Monthly Archives: November 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday

Picture from Jamie's Post

What treasures do you wish for?

Treasure: wealth, riches, something greatly valued or highly prized or precious.

Practice: My practices are yoga, meditation, reading, writing, and walking with my dogs. These things sustain me, support me on my path, help me to see, teach me lessons, and allow me to live more deeply, to understand more completely, and to let go. I wish for these things to continue to do so, as I continue to do so.

Friendship: This begins with me. I don’t typically make New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I made a vow: to be a better friend to myself. I am still working on it, and as I do, I have such love and support from others who are already good friends.

Wisdom and Kindness: I know that we are born with these innate qualities, (as opposed to the idea that we are born basically bad, imperfect, and broken). Our basic goodness, our fundamental capacity for wisdom and compassion, is a precious gift, and I place my faith in it.

Self-Acceptance, Self-Care, and Self-Love: Having been in a long term abusive relationship with myself, I am working to let go of self-hate, the patterns of negative self-talk and abuse, and working to see myself as a deeply loved and valuable treasure.

Body Mindfulness: I wish to see my body as the gift that it is, to treat it as such, to feed it appropriately. It serves as a map of all my struggle, suffering, and joy, and I wish to love it. I wish to honor this vehicle, this oracle, this temple.

Time: Time to work at what I love and time to rest. Time to live, and to be aware that I am living, and to live mindfully.

Simplicity: Do less and be more, have less and share more, suffer less and love more. Simplify my schedule, quiet my mind, relax my grip, let go of my suffering, don’t bite the hook of strong emotions or thoughts, drop the story, be here now, and just breathe, just be. Trust that things are exactly as they are, and that all of it is workable.

All that I wish for myself, I also wish for you.

  • What treasures do you wish for? Go ahead, make your wish.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Some issues cannot be solved through abstinence. I offer up myself and my “life-rehab” as a specific example of this.  The difficulties I am currently working with are that I have been in a long term abusive relationship, with myself, and need to learn how to relate to myself differently, to heal that relationship.  Also, as I mentioned just the other day, I have a damaged and distorted relationship with food.  In both cases, I cannot simply abstain.  I can’t abstain from eating or relating to myself. I would die.

by Hugh MacLeod

2. Truth: Difficulties such as these require continued effort and sustained practice. You have to keep trying, keep showing up and doing the work, practice, and even start over when necessary, stay with it, and ask for help. “To stay, you have to believe there is something worth staying for…and then you have to bring yourself back, again and again,” Geneen Roth.

by Hugh MacLeod

3. Truth: Things are workable, and you already have what it will take to succeed. You have basic, innate kindness and wisdom.  You know who you are.

“In Buddhist teachings, as well as in the teachings of many other contemplative or mystical traditions, the basic view is that people are fundamentally good and healthy. It’s as if everyone who has ever been born has the same birthright, which is enormous potential of warm heart and clear mind. The ground of renunciation is realizing that we already have exactly what we need, that what we have already is good. Every moment of time has enormous energy in it, and we could connect with that.” ~Pema Chödrön

by Hugh MacLeod

One wish: I wish you, all of us, the joy that comes with this hard work, of being who we are, of loving who we are, all the messy and stinky and beautiful bits. Our difficulties aren’t something to rush through or get over or past, but rather they are our life, they are living. Despair and even happiness are simply the weather and our basic goodness the sun, always there even when we can’t see it.

“It doesn’t matter how long we may have been stuck in a sense of our limitations. If we go into a darkened room and turn on the light, it doesn’t matter if the room has been dark for a day, a week, or ten thousand years — we turn on the light and it is illuminated. Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.” ~Sharon Salzberg

by Hugh MacLeod

  • Okay, it’s your turn. Speak your truths and make a wish.

Something Good

It’s Monday, so here’s a list of things that are good:

heART Exchange

This is such a great project, and the gift you make and receive seem to keep on giving, and giving, sending out ripples of joy, waves of love. If you are an artist, you need to watch this website and get in on the next art swap.

