Monthly Archives: November 2012

Gratitude Friday

thanksgivingsky12This 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.The sky. The full moon against the midnight blue black, the clouds, the clear days, the pale blue and deep blue and fire orange and bright pink and gold of the sunrise, the way it’s constantly changing but always the same.

2. Long walks with my dogs, both of my dogs.

3. My purple fleece robe. Eric bought this for me more than ten years ago and it’s my favorite, it’s perfect. It has adapted to my various weights and moods, is easily washed, is the perfect thickness and softness and length and color.

purplefleecerobe4. Good friends, good people on a similar path who have long talks with me about important or difficult or confusing or wonderful things, who make me laugh, who are a glorious kind of weird, who by simply existing make me feel less alone and more loved.

5. Technology. All the various tools and spaces and applications that enable connection, creativity, that inspire and facilitate my work, both paid and that of my heart.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Mr. Dexter, who will always be my Little Dude.

bigdandlittled

My Little Dude with his Little D

Clarity

I’ve been thinking a lot about questions this week. About knowing the right ones to ask, being curious, listening and looking for answers everywhere. One reason is because I have the opportunity to ask a single question of an Intuitive Counselor I met at the World Domination Summit this summer (we talked the whole time about dogs, so I liked her immediately, knew she was some sort of coach, but not the specifics of her work until I looked her up later). I have the chance to get her help in getting clear about something important to me. I am working on the question, trying to carefully craft it, aware that the difference between “how” and “what” in a case like this can be enormous, and not wanting to be like one of those people in those old stories who are granted three wishes and completely screw it up, wasting the whole lot of them because they don’t word them wisely.

I’ve talked before about how I love divination, intuition, auspicious concidence, serendipity: a chance meeting, an unexpected connection, a feather in my path, a heart-shaped rock, picking a random line from a sacred text, tarot readings, throwing I-Ching coins, Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards, dream interpretation, Q-Cards qcasting, or any such oracle through which the universe might send me a message.

As I’ve said before, “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.”

And this week, Jamie Ridler provided two opportunities for getting clear, for asking the questions. The first was the Full Moon Dreamboard, the Full Frost Moon, which asked “What is clear about your dreams? What further clarity do you seek?” And, on the same day was Wishcasting Wednesday, which asked “What clarity do you wish for?” I didn’t even post about the wishcast, wrote it in my journal instead since I’d already posted that day about my search for clarity and what I’d discovered through my dreamboard practice. I didn’t want to bore you, kind and gentle reader.

But I can’t stop thinking about it, and it keeps coming up. Susan Piver shared with the Open Heart Project Practitioners a collection of questions she’s considering as we move into a new year, I am getting daily Wisdom Notes and prompts from Rachel Cole, and I’m in charge of coming up with a set of questions, contemplations for a collective of courage cultivators I’ll be meeting with in a few weeks. And yesterday I read Kat’s post on I Saw You Dancing, and it was all about seeking clarity, “I’m trying to understand who I am, why I am here, what I am going to do with this one precious life of mine.” What she discovered is

The destination I had reached was, in fact, exactly where I was already standing. And all the stuff that I am meant to do in this life is, in fact, stuff that I am already doing.

I keep bumping up against this idea, that I already am. It was the third truth in my Three Truths and One Wish post this week, “I don’t need to become something else, because I am already.” The comment I left for Kat said how much I loved her post, how she’d described the process,

The rambly abstract brilliant mess of this life we live, where we look and look and search and try and question and run around crazy, only to realize in one moment, in a flash that our feet and our breath are right there, the ground is right there, our heart beats the same rhythm it has from the very beginning.

Kat is hosting Reverb12 during the month of December, and as host she will provide daily prompts that help those of us participating to “reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest your dreams for the new year.” More specifically, they will be about “celebrating the successes of 2012, honouring the challenges of 2012, and planting the seeds for a rich and rewarding 2013.”

