Category Archives: Pema Chödrön

Something Good


1. Good stuff on Medium: Why Starting a “Blog” is a Terrible Idea, and When you work for yourself: stop doing shit you don’t like, and Starbucks Wants To Talk To You About Race, and Lighten Up.

2. Good stuff from Dances with Fat: If Not Weight Loss, Then What? and Willful Suspension of Disbelief.

3. Things That Make Me Happy on A Design So Vast.

4. Don’t Create Content. Move People. from Jonathan Fields.

5. Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte: “Think of suffering as self-compassion school.”

6. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been kind of obsessed with any conversation around race and racism lately. Here are some thought provoking articles on the subject, if you are also interested: After an Uneasy Start, Finding Common Ground to Discuss Race Relations at Work, and 10 things black people fear that white people simply don’t, and Why Kimmy Schmidt’s Native Subplot is Great: A Native Fan’s Opinion, and Being White Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: How the Oklahoma frat scandal exposes a racial double standard, and Portland gentrification video: ‘This is painful, but we can do something,’ and this video,

7. Good stuff about writing from Terrible Minds: The Flipside Of My Writing Tirade, and In Which I Emit A Lot Of Grr-Talk About Your Writing Career, and Writing Is A Profane, Irrational, Imperfect Act.

8. I’m also kind of obsessed with the conversation around fattism, fat shaming, Health at Every Size, and such. Here are some good articles on the topic, if you are also interested: the weight of this body, and Virgie Tovar on eradicating diet culture, the joy of moving your body, and Babecamp 2015, and Grieving the Loss of Your Body Fantasy, and What Happens If We Let Fat People Be Happy?

9. Just One Man Remains in Fukushima Radiation Zone – He’s Feeding All the Animals Left Behind.

10. The Girl’s Girl from Brittany, Herself.

11. 40 Guilty Cats Who Deserve To Be Shamed Publicly, but probably don’t care because, well, they are cats.

12. Meg Worden, podcast goddess: Ask the Aunties Episode 1: ‘I am a 35 year old virgin’ and Raise your Hand Say Yes with Meg Worden.

13. If Vegans Said Things Meat Eaters Say.

14. StoryCorps Wins The TED Prize And Builds An App That Lets Anyone Record An Interview On Their Phone.

15. Nurse helps sexual assault survivors heal, move on.

16. Sex Tips That Don’t Suck, a poem performed.

17. Tweet, Memory, Dani Shapiro remembering Lisa Bonechek Adams.

18. Leon Bridges, such a beautiful voice. I can’t wait for his full album. The style of what I’ve heard so far reminds me of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.

19. A Group Of People Read The Last Texts From Their Exes And It’s Hilarious.

20. The Pitfalls of Pursuing Your Purpose by Adreanna Limbach.

21. Good stuff from Lion’s Roar: On Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, and Dig into 3 recipes from vegan chef Bryant Terry.

22. Side-By-Side Photos Of What Rich And Poor Eat Reveal ‘Glaring Disparities’ Worldwide.

23. The difference between commitment and technique from Seth Godin.

24. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Even after many years, many of us continue to practice harshly. We practice with guilt, as if we’re going to be excommunicated if we don’t do it right. We practice so we won’t be ashamed of ourselves and with fear that someone will discover what a “bad” meditator we really are. The old joke is that a Buddhist is someone who is either meditating or feeling guilty about not meditating. There’s not much joy in that.

Maybe the most important teaching is to lighten up and relax. It’s such a huge help in working with our crazy mixed-up minds to remember that what we’re doing is unlocking a softness that is in us and letting it spread. We’re letting it blur the sharp corners of self-criticism and complaint.

25. From Brave Girls Club:

Just like every amazing brave girl, your mind and heart are filled with lots and lots of ideas and dreams. Sometimes that puts us into a panic because we feel like we have to do it all right now, or that we will run out of time, or like the window of opportunity will close.

