Monthly Archives: March 2017

Gratitude Friday

1. Colorado sky. Sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s even real.

2. Morning walks with the dogs. Last week, we saw two baby beavers in the above pond. So tiny!

3. Being healthy and strong, and all the people and various practices that keep me that way.

4. Sweet Sam and Ringo Blue. Maybe you are tired of hearing me say this, but we really are in the golden years with these two — no one is old or dying or a baby, and no one is sick or hurt.

5. Flowers in the bathroom. This week Eric bought me lilies, and once they all bloomed, we barely had any counter space left!

6. Flowers in my garden. A friend sent me some daffodil bulbs last fall, so I bought some tulips and crocuses to add to the mix and even managed to get them all planted. By the time they came up and started blooming, I’d forgotten about them. It was such a wonderful surprise!

Bonus joy: a Falafel wrap from Whole Foods, a massage, clean sheets, a glass of cold clean water, the way Ringo stands next to me so close that one of his feet is on top of mine, the way Sam kisses me first before lying down next to me when he gets in bed in the morning, the way Eric and I can make each other laugh, postponing a conversation until I’m really ready to have it, the way the shamrock plant I have in my office at work leans into the sun so hard and fast that I have to turn her around twice a day just to keep her standing up straight.


Something Good

We haven’t had foxes here for so long, and I miss them. Image from Unsplash

1. Planting Iris from Austin Kleon. This made me cry, but also made me feel better.

2. That Time You Failed to Follow Up on Diversity.If you care, you need to care all the time. Not on Hallmark holidays. Not when you fuck up and someone notices. And not when you hire your first female partner. All. The. Time.

3. New Crop of Young Adult Novels Explores Race and Police Brutality. “Some educators see fiction as a particularly potent tool for engaging with volatile topics and instilling empathy in young readers.”

4. The Perils of Nowherelandia from Jena Schwartz.

5. Actions White People Can Take To Confront Racism & Be In Greater Solidarity.

6. ‘The Birth of a Nation’ Is an Epic Fail. “From its depictions of black women to the representation of slavery itself, Nate Parker’s film is deeply flawed and historically inaccurate.”

7. The Body Sovereignty Workbook from Rachel Cole, a fundraiser for feminist causes. “Your body is yours, despite all the forces conspiring from the day you were born to tell you otherwise. The Body Sovereignty Workbook will help transform the story you tell yourself about your body into a life-changing narrative. It includes 83 beautiful digital pages of essays by 10+ women’s empowerment experts, worksheets, and activities to support your cultivating an empowered relationship with your body.”

8. Bright Lights, a new documentary from Jen Lee. “As live storytelling grows into a cultural phenomenon, six performers share their journey into its spotlight. The friendships they’ve formed are an anchor as their voices reach beyond the stages of New York City into publishing, radio, international art festivals and film.”

9. Good stuff for creatives from Jamie Ridler: 10 Things I Want You to Know When You Are Discovering or Recovering Your Creative Heart and 10 Things I Want Committed Creatives to Know.

10. 4 Step Guide to Letting Go of the Past from Zen Habits.

11. The Four Noble Truths of Love with Susan Piver, one of my favorite teachings from one of my favorite teachers. “Buddhism is based on Four Noble Truths: Everything changes; grasping creates suffering; there is a way to work with it all; and a path for doing so. Join writer and Buddhist teacher Susan Piver for practice, discussion, and an exploration of how to apply these truths to that greatest of mysteries: love.”

12. Free dog themed desktop wallpapers. I’ve got “all you need is love, and a dog” on my computer.

13. Recipes I want to try: Oven-Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, and Creamy Spring Pasta, and Old Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts.

14. Write it Down, a great post on journaling practice.

15. The surprising origins of your f*cking favorite swear words.

16. OutFront: Couple Creates Media Network for Black Queer Community.

17. Food is Love. “Years ago, this chef had a door closed on him by a trusted friend and mentor. Today, he’s thanking that friend for setting him on the path that ultimately changed his life. WATCH him surprise his old mentor, with a meal that proves why food really is the other love language.”

18. Hair Today Art Tomorrow.

19. Colin Kaepernick Is To The NFL What Black People Are To America. “Hatred of the quarterback among NFL owners feels all too familiar.” In related news, Colin Kaepernick Donates $50,000 to Meals on Wheels. IMHO, he’s too good for football.

