Tag Archives: Erica Staab

Something Good


1. This description of a good writer, from Isaac Asimov, “You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.”

2. Something you may need to hear today from Kat McNally.

3. To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem, a post about self-compassion on, of all places, Harvard Business Review (?!)

4. On being copied from Andrea Schroeder, in which she says “people aren’t buying your product or service on its own – they’re buying your product or service animated by your creative essence.”

5. 36 Things You Will Naturally Understand If You’re From Colorado on BuzzFeed. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of these, and don’t get the childhood references since I didn’t grow up here, but it’s pretty funny.

6. Brave Love, “A love-based case for the what’s right in the world, curated by Brit Hanson.”

7. 30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die.

8. Sacred Love: 12 Things at the Bottom of Everything** from Rachel Maddox. P.S. There’s still time to donate to her Traveling Soul Circus project.

9. The Five Buddha Families and 10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion on Elephant Journal.

10. Erica Staab shares a beautiful poem, Clearing by Martha Postlewaite.

11. From Brave Girls Club,

Beautiful, true, important things almost always take a long time to come to fruition. There are often very long stretches that are tedious, thankless, difficult and hard to measure. We get tired and that makes us weak and vulnerable to things that hurt our feelings or make us want to stop trying. There are often points in the journey when we feel absolutely alone, misunderstood and even cast out. There are sometimes points in our journey when we just want to be alone…and that is hard to explain to people we love. Making progress is not easy, is it?

With all of that in mind, however…think even more seriously about how miserable it is to stay stagnant. Think of how awful it feels to know in our hearts that we are meant for something, but to continue to ignore it, run away from it….or stay stuck just looking at it in fear.

12. The Well-Fed Woman: Tara Sophia Mohr on Rachel Cole’s blog, in which Tara describes something I know all too well, in a way I hadn’t quite figured out how to say it yet:

I grew up making art of all kinds – but when I went to college I couldn’t find a way to create comfortably in the highly competitive, hierarchical environment there. My center drifted over to my more intellectual, left-brain side, and that became my comfort zone. The more I was centered there, the harder it was to create. I became very, very afraid making art – so frozen in my creativity, afraid of failure, afraid of “not being good.”

13. Also on Rachel Cole’s blog, a brilliant reframing of perfection, The New (Im)perfection.

14. rodrigo y gabriela, and a lesson in passion on Chookooloonks.

15. your daily rock : love what you do

16. ZenPen: Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth, a great new offering from Courtney Putnam, a six week writing ecourse. I swore I wasn’t taking any more ecourses, needed to put my energy into creating my own, but this one makes that vow so hard to keep.

This microcourse, How to Create a Microbusiness that Matters, from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less, is also making this promise a tough one to keep.

17. “Often I busy myself trying to find the key – and fail to notice the door has no lock.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

18. The August Break with Susannah Conway is back! I’m in.

19. how joy is a toughie for me from Jessica Swift.

20. My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today.

21. Rachel Cole linked to a song in her Midsummer’s Joy post, and I was so happy, not realizing that Mary Lambert, the gorgeous female voice on Macklemore’s “Same Love,” had her own full song, She Keeps Me Warm. I bought her EP Letters Don’t Talk and have been listening to it on repeat (it’s only five songs).

22. Note from the Universe,

Dreams come true, Jill, that’s what they do. The only variable is when. For the slow approach: Resist. Attach. Insist. Deny. Stop. Second guess. Whine. Argue. Defend. Protest. Cry. Struggle. And ask others, when you know the answer yourself. For the quick approach: Visualize. Pretend. Prepare. Dodge. Roll. Serpentine. Do not waiver over intentions, but over methods. Show up, even when nothing happens. And give thanks in advance. You knew that.

24. This wisdom from Henri Nouwen and his book Turning My Mourning into Dancing, (shared by Satya in Writing Our Way Home’s newsletter),

I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.” As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.


25. Your Permanent Record from Seth Godin, in which he says, “Perfect can’t possibly be the goal, we’re left with generous, important and human instead.” Also from Seth, People like us do stuff like this.

