Something Good

1. I am a little too fat, I’m a little too generous. I think I know why.

2. Powerful Photos From the Indigenous Peoples March on Washington. In related news, Indigenous People’s March highlights environmental decline, violence against Native women, amid optimism.

3. RIP VD Saklani: This Legendary Freedom Fighter, Conservationist Planted 50 Lakh Trees. Just to be clear, 1 lakh is equivalent to 100,000.

4. Anti-Racism Resources, a great list from Rachel Ricketts. Also from Ricketts, The Year I Gave Up White Comfort: An Ode to my White “Friends” on Being Better to Black Womxn.

5. Honor {Don’t Appropriate} Yoga, a free online series.

6. Why Farming Is an Act of Defiance For People of Color. “In her new book, Farming While Black, Leah Penniman offers a guide to reclaiming food systems from white supremacy.”

7. A beginners’ guide to the Non-diet / HAES approach.

8. The Comedy-Destroying, Soul-Affirming Art of Hannah Gadsby on The New York Times. “Creating the furious stand-up special ‘Nanette’ was an act of self-preservation for the Australian star. The result has been a sensation ‘beyond my comprehension.'”

9. Mary Oliver’s Poems Taught Me How to Live on The New York Times. “It is no exaggeration to say that Mary Oliver gave me the blueprint, the road map, for the rest of my life.” In related news (and also one of the most heartbreaking headlines ever), Beloved Poet Mary Oliver, Who Believed Poetry ‘Mustn’t Be Fancy,’ Dies At 83.

10. Artist Illustrates His Battle With Depression as a Mystical World of Spirit Animals, (i.e. spirits of animals, not spirit animals in an indigenous sense).

11. Roxane Gay is Not Sorry. “Playboy profiles one of the most important and accessible cultural commentators of our time.” In related news, My 2018 in Reading and Writing by Roxane Gay, and Roxane Gay: ‘If I was waiting for confidence to write, I’d still be waiting.’

12. I’m struggling from The Bloggess. “If you are struggling and think that your life is not important, please trust me when I say that you are so wrong. You are so important and there are people waiting to meet you and find the magic in you. Please reach out to get help. Do not trust your lying brain. And know that the darkness you feel can be conquered….sometimes over and over again…and that you are special and unique and your brokenness can lead to a kind of empathy that will save the world. Don’t deprive us of that. We need your magic. We need you.”

13. Pine Ridge – Government Shutdown Assistance. “The government shutdown has especially hurt Indigenous people. Please donate to this fund to provide direct assistance to people on the Pine Ridge Reservation who are being impacted by the shut down.”

14. Why Is NBC News Afraid of the Word Racist? Why Does CNN Want Us to Give Bigots a Pass? [Update: NBC—Never Mind].

15. Generous Colorado landowner returns ancestral land to tribe. In related news, After Two White Colorado Women Unearthed The History Of Their Slave-Owning Ancestors, They Turned To Reparations.

16. Muslim Man Posts On Twitter How His Jewish Co-Worker Treats Him Every Day. It’s not what you think.

17. Powell’s Q&A: Dani Shapiro, Author of ‘Inheritance.’

18. This Woman Who Couldn’t Afford Food Explains Why She Spent $25 On Candles And Her Story Is Heartbreaking.

19. Moccasins En Pointe. (video) “Moccasins En Pointe was a collaboration between Colorado Ballet and Colorado’s Native American community. Moccasins En Pointe is by Keya Clairmont, the 2016 Denver March Powwow Princess. The work integrates Native American Fancy Shawl Dancing with classically trained ballet dancers, joining together these two long-standing cultures and dance forms.”

20. Thirsty pigeon gets helping hand from human. (video)

21. Federal workers tell us what it’s actually like being shut down. (video)

22. You’re never bored when you’re a parent. (video)

23. Great shot of a moose and her calves in Denali National Park! (video) We may not have giraffes or elephants here, but we have moose.

