Author Archives: jillsalahub

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Zora Neale Hurston, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

2. The Birthday Experiment That Changed Everything. I love this idea, and the secret is: you don’t have to wait until your birthday to do it.

3. The Diet And Beauty Industries’ Cycle Of Disempowerment from Dances with Fat. In related news, Comebacks To Shut Down Fatphobia – Part Four.

4. Health At Every Size (HAES): A Guide for Binge Eating Recovery. I’ve posted this before, but it’s always worth another read, especially if you don’t know much about HAES.

5. This Naked Mind EP 145: Stop Fighting Food with Isabel Foxen Duke, a podcast.

6. The Original Renegade on The New York Times. “A 14-year-old in Atlanta created one of the biggest dances on the internet. But nobody really knows that.”

7. Kelly Link’s Advice to Debut Authors: Writing is Terrible, Complaining About it Is Fine, “From Her 2019 Speech at the One Story Debutante Ball.”

8. Father Of Two With No Arms Or Legs, (video). “Ryan was told he would never drive a car, go to a regular school or even have a family – but he’s proved all of the doubters wrong.”

9. Two Detroit artists on how they use painting, photography to capture complexity of black life.

10. Sam Smith – To Die For (Official Video).

11. Comedian Maria Bamford tried to get a restraining order against Donald Trump.

12. Recipes I want to try: Soft Ginger Cookie, and Sweet Potato-Black Bean Burgers, and Split Pea Soup.

13. “My son’s best friend moved to Jacksonville about 4 years ago. They’ve only gotten to see each other 3 times since then, but have continued to FaceTime all the time for hours. We planned to surprise them in Disney this year, and as you can see they both got emotional. They even had people around them crying.” (video)

14. “Fall On Me” by A Great Big World and PS22 Chorus. (video) “This Valentine’s Day season was made extra special with a visit from our friends Chad & Ian of A Great Big World! Now we’ve sung quite a few songs with these gentlemen over the years, but this rendition of their new single #FallOnMe with Christina Aguilera is almost certainly the pièce de résistance!!!”

15. The Intimate Act of Performing Pain. “There’s an acute and near-indescribable vulnerability that comes with admitting to being in pain in real time.”

16. How Did Louis C.K. Get Away With It For So Long? “Anatomy of a Toxic Power Dynamic.”

17. Best friends, always. (video) “A year and a half ago, Steve Hartman introduced us to a pair of unlikely best friends: widower Dan Peterson and Norah Wood, a little girl who encountered him in a grocery store and demanded a hug. He gave her one, and they’ve been inseparable every since, including at Norah’s recent pre-school graduation in Augusta, Georgia.” Sadly, Dan Peterson recently died. May we all be so loved at the end, (and the beginning and middle).

18. Confirmed: Sex Education is coming back for season three. In related news, “Sex Education” Renewed for Season 3 at Netflix. Yay!

19. 30 of the Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime.

20. How Unhealed Trauma Affects Highly Sensitive People. “My emotional reactivity, anxiety, and shame weren’t only about being an HSP — it also had to do with unhealed trauma.”

21. Black teen suspended for not cutting dreadlocks attends Oscars with makers of ‘Hair Love’ film.

22. 10 Requests from a Fat Patient to Her Health Care Providers. “In the midst of an ‘Obesity Epidemic,’ fat patients are getting worse healthcare than ever. Here are some things providers can do to help.”

23. The Privilege of Rage, about the ways white women continue to colonize and appropriate the work of people of color, Black women in particular.

24. Paraic O’Donnell: MS is meticulously destroying me. I am being unmade. This is one of the most beautiful, elegant essays about a horrible, awful thing.

Day of Rest: Burnout Recovery

The door to nowhere…

I’m categorizing this post as a “Day of Rest” because that’s usually what I post, if I post, on a Sunday. To be fair, it could also be a Life Rehab Resources, or What I Learned, or What I’m Doing. I’m realizing that after nine months of taking care of myself and trying to be patient, that if I was 100% burnt out nine months ago, I’m still about 87% burnt out now, and I should maybe be taking a more direct approach (instead of trying to “wait it out”), which for me typically starts with some deep research and contemplation.