26. A birds-eye view of this right now {Just One Paragraph 4/30} from Christina Rosalie, in which she says, “Time is a trickster. A torrent one minute, then a slow as honey crawl the next.”

27. Amazing Plant Sculptures at the Montreal Mosaiculture Exhibition 2013 on Bored Panda.

Something Good

dexterishome

I interrupt this regularly scheduled post for a Dexter update: He’s home! We got to bring him home last night. He’s feeling better, eating small bland meals while his tummy heals, taking medication to help the process, and his nose has stopped bleeding. He slept peacefully last night, went on a short walk this morning, and is taking a break right now in his bed after playing with me and his Little D. I’m so glad to have him home and that he’s feeling better, even as I remain aware that he still has terminal cancer.

Now I return you to your regularly schedule programming…

1. 25 Animals Who Can’t Stop Smiling on BuzzFeed.

2. This from Pema Chödrön, “Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger might just be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.”

3. The Cultivation of Compassion on Elephant Journal.

4. Simply Perfect Food on Be More with Less.

5. 40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative on BuzzFeed. Looking at these revealed that I am drawn to messy, booklined spaces.

6. Recipes I want to try: Avocado Pesto Pasta, Cinnamon Sweet Potato & Kale Delight, how to make chicken stock (and my mum’s chicken soup), Avocado Tempah BLT, and Melissa Clark’s Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes.

7. 10 Snack Foods That Have Gone Too Far on HelloGiggles.

8. This, from Henry Miller, “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself,” i.e. why I don’t need to travel to have a full life.

9. Dog Loves Cat: A Love Story in Letters, a photo essay.

10. This from Tara Brach, “We are born with a beautiful open spirit, alive with innocence and resilience. But we bring this goodness into a difficult world.”

11. 10 Mindful Folks on Instagram to Follow—& Uplift & Awaken your Every Day on Elephant Journal.

12. 10 Signs Your Friend is Toxic from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

13. This from Frederick Buechner, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” This reminds me of my mantra (so much so, it’s kind of freaky, since I don’t remember ever hearing the his quote before, but it’s so similar): Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible–keep your heart open.

14. Industrial-Edged Chic in Rotterdam. This was first shared by SF Girl by Bay. If I can’t have the converted waffle factory in France, I want to live here. The colors and materials and light of the kitchen are especially dreamy.

15. An Open Letter to Employers on Create as Folk. Amen, Laura Simms.

16. This from Geneen Roth,

Here is my thought for the day: when you’re tired, rest.

I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but I’ve been watching how difficult it is for me to stop. The adrenaline rush of pushing and moving and going past my limits is so familiar. Rest is radical. Stillness. Stopping. Taking five minutes a few times a day to stop everything, breathe, rest. Let out bodies catch up with themselves.

You’re allowed to stop. You’re allowed to rest. You’re allowed to be “unproductive” and not do one thing that looks useful to anyone else. See what happens.

17. This from Your Inner Pilot Light, “Come home, my dear. You keep looking for the answers in books, gurus, therapists, your best friend, or church. And sure- glean what you can from the outside world. But when you find yourself still confused and tired of seeking guidance out there, come back to me. I have the answers, if only you’ll get quiet and listen.”

18. This from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

19. The Real You By Tara Sophia Mohr on Maria Shriver’s blog, shared first by Hannah Marcotti. In which Tara writes this,

Can you feel the one deep inside your chest,
who has existed forever?
Who has made a thousand journeys?
Who feels like a comet in the dark?
The inner filament?

I know, no one ever told you.
I know. It wasn’t the name you learned to write at school,
but that one is you.
That one is the real you.

20. Inspiring the Everyday, a blog with lots of yummy looking gluten free recipes, which I first read about on SF Girl by Bay.

21. your daily rock: make art

22. Susannah Conway’s new video on her About page. It’s authentic, real as dirt, reminds me of the videos she makes for her ecourses, communicates so clearly who she is and what she writes about.

