Category Archives: Love

License to Love Myself

theworstfilteredMy new driver’s license came in the mail yesterday. The picture is terrible. I can’t stand to even show you the full measure of it, can only bear to post this modified version. I expected it to be bad, but was shocked by just how bad. I wasn’t smiling because I was afraid I’d do that weird blank stare I sometimes do when I smile for a picture, or that I’d do that thing where I squint one eye so much smaller than the other, or that other thing where I tuck in my chin so that it completely disappears. In trying to avoid all those things I just look annoyed. It looks more like a mugshot. They tell you to look down because the light of the camera is so bright they don’t want you looking directly into it, and move your hair away from your face because they are using “facial recognition software” (um, wait, where did I agree to that?!), which made made me do the thing where my chin disappears anyway. One side of my collar is also flipped weird. The capture makes me look heavy and sloppy and mean.

Change, if it is to be long lasting, must occur on the unseen levels first. With understanding, inquiry, openness. ~Geneen Roth

You try to feel good about your body, okay about who you are, accepting and gentle and kind, and then your new driver’s license comes in the mail and the picture they took of you is so bad, and you have to live with it for the next five years, no Retake Day like for school pictures. But I’m not worried. My prediction is that in five years when I get a new license and a new picture, I’ll finally be in my authentic body. I’m not saying that I will necessarily look any different, but rather that my true self will be embodied in a way it just isn’t right now. This body is so tired, swollen with the expectations and judgments and criticisms it’s carried, puffed up by things that don’t belong to it, burdened by all the ways it’s been hurt, holding the weight of all the stuff I haven’t been able to release. This body is not free … yet. And still, I am free to love it, utterly and completely.

I made a list a while back of the 25 reasons I carry extra weight. At some point, I’ll dig it out and share it with you. What I can say for now is a lot of it has to do with protecting myself, having a physical barrier between myself and the world. So some of it is a choice, but some of it isn’t — cultural expectations, social norms, the way my metabolism has been ruined by years of starving myself to meet them, genetics, hormones, an autoimmune disorder, other mysterious imbalances, the food I eat, how I move, my environment, injury. My body and the way it works is a puzzle, a mystery. I’m only now giving myself permission to figure it out for myself, to know and understand what it needs, enjoys, and how to heal it, keep it healthy and happy and strong. It’s been interfered with, bullied, abused for so long. I’m not going to let that happen anymore.

 

Total Eclipse of the Heart

image by Eric

image by Eric

There was a lunar eclipse this morning. I didn’t even know about it until I woke up and saw there was a message from my brother. He’d texted just to say “hi,” said he was going to try and get up at 4 a.m. to see the eclipse. We couldn’t see much of it here because the sky was hazy, but Eric got a fuzzy picture of it on his run with the dogs.

Today would have been Kelly‘s 42nd birthday. It’s also the anniversary of the day a dear friend lost her son. It’s a tender day of remembering, both the love and the loss. It seems appropriate that for just a little bit this morning, the light went out and everything went dark. It also seems right that after the dark, the sun rose again, just like it always does.

Three Truths and One Wish

bigboyharness1. Sometimes having a puppy is boring. You have to watch them constantly when they are awake and loose, and even though they sleep a lot it’s in short bursts so you can’t really get a lot done. You are cautioned by your vet to not take them anywhere until they are 16 weeks and have had all their shots, so even if you cheat on that so you can socialize them, you are more isolated than usual. You get cabin fever, go stir crazy, and this particular puppy came in the middle of winter, so there was even more of that. After weeks and weeks of this, you kinda wish they’d grow up already. They are impossibly cute and loveable and sometimes hilarious when they are small and you know you’ll miss it when they get big, but at the same time they are making you crazy and boring you to tears.

Spend as much as you want on toys, an empty plastic jug wins every time

Spend as much as you want on toys, an empty plastic jug wins every time

Danielle LaPorte posted last week about being so sick she’d had to cancel lots of important things, stuff she’d really wanted to do. She said about it, “Sometimes life will bind you so you can feel how free and loved you are.” I feel the same about this moment in my life, this brief moment that I keep wishing away even as I work so hard to be here, to stay present.

