Category Archives: Blogging

Shower, Eat, and Meditate

janmorningskyEven though I’ve been posting Small Stones and I rewrote my About page, I’ve skipped some of my regular posts lately, didn’t do a Three Truths and One Wish this week, haven’t been Wishcasting regularly, and in general, I feel like I haven’t been “around” as much lately. And yet, it’s been a necessary shift.

This past week, I started as a teaching assistant for Mondo Beyondo. That course is even more amazing than I remember, and this time through, I’m seeing so many new things, still getting so much out of it for myself as a student. I’m so eager for Andrea to feel like it was right and good to ask me to help, and so excited for the wonderful people involved, so happy to be there that I have to be careful to not run around like a big clumsy Great Dane puppy, barking and knocking things over and generally annoying everyone with my enthusiasm. I’m trying to be really careful to keep the “volume” down, but I just love that class and Andrea’s work so much–but you already knew that. (P.S. Cultivating Courage starts on Monday, January 14th, and there’s still room in Mondo Beyondo).

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In other news, I’m trying not to panic that I have to start back at my paid work on Monday. This morning, I made a “Big To-Do” list of everything I have going on next week, in the hopes I could put that all aside, having it now organized, and not have to think about it anymore this weekend. That sort of worked, but then again all day I’ve been thinking today is Sunday, that I start back tomorrow, and that doesn’t feel nice.

Here’s the real issue: I currently have two full-time jobs, my paid work and my heart’s work. And it is about to get even crazier, because on Monday two more classes will start, Cultivating Courage and The Story of You. I have two long meetings next week, and had to schedule things like getting a haircut, going to the eye doctor, and having the plumber finally come fix our leaky sink in the bathroom, along with going back to CSU and doing that work.

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My strategy, my mantra has become “shower, eat, and meditate.” I already have a set morning routine, what happens from 4:30-8:00 am–feed the dogs, drink half a cup of coffee while I write my morning pages, check in with my email and Facebook and blog, and then either walk the dogs, go to yoga or the gym. Where I can get stuck is when I come back home to get ready for work, what happens between 8 and 9 am. I got in the habit while on break of “just checking one thing, real quick” before getting in the shower, which would usually lead to me being on the computer for two or three hours instead, and by then being so hungry that I’d eat whatever was fast, not what I really wanted or what was healthy, and once I showered, it would be so late, I’d think “I can’t meditate now, I have work I want to do, so I’ll meditate later,” and later never came because by the time I’d stop working, I was too tired, would allow myself to skip it.

So this mantra, “shower, eat, and mediate,” reminds me to take care of myself, both literally (these are the things I need to do first thing, that I seem to need help remembering, that I tend to skip in order to help or love someone else) and it also triggers a bigger remembering of necessary self-care, self-love, reminding me of the place to begin, to let go and come back to center.

And this busyness, this activity is just how things are going to have to be for awhile. Unless my fairy godmother shows up, I win the lottery, or a kind benefactor decides to fund my heart’s work, I need to keep my job that pays. As for the rest, I will keep taking tiny steps, dreaming my big dreams, anticipating mystery and magic and surprises, and learning to love and care for myself along the way. This is my life, and I am completely in love with it.

Reverb12: Day Two

reverb12Again, I am answering many prompts, from the various Reverb lists. I might not be able to keep that up, but for now I’m having such a good time, having so much fun with the process–answering all the prompts!

Limits

The full prompt is: “We often learn our limits the hard way. Were there any limits you realized this past year? Alternately, what self-imposed limits were you able to move beyond this year? (Author: Carolyn Rubenstein).”

I definitely felt limited by time and energy. This is an ongoing, lingering issue. I try to be really smart about what I commit to, what I say yes to–it has to be “hell yeah” or I say no. I work to to stay away from energy vampires, time monsters and shadow comforts. I have to keep a close eye on my physical limitations, my energy level and available strength, my body’s capacity for whatever activity it might be.

The self-imposed limits, (besides the ones that are setting reasonable restrictions intended to protect my health and wellbeing), are my beliefs about what is possible, what I’m capable of, my worth and my value. I spent so much time waiting for permission to participate, thinking that the gatekeepers would let me in eventually, that the party planners would send me my invite, that I’d finally earn my certification, my entry into the guild, that the project, my thing, would fall out of the sky fully formed. Then I realized, if I wanted something to happen, I needed to stop waiting and happen.

Help

The full prompt is: Asking for help can be the hardest thing we ever do. When and how did you ask for help? Alternatively, did someone ask you for help, and how did it play out for you?

