Something Good

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1. My writing day. “Authors and writers describe their typical writing day in this regular Saturday Review series.”

2. Letting Go of “Health-ism” and Related Panic from Isabel Foxen Duke. This is so important.

People steadfastly cling to the belief that they can make themselves “pure” or even immortal (outsmarting death, disease, etc.) by making “correct” food choices—spending hours studying the literature, listening to gurus, or trying to find the golden key.

This idea that we can outsmart death and disease—that we can effectively prevent “bad things” from happening to us if we make the “right” food choices—is particularly interesting, considering how incredibly faith-based, and un-scientific, this sentiment really is.

Food doesn’t even come close to the top of the list of things that will likely kill me or anyone else—genetics, environment, age, and various factors outside of my control are far better predictors of illness or death—yet we cling desperately to the delusion that food is the primary determinant of our fate, frantically trying to “play God” through our food choices.

3. ‘Attention Is the Beginning of Devotion’, “The late poet Mary Oliver warned against looking without noticing. In an age of distraction, her work is more urgent than ever.”

4. Wisdom from Andréa Ranae: “We are not powerless. Your identities, your experiences, the histories you’ve inherited in culture and body, your gifts and skills, your vision, your communities, your will, the resources you have access to…. these are all sites of power – abundant wells for you to tap into and use to consciously cultivate the world that y(our) descendants will inherit from all of us. You cannot control the world around you (thank goodness), but you can decide how you’re going to use the power that you do have.”

5. Why Introverts Won’t Survive Without Self-Care.

6. Morehouse College Graduates’ Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire on The New York Times.

7. The anti-gay extremist behind America’s fiercely strict abortion bans. In related news, Republicans, Men and Christians Aren’t Trying to Ban Abortions. White People Are.

8. Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins Accused of Verbal Abuse and Sexual Misconduct. Is anyone really surprised?

9. Guatemalan Toddler Apprehended At U.S. Border Dies After Weeks In Hospital.

10. Grumpy Cat, Internet Celebrity With a Piercing Look of Contempt, Is Dead at 7 on The New York Times.

11. A new report shows how racism and bias deny black girls their childhoods.

12. Farmers Remain Silent at Auction So This Young Man Can Buy His Family Farm Back.

13. Tim Conway, Who Relished The Role Of Comedic Co-Star, Dies At 85.

14. Keuka College Commencement Speech “from the future.” (video)

15. Malaysian school kids trying to hula hoop. (video)

16. Mom, a sweet video about a dog looking for a mom.

Gratitude Friday

A collection of plants

All the plants from my CSU office

1. Zero more days at CSU!!! It hasn’t completely sunk in yet. I am so focused on prepping and teaching the capstone for my 500 hour yoga teacher certification on Sunday that I haven’t fully relaxed into the reality that from here on out, I am the one making all the decisions about where I focus my time and effort. This morning, I removed myself as an admin on the Facebook page, logged out of the Instagram and Twitter accounts, and checked my email for the last and final time: done.

2. It’s finally time to put a garden in. I recently finished the novel Tulip Fever and am reading a nonfiction book about the same topic, Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused. That, combined with my Dutch roots, makes me want to plant a bunch of tulips this year, in varying shades of purple.

3. Morning walks. There are all kinds of babies right now, the river is full of snow melt, and everything is turning so green. Not only do I not need a headlamp, but I start out wearing sunglasses!

4. Wild Writing with Laurie and Chloe’ and Mikalina. I signed up for a short session to launch myself into my “retirement.” This morning is the first meeting and I can’t wait!

5. My tiny family. It’s only been a day and a half since I finished up at CSU, but I already can feel how much I missed getting to spend time with my boys, and how lovely it’s going to be getting to be around them more. If nothing else, there clearly will be WAY more pictures of them to share.

