Monthly Archives: March 2012

Organic, Super Green, and Naked

This is a long post, so as a public service, TL; DR: Self-love is the key. And I am devoting myself to it.


If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I struggle with balance, finding a middle path, a middle way. This difficulty manifests in everything I do: how I work, how I practice, what I eat, how much I rest (or don’t), how I relate to people, what I think about, how much I exercise (or don’t), what I do about what I feel (or don’t), how I treat myself–everything.

Add to this that as a highly sensitive person, I have to be careful what I expose myself to: media, text, tv, radio, people. “Garbage in, garbage out” is an absolute truth for me. I have difficulty processing negativity, toxicity, and get easily overstimulated, overwhelmed. I have trouble putting any boundary or barrier between myself and the energy around me. Everything gets in.

In an effort to put better things in, to “feed” myself with things that nourish and nurture me, I signed up for a gaiam.tv membership. They have all kinds of good, health and well-being focused media. On the first day, I watched the documentary “I Am.” Then yesterday, I watched two documentaries, “Hungry for Change” and “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead,” (this second one is actually on Netflix). Both focused on transforming your health, and both have me thinking a slightly different way about what I am doing, how I am moving through my life, and what I might do differently, how I might find balance.

What I found so encouraging in Hungry for Change is that there’s a whole section towards the end that discusses the importance of self-love to health and well-being, and talks about how detrimental, how damaging self-loathing and self-hate can be–that essentially, without self-love, health and well-being are impossible. This has long been my suspicion, that until I learned to stop smashing myself to bits, I would stay stuck, wrecked, and broken.

Some quotes from the film:

As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does–it improves your hearing, your eyesight, it lowers your blood pressure, it increases pulmonary function, cardiac output…so if we had a rampant epidemic of self-love then our healthcare costs would go down dramatically. So this isn’t just some little frou-frou new age notion, oh you know, “love yourself honey.” This is hard core science. (Dr. Christiane Northrup)

What was the most important thing to keep off the weight? What do I believe was the most crucial component? Without question: love–love for myself and love for others. (Frank Ferrante)

Something miraculous happens when you take care of yourself. You realize that you are precious…You become in love with yourself basically, and it shines, it overflows to others, becomes contagious. You give others the permission to be in love with themselves, with life. (Evita Ramparte)

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead told a great story about Australian Joe Cross (one of the people featured in Hungry for Change), “100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease…at the end of his rope and the end of his hope.” The film “chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health.”

Joe goes on a 60 day juice fast (he calls it a Reboot), loses a ton of weight, gets healthy, and helps a bunch of other people along the way. I was completely and utterly inspired by him. His transformation was sensible, doable, rational–more fruits and vegetables, more exercise. But more importantly, he made a decision to take care of himself, to take charge of his own health and well-being.

I can’t do 60 days, but I have spent this morning researching juicers and juice recipes, even went and bought some juices to tide me over until I can get what I need to make my own. And, I’m considering doing a ten day juice fast. This summer, when I did a Yoga immersion class, we discussed the yogic practice of fasting and I was fascinated by it, am drawn to both the physical and spiritual nature of such a practice. This film reignited that fancy.

But it’s not just that. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know that smashing myself to bits, while an old way of being that is sticky and deep, no longer serves me. I want to be able to enjoy my life, love my life, for as long as I can. I want every choice I make, every action I take, every thought to be a manifestation, an embodiment of how deeply and well I care for myself, an expression self-love. I want to take care of myself, love myself, feed myself what I am truly hungry for, what will nourish and nurture me. 

I am a fan of various types of divination: I Ching and Q-Card Casting specifically. Go ahead and think I’m weird, but I believe it’s just one more way to get clear about where I am and what I should be focusing on. I think this is one of the ways the Universe sends me messages, because I open my heart and ask, but even if it’s just a message from my unconscious or random chance that doesn’t really mean anything, I find it a useful tool for gaining some insight on my current situation, whatever that happens to be.

