danielle LaPorte.

16. 9 Rules for a Simpler Day from Zen Habits.

17. What is Your Gift to the World? on Scoutie Girl.

18. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Tigers Above, Tigers Below: There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

19. 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing Every Day from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

20. Make Me: Fabric Gift Bags from Decor8.

21. Celebrate and Embrace Ventures and Adventures from Be More with Less.

22. Her Lilac Jacket on SouleMama. The sweetest pictures! This one is my favorite, (her little hand!).

23. Racists Very Upset Over Interracial Family in Cute Cheerios Commercial. The little girl in this commercial is super cute. Someone posted on Facebook last week about this and added, “Whomever has a problem with this better just go buy a white hood right now and be honest with yourself.” I couldn’t agree more.

24. it’s complicated from Sas Petherick. *sigh*

25. Inside the Paris apartment untouched for 70 years: Treasure trove finally revealed after owner locked up and fled at outbreak of WWII.

26. Your Daily Rock from Patti Digh: your daily rock : what would love do?, and your daily rock : just breathe, and your daily rock : you are enough.

27. Name-calling Has Its Place: BED is Now Named as a Distinct Eating Disorder. So what’s in it for you? from Drop it and Eat.

28. Another Origami Fox from How About Orange. I wish I was better at this. I’d be making some of these, (shared by Positively Present).

29. This quote, People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~Iris Murdoch

peoniesonmydesk02

30. Google Poetics, (shared by Positively Present). “This blog started collecting Google Poems on October 2012 and is run by its founder Sampsa Nuotio and curator Raisa Omaheimo. Google Poetics is born when Google autocomplete suggestions are viewed as poems.” I could get lost in this site for a very, very long time. For example,

pain is temporary
pain is weakness leaving the body
pain is inevitable suffering is optional
pain is love

Or,

I am a disco dancer
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
I am a dynamic figure
I am a dreamer

Pure awesome.

31. Patti Smith, We all have a creative impulse, shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list. The site where this video is posted, Channel Louisiana, has lots of other really cool stuff, if you want to get lost for a little while and haven’t already spent all your time on Google Poetics. Also on Susannah’s list this week was What’s Inside Our “Going Out” Bags.

32. Humans of New York. I’ve shared this site before, but it’s so good, I want to share it again in case you missed it the first time. You can also follow them on Facebook.

33. Issa Rae: Own Your Awkward on The Conversation.

34. From Rowdy Kittens’ Happy Links post: A Revolution of Contentment by Sandra Pawula on the Bridgemaker, and Chic Tiny House in Omaha Nebraska on Air BnB, (the loft beds in tiny houses always make me think of sleeping in a tree house — magic).

35. My Dentist Was Made To Believe I Was Dead And It Made Me Realize Why I Shouldn’t Kill Myself And You Shouldn’t Either on xojane.

36. This wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The kind of rest you seek you will find not from sleeping but from waking.”

37. This Poster Might Just Change Your Life. by Nicole Duncan on Elephant Journal.

38. This wisdom from Lama Christie McNally, The Tibetan Book of Meditation,

Tibetans say we should do our meditation practice “as if our hair was on fire.” We should have the same urgency to get out of this pain filled place as someone who has just woken up in a burning, smoke filled house. But it’s hard- all the distractions of this life keep stealing away our time and our mind. We keep telling ourselves, “I’ll meditate later.” Then one day you look up and realize life has passed you by, the time is gone, and it’s too late.

39. This wisdom from Jen Lemen, “I don’t want to be famous or popular or known for anything other than that I was deep and wise and had a soul that was wildly beautiful, full of mercy and light.”

40. Amanda Palmer on Creativity as Connecting Dots and the Terrifying Joy of Sharing Your Art Online and Be All Your Selves: Joss Whedon’s 2013 Wesleyan Commencement Address on Embracing Our Inner Contradictions on Brain Pickings.

41. Quotes shared by Justine Musk, You cannot truly enjoy life through your mind…It’s through the heart + the body that we get to party,” (Kagiso Msimango), and “There’s nothing more powerful than a woman who has met the truth inside her. Nothing,” (Meggan Jane Watterson).

42. Are Children Natural Vegans? by Sara Crolick on Elephant Journal.

43. This quote from Cheryl Stayed, “That silence is such a beautiful thing. It’s like the stars at night in the great alone and you there beneath them, saying thank you.”

44. Karma and Smartphones: How to Use Technology From a Buddhist Perspective, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on Huffington Post.

