Something Good

From one of our morning walks this week.

1. Wisdom from Lodro Rinzler, “Moments of sadness or despair are truly THE moments when an open heart matters most.”

2. With that in mind: White Supremacy is White America’s Legacy and Our Responsibility to Defeat, and My fellow white Americans, and What We Need White Allies To Do About The White Supremacists In Virginia, and SPLC releases campus guide to countering ‘alt-right,’ and Maybe Now Isn’t the Time, Guys, and White supremacists can march on my hometown, but they can’t win, and this wisdom from Rod Owens,

It seems like if we are really interested in ending white supremacy, white people should focus more on loving themselves instead of trying to love me [a black man]. The violence emerges from the ways self shame and apathy are bypassed in attempts to use love towards me as an argument trying to convince me that you are not “that kind of white person”. As long as you can not face yourself and love even those ugly parts, you are indeed that kind of white person and I will be left with the work of trying to love what you can not bear to witness.

And finally, from Laura Simms,

White people: Being a good person is your everyday life is not enough.

If you’ve been bowing your head and wringing your hands about the grotesquery in Charlottesville, then you’re going to have to give some things up for it to change.

Give up your silence. You may not know someone who would take to the streets with torches and swastikas, but you probably someone who assumes the the worst about people of color, thinks there’s no problem with police brutality in this country, and clutches her purse when a black man walks by. When you see that, call it out and shut it down unequivocally and unapologetically.

Give up your comfort. You will have to be willing to be unpopular. You may lose relationships, business, and status within your in-group. If your in-group won’t publicly denounce white supremacy, then think about what you’re choosing to belong to and why you’re so afraid to let it go.

Give up your ignorance. If you are not regularly, actively listening to the opinions and concerns of people of color, you are willfully remaining ignorant. No black friends in your life or on your Facebook feed? Think about why that is and then go find some voices of color to listen to.

Give up your defensiveness. Sit down. Shut your mouth. Listen. Be willing to accept an experience and world view that is different from your own.

Give up your money. Send it to organizations that fight institutionalized racism.

Give up your Confederate flag. If you can’t express your identity without a symbol that demoralizes a marganilized group of people, you need a stronger sense of self. If you want to celebrate your heritage, bake a cobbler, go fishing, or make a family tree. The Museum of Southern Horrors is the only place that flag belongs.

Each and every day, with your action or inaction, you either enable or disable racism in this country. Please be thoughtful in your choices, take responsibility for what power you do have, and step out of your daily routine in order to make a difference.

3. Elle Simone Discusses Her Unexpected Transition from Food Stylist to TV Personality. “She went from making food look beautiful behind the scenes to embracing her inner nerd in front of the camera.” America’s Test Kitchen isn’t as good without Christopher Kimball, BUT there is now Elle, and she is amazing.

4. 83,500 Vintage Sewing Patterns Put Into Online Database From Vogue, McCall’s, Butterick, And Simplicity.

5. Help Cheryl fight lung cancer. She started her treatments this week, and says she’s feeling pretty good so far. Her daughter and my friend Chelsey was able to fly out to be with her for a bit, so that’s helping too.

6. Weight Loss Advice I Have Received Since Hunger’s Release from Roxane Gay. A great quote Preston D. Mitchum posted on Facebook this week sums up my response to that noise, “People swear they are giving genuine health advice on weight loss when they’re simply fatphobic and intellectually dishonest.” In related news, a review of her book, Unruly and Unerring, which starts with, “Roxane Gay is a writer of extreme empathy. Her fiction and essays elicit as much shared understanding as they give. Her new memoir, Hunger, is the story of being a physical woman in a physical world that has been shaped for so long by men. And I suspect that every woman who reads Hunger will recognize herself in it.”

7. Natura Insects: The Delicate Floral Compositions Of Raku Inoue.

8. Making Yoga More Inclusive: Language Do’s and Don’ts for Teachers.

9. None of us know what will happen, wisdom from Austin Kleon.

10. F*ck You Billabong. Seriously, f*ck you. “Here women, this is what we think of you. Welcome to our site.”

11. What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life? Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui is resharing some of her older posts, and this is one of my favorites.

12. Four Castaways Make a Family, from the Modern Love series on The New York Times.

13. JAY-Z – Moonlight. (video)

14. A Garden Tour with Rachel Nafis on Soule Mama. Seriously, a garden is so much better than a lawn.

15. Redefining Wellness. “Therapist, blogger, and podcaster Davia Roberts is prioritizing self- and mental health-care for all women.” In related news, her website, Redefine Enough.