I posted on Facebook and Instagram asking for books that had helped people through recovery from burnout, even if it wasn’t specifically about burnout. Some of the suggestions were:

One person on Facebook asked for clarification about the cause of my burnout, as that might help her make a more effective recommendation. As I told her, and I think have said here before, “the reasons are compound: just retired after 19 years in a stressful job, on year 11 of perimenopause, an autoimmune disorder, complex-PTSD, etc. So pretty much pick a reason and I’ve probably got it.” That makes deciding on a direct approach for recovery so much more complicated.

What’s been working for me so far, in terms of practices and support: Therapy, quitting my job, reading, watching lots of TV and taking lots of naps, eating what I want when I want it as much as I want, aqua aerobics, yoga, meditation, massage, having honest conversations with those close to me, asking for what I need, walking and napping and cuddling with my dogs, my infrared heating pad, our new living room furniture, flowers in the bathroom, cleaning out my office, getting more plants, limiting the amount of time I spend “peopling,” listening to music and podcasts, comedy, sitting in the sauna, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs are asleep, really good healthcare for my dogs (the better care they get, the less stressed I feel), writing, turning down the volume on bad news, cute animal and baby and dance videos, art, CBD oil, a small dose of THC before bed to help me sleep, the softest pjs in the world, my moon lamp, my HappyLight, and a sunrise alarm clock.

Another thing I have to do is cultivate patience and a willingness (which is currently reluctant) to accept that this could be permanent. I may never have more energy than I have right now and I need to figure out how to be okay with that.

All that said, I have a favor to ask you, kind and gentle reader: if you have recovered from burnout, what worked for you? What did you try, read, watch, do to feel better? If you don’t mind, could you post a comment or send me an email (lifewholehearted@gmail.com) and let me know? One request: as I am in recovery for not one but three eating disorders, even if a diet or nutritional supplement worked for you, could you leave that part out? I have to be super careful about how I handle anything having to do with nourishing myself through food or supplements, so not referencing anything related to that would be really helpful to me. Thank you in advance. You are the best!

Gratitude Friday

1. Love. All the kinds, all the variations and varieties. And I get that Valentine’s Day is a fake holiday meant to sell candy and flowers and jewelry, but it’s is also a reminder, an opportunity, and who couldn’t use a little extra love?

2. The first signs of Spring. We’ve been getting a little snow here every three or four days, but Eric bought me daffodils so I know in about another month, we’ll be shifting seasons. I’m so happy to have the reminder.

3. Comedy. Last week I watched Maria Bamford’s new special, and yesterday I watched The Spy Who Dumped Me, which I kind of expected to be dumb but it was so good, and then last night, I went to see Chris Fairbanks with Chloe’ and Ralf. Almost nothing makes me feel better than a good laugh.

4. Good food. Apple pie and bran muffins with dried raspberries and donut holes and fresh pineapple, for example.

5. My tiny family. Even though my week’s don’t really work that way anymore, I still look forward to the weekends because that means Eric will be home and we get to hang out more. Last night, when I got ready to leave, Ringo was following me around and seemed kind of sad that I was going. Being home more often has really helped to bond him more to me, even though he still thinks Eric is the best thing ever and way more fun than me. Sam went to the vet this week and did really good, was so sweet, and according to his bloodwork and exam is doing really good. He’s now officially the oldest dog we’ve ever had.

Bonus joy: how the text reminders that I have a massage scheduled are automated but end by saying “woo hoo!”, breakfast for dinner, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, therapy, blogging, writing, meditating, yoga, morning walks, hanging out with Mikalina, a concert with Carrie, texting and the way you can send a message so quick and easy, catching and being able to fix something before it gets worse, “singing” with Ringo (we howl together and I can’t wait to see my next door neighbor for tea next week and ask if she ever hears us), cuddling with Sam in the morning (it’s the only time he lets me), getting all the laundry done before 10 am, getting new reusable bags to use at the grocery store (now if I can only manage to remember to bring them with me into the store), grocery shopping, a fresh loaf of bread baked with roasted garlic, a big glass of clean cold water, clean pjs, warm socks.