24. People all over the world have been triggered and offended by the recent Gillette advert. (video) “Seems the world is lacking a bit of common sense. So me, our lass and me boys decided to give them a little bit of help in getting their message across more clearly. Please SHARE so we can get the message across and stop triggering the triggered and offending the offended.”

25. The Hingham Middle School Junior Choral Spectrum surprised their teacher, Mr. Christopher Landis, at his wedding rehearsal brunch just a few week ago. (video)

26. Never underestimate the power of music. (video)

27. “That’s poetry, whether you like it or naw.” (video) On the poetics of cussing.

28. Women Weigh Themselves On Camera For The First Time. (video) Hint: it’s not what you think.

29. The King Philosophy. “The [Martin Luther] King Philosophy includes the Triple Evils, Six Principles Of Nonviolence, Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change and The Beloved Community.” In related news, Dear White People, Before You Post Dr. King Quotes To Make Yourself Feel Good…
30. Bad Body Day Toolkit from Be Nourished.

31. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: You do not have to be good and A good time to be a pack rat.

32. There’s always a simpler way from Alexandra Franzen. Also Today is not over yet and You’re doing a great job.

33. where attention goes, energy flows from Karen Walrond.

34. When White People Are Uncomfortable, Black People Are Silenced.

35. Eat to Love: A Mindful Guide to Transforming Your Relationship with Food, Body, and Life, a new book I can’t wait to read.

36. By the Book a feature on The New York Times, “Writers on literature and the literary life.”

37. You Can’t Meditate Wrong.

38. Work for the Long Haul from Jena Schwartz.

39. In this week’s edition of People Behaving Badly: Statement of Nick Sandmann, Covington Catholic High School junior, regarding incident at the Lincoln Memorial (Nowhere does he mention his hat and what that represents. MAGA gear = oppression, fascism, misogyny, racism, etc. As Son of Baldwin said, “We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist”), and Yes, the MAGA Hat-Wearing Students Are Teenagers. That Doesn’t Exempt Them From Responsibility, and Outrage as non-Native youth wearing #MAGA hats taunt and disrespect Native elder, and and Bulldozers to soon plow through National Butterfly Center for Trump’s border wall, and Racist Shows Up to Harass Black Woman at Press Conference Announcing He Won’t Be Charged For Harassing Black Woman, and People Are Throwing Away Their Gillette Products After The Company Releases A Controversial Ad (The fact that an ad promoting caring about each other and doing the right thing is “controversial” is exactly the problem. The fact that we celebrate companies for using “wokeness” to try and sell us stuff when those same companies continue with unethical business practices that are actively causing harm is actually the bigger problem), and ‘Fox & Friends’ Host Offended By Gillette Ad That Makes ‘Men Feel Horrible’, and Republicans Rebuke Steve King but Face Vexing Question: Why Not Sooner? on The New York Times, and Animal Rescuers Left In Shock After Finding 110 Bull Terriers Locked Up In Cages (video) (If you are going to buy from a private breeder rather than rescue, please, please, please go visit the site where the animals are being kept and cared for, to be SURE they are actually being cared for, and if they aren’t, REPORT THE BREEDER!).

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. Because it’s been so dry and Sam has been walking further, we’ve been going by the river and around the ponds this past week. I can’t wait until it gets lighter in the morning again so I can get some good pictures. For now, the sun is only just coming up when we are on our way back.

2. Yummy food and company. I’m heading over to a friend’s this afternoon for tea, and I’m bringing snacks.

3. Sweet Sam, and Red Sage Vets. With their help, Sam is up to walking five miles a day, and he seems to not be getting as stiff or sore. He’ll probably never go for another 10 mile run, but I’m happy he can go as much as this.

