Category Archives: Alexi Murdoch

Something Good

1. Good stuff from Brain Pickings: The Velveteen Rabbit, Reimagined with Uncommon Tenderness by Beloved Japanese Illustrator Komako Sakai and The Well of Being: An Extraordinary Children’s Book for Grownups about the Art of Living with Openhearted Immediacy.

2. Sorry confusion from Seth Godin.

3. Shared by Austin Kleon in his weekly newsletter: Credit is always due, and A meditation teacher on surviving a plane crash, and the horrible consequences of addiction — Harris Wittels, Television Comedy Writer, Is Dead at 30, and RIP Harris Wittels. 1984-2015.

4. I Am A Dad With Stage 4 Lung Cancer, And Here’s What I Know Now. Oren died on Saturday.

5. Wisdom from Jonathan Fields, “Build things that speak louder than you ever could.”

6. Audience growth, from Paul Jarvis, in which he shares this wisdom,

You may think that developing your own unique voice is easy, since, hell, it’s your voice. Sadly, this is not the case, especially in writing. Finding your voice takes work. It’s part internalization, part confidence, and part a damn lot of practice. I’m not sure developing your voice as a creator is something you can ever completely win at—you have to continually check in with yourself to see if it consistently aligns.

7. ‘Imitation Game’ Writer Graham Moore Wanted To ‘Say Something Meaningful’ During Oscars Speech.

8. Neil Gaiman + Amanda Palmer perform I Google You.

9. Good things from Terrible Minds: In Which I Answer Why Adults Read So Much Young Adult Fiction and The Social Media Rules That Govern My Slapdash Online Existence.

10. New Study Shows Marijuana Is 114 Times Safer Than the Deadliest Legal Drug in the U.S.

11. Where Do Our Stories Come From? by Laurie Wagner.

12. Good things from Zen Habits: You’re Not Doing Life Wrong and Getting Lost in Just Doing.

13. Let Me Fix That For You: A Dramaturge Explains What’s Wrong With Patricia Arquette’s Speech.

14. Writing Workshop Is Not Group Therapy on Brevity.

15. Good stuff about yoga on Elephant Journal: On Being Fat, Yoga Teacher Training & the Right to Be Happy and Why I Quit Teaching Yoga & Hope to Never Go Back and What Nobody Tells You About Yoga.

16. Wisdom from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, (thanks for sharing, Lise),

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

17. Wisdom from Louis C.K., (thanks to Meg Worden for sharing),

Self-love is a good thing but self-awareness is more important. You need to once in a while go “Uh, I’m kind of an asshole.”

18. Why It’s So Wrong—But So Right—To Sleep With Your Pets.

19. How to Spot A Narcissist and Walk Away on MindBodyGreen. I worked for a narcissist for seven years and walking away was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

20. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The main thing about this practice and about all practice is that you’re the only one who knows what is opening and what is closing down; you’re the only one who knows. There’s a slogan: “Of the two witnesses, hold the principal one.” What it’s saying is that one witness is everybody else giving you their feedback and opinions (which is worth listening to; there’s some truth in what people say), but the principal witness is yourself. You’re the only one who knows when you’re opening and when you’re closing. You’re the only one who knows when you’re using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you’re opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is—working with it rather than struggling against it.

21. the bohemian life on SF Girl by Bay. I love this look, the wood and the greenery, the styles and the colors.

22. Revenge Porn Dude Wants His Personal Info Removed From Internet Lolol.

23. Stay on Your Surfboard from Kate Read.

24. Wisdom from musician Alexi Murdoch,

First you must free yourself from the idea of your voice. From the very sound of it. You must throw off the yoke of familiar language. The habits of rhythms and structures that are familiar. They are limitation. You have to expel even your greatest teachers. They too have become an obstacle to your freedom. But most of all you have to be honest. You have to be yourself. You have to be fearless — no, more than that — you have to be mindless of whatever might be the consequences of being so. Only by this way will you arrive at true revelation.

25. The Death of a Dream (Body) from Sunni Chapman.

26. RAISING ZAY: A family’s journey with a transgender child.

27. I know a mama who. (Thanks for sharing, Rachel).

28. Ben Merrell, a local tattoo artist who does beautiful work. I know where I’ll be going for my next session.

29. Poodle Science.

30. A blessing written by Jan Richardson,

That our receiving may be like breathing: taking in, letting go.
That our holding may be like loving: taking care, setting free.
That our giving may be like leaving: singing thanks, moving on.

31. Maryland Sanitation Truck Driver Called Hero for Helping Homeless Families.

32. Changing the Culture from Rachel Cole.

33. Alt Summit :: Keynote Address from Lisa Congdon.

34. Good stuff on BuzzFeed: Watch Black Men From Age 5 To 50 Respond To The Word “Police” and 17 Times Fitspiration Was Wrong, So We Fixed It.

35. IT HAPPENED TO ME: My Fitbit Reignited My Eating Disorder.

36. 15+ Before-And-After Photos Of Cats Growing Up on Bored Panda.

