Something Good

From our walk

Today is Veteran’s Day. I’m grateful for all the veterans. Those who served, the ones who left their family and friends and homes and put themselves at risk in order to keep us safe. Those who never came home. Those who came home broken. Those we have forgotten. Those we have failed.

1. Love is a verb, a recent newsletter from Abigail Rose Clarke.

2. Your other account balance, this week’s Sunday Dispatch from Paul Jarvis, in which he says, “Work is one way I deal with stress. And not just stress about work itself, but any kind of stress in my life. If I’m focused on work, I can’t be as stressed out or unhappy. The problem, and it’s obvious, is that whatever sucks that I’m running away from will be there once I stop working.” Oh, snap. This describes me exactly, and why now that I’m no longer working, I had to get a new therapist to deal with all the “whatever sucks that I’m running away from.”

3. 4 Questions to Kick-Start a Stalled Life.

4. The World According to Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

5. 5-Hour Workdays? 4-Day Workweeks? Yes, Please an opinion piece on The New York Times.

6. I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike on The New York Times. “Mary Cain’s male coaches were convinced she had to get ‘thinner, and thinner, and thinner.’ Then her body started breaking down.”

7. Experts Worry Active Shooter Drills In Schools Could Be Traumatic For Students.

8. Being Surrounded By Chronic Complainers Could Be Damaging Your Health.

9. How to cut a pomegranate. (video)

10. I Went to Mexico to Meet Asylum-Seekers Trapped at the Border. This Is What I Saw.

11. The Billionaires Are Getting Nervous an opinion piece on The New York Times. “Bill Gates and others warn that higher taxes would lead to lower growth. They have their facts backward.” In related news, The worship of billionaires has become our shittiest religion, and Ok Billionaire: Why Do the Opinions of 600 Americans Get So Much Airtime?, and Think billionaires are just super-rich people? Big mistake.

12. How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit.

13. Is modern mindfulness a corporate scam? This management professor thinks so. “There’s a lot of money to be made by telling people that they’re responsible for their own problems.”

14. Latest gender reveal disaster causes plane crash in Texas. Just stop it.

15. This dad follows his kid’s PB&J sandwich instructions very literally. (video)

16. 27 Sturdy Chairs for Fat People (Up to and Beyond 500lbs!)

17. Liz Phair’s “Horror Stories” chronicles the real ghosts that haunt us. “In her new memoir, the legendary indie rocker shares tales of the shame, fear, and violence of ordinary life.”

18. White Supremacy Is America’s Original Pyramid Scheme. “Ijeoma Oluo on the roots of police brutality, the model minority myth, and the school-to-prison pipeline.”

19. The Thanksgiving Tale We Tell Is a Harmful Lie. As a Native American, I’ve Found a Better Way to Celebrate the Holiday. “The thing is, we do not need the poisonous ‘pilgrims and Indians’ narrative. We do not need that illusion of past unity to actually unite people today. Instead, we can focus simply on values that apply to everybody: togetherness, generosity and gratitude. And we can make the day about what everybody wants to talk and think about anyway: the food.” In related news, Sean Sherman’s 10 Essential Native American Recipes. “The founder of The Sioux Chef, a company devoted to Indigenous foods, created recipes to showcase tribal diversity across the lower 48 states.”

20. I Draw Comics To Explain What It’s Like Living With Depression And Anxiety.

21. Lindy West Explains How South Park Paved the Way For the Alt-Right. “Talking with the author of The Witches Are Coming about memes, media, and how not to become an American sucker.”

22. Vaping Illnesses Are Linked to Vitamin E Acetate, C.D.C. Says. “Samples of lung fluid from patients with the mysterious illness led to a breakthrough in finding a possible cause. More than 2,000 people have been sickened, many from illicit marijuana-based products.”

23. What to Read When You Are Ready to Be Done Crying.

24. To Heal From Trauma, You Have to Feel Your Feelings.

25. Yoga Is Finally Facing Consent and Unwanted Touch on The New York Times. “Yoga students and studios are grappling with inappropriate, manipulative and exploitative teachers and teachings.”

26. The NYPD Bragged About a Big Pot Bust. Turns Out It Seized 106 Pounds of Legal Hemp.

27. “Happy Ball Want Outside:” Dog Learns To Talk Using A Word Machine, Already Knows 29 Words. It should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly that I’m now following Stella and her human on Instagram.

28. Rachel Cargle Insists Rest Is the Real Revolution for Black Women.

29. 12 Native American Authors to Read During Native American Heritage Month.