Bonus joy: hummingbirds, the sound of the whole house fan in the morning, the prospect of finally being able to clean out and organize my home office, teaching yoga, aqua aerobics, Pilates with Ashley, the smell of my lilacs, how healthy my Peonies are, tape, that place you get when you are transitioning or moving where you finally can surrender and let things go, working in my pjs, Ann’s irises continuing to thrive, dandelions, a big glass of cold clean water, my infrared heating pad after getting needled at physical therapy, health insurance, the privilege and luxury of being able to quit my job, long naps, reading in bed at night while all three boys sleep, good TV, clementines.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Trail, trees, and sunrise on our walk this morning

From our walk this morning

One of the first things Eric said to me this morning was, “this is the first day of the rest of your life.” Yesterday was my last day of work at CSU. It was weird, but also right. A lot of people assumed I was some mix of excited and scared, but fear has nothing to do with it at this point. Yesterday felt a little bit like my birthday, a little bit like the first time I left home – which I also did at nineteen years.

I first came to CSU 19 years ago as a graduate student in the English M.A. Communication Development program, a program that doesn’t even exist anymore. While a graduate student, I worked as a tutor in the Writing Center, as a Writing Teaching Assistant, and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. After graduating, I taught various Composition courses, did lots of coding and web design, was a web project manager for a bit, was an editor, a web manager, and eventually the department’s first Communications Coordinator. I created our first blog, had a big part in redesigning the website not once but twice, had interns and a budget. And then it all got to be too much.

There were seven years somewhere in the middle I spent working in a super toxic situation. The person in charge of a big project I worked on is a narcissist. I used to call him that as a joke, and then one day I looked it up in the DSM-5 and realized he fit the description exactly. As hard as that experience was, as awful as that time was, I learned a lot from it. I learned how not to treat people. I learned how to deal with someone constantly abusing me without lashing out or hurting myself. I got lots of therapy, and started practicing yoga and mediation. When my strategies of self-care and coping stopping working in the face of the abuse, I hit my breaking point.

When that happened, I was going to leave CSU. My plan was to quit altogether. Eric talked me down from a ledge, suggested I write up a new job description. I did, explained I could no longer continue to work as I was but that I still had a lot to offer. They agreed and I stayed. It worked out okay, but the workload just kept growing, and even though I said regularly to those in positions of power that it was too much, that it wasn’t sustainable or healthy, nothing really changed. The stress and overwhelm impacted both my mental and physical health. When I turned 50, I thought about how I’d probably work another 10-15 years, and I couldn’t imagine doing what I was for that much longer. I knew I couldn’t keep going.

My now empty office

To be fair, the job had never been my “thing.” It was confusing though, because my thing IS  teaching and writing, and the position allowed me to do something that sort of looked like that. And yet, I was doing those things according to someone else’s agenda, fulfilling someone else’s purpose, meeting goals that weren’t my own. It never really felt like the right fit, like an exact match. It always felt like a shoe that was half a size too small, or using a fork when really what you needed was a spoon.

After what feels like a decade of prep, months of having little to no time off because I was teaching my own things in addition to my CSU work or completing various teaching certifications, almost eight years of showing up to write regularly here, hours and hours of what career change coach Laura Simms calls a crossfade — “a transition period where your current and future careers overlap. Your current career fades out, and your new career fades in,” I finally was able to make the choice to leave. To be clear, I can only make that choice because my husband has a full time job he doesn’t plan on leaving, I can get on his health insurance, we own our house and have a really low mortgage, we can pretty easily modify our spending habits, and we don’t have kids. It’s a choice I can make because of my privilege. That said, I’ve also worked since I was 14 years old, and NONE of those jobs were pursuing my own purpose. That, finally, is what I intend to do now.

From our walk this morning

I don’t know if I’ve shared it here yet, but my new job title is: Contemplative Practice Guide. I am going to specialize in yoga asana, meditation, and writing as practice. I am going to teach in person and online. My mission remains the same as always, to ease suffering — in myself and in the world. My intention is to hold space for those cultivating the foundation of a sane mind and open heart, embodied compassion and wisdom. My hope is that from that foundation we can work together to make things better. Along with teaching, I’ll still be writing a lot, maybe even finish one of the books I’ve been working on for so long.

