Something Good

Geese over the Poudre River, image by Eric

1. What does it mean to “make light”? from Karen Walrond.

2. Ava DuVernay’s Visionary Filmmaking Is Reshaping Hollywood.

3. My shadow son: A stranger insisted he was my child for more than a decade.

4. Mom Films Video For The Son She Put Up For Adoption So He’ll Always Know He Was Wanted. This article describes the heartbreak of giving a baby up for adoption so clearly.

5. Five ways to make a difference in 2018.

6. Outcry After Louisiana Teacher Arrested During School Board Meeting. Outrage is exactly the correct response to this.

7. 30+ Times Dogs Surprised Humans With Their Incredibly Heroic Acts.

8. My goofy online yoga teacher has indoctrinated me into her cult.“I had a near-pathological fear of public exercise and rarely went out for a run, but my daily morning date with Adriene’s YouTube channel has given me hope.”

9. What It’s Like Being a Highly Sensitive Person in a Caring Profession. This is always the dilemma for me — I need work that has meaning, but as such the same job wrecks me.

10. Introverts: 5 Practices to Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet.

11. Roxane Gay Defends Writer Sarah Hollowell Against Fatphobia at the Midwest Writers Workshop. In related news, Roxane Gay Exposed The Midwest Writers Workshop For Fatphobia On Twitter, and Roxane Gay, Midwest Writer’s Workshop, and Breaking the Silence of Fatphobia.

12. How this Black femme finds peace in Tarot as the world burns.

13. No One Is Coming to Save Us From Trump’s Racism by Roxane Gay on The New York Times.

14. Meshell Ndegeocello Unveils Heartbreaking Cover of Prince Classic, ‘Sometimes it Snows in April.’

15. Recipe I want to try: Roasted Garlic Butternut Squash Soup.

16. Pussy Hats: The Confederate Flag for White Feminists. “As cis and trans women of color enter 2018 with new plans of action, white feminists repeat their failures, complete with exclusion and pussy hats.”

17. Heiress Plotted 19 Grisly Crimes. Investigation Underway. “Frances Glessner Lee, the first lady of forensic science, was a cult curiosity. With her ‘Nutshell Studies’ at the Renwick Gallery, she rises to art star.”

18. These Photos Prove We Have No Idea How Food Grows. (video)

19. The Skeleton Key: Dismantle “is an offering to white women to begin to dismantle the white supremacy we carry in our own bones” from Abigail Rose Clark.

20. Couple with Down syndrome: ‘Love is love.’ (video)

21. Everyday, Frog The Rooster meets the kids at the school bus. (video)

22. Humanizing Trans People One Photo At A Time. (video)

23. Full of Sound and Fury: The Anger of Mediocre White Dudes.

24. Justice and dignity, the endless shortage from Seth Godin.

25. Feast is open for applications. Feast is a 3-month journey to becoming a Well-fed Woman, and it changed my life, continues to do so.

26. A few ideas for honoring Martin Luther King from Wall of Us.

27. How to manage ANY health condition…without dieting from Isabel Foxen Duke.

Day of Rest

Clearing by Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

In my Wild Writing class on Friday morning, Laurie used this poem for our final prompt. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that particular moment in time. I knew I would need to find it, print it out, read it again and again, let the meaning sink in and stick. It’s an answer to a question I’ve been asking. A question I’ve asked myself, trying to connect with my own internal wisdom, and a question I’ve cast out into the universe to see what might come back.

Maybe you don’t know this about me, but I am trying to save the whole world. A bodhisattva who vowed to keep being reborn, to keep coming back until there is no one left suffering. I think I was born with this promise already in my heart. Maybe I made the vow in another lifetime, or maybe it formed in my mother’s womb along with my fingers and toes. It seems to have always been there, the longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world.

The poem seems to answer the lingering, “How?” It’s an answer to my confusion about what to do next. It is a clarification of my bewilderment that time someone said, “think about what breaks your heart and you’ll know who you are here to serve,” and I responded, “but what if everything breaks your heart?”

“Don’t try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to this world so worth of rescue.” So worth of rescue. All of us, all of it, all of me.

 

Gratitude Friday

1. Walking. Because of my knees, it causes me some discomfort for sure, but I’m so grateful I am still able to go, to make it work. Being out in the still quiet and sometimes dark of morning with my dogs is one of the things that keeps me sane.