Please remember, friend, that there is a season for everything. You may find that when you ask your heart of hearts, that you can only focus on one big thing at a time if you are to do it in the beautiful, soulful way that you love to do things…and that other things may have to wait for now. You may find that you can juggle two or three special things, but that you will have to let some others things go to be able to make that happen. What you will most likely NOT find if you are very very soulfully honest with yourself and if you listen very very closely, is that you cannot do EVERYTHING you want to do at once…because sacred things will suffer…most especially YOU.

So please give yourself permission to put some things on a different timetable so that you can give the best of yourself to the things that are very most important in THIS season of your life. It does not make you weak or powerless when you let things go… On the contrary it shows your strength and commitment to all that is best for your own precious life.

26. Introducing April LOVE, 2015!, another great daily photo challenge from Susannah Conway.

27. Good stuff on Create as Folk: Contributor Welcome: Caren Baginski for Workday Wellness and Ever Feel Like a Nobody?

28. The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People: INFOGRAPHIC.

29. Surrealist Sculptures by Ellen Jewett Merge Plant and Animal Life.

30. Now that’s what I call an *acceptance* speech. Amazing job, Kerry Washington.

Something Good

1. Good stuff from Marc and Angel Hack Life: 7 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged and Defeated and 10 Courageous Ways to Live Life Without Regrets.

2. Good stuff from Derrick Clifton: 10 Celebrities Who Had the Perfect Response to Fat Shaming and Kelly Clarkson’s Response to Criticism of Her Weight Deserves a Standing Ovation.

3. Wisdom from John Lubbock:

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

4. Classic Vegan Caesar with Avocado & Chickpeas recipe. Looks yummy.

5. Bill Murray’s Dharma Talk on What It’s Like to Be You.

6. Why I stopped giving a shit about my size.

7. Questions of Priority on Zen Habits.

8. Good stuff from Be More With Less: The Life Altering Practice of Making Cuts and The Challenge of Not Doing.

9. 3 Ways to Responsibly and Compassionately Respond to Panhandling.

10. 39 Stunning Images Of Women At Work All Over The World.

11. Pieces about Lisa Bonchek Adams on The New York Times: Lisa Bonchek Adams Dies at 45; Chronicled Fight With Breast Cancer and Remembering Lisa Adams.

12. After decades in prison, first day outside a shock for Colorado parolee, the first in a five-part series on former inmate Kevin Monteiro and the state’s parole system.

13. How I learned to live in my body from Susannah Conway.

14. how to dismantle the patriachy from Sas Petherick.

15. From Jamaica to Minnesota to Myself on The New York Times Magazine.

16. Telling Them a Story from Laurie Wagner.

17. The Side of the Oklahoma Racist Frat Story That Nobody Is Talking About.

18. Good stuff on Medium: Why Work Is Broken: The Changing Face of Vocation and Why It Matters, and I’m Not Pregnant, and Why I Live At The P.O.

19. Kids Are Super Ultra Mega Fucking Weird on Terrible Minds.

20. 3 Reasons Your Employees Hate Their Jobs.

21. Dutch students can live in nursing homes rent-free (as long as they keep the residents company).

22. Good stuff on Bored Panda: Rescued Magpie Becomes Lifelong Friend With The Family That Saved Her Life and Urban Treehouse Uses 150 Trees To Protect Residents From Noise And Pollution.

23. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön:

In the early seventies a friend kept telling me, “Whatever you do, don’t try to make those feelings go away.” His advice went on: “Anything you can learn about working with your sense of discouragement or your sense of fear or your sense of bewilderment or your sense of feeling inferior or your sense of resentment—anything you can do to work with those things—do it, please, because it will be such an inspiration to other people.”

That was really good advice. So when I would start to become depressed, I would remember, “Now wait a minute. Maybe I just have to figure out how to rouse myself genuinely, because there are a lot of people suffering like this, and if I can do it, they can do it.” I felt a sense of interconnectedness. “If a schmuck like me can do it, anybody can do it.” That’s what I used to say, that if a miserable person like me—who’s completely caught up in anger and depression and betrayal—if I can do it, then anyone can do it, so I’m going to try.

24. the ripple effect, redux from Chookooloonks.

