Monthly Archives: August 2014

August Moon: Here’s to Your Future


little, tiny, baby me

Today we got the final August Moon email from Kat. It was all about imagining where we might be a year from now. Instead, I was thinking about where I’ve been during this challenge. It was different than I’d imagined, expected. Instead of uncovering, discovering something entirely new, it was an opportunity to review and clarify what I’ve learned. It’s funny because before it started, I was thinking about how I’d been a bit absent from the blog, not posting so much about what was going on with me, how I took a long break while we were in Oregon where I’d only posted Gratitude Friday, and even then it was only pictures, no words.

So it felt good to take this time, the full cycle of the August Moon, to come here and do a longer update, a full review of what I’ve been working on, thinking, planning. I’m transforming, evolving, but in so many ways, I’m exactly who I’ve always been — and that’s actually the best possible news.


As always, I’m so grateful to Kat for hosting. I feel so so lucky to know her, to call her a kindred, to have her on my side. I adore you, Kat. xo

Something Good


This is in my garden, seriously…

1. What do you do when the trolls come marching in?, wisdom from Paul Jarvis.

2. Behind the scenes of this post from Judy Clement Wall.

3. Finding the courage to transform your life, from Caroline Leon of Life is Limitless.

4. The Imaginary World Of…, Keri Smith’s new book.

5. This post on 3x3x365, especially the part about Burg the wonder dog.

6. He Had No Idea He Was Being Recorded Dancing With His Dog on Viral Nova. I bet Eric does this with the dogs when I’m not around.

7. What do you know for sure?, and The Creativity Conversation Continued, wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

8. Lisa Congdon Words for the Day :: No. 35.

9. Wisdom from Marianne Elliott on Facebook, “Your home yoga practice is where you find out what really works for you, and what doesn’t. But, maybe above all else, home yoga is where you begin to rebuild your own trust in yourself, your body and your innate wisdom. And very little is more important, and more powerful than that.”

10. Wisdom from Rilke, (thanks for sharing, Sherry).

Sometimes blocked in,
sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you,
and the next, a star.

11. Good stuff from Be More With Less: Jumping Gently Into Minimalism, and If Life Were Simple, and especially this, How to Really Take a Day Off.

12. Be careful what you wish for… it just may come true!!! on Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy.

13. Love, Curvy Yoga – Episode Ten: An Interview with Susan Piver, Anna Guest-Jelley’s podcast, two of my favorite women talking about some of my favorite things.

14. Less internet – but more of what? from The Art of Simple.

15. What Your Random Jobs Have in Common on Create as Folk.

16. Conversation with Lisa Congdon (Art Inc.) on art & lemons in which Lisa talks about her new book, which I need.

17. 11 vegetarian snacks to help you avoid the vending machine, some yummy recipes.

18. lisa congdon: a studio visit and a brand new book from SF Girl by Bay, because you can never have enough Lisa Congdon.

19. Lower Your Standards from Jennifer Louden. I’m loving this particular series from her, a Queen Jenny Bee wisdom primer.

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, “If we really knew how unhappy it was making this whole planet that we all try to avoid pain and seek pleasure — how that is making us so miserable and cutting us off from our basic goodness — then we would practice as if our hair were on fire.”

21. Take a Deep Breath from Mara Glatzel.

22. Truthbomb #605 from Danielle LaPorte, “You are the temple.”

23. Good stuff from Chookooloonks: this was a good week (& the philosophy behind it) and respite.

24. Simple Living – Does it Have to be All or Nothing? from Slow Your Home.

25. Fudgy Vegan Chocolate Brownies, a recipe from Kris Carr.

26. regular people answering hard questions: stacy morrison on Angiecat.

26. My embarrassing picture went viral on Salon.

27. Simply Genius: Nick Offerman Reads Reddit’s ‘Shower Thoughts’ on Hello Giggles.

28. Good stuff from Renegade Mothering: I thought age 4 would be better. I was wrong. and We don’t start with needles in our arms. (Watch her read this essay at BlogHer ’14. She said this about the experience,

So I was honored to be chosen as a 2014 “Voice of the Year” by Blogher for the piece “We Don’t Start with Needles in our Arms.” Here I am reading it. Moments before I went on stage, Arlo had a blow out and I thought maybe I had poop on my fancy clothes. As I changed him on the floor backstage I thought “This is some hardcore parenting right here.” Moments after I got off stage, people started coming up to me, telling me about their alcoholic brother mother sister friend student and I thought “What a life, all of this. Thank you.”