2. Practice. All of the ones I do, (writing, yoga, meditation, and dog), invite me to show up, not give up but rather let go and surrender, keep my heart soft and open, be with whatever arises, and be vulnerable, willing to be hurt. That’s the good news and the bad.

3. Morning skies. Especially in the winter in Colorado, the sky does some amazing things.

4. Wild Writing. We started a new session today, and I’m so glad to be back at it.

5. My tiny family. I don’t have any pictures from this week, but trust me — they are as cute as ever. To make up for it, here’s a picture of my favorite neighbor, who just turned 14 years old.

Bonus joy: the weekend, good books (I just finished The Burning Girl: A Novel by Claire Messud), good TV (Eric and I are still watching and loving The Great British Baking Show), good podcasts that I never seem to have time to listen to, Emergen-C, oranges, Meyer lemons, clementines, sweet potatoes, marionberry jam, getting all the laundry done on Friday, working from home, soft clothes, wool socks, down blankets and pillows, our new fence, texting, the internet, libraries, a working furnace, a washer and dryer in my house, health insurance, clean water, clean sheets, sleeping in.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: As a highly sensitive person, it can be hard for me to focus or stay calm. ALL of the information that is floating around in the environment, all the ideas and conversations and emotions and heat (or cold) sticks to me. Rather than being in my own bubble safe from the rest of the world, I’m covered in tiny holes, porous and without clear boundaries, and like a sponge I soak it all in. When I’ve had a day with too much stimulus, I lose my sense of what’s mine and what’s yours. It’s so extreme that if I read a book or watch a TV show where something bad happens, even to a fictional character, I feel it floating just at the edge of my consciousness like a memory of a lived trauma. Let me repeat that — I embody the trauma of others, even when they aren’t real!

2. Truth: This makes service and social justice work incredibly uncomfortable. I can’t easily detach from the suffering of others, and it’s difficult for me to relax or rest when I know someone is hurting, especially if it’s something I could help or even fix. I remind myself of the conventional wisdom of putting your oxygen mask on before helping someone else with theirs, or of that saying “you don’t have to set yourself on fire in order to keep others warm,” but the discomfort doesn’t really go away.

3. Truth: And yet, I don’t shut down, I don’t give up. In fact, I actively do the opposite, continually and regularly practicing to keep my heart soft and open, stay with the discomfort, allow whatever is arising, and cultivate a sense of vulnerability, a willingness to be hurt. I purposefully practice compassion, which is nothing more than being with someone else and their pain, letting it touch you, experiencing it with them. I’d rather be uncomfortable and connected. I’d rather be of some help than none at all. I’d rather make mistakes than not even try.

One wish: May the merit of our practice ease suffering, in ourselves and the world.

Something Good

Icy morning river, image by Eric

1. 25 YA Books to Add to Your 2018 TBR List Right Now. And if you need more suggestions about what to read, here’s Roxane Gay’s comprehensive list, My 2017 Reading List. And, in other but still related news, 35 Literary Adaptations to Look Forward to in 2018.

2. Recipes I want to try: Rachel Roddy’s four bean-based recipes and Everyday Chocolate Cake.

3. 6 Ways My Parents Unintentionally Taught Me Disordered Eating.

4. CNN Debuts American Woman Documentary Series … Which Has the Same Name, Theme and Aesthetic as a Series Already Created by a Black Woman. Can we STOP doing this, please? Watch this short episode of the REAL American Woman series, an interview with Tarana Burke.

5. Black writer says he was nearly shot by police while shopping for conditioner. Speaking of things we need to STOP doing…

6. Watch grown-ish, a spin off of the brilliant black-ish. It’s also available on Hulu.

7. Photographer Reveals The “Addicted” Side Of The Streets Of Philadelphia.

8. Social Media Has Its Pitfalls But You Can Use It For Positive Change—Here’s How.

9. How To Do An Annual Review: 10 Questions. These are always presented as something to do at year’s end, but I think prompts like these are useful any time you are feeling stuck or confused.

10. Beyond the Food Podcast, Episode 109, The OTHER Reason Why We Overeat and Binge with Isabel Foxen Duke.

11. All the Weird Thoughts an Introvert Has After Socializing. #1 is so me. In related introvert news, Help for Introverts Who Are Struggling With Depression and 4 Ways for Introverts to Make 2018 Their Best Year Yet.

