Monthly Archives: September 2013

Something Good

Sundancer, by Mark Wagner. Box it sits on was made by his dad and painted by his mom.

Sundancer, by Mark Wagner — box it sits on was made by his dad and painted by his mom.

1. The above painting by Mark Wagner, an amazing artist and a good man. I sat across from this painting when I was at 27 Powers on retreat a few weeks ago, having fallen immediately in love with her.

2. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert, In Defense of Loneliness and Quote of the Day.

3. Our first date was the last day of his life, a tragic and beautiful piece.

4. Kindness Matters on Kind Over Matter. It’s this sort of thing that makes me say one of my practices is dog, and I would hope if I were in the same situation, I could find my way to the same choice.

5. How to Get Flat Abs, Have Amazing Sex and Rule the World in 8 Easy Steps on Huffington Post.

6. How to Let Your Purpose Find You on Harvard Business Review. I’m sharing this because step one is, “Be uncool enough to love.”

???????????????????????????????7. 10 Things to Really Like About Getting Older on Purple Clover.

8. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Type and Stress Heads. I’m an INFJ.

9. Sorry: “working on a novel” is not a business model. A loving reality check — and 26 ways to actually make a living as a wordsmith. from Alexandra Franzen.

10. Audit Yourself to Improve Your Circumstances from Chris Guillebeau.

11. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 10 Ways to Live to be 100, and 72 Uses For Simple Household Products To Save Money & Avoid Toxins, and A 5-Year-Old Called Me Fat And Changed My Perspective, and Change Your Life in 2 Seconds.

12. Tonight You Belong to Me (Cover) – Me and my 4 y.o., the sweetest video. May we all have someone who will give us a song to sing when we are scared or worried, even when what we are afraid of isn’t real — especially then.

13. Melissa Carroll’s Technicolor Dream on Narrative.ly.

14. Jimmy Fallon making me smile: Jimmy Fallon’s Latest Lip Sync-Off Was Actually Epic and “#Hashtag” with Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake.

15. From Justine Musk‘s newsletter:

I believe in that place where, as Frederick Buechner once put it, “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” It’s our quest as individuals to find it: acquiring wisdom along the way, overcoming obstacles (a.k.a “character-building experiences”), letting go of the stuff that no longer serves us so we can evolve into the artists that we need to be and grow a life that feels truly ours.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a VC, a stay-at-home mom, a yoga teacher, an accountant, an online entrepreneur, a student…or just a seeker of meaning and mystery.

The goal is the same: to live deep, and die empty, as my friend Todd Henry likes to say. Don’t go to your grave with your soul’s work still inside you.

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16. For the Love of Podcasts, a really great list on Scoutie Girl. Also from Scoutie Girl, The Body, Mind, and Space of Self-Care for Creatives — Part 2: The Mind.

17. A Weightless Year from Rachel Cole.

18. Daily Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte, “You don’t have to believe in that.”

19. Wisdom from Finn Butler, shared by Laura Simms in her Create as Folk newsletter,

Everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water. And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes you cannot even breathe deeply, and the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times that you are down to your last two percent, but nothing is infinite, not even loss. You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day you are going to find yourself again.

20. Emerging Women Livestream 2013, A FREE, Four-day Video Event to Empower Women Around the World. Some of my favorite women are going to be speaking.

21. Writing as Dog. Word.

purplepetalalley-e137942051019322. One cute thing, Cute Corgi puppy excited to play with new toy (VIDEO), and one sad thing, Emotional farewell between loving man and his first dog, (Gracie had the same kind of cancer Dexter did), from Dog Heirs, one of my new favorite websites.

23. KID PRESIDENT CHALLENGE: Spread Joy!

24. Wisdom from the Dalai Lama,

Some people consider the practice of love and compassion is only related to religious practice and if they are not interested in religion they neglect these inner values. But love and compassion are qualities that human beings require just to live together.

25. attention: emotional amoebas – find your edges from Sas Petherick.

26. your daily rock : go directly to the source.

27. Have I told you lately how much I adore Mary Oliver? Here’s another reason why, from Parker Palmer: “A couple of years ago, I was lucky to hear Mary Oliver read her poetry. After the reading, someone in the audience asked her, ‘What is the purpose of beauty?’ Her simple but remarkable answer was, ‘We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.'”

