Category Archives: Christmas

Gratitude Friday


image by Eric

1. Christmas cards. I’m not so good about sending them, but I sure like getting them.

2. Pine Ridge Holiday Project. I am only now remembering that I forgot to blog about this so you could take part too, if you wanted to — although, my guess is that if you email Julie, she might have some last minute people she needs to get gifts for that she’d love you to help with. I was able to get the same kids for the third year in a row, and this year I got their Grandma too. I love having enough that I can share.

3. Clearing stuff out, being able to let go — which is good, because there’s a lot that needs to go.

4. Warmer temperatures. Especially because that means I get to go on the walk in the morning (it’s a whopping 16 degrees today!). When it’s below 10, Eric takes Sam so they can run and stay warmer, which means I haven’t gone on the morning walk all week.

5. Intuitive Eating group. We had our last call this week, but there’s a longing to continue working together, supporting each other, and I am so grateful for that, for those women.

hiking yesterday with Dad, looking for deer

hiking yesterday with Dad, looking for deer

Bonus Joy: Sam, how he barks at stuff when I’m the only one home, and how when I come out to see what it is, if I say “shhh,” he stops barking. We are two different species who don’t speak the same language so the fact that we can communicate so effectively seems like some kind of magic.

Gratitude Friday

This post started as 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. A White Christmas. It felt so much softer, quieter, more festive with the snow and the cold.

2. Good friends and family with whom to spend the holiday. It was a tiny number, but quality can be just as good as quantity.

3. Leftovers. I did a lot of cooking in the days leading up to Christmas, and now I am doing a lot of eating. Apple pie oatmeal remains one of my favorite things.

4. Retreat. I know what a luxury, what a gift this time is (even though I know I have earned it), and I am enjoying sinking in and seeing what might arise.

5. My tribe. In the past few days, it has become very clear to me that there is a strong community surrounding and supporting me–my yoga classes, my local and virtual friends, the Open Heart Project, the Cultivating Courage alumnus group, those who are involved with Reset.Revive.Restart., my fellow Reverb12-ers, other bloggers and writers and practitioners and seekers–I am feeling so much gratitude for that, for them. Its value is beyond my ability to truly measure it.

Bonus Joy: We got to spend another Christmas with Dexter. Last week, he went hiking and made dog snow angels.


We aren’t blind, we just have our eyes closed

We celebrated Christmas yesterday. The best present for me was that Dexter was here with us, having another good day. We hadn’t expected that, hadn’t even wished for it because it seemed so impossible. On Christmas Eve, he slept in bed with me almost the whole night, curled up and warm right next to me, something he rarely ever does anymore. In these moments, I remind myself that this time is short, to surrender to it, to sink into the space I have left with him.

In the same way that having Dexter here but at the same time still dying, Christmas is always a mix of happy and sad for me. I love Colorado and my little family here, but I am also homesick, nostalgic for that other home, that other family, remembering so many Christmas’s past spent at the Farm, the laughter, the good company, and the food. I don’t mind telling you, I miss my mommy. Christmas music and twinkly lights are just as likely to make me feel joy as they are sorrow. For example, this song from A Charlie Brown Christmas makes me tear up every time.

A friend and I were talking the other day about issues we both have with perfectionism, feeling unworthy and thinking we need to earn love, permission, rest, self-care. At the end of our conversation, she said “well, how are we going to help each other with this? we are like the blind leading the blind.” I responded “we aren’t blind, we just have our eyes closed.”

I find this oddly hopeful, comforting, that once there’s even a slight shift in awareness, once I understand that this isn’t permanent or fixed and therefore choosing another option is always possible, I can open my eyes, things can and will shift.

Today is the first day of a seven day retreat for me, the final week of a year of retreat, (my guiding word, my intention for 2012). When I told Eric that’s what I was doing, he asked what that meant exactly. I said I’d be meditating, reading and writing, but not much of anything else, and his response was “how’s that different from any other time?”

I was telling that same friend that I mentioned before about this week of retreat, all the contemplating, reverbing, inward looking, unravelling, and reset.revive.restart.-ing I was planning, and she said “I think maybe you need someone to tell you, you are doing too much.” I’ve been telling myself that for months, asking “how are you going to keep this up?” to which I typically have answered, “shhh, I’m working.”