25. Baby Steps from Jeff Oaks.

26. Homeless Former U.N.C. Player Balks at Efforts to Help Him from The New York Times.

27. Wisdom from Jiddu Krishnamurti, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

28. Confessions of an Uneducated Queer, by Lauren Zuniga.

29. Ellie Goulding – Take Me to Church (Cover).

30. Ebola Survivor Ashoka Mukpo: “I Knew I Had to Practice” on Lion’s Roar.

31. Diet doesn’t cure disease. And it’s irresponsible to say otherwise from Sarah Wilson.

32. Paul Kalanithi, writer and neurosurgeon, dies at 37 and his essays How Long Have I Got Left? and Before I Go.

33. Good stuff from Tiny Buddha: 52 Ways to Tell Someone You Love and Appreciate Them and 40 Ways to Give Yourself a Break.

34. Make Yourself Comfortable from Rachel Cole.

35. Finding Your Personal Magic (and Mine) on The Mojo Lab.

36. How to Use Your Work to Get a Better Life from Laura Simms.

37. What Yoga Taught Me About the Balanced Life on The New York Times.

38. The Problem With ‘Fat Talk’ on The New York Times.

39. 10 things I learned while writing my last book from Austin Kleon.

40. Shared on Susannah’s Something for the Weekend list: Frittata Two Ways + New Zealand and 23 Things Only People Who Love Spending Time Alone Will Understand.

41. Good stuff from Dances with Fat: Say Something Sunday – Fat Joke Edition and Body Shaming Baby Onesies.

42. Water For Elephants Author Sara Gruen Reflects On The Life Of A Writer.

43. Wisdom from Anne Lamott, “I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”

44. Double and half (freelancer math) from Seth Godin.

45. Good stuff from Alexandra Franzen: Your reasons will always win the battle, and Email guidelines for the world, and Gold Interview with Alexandra Franzen.

46. #36: Food Sanity, a podcast interview with Isabel Foxen Duke.

47. Wisdom from Eve Ensler, (thanks for sharing, Kirsten),

I was raised in America. All value lies in the future, in the dream, in production. There is no present tense. There is no value in what is, only in what might be made or exploited from what already exists. Of course the same was true for me. I had no inherent value. Without work or effort, without making myself into something significant, without proving my worth, I had no right or reason to be here. Life itself was inconsequential unless it led to something. Unless the tree would be wood, would be house, would be table, what value was there to tree?

48. What Keeps Me Up at Night (and It’s Not My Bladder) by Lisa Sadikman.

Something Good

Mount McConnel Trail, image by Eric

Mount McConnel Trail, image by Eric

1. Alina Baraz & Galimatias, who I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

2. Wisdom from Jessica Patterson, “If you’re only willing to scratch the surface, you will never satisfy the itch.”

3. A Whole Decade from Brittany Herself.

4. Good stuff on Tricycle: The Mindfulness Solution and Guided Meditation with Venerable Pannavati.

5. 9 Great Yoga YouTube Channels.

6. Medicating Women’s Feelings on The New York Times.

7. List of Emoticons for Facebook, something I use quite a bit.

8. Watch These Young Girls Recite Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”… It’s Awesome.

9. Andrea Gibson performs The Nutritionist.

10. She Hasn’t Changed Her Home For 72 Years. When You See What’s Inside, Your Jaw Will Drop!

11. I love myself enough to do what it takes (to get well)- PART 1 of a series about adrenal fatigue, chronic hives, hormone imbalance, weight gain, emotional healing, etc. etc. etc. from Melody Ross of Brave Girls Club.

12. On Knowing Our Own Minds from Dani Shapiro. “Our most creative thoughts and ideas spring from a ritualized dream time. In the absence of this dream time we become mechanized, robotic, detached from our inner lives.” Word.

13. Fuck the lie that we can have it all from Renegade Mothering.

14. Something Wild from Sunni Chapman.

15. Tiny Beautiful Things on Call Me Ishmael.

16. Things Black Men Are Tired Of Hearing.

17. Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration.