30. The Obamas keep attacking “cancel culture” because they are scared of being held accountable.

31. Trump rallies aren’t a sideshow — they’re his entire campaign.

32. Keystone pipeline shut after spilling 1.4 million litres of oil in North Dakota.

33. There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground.

34. 7 Reasons the Internet is Loud and Wrong about ‘Harriet’.

35. Mary Lambert: Leaving Record Label Was “Important For My Mental Health”.

36. When Being an Opponent of White Supremacy Means Being Not Nice.

37. Nigeria’s First Oscars Submission Disqualified For Having Too Much English, Which Is the Country’s Official Language.

38. Louis C.K. Doubles Down on the Value of Saying the Wrong Thing on The New York Times. “On his first tour since admitting misconduct, the comedian’s theme was the cathartic release of transgression as he delivered bits about his mother’s death and religion.”

39. Presidential Proclamation on National American History and Founders Month, 2019. November IS Native American History Month. This is some white supremacist bullshit. In related news, Trump Gives National American Indian Heritage Month an All Lives Matter Makeover That Nobody Is Here For, and Trump Says Native American Heritage Month Is Also for the White Men Who Stole Their Land.

40. Why did no one warn the housekeepers about the Getty fire?

41. ‘Untold human suffering’: 11,000 scientists from across world unite to declare global climate emergency.

42. Lauren Bowman’s poetry on Instagram. “I want to be so wrecked by this world that there will be little pieces of me everywhere.” *sigh*

43. Three FREE classes being offered by the amazing Alexandra Franzen.

44. What Happens To The American Dream When America Wakes Up?

45. Whodunit in the Library: Someone Keeps Hiding the Anti-Trump Books on The New York Times. “A public library in northern Idaho says its books about gun rights and President Trump keep wandering far from their correct spots on the shelves.”

46. ‘It Felt Like a Betrayal’: Researchers Won a $2-Million Prize. The University Wants to Take It.

47. Student’s clothing line designed to Indigenize popular fashion.

48. What Are the Three Poisons? from Lion’s Roar. “The three poisons are the energy of ego’s three basic attitudes — for me, against me, and don’t care.”

49. 15 Things to Stop Telling Yourself Right Now.

50. Be the Priority of Your Own Life (starting now) on Be More With Less.

51. These Dog Playing Cards Have The Most Brilliant Illustrations.

#NaBloPoMo: Day of Rest

from our walk

I love challenging myself to posting here every day for a whole month. I appreciate how it wakes up and strengthens my creative energy. When I know I am going to write and publish something every day, I look at the world differently. I look for the moments, the stories, the signs, the patterns, and the deeper I get into the month, the more clearly and easily I can find things to write about, the more I understand and accept my own experience, the more things make sense. It also takes the pressure off — if I’m posting something every single day, I can’t expect every post to be good. I let go of expecting ANY of them to be good, and rest in a sense of freedom and spaciousness, a state of peaceful awareness. This is the magic and the medicine of a writing practice, if we can just get out of our own way.

#NaBloPoMo: A Funny, Awkward Sort of Comfortable

Obi died 10 years ago today. Even now, I just noticed myself resisting the memory of it, some part of me saying, “don’t go there, it’s too painful.” Obi was diagnosed with lymphoma at just seven years old. Lymphoma is one of the most curable cancers in humans, but in dogs, while it is treatable it’s ultimately fatal. Obi’s initial prognosis was somewhere between two weeks to two months if we did nothing, and because he had T-cell multicentric lymphoma, his chances were even worse. We did chemotherapy, (he was our first dog and other than a barely swollen lymph node in his chest, he was perfectly healthy, AND we had the money so we felt like we should). He went into remission for six months, but the cancer came back before he finished his protocol. Since we knew we were fighting a losing battle, and any extra time was really for us not him, we spent the next three months spoiling him and watching him really close to be sure he still wanted to be here.

He had been feeling worse for a few days. When you have a dog with a terminal illness, one bad day isn’t enough to end it, but two days in a row when you already know you are at the end is absolutely more than enough. He’d been drinking too much water, couldn’t seem to stop himself. Eating was making him nauseous and he was so gaunt, slow, and tired. Looking in his eyes made it clear. He really wanted to stay, to be here with us, but he was just so tired, so done. I had told him all along that he needed to let me know when it was too much, and he did.