45. Dog People Problems, from Reddit.

goodmorning

46. 2 year old problems: cinnamon rolls aren’t instant, from Reddit.

twoyearoldproblems

47. Wisdom from Chogyam Trungpa,

Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.

48. Father and 2-year-old boy sing Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ in viral hit.

49. Let go … again, still, more from Lindsey on A Design So Vast.

50. The Pros and Cons (But Mostly Pros) of Adopting a Shelter Dog on Hello Giggles.

51. you are worthy. from Liz Lamoreux.

52. Feeding the Right Wolf, with Marianne Elliot on Sacred Circle.

53. The Big Book Giveaway! from Susannah Conway. This is a great set of books, some of my favorites! You should totally enter this, (but just know, I plan on winning the Book Bomb).

bigbookgiveaway

P.S. I think this might officially be the longest Something Good list e v e r.

Everything Changes

Another Wednesday without a wishcast prompt. And yet, I’m feeling a powerful need to make wishes — big wishes, important wishes, wishes for healing and peace.

I wish good health and healing for Jamie’s mom. I wish for strength, peace, and comfort for Jamie and anyone else loving and supporting her mom right now.

I wish for Dexter not to suffer, (he was at the emergency vet three weeks ago, his nose has been bleeding more that usual — whatever “usual” even means when cancer is involved — and on Saturday, he sprained his leg — a different one, not the one he’s already in physical therapy for). I also continue to wish that he have an easy death, whenever that might come.

I wish good luck, a safe trip and a workable outcome for my friend Ann. Today she’s making another visit to a doctor in Boston who might have a new treatment option for her cancer. No matter what happens, I wish her and her partner ease, comfort, and clarity.

I wish comfort for my friend Susan, my dear friend Kelly‘s mom. This past week had to have been so rough for her, with Mother’s Day and the three year anniversary of Kelly’s passing just days apart — but I also know that the arrival of a new granddaughter is offering so much joy. I wish for comfort for all of us who love Kelly and still feel so sad, miss her so much, who will forever carry that ache.

So many are suffering. It can feel overwhelming sometimes. But just when I start to feel like it’s all too much, someone does or says or makes or shares something so beautiful, that I remember: life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal — keep your heart open.

Today, it was a post on Hopeful World. It included beautiful words from Jen Lemen, who has been the healing balm for my own suffering so many times I’ve stopped counting. The video in the post is one she’d shared with me back in September, at a moment when it was just what I needed, and my response to it was just what she needed, but I was sworn to secrecy. I’ve been waiting patiently for her to share it with the world, so I could share it with you, and today is the day.

Everything changes. And when we can remember that during the low times, our hearts can fill with hope. And when we can tell each other this in the good times, our hearts can fill with gratitude. No matter what, we can be gentle, we can be kind. And we can remember, that even in this, we are never, ever alone. ~Jen Lemen

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.

Gratitude Friday

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This post started as a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Salted Caramel Cocoa in my morning coffee and Clementines. Sometimes, it really is about the little things, sweet and comforting.

2. Mondo Beyondo. Andrea Scher’s vision, her guidance, Jen Lemen’s powerful and inspiring words, the opportunity I have to help and to learn and to revisit this transformative experience, the amazing group of people taking part. I am gobsmacked with gratitude.

3. Amazing people whose wholehearted work continues to make my life, the world better. Andrea Scher, Jen Lemen, Susan Piver, Jennifer Louden, Patti Digh, Brene’ Brown, Rachel Cole, Hannah Marcotti, Jonathan Fields, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Pema Chödrön, Susannah Conway, Sas Petherick, Sherry Belul, Laurie Wagner, and–like any good speech or acknowledgement page, I’m sure I am forgetting more than one someone who should absolutely be on this list. The fact that these and so many others show up each day with courage and an open heart fills me with so much gratitude.

P.S. a short list of those I forgot: Julia Fehrenbacher, Judy Clement Wall, Mary Anne Radmacher, Amy McCraken, Erica Staab, Lindsey Mead, Stacy Morrison, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, Justine Musk…I’ll come back if I think of more (there are SO many).

4. The space this time away from paid work has allowed. As I said before, it’s given me the room necessary to get much clearer about things.

5. Downton Abbey. It’s back and I can watch it for free online. I can’t understand why this show makes me so happy, it just does.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. Last week, he had a bit of a rough patch, a bloody nose that took a few days to settle down, but this was another good week.

on the oval at csu

on the oval at csu

Something Good

First, I have to share my good news, a big announcement: I am a teaching assistant in the current session of Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen’s Mondo Beyondo ecourse!!! What the what?! Oh yeah, me. It is every kind of awesome and I am so excited I can hardly stand it.

teachingassistantbio

Yep, that’s me, my class bio…holy wow.