23. 36 Awe Inspiring Online Gurus Reveal Their Fears And How They Overcame Them, originally shared by Dani of Positively Present (she’s one of the gurus).

24. Throw and Grow Confetti, also shared by Dani of Positively Present.

25. Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus.

26. A Magical Reading Life: Reading with Intention on the Mojo Lab.

27. From Erica Staab’s 40 Days of Deep Wisdom,

Breathe deeply.
Sink into your soul.
Allow whatever needs to surface to do so without judgement.
Instead of judgement try gentle curiosity.
What does your own deep wisdom have to say today?

28. Making Art Can Be Hard by Mati Rose.

29. In This Fragile Sacred Space, the wonderful Judy Clement Wall on Huffington Post.

30. This from Ram Daas, “we are all just walking each other home.”

31. Triangle Love DIY, a sweet way to design a journal cover, originally shared by Susannah Conway.

Gratitude Friday

1. Snow days, sick days. I had a combination of both this past week. Over the course of three days, we got about 22 inches of snow, which resulted in two early closures at Colorado State University, which didn’t really matter so much for me because I was already home sick.

2. A husband who will dig potty trails for our dogs, especially to make it easier for Cancer Boy with his bum leg to get around.

He’s also the kind of husband who helps a neighbor get her car unstuck so she can get to work. A neighbor who on her way home from work (at the Silver Grill Cafe) leaves a thank you gift on our front door step. Sweet, sweet karma.

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3. When bad things happen, people help, people choose love.

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4. Clean sheets.

5. Smoothies. These have replaced avocado as my latest obsession.

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Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter.

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Something Good

1. The moment of highest leverage from Seth Godin.

2. I Know I Need This Now Because I Don’t Have Time for It and Enough, wisdom from Marianne Elliott.

3. Do People Know They’re Alive? a beautiful post from Laurie Wagner, and a question worth considering.

4. This quote from Kate Courageous, “Safety is an illusion we invoke, in order to grasp onto another illusion–control,” and this one, “Control is just another expression of fear, after all.”

5. Poetry (the good news and the bad news):

As you unfold as an artist,
just keep on,
quietly and earnestly,
growing through all that happens to you.

You cannot disrupt the process more violently
than by looking outside yourself for answers
that may only be found by attending to your innermost feeling.
~Rainier Maria Rilke

6. Have I told you lately how much I adore Anne Lamott? She posted this on Facebook this week:

But what I believe, and what my moderately left–and right–wing Christian brothers and sisters believe, is that Jesus preached a gospel of radical sacrifice, of giving away everything we possibly can–our time, our money, our prayers–to the have-nots, the same old/same old suffering people of this world, widows and whole nations.

Let us go in peace then, to be people of goodness and service and sacrifice. I keep trying to do better, like most people do, but I don’t have a magic wand. I am learning as I go; and boy, am I humbled by my failings. And “humbled” is always a great place to start anything, from being a better parent, writer, mate; or still, after all these years, trying to save the world.

7. From Pema Chödrön, (who I also adore):

Abandon All Hope and Fear: Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides. As long as there’s one, there’s always the other. This is the root of our pain. In the world of hope and fear, we always have to change the channel, change the temperature, change the music, because something is getting uneasy, something is getting restless, something is beginning to hurt, and we keep looking for alternatives.

In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”

8. He still doesn’t have a name, but boy oh boy is he cute, (by Allison Mae Photography–do yourself a favor and go to her site and see the rest of her pictures for a whopping dose of the super cutes).

9. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” ~Maya Angelou

10. Photos of Children From Around the World With Their Most Prized PossessionsThe two with just a single stuffed monkey are my favorites.

11. You will be called on to expand. And this is why we practice. a beautiful reminder from Danielle LaPorte.

12. 18 principles for highly creative living from Justine Musk.

13. Foster the Folk: Daria Marie & The purpose of plainness.

14. From SouleMama, baby chicks in teacups, because.

15. “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius, from The Daily Rock on 37 Days.