This Sunday is my final day of my last module of my 500 hour yoga teacher certification. That means for the next few days I’m focusing on putting together my capstone class I’ll be teaching. It requires that I create a 40-45 minute sequence that includes something from all of the modules so it’s a pretty big deal. After that, I’m going to circle back and finish my certifications from Curvy Yoga and Yoga for All. Then I’ll spend the summer cleaning and decluttering and repairing and painting our house, planting and maintaining the garden, reading books and taking naps, cooking (I want to learn to make bread, in particular), with one trip to Oregon to visit my family. I’m going to be researching places where I can teach locally, as well as considering the online platform I want to use for some classes I’d like to offer in the fall. I’m going to put together a new website that’s more focused on my “work.”

So that’s a little about where I’ve been, how I got here, and where I’m headed. As always, I can’t thank you enough, kind and gentle reader, for being here. For showing up, for listening, for offering encouragement. I am so grateful for you.

Three Truths and One Wish

Me, Dexter and Obi

Me, Dexter and Obi

1. Grief is something you never get over, you just get used to it. Nine years ago today, Kelly died. Losing her is inextricably linked, in my heart and mind, to losing Obi and then Dexter — one big sticky sharp heavy lump of hurt. It’s been ten years since Obi and Kelly were first diagnosed, practically on the same day, and ever since then, I’ve carried around a deep sadness, a brutal tenderness, an awareness that not only is impermanence real, but it sneaks up on you when you aren’t expecting it, way before you are ready, (although, in many cases there’s no such thing as “ready,” ever). Yes, we all die eventually, but some of us go way too soon, and the hurt of that might dull but it never goes away.

2. The worst part of grief for me is the uncertainty.  I envy people who have strong beliefs about what happens after we die, who feel sure, who can comfort themselves with platitudes like, “they are in a better place” or “someday we’ll see each other again.” I don’t have this, and honestly the worst part of losing Kelly and Obi and Dexter is that I might NEVER see them again. Living with that reality is the worst part of the loss for me.

3. Grief is love unbound by form. Susan Piver is the one who I first heard say that. It’s absolutely true. We are used to having a physical target for our love, a tangible form we can reach out and touch. When suddenly our love doesn’t have that place to land, it goes wild. No longer is there a voice we can listen to, a hand we can hold, a face we can gaze at. It’s hard to know what to do. The love and even the relationship remains, but the body is gone. We love and we love and we love, but in response there’s only silence, emptiness, what feels like nothing.

One wish: 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.

Something Good

From our walk this morning

1. Say It Now: 33 Ways To Say I LOVE YOU To the Most Important People In Your Life, a new book by Sherry Richert Belul.

2. Tools & Talismans: A Conversation in Watercolors by Liz Kalloch, which will be available as a book this fall.

3. One Day With the Squad That Removes Needles and Feces From Downtown Portland Streets.

4. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: The trouble with being lazy and An alternate world.

5. Why Everyone Is Watching TV with Closed Captioning On These Days. I totally do this.

6. Just buy the f***ing latte. “Ellevest’s Sallie Krawcheck has no patience for a brewing trend in personal-finance mansplaining.”

7. Hi, Definitely Don’t Tag Authors In Your Negative Reviews Of Their Books from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

8. Garden Lover’s Club. This is a great resource, with growing guides for specific plants and a plant finder feature that groups plants together in a really helpful way, such as by color.

9. This Swiss Cinema Replaced All Of Their Seats With Double Beds.

10. 2,624-year-old Tree Discovered in North Carolina Swamp Is One of the Oldest on Earth.

11. The longest-serving inmate to win exoneration in the U.S. created art to cope with decades in prison, and he’s finally sharing it with the world. (video)

12. OlaRonke Akinmowo on Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, and the Free Black Women’s Library.

13. Sofie Hagen on her problem with #bodypositivity. (video)

14. What Is Writing and Does This Count as It? on The New Yorker.

15. National Bail Out. “We are reuniting families, creating a national community of leaders who have experienced incarceration, and working with groups across the country to transform harmful systems to keep our people safe and free.”

16. They Just Opened the First Black-owned Urgent Care Center on the Southside of Chicago.

17. 4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Hijacking the Conversation on Racial Justice.

18. ‘We’re in constant crisis’: cyclone-hit reservation forced to recover on its own.