The places I’m currently seeking clarity, where I have questions seem to be all related to obstacles, the things keeping me from living my best, healthiest and most wholehearted life, from fully realizing my dreams. I wish to be clear about working with those who are suffering and confused (both in my personal and work relationships, and with people I don’t even really know), I want to know how I can best help, I would like to understand the specifics of how I might turn my heart’s work into my paid work, I wish to realize how to completely let go of old habits and thought patterns that no longer serve me, I’d like to be clearer about my “thing” (where should I be focusing my time, my attention, my love? do I need further specialization or certification to fully step into my purpose? if so, what?). How to ask all that in the form of a single question is my immediate challenge.

While I understand that I don’t need to change, that I am already worthy and whole just as I am, fundamentally wise and compassionate and awake, and I am already thoroughly in love with my life as it is and full of gratitude for what I have, I’m so curious about what’s going to happen next.

Full Moon Dream Board: Full Frost Moon

from Jamie’s post

Jamie says of this full moon dreamboard, “Under the Full Frost Moon, allow that fresh chill in the air to wake you up to your dreams. Let creating your dreamboard be a clarifying act, bringing into focus the dreams that are in your heart. As you create your board, hold gently a request for clarity. Notice what is revealed.”

The Full Frost Moon asks: “What is clear about your dreams? What further clarity do you seek?”

Clear to me are my practices, my method, my desire and my longing. Writing, dogs, walking, yoga, and meditation are the process, the way of clear seeing, peaceful abiding, the comfort, the certain, that which sustains me, supports me, softens me. What is clear is that generosity, gentleness, and genuineness are my superpowers. That my purpose is to ease suffering by making people feel less alone, by reminding them of their potential and their true nature, to inspire them to trust themselves, to keep my heart open–brave and tenderhearted warriors, all of us.

Where I need further clarity is my own confidence. Everything else, every other struggle springs from this, each has this at the center, that shaky, shivery, raw sense of poverty, of brokenness, of fear and not enough. The further clarity I seek beyond this is how to make this loving a living, how to more fully integrate my life, my need for funding and my need for love (shared and received), how to make my process, my doing sustainable, how to fully embody and manifest my dreams in a more practical sense.

Before I even started to collect images, I had a strong sense of what they would be: the clarity would center around the comfort of shelter, a fireplace maybe, a cozy place to be and rest, surrounded by books and dogs and practice materials. The images I found were soft flannel, a blanket and slippers, a sleeping puppy, my meditation cushion, Watermoon Kuan Yin (the goddess of mercy, she who comforts those who call to her), yoga poses and phrases.

The confusion, the need for clarity, is represented by the “outside,” the weather and lack of shelter, the wild, the cold, unpredictable nature, the fox who can either be a wise messenger or evil trickster, the smoke of incense, what is left after the burning, what fades, the reminder of and reference to impermanence. The images I chose, that chose me, were much darker, starker than they have been in the past few dreamboads, collections that were softer and more peaceful.

The comfort of home, of shelter and companionship, of practice, of the predictable, the cycle of seasons, day and night.

If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it. ~Lucy Larcom

The wild of the outside, of change and impermanence, of nature and weather, the unknown.

When it’s snowing, the outdoors seem like a room… A room with the walls blasted to shreds and falling. ~David Berman

Let me respectfully remind you~
life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by, and opportunity is lost.
Each of us should strive to awaken
awaken…
Take heed.
Do not squander your life.

We move through the world
with awe in our hearts.
Ushered by the push of the seasons.
At home in a mystery older than memory.

Time to be.
It’s winter–that festive time of endless adventure.
As you embark upon this snowy season of inspiration,
may you be in the moment,
stay warm,
and be totally prepared for anything you dream up.
Be inspired.

The spirit and practice
of moving into stillness,
the ease and joy of our true nature.

There’s magic in the moment.
Slow, pause, breath, behold.
The essence of adventure lies in every footfall.
Peace, mystery, magic unfolding,
a dream revealing itself.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: The way to get more time is to pay attention. This won’t be news to some. I am sure it is ancient wisdom, something so many others figured out long ago, but it just came to me this morning. We took a different section of trail on our walk, Dexter wanting to go right next to the river instead of up higher. Even though that span is about the same length as our regular route, I noticed how much longer it seemed like it took us to get to the bridge. And then I realized why–normally when we walk, the same path as we do every day and have hundreds of times, I don’t really pay attention. I am spacing off, day dreaming, planning, complaining, prewriting, and I hardly notice my feet moving. But changing the route woke me up, I was connected to where I was and what we were doing, what was happening…and time stretched and expanded. When you are mindful, in the moment and present, you experience the truth, the full measure of every moment.

