Category Archives: Blogging from the Heart

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. Lilacs. They are blooming, and I cut some yesterday to bring in to the house. They are my favorite flowers, but they come and go so quickly.

2. Dexter and Sam. I spent a lot of extra time with them this week, we took lots of walks, cuddled, and hung out in the back yard. They make me so happy.

3. Eric. He was gone a lot this week, and missing him so much made me appreciate him that much more. I sincerely do not know what I would do without him.

4. Blogging from the Heart. Today is the last day of class. I will attempt a longer post, a review, a thank you at some later date, but for now I will simply say this class was amazing, and I am so grateful, for it and for Susannah Conway and all that she does. Luckily, her Unravelling class starts on Monday, so we’ll only be apart over the weekend.

5. Fearless Creativity, a writing and meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center led by Susan Piver. I am headed there today, am so excited about it. I won’t be back until Monday. I have some posts set to release so that I don’t miss anything, but I will be otherwise absent. I will return with lots to share, I’m sure.

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. Sunday’s hike. I wrote about it here, and am still riding on the high of that day, almost a week later. Something big softened and shifted for me that day, and I’m so grateful it did. It was magic. It was medicine.

2. The fresh start of Spring. Everything is coming out and alive again, and it’s early enough in the warm season that we can sit in the back yard in the evenings without having to fight the mosquitoes. A few nights ago, I sat on the back step in kind of a funk, until all three of my boys came out to play, ran around the yard, chasing each other and wrestling and rolling in the grass, and my whole mood lifted, and my heart felt so light, both full and open. It was magic. It was medicine.

3. My 6:30 am yoga class. I’ve been going for over four years now, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, and even though people have come and gone (and then come back again), there is a pretty consistent group of people. If I am in a bad mood, they always cheer me up. If I am struggling, they always manage to help me shift things, soften me up. This morning in shavasana, with Deva Premal singing and our teacher moving around the room adjusting our shoulders, all of us relaxed and wrapped up in blankets, resting together after practice like naptime in preschool, my heart swelled with love and thanks. It was magic. It was medicine.

4. Video by Susannah Conway in my Blogging from the Heart class. She only makes a few during the course of the class, but it’s so nice to see her face, her smile, hear her voice (she has the most divine accent) and her laugh. She’s smart and funny and kind. This week’s video had me in tears, not because of the subject matter, but because of her–the way she reminds me to love myself, to trust my worth, to have faith in my dreams. It was magic. It was medicine.

5. The Universe says “yes,” again. I was having a rough morning, one of those mornings when the nasty voices of doubt and self-criticism swirl around my head like a nest of yellow-jackets. Then I turned on my computer and saw that one of my very favorite people, someone whose work, her life and her self, her way of being in the world, inspires me and encourages me, had subscribed to follow my blog. I was both humbled and excited, and it truly felt like a reminder from the Universe that yes, I am doing what I need to, what I should, what I have to, yes, this is the right way, keep going. It was magic. It was medicine.

6. “Contemplative Arts Teacher.” Practicing in the Shambhala tradition, contemplative art is not a new concept to me. And, similarly, the idea that there are teachers for each specific tradition isn’t a surprise. However, this past week, I stumbled across a website (can’t even remember how or where now) where the author described herself as a Contemplative Arts Teacher. It felt a little like it did when I was in the 2nd grade and realized that the books I loved reading so much where written by “authors,” people whose job it was to write. I became aware of this new possibility, and felt a longing, deep and true, felt like something I had always wanted without being fully conscious of it had been revealed and named. Gobsmaked. It was magic. It was medicine.

7. Another reminder that while everything is impermanent, and reality can be messy and hard, everything is also beautiful and brilliant. As Pema Chödrön so perfectly says, things “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.”

I watched Rocky go last Friday, felt his heart stop, which brought me right back to having to let Obi go, and then losing Kelly, but in that grief is also so much love, so much grace. And yesterday, I watched this video, of Honey the Great Dane and her kitty best friend Lemon, born on the same day and raised together. The end of the story is so sad, with Lemon contracting a mysterious virus and passing at age five, but what is so wonderful is watching them interact and be friends, playing and lounging, being together so happily. It reminded me that while our time together is so short and loss hurts, there is so much love and joy, too. It was magic. It was medicine.

If you really knew me: a list of 31 things

If you really knew me, you would know that:

I struggle with trusting myself, caring for and loving myself, and I have a bad habit of trying to please and take care of everyone else even if it means I am being hurt or suffering.

I act tough but I am incredibly sensitive.

I seem like an extrovert but am really an introvert who’s curious, who wants approval and appreciation.

I suffer from poverty mentality, don’t think I am enough or believe there will be enough for me.

I have all of these surface level issues, blockages that cause me so much suffering, but underneath, I am wise and compassionate and powerful.

I love big, a love that is unbound, a love that breaks my heart wide open.

I hold a grudge, am judgmental and critical, but I would never hurt anyone intentionally.

I’m glad that dogs can’t talk because if they could, I might find out they don’t love me as much as I think they do, and I couldn’t bear that.

