Monthly Archives: December 2016

Gratitude Friday

Poudre Trail Charlie Brown Christmas tree

Poudre Trail Charlie Brown Christmas tree

1. Christmas. It was quiet and sweet this year, just the way I like it. On Christmas morning, Eric walked the dogs while I slept in and when they got back, we opened presents. Then we were hungry so we made pancakes for breakfast. I showered, but as soon as I finished, I put my pajamas right back on and cuddled up on the couch, read and watched some TV. Later we all took a nap. After that, we cooked and ate a Christmas dinner, nothing too fancy. It was a very relaxing day. I’m still so in love with our tree, but Eric warned me the other day that it had stopped drinking water, so we won’t have it too much longer.

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2. Bonus Christmas. People try so hard to ship things so they’ll get here for Christmas day, but what they don’t realize is that late packages are one of my favorite things. Just when you think it’s all over, another bonus Christmas arrives.

goattree3. Morning walks with Eric and the dogs. This is a special time of year because Eric and I both have some time off work, so get to take long walks together in the morning, one of my favorite things.

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4. My tiny family. As much as I might miss the rest of my larger family this time of year, I’m pretty happy being alone with these three dudes.

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5. Ringo Blue and Sweet Sam. Today is the anniversary of the day we met Ringo for the first time, three years ago. He wasn’t promised to us yet, but I knew he was our boy. I’m still so happy about how well Sam’s visit to the vet went, that he’s totally healthy and he was so well behaved while there.

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Bonus joy: apple pie oatmeal, dark chocolate covered graham cracker’s from The Vermont Country Store, clementines, pot pie, roasted sweet potatoes, Skyping with a kindred, Christmas Eve with good friends, taking care of some things that had lingered on my to-do list, napping, good TV, really relaxing and resting, clean laundry, soaking in a warm bath, my computer glasses, being able to pay all my bills, time home alone with no agenda.

Three Truths and One Wish

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1. Truth: I’m grateful for Sam’s health. He has a lump on his side, and today we found out it’s a benign fatty tumor (a lipoma), not cancer. If you know our experience with dogs and cancer, you know that this is a mini Christmas miracle.

2. Truth: I had ambitious plans for today. Well, what I really mean is I meant to go to the gym. However, after meditating, writing, putting away laundry, going on a two hour walk, showering, and taking Sam to the vet, after worrying what the news would be for the past week, I came home and took a long nap instead. I was so tired, relieved but tired.

3. Truth: One of my aunts died yesterday. We knew it was coming. She knew it was coming. It was her second time with cancer and treatments had stopped working a while ago. She hadn’t spoken or been awake for the past week at least. She told my mom she’d make it until Christmas, but I’m sure when she said that, she’d planned on celebrating the day. She didn’t have the easiest life, spent a lot of it confused, and cancer is never easy, but she was surrounded and cared for by people who loved her (always, not just at the end), which is so much more than many people get.

One wish: While we are here, may we care for ourselves and be cared for by others, and when we go, may our death be easy.

Something Good

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1. Funny tweets: #crappyholidays, 10+ Of The Best Parenting Tweets Of 2016, The 50 Funniest Tweets From Women In 2016, and an entire website devoted to sharing the funniest tweets, Hall of Tweets.

2. In New York, Activists Prepare Bystanders To Take Action Against Harassment. “If you were to witness a bias-based attack or a hate crime, how would you respond?”

3. “Wild Geese” written and read by Mary Oliver. Video created by Live Learn Evolve in partnership with We Are Wildness.

4. 30 Of The Most Important Articles By People Of Color In 2016. Required reading.

5. Can we talk about ACTUAL resistance now?, a Facebook live video from Ijeoma Oluo.

6. Older Women’s Housing Project. “As life expectancy increases, the question of where and how we live in our old age is becoming more and more important. One group of women in London have come up with a novel solution: they’ve created their own co-housing project. The idea is that they will support each other to combat loneliness, ill health and all the other challenges that come with old age. Now after years of delays, they’ve finally moved into their new home.”

7. An orchard made from the principles of sacred geometry in Costa Rica.

8. Vertical gardens are both beautiful and healthful.

9. White People: an Explainer. “Whiteness – and the privilege it carries with it – is a powerful thing. And it’s completely made up.”

