Category Archives: Bird

Something Good

1. Fall session of ZenPen, “Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth” from my dear friend Courtney Putnam starts September 30th.

2. Finding Freedom and Writing Memoirs with Meg Worden, an interview on BlogCast FM.

3. Funny stuff from Elephant Journal, Sorry about all the poop: The 10 Commandments of Your Dog and Conan O’Brien and Louis CK “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” And not so much funny as true, The Truth About Hitting Bottom.

4. An excerpt from The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel.

5. A Bunch Of Young Geniuses Just Made A Corrupt Corporation Freak Out Big Time. Time For Round Two. on Upworthy. Boulder certainly is one of my favorite things about Colorado, for reasons just like this.

6. 36 Surreal Instagram Images From Burning Man. I’m not hip enough to attend, and besides it would be too hot and there would be too many people for me, but I’m so glad that something like it exists.

7. Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? on Tiny Buddha, (and, the answer is “uh, yes!”). Also from Tiny Buddha, 10 Journaling Tips to Help You Heal, Grow and Thrive.

8. Honor the Signs Your Future Self is Sending You and Finding Your Creative Flow: 17 Writer’s Tricks to Get Un-stuck and Start Creating on Scoutie Girl.

9. A few thoughts & actions that will help you open up more and Money: A Love Story. Kate Northrup & I talk debt, cash, freedom. from Danielle LaPorte.

10. This post from 3x3x365, in which Patti Digh describes the very best reason to marry someone.

11. Brene’ Brown interview, Vulnerability and Shame, on How She Really Does It with Koren Motekaitis.

12. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, in her book Comfortable with Uncertainty,

Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allowing ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion; to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance. We cultivate bravery through making aspirations. We make the wish that all beings, including ourselves and those we dislike, be free of suffering and the root of suffering.

13. Wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh, “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

14. Wisdom from Atticus Finch,

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyways and you see through it no matter what.

15. Truth from Gloria Steinem, “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

16. Wisdom from Tara Brach,

When we identify with a small self, we are perceiving ourselves as a cluster of ocean waves, not recognizing that we are made of ocean. When we realize our true self is ocean, the familiar pattern of waves—our fears and defensiveness, our wants and busyness—remains a part of us, but it does not define us.

17. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves,

When you’re in transition, you walk in two worlds. You walk in the world in front of you, which may seem stark or burdened. Yet you also walk in the world you carry in your heart. You know you are blossoming & the fruit trees hang heavy, the sun shines, & the clients call, & money is not an issue. The life you are feeding is the life that becomes true.

18. 10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People from Fast Company.

19. 10Q, a really fun thing that Rachel Cole shared last week,

Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.

20. The Magic of Impermanence from Lisa Congdon.

21. Stop Chasing Success. Seek Significance. from Becoming Minimalist.

22. Interview with Jen Smith of LivingLegendary.org from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

23. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, and even more wisdom from Elizabeth.

24. 10 tips for a mindful home from Karen Maezen Miller.

25. Staying Awake from Jeff Oaks.

26. I Found A Blind Baby Sparrow Below My Balcony After A Storm from Bored Panda.

27. {this moment}, a beautiful end of summer image on SouleMama.

28. 8 Good Morning Questions that Create Happiness on Marc and Angel Hack Life.

29. What this internet addict learnt from three weeks offline from Satya on Writing Our Way Home.

30. Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte, “It takes as long as it takes.”

31. My friend Sherry sent me this last week, a poem from Hafiz,

How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being, otherwise, we will remain too frightened.

32. Wisdom from Geneen Roth’s latest newsletter,

…binge eating is not defined by the amount of food you eat but by the way you eat it. Two cookies can be a binge if you eat them with urgency, desperation, and the pressing need for an altered state. Food is a drug of choice, and when you binge, you are using your preferred substance to deny, swallow, or escape your feelings.

33. Whatever Happens Next, a beautiful and heartbreaking story of saying good-bye on Huffington Post from Judy Clement Wall.

34. I want to talk about Body Positivity, OK? from Mary Lambert.

35. Here Come the Good Movies: A dozen films opening before Thanksgiving are more than worth your time and money on Purple Clover.

36. Stop beating yourself up…It’s a WASTE of time! from Kute Blackson. I already shared this yesterday, but I really want to make sure you don’t miss it.

37. The Value of Suffering, an opinion piece by Pico Iyer on The New York Times, also something I already shared, but want to make sure you see it.

38. Shared in this week’s Positively Present Picks list: Custom Pet Stamp on Ebay and Do You Suffer from the “Easy to Buy, Hard to Use” Phenomenon? on Happiness Project.

39. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: It’s OK Not To Want It All from Amy Palko, Amelia the Airstream, a Vacation Home on Wheels on Design Sponge, and A poem a day from Austin Kleon. Bonus: Susannah shared two of my links!

