Category Archives: Cabin

Day of Rest

We just got back from spending three nights at a cabin up at Crystal Lakes. After losing Dexter, we needed to get away to the green and the quiet, spend some time just the three of us, hit the reset button.

The cabin is called Lofty Lookout, and it has a gate at the end of a long driveway lush with aspens and wildflowers that hides the house from the main road (when Eric saw that, he said “I approve”), and is four floors high (basement, main floor, sleeping loft, and another sleeping loft). It was way too big for the three of us, but we rented it because of the location and the decks.

The view was amazing, there were hummingbirds at the feeder all day, and we could walk out the front door and land directly on a five mile hiking trail that wound through pine trees, aspen groves, and meadows. At the sight of one spot along the trail, filled with aspens and wildflowers, Eric said “you almost expect a unicorn to come walking out of there.”

We hiked every morning, took naps every afternoon. I watched some HGTV and one day read an entire book, Neil Gaiman’s latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was a wonderful book, but I’m biased because I love everything he writes — graphic novels, adult fiction, children’s books, essays, blog posts. One of my favorite parts of the book was this,

I have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme-song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke the language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used that language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, “Be whole,” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.

The land, the trails and the trees and the sky here in Colorado are magical. The time spent there was medicine, and yet I wasn’t without suffering, wasn’t beyond generating my own suffering. As a part guard, part herd breed, Sam takes a while to settle in anywhere new, is nervous and worried. I felt bad at first for forcing him along, even though I know that doing new things is good for him, that challenging him a little helps him to become a more confident dog. He panted and whined that first night, checked on every new noise and sound. Then on the second day, just as he was calming down, he got a spider bite on his belly and I worried about that.

The first night, I slept terrible, between Sam’s whining every time we moved and us choosing apparently the most uncomfortable bed in the whole cabin. Then there was the night we were boiling water to cook some corn on the cob and something that had been spilled on the burner drip pan caught on fire. And that night when we moved to a different, more comfortable bed, I had to move the carbon monoxide detector (the little green light would have kept me awake), and unplugging it set it off and I couldn’t figure out right away how to stop it.

Then on our hike the final morning there, our car alarm got triggered while it was parked at the trailhead, and malfunctioned so that it keep going off, stopping and starting for who knows how long, and someone left a nasty note on our car window (saying things like “rude” and “extremely annoying”), as if anyone would do such a thing on purpose. So even as I tried to relax, to heal, I continued to generate my own suffering. I can’t escape myself, no matter where I go, no matter how far I hike.

On our last afternoon, we saw a hummingbird sitting on its nest. When they are making their nest, they gather up anything soft they can find and they bind it all together with spiderwebs. They do this so that the nest will stretch as the babies get bigger. I was comforted seeing this, because earlier in the day, a war had begun around the hummingbird feeder on the cabin’s main deck. We’d been enjoying it so much, how we could sit right next to it but they would come feed anyway, letting us watch. But at some point, things turned sour and they began fighting over it, guarding the feeder by chasing and attacking each other, even though there was so much food available there was no way they could ever eat it all. We are like that too, I thought as I watched them, so convinced that there’s not enough, that the only way to get what we want, what we need is to fight for it.

Every time I feel anxious or sad, irritated or uncomfortable, I try to remember what Pema Chödrön teaches about working with groundlessness,

It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.

We cause so much unnecessary suffering for ourselves and each other, can be so confused, allow ourselves to get caught up in the anxiety of “not enough.” I am trying to be gentle, to forgive myself for that. Every moment I try and keep my heart open, to soften and surrender to what is, to notice the magic happening around me, to generate compassion and ease suffering. Some moments I am more successful than others, but I keep showing up, keep trying.

Something Good

1. In honor of Memorial Day: Memorial Day: an open letter to our troops on the topic of bravery from Lisa Adams, and Shambhala Mountain Center is offering a special, extended weekend retreat for veterans and their families from August 1-4. “Outer War, Inner Peace will create a safe and intimate setting for discussions and a variety of mindfulness practices, including gentle and powerful healing work with horses. Scholarships are available.” Please share with anyone you think might benefit from this program.

2. New Hyperrealistic Sculptures by Ron Mueck on Bored Panda. So freaky.

3. 10 Simple Ways to Eat Clean & Save Green from Kris Carr.

4. Why it’s so hard to be good (and how to begin) from Sayta on Writing Our Way Home. This one really has me thinking.

5. 26 Steps to Living a Life You Love from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

6. Oklahoma Tornado Survivor Finds Missing Dog During Live Interview.
Instead of reading about all the scary, sad, terrible things, I watched this video.

