Monthly Archives: May 2014

Gratitude Friday

1. Being able to share my writing, having kind and gentle readers interested in what I have to say, readers who appreciate and share it.

2. Ringo feeling better. We had to take him to the emergency vet on Monday (since it was Memorial Day, our regular vet was closed). He had a wonky belly because he’s a puppy and they eat gross stuff, but he’s doing much better now.

ringopainting3. Sam continuing to do well. Him recovering is one of the best things that has ever happened.

Because this...

Because this…

4. Having our land line disconnected. What led up to it was a total nightmare (line shorting out every time it rained, cops coming to our house twice because the line dialed 911 and hung up as it shorted out, no one who worked for Century Link being helpful or nice or even human, and delay after delay getting it “fixed”), but I’m glad it’s over now.

All the storms are also causing the river to flood.

All the storms are also causing the river to flood.

5. Good friends, online and “in real life.”

Bonus Joy: laughing with Eric, and the first strawberries from our garden.

Don’t Wait

Becoming-Who-We-Know-We-AreI wrote a guest post for Laura Simms at Create as Folk, Becoming Who We Know We Are. The picture above is the one she created to go with the post. I’ve been thinking (and writing and talking) a lot about this lately, how important it is to just begin, to give yourself permission and make space, to go ahead and start.

The prompt this morning from my 5 year journal was, “If you didn’t have any responsibilities for the day, what would you do?” The list I made was exactly what how I plan on spending my time when we get to Oregon in a few weeks: Sleep in. Write and meditate. Do yoga. Eat good food. Nap. Read. Watch TV. Sit in the backyard. Take a walk.

This reminded me of an article I read over 15 years ago on Escape from America, a magazine dedicated to helping people relocate to other countries, live as expatriates. I was reading it at that time because Eric and I used to fantasize about moving to another country, specifically Australia. In an article about making a big move, a huge change in your life, the author recommended that you live as closely as you can now to the life you dream of, rather than waiting. Don’t wait until you retire or move to Australia. Start living as close as you can to your dream life now.

The argument the author made was if you do this, you’ll be happier now, rather than later — and we all know that none of us are guaranteed a later. The author explained that maybe you’ll find out that you don’t really like what you’ve imagined and save yourself from waking up on an island somewhere with no electricity having sold and changed everything only to find yourself missing your old life, still unsatisfied with where you find yourself. Or you might make some changes and live that dream life now, realizing you don’t have to move or retire or make any other drastic change to have what you want.

It’s a good lesson, one that I encounter over and over: don’t wait. In my own words from my guest post, “Stop thinking about it, stop wishing for it, and start.” I also wrote a piece for Mabel Magazine about beginning (the issue comes out in June), and said something similar:


Image by Mabel Magazine

What tiny step can you take today, right now, towards your dream? What can you do to begin to live a life that reflects what matters to you, what you love? It can be the smallest thing, but that action is like a prayer, a promise, medicine and magic. Give yourself permission, kind and gentle reader. Stop waiting for something to happen and happen.

Something Good

Bonus Something Good:  Writing And Me (Blog Hop), Justine’s response to the blog hop. I loved getting to hear more about her writing process, the why and the how of it.

1. The Above and Beyond Memorial at the National Veterans Art Museum, “an immense 10 x 40 foot sculpture…comprised of imprinted dog tags, one for each of the more than 58,000 service men and women who died in the Vietnam War.” Click the link to see it. It’s weirdly beautiful and utterly heartbreaking.

2. The Illusion of the Bottomless Pit from Rachel Cole.

3. A Non-Diet Diet: The Case for Eating Whatever You Want on New York Magazine.

4. I’m coming out of the closet from The Brand Alchemist, “I have depression…and I’m GRATEFUL for it.”

5. Ultra Small Bonsai Plants Give New Meaning to the Word Miniature on Colossal.

6. An updated Radical Self Love Manifesto from Gala Darling.

7. 21 Pictures Guaranteed to Make You Feel Better About Life from Pleated Jeans.