19. Empathy is Not Endorsement. “Digital creator Dylan Marron has racked up millions of views for projects like ‘Every Single Word’ and ‘Sitting in Bathrooms With Trans People’ — but he’s found that the flip side of success online is internet hate. Over time, he’s developed an unexpected coping mechanism: calling the people who leave him insensitive comments and asking a simple question: ‘Why did you write that?’ In a thoughtful [TED] talk about how we interact online, Marron explains how sometimes the most subversive thing you can do is actually speak with people you disagree with, not simply at them.”

20. Pardon Me While I Clap Back at the Wall Street Journal’s Bullshit. I wanted to share this for a particular reason beyond the focus of the article. The author says something that is SO important to hear and really, really, really take to heart: “the group who legally slaughtered the Native Americans, enslaved Africans, imprisoned Japanese Americans, lynched, disenfranchised, stole land, oppressed and tortured every non-white population since the inception of this country have never, ever been on the right side of justice.” Unless we acknowledge this truth and start to repair it, to heal and change, things won’t get better. We can no longer cling to the mythology of who we are. We must take responsibility for the truth of who we are and what we’ve done.

21. Wind Telephone. “A disconnected rotary phone for ‘calling’ lost loved ones offered a unique way of dealing with grief in disaster-stricken Japan.”

22. Love Tiny Things? This Popular Instagram Now Has a Book Devoted to All Things Mini.

23. 24 Books for Anti-Racist Teachers – White Fragiles Beware!

24. Kiarah could sing the phonebook and it would resonate, but when she leads the PS22 Chorus in “Stay” by Rihanna, it detonates!!! (video) Seriously this Facebook page gives me LIFE. And her smile at the end is everything.

25. I Raised Two CEOs and a Doctor. These Are My Secrets to Parenting Successful Children. It’s official. I’m ruined. I can’t even get past reading the title of this article without saying, “Secret #1: be WHITE.” I decided to read the article, because I wanted to see if the author (who apparently has also written a parenting book) would spend any time at all recognizing her privilege as a white person, how without that all her secrets and tips wouldn’t really apply or work because she would have bigger, more pressing concerns and obstacles. Do you think she talked about that part? Go ahead, guess..I can wait.

26. By dressing how she wants on-air, journalist Jana Shortal is redefining what it means to look like a TV anchor. (video)

27. 5 People Who Can Help You Love Your Body on The New York Times. “Learning to love your body — whatever shape or size you may be — is easier said than done, but these people are out to teach all of us that there’s no time like the present to fall in love with who you see in the mirror.”

28. A boy left home after a drought left his family eating one meal a day. He died in US custody weeks later. In related news, 7-year-old girl reunites with immigrant father 326 days after being separated.

29. This Woman Is Photographing Every Federally Recognized Native American Tribe. “Matika Wilbur aims to shift public perception of Native America with her Kickstarter-funded Project 562.”

30. If this is not you on a treadmill then you’re doing it wrong. (video) It just makes me laugh. And it’s better with the sound on, so unmute the video when you watch it.

31. ‘This Is Not Who We Are,’ Colorado Officials Say After Deadly School Shooting. No, this IS who we are, and THAT is the problem.

32. This 19-year-old crane operator is being hailed a hero after saving 14 people from a burning building. (video)

33. These 5-year-olds turned a basketball group huddle into a group cuddle. (video)

34. This incarcerated woman gave birth alone in an isolated cell after she reportedly pleaded for help when she went into labor. (video)

35. Ani DiFranco Relives Her Indie Rock Rise: ‘I Wanted A Different Kind Of Power.’

36. Family of Sandra Bland Demands Answers After New Footage of Her Arrest Surfaces.

37. How “Avengers: Endgame” sabotaged Thor’s character development for a movie long fat joke.

38. I’m Done Mowing My Lawn on The New York Times. “A manicured swath of grass may be the ultimate symbol of suburbia, but perhaps it shouldn’t be.” Me too, at least in the front. The back will stay mostly grass because of the dogs, who need a soft carpet under their feet and something nice to roll around in.

39. Humans pushing 1 million species to brink of extinction, says UN report.

40. Return To Middle School In ‘PEN15’: Creators Say ‘It’s All About Survival.’

Gratitude Friday

1. Baby foxes! The pictures aren’t great because with two dogs, this is as close as we can get to them. The last year or so were the first babies in at least five years. Our fox population got wiped out by plague or rabies or some combination of both, but they are finally back.