4. Ringo Blue. I’m super jealous that he loves Eric more than me, even though Eric has totally earned it.

5. This guy. A few years ago we started buying packages for the Lincoln Center where you pick five shows from their full season. Usually there is one we really, really want to see, one that we didn’t really care about that turns out to be amazing, a few more that are good, and one that’s just “meh” or even a dud. Portland Cello Project this year was brilliant, and this one (Friends! The Musical Parody) was “meh” – I have a complicated relationship with the original show and much of the cast had either just graduated from theater programs or previously worked cruise ships (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but there were other people in the audience losing their minds with joy. Eric and I have a nerdy tradition of taking selfies with the programs and texting them to our good friend to prove we really do leave the house and go out at night.

Bonus joy: a big glass of clean cool water, sleeping in, yoga, aqua aerobics, swimming, Pilates, sitting in the sauna with Eric, good TV (I’m embarrassed to tell you what I’ve been watching lately – so bad, it’s good), meditating and writing in the morning, orange juice, our new Instapot (mostly because Eric keeps trying new recipes), a really soft tshirt, computer glasses, owls hooting, having dear friends whose houses are within walking distance, having dear friends who are just a text or Zoom call away, the growing appreciation for the privilege of having a car I can get in and go anywhere I want any time I want, reading in bed at night before I go to sleep.

Something Good

1. Drag Queen Story Hour sashays into Windsor with popularity, controversy.

2. A 76-year-old man and his wife have transformed a barren Chinese mountain into a vast forest. (video)

3. This wildlife artist captured an incredible amount of animals using the same fallen tree trunk as a natural bridge. (video)

4. Sea turtle rescue. (video)

5. Hula dance is being taught in San Quentin State Prison for reform. Here’s a video of the same story.

6. This little guy is so grateful when he gets his favorite treat. So cute! (video)

7. Woman Captures London’s Most Beautiful Front Doors.

8. When you realize you’re in a word problem, and the train is traveling at 2 double rolls per apple. Hilarious. (video)

9. How do two 17 year olds dial a rotary phone? (video)

10. Kid playing with light sabers with his dad is the cutest thing. (video)

11. “Stop working and play, human!” (video)

12. This Syrian refugee opened a small falafel shop in Tennessee. It was just named the ‘nicest place in America.’

13. Fat Patients’ Bias Epidemic. “Beyond the “obesity epidemic,” fat patients face another public health crisis — bias, disinterest, and misdiagnoses.”

14. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, speaking truth to power. (video) “I rise today in opposition to the occupant of the White House. Mr. Trump, you took an oath, just as I did five days ago, to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people. Sir, you dishonor that oath.”

15. Here’s how farmers in Iceland are using volcanoes to grow food all year round. (video)

16. Woman Offers To Show Up At People’s Funerals For $50 And The Responses Are Hilarious. “If you pay me $50 I’ll show up to your funeral but stand really far away, holding a black umbrella regardless of the weather, so that people think you died with a dark and interesting secret.”

17. This little girl is mesmerized by the magical notes. (video)

18. Inspiring dancer. (video)

19. Health care in America: This father lost his health insurance just before finding out his toddler had cancer. (video)

20. Neighbors won’t tolerate church’s anti-LGBTQ sign & they’re taking to the streets over it.

21. This viral thread on what people can and can’t say due to ‘political correctness’ is gold.

22. What we gain from keeping books – and why it doesn’t need to be ‘joy’.

23. Showing some simple variations for yoga. So cool! (video)

24. Neuroscientists Discover a Song That Reduces Anxiety By 65 Percent.

25. This Muslim Youth Group Stepped Up To Help Keep Our National Parks Clean During Trump’s Government Shutdown.

26. Why Is It Still Controversial to Call Trump a Racist? “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Anderson Cooper that there’s “no question” where Trump stands; Cooper appeared confused.”

27. The BoPo-Washing Of Weight Watchers (& The Weight Loss Industry).

28. When White People Are Uncomfortable, Black People Are Silenced by Rachel Cargle.

29. The Difference Between Introverts, Empaths, And Highly Sensitive People. I am all three. In related news, 8 Honest Truths From A Contradictory INFJ.

