Monthly Archives: September 2015

Gratitude Friday

goldenraintree1. Fall weather. I’ve actually been cold a couple of times in the past few days. Even though I’m going to miss our garden, I’m ready for it.

caramelcorn2. Good food. Rocky Mountain Popcorn Caramel (so good…), roasted corn on the cob, watermelon, the last of the zucchini and tomatoes, bran muffins fresh out of the oven.

shrineview3. Practice. Yoga, meditation, writing, and dog. The best way to describe the book I’m working on is most likely “how I went from crazy to sane through practice.” Getting up each morning and stretching, then going to sit on my meditation cushion for 20 minutes, and then sitting at my writing desk to write for another half hour is just the best. And last night I got to go to a new training class with Ringo, Tricks-n-Games, and then came home and cuddled with Sam, which leads to the next thing on my list…

4. Sweet Sam and Ringo Blue.

Tricks-n-Games class

Tricks-n-Games class

How can such a big dude curl up so tiny?

How can such a big dude curl up so tiny?

Sam wouldn't come out to play with him, so he went in.

Sam wouldn’t come out of his crate to play with him, so Ringo went in.

5. Good friends. The kind who celebrate with me, bitch and moan with me, laugh with me, clarify things for me, support me, and hatch big plans with me.

Bonus joy: the pumpkins in our garden, the way the blooms on my clematis look like tiny stars, how Eric loans out our tools to the college kids who live behind us, physical therapy, a finalized bid for our bathroom remodel so we can finally order things and start, really smart and kind people who can clarify my confusion, focusing on just one thing, seeing that what I want is possible, knowing I can if I want to, knowing I don’t have to, Wild Writing class, a hot shower, clean laundry, texting with my brother.

Three Truths and One Wish

hellofall1. Truth: Four years ago today, I published my first blog post. Luckily WordPress reminded me of the anniversary otherwise I would have posted like it was any other day. So much has changed in four years, and I think if I were somehow able to tell who I was back then where I’d be now, she wouldn’t have believed it. I published an ebook, I’m a certified yoga instructor with a regular weekly class, I took Buddhist refuge vows so when someone asks if I’m a Buddhist my answer is “yes” instead of “well, I study and practice Buddhism, but I’m not actually a Buddhist,” I stopped dieting and overexercising, I got help for my dis-ordered eating, I am making peace with my body and food, I’m still at CSU but I’m now the Communications Coordinator for the English department, people I used to follow online are now my friends in real life, I’ve been published in print more than once, I’m getting paid for some of my blogging, I’ve done numerous guest posts, I’ve published 1370 posts here, I lost Dexter and got Ringo, and I’ve attended numerous workshops and retreats. The me that said in that first post, “It doesn’t seem to matter how bad I want it, how important it is to me, how long I’ve thought about it, how much I dream about it, or how deeply I long for it – it is hard to begin,” would be amazed at what we’ve accomplished, would be so happy she took the risk and started.

2. Truth: I worry that I’m boring. This was the truth that came to me as I was writing this morning, before I realized it was my blogiversary. I’m so white, so regular, so first world, so middle class, so routine, so same, so uninteresting. Evidence: I love fall. My favorite outfit is a black vneck tshirt, cargo pants, and Birkenstock sandals. I’d rather stay home than go out, especially at night and on the weekends. Clean pjs and clean sheets make me stupid happy. I love doing laundry. I’ve been married to the same person for 22 years, and I still like him and he’s just as boring as me. I talk about my dogs too much, have too many pictures of them sleeping and videos of them playing. I go to bed by 9 pm every night and get up at 5 am every morning. I drive a white four-door Honda Accord with a gray interior that is 18 years old. I’ve worked at the same place for 14 years. I have not one but two English degrees. Boring. But I also know that’s just a story, a lie I tell to keep myself safe, because if I’m boring, I’ll stay quiet, not risk anything.

3. Truth: I’m trying to focus on just one thing in my creative work. I had a coaching session with the amazing Caroline Leon of Life is Limitless yesterday, and this is just one of the things she helped me clarify, that trying to attempt ALL THE THINGS was holding me back, was overwhelming me. We figured out one thing I could focus on, something that I could complete that would give me a sense of movement without making me too crazed — I’m going to offer an in person half day workshop, a mix of yoga and mediation and writing, and run it sometime in October so that it’s completed by November 1st. I spent a lot of my writing session this morning planning it out. I’m hoping to cultivate more ease overall in my life (because it’s rare) without having to stop altogether, and this focusing on one thing at a time in my creative work seems like a brilliant idea.