20. Only Black People Showed Up To The DC Town Hall Meeting To Address The Surging Number Of Missing Black And Latina Girls.

21. For Migrants Headed North, the Things They Carried to the End.

22. Papercut Artist Puts Life into Paper.

23. This Guy Secretly Filmed Himself And His Girlfriend Jamming Out To Prince And It’s Adorable. #BlackBoyJoy + #BlackGirlMagic = I love this so much.

24. Never Forget: America’s Forgotten Mass Lynching: When 237 Black Sharecroppers Were Murdered In Arkansas. “The white elites of the region understood that the only way they could maintain their economic prosperity was to exploit Black sharecroppers and laborers.” No one was ever charged and there were no trials. This is still happening. #BlackLivesMatter In related news, This Interactive Map Reveals The History Of Lynching In America.

25. Honest Wedding Vows for Real Marriages. These are so beautiful, and true. I told Eric I’d marry him again, but only if we said these vows, (minus the kid stuff, of course).

26. A Tribute to Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Dave Eggers.

27. Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner. Classes start the first week of April, and there are still a few spots left. Seriously one of the most transformative practices ever with one of the best teachers. (I just realized that this is #27 on my list, and Laurie’s website is “27 Powers”).

28. This Black Queer Love Story Is Exactly What The Comic World Needs.

29. 11 ways white America avoids taking responsibility for its racism. “White people are all too quick to cite their good intentions. Unconsciously, they aim to preserve white supremacy.”

30. How to stop stressing so you can change the world.

31. 10+ Super Happy Animal Comics That’ll Make Your Monday.

32. Macro Monday Brings the First Official Mystery Macro Contest. These are fun, and they remind me of something from when I was a kid — there was a children’s magazine that included the same kind of challenge images in the back of every issue. Any one else remember that magazine?

33. What if I’m wrong? A self-guided practice of empathy from Paul Jarvis. “Assuming we’re 100% right, 100% of the time is a recipe for never growing, never learning, never changing (for the better).” This is such a great reminder, especially now.

34. Use These Words At The End Of Your Emails To Increase Your Chance Of Getting A Reply.

35. Community shows support for Islamic Center of Fort Collins. The community has also rallied their support this way.

36. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, “a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world.”

37. People, Prosperity, and Profit from Staci Shelton. “Imagine a world where we were so busy creating glorious things that we had neither the time or desire to oppress anyone, much less ourselves.”

38. The House Next Door: a diary from Jeff Oaks.

39. Simply put, social justice is about human flourishing from Desiree Adaway.

40. 9 Great Documentaries about Women Activists.

Activism for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People

As you might already know, kind and gentle reader, I am an introvert and a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Because of this I prefer dialogue over debate, connection over confrontation, individuals or small groups over large crowds, quiet over noise, calm over chaos. To be completely honest, most of the time I prefer to be alone.

I used to say, “I’m not a very political person.” I’d joke that if people were on opposite corners of the street carrying signs and chanting about the various ways they opposed each other, I’d be more likely to show up with sandwiches for everyone than to grab a sign and join a group on a corner. I had strong opinions, voted, donated money to various causes, used my social media and blog to share information and marginalized voices, but I wasn’t what’s traditionally considered “active.”

Now I understand that perspective as a manifestation of my privilege. I could stay out of politics because for the most part it had very little impact on me or my daily life. I’m white, married to a white man, a “dink” (double income, no kids), college educated, a documented citizen, able bodied, neuro-typical, conventionally-ish attractive, live in a liberal area, a homeowner, cisgender, pass as straight, work at a university in the College of Liberal Arts, a native English speaker, have health insurance through my work (along with paid sick leave and retirement), and have no criminal record. Did I mention I’m white? Things are pretty easy for someone like me.

So even with the election of this new president, my personal experience won’t necessarily change. However, what has become very clear to me, in the past decade in particular, is that isn’t good enough. It will never be good enough. As long as we continue to be a culture where white supremacy is embedded in every institution, and people who look like me willingly do harm to people of color, gladly oppress those who are different, actively generate suffering for others in order to maintain those systems and that privilege, I can’t be quiet or still.

And yet, this presents a clear dilemma for me: I am an introvert and a highly sensitive person. What does it mean for me to be “active”?