8. These 30 Dogs Were So Disgustingly Naughty That They Need Publicly Shamed. This Is Hysterical. on Viral Nova.

9. Japanese Artist Creates Incredible Stone Sculptures That Defy The Laws Of Physics on Bored Panda.

10. I’m a yogi on antidepressants and I’m cool with it on Rebelle Society, which says,

Yoga draws a lot of different types of people, and many of us are searching for a way to be okay. Yoga can be part of that solution; it can even be the whole thing. But if it’s not, then it’s not because you’re weak; it just means you need a few more members in your village.

11. An awesome site shared by The Bloggess, Put You In A Better Mood.

12. The Truth About Careers That Your Parents Didn’t Tell You, a guest post by Kate Swoboda on Create as Folk.

13. the secret life of a curvy girl, a beautiful story by a beautiful woman on Spirit Soul Earth.

14. 20 Questions — Soul-Style, with Rachel W. Cole on My Peace of Food.

15. A beautiful poem by William Stafford, The Way It Is, shared in Erin’s Body Happy newsletter, (you should sign up if you love poetry, she’s always reminding me of some of my favorites or sharing something new).

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

16. Don’t “write blog posts” or “launch products.” Create little miracles. from Alexandra Franzen.

17. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

One kind person can make such a difference. One compassionate hand placed on a hand in distress can make such a difference. One phone call, one thank-you note, one sweet text message can make every bit of difference. One job well done, one child rocked to sleep, one lunch packed, one single daisy given away can make such a difference.,/p>

One smile in the grocery store, one proclamation of forgiveness, one loaf of freshly baked bread, one handmade card, one offer to help can make such a huge difference.

It’s the little things, gorgeous friend, that make the heroes. It’s the one thing, after one thing, after one thing. It’s that one person who makes the difference. Be the one.

18. Mudita. The practice of sympathetic joy. on Superhero Life.

19. Wisdom from Tulku Thondup,

There are two crucial junctures of the day when meditation can be especially fruitful—when you are falling asleep and when you are waking up. At these times, the mind is in a transition state, and you are especially open to the power of healing. If you make a habit of experiencing peaceful feelings when the mind is naturally more open, the healing energies can take hold more deeply and firmly in your mind. Then, because you are cultivating this deeper level, it will be easier to develop a more open hearted attitude toward the rest of life. You can be more open to the experience of peace even as you are involved in your everyday activities.

20. Awakening, a blessing from Mara Glatzel.

21. And Then I Could Breathe Again on Painted Path.

22. Ordinary Moments from Jonathan Fields.

23. what’cha growin’? on Chookooloonks.

24. These 26 Baby Photos Are So Bad, They’re Good. LOL.

25. 5 Ways to Reclaim Your Mornings and Never Have Nothing to Wear Again on Be More With Less.

26. From Chookooloonks this was a good week list: a day on camp and The Grind.

27. Shared on SF Girl by Bay’s Friday Finds list, a beautiful Flickr set by Stefania Jane.

28. Grieving Goat Transforms After Sweet Reunion With His Best Friend.

29. 21 Girls Who Don’t Know What Eyebrows Are Supposed To Look Like. These are more scary than funny, unlike the baby eyebrows I shared on last week’s list. And I’d say there are 20 on this list, because I disagree with the inclusion of Amanda Palmer. She knows exactly what she’s doing.

30. a sweet list of things to remember on Rebelle Society.

31. Meet Millie, The Rock Climbing Adventure Cat Who Goes Camping With Her Human on Huffington Post.


Day of Rest

The trails we normally walk along the river are all under water. This is the time of year when the river runs fast and full with spring storms and snowmelt. We are under a flood advisory. A huge section of what’s already underwater is an area they just finished rehabbing and replanting. I’m afraid all those new trails will be washed away, that the new plants won’t be able to withstand the force of the water.

The wet weather had another weird consequence. The heavy rain caused our land line to short out. We could call out, but there was heavy static on the line, and no incoming calls were getting through. This has happened before due to weather conditions, gone so far as to knock our line out altogether. This time the added bonus was somehow the shorting out was causing our line (not our phone, our line) to somehow dial 911 and hang up (who knew that could even happen?!). This happened twice, and each time, dispatch tried to call our number back to check on us, but only got static, so they sent officers to our house.

