Category Archives: Confidence

Wishcasting Wednesday

Yesterday, my therapist pointed out that I’m trying to find a formula. I was confused and uncomfortable and irritated by that — because she’s right. All of my research and work and searching and contemplating and pushing, all my suffering is a quest to find the right way, the perfect strategy, the foolproof plan, the trick to having a happy, content, successful, safe life. Every book I buy, every new blog I subscribe to, every new class I take, every workshop or retreat I sign up for, all of it is my tiny little heart looking for the secret to peace, to love everlasting and pure. I know it intellectually, but I can’t seem to get myself to accept that this is not going to work. I make grand gestures of letting go, only to feel again the familiar tightness in my chest, to look down and see my hands clenched into fists.

It’s Wishcasting Wednesday, and Jamie Ridler asks “what do you wish to discover?” To discover means finding something or someone unexpectedly, becoming aware — to find, detect, uncover, reveal, unearth.

I wish to discover my truth. The essential and fundamental fact of myself, reality.

I wish to discover my confidence. To manifest what Susan Piver describes as “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

I wish to discover my basic goodness. To be fully aware of and connected to my innate wisdom and compassion and power.

I wish to discover presence in each moment. To become aware of what is, exactly as it is, to accept it without judgement — to show up for my life, with an open heart, at ease in the vast space of now.

 

Something Good

tulipbloom

1. “Find what you love and let it kill you,” James Rhodes (thanks to Jeff Oaks for sharing the link).

2. Middle Class Problems and The 13 Creepiest Things A Child Has Ever Said To A Parent on BuzzFeed.

3. A Story of Three Hummingbirds by Tracey Clark and Her Teen on Babble.

4. Wisdom from Susan Piver,

In meditation, it is not helpful to be mad at yourself for the inability to be peaceful. Start where you are. Start with sorrow. Start with rage. Start with boredom/anxiety. Start with high hopes. Start with disappointment. Start with your very own body, breath, and mind.

(PS This applies to everything.)

Your experience IS the practice. There is nowhere else to go. Within your own experience, the entire path can be found. I mean, maybe I’m full of it, but give it a try anyway and see for yourself. I will try too.

5. Why we rescueI’ve shared this link before, but at the time they only had one story. There are more!

6. Where Children Sleep Around the World, a really cool series of photos by James Mollison on Demilked.
earlyspringflower

7. This beautiful bit of poetry from John O’Donohuea reminder, a prayer, a mantra for a new day,

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

8. This wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “We do not have to be anything apart from who we are. We can just be.” What a relief…

9. This wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Every act counts. Every thought and emotion counts too. This is all the path we have. This is where we apply the teachings. This is where we come to understand why we meditate. We are only going to be here for a short while. Even if we live to be 108, our life will be too short for witnessing all its wonders. The dharma is each act, each thought, each word we speak. Are we at least willing to catch ourselves spinning off and to do that without embarrassment? Do we at least aspire to not consider ourselves a problem, but simply a pretty typical human being who could at that moment give him- or herself a break and stop being so predictable?

My experience is that this is how our thoughts begin to slow down. Magically, it seems that there’s a lot more space to breathe, a lot more room to dance, and a lot more happiness.

10. 30+ Confidence Vitamins to pump you UP! from Alexandra Franzen.

11. Auto-Tune the New Girl. Just like the show, this video made me laugh.

12. Feel To Live: The Secret Life Of An Empath by Jonathan Fields, (although I totally could have written it).

13. Anatomy of a Leap by Maya Stein.

14. Portraits of 4 sisters every year for 36 years, 1975 – 2010.

15. This wisdom from Chogyam Trungpa, “Appreciate yourself, respect yourself, and let go of your doubt and embarrassment so that you can proclaim your goodness and basic sanity for the benefit of others.”

