Category Archives: Susan Piver

Day of Rest

image by Eric

image by Eric

I’m feeling sad and a little angry this morning, confused. One friend’s sweet dog was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that can be very painful, so young that I still think of him as a puppy. Another person I adore had surgery yesterday because her cancer is back. Someone else I love and who deserves to be happy, to stay happy, is getting a divorce. Another friend had a garage sale to try and make some money for next month’s rent. Someone else I can’t imagine losing is drinking herself to death. And I don’t even want to talk about all the stuff in the news right now. The thing we all want is to be happy, comfortable, at peace, safe, and yet it seems so hard to get there, to stay there.

Buddhism would say that’s the root of our suffering: the longing to not suffer, the desire to escape it. It’s a real Catch 22 — we long to not suffer, but the circumstances of living are such that suffering is our fundamental experience, so in the end it’s the wanting to not feel pain that causes it, keeps us caught in the cycle of suffering. In an email yesterday, Susan Piver shared a quote from Chögyam Trungpa’s book, Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior that makes the whole thing a little less confusing, more workable.

Discovering real goodness comes from appreciating very simple experiences. We are not talking about how good it feels to make a million dollars or finally graduate from college or buy a new house, but we are speaking here of the basic goodness of being alive — which does not depend on our accomplishments or fulfilling our desires. We experience glimpses of goodness all the time, but we often fail to acknowledge them. When we see a bright color, we are witnessing our own inherent goodness. When we hear a beautiful sound, we are hearing our own basic goodness. When we step out of the shower, we feel fresh and clean, and when we walk out of a stuffy room, we appreciate the sudden whiff of fresh air. These events take a fraction of a second, but they are real experiences of goodness.

If we are willing to take an unbiased look, we will find that, in spite of all our problems and confusion, all our emotional and psychological ups and downs, there is something basically good about our existence as human beings. We have moments of basic non-aggression and freshness…it is worthwhile to take advantage of these moments…we have an actual connection to reality that can wake us up and make us feel basically, fundamentally good.

This is in no way suggesting that we simply “stay positive.” Rather it’s suggesting that in our confusion, we don’t allow our suffering to make us blind to what is good, that we notice and pay attention to everything — the yellow of the leaves, a sip of clean water, even the feeling of sadness that arises when something difficult happens to someone we love because we love them and we long for them to be happy and safe. As always, this makes me return to the one thing that makes the most sense to me: life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal — keep your heart open.

Something Good

image by Eric

image by Eric

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. ~Hermann Hesse

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

1. My Cup Runneth Over by Jena Schwartz. This is real life — a mess, and some kind of magic.

2. Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert on Creative Courage and the Art of Living in a State of Uninterrupted Marvel on Brain Pickings. She was also recently interviewed on Good Life Project radio, Elizabeth Gilbert: The Creative Life.

3. I am my own worst enemy by Paul Jarvis. (Just to be clear, I am one of his rat people, “the people that get what you do, appreciate it, and love you for it”).

4. Wisdom from Seth Godin: The 2% who misunderstand you, and The banality of the magazine rack, and Dreams and fears.

5. Yoga, spinning and a murder: My strange months at Lululemon. I love what this has to say about being who you really are.

6. Francine’s interview, from Human (the movie). “Born in 1933, Francine Christophe was deported with her mother at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1944. Released the following year, she continues to share her experience and memories, particularly with the younger generations.” (Confession: I’ve had a lifelong obsession with stories from the Holocaust, specifically the way that moment in history brought out the best and the worst in those involved).

7. Human, the movie, Volumes 1-3, which you can watch online, for FREE.

What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness.

8. Bryan Chapman of Mississippi has hummingbirds drinking out of his hand!

9. Author Lauren Myracle calls on overprotective parents to stop banning books. Find out more about Banned Books Week, Sept. 27- Oct. 3, on the official website.

10. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa, “In the garden of gentle sanity, may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness.” I love this quote. I also hate this quote.

11. Uh-oh. I think my new favorite album might be Ryan Adams’s reimagining of Taylor Swift’s 1989. NPR did a really good piece about it, No Blank Space, Baby: Taylor Swift Is The Soul Of Ryan Adams.

