Monthly Archives: March 2016

Three Truths and One Wish

marchsnowmorning1. Truth: It’s supposed to snow another 6-8 inches. Seriously, I am so over winter, so over the snow, so done with it. The only way I am hanging on right now is each time it snows, I pretend like it’s our last snow of the season. In that way, I enjoy it like I do the first snow of the season, feeling the wonder of the quiet and the light, knowing that it won’t last.

2. Truth: I am in way over my head right now. There is too much work to do, too much that needs to be managed and accomplished and done. Many times yesterday I found myself compelled to push my chair back and put my head down on my desk, taking deep breaths to calm myself down.

3. Truth: This too shall pass. The snow. The work. Any stress I feel in response to it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s all impermanent — even me.

One wish: Even in the thick of the struggle, may we sense the magic.

Something Good

From our morning walk, #nofilter, it really was that blue

From our morning walk, #nofilter, it really was that blue

So glad to be partnering with Yoganonymous to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Registration for the next round of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner just opened. This time it’s a shorter session, only four weeks, and after this classes won’t start up again until the fall, so if you’ve wanted to try it this is a great opportunity. It truly is a magic, transformative practice, and Laurie is an amazing teacher.

2. A new video from attn, “In reality, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type portrayed in American media.”

3. Can Puppies Fix Boredom?, a new video from Soul Pancake. “SoulPancake and Purina Dog Chow teamed up to share the #PowerofPuppies at a preschool, retirement home, and gym to transform an otherwise ordinary day.” I wish this happened every day.

4. An incredibly rare Ili Pika rabbit has been photographed for the first time in 20 years. And he’s seriously cute.

5. April Love with Susannah Conway. “Join us in April for a month of self-care and kindness with my (completely free) April Love 2016 challenge … 30 prompts inviting you to write — or photograph or draw or collage — a love letter every day in April … To practice love, kindness, honesty and probably a smidge of vulnerability, too. To find gratitude for what we have, where we’ve been and where we’re going.” Susannah’s challenges are always my favorite.

6. 8 People Were Given $100. Here’s How Differently They Spent It. This is fascinating, and made me super curious about my own grocery shopping habits, and how they’ve changed over the years.

7. Marie Kondo and the Privilege of Clutter. “The Japanese author’s guide to ‘tidying up’ promises joy in a minimalist life. For many, though, particularly the children of refugees and other immigrants, it may not be so simple.” A really interesting perspective.

8. Alternative Meditation Positions for Your Best Seat, “Five expert-recommended postures to get the most out of your meditation practice.”

9. Working From Home Vs. Working In An Office from The Onion. And in related news, Why working at home is both awesome and horrible from The Oatmeal.

10. How To Hide Desk Cords, a clever hack for hiding the clutter under your desk.

11. Batman V Superman – Sad Affleck. Ben Affleck reacts to negative reviews for Batman v Superman. Poor Ben.

12. Roasted Asparagus and Scallion Quiche recipe. Sounds delicious.

13. Ebola, Ruthless to Families, Leaves Liberian Man Alive and Alone. Such a sad story, and not the only one related to this issue.

14. Study demonstrates possibility of simultaneous improvement in all mental, physical functions. This is really interesting, and seems to be true in my own experience — when I think about the changes I’ve undergone in the past decade, I can’t identify a single thing that enabled the shift, rather it’s a collection of things working together. And yet, what worries me about the study is that when you look at the “how,” it’s hard to imagine most of us being able to commit so much time and effort. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds wonderful — I’m just not sure how workable it would be for most people.

In the study, 31 college students were recruited for an intensive lifestyle change program; 15 participated in the intervention and 16 were in the waitlist control group. Those in the intervention put in five hours a day each weekday for six weeks. They did 2.5 hours of physical exercise (including yoga and Pilates), one hour of mindfulness practice and 1.5 hours of lecture or discussion on topics such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, compassion, relationships or well being. The were advised to limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day, eat a diet of mostly whole foods and sleep 8-10 hours a day.

