Monthly Archives: February 2016

Something Good

Horsetooth Reservoir, image by Eric

Horsetooth Reservoir, image by Eric

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

1. Leap Day! A whole extra day! What are you doing with yours, kind and gentle reader?

2. Kids reading to shelter dogs. I’m glad they are doing this, because I’m not allowed in the shelter — I would want to bring all the dogs home.

3. Author and poet Mahogany L. Browne gives her #BriefButSpectacular take on “Black Girl Magic.” So beautiful, so important.

4. I want to try these recipes: Chocolate Guinness Cake, Everyday Chocolate Cake, and Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cornbread, and Ayurvedic Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup.

5. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

If we want there to be peace in the world, then we have to take responsibility when our own hearts and minds harden and close. We have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s true spiritual warriorship. That’s the true practice of peace.

6. From mailboxes to super soakers, check out these 10 items you never knew were invented by black Americans. #blackhistorymonth

7. In related news, 100 Years of Beauty – Episode 18: USA Men 2 (Lester). Every time I watch one of these videos, I am so appreciative of the effort it must have taken to put it together. (And btw, I don’t think the 90s was a good era in fashion for anyone). And while you are at it, check out the other videos on WatchCut Video’s YouTube channel. They’ve got lots of cools stuff, such as this video One Word – Episode 32: Binge Eating (Eating Disorders).

8. What They Did With These Shower Curtain Rods Might just Be The Most Secretly Genius Idea Ever.

9. Snow Day. A cheetah and dog pair have their first snowy experience.

10. The moment of truth: We must stop Trump.

11. A love letter from your fat friend: It’s okay. You’re fat.

12. None of this matters when you’re dead, “Or why I don’t care that my decade worth of blog content has been lost.” I don’t think I’d be so cool about it if this happened to me.

13. Beginner-Friendly Meditation Retreats in Some of the World’s Most Beautiful Settings. #3 is one of my favorite places on the planet, (so much so that I kinda wish they hadn’t included it cause I want to keep it my own little secret).

14. Interview with Emily Brown, from BodyLove on Light Folly.

15. Why Kale May Kill Us, So I’m Getting a Divorce. In related news, Greens, Kale & Thyroid Problems. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and I didn’t know this.

16. Quirky New Chalk Characters on the Streets of Ann Arbor by David Zinn. Super cute. I love it that there are people in the world that take the time to do this, to practice their art, to surprise people with the joy of it.

17. Writing Down The Bones: 30 Years Later. One of my favorite writing teachers. And I am constantly amazed — this was her FIRST book. One of the most important writing books ever, in my humble opinion, and it was the first one she wrote.

18. Michelle Nijhuis’s Brief Guide to Writing Reported Essays.

19. 6 Illustrations That Show What It’s Like in an Introvert’s Head.

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

21. Art at Altitude: Watch Artist Simon Beck Trample Calculated Murals onto Snowy Mountaintops. So much effort for something that’s just going to melt — and yet, it all melts eventually, doesn’t it?

22. Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life. I don’t know about you, but the state of my cellphone charge gives me such anxiety, so this was very helpful.

23. Wisdom from Tulku Thondup, “Unless one is omniscient or at least enjoys some degree of clairvoyance, no one can judge others. One can see how others appear and how they are behaving, but not who they are or why they are behaving in a particular manner.” During this season of politics, I’ve had to remind myself of this again and again.

24. How to make peanut butter toast. This seems to be about more than just peanut butter toast.

25. That Time I Stole an Atkin’s Diet Book From Bj’s from Mara Glatzel. I love everything about this.

26. The life that’s left from Jamie Greenwood. This is such a good reminder. “The only thing I was ever promised at birth was life and THIS, this loss wrapped in pain wrapped in sweet remembrance wrapped in joy, is all part of the package.”

27. 5 Reasons to Meditate by Pema Chödrön. “Yes, it’s a strange thing to do — just sit there and do basically nothing. Yet the simple act of stopping, says Pema Chödrön, is the best way to cultivate our good qualities. Here are five ways it makes us better people.”

28. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

There really is no one on this entire planet who knows every single thing that you have lived through, that you have learned, that you have endured, that you have overcome, that you have feared, that you have loved, that you have grieved, that you have built, that you have dreamed up, that you have worked toward. This is why, incredible soul, it is so important to hold yourself to be as sacred as you truly are.