37. Why Co-Sleeping is No-Sleeping.

38. I am grateful, now fuck off.

39. Down In The River To Pray by Allie Feder & Ben Stanton. I bought a copy and can’t stop listening to it.

40. I’LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE: I Quit the Gym for Free YouTube Workouts.

41. Warning: “Hanging in there” is destroying your health.

42. Just a few reasons why we’re so excited for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

43. Busy Is a Sickness.

44. The Staggering Bullshit of “The Secret” by Mark Manson.

45. The 9 Things No One Tells You About Scattering Ashes.

46. The Subtly Offensive Phrases We Need To Stop Saying.

47. Your Difficulties Are Your Path from Jack Kornfield.

48. A blessing from Ronna Detrick.

Dear One:

There are times in which you just have to do what you know to be right, what your intuition tells you, what you can clearly discern as the right course of action. Trust-trust-trust that you know what you’re doing. And let everything else go – every fear, every anticipated reaction, even every expected risk and certain cost. It’s all going to work out.

I’m sure of this because I am Abigail and you are my daughter, my lineage, my kin.

49. Here’s your permission slip to embrace slow from Yogi Sadie.

50. My First Night Homeless on Medium.

51. The Joy of Books isn’t in Ownership from Be More With Less.

52. If Reporting A Robbery Was Like Reporting A Rape.

53. Finding Joy in My Father’s Death by Ann Patchett.

54. A new kind of burlesque.

When Things Get Weird

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.
~Alexi Murdoch

The past few days have been weird. It started yesterday morning when I got to the gym for my yoga class–6:30 am and still dark out. There were police cars blocking off the road, and an ambulance was just pulling away. Apparently, a homeless man had been hit by a train. He was a known drinker, and he may have passed out or fell on the tracks, (sad postscript: his death has been ruled a suicide). I only mention his homelessness because that street is between a men’s shelter and a city park where many homeless people hang out during the day, and it’s not the first time there have been police and paramedics there, in fact it’s quite common. There are lots of fights and suffering and mess there, people without any where else to go.

The ambulance left without a passenger because it was a scene to be investigated, not a rescue. After yoga, people inside the gym and out on the sidewalk were trying to get a better look. The police had put up temporary barriers, but they weren’t hiding much, and if you looked just right, without trying very hard, you could see everything. I accidentally caught a glimpse of one tennis shoe and looked away. It’s the third homeless person to die in that area, in full view of the gym, in the past as many years. It always throws a shadow over the space, over the rest of the day, (as it should). Every time I hear a train whistle, sadness washes over me. It’s a pitiful sound anyway, but this death, lonely and needless and brutal, now adds to the melancholy.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

I left work a little early because the sky was turning dark and getting noisy, and I knew that big thunderstorms were predicted. Eric had emailed that he was taking the dogs to Lory State Park (there was a break in the weather midday), which I would have argued with because of the storms in the forecast, but he was already gone by the time I knew. I expected him to be back when I got home, but I pulled up to my house, with its empty driveway, just as the rain started.

And then, it started to pour, thunder and lightning, and eventually hail. The rain was coming down so fast it was spilling over the edges of the gutters, the downspouts gushing water and leaves. At one point, the thunder sounded for at least five minutes straight. The streets started to flood, and still no Eric. I did every stupid, mindless chore I could think of to distract myself–sorted, folded, and put away laundry, straightened up, swept, made the bed. All I could think of was him and the dogs stuck up in the park somewhere, exposed, Dexter unable to handle the downpour so reverse sneezing, nose bleeding, Eric struck by lightning, Sam frantic and lost–every awful scenario I could think of. Just as I was thinking “should I take someone with me or just drive up there by myself and try to find them?”, Eric called and said he was parked under a tree not far from the house, had to pull over because it was raining so hard he couldn’t see, that he’d be home in just a few minutes. The storm hadn’t hit up at the park, they’d only gotten a little rained on towards the end of their hike, and he was surprised how bad it was in town.

I was so happy to see them. To have everyone home and safe. Once the rain stopped, I looked outside, and there was a double rainbow.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Eric had to leave at 5 am this morning to drive to Pueblo for a conference. It was going to be a long day for me until he got back home, taking care of the dogs, working, teaching. On our walk this morning, in the darkest dark, there were people on the porch of a house down the road making weird sounds, ones that I at first thought were an animal. I thought they were fighting, then I thought maybe they were doing something nicer (and naughtier), but once we got close enough, I realized that one was really heavy, using a cane and possibly hurt, and the other was trying to get her in the front door, but having trouble. I couldn’t help because I had the dogs, but something about it stayed with me, made me think about all the private suffering that goes on in the dark, things we never know about, struggles and accidents we may never see. I worried for the thousandth time about Eric being on the road for three hours, wished and prayed that he’d make it there safe, make it home safe, in the same moment knowing so many others wouldn’t.

Later in the morning, I noticed that Dexter had another hot spot, that he’d licked a patch on his leg raw. For four years in a row, this time of year, he’s done the same, but last year he didn’t. Last year was the year he started to sneeze instead, and now there’s the maybe might be probably but we don’t know for sure fatal nasal tumor. Something about the hot spot made me worry, but was also oddly comforting–this is what he does every year, this time of year, and he is doing it again–the same routine, one more year. And then Sam came into the kitchen, limping, holding up his right foot, hurt. Seriously?