16. 40 Days of Deep Wisdom, another brilliant offering from Erica Staab, “a free eCourse designed to help you tap into your own inner wisdom.”

17. Shared on this week’s Positively Present’s Picks: Nine Creativity-Sparking Tips from Daring to Live Fully, How to Find Your Purpose on Think Simple Now, and 5 Easy Ways to be Nicer to Yourself on Pick the Brain.

18. Shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list: How I keep my (natural) beauty routine sane on Simple Mom, Smitten Kitchen, Joy the Baker, Sprouted Kitchen, Super Snack Suggestions from Kate Skinner Nutrition, and this gloriously weird dude and his crystals,

19. How to Make a Major Life-Changing Shift from Stuck to Unstoppable, an interview with Bridget Pilloud on Below Zero to Hero.

20. Oh my, how I adore Zooey Deschanel.

20. What I Know About Fear Now That I’m In My 30s, by Margaret Wheeler Johnson on The Huffington Post.

21. Girl Rising Montage, a documentary with a powerful message–Want to see change? Educate a girl.

21. This explains so much for me, “Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.” ~Shakti Gawain

22. Find the Others, from Ze Frank.

23. This Dad’s Stamp Of Approval Might Be The Best Thing You See On The Internet All Day. My wish is that every kid has parents like this, is loved like this.

24. I Don’t Like You, but I Want You to Want Me. from Positively Positive.

25. This quote, shared in this post by Hannah Marcotti, “And if you feel free, you feel empowered. And every negative emotion that exists—hear this—every negative emotion that exists is because there is some sense of loss of freedom somewhere in there.” ~Abraham

26. Austerity and the Arts — and George W. Bush on Pop Matters, in which author Josh Indar says,

In the end, I decided that doing art during a recession is about the same as doing art during any other time. You have to believe in it, be open to it, trust it, do it. You have to embrace it as blindly and fervently as a spinning Sufi if you want to get anything out of it.

27. My Amazon bestseller made me nothing on Salon, (in case you are a writer and not depressed enough by the previous article).

But the truth is, there’s a reason most well-known writers still teach English. There’s a reason most authors drive dented cars. There’s a reason most writers have bad teeth. It’s not because we’ve chosen a life of poverty. It’s that poverty has chosen our profession… Even when there’s money in writing, there’s not much money.

28. Susan Orlean on Writing, on Brain Pickings, (in case you are a writer, and that doesn’t change no matter how depressing those past two articles were), in which she advises writers that,

  • You have to simply love writing, and you have to remind yourself often that you love it.
  • You should read as much as possible. That’s the best way to learn how to write.
  • You have to appreciate the spiritual component of having an opportunity to do something as wondrous as writing. You should be practical and smart and you should have a good agent and you should work really, really hard. But you should also be filled with awe and gratitude about this amazing way to be in the world.
  • Don’t be ashamed to use the thesaurus. I could spend all day reading Roget’s! There’s nothing better when you’re in a hurry and you need the right word right now.

29. First Grade Proverbs.

30. Have Faith That Slowing Down Will Be Good for You, on Tiny Buddha.

31. The Big, Scary Thing I Do Every Week, from Life in Z-D.

32. Living with Less. A Lot Less. on the New York Times.

33. Wisdom from Geneen Roth:

If you are waiting to be thin or thinner, to be happy, happiness will elude you no matter what you weigh. If you are waiting to really begin your life until you have success or a relationship or the perfect place to live, you won’t get that sought after joy.

What we want most, what we think we can only have if we meet certain conditions, is to inhabit our lives. To love our sweet lives. And if you believe you need to get “there” to enjoy “here”, the problem is that when you get there, “there” looks very much like “here.” Because wherever you are, you are always here, where you are.

The challenge is to pay attention here. To be alive here. To learn how to wake yourself up here. It’s a habit, this learning to be awake and alive because we are so used to distracting ourselves and deadening ourselves. And we carry this old belief that it’s impossible to do it any other way. But that’s not true. Anyone can learn this. There is so much goodness here, right here, in the middle of our messy imperfect lives, right in this very second, that it turns out that here is, after all, as good as there. (Which is not to say that your body wouldn’t be more comfortable at a different weight or that you wouldn’t feel a sense of satisfaction in success).