16. “It’s Not a Diet It’s a Lifestyle Change” is Bullshit by Dances With Fat.

17. You Aren’t Lazy — You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism.

18. Most Women You Know Are Angry — and That’s All Right. “If you stand up for yourself, if you assert your right to self-respect and bodily autonomy, if you raise your voice above a whisper, if you leave the house without a sweet smile slathered across your face, some people will inevitably call you shrill, a scold, a nag, bitter, a bitch. And that’s all right. Bitches, in the fragrant words of Tina Fey, get stuff done.”

19. Silly puppies. (video)

20. This Grad Student Makes Nearly $30K A Year Blogging.

21. 10 Books I Wish My White Teachers Had Read. A great list, even if you aren’t a teacher.

22. Ava DuVernay and Victoria Mahoney to Adapt Octavia E. Butler’s Dawn for Television. This is a powerful trio.

23. We Are Broke in Our Busyness.

24. Post-Strayed.

People say ambition comes from the heart, but I’m not convinced. Ambition follows your body and your body follows your ambition. That’s what people hate about Cheryl Strayed and Hillary Clinton. Ditto for the swarms of PCT hikers. It’s not jealousy of success so much as the near-outrage we feel toward anyone who knows, even for a short time, exactly what she wants, and turns herself, as they say, body-and-soul to the task.

25. This Is Why Eating Healthy Is Hard, from Funny or Die.

26. Work With Me. Justine is a marvelous mom, a beautiful friend, an amazing writer, and now a wise and compassionate coach. If you are in the market, you should totally check her out.

27. 100 Great Works of Dystopian Fiction.

28. Recipes I want to try: Hummus 4 Ways, and Creamy Vegan Coconut Chickpea Curry, and Taco Norteños with Bacon-Fat Flour Tortillas.

29. 1 in 3 Native American women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. (video)

30. Kids react to Queen. (video)

31. He was ready to return to a life of crime. Dave’s Killer Bread offered an alternative. We eat this bread, which is really good, but I love even more what they do for their employees.

32. Giant dog and regular sized cat cuddle, and that doesn’t even come close to describing how cute this is. (video)

33. The Body Positive Movement Needs More Than Robbie Tripp’s Faux-Allyship. In related news, The viral “curvy wife” guy regrets those racist, transphobic tweets: “We’re obviously embarrassed.”

34. Befriending Becky: On The Imperative Of Intersectional Solidarity.

35. A Wide Wake: On My Brother’s Passing, Jayme Stone reflects on the recent death of his brother, author, yoga and meditation teacher Michael Stone. “Michael left so much in his wake: a beautiful family, a potent body of work, a sangha of seekers around the world who have been moved by his teaching, and an astoundingly deep life. It is a wide wake. Let us stay wide awake.”

36. In Victory for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Court Finds That Approval of Dakota Access Pipeline Violated the Law.

37. Don’t Ask What the World Needs from Amy McCracken.

38. We Should Call HSPs What They Really Are: Intuitive Warriors.

39. Wisdom from Naomi Shulman, “Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than ‘politics.’ They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”

40. #EndWhiteSilence, an open source (i.e. download it and use it, for free) graphic from Elizabeth Beier.

41. Loving Kindness Meditation for Victims of Racism and Hatred from Susan Piver. (video)

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. The light has been so gorgeous lately, with the later sunrise, a full moon, and all the rain.

2. Summer harvest. I can eat about six large fresh carrots a day, along with a few cucumbers. The peach pies Eric makes are the best, but even just plain the fruit is some kind of magic. This year we are going to be smart and freeze some. We also made fresh pesto last week. Yum. I also am loving going to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday and getting a fresh bouquet of flowers to put in my bathroom.

3. Aqua aerobics. I love it so much, and it feels so good. I don’t even care that I smell like chlorine all the time.

4. Practicing creative joy. It’s our monthly theme in the Open Heart Project this month. In the talk Susan sent out, she said that “creativity is an encounter with space, with nothingness” and that to meet it, we must be open, relaxed, willing to not know what’s going to happen and to allow whatever might arise. This practice has saved me, more times than I can count.