12. Start Here Now: An Open-Hearted Guide to the Path and Practice of Meditation, a great review of a great book.

13. 10 Reasons We Should Defund Planned Parenthood IMMEDIATELY. *gigglesnort*

14. Jenny Lawson “The Bloggess” Gets Furiously Happy con Queso with an Interview, an Announcement and an Old-School Giveaway.

15. So much wisdom from Alexandra Franzen, How to love your work… even when you don’t love your work, and How to avoid being someone’s “assistant” for the rest of your career and finally do your own thing, and 7 beautiful, meaningful writing projects that you can finish in a single day. Because finishing is sexy.

16. One-Pot Butternut Squash Alfredo. I bought two butternut squash at the grocery store this weekend, not really surewhat I was going to do with them exactly. THIS, this is what…

17. Why I Almost Didn’t Tell You About the Book I’m Writing from Be More With Less.

18. Good stuff from Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletter: Thoughts on authenticity from the documentary The Search for General Tso, (we watched this documentary, and I agree with Austin’s assessment of it), and Everyone lies about writing, and a great video tutorial, How to make a newspaper blackout poem.

19. I never should have followed my dreams. “I quit my steady gig to fulfill my potential. Instead I went broke, and got fired from a job in doggie daycare.”

20. Six-year-old’s heartfelt lecture to mom and dad. An adorable little girl’s words of wisdom have gone viral after her mother uploaded a video of her pleading with her divorced parents to be friends. The video has been viewed more than six million times. In the video, Tiana tells her mom, “I think you can do it. I think you can settle your mean heights down to short heights … I just want everything to be settled down, nothing else. For everything to be as good as possible. Nothing else.” She’s so earnest and sweet that you can’t help but want to try harder to be nicer after listening to her.

21. 15 Celebs Answering Badass, Inspiring Questions On The Emmys Red Carpet, because it’s time to start asking more than “What are you wearing?”

22. Grab your tissues: This couple’s wedding day was all about their ailing dog.

23. A hedge fund bro bought an AIDS drug, then raised the price from $13.50 to $750. Compare that to Kickstarter Focuses Its Mission on Altruism Over Profit.

24. He Wears Nail Polish Because He’s a Good Father.

The only thing that is missing from this video is Nathan’s backstory. He’s even more amazing than what they show here — in 2011, he was diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer, and nine days later, his wife Elisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. Nathan beat his cancer, but Elisa died in March of 2014.

25. It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers. *gigglesnort*

26. Andrea Scher has a new website just for her photography. I was lucky enough to do a session with her. She’s fantastic.

27. Japanese Photographer Documents The Beauty Of Everyday Life In Japan. Confession: I’m a Japan-ophile. Even though I long to, I’m afraid to travel there, worried I’ll love it so much I won’t want to come back.

28. Library Haul – September 2015 on Allowing Myself, one of my favorite blogs/bloggers. I love Justine’s description of the power of books and reading, “Non-fiction holds my attention. Fiction keeps me afloat. Reading calms and centers me in a way that not much else can.” And if you need more proof of why I love this blog, just read Tiny Shifts — honest, vulnerable, tender, and sad, but so inspiring. Justine writes about what is hard, but she makes it clear she’s also not giving up. Tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal.

29. Meet the blogger who turned her battle with an eating disorder into a body positive movement.

30. 100 questions to discover yourself from Positively Present. I love this kind of thing, use them as journal prompts, as well as regularly torturing friends and my significant other with them.

31. A Blog Is Only Dead When You Are, more on the topic “is blogging dead?” (which honestly is a silly question, akin to something like “are books dead?”).

32. permission on Chookooloonks.

33. AngelList, a platform for startups to hire people. If I were looking for a job, I think I’d check this out.

34. A Person You Should Know: Courtney Carver. I shared this site on a Something Good list a while back, and the creator Josh Spector asked who I thought he should profile. Courtney is one of the people I suggested.

35. A White Artist Wrote ‘Black Lives Matter’ 2,000 Times. But His Mural Almost Said ‘All Lives Matter.’

36. Is Teaching Yoga Your Path? 8 Qualities of Excellent Teachers. “Considering yoga teacher training? 90 Monkeys co-founder Amy Ippoliti suggests you start by asking yourself some tough questions.”