29. What’s In A Body Type? from Sunni Chapman.

30. Summer Homes + Anne Black Ceramics on decor8. The summer home made me *swoon*

31. The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes on Zen Habits.

32. This, everything about this. A picture that Susannah Conway took of her nephew on a visit to the circus. He’s a magical kid, and the image just screams “be yourself.”

33. A really important quote shared by Austin Kleon, about the difference between humor and depression.

34. What Your Junk Drawer Reveals About You, shared by Tammy on her Happy Links list.

35. Shared on Positively Present Picks: Why doing less actually makes you more successful (and how to do it without hurting your productivity) and 5 Ways to Live in the Moment.

36. Shared on Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list, The Life Changing Crackers, which led to The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread.

37. Wisdom I’ve shared before, but just saw it again and it’s worth resharing,

Six Words of Advice – by Tibetan teacher, Tilopa

Let go of what has passed.
Let go of what may come.
Let go of what is happening now.
Don’t try to figure anything out.
Don’t try to make anything happen.
Relax, right now, and rest.

translation by Ken McLeod
Quoted in Tara Brach’s guided meditation: Emptiness Dancing

38. More wisdom from Pema Chödrön, “It’s important to hear about this in-between state. Otherwise we think the warrior’s journey is one way or the other; either we’re all caught up or we’re free. The fact is that we spend a long time in the middle.”

39. Navigate Your Life: Sarah Selecky from Jennifer Louden.

40. Mary Lambert has a new album coming out in October!!! The first two songs that have been released are so so so so so good.

41. The Spiritual Art of Saying No from On Being, which ends with,

You say no so you can say yes. It’s sad in the way that all limitations are, but also liberating. You are human and finite and precious and fumbling. This is your one chance to spend your gifts, your attention, most importantly your love, on the things that matter most. Don’t screw it up by being sentimental about what could have been or delusional about your own capacity. Have the grace to acknowledge your own priorities. Prune and survive.

August Moon: Don’t Wait

Today, Kat asks, “What if there is no need to wait until you’re ‘perfectly formed’?”

Don’t wait until you have it all figured out. Pick something easy, something scary. Just start. And keep going.

What if what you are doing right now was actually your destination? What would that mean for your journey?

Yes. This. Stop waiting for something to happen and happen. Have the life you want now. This is all true. I absolutely agree. I live this. I don’t so much need to hear the “just start, don’t wait” part. What I need to remember is that I’m already there, the place I’ve been trying so hard to get is here.

It makes me think of a quote I saw and saved the other day, one I’ve seen attributed both to the brilliant Anonymous and the wise Unknown, “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” Which makes me think of something I’ve heard in my Buddhist studies, that we are already enlightened, we just forgot, simply need to remember, wake up. Again, the implication being that rather than becoming, our task is to be. That to evolve, become enlightened is simply to remember who we already are, always have been, to cut through our confusion.

As Rumi said, “I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teachings of my soul.” To be able to hear, see clearly, there’s a need for stillness and quiet, a cessation of busyness. And yet, I am still in the in-between state where I have access to the wisdom but have trouble always applying it. Even though I’d like to say my to-do list for the day is to do nothing, to be aimless, to follow my heart, to honor my hunger and need for rest, to let the “soft animal of my body to love what it loves,” I will actually practice teaching the yoga class for my teacher training final, read the homework from Ringo and I’s training class and watch some related videos and do some work with him, do a load of laundry and balance my checkbook, write two blog posts and prep another — all because it’s Sunday and tomorrow I have to go back to work.

This is the in-between. I am not exactly embodying my own wisdom.

August Break: Memory

memoryMemory. During three different summers, I’ve found each of these figures at the Waldport Flea Market. Two dogs to represent the ones here and the ones gone, one ears up and one ears down, one big and one little. The Bodhisattva in the middle to remind me who I am. They are of that place, “where the forest meets the sea,” where half my heart lives.

August Moon: Go Gently, Trust Yourself

For this August Moon prompt, Kat says, “Today I invite you to consider how you might contemplate the path ahead from a place of greater self-compassion.” The invitation is so perfectly timed. I just finished the first week back full-time at my CSU work. Week one is always the busiest, with everything needing to be done yesterday. We are adjusting back to a schedule where both Eric and I are working and busy, and we need to share dog care, and hardly see each other. I’m working through two blog challenges, so writing and posting a lot. I’m just finishing up yoga teacher training, which means lots of practice teaching and a belly full of joyfear. Ringo and I are starting a new training class. I’m looking to start/finish work on my self-compassion ebook and the offering book that goes with it. There is laundry to do and groceries to buy, and I baked glazed lemon zucchini bread to take to our department potluck, which I then attended. At one point during the week, I posted a status update on Facebook that said, “Having one of those days where I’ve been working so hard, I need to stop and just cry.”