When we pay attention, there is nothing missing. It’s all here. And you don’t have to wait to get it, you don’t have to achieve anything to be in it. Will you allow yourself to have the messy imperfect life you have? Will you stop, even if it’s just for today, waiting for your life to begin and realize that it’s already begun?

34. Andrea Gibson: “Letter To A Playground Bully from Andrea (age 8).”

35. Exit 245 – Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia) [Official Music Video]. I’m a total sucker for glee club music.

36. More good stuff from Brain Pickings: Sorted Books Revisited: Artist Nina Katchadourian’s Playfully Arranged Book Spine Sentences, and The Adverb Is Not Your Friend: Stephen King on Simplicity of Style.

37. From my Inner Pilot Light,

What do you mean it will never happen? How can you say you don’t deserve it? Why would you ever think such things? Let me clear things up, my darling. It will happen. You do deserve it. I was just making sure you really wanted it. Do you?

Yes, please.

38. This quote from Satya,

The trouble with making space is that it might mean you do have to go somewhere unpleasant. You might realise that you really don’t like your job, or that you feel lonely. You might have to admit that you haven’t a clue about what you’re doing. This is the most common reason for keeping our lives nicely filled up. We don’t want to risk falling down into the gap.

40. Desire: A Story, a beautiful post from Sunni on The Daily Breadcrumb.

41. Quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer, shared on Facebook last week,

It seems fitting tonight to offer a nod to St. Patrick’s Day with a quote from my friend John O’Donohue: “Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey,” from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom.

42. This quote from Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, “At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity.”

43. The Still Point of the Turning World, a beautiful reflection on a heartbreaking but beautiful book on A Design So Vast. I really want to read this book, even though I know it will wreck me. Lindsey shares a quote in her post from the book,

This is precisely why grief, like love and any other foundational, deceptively simple human emotion or state of being, is the terrain of artists. And it is a writer’s even more specific job to give voice to loss in whatever ways she can, to give shape to this unspeakable, impermeable reality beneath all other realities.

44. How to do less and live more, from Kris Carr, in which she says, “lately I’ve been wondering if we’re busier than we really need to be.”

45. I’m actually not that busy. a good reminder, a dare from Andrea Scher. I’m in!

Something Good

narrowleafbare

1. Sas Petherick’s “Down To Basics” Pinterest board. I want this, all of it.

2. Do You Conspire Against Yourself? A hard truth from Jennifer Boykin on Life After Tampons,”YOU are at the heart of everything that happens in your life.”

3. A heartbreaking and beautiful post, written by Neil Gaiman about his beloved Shepherd, The Power of the Dog. Cabal (2003-2013).

4. This quote: “There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by my self.” ~Brian Andreas

5. From Pema Chödrön:

Here, Now, Always: This is a work in progress, a process of uncovering our natural openness, uncovering our natural intelligence and warmth. I have discovered, just as my teachers always told me, that we already have what we need. The wisdom, the strength, the confidence, the awakened heart and mind are always accessible, here, now, always. We are just uncovering them. We are rediscovering them. We’re not inventing them or importing them from somewhere else. They’re here. That’s why when we feel caught in darkness, suddenly the clouds can part. Out of nowhere we cheer up or relax or experience the vastness of our minds. No one else gives this to you. People will support you and help you with teachings and practices, as they have supported and helped me, but you yourself experience your unlimited potential.

6. This quote:

The experience of joy is not
necessarily religious in any conventional way.
But a distinguishing characteristic of joy
is the feeling people have that they have touched
the hem of something far beyond themselves.
~Ardis Whitman

7. A note to me from the Universe: “It was perhaps one of your greatest acts of love, Jill. Choosing to be alive at a time when so many live so deeply in the dark. And already things are looking brighter.”

