Gratitude Friday

1. Sunflowers. In my bathroom, and in my garden.

2. Flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. We have some in our garden, and the other morning on our walk, we saw a hummingbird by some flowers we don’t have, but will be getting, because, hummingbirds!

3. Peach season. It’s very short, actually, and I can never manage to eat enough of them, but there is pie.

Can you believe Eric made this on our barbecue?! He also makes the crust from scratch. #marriedagoodone

4. Joyful movement. Yoga, Pilates, aqua aerobics, walking with the dogs, stretching, riding a bike, even being still napping or meditating or staring at my toes.

5. My tiny family. I’m having such a wonderful time just hanging out with them this summer.

Bonus joy: good books (just finished Sherman Alexie’s new one), good tv (started watching Queen Sugar, so dramatic, so beautifully shot, such good acting), good movies (I can’t wait to see The Big Sick), clean laundry, getting chores done, tart cherry juice, clean sheets, long naps, rain, strawberries from my garden, the memory of the raspberry sorbet my cousin made, peaches (because they are so good they are worth mentioning twice), Wild Writing, air conditioning, Fridays (even when you are on vacation).

Three Truths and One Wish

1. How I look has WAY more to do with how I feel than anything else. It’s a purposeful shift I’ve been making for the past four years. When I make choices about what to eat, I eat what I want, what my body is hungry for, not what I “should” or what I will beat myself up for later because I “shouldn’t.” When I choose how to move, it’s about joy, what feels good, not what will burn the most calories or something I can use to punish myself with for “being bad.” I am constantly checking in with myself to see what I want — a nap? some attention? a long walk with the dogs? yoga? meditation? to finish a chore that’s been nagging at me? to make some space? And you know what’s happened because of that shift in attention? I look like someone who is taking care of herself. I can look in the mirror and see myself, no matter what meets me there, with love and gratitude and even a little bit of joy in my heart.

2. I can’t please everyone. As the joke goes, “what do you think you are, pizza?” No matter how hard I try, there’s always going to be more suffering, more people who need help, more things that need fixed, someone who isn’t happy with how things are, as well as someone who’s going to judge my approach. They will say I’m not giving enough or doing it right or am putting my effort in the wrong place.

3. I am the only one who knows what enough looks like. Only I know how much water I need to drink and if I’ve had enough. Only I know how much sleep I need and if I’ve had enough. Only I know the limits of my body and the level of my pain. Only I know how I feel, what I need and what I want — what I’m hungry for.

One wish: May we trust ourselves and others to know what we need, to know what enough looks like, and allow space for each other to discover those things for ourselves.

To-Do List

The first few weeks of my summer vacation, I did whatever I wanted. I slept in, watched a lot of TV, read, took long walks with Eric and the dogs, ate good food, took naps, went to aqua aerobics and yoga and Pilates, got a massage, had lunch with friends, wrote, meditated, got naked with Eric. Sure, I kept up with the laundry and the bills, but the big summer to-do list could wait.

Then I went to Oregon for a week, spent the few days after I got back recovering and unpacking — reentry. Now it’s time to shift gears and tackle the list.

My strategy is to do at least one thing a day. Yesterday it was actually two — cleaning off my desk and balancing the checkbook. So far today I’ve already done three loads of laundry, meditated, did my morning writing practice, and ate breakfast, but none of those things are on the list. Later, I’ll go to a yoga class and a Pilates session, but those aren’t on the list either. I’ll take a shower when I get back, maybe a nap or read some more of Sherman Alexie’s new book, see if Eric wants to get naked with me — also not on the list.

On the list: Painting the outside of the house, repairing and repainting the spots on our drywall where they put in insulation, calling the insurance company about the damage on the door of my still-feels-new-to-me-but-is-actually-more-than-a-year-old car, making an appointment to take it in to get fixed (along with a few other things it needs), dust the living room, get a haircut, clean around the dog beds, work on some tasks from the classes I never finished, mail stuff to a friend, and swap out our modem for the new one they sent us months ago. Other things are happening too, a new furnace and a new fence, but Eric is taking care of those.

I’m not sure exactly what my point is. Maybe it’s just me checking back in, dipping my toe in, saying “hello” and this is where I’m at, what I’m doing, but even this isn’t the whole story. I’ve written you many times in my head, but haven’t been publishing much — that is on the list too.

Something Good

Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon

1. Guilt-free Introverting: a roadmap for anyone who craves alone time from Be More With Less.

2. The Mindfulness of Pure Experience from Zen Habits.

3. Feed the Right Wolf, one of my favorite teachings from Pema Chödrön. In related news, a quote from Pema, “We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffereing because we can’t relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, and unbiased.”

4. Real Men Might Get Made Fun Of from Lindy West on The New Yorker.

I know there’s pressure not to be a dorky, try-hard male feminist stereotype; there’s always a looming implication that you could lose your spot in the club; if you seem opportunistic or performative in your support, if you suck up too much oxygen and demand praise, women will yell at you for that too. But I need you to absorb that risk. I need you to get yelled at and made fun of, a lot, and if you get kicked out of the club, I need you to be relieved, and I need you to help build a new one.