And then on Friday, I learned that my yoga buddy Ann died. She’d been in hospice since last Friday. She fought cancer so hard and for so long, but it finally got to be too much. She’s one of the strongest, toughest, and yet softest people I’ve ever met. She’s the reason I kept practicing yoga for so long, showed up to class at 6:30 am three times a week for years. Even if I was too busy or tired or the weather was bad or I didn’t feel like it, I went because I knew I’d get to see Ann. She made me laugh, made me try harder. And now she’s gone. I’m going to teach my first yoga class soon, and she won’t be there.

I want to slow down. I want to take it easy. I want to spend my weekends taking naps, reading, spending time with Eric and the dogs, going on long walks. I always set the intention, but find myself rushing ahead, pushing myself on to the next thing — and there is always a next thing. Right now I’m so clear about where I’m headed, my list of “next things” could easily fill the next 10 years.

What propels me, and it’s right to mention it here because as I wrote that last sentence I felt the panic rising, is the reality of impermanence. I am going to die, and as I’ve learned from Heather and Kelly and now Ann, death isn’t going to wait until I feel finished, until I’m done. This is what makes me rush, not want to wait, what makes taking a break get confused with wasting precious time.

Kat ends today’s prompt asking “What sort of trust would this require?” To move forward, allow things to gently unfold, to practice with self-compassion, I’d have to trust:

  • That what I produce is purer, more honest, easier, and more beneficial to everyone if I do it from a place of self-compassion rather than through smashing myself to bits.
  • That I can’t ease suffering if I make myself suffer to do so.
  • That my experience of life is just as important as what I make, what I do, what I offer.
  • That I wouldn’t have been born with this fire inside of me, this intense longing, if I weren’t meant to manifest it.
  • That I will be able to do what I came here to do.
  • That I can take a day off, that my need for rest is valid, that self-care is absolutely necessary.

August Moon: The Stories I Tell Myself

blankpagesYesterday, Kat’s prompt asked, “What are the stories that limit you?” and “Who would you be without that story?” This is a theme that keeps coming up for me, the ways in which I am writing my own experience, constructing my own reality, and how sometimes what I’m telling myself just isn’t true.

For example, I used to tell myself I wasn’t a “real” writer. Working in the academy fueled that story, a place where only certain genres are “allowed,” where the first question you are asked when you say you are a writer is “where have you published?” and believe me, there’s a list of the “right” places. I used to think a community like this had to grant me membership before I could live the life of a writer, that I’d experience it according to their rulebook. I’ve since learned that’s not the case. For me, writing is a practice, a full-time gig whether I get paid for it or not, whether or not I get published or read. It is who I am. Writing is like oxygen for me, and as far as I know, no one has ever needed to get permission to breathe.

Another place I used to wait for permission is around yoga, specifically teaching. I thought that yoga teachers needed to be Prana models, no body fat and able to do poses like Scorpion with little effort. I saw them as masters of their bodies, and as a dis-ordered eater who spends way too much time inside her own head, I barely had a connection with mine. I bully it, push it past its limits, don’t give it the rest or movement or care it needs, don’t listen. And yet, instead of starting when I was perfect, waiting to earn the right to be “like them,” I went into yoga teacher training as if I were a total beginner, humble and ready to learn, in worse physical shape than I had been in years, and now, at the end, I’m healthier, saner, and more embodied. I am able to teach exactly because I have struggled, suffered.

I’m encountering the same now with Ringo. The story is that I don’t do enough, don’t know what I’m doing, have “ruined” my dogs, that any bad behavior is a direct result of my action or inaction. I compare myself not to others with full, busy lives who are doing their best, but instead I measure myself against expert, experienced dog trainers.

The common thread throughout these stories is I’m not good enough, need to try harder, do more. How I qualify “good” is to measure myself against longtime, skilled practitioners. Writer? I must be like Margaret Atwood. Yoga teacher? I must be Amy Ippoliti. Dog person? I must be Susan Garrett. To measure myself this way means that no matter how hard I work, no matter what my success, I have still failed, fallen short. The story I tell myself is that I need to earn love, earn the right to be here, earn the right to exist and be happy.

Who would I be without this story? I’d be more rested, healthier, more at ease, calm, more content. I’d be able to celebrate my good work, honor my hunger. My experience would be so much better, even as my productivity dropped.

That’s why compassion, along with courage, are vital: they give us the resources to be genuine about where we are, but at the same time to know that we are always in transition, that the only time is now, and that the future is completely unpredictable and open. ~Pema Chödrön

May we all go more gently, be kinder to ourselves, stop making our lives one project after another. May we truly balance our effort with our ease.