Something Good

From our walk

1. Adding the wrong words from Austin Kleon. “My 4-year-old leaves so many drawings lying around that sometimes I steal them and add my own captions.”

2. This remix of Ellen’s pathetic defense of George W. Bush is devastating.

3. Initiative from Seth Godin.

4. Victoria’s Secret Hires Anti-Fat Plus-Size Model from Dances with Fat.

5. 5 No-Fuss Self-Care Ideas For Introverts.

6. hilariously, clumsily, grossly visible, a really great post about patiarchy from The Collected AHP (Anne Helen Petersen).

7. Wisdom from Ronna Detrick’s Notes From Her: “I kept myself busy with so many responsibilities. I took them on because they needed to be done, but more, because they seemed like the best way to keep from feeling crazy. When I slowed down, when I rested, when I stopped, my mind fought against the silence, the space, the calm. But, in truth, silence, space, and calm was what my heart wanted most; what I needed most. It took time, but I learned that it’s not in working harder, faster, or smarter; but in sitting, resting, and leaning that feeling crazy eventually vanishes, that transformation comes, that love shows up.”

8. Yoga For Writers | Yoga With Adriene (video)

9. This Daily Truth from Melody Ross about choosing the path that’s right for you, making your own decisions. “The messages are often conflicting, confusing, frustrating, and they can make us feel small and inadequate. Sometimes we feel so confused that we are just paralyzed and instead of making decisions, we just stop doing anything at all.”

10. Imagine a Pine Tree on Lion’s Roar, “Thich Nhat Hanh answers a retreatant’s question on what to do in the face of suffering.” My favorite line of this piece is, “The basic thing we can do to help the world is to be healthy, solid, loving, and gentle to ourselves.”

11. 10 Easy Ways to Cut Down on Your Plastic Use Right Now from Sandra Pawula.

12. Fort Worth Officer Kills Woman In Her Bedroom In Response To ‘Open Structure Call.’ In related news, Where Are the Good Cops?

13. Honey Bees Complete Mixed Media Artworks by Building Comb Around Embroidery Hoops.

14. Prince’s Estate Condemns Trump’s Use Of ‘Purple Rain’ At Campaign Rally.

15. How Mainstream Body Positivity Has Failed Us.

16. Florida Man Who Killed Black Father Over Parking Space Will Stand His Ground in Prison for 20 Years.

17. Power Is Gradually Restored To Thousands Of Californians After 2nd Day Of Outages.

18. ‘If you can’t make jokes without hurting people, maybe you’re no good at it’, “Marc Maron reacts to claims ‘woke culture’ is killing comedy.”

19. White Women doing White Supremacy in Nonprofit Culture.

20. Wisconsin Spice Company Spends More Than $100K On Pro-Impeachment Ads. “Wauwatosa-Based Penzeys Spices Behind Only Trump Campaign In National Spending.” This company makes a good product, then takes some of the money they make from that and does good things in the world.

21. Get a Dog, Live Longer? on The New York Times. “Benefits of dog ownership may be particularly pronounced in those who have already had a heart attack.”

22. Forty-three new women came forward to describe assault and harassment by Trump. Newspapers ignored them.

23. Matt Lauer Issues Victim-Blaming Letter In Response To Brooke Nevils Rape Allegations.

24. Why Veggies Won’t Save Healthcare in Real Life. “Is maintaining a healthy lifestyle one’s responsibility, or a privilege? It’s time to start asking the harder questions, and recognize the health care disparity that exists in real life.”

25. Meatless meat is becoming mainstream — and it’s sparking a backlash.

26. What It’s Like Growing Up as a Highly Sensitive Child in a Chaotic Home.

27. I threw out 10 years of journals. Just to be clear, I’m sharing this because I want to reinforce the fact that if we aren’t ready to let go, even if we never are, that’s okay too.

28. With Abortion Rights On The Line, Planned Parenthood Announces 2020 Push.

29. Trump Administration Says It Won’t Comply With Impeachment Inquiry.

30. 15 Ways White Women Avoid Accountability On The Internet.

