Monthly Archives: December 2012

Something Good

Buddha Quote
1. This from Oriah Mountain Dreamer:

Considering Old Habits With New Eyes: It always amazes me how quickly we develop habitual routines. In some ways, it makes sense. Day to day life is filled with a plethora of executive decisions: what to eat; what to wear; what to read, listen to, or watch; how to spend our time, money and energy, prioritizing tasks at work or at home. Routines can free us up to focus on bigger or deeper questions. And, once we’ve found something that works for us- whether it’s a daily meditation or nap (and I admit one sometimes leads to the other)- a routine helps us establish and maintain these practices.

Of course, the strength of routines is also a weakness: habits aren’t decided from present-moment awareness. This of course, side-steps the but-I-don’t-feel-like. . .(exercising, writing, meditating, eating vegetables etc.) pitfall of resisting what we know generally supports our body, mind, and spirit. But it also side-steps considerations of how things may have changed and what our or others’ present-moment needs really are. And, of course, the ease of perpetuating habits is as true of those that are not good for us as they are for those that are beneficial.

2. New Trampled Snow Art from Simon Beck. I love impermanent art.

3. A Buddhist Practice for Your New Year Resolution on Huffington Post from Lodro Rinzler.

4. How To Make Next Year Your Best Year Yet, a vision board practice from Liv Lane. I’ve been collecting images, will hopefully find a moment to put mine together tomorrow.

5. Birthing Your Art: Becoming a Creativity Doula and New spin on an old favorite; New Day’s resolution on Scoutie Girl.

6. A Danielle LaPorte TruthBombs: “We all require heaping doses of tenderness whether we realize it or not,” and “Leave room for mystery. It doesn’t all need to make sense.”

Lee Martinez Park

7. Anxiety and Depression Together on Psychology Today makes some really good arguments about the conditions (or condition, as the argument goes), ones that make real sense to me, as someone who has dealt with both, (it does however gloss over the fact that there can also be chemical, body issues involved as well). These two parts especially made sense to me:

“Depression seems to be a shutdown,” explains Barlow. “Anxiety is a kind of looking to the future, seeing dangerous things that might happen in the next hour, day or weeks. Depression is all that with the addition of ‘I really don’t think I’m going to be able to cope with this, maybe I’ll just give up.’ It’s shutdown marked by mental, cognitive or behavioral slowing.”

And this,

“The shared cornerstone of anxiety and depression is the perceptual process of overestimating the risk in a situation and underestimating personal resources for coping.” Those vulnerable see lots of risk in everyday things-applying for a job, asking for a favor, asking for a date.

Further, anxiety and depression share an avoidant coping style. Sufferers avoid what they fear instead of developing the skills to handle the kinds of situations that make them uncomfortable.

8. Stand out: Meet Kerilyn Russo and see the power of stepping into your true role. Kerilyn has joined the Roots of She tribe, and it’s her birthday today. She is a gift, and I predict she is going to do such good things this year. Keep an eye on her.

9. Five Minutes for Simplicity from Courtney Carver on Be More With Less. Let’s be honest, we’ve all got five minutes.

10. A Mala of Mindfulness (108 insights from 2012) from Sandi Amorim at Deva Coaching. So much wisdom here, the kind of list you’ll want to print out and post on your fridge. Also on Deva Coaching, a guest post by Sandra Pawula, Meditate Right Now.

11. Meditation, Creativity & Fearlessness, a podcast of one of my favorite teachers (Susan Piver) speaking at the New York City Shambhala Center.

Lee Martinez Park Snow
12. From Patti Digh’s Thinking Thursday list this past week, 6 Simple Rituals To Reach Your Potential Every Day.

13. 8 Things You Must Give Up to Find Peace from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

14. Becoming Friends With Yourself: You Deserve Your Love on Tiny Buddha.

15. 101 Creative Resolutions (shared originally on Positively Present Picks).

16. This quote from Sas Petherick, which sums up my “new deal” very nicely: “These days I find it much more appealing to consider how I want to feel and who I want to be, rather than what I want to do.”

17. My word for 2013 is Freedom. In talking about it the other day with someone who selected Free, I was joking that we should have a theme song. That made me start with the first one that came to mind, Freebird, and I found this lovely cover.

18. John Cleese on the 5 Factors to Make Your Life More Creative on Brain Pickings. They are “space, time, time, confidence, and humor.” I couldn’t agree more.

19. OMG, it’s a hobbit house! I want it…

20. Sunday Sounds from Patti Digh.

21. 10 Really Lame Ideas & Beliefs To Let Go Of from Danielle LaPorte.