This year, I realized that one of my superpowers is generosity, I love to help, want nothing more than to ease suffering in the world. With organizations like Kickstarter, Kiva, and Charity:Water (my birthday campaign runs for 28 more days, if you have any interest in helping me raise some money–100% of your donation directly funds clean water projects in developing nations), it was even easier to find ways to help those who needed it. I gave my cousin the $100 I got at the World Domination Summit to help her fund charity work she hopes to do in the near future, I helped John F. Ptak get the cancer surgery he needed, I regularly give to my local dog rescue and meditation center, and I helped save our local independent theater. In return for that last donation, I got to make a slide that is currently playing while people sit and wait for their movie to start.

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Writing

The full prompt is: What piece of writing are you most proud of from 2012? How does this piece differ from your other pieces?

This blog, for sure, is the writing I am most proud of from this past year. The fact that I kept at it, that I have continued to show up, have been open and authentic in my posts, that there are kind and gentle souls reading, sharing and connecting with me. I have loved everything about it. The other writing I’ve done that I feel especially good about has the same quality, of being wild and real and on purpose, not fake, not trying to get you to like me, but telling the truth–beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible.

Two Final prompts so related, they had to be combined for one single answer

Part one: What was your most significant expenditure in 2012? It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact. What difference has it made to your life?

Part two: What was the most memorable gathering you attended (or held) in 2012?

Answer for both: World Domination Summit. It cost me a lot of money–plane ticket, summit admission, car and hotel room rental, food. It was expensive, more than I would normally spend on myself, but it was so worth it. I met so many amazing people, some I already knew but had never met in person, some I didn’t even know existed until I met them there. I was inspired, overwhelmed, gobsmacked. I have stayed connected with many of them. Just this morning on Skype, I had the most heartwarming, encouraging, spontaneous, fun conversation with someone I met at WDS, felt an instant connection to (seriously, it was one of those moments where you meet a complete stranger and think “there you are, I’ve been looking for you”). I continue to do good work, to plan great work, to make a difference because of the spark of that event, that experience.

Happy Birthday, A Thousand Shades of Gray!

Today is the one year anniversary of my first blog post on A Thousand Shades of Gray. When I pressed the publish button that first time, I had no idea where this was headed or what it would become, I just knew I had to start, I had to do it. And that’s exactly what the initial post was all about–the starting, the beginning, and how hard it could be. And yet, as I said then, “That wish, first whispered when I was in the second grade, was still there: I want to be a writer.”

Fortune on my computer monitor

the picture from that first post

Even though a year ago, I felt uneasy saying it, I have since claimed it.

I am a writer.

But what came first is “I am a blogger.” This first year was about starting, about maintaining a writing practice in a public space, connecting with an audience of kind and gentle readers as well as a community of like-minded and like-hearted bloggers, developing my craft, finding my voice.

In the next year, I would like to continue these things, but I also have a few new goals. I’d like to get professional pictures taken. When I met Andrea Scher for the first time in person this summer, she said something like “you should get new pictures taken for your blog, the ones you have don’t show how beautiful you really are.” I agree that someone who knows what they are doing would do a better job capturing my likeness than my attempts at self-portraits. And almost every picture that Eric tries to take of me turns out terrible, makes me look older, angrier, tireder, and heavier. I’d like to have some better shots of me to use “professionally.”

I’d also like, in the next year, to have a “real” site. I want to design, build, and host my own blog, so that it is more individual, unique to me than is possible with a WordPress template, to learn those things, develop my skill set, and make my blog more professional, (there’s that word again). I aspire some day to no longer need my paid work at CSU because I am instead writing and publishing, teaching ecourses, running workshops and retreats, teaching writing and meditation and yoga, helping people discover a wholehearted life. I’d like to build a robust platform for my work, a place I can grow into as I develop such offerings.

our fortunes from last night’s dinner

And yet, the most important things will continue on as my priorities: the writing, my readers, my mission to remind all of us of basic goodness, to inspire us all to live wholehearted lives, supporting that aspiration in any way I can, and continuing to connect with a larger community that shares these goals.

The most important thing to recognize on this anniversary: You, my kind and gentle readers. Without you, this would be a worthwhile exercise, a valuable effort and practice, but emptier and certainly lonelier. I feel so much gratitude and so much love for you, am so thankful that you continue to show up, to listen and respond, to encourage and allow me to sometimes do the same for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award


Almost a month ago now, one of my kind and gentle readers gifted me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Life got in the way, and I am only now getting around to my formal acceptance and thank you to Naomi Wittlin, herself a very inspiring blogger. She has a big, wide open heart full of kindness, and an eye for beauty, a capacity for joy and love, and a desire to share it. She is exactly that–inspiring. I feel so grateful, so lucky to have her as one of my readers, and to have been one of the 15 bloggers she chose to put on her list.