 

Alignment

In my yoga class this week, we considered the notion of “alignment.” As a Hatha yoga teacher, this concept is central to how I teach. The most fundamental, obvious understanding of alignment in asana practice (the act of putting our body into a particular sequence of shapes) is to be sure that we line up all our parts in a way that allows for the fullest expression of the particular pose, enabling us to get the most benefit and not hurt ourselves or anyone else.

An even deeper understanding of alignment is an individual awareness of where we are and what we need. This means that even though the teacher might cue a particular alignment, our individual energy and experience may require an adjustment. This level of alignment requires the student to practice discernment, to trust themselves to know what they need and to honor that need.

Another quality of alignment we practice in yoga is “union” or mindfulness, which simply means making an effort to have our mind, body, and heart in the same space at the same time. We are conscious of our body, our breath, our thoughts and emotions. We cultivate a quality of curiosity about our experience and generate a sense of compassion. We show up for ourselves. We don’t abandon ourselves. We are integrated and whole, making space for whatever might arise as we practice, and not judging any of it as “good” or “bad,” not judging ourselves as good or bad. The intention is if we are fully present, all our parts, and we approach our experience with curiosity and compassion, that we can learn to be with whatever shows up, respond with wisdom and skillful means, and that this will serve us both on and off the mat, enable us to be of service to others.

I’m trying to find this sort of alignment in my life off the mat, (off the cushion, off the page, off the leash). I tend to lean towards the dark, the difficult in life. I’ve always been that way. When people around me were clinging to the positive trying to keep themselves afloat, I was diving down into the deep asking “yeah, but what about this?” As an introverted Highly Sensitive Person, if there is suffering it is incredibly difficult for me to ignore it. I’m completely open and vulnerable, like a sponge, completely porous. I naturally have a much lower tolerance for engaging with the world because of this, and yet I also am driven to connect and to help.

For a lot of years, my boundaries weren’t great. I worked a people intensive and demanding job at a university for two decades, I was a teacher on and off that campus holding space for people working with hard stuff, and was in a series of harmful relationships with difficult people, experiencing trauma on a daily basis. All of this lead to a pretty significant state of burnout. Add to that recent events — the impeachment trial, the SOTU (where Rush Limbaugh was awarded a Medal of Freedom), DTs behavior at the National Prayer Breakfast, what happened to this sweet little girl, and a person I love whose addiction is spiraling out of control — and I feel completely and utterly overwhelmed. I internalize all the stink and the shit, hold it, carry it around, all that sad, all that anger, and at some point it gets too heavy and the only options are to collapse under the weight of it, let it bury me, or to put it down and walk away, to heal, to restore, to get strong enough to try again.

So I’m trying to shift my focus for now. In no way do I intend to swing the other way and start practicing toxic positivity. I’m not burying my head in the sand or ignoring what’s happening, but I am turning the volume down — which in and of itself is an expression of my privilege, that I can choose to engage or not, that much of the suffering happening in the world isn’t part of my direct daily experience unless I decide to let it in. That said, I’m tuning in to where I’m at and what I need, working to trust and honor myself, approaching my experience with curiosity and compassion so that I can learn to be with whatever shows up, respond with wisdom and skillful means and hopefully in this way be able to help.

 

Something Good

From our walk

1. These incredible wind turbines are designed to look like trees. (video)

2. A “Good Place” Goodbye Roundtable.

3. Reading lists: 20 New and Upcoming Novels for Black History Month, and 29 Black Authors To Support During Black History Month and Beyond, and ‘Love, loss and longing’: the best books on migration, chosen by writers, and 12 Books to Read Instead of “American Dirt”, and 25 Must Read Books For Black History Month. In related news, 5 Science-Backed Reasons ‘Getting Lost in a Book’ is Good for You.