22. Some really good things are happening in January:

23. WTF Interview with Judd Apatow. This is actually old, but heard it just this morning and LOVED it.

24. This:

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings. Move within,
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Walk to the well.
Turn as the earth and the moon turn,
circling what they love.
Whatever circles comes from the center.
~Rumi

25. The WORLD OF POSSIBILITY Card. (Copy, paste & send to someone you love.) from Alexandra Franzen.

26. “Creating a beautiful life is your highest calling. It is in the ordinary and overlooked details of the everyday that beauty is revealed, sustained, and nurtured.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

27. “The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” ~Anna Quindlen

28. From Dudjom Rinpoche, Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche’s Heart Advice:

At all times, do not lose courage in your inner awareness; uplift yourself, while assuming a humble position in your outer demeanor. Follow the example of the life and complete liberation of previous accomplished masters (siddha). Do not blame your past karma; instead, be someone who purely and flawlessly practices the Dharma. Do not blame temporary negative circumstances; instead, be someone who remains steadfast in the face of whatever circumstances may arise.

In brief, taking your own mind as witness, make your life and practice one, and at the time of death, with no thought of anything left undone, do not be ashamed of yourself. This itself is the pith instruction of all practices.

29. What Are You Doing New Years Eve? by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Happiest of New Years to you, kind and gentle reader. I am so grateful that you are here, and wish you all the best.

Step by Little Step

Dex's snow feet

Service is your heart’s desire made visible. Service is the act of sharing what you most care about for the greater good. It requires no special goodness, thankfully. After our basic needs are met, we all yearn to make a difference and service springs from listening to that yearning – and taking action on it, step by little step. ~Jennifer Louden, The Week of Inward Looking

My most intense longing, my deepest hunger, my heart’s desire is to ease suffering, in myself and in the world. As I have been retreating and reverbing and unravelling and reflecting and contemplating and practicing this past month (year?), it has become clear to me that the “basic need” I still must meet is the essential requirement of self-love and self-care. I need to learn and practice radical self-acceptance.

I was naive at the start of this “life-rehab.” From the moment I first realized I had been in a long term abusive relationship with myself, I believed it would be an easy fix, that with awareness and mindfulness would come immediate and lasting change. I thought I could read a book, take a class, attend a workshop, complete a practice or project, and “presto chango” I would be transformed into a woman completely in love with herself, confident and strong.

I was so wrong. You can’t take years of self-abuse, self-hatred, self-loathing, and all of the self-soothing and coping strategies you’ve developed to counter those behaviors, to numb and distract yourself from all the hurt, and fix it so easily, so quickly. It is hard work to repair the damage done, to restore your self to yourself. Almost every single old habit, way of being has to be undone and replaced. This is slow, heavy work, and while so much has changed for the better already, there is more to be done.

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Kris Carr’s post The Myth of Finding Your Purpose is one thing that has helped me to see this more clearly. In it, she says “Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do…Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way.” She goes on to suggest a whole list of “what ifs” that precisely define what steps one might take to embody your purpose. She ends with saying:

Seriously, what if finding your purpose is about finding and nurturing yourself? Not an external to-do or accomplishment, even if that to-do or accomplishment is the most important discovery of all time. Because if you are the one destined to find the most important ah-ha of all time, you will probably find it quicker and easier if you feel good, loved and happy. Start there. It’s that simple.

This is directly in line with the wisdom of two of my primary practice traditions: yoga and meditation. Both used the term “warrior” to describe the practitioner, and in the lineage of Buddhist philosophy in which I practice, I train to be a Warrior, which is described as:

The Shambhala view of warriorship shares some of the qualities of earlier warrior traditions such as those from the Middle Ages that combined fearlessness with dignity and wisdom. The most important quality of the Shambhala warrior is being non-aggressive. The Shambhala warrior is defined by gentleness and fearlessness. As Chogyam Trungpa said it, “the first principle of warriorship is not being afraid of who you are.” ~William A. Gordon, Shambhala The Path of the Warrior

superhero earth necklace made by andrea scher, a gift to myself

Don’t be afraid of who you are. To be a spiritual warrior, face each moment with openness and fearlessness, because “the ultimate definition of bravery is not being afraid of who you are.” Susan Piver, who also practices in this lineage, defines confidence this way, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

If service is the fruition, radical self-acceptance is the path. Tara Brach talks about this in Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha, where she defines this practice, this awareness of radical self-acceptance as “the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.” She goes on to say that:

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.

