Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I’ve been thinking a lot about paradigm shifts. In case you’ve never heard that phrase before it simply means doing or seeing things in a whole new way. It’s a total revolution in your understanding of something you previously took for granted. It’s like having faulty vision and then putting on prescription glasses — suddenly you see things in a whole new way. I’ve been through a few of these in my life, am currently experiencing another and thinking a lot about what it means. One shift for me was away from diet culture, disordered eating, self-loathing, and smashing myself to bits. My current shift is dismantling the existing system(s) of white supremacy, in myself and in the world.

2. Truth: Living a paradigm shift can feel like experiencing the stages of grief, (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance). And there is a sort of grief in letting go of an old way of being, entering a phase of discomfort and groundlessness. Initially, you live outside of the old system of understanding without fully inhabiting the new, and it can be lonely in that space. The tug of that old comfort, that worn knowing is strong. For some shifts, in order to view things a new way, one also might experience guilt, shame, and confusion. To fully make the shift, one needs to take responsibility for suffering we’ve generated and also to forgive ourselves. It’s hard work. As Pema Chödrön said,

I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” Somehow, even before I heard the Buddhist teachings, I knew that this was the spirit of true awakening. It was all about letting go of everything. Nevertheless, when the bottom falls out and we can’t find anything to grasp, it hurts a lot.

3. Truth: Paradigm shifts are complicated. They take much longer than you expect, which means you’ll have to be patient. Also, in unraveling old ways of being and knowing, one discovers a web where the thing that is shifting is connected to other things that also need attention, and it can feel like a real mess, almost impossible. And yet the peace that comes with the change, the relief of letting go, releasing the attachment to things that no longer work or make sense and entering a new clarity, is worth the struggle and effort.

One wish: If you are also experiencing a paradigm shift, may you stay curious, be gentle with yourself, remain patient, stay open to new information, ask for help when you need it, keep your sense of humor, and not give up. And even as it feels like you are standing outside and separate, may you know that you are not alone.

Something Good

Image by Connie J. Sun

1. Connie to the Wonnie. Connie J. Sun, “NYC cartoonist who works in higher education and draws an illustrated status message a day. Single Girl, Asian Daughter. Cartoons daily, Mon-Fri.” I was trying to figure out what image to share with this post this morning, and I saw Connie’s for today on Facebook, and it’s so perfect, (the above image, just in case that’s not entirely clear). I shared a link to her work a few weeks ago on this list, but since then, I’ve been loving it so much that I felt like I needed to share again, as in “no really, this is so awesome, you should check her out.”

2. Your Time is Now from Karen Walrond on Chookooloonks. Amen!

I think now, more than ever, it’s important for all of us to use our creativity not just as a casual pastime, but as a more intentional form of true self-expression. Whatever your medium — an artist’s paint, a photographer’s camera and light, or even a scientist’s or mathematician’s formulas or equations — whatever your art, it’s becoming more important than ever to use it to express what you stand for. To create meaning. To use your art to shout your values, whatever they are, and decry injustice or discrimination, wherever you see it.

3. Write Good from Paul Jarvis. He makes some really good points about what’s really important when it comes to writing, like “You just write good, as often as possible, and share it. The more you share, the more likely you are to release something that leaves a mark.”

4. The Republic of the Body: May 2017, an offering from the brilliant Jena Schwartz. If I weren’t so stupid busy right now, I’d totally be there. “A brand new four-week writing group is for anyone who wants to discover or deepen their writing practice, with the use of prompts inspired by the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar as well as other traditional sources. We will freewrite without stopping, three days/week for 10 minutes at a time. As with all of my groups: You do not have to be good (or have any actual yoga experience). You just have to be willing to take your seat and see what happens.”

5. The Universe in Verse, “is brought to you by Brain Pickings and Pioneer Works as a protest against the defunding of science and the arts. We are donating all ticketing proceeds to the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Academy of American Poets. The hosts and readers are all donating their time and talent, and this livestream is donated by Kickstarter Live.” In related news, an important distinction from Seth Godin, What does “science” mean?

6. I was the target of a neo-Nazi ‘troll storm.’

7. How to Tell a True Tale: Neil Gaiman on What Makes a Great Personal Story. “Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.”

