Category Archives: Susan Piver

“Start Here Now”: a book review

bookreviewThis morning I finished Susan Piver’s new book, and felt immediately compelled to write a review. I posted it, but wanted to share it here too.

Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation by Susan Piver is brilliant. It’s an easy to digest overview of the practice of meditation, just what a reader would need to begin, but also includes a wealth of resources to support deepening the practice. The book includes what meditation is and is not, gives an overview of various types of meditation, discusses the obstacles to mediation, and considers how the practice impacts specific aspects of one’s life. The book also provides an easy to follow seven day meditation challenge to help the reader get started, along with a plan for a weekend meditation retreat at home. The other resources made available are extensive – online materials created specifically as companions to the book, three different appendixes (an F.A.Q, a list of important figures in the Buddhadharma, and other resources, including books and in person support for the practice), and of course, the Open Heart Project.

This book follows in the tradition of the best dharma books, ones like Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart and Sakyong Mipham’s Turning the Mind into an Ally. One way it does so is that each chapter is relatively short and to the point, clear and direct. One doesn’t need a lot of time to be able to read a chapter, and there is plenty in each chapter to keep one in contemplation for some time. And, it would be easy after having read the book from beginning to end the first time, to go back and consult it a chapter at a time, in no particular order, as each one stands alone in the wisdom it communicates at the same time as it adds to the whole of the book. I know I will come back to this book again and again, flipping directly to the chapter I need, as a reminder, as inspiration.

This book is perfect for someone new to the practice of meditation. However, I’ve practiced meditation for nine years, the last three with Susan’s direct instruction, and I found myself underlining multiple somethings on every page of this book.

The foundation of this book is Susan Piver’s many years of practice and teaching, and it is infused with her love of the practice and her students. She ends the book by sharing her personal story of how she made her way to meditation. The story of her own life, how she found her path is an inspiration. Her good nature, wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor fill the book with genuine warmth. To read this book, to make use of the resources offered truly is to have your very own personal meditation instructor. Susan Piver makes the practice of meditation accessible, possible, and even desirable.

Gratitude Friday

orangeandred1. Our garden, and all the other gardens feeding us. This is one of my favorite times of the season — strawberries, watermelon, peaches, and tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes.

startherenow022. Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation, Susan Piver’s new book. It’s so good. She’s so good at this, the writing and the teaching and the practicing. I’ve been meditating for nine years now, three of those with Susan’s direct instruction, so even though I know some stuff, I am underlining the crap out of this book.thirdflooreddy3. Settling back into work at CSU. It is so hard to juggle everything I’m responsible for when I’m also on contract there, but so far I’m managing. Can’t wait to get my office prettied up again, to be all the way moved back in.

recipes4. Good recipes, good food. One of the prompts for August Break this week was “favorite recipe.” My response was: How do I choose just one? Roasted tomato soup because I’d never made soup before, it was so easy and delicious, and the tomatoes and basil were from our garden. Chocolate chip cookies with toasted walnuts because they are so good and make Eric so happy. Glazed lemon zucchini bread (which really is cake) with double zucchini and extra glaze and raspberries if you have them, because, and the perfect thing to take to a potluck. And for eating, because I’ve never made crust (and Eric is so good at it, why should I), fruit pie — marionberry, blackberry and raspberry, apple, strawberry, and peach.

bathroombuddies5. These two goofballs. You never have to use the bathroom alone with these two clowns, who think everything the humans do is interesting and want to come along, hang out — except when the humans are on the devices, computers or phones or tvs, because that is just straight up boring. This was Sam and Ringo “helping” me take a bath, although Ringo was just as interested in engaging Sam by playing the “look at the awesome toy I have, don’t you want to try and steal it from me?” game.

Bonus joy: Comedians (seriously, how cool is it that some people make it their profession to make us laugh?), good books and my Kindle making it so easy to get and read them, paper copies of good books I can hold in my hands and underline with a pencil, clean cool drinkable water, laughing with Eric, people who know how to fix our stuff and are fair and honest, the funds to be able to hire those people, knowing that the same stupid hangnail I get on my thumb every year about this time always heals, a physical therapist willing to give me a pep talk when I tell her I am officially frustrated, the flock of tiny yellow breasted birds that are so in love with our sunflower patch, sunflowers that are supposed to be 8-10 feet tall growing to 12 feet, breakfast burritos from La Luz, really good friends.