One wish: That we could all slow down, find some ease and focus. That we could honor the celebrations big and small, see beyond the limiting stories we tell ourselves, and find ease in effort that nourishes us.

Something Good

yellowfall

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Another chance to start over, wisdom from Seth Godin.

2. Good Question: How can I stay creative when I have to sit and type all day long? and No regrets, wisdom from the wicked smart Alexandra Franzen. What I love so much about her perspective is she is able to be both gentle and fierce at the same time.

3. One day you’re a dog. The next day, you’re in space. by Andrea Scher. Even though this piece is about a very personal experience, it’s completely universal at the same time. And, the fact that she published it on September 11th gave it a whole other layer of meaning. It made me think of all the times in my life this has happened — “Sometimes life changes like that – one day you’re a dog, the next day you’re in space.”

4. The Digital Breakup from The School of Enough, (shared on Be More With Less). This makes a really compelling argument for challenging yourself to make a change to your digital habits. I want to try it, but I confess it also makes me a bit shaky just thinking about it.

5. My Plan On 9/11. One person’s memory of “that day.” This line alone is worth the read, “In some ways, hope is just a lie in a prom dress.”

6. Confessions and Lessons from a Former Approval Addict on Tiny Buddha.

7. Omission: Choosing what to leave out, on why writing is choosing what to leave out.

8. Good stuff from Chookooloonks this was a good week list: One woman’s mission to photograph every Native American tribe in the US, and 10 Questions With Brené Brown. Also from Chookooloonks, accept your nomination.

9. The Gentle Art of Trying Something & Sucking at It on Zen Habits.

10. The “New Age Thinking Will Make Me Thin” Diet from Isabel Foxen Duke. Word. Confession: I went to therapy for my dis-ordered eating at first because I thought it was the magic bullet to getting the body I wanted, NOT because I wanted to get well — that came later.

11. How to Do a Career Change Detox from Laura Simms.

12. 7 Ways Happy Couples Deal with Disagreements Differently from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

13. News Flash: Fear Does Not Respond Well to Self-Discipline from Jennifer Louden.

14. What All Writers Can Learn From Mitch Hedberg.

15. So this happened: The ‘Dear Fat People’ video is tired, cruel and lazy – but I still fight for the woman who made it, and “Dear Fat People” isn’t satire: Despite the backlash publicity, it’s unlikely to make Nicole Arbour a star, and This comedian’s YouTube channel was shut down for fat-shaming, and What I Want to Say to Fat People: Response to Nicole Arbour, and Response: Dear Fat People from Meghan Tonjes.

16. This Couple’s “Drunk History” Version Of How They Met Is Pure Gold.

17. Two powerful posts on Facebook in response to National Suicide Prevention Day, one from Andrea Gibson and another from Amy Tingle.

18. I was a teenage Fox News robot: Sean Hannity destroyed my childhood.

19. Recipe: Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers! With Avocado. Looks so yum, although if you put sweet potato and avocado in just about anything, I’m going to want to eat it.

20. ‘Eat Clean’? The Smug Instagram Lifestyle Might Not Be So Healthy After All. If you’ve never heard of orthorexia, you need to read this.

21. How to help your family and save lives from Neil Gaiman.

22. 9 things I’ve learned about marriage from being a couples therapist.

23. Your FitBit Is Ruining Your Relationship with Your Body – Here Are 3 Reasons Why.

24. the big quiet from Sas Petherick.

25. How to help Syrian refugees? These 6 groups you may not know are doing important work.

26. Hijacking Genocide: An Open Letter.

27. 10Q. 10 Days. 10 Questions. “Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space…When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.” This year’s 10 actually started yesterday, but you can still join in. I’ve done it for the past few years, and it’s really fun. I always learn something about myself answering the questions, and am surprised and inspired when I read my responses from the year before.