18. Kindness Blog, “Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations. Because Kindness Changes Everything.”

19. Wisdom from the 17th Karmapa,

Sometimes when we practice dharma we think that we need to show some sort of external or physical sign of it. We pay a lot of attention to the rituals and these actions of our body and speech. This is practicing dharma when we’re focusing outside. But instead what we need to do is turn our attention inwards. We need to see whether what we’re doing is functioning as an antidote to the afflictions or not. We need to see whether we are taming our mind or not. We need to see whether our mind is improving, getting kinder, or not. If we don’t look at it in this way then there’s no benefit to doing these actions – we think that we are trying to do the dharma, but actually we are just making a show with our body and speech. We are putting on appearances, and that’s all we really take an interest in. And the moment that happens, this becomes spiritual materialism.

20. Good stuff on Medium: A world without advice, and Cabin Fever (P.S. I’ve seen the documentary mentioned at least four times), and I Know the Rules- I Just Don’t Care, and Parenting Advice: Don’t Kill Them.

21. Wisdom Pema Chödrön, from her book The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World,

Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.

22. Their Dying Wishes on The New York Times.

23. You Will Survive from Jack Kornfield.

24. I Eat in the Light Now from Curvy Yoga.

25. A World Gone Mad from Rachel Cole.

26. #continuouspractice – A month and a half in {with a message} from Visible and Real.

27. chocolate chocolate-chip cake, redux: the gluten-free edition on Chookooloonks.

28. UC Berkeley Students Hold Teach-In for Their Racist Professor.

29. Jessamyn Stanley talks about life, yoga as therapy, and internet love and hate on Body Positive Yoga.

30. An Open Letter to Kid Rock About the Word ‘Gay’ on Esquire.

31. A Beautiful Thing on Just Lara.

32. The Real World of the Writing Life on The Missouri Review.

33. He is black. He is privileged. And all of that concerns his parents.

34. The Man Who Snuck Into the Ivy League Without Paying a Thing.

35. Neil Gaiman’s ‘Trigger Warning’, a Sunday Book Review on The New York Times.

36. One Man Holds a PATENT That Could Crush MONSANTO and Change The World.

37. 15 People From Around the World Next to the Amount of Food They Eat Each Day.

38. Spring Breaks from Jeff Oaks.

39. Reexamining the Reblog.

40. Mary Lambert on Embracing Sanity, Remaking ‘Jessie’s Girl’ for Lesbians from Rolling Stone.

41. The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More on Zen Habits.

42. Shared on this was a good week from Chookooloonks: Highlights from Apple’s Favorite Photos Shot with iPhones, and Blue – Color//Colour Lovers, and 22 Contemporary Authors You Absolutely Should Be Reading, and a time lapse of a cactus blooming.

43. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: Interview on the Stacking Benjamins podcast and The So What? Test.

44. Shared on Happy Links: this Instagram account of illustrator Ann-Mari Reigstad.

45. Deaf Man Told To “Look Over There.” When He Does, You’ll Bawl Like A Baby!

46. Navigate Your Life: Chris Zydel from Jennifer Louden.

47. Time lost and found from Anne Lamott.

48. Teachers, are you accidentally shaming your students? How to Make Yoga Class More Inclusive by Amber Karnes.

49. 9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

Gratitude Friday

marchcalendar

I finally flipped my calendar to the new month.

1. It’s Friday. This has been a long week with a complicated and busy schedule and I am looking forward to letting go a little, cleaning up.

2. Practice. I flipped my calendar over to March (finally) and the quote was from Pema Chödrön, “The meditative space is like the big sky — spacious, vast enough to accommodate anything that arises.” Yoga, meditation, writing, and dog all simultaneously challenge and soothe me.

3. Blogging. I really do love it, and today I get to talk about it with a “Writing in the Arts and Humanities” class on campus. They’ve been posting questions for me on their class blog and I can’t wait to hear how I answer.

4. Sweet Sam and Ringo Blue. These two have been a handful this week, loud and rowdy and misbehaved. I confess I had a few moments of fantasizing about having no dogs, but I would never really go through with it. I love these dumb jerks way too much.