10. People Are Posting Pics Of Their Animals Before & After Being Called A Good Boy.

11. 5 Reasons to Write from Nan Seymour, “Reflections upon returning from Deena Metzger’s writing workshop.”

12. A man records himself talking in his sleep, to hilarious and alarming results.

13. 391-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Planted In 1625 Has Survived Hiroshima And Keeps On Growing.

14. Healing from Toxic Whiteness, “an online training program for white people committed to racial justice.”

15. 41 Epic Sites With Breathtaking Stock Photos You Can Use For Free, a great resource list.

16. Mindfully Free of Wanting People to Be a Certain Way from Zen Habits. In related news, 5 Tips For When You Have Too Much to Do.

17. Advice from Pema Chödrön, “Constantly apply cheerfulness, if for no other reason than because you are on this spiritual path. Have a sense of gratitude to everything, even difficult emotions, because of their potential to wake you up.”

18. The 100 Day Promise: Self-Compassion with Sandi Amorim. “The 100 Day Promise is a practice that guides you through the process of change in an in-depth and soulful way.”

19. Empathy isn’t a favor I owe white Trump voters. It has to go both ways. “I’m not saying that everybody who voted for the former online steak salesman is a racist or a sexist or an Islamophobe. That argument isn’t even required to explain things. All we need to acknowledge is that by their votes they showed us they were okay with racism and sexism and Islamophobia. They valued their attachment to a bygone economic era over their attachment to the stated ideals of this nation when it comes to inclusion and equal protection under the law.”

20. How Writers Are Getting Back to Work, “Celeste Ng, Sara Novic, Morgan Jerkins and others on How Catastrophe Affects Daily Practice.”

21. How do you pursue a writing career in Trump’s America without hating yourself?

22. 31 Days of Devotion is Back! with Adreanna Limbach, “a FREE online series that brings daily meditation + contemplative practices right into your inbox, 7 days a week for the entire month of January.”

23. Overwhelm and Antidotes on Rita’s Notebook.

24. NPD – A guide to learning to deal with narcissistic personality disorder.

25. 10+ Of The Funniest Christmas Gifts That People Got This Year.

Gratitude Friday

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1. Our Christmas tree. I’m so glad we got one this year. I love turning it on when it’s dark outside. It makes me feel cheerful and calm, safe.

rigdenshrine022. Retreat. I love Shambhala Mountain Center. I love Susan Piver. I love the time to settle in and write. I love the good people who come with the same intention. This year there was even yoga and I didn’t have to teach it.

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3. Morning walks. It’s cold outside, but it sure is pretty.

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4. Flowers in the bathroom. This week is an extra special Christmas edition.

5. My tiny family. I loved being on retreat, but I also loved coming back home to them. If you could, send Sam some extra love this next week — we have to take him to the vet because he has a mysterious lump on his side, and our luck with that sort of thing isn’t so good.

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Bonus joy: Some time off work, clementines, apple pie oatmeal, roasted sweet potatoes, sleeping in, taking naps, laughing with Eric, Dexter the cat, good tv, good books, clean water, soaking in a hot tub, good friends, having all my Christmas prep done (except for the cooking), resolving conflict, glasses so I can see, a warm coat, clean laundry, my new bathroom and car — neither of which are really new still.

Dexter the Cat

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For those of you who might not know, Dexter was my dog, and he died three years ago. He was my second dog, the second one I’d lost to a treatable but ultimately incurable cancer. And if Sam is sweet, Dexter was pure sugar. I wrote a lot on this blog about losing Dexter, so maybe you’ve been here long enough to have already known that.

Obi and Dexter, my first two dogs (notice the stuffed toy)

Obi and Dexter, my first two dogs (notice the stuffed toy — Dexter was almost never without one)

As you might remember, I recently was Christmas shopping and saw the cutest stuffed kitty. Dexter would have loved it so much. It was perfect, floppy and soft, legs filled with beans. He loved stuffed animals. I could buy him any kind, even ones not meant for dogs, and he was so careful with them. He had a monkey, a cat, and a ram that he really liked. His favorite was a miniature Cattle Dog just like him, (he was a Cattle Dog mix, we think). Little D had beans in his legs, and Dexter would chew on them, loved the way they’d flop around when he held Little D in his mouth and shook his head. If he was ever tugging with it and a stitch ripped, he’d stop immediately and lick it. One of Dexter’s favorite games was to stand at the end of our hallway and lure me back into our bedroom, hop on the bed, and start to throw his toy around. After a bit, he’d toss it to me, expecting me to do the same and toss the toy back. We’d take turns like this for about 20 minutes. It was his favorite thing, and he did it almost right up until the end.