31. On Finding the Freedom to Rage Against Our Fathers, “Minda Honey Tells the Story of a Daughter Who Refused to Walk on Eggshells.”

32. Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples’ Day? In related news, I’m Dreaming About a Modern World That Doesn’t Erase Its Indigenous Intelligence.

Gratitude Friday

1. Kitchen counter love notes. The ones Eric tucked in the card he made me for our anniversary took up so much space I had to stand on a chair to get them all in the picture. He said when he started making them, he underestimated how long it was going to take. I remember when it was our 6th anniversary and I thought that was so amazing because I had never been in a relationship that long. That was 20 years ago.

2. Feeling just a little better. Coming here and telling you all that I was feeling confused started to shift things just a bit for me. I also finally found a therapist who is taking new patients and works from the perspective I was looking for and on the issues I have. I’m meeting with her on Tuesday to see if it’s a good fit. Wish me luck!

3. Yup, it snowed. It dropped 20 degrees overnight, bringing lightening, hail, and the loudest thunder I’ve ever heard before the snow came. I am sad the garden is officially done and some of the trees that were just starting to turn gold lost most of their leaves in the storm, but the sky the morning before was amazing and I made sure to savor the gold before it was all gone.

4. Comfort, in all the various ways I find it: good friends, laughter, good TV, texting with my brother, cooking, getting in the pool, sitting in the sauna, meditation, writing, teaching yoga, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, feeding myself what I want for no other reason than that’s what I want, a big glass of water, a warm shower, cuddling with my dogs, sitting on the couch under my infrared heating pad and favorite blanket my niece made me.

5. My tiny family. They are my favorite.

He’s a tough guy, but he hides under the chairs at the vet

Bonus joy: trying a new restaurant, going to a show where I know I’m going to laugh my face off, spending time with good people, having access to the care and services that keep things running smoothly, setting up my new printer and having it be easy, new shoes that feel good on my feet and my feet feel good in, morning walks with the dogs, the magic weirdness of having such an intimate relationship with a whole other species (seriously, sometimes I look at our dogs and say to Eric, “isn’t it weird that there are animals inside our house right now, just hanging out like it’s totally normal?).

 

26 Years

26 years ago, we eloped, both wore green, got married in a mountain town called Evergreen. The only reason we even have pictures is our roommate showed up with a disposable camera. Four years ago, I wrote a Facebook post that I thought for sure I’d turned into a blog post and shared here, but I can’t find it, so…

Something you might not know about me: I got married for the first time when I was only 18. He was my boyfriend the last few years of high school. He loved me and wanted to marry me, was moving to Arizona for school and wanted me to come with him. I loved him enough, wanted out of my parents’ house and away from the small town I’d grown up in, so I agreed to it, the marriage and the move. We were actually a terrible match, and what I never told him, what almost no one knows, is I almost bolted on our wedding day, would have if I’d had the guts.

I was thinking about it this morning because there was a short piece on NPR in which they played clips of songs by Crowded House and The Psychedelic Furs, music I still love (am listening to as I write this). I loved bands like Depeche Mode, Erasure, The Cure, and Tears for Fears. That first, failed husband’s favorite band was Iron Maiden. We were doomed. We only lived together about a year and a half before my beloved Auntie T offered me an out and I left.

Some years later, I met Eric. He listened to the same bands I did, and introduced me to reggae and musicians like Jimmy Cliff. He had earrings, wore patchouli, and read books. He felt like home. This is all making me think how sometimes it can take a really long time, many failed attempts to find the right fit, to land in the place that is home. Sometimes it seems like it will never happen and we lose our will to keep going. I can’t tell you what to do, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up.