Ringo sassing Sam.

Ringo sassing Sam.

5. Eric. He walked the dogs for me yesterday morning because it was so cold (2 degrees). He leaves me love notes on the kitchen counter. At night, he stands in the kitchen wearing a blanket around his shoulders like a superhero cape. He drinks too much coffee when he’s busy and hates getting behind on his work. He cooks for me, (sometimes it’s pie). He laughs at the same dumb things I do.

Bonus joy: Tuesday lunches with one of my favorite people, tomato and split pea soup, toast, clean cold water, snow, long walks with the dogs, people who are really good at herding cats facilitating meetings, being able to offer some wisdom, going slow, being able to trust myself.

Something Good

1. Good stuff from Brain Pickings: The Velveteen Rabbit, Reimagined with Uncommon Tenderness by Beloved Japanese Illustrator Komako Sakai and The Well of Being: An Extraordinary Children’s Book for Grownups about the Art of Living with Openhearted Immediacy.

2. Sorry confusion from Seth Godin.

3. Shared by Austin Kleon in his weekly newsletter: Credit is always due, and A meditation teacher on surviving a plane crash, and the horrible consequences of addiction — Harris Wittels, Television Comedy Writer, Is Dead at 30, and RIP Harris Wittels. 1984-2015.

4. I Am A Dad With Stage 4 Lung Cancer, And Here’s What I Know Now. Oren died on Saturday.

5. Wisdom from Jonathan Fields, “Build things that speak louder than you ever could.”

6. Audience growth, from Paul Jarvis, in which he shares this wisdom,

You may think that developing your own unique voice is easy, since, hell, it’s your voice. Sadly, this is not the case, especially in writing. Finding your voice takes work. It’s part internalization, part confidence, and part a damn lot of practice. I’m not sure developing your voice as a creator is something you can ever completely win at—you have to continually check in with yourself to see if it consistently aligns.

7. ‘Imitation Game’ Writer Graham Moore Wanted To ‘Say Something Meaningful’ During Oscars Speech.

8. Neil Gaiman + Amanda Palmer perform I Google You.

9. Good things from Terrible Minds: In Which I Answer Why Adults Read So Much Young Adult Fiction and The Social Media Rules That Govern My Slapdash Online Existence.

10. New Study Shows Marijuana Is 114 Times Safer Than the Deadliest Legal Drug in the U.S.

11. Where Do Our Stories Come From? by Laurie Wagner.

12. Good things from Zen Habits: You’re Not Doing Life Wrong and Getting Lost in Just Doing.

13. Let Me Fix That For You: A Dramaturge Explains What’s Wrong With Patricia Arquette’s Speech.

14. Writing Workshop Is Not Group Therapy on Brevity.

15. Good stuff about yoga on Elephant Journal: On Being Fat, Yoga Teacher Training & the Right to Be Happy and Why I Quit Teaching Yoga & Hope to Never Go Back and What Nobody Tells You About Yoga.

16. Wisdom from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, (thanks for sharing, Lise),

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

17. Wisdom from Louis C.K., (thanks to Meg Worden for sharing),

Self-love is a good thing but self-awareness is more important. You need to once in a while go “Uh, I’m kind of an asshole.”

18. Why It’s So Wrong—But So Right—To Sleep With Your Pets.

19. How to Spot A Narcissist and Walk Away on MindBodyGreen. I worked for a narcissist for seven years and walking away was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The main thing about this practice and about all practice is that you’re the only one who knows what is opening and what is closing down; you’re the only one who knows. There’s a slogan: “Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one.” What it’s saying is that one witness is everybody else giving you their feedback and opinions (which is worth listening to; there’s some truth in what people say), but the principal witness is yourself. You’re the only one who knows when you’re opening and when you’re closing. You’re the only one who knows when you’re using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you’re opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is—working with it rather than struggling against it.

21. the bohemian life on SF Girl by Bay. I love this look, the wood and the greenery, the styles and the colors.