The rules: 

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
  5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

i’m still standing

Seven Things about Me:

  1. I am a highly sensitive person, an introvert, an INFJ personality type, a Four on the Enneagram, and a Scorpio. In other words, I’m a passionate mess.
  2. I am an open-hearted warrior practitioner of love, hiking/walking, reading, writing, yoga, meditation, and dog.
  3. I grew up in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in a little town named Sublimity. I am a small town girl from the Pacific Northwest, and that will never change.
  4. My favorite place in the whole world is on the beach in Waldport, Oregon during the summer–walking and walking, looking for shells and agates, gazing at the sky and listening to the waves.
  5. Two of my favorite movies are Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Groundhog Day–I value beauty and humor.
  6. My favorite author is Margaret Atwood and my favorite poet is Mary Oliver, but as a bibliophile, I have too many favorite books to even attempt a list.
  7. When I first started, and for years after, I hated teaching, but now I secretly love it.

I am a total sucker for this sort of gratitude practice, kindness chain, love meme. I adore getting the opportunity to answer the prompts, to have been inspiring to someone and to share who inspires me. However, I realize that many of the bloggers on my list won’t have time or the interest for continuing this meme, for completing the required tasks and passing it along to 15 more bloggers, but again–that’s not really the point. I am simply so grateful to Naomi for nominating me, am so happy to be on her list of 15, and for the chance to once again tell you about these other inspiring, amazing women, to connect you to their work. I suspect if you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you won’t be surprised at all by who I’ve selected.

Inspirational Bloggers getting this award:

  1. Erica Staab, “Seeing beauty in all things, living life as a prayer, creating a meaningful life.”
  2. Christa Gallopoulos of Carry It Forward, “finding your way back to you.”
  3. Julia Fehrenbacher of Painted Path. I’ve written before about how much I love Julia and her work.
  4. Judy Clement Wall of both A Human Thing and Zebra Sounds.
  5. Andrea Scher of Superhero Journal. I have written before about how much I adore her.
  6. Christina Rosalie, “perpetually exploring what it means to live intentionally.”
  7. Sas Patherick of Sas’ Magical Mystery Tour, “Like you, I am love, light, life.”
  8. Amanda Blake Soule of SouleMama, “mama, writer, crafter.”
  9. Courtney Carver of Be More With Less, “a blog about simplifying your life and really living.”
  10. Sandi Amorim of Deva Coaching, “An instigator. The spark to your flame. Ruthlessly compassionate. I’ll do whatever it takes to have you shine.”
  11. Susan Tierney Cockburn of My Mother’s Apron Strings. Warning: this blog will make you hungry, your eyes and your stomach.
  12. Justine Musk, “Because you’re a creative badass.”
  13. Jennifer Louden, “Savor & Serve the World.”
  14. Susan Piver, “interested in extreme self-knowledge, the Buddhadharma, relationships of all kinds, creativity, the Enneagram, and using every single day to become a more truthful version of who I already am.”
  15. Susannah Conway, “I try to be as honest as I can, revealing the light and dark of my life in the hope that it will inspire others to do the same. It’s by sharing our stories that we feel less alone.” I have also written before about how much I love Susannah and her work.

I’m a little sad, because as I put together this list, I thought of at least 10 more amazing, inspiring bloggers I could add to the list–so much good stuff, but a limited amount of space and time.

Something Good

no matter what the weather, the sky is always blue

1. More by Erica Staab, one of my favorite bloggers. Probably because she says things like this “One of the gifts of grief (be it from a death, a loss of a dream, a loss of the life you thought you wanted etc.) is that when your heart is broken open it naturally creates more space for love if you let it.”

2. The Daily Post at WordPress.com. This seems like a good site to keep in your back pocket if you are a blogger who ever feels stuck about what to write. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll also see a list of daily writing prompts, or check out the “Inspiration” section.

3. John F. Ptak Relief Fund. Read Patti’s post, “Community is a Verb,” or visit the Team Brilliant Facebook page. If I or anyone I love finds themselves in this situation, I can only hope to be helped by so many kind, generous people, which is the best reason to help: at some point, we are all going to need it, so it’s good to give it when we can.

4. What the world needs from you by Marianne Elliot. Such a good list.

5. This quote: It doesn’t have to be pretty or smart, just honest and true. ~Mark Nepo

6. This quote: Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what
dies inside us while we live. ~Norman Cousins

7. We think we move through the world unseen, a heartbreakingly beautiful post by Andrea Scher. Have I told you lately how much I adore her?