40. Speaking of Susannah, How I Do It: An Interview with Susannah Conway (+ a Giveaway!) on In Spaces Between.

41. Wisdom from Kute Blackson, “Every feeling is a signal, which if you pay attention to will point you in the direction of something that you actually need to deal with, a part of you that needs loving compassion or needs to be released.”

42. 55 Quick Tips to Start Your Self-Care Practice from Anne-Sophie.

#SmallStone: Day 27

Flight

flockofgeese

Somewhere outside the park, a series of loud cracks, the echos of a shotgun. A flock of geese who just a moment ago were happily resting in one of the baseball fields rises in collective flight, that of both kinds–floating in the air with wings spread wide but also fleeing.

flockofgeese03

The sound of their honking, loud and panicked and fast, excites the dogs, both of them pull and strain against their harness and leads, wanting to go faster, to chase, to catch up. When the geese are directly overhead, the force of their wings against the cold morning air makes them sound like a swarm of gigantic bumble bees.

flockofgeese04

Day of Rest

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I learned from my dad is photography. I learned how to love the process, to enjoy looking for things to capture and figuring out how to frame them, how to notice things. In honor of him, of this gift, and of Father’s Day, here are a few pictures I took this weekend.

this is what happiness looks like, sam running in the dog park

purple thistle in the green

heart-shaped petal with a heart-shaped hole

lone songbird

stormy sky

accidental magic

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. Our visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens. A break from the smoke, the worry about the fire, a gorgeous location and lovely long walk, and the fact that I am lucky enough to not only have a husband who will consent to going, but who had the idea in the first place and enjoyed it every bit as much as I did.

2. Being able to open the window over my desk this morning and listen to the birds as I wrote. The fire is no where near gone (in fact, they’ve said that while they will be able to eventually contain it, it most likely won’t stop burning altogether until the first snow), but the wind had shifted and the air cleared enough that me and the birds of dawn could hang out together this morning. I had missed them.

3. Walking the dogs with Eric. Because it’s summer, vacation time, we can do this more often, and I really enjoy it.

4. Danielle Ate the Sandwich CD Release Party. As always, she was adorable and funny, not to mention incredibly talented, and put on a great show. I finally worked up the courage to talk to her, and even though I had a whole story prepared to explain, remind her who I was, to help her remember, I only had to say “Hi, Danielle. I swore this time I would talk to you” and she said “Are you Jill?” and hugged me. There was a caricature artist working there that night, so I had him draw my picture. If you ever wondered what I’d look like as a cartoon, here it is. He totally got the hair right.

5. My meditation practice, and the Open Heart Project (Practitioner Level). I needed extra support this week, it was more important than usual to have a method for manifesting sanity when my experience feels less than sane, and these two things gave me just that. I am so profoundly grateful, for the practice, the guidance, and the community.

6. How good people can be to each other in hard times. When I was at the park yesterday afternoon walking the dogs there were two girls selling paintings and taking donations to help with the High Park Fire, I heard multiple stories of fire fighters and community members (many of them women) saving homes (one woman’s home was saved three different times), the Fort Collins Shambhala Center sangha stepped in to feed and house staff evacuated from the Shambhala Mountain Center, and community members are dropping baked goods off at CSU for the firefighters to grab on their way through. It made me think of this, one of my favorite quotes from Anne Frank:

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us, too. I can feel the suffering of millions – and yet, if I look to the heavens, I think it will come out all right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

Bonus Joy: In one week, we are leaving to drive to Oregon and settle in to our little house on the beach in Waldport, “where the forest meets the sea.” Just thinking about it makes me happy, and I’m ready to go. I love Colorado, the sun and the land and our little house and my life here, it really is where I should live…but the truth is that half of my heart, no matter where else the rest might be, stays on this long stretch of beach, looking at the water and listening to the lullaby of the waves.

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 smell of lilacs on the breeze, still sweet even as they begin to fade away.

2. Spring morning birdsong. I’m not tired of this yet. It makes me so happy to hear them out there, chirping and singing and fluttering, even when it’s still dark, before the sun rises.

3. Avocado and figs. There are some foods that I actively hated as a kid (brussel sprouts being one) that I am loving now, and these are two of them. So rich and creamy and satisfying.

4. Sick days. Getting to read a new, whole book that I’d been looking forward to, being able to finish it in just two days; watching an entire disk of Downton Abbey episodes, one after the other while in my pjs and purple bathrobe on the couch; taking long naps; cuddling with my dogs who were so sweet and calm; having Dexter (who hasn’t slept in the big bed with us for months and months, maybe more than a year) bring his Little D in and cuddle next to me for almost the entire night; and Eric making me breakfast for dinner, including pancakes. When you can’t do anything else, you are forced to be gentle and take care of yourself, and even as wrong as sick during a beautiful spring can seem, it can also be a gift of sorts.