22. Revenge Porn Dude Wants His Personal Info Removed From Internet Lolol.

23. Stay on Your Surfboard from Kate Read.

24. Wisdom from musician Alexi Murdoch,

First you must free yourself from the idea of your voice. From the very sound of it. You must throw off the yoke of familiar language. The habits of rhythms and structures that are familiar. They are limitation. You have to expel even your greatest teachers. They too have become an obstacle to your freedom. But most of all you have to be honest. You have to be yourself. You have to be fearless — no, more than that — you have to be mindless of whatever might be the consequences of being so. Only by this way will you arrive at true revelation.

25. The Death of a Dream (Body) from Sunni Chapman.

26. RAISING ZAY: A family’s journey with a transgender child.

27. I know a mama who. (Thanks for sharing, Rachel).

28. Ben Merrell, a local tattoo artist who does beautiful work. I know where I’ll be going for my next session.

29. Poodle Science.

30. A blessing written by Jan Richardson,

That our receiving may be like breathing: taking in, letting go.
That our holding may be like loving: taking care, setting free.
That our giving may be like leaving: singing thanks, moving on.

31. Maryland Sanitation Truck Driver Called Hero for Helping Homeless Families.

32. Changing the Culture from Rachel Cole.

33. Alt Summit :: Keynote Address from Lisa Congdon.

34. Good stuff on BuzzFeed: Watch Black Men From Age 5 To 50 Respond To The Word “Police” and 17 Times Fitspiration Was Wrong, So We Fixed It.

35. IT HAPPENED TO ME: My Fitbit Reignited My Eating Disorder.

36. 15+ Before-And-After Photos Of Cats Growing Up on Bored Panda.

37. Why Co-Sleeping is No-Sleeping.

38. I am grateful, now fuck off.

39. Down In The River To Pray by Allie Feder & Ben Stanton. I bought a copy and can’t stop listening to it.

40. I’LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE: I Quit the Gym for Free YouTube Workouts.

41. Warning: “Hanging in there” is destroying your health.

42. Just a few reasons why we’re so excited for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

43. Busy Is a Sickness.

44. The Staggering Bullshit of “The Secret” by Mark Manson.

45. The 9 Things No One Tells You About Scattering Ashes.

46. The Subtly Offensive Phrases We Need To Stop Saying.

47. Your Difficulties Are Your Path from Jack Kornfield.

48. A blessing from Ronna Detrick.

Dear One:

There are times in which you just have to do what you know to be right, what your intuition tells you, what you can clearly discern as the right course of action. Trust-trust-trust that you know what you’re doing. And let everything else go – every fear, every anticipated reaction, even every expected risk and certain cost. It’s all going to work out.

I’m sure of this because I am Abigail and you are my daughter, my lineage, my kin.

49. Here’s your permission slip to embrace slow from Yogi Sadie.

50. My First Night Homeless on Medium.

51. The Joy of Books isn’t in Ownership from Be More With Less.

52. If Reporting A Robbery Was Like Reporting A Rape.

53. Finding Joy in My Father’s Death by Ann Patchett.

54. A new kind of burlesque.

Day of Rest: More on Compassion

birthdayorchidsI’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). In Feast it was the focus of our week, and Rachel introduced us to Kate Read and her work at Home for the Highly Sensitive. Kate references research on her site that “compares orchids to sensitive folks and dandelions to hardier people.” The suggestion is that someone who is HSP needs more specialized conditions and care to thrive, is more easily impacted by environmental factors including the energy of other people.

I am an HSP. I only discovered the label, the criteria in the past few years, but I’ve always known something was different about me. Actually what I thought for a long time is that I was simply crazy, confused, broken. I felt things so deeply, struggled with feeling raw and tender. I got easily overwhelmed by other people’s energy and my environment. I was told I was too sensitive and that my perception was wrong so many times that I learned not to trust myself. I looked outside myself to know what was “true” and how I was supposed to react. I let external expectations shape me, my thoughts and behavior.

This isn’t just my problem. Anyone living in a Western culture is potentially handicapped by two core and contradictory beliefs: you are basically bad and you are supposed to be perfect.