I could do a whole post ranting about how terribly our phone company has (not) handled this situation. The short version is they won’t send anyone until Tuesday to fix it and won’t disable the line in the meantime. We have a deal with dispatch that if they get another call and hang up, they’ll call our cellphones and check with us before sending out officers, but who knows if that will actually work. I’m feeling on edge, and to top it off, Ringo has a bit of a wonky belly today.

As often happens, the external environment seems to be a mirror of my internal one. I am feeling anxious and tender. I’m aware that the way I’ve moved through the world no longer is working, that I need to reroute, but I’m afraid, uncertain. I worry that there’s a real chance that the seeds I’ve planted won’t all withstand the difficulty I encounter. I’ve started rereading Pema Chödrön’s When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, searching for comfort, wisdom.

Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly.

When we were walking this morning, I said to Eric that I’m exhausting myself swinging between “Oh no, something bad is happening!” and “Oh good, the bad thing is over.” I know I can’t keep doing this, this resisting and grasping, swinging between hope and fear. I know it doesn’t work, only generates more suffering, but I still am working to embody that understanding.

I wrote in my journal just the other day, out of frustration, “The practice, the constant lessons and learning are exhausting. Why? Why not give me a little ease for a bit so I can HEAL? I’m trying to heal and you just keep pushing me so I’m so discombobulated I don’t know what to do, can’t think straight. How is that helpful?” And then today, reading Pema’s book, the answer, so direct and clear.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. 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.

How many times do I need to hear this before I get it? Let go, surrender, relax, make room. One trail might be underwater, but there is another path, another way to go. Just keep moving, or rest, be gentle with yourself. As Pema says,

To stay with that shakiness — to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge — that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic — this is the spiritual path.

Gratitude Friday

1. After two days of rain (and thunder and tornado warnings), everything is so green, so lush.

2. My purple irises, gifted to me over the years from various friends as their gardens overflowed, are crazy with blooms, mad with spring.

purpleirises3. Ringo is learning to lounge. After about four mornings in a row of it, before we go on a walk, we have to admit he might be growing up a little.

loungingwithdad5. Sam and Ringo, both healthy and in total like with each other.

ringoandsamcouchBonus Joy(s): Summer vacation.

  • At 11:11 am standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter listening to Gabrielle Aplin sing “Home” while both dogs eat, Ringo his lunch and Sam a small snack so he doesn’t feel left out. The window over the sink behind me is open and a breeze is blowing in the smell of the lilacs.

  • Sitting on the back step listening to my 27 Powers mix, wearing shorts and a tank top, Ringo playing with his pink dinosaur toy, Sam napping in the sun, and the breeze blowing the smell of the lilacs all over the yard.
  • Ringo smells the treats in my pocket, nudges the spot with his nose, sits and waits for some.
  • Ringo moves out into the sun, at the edge of the patio, butt in the grass, and lounges, watching me write, sniffing at the air when the breeze blows. Sam is next to me in the shade, a single foot stretched into the sun.
  • Watching Ringo roll up a pill bug with his nose and then play with it like it is the tiniest ball in the world.
  • Thinking about Eric and one second later getting a text from him, “How’s it going?”
  • The dogs side by side in the yard, rolling in the grass and making a noise that almost sounds like laughing.
  • How happy Eric gets when he makes me laugh.
  • Feeling content, no where I need to be and nothing to do.
  • After an hour and a half training class, Ringo going crazy and running circles around the back of the car, barking at the carpet.
  • Sam being able to stay home by himself without being crated and being a good boy.
  • How Sam waits to get into bed with us until right before the alarm goes off, how his tail thumps when he thinks you are awake.
  • All the pictures of peonies in my Instagram feed.
  • The sky this morning.

Something Good

1. The Definitive Manifesto for Handling Haters: Anne Lamott on Priorities and How We Keep Ourselves Small by People-Pleasing on Brain Pickings. I saw Anne’s original post first and made a note to share it with you, but then I saw Maria’s commentary (and graphic) and liked it so much how she framed what Anne said, I’m sharing it instead.

annelamottquote2. Bunny eating raspberries.