2. Truth: Three deep breaths reveals the truth of things. Yoga, meditation, writing, and long walks with my dogs–all of my practices do the same. It’s during these specific activities (except for the occasional mindless walking as described above) that I connect with reality, that my mind and body are in the same place, at the same time. Sometimes when I take three deep breaths, I relax and feel lighter, and other times, I start to cry; always, it reveals what is waiting, just below the surface, for me to notice. Learning to stay with it has been so difficult, yet so important. It is in those moments I am alive, awake and open. What else is there?

3. Truth: I don’t need to become something else, because I am already. Again, this is ancient wisdom, not news to many, but I am only now wrapping my head around the idea that what I am meant to be is already there, only needing to be acknowledged and exposed, embodied and manifested rather than collected or earned. I don’t need to change, to improve, to be different. Jonathan Fields wrote a blog post about this the other day, and I keep reading and rereading it. He says “the process of coming alive isn’t about becoming, it’s about uncovering” and

[W]ho you’re meant to be has always been there… the Work lies in reclaiming the ability to see it. In chipping away all the stuff that gets caked on as you go through life. The wounds, the limitations born of the desire to be accepted at any cost, the heartbreak-fueled shrinking away. The psychic grit that comes to form a barrier so opaque as to obscure not only your ability to see, but be who you are.

And, Marianne Williamson says “Now, in this moment, you are who you have always been and will always be. All spiritual practice — forgiveness, meditation and prayer — is for the purpose of training the mind to see through the illusions of a world that would convince you otherwise.”

One wish: That we can all slow down, sink in, show up, stay and connect with reality, with who we are and with what is. Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible–may we keep our hearts open.

Small Kindnesses

Fiona Robyn is hosting a Small Kindnesses Blogsplash today, (here is a full list of the blogs participating). Her novel Small Kindnesses (the Kindle version) is free today, so she invited others to share their stories. She explains why this way,

Kindness is a Very Good Thing. Even teensy compassionate acts help the world go round. Let’s celebrate these Small Kindnesses

It might be an extra-thoughtful Christmas present you’ve never forgotten, or the unexpected kindness of a stranger, or a small gesture that rescued you from a dark place. It might have happened this week or twenty years ago.

It might be a simple list of the small kindnesses you’ve received this week, or today. It might be a small kindness you’ve been inspired to perform. Follow your inspiration…

Ever since she suggested it and I agreed to take part, I’ve been thinking about it, all the small kindnesses, ones I’ve received and all those I’ve given away, and to be honest, kind and gentle reader, if I think about it for too long, I get completely undone by the overwhelming amount of kindness I’ve witnessed and generated in my lifetime. Sometimes I love us so much, my heart feels like it will break. I could write a thousand posts sharing all the small kindnesses, but I decided to keep it to just two, something old and something new.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~Dalai Lama

A Small Kindness from Long Ago and Far Away

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved flowers. From early on, I understood their value as a gift, as a way of showing you loved someone, adored their tender beauty. Our next door neighbors, the sweetest older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kindred (yes, that was their real name–you can’t make this stuff up), had gorgeous flowers growing just on the other side of our yard. I can’t remember exactly what all they were, but I do remember there were peonies, (whether there actually were or not is irrelevant, I remember them).

One day, at about four years old, I got it in my head that I should pick some flowers for my mom, so I did, pulling them one by one from Mrs. Kindred’s bushes. I was so proud of myself when I offered them to her, and she was horrified. She marched me next door and made me apologize to Mrs. Kindred. Of course, Mrs. Kindred didn’t mind, but she knew my mom was embarrassed and upset so she let me make my apology and reluctantly took the flowers back. However, after that, sometimes when Mrs. Kindred cut flowers, she made sure to make me a bouquet. It made me so happy that she hadn’t been mad at me, and that she remembered how much I loved flowers, that she liked me enough to give me some.