P.S. Patti Digh, by way of my friend Courtney, shared this on Facebook, and it explains so much better what I was trying to say about divination: “When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.” ~unknown

So, this afternoon I went to Hiro Boga’s website and did a Deva card practice. She describes Devas this way:

Every creation on Earth that serves an evolutionary purpose has a spiritual counterpart in the subtle energy realms. This counterpart is a being who holds the pattern or blueprint for the perfect unfolding of the life in its care. I call these pattern-holders Devas…a Sanskrit word that means Shining Ones…As you get to know them and deepen your relationship with them, you can choose to partner with them consciously, to create your life, your business, and the world in which you want to live…Because you are an incarnate soul, all of these soul qualities are already within you, as seeds or potentials. Some of these qualities may be well-developed and readily accessible to you. Others may need to be strengthened and cultivated, for you to experience and express them more fully.

In this practice, you first get clear about your intention. My intention was:

I intend to be healthy, to radiate health, to dissolve the boundary between myself and health, myself and reality, to clarify my essence, to connect bodily with my basic goodness, for my body to be a manifestation of basic goodness, to embody health and well-being.

Then you select a card. The card I received?

Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.

Religious worship or action.

Feelings of ardent love.

Commitment to a purpose.

Profound dedication and loyalty, fidelity.

Hiro suggests that once you have received your Deva, that you “Ask for its support and partnership. Ask it to help you strengthen its quality within you, so you can embody it more fully” and that you “Act on the expanded vision and perspective you receive from your partnership with the Deva. Embody and express the quality of this Deva in your life today.”

So that’s it, isn’t it? Self-love is the key. And I am devoting myself to it.

I feel like this realization, this softening, this becoming, this commitment, this vow, this ongoing transformation needs a blessing, a benediction, a prayer, an offering. I can’t think of a better one than a poem the beautiful Julia posted this week on her Painted Path blog (go read it, if you haven’t already–if you are trying to learn to love yourself, she will help, she will remind you), “Like the Moon.” It’s the perfect thing to share here, to end this post, and I am hoping she won’t mind.

You are here in this world
to Love
to lay down the swords–the armor
to fall down laughing, to swing
amongst the stars

to lean into everything
that makes your heart flutter

to live with unapologetic brightness

like the moon

Amen.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Sunday’s hike. I wrote about it here, and am still riding on the high of that day, almost a week later. Something big softened and shifted for me that day, and I’m so grateful it did. It was magic. It was medicine.

2. The fresh start of Spring. Everything is coming out and alive again, and it’s early enough in the warm season that we can sit in the back yard in the evenings without having to fight the mosquitoes. A few nights ago, I sat on the back step in kind of a funk, until all three of my boys came out to play, ran around the yard, chasing each other and wrestling and rolling in the grass, and my whole mood lifted, and my heart felt so light, both full and open. It was magic. It was medicine.

3. My 6:30 am yoga class. I’ve been going for over four years now, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, and even though people have come and gone (and then come back again), there is a pretty consistent group of people. If I am in a bad mood, they always cheer me up. If I am struggling, they always manage to help me shift things, soften me up. This morning in shavasana, with Deva Premal singing and our teacher moving around the room adjusting our shoulders, all of us relaxed and wrapped up in blankets, resting together after practice like naptime in preschool, my heart swelled with love and thanks. It was magic. It was medicine.

4. Video by Susannah Conway in my Blogging from the Heart class. She only makes a few during the course of the class, but it’s so nice to see her face, her smile, hear her voice (she has the most divine accent) and her laugh. She’s smart and funny and kind. This week’s video had me in tears, not because of the subject matter, but because of her–the way she reminds me to love myself, to trust my worth, to have faith in my dreams. It was magic. It was medicine.

5. The Universe says “yes,” again. I was having a rough morning, one of those mornings when the nasty voices of doubt and self-criticism swirl around my head like a nest of yellow-jackets. Then I turned on my computer and saw that one of my very favorite people, someone whose work, her life and her self, her way of being in the world, inspires me and encourages me, had subscribed to follow my blog. I was both humbled and excited, and it truly felt like a reminder from the Universe that yes, I am doing what I need to, what I should, what I have to, yes, this is the right way, keep going. It was magic. It was medicine.