You are a whole lot of beautifulness, in little things and in big things. You are a whole lot of colorfulness woven together in a way that has never ever ever been woven. Don’t let others try to define you, sweet friend. Don’t let others minimize you or try to squeeze you tight into a box that makes them comfortable. You are you and you are too wild and sparkling to fit inside of ANY box. You are meant to shine your light. When you need to feel 100% understood, turn to the source of truth and light. And turn to that beautiful soul inside of you — she is so so so wise.

And remember that we can never know every single thing about others, either. We are all very complicated souls, and we would all be a lot happier if we gave everyone a little bit of grace and focus on the good things we DO know.

29. Women and Body Image with Isabel Foxen Duke, an interview. “On women and body image with the fabulous Isabel Foxen Duke as well as helpful tips and tactics to free yourself from body worries.”

30. How To Deal With Haters. Unfortunately in this age of social media, this is something we all face at one time or another, and this is really sound advice.

31. Reactions: Not everything in life is Likable. This is a really great article that talks about how the new Facebook reaction options were developed.

32. Manny Selfie Cat, one of the best accounts on Instagram.

33. Fatphobic Nurse Makes Me Say F*ck Seven Times and 11 Reasons Why I Focus On Health and Not Weight from Dances with Fat.

34. A Mother’s Confession: A Song with Footnotes from Amanda Palmer. Trigger alert: if you are a mom, this might just wreck you.

35. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “If we don’t develop contentment, we can never have what we want or enjoy what we have.” Oh, snap!

36. Exquisite Curiosity and Food from Geneen Roth.

37. One of my new favorite songs, ATTLAS – Parallel Lines.

38. Magic Tricks from Jena Schwartz. So beautiful. Writers like Jena raise the bar for my writing in the best possible way.

39. The Hunger for Rest, an important reminder from the amazing Rachel Cole, because this, “If you find yourself eating as a way to avoid the rest you’re craving or as a way to silence your inner critic who bashes you for your laziness, consider embracing your unique needs for rest and see what happens.”

40. Our Everloving Quest to Control Our Lives from Zen Habits. This is such an important read. We should all probably just memorize it, recite it in the mirror every morning. We’d all be so much happier if we could “get” just this one thing.

41. Five Ways To Love Yourself Courageously on Life is Limitless. This is also so important. Caroline starts by saying, “I’ve been focused on personal growth quite intensely now for many years, I’ve read countless books, taken various courses, spent years in therapy, worked with a number of coaches and the number one thing that I learnt from it all is this: If you don’t love yourself deeply and completely, then you can’t ever be truly happy.”

Day of Rest

Michael Xavier

Tomorrow is Leap Day, a whole extra day that only comes along once every four years. I wonder what you will do with it, kind and gentle reader? Will it be like all the other days? Will it pass like a dream? Just another Monday? Or will it stand apart, infused with a particular kind of magic?

You know what? You get to decide. I know for me, as Mary Oliver says in her poem When Death Comes, “When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, something real.” I’m going to show my heart to everyone…EVERYONE. Or at least I’m going to try.

Gratitude Friday

springcsusky1. Spring. Yes, we could still get snow, even a lot of it, but it’s here.

2. Clean water. Because of Flint, but because this is always something that I feel such gratitude for, knowing it could easily be otherwise, and a cold glass of water and a hot shower are two of the best things ever.

roastedsweetpotatoes

3. Roasted sweet potatoes covered in yummy spices making my house smell so good.

4. Eric taking the dogs hiking at Lory. They have been going a lot lately, and the next best thing to getting to go with them is if they get to go.

ringolorytreessamsnowback

5. The way Ringo and Sam play together. For a long time I didn’t know if they’d ever learn to do this, to enjoy it, and it makes me stupid happy to see it. (It’s pretty hard to get a good picture of since they are usually a big blur when it’s happening).

dogfu04

dogfudogfu06

Bonus joy: new music to add to my SoundCloud playlist, You Made it Weird podcast, being my own trainer at the gym, Wild Writing class, making plans to see friends, the perfect poem prompt, getting the rest I need, clean sheets, my new bathroom (will this ever go away?), my new car, the lingering smell of incense, being able to say “no” and not feel guilty, giving away chocolate, yoga, stretching my muscles, getting a massage, my doctor (she’s so good), physical therapy, xrays that prove I’m not exaggerating the chronic pain, good news.