2. Morning walks. There are going to be a lot more of these in my future.

3. Flowers in the bathroom. Eric bought me these. I love when he does that, sometimes because I’m having a hard week or sometimes for no reason at all.

4. Three more days at CSU!!! I took some final pictures of my office today, my last Friday in that space. Eric is coming tomorrow to take some of my plants to his office, so I realized if I pack most everything up today, he could help me move it out when he’s here, which means these are the final moments this space will look like this. As soon as I start boxing stuff up, it’s going to feel really real.

5. My tiny family. I love how Sam always wants to be right with me. I’m sad that Ringo feels that way about Eric and not me, but I guess I can’t have everything.

Bonus joy: the flock of tiny birds sitting on my fence and in my lilacs, sushi, all the people who are stopping by my office to tell me good stuff, cupcakes and awards, money I hadn’t expected, how much greener the grass gets every time it snows, Pilates with Ashley, aqua aerobics, sitting in the sauna, teaching yoga, being so close to being done with some really big things, knowing what I’m going to be doing but allowing room for surprise, good books, the sweetest Facebook page for an elementary school choir and the videos they post, writing with Mikalina, texting with Chloe’ and my brother, emails from my mom (not saying you have to email me, Mom, but rather while I was cleaning out my work email today I found a whole folder of emails from you and it made me happy), going to a movie on a weekday with Carrie, shock wave therapy for my knees, an awesome physical therapist, THC gummies, CBD oil, living in Colorado where both things are now legal, napping, the smell of my lilacs.

Something Good

1. 7 ‘Rules’ For Sensitive Introverts To Protect Their Energy.

2. Giving Credit Poster. “In 2011, a few of us design-centric bloggers got together via email to discuss the importance of giving credit online – inspired by our discussions I designed this poster with their support and advice, and now I’m happy to offer it as a PDF to download so that you can use it digitally as well as print it at your local print shop, whichever size you like, to use as a teaching tool.”

3. Working remotely on an island: a day in the life of a company of one.

4. Today is “No Diet Day.” In related news, Dismantling Diet Culture and Pursuing Weight Loss Is Not a Way to “Take Care of Yourself” and No Diet Day Round-up.

5. Facebook bans Alex Jones, Infowars, Louis Farrakhan, and others it deems “dangerous.” In related news, Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other ‘dangerous’ voices banned by Facebook and Instagram.

6. The New Tent from Susannah Conway. “In April 2019 I sent out a Love Letter describing my experience of the early days of perimenopause. I received so many replies to that letter I wanted to gather them together so we can all benefit from the stories that were shared. We’re not alone! I will add to this page as more stories come in and more resources are found.”

7. Fun things from Chookooloonks’ “this was a good week” list: In New Jersey, an 1890s-Era Home Honoring Black Heritage, and Photographer Captures Magical Beauty of Looking Up in the Middle of a Forest, and This Graphic Shows the Best Air-Cleaning Plants, According to NASA, and this cool Instagram account.

8. Things That Need to Stop Happening in Fat Fashion.

9. Restored by the Fords: Exclusive. “leanne and her brother steve ford beautifully restore the rineman house — a newly purchased, 1930s farmhouse in the country. leanne highlights the home’s existing beauty while bringing out more of its character with modern-bohemian touches including whitewashed beamed ceilings (i want these in my kitchen!), natural hardwood floors and a white-on-white color scheme that really opens up the space.” There’s almost no color in this space, but it’s dreamy and so cozy.

10. ‘Stop What You’re Doing and Watch’: Applause and Gratitude for Ady Barkan’s Emotional Medicare for All Testimony. In related news, Dying Is No Reason to Stop Fighting.

11. Wisdom from Andréa Ranae, “Stop trying to save the world. You, alone, do not have that power. Demanding such an impossible task of yourself (and then judging and punishing yourself for not living up to it) is abusive.”

12. Wisdom from Cheryl Strayed, “Writing has always felt that way to me—two seemingly opposite things. Agony and joy, every damn day. Like flowers and snow. Like May Day and mayday. Like the ship is going down and yet still we bloom.”

