Something Good

From our walk

1. 86-year-old comedian Lynn Ruth Miller, who started her career in stand-up at age 71. (video)

2. Mr. Prather is a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher who created a “pamper day” for his kids. (video)

3. Tracee Ellis Ross talks with Oprah. (video)

4. Dogs Will Outlive Us All on Great Big Story, (video). “Dogs might have a shot at outliving us all, according to American Museum of Natural History scientist Dr. Jack Tseng. Look no further than inside their mouths to find out why they’re such evolutionary marvels.”

5. What About the Cost of Retreats? “Many Buddhist practitioners can’t afford to go on retreats. Pamela Ayo Yetunde says it’s time we start thinking about how to make the practice less exclusive.”

6. Why Trauma Survivors Shouldn’t Think They Are ‘Lazy’.

7. Why Veggies Won’t Save Health Care in Real Life. “Someone could be following the perfect diet according to our dominant wellness culture’s standards. But, all those antioxidants from fruits and veggies cannot stand up to the effects of systemic oppression, generational trauma, and, yes, even something as small as the chronic stress from nightly homework struggles.” Wellness and health are so much bigger than what you put in your mouth and how you move your body. The fact that we don’t acknowledge that truth is one of the reasons we stay so sick.

8. SmartPetLove’s Snuggle Puppy Could Be The Cure For Your Dog’s Stress. We had one of these for Ringo and I think it really helped him. It came with a battery operated heart and you could put a handwarmer inside. That combined with a small fleece blanket that smelled like his biological mama made him able to settle down and sleep so much faster and easier.

9. 14 Writers Choose One Book That Gives Them Hope in a Dark Time.

10. Good stuff from Dances with Fat: Does Being Fat Cause Arthritis? Does That Even Matter?, and Compassion From Doctors Isn’t A Substitute For Evidence-Based Care, and I Can’t Believe People Are Still Pushing Calories In/Calories Out, and Celebrating Black Fat Activists.

11. How to Practice Hugging Meditation on Lion’s Roar. “Nothing warms the heart like a loving hug. To make the experience even deeper and more healing, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us this practice of hugging meditation he created.”

12. A cheery and helpful guide: How to be happy. Make sure to check out the comments too.

13. 5 ways white allies can honor Black History Month all year long.

14. Adult Life Can Be Lonely, so Here’s How I Build Community as an Introvert.

15. Journaling Prompts to Relieve Stress: 10 for Morning + 10 for Evening on Be More With Less.

16. Upcoming Group Show at Beinart Gallery Celebrates the Intricate Art of Miniatures.

17. How would you feel after six years living in a converted school bus? (video)

18. Lab Experiment Accidentally Gave Students Caffeine Dose Equal To 300 Coffees. Whoa!

19. Malena Ernman on daughter Greta Thunberg: ‘She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness’.

20. Sweet Potato Salad with Pepita Dressing. Wanna try it.

21. 20 of the Best Book Club Books of the Decade.

22. The Danger of WW and Rebranding Diets as ‘Wellness.’

23. I Learned Yoga/Buddhism Through an Abusive Group. Now I Teach It. What Do I Do?

24. “I Fail Almost Every Day”: An Interview with Samin Nosrat. “The author of ‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ on fame, veganism, depression, and writing a new cookbook.”

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. Yesterday was only six degrees and it had snowed late the night before, so we drove to the park to walk by the river, (the city is better about getting the trail cleared than our neighbors are about clearing their sidewalks). Sure it was foggy and cold, but it was so pretty.

There are two deer out in that field

Ringo had frosty whiskers

2. Going to a show with Eric. It was the last one we have tickets to this season at the Lincoln Center. I’m so glad he likes to go to shows, everything from a musical to comedy.

3. Our new living room. The carpet and sectional and bookshelves and plant Eric bought me make it all so cozy.

4. Honoring what I need. This week it meant a few new books, cancelling some plans, eating whatever I wanted, watching dumb TV, and taking long naps.

5. My tiny family. They are my favorite.

Bonus joy: sitting in the sauna on a really cold day, a warm shower, clean pjs, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, drinking cocoa coffee while writing in the morning, sitting under my infrared heating pad, how when I back into the parking spot at the park the sidewalk is tall enough that Sam hardly has to jump to get into the back of the car, teaching yoga, writing with Carrie, how good walking in the pool feels when my knee is sore, cute pictures of my grand niece that remind me how cute her mama was when she was little, laughing in the car with Eric way harder than we’d laughed inside at the comedy show, the new griddle he ordered, cooking dinner with him, a big glass of cold clean water, letting go a little.

 

 

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Zora Neale Hurston, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

2. The Birthday Experiment That Changed Everything. I love this idea, and the secret is: you don’t have to wait until your birthday to do it.