37. Spiritual practice won’t stop shitty things from happening to you. However…, a reality check from Danielle LaPorte in which she makes some important distinctions about the benefits of practice.

38. Alison’s Story, another installment of the Transgender in Colorado series from The Denver Post.

39. To the stinking alcoholic at the liquor store last week from Renegade Mothering. I’m sharing this with someone I love. I hope she reads it. I hope she gets it. I hope she stops before it’s too late.

40. When the Everyday Calls For Super Powers and a Good Plum Tart on Flingo.

41. 8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Make In A Muffin Tin. Too bad the pictures they used for this post are so horribly unappetizing.

42. Watch Shiva Rea’s Moon Salutation.

43. Why I Quit Teaching Yoga & Hope to Never Go Back on Elephant Journal. The reason is not at all what you’d expect, and makes me think all of us yoga teachers should do the same thing.

44. Watch These Dancers Tell A Breakup Story In A Way Words Can’t Convey.

Something Good


image by Eric

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

1. Unfold: An Introduction to Art Journaling from the Heart, my dear friend Susie’s new online class. I’m taking it, and if you want to join us, register by September 27th for the early bird pricing. Class starts Sunday, October 11th.

2. How to Love Yourself (and Sometimes Other People), a new book by Lodro Rinzler, co-authored by Meggan Watterson. “This book is a smart, hip guide for spiritual seekers who want to experience more love and stability in all forms or relationships.”

3. Unicorn farts & big breaks from the amazing Paul Jarvis, in which he explains two very important things. One, what looks like an overnight success usually is not, because “Achievement is never the result of a single action, it’s the build-up of all of our actions.” And two, that the joy should come in the making, the doing, the process, because “The sweat, research, trials and failures, dead ends and unknowns are exactly what makes things great…The process can be enjoyed as much or more than the outcome because otherwise, why bother?” Paul sends out an email to his list every Sunday, but also created an archive of those messages on Medium. It’s worth a look.

4. Tell Me Your Story, Not Your Status. “You are living a story. What is it?”

5. Giving Up The Need To Be Perfect from Kute Blackson. A great argument against perfection, because “Trying to be perfect is a sure recipe for suffering.” This guy knows how to preach. Whenever I watch one of Kute’s videos, I feel so energized, so inspired. Do yourself a favor and watch. Also, don’t forget to read the post that goes with it.

6. Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up. Everyone needs a copy of this list on hand, every single human.

7. 8 Ways to Change Your Habits (And Actually Get What You Want) from Sarah Kathleen Peck, a really helpful, simple list. #3 and #5 are my favorites.

8. Rejection-seeking as a form of hiding and When did you give up? from Seth Godin. Oh, snap!

9. Wisdom from poet Mary Oliver, “Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.” Her new book, Felicity, comes out next month, and has been described as an “inviting collection of love poems that celebrates the divine as much as it does the natural world or human relationships,” and “an eloquent celebration of simple joy from one of America’s most beloved poets.”

10. Something-for-Everyone Cookies, a recipe from SouleMama.

11. The Dieting Habit I Just Couldn’t Break, a brilliant post from Isabel Foxen Duke.

12. An Open Letter to People Who Use Hashtags. #gigglesnort #thisisgreat #youshouldreadit

13. 36 Things To Do For Those In Grief: I made a list when it happened to me.

14. The Art of Not Dying: A Story for Suicide Awareness Month.

15. Good stuff from Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletter: the first draft is always perfect and Give it five minutes.

16. Do people still read blogs?, and interesting conversation on A Design So Vast, which includes links to pieces by Vikki Reich and Nina Badzin.

17. The First-Person Industrial Complex: The Internet prizes the harrowing personal essay. But sometimes telling your story comes with a price.

18. Scott Dinsmore, creator of Live Your Legend, died in a freak accident on Mt. Kilimanjaro this past week. He was only 33 years old. I’m Going Off the Grid: Therapy for an Addicted & Over-Connected World ended up being his last blog post ever. In it, he said, “The pause is disappearing. That priceless space that allows us to think big, to reflect, to plan, to create – it’s becoming harder and harder to find. Which means our responsibility to save it is greater than ever.” There have been some really great tributes written about him, here and here. If you didn’t know who he was, I recommend you watch his TED talk, or this episode of The Good Life Project.

