Daily Archives: January 3, 2022

Three Truths and One Wish

Image by Eric, from their walk this morning

This post is slightly different from how I typically write them. Usually it’s just the list without much context or explanation. For some reason this time it felt like I should explain how this particular list arose. I was writing this morning, thinking about all the things that have happened in the past few weeks, (omicron on the rise; Betty White died 17 days before her 100th birthday, only a few weeks after bell hooks; seven people where shot and five died in Denver; and around 1000 structures were burnt in a series terrifying wild fires in Boulder County, Colorado), and feeling so sad. In particular, I can’t stop thinking about all the people who not only lost their homes in the fires but who couldn’t get back in time to save their animals — that GUTS me.

When I was doing my writing practice this morning, I was thinking about how as a human, I want to open my heart to all of it, the beautiful and the brutal, the tender and the terrible. I believe what Andrew Boyd said, that “You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” This is resilience, beyond simply surviving, a place from where you can do your best to ease suffering without generating more of the same harm.

But it’s so HARD. When things are difficult, my instinct is to shut down or run away. I’m a highly sensitive person (“thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli”), who already feels so much extra, gets easily overwhelmed, so opening myself to the moment and the suffering that arises there is an awful lot like trying to drink from a fire hose.

I asked myself as I was writing “so, what is the strategy? how do you stay open? open without being wrecked? what is the answer?” This is what came to me. It’s certainly not the full answer and won’t work for everyone, but it feels true to me, in this moment.

1. Truth: Stay home. So many people are heading back to work and school after the holidays, don’t feel like they have a choice. For me, I felt extra compelled this week to stay home as much as possible, to read and be creative, to nourish myself, to rest as much as possible, to keep my germs to myself. I can make that choice, am so lucky to have that privilege, and it feels right to honor myself this way.

2. Truth: Stay off social media, quit spending so much time reading the news. The problem is that so much comes at me so fast in these environments and it’s hard to process, let alone turn myself around and do anything helpful. It’s a lot of noise, and so much of that noise is rage and grief. I long to hold space for people doing their best to cultivate sanity and compassion, but I also need space and have to take a break sometimes, find quiet.

3. Truth: Find other ways to connect, while also working to build resilience. There’s a place and time for staying home, disconnecting from the noise, being alone, but in terms of healing and helping, connection is necessary, and there are so many other ways to connect. The silent partner of that is resilience, being able to stay with what arises when you reach out — “strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

One Wish: The first part of the Andrew Boyd quote I shared above is “Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it.”

May you and I, kind and gentle reader, learn to carry the Universe in all the ways we know how and all the ways we haven’t figured out yet, without being crushed by it.

Something Good

1. 27 Wild(er) Days with Laurie Wagner, my teacher and dear friend. “I’m bringing the Wild Writing practice to you at home through a series of short videos that will arrive in your inbox each day for 27 days. In each video I will share some delicious aspect of the practice that has served me for the last 30 years, as well as read you a poem and give you a jump off line to get you started. From there you’ll write for 15 minutes, and then boom, you’re done.” Laurie is offering this self-paced Wild Writing opportunity at a discount — from January 3 – 7, you pay only $27 (on the 8th, the price goes back to $49). Also from Laurie, Twenty Four Tamales For Christmas and a Few Things You Learn Along the Way.

2. Stressed? Instead of distracting yourself, try paying closer attention. “When something sad, stressful or hurtful happens, so many of us look for a way to distract ourselves from the ensuing pain and discomfort. It may seem counterintuitive, but an effective way to manage our negative reactions to life’s stressors actually involves slowing down and paying very close attention, says Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR).”

3. Why Therapists Are Worried About Mental Health in America Right Now on The New York Times. “The Times recently asked mental health professionals from across the country to share how their patients — and they themselves — are coping with the coronavirus crisis.”

4. How volunteering can help ease loneliness on The New York Times.

5. Resolutions for a Life Worth Living: Attainable Aspirations Inspired by Great Humans of the Past. “Life-tested wisdom on how to live from James Baldwin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Leo Tolstoy, Seneca, Toni Morrison, Walt Whitman, Viktor Frankl, Rachel Carson, and Hannah Arendt.”