Here are some ideas:

  • Take care of myself. It’s important to prioritize self-care, for all the reasons we always hear about – not being able to pour from an empty cup, putting on our oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs, that making an offering from our own suffering only generates more suffering. It’s essential to maintain my own sanity and wellbeing, so I can be of benefit. I must practice (yoga, meditation, writing), train my own mind, learn to work with my own emotions, feel what I am feeling. I ask for help if I need it. Sometimes that means a therapist, sometimes that means cancelling plans or texting a friend. I practice self-compassion. I pace myself. I take time for creative practice. I make space. I try not to lose my sense of humor, (my go to antidote here is to search YouTube for blooper reels from my favorite shows and movies). I loved what Ethan Nichtern had to say recently on the subject, “In times of fear and stress, sleeping, eating well, and exercise are the first things to evaporate. Let’s make sure they don’t. It all starts at home, and the first thing we need to do is take good care of our own bodies.”
  • Educate myself, about everything. I’ve been reading about the history of issues I care about, as well as the current state of affairs, trying to pay attention to as many people of marginalized and oppressed populations as possible. Besides reading, I also listen. I filled my social media feeds with those same people, along with many activists. Most importantly, in situations where I’m not an expert (i.e. pretty much all of them), I listen before I act. I check my own ideas against what’s already been said and done, and look to those already doing the work, those with the knowledge about skillful action, to understand what I can do to help. I’ve joined some really great mailing lists like My Civic Workout, subscribed to things like the Safety Pin Box, and am taking lots of classes like Hard Conversations: An Introduction to Racism.
  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” (Theodore Roosevelt). I asked myself, “What can I already do? What are my skills? What do I have to offer?” I’m a yoga and writing teacher, and a meditation instructor, so I looked for ways I could offer those things as service. I started to take local action, learning about the issues in my home town, county, and state, and the ways I could help make change where I live. I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the national and global issues, but by bringing my view down to the level of my own community, my neighbors, it feels more workable to me. Doing good things for people I know, am connected to, is more doable.
  • Make offerings. I enable the activism of others, offer help, support them however they might need. I look to see who is already doing the work, and I donate and volunteer to help them. I practice generosity and kindness whenever the opportunity to do so arises. I lovebomb.
  • Use my voice. I can write my congress people, an op-ed, a blog post, or a letter to a person I know needs encouragement to hang in there or even to do better. I can use social media to share information and amplify marginalized voices.
  • Build confidence. I sometimes will challenge myself to just one hard thing, something I’ve never done before, and see what happens, knowing I’ll need to allow for extra time to prepare and time to repair after. For example, the first time I called my congressperson (gah, I hate talking on the phone), I wrote a script to use, but I still cried as I read it, in part because I was nervous but in part because I was so angry and concerned about the issue and was overwhelmed by it, and I needed a few days of rest after. Sometimes I’ll bribe myself, “if you do this, then you can spend the whole day in your pjs tomorrow, reading or watching tv.” I show up to things, taking a buddy if I can, staying near a door, taking breaks or leaving early if I need to. In situations where I feel insecure or unprepared, and where support is offered by someone more skillful and experienced, I get trained, certified, or otherwise empowered. For example, in a few weeks I’ll be starting the Coaching as Activism Program.
  • Cultivate community. As an introvert, I need time alone, but I also need to feel connected to people – really, truly, and deeply. Some of the ways I’ve done that are to: Start a book couple, (one friend to read and discuss a book with, rather than a whole group). Go to a movie, like “I Am Not Your Negro” (a documentary about James Baldwin), and then go out for dinner or coffee and discuss it. Get a group of my favorite people together once a month to share and support each other, maybe over dinner or a collective creative project. Designate an ally – a therapist or friend that is my “go to” person in a crisis. Surround myself with good people.
  • Seek guidance and inspiration. I look to the people and projects I admire and trust. I take their advice, follow their lead, allow them to vet what is important, and to recommend what I should pay attention to or take part in. I read, watch movies, listen to music – because art can be activism, and it can be medicine.
  • Focus my energy. I trust myself to know what to do, when, as well as when to wait or even opt out altogether. I know my limits and triggers, and I honor them. I maintain boundaries. I give myself the time and space I need. I limit my time online, am careful what I read, make sure to fact check everything, and take a break when I’m feeling overwhelmed — How to Avoid Being Psychologically Destroyed by Your Newsfeed was a helpful post in that regard.

Back in November, when I first brainstormed the outline for this post, I couldn’t find much already written on the subject. Since then, more has been written, and the search results were much better when I tried again.