19. The Story of a Girl & Lake by Sunni Chapman.

20. Every Day She Said ‘Hello’ To This Homeless Man. But One Day He Handed Her A Piece Of Paper, a beautiful short critically acclaimed documentary called “The Conditioned.”

21. Nurses defend Miss Colorado after ‘The View’ hosts mock her monologue (VIDEO).

22. Teacher’s Cardio ‘Nae Nae’ Will Make You Want To Go To Gym Class. Which reminds me of the Where the Hell is Matt? project, and Dance Walking Fitness. Confession: dancing makes me stupid happy.

23. 25 things you should start adding to your compost pile from Tree Hugger. We are big composters, even have a worm bin, but some of this stuff I would have never thought to put in the pile.

24. Why I Cook from Dr. Andrew Weil. A great exploration of the magic of cooking, in which he says, “There is another reward of cooking that fascinates and motivates me: it is excellent training in practical magic. By that I mean that cooking gives you a chance to practice the esoteric art of manifestation — bringing something from the imagination into physical reality.”

25. Blogging from the Heart with Susannah Conway, one of the best ecourses I ever took. Registration opens Wednesday September 9th and class starts Monday October 5th.

26. Meditation and the Truth of Suffering, a dharma teaching from Sakyong Mipham.

27. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The next time you lose heart and you can’t bear to experience what you’re feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering—yours, mine, and that of all beings.

28. Five Minutes of Awesomely Real Self-Care, wisdom from Mara Glatzel, “In the beginning, I was ‘busy.’ My work was more important than I was. Saying yes to everyone around me was more important than I was. Being seen as perfect was more important than I was…Tell yourself that you belong in your own life.”

29. Note from the Universe,

Be proud to know as much as you do about life, dreams, and reality. Bask, Jill. It was a long climb up the stairway of enlightenment, and many a battle over false beliefs and mass consciousness have been won.

You don’t have to shout from the roof to live your truth, but don’t shy away from the ignorant; they need you. Nor be intimidated by the wise; they love you. And please don’t ever let self-consciousness keep you from stepping out into a world that would be unimaginably incomplete without you.

You are a vessel of light, a holy ghost, and frankly, so dang “hot.”

30. an antidote to craving abundance on Chookooloonks.

31. Dear Writers And Creative-Types: You Don’t Need Motivation on Terrible Minds.

32. 8 Ways to Finish the Year with Love and Intention from Be More With Less.

33. Fat Girl Running: On A Mission to Challenge Stereotypes.

34. Furiously Happy – Official Book Trailer.

35. Dog Spends A WEEK Guarding Her Trapped Best Friend Until Help Arrives.

36. Inky Path, a great new project from Jena Schwartz and Cidgem Kobu.

37. Susan Piver: Heart Wide Open, Episode 53 on Meditate This, a podcast about the meaning of life.

38. 12 Secrets to Simplifying Your Life and Lightening Your Load from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

Something Good


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

1. Another chance to start over, wisdom from Seth Godin.

2. Good Question: How can I stay creative when I have to sit and type all day long? and No regrets, wisdom from the wicked smart Alexandra Franzen. What I love so much about her perspective is she is able to be both gentle and fierce at the same time.

3. One day you’re a dog. The next day, you’re in space. by Andrea Scher. Even though this piece is about a very personal experience, it’s completely universal at the same time. And, the fact that she published it on September 11th gave it a whole other layer of meaning. It made me think of all the times in my life this has happened — “Sometimes life changes like that – one day you’re a dog, the next day you’re in space.”

4. The Digital Breakup from The School of Enough, (shared on Be More With Less). This makes a really compelling argument for challenging yourself to make a change to your digital habits. I want to try it, but I confess it also makes me a bit shaky just thinking about it.

5. My Plan On 9/11. One person’s memory of “that day.” This line alone is worth the read, “In some ways, hope is just a lie in a prom dress.”

6. Confessions and Lessons from a Former Approval Addict on Tiny Buddha.

7. Omission: Choosing what to leave out, on why writing is choosing what to leave out.

8. Good stuff from Chookooloonks this was a good week list: One woman’s mission to photograph every Native American tribe in the US, and 10 Questions With Brené Brown. Also from Chookooloonks, accept your nomination.