Three Truths and One Wish

juicyspring

1. Truth: I have such a bad case of Spring Fever. And we could still get snow. There was one year that at the end of Spring Break we got three feet, so winter isn’t over yet. I know that. I’m not completely delusional. And yet, the few days recently when we’ve gone on a walk and it was warm and the skies were blue and I didn’t have to wear a coat, or it was so nice I drove around with my moon roof open and the heat turned off, or the dogs could take a Kong out into the yard and chew on it while lounging in the grass, it made me realize I was so ready for things to start blooming, to get outside more, to shed some of the layers.

2. Truth: The number on the scale means nothing to me, but it does to other people. It doesn’t measure if I’m healthy or not. It doesn’t measure if I’m happy or not. It doesn’t represent how hard I’m trying or how much I’m loved. There was nursing assistant being trained at my doctor’s office yesterday, and when she wrote down my weight, she transposed the last two numbers, making me much lighter than fact. I assumed she’d gotten it right, corrected herself when she checked it the second time, but when she tried to enter it later into my computer records, it flagged it as an error because the number was so much lower than on my last visit. I corrected her, and she looked confused. I knew exactly what was going on — it was a number she wasn’t used to, a number that when she saw it written down made her make certain assumptions about a person, and when she looked at me, I didn’t fit that assessment.

3. Truth: I can trust myself. And I’m much more content, healthier when I do. When I trust my body to tell me what it needs, trust my own wisdom to guide my choices, instead of listening to someone else’s hysteria, someone else’s criticism, I can balance my effort with ease. I’m much happier when I listen for what I need, trust the whisper I hear inside rather than being overwhelmed by the noise of my environment. I don’t have to justify to anyone why I’m tired and need rest. I don’t have to earn the right to eat when I’m hungry. I don’t have to ask for permission to take up space. As poet Mary Oliver says, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

One wish: My friend and teacher Susan Piver has been posting daily wishes on her Facebook page. Yesterday’s is my wish for all of us today, “Please have a good day. Don’t be afraid of your own life. Allow the world to touch you. Look for the magic.”

Something Good

Arthur's Rock, Lory State Park, image by Eric

Arthur’s Rock, Lory State Park, image by Eric

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

1. Two really great classes with two amazing teachers starting on Leap Day: Brave Blogging with Andrea Scher, 30 days of creative prompts and blogging lessons, and Leaping into Leap Year: What’s Your Leap? with Patti Digh, “What’s the leap forward you want to make? Let’s define it, set up conditions for success, and leap on February 29th!”

2. A Caring Chorus. “We all have a voice inside, and the best teachers help us find it. One group of students took the time to recognize their chorus teacher with a performance she’ll never forget.” Her response when they start singing is precious.

3. This boy and his family just met his bone marrow donor for the first time. Not a dry eye in sight. Such a great video. We have the capacity for so much good.

4. The Master Body Positive Resource List from the Militant Baker. This.

5. After Becoming A Mom, I Couldn’t Find Time To Paint, So I Started Doing One Tiny Drawing A Day. Sometimes small can be HUGE.

6. WATCH: “This veterinarian knew he had to get this starving rescued puppy to eat something, so he did an experiment. He got in the cage along with her, put his breakfast in a metal bowl just like hers, and showed her that they are equals – both deserving a good meal, and a little love.” I can’t even…

7. What I Learn on the Orange Couch: Creating Boundaries for the First Time from Patti Digh. Ever since her heart attack, Patti’s writing has been on fire.

8. Wisdom from L.R. Knost, “Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first.’ It means ‘me, too.'” Mind blown.

9. Watch these big cats react to cardboard for the first time! No matter how big, kitties are still kitties.

10. I Documented Two Years of Travel By Painting In My Moleskine Notebook. Amazing.

11. Recipes I want to try: Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash and No-Knead Bread and Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers and Pistachio-Lemon Bars.

12. One Big Reason Your Life Is Harder (And Busier) Than It Has To Be from Marc and Angel Hack Life. *Spoiler Alert* “Here’s the thing: Busyness is NOT a badge of honor. There’s zero honor at all in endless busyness. Busyness is just an illness that makes everything harder than it has to be.”

13. Don’t forget this about eating… from Isabel Foxen Duke.

14. Don’t Fall into the Self-Esteem Trap: Try a Little Self-Kindness by Kristin Neff, who just so happens to be an expert on the subject of self-compassion. “Striving for self-esteem is about trying hard to feel special, above average. It’s absurd. We don’t need to feel extra-special or over the top. We need to touch who we really are in any given moment.”