16. This Facebook post from Anne Lamottin which she says,

That’s all you have to do today: pay attention–being a writer is about paying attention. Stop hitting the snooze button. Carry a pen with you everywhere, or else God will give me all these insights and images that were supposed to go to you. Hang up a shingle on the inside of you: now open for business. Wow! You won’t have to wake up at 70, aching with regret that you threw your creative essence under the bus. And if you already are seventy, then you won’t have to wake up at eighty, confused and in despair about how you let your gift slip away. Because you will have been writing–or dancing again, or practicing recorder–every single glorious, livelong, weird, amazing day.

17. 3 Words I Wish I’d Heard When My Boyfriend Cheated On Me on Upworthy, a video made using advice from Neil Gaiman.

18. Family life frozen in time: eerie images of the abandoned farm houses where even the beds are still made, cool but creepy photos by Niki Feijen.

19. How Plant a Kiss Day Saved my Life from Sherry Richert Belul on Simply Celebrate, in which she says, “Our lives get saved every single moment we are able to fill ourselves with joy. Even, and especially, when that joy is mixed with grief, sadness, and fear. We are saved by kindness, over and over again.”

20. 5 Core Skills Your Life Depends On from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

21. From Brain Pickings: The Secret of Life from Steve Jobs in 46 Seconds and
A Natural History of Love, which gives this amazing description of love,

We think of it as a sort of traffic accident of the heart. It is an emotion that scares us more than cruelty, more than violence, more than hatred. We allow ourselves to be foiled by the vagueness of the word. After all, love requires the utmost vulnerability. We equip someone with freshly sharpened knives; strip naked; then invite him to stand close. What could be scarier?

22. This wisdom from Geneen Roth, “Trusting yourself means being willing to discover the truth about yourself. And value the process of discovering that truth.”

23. One Tree HomeI want this in my backyard. And if I can’t have it, I want this forest summer house.

24. This video. *sob*

25. I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet.

26. Invitation to Basic Goodness Day.

27. “We shall be a mighty kindness,” Rumi.

28. A Show of Hands from Susan Piver.

29. The Wheel of Kindness on Kindness Girl. Such a great idea.

30. Seeing the World in a Coffee Cup on Dwelling Here Now.

31. The Ever Present Possibility of Change on Be More with Less. This makes me think of the delicate balance that exists between acceptance and change.

32. Guy Recreates The Matrix After Asking His Mom to Describe It to Him

33. The 30 Happiest Facts Of All Time on BuzzFeed. Apparently, turtles can breathe through their butts.

34. Should You Turn Your Hobby into a Business? on Create as Folk.

35. your daily rock : every day is day one! from Patti Digh. And from Patti’s Thinking Thursday list: Creamy, Brothy, Earthy, Hearty customizable soup recipes on the NY Times and Ridiculously Easy Curried Chickpeas and Quinoa on FatFree Vegan Kitchen.

36. Two Important Voices. Yours and Mine. from Rachel Cole, who says, “I have a deep faith that some people need to hear the wisdom I share from my voice in order for it to have an impact.” Yes. Yes I do, Rachel.

37. Baby goat plays with huge pig. I have never understood why goats love to climb on and jump off of stuff so much, I just know it’s super cute.

38. Shared by Kat in her Savouring my Saturday postLife in Movement, what looks like a beautiful and heartbreaking documentary, and I Am Her, a book I really really want which also looks like a great gift idea.

39. Finding Your Way Online from Susannah Conway. I originally shared this video when it was posted on Kind Over Matter, but then they took it down. I’m so glad it’s back.

40. Shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend list: Thug Kitchen (warning: there is strong language, but also some amazing recipes, information, and tips), the Disapproval Matrix, The Power of a Single Intention interview with Patti Digh, and I’m Triggered on Funny or Die.

41. soundtrack to your life | susannah conway from Sas Petherick. Makes me smile.

42. Isn’t it amazing how fast things can change? on A Design So Vast. Lindsey is such a good mom, a wonderful writer with a tender heart.

43. DeCluttering: the Power of Purging Inclusively on Scoutie Girl.

44. The New Path from Vivienne McMaster. I love seeing someone get so clear about their work, their purpose, their focus. I also love this video she made.

