Category Archives: Courtney Putnam

Something Good

1. Feast, “an intensive 3-month program for women who want to come home to themselves, make peace with food, and feast on their lives.” I submitted my application about 20 minutes after Rachel opened, that’s how ready I am for this. She’s taking applications now, but just for this week and there are only 30 spots in this session. Other good stuff from Rachel: Go closer and Doing your best.

2. ZenPen ecourse, “Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth.” It starts today, so there’s still time to sign up for the latest session.

3. The lists I look at every week for inspiration:

4. Story Swap at the Lyric Cinema Cafe. Looks fun.

5. Wisdom from Clarissa Pinkola Estes,

[W}e all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough; we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us. We respond before we know how to speak the language, before we know all the answers, and before we know exactly to whom we are speaking.

6. Wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”

7. This is a little different, something I’m offering to you because I don’t agree with it, but I find it and my disagreement very interesting, worth contemplating: This is why you shouldn’t take people’s Facebook lives seriously.

8. One Model Tried On 10 Different Pairs Of Size 16 Jeans And This Is What They Looked Like on BuzzFeed.

9. Realistic New Year’s Resolutions on The Awl.

10. 10 Ways to Turn Off Your Worries on Psychology Today.

11. The Word from Susannah Conway. We both chose “nourish” as our word this year.

12. Future self, wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

13. Responding to Violence and Insanity (one Buddhist’s perspective) from Susan Piver.

14. Wisdom from Andre Gide, “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

15. 27 Reasons Why I Can Never Be a Writer on McSweeney’s.

16. On Expectations (and the promise of 2015) from Sandi Amorim.

17. Why dreaming big almost cost me my self from Jennifer Louden, who has a gorgeous new website design.

18. My wish for your 2015, a poem from Cynthia Morris, who also has a gorgeous new website design.

19. A Note from the Universe, “I know this may come as somewhat of a shock, Jill, but of your innumerable and extraordinary gifts, one day you’ll consider your present day challenges as the greatest of them all. Trust me.”

20. Margaret Atwood’s charming Reddit AMA.

21. Wisdom from Mara Glatzel.

22. the thrive portraits from Chookooloonks.

23. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “life is much too short to ever stick around a person who makes you feel like you are difficult to love.” (Unless of course the person is you, and then you’ve got to figure that shit out).

24. Stop Waiting To Love Yourself Because Of Your Weight on Rebelle Society.

25. Watch Jimmy Fallon learn he totally missed Nicole Kidman’s decade-old come-on.

26. Five things the diet industry doesn’t want you to know in 2015.

27. Overcoming Objections to Body Acceptance from Isabel Foxen Duke.

28. My Indecorous Word of the Year from Laura Simms.

29. belonging to the body from lists & letters.

30. From Addicted Teen to Acclaimed Therapist: The Inside Story on the Good Life Project.

31. A Boy Said She Was Too Ugly To Touch. She Believed It For 10 Years. Here’s What She Has To Say Now. on Upworthy, from Soul Pancake.

32. Why “I am enough” isn’t enough on Life with Lucia.

33. Kill Inner Clutter Before it Kills You on Be More with Less.

34. Commuters push train off man whose leg became trapped between carriage and platform. This is who we are.

35. America, please stop raising assholes on Renegade Mothering.

36. To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This on The New York Times. And a related article that includes the 36 questions the author references, No. 37: Big Wedding or Small?

37. Self-Refinement Through the Wisdom of the Ages: 15 Resolutions for 2015 from Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds on Brain Pickings.

Day of Rest

Recently I mentioned something I call the “sweet spot.” It’s a concept that for me has its origins in hiking. I started noticing that when we go hiking there is a spot, a moment that comes after miles of hiking, some of which were maybe difficult and even made me want to give up, a moment where/when we reach a vista with a beautiful view, or a spacious clearing under a vast sky, or a particular cluster of rocks or a specific tree or meadow of wildflowers, and I experience this moment of awe, amazement, gratitude. All the hard work is worth it to be able to see this — the sweet spot.