5. My tiny family. This is our last few days on vacation together, and I’m already missing them.

Bonus joy: making art in celebration of a friend’s birthday, meditating, writing, reading good books, sitting on the couch with a heating pad watching good tv, sunshine, a surprise breakfast date (we’ll, they were already going and let me tag along), being able to rent a car while mine is in the shop instead of trying to navigate our schedules with just one car, long naps, new knee braces, peach pie still warm from the oven, watching America’s Test Kitchen (not quite as good without Christopher Kimball) with Eric and saying we are going to make all the things, going to the gym and getting in the pool with him, clean sheets.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: I need a lot of rest. And more specifically, I need rest to recover from effort and engagement. The past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on my body and what would make it feel good. Some of that meant movement (walking the dogs, aqua aerobics, Pilates, and yoga in particular), but some of it meant visits to the doctor, getting a massage, a session with my physical therapist, three hours on the couch with a heating pad, a really long nap, or going to the Farmer’s Market to be sure I had fresh carrots and peaches.

2. Truth: I go back to work next week. To be honest (because this is a post about truth), I’m not sure how that’s going to go. I’m stepping back into a moment in the academic year that is notoriously chaotic, as well as returning to a huge ongoing project that I will need to help complete, and I have a new intern to get settled. I’m not sure how all that will align with my need for rest, my commitment to giving my body what it wants.

3. Truth: I return with a new question. It came to me recently as I was doing my morning writing practice. Forgive me if I already mentioned it, but it came to me that my fundamental confusion rests in this question — Am I denying myself what I’m truly hungry for or am I resisting what is? I’m not sure I can explain, but it’s related to my search for deep meaning in my life, and my growing awareness of my particular energetic requirements. It’s a question about the source of my discomfort, the cause of my dis-ease. So, when I dread going back to work, or I am uncomfortable being there, is it because I really should be somewhere else or am I resisting what is and therefore generating unnecessary suffering for myself in that way? Should I be looking for an exit, or should I learn how to stay?

One wish: May my path clarify my confusion, and may my confusion dawn as wisdom. (Based on the The Four Dharmas of Gampopa).

Something Good

I could NOT put this book down! So good.

1. So many good books. This summer, everything I’ve read has been so good: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: a Memoir by Sherman Alexie, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby, The Chronology of Water: A Memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Kindred by Octavia Butler, 3,096 Days in Captivity by Natascha Kampusch, and Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy.

2. Make Light, an new podcast from Karen Walrond.

3. Radical Black Care is the Revolution. “Our care and preservation is not a break or distraction from the revolution; it is the damned revolution. Full stop.”

4. David Sedaris Q&A. “The writer and comedian talks House of Cards, abstract expressionism, and the cartoon character Jonny Quest.”

5. Should White People Feel Racial “Guilt”? (video) “The real question we should be asking is: do people of color even *want* you to feel guilty in the first place? And what does white guilt actually accomplish?”

6. Is Whole Foods the End of Black Harlem? (video)

7. This is why it’s so important for parents to support their trans kids. (video)

8. A Nebraska community is using renewable energy to resist the Keystone XL pipeline. (video)

9. Recipes I want to try: Crispy Black Bean Sweet Potato Baked Burritos, and Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe, and Baked Falafel, and 12 Delicious Weeknight Dinners That Don’t Have Dairy (who cares about dairy, these look good).

10. E. Jean Carroll is the longest running advice columnist in history—and possibly one of the most interesting women in the world. (video)

11. Brooklyn Wolfrey, a young Inuk girl from Rigolet, drums at the Labrador land protectors camp across from Muskrat Falls on Tuesday evening. It might be slightly embarrassing how many times I’ve watched this video.

12. The NAACP issues its first-ever travel advisory. For MISSOURI! (video)

13. Ava DuVernay on Queen Sugar and Her Hollywood Journey. Seriously, I have the biggest girl crush on her.

14. NYT Magazine Story Identifies the ‘Wellness’ Movement For Exactly What It Is: Dieting. I also recommend the original article, Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age, “The agonies of being overweight — or running a diet company — in a culture that likes to pretend it only cares about health, not size.”

15. Stop Saying Affirmative Action Disadvantages White Students.

16. Procter & Gamble Release an Ad About ‘the Talk,’ and White People Respond With the Wettest, Saltiest, Stupidest White Tears Ever.

17. Celebrity Diet Culture: Just Stop Already. In related news, ‘Clean eating is ugly, malevolent and damaging’, says eating disorder specialist, and Samantha Irby Has Some Diet Advice for You: Stay Fat.

18. Facebook’s Complicity in the Silencing of Black Women.

19. 5 Reasons Why Sharing a David Wolfe Meme Makes You an Asshole.

