Category Archives: Cheryl Strayed

Something Good

snowmoon1. Miles for Milo: Run or raise $ for Milo’s spina bifida costs. I’ve met little Milo, and it’s no lie that he’s smiley, kind, warm, and adorable.

2. The Bravery To Be Vulnerable: An experiment in #100DaysofVulnerability on Medium.

3. my study of thriving on Chookooloonks. Be sure to check out the gallery.

4. Wisdom from David Deida, “If you are waiting for anything in order to live and love without holding back, then you suffer.” (Thanks for sharing, Lise).

5. In case you missed it the first time I posted, Dear Sugar is back as a podcast.

6. This Man Walks 21 Miles To Work And Back Every Day, And Now Others Want To Lend A Helping Hand.

7. Comedian Tig Notaro on What It Was Like to Perform Stand-Up Topless.

8. Good stuff from Be More With Less: Maybe Variety isn’t the Spice of Life and 7 Things to Consider if You Hate Your Job.

9. The Emotional Milestones of Writing A Novel: A Handy Guide! from Terrible Minds.

10. do you make time for down-time? on the Community Questions column from Mabel Magazine.

11. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “When we clasp our hands around things, waiting to let go until they make sense, our hands are too full and can not be open to the things that are waiting for us.”

12. A Biggest Loser Contestant Reveals What We All Already Knew on Nourishing the Soul.

13. Proof that kindness matters on Superhero Life.

14. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

We can put our whole heart into whatever we do; but if we freeze our attitude into for or against, we’re setting ourselves up for stress. Instead, we could just go forward with curiosity, wondering where this experiment will lead. This kind of open-ended inquisitiveness captures the spirit of enthusiasm, or heroic perseverance.

15. PRI, #WomensLives … and me! Yay, Kirsten Akens!

16. The Practice of Ruthless Compassion from Sandi Amorim.

17. Loving Your Body Doesn’t Mean What You Think from Kimber Simpkins.

18. The Price I Pay to Write.

19. Wisdom from Geneen Roth.

Compulsive eating is only the symptom; believing that you’re not worth your own love is the problem. Go for the love. You’ll never be sorry.

20. 9 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Your Life from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

21. My house of belonging from Susannah Conway.

22. Mary Oliver — Listening to the World, a rare interview with On Being, the podcast.

23. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, Fierce self-accountability and Self-kindness.

24. Please don’t punish yourself from Danielle LaPorte.

25. Photo Battle: Allison McCann vs. Hilary Parker.

26. You Do Not Have to be Good from Julie Barton.

27. New Adventures New Lessons from Tracey Clark.

28. Why You Hate Work on The New York Times.

29. Self-Soothing, a list on PsychCentral.

30. The Things That Get in the Way of Doing on Zen Habits.

31. My Weird Morning Ritual and Why You Need One Too on Medium.

32. cheers to the weekend: saturday morning scones, a yummy looking recipe on SF Girl by Bay.

33. Podcast: TT 008: Tammy Strobel on Life, Creativity and a Tiny House.

34. black bean butternut squash quesadillas + chipotle lime crema recipe.

35. The Happiest States In America In One Map (INFOGRAPHIC).

36. This makes me so angry, a size 12 model being called “plus-size” is going to be the cover model for the next Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She says, “I don’t know if I consider myself as a plus-size model or not,” Lawley, who is represented by Wilhelmina Models, says. “I just consider myself a model because I’m trying to help women in general accept their bodies.” REALLY?! Explain to me HOW exactly you are trying to help me “accept” my body?!

37. This is What Happens When You Decide To Create Your Own Food Security.

38. A mantra from Rachael Maddox, “My fears melt into nothingness in the presence of perfect love. I am love, you are love, we are love. Everything belongs.”

39. Wisdom from Omar Khayy, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

40. Fat is Not a Feeling.

41. Stop Eating. Everything is Bad for You.

42. Words for the Day // No. 57 from Lisa Congdon.

43. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “Love mixed with space is called letting go.”

44. Kai and his girlfriend Ellen. So cute.

An Evening With Cheryl Strayed

chloewildcardWhen we first entered the room for the reception before Cheryl Strayed’s main talk, there were only five other people in the room, four women and HER. There she was at one of the little cocktail tables talking and laughing with a small group of women, one of whom is a new professor in my department, a poet, thus doubling the number of women in that small space who intimidated me. My friend and I were nervous to meet Cheryl, so we took our free drink tickets and went back out to the bar, to give ourselves a little time to process this new information — that we really and truly were going to get to meet her, talk with her directly — and to allow time for more people to show up.