Cyber Giving Monday

I first heard about this from 365 Give. I love having even more opportunities to make a positive impact on the existence of another being, so I am in. This morning, in honor of my dear friend Kelly, who was an avid gardener, I donated a “Gardener’s Basket: This basket represents everything a family will need to start a sustainable farm – tree seedlings, rabbits to generate organic manure, chickens to eat pests and a hive of bees to pollinate crops and increase yields” through one of my favorite charities, Heifer International.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – Dell Big Crow Holiday Gift Project

I can’t say enough about how great this project is. Recently ABC News and Diane Sawyer did a Special 20/20 Edition on Pine Ridge called, “Hidden America: Children of the Plains.” I dare you to watch even just the first ten minutes and not want to email Christine or Julie immediately for names of tribe members to send gifts to. If I had the money, the first ten minutes of the episode would have had me rounding up supplies and a crew of people who knew how to do stuff to go down there and fix peoples’ houses, and then I’d start scholarship funds for every kid, make repairs to the schools, make sure every kid has enough to eat, every day. But I don’t have that kind of money, so I need you to help, starting with this one project. It is not right that in a country where, even with the poor economy, so many have so much and these people have so little. You can say what you want about grown ups, but no child ever did anything to deserve to grow up in such poverty.

Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

This book has been a real help to me.  For example, “When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself — that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control,” (82-83).

Morgan Spurlock’s New Project, “The Failure Club.”

I first read about this project on A Year of Living Wisely. Here’s an article about the project, “Morgan Spurlock Launches ‘Failure Club’.” In the trailer for the show, “Welcome to Failure Club,” he says “We’ve all been told for so long in our lives the things we should be doing that most of us don’t ever do the things that we want to be doing. And the minute you break down that one little piece that’s holding you back, your whole outlook on the world will change.” Amen!

The Moth: True Stories Told Live

We listen to this on satellite radio, but there are also some stories you can listen to online. I love this show almost as much as I love This American Life.

Cardboard People

Since this week’s list has been more serious, maybe even a bit preachy, here’s something fun. Anton Tang, a talented artist and blogger from Singapore, photographs plastic “cardboard people” in everyday settings and environments.

What I’ve Learned While on Vacation

I didn’t take the whole week off, but most of it. I gave myself permission to be myself, to do the things that seemed right and that made me happy. Here’s what I’ve learned this week:

I am a joyful and happy person.

Yes, I get sad, and I can also be worried, anxious, angry, confused, and depressed, but mostly I am grateful. In fact, on a walk we took the other day, I told Eric that I was happier than I’d been in at least the last seven years, maybe ten. The more I think about it, other than those innocent moments of bliss in childhood or the moment when I realized that Eric loved and wanted me as much as I loved and wanted him, I might be happier now than I have ever been in my whole life, (and slightly superstitious about saying that out loud).

Thinking about this earlier, I started to cry–this small and grand shift, moving towards giving and opening and creating instead of hoarding or stealing or numbing out, is simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking. This is who I could have been all the time, if only I’d made the choice to stop generating my own suffering. Knowing this was there all along but that I denied it is devastating.  I chose not to be loved, to be actively unlovable, when love was there waiting all along.

I kept the door locked, the porch light off and the curtains closed, and pretended not to be home. That time I spent hiding, avoiding, denying was not wasted, however. I know I had to understand what that felt like from the inside to gain the wisdom and compassion I have now.

I have everything I need.

I am reading “Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth. In it, she says “You already have everything you need to be content. Your real work…is to do whatever it takes to realize that.” Amen.

I am capable of keeping up.

I can keep my house clean, get the laundry done, keep clean sheets on the bed, pay the bills, do various other chores as necessary, take care of my dogs, etc. I am not lazy or disorganized when I don’t–I am overwhelmed and have too much going on and am tired. I can keep up, but I first need to slow down.

I can have a normal relationship with food.

Okay, confession time, (can’t believe I am going to finally do this). If you haven’t already figured it out, I have food “issues.” I am a compulsive eater, a highly functioning food addict, (highly functioning because I am able to keep my weight relatively workable through lots of exercise, and my addiction doesn’t end up leading to big consequences, like making me unable to keep a job or maintain relationships). According to the WebMB page on food addiction, the characteristics of food addicts can include:

  • Being obsessed and/or preoccupied with food.
  • Having a lack of self-control when it comes to food.
  • Having a compulsion about food in which eating results in a cycle of binging despite negative consequences.
  • Remembering a sense of pleasure and/or comfort with food and being unable to stop using food to create a sense of pleasure and comfort.
  • Having a need to eat which results in a physical craving.

