Gratitude Friday

1. Kitchen counter love notes. Flowers in the bathroom too.

2. Good people, specifically the ones who are good at what they do, are kind and funny and smart, and are doing so much good work to keep me well.

3. Morning walks with the dogs. I’m back to three, five mile morning walks a week, two of them solo with just me and the dogs. It’s a great boon to my mental health as well a marker of my physical wellbeing. When I was looking at pictures this week, I was noticing how there are certain places that are my favorite for stopping to take a picture, how similar but also different they look depending on the light.

4. Ringo and Sam. We really are in a sweet spot with them right now, that wonderful place where no one is a baby and no one is dying, where both are healthy and happy. They still drive me crazy sometimes, but mostly they comfort me and make me laugh and keep me company.

5. Good food. Korean Sweet Potato Falafel Tacos from The Blind Pig, and a big salad with roasted vegetables and miso ginger dressing.


6. Eric. None of the rest would matter without this one.

Bonus joy: clean sheets, my “new” car (I’ve had it for more than a year now, but it still feels new), good meetings at work (even though they mean more work for me), having enough money, good health insurance, clean water, roasted sweet potatoes, a refrigerator and freezer, a washer and dryer, the internet, good TV, good books, feeling like I know what I’m doing and being okay with it when I don’t.

Three Truths and One Wish

There’s a background story to today’s list, and I feel compelled to share it. I posted the above picture last week to both Facebook and Instagram, with the caption,

Midday snack cause my 2nd breakfast lasted a long time so I skipped lunch but won’t quite make it to dinner. Every time I eat a banana, I still think “fuck you, Dr. A.” (who told me I shouldn’t be eating bananas because they have too many carbs).

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ve heard the story of Dr. A.  You know that I was a disordered eater for 30+ years and had a long term abusive relationship with myself, and all the work I’ve done to heal those things. You know I’d rather be fat for the rest of my life than go back to living that particular hell. You know how I feel about the importance of fat acceptance and how strongly I believe in the Health at Every Size movement. You might have also figured out I don’t like being told what to do.

On Facebook, there clearly was one person who didn’t know any of this about me. I accepted her friend request on Facebook a few weeks ago because she is part of one of my spiritual communities. I almost ignored her request because even though we clearly share some practices and philosophical beliefs, she listed herself as a “weight loss coach.” I knew there was the potential for a problem, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t have. In response to the picture and caption above, she posted the comment, “How many carbs are in those muffins? That snack needs more protein.”

I wish I could say that I replied in a skillful way, one that was kind but made it clear I didn’t need her to comment on what I chose to eat, but I didn’t. I threw a little fit in my own mind, told her off in the secret space of my own head, unfriended and blocked her, and then deleted the comment from my page. What I meant to say was…

1. Truth: Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it directly. This applies to people you know well as equally as it does to people you don’t know anything about. It is true even if you just so happen to be an expert on a subject, particularly skilled or knowledgeable. Unless someone asks you “what do you think I should do?” or requests your help, stay out of it.

2. Truth: Unsolicited advice is at best rude and at worst an act of aggression. No one asked you. To get involved, assert your beliefs as right, true, and correct, to demand that someone else with a completely different experience comply with your direction — especially when you don’t know their whole story — isn’t helpful. In fact, you might actually be doing harm.

3. Truth: Don’t tell me what to do. People want to be heard, they want the space and support to figure out stuff for themselves. If you can’t help but go around telling other people what to do, maybe take a look at yourself, and focus on fixing what you find there.

One wish: May we trust other people to find their own truths, may we stay out of their way as they do their own work, and may we show up ready to help when we are invited.

P.S. I’ve written about this before.

Something Good

1. Depressed by Politics? Just Let Go. This article gives a clear and workable alternative to overwhelm and distress.

2. How to Live Life with Fantastic Aliveness: Remembering Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In related news, StoryCorps EXTRA: Remembering Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and Pay attention to what you pay attention to.

3. The Blessing of a Bruised Right Buttock from Jena Schwartz.

4. If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you.

5. Wisdom from Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal activist, (thanks to Mikalina), “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

6. Coaching as Activism, “a 10-week group program for coaches, healers + leaders who want to bring their commitment to healing, justice and liberation (for all) into their work and life.” This. Everything about this. (P.S. I signed up). In related news, Why the Self-Help Industry isn’t Changing the World.

7. Is ignorance the problem?, from Seth Godin. “The thing is, ignorance is rarely the problem. The challenge is that people don’t always care about what you care about. And the reason they don’t care isn’t that they don’t know what you know. The reason is that they don’t believe what you believe. The challenge, then, isn’t to inform them. It’s to engage and teach and communicate in a way that shares emotion and values and beliefs.”

8. Mrs. Porter’s 2nd Grade Class Survey. “Please help our class as we study surveys and graphs. We would love to see how many responses we can get and all of the different places our responses come from. Each student in our class has created one of the questions in this survey.” We all need to fill this out.