6. “Contemplative Arts Teacher.” Practicing in the Shambhala tradition, contemplative art is not a new concept to me. And, similarly, the idea that there are teachers for each specific tradition isn’t a surprise. However, this past week, I stumbled across a website (can’t even remember how or where now) where the author described herself as a Contemplative Arts Teacher. It felt a little like it did when I was in the 2nd grade and realized that the books I loved reading so much where written by “authors,” people whose job it was to write. I became aware of this new possibility, and felt a longing, deep and true, felt like something I had always wanted without being fully conscious of it had been revealed and named. Gobsmaked. It was magic. It was medicine.

7. Another reminder that while everything is impermanent, and reality can be messy and hard, everything is also beautiful and brilliant. As Pema Chödrön so perfectly says, things “come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

I watched Rocky go last Friday, felt his heart stop, which brought me right back to having to let Obi go, and then losing Kelly, but in that grief is also so much love, so much grace. And yesterday, I watched this video, of Honey the Great Dane and her kitty best friend Lemon, born on the same day and raised together. The end of the story is so sad, with Lemon contracting a mysterious virus and passing at age five, but what is so wonderful is watching them interact and be friends, playing and lounging, being together so happily. It reminded me that while our time together is so short and loss hurts, there is so much love and joy, too. It was magic. It was medicine.

Small Stones

Love?

I’m brushing my teeth and Sam is pressing his head into my leg, one eye buried and the other looking at me in the mirror. I imagine that attention and longing as love for me, but my rational mind knows it probably isn’t.

What it probably is:

“Mom’s brushing her teeth, that means getting ready, that means a walk–I love walking”

or

“Mom’s brushing her teeth, that means brushing my teeth–I love the way the toothpaste tastes, like chicken” *drool*

Either way, I love the feeling of his head pushing against my leg, the weight and tangibility of that gesture, and the longing in that one eye, looking at me while I look back. It doesn’t have to mean love for him for it to mean that for me, to be love for me.

Heron

At first light, in the still dark of dawn, a heron flies overhead like some kind of prehistoric bat. It lands high in a cottonwood. I feel like I am walking in a dream, it’s so strange to see a heron perched so high, its form black against the dark blue sky.

picture by rhys asplundh

Signs of Spring at Lee Martinez Park

Grass greening up, trees budding out, sprinklers back on. Porta Potties gone, doors to bathrooms unlocked and water turned back on.

A warm wind and four tennis balls in the dog park, two laps around.The lightening flash of the backside of a White Tailed Deer excites Dexter, makes him pull at his leash. As soon as we are past it, he slows, stops and checks behind us, hoping to see it again.

People we’ve never seen out on bikes or running with their dogs.

A woodpecker flies into the metal dome covering the lights by the basketball courts and taps a message that echos out.

Confusion

The noise I first think is my neighbor moving her trash can to the curb is actually the robin back on the fence, flying against my window for the fourth morning in a row.

I wonder again if it’s one of the babies we “raised” last year. Has he found his way back? Will he find love?

one of last year's babies, having just learned to fly

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie's post

What do you wish to rise above?

Blocking my feelings. Running away, refusing, numbing, avoiding, dismissing and denying the truth of how I feel, my real experience.

Rejecting my truth. Being stuck in old habits of trusting others over myself, looking to them for validation, searching for external answers, methods, strategies, techniques, permission, love, and approval. Resisting my wholeness, my worth. Denying the path, the experience, the practice, the purpose, the calling. Stubbornly walking in the exact opposite direction of true north, refusing to see or accept myself as I really am.

Self-hate. The petty, hateful, critical voice and behavior of ego. The smashing myself to bits.

Attachment. Clinging, resisting, practicing too tight, collapsing into grief, resisting the truth of impermanence, rushing after, reaching for, and grasping at what I want rather than being with what is.