#AugustMoon15: Day Nine

luminousIt was somewhere midway through Shambhala Warrior Assembly, an intense ten day retreat I attended in the summer of 2009. We had just been taught a type of calligraphy practice particular to this lineage. We were in the meditation hall, which was a huge canvas tent (at least as big as my entire house) set on some of the most beautiful land at Shambhala Mountain Center. We were spending time practicing on our own, going through the process over and over, our tongues and fingers smudged black with ink. It was mostly silent except for the sound of the brushes and the crackle of the paper. Like the best moments of practice, I felt both intensely focused and completely relaxed. I paused for a moment and looked up, looked around at the others practicing with me, noticed how the light of the afternoon had turned the inside of the tent golden. I felt more present than I could remember having ever felt — “To remain present, we notice and let go almost simultaneously.” In that moment, I felt luminous.

Something Good


So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Wisdom from Paul Jarvis, from his Sunday Dispatch Apples to Elephants, “Everyone’s life is filled with fuck-ups, mistakes, disasters but also amazing beauty.”

2. Choosing to stop your addiction on The Washington Post.

But, in fact, addicts can and do stop. And according to Marc Lewis in “The Biology of Desire,” this reveals a basic problem with the medicalization of addiction. “People choose to stop when they have suffered more than enough,” he writes. “And when circumstances lend a hand. And when the possibility of self control becomes as attractive — more attractive — than any other possibility, including temporary relief.”

3. The Many Faces of Kristen Wiig, a hilarious video compilation from People.

4. This amazing picture from Elephant Green. I want to go to there.

silenceelephantgreen5. Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation, Susan Piver’s new book, a wonderful guide to starting and sustaining a meditation practice.

startherenow6. Roasted Tomato Soup recipe. I made three batches this weekend because our garden is producing so many cherry tomatoes right now. It was super easy and delicious. If we didn’t eat it up so fast, I suspect it would freeze really well too, for later in the year when the fresh tomatoes are all gone. I also want to try this, Crispy Chickpea Kale Salad recipe.

7. The 7 Types Of Girls You Date from BuzzFeedYellow.

8. Whine About It, a new short video series where BuzzFeed writer Matt Bellassai gets drunk at work and complains. I love this so much. I think Matt Bellassai is my spirit animal.

9. Things You Should Make, Not Buy. “From marinara to mustard, more than 20 recipes for dishes and pantry staples that are so much better homemade.”

10. Have You Cut the Cable Cord? We did a few years back, have a computer hooked up to our tv and use the internet to watch Netflix and Hulu, which allows for more intentional watching, even when it’s binge watching.

11. The Adorable Tiny Dancer In This Insurance Ad Will Absolutely Make Your Day. It’s true.

12. A Couple Did A Newborn Photo Shoot With Their Dog To Stop People Asking About Babies.

13. “Am I Too Fat for Yoga Class?” on Wanderlust.

14. How to Age Gracefully – CBC Radio WireTap. “People of all ages offer words of wisdom to their younger counterparts in this WireTap farewell video, from CBC Radio One.”

15. Surviving The Loss Of My Beautiful Daughter Tess.

16. Sandra Bland’s Legacy: The Website for Women She Helped Found Launches Today.

17. Lesbian Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Countered Dad’s Secrecy By Being Out And Open.

18. The Inner Light of Creativity: Vivian Gornick on How One Blossoms into Being an Artist on Brain Pickings.

19. 7 Things to Remember If You’re a White Person Dating a Person of Color.

20. Romanian City Gives Free Bus Rides To Passengers Who Read Books Inside.

21. Good stuff from Dances with Fat: A Little Inspiration, and Lessons from a Salad Bar, and The “Healthiest Possible Body” Myth, and That Sad Little Fat-Shaming Photoshop Project.

22. The HAES® files: Fit or Fat – Can You Be Both?

23. You Really Should Be Skinnier.

24. Truthbomb #866 from Danielle LaPorte, “Your voice is your liberation.”

25. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

To love is so easy — to judge is so NOT. To be loved is so beautiful — to be judged is so NOT. Aren’t we so lucky that it is not our job to judge others? Wouldn’t it be so hard if we were assigned to pick each other apart and decide which parts are good and which parts are bad and how someone should be living their life? or raising their children? or how someone should vote? or what they should be doing for a job? or how they should wear their hair or how much they should weigh or where they should live or how they should dress or how they should behave? Aren’t we so fortunate that the job of judging others does not fall on us?