15. Guy Poses As A Woman On A Dating Site And Learns Just How Gross Dudes Are. “Comedian Sy Thomas wasn’t content to just see second-hand harassment – he wanted to experience it first hand from people who thought he was a woman.” The video at the end is great. And in related news, 27 Of The Funniest Tweets About Tinder Our Interns Could Find.

16. Fascinating Photos from the Secret Trash Collection in a New York Sanitation Garage. “Garbage can be beautiful, if sorted correctly.” In related news, What’s in my 4-year-old’s bag?

17. stripped-back storytelling… from Pia Jane Bijkerk. “Looking back at how I started blogging, what I loved the most about the experience was the rawness, openness and connectivity that developed and I want to find that again.” Yes, this. In related news, 3 reasons why you should show your work from Austin Kleon. And what Rita is doing over on her Notebook also seems related, such as Wednesday words 3.23.16: Home.

18. Good stuff from Tiny Buddha: 5 Ways to Cope with Family Bullies, and Stop Trying to Fix Yourself and Start Enjoying Your Life, and 3 Simple Tests for Finding Your Authentic Self.

19. The Starvation Study That Changed The World. I think I’ve shared this before, but I was reminded of it this week and it’s so important, I wanted to share again.

20. James Tate’s Last Poem. I love this poem as a prompt from some wild writing, a list of things you accomplished and experienced — except that you didn’t really.

21. This is how you write. Some solid advice on the subject.

22. The Top 3 Traits of People Who Do Meaningful Work, wisdom from Laura Simms.

23. Shannon’s Method: Overcome Habit Procrastination on Zen Habits.

24. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, in response to recent events,

When we see terror perpetuated at this massive scale, it is easy to shut down and turn to blame and anger as methods for dealing with our pain. Instead, I invite you to join me in remaining open-hearted, and practicing for all of the victims, their families, and everyone who is affected by this tragedy which, given our interdependence, is simply everyone. We are all in this society together. Let us rouse our strong hearts and learn to overcome terror with kindness and bravery.

25. In related news, and in response to the same, wisdom from Lodro Rinzler, “My heart is broken, yes. But being broken-hearted is not a bad thing. It means we care. Our hearts are resilient and can accommodate pain, loss, and even terror. Let’s remain open-hearted and practice together.”

26. Reduce Decision Fatigue. Renew Your Willpower. Wisdom from Meg Worden. “The world we live in is actually designed to make us want. And a culture that cultivates such longing, isolation, and fear is legitimately exhausting.”

27. This Company Develops Edible Eating Utensils. Can’t imagine what they’d actually taste like, but this seems like a great idea. Compostable plastic-like packaging is the next thing someone needs to work on.

28. 7 Things to Do When You Just Don’t Know What to Do, wisdom from Jamie Ridler.

29. Writing the Stepping Stone: Why You Haven’t Written Your Book Yet.

30. The War On “Obesity” is Seriously Harming Kids, an important read from Dances with Fat.

31. People told Jim Cochran that no one cared about healthy food and healthy workers, he decided to prove them wrong. More of this, please.

32. Solitude: A Reprieve from the Noise of Doing. Just reading this felt like a tiny vacation.

33. How Walking Fosters Creativity: Stanford Researchers Confirm What Philosophers and Writers Have Always Known. “Going for a walk, contemporary research confirms—a mundane activity far too easily taken for granted—may be one of the most salutary means of achieving states of enlightenment, literary, philosophical, or otherwise, whether we roam through ancient forests, over the Alps, or to the corner store.”

Day of Rest

From our walk, the morning after the big snow day

From our walk, the morning after the big snow day

It’s a naked thing to show that we are fractured, that we do not have it all together. Broken all the way through to the bottom. What freedom that is, to be what we are in the moment, even if it’s unacceptable…

Think about it: We are always doing a dance — I’m good; I’m bad; I’m this; I’m that. Rather than the truth: I don’t know who I am. Instead we scurry to figure it out. We write another book, buy another blouse. We exhaust ourselves.