As far back as late 2011, I was trying to figure this out, wrote about it in Turn the F*ckin Faucet On! and Pace Yourself, about how much I wanted, but how I also realized “There’s just not room for all of it, at least not in this space and time continuum.  I am greedy, taking on more than I can possibly do, but there is just so much I want.” I went on to say “Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that I shouldn’t dream so big.  Obviously, I believe in that.  Dreaming and wishing and opening myself up to new possibilities and different options is propelling me after years of being stuck.  What I am saying is that I need to ‘pace myself.’ ” I’m not quite there yet, kind and gentle reader, but I keep trying.

lastretreat02As I write this, I have about 40 pages of reading and prompts, along with two books sitting next to me–the “plan” for this retreat. Some of the prompts I’ve already answered in other ways–what I accomplished this year, what kind of relationship I had with my body. This was the plan, but instead I found myself allowing the day to unfold naturally. Instead of the plan, I: slept in a bit (Sam joined me after he had breakfast), played with Dexter and one of his Little D babies, wrote and drank half a cup of coffee while snuggled in my purple fleece robe, went to a yoga class, worked out with my trainer, took a hot shower, cleaned my shrine, ate a bowl of apple pie oatmeal while I watched an episode of the Good Life Project, took a nap, talked to my brother on the phone, meditated, walked the dogs, played with Sam in the backyard, looked up at the sky, ate a big salad and a cookie.

Maybe this retreat isn’t about having a plan after all, isn’t about doing or accomplishing anything. Maybe it’s about a rest, a reset, finding a workable rhythm, experiencing both the joy and the grief, maybe it’s about not being in such a hurry to get somewhere, but rather relaxing, surrendering and sinking into being here.


Something Good

frozenpond021. My heart is broken, but please don’t try to fix it from Heather Plett.

2. On clarity, crapness & tiny flames from Susannah Conway.

3. Silence and Grief and Permission from Annie Neugebauer.

4. Yelling Mime, “Quiet People, Loud Minds… To those who silently live in their heads.”

5. “If you do good, you’ll feel good”: Ann Curry explains origins of #26Acts of Kindness, and the 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page. Also, #26acts of Kindness, I’m in @AnnCurry :: Are you? Plus a ton of ideas, videos & printables to aid you! from Kind Over Matter.

6. Dear 2012… a writing exercise, from Sarah Salway.

7. SPCA Driving Dogs. I sent the link for this to Eric, and told him to make sure that Sam didn’t see it, because I am convinced that when he rides in the back of the car, standing facing front the whole time unless it’s a really long ride, already thinks he’s driving, so I don’t want to give him any ideas.

8. Holiday, a beautiful post from Walking on My Hands. Especially this, “The holidays seem to be made of extremes: brilliance and shadow, joy and sorrow, twinkling lights and the longest darkness.”

9. The Week of Inward Looking is happening again! I’m planning to organize a personal retreat around the week, love the prompts from these brilliant beings.

10. “If you really knew me, you’d know…” (the ultimate conversation starter & story-sparker) from Alexandra Franzen.

11. “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

11.5 “We don’t see the things the way they are. We see things the way WE are.” ~The Talmud

12. Wishing You Love and Light on Ordinary Courage from Brene’ Brown.

christmasevemorningsky1013. Sitting in Sadness Together on Nourishing the Soul.

14. From Pema Chödrön:

DISSOLVING OUR SELF-IMPORTANCE: The fixed idea that we have about ourselves as solid and separate from each other is painfully limiting. It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than other people. Self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up never satisfied.

We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs—or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality, or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious—to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs—is the best use of our human lives.

15. “When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without
flinching — they are your family.” ~Jim Butcher


16.”We must have the daring to be nothing but ourselves if we are to know what true power is.” ~Danielle LaPorte

17. Interview with Sandra Juto and Johan Pergenius, (from Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list). The pictures of their Berlin apartment (especially the very first one), the character of the space, the history, the big windows, the wood floors, the simplicity, the wabi-sabi, makes me want to go to Amsterdam, rent an apartment and stay there for a few months, maybe forever.