We assume that we are born basically bad — imperfect, flawed, broken animals. We come into the world with a black mark on our soul (“original sin”), and we must struggle against this fundamental nature even as we believe we will never be able to escape it, at least not without divine intervention. This belief turns our whole life into a desperate cycle of sin, repentance and penance. Every thought, feeling, and action are subject to judgement. We are keenly aware of when rules have been broken, when punishment is justified. We look for who is to blame and we lash out in increasingly aggressive ways. We pray that someone will save us from ourselves, from the conditions of our lives. We feel helpless, bewildered.

We also assume perfection is the goal of all our effort. It is suggested to us that if we work hard enough we can have perfect relationships, homes, children, bodies, and work. And what we can’t achieve through direct effort, we can buy. The external expectation we’ve internalized is that we can be perfect if we just work hard enough and purchase the right stuff. If we aren’t perfect, it’s our own fault. In this way, (because perfection is actually impossible), we live with a constant sense of not being enough, not doing enough, not good enough. This striving for perfection and falling short also breeds comparison and competition, aggression towards the self and the other.

Either way, we can’t win. The antidote to this dilemma, this confusion, to all of it is compassion. And to cultivate compassion, we must begin with self-compassion. We must befriend ourselves, allow space for all that we are, notice how we’ve internalized the assumption that we are basically bad and the expectation that we should be perfect. We can cultivate an awareness of how we get hooked, to notice this and pause before falling into habitual patterns in an attempt to get ground under our feet.

In a recent Daily Dharma Gathering talk, teacher Angel Kyodo Williams suggested,

The doorway to liberation from the tyranny of mind that rejects parts of ourselves is actually being willing to sit with those parts of ourselves [that make us uncomfortable, that we wish away and try to ignore] and allow ourselves to feel the discomfort, to notice the quality of discomfort, to become aware of where this not being okay with parts of ourselves sits in our body, where it is that we carry it.

So rather than moving away, we make space for ourselves, all that we are. We allow things to be as they are. Angel went on to offer,

Allowing ourselves to feel, connect with, and create space for the parts of ourselves that we are most uncomfortable with, that we feel the most aversion to, gives us the opportunity to lean into love for ourselves and no longer be contracted and held in bondage by those areas that we move away from, and because we move away from them we’re not allowing ourselves to experience our whole lives.

In our fixation with perfection, and our belief that we are basically bad, we lose ourselves, we limit our experience.

The most basic truth, the one thing we all have in common, is that we just want to be happy, to avoid suffering. The problem arises in the ways we attempt to create or capture that happiness, the ways we define happiness. We make attempts to avoid suffering, to get safe and comfortable, and we actually end up generating suffering. We are confused about what will make us happy and how to get there. We get hooked, we get stuck, and end up repeating over and over methods that simply don’t work. We fall into blame, judgement, jealousy, depression, addiction, aggression, craving, competition, and self-aggression. We think that perfection is possible, and get caught up in all the ways we fall short of it. We think we are the problem rather than seeing the standard, the search as the problem. We cut off our connection to our basic goodness, our fundamental wisdom, our natural state, our basic nature which is open and spacious and compassionate.

In a free video introduction offered by Sounds True of an upcoming class with Pema Chödrön, The Freedom to Choose, Pema discusses the traditional Buddhist teachings on “Three Difficult Practices,” which are:

  • Acknowledging that you’re hooked, developing awareness
  • Doing something different — choosing a fresh alternative
  • Making this a way of life

It seems to me that I, that we all can apply these practices to all of it: being an HSP, external expectations of perfection, the internal sense of failure and falling short, our avoidance of the things about ourselves that make us uncomfortable, our bewilderment and confused attempts to find happiness and avoid suffering, the ways we generate suffering for ourselves and others — all of it. We can stay with ourselves and notice. We can allow whatever arises, make space for it. When something comes up and we feel ourselves get hooked, starting to move in the direction of habitual patterns, we can pause and notice this too. Maybe we might even choose to do something different. And if not, we can notice that too, without judgement and with gentleness. And we can keep trying, for as long as it takes. This is practice, this coming back, this not giving up. This can be our life, if we choose it. We can make space for all of it, and as Angel Kyodo Williams suggested, “space is love.”