And this one, “Sometimes the people who know, Jill, don’t know they know. And sometimes the people who don’t know, think they do know. But you can always tell who is who, because, of course, with knowing comes tolerance, and patience, and love.”

And this one, “Believe it or not, Jill, if it weren’t for your so-called issues, problems, and challenges, there’d be no other way you could become even happier, cooler, and more enlightened than you have ever been before.”

8. This one makes me laugh, “For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.” ~Larry Eisenberg

9. The Challenge in Beginning, on Kind Over Matter by Jo Anna Rothman.

10. On Turning 45 by Lisa Congdon. I think I want to trade 45s with Lisa.

11. This quote from Mark Nepo:

We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.

12. This is making me so happy right now, music from the band Washed Out. It’s categorized as “Dream Pop” on Rhapsody, one of my favorite genres. You might recognize this from Portlandia.

13. Inspiration Procrastination — are you a self-help junkie? on Simply Woz. Why yes, yes I am.

14. This video is so sweet: Lazaro Arbos, American Idol Auditions Chicago ~ American Idol.

15. The Surprise That Left Steve Harvey [and me] In Tears.

16. This quote from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche:

By connecting with basic goodness in this moment, we can live in an open, free, and unconditioned way. Without comparison, there is no jealousy or pride. There is simply a feeling of delight and brilliance. When we cower from this possibility, comparisons immediately arise and we are thrown into a whirlwind of insecurity and doubt.

17. 25 free romantic fonts from A Subtle Revelry.

18. By way of Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list, Eight Healthy Comfort Foods (I am going to make some Amazeballs), and this video, which makes me so happy, (by way of Swiss Miss–check out the rest of their site, there’s some really cool stuff there–amazeballs!):

19. From From Positively Present Picks list: On Dog Hair from Bobulate, and from Huffington Post, Tina Fey: ’30 Rock’ Star’s Success Secret: ‘Say Yes’.

20. Moving Art channel on You Tube. Some really beautiful videos.

21. Some of my favorite women in conversation, connecting: Story Whispers, Sas Petherick with Hannah Marcotti, and The Illuminated Purposepreneur: Hannah Marcotti on Create as Folk with Laura Simms.

22. Scattered by Sas Petherick. (I’m apparently crushing hard on Sas, because she’s on my list three times this week).

23. From Brain Pickings: How to Write with Style: Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Keys to the Power of the Written Word and Can Money Buy Happiness? The Science of Materialism, Animated.

24. This quote: “Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

25. This quote from Rumi:

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

26. Daily Rocks from Patti Digh, Say “Wow” and Be Open to Change.

27. Living Things on SF Girl by Bay.

28. From Patti Digh’s Thinking Thursday list, this quote: “Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself.” -Bhagavad Gita (so true…)

29. Judgement vs. Empathy by Alexis Yael on Kind Over Matter.

30. Some Days, a blessing from Erica Staab (and John O’Donohue).

31. Salon’s guide to writing a memoir.

Unspeakable Love

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There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. ~Washington Irving

I have been trying for two days to figure out what to say about “what happened on Friday.” At first, I decided to say nothing at all. The next blog post I published was a Reverb12 prompt response the day after. When I noticed later in the day that someone had unfollowed my blog, I was sure it was because I hadn’t mentioned it. I felt guilty, that I had this platform, a voice, kind and gentle readers, and I wasn’t saying anything about it.

And yet, so much was already being said, and I didn’t know what to say anyway. How do you speak about such a thing? Where do you even start, what could you possibly say that would make any kind of sense, that would make things even the tiniest bit better? I couldn’t help reading what was being posted on Facebook (okay, could have but chose not to) but I didn’t click many of the links people were posting, I wasn’t listening to the news on the radio or reading it on the web, and I don’t have cable tv so missed all that coverage too.