The following are questions that potential food addicts may ask themselves:

  • Have I tried but failed to control my eating? [Me: “I can make it work for a while, but yes.  It goes like this: control and deprivation, which leads to a feeling of scarcity and panic and frustration and irritation that leads to a binge, which brings up feelings of shame, which leads back to the enforcement of punishment and control–round and round it goes.”]
  • Do I find myself hiding food or secretly binging? [Me: “yes”]
  • Do I have feelings of guilt or remorse after eating? [Me: “ugh…yes”]
  • Do I eat because of emotions? [Me: “Yes!”]
  • Is my weight affecting my way of life? [Me: “I can manage it for the most part through exercise, but yes”]

So, while that is all slightly depressing, maybe a bit discouraging, this is what I know: I can have a normal relationship with food. Inviting Rachel W. Cole out to facilitate a “The Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop,” reading “Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth, and confessing to you, kind and gentle reader, are all things that make me trust this can be true.

I can get enough exercise and rest.

To me, these are two sides of the same coin. I need to move, and then I need to rest, and I need to have a balance of the two. This is possible, even easy.

I enjoy being alone some of the time.

Okay, maybe I enjoy being alone a lot of the time. But, I love, love, love my little house–my back yard, my reading chair by the front window, my meditation cushion and shrine, my art studio, the walls covered in quilts made by my aunt and painted various colors of jade (greens, blues, purples, honey browns, and creamy whites), my shelves of books, the insane number of dog beds and toys, the two couches we need so there is plenty of room for everyone to cuddle at night–my home. Eric is my best friend, and I adore my two (three) dogs.

I have work and practices that I truly love.

The work I get paid for is not what I love. Instead, it is the research, service, reading and writing I do on my own time. Practice–doing yoga, walking dogs, writing, and meditation/prayer every day–is easy and joyful, filled with purpose and meaning.

I know who I am.

And right now, I am so in love with her. I have made new promises, and I am showing up. Sometimes I fall into those same old patterns, the denial, the refusal, the fight, the flight, the freeze, but I am trying. I want more than almost anything to be dependable, loving and kind.

heART Exchange Art Project Arrived!

I’ve blogged about this before: I took part in an art swap, the Global heART Exchange.  Today, I received my art piece from Lindsay in the mail, all the way from Belgium. She describes herself on her blog as a “Mixed Media Artist, Photographer, Writer, and Dream Worker.”  Here’s the postcard she made to send with her painting:

I am exactly twice Lindsay’s age and we live more than 5000 miles apart (8100 kilometers), but when I read the “about” page on her blog, I notice how much we have in common. We both love “Nature.. nature.. nature!” and adore cats and rabbits, watching the stars, lying in the grass, summer evenings, birds singing, the water, spirituality, meditation, yoga, and the potential of dreams.

We also both like “inspiring people, people who are kind, people who truly dare to live their lives.”  I believe that both of us are those kind of people: inspiring, kind, and daring to live our lives.

What’s amazing to me is that she couldn’t have known the color of my art studio, and yet the mixed media painting she made matches it perfectly.  Here’s a picture of it, sitting on the corner of my writing desk, where I spend so many long and happy hours.

It’s almost 1 am in Belgium, and I suspect Lindsay is sleeping.  I am sending her love and gratitude, and wishing her the sweetest of dreams.  I will keep her painting on my desk, and when I took at it, I will remember that I am loved, and wish her the same.

Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project

Last year, I took part in this project, buying and sending gifts to two kids who live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  A little bit of magic happened this year, and even though the names were selected randomly, I got the SAME two kids as last year!  The joy I feel buying and giving these gifts is beyond measure, and if your heart insists, as mine does, that you take part in this project, here’s everything you need to know, (in a letter written by the two amazing founders). The project is housed at Colorado State University, but anyone, anywhere can take part. Please pass this information along to anyone else you might know that would want to take part.

Happy Holidays Everyone,

The Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project is underway! This year the project holds a very special place in our hearts due to the passing of our dear friend and colleague, Dell Big Crow. Dell was a teacher at the Pine Ridge Elementary School and has worked with us for the past several years on the annual coat drive and the gift project. In her honor we have adopted a new name, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – Dell Big Crow Holiday Gift Project.