15. Before You Blow Up Your Life, Do This from Jonathan Fields. “What if, instead of blowing up what lies outside, we broke open what lies within?” Is it utterly horrible to believe that he wrote this just for me?

16. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “Rest does not need to hold hands with guilt. We do not have to pay for rest when the rest is over.”

17. Why We Struggle with Change on Zen Habits.

18. Dog Adopts Orphaned Opossums, Gives Them Awesome Rides On Her Back. How am I ever going to hold on to my belief that opossums are gross when people keep sharing stories like this?!

19. I’ve spent years trying to get skinny. Oprah’s Weight Watchers ads convinced me to stop. Because this,

My epiphany was this: Oprah is one of the most accomplished, admired, able people in the world. She has an Oscar to keep all her Emmy Awards company. She creates magic for other people and herself on the regular. So if Oprah can’t do permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be done. Oprah is also crazy rich. If Oprah can’t buy permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be bought. And that sucks.

But it is also incredibly freeing if you, like me, have thought about your weight so many times throughout every day of your life that it becomes as maddening and distracting as if you’d stowed a beating telltale heart beneath your floorboards.

20. Female Friendships and Online Literary Sexism on The Rumpus.

21. (How To) Get Over Comparing Yourself To Other Creatives from Adam Kurtz. Such good advice. In related news, Sentimentalizing Everything.

22. Killing Us Softly 4 – Trailer [Featuring Jean Kilbourne]. *sigh*

23. 21 Hilarious Tweets That Perfectly Sum Up Your Relationship With Your Co-Workers. *gigglesnort*

24. 10 Best Yoga Tunes of the Year, from Yoga Journal. “Early ballots for the 2016 Grammy Awards included nearly two dozen albums inspired by bhakti yoga. We listened to them all to choose our favorite yoga music for the year.” I haven’t listened to any of these yet, but I’m excited for some new music.

25. Watch Hozier’s Haunting New Music Video About Domestic Abuse. The song is so beautiful, so sweet, that without the video I might not have realized what it was about.

26. Nigella Lawson: “Women should eat what they want. Not what they think they should.” Word.

27. Having It All Kinda Sucks. “Only women would sign up for this much crap.” An important read.

28. Syd Rocks. At 10 years old, Sydney was diagnosed with LCH, Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis, a rare blood disorder. The cause of the disease is unknown and it is estimated that Histiocytosis affects one in 200,000 children each year in the U.S. After treatment (not fun), Sydney is doing better, but she’s committed to donating 100% of the profit earned from her Syd Rocks necklaces to medical research to find a cure for LCH and pediatric cancer. She’ll have a booth at Wanderlust 108 Chicago on May 16th, or you can shop at her website.

29. Sia Carpool Karaoke. I love this series so much.

30. Lip-Reading Software Brings Hitler’s Most Intimate Words Alive In His Silent Home Movies. Interesting and creepy.

31. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The power of the paramita of patience is that it is the antidote to anger, a way to learn to love and care for whatever we meet on the path. By patience, we do not mean enduring — grin and bear it. In any situation, instead of reacting suddenly, we could chew it, smell it, look at it, and open ourselves to seeing what’s there. The opposite of patience is aggression — the desire to jump and move, to push against our lives, to try to fill up space. The journey of patience involves relaxing, opening to what’s happening, experiencing a sense of wonder.

31. Growing Together by Thich Nhat Hanh on Lion’s Roar. “In his introduction to the book, Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships, Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how we can use loving relationships to cultivate the seeds of buddhahood inside us.”

32. Deepak Chopra Wants Us To Meditate Our Fat Away from Dances with Fat. Just no, everything about this no.

33. High rent is forcing Las Vegas families to take to the sewers. In related news, check out the Seeker Stories YouTube channel.

34. On the Submerged World from Dani Shapiro. This is why I practice, why I keep showing up.

35. Troops betrayed as Army dumps hundreds of heroic war dogs. To be honest, I couldn’t even finish reading this, it just hurt too much. We need to do better, by ALL our vets.

36. In Memory of David R. Tolstrup, D.O. My friend Jim’s brother died unexpectedly last week. “He was a much loved son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend and will be very much missed by many. He was also a dedicated and compassionate physician who believed in healing the whole person and who often worked with underserved populations in his medical career. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you donate to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that works tirelessly around the world to see that some of the most vulnerable among us receive life saving care regardless of their means.”

37. Kickstarter: The Tiny Book Show. “The Tiny Book Show is a mobile museum of miniature books traveling across the US this summer in our 1965 Covered Wagon caravan.” One of my favorite projects by two of my favorite poets.