Hope and fear. Both keep me from being fully in the present, which is the only place I can relax, be content, find joy–be fully alive and awake. If I am afraid, I am not in the present but rather am rejecting it, and if I am hoping, I’m reaching for some other time, some other circumstance, rather than connecting to reality.

Judgement and aggression. Inability to forgive, to let go, to relax. Attraction and aversion rather than acceptance. Desire for vengeance, retribution, justice, and punishment.

Discursive thinking and habitual patterns. Obsession with and attachment to things that no longer serve me. Things sticky, stuck, deeply rooted, old, moldy and musty, rotten and wrecked.

Ego. Dissolving this is most likely the key to rising above everything else.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Impermanence. I am currently taking a class at the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center, Fearlessness in Everyday Life. In the first few weeks we have been contemplating what many great teachers have called the essence of the dharma (“truth”): that everything changes, nothing stays the same–also known as impermanence.

I couldn’t attend Thursday night’s class because I was doing an independent study of sorts, saying goodbye to a being I love very much, being with him when he went, contemplating and being with the reality that death and change are real and reliable. Death and loss will happen, we can count on it.

obi and rocky, both gone now

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ~Pema Chödrön

2. Truth: Being with reality–what is, as it is–is freedom. In the ways that we reject what we don’t want or attempt to cling to what we do, judging and refusing that which is “bad” and attempting to make the “good” somehow permanent, we generate pain. Our refusal to be with things as they are is at the root of all our suffering. In our denial and in our attachment, we cause harm. Our avoidance, our habitual, stuck, discursive ways of covering over the truth keep us stuck, confused and afraid.

There’s a Robin that’s been on the fence between my house and my neighbor’s for the past few days. It runs up and down the fence, intermittently throwing itself at its own reflection in a window. At first, I assumed the bird viewed the other bird as a threat, and chose to fight it. Then I remembered it’s their mating season, and thought maybe the bird thought its own reflection was a possible mate. Either way, whether the bird was showing aggression or attempting to connect, its fundamental confusion caused it to throw itself at the window repeatedly, to cause harm and generate frustration and pain, potentially smashing itself to bits. Even when my neighbor opened her window so it could no longer see its reflection, it shifted its focus to a window on the side of my house, continuing the process.

have courage, little bird

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently. ~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

3. Truth: The antidote, the medicine is gentleness. Being with things as they are and not as we want them to be provokes fear. The inevitable nature of loss and change and death can cause us to come unhinged, unravelled, wrecked and broken. “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” (Pema Chödrön). Being with reality and our fear uncovers things we usually avoid, reject, or hide. The way to deal with this, to work with fear, is by being friendly with ourselves, being gentle. This is non-aggression. This is truth. This is the way to freedom.

One wish: That you have supreme confidence in the one and only thing that won’t change, your fundamental, basic, inherent, innate, unconditional goodness, your wisdom and compassion, that you remember and awaken to this, the light of your true nature.

Something Good

image by Sharon Pruitt of Pink Sherbet Photography

Colossal: An art and design blog. This site shares the coolest stuff. Consider yourself warned: once you start looking, you might not be able to stop.

Danielle LaPorte’s Burning Question series. As a writer, I love to use these as prompts, but I think they are valuable even if you aren’t a writer or blogger, even if you don’t regularly journal or keep a diary. Just take a moment to contemplate, because, as Danielle says “Generally, I think people should ask more questions. Of themselves. Of each other. Questions are doorways that lead to higher consciousness… or pop culture trivia. Both are good. Join in.”

This quote, from Brene’ Brown’s latest TED Talk: “Vulnerability is not weakness….vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage.” To acknowledge your fear, let it touch your tender heart, to be brave anyway, to keep your heart open, to remain vulnerable rather than closing up, numbing out, hiding away is courageous.