28. This Is What Happened When I Welcomed A Refugee Family Into My Home.

29. A large group of snazzily dressed men gathered outside a Connecticut public school on the first day of classes.

30. There’s More to Life Than Being Happy.

31. How to Finally Clean out Your Closet for Good, a really great strategy from Be More With Less. “When I finally cleaned out my closet for good, peace replaced guilt, joy replaced frustration, and love replaced fear.”

32. How Not to Do It All from Zen Habits. I should probably just commit to starting each and every day by reading this. My name is Jill, and I’m a do-aholic.

33. The Loving Our Body Lie and Fat People and Faulty Assumptions from Dances with Fat.

34. Meditation: Beyond the Practice with Susan Piver on The Good Life Project Radio, two of my favorite people talking to each other about one of my favorite topics.

35. “What My Recovery Looks Like”: Jennifer Matesa on Freedom.

36. Wisdom from John Lubbock, “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

37. I’m Fat and I Don’t Want to Assimilate into Diet Culture (And No, I’m Not Sorry).

38. Zen Foxes: Photographer Documents Wild Foxes Enjoying Themselves.

39. The Tiny Book Show. If you are looking for an easy, creative project, this one is super fun.

40. 12 Simple Ways to Make Your Yoga Classes More Trauma Informed.

41. Killing Of Young Woman In Nepal Spotlights Travel Safety.

42. Wisdom from Saul Bellow, “Death is the dark backing that a mirror needs if we are to see anything.”

43. Wisdom from Carl Sagan, “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

44. 26 Photos That Every Perfectionist Will Find Pleasing.

45. Margaret Atwood: On Facing the Blank Page.

46. Man Recreates Photos Of His Late Wife With His 3-Year-Old Daughter 3 Years After The Accident. All the feels…

47. Creative Work on Allowing Myself.

48. 11 easy ways to reduce your plastic waste today on Tree Hugger. I’m doing most of this already, but what’s really got me excited from this post is the picture of the decorated tiffins. I want! Indian Tiffin has decorated ones, and Happy Tiffin has a really great selection of undecorated ones, all different sizes and shapes.

Day of Rest

moretomatoesI don’t know how people do it. Seriously, how do you all do it? All the things?! I feel frantic today because there’s not enough time. I start thinking of all the stuff I want to get done — letters to write, packages to get ready to mail, laundry, shoe shopping, a Something Good post to put together (which also means going through the 100 unread emails in my inbox), this post, muffins to bake, tomato soup to make, more tomatoes to pick, a yoga class to plan, lights to order for the bathroom remodel, physical therapy to complete, a flower bed that needs weeded and mulched before the season is completely over and everything goes dormant until next year. I’d also like to sit down with my husband for a meal that someone else cooks for us, watch this month’s Open Heart Project Sangha theme video, watch the Monthly Dharma Gathering video, listen to the latest Good Life Project podcast with Susan Piver, finish reading Pema Chödrön’s new book, keep reading Brene’ Brown’s new book, maybe play with some glue stick or paint, do a yoga nidra practice. I’d also like to go to the gym and take a nap, but that just seems ridiculous. Rest and self-care and play becomes difficult under these circumstances, in the context of this kind of ambition, under the weight of my expectations.

Is it any wonder that I found myself on the couch yesterday, eating a bag of caramel corn and binge watching Catfish? And it makes absolute sense that when I went for a massage after so long without, that so much stress and tension had built up in my body that there were areas so bunched up that when she touched them they felt like they were on fire — the inside of my right calf, my lower back and the top of my glutes, my shoulders. When she was working on my right shoulder, I could feel it fighting back, resisting, refusing to relax, pushing against her as hard as she was pushing. There were moments I thought I’d have to tell her to ease up or even stop, but when she was finished, I felt lighter, softer, like I had lost ten pounds.

What was happening in my body is a mirror of what is happening in my life. There’s a single injury to my right heel, but there’s tension everywhere else, either contributing to or compensating for the injury, and when I don’t deal with it, ignore it and try to keep going, it doesn’t go away. Instead it reaches a point where it’s almost unbearable and I have to stop, address it. There’s no way to compartmentalize suffering. Whether hurt or hunger, when I don’t deal with it, it radiates out, touching everything, binding everything up in a single throbbing knot.