Gratitude Friday

1. Kitchen counter love notes. Flowers in the bathroom too.

2. Good people, specifically the ones who are good at what they do, are kind and funny and smart, and are doing so much good work to keep me well.

3. Morning walks with the dogs. I’m back to three, five mile morning walks a week, two of them solo with just me and the dogs. It’s a great boon to my mental health as well a marker of my physical wellbeing. When I was looking at pictures this week, I was noticing how there are certain places that are my favorite for stopping to take a picture, how similar but also different they look depending on the light.

4. Ringo and Sam. We really are in a sweet spot with them right now, that wonderful place where no one is a baby and no one is dying, where both are healthy and happy. They still drive me crazy sometimes, but mostly they comfort me and make me laugh and keep me company.

5. Good food. Korean Sweet Potato Falafel Tacos from The Blind Pig, and a big salad with roasted vegetables and miso ginger dressing.

6. Eric. None of the rest would matter without this one.

Bonus joy: clean sheets, my “new” car (I’ve had it for more than a year now, but it still feels new), good meetings at work (even though they mean more work for me), having enough money, good health insurance, clean water, roasted sweet potatoes, a refrigerator and freezer, a washer and dryer, the internet, good TV, good books, feeling like I know what I’m doing and being okay with it when I don’t.

Three Truths and One Wish

There’s a background story to today’s list, and I feel compelled to share it. I posted the above picture last week to both Facebook and Instagram, with the caption,

Midday snack cause my 2nd breakfast lasted a long time so I skipped lunch but won’t quite make it to dinner. Every time I eat a banana, I still think “fuck you, Dr. A.” (who told me I shouldn’t be eating bananas because they have too many carbs).

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you’ve heard the story of Dr. A.  You know that I was a disordered eater for 30+ years and had a long term abusive relationship with myself, and all the work I’ve done to heal those things. You know I’d rather be fat for the rest of my life than go back to living that particular hell. You know how I feel about the importance of fat acceptance and how strongly I believe in the Health at Every Size movement. You might have also figured out I don’t like being told what to do.

On Facebook, there clearly was one person who didn’t know any of this about me. I accepted her friend request on Facebook a few weeks ago because she is part of one of my spiritual communities. I almost ignored her request because even though we clearly share some practices and philosophical beliefs, she listed herself as a “weight loss coach.” I knew there was the potential for a problem, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I shouldn’t have. In response to the picture and caption above, she posted the comment, “How many carbs are in those muffins? That snack needs more protein.”

I wish I could say that I replied in a skillful way, one that was kind but made it clear I didn’t need her to comment on what I chose to eat, but I didn’t. I threw a little fit in my own mind, told her off in the secret space of my own head, unfriended and blocked her, and then deleted the comment from my page. What I meant to say was…

1. Truth: Don’t give advice unless someone asks you for it directly. This applies to people you know well as equally as it does to people you don’t know anything about. It is true even if you just so happen to be an expert on a subject, particularly skilled or knowledgeable. Unless someone asks you “what do you think I should do?” or requests your help, stay out of it.

2. Truth: Unsolicited advice is at best rude and at worst an act of aggression. No one asked you. To get involved, assert your beliefs as right, true, and correct, to demand that someone else with a completely different experience comply with your direction — especially when you don’t know their whole story — isn’t helpful. In fact, you might actually be doing harm.

3. Truth: Don’t tell me what to do. People want to be heard, they want the space and support to figure out stuff for themselves. If you can’t help but go around telling other people what to do, maybe take a look at yourself, and focus on fixing what you find there.

One wish: May we trust other people to find their own truths, may we stay out of their way as they do their own work, and may we show up ready to help when we are invited.

P.S. I’ve written about this before.

Something Good

1. Depressed by Politics? Just Let Go. This article gives a clear and workable alternative to overwhelm and distress.

2. How to Live Life with Fantastic Aliveness: Remembering Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In related news, StoryCorps EXTRA: Remembering Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and Pay attention to what you pay attention to.

3. The Blessing of a Bruised Right Buttock from Jena Schwartz.

4. If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you.

5. Wisdom from Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal activist, (thanks to Mikalina), “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

6. Coaching as Activism, “a 10-week group program for coaches, healers + leaders who want to bring their commitment to healing, justice and liberation (for all) into their work and life.” This. Everything about this. (P.S. I signed up). In related news, Why the Self-Help Industry isn’t Changing the World.