28. 20 Images That Prove Kids Are Weird from Pleated Jeans.

29. Shared by Tammy in her Happy Links list on Rowdy Kittens: Worthy on The Minimalists, and Ebb and Flow from Courtney Carver, and Overcoming Writer’s Block on Medium.

30. Good stuff from Tiny Buddha, Where True Happiness Comes From: How We Gain by Having Less and 6 Tips to Release Anxiety to Feel Calm and Free.

Day of Rest

cdj03I was on retreat this weekend, an at home virtual retreat with the Open Heart Project that ended this morning. Susan always schedules our time allowing space for creativity and rest, along with dharma talks, meditation, and discussion. Every retreat for me, no matter the type — writing, meditation, creativity, etc. — always brings into stark focus whatever I am currently working with. What I saw on this retreat is that I suck at rest, that I am trying too hard.

How strange that the thing I struggle with the most is ease, that the most difficult part of this retreat was rest, the time we were given to relax. My pattern, my current preference is effort, pushing and striving, when the truth is I need to practice relaxing, sinking, settling, letting go, being rather than doing. And even as I know this, I still strive to get “there.” I think I have to keep moving, that if I stop, even for a second, everything will fall apart.

It’s as if I’m swimming the river, moving as if I’m in a race or being chased by a school of hungry piranhas. I spend so much time and money and effort learning new ways to move through the water. I practice all the different competitive strokes — freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly — read books about swimming technique, buy all the latest performance gear, watch videos of the greats talking about their practice, hire a coach, join a team, take private lessons, dig a pool in my backyard, get up early to swim laps… All to learn the exact wrong way to move. From time to time when I get too exhausted to go any further, I cling to the side to rest, grasping at roots and dirt, gulping air, wondering what I am doing wrong, what trick I’m missing.

I need to learn to float, to lean back, stretch out my arms, relax my legs, sink until the water catches and holds me, my ears just under the surface where it’s quiet, my eyes looking towards the sky, my breath even.

cdj06Instead I continue to struggle, to act out my confusion, my path this particular suffering. I used to be depressed and sad, stuck, paralyzed, and would beat myself up for being lazy, worthless. Then I woke up, started to work, to try, to give, to offer — and here I am still smashing myself to bits for not being enough.

The first thing we often do when we meditate together in the Open Heart Project is to make an offering. This offering can be something literal, like a flower or an orange or incense, anything that would be pleasing to the senses, but the offering can also simply be your current state, like maybe you are confused or tired or hungry or sad, and you offer that. When we meditated together the first time this weekend, my offering was how hard I try. Just thinking about it made me start crying. When I can’t even think about or say something without crying, I know it’s a tender spot, a truth worth being curious about.

Later we practiced loving-kindness, “metta” meditation together. The simplest way to describe the practice is you offer loving-kindness first to yourself, then a loved one, then a neutral person or stranger, then an enemy, and finally all beings. When Susan instructed us to start, to begin to focus on our self, the first thing she said was, “I know how hard you try.” More tears. This is the truth for me right now, I am trying so hard, and I am so tired, and still I am being so hard on myself, and it doesn’t have to be like this.

wherelifehappens“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” I don’t know who to attribute that phrase to, but I’ve heard it applied to each of my practices, (except maybe dog, but it’s true there too). Practice is never just about what’s happening on the mat, the cushion, the page, or the walk, it’s about everything. I am coming out of this retreat carrying a deep knowing, clear about a fundamental truth — I need to balance my effort with ease.

This came to me today during our creativity session,

Rest in your longing, as the mountains do.
Keep your heart open and wait, like the sky does for morning.
Listen to songs that put you in touch with your breathing.
Hold your love in the stillness of your soft animal body.

I don’t really know how to end this post, maybe because I’m in the particular fog that is post retreat, maybe because I am still living it — but maybe I could say that about everything I write, anything I post here. What I am learning is something I’m still working out. So, for now, I’m going to hit publish and go walk my dog. May you have a day filled with rest, kind and gentle reader.