In the past few years, I’ve written a few posts about being married to Eric:

  • Committed, where I described what I think it means to find the right person. “I can’t say what might work for you, don’t mean for this to be some kind of advice or set of rules to be married by, but these are the things that have kept me in it, all in, for the past 18 years.”
  • 20 years, one of my favorite posts, in which I wrote about how Eric makes me laugh and comforts me when I don’t feel like laughing.
  • Day of Rest, where I tried to describe what love is.  “When you are together for a long time, there’s more than one marriage. Hard things happen, and you have to work through them. You get remarried over and over because you keep choosing each other, continue to recommit. And Eric and I have had hard things, and we know that those things will keep coming. Just because we’ve been together a long time doesn’t mean things get easier. You don’t reach a point where it’s simple and you don’t have to try that hard — or at least we don’t. What does happen is you start to relax your agenda about how things should be, and instead work with what is. You relax with what is, you soften, and you find that in being with what is, you can be content, that in this moment there is more than enough. This is love.”
  • 21 Years, in which I said, “I’m not even sure how that happened, how living our life together day by day has already added up, amounted to that…He makes me laugh, he’s my comfort, my soft place to land. He’s my favorite, my family, my best friend, the problem I chose to have, the choice I make over and over, day after day.”
  • Day of Rest: 23 Years In, in which I shared, “Not much has changed in 23 years, unless you count just about everything. At the beginning, I thought by this point that if we made it this far together things would be easy. I didn’t understand that adulting would be so hard, that so many awful things would happen, to us and around us. I thought I was stronger, saner. I thought if I was with him, if we were together, the ordinary magic of that would surround us, protect us from the bad stuff. And yet it has, in a way. I’m not sure if I’d still be here if it weren’t for his love and support, the way he makes me laugh. The partnership, the rub of having someone always there, can at times be irritating, but it’s also the glue that keeps it all from falling apart.”
  • 24 Years, in which I wondered, “Here we are, just living our lives like it’s no big deal — making each other laugh, getting irritated about stupid stuff that doesn’t even matter, doing the laundry and making dinner and walking the dogs — and suddenly we’ve been married for 24 years.”

And here we are, 26 years later, still choosing each other, still taking care of each other, still making each other laugh.

On the Origins of Things

Today would have been my friend Kelly’s birthday. Would have been, because nine years ago, at only 37 years old, she died. I’ve written quite a bit about her here, including but not limited to:

  • Kelly Jo, in which I shared a short essay I’d written for a CSU publication in her memory, remembering her as a person who was strong, smart, creative, cheerful and compassionate. In the blog post, I said “If you don’t already have a Kelly in your life, it is my greatest wish for you that you will.”
  • Dance Party, in which I showed my “woo-woo” side. “I had told Kelly, when the cancer came back and she started chemo and she asked us to visualize events we’d share in the future, that one thing we’d do, when she felt better, would be to have a dance party. It started as an aspiration, but then I thought, ‘why not?’ and started to plan the music.”
  • The world is never the same after she is there, in which I shared, “I can’t think about how much I’ve changed in the last few years, how much happier and more focused I am, the drive I feel to do good, to save lives besides just my own without thinking about Kelly, without feeling a deep determination that I need to do what Kelly is no longer able to, to reflect all the love and kindness and good she manifested.”
  • Don’t give up, in which I said, “And yet, that’s one good thing that came from losing Kelly, (and Obi, and then Dexter) — I set the intention to heal myself, to be myself, and in that way to start to help make the world better. I vowed to keep my heart open, no matter how bad things got, no matter how hard it might be.”
  • Day of Rest: Remembering Kelly, which I ended by saying, “I am still here in large part because of Kelly. That and a huge dose of survivor’s guilt. I live with the somewhat twisted notion that if a person as amazing as her doesn’t get to be here, I need to earn the right to be here. I have to try harder, be better, not waste my time, stop messing around, ‘suck it up and get tough’ like my high school football couch and social studies teacher used to say. And yet, today as I remember her, on this day of rest, I know that she wouldn’t want me to feel like that. She would tell me ‘it’s okay, cheer up, you’re perfect.’”
  • Three Truths and One Wish, where I wished, “That after loss, we can find something to hold on to, something that keeps us from giving up. At the very moment I wrote the line above about our love going wild, a tiny fat hummingbird hovered outside my window just to the right of my computer screen. That feels like love to me, like both magic and medicine, and for now that’s enough.”

Every time this anniversary comes around, I sink into contemplation, about the meaning of life and more particularly the meaning of my life, and this year that dive is so much deeper. The best word to describe my current state is “confused.” Almost five months have passed since I quit my CSU job after 19 years. At first, I blamed the exhaustion, the stuck I felt on burnout, which isn’t entirely wrong. And yet, as time has passed and the summer turns to fall, I’ve started to suspect that it isn’t just burnout.