And aren’t we so very very very lucky that our biggest job is just to LOVE each other and to decide FOR OURSELVES how WE will each live individually — how we will behave, how we will wear our hair, how we will raise our children, how we will vote, how we will live our lives, what we will do for a career, who we will spend our life with. And then WE get to live with those decisions—

Our job when it comes to each other is only to LOVE…in spite of our differences and in spite of the fact that we sometimes do not understand each other. Aren’t we just so darned lucky??? What a beautiful thing that our greatest job as fellow human beings is simply to love each other — fully and completely. What a beautiful and perfect world.

Let’s do it. YOU are loved.

26. 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs, a link originally shared by the amazing Alexandra Franzen, who is on the list, as she should be. She also shared some great stuff on her blog recently, Is it possible to run a business without using social media?, and Why I do not use social media anymore.

27. Learning to Say Goodbye from Jennifer Louden.

28. Everyday Icon: The Creative Couple, a great interview with the amazing artist Lisa Congdon and her wife Clay Walsh, Lisa’s Head of Marketing and Operations, in which they talk about “working together as a married couple to grow Lisa’s brand.”

29. TV reporter makes kid cry when she asks him about first day of school. “A reporter at KTLA made a 4-year-old boy cry when she asked him about his first day of pre-kindergarten.” This is just about the sweetest thing ever. I kinda don’t want Andrew to ever grow up.

30. Jimmy Carter has cancer. It’s so sad, but the way he’s handling it only makes him that much more inspiring: Jimmy Carter on His Cancer Diagnosis and Jimmy Carter Dedicating The Rest Of His Life Fighting For Women’s Rights.

31. Brave Heart, best-selling author Brené Brown on the risks and rewards of daring greatly on Texas Monthly. If you don’t know much about Brene’ Brown, she was recently featured on A Person You Should Know, where they shared lots of great links.

32. I’m on a semi-starvation diet, why am I so hungry?, a question answered by The Fat Nutritionist.

33. AMA on Reddit with Chuck Wendig of Terrible Minds.

34. Exposed: The sick truth behind the great ‘wellness’ blog craze taking social media by storm and one online star battling a secret fitness addiction.

35. Shared on Chookooloonks this was a good week list, My Garden Photography & a Garden Tour. Such a beautiful space.

36. When You Struggle with Imposter Syndrome and Self-Doubt from Be More With Less.

37. Why We Create Pain from Laura Simms, in which she contemplates the way we sometimes hold on to pain instead of trading it for freedom.

38. 30 Quick Stories that Will Make You Think Differently. Bite sized bits of dharma from Marc and Angel Hack Life that hit you right in your tender spot.

39. someone you should meet: courtenay on Chookooloonks.

40. Good stuff shared by Austin Kleon on his weekly newsletter: On the virtues of brevity in writing, and The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix.

41. The Elephant Whisperer Of Chiang Mai. “Her relationship with these gentle animals prove that love comes in all shapes and sizes.”

42. money talks with Patti Digh with Sherry Belul on Mabel Magazine.

43. 9 Ways to Make Your Days Simple Again on Marc and Angel Hack Life.

44. Wisdom from Rob Nairn’s book, Living, Dreaming, Dying,

Awareness of the thought process at the moment of an impulse arising is what makes freedom from thought possible, because when the mind is only at the stage of an impulse arising, the energies haven’t fully engaged. There is an almost impartial quality about the energy of the impulse. When it is driven into specific thought, the situation changes and it becomes “my thought with my feeling, therefore me.” This is what is meant by being caught in the thought. The inner energy has transmuted from being something relatively neutral and therefore not very important or compelling into something entirely personal and therefore extremely important and compelling.

45. Sooner or later, the critics move on from Seth Godin.

46. The Process Monkey Asks: What Is Your Writing Process? on Terrible Minds.

Something Good

ourmorningwalk03
1. Things I would like to do with You: the Book, a Kickstarter Project from the founder of The Elephant Journal.

2. Daily Dharma Gathering. This is how I start every morning. It began as a three month project, but Susan Piver and Lodro Rinzler have decided to continue it through the end of the year. “The DDG offers a new meditation from a great teacher every single day. Each session will begin with a short talk followed by a 10-15 minute meditation and a brief q&a.”

3. 10 Things You Must Give Up to Get Yourself Back on Track from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

4. Things I learned from my dad, in chronological order.

5. The Art of Motherfuckitude: Cheryl Strayed’s Advice to an Aspiring Writer on Faith and Humility on Brain Pickings.

6. 30 Days of Courage course with Marianne Elliott. It starts today and registration closes this evening, so go now! If you missed the series of posts leading up to the start of the course, you can find them here.

mycourage7. On being digital hoarders by Paul Jarvis.