My camera broke the night before we let him go. This was back when I only had one camera, and no cameras on our phones. I’d dropped it face down on our concrete patio, the lens was bent so it couldn’t close and it wouldn’t turn on. I panicked and immediately made a plan to go to Target and get a new one, then had a moment of clarity — rather than waste my time and energy on getting a new camera, taking more pictures, I could just be with him.

The last picture I took of Obi and Dexter before my camera broke on that last day

We still miss you Big Dude, but now it’s more happy that we got to love you than sad we had to lose you. This kind of grief never really goes away though, you just wear it and carry it for so long that it gets a funny, awkward sort of comfortable.

The day we adopted Obi, April 20, 2002

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. With Daylight Savings Time, we are actually doing part of the walk as the sun rises. I know it will only last for another week or two before it’s dark again, but I’m enjoying it for now. This morning we saw the big buck and two bald eagles, and Ringo wants you to know he almost got a cat and got to carry a stick for a bit.

2. A day “off” after a week with a lot of people-ing. This week was packed with dates and appointments and phone calls that needed to be made. For an introverted hsp, that’s exhausting, so I’m happy that today walking the dogs, doing the laundry, maybe making some muffins, and writing this blog post is all that’s on my schedule.

3. Kitchen counter love notes. Hopefully Eric and I can hang out and rest this weekend, as he’s had a busy week too.

4. Good friends. I have three in particular that I see regularly. They are smart, funny, kind, creative women always down to spend some time writing together, going to a movie, or just hanging out talking about everything and nothing.

5. My tiny family. In a few weeks, Ringo will turn six years old, and a month later, Sam will officially be ten and well on his way to being our oldest dog yet. Being able to spend more time with them is one of the best things about being “retired.”

Bonus joy: even though my washing machine randomly beeps while it cycles and that can be super annoying it still works, breakfast burritos, a super soft sweatshirt my brother bought me for Christmas one year paired with a super soft pair of pj pants my aunt bought me another Christmas making the perfect stay at home on a cold day uniform, even though I’d read lots of criticism about this season of Great British Baking Show we enjoyed it just as much as always, good books (I finished Maya Angelou’s autobiographies and now I’m reading James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room), good TV (even though there are many things that are irritating about it, HGTV’s House Hunters series is a relief to watch when things get too complicated), good movies (went to see Harriet yesterday and now I want to know everything there is to know about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad), sunshine, sitting under my infrared heating pad and my favorite blankets after a long walk with the dogs.


#NaBloPoMo: Feel Your Feelings


Image from Raintree Athletic Club, “my” pool

At aqua aerobics the other day, a woman suggested we wouldn’t feel how cold the pool was if we thought about something else, that this theory applied to everything in our lives: we’d be happier if we didn’t pay so much attention to our feelings.

Because I’m an introverted hsp, it often takes me so long to process what is happening or being said that the moment has passed before I’ve formulated a response. That was the case in aqua aerobics when the “don’t feel your feelings and you’ll be more comfortable” argument was made. I knew it was fundamentally wrong, but was still processing the why. I kept moving without responding, not even a “that’s an interesting theory but I’m not sure I agree.” It’s only after sleeping on it that my response became clear.

This happens a lot. It’s weirdly what makes me a better writer, or at least a better writer than conversationalist. I spend a lot of time deeply processing so when I do have a response, it’s full and complete, more meaningful or potentially helpful than what I would have said in the moment. People often tell me I’m a great listener, but it’s really because all I can do when you are talking to me is listen, stay open to what you are saying and silently process in the background. Of course, I give pretty good feedback, even advice if you are asking for it, in the moment, but it’s some time later that I can give my best response. This works out fine if you are someone I have an ongoing relationship and we can return again to a previous conversation, not so great if we meet in passing.

Back to this notion of not feeling your feelings. The idea that to feel is a problem and to ignore them is some sort of life hack. Wrong. So wrong. The only way to transform feelings IS to feel them, to become friendly with them, acknowledge and accept them. What we feel is always useful information. It can reveal if a situation or person is unsafe, help us set good boundaries, uncover the places our needs aren’t being met, make clear someone’s hidden motives, provide crucial information we need in order to react with right speech and right action.

I spent a lot of my early life being asked to keep my feelings quiet, to myself, hidden away. I was taught, directly and by example, not to trust or honor my feelings. I was gaslit and silenced, told my feelings didn’t matter, that I was confused and wrong, that I must just be hungry, sick, or tired. Not being able to trust or even access my feelings got me into a lot of trouble, allowed me to stay in situations that were harmful, waiting for someone else to tell me how I should feel. It got to the point I couldn’t even find my feelings anymore, didn’t recognize or understand them when they did arise.