3. The Diet And Beauty Industries’ Cycle Of Disempowerment from Dances with Fat. In related news, Comebacks To Shut Down Fatphobia – Part Four.

4. Health At Every Size (HAES): A Guide for Binge Eating Recovery. I’ve posted this before, but it’s always worth another read, especially if you don’t know much about HAES.

5. This Naked Mind EP 145: Stop Fighting Food with Isabel Foxen Duke, a podcast.

6. The Original Renegade on The New York Times. “A 14-year-old in Atlanta created one of the biggest dances on the internet. But nobody really knows that.”

7. Kelly Link’s Advice to Debut Authors: Writing is Terrible, Complaining About it Is Fine, “From Her 2019 Speech at the One Story Debutante Ball.”

8. Father Of Two With No Arms Or Legs, (video). “Ryan was told he would never drive a car, go to a regular school or even have a family – but he’s proved all of the doubters wrong.”

9. Two Detroit artists on how they use painting, photography to capture complexity of black life.

10. Sam Smith – To Die For (Official Video).

11. Comedian Maria Bamford tried to get a restraining order against Donald Trump.

12. Recipes I want to try: Soft Ginger Cookie, and Sweet Potato-Black Bean Burgers, and Split Pea Soup.

13. “My son’s best friend moved to Jacksonville about 4 years ago. They’ve only gotten to see each other 3 times since then, but have continued to FaceTime all the time for hours. We planned to surprise them in Disney this year, and as you can see they both got emotional. They even had people around them crying.” (video)

14. “Fall On Me” by A Great Big World and PS22 Chorus. (video) “This Valentine’s Day season was made extra special with a visit from our friends Chad & Ian of A Great Big World! Now we’ve sung quite a few songs with these gentlemen over the years, but this rendition of their new single #FallOnMe with Christina Aguilera is almost certainly the pièce de résistance!!!”

15. The Intimate Act of Performing Pain. “There’s an acute and near-indescribable vulnerability that comes with admitting to being in pain in real time.”

16. How Did Louis C.K. Get Away With It For So Long? “Anatomy of a Toxic Power Dynamic.”

17. Best friends, always. (video) “A year and a half ago, Steve Hartman introduced us to a pair of unlikely best friends: widower Dan Peterson and Norah Wood, a little girl who encountered him in a grocery store and demanded a hug. He gave her one, and they’ve been inseparable every since, including at Norah’s recent pre-school graduation in Augusta, Georgia.” Sadly, Dan Peterson recently died. May we all be so loved at the end, (and the beginning and middle).

18. Confirmed: Sex Education is coming back for season three. In related news, “Sex Education” Renewed for Season 3 at Netflix. Yay!

19. 30 of the Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime.

20. How Unhealed Trauma Affects Highly Sensitive People. “My emotional reactivity, anxiety, and shame weren’t only about being an HSP — it also had to do with unhealed trauma.”

21. Black teen suspended for not cutting dreadlocks attends Oscars with makers of ‘Hair Love’ film.

22. 10 Requests from a Fat Patient to Her Health Care Providers. “In the midst of an ‘Obesity Epidemic,’ fat patients are getting worse healthcare than ever. Here are some things providers can do to help.”

23. The Privilege of Rage, about the ways white women continue to colonize and appropriate the work of people of color, Black women in particular.

24. Paraic O’Donnell: MS is meticulously destroying me. I am being unmade. This is one of the most beautiful, elegant essays about a horrible, awful thing.

Day of Rest: Burnout Recovery

The door to nowhere…

I’m categorizing this post as a “Day of Rest” because that’s usually what I post, if I post, on a Sunday. To be fair, it could also be a Life Rehab Resources, or What I Learned, or What I’m Doing. I’m realizing that after nine months of taking care of myself and trying to be patient, that if I was 100% burnt out nine months ago, I’m still about 87% burnt out now, and I should maybe be taking a more direct approach (instead of trying to “wait it out”), which for me typically starts with some deep research and contemplation.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram asking for books that had helped people through recovery from burnout, even if it wasn’t specifically about burnout. Some of the suggestions were:

One person on Facebook asked for clarification about the cause of my burnout, as that might help her make a more effective recommendation. As I told her, and I think have said here before, “the reasons are compound: just retired after 19 years in a stressful job, on year 11 of perimenopause, an autoimmune disorder, complex-PTSD, etc. So pretty much pick a reason and I’ve probably got it.” That makes deciding on a direct approach for recovery so much more complicated.