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I told my new friend Tammy not too long ago that “I am never political–that’s just me, I’m a peacemaker–if people are picketing, instead of picking a side, I’d bring everyone sandwiches,” so there was no way I was joining in the political conversation that was developing. And yet, getting sad and posting about that didn’t feel possible. I’ve never been able to watch any of the documentaries or read any of the books written about 9/11. Or Hurricane Katrina, or the tsunami that hit Japan, or any of the various shootings at schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, or various other locations. If I am watching a nature show, and an animal is getting chased or about to be attacked and eaten by another, I can’t watch. I have heard only a few stories about “what happened on Friday,” seen the list of names and a few pictures, heard what other people have had to say, but I won’t go further than that just yet. It’s too raw, too tender, too much.

The last time I willingly watched TV news was the day the Twin Towers fell. After that, I couldn’t take it any more, specifically the way the media focuses on everything that is wrong, amplifies the bad, cultivates anxiety, the way they repeat each horrible thing over and over, a habitual and discursive cultivation of fear and scarcity, aggression and despair, reporting only what is bad and scary, threatening, with maybe one “human interest” story thrown in at the very end, (“human interest” is a term that has always confounded me–isn’t it all of interest to humans, or shouldn’t it be? and if it’s not, who is it for?!).

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The news media aren’t the only ones guilty of this, advertising and politics do the same–convincing us that things have gone horribly wrong, that everything is broken, including us, and the only hope is if we buy or buy into what they are selling. I’m even guilty of it myself, of obsessing over the one bad thing that’s happening, that happened, the one unkind thing a person said or did even in the context of 100 other compassionate acts I witnessed, of allowing myself to repeat the story of unfairness or hopelessness again and again, of sinking into despair because my view has gotten so distorted that I actually start to believe that there is more bad than good in the world, that things are suddenly getting worse or can’t possibly get any better.

I don’t want to get too close to this kind of thinking, that way of being.  I won’t deny it when it comes, but I won’t cling to it either, I won’t feed it. So what can I do? I’ve been asking myself that for the past few days, what can I do, what should I do? And as always, the answer is the same: life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible–keep your heart open. All I can do is continue to try and ease suffering in the world, including my own. And share with you a few of the things that have helped me to do so the past few days, in the hope that they might help you too.
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And a few quotes and lines of poetry which remind me of the transformation that is possible, of the good that is already present.

From Anne-Sophie Reinhardt of aMINDmedia, in her weekly newsletter: Please don’t lose faith in our world and in fellow women and men. There’s good in all of us. Some may have lost all connection with themselves, but even they can dig deep and find a way back to themselves. They may just need a little bit of love, attention and help.

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Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are and listen to the wind that is singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, and the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are,
right now,
not who you would like to be.
Not the saint you’re striving to become.
But the being right here before you,
inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You’re already more and less than whatever you can know.
Breathe out, look in, let go.
~John Welwood

The first step to bringing peace is not to try to eliminate all external hostile forces, which is impossible anyway, but rather, to work with our own mind. If we tame our mind, we will enjoy true peace, as if we have pacified the whole world. ~Tulku Thondup

I was feeling all the heaviness today–the sadness of so many hard things happening among my friends, family, and our global community. And I was struck, once again, that we always have a choice to wither and grow hard in the face of atrocity or to soften into an even kinder, gentler place. Sylvia Boorstein teaches that the question isn’t so much, “am I happy?,” as it is “can I care and be loving in this moment?” In our despair, may we never lose our capacity to care. ~Jessica Patterson

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Anne Lamott: “My pastor talks often about our dual citizenship, as
children of God, and Goodness, gorgeous and divine, and we are also people with human biographies and wounds and families, living in a world of unimaginable suffering, brutality, madness.”

I am both animal and angel. Animals need the solid ground beneath them; angels long for flight; humans are caught in the middle. Just remembering that sets me free. I am a grounded angel. No wonder I get so confused…There are hundreds of ways for each of us to counter despair with an act that connects us to our most essential, simple self…There are hundreds of ways to put down our burdens, hundreds of ways to give and receive blessings, hundreds of ways to wake up grateful after a sleepless night. ~Elizabeth Lesser, from her book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow.

Geneen Roth: “whether we are headed towards Armageddon or sailing into the New Age, our work is the same: to keep our hearts open.”