12. I Love You So Much Podcast Ep. 24, Austin Kleon on unlocking creativity; Nils Juul-Hansen on ‘Hygge.’

13. Good things from Karen Walrond’s This Was a Good Week list: 14 Ways To Make Journaling One Of The Best Things You Do In 2018, and Pad and i: 7. I’d like to make a toast, and 5 Ways to Be Kind Right Now.

14. Your theory from Seth Godin.

15. Dear life from Marc Johns.

16. Sick Little Lamb Falls In Love With A Rescue Cat. (video) In related news, Rescuing a family of dogs. (video)

17. UniLid. “Universal lid that fits all shapes and sizes with food tracking. The perfect, eco-friendly replacement for plastic wrap.” I need this! Apparently, so do a lot of other people — they set a $5000 goal, and it’s close to $500,000 with three days left in the campaign.

18. Turns out, Ringo Blue is part penguin. (video)

19. How to Deal With Failure, Rejection, or Public Humiliation, another great article from Kirsten Akens. “Very few people will turn a crummy Yelp review into a work project, but writer Alexandra Franzen has done just that with her new book, You’re Going to Survive.”

20. Roxane Gay on setting boundaries and saying “no.” (video) Why yes, Roxane Gay IS one of my favorite humans — why do you ask? 😉

21. Living Simply in 20 Square Meters. (video)

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. Because it’s been so cold and I went back to work this week, Eric’s been doing most of these for almost a full two weeks. I told him this morning how grateful I was that he’d been doing it, but that next week we need to get back on our normal schedule — I miss it.

2. Flowers in the bathroom. When we redid our bathroom a few years ago, it was so pretty all by itself that I didn’t actually decorate it. Two years later, there’s still nothing on the walls other than paint. I bought new bathmats and some towels, but the only other thing I do is keep flowers in there. It makes me happy.

3. Baby Ringo isn’t a baby anymore. He graduated to getting to have blankets in his crate when we aren’t home. He was so bad the first few years, putting everything in his mouth, eating and swallowing things that ARE NOT FOOD, that we didn’t want to risk leaving bedding in his crate with him when we weren’t there to watch him. We started leaving him with them last week, and he’s done totally fine, doesn’t even dig them up, just settles in for a nice nap. Good boy, Ringo.

4. Lineage. Three of my dogs have been rescues, and the next ones will be too. However, we got Ringo under special circumstances and he was born on purpose. Because of this, we know his parents. Peach, the dog top left, is his mom, and Spec, on the bottom left, is his dad. I’m so grateful to their human for cultivating a line of healthy, beautiful, smart, and even tempered dogs.

5. My tiny family. Besides Ringo, the rest of us are mutts.

6. I get to see these two love bugs. My niece had a baby just before Christmas, and my mom and I are hosting a baby shower for her in a few weeks. It’s in Oregon, but I’m going to fly out for a few days so I can be there. Can’t wait to meet the tiny new one!

Bonus joy: practice, deadlines — because once they come and go there’s nothing else you can do about it, Sam (because Ringo got all the attention in this post somehow) for being such a sweet dog, good books (I’m finishing up Jenifer Lewis’s book, The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir), good TV, podcasts, Emergen-C, aqua aerobics, the sauna, my new heating pad, clean sheets, soft flannel pjs, snow tires, windshield wiper fluid, sleep, writing, Burrito Del Mar breakfast burritos.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Our sweet confused Christmas tree is sprouting buds, thinks it’s spring. Eric hasn’t watered it in a few days, and is planning on taking it down today, maybe even before I get home from work, but she doesn’t know that. It feels like a metaphor for something, reminds me of the way we all continue to move forward even in the face of certain death. And when it’s over for us, we become compost for the next thing that will arise. It makes me feel both so small and so expansive, both so sad and so filled with love.

2. Truth: I’m cultivating patience. If I’d picked a word for last year, that would have been the right one. It was the quality I kept coming back to, the thing that both confounded and comforted me. I had to learn to be content with how long things took, to surrender my irritation when things didn’t work out how I wanted. I’m slowly (slowly, slowly) understanding the wisdom of allowing space and time, of letting go of my agenda.

3. Truth: I have to go back to work today. In this way, in particular, I am practicing patience in the moment. I’m allowing my longing to do something different and the discipline of doing what I said I’d do to coexist. Patience is about being able to stay with what is happening, even if it’s not what I want. It helps me to maintain my effort and enthusiasm in the face of obstacles. It’s an antidote to anger, which is really just a mask for fear.

One wish: May the light of wisdom and the warmth of compassion enable patience to arise.