I’m confused. I was so sure that I’d take the summer off, like I have for the past nine years, and when fall came, I’d start my new work as a contemplative practice guide. My intention — beyond easing suffering, in myself and in the world — was to specialize in yoga asana, meditation, and writing as practice, and to spend more of my time writing. I wanted to hold space for people cultivating a foundation of a stable mind and embodied compassion. I wanted to serve my community, working towards social justice and liberation for all people.

At first the awfulness that was happening in the world seemed to support my intention, to make it clear that what I was hoping to do was necessary, needed, and therefore “right.” But the more I educate myself about things like racism and climate change and diet culture and misogyny and homophobia and transphobia and xenophobia and white feminism and cultural appropriation and spiritual bypassing and gaslighting and white priveledge and white fragility and capitalism and police brutality and private prisons and ICE and, and, and… I start to feel more like part of the problem then a force of change.

Last week, I did some wild writing with my friends Chloe’ and Mikalina. This is a practice we learned from our teacher Laurie Wagner. We were using On the Origins of Things by Troy Jollimore as our prompt. This is what I wrote:

They say “everything happens for a reason” and Pema Chödrön says that the lessons you need to learn will keep coming back until you finally learn and the first noble truth of Buddhism is life is suffering which simply means life is uncomfortable and you’ll never get exactly what you want. I agree with some of those things some days, but some of the time I refuse to accept it or it doesn’t make any sense. Things happen for no reason, life is chaos, and yes, you never get what you want. I keep trying to go back, travel to some origin that can explain what I’m supposed to be doing, what to feel and think. I want to do the best thing, but the list of possibilities is endless. I think if I can catalog or organize or interpret what has happened to me, fully study and process my experience, I’ll gain some clarity, know what to do. But it’s just like how I think if I just go to bed earlier or take a nap or skip the gym or eat more vegetables, I won’t be so tired all the time, but it’s not a physical tired, it’s tired of trying to make sense of it or hold space for all of it and now that I have all the time in the world what do I do with it when the possibilities are so endless and the list of things I care about is so long I will never stop writing it. Every morning has been cloudy, wet, cold, gray. I picked more tomatoes last night to eat with dinner knowing the cold would soon dip low enough that there’d be no more tomatoes and why is it like that, the fullness of summer lasting so long and late so that we completely skip right past the middle-ness of fall to the edge of winter. Start to finish up, but what exactly am I finishing? What did I even mean to say? That there’s all this space, that things have shifted and I’m not quite sure where I am.

So yes, kind and gentle reader, I’m feeling confused, and maybe a bit discouraged. I’m trying to make sense of things that just don’t make sense. I’m trying to find solid ground even as I know that doesn’t exist. And yet, please know: I’m not giving up. Things are taking longer than I imagined they would. I remind myself this is always the case, that it’s okay to go slow, so slow it might look to someone watching like I’m not moving at all.

Something Good

P.S. I just realized this is my 400th Something Good list! Oh my!

1. Working with the Heartbreaking Feeling That Something is Wrong with You from Zen Habits.

2. Higher Standards – The Next Frontier of Fat Activism? from Dances with Fat. Also from Ragen, Dressing Doesn’t Ruin Salad (Unless You Don’t Like the Dressing!).

3. 90 days until the end of the decade from Karen Walrond on Chookooloonks. “And suddenly, it felt really important to think about how I want to end 2019 … and how I want to start a brand new decade. Because regardless of whether I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to this year, the fact is that I want to end the year strong. And I want to set myself up for a great 2020. So this week, I’m spending some time journaling my answers the following questions. I thought I’d share them here, in the event that you’re looking for ideas to put head down and push for a strong ending for your year.”

4. INFJ: What To Do When Your Emotions Overflow.

5. Modern Love: Let’s Meet Again in Five Years on The New York Times.

6. On Being with Krista Tippett: Claudia Rankine, “How Can I Say This So We Can Stay in This Car Together?”.

7. 11 things for when you don’t know what to write from Jena Schwartz.