As you may know, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished and marginalized regions in the United States.  While we seek to address the underlying causes of poverty on Pine Ridge, we also recognize the importance of building connections between people on and off the reservation.  We continue to work on the reservation throughout the year with Service Learning Projects, a winter coat drive, providing families with firewood, and coordinating the Holiday Gift Project.

Recently ABC News and Diane Sawyer did a Special 20/20 Edition on Pine Ridge called, “Hidden America: Children of the Plains.” To view the episode click on this link:

We have been coordinating the Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project for eight years now. The first year we placed boxes all over town, collected gifts and then drove to Pine Ridge to deliver them…it was quite complicated! Then David Bartecchi suggested that we ask people to buy gifts and mail them directly to elders and children on the reservation…simple, direct way of giving…so that’s where we started!  The project is very “grassroots,” since it’s just the two of us Elf volunteers coordinating the project. This year we are working with reservation grammar school teachers and counselors, community organizers, the Lakota Head Start program, Homeless Youth Center, and the Homeless Veterans’ Center in order to identify children and elders with the greatest needs.

Last year, thanks to the generosity of friends, family, and hundreds of new donors the Holiday Gift Project provided gifts to more than 600 children and elders on the reservation!  Donors forwarded the original project letter on to their friends, families, and colleagues and we received responses from all over the U.S. as well as Germany, Australia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, France, Japan, and Canada!  We’d like to invite you to contribute a holiday gift for a child or elder this year.

Each child or elder on our list provides a few gift options…you may chose items off the list or send anything you think is appropriate.  As always please feel free to add small items such as socks, hats, gloves and mittens in your package if you wish. We would like to gently stress the importance of our recipients receiving gifts of approximately the same value. Most wishes are between and $20 – $35. In these difficult economic times our list is growing every year, so if you wish to contribute more, please consider “adopting” another child or elder so we can provide items for more individuals.

We do have a few individuals and families who have particularly difficult circumstances and need more costly items such as electric blankets, space heaters, coats, etc. and if you wish to provide a more generous gift let us know and we’ll set you up to help them specifically.  If you need a tax receipt, please send us an email with the gift and amount and we will send you a receipt at the end of the project.

Here is how it works:

1. Email Julie Sullivan OR Chris Bartholomew if you wish to provide a gift for one or more children or elders…please don’t cc both of us as we may accidentally overlap!

2. We will email you a child or elder’s name, age, gender and one or two gift options and you chose one gift you’d like to provide.

3. Purchase the gift, then giftwrap and mail the package directly to the child, elder, or in some cases to our contact on the rez who will distribute the gifts at school and community gatherings.


5. A note about shipping…if you are an internet shopper, some companies offer free shipping with a minimum purchase.  Last year these companies participated in free shipping: Amazon, Penney’s, Home Depot, Target, Macys, and other large chain stores. You may wish to check out their current offers.

6. Mail the package to the address we have provided.  Please be sure to ship the package according to our directions as some communities only have UPS while others only have U.S. mail, etc.  Please allow enough time for the gift to arrive by Dec. 18th.

7. Please, if you wish, include a personal greeting or message…the families enjoy this personal connection!

8. After you ship the item, please send a return email with the Recipient’s location, name and number in the subject line…basically this is the same info in we put in the subject line of the email sent to you.

Thanks so much for taking the time to learn about the project!  We look forward to sharing the holidays with you and our friends on Pine Ridge!

Julie Ann Sullivan,

Christine Bartholomew,

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – Dell Big Crow Holiday Gift Project Facebook Page:

Joy Jam

The 3-5 things that gave me joy this week:

  1. Someone returning my purse after I left it in a shopping cart at the store.
  2. My Christmas Cactus blooming.
  3. The book safe my boy made me for my birthday.  We are doing “no new” gifts this year, has to be second-hand or hand-made. Leo Babauta just wrote a really good post for about this practice, “The No New Gifts Holiday Challenge.”
  4. This tiny, hand-painted bowl that my friend brought me back from Greece a few summers ago, (inside right now is a shell I found and a marble from when I was a kid).
  5. And these three boys, always these three boys.