Stop Beating Yourself Up…Start Loving Yourself Radically!!, a video and blog post by Kute Blackson, explain the concept further, with great enthusiasm and clarity.

As one who practices radical self-acceptance, who is confident, a tenderhearted and brave warrior unafraid of herself or her life, showing up with an open heart, no matter how hard or how much it hurts, I can serve. I can embody generosity and love and confidence. I can manifest wisdom and compassion. I can satisfy my longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world.

I’m still not sure exactly what shape that will take or what it will look like, how exactly it will manifest. Some of the possibilities are as a writer, a teacher, a therapist or coach, a yoga and/or meditation instructor, an artist, a mentor. Some topics I know something about are grief and loss, cancer, addiction, practice, writing, voice (both losing and finding it), mindfulness, and relationship with the self. I’m not exactly sure how those will come together into specific offerings, but I’m okay with not knowing. For now, I will continue to remember, as Jennifer Louden suggests, that “service springs from listening to that yearning – and taking action on it, step by little step.”

The view of the sky from my front porch, right now

I started writing this post in the dark of early morning, as I worked stringing the words and thoughts together the sun rose, and I am finishing with the sun up and out, the sky wide open and clear blue–something about that seems really, really right.

Full Moon Dreamboard: Full Cold Moon

From Jamie’s post: Here we are, sharing our dreams under the last full moon of the year. Take time to celebrate all the blessings that have arrived this year, all the dreams that have started to started to tenderly grow, the dreams that are bearing fruit and those that are now complete. And then, as you stand at the edge of 2013, let yourself dream anew. Create a dreamboard and invite the magic in. What are you dreaming of?

The Full Cold Moon asks: “What comforts do you dream of?”

fullcoldmoon2012
Hugs, snuggling and cuddling, holding, stretching, touch, connection, love.
Heat, warmth, fire, love.
Light, the wide open sky, space, gentleness, ease, love.
My own bed, my dogs, my tiny house, my little family, love.
Practice, an open heart, a soft place to land, room to move, freedom, love.
Love letters, kind words, stories, songs, paper and pen, whispers, love.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.

Gratitude Friday

This post started as 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. A White Christmas. It felt so much softer, quieter, more festive with the snow and the cold.

2. Good friends and family with whom to spend the holiday. It was a tiny number, but quality can be just as good as quantity.

3. Leftovers. I did a lot of cooking in the days leading up to Christmas, and now I am doing a lot of eating. Apple pie oatmeal remains one of my favorite things.

4. Retreat. I know what a luxury, what a gift this time is (even though I know I have earned it), and I am enjoying sinking in and seeing what might arise.

5. My tribe. In the past few days, it has become very clear to me that there is a strong community surrounding and supporting me–my yoga classes, my local and virtual friends, the Open Heart Project, the Cultivating Courage alumnus group, those who are involved with Reset.Revive.Restart., my fellow Reverb12-ers, other bloggers and writers and practitioners and seekers–I am feeling so much gratitude for that, for them. Its value is beyond my ability to truly measure it.

Bonus Joy: We got to spend another Christmas with Dexter. Last week, he went hiking and made dog snow angels.

dexsnowangel02

Breathe In the Longing, Breathe Out the Wish

lastretreat

Breathe in the wish, the longing to take away the suffering; breathe out the wish to send comfort and happiness. ~Pema Chödrön

I am allowing myself space on this retreat. As I mentioned yesterday, I dropped the plan, and am instead seeing how things might naturally arise. There is wisdom, clarity that will emerge if you allow it room and time. I am trusting in this.

Today I was very aware of suffering, in the world and in myself. I was touched by the suffering of others, those dealing with illness, death, loss, grief, self-hatred, fear, abuse. I was softened by my own suffering as well, so similar, so much the same. I gently contemplated my regrets, my failures, the ways I’ve lived in the shadows, stayed hidden away and closed off this past year.

Rather than beating yourself up, use your own stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world.

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.

Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings. ~Pema Chödrön

I practiced Tonglen for all of us. In a video I watched, Pema Chödrön talked about how in Tonglen, we “relax into the outbreath,” and how the practice is about sending space, relief and comfort and ease, so that those who are suffering will know that their hearts and minds are indeed big enough to accommodate their discomfort, their fear, their despair, their anger, their physical or emotional anguish.

And today there was also so much joy and gratitude. I experienced compassion and comfort through the connections I’ve made in the past year, long conversations about important things, short exchanges that make me smile so big my face hurts from it, sharing our experiences, cheering each other on. So many brilliant and beautiful women who offer their support, wisdom, kindness, strength, and good humor, who fill my life with so much grace and laughter.