30. Oh no we’re still us from Austin Kleon.

31. Does It Pay to Be a Writer? on The New York Times.

32. Are White Westerners Culturally Appropriating Yoga?

33. 10 Vows to Not Make Things Difficult.

34. The Great Escapers, a TV series available streaming on Netflix. “From villas to vineyards, bars to boat charters, this series follows a wide range of different business and their ambitious British owners as they look to establish a brand new life.” This show is seriously making me consider moving to France.

35. U.K. Bridal Boutique Celebrates Wedding Dresses And Wheelchairs.

36. Contribute to the Capital District Women of Color Committee. “Citizen Action of New York Capital District Women of Color Committee is joining with other groups and organizations to present the Capital District Women of Color Brunch, March and Rally on Saturday, January 19, 2019. To be able to provide for 200 Women of Color from across the Capital District to participate in the brunch, we are asking for support from individuals, corporations and organizations to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of the venue, speakers, food, drinks and supplies and other costs for the brunch as well as the larger march and rally.”

37. Poet Jane Kenyon’s Advice on Writing: Some of the Wisest Words to Create and Live By.

38. Black Lotus Healing Arts. This is a local practitioner, but she does sessions via Skype too.

39. 4-year-old Junior Park Ranger cleans up Cuyahoga Valley National Park amid government shutdown.

40. 48 Books By Women and Nonbinary Authors of Color to Read in 2019.

41. Little Caesars Posts Sign On Door After Finding Homeless People Eating Scraps From Dumpster.

42. Arrests For Illegal Border Crossings Hit 46-Year Low.

43. This week in People Behaving Badly: Canada is evicting Indigenous people to make way for a mega-pipeline (video), and Joshua Tree National Park has been trashed in the shutdown. Now visitors are cutting down trees, and Government Shutdown Curtails F.D.A. Food Inspections from The New York Times, and Kroger Manager Accused of Racial Profiling After Calling Cops On Black Teens Buying Snacks, and It’s Not a Government Shutdown. It’s a Right-Wing Coup, and R. Kelly Is Reportedly Working On A Website Titled ‘Surviving Lies’ To Discredit His Accusers, and Shutdown Leaves Food, Medicine and Pay in Doubt in Indian Country from The New York Times.

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks, although this morning’s wasn’t quite as long or as much fun – what was supposed to be snow was a whole lot of rain.

2. Teaching yoga. I subbed twice last week, started another module towards my 500 hour teaching certification, and saw my regular weekly class again after a two week break.

3. Being certain. As my final days of working at CSU get closer and closer (about 17 more weeks left), I am more and more sure that this is exactly the right choice. Sure, I still feel anxiety arise about the uncertainty of the future, but it doesn’t overwhelm me. I know it’s a natural response to a very big shift in my life.

4. Eric. One of the hardest things about going back to work after a long break is I don’t get to see him as much.

5. Ringo and Sam. I think we’ve reached their golden age — that brief moment when no one is a baby and no one is dying. It doesn’t last long enough.

Bonus joy: orange juice, a good rain jacket, computer glasses, a dependable car, slippers, a house that has electricity and running water and heat, reading in bed at night, CBD oil, Pilates, sitting in the sauna or under my infrared heating pad, yoga, cancelling plans.

Something Good

1. This social faux pas prompted a rush of similar confessions and they’re brilliant.

2. The Other Side Of Paradise: How I Left A Buddhist Retreat In Handcuffs. Meditation is not for everyone.

3. Be an organ donor. (video)

4. Is Orthorexia the Eating Disorder for the Digital Age?

5. Roxane Gay: “I’m not an opinion vending machine.” “Yomi Adegoke talks to Roxane Gay about the importance of boundaries, the complexities of ‘body positivity’ and what it’s like working with Channing Tatum.”