I’m living in a particularly sweet spot in my life right now. To get here I’ve experienced many difficulties, some that I’ve shared here and some I haven’t because they weren’t my stories to tell. At times I wanted to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this, this sweet spot, this particular magic, this specific moment in time.

I was contemplating yesterday how I sometimes get stuck, when there’s too much to do, so much I want, and I’m frozen in place, can’t seem to do anything. I understand that it’s because the awareness of all the things at once is too much. To be able to get anything done, I need to focus on just one thing at a time, the thing I’m doing right now. To be aware of it all at once is overwhelming, feels impossible, makes me want to give up. I have to break it down into smaller bits — what do I need, want to do right now? That’s it. Just do that one thing.

I read somewhere about a book or a class related to focus or organization or something that recommends an exercise where you set a timer for 30 minutes and clean your toilet. You gather all your supplies ahead of time so during the half an hour, you are only cleaning. For that 30 minutes, the full 30 minutes, you do nothing but clean your toilet, every nook and cranny. The intention is that at the end of that half an hour you have a super clean toilet, as well as a new appreciation for what it means to truly commit to doing something, to being present with it completely, to giving that kind of attention to one thing at a time.

I’ve realized that in order to offer and accomplish everything I wish for, I have to take this sort of approach — one thing at a time. It’s too much to focus on all the changes, all the miles at once. I have to take one small piece and work there, give it all my attention. Then, I move to the next small piece, take the next tiny step. It’s the only way I know how to get anywhere.

All of that effort adds up, and I find myself in the sweet spot. Rachel Cole creates a three month intensive program, Feast, that seems as if it was created just for me. My friend Courtney Putnam offers me a spot in her amazing writing class, Zen Pen. I go on retreat with Susan Piver and I write the opening to the book that’s been worming around in my brain for the past year. In her annual report for the Open Heart Project, Susan announces that one of her goals for 2015 is to offer meditation instructor training and certification. We figure out what is wrong with Sam and are able to help him, which means he’s a much happier dog. Ringo grows up so much, is so much easier to care for, is such a joy. I’m a yoga teacher. I quit working with a trainer and a whole new world of movement opens up for me. I take refuge vows. I stop coloring my hair and clean out my closets. I start cooking more and eating better. I finish the Self-Compassion Saturday eBook and almost 400 copies are downloaded within the first few weeks.

So a reminder for me, and maybe for you as well, kind and gentle reader: Don’t give up. Don’t be overwhelmed by what seems like a vast distance between where you are now and where you’d like to be. Take one small step, and if that’s too much, take a half step. Focus on one thing at a time, one breath. Have faith that all the tiny things, the small parts, the bits and pieces will add up over time. Know that there is a sweet spot, and if you keep moving, no matter how slowly, you will find yourself there. Maybe you are there right now?

Something Good

comfortfood1. Wisdom from Rachel Cole: How to Make Peace with Food and Self-Compassion is a Verb.

2. Go for a Walk from Seth Godin.

3. we just don’t know (and that’s okay) on Your Courageous Life.

4. A new video poem from Shane Koyczan “Heaven, or Whatever.”

5. Breaking Up With Friends on Medium.

6. Unleashing Your Creativity: 17 Tips For Tapping Into The Power Of Your Brain.

7. The Body is Not an Apology website.

8. Blog Trends: Slow Blogging on decor8.

9. Listen, It’s Okay to Be Alone on Christmas from Brittany Herself.

10. i love what i do // 04 an interview with Mara Glatzel.

11. Wisdom from Kris Carr,

When we accept ourselves exactly as we are, in exactly this moment, we shift from living for tomorrow to appreciating today. Being at peace with what is creates a vast and holy space for healing.

Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up, it means that we love and honor ourselves regardless of our circumstances. From that relaxed and receptive space, we rest, renew and gain the clarity and strength needed to create a blueprint for a happy, healthy, abundant life.

12. 22 Pictures That Prove That 2014 Is The Damn Future on BuzzFeed.