4. Handpan by Yuki Koshimoto.

4. The Photograph Interviews. “Issa Rae, Lakeith Stanfield, Lil Rel, Y’Lan Noel, Chante Adams, and Stella Meghie sit down with Xilla Valentine to discuss their new movie The PHOTOGRAPH. They talk about the complexities of Black Love, Parenting, How the Oscars don’t see Black Actors and the $200 Date.”

5. Yoshiko Jinzenji: 76-Year-Old Japanese Quilt Artist Built Her Own 4,300-Square-Feet Kitchen House.

6. The Buddhist Roots of Hatha Yoga. “Purists discourage mixing traditions, but research reveals that the origins of one of today’s most popular Indian practices aren’t so clear-cut.”

7. ‘Horse Girl’ is Netflix’s new mind-bending pyschodrama film out today.

8. I Wrote a Song Using Only Hate Comments 2. “Don’t be a troll. Get out from under your bridge and make someone smile:) Here is a part 2 to my previous video I Wrote a Song Using Only Hate Comments.”

9. Miniature Tree Houses for Houseplants.

10. Vibrant Quilts Honor Black Men and Women Whose Stories Were Forgotten or Overlooked.

11. Lidia Yuknavitch on Frankenstein, Incarceration, and Overcoming Creative Blocks. “The Author of Verge on the Advice That Always Helps Her.”

12. A New Film in Pastel Animates the Viral Tragicomedy Tune ‘Dinosaurs in Love’.

13. Recipe I want to try: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars.

14. Like A Boss – Official Trailer (2020).

15. 72 Reading Nooks Perfect For When You Need To Escape This World. This post is three years old and I’m sure I already shared it at least once, but yes please!

16. Boy, 13, Cries Upon Learning His Dream Puppy Is A Gift From His Late Father Who Planned It All.

17. 10 New Queer Shows to Stream This February.

18. Adorable Wool-Felted Creatures Look Like They Belong in a Magical Woodland.

19. Deep Focus playlist on Spotify.

20. I’m an Introvert, and I’ve Always Felt a Deep Connection With Animals.

21. Three Of The Most Dangerous Downsides Of Dieting on Dances with Fat. In related news, Comebacks To Shut Down Fatphobia – Part Three.

22. The Honest Guide to Mindfulness on Zen Habits.

23. White Supremacy Culture, a page of resources.

24. Land Artist Surprises Beach Goers By Leaving Striking Stone Arrangements Along the Coast.

25. Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind on Zen Habits.

26. You Can Now Send Compassionate Texts to Random Strangers—And Get Them in Return—Thanks to New Project.

Day of Rest: On Being “Good”

Ani Difranco performing at Washington’s in Fort Collins on February 8th, (image courtesy of Carrie Lamanna)

Last night I went to see Ani Difranco perform. It was an amazing show, full of energy and power and heart. Her opening act, Jesca Hoop (who was also amazing), said that the first time she saw Ani perform was transformative. “I never saw a woman hold space like that.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it means to perform “woman.” We are told not to take up space, taught the exact opposite: to be quiet and small and supportive and pleasing to look at. We are taught to be a thing, an object rather that an actual person. Our personhood, our truth, our power is too messy, too wild, untrustworthy and unreliable, and we need to control it, hide it, smash it to bits if necessary.

I recently watched a documentary about Taylor Swift, another singer/songwriter/performer. To be honest, I don’t really listen to her music (although “Shake it Off” was super catchy). She seems pretty representative of what it means to be a white woman, a celebrity, so she’s not someone I typically look to for wisdom or even entertainment. However, I was very interested in what she had to say about “being good.” She talks in the documentary about how that was always her central purpose, her main focus and goal in life: to be seen as “good” and to be liked.

This is a particular neurosis of white women living under the Stockholm Syndrome that is white supremacy. The “goodness” of a white woman supports and enables white supremacy (and in turn the patriarchy), allows it to continue. White women are conditioned to accept all the ways we aren’t enough, aren’t to be trusted, need to be controlled, and it keeps us frozen in shame and unworthiness and silence, limits our action, our creativity, our innate wisdom. We perform and please and fawn and smash ourselves to bits to be “good.”