I am obsessed with anything about the Holocaust, went to Amsterdam just to be able to see the Anne Frank House.

I can’t swim very well because I am afraid of drowning, which makes me tense up and start to sink.

I have dreams about being able to fly fight like in The Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The only “make-up” I wear is moisturizer and Strawberry Chapstick.

I prefer flip-flops, clogs, or boots to heels or sandals, but I’d rather not wear shoes at all.

I like doing laundry.

Lilacs are my favorite flowers.

I couldn’t live without music—well, I could, but I wouldn’t be as happy.

This is my second marriage.

My two favorite and most read authors are Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, and my favorite poet is Mary Oliver.

I was in theater and two different choirs in high school. I miss it.

I dream about learning to play the ukulele I already own and taking singing lessons so that someday I can be in a band.

I have two tattoos.

I want to be in a flash mob.

I lived in the same house for the first 18 years of my life, and the house I live in now, have for 12 years, has the exact same floor plan and was built around the same time.

I was scared of the dark and being alone until I was 31 years old, the same year I got my first dog.

Letting go of that dog, my Obi, was the most difficult and most loving thing I have ever done.

I prefer mending and keeping old things over buying new ones.

I have two places I consider “home.”

My favorite pastry is a maple bar (unfilled), my favorite ice cream is maple nut, and I love any breakfast eaten with maple syrup.

I would almost always choose staying home in my pajamas and reading a good book over dressing up and going to a concert.

I have Ménière’s disease and Hypothyroidism.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in the second grade, when I first realized writing was an occupation and therefore a possibility for me. It’s still the thing I want most.

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.

Something Good

The Universe saying “yes.” This happens all the time, if you are paying attention. It happened for me today, more than once. Sometimes, it yells in celebration, and sometimes it’s as quiet as a whisper, and it happens more often when you are on the right path, doing the good work that is uniquely yours, following your calling, trusting your heart, knowing your hungers, being wholeheartedly yourself. It’s been happening for me a lot lately, and often when it does, I burst into tears. For so long I ignored it, told it to wait or even shut up and leave me alone, and all it wants is the very best for me. The love and wisdom that is available to us, all the time, can be utterly heartbreaking.

image by renaissancechambara

Leftovers. Thanks to the boy for this. I opened the fridge to make my lunch today and realized there were multiple options, so much that I felt like I was ordering off the menu of my favorite restaurant. He takes such good care of me.

Spring. Spring Break isn’t until next week, and technically according to the calendar it’s not quite Spring yet, but the warm weather yesterday and today, more daylight, and crocuses blooming say that it’s close. I ate my second breakfast today sitting in the backyard with the dogs, one of my all time favorite things to do, (I think it’s theirs too), and I can’t wait to do more of that.

image by Armin Vogel

Online classes. I feel like I have stumbled upon this magical wonderland of creativity and support, wisdom and kindness. There are so many classes available, taught by so many amazing women, and though I don’t really have this kind of time, I keep diving in. I just started “Blogging from the Heart” and “Telling True Stories” will be right on its heels. You, dear reader, can only benefit from me spending time immersing myself deeper into the practice of writing.


Live music. Last night, I saw Gregory Alan Isakov and Ani DiFranco in concert. There are plenty of bad things I could list about staying up late, standing in a dirty hot loud crowded space for four hours, getting shoved around and groped, having drinks spilled on you, but that’s not my point here. My point is there’s something good about hearing and watching music performed live. The force of sound vibrating in your chest, that bodily experience of the music. A direct and immediate conversation between an artist and their audience. Anything can happen, spontaneously, in the moment. You are trapped in the crush of humanity, screaming, dancing, singing, clapping, and sweating. There’s the potential for aggression but also the opportunity for compassion, for you to soften to those around you, the chance to be in the moment, feeling what you feel, allowing emotions to arise and dissolve, feelings evoked by a person opening their heart to you, telling the truth. This is all possible, mistakes, bravery and vulnerability, life and pure love.

Ani DiFranco, image by Julio Enriquez

Global Sorority. This is yet another fabulous Kickstarter campaign that I pledged this week. It’s a documentary planned by Tia Kelly & Loretta Cella. They explain it this way:

It’s our hope that these documentaries will be used not only to bring awareness, and aid the upward mobility of women and girls in developing nations, but also to be a learning tool in schools and colleges in the western world, offering a platform for discussion around women’s issues and also giving young women a starting place as to how they might connect and make a difference, in their own lives and in the lives of young women around the world.

As with the “Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making” and “Danielle Ate the Sandwich Album” Kickstarter campaigns, I pledged because I wanted to see the final product, but also because I believe if the project is realized, the world will be a better place, suffering will be eased, and I am all in for that.

Color Me Katie blog. This blog is fun, sweet, colorful, and makes me so happy.

Kate, a 24 year old freelance photographer, actress, street artist and fun maker!

And finally, the tiniest-big dose of happiness and cuteness the internet has to offer: Dancing Baby Plover from Dou Dou Birds. Click on the image to see the other three views. The sum of four enables you to see the full measure of his little happy dance.

Joy Jam

What were the 3-5 things that gave you joy this week?