Day of Rest

My friend Lindsey shared a poem on her blog, and part of it has stuck with me for days, especially considering my obsession with taking pictures of the sky, the way it shifts and changes and always amazes.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
~The Journey, David Whyte

This also stuck with me because of the way my practice and Buddhist studies are always reminding me that, at least in a metaphorical sense, I am the sky–spacious and open and fundamentally sane. As Susan Piver explains,

Dharma teachers often suggest considering your thoughts to be like clouds in the sky. Some are dark and stormy, some are beautiful and fat, while others are wispy and ethereal. Sometimes there are no clouds at all. No matter. Just like clouds in the sky, thoughts pass through your mind. And just like the sky, your mind can contain it all.

We are accustomed to identifying with every large or small thought that comes along. But you can train yourself to identify as the sky instead. When you do, tremendous confidence arises. You see beyond doubt that you can accommodate it all–sunshine, storms, mist, fog, hail–and never give up.

On this day of rest, I am contemplating what it means to “find that small, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart,” to allow confidence to arise, and to “see beyond doubt that you can accommodate it all–sunshine, storms, mist, fog, hail–and never give up.” May you, kind and gentle reader, on this day of rest, experience both freedom and confidence, along with true rest.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Being highly sensitive is both a blessing and a curse. I was born completely porous, raw and naked and open wide. I had no defense, no barrier between myself and the world, myself and others. What you felt, I felt, and I felt it deeply. For years, I wore heavy armor (invisible yes, but heavy and hard nonetheless) and masks, cocooned myself, padded my body with extra weight, distracted with smoke and mirrors, hid myself away, anything I could to do to protect myself.

What I didn’t understand yet is that this sensitivity, this keen emotion, acute intuition, deep knowing, this tenderness was something that others spent their lives trying to achieve, that there were many ancient practices to teach one to be so openhearted, so present, spacious and awake. I had what others wanted, what they worked so hard to experience. I have slowly allowed my gentle self to peek out, have been working with being vulnerable and brave, keeping my heart open, but it’s so hard sometimes–the beauty and the brutality, the tenderness and the terror can be so overwhelming.

2. Truth: “You should put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help someone else with theirs.” I was chanting this silently last night as I tried to fall asleep. My worrying about Dexter wasn’t letting me rest, mind or body, and I was exhausted. That phrase was the thing that kept coming back to me, the only thing that was helping. No “he’s fine” or “everything’s going to be okay” or general allowing or accepting of reality or releasing of attachment would work, but the awareness that I needed to take care of myself or I wouldn’t be of any help to him did.

3. Truth: I can’t control everything, and perfection is impossible. I know this, deep down know it, and yet I keep acting as if it’s not true. I keep Dexter home from hiking, thinking I can keep him safe, and he hurts himself chasing after a squirrel in our backyard. I feed my dogs the best possible food, provide the best health care, give them tons of exercise and affection, take better care of them sometimes than I do myself, and still two of them have been diagnosed with fatal cancers. I obsess about Dexter’s physical therapy and medications and various appointments, thinking I can fix him, keep him safe, when no matter what I do, he will eventually die, as all mortal things do. I try to be so careful and prepared and diligent and alert, but bad things still happen. Things break, feelings get hurt, mistakes are made. I am not always responsible, and even when I am, I am forgivable, still loveable. I am trying to do as Karen Salmansoh suggests and, “Let go of what you can’t control. Channel all that energy into living fully in the now.”

One Wish: That we can approach our experience, our struggle and suffering, with great gentleness and a loving presence. That when we despair, are afraid and sad, we can experience some ease, remember our innate strength, have confidence and find comfort in our fundamental wisdom and compassion. And as Hafiz says, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.”

Gratitude Friday

keepagreentree

Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come.

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. Holiday twinkly lights. During this season that is so dark and cold, I have so much gratitude for the cheer of lights, colored and white, blinking and still, single strands and layered strings, hung on houses and in windows.