8. “Emergency Poet” opens literary pharmacy to support mental wellbeing.

9. Notice when you are happy from Austin Kleon.

10. Geometric Dance by Géométrie Variable. (video)

11. Crave more stillness in your life? You can find it in beauty.

12. Great Big Story: The Mystery of Shell Grotto. (video)

13. The Beginner’s Mind Podcast: Ep. 8 – Accessible Yoga.

14. Confused By The Impeachment Process? This Flowchart Should Help.

15. Singh, pledging the $1.8B needed for clean water in First Nations communities, (video) “is asked if he’s writing a ‘blank cheque’ for all indigenous people. His response is as measure and firm as we have come to expect of Jagmeet.”

16. I want to try this recipe: apple and cheddar scones. Also, this one: Vidalia Onion Upside Down Broccoli Cornbread.

17. Simone Biles Has 2 More Signature Moves Under Her Name After World Championships.

18. Perhaps the World Ends Here, a poem by Joy Harjo.

19. How ‘mixed-ish’ Failed To Tackle Biracial Identity and Chose To Rely On Tropes.

20. Witness in Amber Guyger murder case found shot dead in Dallas. In related news, Woman who filmed Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shoot Botham Jean fired.

21. Great Big Story: How This Woman Is Saving Migrant Lives Along the Border.

22. A 29-year-old mayor gave his city’s poorest residents $500 a month. Here’s how they spent the money.

23. We Need to Talk About ‘The Giving Tree’ on The New York Times. “Kids — and parents — need to understand that there’s a big difference between selflessness and generosity.”

24. Ocean Vuong: The 10 Books I Needed to Write My Novel.

25. ICE is reportedly using fake Facebook accounts to track undocumented immigrants and lure them into sting operations. #AbolishICE

26. ‘Extremely Dangerous’: Trump Tweet Calling Impeachment Inquiry a ‘Coup’ Heightens Fears of Refusal to Leave Office.

27. ‘Homophobic’ actress dropped from The Color Purple sues for religious discrimination. Don’t hide your hate behind your religion.

28. Building a Mystery: An Oral History of Lilith Fair.

29. Eat Less Red Meat, Scientists Said. Now Some Believe That Was Bad Advice on The New York Times. “The evidence is too weak to justify telling individuals to eat less beef and pork, according to new research. The findings ‘erode public trust,’ critics said.”

30. I Am With You – Chanel Miller. (video) “While writing Know My Name, I was constantly drawing as a way of letting my mind breathe, reminding myself that life is playful and imaginative. We all deserve a chance to define ourselves, shape our identities, and tell our stories. The film crew that worked on this piece was almost all women. Feeling their support and creating together was immensely healing. We should all be creating space for survivors to speak their truths and express themselves freely. When society nourishes instead of blames, books are written, art is made, and the world is a little better for it.”

Gratitude Friday

1. Practice. Yoga, meditation, writing, and dog. It’s the way I make sense of things, the way I am able to stay with what is, the thing that keeps me from giving up.

2. Kitchen counter love notes. One this week was spooky, in honor of the season.

3. Writing with Mikalina and Chloe’. The last few times we got online, we hung out and told each other stories, but this time we actually wrote together…and told each other stories.

4. Morning walks. Poor Eric was on duty the two mornings it rained this week, but my walks were lovely, except for the part where they cut those two trees down to make space for a new house, the same spot we saw the twin baby deer napping that one time, the same ones I always take pictures of. Yes, they were both dead, but they were a gorgeous shape against the morning sky.

5. My tiny family. Ringo is feeling better and Sam is keeping me warm on these cooler mornings. Hopefully Eric won’t have to work so much this weekend and we can do something fun together.

Bonus joy: teaching yoga, opening a new bag of potato chips (so fresh and crunchy!), having all the laundry done, clean sheets on the bed, napping, good TV (the new series, Criminal, streaming on Netflix is really good, and all my favorite “regular TV” shows are back on and streaming on Hulu), good books (I am still working my way through all of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies — she had such an interesting life!), a new printer (now I just have to set it up), knowing that it will take time but it will be okay, laughing with Eric.