18. Leaf Type, leafs made into a font (also from Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list). I love this, but even more I love that there are people out there who have such ideas, take the time to do, to make them, and then share. If you were to ask me why I am so in love with us, with life, this would be one of my answers, one example of many.

19. Mini Gingerbread Houses, (from Dani’s list on Positively Present). For some reason, tiny things are extra special.


20. Compawssion: Portraits of Rescued Dogs. If you want a serious dose of cute, check out the gallery.

21. This quote from John Steinbeck in Steinbeck: A Life in Letters on Literary Jukebox

There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

22. Blog Post Idea Generator. Check out the others, some are funny, some are pretty useful, (although, I’m not naming my next dog Bunk or Gilligan).


23. My Charity:Water campaign still has a few days left, if you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, or your stocking. I am so excited that even if no one donates another penny, we gave enough so that 20 people will be served, have access to clean water. Best birthday present e v e r.

24. Rachel Cole is launching a new six week course, Ease Hunting. It’s going to be magic, just like everything she does. And yet, this will be extra, more than magic because this, this is what she does, this is her superpower.

25. Feel It from Hannah Marcotti.

26. And this great post from Kris Carr, The myth of finding your purpose, in which she says:

Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. That’s it. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and essential, but they’re not your purpose. Your purpose is much bigger than that.

27. The Stuff We Let Go from Judy Clement Wall.

Gratitude Friday

decembersky02This 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. We are still here. I don’t actually believe in dire catastrophic predictable “the world will end on this certain date and time” scenarios. I think think it will either come in a flash without warning, or be clearly on its way, coming at a slow creep but equally unstoppable, and I think that if it happens it will be kind of like how our individual deaths will come–as either a surprise, a shock, suddenly, or at the end of a long goodbye. And yet, I did today as I do when I wake up every morning and felt gratitude for still being here, for getting another chance to ease suffering in the world and in myself, to begin again.

2. Netflix and Hulu, TV on demand. I don’t want or need TV all the time, but when I am tired and need to rest on the couch, when sleeping is too much but reading would be too hard and I don’t want to stare at my toes or the wall, when I want someone to tell me a story, I want to be able to watch. Sometimes that might mean an important documentary like Half the Sky, and others it might mean something silly and slightly creepy like the entire three seasons of United States of Tara.

3. SNOW!!! We finally got some, only about four inches but so beautiful and cold and quiet. More, please.

4. Christmas Music and The Happy Holiday Hearth. Probably because of Dexter’s cancer and “what happened last Friday,” I am feeling extra raw, homesick and weepy this season, wishing for the long gone days of Christmas at Grandma’s Farm. Along with twinkly lights, classic holiday music sung by voices much loved but long gone and my fireplace dvd bring me comfort. (Don’t mock me until you’ve tried it–it’s all kinds of awesome).

happyholidayhearth5. Permission to take it easy. I’m at least a week behind on Reverb12 posts, my house is a mess, laundry needs done, the checkbook should have been balanced almost a month ago, I didn’t do any Christmas cards or bake, lots of people I normally give to this time of year might feel slighted, but I just don’t have it in me. I am honoring instead how hard I’ve been working this year, how much I’ve accomplished, how many times I tried and failed, how much is still left to do, and giving myself permission to rest, to give up, surrender, let go and just be.

Bonus Joy: Dexter is still here. Apparently, he plans on sticking around for Christmas, so I bought him presents yesterday, three new “babies.” This picture was taken on Sunday morning towards the end of our walk. His left eye is running, (a symptom of the tumor in his nose), so he looks sort of like a Goth dog.


Day of Rest, and a Celebration.

On this day of rest and celebration (Happy Birthday, Jesus!), I’d like to share a few videos that embody the joy of this dayfor me, at least (hint: books and music are essential).