As a special gift to you, kind and gentle reader, Andrea is offering a $20 off coupon for A Thousand Shades of Gray readers, just enter the code “newdreams20″ when you register. I’d love to see you there, and can’t say enough good things about the class. I was thinking about it yesterday, and realized that it is the place it all started for me: my session of Mondo Beyondo started on 9/12/11 and I published my first blog post 9/16/11.

P.S. This is zero week for the course, but there’s still time and room to register.

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled list of goodness:

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1. Downton Abbey, Season Three, Episode One. You can watch it online at PBS.org, (guess what I’ll be doing later?)

2. Danielle LaPorte TruthBomb: You are the answer to your own question.

3. Also from Danielle Laporte, What’s Holding You Back? and Curatives for judgement. (Please read before you interact with other humans.) And this morning on Facebook, she shared this:

Wisdom from Anita Moorjani: Many of us who have spent years trying to work on improving ourselves often end up being our own worst critics. We judge ourselves harshly if we feel fear or a sense of loss or depression. We feel that “with everything we have read and learned, we should know better by now” and feel as though we have gone backwards in our learning, and can’t figure out where we went wrong. It leaves us wondering what we have missed, or what we have yet to learn to get out of this space. This feeling keeps us in constant search for more information. This is a fallout of the “self-help movement”.

If this is you, I’d like to say that first of all, don’t judge yourself for feeling the way you are feeling. Embrace yourself and who you are and where you are at, right now. Remember, you are the sum total of every moment of your life up to this point in time. Embrace it. Accept it. And when we are able to fully embrace and accept it, including accepting the fear, depression, or sadness we are feeling, it is usually followed by a feeling of relief. There is nothing we need to do. Embrace where you are. If you are still feeling heavy with what you are left with even after accepting it, then surrender who you are to the universe. Realize that there is no “new information” or “understanding” out there that you need to pursue. Just surrender. Empty yourself to the universe, or to the god of your understanding, or whatever, and say “here, take me. This is me now. This is who and how I am right now.” And then there should be this deep feeling of relief.

4. It Doesn’t Matter Why. Resolving to Change Your Eating Before the New Year. from Drop It and Eat.

5. In an interview in The Sun Magazine, Parker J. Palmer says: “When individuals don’t know what to do with their suffering, they do violence to others or themselves — through substance abuse and extreme overwork, for example.”

6. 50 Most WTF Animal Pics Of The Year from BuzzFeed, “Animals are Weird. Real Weird.”

7. There was a Time, from Jennifer Louden.

8. Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? by Robert Wright from The Atlantic.

9. Note from the Universe:

In all things, Jill, always and forever, simply wish the best for all
involved, without stating what you think that is. And then, whatever does happen, no matter what happens, know that it was.

10. Your Daily Rock: Simple Wisdom on Patti Digh’s 37 Days.

11. Begin from Life After Tampons.

12. The Sacred Quiet from Jen Lee.

13. It’s 2013 and Time to LEAP!! from Kute Blackson.

14. Little Things Add Up from Slow Love Life, (by way of Lindsey Mead of A Design So Vast and her More Things I Love Lately list). Lindsey also shared an amazing quote in her post All There Will Ever Be.

15. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, the book trailer:

16. From Patti Digh’s Thinking Thursday:

Your life, with its immensity and fear
…now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.
~from Evening, by Rainer Maria Rilke

17. Recipes I want to try (the first two were shared by Patti Digh):

18. The Creativity Interviews: Writer-teacher-entrepreneur Alexandra Franzen on Judy Clement Wall’s website. Two of my favorite women talking about one of my favorite things.

19. This quote from Charlotte Joko Beck:

Every moment in life is absolutely itself. That’s all we have. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don’t pay attention to every little this, we miss the whole thing.

And the contents of this can be anything. This can be straightening our sitting mats, chopping an onion, talking to one we don’t want to talk to. It doesn’t matter what the contents of the moment are; each moment is absolute. That’s all there is, and all there ever will be.

20. An igloo made out of colored ice blocks.

21. Out On a Limb by Seth Godin, in which he says, “It turns out that I don’t just write for you. I also write to remind myself of what I’m hoping to become as well.”

22. This quote from Tara Brach: “You can’t wake up the heart if you’re not in your body.”

23. One Little Word 2013 | The Words from Ali Edwards.