2. The Annual Dell Big Crow / Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Holiday Gift Project and “my” Pine Ridge kids. This is my third year doing this. The first year, I got the names and lists of a boy and girl. On the second year, they selected those same two kids for me, randomly and magically. This year, I insisted that if they weren’t already assigned to someone else, that I get “my” kids, which I did. More about the project:

As you may know, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished and marginalized regions in America. While we seek to address the underlying causes of poverty on Pine Ridge, we also recognize the importance of building connections between people on and off the reservation. We work at Pine Ridge throughout the year with Service Learning projects, a winter coat drive, providing families with firewood, home repairs, winterization, and other sustainable development projects.

2012 marks the 7th year of our Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project! Last year, thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, families, hundreds of amazing individual donors, and our colleagues at Colorado State University, the Holiday Project provided gifts to more than 1,100 children and elders on the reservation! Donors like you forwarded the original project email on to their families and friends and we received responses from all over the U.S. as well as Germany, Australia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, France, Japan, Belgium, and Canada! We would like to invite you to contribute a holiday gift for a child or elder this year.

The project is very “grass roots,” since just two of us “Elves” volunteer and coordinate the project. Once again we are working with several reservation school teachers, counselors, community organizers, homeless youth centers, the Pine Ridge Veteran’s Emergency Shelter, etc. in order to identify children and elders with the greatest needs.

It’s really easy to get involved, and there is still plenty of time, still so much need. All you have to do is email Julie Ann Sullivan at julie.sullivan@colostate.edu OR Christine Bartholomew at forepineridge@gmail.com and ask for a name or two, or visit their Facebook page to find out more. I feel so grateful for all that I have, especially during this season of thanksgiving and love, and it is so important to give some of my good away to someone who might not have so much.

3. Magic opportunities, the sharing of good ideas, and genuine, openhearted effort and connection. I didn’t used to have the confidence to say “yes” to this, but now I do, and this past week I have, again and again, and I am so excited about the possibility of this coming year, so curious to see what’s going to happen.

4. Eric, who believes in me, loves me, wants me to be happy. He leaves me love notes, checks books out from the library that he thinks I’d like, celebrates my successes with me, takes care of me when I don’t feel that great, makes me potato soup and biscuits, and walks my dogs.

5. Warmth and shelter when it’s so cold outside. Warm hats and gloves, wool socks, long thick soft sweaters, big fluffy down blankets, a functioning furnace, two dogs who love to snuggle.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. He’s doing so good, has stuck around so long after he was predicted to be gone, that it’s almost easy sometimes to forget that he’s dying. Two months ago, I didn’t dare imagine he’d make it to Thanksgiving, and here we are, there he is with only two weeks to go until Christmas. Here’s a picture of him, from a Christmas five years ago, when he and his favorite big brother Obi were both young and healthy, and cancer wasn’t even something we thought about.

dexterobichristmas

Reverb12: Day One

reverb12Looking through all the Day One Reverb posts, I came up with a set of prompts I’m going to answer in this post. This has been such an interesting process already–reflecting and making lists and answering questions, considering where I’ve been, contemplating what might happen next. Ever since I turned 45, only a few weeks ago, I’ve had this lingering sense of curiosity and contentment.

Where did you start the year, 2012?

Here’s one place where my blog and journals come in really handy. I can look up the date, December 1st, and see just what I said, know what I was thinking. My blog post from a year ago was titled, Being Clear, Being Open, Saving Myself and Saving the World, and in it I said, “For me, giving in to my impulse, my aspiration to create, to discover and share what truth is for me, is the only way I know to save myself, and maybe help save the world.”

It was really interesting to see how even a year ago, I was struggling with having enough time to do everything I wanted, my paid work and my heart’s work, my living and my loving. I still struggle with the same, but I have much more clarity about what I want, about what living an authentic life, being healthy and whole looks like.