This first one I kept catching myself thinking “oh, that’s my favorite one,” but then there’d be another equally beautiful snowflake, and I’d think “oh, no–that one’s my favorite!” I had no idea who Chronicle Books was before I watched the video, but apparently, they are “an independent publisher located in San Francisco, we have an award-winning history of innovation in both subject matter and format for our distinctive books and gifts” and their mission statement is “inspired by the enduring magic and importance of books, our objective is to create and distribute exceptional publishing that is instantly recognizable for its spirit, creativity, and value.” The enduring magic and importance of books?! I totally love them, and I love this video and the message at the end. (Don’t forget after you hit play to click on the snowflake in the lower right hand corner of the toolbar to make it snow).

And then, three videos from one of my favorite musicians, Danielle of Danielle Ate the Sandwich. If you don’t already know why I love her so much, read the post I wrote after seeing her live for the first time. And then, enjoy these videos: her silliness, her beautiful voice, and the big heart of her tiny ukelele.

Now, it’s time for me to give Eric his “heartmade” Christmas gift. Yesterday, after many hours, six glue sticks, and much assembly, I finished it, and decided to call it “heartmade” instead of “handmade” because I poured my whole little heart into it. I hope he likes it, and if not, he at least can see from it how much I love and appreciate him.
I can hear the crackling fire coming from our Happy Holiday Hearth DVD, so I’d better get out there.

A wish for you this day:
Peace in the struggle to find peace.
Comfort on the way to comfort.

Joy Jam

It’s Friday, and I am full of all kinds of joy. Heart to heart with a friend, I performed the “Mother of All Releasings Ceremony” last night that I mentioned in my post yesterday. At first, as I was putting together my bundle, I was worried that I had so many releasing wishes, they wouldn’t all fit.

But I restacked them and was able to tie the bundle.

I took it outside and burned it, imagining my friend standing next to me in the cold. As I watched, there were moments when the flame would flare up or flicker especially fast, and I wondered what exactly was releasing. I imagined the wings of the crane I had wrapped them in giving them flight, and the Star of Anise being burnt giving me sight, a clear vision no longer obstructed by grief, attachment, anger, obsession, confusion, fear, or even hope.

Because I had used Star of Anise in my bundle, letting go smelled like licorice.

I feel lighter this morning. Clearer. And content. And joyful.

Here are the three-five things that brought me joy this week, my contribution to the Friday Joy Jam, (click the image to see how to enter yourself in the celebration).

A simple Christmas. It started when Eric and I decided to cut back on how much we did, spent, and gave for Christmas. For each other, and our local family and friends, we either did nothing (i.e. spent time with them, told them we loved and appreciated them, laughed with them), or baked, made something crafty, bought second-hand, or regifted something we already owned, (for example, my mom got a whole box of books that I had already read and loved, and who needed a new home–a gift she will love). I am having SO much fun making Eric’s present, I’m almost going to be sad to have to finish and give it to him. Leo Babauta of wrote a post that inspired me, “The No New Gifts Holiday Challenge.”

Being on vacation. Seriously, I had no idea how badly I really needed this. I guessed it would be good, but it has been heavenly, and this is only day two!

The chance to reflect and resolve. I found so many good ideas and so much support for this practice this year. I am really excited to get started next week, to let go and clear out what I won’t be taking with me into 2012, and to set my intentions for the new year, send out my wishes and invitations to all the good things coming my way, and then let go of even that and just BE.

Dogs eating fruits and vegetables. I know I have mentioned this before, since Sam and I share a banana every morning, and Obi used to do the same, but I have to say again that I can not get enough of this and almost can’t stand how cute it is. Now Dexter is also eating apples, and the joyful crunching, like when they eat carrots, is super cute. This video isn’t one of my dogs, but nicely illustrates my point.

Claire de Lune. This is one of my favorite songs. And I couldn’t decide which of these videos to share, so I’ll give you both. The first pianist isn’t as technically proficient, but she makes up for it in cuteness, (you know she insisted her stuffed kitty be in the video too). I noticed that YouTube has added a feature to all their videos for the holidays, so once you hit play, if you click on the snowflake in the lower right hand toolbar of the video, it will start to snow.

Here’s wishing you more happiness
Than all my words can tell,
Not just alone for Christmas
But for all the year as well.

Wishing you joy not just today, but this holiday season and beyond!