Imagine the freedom to let it be, this not knowing.

~Natalie Goldberg, The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life

Where Music is Part of the Failure

onourwalk

I wrote this at the last meeting of my Wild Writing class this session. The prompt was “Music for Guitar and Stone” by Ruth Schwartz.

On our walk this morning, after being on our own for a whole week, two days longer than planned because of the snow, I start thinking about discomfort. The first “noble truth” of Buddhism is that life is suffering, but that’s hard for people to get their heads around. It gets confused with the perspective “everything sucks, so what’s the point?”

It’s easier for me to understand it as “life is uncomfortable.” And what follows is that the source of that discomfort is our desire to be comfortable. It pulls us out of every moment, a constant longing for some other now.

As we walk, my thinking, my internal narrative is constantly interrupted by the need to reroute, because of mud or another dog and its person heading straight for us or a rabbit frozen on the side of the path or a pile of horse poop. It’s also interrupted by the need to respond to the dogs, a tangled leash or the young one about to eat something he shouldn’t.

And that makes me think of the way Susan Piver shifted the Four Noble Truths, came up with Four Noble Truths of relationships, of love — the first being that relationships are uncomfortable. She explains that the root of that discomfort is the way we cling to comfort, the ways we blame the other person for causing our discomfort.

I call dogs one of my practices, (along with writing, meditation, and yoga), because in that relationship, primarily on our long daily walks together, I can see all of it — the ways I fuck up, the ways I’m winning, the mundane and the magic. When I see how happy Ringo is to find the perfect stick and carry it, I expand, my heart opens. When he tries to eat a huge pile of cat poop that will surly make him sick, I feel myself contract in fear and irritation. It’s all there, and I’m just trying to get comfortable. I notice that and try to shift, attempting to be okay with the discomfort, to allow it — “where failure is part of the music.”

Registration for the next round of Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner just opened. This time it’s a shorter session, only four weeks. After this, classes won’t start up again until the fall, so if you’ve been wanting to try it this is a great opportunity. It truly is a magic practice and Laurie is an amazing teacher.

Gratitude Friday

snowday

1. Snow day. We hardly ever get these at CSU, so to have TWO in one season is just so weird. We got a foot of fluffy, wet snow, (which is almost all gone already). Denver was under a blizzard warning and at one point both I-25 and the airport were closed. This was the worst part of the snow day: Eric was supposed to be flying home from Chicago, and instead got stuck there for an extra two days — but he comes home today!

Ringo loves snow days.

Ringo loves snow days.

2. Root Beer. I actually bought this for Eric, but I drank all of it while he was gone. It was so good.

rootbeer

3. Found money. On our walk, on a day when I’d taken myself to breakfast and this just covered it.

fivebucks

4. Fresh flowers. It’s tulip and daffodil season now.  I really like having some in our new bathroom, (which I’m still loving).

5. Walking with the dogs. With Eric gone, I’ve been in charge of all the dog walking. Since he left on Saturday morning, I’ve walked almost 40 miles. It feels so good to be out there again. We saw an owl one morning, and the same day there were seven tennis balls at the little dog park.

springmorningowl
littledogpark

Bonus joy: A “Superior” ranking on my annual evaluation for the sixth year in a row, being healthy and strong enough to be able to walk the dogs AND shovel all the snow, coconut oil chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s, good TV, a good book, sleeping in the middle of the bed, Wild Writing.

Three Truths and One Wish

derpdogs

1. Truth: My two dogs drive me crazy and keep me sane. I know that’s a contradiction, but it’s exactly how it is. They ask for so much, need so much, and so often it isn’t convenient or easy. And yet, without them my life would seem empty, there would be too much space and it would be too quiet.