20. ‘Unlikely Hiker’ Jenny Bruso Blasts Open the Idea of Who Belongs in the Wilderness.

21. Functional Training – Ultra Spiritual Life. (video) *teehee*

22. Raising money for Leslie for Black Women Being Convening. “Leslie and the Safety Pin Box team want to plan a dope convening to support Black women and femme organizers. Help her start a budget for the community improvement work. Leslie will use the money to create workshops for community organizing with Black women/femme grassroots organizers.”

23. Stop Being an Ally. (video)

24. Dove’s Powerful Short Film Skewers Stereotypes About Female Beauty.

25. When you compare it to what guys wear to the beach, women’s swimwear starts to look pretty ridiculous. (video) “You know what’s sexy? Joy.”

26. Here’s The Animated Gay Love Story We’ve Been Waiting For.

27. 9 Not so Little Things that are Holding You Back (+ how to say goodbye) from Be More With Less.

28. The 12 Stages of Burnout.

29. A list of great writing prompts from Jena Schwartz.

30. We can be scared together, wisdom from Alexandra Franzen. “This is me, reaching through the Internet tunnels to hold your hand and say, ‘If you’re scared of criticism, negativity, bullying, angry customers demanding refunds, all that stuff, it’s OK. I’m scared, too. We can be scared together.'” In her latest newsletter, Alexandra also recommended this podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

31. A Tour Through the Many Doorways of India.

32. On beating yourself up, wisdom from Seth Godin.

33. I am disappointed but unsurprised by the news that an anti-diversity, sexist, manifesto is making the rounds at Google. And if you skip reading this one, I don’t want you to miss the cartoon from xkcd that’s included, Free Speech. Also, in related news, So, about this Googler’s manifesto, a really great rebuttal to the original manifesto.

34. Ambulance Dada. (video) “India’s Karimul Haque, also known as #AmbulanceDada, has saved 4,000 lives with his motorcycle.”

35. Brandless. (video) “Did you know there is an online store that sells organic vegan products for $3.00 named”

36. Fancying a ‘curvy’ woman doesn’t make you a hero, so stop acting like one. In related news, 8 Hilarious “Curvy Wife” Responses To Make Your Monday.

37. #Flint: An Update and a Reminder That It Has Been 1,196 Days Since the Mich. City Had Clean Drinking Water.

Gratitude Friday

1. Flowers in the bathroom. The ones from the Farmer’s Market this year have been making me so happy, are giving me goals for my own garden.

2. Moving my body. For years, I smashed myself to bits, and because I was younger and my body more forgiving; putting all those miles on, hammering the weights, spending hours and hours on the elliptical, and pushing through any pain was doable. In the past four years however, there’s been a distinct shift. I got help with my disordered eating and I experienced various injuries and illnesses, all of which made me reconsider my relationship with my body. In the past year, I’ve been more of an advocate for myself, got the kind of help and support I needed when I was hurting. I’ve also found some ways of moving that I absolutely adore and that do no harm.

3. The sweetest mail. I love writing this blog. It is so satisfying and such good writing practice. The fact that anyone reads it is a bonus. The fact that the people who read it are kind and gentle and supportive makes me so happy. And when they take time out of their lives to tell me they appreciate what I’m doing here, that’s just the best.

4. Our garden. We aren’t sure exactly why, but it hasn’t been quite as productive this year, (except for the bindweed, which has been prolific). Each year we add a little, change a little, fail a little, but it always makes me so happy. I would much rather have a chaos of flowers, fruit, veggies, weeds, bugs and bees than a perfect green lawn.

5. My tiny family. I am going to miss them so much when I have to go back to work.

Bonus joy: going to the movies with Eric, finally figuring out the source of the recurring issue with my knees (pes anserine tendonitis/bursitis, not really even my knees) and hopefully coming up with a better fix or at the very least method to manage it, water aerobics, Pilates, peach pie, sleeping in, good books, good TV (Queen Sugar and Insecure’s 2nd seasons are SO good), the cooler weather, Wild Writing, texting, a perfectly ripe avocado, sweet potato and black bean quesadillas with homemade tortillas.



Three Truths and One Wish

1. I am my own best advocate. Time and time again, I’ve experienced situations where it’s clear I can trust myself, and if I’m looking for clarity or permission I don’t have to depend on other people to provide it. This shows up a lot around my health. Various mysteries have ultimately been understood and then healed because of the work I did, not the professionals. When they were willing to accept the easy or most common answer, even if it was wrong, it was up to me to keep looking, seeking, researching, and asking until we found a real answer.