From Susan Piver: This is why we practice. Right now, for moments like this, this is exactly why we practice. Not only for our own (well-deserved) peace and equanimity, but so that when our world needs us, we can be there without shutting down. When we close our hearts, we disappear. When we open them, not only can we be of tremendous benefit to others, we heal our own wounds.

Every day, every minute someone’s heart is broken, someone is hurt–many someones in fact. Sometimes we know about it, experience it directly or hear about it on the news, and other times that grief, that trauma is invisible to us, but we can be sure it is always there. Some people are so wrapped up, so lost in their own confusion, passion and aggression, that they are hardly capable of helping, and all of us in one way or another are generating suffering, for ourselves and maybe even for others. The events in Connecticut on Friday are a stark reminder of how much we can be hurt, are hurt, of how much suffering exists.

What I wish for all of us, kind and gentle reader, is that we can keep our hearts open, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when the love and joy present are so vast we feel as if we couldn’t possibly hold it all without breaking apart–keep your heart open.

Something Good

1. This quote: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~Ernest Hemingway

2. From Marc and Angel Hack Life, 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask Yourself and 10 Life Lessons People Learn Too Late.

3. Kindness in the Smallest of Things on Kind Over Matter by Erica Staab, in which she says “And I was reminded yet again that it is the littlest pieces of kindness that we can offer to another, to truly see each other, to be present to the moment and bear witness to their pain, their joy, their struggle, their celebration- it is these little pieces that are worth everything.” Amen.

4. I am absolutely over the elections, but this recap is pretty cool.

5. Authors Anne Lamott and Cheryl Strayed discuss life and writing.

6. Think insurance as an entrepreneur is a “bad bet”? Think again (aka My response to Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and his ridiculous advice) from the fierce Michelle Ward. I’ve said it before: it’s dangerous to think that just because you’ve decided something is right for you, works for you, makes sense to you, that makes it a BIG TRUE for everyone.

7. Happy Birthday to Me by Sunni Chapman on The Daily Breadcrumb. I linked to this yesterday, but it’s so good, I really want to be sure you didn’t miss it.

8. Instagram created user profiles. I was already using Instagrid for the same, but here’s mine on Instagram. There’s a rumor that I’m getting an iPhone for Christmas, so I might be using this a lot more.

9. In related news, Portrait: A Documentary About a Popular Instagrammer and a Pro Photographer.

10. The Zen of Dogs: On Mindfulness, Compassion, and Connection on Tiny Buddha.

11. In related news, this cuteness:

12. Digital Detox: Unplug For The Weekend on Be More with Less by Courtney Carver.

13. Blog Mood Boards from decor8. Can’t wait to do one of these.

14. This quote from the Dalai Lama: “It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help another, the least we can do is to desist from harming them. We must not cheat others or lie to them. We must be honest human beings, sincere human beings.”

15. An interview with Cheryl Strayed on The Happiness Project, I Challenge You to Walk for 20 Minutes and Not Feel Better by the End of It.

16. DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #92: Your Invisible Inner Terrible Someone, in which Cheryl Strayed advises “There’s a crazy lady living in your head. I hope you’ll be comforted to hear that you’re not alone. Most of us have an invisible inner terrible someone who says all sorts of nutty stuff that has no basis in truth.”

17. This video made me cry:

18. Choosing Joy from Corbae Café.

19. This quote: “When you bring consciousness to anything, things begin to shift.” ~Eve Ensler

20. My Inner Wonder Woman from Sas’ Magical Mystery Tour, in which Sas says:

There is a quiet solidity that comes from this turning inwards: what psychologists call a state of self-referral. This is when we identify primarily with our inner selves. In this state we have “an internal sense of joy regardless of what is happening around us because we aren’t identified with transient objects or events”. I read this and it felt like a clicking into place. Any fear of not being enough has dropped away, there is no compulsion to compare or compete, no struggle for approval or to have power over others. I have so much more to give, feel super-connected and my intuition is on fire right now.

She is on fire right now, about to launch her new project, (can’t wait!).