What’s weird is even when we start to wake up, become more aware, that performance of goodness stays with us. That pattern we learned is so deep that we continue to react and behave that way. Our response to our new awareness of things like white supremacy, patriarchy, diet culture, etc. is exactly the same: to be frozen by shame and unworthiness, to perform and fawn while inside smashing ourselves to bits. In this way, we still serve the status quo because we remain trapped, unable to act according to our deepest truths, our fundamental wisdom, our real power.

I realized recently, with the help of therapy, that the two core beliefs I was taught were: I cannot be trusted AND I’m responsible. Let me tell you, this is a real mindfuck. If I can’t be trusted, how can I possibly be responsible? If I am supposed to figure things out, fix them, make things right, how can I do that if I can’t trust myself? This confusion is further fed by the need to be “good,” the need to be liked. It’s a mess, keeps me frozen in inaction, anxiety and despair.

The remedy, the antidote is to drop the shame and honor our inherent wisdom, our truth, our power. Just know, there is not much in this culture that will truly support such a pursuit. There will be resistance that at times even turns to aggression. We will make mistakes and get it wrong. Standing in our truth and our power, taking up space goes against tradition, puts the current system at risk, and make us vulnerable. But ultimately, “good” is useless, violent even. Nothing will ever change if we keep trying so hard to be good.

Women like Ani Difranco show us the way. She writes her own songs, tells her own story, holds space, even though there will so many who don’t like her for it. Every performance by such an artist reminds me of the power of story, of art, of telling the truth. Art embodies our story, personal and yet universal in the way it represents what it means to be human. This art, these stories, these humans are essential, have always been the thing that keeps me from giving up, gives me some sense that maybe things are in fact workable, that joy and ease and love are possible. Yes things change and die but they also come alive and are solid, tangible, real. There is suffering but there is also something else, both empty and illuminated.

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks. Yesterday was so cold, only 6 degrees out, but that also meant instead of walking through our neighborhood, where not everyone had shoveled the sidewalks and there was ice and that’s not good for Sam because the two times he’s hurt himself it was slipping in the snow or on the ice, we drove to the park and walked on the trail by the river, (which the city is really good about keeping clear of ice and snow without using a bunch of salt, which is bad for the dogs’ feet). I hadn’t been able to do that for a few months and was so happy to see it, hear it.

2. Permission to turn down the volume. I don’t want to say too much about this because I think there’s a whole blog post there I might write later, but the short version is that there is so much suffering in the world right now and I’ve allowed it to get too close, to fill me up, and that’s not helpful to anyone, and when I get overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a break. Sometimes that looks like having donut holes with your coffee.

3. Winter. We are getting more snow this week. To be honest, other than the gray skies and no garden and sometimes treacherous conditions for walking and driving, I prefer the fall and winter in Colorado over spring and summer. And yet, before the first snow came this week, we had a few days in the 60s, and that did have me longing for warmer weather and green.

What a difference a day can make

4. Practice. I’ve been writing a bit more about this lately, as I’m working on a book and a class about cultivating practice: what is it, how do you start and sustain it, what are the benefits and contraindications, etc.

5. Good food. Whenever Eric posts pictures of what he cooks on his Facebook page, people gush about how amazing it is, how amazing he is, so after he posted a picture of the tiny pies he made this week, I had to counter with a picture of the biscuits I made, just in case people might start thinking he’s the only one who cooks yummy stuff.

6. My tiny family. Sam is so sweet and I love that he’s in such good shape, as he is now officially the oldest dog we’ve ever had and he seems like he’s got another couple of good years left in him yet. Ringo seems to really like having me at home more during the day, is much more likely to look to me for attention even when Eric is home too. And Eric, well he’s my favorite person on the planet.

Bonus joy: Getting all the laundry done, candy, big fat fluffy snowflakes, warm cheesy biscuits, toast with butter and marionberry jam, sitting under my heating pad and favorite blanket on the couch, reading, listening to podcasts, a warm shower, making Eric laugh, cancelled plans, the ink refills for my new pen being back in stock, soft pajamas, taking off my bra, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, baby animals.