2. Most people are making an honest effort. All beings just want to be happy and safe, even though the ways they try to make this happen are oftentimes misguided or miss the mark entirely. Even when we get things horribly wrong or cause harm, it’s ultimately because we are confused or hurt or just don’t know any better. And yet, this doesn’t mean we don’t need to take responsibility for the damage we do.

3. Believing I have value and acting like it is the best thing I can do for my health. Unless I do, all of the other products, programs, or plans are just a temporary distraction. Unless I believe I’m worth taking care of, nurturing, nourishing, and loving, nothing else I do will lead to fundamental, lasting wellness. In fact, those other things can actually do harm if I don’t first cultivate a foundation of care and compassion.

One wish: May we be happy, safe, and well, and may our confusion be nothing more than a temporary distraction.

What I’m Doing

This came up as I was meditating a few days ago. I was thinking about how I might explain where I’m at, what I’m up to, what I’m thinking and planning, (I was thinking all this as I was supposed to be meditating).

In about four months, I’ll be turning 50. This seems significant, and it’s inspiring me to reflect on what I’ve lived thus far, and what my intentions are moving forward.

To give my intentions some context, up until about six years ago, I was in a long term abusive relationship…with myself. I was a disordered eater for 30+ years and still struggle with it, with old patterns of behavior, habits of being and thinking. I spent many years overexercising, starving and stuffing myself, smashing myself to bits. I’ve struggled with body issues, self-hate, anxiety, PTSD, and depression, and at times have been suicidal. For most of my life, I’ve been in unhealthy, not entirely functional, and even abusive relationships with people struggling with their own dis-ease. I’m an introvert and HSP, which, among other things, makes it difficult for me to maintain good boundaries between “my stuff” and everything else. I was date raped, twice. My sexuality is fluid, as in who I love isn’t so much about what bits they might have in their pants, but in many ways this is irrelevant because I’m in a long term monogamous relationship and don’t plan on changing that any time soon, if ever. I’ve lived through the loss of beings I love desperately, and didn’t always handle that grief very well.

To work with my own stuff, I’ve done a lot of therapy, reading, and classes, workshops, and retreats. I’ve always been a writer, have a daily writing practice, and have been certified to teach other writers for the past 20 years. I’m also a Buddhist, certified to teach yoga and meditation.

Two years ago, I wanted to shift my work, how I made both a living and a life, to teaching in the subject areas of personal growth, self-healing, creativity, and mindfulness, as well as doing more writing. My plan was to work at CSU for three more years and crossfade into my new career.

At the time, I was following the Black Lives Matter movement closely, cultivating a deeper awareness about white supremacy and patriarchy, but even in light of that my plan felt workable. I felt sure I could infuse my work with an awareness of the cultural and internal experience embodied by the women I hoped to work with. I was certain that together we could make change, ease suffering in ourselves and in the world.

Then the election happened. This changed everything. It no longer seemed reasonable or even safe to leave my job at CSU. It was also clear that personal liberation couldn’t be separated from issues of social justice. My notion of my work and what I had to offer shifted.  I began to see that through staying in my current position, I could work towards dismantling systems of oppression. I started to look around my campus community to determine the places and people I could offer what I teach as service rather than a new career.

I’m white, so while I ultimately want things to be better for people of color, want to help them directly, I understand that the way to do that isn’t to step into their spaces and demand their attention. On my campus, that left two clear choices — our Pride Resource Center and our Women and Gender Advocacy Center, both the students who take advantage of these spaces and services, and the staff that provide them.

My initial thoughts are to offer to host Storybowls and Wild Writing sessions. If there is interest and the appropriate space for it, I could also facilitate meditation, yoga, and maybe even some other writing or book club opportunities. I also hope to begin to influence my department on matters of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. I completed the Social Justice Institute over the summer, and will take part in the Creating Inclusive Excellence Program this fall. What I’ve learned and the connections I’ve made along with the other classes I’ve taken on my own will hopefully support me in this effort. I’m imagining professional development opportunities and a more diverse curriculum to start. I want students of color in particular to feel safe, welcome, and excited to study with us, because without them we are missing out on so much. My not so secret agenda underlying everything I do is to dismantle systems of oppression, specifically white supremacy and patriarchy, in whatever way I can do so.

One thing that hasn’t changed, and won’t, no matter where I do my work or what I have to offer– my intention is and will always be to ease suffering, in myself and in the world.