5. Without hope and without despair, wisdom from Austin Kleon, one of my favorite creative humans.

6. Dress For the Body I Have? Done! from Dances With Fat.

7. Everybody lies: how Google search reveals our darkest secrets.

8. On Being a Teacher by Susan Piver.

9. The Body Love Project {Ep. 030} Isabel Foxen Duke on Emotional Eating and Size Justice. (podcast)

10. Before You Go On a Diet, wisdom from Rachel Cole.

11. Wild Writing. Laurie has opened up her fall session of online classes! It really is one of the best things — this practice, this teacher.

12. Help Cheryl fight lung cancer. Cheryl’s daughter Chelsey is one of my good friends, is getting married in October (I’m officiating the ceremony), and her mom could really use some help. In Chelsey’s own words,

To those of you who do not know my Mother, let me give you a small glimpse. This woman is the most amazing woman I know. She is strong and kind and beautiful inside & out. To know me is to know I was raised by wonderful people. There isn’t anything my mom wouldn’t do for another person. She would never ask for help. So I am asking for her. My mother has unexpectedly been diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer. While there is nothing we can’t get through as a family this is going to be a very tough journey. She may not be able to work, but has been denied disability at her job. Treatments and tests are very expensive. She would like to try natural alternatives as well. Can everyone just gather up some change or dig into your wallet and spare as much as possible to help us out? Anything helps and it’s very much appreciated. Thank you.

13. Ordinary Days, by Tamara Bailie. (video) *sob* Everyone’s dog eventually dies. And yet, we keep loving them, keeping letting another one in. In related news, you can still donate to help create Burg’s Place.

14. So, You’re Having A Bad Writing Day, wisdom from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

15. 10 Kind, Thoughtful Things You Can Do For Your INFJ. In related news, 27 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person.

16. Old Habits Die Hard from Pia Jane Bijkerk. “Not feeling good enough feeds fear. Fear feeds our lifestyle choices. Our lifestyle choices feed banks and corporations. Banks and corporations feed war. War feeds fear. And so tells the story of our lives…”

17. Ancient Philosophers Reveal 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happier.

18. In search of enrollment from Seth Godin.

19. Humanae, a super cool photography project by Angélica Dass. “For this photo series, she captures examples of every skin color in the world in order to prove that there’s more diversity in the world than just the old black, white, red and yellow.”

20. Kids react to AC/DC. (video) This is so cute.

21. Reebok subtweets Donald Trump, internet goes wild. Oh, snap!

22. Sherman Alexie’s heartbreaking reason for pausing his book tour. I’m reading this book right now. So good.

23. The ‘Unlikely Hikers’ Instagram Shatters Stereotypes Of Outdoor Fitness.

24. The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week. Last week’s list was good too. In related news, 27 Tweets That Will Make Women Piss Themselves Laughing.

25. How to Become a Buddhist – Ultra Spiritual Life episode 64. (video)

26. Cartoon from Yeah, It’s Chill. “The amount of times I’ve been told I’m being paranoid, exaggerating, or making up an experience is baffling.”

27. 11 Yoga Moves You Can Do at Your Desk.

28. Hair Love | Animated Short Film, a great Kickstarter project.

29. The Squirrel Whisperer. (video) Check out his Instagram account too for lots of great wildlife photos.

30. Recipes I’d like to try: Healthy Make Ahead Breakfast Cookies – 6 Ways, and Veggie Snacks, and Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells.

31. Rare Gray Wolf Pups Born in California. So cute.

32. The Blameless Burden: Scapegoating in Dysfunctional Families. “They need to punish the scapegoat for provoking by her very existence the discomfort family members are feeling that is actually a result of their own unresolved issues.”

33. The Painful and Liberating Practice of Facing My Own Racism.

34. If Roxane Gay’s vulnerabilities motivate, what could her strengths do? In related news, Roxane Gay: ‘If I was conventionally hot and had a slammin’ body, I would be president,’ and Roxane Gay’s Complicated “Hunger” from The New Yorker.

35. Fat Kid Dance Party Will Teach You to Love Your Body. (video)

36. Fat and Starving: My Battle with Anorexia.

37. 10+ Hilarious Pics That Show What Happens When You Leave Your Kids Alone.

38. Why We Need More ‘Hunger’ And Less ‘To The Bone.’

39. And Yet, Dogs Find Me. “‘Life,’ as George Carlin once mused, ‘is a series of dogs.’ In this excerpt from the new book The Dharma of Dogs, Zen teacher Roshi Joan Halifax recalls her good fortune with four-legged friends.”

40. Why You Can’t Ever Call an Enslaved Woman a “Mistress.” In related news, Historians Uncover Slave Quarters of Sally Hemings at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

41. ‘She didn’t know what was real’: Did 10-day meditation retreat trigger woman’s suicide? Why meditation isn’t for everyone.