Ringo's first bath

Ringo’s first bath

2. “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m not sure who to attribute that to, as I’ve seen it assigned various authors. Whoever said it, it’s so true. These puppy days feel like they’ve gone on forever and might never end, but the almost eight years we had with Obi and the barely ten we had with Dexter felt impossibly short. I still have trouble believing they are really gone, struggle to understand how that could even be possible.

theboysbig3. You have to be a particular kind of crazy to raise a dog. It’s so much work and your time with them is so short. And the love sneaks up on you. One day you are fantasizing about running away from home or giving them back, and the next you are hopelessly and irrevocably bonded to them. There’s nothing else in my life I put so much effort toward only to have my heart broken in the end, knowing that’s the only possible outcome.

brothersparttwoOne wish (okay, more like many wishes): To keep my heart open and stay present no matter what arises. To not give up, no matter how hard it gets. To lean into love and joy as an antidote to suffering. To be gentle and forgive myself when I make a mistake. To know I am doing the best I can. To relax and stop trying so hard.

I am wishing the same for you, kind and gentle reader, in whatever way you need that in your life.

Something Good

ericlongwinter031. Time to Thrive, transcript of speech given by Ellen Page on Huffington Post, in which she says,

You’re here because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives.

Then again, it’s not easy at all. It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves.

2. Wisdom from Lodro Rinzler, “Gentleness to oneself is the foundation of the entire meditative path.”

3. How “Fearless” is the new perfectionism from Your Courageous Life.

4. Let thanks land from Jonathan Fields.

5. A Photo Essay: The Lone Tree from Tammy at Rowdy Kittens.

6. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

The crazy life is oh so tempting….ohhhh sooooo tempting. It is tempting to go go go and prove prove prove and seek seek seek for apPROVE-al, isn’t it? It is tempting to do what everyone else is doing…and to make it shiny and sparkly and perfect and wonderful and to sacrifice anything and everything to make it so. It is oh-so-easy to get caught up in the competition…in the comparing…in the craziness of what it *seems* like everyone else is doing.

Beautiful friend…pay attention very closely to how you feel when you are giving in to this kind of temptation. Pay attention to how it feels to go faster than you really have strength to go….to prove that you are just as good, or just as wonderful, or just as talented. Pay attention to how it feels to constantly seek for the approval of others. Pay attention to how it feels to enter into the competition…to compare your life with the life of others. If it doesn’t feel good, any of it…….it’s time to evaluate it all.

Sometimes we get so caught up in this way of living that we forget that there is another way to live. There really is another way to live, beautiful soul. We don’t have to enter in to the crazy life…and even when we do….we really can walk away.

It is worth the hard decision of turning around and walking away from a crazy life that doesn’t make sense. It is always always always worth it to go where the peace is….where the best stuff is…….where we can just BE and not feel like we have to BE ENOUGH. We are ALL already enough.

Go where the peace is, sweet girl. You were always meant to have peace.

7. How an On-Air Panic Attack Improved My Life by Dan Harris.

8. Wisdom from Kris Carr, “Confidence and self-reliance come from a deep trust in yourself. You know that you’ve got your back and that no matter what, you will not abandon yourself.”

9. Wisdom from Meryl Streep, “This is your time and it feels normal to you, but really, there is no normal. There’s only change and resistance to it and then more change.”

10. Artist Turns Fellow Train Passengers Into Funny Cartoon Characters with His Post-It Note Doodles.

11. Remembering Maggie Estep from Neil Gaiman.

12. What I won’t and will miss, a list from Norah Ephron.

13. Uncommon Advice to Heal a Broken Heart, Susan Piver on Huffington Post.

14. College Students Scared Straight Prank. I don’t want to laugh, but I can’t help it.

15. A Lost Dog Story from Mark Hass.

16. Wisdom from Henry Miller, “Let us do our best, even if it gets us nowhere.”

17. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte: “Be willing to start over” and “Start leaving what you want to leave. Your future is waiting.”

18. More wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

Dear Sensitive Girl,

Your soul is whispering something to you. Slow down so you can hear it.

You know what do to…..your heart is smart, and it is telling you in a million different ways. You can trust it.

You know exactly what to do….you really do. Listen to those whispers….they are leading you toward all that is good and right for YOUR life.

You are so brave, you are so wonderful, you are so on track.