And later into the snow on a walk with my little family, I feel the cold air as I draw it into my lungs, warm it and release it. I feel the strength of my lungs and legs, the willingness of my whole body, my whole self to move. I revel in the company of my three boys, the beauty of the world around us, and wonder at my luck.

I live in a place where every year someone decorates a few of the trees along the trail. I live in a world where people open their hearts to each other, sharing our stories and our pain, a world where people offer each other support and help. A world where every day our hearts are broken, and yet once they are, we see that there is room for all of it, the suffering and the joy, that there is so much to love, to live for.

I’m so glad you are here with me, kind and gentle reader. Life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal–may we keep our hearts open to all of it, may we know that they are big enough to hold all of it.

We aren’t blind, we just have our eyes closed

We celebrated Christmas yesterday. The best present for me was that Dexter was here with us, having another good day. We hadn’t expected that, hadn’t even wished for it because it seemed so impossible. On Christmas Eve, he slept in bed with me almost the whole night, curled up and warm right next to me, something he rarely ever does anymore. In these moments, I remind myself that this time is short, to surrender to it, to sink into the space I have left with him.

In the same way that having Dexter here but at the same time still dying, Christmas is always a mix of happy and sad for me. I love Colorado and my little family here, but I am also homesick, nostalgic for that other home, that other family, remembering so many Christmas’s past spent at the Farm, the laughter, the good company, and the food. I don’t mind telling you, I miss my mommy. Christmas music and twinkly lights are just as likely to make me feel joy as they are sorrow. For example, this song from A Charlie Brown Christmas makes me tear up every time.

A friend and I were talking the other day about issues we both have with perfectionism, feeling unworthy and thinking we need to earn love, permission, rest, self-care. At the end of our conversation, she said “well, how are we going to help each other with this? we are like the blind leading the blind.” I responded “we aren’t blind, we just have our eyes closed.”

I find this oddly hopeful, comforting, that once there’s even a slight shift in awareness, once I understand that this isn’t permanent or fixed and therefore choosing another option is always possible, I can open my eyes, things can and will shift.

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Today is the first day of a seven day retreat for me, the final week of a year of retreat, (my guiding word, my intention for 2012). When I told Eric that’s what I was doing, he asked what that meant exactly. I said I’d be meditating, reading and writing, but not much of anything else, and his response was “how’s that different from any other time?”

I was telling that same friend that I mentioned before about this week of retreat, all the contemplating, reverbing, inward looking, unravelling, and reset.revive.restart.-ing I was planning, and she said “I think maybe you need someone to tell you, you are doing too much.” I’ve been telling myself that for months, asking “how are you going to keep this up?” to which I typically have answered, “shhh, I’m working.”
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As far back as late 2011, I was trying to figure this out, wrote about it in Turn the F*ckin Faucet On! and Pace Yourself, about how much I wanted, but how I also realized “There’s just not room for all of it, at least not in this space and time continuum.  I am greedy, taking on more than I can possibly do, but there is just so much I want.” I went on to say “Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that I shouldn’t dream so big.  Obviously, I believe in that.  Dreaming and wishing and opening myself up to new possibilities and different options is propelling me after years of being stuck.  What I am saying is that I need to ‘pace myself.’ ” I’m not quite there yet, kind and gentle reader, but I keep trying.

lastretreat02As I write this, I have about 40 pages of reading and prompts, along with two books sitting next to me–the “plan” for this retreat. Some of the prompts I’ve already answered in other ways–what I accomplished this year, what kind of relationship I had with my body. This was the plan, but instead I found myself allowing the day to unfold naturally. Instead of the plan, I: slept in a bit (Sam joined me after he had breakfast), played with Dexter and one of his Little D babies, wrote and drank half a cup of coffee while snuggled in my purple fleece robe, went to a yoga class, worked out with my trainer, took a hot shower, cleaned my shrine, ate a bowl of apple pie oatmeal while I watched an episode of the Good Life Project, took a nap, talked to my brother on the phone, meditated, walked the dogs, played with Sam in the backyard, looked up at the sky, ate a big salad and a cookie.

Maybe this retreat isn’t about having a plan after all, isn’t about doing or accomplishing anything. Maybe it’s about a rest, a reset, finding a workable rhythm, experiencing both the joy and the grief, maybe it’s about not being in such a hurry to get somewhere, but rather relaxing, surrendering and sinking into being here.

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