8. The Sanctity of Letting Things Percolate from Adreanna Limbach. I got this post in an email, and what was included there that isn’t in the blog post was this message, “It takes 14 months to birth a baby camel…16 months to birth a baby walrus…And nearly 2 years to birth a baby elephant. You’re doing great.”

9. 10+ Of The Happiest Animal Memes To Start The Week With A Smile.

10. In The 1920s, A Community Conspired To Kill Native Americans For Their Oil Money.

11. What I’ve Learned After 5 Years and 20 Books: 25 Lessons from Chuck Wendig.

12. The Alphabet of Right Now on A Design So Vast. What a great writing prompt.

13. Warm and Woodsy on SF Girl by Bay. I am swooning over this furniture.

14. Create What You Wish to See, more good stuff from Karen Waldrond on Chookooloonks. In related news, Ep. 8: The Highest of Thrives of the Hey, Sis! podcast, featuring…Karen Walrond.

15. 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam – Ebony Stewart “Compassion Fatigue”.

Ebony Stewart is a touring performance artist and slam poet who has been active in the central Texas slam poetry scene and theater community for over a decade. Ebony Stewart was on the Austin Neo Soul Slam team in 2010 that finished fourth in the Nation. She coached the 2012 Austin Neo-Soul & 2015 Austin Poetry Slam teams, that finished first and fifth, respectively, at the National Poetry Slam as well and the 2015 They Speak Youth Slam that finished eighth in the world at the Brave New Voices competition. The only adult female three-time Slam Champion in Austin, Texas, voted Top Female Touring Poet. In 2015, she debuted her one-woman show, Hunger, for which she won Outstanding Lead Actress in a drama and received the David Mark Cohen New Play Award. Recently crowned, Co-Champion of the 2017 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Her work has been published in the Texas Observer, For Harriet, and Teen Vogue. Ebony Stewart aka The Gully Princess aka “She’ll eat your cupcake” – she, her, is the #storyoftheblackgirlwinning.

16. Stay-at-home mum’s self-portrait photo project.

17. The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black.

18. The Stubborn Gladness of a New Dog on The Cognitive Canine. P.S. Send the new little guy some love if you’ve got it to give. He’s been in the hospital sick the past few days. Feel better, little dude!

19. The IHop Years, “1983-1990: Life at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the International House of Pancakes” from David Sedaris.

20. Why I’m Absolutely an Angry Black Woman by Dominique Matti.

21. My Religion Is Kindness, “the core of all spiritual and humanistic paths” from Tara Brach.

22. Wisdom from the Dalai Lama’s Nobel acceptance speech (1989),

I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of inner peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion and elimination of ignorance, selfishness and greed.

The problems we face today, violent conflicts, destruction of nature, poverty, hunger, and so on, are human-created problems which can be resolved through human effort, understanding and the development of a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion.

23. 5 Ways Not to Bite the Trump Hook from Susan Piver, in case you were needing the reminder. I know I sure am.

24. I’m a Tea Party conservative. Here’s how to win over Republicans on renewable energy. “This earth belongs to all of us.”

25. 70 years ago, six Philly women became the world’s first digital computer programmers. “Without any real training, they learned what it took to make ENIAC work – and made it a humming success. Their contributions were overlooked for decades.”

26. Why shopping should be a last resort. “Toronto illustrator Sarah Lazarovic’s Buyerarchy of Needs urges people to consider other options before hitting the mall.” A great set of graphics.

27. Letter: Living free from the pursuit of weight loss.

28. The Trouble with Tolerance by Omid Safi.

29. Glennon Doyle Melton’s Important Message for White Feminists. She’s not the first or only one to say this, but in case you didn’t or couldn’t hear it when someone else said it, let’s give this a try.

30. 8 Signs Your Yoga Practice Is Culturally Appropriated – And Why It Matters. I’ve read and shared this before, but it’s always worth revisiting.