8. Where Do I Even Begin? on Allowing Myself.

9. Just keep going from Caren Baginski.

10. The Doggy Dog Truth from Laurie Wagner.

11. Offer Your Depression, Susan Piver on Lion’s Roar.

12. Nadia Bolz-Weber’s good news by Kirsten Akens.

13. These two spaces showcased on SF Girl by Bay are so peaceful: One Fine Stay and The Slope of Things to Come.

14. Day in the Life — Camping, shared on Chookooloonks this was a good week.

15. Lessons learned from nine years of blogging from Susannah Conway.

16. Caitlin Gill at Snap Judgment LIVE! in Ann Arbor, “The Minivan.”

17. The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content from Zen Habits.

18. Good stuff from Susannah’s Something for the Weekend list: the picture she used for the post is so dreamy, and this Chicken and Dumplings recipe, and this post on Elephant Journal, Why Sensitive Souls Need Rituals.

Day of Rest: Self-Compassion

snowwillows

A truce can be called in your inner war. Peace is possible. Your old habits of self-criticism don’t need to rule you forever. What you need to do is listen to the voice that’s already there, even if a bit hidden — your wise, compassionate self. ~Kristin Neff

The theme for the first week of Feast was self-compassion. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you know this is one of my favorite topics. It started when I went to a new doctor almost two years ago. I’d had crushing, constant fatigue for almost three years and my longtime doctor had tried every test and treatment she could think of, finally suggesting maybe it was time to try a holistic approach, and admitting that was outside her expertise. I found an integrative practitioner who was also certified in internal medicine and made an appointment. After an hour long conversation with this new doctor, one in which I revealed I had an eating disorder, she told me I was obese, tried to put me on a diet that would restrict my calories, not allowing any dairy or gluten or sugar, and recommended I do more cardio. She hadn’t run any sort of tests to rule out an underlying cause and it was clear to me that this was her prescription for every patient, no matter what their issue.

The visit broke my heart a little. I went in with so much hope, and was so honest with her about everything, only to have her offer me the same old story. I was looking for an expert, someone who could fix me, ease my suffering, make me feel better. What she offered was an option I could have found in just about any women’s magazine, in any gym or weight loss program. As a women in this culture, I am constantly bombarded by the message that if I just lost weight, I’d be happy. If I just ate less and moved more, I’d be healthy. If I just got myself into the “normal” range on the BMI chart, I’d be okay.

Even back then, something deep in me knew that was bullshit. The cake is a lie. The afternoon of that appointment, I left for a retreat at Shambhala Meditation Center with Susan Piver. I spent the weekend contemplating my situation, attempting to answer the central question: “how do I heal myself?” With Susan’s support, the magic of the space, the specific practices we did together that weekend, and the community of people in attendance, I came to an answer: self-compassion.

If we think our job here on earth is to fix ourselves, we will keep looking for the broken places. If we believe our job is to be kind, we will keep lavishing love on ourselves. ~Geneen Roth

pinksnowmoon02Self-compassion is the ground of everything. As Rachel says, “Before we can address whatever unrest, misalignment, or longing that has shown up in our life, we must first bring to life a compassionate and loving relationship with ourselves.” If we aren’t already practicing self-compassion, this is where we must start, and where we may find ourselves returning over and over again.

Building a foundation of self-compassion is hard work. I’ve been practicing and studying for almost two years, and I am still such a beginner. I retook Kristen Neff’s self-compassion test again this week, and even though my score had gone up almost a full point, I still fall into the low self-compassion range. One example of how much I’ve changed though is that when I started this process, a result like that would have triggered self-aggression, judgement and criticism. I would have smashed myself to bits for not being better at this, not scoring higher, not evolving faster. Now, I simply notice, work to maintain my curiosity and sense of humor. I might feel disappointed or sad, but I’m not going to make things worse by beating myself up for it.

I did make myself giggle because before I took the test I had to pee, but it was late and I felt like I needed to hurry up and finish, so my first and habitual instinct was to hold it, to wait until I was done with the self-test. Do you see, kind and gentle reader, just how ridiculous that is? I was going to make myself suffer in order to rush my way through a test that would measure my self-compassion. I still have so much to learn. But, as Kristin says,

It does take work to break the self-criticizing habits of a lifetime, but at the end of the day, you are only being asked to relax, allow life to be as it is, and open your heart to yourself.

pinksnowmoonThis same message is repeated over and over again in my Buddhist studies. Pema Chödrön often talks about how meditation practice is simply the act of befriending yourself. She also says,

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.