Feeling your feelings doesn’t mean you always have to act on them. Along with allowing ourselves to feel, we cultivate self-awareness. We contemplate what might be triggering the feelings, the various ways we might be confused or compromised, and we cultivate the self-discipline to not automatically react but rather wait until we have some clarity.

It seems to be a particularly white female neurosis to believe that we can control our experience through self-denial. To think that things will go better, everyone will be happy and comfortable if we simply pretend and perform as if everything is fine, even when it clearly isn’t. In fact, to deny your feelings, to dissociate, is a trauma response.

It is safe to experience our feelings. We can be trusted to feel, and whatever we feel is perfectly okay. We also have the capacity and wisdom to determine exactly how to honor our feelings. Do we act on them? Do we hear them out, then let them dissolve and go? Do we determine there is a need to get support, work more intentionally with our feelings? Through practice, we can trust ourselves to know.

#NaBloPoMo: Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Being an introverted hsp makes some things more difficult. Having a conversation for me can be hard. Either someone is trying to make small talk with me, which is hard for me to do while remaining calm and focused, or they want to have a deep conversation with me but won’t give me the space or time I need to process. People often don’t understand or respect my boundaries. Calling someone on the phone to make an appointment or request is the worst! Then there’s going to said appointment, also awful. Having too many things scheduled in a day or a week can be overwhelming. Combine any of these things with loud noises or other variations of environmental chaos and I’m wrecked.

2. Truth: I’m learning to be more gentle with myself. To give myself what I need to prepare for the kinds of things that are harder for me, and to recover from them once done, or to even say “no” if I just can’t. I’m also working on not giving myself a hard time for being “special.” I need what I need, am who I am, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

3. Truth: Sometimes being an introverted hsp is my superpower. In particular as a teacher, I’m able to hold space for my students and what they need, to withhold judgment about it. I think in general I’m a more compassionate person because of it, more patient and loving and sensitive. Even though it sometimes complicates things for me, I’m usually able to see the bigger picture, understand how all the bits and parts are working together. The intensity with which I process things, contemplate and see patterns, helps me to cultivate a deeper understanding. I’m tenacious and don’t like to give up.

One wish: May we cultivate self-awareness, and may that clarity translate to less suffering in the world. May our understanding of our own temperament, our strengths and struggles, make us more compassionate and wise, towards ourselves and others. “What if, right now, we used our human powers of compassion, clarity, gratitude, praise? What if we did it together—opened all those closed doors inside us? What if we let the opening do what opening does?” (from Manifesto, a poem by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer).

#NaBloPoMo: Saving Time

In both yoga classes I taught this week, I talked about how here in Fort Collins, we had a very short fall season before our first snow came and then another big snow hit and we went straight to winter, without the usual lingering color and warmth of fall. Then on Sunday, we moved our clocks, which always takes me (and in particular my dogs) a few weeks to adjust to. The dogs want to still eat at the “regular” time, which is now 4 am, and I walk around asking “yeah, but what time is it really?” and feeling generally wonky.

It’s very confusing, unsettling. It can be hard to regain our balance, our stability, our ground. In times like these, it’s good to honor your need for gentleness, allow yourself extra time and space, give yourself whatever you require to feel some sense of comfort and strength, seeking out whatever support might help bring you back to center.

I shared a quote with my students this morning, a few paragraphs from one of Jena Schwartz’s latest blog posts, Some Words of Encouragement for Regular People. This class in particular loves to be read a poem or quote, either at the beginning of class or the end, (or sometimes both). The way I choose what to share isn’t very scientific. It’s actually a pretty random system — I see or read something that touches me or reminds me of them and I share it at our next class, maybe even theme the whole class around it.

And maybe this is related, or maybe the only connection is that it’s also part of my narrative, but I was paying two bills this morning, the only two I have that still require I send a check. I get paperless statements in my email, but my payment requires at least the first page of the statement in order for my payment to be applied. I’m out of printer paper, so I’ve been printing on the backs of recycled paper. When I printed out the statements this morning, I used paper that had poems on the back side. It makes me happy to imagine the surprise for the human on the receiving end — at work, processing payments for a credit card company, opening my envelope and finding a poem. My wish is that whoever they are, it’s the exact poem they needed today, that it makes them feel somehow better.