Something Good

snowmoon1. Miles for Milo: Run or raise $ for Milo’s spina bifida costs. I’ve met little Milo, and it’s no lie that he’s smiley, kind, warm, and adorable.

2. The Bravery To Be Vulnerable: An experiment in #100DaysofVulnerability on Medium.

3. my study of thriving on Chookooloonks. Be sure to check out the gallery.

4. Wisdom from David Deida, “If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back, then you suffer.” (Thanks for sharing, Lise).

5. In case you missed it the first time I posted, Dear Sugar is back as a podcast.

6. This Man Walks 21 Miles To Work And Back Every Day, And Now Others Want To Lend A Helping Hand.

7. Comedian Tig Notaro on What It Was Like to Perform Stand-Up Topless.

8. Good stuff from Be More With Less: Maybe Variety isn’t the Spice of Life and 7 Things to Consider if You Hate Your Job.

9. The Emotional Milestones of Writing A Novel: A Handy Guide! from Terrible Minds.

10. do you make time for down-time? on the Community Questions column from Mabel Magazine.

11. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “When we clasp our hands around things, waiting to let go until they make sense, our hands are too full and can not be open to the things that are waiting for us.”

12. A Biggest Loser Contestant Reveals What We All Already Knew on Nourishing the Soul.

13. Proof that kindness matters on Superhero Life.

14. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

We can put our whole heart into whatever we do; but if we freeze our attitude into for or against, we’re setting ourselves up for stress. Instead, we could just go forward with curiosity, wondering where this experiment will lead. This kind of open-ended inquisitiveness captures the spirit of enthusiasm, or heroic perseverance.

15. PRI, #WomensLives … and me! Yay, Kirsten Akens!

16. The Practice of Ruthless Compassion from Sandi Amorim.

17. Loving Your Body Doesn’t Mean What You Think from Kimber Simpkins.

18. The Price I Pay to Write.

19. Wisdom from Geneen Roth.

Compulsive eating is only the symptom; believing that you’re not worth your own love is the problem. Go for the love. You’ll never be sorry.

20. 9 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Your Life from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

21. My house of belonging from Susannah Conway.

22. Mary Oliver — Listening to the World, a rare interview with On Being, the podcast.

23. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, Fierce self-accountability and Self-kindness.

24. Please don’t punish yourself from Danielle LaPorte.

25. Photo Battle: Allison McCann vs. Hilary Parker.

26. You Do Not Have to be Good from Julie Barton.

27. New Adventures New Lessons from Tracey Clark.

28. Why You Hate Work on The New York Times.

29. Self-Soothing, a list on PsychCentral.

30. The Things That Get in the Way of Doing on Zen Habits.

31. My Weird Morning Ritual and Why You Need One Too on Medium.

32. cheers to the weekend: saturday morning scones, a yummy looking recipe on SF Girl by Bay.

33. Podcast: TT 008: Tammy Strobel on Life, Creativity and a Tiny House.

34. black bean butternut squash quesadillas + chipotle lime crema recipe.

35. The Happiest States In America In One Map (INFOGRAPHIC).

36. This makes me so angry, a size 12 model being called “plus-size” is going to be the cover model for the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She says, “I don’t know if I consider myself as a plus-size model or not,” Lawley, who is represented by Wilhelmina Models, says. “I just consider myself a model because I’m trying to help women in general accept their bodies.” REALLY?! Explain to me HOW exactly you are trying to help me “accept” my body?!

37. This is What Happens When You Decide To Create Your Own Food Security.

38. A mantra from Rachael Maddox, “My fears melt into nothingness in the presence of perfect love. I am love, you are love, we are love. Everything belongs.”

39. Wisdom from Omar Khayy, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

40. Fat is Not a Feeling.

41. Stop Eating. Everything is Bad for You.

42. Words for the Day // No. 57 from Lisa Congdon.

43. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “Love mixed with space is called letting go.”

44. Kai and his girlfriend Ellen. So cute.