31. Baby Winnie, the hippo. So cute!

32. Suck it Up: Some Advice to Straight White Men, From Straight White Men.

33. Clementine Ford: Committing sexual assault is never ‘out of character.’ “But rape isn’t something that otherwise good and decent people just stumble into. Someone who makes the choice to rape or sexually assault someone isn’t acting out of character – rather, they are expressing a central part of their character that all too many people seem willing to overlook in their desires to have these people continue to be ‘good’. The part of their character that believes they are entitled to use women’s bodies against their will, to dominate and hurt women for their own gratification.” Amen.

34. 16 Lies Fat People are Tired of Hearing. Word.

35. Criticism and Courage, a FREE online class with Susan Hyatt and Alexandra Franzen. “Can’t make it on May 11th? No problem. Go ahead and register anyway—and you’ll get a link to the recording after the live event concludes.”

36. Dear Sugar Radio. A great podcast, “radically empathic advice from Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond.” In related news, Best of 2016: Most Listened-To Podcast Episodes of On Being.

37. American Poets, Refusing to Go Gentle, Rage Against the Right.

38. Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock film by Oscar Nominees Josh Fox and James Spione and Native filmmaker Myron Dewey.

39. Help Save the Bees, a great list of tips.

40. When Was It Exactly That We Lost Our Humanity? from Renegade Mothering.

41. Fix Their Problems. “There is no creature in American politics more puzzled over by Democrats than the angry, forgotten Trump voter. How can we reach them? How should we speak to them? Here’s a wild idea: fix their problems.”

42. Women of color don’t owe you shit by Femme Feministe.

43. Burg’s Place. This is one of my favorite shelters, humans, dogs, an effort that lives at the very center of my heart.

44. 15 Indigenous Femenists To Know, Read, And Listen To. In related news, 21 Fierce Black Feminists To Follow On Instagram Right Now.

45. Can we talk about personal responsibility?

46. Erikan’s dream was to create a meeting place for young black people to meet, network and dream big.

47. Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. 50 years later, she’s running it again.

48. Different Branches on the Same Tree from Jena Schwartz.

49. Hateful People Are Exhausting by John Pavlovitz.

Like the vast majority of this country, I want it to be the place where equality, diversity, and decency find sanctuary, and though I am fully committed to the aspiration, I am feeling the cumulative weariness sustained from a small but fierce portion of the population (including far too much of its leadership) whose narrative about the world depends upon acrimony for so much of it. I know that I’m not alone in this emotional depletion and physical fatigue.

But it will not consume me and it will not change my heart toward the world. It will not derail my path or alter my convictions.

I will be a person of love here or I will die trying.

50. There’s A Japanese Word For People Who Buy More Books Than They Can Actually Read. Guilty.

Day of Rest

These lines of a longer poem from Rumi have been coming up a lot for me. It feels so important, especially now, to take care, to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. And that first line is so essential: sit, be still, and listen. May you find the space to do so today, kind and gentle reader, and may it be useful.

What I’m Doing: Something Good

#kitchencounterlovenote

A while back, I updated the description for my weekly Something Good list. I added this clarification: This list has changed a bit recently from things you’d typically label as “good” to “things I think you need to see” because the world has shifted and there are things that are important, that need shared.

My mission, my purpose (for my life and this blog) hasn’t changed — to ease suffering, in myself and in the world — but the way I do so has evolved. I used to think the best thing I could do was help to cheer people up, empower and encourage them, remind them that the world and people are fundamentally good. I still think there’s a need for that. There’s always a need for that. But in the meantime, I’ve noticed the need for something else too — speaking out and taking action against oppression, injustice, and aggression. And I am convinced that the primary issue of our time is systematic white supremacy, so much of my effort is focused on dismantling that however I can, because it is harmful to ALL of us, not just those being oppressed.

A critical comment on my last Something Good list made me want to clarify for you, kind and gentle reader, what I’m doing here. The comment referenced The Kind Hearted Blogger Pledge I’d taken some time ago, said that my blog wasn’t kind and neither was I. I took a bit of time and reread the pledge, and realized that I could no longer abide by it completely, so removed the button from my blog.

I believe there is a distinct difference between being kind, or rather “nice,” and being compassionate. I’ve talked about it here before, but the short version is that being “nice” means doing everything I can so that no one feels uncomfortable, staying positive and only saying “nice” things, giving people what they want in order to avoid conflict. Being “nice” is being accommodating, compliant, likeable, quiet if necessary — not rocking the boat.