3. Good stuff on Huffington Post: Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore (But Not for the Reasons You Think), and 10 Ways I Am Failing Adulthood, and Not Being a Mother Doesn’t Make Me Any Less of a Woman.

4. No is essential from Seth Godin.

5. Poetry Saves the Day * Meet Alison Luterman from Laurie Wagner on 27 Powers.

6. It’s Not About Doing What You’re Good At, a guest post from Rachel Cole on Create as Folk.

7. 10 Misconceptions about Buddhism on Tricycle.

8. 5 Details They Cut from My Season of “The Biggest Loser.”

9. What you see, a comic from The Oatmeal.

10. Beautiful and strange things from Colossal: Flocks of Birds Laser Cut from Maps by Claire Brewster and Tattooed Porcelain Figures by Jessica Harrison.

11. Dear Mom Judging the Mom on Her iPhone from Mother Wise.

12. How It Feels When A “Fabulously Creative” Business Coach Steals 23 of Your Blog Posts from Melanie Biehle.

13. The Movies You Definitely Need to See This Summer on Hello Giggles (with movie trailer clips).

14. Because Life is Messy on Elephant Journal.

15. The Gift on Zen Habits.

16. Good stuff on Medium: Storytelling Is A Magical, Ruthless Discipline (Zadie Smith’s full remarks from the 2014 Moth Ball Gala), and It’s Bikini Body Season! So What Should I Do With My Regular Body?, and The REAL reason you’re stressed out. P.S. That last one is so important. If you don’t read anything else on this list, read that.

17. Wisdom from Be More With Less: How to Enjoy a Digital Sabbatical and 7 Things to Do When You are Really Sad.

18. Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte, “Seeing the futility is so liberating.”

19. Zosia Mamet on Why She Won’t Lean In, Thanks.

20. May: some notes from Jeff Oaks.

21. Comedian’s Response to Criticism of Her Red Carpet Look Deserves a Standing Ovation. Her response is definitely worth the read, Sarah Millican: Twitter was a pin to my excitable Bafta balloon.

22. Sia’s “Chandelier” Has Maybe the Best Video of the Year on Slate.

23. Find your rat people from Paul Jarvis.

24. Artist Creates Intricate Mud Paintings On School Walls To Bring Art Into Villager Children Lives on Bored Panda.

25. Sabrina Ward Harrison’s Creative Space in Silver Lake, a house tour on Apartment Therapy.

26. I haven’t said so lately, but I love Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Here’s an original from her, “What You Were.”

27. Sisterhood Manifesto from Awakening Women.


28. A poem, shared by Jessica Patterson this morning.

let it go
(By e. e. cummings)

let it go – the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise – let it go it
was sworn to

let them go – the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers – you must let them go they
were born
to go

let all go – the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things – let all go

so comes love

29. A Self-Made 12-Step Program for Living an Authentic Life from Rebelle Society.

30. What Makes you Happy? from Aarathi Selvan, “what I asked some of the fabulous bloggers, entrepreneurs and friends from around the world.”

31. Things You Say To Dogs That’d Be Creepy If You Said To People from BuzzFeed.

Day of Rest

My friend Laurie Wagner shared a poem on Facebook this morning that was just what I needed to hear. It’s by Alison Luterman, who will be doing a reading today at Laurie’s magical home, 27 Powers. I have been thinking a lot about resistance and how it leads to suffering, how often I get in my own way, how there are hard things in my life but I’m making them so much harder, making them solid by wishing them away, wanting things to be easy. The worry around it, the discomfort feels like a sort of heartburn. I start by attaching to whatever I think is causing my problem(s), then I immediately look for who to blame, always eventually landing on myself. It’s such a painful way to be. Alison’s beautiful poem reminds me to not get so attached, to let go, to surrender to what is.

Because Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle
Try to love everything that gets in your way:
the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all. Learn to be small
and swim through obstacles like a minnow
without grudges or memory. Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle
is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl
idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad shell have that to look at all her life,
and keep going, keep going. Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids arent allowed at this hour. Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn
will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He’ll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he’ll come up like a cork,
alive. So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,
because if something is in your way it is
going your way, the way
of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.

The obstacles to your path are the path. Let go, surrender.