You are so loved.

xoxo

19. The story of Owen and Haatchi on Viral Nova.

20. An Awesome Book of Love, “Yael Staav’s poignant and emotional interpretation of Dallas Clayton’s celebrated storybook, An Awesome Book of Love, shows us that love is truly humanity’s greatest gift.”

21. Jump Off the Busy Train for a Simpler, More Passion-Filled Life on Tiny Buddha.

22. The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck on Medium.

23. On Softening to Pain on Zen Psychiatry. Since I read this, I can’t stop asking myself this question, “How can I soften into this?”

24. Warning: Do not read this if you enjoy clinging to excuses that prevent you from making art, moving forward + doing wonderful things from Alexandra Franzen. No more excuses.

25. A story from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook that will make you think.

26. Rachel Cole’s 5 Essentials for a Passionate, Well-Fed Life on The Kitchn.

27. Laurie Wagner on breaking a love affair with the screens that fuel our lonely habits on Flourish. P.S. There’s still time to sign up for her ecourse, Telling True Stories.

28. Should spiritual teachers be paid? from Susan Piver. (Recognize that shrine? It’s on my writing desk.) According to the logic of the original email, it would suggest that doctors and teachers shouldn’t be paid either, that if you are fulfilling a need you shouldn’t be compensated. I don’t buy it.

Gratitude Friday

ericredsky02

image by eric

1. Eric: He gets out more than me lately, takes more pictures. This one has a funny story behind it. When Eric left our house, the sky was the brightest red and he knew it would only last for about 10 minutes, so he ran as fast as he could to the park to try and get a good picture of it, but by the time he and Sam got to the first open field, it had faded to pink. Still a pretty amazing sky, picture if you ask me. Oh, and he also bought me flowers yesterday, not for Valentine’s Day but for being me, for being a good mom to our dogs.

2. Love. Deep and enduring, unshakable. “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.” ~Robert Fulghum

3. Being a writer. I love it so much. When I’m not writing as much (like recently), the words build up inside of me, my fingers itch and my heart aches, and in my dreams, I’m always writing.

4. My interns at CSU. It’s all the good things about teaching, working with students, without any of the grading or other tedious nonsense.

5. Retirement. I hadn’t had access to my account balance for awhile, set it up to only receive e-documents and then could never figure out how to get into my account. When I finally did, I was so happy to see the amount, so grateful for it.

Bonus Joy: The trainer who stayed after puppy class answering all my questions. All of my dogs have been hard puppies, and a full Blue Heeler is a whole other level of hard. I also seem to have total amnesia when it comes to how this whole puppy thing works, how long it takes for the uber puppy constant attention to be over.

ringoearsBonus, Bonus Joy: Sam. How lazy he is in the morning, how content being walked, fed, and loved. How well he’s made this transition, even though he’s not completely well. How he shifted so easily to not being crated when we aren’t home, mostly just hangs out on the couch and sleeps — we know this because we’ve videoed him a few times to be sure. How good he is playing with Ringo, even though we have to limit how much he does.

20140212_075626-MOTION

Something Good

1. Love Is… (Holy Shit, I Have Cancer) on Huffington Post by Elana Miller. The post she wrote just before this one is worth a read too, Our World is Rule by Love.

2. Good stuff from Viral Nova: As If A 1,000 Year Old Tree Isn’t Awesome Enough, Wait Til You See What’s Inside It and If I Gave You 30 Guesses, You Still Wouldn’t Guess What’s Behind This Door. It’s That Awesome (if you want to see more about this one, check out this video) and Her Dad Found A Box In The Snow. Nothing Could Prepare Them For What Was In It.

3. on real beauty by Karen Walrond. I think I’ve shared this before, but it’s worth another look.

4. Among Friends: a new year’s prose from Jeff Oaks.

5. How to Live a Creative Life.

6. Wisdom from Matt Licata: A sadness pouring out of your overflowing heart and

Though you cannot
remember it now,
you have taken a vow
with the stars
as your witness,
to offer your heart
to this world.

You have agreed
to remain naked, raw,
and vulnerable forever,
to enter into
the heart of sadness
and the ocean of tenderness
if that is where love calls you.

Your only guide
is the unknown
and the only map
is found inside
the cells of your own heart.