This quote, from Cheri Huber “The best preparation we can make for another time and place is to drop everything else and be present in this moment.”

image by Sharon Pruitt of Pink Sherbet Photography

An Erica Experiment: Saying Goodbye to TV… This post by Erica Staab, one of my new favorite amazing women, combines three of my favorite things: Erica Staab, Kristin Noelle (check her out, she’s also amazing), and the mindful TV viewing, digital detox revolution. Eric and I gave up regular TV for the last time in 2004, and it was one of the smartest, best things we ever did. Even if you don’t want to give it up completely, it’s good practice to do so for a week and see what you might notice or learn, about yourself or your life. It just so happens that Danielle LaPorte’s burning question for this week is “What would you like to stop doing?

This post on Keri Smith’s blog: Make your own damn world. “Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping…Stop it and just DO!” Like I always say, if you are waiting for something to happen, stop waiting and happen. Or, stop doing altogether and just be.

My topography, Christina Rosalie’s blog. There’s a good chance I mentioned this once already, but it bears repeating. I first heard of this in my Blogging from the Heart class. Susannah Conway interviewed Christina about blogging, and I fell in love with how she talked about it–for example, she describes her mission statement for her blog this way “To offer evidence that it’s possible to begin, to dream things real, and to find the narrative of your soul in the midst of the uncertainty and the messiness of the moment at hand”–so I went over to visit her site, and I fell utterly in love with her, her gorgeous writing about small, simple things, things that are massive, brilliant, and heartbreakingly real.

Gwyn-Michael’s latest post on Scoutie Girl, learning to see again. the beauty in the breakdown. She says “What is mine to do in the world is to awaken people to other ways of seeing. To inspire hope where there is doubt, love where there is pain…I am an artist using my hands to show, my heart to see, and my voice to tell. I believe there is beauty in the breakdown, and I am not alone.” After a week of not being well, the wreck and raw of post retreat, a speeding ticket, the death of a loved one, and yet also so much beauty and love, I am with you, Gwyn-Michael.

from gwyn-michael's post

Day of Rest: You are Here.

One of Eric and I’s favorite things has always been hiking. Anywhere we can take the dogs, be with them in nature, go exploring, is good. We love the exercise, the joy of the movement. We love the solitude and quiet, as well as the time together. We have long talks that remember where we’ve been, and consider where we want to go. We catch up and dream and plan and forgive and give thanks. There is effort, but there is also relaxation.

eric and I on the top of arthur's rock, 1993

In the winter, I don’t go that much, but Eric does–gears up in gaters and gloves and spiked shoes, grabs the dogs and goes. I stay home, sleep in and write. But I have really been missing it, and the weather has been so great, so today we went to Lory State Park and hiked together (a trail we first hiked together almost 20 years ago), getting there just as the sun rose.

This hike reminded me of Dexter’s awesome trail and scout skills. He’s the perfect guide. He’s kept Eric from getting lost many times, when the trail is hard to see or covered in snow. He always lets you know when someone is coming or when there’s a choice to be made about which way to go. He’ll sometimes pause and look back, maybe even come back to touch everyone in the pack with his nose, look them in the eye, making sure everyone is doing okay. He’s been a natural at this, starting from the time he was a puppy, and we almost always let him lead.

me with my guide

the view from Sam's position

We found treasures and saw beauty today.

feather

woodpecker

Sam found a snack: leg bone

lichen, so green!

fuzzy seeds

snow!

an appropriate warning, no matter what path you are on

My favorite part of lots of trails, especially anything with “gulch” or “ravine” or “canyon” in the name, is the sweet spot: that moment when, after miles and hours of steep trail, you come out at the top into this space, sometimes a meadow, but always beautiful.

you are here

today's sweet spot

let's keep going, Mom!

In Northern Colorado, there are these pine trees that smell like caramel, when the weather is warm and you are hungry, it can make you crazy, make you want to eat the bark.

So, I don’t want to say it so often that it gets boring or irritating, but I am so in love with my husband, my dogs, my life.

rosy cheeks!

that smile, that chin dimple, that boy just melts my heart

Dear reader, kind and gentle ones, with my whole heart I wish and hope that on this day of rest you are reminded of all the things about your life that you love, those large and small, near and far. I hope you fall in love, all over again, with who you are, where you are, and what and who is there with you. I wish that your heart is so full today that it feels like it’s going to break..