5. Brave Intuitive Painting: Let go. Be bold. Unfold. This book is gorgeous, precious. If you are a creative type or an artist of any kind or just a lover of all things beautiful, I recommend you get a copy. What’s so wonderful about the book is that it’s an invitation to anyone who wants to create. You do not have to be a painter. Just bring your open heart, desire to make something, and willingness to get messy. I suspect that especially if you are feeling blocked, stuck, stale, bored, or cramped, this book is just the magic you need to start moving again, to let go, be bold, unfold. Just looking, doing nothing more than gazing at the pages, not even reading or painting, makes me soften, feel giddy with grace and warm with joy. The riot of color and play that fills these pages is inspiring.


Bonus joy: I was gifted so many kind words, so much generous feedback this week about my writing. My husband in the kitchen, a friend in the locker room at the gym, two emails on facebook, comments on various posts, feedback on my pieces for the Telling True Stories class I’m taking, and an email from a dear friend. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love, the validation. I know I shouldn’t need it, but it’s so nice to hear that what you are doing touches others, helps them in some way.

Small Stones

Love?

I’m brushing my teeth and Sam is pressing his head into my leg, one eye buried and the other looking at me in the mirror. I imagine that attention and longing as love for me, but my rational mind knows it probably isn’t.

What it probably is:

“Mom’s brushing her teeth, that means getting ready, that means a walk–I love walking”

or

“Mom’s brushing her teeth, that means brushing my teeth–I love the way the toothpaste tastes, like chicken” *drool*

Either way, I love the feeling of his head pushing against my leg, the weight and tangibility of that gesture, and the longing in that one eye, looking at me while I look back. It doesn’t have to mean love for him for it to mean that for me, to be love for me.

Heron

At first light, in the still dark of dawn, a heron flies overhead like some kind of prehistoric bat. It lands high in a cottonwood. I feel like I am walking in a dream, it’s so strange to see a heron perched so high, its form black against the dark blue sky.

picture by rhys asplundh

Signs of Spring at Lee Martinez Park

Grass greening up, trees budding out, sprinklers back on. Porta Potties gone, doors to bathrooms unlocked and water turned back on.

A warm wind and four tennis balls in the dog park, two laps around.The lightening flash of the backside of a White Tailed Deer excites Dexter, makes him pull at his leash. As soon as we are past it, he slows, stops and checks behind us, hoping to see it again.

People we’ve never seen out on bikes or running with their dogs.

A woodpecker flies into the metal dome covering the lights by the basketball courts and taps a message that echos out.

Confusion

The noise I first think is my neighbor moving her trash can to the curb is actually the robin back on the fence, flying against my window for the fourth morning in a row.

I wonder again if it’s one of the babies we “raised” last year. Has he found his way back? Will he find love?

one of last year's babies, having just learned to fly

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Impermanence. I am currently taking a class at the Fort Collins Shambhala Meditation Center, Fearlessness in Everyday Life. In the first few weeks we have been contemplating what many great teachers have called the essence of the dharma (“truth”): that everything changes, nothing stays the same–also known as impermanence.

I couldn’t attend Thursday night’s class because I was doing an independent study of sorts, saying goodbye to a being I love very much, being with him when he went, contemplating and being with the reality that death and change are real and reliable. Death and loss will happen, we can count on it.

obi and rocky, both gone now

We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ~Pema Chödrön

2. Truth: Being with reality–what is, as it is–is freedom. In the ways that we reject what we don’t want or attempt to cling to what we do, judging and refusing that which is “bad” and attempting to make the “good” somehow permanent, we generate pain. Our refusal to be with things as they are is at the root of all our suffering. In our denial and in our attachment, we cause harm. Our avoidance, our habitual, stuck, discursive ways of covering over the truth keep us stuck, confused and afraid.

There’s a Robin that’s been on the fence between my house and my neighbor’s for the past few days. It runs up and down the fence, intermittently throwing itself at its own reflection in a window. At first, I assumed the bird viewed the other bird as a threat, and chose to fight it. Then I remembered it’s their mating season, and thought maybe the bird thought its own reflection was a possible mate. Either way, whether the bird was showing aggression or attempting to connect, its fundamental confusion caused it to throw itself at the window repeatedly, to cause harm and generate frustration and pain, potentially smashing itself to bits. Even when my neighbor opened her window so it could no longer see its reflection, it shifted its focus to a window on the side of my house, continuing the process.

have courage, little bird

The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently. ~Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

3. Truth: The antidote, the medicine is gentleness. Being with things as they are and not as we want them to be provokes fear. The inevitable nature of loss and change and death can cause us to come unhinged, unravelled, wrecked and broken. “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth,” (Pema Chödrön). Being with reality and our fear uncovers things we usually avoid, reject, or hide. The way to deal with this, to work with fear, is by being friendly with ourselves, being gentle. This is non-aggression. This is truth. This is the way to freedom.

One wish: That you have supreme confidence in the one and only thing that won’t change, your fundamental, basic, inherent, innate, unconditional goodness, your wisdom and compassion, that you remember and awaken to this, the light of your true nature.