The Kindreds had a gray poodle named Puddles. He (She? it was so long ago I can’t be sure) was one of the first dogs I ever loved, and as far as I remember, s/he loved me too. The other thing I remember is how later, Mrs. Kindred got very sick and weak, and needed extra rest, so she stayed on the couch most days. My mom didn’t want me to bother her, but the Kindreds insisted that they liked me coming over, so I used to go visit her and we’d play board games (or cards, or eat cookies–good stuff). I was too little to understand, but Mrs. Kindred had cancer, and eventually died.

We all just want to be validated, appreciated, seen, loved. Remembering this story also reminds me of something Toni Morrison said on the Oprah show, “Does your face light up when your child enters the room?” because that is how they know that they are loved, how they know what is in your heart. I still remember Mrs. Kindred, her husband, Puddles, and the flowers, and how good it felt the way they smiled at me, how they where always so happy to see me. We all need that, we can all give that, even if it’s as little as smiling at our own reflection in the mirror, (seriously, try it the next time you are looking in one and see if it doesn’t make you feel just a little bit better, maybe even say “I love you. You are amazing, a beautiful, brilliant, glorious mess.”).

A More Recent Small Kindness

This summer, I went to the World Domination Summit, a conference held in Portland, Oregon. I’d first heard about it when Andrea Scher wrote about presenting the first year, A story of Yes. I was so excited (and scared out of my mind) to attend because so many people I had loved from afar, followed and read and taken classes with, were going to be there, giving workshops or speaking or simply attending like me. I would certainly see some of them, and if I could be brave, I might even meet a few.

I had no idea the magic that was actually going to happen because of an act of small kindness. Kelly Rae Roberts and Andrea Scher planned an event at Kelly Rae’s studio to kick off the weekend. So many amazing women were going to be in town, they wanted to get them all together. Andrea (and I’m still not really sure why) invited ME. Imagine, dear reader, that every person you ever wanted to meet were all in the same room together with you–this is exactly what it was like for me walking into the studio that day. It felt like I was in a dream.

I got to meet some of my most favorite women: Jamie Ridler, Courtney Carver, Jennifer Louden, Hannah Marcotti, Flora Bowley, etc. etc. It blew my mind.

come on in and sit down, stay awhile

When I say it’s a small kindness, what I mean is that it didn’t require much effort on Andrea’s part to invite me–she had the thought and sent me an email. And yet, for me it was no small thing. I was no longer pretending to be part of this tribe of women, it wasn’t just me daydreaming, I was physically in a room with them. Yes, I was so freaked out I could barely talk to any of them. Yes, it was kind of like being the math tutor that got invited to the cool kids party, or the sixth grader hanging out with the high school seniors, but I was there, that happened.

Seeing them, being invited, made me understand that my wishes aren’t so wild, that the life I want is possible, that the dream I have is so much closer than I thought. Time and time again, Andrea’s gift to me, her kindness is to expand my idea of what is possible, to inspire me to dream bigger and to have faith in my own superpowers.

P.S. Andrea is having a Cyber Monday Super Sale, only $49 for any of her classes! Just enter the coupon code INSPIRE49, good until midnight tonight.

Something Good

1. I’d Do Anything to Stop This Pain by Jennifer Gresham on Everyday Bright.

2. This quote: We’re in a giant car headed toward a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit. ~David Suzuki. This is Buddhist wisdom I’ve heard before, the idea that we we’ve all bought a ticket on a ship that’s sinking, that we are boarding a plane that’s guaranteed to crash, that this is the reality of life (death), but the additional wisdom here is that even knowing this, we spend our time on the dumbest things, like worrying what to pack or complaining about the snacks.

3. Biz Ladies: Part I — Your Blog Is Your Book This is very good news indeed.

4. Ayurveda at a Glance I am working on a guest post about meditation for Niight’s blog.

5. This wisdom from Tulku Thondup

The key is to make meditation a part of your life, like part of the fabric of a tapestry. Bring an attitude of enjoyment to your meditation, that helps tremendously. Also, bring the peaceful feelings of meditation into your daily activities. That is how to begin tasting the fruits of your efforts. When the healing of mind becomes a habit, our minds become like a great river. The river may not always appear to be moving. But if we look closely enough we will see how the water is slowly, slowly making its way to the sea.