13. Lovely ~ UPDATED from The Bloggess.

14. Narrating People’s Lives with Thomas Sanders compilation. Made me laugh.

15. Why I Hated My Word of the Year from Laura Simms.

16. How to Be a Ladyperson at the Holidays: 10 Important Tips. Funny.

17. How To Respond Compassionately To Someone’s Suffering from MindBodyGreen.

18. Fat Loss Tips for the Holidays from Yogi Sadie. Don’t let the title fool you.

19. Taking the Fear Out of Failure from Courtney Putnam.

20. Life in 700 square-feet from Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens.

21. 7 Regular Things All Healthy Couples Do.

22. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

If you have embarked on this journey of self-reflection, you may be at a place that everyone, sooner or later, experiences on the spiritual path. After a while it seems like almost every moment of your life you’re there, where you realize you have a choice. You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften, whether to hold your seat or strike out. That choice is presented to you again and again and again.

23. #decembermoments: an advent calendar. sort of. on Chookooloonks.

24. Artist Transforms Old Paintbrushes Into Delicate Ladies on Bored Panda.

25. Wisdom from Jeff Foster,

Stop trying to change the world.
Love the world.
That changes everything.

26. Swiftamine – Saturday Night Live.

27. Police Deliver Groceries To Struggling Grandma Caught Shoplifting To Feed Family Of 6 on Huffington Post.

28. Shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list: Fudgy Paleo Beetroot Brownies recipe, and We Never Met.

29. What’s the Best Book, New or Old, You Read This Year? on The New York Times, (shared by Tammy on her Happy Links list).

30. Making Merry on SouleMama. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want them to adopt me.

31. “Feeling your Feelings” is not the full story… from Isabel Foxen Duke.

Something Good

1. Man’s amazing reunion with the sweet Boxer dog he rescued off the streets on Dog Heirs.

2. the art of the deep yes (my TedxOlympicBlvdWomen talk) from Justine Musk.

3. Good stuff from Brene’ Brown: This Gives New Meaning to Bear Hug! An RSA Short Animated by Katy Davis and We’re doing it again! More courage and more art journaling eCourses!

4. 2013 Annual Review: Introduction and Invitation on The Art of Non-Conformity.

5. My fellow teachers: Are you transmitting wisdom or are you explaining it? from Susan Piver.

6. How to See if Your Images are Being Used on Other Websites.

7. Wisdom from Kris Carr, “Acceptance is different from quitting. It means that no matter what happens, you won’t abandon yourself in your time of need.”

8. Wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh, “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

9. Creative Compulsive Disorder: Remembering Zina Nicole Lahr on Colossal.

10. 30 Naughtiest Dogs: You’ll Crack Up When You Find Out What They Did on Viral Circus.

11. Here’s How Elizabeth Gilbert (Bestselling Author of Eat, Pray, Love) Writes on Copyblogger.

12. Make space for your future to show up from Danielle LaPorte.

13. My Body is My Guru, a great series from Kristin Noelle.

14. How Meditation Can Help Heal Our Relationship with Food from Eat 2 Love.

15. He Was Found Freezing And Dying. Yet Somehow The Last Photo Made My Entire Year. on Viral Nova.

16. don’t should all over yourself from Chookooloonks.

17. I Will Disappoint You from Rachael Rice.

18. This Guy Traveled The Country In A Pink Tutu Just To Make His Wife Laugh During Chemo on Buzzfeed. Also on Buzzfeed, 20 Ecstatic Shelter Dogs On Their Way Home For The First Time.

19. Gifts for lucky passengers keep on giving for WestJet.

20. The Light Bearer from Just Lara.

21. Wisdom from Marcus Aurelius,

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

22. 34 Animals With Their Adorable Mini-Me Counterparts on Bored Panda. I will add two of my own.

Sam and Hulu

Sam and Hulu

Riley and Obi

Riley and Obi

23. Invisible Child from The New York Times.

24. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 4 Questions To Ask Before Updating Your Facebook Status and 25 Ways You’re Too Hard On Yourself.

25. Top Five Tips for Thriving During the Holidays from Courtney Putnam.

26. Man Walks All Day to Create Massive Snow Patterns on My Modern Met.

27. How to practice by yourself.

28. The most touching Mandela tribute came from the least expected place.

29. Strange and Improbably Animal Friendships!

30. your daily rock : fragile, yet resilient, and your daily rock : detach from outcome, and your daily rock : stay close. Also from Patti Digh on 37 Days, How To Survive The Holidays. She also has a new book, The Geography of Loss.