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Dexter and Little D, resting after a play session on our bed

So when I saw the stuffed cat the other day, I totally wanted to buy it, even though the dogs we have now can’t have those kinds of toys, (Sam doesn’t really care and Ringo is a murderer). For a brief second, I considered buying it for myself, but even my broken little heart knew how dumb that was. Then I saw a Giving Tuesday link for one of my favorite animal shelters, Richmond Animal League (RAL). Problem solved! If I give them $25 dollars, they don’t just give a dog a new toy, they give him new humans and a new home, and that’s so much better. (I regularly give the same amount monthly to my local shelter too, also in honor of Dexter).

My favorite RAL shirt, and Sam taking a nap

My favorite RAL shirt

A few days ago, I got an email from Elizabeth, Director of Development at RAL. I was crying before I finished it, and had to put my head down on my desk and cry some more when I was done reading. She said,

You mentioned finding a stuffed cat toy in a note with a donation to Richmond Animal League. Well, we turned the stuffed kitty toy into a real one and named him Dexter. This sweet cat came to RAL last week and was adopted this past weekend. Thank you for your gift to help the dogs, and cats. Losing a pet can be so tough. Thank you for loving Dexter and sharing his story. I don’t know if Dexter would have enjoyed a real cat, but his memory is still alive. Thank you.

Dexter the cat

Dexter the cat

RAL is an amazing shelter. The people who work there are everything that is good in the world. A story about one of their dogs, Wiffle Ball, recently went viral. The reason I wanted to share this with you is that it is an example of something I think is really important: converting your hurt to help.

Bad stuff happens, and none of us are immune. No matter how much privilege we have, none of us can escape the reality that we all get sick, maybe get old, and eventually die. Every relationship ends badly, because no matter how much we want to, we don’t get to stay together forever. And how much we love is exactly how much it’s going to hurt when we lose the one we love.

The only thing I know of that makes bearing the hurt easier is to use it as fuel to help someone else. In this case, I could have been selfish and bought the cat for myself, or I could have let the experience sink me into grief, closed up and felt bad, but neither one would have really made me feel any better. What I did instead was to convert that hurt into helping RAL. And Elizabeth was kind enough to let me know just exactly how I helped, and I can’t tell you how happy/sad it makes me to know that there’s a cat out there named Dexter that I helped find his way home.

When we feel hurt, it’s good to figure out how we might help. It supports someone else who is struggling or suffering, and it has the added bonus of making us feel better too.

Something Good

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1. Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day. Both yoga and body acceptance have made such a big difference in my own life. So I couldn’t be more excited that my friend Anna Guest-Jelley has a book coming out on just this topic! Join me in pre-ordering Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day (and get some great pre-order bonuses while you’re at it)!

2. 43 Things I’ve Learned in 43 Years, a list from Meg Worden. I don’t agree with every item on this list, (for example: “16. Indian food is better than all other food.” I like Indian food too, but “better than all other food”?) but there are some really good things here — like, “Sociopathy and narcissism are the real zombie apocalypse. Skills to deal with/avoid these personality disorders are paramount to survival in the modern world.” Word.

3. The Key Is Always Hope from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

The thing we think is the End of the World isn’t that, after all. It’s the end of something — or at least, a troublesome pause. But the Apocalypses we expect and predict are rarely those. They are transformative. They are terrible. But they rarely end everything. They often form new beginnings, terrible and transformative as they are…Things won’t be fine. Things might get really, really bad. But we can survive them. And we have a chance to come out better than we were before. That is the key.

4. Finding Purpose in Uncertain Times from Laura Simms.

5. 16 Overall Favorite Books of 2016 on Brain Pickings, “From loneliness to love to black holes, by way of Neil Gaiman, Annie Dillard, and Mary Oliver.”

6. Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda. “Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”

7. White Women and U.S. Slavery: Then and Now.

8. How To Create Art And Make Cool Stuff In A Time Of Trouble a great list from from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

9. 4 questions to ease you out of 2016 (and get you feeling hopeful for the year to come) from Jamie Greenwood.

10. No. My Magical Word for 2017 from the brilliant and brave Laurie Wagner.

11. “You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm,” (unknown). Whoa. I needed to see this right now.

12. We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump.

My heart breaks for the United States of America. It breaks for those who think they are my enemies as much as it does for my friends. You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.

13. 10+ Hilariously Creative Snowmen That Would Make Calvin And Hobbes Proud.

14. Zoologist uses cheetah as a pillow. Sleeping with Sam, #same

15. Support the White Helmets. “Every day in Syria, volunteer rescue workers from the White Helmets rush to the scenes of bombings to pull people out from under the rubble and carry them to safety. Their courageous and selfless work has given hope to millions of civilians.” In related news, Syria: The story of the conflict, “eight steps to understanding the Syrian conflict.” And this, How Can I Help People In Aleppo? 10 Charities Working To Provide Food, Shelter, Medicine And Education To Syrians and this 7 real things you can do right now about the catastrophe in Aleppo.

16. Pipeline spills 176,000 gallons of crude into creek about 150 miles from Dakota Access protest camp. No more pipelines. Water, not oil.

17. 20 Facts About Living in Poverty That Rich People Never Have to Think About from Everyday Feminism.

18. This Is Your Stressed-Out Brain On Scarcity.

19. Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it. “You cannot confront a power until you know what it is. Our first task in this struggle is to understand what we face. Only then can we work out what to do.”

20. Los Angeles Times publishes letters in defense of internment. Blergh.

Gratitude Friday (on Thursday)

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Shambhala Mountain Center

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Shambhala Mountain Center

1. Fearlessly Creative: A Meditation and Writing Retreat, the reason why I’m posting this on Thursday instead of Friday. I’m leaving this afternoon and have made every effort to get everything I needed to done so I can leave and just simply be on retreat while I’m gone. This is the fifth time I’ve gone on retreat with Susan Piver, and the fourth time to this one in particular. I love her, I love this place, and I adore the practice. I’m so grateful I can afford to go, that my sweet husband agrees to it, even though I’ll be gone for his birthday.

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2. Eric. It’s his birthday tomorrow, but since I won’t be here, I made him open his presents this morning. I am going to miss him while I’m gone — walking the dogs with him, hearing him laugh, the way he talks to the dogs when he thinks no one else is listening, the stupid jokes we make that probably only we would find funny, falling asleep next to him, spending the morning while it’s still dark sitting together in the living room with our Christmas tree and lights and Happy Hearth DVD and sleeping dogs.

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3. Our Christmas tree. I’m so glad we got one this year. It’s just so sweet and twinkly.

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4. A great night out with good friends. We ate an amazing dinner at a fabulous, beautiful place (the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House) and saw a hilarious show (Tig makes me laugh until my face hurts).

Boulder Dushanbe Tea House

Boulder Dushanbe Tea House

5. Ringo. This dude never fails to cheer me up. He’s just so goofy and cute sometimes.

Christmas couching

Christmas couching

I use this folding card table to wrap Christmas presents. Ringo uses it to get a better view of the street.

I use this folding card table to wrap Christmas presents. Ringo uses it to get a better view of the street.

Those ears!

Those ears!

6. Sam. He turned seven years old this week. He’s such a good guy, so sensitive and sweet.

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What seven looks like

What seven looks like

What eleven weeks old looked like

What eleven weeks old looked like, his first day as a Salahub

7. Morning walks in the snow. So pretty.

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Bonus joy: a neighbor’s dog who’d been lost showed up at their back door two days later and barked to be let in — stinky and tired but otherwise fine, clementines, knowing that sometimes I don’t need to give anything away, setting boundaries (I didn’t used to be too good at this), saying “no,” changing my mind, snow tires, practice, getting enough sleep, soaking in the tub, trusting myself, Voxing with Justine, texting with my brother, letters from my mom, the cheer of Christmas in a dark season.