7. Is ignorance the problem?, from Seth Godin. “The thing is, ignorance is rarely the problem. The challenge is that people don’t always care about what you care about. And the reason they don’t care isn’t that they don’t know what you know. The reason is that they don’t believe what you believe. The challenge, then, isn’t to inform them. It’s to engage and teach and communicate in a way that shares emotion and values and beliefs.”

8. Mrs. Porter’s 2nd Grade Class Survey. “Please help our class as we study surveys and graphs. We would love to see how many responses we can get and all of the different places our responses come from. Each student in our class has created one of the questions in this survey.” We all need to fill this out.

9. The Practice of One Thing at a Time from Zen Habits.

10. Best of: Inspiring Studio Spaces.

11. 6 ways allies still marginalize people of color — and what to do instead.

12. “Get Out” Syllabus. “The ‘Get Out’ Syllabus focuses intently on the conversations surrounding White violence, the consumption of Black Bodies, and the erasure of Black Women that the movie elicits. The syllabus is divided into two parts; the first closely examines the historical and cultural violences that made the movie possible. The second section examines the absences and erasures that make sections of the film explicitly more horrifying. My ‘Get Out’ syllabus is in no way meant to be exhaustive or complete. Rather, it is an entry to point to key conversations that must be continued after the movie falls from theatres and our current popular culture attention span.”

13. Patient Zero by Aimee Mann, first video from her new album, releasing 3/31/17. (You should watch all three videos in the set, actually). In related news, The Both: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.

14. With Joyful Photos, a 19-Year-Old Artist Confronts Media Bias Against Black Male Teens. In related news, This super cute father-daughter duo is inspiring young men to be good fathers.

15. A feminist glossary because we didn’t all major in gender studies.

16. Listen, Can We Please Not Do This Shit? “The most influential member of the Trump Administration is an unabashed white supremacist.”

17. Bill Murray’s Impossibly Chipper Music Video.

18. What is wrong with the world edition from The Authenticity Experiment. “Who are we? Who are we becoming? Who did we elect? Who thinks that cutting services to the elderly helps balance our budget? Who thinks that a man who claims to be for “the little guy” and then appoints five advisors from Goldman Sachs really gives a good god damn about anybody but the other 1-percent?”

19. Adorable cat acts as goat’s midwife.

20. #BringBacktheBees from Cheerios. In related news, Don’t Plant Those “Bee-Friendly” Wildflowers Cheerios Is Giving Away.

21. EPA Gives $100M Grant to Flint So It Can Fix Its Water Infrastructure. “Yet critics doubt the money can save the city from the president’s proposed cuts to the agency.”

22. Trump Budget Cuts Put Struggling Americans on Edge. In related news, Here’s what Trump’s budget proposes to cut, and Trump federal budget 2018: Massive cuts to the arts, science and the poor, and #LetThemDie: ‘Heartless’ Donald Trump Blasted For Slashing Meals On Wheels Funds, and Trump Budget Makes It Official: You’re Paying For The Wall, Not Mexico.

23. An Imperfect Human’s Guide To Body Positivity. “What it actually means, how it’s evolved over time, and what’s at stake without it.”

24. Jordan Casteel on the Power of Art Right Now, a painter merging social justice and art.

25. This 11-year-old created a book club to encourage reading among young black boys.

26. Trump’s St. Patrick’s Day “proverb” might not be Irish but wasn’t by a Nigerian poet either.

27. This is what it’s like answering all those phone calls to Congress.

28. The Good, Racist People.

29. 15 Beautiful Moments From Native Nations Rise [PHOTOS].

30. Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed.

31. Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years.

32. A forgotten piece of African-American history on the Great Plains.

33. Trusted. Valued. Essential. “Find out what PBS means to viewers, and about its role as a public service.”

34. A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer from Chuck Wendig.

35. Colin Kaepernick helps get airplane to aid Somalia.

36. Guatemalan Film ‘Ixcanul’ Might Be the Most Feminist Movie of the Year. This is available to stream on Netflix.

37. Due to cuts in funding to PBS, our favorite furry monster is out of work.

Day of Rest

I posted this picture yesterday on Instagram with the caption, “I’m a mess but I don’t give up.” Then today someone shared this quote from John Welwood, “You are flawed, you are stuck in old patterns, you become carried away with yourself. Indeed you are quite impossible in many ways. And still, you are beautiful beyond measure.” Sounds about right.