9. The Practice of One Thing at a Time from Zen Habits.

10. Best of: Inspiring Studio Spaces.

11. 6 ways allies still marginalize people of color — and what to do instead.

12. “Get Out” Syllabus. “The ‘Get Out’ Syllabus focuses intently on the conversations surrounding White violence, the consumption of Black Bodies, and the erasure of Black Women that the movie elicits. The syllabus is divided into two parts; the first closely examines the historical and cultural violences that made the movie possible. The second section examines the absences and erasures that make sections of the film explicitly more horrifying. My ‘Get Out’ syllabus is in no way meant to be exhaustive or complete. Rather, it is an entry to point to key conversations that must be continued after the movie falls from theatres and our current popular culture attention span.”

13. Patient Zero by Aimee Mann, first video from her new album, releasing 3/31/17. (You should watch all three videos in the set, actually). In related news, The Both: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

14. With Joyful Photos, a 19-Year-Old Artist Confronts Media Bias Against Black Male Teens. In related news, This super cute father-daughter duo is inspiring young men to be good fathers.

15. A feminist glossary because we didn’t all major in gender studies.

16. Listen, Can We Please Not Do This Shit? “The most influential member of the Trump Administration is an unabashed white supremacist.”

17. Bill Murray’s Impossibly Chipper Music Video.

18. What is wrong with the world edition from The Authenticity Experiment. “Who are we? Who are we becoming? Who did we elect? Who thinks that cutting services to the elderly helps balance our budget? Who thinks that a man who claims to be for “the little guy” and then appoints five advisors from Goldman Sachs really gives a good god damn about anybody but the other 1-percent?”

19. Adorable cat acts as goat’s midwife.

20. #BringBacktheBees from Cheerios. In related news, Don’t Plant Those “Bee-Friendly” Wildflowers Cheerios Is Giving Away.

21. EPA Gives $100M Grant to Flint So It Can Fix Its Water Infrastructure. “Yet critics doubt the money can save the city from the president’s proposed cuts to the agency.”

22. Trump Budget Cuts Put Struggling Americans on Edge. In related news, Here’s what Trump’s budget proposes to cut, and Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor, and #LetThemDie: ‘Heartless’ Donald Trump Blasted For Slashing Meals On Wheels Funds, and Trump Budget Makes It Official: You’re Paying For The Wall, Not Mexico.

23. An Imperfect Human’s Guide To Body Positivity. “What it actually means, how it’s evolved over time, and what’s at stake without it.”

24. Jordan Casteel on the Power of Art Right Now, a painter merging social justice and art.

25. This 11-year-old created a book club to encourage reading among young black boys.

26. Trump’s St. Patrick’s Day “proverb” might not be Irish but wasn’t by a Nigerian poet either.

27. This is what it’s like answering all those phone calls to Congress.

28. The Good, Racist People.

29. 15 Beautiful Moments From Native Nations Rise [PHOTOS].

30. Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed.

31. Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years.

32. A forgotten piece of African-American history on the Great Plains.

33. Trusted. Valued. Essential. “Find out what PBS means to viewers, and about its role as a public service.”

34. A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer from Chuck Wendig.

35. Colin Kaepernick helps get airplane to aid Somalia.

36. Guatemalan Film ‘Ixcanul’ Might Be the Most Feminist Movie of the Year. This is available to stream on Netflix.

37. Due to cuts in funding to PBS, our favorite furry monster is out of work.

Day of Rest

I posted this picture yesterday on Instagram with the caption, “I’m a mess but I don’t give up.” Then today someone shared this quote from John Welwood, “You are flawed, you are stuck in old patterns, you become carried away with yourself. Indeed you are quite impossible in many ways. And still, you are beautiful beyond measure.” Sounds about right.

Plant a Kiss, in Honor of Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Amy Krouse Rosenthal poses for a photo Aug. 1, 2016, in Chicago. (Image by Kevin Nance / Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press)

Amy Krouse Rosenthal died on Monday, and I’m still caught up in the confusion, sadness, and unfairness of that. I’ve lost two dear friends to cancer, Heather and Kelly, and both times I was struck by the way death just doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter how much good you are doing for others and the world, or how much you love living and have left to do, or how much you matter and are loved, it sometimes steps in way too early and says, “that’s enough now.” The only good thing that comes out of it for me is that these women — strong, smart, kind, creative, and funny — continue to inspire me to be my best self, live my fullest life, keep trying, never give up. Amy’s editor at Random House said, “Amy ran at life full speed and heart first.” Now that she’s gone, I’ll try to do the same.

In 2013, I took part in a “Plant a Kiss Blog Hop Party” in honor of Amy’s birthday. There were 18 bloggers connected with the project, each doing something we thought would spread a little extra joy, color, connection, poetry, or magic in the world. Plant a Kiss Day was created to celebrate the message and spirit behind Amy’s work and the whimsical book she created, Plant a Kiss.