9. The Gentle Art of Trying Something & Sucking at It on Zen Habits.

10. The “New Age Thinking Will Make Me Thin” Diet from Isabel Foxen Duke. Word. Confession: I went to therapy for my dis-ordered eating at first because I thought it was the magic bullet to getting the body I wanted, NOT because I wanted to get well — that came later.

11. How to Do a Career Change Detox from Laura Simms.

12. 7 Ways Happy Couples Deal with Disagreements Differently from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

13. News Flash: Fear Does Not Respond Well to Self-Discipline from Jennifer Louden.

14. What All Writers Can Learn From Mitch Hedberg.

15. So this happened: The ‘Dear Fat People’ video is tired, cruel and lazy – but I still fight for the woman who made it, and “Dear Fat People” isn’t satire: Despite the backlash publicity, it’s unlikely to make Nicole Arbour a star, and This comedian’s YouTube channel was shut down for fat-shaming, and What I Want to Say to Fat People: Response to Nicole Arbour, and Response: Dear Fat People from Meghan Tonjes.

16. This Couple’s “Drunk History” Version Of How They Met Is Pure Gold.

17. Two powerful posts on Facebook in response to National Suicide Prevention Day, one from Andrea Gibson and another from Amy Tingle.

18. I was a teenage Fox News robot: Sean Hannity destroyed my childhood.

19. Recipe: Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers! With Avocado. Looks so yum, although if you put sweet potato and avocado in just about anything, I’m going to want to eat it.

20. ‘Eat Clean’? The Smug Instagram Lifestyle Might Not Be So Healthy After All. If you’ve never heard of orthorexia, you need to read this.

21. How to help your family and save lives from Neil Gaiman.

22. 9 things I’ve learned about marriage from being a couples therapist.

23. Your FitBit Is Ruining Your Relationship with Your Body – Here Are 3 Reasons Why.

24. the big quiet from Sas Petherick.

25. How to help Syrian refugees? These 6 groups you may not know are doing important work.

26. Hijacking Genocide: An Open Letter.

27. 10Q. 10 Days. 10 Questions. “Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space…When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.” This year’s 10 actually started yesterday, but you can still join in. I’ve done it for the past few years, and it’s really fun. I always learn something about myself answering the questions, and am surprised and inspired when I read my responses from the year before.

28. This Is What Happened When I Welcomed A Refugee Family Into My Home.

29. A large group of snazzily dressed men gathered outside a Connecticut public school on the first day of classes.

30. There’s More to Life Than Being Happy.

31. How to Finally Clean out Your Closet for Good, a really great strategy from Be More With Less. “When I finally cleaned out my closet for good, peace replaced guilt, joy replaced frustration, and love replaced fear.”

32. How Not to Do It All from Zen Habits. I should probably just commit to starting each and every day by reading this. My name is Jill, and I’m a do-aholic.

33. The Loving Our Body Lie and Fat People and Faulty Assumptions from Dances with Fat.

34. Meditation: Beyond the Practice with Susan Piver on The Good Life Project Radio, two of my favorite people talking to each other about one of my favorite topics.

35. “What My Recovery Looks Like”: Jennifer Matesa on Freedom.

36. 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.”

37. I’m Fat and I Don’t Want to Assimilate into Diet Culture (And No, I’m Not Sorry).

38. Zen Foxes: Photographer Documents Wild Foxes Enjoying Themselves.

39. The Tiny Book Show. If you are looking for an easy, creative project, this one is super fun.

40. 12 Simple Ways to Make Your Yoga Classes More Trauma Informed.

41. Killing Of Young Woman In Nepal Spotlights Travel Safety.

42. Wisdom from Saul Bellow, “Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything.”

43. Wisdom from Carl Sagan, “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

44. 26 Photos That Every Perfectionist Will Find Pleasing.

45. Margaret Atwood: On Facing the Blank Page.

46. Man Recreates Photos Of His Late Wife With His 3-Year-Old Daughter 3 Years After The Accident. All the feels…

47. Creative Work on Allowing Myself.

48. 11 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste today on Tree Hugger. I’m doing most of this already, but what’s really got me excited from this post is the picture of the decorated tiffins. I want! Indian Tiffin has decorated ones, and Happy Tiffin has a really great selection of undecorated ones, all different sizes and shapes.

“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.