In a talk given through the Daily Dharma Gathering about “How to Love Yourself,” Lodro Rinzler talked about the same, saying,

It’s okay to actually look at yourself. It’s okay to become familiar with who you are. And who you are is basically good — whole and kind and strong.

Spending the week contemplating self-compassion, the way I practice it, I noticed how much kinder I am to myself, how far I’ve come, the willingness I have to be gentle and kind and patient — to nourish myself. I also noticed the places where I still have work to do. One thing I realized this week that surprised me is how much I still use self-aggression as a way to motivate myself, a way to make sure “shit gets done.” What’s so silly about that is most of the stuff I’m trying to get done involves helping other people, attempting to ease suffering — but in my approach I’m generating suffering, and that math doesn’t work.

For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment, that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love. ~Geneen Roth

May we all be kind to ourselves today. May we rest if we are tired. May we eat if we are hungry, and savor what we eat. May we ask for help if we need it. May we tell someone we love them, even if the person we tell is ourselves. May we open ourselves to joy. May we allow ourselves to take up space. May we be nourished, both cherished and well-fed. May we notice where we are suffering and lavish that hurt with love.

Something Good

1. The Daily Dharma Gathering from the Open Heart Project. Susan says, “Together with Buddhist teacher and awesome guy Lodro Rinzler, I’m pleased to announce a new program: three months of live meditation sessions Tuesdays – Sundays with some of the most accomplished and wise dharma teachers in the world.”

2. A Beautiful (and Budget-Friendly!) Laundry Room Makeover. As a person who keeps myself too busy, and an introvert who doesn’t have many people over to my house, most of my spaces look more like the before picture. What I like so much about this though is that it makes it so clear that if you put forth just a little effort, you can have a beautiful space. I’d like to be better about that.

3. The Struggle Is Real from Baby Weigel. I’m not a mom, but I love what Aubrey has to say here about the difficult choices we have to make sometimes about the things we love and what we do, how we spend our time. May she have an easy transition back.

4. Elizabeth Gilbert Has a New Book (and We’ve Got the First Look at the Cover!) on the Etsy blog.

8. cArtographies – Crystal Pite, a beautiful, inspiring video which led me to a similarly beautiful and inspiring project, “BC filmmaker and visual artist Brian Johnson profiles 19 BC-based artists, from a variety of disciplines, who are both inspired and challenged by their geographic surroundings.” Too bad the full video can only be watched if you are in Canada — lucky Canadians. You’ve got all the good stuff.

9. The Radiance Sutras, a beautiful text I found by way of this post on Kintsugi Dance.

10. How To Get Your Writing Mojo On from Laurie Wagner.

11. Sharon Salzberg – Metta Hour – Episode 05 – The Eightfold Path.

12. The Splendid Table’s Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove, a recipe I found by way of Kirsten’s In the kitchen post. Another good thing from Kirsten this week was her post, Yoga and men.

13. A Yoga Teacher Training Certificate is Just the First Step on Elephant Journal.

14. Here’s Tina Fey And Amy Poehler’s Opening Monologue From The 2015 Golden Globes.

15. Good stuff on Slate: Children Photographed With Their Most Prized Possessions and This Guy Took a Photo Every Time He Saw Someone Reading a Book on the Subway.

16. 25 Ways to Stop Feeling Overworked and Overwhelmed from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

17. unexpected california eclectic on SF Girl by Bay.

18. Wisdom from Rachael Maddox, “Magic is the natural and spontaneous aligned activity that happens on the other side of presence and compassion.”

19. Some things that made me really angry this week: Charlize Theron Negotiates $10M Raise After Sony Hack Reveals Male Costar Was To Be Paid Millions More, and 100 serial rapists identified after rape kits from Detroit Crime Lab are finally processed, and The brutal secrets behind ‘The Biggest Loser.’