What’s been working for me so far, in terms of practices and support: Therapy, quitting my job, reading, watching lots of TV and taking lots of naps, eating what I want when I want it as much as I want, aqua aerobics, yoga, meditation, massage, having honest conversations with those close to me, asking for what I need, walking and napping and cuddling with my dogs, my infrared heating pad, our new living room furniture, flowers in the bathroom, cleaning out my office, getting more plants, limiting the amount of time I spend “peopling,” listening to music and podcasts, comedy, sitting in the sauna, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs are asleep, really good healthcare for my dogs (the better care they get, the less stressed I feel), writing, turning down the volume on bad news, cute animal and baby and dance videos, art, CBD oil, a small dose of THC before bed to help me sleep, the softest pjs in the world, my moon lamp, my HappyLight, and a sunrise alarm clock.

Another thing I have to do is cultivate patience and a willingness (which is currently reluctant) to accept that this could be permanent. I may never have more energy than I have right now and I need to figure out how to be okay with that.

All that said, I have a favor to ask you, kind and gentle reader: if you have recovered from burnout, what worked for you? What did you try, read, watch, do to feel better? If you don’t mind, could you post a comment or send me an email (lifewholehearted@gmail.com) and let me know? One request: as I am in recovery for not one but three eating disorders, even if a diet or nutritional supplement worked for you, could you leave that part out? I have to be super careful about how I handle anything having to do with nourishing myself through food or supplements, so not referencing anything related to that would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. You are the best!

Gratitude Friday

1. Love. All the kinds, all the variations and varieties. And I get that Valentine’s Day is a fake holiday meant to sell candy and flowers and jewelry, but it’s is also a reminder, an opportunity, and who couldn’t use a little extra love?

2. The first signs of Spring. We’ve been getting a little snow here every three or four days, but Eric bought me daffodils so I know in about another month, we’ll be shifting seasons. I’m so happy to have the reminder.

3. Comedy. Last week I watched Maria Bamford’s new special, and yesterday I watched The Spy Who Dumped Me, which I kind of expected to be dumb but it was so good, and then last night, I went to see Chris Fairbanks with Chloe’ and Ralf. Almost nothing makes me feel better than a good laugh.

4. Good food. Apple pie and bran muffins with dried raspberries and donut holes and fresh pineapple, for example.

5. My tiny family. Even though my week’s don’t really work that way anymore, I still look forward to the weekends because that means Eric will be home and we get to hang out more. Last night, when I got ready to leave, Ringo was following me around and seemed kind of sad that I was going. Being home more often has really helped to bond him more to me, even though he still thinks Eric is the best thing ever and way more fun than me. Sam went to the vet this week and did really good, was so sweet, and according to his bloodwork and exam is doing really good. He’s now officially the oldest dog we’ve ever had.

Bonus joy: how the text reminders that I have a massage scheduled are automated but end by saying “woo hoo!”, breakfast for dinner, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, therapy, blogging, writing, meditating, yoga, morning walks, hanging out with Mikalina, a concert with Carrie, texting and the way you can send a message so quick and easy, catching and being able to fix something before it gets worse, “singing” with Ringo (we howl together and I can’t wait to see my next door neighbor for tea next week and ask if she ever hears us), cuddling with Sam in the morning (it’s the only time he lets me), getting all the laundry done before 10 am, getting new reusable bags to use at the grocery store (now if I can only manage to remember to bring them with me into the store), grocery shopping, a fresh loaf of bread baked with roasted garlic, a big glass of clean cold water, clean pjs, warm socks.

 

Alignment

In my yoga class this week, we considered the notion of “alignment.” As a Hatha yoga teacher, this concept is central to how I teach. The most fundamental, obvious understanding of alignment in asana practice (the act of putting our body into a particular sequence of shapes) is to be sure that we line up all our parts in a way that allows for the fullest expression of the particular pose, enabling us to get the most benefit and not hurt ourselves or anyone else.

An even deeper understanding of alignment is an individual awareness of where we are and what we need. This means that even though the teacher might cue a particular alignment, our individual energy and experience may require an adjustment. This level of alignment requires the student to practice discernment, to trust themselves to know what they need and to honor that need.

Another quality of alignment we practice in yoga is “union” or mindfulness, which simply means making an effort to have our mind, body, and heart in the same space at the same time. We are conscious of our body, our breath, our thoughts and emotions. We cultivate a quality of curiosity about our experience and generate a sense of compassion. We show up for ourselves. We don’t abandon ourselves. We are integrated and whole, making space for whatever might arise as we practice, and not judging any of it as “good” or “bad,” not judging ourselves as good or bad. The intention is if we are fully present, all our parts, and we approach our experience with curiosity and compassion, that we can learn to be with whatever shows up, respond with wisdom and skillful means, and that this will serve us both on and off the mat, enable us to be of service to others.