6. Good stuff from Seth Godin: Choice vs. convenience and Don’t waste the good days. That second one in particular hit me hard. I’m trying so hard to allow for that kind of focus, to shift my effort in that way, but it is HARD, (or rather I make it hard).

7. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: My year in 101 quotes and 100 things that made my year (2021).

8. From respair to cacklefart – the joy of reclaiming long-lost positive words. “We have been bombarded with negativity recently; but the English language is a treasure trove of joyous vocabulary.”

9. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year: A Stop-Motion Music Video Tells the Warm and Fuzzy Story of Woodland Friends. In related news, A Moving Stop-Motion Short Reveals the Power of a Family’s Cooking Traditions.

10. Wisdom from J Clement Wall: “Maybe the lesson to learn from the year that has passed is one that we all already now. We have to make this moment count. No matter what came before, or what happens tomorrow, we have to live the moment we’re in, yeah? Pick north in this moment. Be kind, be mindful, make art, hold hands, be proud, be happy, be sad in this moment. Then do it again a gazillion times because our lives are made of these moments and nothing more. They are what we have. They are everything.”

11. A New Year’s Blessing on Lion’s Roar. “Zen teacher Karen Maezen Miller offers some words to help us all start the year off right.”

12. Wisdom from Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel: “Let’s be fierce in our commitment to value and utilize even the most challenging circumstances as a way to deepen our understanding and cultivate compassion for others as well as ourselves. Let’s continuously find creative and skillful ways to serve living beings and this precious planet, our home, and look at life around us as the rich ground for awakening from self-absorption. If we can do this, how can we possibly lose?”

13. Why I ‘Go to Bed’ Early as an Introvert (Spoiler Alert: I’m Not Sleeping).

14. They set out to hike three of America’s longest trails in less than a year. What could go wrong?

15. Writer’s Resolution, 2022: The Necessary Act Of Selfishly Seeking Joy from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

16. Diana Ross Proves She’s Still The Boss on Her New Studio Album “Thank You”.

17. 6 Ways To Get Ready For A Wildfire.

18. 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying.

19. Moments of joy from 2021 from NPR. “It’s true, 2021 was not easy — but moments of joy, humor and appreciation were as much a part of the past year as were its challenges. In case you missed them, take a listen to some of our more fun and relaxing moments of 2021.”

20. Swedish Death Cleaning – The New KonMari Method?

21. 10 Insightful Tips From People Who Prove It’s Never Too Late on The New York Times.

22. The Dogs of 2021 (video) on Instagram.

23. The guerilla gardeners of TikTok. “When green space became essential during the pandemic, these intrepid gardeners realized there wasn’t enough of it.”

24. Nine Badass Black Women Who Are Changing the Workout Game. In related news, When it comes to exercise, ‘all movement counts.’ Here are 4 tips to make it a habit and Sometimes You Have to Hate Exercise Before You Can Love It Again on The New York Times.

25. Here’s what bell hooks’ friends and colleagues want you to remember about her.

26. Melding Two Crafts, Caroline Harrius Embroiders and Cross-Stitches Ceramic Vessels. Using various methods of non-traditional stitching/sewing to make art is my current obsession.

27. 11 Questions to End the Year On Purpose.

28. The Most-Rejected Books of All Time (that eventually got published).

29. Electric Lit’s Favorite Short Story Collections of 2021. In related news, Electric Lit’s Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2021 and Our Favorite Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts Of 2021.

30. This Year, Try a New Approach to Wellness. Because this: “Something that I’ve been thinking about lately is just how different we all are. We are all at vastly different places in our lives and in our journeys with our bodies, food, self-care, etc. And the process of learning how to best care for our bodies, minds, and spirits is long, complex, and unique to us.

The truest truth I’ve found is that we’ve got to experiment. We’ve got to try things on and feel them out in our own bodies and minds. I believe that the process of learning how to listen to our intuition is the key to this. We do have deep wisdom within us and it can guide us if we let it. ” Amen.

31. Recipe I want to try: Marry Me Cookies.

32. Free food market in Aurora bridges gap between food waste and hunger.

33. My Dog Taught Me How to Be a Better Human.

34. On the Years When Jane Austen Couldn’t Write. “An Illustrated Look at the Effects of Worry and Uncertainty on a Literary Icon.”

35. The person who got me through 2021: Monty Don inspired my new, obsessive love of gardening.