When we went back in, there were a few more people, but there never were more than about 15. The tickets that included the reception were twice as much and there was a book signing after, so I think most people decided that would be good enough.

Someone in our small reception asked if Cheryl could sign our books now, rather than later, and she agreed. I felt a bit awkward about it, couldn’t get over my caretaker instincts, wanting her to be able to simply relax and chat before her big event, but got in the short line anyway.

Here’s where I tell you part of the reason I’m nervous to meet people I admire: As much as I love someone’s work, their online presence, their persona, and whatever else I know about them, that doesn’t always translate to real life. I have been heartbroken in the past to meet someone whose work was so beautiful, so powerful, only to find out that in person they are a real jerk.

This was not the case with Cheryl Strayed. She is more genuine, more vibrant and friendly in person than I could have hoped. I was so nervous when it was my turn, but she smiled and held out her hand, said “Hi, I’m Cheryl.” It wasn’t that she thought I wouldn’t know, but rather a true offering of connection, grounded and kind — genuine.

I took her hand and told her “I’m Jill, I wrote the Open Love Letter.” She said “oh!,” her smile got bigger, and she reached out and hugged me, thanking me again for what I’d wrote. As she signed my books, she told me how sweet it was. I explained that I’d been fussing for days about what I was going to say to her if I got to meet her and finally gave up and wrote the post. At one point she touched my arm. I confess, I was so freaked out that I’m not entirely sure what all I said or exactly what else she said, I just know that it was wonderful.



what I look like when I’m stupid happy

Happily, Cheryl is coming to CSU in April, so I didn’t feel like I had to fit everything I ever wanted to say to her or ask all into this one event, and when it was time for her to leave our smaller group, I could easily let that moment go, no regrets and no attachment.

The Lincoln Center seats almost 1200, but there weren’t nearly that many there, so the KUNC director came out after most everyone had settled in and invited those further away from the stage to fill in down front. It was so sweet to see how excited people who’d been way back were to get to sit up close, and it made for a much more intimate, cozy event, more like we were sitting around someone’s living room than a large concert hall.

One of the first things Cheryl said was, “I love when people gather together in a room and listen to an author talk about books — especially when that author is me.” Throughout the night, Cheryl kept saying that she was telling us things she hadn’t before, much more than she’d revealed at other events, and with a smile swore us to secrecy. She also said at one point that “If I had known that many people would read the book, [Wild], I wouldn’t have written half that shit.” Cheryl Strayed is one of the best sorts of people — smart and funny and compassionate and honest and humble, even after they are met with success.

At one point, Cheryl talked about how when she was six years old, when she learned to read, she felt called to be a writer. Even telling you that now, kind and gentle reader, makes my chest and throat tighten and tears well up in my eyes. This is my story too, and yet, here we are only a year apart in age and she’s so much further ahead, so much more successful, maybe more than I’ll ever be. The thing blooming in my chest sometimes threatens to tear its way out like the creature from Alien. There’s such grief that comes up for me about how silent I’ve been, how stuck, all the times I abandoned myself, smashed myself to bits, how much there still is left for me to do, how deep and fierce my longing. She also said at one point that “most of us who want to be writers resist writing,” and as silly as that seems, I’ve lived the truth of that.


And yet hearing Cheryl talk about her life as a writer, listening to her tell her story and talk about her perspective on memoir, gave me so much hope, was so inspiring. She spoke about how the power of literature is to “build a bridge between my experience and yours, the human experience,” and that it took so long to write about hiking the PCT Trail because she first had to figure out what her story might mean to a reader, to figure out how to tell a story that was bigger than just her own personal experience, and that when she did, “I was writing about you from my vantage point, telling you a story about you too.”

Cheryl also talked about suffering, which she defined as resisting what is true, saying that “to surrender and accept what is true is a radical thing.” This is just where I am at this moment in my life, in the thick of suffering because I still resist what is true. I know what comes next is to surrender and accept it. I gave Cheryl a card that night, with a feather Ringo had found on our morning walk and a poem, a set of lines that I am just now realizing are for me too.

This is what the things can teach us:
to fall,
patiently to trust our heaviness.
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.