2. Truth: The fact that they don’t live very long is the most inconvenient thing about them. Facebook reminded me today that four years ago, one of my favorite dogs of all time died. Rocky was a bullmastiff that belonged to my in-laws. We met him first when he was only weeks old, and for the last half of his life, he lived here, close to us, and we spent a lot of time with him. I was lucky enough to be with him when he died. He was a big dog, 130+ pounds, and his heart was the biggest thing about him.

rocky

3. Truth: We are all impermanent, and everything changes. We can get caught up in generating a lot of suffering about this, get worked up about how unfair it all is (this is my favorite response), or we can meet change as it arises with curiosity and compassion, be as fully with our loss and our grief as we are with love and joy.

One wish: That no matter what might arise for us, whatever obstacle or gift, we meet it with an open heart.

Something Good

The contradiction of a Colorado spring: flowers blooming and snow falling, (image by Colorado State University).

The contradiction of a Colorado spring: flowers blooming and snow falling, (image by Colorado State University).

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

1. Start Here Now: An Online Course on the Path and Practice of Meditation. Taught by New York Times best-selling author Susan Piver, my meditation teacher and friend. The course begins on March 22, and there is still time to sign up. If you don’t want to take a course but are looking for a place to start, I highly recommend her book of the same title or signing up for her Open Heart Project.

2. How to make a T-shirt into a Bag With out Sewing. This is brilliant, and so easy. I almost got rid of one of my favorite t-shirts because I wasn’t wearing it anymore, but now I’m going to turn it into a bag!

3. A dad lies to his daughter every single day. Now watch her find out… and love him even more for it. I don’t really understand what this commercial is for, I just know it wrecked me, in the best possible way.

4. Comedian/Yogi explains why YOGA is hard & HILARIOUS! *gigglesnort*

5. We can’t fix economic inequality without addressing racism.

6. The Bulletproof Diet is everything wrong with eating in America. #preach

7. Obama confronts heckler at immigration reform rally. This is how you do it.

8. The sweetest thing. Schooch over, I want in the circle!

9. An Open Letter to Donald Trump from Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York, which is now the most shared post in the history of Facebook.

10. There’s Nothing Left to Do, Seek or Fix—The Quote that Brought it all Home. As a yoga practitioner, as a teacher, as a human, this makes so much sense to me.

11. While waiting for perfect, wisdom from Seth Godin, on why waiting is such a bad idea and what to do instead.

12. Confessions of a Failed Self-Help Guru. “I traveled around the country telling strangers how to balance their workloads and better their lives—until I learned the hard way that the people offering to solve your problems are often the ones who need help the most.” (Shared by Meg Worden on her weekly list).

13. Things Organized Neatly. It’s really that simple. And in related news, A Former Janitor Collects and Photographs the Items Seized from Immigrants and Thrown Away By U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

14. Travel Expectations Vs Reality (20+ Pics). Make sure to read the comments, as it turns out some of the images used aren’t exactly accurate, but it’s still fascinating.

15. Keith Broke His Leg, an original web series. Keith Powell followed me on Twitter last week, and when I followed him back, he sent me a message about his web series. Even though I know it was an automated, copy/paste sort of message in hopes of getting the word out about his show, I loved him on 30 Rock, so found the show, and proceeded to watch every episode. It’s smart and funny and has a great cast, (see what I did there, wink wink). Afterwards, I sent him a reply to his original message, telling him how much I loved the show, and that I was going to tell you all about it. In related news, the trailer for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 has arrived.

16. Male Commentators Tell A Winning Clinton To ‘Smile.’

17. Is blogging dead? from Susannah Conway.

18. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.

19. Fear is boring, and other tips for living a creative life, an older post of advice from Elizabeth Gilbert, but still worth a read.

20. The world’s first website went online 25 years ago today. And because of it, so much has changed.

21. Participation Optional from Rachel Cole. “Bottom line: you’re free. You can say ‘No’ and ‘No Thank You’ and ‘No Fucking Way.'”