I’m not nice; I’m compassionate. True compassion does not shy away from causing discomfort or setting boundaries, because compassion is concern for the suffering and misfortune of others. And if you are conspiring or directly involved in the suffering and misfortune of others, I most certainly am not concerned with your comfort or your feelings — if for no other reason than I’m too busy mitigating the harm you are causing and trying to stop you from doing more damage.

In action, compassion first means I practice, regularly focusing my effort on being more mindful, more present, openhearted but stable, healthy, sane, aware, wise. I’m constantly working to heal myself, to process my difficult emotions rather than acting on them, working to unravel my habitual patterns, trying to approach each situation with curiosity rather than judgment, not allowing my discursive thoughts to take control of my actions, considering how I might be generating suffering and figuring out how to ease that.

In action, compassion also means I act on behalf of others who are suffering or being harmed. I am willing to allow people to be who they are, believe what they choose and do what they want, but as soon as that requires the oppression of or violence against others, I won’t comply. I cannot agree with, support, or allow that.

I suppose my blog is an invitation of sorts. I invite you to make this effort with me, to be more compassionate and sane people, to heal what you need to heal in yourself so that you don’t harm others, to remain curious about your own confusion and blind spots, to step in where you see others being harmed and offer help, to give space to the voices of those who are oppressed and otherwise silenced, to protect what needs kept safe, to listen deeply, to maintain your sense of humor, and not give up. As the tagline for this blog urges: life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible — keep your heart open. And don’t ever let anyone tell you that to have an open heart, to be compassionate, requires that you be “nice” and keep your mouth shut.

Gratitude Friday

1. Colorado sunrises. There is something particularly magic about the sky here, and I feel so lucky to be up and out early enough to be able to see the sun come up and the various ways it lights up the sky.

2. Morning walks with the dogs. It hasn’t been long enough for me to start to take them for granted yet. It’s still fresh in my mind the long stretches of time in the last few years when I was injured or hurt or sick and couldn’t go.

I also love having lived somewhere long enough, walked enough miles on the same trails to have favorite spots, favorite trees, places where what happened there that one time is still such a clear memory. When things are really green in the spring, this is one of my favorite spots on the trail.

3. Good food. We finished watching the whole Samurai Gourmet series, so I’ve been craving Asian food lately, in particular a bowl of rice with vegetables and teriyaki chicken. I skipped a meeting the other day and took myself to lunch so I could finally have some. It was good, but it made me realize what I really wanted was the same thing from Love Love Teriyaki in Salem, Oregon.

4. The lilacs are blooming, so there’s flowers in the bathroom.

5. My tiny family. Ringo always makes me laugh, even when he’s being a jerk. I feel so tender about Sam because he’s the same age Obi was when he was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and with the worry this week about his health because of his tick bite, I’m reminded that we are “tangled up in love, running out of time,” (from “In the Middle,” a poem by Barbara Crooker). And when I woke up this morning feeling like I was getting sick, knowing if I walked the dogs in the rain like I’d promised Eric that it would seal the deal, he walked them for me, getting rained on almost the whole time.

Bonus joy: A good book, finishing the laundry, teaching yoga, having people see me and say so, writing with my dream Wild Writing class, saying “no,” putting on clean pajamas even if I haven’t managed to take a shower yet, the prospect of fresh biscuits and a nap later, tulips, clean water.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: This isn’t the post I want to be writing. There’s another one I want to write but don’t have the time for right now, inspired by a comment from the other day. The post I want to write is about the difference between being “nice” and true compassion, clarifying what I’m doing here, and the struggle I’m having with how to work with the current state of things and in particular with those who believe I should just shut up about it.

2. Truth: I skipped a meeting today because I knew I wasn’t up for it. I was hungry and cranky and getting a headache and knew if I went, I’d say something regrettable, or say nothing and be equally miserable. Instead, I took myself to lunch, fed myself exactly what I wanted, came back to my office and got back to work.