8. You just call out my name on A Human Thing by Judy Clement Wall, another writer, woman, badass that I completely adore. This post is good for all kinds of reasons, but specifically because she says something I’d been trying to verbalize, in reference to the loss of the amazing writer David Rakoff,

Critics, when they review Rakoff’s essay collections, often focus on his pessimism and his razor sharp, sarcastic wit, but underneath that
is the thing that drew me to his work: a defiant sort of sweetness, an underlying hope.

9. Because he was so sweet, his loss so sad, and because you may not know who he is and need to see for yourself, and because cancer sucks, takes from us the most beautiful of things:

When I watched this video, knowing that he was gone, the dance at the end broke my heart, but at the same time was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.

10. Two more things about David Rakoff: Our Friend David Rakoff by Ira Glass and On Already Missing The Angry, Passionate Writing Of David Rakoff.

11. 50 amazing gifts from living in the now and Overcoming perfectionism in a culture that promotes it on Tiny Buddha.

12. This quote: Perfectionism is a form of self-aggression. ~Me

13. This online radio station: Lush on SomaFM.

14. 50 People, One Question. What’s your secret?

15. Uncharted Waters on Sas’ Magical Mystery Tour. I loved this post, and I want to go to there. She makes me believe it’s possible.

16. My message from The Daily Flame, which just so happened to be the exact thing I needed to hear.

Dearest Jill Salahub,
It’s all okay.
I promise.
It may not look the way you anticipated it would look, but I swear to
you, it’s all going right according to plan. Soon you will see the method to The Universe’s madness.
You will find the gifts in the uncertainty and disappointment. You will understand why it’s taking so long to get where you’re trying to get.
Be patient, love. All this – and more – is coming your way.
Speaking the truth,
Your Inner Pilot Light

17. Confessions of a control freak (dentists and book launches) on Writing Our Way Home, another message I needed to hear, especially this part:

For me, faith doesn’t mean an assurance that all will be well. Things often don’t go well. Instead it means being able to relax back into the dentist’s chair, and trusting that whatever happens, whatever discomfort I’m in, it will pass.

And a deeper holding, too. Something harder to put into words. Something about it being okay even when it’s not okay.

It will pass, and I’ll find myself on the other side.

18. Write Yourself Into Motion with Alex Franzen at 27 Powers. This would be, will be, so awesome.

19. Mamahood + Business: Dr. Brene Brown, an interview with Kelly Rae Roberts. My favorite is when Brene’ says this, “A long time ago someone told me that a good marriage is not 50-50. A good marriage is having a partner who’s willing to show up with 80% when you only have 20% and who can count on you to do the same.” Poor Eric has had to be 95% in the past few days, so I know this is true. I also love Brene’s list of what she wants for her kids–I want that for myself!

20. Linus, the sweetest accidental adoption story.

21. Posie Gets Cozy. The pictures on this blog are dreamy.

22. This quote: Wherever we are there are voices saying: “Go here, go there, buy this, buy that, get to know him, get to know her, don’t miss this, don’t miss that,” and so on and on. These voices keep pulling us away from that soft gentle voice that speaks in the center of our being: “You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.” Prayer is the discipline of listening to that voice of love. ~Henri Nouwen

23. This quote: When we drop the idea that we’re supposed to be having a certain kind of experience and open ourselves to the experience we are having, then we avoid nothing, and we fear nothing, because we are right here with ourselves. ~Cheri Huber

24. Liv Lane’s favorite blogs. We like a lot of the same things, so I imagine I will get lost for a while in these lists.

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.

Running. I’ve been doing a bit more because Dexter has been having episodes of reverse sneezing (any one with experience with this, talk to me!) and when he runs, he’s less likely to, and I will do anything for my dogs, even running. I’m so grateful my body can do this, that it allows me to keep trying.

Blogging. I’m still so in love with the whole thing, the crafting and the creating, the writing and the visuals, and especially the connection with readers and other bloggers, (the only thing I don’t love is tagging and categorizing posts). This week especially, I was so grateful to my kind and gentle readers.

Meditating. For the past few years, I’ve struggled with where to put this in my schedule, have tried all kinds of variations to get it to fit, to stay, to stick, but I think I’ve finally got a system that works, a routine, and I’m so grateful.

Sandwiches. Yay Turkey from the Red Table (even better when eaten across the table from Chloe’) and my favorite made at home sammie: Garden Burger, hummus, spinach, and cucumbers (even better when they are from my own garden) on thin multigrain bread.

Farmer’s Market. Our first one back in Fort Collins, and we got all this, plus some amazing fresh tortillas.