And this:

Meditation is a way of training ourselves to develop a more peaceful mind. Everyone has different capabilities and needs when it comes to this training. We don’t want to push ourselves or be too forceful, but we also want to avoid being slack or lazy. Each of us needs to develop a sense of what’s best for us.

6. Love Letter to the World: Rachel W. Cole

7. Fiona Apple recently canceled her South American tour, because her sweet dog is dying. If you’ve ever loved a dog, lost a dog, the letter she wrote in explanation will break your heart. This comforted me, “she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything” and this wrecked me:

I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments. I need to do my damnedest to be there for that. Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known. When she dies.

this boy is at my feet right now, doing his own dying–slowly but for certain, while I do my damnedest to be here for it

8. From the Daily Flame:

Why do you judge yourself when you feel tired? Why do you allow fatigue to turn into a story about how you’re not [something] enough? Have you ever thought that perhaps I speak to you through feelings of tiredness, that perhaps, you’re not hearing my whispers, telling you to slow down, and fatigue is the spell I slap on you to help you listen? If you’re tired today, what do you think I might be telling you? Listen up. I have a message for you…

And this one:

Sometimes the longings of your heart feel crazy, don’t they? You wonder how you can possibly trust desires that are so outlandish, impractical, out of control, fickle, and passion-laden. Yet what can you trust more than the stirrings of the heart? Stay there, with your heart wide open. This is where I live, not in your mind, but in the interior spaciousness of pure possibility and divine love.

9. This from Marianne Williamson: “Let there be a ceasefire in all our hearts. Let’s make peace with ourselves, our God, our past, and each other. Let’s all together declare peace on earth.” And this, “Now, in this moment, you are who you have always been and will always be. All spiritual practice — forgiveness, meditation and prayer — is for the purpose of training the mind to see through the illusions of a world that would convince you otherwise.”

10. Dear Sugar, The Rumpus Advice Column #90: 94 Ways of Saying Thank You

11. 15 Gifts You Can Give Yourself for Free from Marc and Angel Hack Life

12. This quote, by way of Lindsey on A Design So Vast:

…be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. ~Paul Harding

13. Emerging Icons: Demystifying the Process from Jen Lee

14. This quote: If you want to be happy, be. ~Leo Tolstoy

15. This quote: Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind. ~ Henry James

16. This quote: Underneath it all, we are wild and we know it. ~Reggie Ray

17. This quote from Mary Gaitskill:

Writing is…. being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.

18. The Daily Routines of Famous Writers from Brain Pickings.

19. Recipes I want to try: Sweet Potato Biscuits, Apple Hand Pies, and Graham Crackers.

20. Shirley and Jenny: Two Elephants Reunited After More Than 20 Years, which I’ve seen before, but was reminded of this morning by Sas, and is why I drank tear flavored coffee.

21. Rachel Cole’s Holiday Gift Guide. I’m totally going to make some of the homemade surprise balls.

22. I may have posted this before, but it’s worth repeating: 55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy busy busy

23. Every time I read Ken’s story, I am amazed at how similar it is to my own.

24. This sweet interview. “Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best—and the most challenging—parts of being a parent.”

25. This quote from Geneen Roth:

Right here, this exact moment, is the doorway to the peace and the joy you want. No matter how much you ate in the last few days, no matter how much you did or didn’t do, can you stop your mind’s nattering? Can you, are you willing to, take in the fact that you have a body, arms, legs, eyes. That you can see, hear, touch, taste. Are you willing to break the trance of unworthiness right now?

26. PicMonkeyI love photo editing, adding quotes, and this site makes it so easy. I can’t wait to waste some serious time with this.

27. Don’t Just Create. Liberate., a great post from yogi Jonathan Fields.

28. Deck the Blog: Favorite Design Resources from Laura Simms on Scoutie Girl. This is going to be fun.

29. This quote: “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” ~Thich
Nhat Hanh

30. No Shit from Whatever, Etc. Every woman who has ever cried in a dressing room, or wanted to when she looked in the mirror, or thought she would lose her mind shopping for a swimming suit or pair of jeans that fit needs to read this.