38. This Cat Has Been Reunited With The Refugee Family He Lost In Greece. All the feels…

Day of Rest

Ringo cuddling with me yesterday after he got back from a long hike

Ringo cuddling with me yesterday after he got back from a long hike

Love is being with what is. There’s no longing for another now, wanting to be anywhere else, resisting or struggling. I’ve spent the last few years learning how to really love — myself, my life, my work, my husband, my dogs, my body, my food, my environment, my community, my friends and my family. When I am too attached to my own agenda, wanting things to be a certain way and not resting until I’ve “fixed” it, I am anxious and even aggressive with what is. I want it to be different, better, or even gone. Rather than applying discernment to my situation, sinking into my inherent wisdom about how I can be of most benefit to myself and the world, I am judgmental, critical, mean. I cling to my idea of what is right and make myself so unhappy, discontent, neurotic.

Love is relaxing with what is, softening, opening to it without an agenda. In learning how to really love, I’m learning to do less. After spending the morning yesterday doing all the laundry, the dishes, making muffins, studying the next three lojong slogans, getting dog food, and going to the gym, I spent the rest of the day slowing down. I took a warm shower, ate a yummy lunch, watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper on Netflix (oh how I love to see a home that’s been neglected completely rehabbed), cuddled on the couch with Ringo (one of my favorite things), took a walk with my tiny family, and read. I have finally started really taking my weekends, allowing some space and rest, rather than working through them, and I adore it.

Today Eric and I went to lunch, after sleeping in, after my morning writing and yoga, after he walked the dogs and got groceries, after putting clean sheets on the bed and showering. We went to one of our favorite places from when we were in grad school, Avogadro’s Number. We reminisced about those days — just the two of us, living in the basement of the house on Locust street, riding our bikes everywhere. We didn’t have a TV and only one car. Just like now, we loved going out to eat, taking long walks or going hiking. We dreamed about having our own house and a couple of dogs, staying in Fort Collins (at the time, we didn’t know if we’d get to stay here, didn’t at first but came back), but we really had no idea how things would turn out, how we might get to that magic “there.” I remember my deepest longing at the time was to just know how things were going to turn out, to know it would all work out.

And here we are, living that life we hoped for all those years ago. And the real magic of it is we love it, are happy, are still together. There were other options. One is we might have landed somewhere else entirely. Another is we might not have stayed together, not because there was any question we would but because that happens to people, for all kinds of reasons. And finally, we might have landed here and not liked it as much as we’d expected. None of those other options happened, and here we are.

When you are together for a long time, there’s more than one marriage. Hard things happen, and you have to work through them. You get remarried over and over because you keep choosing each other, continue to recommit. And Eric and I have had hard things, and we know that those things will keep coming. Just because we’ve been together a long time doesn’t mean things get easier. You don’t reach a point where it’s simple and you don’t have to try that hard — or at least we don’t. What does happen is you start to relax your agenda about how things should be, and instead work with what is. You relax with what is, you soften, and you find that in being with what is, you can be content, that in this moment there is more than enough. This is love.

Gratitude Friday

springbluesky021. The particular blue of an almost spring Colorado sky. It’s so pretty, and makes me so stupid happy. The winter doesn’t have to be long to bring me low, and it’s only when there’s a hint of spring that I realize just how low.

2. Walking with the dogs. Eric will be home late today, so we went on our own, for a whole hour and it felt good, nothing hurting so bad it made me want to cry — this is progress!

3. The good people CSU has brought into my life. I may have regrets, complaints about my time there, but I will be forever grateful for the dear friends I’ve made because of it.

4. A successful writing assignment. It was a kind of writing I don’t do much, and I surprised myself with how easy it was, how fun, how well it turned out.

5. The weather being nice enough, the yard dry enough that the dogs could have a frozen Kong treat outside, and how happy it made them to have it.

ringokong samkong

Bonus joy: I thought I might be over it by now but nope still my new bathroom, Wild Writing, having a good laugh with someone, talking with someone who really listens and understands and loves you, the ease of our walk this afternoon, clean water, the way Ringo got up on the futon next to me today and fell asleep while I was writing, pretzels, yoga, being sore and tired like I used to get from working out with my trainer knowing that now I am my own trainer, the weekend on its way, the sun/moon roof on my new car, how my new car is the same color of blue as the spring sky, the fact that Eric will be home soon.