20. Self-Taught Chinese Street Photographer Takes China By Storm With His Perfectly Timed Photos on Bored Panda.

21. My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward.

22. Trapped In His Body For 12 Years, A Man Breaks Free on NPR.

23. Ellen DeGeneres Humorously Responds to Pastor Who Accused Her of Promoting the “Gay Agenda” in Hollywood.

24. Quitting Sugar Is Not The Answer.

25. On Stuff by Meghan Genge.

26. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa, on how meditation leads to wisdom,

Out of that precision and refinement comes gentleness. You are not just paying attention, but you are also aware of your own pain and pleasure, and you develop sympathy and friendship for yourself. From that you are able to understand, or at least see, the pain and suffering of others, and you begin to develop a tremendous sense of sympathy for others. At the same time, such sympathy helps the mindfulness-awareness process develop further. Basically, you become a gentle person. You begin to realize that you are good: totally good and totally wholesome. You have a sense of trust in yourself and in the world. There is something to grip on to, and the quality of path or journey emerges out of that. You feel you want to do something for others and something for yourself. There is a sense of universal kindness, goodness, and genuineness.

27. 23andMe is a DNA analysis service providing information and tools for individuals to learn about and explore their DNA, ancestry-related genetic reports. I kinda wanna do it.

28. How to set goals & commitments that you’ll actually keep from Alexandra Franzen.

29. Good stuff from Be More with Less: Defeat the Clutter that Defeats Your Purpose and Women Can Be Minimalists Too.

30. Please Don’t Start Meditating (Unless You’re Willing to Change) from Lodro Rinzler. Also from Lodro, A Meditation for Morning Intention.

31. My Accidental Book Deal from Laura Simms. I love this part,

The editor had already reached out to another coach about being the author, but she already had a book in the works and couldn’t take another one on. She recommended me.

That’s it.

Someone recommended me. I’m not close to this person, we’ve never met in person. We’ve exchanged some complimentary words on Twitter. That’s the extent of our relationship. She just thought I’d be a good fit for the book.

And I had almost four years of writing samples on my blog to speak for me. And had released two ebooks on my own. And built a decent social media presence. Of course, there’s that. Let’s not discount all of that work. If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, then I had done my side of the equation.

So that’s my accidental book deal. The book that showed up when I was just minding my own business, doing the work, and being visible.

32. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: Benefits of Massage (Infographic) and 10 Signs You’re In A Codependent Relationship.

33. Good stuff from Lion’s Roar: Buddha’s Daughters: An Interview with Insight Teacher Gina Sharpe and George Takei’s six best Buddhist posts.

34. Truthbomb #711 from Danielle LaPorte: “Make choices that liberate you.”

35. The 17 Naughtiest Dogs Of 2014.

36. Trust the Timing of Your Life, wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

37. Blink Now. “The BlinkNow Foundation’s mission is to provide an education and a loving, caring home for orphaned, impoverished and at-risk children.” This organization was founded by a single teenager, who is now Mom to 50+ children she’s adopted. Kinda makes you want to get off your ass, doesn’t it?

38. Sukha on the Squam blog.

39. Authentic Success in the New Year ~ with a little help from Liz Gilbert.

40. Your Turn Challenge, starts today. Read more of the backstory in Seth Godin’s blog post, Getting unstuck (a one week challenge).

41. Photo Battle: Katja Blichfeld vs. Ellen Van Dusen. So fun.

42. Neil Gaiman Shares The Easiest Way To Become A Successful Writer on BuzzFeed.

43. The unofficial comfort foods of every state in America. I wholeheartedly agree with the choices for Colorado and Oregon.

44. Syrup sandwiches and stolen toilet paper: Reddit users describe growing up poor.

45. A Note from the Universe, “All deliberate change, Jill, first comes from denying the logic that most gives you comfort.”

46. The Most Important Question of Your Life from Mark Manson. It’s not what you think.

47. Changing the World, One Word at a Time! | The Queen Latifah Show.

48. This Video Encouraging Women To Be More Active Has Gone Viral on BuzzFeed.

49. The Reason You Make Unhealthy Choices. Spoiler alert: “Self-compassion — accepting yourself without judgment when times get tough — is linked to better health behaviors.”

50. Rowdy Kitten’s Happy Links: From The Good Life to Gratitude. Tammy was one of the contributors to the Self-Compassion Saturday eBook and shared the link on her list this week.

51. The myth of perfection from Susannah Conway.

52. The things we’d rescue from the fire from Judy Clement Wall. The New York Times piece Judy links to is also worth reading, What Would You Grab in a Fire?

53. 19 Badass Instagrammers Who Prove Yoga Bodies Come In All Shapes And Sizes on BuzzFeed. Just one of the reasons Instagram is awesome.

54. When Their Cat Found Baby Ducks, They Never Expected This To Happen. So much cute.

55. Letter from the Birmingham Jail from Seth Godin.