But later, both dogs were fine, lying in the grass, the warm sun, relaxing. All morning, I kept thinking, “This too shall pass.” All of it–life, time, worry, panic, joy, all of it arising one moment and dissolving the next.

Later, in my office before I went to teach, I felt raw and sad and tired. I closed the door and stood in mountain pose facing my wall of windows. On the other side of the glass was a tree that had turned bright gold in the past week, behind that was fluffy white clouds and blue sky, and below, CSU people walking and talking and laughing and suffering. In the background played Alexi Murdoch’s song Something Beautiful. I stood still, but strong, broken but whole, letting the tears roll down my face, holding my heart open.

I don’t know what any of this means. I want to think that it means something, like maybe I am a part of something beautiful.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. The view from where I write, roses from my garden and my new favorite book.

2. Sam’s nose is getting better, and might not be Discoid Lupus Erythematosus after all. We took him to the vet yesterday, and he thinks it’s most likely a simple case of skin depigmentation that’s common in Collies that just got irritated by the sun. We got some supplements for him to take (bacon flavored, so he’s happy) and are going to check back in a month. Sam’s coat is also turning “Summer Shepherd,” when he goes from almost pure black to this brindled reddish brown, especially on his neck.

3. Summer vacation. Did I happen to mention I’m on it? For the whole summer? Until August? I took a hefty pay cut to take summers off, but I am guessing it’s totally going to be worth it. Right after I get over the trauma of the to-do list I made yesterday…

4. Brene’ Brown The Power of Vulnerability two day workshop in Boulder. I get to go, and if that weren’t enough, a dear friend decided at the last minute to go with me, so even better.

5. This morning, I wrote an outline of the book I’m working on. I’m not typically an outliner, I’m much messier and more unplanned than that, but this felt right. And you know what, kind and gentle reader? I had a complete sense of power and confidence as I did. This is totally going to happen, and I’m going to learn so much in the process.

6. A good night’s sleep. After waking up so early yesterday and worrying about Sam, I needed it.

7. Even when I plan to take a day off from blogging or writing, I can’t, I don’t. I want to write and there seems to always be something to write about. After 25-30+ years of writer’s block, this is nothing short of a miracle.

Bonus Joy: Watching Away We Go again. I wanted a goodhearted, romantic comedy, and since they are so hard to find, I watched this one again. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, and Alexi Murdoch does almost the whole soundtrack, so that’s really good too.

Joy Jam + Little Bliss List = Gratitude Friday

Typically, I do the Joy Jam on Friday, but lately, my friend and fellow blogger Lindsay seems to be the only one jamming with me, so I am going to add my list to Liv Lane’s “Little Bliss List,” and do like Lindsay has and just call the whole thing “Gratitude Friday.”

Liv describes her list this way: “Every Friday, the Little Bliss List provides a chance for us to celebrate the little things that brought us hope and happiness this week. I do believe when we focus on the sweet stuff of life, the sweet stuff multiplies. And by sharing those small gifts in our lives, we help others notice the gifts in theirs.

What I was grateful for this week:

1. Downton Abbey. If you haven’t heard of this show, you are living under a rock. People in my neck of the woods haven’t been able to stop talking about it, so this week I finally started watching it, and oh how the nerd girl in me loves it, the one who devours period novels and loves the theater. I can’t help thinking as I watch it, however, that if I had been alive during that time, I would have been of the class that worked in a factory or on a farm, and my life would have been so much harder.

2. The weather. Blah, blah, Jill, you’ve said it before, BUT: what was special about this week is that I had my first, official “sit in the backyard in a lawn chair with the dogs and read a book” session! This is one of my most favorite things to do, and for the first time, because the weather was warm but not too hot, I could lazily and easily sit, read and dream and stare at my toes, and watch my dogs relax and roll in the grass.

3. Clean bill of health for the dogs. We went to the vet yesterday and Sam let himself be handled and prodded and shot, without a single growl or any rude behavior, and the vet, rather than remarking on how old Dexter was getting, described him as being in shape “like an athlete.” Healthy and happy all around.

4. “I trust the power of my true self.” This guided meditation, read by the open-hearted, wise and generous Julia at Painted Path, was such a gift, she is such a gift.

5. Blogging from the Heart. We are only two weeks in to the class, and it has exceeded every expectation I had. I have the biggest girl crush ever on Susannah Conway right now. Registration for her “Unravelling: Ways of Seeing Myself” class opens on Saturday, March 17th.

Bonus Joy: Music. I have been listening a lot to dreamy boy singers like Bon Iver, Alexi Murdoch, and Ben Howard. Two heartbreakingly beautiful songs I’ve listened to over and over this week are these:

May the Grace of God be with you always, in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a
Part of something beautiful…

And this next one isn’t a dreamy boy, but a girl, and it’s sad, heartbreaking, but if you’ve ever felt loss or grief, you will recognize that it’s true, true, true.

Nothing comes easily
Fill this empty space
Nothing is like it was
Turn my grief to grace

Oh, dear reader: Life is messy. Hard. And beautiful.