I almost feel bad for bringing it up, especially since I don’t seem to have an answer. I’m like Ringo chasing his tail. It’s like the illusion of ever being able to reach a work life balance, as if our work and our life could, or even should be separate. It’s like that story I heard once in college about a river where they’d built a new dam right in the middle of an established salmon run and the fish returning upstream threw themselves against the dam until they were dead because the need to go that way, the habit was all they knew, was deep in their body and they couldn’t give it up even if it meant they’d die trying. It’s like the running joke between my friend and I that if we could just fold the towels perfectly, have a completely organized and beautiful linen closet, nothing bad would ever happen, no one we loved would ever die, we’d all be safe and happy.

This is the truth at the center of the human experience I can’t seem to get comfortable with: bad things will happen no matter what I do. No matter how hard I try, now matter how much I work, things will continue to fall apart and life will be too short, there will never be enough time. As many of my Buddhist teachers have reminded me, the human experience is just this, getting on a boat that’s going to sail out into the middle of the ocean and sink. There’s no way around it. My only conclusion today is this: I’m an idiot but I’m also amazing, and I’m not going to give up.

Gratitude Friday

sunflowersky1. Our garden, still producing even as it starts to fade.

turkishbreakfast2. A mostly Turkish breakfast, hosted by one of our friends who came back last year after teaching in Turkey for a few years. It was delicious.

morningroutine3. These two, and their sweet little morning routine.

duelingbones4. These two, and the very best dog trainer who is helping me recommit to giving them the best life ever.

pemafail5. A new book from Pema. It’s the speech she gave at Naropa when her granddaughter graduated, and it’s amazing. I want to give a copy to every single person embarking on some new thing.

Bonus joy: Late summer dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, Hulu with no commercials and binge watching Catfish, good health insurance that allows for inexpensive physical therapy (after my deductible was met, that is), Wild Writing class, rest, getting clear about where I want to focus my energy and time, smart creative funny friends.

Something Good

grasshoppermums

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. For Family Of Drowned Syrian Boy, ‘There Was No Other Hope,’ Uncle Says. The very ending of this interview is heartbreaking and beautiful. And then there’s this, What’s in my Bag? What refugees bring when they run for their lives. And this helps, Trying to follow what is going on in Syria and why? This comic will get you there in 5 minutes. And this great piece by Nicholas Kristof, Refugees Who Could Be Us. Which leads directly to this, Here’s how you can help during the refugee crisis in Europe.

2. Freedom | Three Years in the Making from Mara Glatzel, in which she shares “the three things that helped me devote myself to this dream.”

3. Kathryn Joseph \\ the worm, a beautiful video. (Thanks to Jo for sharing).

4. West Wing Week 09/04/15 or, “Let’s Go to Alaska!” I’ve said it before: I’d vote for him again if I could. Because, stuff like this, Obama commented on this HONY post, and the whole thing is making us emotional, and this,

“The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. The time to plead ignorance is surely past. Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone. They’re on their own shrinking island.”

5. 14 compliments that have nothing to do with looks and everything to do with being an amazing human.

6. The power of a smile by Sarah Sloane, who I am lucky enough to know and work with.

7. Artist Brings Homelessness To Light With Thought-Provoking Collection.

When Willie Baronet went on a cross-country adventure collecting cardboard signs made by the homeless, he never expected to eliminate his apprehension and discomfort with seeing them on the street. As an artist and professor in Dallas, Texas, Willie created the ‘We Are All Homeless Project’ to raise awareness and learn more about each person he interacted with. Throughout his trip, he bonded with the homeless by taking time to sit down and learn their stories. This project has shocked thousands of people who have gone to see it, with hundreds of signs in one place, each telling their own story. Willie’s mission is to help others understand that humanity is so important and everyone’s story is unique.

8. Elise Andrew F*cking Loves Science, “she’s young, she’s a woman, and she f*cking loves science. So much so that she created a Facebook page that now boasts an audience of over 7 million.”

9. This Is What Happened When People Were Rated On Their Success By Loved Ones.

10. Exes Asked Each Other Incredibly Honest Questions And Things Got Too Real. Just one of the stories from The And project.

11. This Couple Quit Their Jobs To Travel And Now Scrub Toilets To Get By. “Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger wrote in a blog post that social media hides the reality of their journey around the globe.” And in their own words on their blog, Why We Quit Our Jobs in Advertising to Scrub Toilets.