:: Rediscovering, remembering artist Anne Packard: When I was working on my Full Snow Moon Dreamboard, I used a few images from an article about painter Anne Packard from the December/January 2010 issue of Coastal Living magazine–one of a table and tools in her studio, and the other of her hands working on a tiny painting. The hands remind me of a similar picture of an 83 year old painter, hands splattered with paint, that Andrea Scher shared on Superhero Journal recently. I want to be old like that, I want to be creative like that, I want to be free like that.

Honestly, it was hard for me to cut up those pages and use those images. I love that article so much, love everything about Anne’s work and life, and covet her studio. She reminds me in some ways of poet Mary Oliver, another gloriously creative and free spirit–what/who I want to be when I grow up.

:: Tina Fey: Everything about this woman makes me happy. When I was younger, I wanted to be a performer, like Barbara Streisand, Lucille Ball, and Carol Burnett. Who cares about “pretty,” but oh to be talented and funny (and gorgeous–maybe not in the traditional Hollywood sense, but all these women are gorgeous)!

In the 41 6-Word Days lovefest on A Human Thing yesterday (it’s a lovefest every day), a few of us got to talking about the line from 30 Rock, “I want to go to there.” It’s one of my favorite quotes, even more so because of the story about where it came from. In an interview on the Jimmy Fallon show, Tina Fey told him that her oldest daughter Alice says funny stuff that ends up in the show all the time, but for this particular line, Alice was about three and Tina was secretly considering taking her on a trip to Disneyland, so she was online, researching and looking at the website when Alice came around the corner, saw what was up on the screen (the Cinderella castle) and said “I want to go to there.”

I was explaining that yesterday, and while trying to find a video of that interview, I ended up watching some other Tina Fey videos and thinking about how much I love her–she makes me laugh, makes me so happy.

Tina Fey, Sexy Nerdy Funny Girl

:: Registering for Blogging from the Heart: I know I’ve said this already, but I am so excited about this class. I signed up in the first few minutes registration opened because I just couldn’t wait (the class is officially sold out). Clearly, the theme for this week’s joy jam is women I admire, and Susannah Conway is one of them–funny, brave, open-hearted, smart, gorgeous, and talented. As good as I feel about the blogging I’m already doing, I know that this class is going to open up a whole new part of my heart.
Susannah Conway
:: Playing “find it” with Sam: This is a game where I take whatever toy Sam happens to be playing with, ask him to sit and wait, go into another room and “hide” it (no place too difficult, because he’s really not all that good at it yet), return to where he’s waiting and tell him to “go find it!” He loves this game. I have to make sure Dexter doesn’t help, because he’s super good at finding, and would win every time.

:: Glen the baby squirrel adopted by a dog: This is actually an older story (February of 2009), but Eric just forwarded me an email about it today. If you click on the picture, it will link you to the original news story and a video. In the mail Eric sent me, it ended with what it called “the moral of the story”: Keep loving everyone, even the squirrelly ones.

Something Good

Blogging from the Heart with Susannah Conway

I signed up for this ecourse yesterday. “This six-week course…includes in-depth lessons, writing prompts, interviews with inspiring bloggers and absolutely everything I know about crafting a blog that truly reflects who you are.” There are still a few spots left, and if you are a blogger with a heart, I’d say to you: do not miss this opportunity.

Susannah Conway

The Cognitive Canine, and Trainer Sarah Stremming

I was really struggling this weekend with a new behavior Sam has developed. The Border Collie in him confounds and confuses me, always has, and sometimes it even breaks my heart a little, (I do not want to fail him).

Luckily for me, when I get to this place where I am feeling defeated and my confidence is shaken, I can call on my friend Sarah Stremming, the owner and trainer for The Cognitive Canine (she knows dogs, and she knows Border Collies). Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have her help you in person/dog, you can benefit from her training blog.

99 Tiny Stories to Make You Think, Smile and Cry from Mark and Angel Hack Life

These stories reminded me how strange and wonderful life can be. “Sometimes the most random everyday encounters force us to stop and rethink the truths and perceptions we have ingrained in our minds. These encounters are educationally priceless. They spawn moments of deep thought and self-reflection that challenge the status quo and help us evolve as sensible individuals…These are simple, powerful, real life stories written by the people who lived them.”

Quote from Kate Courageous

To love yourself completely is an act of courage, (Your Courageous Life).


You might not already know this about me, but I am utterly in love with Amsterdam. Eric and I went for a week 10 years ago, and haven’t been back, but someday we will, and stay for much much longer. Two design blogs put up posts this week that reminded me of that beautiful place, decor8 “Amsterdam + Highlights From My Next Book” and on sf girl by bay “Anthology in Amsterdam.”

image by ivan herman

Roxie, my friends’ new pup.

Seriously, if you don’t think she’s cute, you are broken.

Baby Bunnies

Other than Roxie, there’s almost nothing cuter than baby bunnies. Don’t believe me? Look at these.
Baby bunnies, day 3
Baby bunnies, day 14
If you are really brave, take a look at Danielle Kiemel’s whole set “Baby Rabbits Growing Up” on flickr.