7. The Obstacle is the Path on Zen Habits. I know this, but sometimes I forget. It’s good to be reminded.

8. Simplify Your Life and Quiet Your Mind on The Spin Cycle and Your Definitive Summer Slow Down Guide on Be More With Less. Courtney Carver’s posts end up on this list almost every week. Maybe I should just put a permanent list item that says “Read Be More with Less.” She’s also doing a Charity:Water campaign for her birthday, because she’s awesome.

9. “Fortunately, it is not required for happiness.” 7 words to re-focus your mind on what matters. from Alexandra Franzen. Same here — maybe you should just take it for granted that I will be telling you every week to read something Alexandra has written, consider it a standing order?

10. Indie Kindred Trailer, a documentary by Jen Lee. Can’t wait to see it.

11. Daily Rocks from Patti Digh: your daily rock : be selfish sometimes and your daily rock : trust yourself.

12. Luke’s Barely Habitable, a video tour of a 78-square-foot live/work apartment in Manhattan. He pays the same amount for rent as my mortgage on an 1100 square foot house. Every video like this inspires me to downsize, start getting rid of stuff, get clear about what I really need.

13. 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, a set of gorgeous pictures.

14. This wisdom from the Dalai Lama,

Whether one believes in a religion
or not, and whether one believes
in rebirth or not, there isn’t
anyone who doesn’t appreciate
kindness and compassion.

We are all the same — we just want to be happy and safe.

15. Super Summer Challange on Back to Her Roots. This would be super fun and of benefit, if I weren’t already doing one million other things, (yes, I said one million).

16. From Couch Potato to One of the World’s Fittest Menon Forks Over Knives — also very inspiring but probably not something I’m going to do this summer.

17. lisa congdon : THink — a glimpse into the studio + creative world of the artist from Woodnote Photography. I love Lisa Congdon, her art and her story, and love to hear the stories behind people’s tattoos, so this interview is a win/win.

18. My diet secret…The ONLY diet you will ever need! from Kute Blackson. If you have body or food issues, if you struggle, you have got to read this post, watch the video. What Kute has to say here is spot on, and he delivers his message with a huge smile and a ton of energy. Watch it. I’m not kidding. You can thank me later.

19. Creative Living with Jamie: Eric Maisel, Jamie’s weekly podcast interview with a creative person. I mention it this week for a special reason — that Jill she refers to at the very end is ME! But seriously, if you are a creative type, do yourself a favor and take a look at her podcast archive.

20. Convos with my 2-Year-Old, Episode OneI have it on good authority that this video is pretty accurate, not just of this guy’s 2 year old, but of kids in general.

21. roots, on Doorways Traveler, where Lisa Field-Elliot shares this poem,

Allow, by Dana Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

22. This wisdom from Kurt Vonnegut,

Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Which is good news, because apparently, according to this comic, I am an artist.

you-might-be-an-artist-if-640

23. Fear & Loathing on Facebookfrom Real Mom Nutrition.

24. How buying a pair of mom pants led to an epiphany from Wellness by Design. All I have to say in response to this is amen, and thank you.

25. Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe unlocked and on display after nearly 60 years.

26. When she comes home from a long day at school, having a bad day, been told off or sad… She cuddles her best friend. This was on Reddit, and I’m totally in love with it. It makes me wish my dogs were a tiny bit bigger.

girlandbestfriend

27. From Your Inner Pilot Light,

When you notice a sensation or symptom in your body, that’s me talking to you, my love. You know that, right? Sometimes you can be a wee bit stubborn. Sometimes you don’t listen when I whisper. Sometimes I have to get scrappy and start bellowing at you in ways I know will catch your attention. Don’t make me yell, my love.

28. Here’s How Austin Kleon Writes on Copy Blogger. At one point, Austin shares this John Cleese quote, “Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating.”

29. Busy Philipps on The Conversation talking about body image.

30. Cabin Porn, shared by SF Girl by Bay. I could get really lost in this site.

31. Freebie | Ephemera from Goodnight Little Spoon, shared by Pugly Pixel.

32. 22 Ways To Get Your Vegan Snack Attack On from oh she glows, shared by Patti Digh on her Thinking Thursday list.

33. Avocado Frozen Yogurt recipe, shared by Kind Over Matter.

34. 70 Cutie Baby Animals Bring You a Good Mood, shared by Positively Present.

35. How to Dance Properly, shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend post. Oh my, this brings back memories and brought up lots of laughs.

36. Shared by Tammy on her Rowdy Kittens Happy Links list: Three Essential Elements of Personal Power on Always Well Within (I found this super interesting because what she’s describing is what I would call basic goodness), Famous Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers on Brain Pickings, and My writing practise on Beautiful Again.

37. 21 Love Lessons They Didn’t Teach You in School from Rebelle Society.

38. 10 Best Cases of On Air Giggles from Hello Giggles.