13. Say Yes to an Open Heart. “Diana Winston reflects on the intertwining of mindfulness and compassion, as practiced with an open heart.”

14. Adam Sandler sings a tribute to his friend and Saturday Night Live alum Chris Farley.

15. Yoga Is My Self-Care: More Black Men Need to Breathe.

16. Plagiarism is not just bad for SEO. Here is what you can do about it.

17. Calling it quits: When leaving your job is the right thing to do. Pretty surface level article that doesn’t come clean about quitting being a luxury and privilege that many people just don’t have, but also felt timely for me.

18. This 7/11 owner saw a teenager stealing junk food from his store. (video) “When he asked the teen why he was doing it, the owner responded by giving him free food.”

19. Rachel Held Evans, Christian Writer Who Questioned Evangelical Beliefs, Dies At 37.

20. Non-binary comic Jes Tom is using their work to spotlight trans issues and break LGBTQ+ stereotypes. (video)

21. North Carolina Lawyer Who Works Pro-Bono To Aid The Incarcerated Snags Miss USA 2019 Title. In related news, For the First Time in History, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America are All Back Women.

22. Three ideas. Three contradictions. Or not. “Hannah Gadsby’s groundbreaking special “Nanette” broke comedy. In a talk about truth and purpose, she shares three ideas and three contradictions. Or not.”

23. Someone burned beehives in Texas and killed more than half a million bees. There are certain events for which the “why” absolutely escapes me. WHY would you do this?!

24. 17 Tweets That Accurately Sum Up An Introvert’s Personality.

25. This Traveling Library Is Making Sure “Black Women’s Literature Has the Place It Deserves.”

26. 16-year-old unaccompanied migrant boy dies in U.S. custody.

27. Why This Highly Sensitive Person Has No Desire to ‘Toughen Up.’ It’s very interesting to me that if someone has autism, no one would ever expect them to “just change,” but when you are HSP it’s assumed that you can just snap out of it, as if it’s a choice or optional, or even a weakness that you can strengthen your way out of.

28. How Fatphobia Prevented Me from Getting Help for My Eating Disorder.

29. How to Hide: Instructions from a Daughter of Survivors. “A daughter of Holocaust survivors gives us chilling instructions. Responding: Nechama Liss-Levinson, a writer and psychoanalyst.”

30. U.N.C. Charlotte Student Couldn’t Run, So He Tackled the Gunman.

31. Philando Castile’s Mom Donates $8,000 to Settle Lunch Debt Preventing HS Seniors from Graduating.

32. This guy brings water to hundreds of wild animals every day. (video)

33. Facebook’s redesign is pretty, airy, and more reason to ditch Facebook.

34. GAY MAG. “Creating an online space where writers are afforded the time to produce their best work.”

35. Avengers: Endgame was brilliant – but the fat shaming broke my heart. In related news, On Fat Hate & The Avengers.

36. ‘My Kids Are In Survival Mode’: A Chat With 2019’s Teacher Of The Year.

37. “You Don’t Have to Have Cerebral Palsy to Relate to My Story”, “Ryan O’Connell’s show about gay, disabled life is Netflix’s first 15-minute sitcom.”

38. Mozambique cyclone: Humanitarian situation is ‘life-threatening’.

39. Parker Curry and Mom Turn Viral Moment with Michelle Obama into New Children’s Book.

40. Sports Illustrated Makes History By Featuring A Model Wearing A Burkini And Hijab.

41. What Do People Get Wrong About Being Deaf? (video)

42. A Dictionary of Words Invented to Name Emotions We All Feel, But Don’t Yet Have a Name For: Vemödalen, Sonder, Chrysalism & Much More.

43. Andrea Gibson’s New Video Takes Aim at the National Rifle Association.

44. Blackbird by The Beatles sung in Mi’kmaq by student.

45. The Courageous Mary Oliver, by Lisa Starr.

46. Exploring the Intersections of Race, Culture and Class with Desiree Adaway.

47. White Supremacists Descend Upon Book Store, Chant ‘This Land is Our Land’.