6. Runaway Cow Gives Birth 2 Days After Fleeing Slaughterhouse-Bound Truck.

7. Sometimes you just need a cuddle. (video) In related news, Cutest puppy ever. (video)

8. Rejected By Italy, Thousands Of Migrants From Africa Risk The Alps To Reach France.

9. Last Year, The Flu Put Him In A Coma. This Year He’s Getting The Shot. Yikes!

10. Barack Obama Issues Battle Cry With First Twitter Post Of 2019.

11. The bee population in Amsterdam is now growing! Here’s how the city is helping bees. (video) We could do this too.

12. UMass Says You Can’t Say ‘Fuck Nazis’ Because It’s Not Inclusive. Disagree.

13. The Exhausted Introvert’s Guide To Saying No.

14. The Broccoli Tree: A Parable. (video)

15. Cyntoia Brown Is Granted Clemency in Case That Drew National Spotlight on The New York Times. “Cyntoia Brown, a sex trafficking victim who was serving a life sentence for killing a man when she was 16, during her clemency hearing in Nashville last year. She was granted clemency on Monday and will be released to supervised parole in August.”

16. What Happens When Professional Artists Recreate Kids’ Monster Doodles In Their Own Unique Style.

17. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says There’s ‘No Question’ About Trump’s Racism.

18. Floral Designer is Turning NYC Trash Cans into Giant Vases Overflowing with Flowers.

19. Detox Diets Aren’t Real or Healthy — and Body “Toxins” Don’t Exist.

20. These houses in India are built entirely from plastic waste in order to provide low-cost housing for underprivileged communities. (video)

21. Thoughts of Dog, my new favorite Twitter account. I found them because of their latest tweet, which goes like this: “sometimes. the human presses their noggin against mine. to figure out what i’m thinking. so i just think really hard. about how much i love them. and hope they figure it out.” *sigh*

22. This wild fox just found a dog toy and look how happy it made him. (video)

23. Guy Becomes Best Friends With A Butterfly. (video)

24. This airline worker danced on the tarmac to cheer up a crying kid. (video)

25. When you use your phone way too much. (video)

26. Black Women Changing The Game Business fund. “Here’s the reality: our culture — and our banking and business institutions — excludes and marginalizes Black women entrepreneurs. And entrepreneurship is a critical path, and sometimes the only path, for Black women to develop thriving livelihoods.”

27. This week in People Behaving Badly: New Study Finds Emergency Personnel Less Likely to Treat Pain for Black Patients Than White Ones, and Americans may love their national parks, but they can’t be trusted to enjoy them unsupervised, and National Parks Getting Trashed During Government Shutdown, and Louis C.K. Mocks Parkland Kids, Nonbinary People in Leaked Stand-up Set, and 7-Year-Old Killed in Senseless Shooting Attack on Black Family, and California Monarch Butterfly Population Down 86 Percent in One Year, and A Day in the Life of A Homeless College Student At California’s Humboldt State (video), and Pediatricians Voice Concerns About Care Following Two ‘Needless’ Migrant Deaths, and A guest at a hotel in Portland says he was harassed by staff when he was asked to leave the property after taking a phone call in the hotel lobby (video), and Migrant Baby Contracted Pneumonia After Five Days in a ‘Freezing’ Holding Cell, and A Macy’s customer berated an employee for speaking Arabic to a co-worker (video), and Atlanta Ended Its ICE Contract. But a Nearby Facility Quietly Started Jailing Immigrants, and Kansas Man Arrested For Kicking 1-Year-Old Black Child In The Back, Hurling Racial Slurs At Family, and Shutdown Leaves Food, Medicine and Pay in Doubt in Indian Country.

Day of Rest

I taught yoga twice last week. Just like if I teach yoga near Thanksgiving, I’m compelled to theme my classes around gratitude, when I teach around New Year’s Day, I feel like I have to talk about intention and transformation. As much as we might try to insulate ourselves from  external demands, in particular those coming from entities trying to sell us something, it’s difficult to escape entirely. And the message right now, coming hard and fast, is “new year, new you.”