12. Your Baby’s Ugly. I’m not sure how to describe this other than to say if you like radio storytelling and find the process of editing fascinating, this is just for you.

13. Best 100 Health Coach Blogs 2015, a list from The Institute for the Psychology of Eating.

14. 15 Dogs Who Are Just Showing Off Their Superior Yoga Skillz.

15. I Love My Dog’s Nose, cute dog nose pictures from Gabi Stickler.

16. Teach yourself how to wake up early.

17. A Guide to Dealing with Frustration & Disappointment in Yourself from Zen Habits.

18. Get More Done with (a Lot) Less Stress: 13 Simple and Daily Work Habits.

19. in the garden, September 4 from SouleMama.

20. The Surprising Reason Humans Love Cat Videos. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t so surprised by the reason. This is one of my favorite cat videos,

21. Stop Waiting for Permission to Live the Life You Want to Live.

22. A new batch of Austin Kleon’s newspaper popouts.

23. A Lie Agreed Upon: David Milch’s Deadwood. A video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz about one of my favorite shows, shared by Austin Kleon.

24. This great quote from Joseph Luzzi, “I hope you’ll discover, as I have, that it’s not what lands you in the dark woods that defines you, but what you do to make it out.” (thanks for sharing, Lindsey).

25. Truthbomb #879 from Danielle LaPorte, “People love you.”

26. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

Beautiful friend, you are wonderful in your purest, deepest, truest form. You don’t have to change to be loved. Sometimes it’s tempting to bend and twist and stand on our toes to change enough for certain others to like us, for us to be able to ‘fit in’. Self betrayal doesn’t ever lead to happiness, however, and doing things that we know in our gut are not right for us, bending our values, those things just lead us down a really tricky path — a path that often leads us to places that are so far from where we wanted to end up that we just can’t figure out how we ever got there.

27. Instead of Finding Your Passion, Find *THIS* from Laura Simms. She’s also running another round of the Your Career Homecoming Challenge (FREE), which I did last week, learned a lot about myself and had some fun too.

28. Five elementary kids are asked why 1 kid is being bullied… watch what the boy on the end reveals. Boys will be boys. ❤

29. The Mindfulness Summit, “The summit is a beautiful, comprehensive and practical online guide to mindfulness and it’s all for free! We’ve gathered the leading teachers and experts around the world to share their wisdom with you and it’s all going to be free for the whole month of October. Each day of October one speaker will be live for you to access. 31 speakers in 31 days for you to enjoy.”

30. 7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Other People’s Negative Energy from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

31. Rearranging our prejudices, wisdom from Seth Godin.

32. Simplicity is the Way Back to Love from Be More With Less.

33. Note from the Universe, “I’d say the biggest decision of your life, Jill, was not your career, your marital status, or your home… it was choosing to love as often as you have.”

34. How to Move Forward Once You’ve Hit Bottom by Pema Chödrön. Brilliant.

35. I have an eating disorder. A beautiful confession that begins with,

I’ve known it for a long, long time, but I am only just now getting the ability to articulate it in words and confront the truth. It’s not courage, and I’m not brave. I’m just too exhausted to pretend any longer that everything is ok.

36. Sign up to receive Pema’s 7-hour audio program, “True Happiness” for FREE! Offer ends Sept. 8th, 2015. I can’t wait for her new book, Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown.

37. Cockatoo running around yelling absolute nonsense. This has been making me laugh so hard I cry, can barely breathe. I so get how this bird feels, and watching him run around and rant makes me feel so much better, about all of it.

38. This YouTuber’s Heartfelt Response To A Fat-Shaming Video Will Move You To Tears.

39. Cloud 7: Portraits of Dog Owners & Their Dogs on decor8. I recommended checking out the full set of portraits.

40. Rising Strong: Brené Brown on the Physics of Vulnerability and What Resilient People Have in Common on Brain Pickings.

41. Mental minimalism (it’s a thing) from Paul Jarvis. This one really hits home for me.

We can’t do everything. We can’t say yes to everything. We especially can’t have zero boundaries if we want to have the mental space needed to create things.

42. What Happened When I Stopped Complaining for Two Weeks.