I’m trying to find this sort of alignment in my life off the mat, (off the cushion, off the page, off the leash). I tend to lean towards the dark, the difficult in life. I’ve always been that way. When people around me were clinging to the positive trying to keep themselves afloat, I was diving down into the deep asking “yeah, but what about this?” As an introverted Highly Sensitive Person, if there is suffering it is incredibly difficult for me to ignore it. I’m completely open and vulnerable, like a sponge, completely porous. I naturally have a much lower tolerance for engaging with the world because of this, and yet I also am driven to connect and to help.

For a lot of years, my boundaries weren’t great. I worked a people intensive and demanding job at a university for two decades, I was a teacher on and off that campus holding space for people working with hard stuff, and was in a series of harmful relationships with difficult people, experiencing trauma on a daily basis. All of this lead to a pretty significant state of burnout. Add to that recent events — the impeachment trial, the SOTU (where Rush Limbaugh was awarded a Medal of Freedom), DTs behavior at the National Prayer Breakfast, what happened to this sweet little girl, and a person I love whose addiction is spiraling out of control — and I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed. I internalize all the stink and the shit, hold it, carry it around, all that sad, all that anger, and at some point it gets too heavy and the only options are to collapse under the weight of it, let it bury me, or to put it down and walk away, to heal, to restore, to get strong enough to try again.

So I’m trying to shift my focus for now. In no way do I intend to swing the other way and start practicing toxic positivity. I’m not burying my head in the sand or ignoring what’s happening, but I am turning the volume down — which in and of itself is an expression of my privilege, that I can choose to engage or not, that much of the suffering happening in the world isn’t part of my direct daily experience unless I decide to let it in. That said, I’m tuning in to where I’m at and what I need, working to trust and honor myself, approaching my experience with curiosity and compassion so that I can learn to be with whatever shows up, respond with wisdom and skillful means and hopefully in this way be able to help.

 

Something Good

From our walk

1. These incredible wind turbines are designed to look like trees. (video)

2. A “Good Place” Goodbye Roundtable.

3. Reading lists: 20 New and Upcoming Novels for Black History Month, and 29 Black Authors To Support During Black History Month and Beyond, and ‘Love, loss and longing’: the best books on migration, chosen by writers, and 12 Books to Read Instead of “American Dirt”, and 25 Must Read Books For Black History Month. In related news, 5 Science-Backed Reasons ‘Getting Lost in a Book’ is Good for You.

4. Handpan by Yuki Koshimoto.

4. The Photograph Interviews. “Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Lil Rel, Y’Lan Noel, Chante Adams, and Stella Meghie sit down with Xilla Valentine to discuss their new movie The PHOTOGRAPH. They talk about the complexities of Black Love, Parenting, How the Oscars don’t see Black Actors and the $200 Date.”

5. Yoshiko Jinzenji: 76-Year-Old Japanese Quilt Artist Built Her Own 4,300-Square-Feet Kitchen House.

6. The Buddhist Roots of Hatha Yoga. “Purists discourage mixing traditions, but research reveals that the origins of one of today’s most popular Indian practices aren’t so clear-cut.”

7. ‘Horse Girl’ is Netflix’s new mind-bending pyschodrama film out today.

8. I Wrote a Song Using Only Hate Comments 2. “Don’t be a troll. Get out from under your bridge and make someone smile:) Here is a part 2 to my previous video I Wrote a Song Using Only Hate Comments.”

9. Miniature Tree Houses for Houseplants.

10. Vibrant Quilts Honor Black Men and Women Whose Stories Were Forgotten or Overlooked.

11. Lidia Yuknavitch on Frankenstein, Incarceration, and Overcoming Creative Blocks. “The Author of Verge on the Advice That Always Helps Her.”

12. A New Film in Pastel Animates the Viral Tragicomedy Tune ‘Dinosaurs in Love’.

13. Recipe I want to try: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars.

14. Like A Boss – Official Trailer (2020).

15. 72 Reading Nooks Perfect For When You Need To Escape This World. This post is three years old and I’m sure I already shared it at least once, but yes please!

16. Boy, 13, Cries Upon Learning His Dream Puppy Is A Gift From His Late Father Who Planned It All.

17. 10 New Queer Shows to Stream This February.

18. Adorable Wool-Felted Creatures Look Like They Belong in a Magical Woodland.

19. Deep Focus playlist on Spotify.

20. I’m an Introvert, and I’ve Always Felt a Deep Connection With Animals.

21. Three Of The Most Dangerous Downsides Of Dieting on Dances with Fat. In related news, Comebacks To Shut Down Fatphobia – Part Three.

22. The Honest Guide to Mindfulness on Zen Habits.

23. White Supremacy Culture, a page of resources.

24. Land Artist Surprises Beach Goers By Leaving Striking Stone Arrangements Along the Coast.

25. Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind on Zen Habits.

26. You Can Now Send Compassionate Texts to Random Strangers—And Get Them in Return—Thanks to New Project.