And yet, there is nothing wrong with you. Exactly as you are, you are basically good – wise and compassionate and powerful, whole and well. You are not a project or a problem. And still, we can’t help but feel the constant pressure to make more of ourselves. We see videos like this one from DDP Yoga (which is NOT yoga, btw, imho), and the transformation, the way the drama of it is distilled into a short burst is so compelling. We watch it and believe that if we just sign up for this program, the size and shape we desire is easily within our reach. But what the video really shows is ONE human’s determination, ONE person’s process and resulting success – and that has little to nothing to do with the program the video is trying to sell us, the fix it promotes.

We all have to find our own way. Our truth is never the big T truth for everyone, and similarly just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will be helpful to us. We are all on our own path. Certainly we can support and help each other, and there will be times when we share our path with others, have that in common, but ultimately we all must find ourselves, our own particular truth, our own way. As Buddhism refers to a middle path or middle way, but that middle is in a different place for every person, relative to our particular experience, and even then it is constantly shifting rather than a fixed point. It’s all a big experiment for each one of us.

Yoga as I understand and teach it isn’t about self-improvement. It isn’t about becoming something better or different, even though it sometimes unfortunately gets promoted as such. Yoga is about showing up with who we are and what is arising, having a sense of curiosity, cultivating an open heart and open mind, letting go of our agenda in order to meet what is, and meeting it with our innate wisdom and compassion. It’s about pealing away the layers of confusion. It’s not about putting our body in a specific shape but about being in our body, with ourselves, and becoming more and more authentically that. Through practice, we become more and more ourselves, and in this way we are on a path to wellness.

That said, yoga might not be your path. After years of doing traditional workouts, practicing from a place of self-improvement fueled by self-hate, I had to start over completely. I needed to find ways to move my body that felt good, that brought me joy. For me, that meant yoga, and also Pilates, aqua aerobics, swimming, and walking my dogs. It also includes things unrelated to moving as such, things like journaling and meditation, managing stress, healing trauma, getting enough water and sleep, and cultivating supportive and satisfying relationships and work. For you, it will be something else.

Soften towards yourself with compassion and trust your own innate wisdom. Let go of your agenda, turn away from external expectations, and tune into your intuition, your knowing, your longing. It is there that you will find the magic and the medicine, a kinder more sustainable middle path.

Gratitude Friday

1. Flowers in the bathroom. I hadn’t had any in a while. I wanted a small white poinsettia but kept forgetting to look for one. Then I had to get rid of my Christmas tree and needed the cheering up.

2. An intention and visioning workshop. I haven’t done one of these for a while, after doing them regularly when Jamie Ridler hosted monthly full moon dreamboards. It also inspired me to pick a guiding word for 2019, something else I haven’t done lately: space. Holding space, making space, taking up space, resting in space. My Buddhist name translates to “space dancer” so it makes sense.

3. Eric. He and our friend Kerri were recently honored as Colorado Community College System’s Outstanding Faculty. They totally deserved it.

4. Ringo Blue, and his mama and papa, Peaches and Spec. It was five years ago we went to visit a litter of puppies, met their parents, and committed to taking one of the babies home when they got old enough. I suspect we’ll never get another dog under those circumstances, but I’m glad we have him.

5. We finally got snow! It’s almost all gone now, as the temperatures zoomed up to the 50s the very next day, but it was nice to have a little.

6. Sweet Sam. I didn’t get any pictures of him this week, even though he was with me almost every minute. Here’s a cute one from last year.

Bonus joy: citrus essential oils, naps, good books, bad TV that is good in its own way, aqua aerobics, teaching yoga, hanging out with Mikalina, texting with my brother, working on a puzzle, vet visits with both dogs who were so good for me, a big glass of cold water, sunshine.