42. The Wellness Epidemic.

43. Dear White America — Can we please stop gaslighting our black friends and family??

44. 10 Great Reasons NOT to Copy Cesar Millan.

45. Two Saturday Morning Talks with Rachel Cole, “Self-Compassion & Sensitivity” and “Intuitive Eating,” complete with prompts and links to other resources.

Day of Rest

On a very basic level all beings think that they should be happy. When life becomes difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong. This wouldn’t be a big problem except for the fact that when we feel something’s gone wrong, we’re willing to do anything to feel OK again. Even start a fight.

According to the Buddhist teachings, difficulty is inevitable in human life. For one thing, we cannot escape the reality of death. But there are also the realities of aging, of illness, of not getting what we want, and of getting what we don’t want. These kinds of difficulties are facts of life. Even if you were the Buddha himself, if you were a fully enlightened person, you would experience death, illness, aging, and sorrow at losing what you love. All of these things would happen to you. If you got burned or cut, it would hurt.

But the Buddhist teachings also say that this is not really what causes us misery in our lives. What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness—this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.

~Pema Chödrön, excerpt from her book Practicing Peace in Times of War

Gratitude Friday

1. My garden. I love especially all the birds and bugs it attracts and feeds, and the way that every year it gets just a bit more developed and filled in.

2. A safe, fun, short trip to Oregon. It was less time than usual, what with having to work an extra month this summer, but it was good to see family, eat some good food, watch some movies, take some walks, play cards, talk, laugh, and then have a safe trip back.

Playing cards with Mom

3. Friends in real life. I got to spend a few days with my friend Mikalina while I was in Oregon. We met in a Wild Writing class and I loved her immediately, sent her an email and told her so, hoping she wouldn’t think I was weird. She’s all my favorite things — smart, creative, kind, and funny. We hang out almost every week online, but it was even better to get to hang out with her in person, and to find that I was absolutely right about her, (you always worry that maybe a person you’ve known only online will be different than you expected, but the only thing I was wrong about is I thought she’d be taller).

4. The Chinese Garden in Portland. Mikalina and I went one afternoon, and I got to take lots of pictures.

5. My tiny family. I’m so happy to be back home with them.

Bonus joy: aqua aerobics, Pilates, yoga, walking with Eric and the dogs in the morning, Catfish Season Six, air conditioning, clean sheets, Wild Writing, laughing and writing with Mikalina and Chloe’, upcoming dates with friends, good books, my Kindle, a clean car, fresh basil from our garden, strawberries, butterflies, clean water, a cool shower, being able to pay my bills, laughing with Eric, getting a massage, texting, video calls, a soft tshirt.

Something Good

Colorado wildflowers, image by Eric Salahub

Next week I’m going to be in Oregon, so there won’t be a Something Good post — I’m taking a week off! As there are currently 288 of these posts, even one that has a whopping 100 items on it, maybe you could spend your time going back through the archives? Or just get off your computer altogether, go outside and stare at your toes or something. 🙂

1. Two Ears, wisdom from Rachel Cole. “This is just to say we have two ears. One for listening to our own hearts and one for listening to the hearts of others.”

2. Ways To Stay Motivated In This Shit-Shellacked Era Of Epic Stupid, wisdom from Chuck Wendig. I needed to hear this, especially this, “If you’re making the words dance or you’re snapping photos or drawing pictures, and you worry that what you’re doing is somehow shallow or insignificant, fuck that right in the banana-pipe.”

3. The Best of bell hooks: Life, Writings, Quotes, and Books on Lion’s Roar.

4. Baratunde Thurston. “Selected as Noteworthy for cutting through political noise with razor-sharp wit, Baratunde shows us how to be active citizens.”

5. Need something to read? Then this list is for you, 101 books to dive into this summer: a massive reading list.

6. My Grandmother’s Desperate Choice on The New Yorker.

If I couldn’t immediately explain to my daughter how Win died, I decided, I could at least explain why. “She needed help really badly and no one would help her so she died,” I told her. Then I added a reassurance that I’m not sure I’d feel confident offering today. “It’s not a thing that would happen to us now,” I said. “If we ever needed that kind of help, we would get it and we would be safe.”

7. Why Sexism and Homophobia in Old TV Shows Is Such a Big Problem Today. In related news, Horrible True Stories Left Out Of Biopics To Make The Person Look Better.

8. Roxane Gay: ‘My body is a cage of my own making.’

9. 14 of the Best Bundt Cake Recipes. I’ve got my eye on the coconut one.

10. Stunning Video Captures A Year In The Life Of A Very Busy Tree.

11. I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People. “Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society.”

12. 5 secrets to a strong marriage by Dani Shapiro.

13. This group takes stories written by little kids and turns them into into theater. (Video)

14. This amazing library has tens of thousands of sketchbooks from around the world. (Video)

15. Save Free Speech From Trolls on The New York Times.

16. The Same MotherFlippin’ 10 Pounds on The Salty Olive.

17. Let America Be America Again.

America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!