 

Something Good

From our walk

1. Do we have to love our work? from Paul Jarvis. His part two to this post is Passion Kills.

2. Antidotes to Overwork from Zen Habits.

3. How To Strengthen Your Intuition (Your INFJ Superpower).

4. I study collapsed civilizations. Here’s my advice for a climate change apocalypse.

5. WDS 2019 Main Stage Keynote – Marsha Shandur on Taming the Beast. (video) “At WDS 2019, Marsha reminded us that all have a beast who whispers in our ear. That voice that tells us we are unlovable, not talented, and incapable of achieving our dreams and goals. She also shared 4 steps on how to tame the beast and find ways to use its presence to help us live the lives we want—and ultimately, to help others as well.”

6. Weight Stigma – The Root of Eating Disorders.

7. Greta Thunberg isn’t the only trailblazing young climate leader. Activists from the Amazon to Nigeria share their ideas for battling the climate crisis.

8. Rachel Cole launched her new website. “My work in the world is all about guiding people to trust their hungers and feast on their lives. As a life coach and teacher, I live to share the wisdom and tools that have helped me and my clients to find peace with food, love for our bodies, and truly fulfilling lives.”

9. You’ll be miserable if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do from Austin Kleon.

10. Today [Yesterday] Would Have Been Botham Jean’s 28th Birthday And Social Media Is Celebrating His Life.

11. City Leader Calls Out ‘Bad Police Officer’ During Awards Ceremony in Broward County, Fla.

12. “The Good Place” Is a Show About Why We’re Good on Lion’s Roar. “According to Zen priest Gesshin Greenwood, NBC’s The Good Place shows us people are good because of their bond to each other — even in the afterlife.”

13. Sikh Deputy ‘Trailblazer’ Fatally Shot In Houston-Area Traffic Stop.

14. Georgia Professor Holds Student’s Baby, A Life Lesson Bundled On Her Back.

15. Jenny Odell on why we need to learn to do nothing: ‘It’s a reminder that you’re alive.’ “The author and artist’s keynote address on our fractured attention spans went viral. Now she has a plan for how to heal them: lose ourselves in nature.”

16. Black Virginia Girl Says White Classmates Cut Her Dreadlocks on Playground on The New York Times. “The police said they were investigating a report by 12-year-old Amari Allen that three white students forcibly cut portions of her hair at their Christian school.”

17. Prince died after taking fake Vicodin laced with fentanyl, prosecutor says. “‘In all likelihood, Prince had no idea he was taking a counterfeit pill that could kill him,’ the Minnesota prosecutor said.”

18. Some People Are Pissed At Mattel’s New Gender-Neutral Doll Collection.

19. ‘I Hate Myself,’ Former Dallas Police Officer Who Killed Neighbor Tells Jurors. Guilty of murder. That is the only answer here, even as I don’t believe that will be the outcome. She entered an apartment that wasn’t hers and murdered the person who lived there. Knowing why satisfies our curiosity but can not stand as a justification.

20. App Developer Responds to ‘The Racist Nextdoor.’

21. Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help. This is a good reason to exercise: so you feel better, maybe even have some fun. Notice this article says not one thing about weight.

22. Eddie Murphy Is Bringing Eddie Murphy Back on The New York Times. “In a wide-ranging interview, the star explains why he’s returning to stand-up and the big screen, why he regrets leaving and why it’s hard to watch himself in ‘Raw’ these days.”

23. 21-Year-Old Hotel Employee Manages 90 Guests Alone After Getting Trapped by Tropical Storm for Over 24 Hours.

24. The Quiet Harm of #TransformationTuesday. “On the healing fantasy of thinness, and what your before and after photos tell the fat people in your life.”

25. Netflix’s ‘Unbelievable’ dares police to do better when it comes to sexual assault.

26. A baby’s laughter is the sweetest sound there is. (video) The way this kid says “W” though… I’ve watched this at least 20 times.

27. Found a mini toy keyboard…so Lizzo it is. (video)

28. This Mexican Abuelita Is Getting Millions of Views For Her Cooking Videos.