The first line of my morning pages from that same day was, “2011 is almost over.” I went on, after some complaints about an ongoing family struggle, to say “Compassionate visionaries have to exist,” (imagining myself as one), and to explain why:

We have to see what is possible, inspire, move people who will change the world… Art may not save the world, but artists who are alive and following the path of art might just save it, or at least have a small part in it… Art might not save the world, but it can soothe it, inspire it, open its heart, and it most certainly will save the artist.

art by hugh macleod

art by hugh macleod, from that blog post one year ago

Did I try anything new in 2012?

It’s pretty simple really, I showed up. I kept my heart open. I did things that I normally would have been too afraid to do because of a lack of confidence, because I was embarrassed or ashamed or felt unworthy or didn’t think I could do it perfectly, (and doing things perfectly used to be really, really important to me). In 2012, I risked failure, I took a chance that I might look foolish or make a mistake, that people might not like me. I trusted and loved myself anyway, most of the time. I tried.

Where, how am I starting 2013?

Confident, in the way that the brilliant Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

As I am. Just me, right where I am and as I am, reality and love embodied.

Open-hearted. Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible. There is also basic goodness, an innate wisdom, kindness, and wakefulness, everything is workable. Knowing this, I am going to show up with an open heart, no matter how hard it is, and no matter how much it might hurt.

What was last year’s word? How did it play out?

retreatbuddhalilac

When I initially picked this word, I imagined it would mean rest, balance, practice, and transformation. I thought I would be removed from the irritation and distraction of life, that I would be away and protected, that I would experience ease and peace. This is how I envisioned the year, and holy wow was I wrong.

Yes there was practice, intense process and devotion that left me broken open, raw, exhausted, and sometimes completely confused and afraid. I encountered strong emotions, intense realizations, and deep struggle. I committed myself, studied with many teachers, read wise and sacred texts, extended concentrated effort and attention.

There was also transformation. I am not the same, and yet I am more myself. I know who I am, and I honor that as often and as ardently as I am able. I am done with denying, hiding, feeling ashamed of this brilliant mess that is me. I realize that the only thing I have to offer, my only power is my essential nature.

Balance and rest, not so much. After all the retreats I’ve done, how wrecked I always feel after, I’m not sure how I forgot that this was the nature of retreat, that in choosing that as my word, my theme for the year, this was what I was inviting.

What is this year’s word?

freedomthanksgivingcrow

I was so sure I knew what this year’s word would be: simplicity. I’ve been thinking and writing about it for weeks, was so certain. It seemed so right, so perfect, just what I needed for the coming year.

But then something magic happened as I was working on this post. I was making the above image, a picture I took from my front porch on Thanksgiving morning, where the crow flying across the sky was a happy accident. I added the word “simplicity” and it just didn’t look right. Font after font, different colors and sizes and weights and placement, and it still looked off, wrong somehow.

I started considering the qualities of the word. Freedom and ease came immediately to mind. Freedom. Hmmm. There was something about that, so I tried it with the image: perfect. That’s my word. Freedom: simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity. “The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; liberty, independence; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; being physically unrestricted and able to move easily; self-determination, open, opportunity, play, joy.” I like how that sounds. No, actually I love how that sounds.

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie’s post

What Peace Do You Wish For?

The peace of accepting, loving, being who I am. No more pushing or improving or rejecting or denying or hiding or smashing myself to bits, but rather radical self-acceptance as Tara Brach describes it, “the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.”

To have the peace of confidence the way Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

The peace of knowing, as Patti Digh describes at the end of this video conversation with Susan Piver, that what I once thought of as my brokenness is actually my superpower.

The peace of my innate worth, my fundamental nature as Pema Chödrön describes it,

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.

The peaceful awareness that I am meant to shine, as Marianne Williamson explains,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I wish for the peace of showing up as I am with my heart open, even when it’s hard and it hurts, the contentment and clarity of embodying the openness, intelligence, and warmth that is my basic nature. While I wish this for myself, know that it would bring peace to my heart and to my life, I also wish it for others, so that this peace would manifest in the world, that our comfort and courage, our collective awareness and mindfulness, would ease suffering in the world.

One of my favorite hymns in church as a kid had these lyrics, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” This is my wish.