My dear friend Sherry Richert Belul hosted the last Plant A Kiss Blog Hop Party. When Amy’s Modern Love column, You May Want to Marry My Husband, was published on The New York Times, Amy revealed in it that her cancer was back and that “I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet.” The first person I emailed was Sherry, asked her if she’d seen the essay, if she knew. She was as shocked as I was, and immediately went to work planning another Plant a Kiss event to honor Amy.

My Plant a Kiss this time around: There is an elementary school very near to where I live, a bilingual school whose motto is “a Place to Grow.” I’ve bought a copy of almost every one of Amy’s kid books, including the two that have Spanish versions, and am donating them to their library. I emailed the principal to be sure the donation would be useful and wanted, and she emailed back, said she loved the idea, and even suggested I might come read the book to a class and share a bit with them about Amy. They are on Spring Break this week, so we are still working out the details, but it will happen soon. I’m also am in touch with the school’s family liaison to work out a donation to help supply a family in need with some extra groceries.

Amy described herself simply as, “a person who likes to make things.” She published over 30 children’s books, two memoirs and various journals; made several films; gave two TED Talks; and seemed to constantly be in the midst of a new creative project, many of them collaborative. Her longtime literary agent, Amy Rennert, said Amy “was the most life-affirming person, and love-affirming person.” Fellow author John Green, (who credits her with helping to start his career by asking him to write and record an essay for WBEZ) tweeted: “She was a brilliant writer, and an even better friend.” Green also has said her work shows that “If you pay the right kind of attention, the mundane becomes beautiful.” In The New York Times Book Review in 2009 Bruce Handy said of her work, “Her books radiate fun the way tulips radiate spring: they are elegant and spirit-lifting.” Amy herself said, “Invariably, I will have to move on before I have had enough. My first word was ‘more.’ It may very well be my last.”

In a world where there is so much conflict and suffering, helping each other, cultivating wonder, paying attention and being amazed are efforts worth making, even and especially when nothing else seems to make sense. And as for Amy,

May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love.

~from “The Death of a Beloved” by John O’Donohue

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks with the dogs. It was a bit darker this week and there was a full moon. This morning, we went 4.7 miles, and I totally could have done five, and that makes me so happy.

2. All those who are helping me be healthy and get stronger. My Pilates teacher, my acupuncturist, my physical therapist, and my masseuse. It’s a team effort right now.

3. Sweet Sam. He got his teeth cleaned this week, had to go under anesthesia for it so he was pretty confused and clingy for a bit that day, but he did so good. Because I was a little nervous about it, I made sure to get a few good pictures of him this week, which normally I’m not very good at, (black dogs are hard to get a decent picture of, and Sam usually won’t look at the camera, and how many pictures can one person have of one dog sleeping?).

4. My tiny family. Taking naps together is one of my favorite things.

5. Signs of spring. Daffodils in the bathroom and in my garden, a giant hawk hunting along the river this morning, warmer weather (some of it a bit insane — like 80 degrees tomorrow?!).

Can you see the hawk?

Can you see the hawk?

Bonus joy: Roasted sweet potatoes, planning what’s going in our garden this year, tiny chocolate muffins, a big glass of cold clean water, trash service and the people who do that work, soaking in a warm tub of water, space heaters, good movies, good tv, the opportunity to make mistakes, getting to start over, Spring Break, video chatting with friends, the internet, a good camera on my phone (or maybe I should stop calling it a “phone” because really it’s a tiny computer I can carry in my pocket more than it is a device I call people with), streaming and on demand media, my Kindle, books by Roxane Gay (I am devouring everything she’s written right now, and can’t wait for her next book), a washer and dryer in my house, being able to do laundry any time I want to, people who understand when I cancel plans, clean pjs and clean sheets, sunshine.

Three Truths and One Wish

Moon over the Poudre River on our morning walk

1. Truth: This week has been a mix of good and bad. Amy Krouse Rosenthal died on Tuesday. A friend’s dog died on Wednesday. Sam got his teeth cleaned today, which meant going under anesthesia so now he feels weird and is whining and following me everywhere, making me sad for him. I’ve been able to go on the regular morning walks, started Pilates, and will start working with a new physical therapist tomorrow. I’ve felt extra tired all week too. I’m equal parts energized and worn out, both at ease and discontent.

2. Truth: I’d planned to get a lot done this week, but haven’t been able to do much. I’ve had to pay close attention to my energy, to balance my effort with ease. It’s practically Thursday and I feel like there’s so much left to accomplish — and yet I’m okay with sitting in the sun or taking another nap and not getting anywhere near “caught up,” whatever that even means.

3. Truth: This is how life goes. Ebb and flow, feeling at times on top of it and other times buried by it. I can’t stop thinking about what I read the other day, something that Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s editor said about her: “Amy ran at life full speed and heart first.” When I go, I want someone to say that about me, but I also know that to do that, I have to be smart, know my limits, take care, pace myself.

One wish: May we be gentle with ourselves even as we run at life full speed and heart first, and when we go, may we know we are loved and may our deaths be easy.