3. Truth: I taught a yoga class this morning, was subbing for the regular teacher. The people who showed up are people I’ve practiced with for a long time. I had a plan going in, but about 10 minutes in, something else started happening, so I went with it. It ended up being a good class, but not at all what I’d expected. It makes me very grateful to be at a place where I can trust myself. I’ve got three more classes coming up on my teaching schedule, so it’s a good thing to keep in mind. And as my friend Aramati says, “teaching is one part preparation and one part letting go.”

One wish: May we remember that all beings just want to be happy and safe (even though the methods some use to achieve that aren’t wise or compassionate), and may we be able to keep our hearts open while maintaining a sense of stability and sanity.

Something Good


1. ‘Samurai Gourmet’ explores the art of the meal, a quirky little show Eric found on Netflix that I am now so in love with. #retirementgoals

2. Celebrate Poetry Month: 28 Breathtaking Poetry Books to Read Now. #NationalPoetryMonth

3. A guided reflection on bringing RAIN to difficulty, “Tara Brach discusses RAIN, a technique she frequently teaches to her students and also uses in her own life.”

4. Good stuff from Rachel Cole: What feeds me? and Feast: Your Self-Guided Journey toBecoming a Well-fed Woman — I did the group intensive version of this program, and it is life changing, worth every penny; this self-guided version gives the option of doing the program independently and self-paced for fewer pennies.

5. maybe just look from Karen Walrond on Chookooloonks.

I can’t help but notice that as time passes (and political leaders change, and cities get bombed, and police are needlessly violent, and civilians get hurt…), I find myself more and more cynical about everything going on around me. That cynicism, actually, is part of the reason that I continue to blog: taking photographs is how I keep myself from spiraling into terminal crankiness; I share them in the hope that it might help others to keep from doing the same.

6. Wisdom Susannah Conway’s latest Love Letter,

The other day somebody asked me why I do what I do — what’s the point of all this? And my short in-the-moment answer was that I teach people tools to help them to trust, know and express themselves better. Because here’s the thing: to be able to have any kind of impact in this world, on a micro or macro scale, we must first heal our own hurts, learn how to take impeccable care of our selves and live life as consciously as possible. We need a working vocabulary for our wants and needs, our feelings and fears, our shadows and our light. We need to be able to treat our selves with kindness and compassion so we know how to extend that to another. And as corny as it sounds, if we can be our own best friend — owning our flaws and faults as well as our strengths and brilliance — we stand a better chance of not polluting the world (or anyone in it) with our messes.

7. Journal prompts on Pinterest. And if that’s not enough, here’s a great post from Alexandra Franzen with tons of good ideas, Not sure what to write about?

8. It’s White America’s Job To Fight White Supremacism. This is a good article, but it seems to want to limit “white supremacism” to its extreme and violent manifestation, rather than recognize that it also exists in ways that seem very polite, institutionalized, and “normal.”

9. Fat in the era of Trump. “The resistance can’t just be limited to the protests we attend or the elected officials’ offices we call (all of which we must keep doing). We need to make a serious effort to love ourselves in spite of the deafening messages that we aren’t worthy of such a luxury.”

10. Meet The ‘Cucamelon,’ The Cutest Fruit You’ll Ever See. Seriously.

11. Minus18 on YouTube, “Australia’s largest youth-led organisation for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. This channel is run entirely by youth, aged 14-21, all the filming, editing and content is produced solely by us!” They have some really great content, including their Trans 101 series.

12. There Is No Perfect Life from Jena Schwartz. I know it might seem strange, but this is the sort of thing that cheers me right up. Don’t give me positive thinking, give me this every time — tell me the truth but then remind me it’s okay. It’s like that quote from Pema Chödrön, “None of us is ever OK, but we all get through everything just fine.”

13. The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week.

14. 9 Bad Manager Mistakes That Make Good People Quit. I have a good boss, but I am face down in #1 on this list right now.

15. 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert. You know, if there were still any question.

16. Why eating vegetarian may not be the most ethical diet.

17. Stop The Slaughterhouse on CSU’s Campus. First a football stadium, now this…

18. Weed Chef // 60 Second Docs.

19. Indonesia’s horse library. Like a bookmobile, only this one poops.

20. Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer returns to SNL, dressed as the Easter Bunny, to explain Passover.