7. Farewell 2013 from Dallas Clayton.

8. Neil Gaiman is blogging again.

9. Good stuff from Patti Digh: your daily rock : be someone’s angel, your daily rock : embrace what is, your daily rock : simple wisdom, and your daily rock : look within.

10. Wisdom from Susan Piver: The necessity of emotion and What I Wish For You.

11. Blessings, a new offering from Kristin Noelle.

12. The 7 emails that nobody wants to receive — and how to answer each one, with love from Alexandra Franzen.

13. Wisdom from David Whyte,

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all other worlds except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness
and the sweet confinement of your aloneness
to learn that anything or anyone that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

14. Wisdom from Anaïs Nin, “The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”

15. This Video Is The Only Thing You Need To Watch To Understand That It’s Love That Makes A Family on Huffington Post.

16. 5 Things To Say ‘F**k It To’ In January on Huffington Post.

17. Tap Into Creativity by Letting Go on Scoutie Girl.

18. Wisdom from Guillaume Apollinaire,

Come to the edge. We can’t. We’re afraid.
Come to the edge. We can’t. We will fall!
Come to the edge. And they came.
And he pushed them. And they flew.

19. 21 Things That Inevitably Happen When You Work In An Office on BuzzFeed.

20. Stateless Mindset from Zen Habits.

21. It’s time to own it on Superhero Life.

22. “But what if I fail?” from Seth Godin.

23. An Honorable Last Wish For A Dying Marine on NPR.

24. Man Builds Fairy Tale Home for His Family – Total Cost £3,000, and it’s so dreamy.

25. It’s Enough Already With “Giving Zero Fucks” on A Life Less Bullshit.

26. Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out on The Guardian, which says, “This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that having more money and more stuff enhances our wellbeing.”

27. 66 Amazing Examples Of Paper Art on demilked.

28. my word (with wings) from Sas Petherick.

29. Why 2014 Will Be The Year Of Mindful Living from Huffington Post. Guess I was ahead of the curve.

30. I Broke My Scale from Vivienne McMaster.

#reverb13: Day Three

reverb13
Two of today’s prompts are really about the same thing for me, have the same answer. They are “Brave: What was the bravest thing you did in 2013?” and “What storm did you weather in 2013?” The storm I weathered and the bravest thing I did are the same: Dexter’s cancer and eventual death. I stayed with him when he was sick, was as present for every moment we had left together as I could manage, cared for him the best I could and eventually let him go, was there with him when he died. Even going on a walk sometimes I had to be brave — he might have a fit of reverse sneezing, give himself a nosebleed, one that I couldn’t stop, even a stroke was possible with his particular kind of cancer. At any moment, something could happen that would lead to the end of things, to a level of suffering that was too much.

I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating: Loving any dog takes courage. In all likelihood, you will outlive them. It might even be your responsibility to make an end of life decision for them. No matter how it happens or when, you won’t be ready, it won’t be okay — and knowing that, you open your heart, invite them into your life anyway, give each beast the power to break your heart wide open. To love a dog, to love anything mortal, knowing you will eventually be separated, that you will ultimately lose them, is the purest form of courage I know. The magic, the medicine is that every time my heart breaks, it expands, gets stronger, and my capacity to love grows with it. Because of my grief, my loss, I have the heart of a warrior, open to both the tenderness and the terror of life.

The third prompt was a beautiful practice shared by Kat, “a life-changing practice I discovered with the help of Rachael Maddox during her gorgeous Do It Meaningfully challenge,” which looks like this,

Each day for 31 days, I sat quietly for a few moments with my eyes closed and my hand on my heart and asked, “Heart: what do you need?” And then I listened. Sometimes the answer cam in the form of a word. Sometimes an image. Sometimes a sensation. Try this today. What does your heart have to tell you?

So I asked my heart, “what do you need?” The response was a rush, a surge of energy. Then I thought of what it feels like to run, dance, stretch and flow through a series of yoga poses, how alive those things make me feel, how present, and then I flashed on what love, happiness, joy feels like, like when I come home from work and Eric and Sam are waiting for me and as I get close enough to the door Eric tells Sam “go see Mom” and he runs out to me, his whole body wiggling, and how good it feels to be all together again. My heart wants that feeling, being fully alive and awake, energized.