31. Tips for Creating a Mindful Home.

32. Why the cult of hard work is counter-productive.

33. Kid President Shares Your Things We Should Say More Often

34. 20 Real Hilarious and Clever Notes From Children.

35. daring adventures in love + loss from Mati Rose.

36. Casual Predation: To know a predator, you must know what it is to be prey on Medium.

37. 25 Vegetarian recipes you can cook in under 30 minutes from Tree Hugger.

38. A Method to Find Balance from Zen Habits.

39. {this moment} from SouleMama. If we moved the guitar, there’d be room for me on the daybed.

40. This Is Scientific Proof That Happiness Is A Choice on Huffington Post.

41. Good stuff from Tiny Buddha: We All Need Alone Time: Do You Allow Yourself to Recharge? and 20 Ways Sitting in Silence Can Completely Transform Your Life.

42. 6 Traits of Happy Creatives on Scoutie Girl.

43. Show Your Work! Book Trailer from Austin Kleon.

44. Good stuff from Elephant Journal: 8 Photos of New Yorkers Most People Don’t See and 7 Things You Can Do to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

45. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook, (she’s such a beautiful mess).

46. It’s Eric’s 46th birthday today.

47. Man emerges from bunker 14 years after Y2K scare.

48. My Note from the Universe this morning, “Being happy now, Jill, is always more important than any new dream coming true later.”

49. The care and feeding (and shunning) of vampires from Seth Godin.

50. 24 Rules For Being A Human Being In 2014 on Thought Catalog.

Something Good

0. It’s Margaret Atwood‘s birthday today. She’s one of my favorite authors. Why “0” instead of “1”? I am mentioning it as a way to sneak in that it’s also MY birthday today — Hello, 46! Another birthday, and sharing it with one of my favorites is something good for me.

1. Question #11, Courtney Putnam’s beautiful answer to my questions about grief.

2. Wisdom from Hafiz, “The place where you are right now, God circled on a map for you.”

3. “A Writer Writes.” Tips for Living an Authentic Life. from Elephant Journal.

4. Good stuff from Be More With Less, One Little Simple Step and Seek out the Joy, (p.s. the “open-hearted Jill” she refers to in this post is ME!). Also from Courtney Carver, but on Medium, Plan to Be Surprised.

5. Good stuff from Seth Godin, Not a gift and Sure, but he’s our bully and Bullying is theft.

6. Wisdom from from David Whyte,

Why is it so difficult to take that first, necessary, close-in, courageous step to reclaiming our happiness in life? Perhaps, because taking that step leads to a kind of radical internal simplification, where, suddenly, large parts of us, parts of us we have kept gainfully employed for years, often rehearsing the old story, are suddenly out of a job. There occurs in effect, a form of internal corporate downsizing, where the parts of us that do not wish to participate or have nothing now to offer are let go, with all of the accompanying death-like trauma, and where the last fight occurs, a rear guard disbelief that this new, less complicated self, is all that is needed for the new possibilities ahead. It is always hard to believe that the courageous step is so close to us, that it is closer than we ever could imagine, that in fact, we already know what it is, and that the step is simpler, more radical than we had thought: which is why we so often prefer the story to be more complicated, our identities clouded by fear and the answer safely in the realm of impossibility.

7. How animal adoption & rescue has transformed my life from Kris Carr. I have been loving following Buddy’s story, and Kris’s post here is further proof that when you rescue a dog, they rescue you right back.

8. Everyone’s Talking About What This Shy Photographer Did. When You See This, You’ll Understand Why on Viral Nova.

9. When fat things happen to good people. On being thin, fat, and your false assumptions. from Drop it and Eat.

10. Your Most Precious Thing. Shaking up your attachments. from Danielle LaPorte.

11. My adventures into healthy cooking from Kelly Rae Roberts. I like the idea of cooking a week’s worth of essentials so that when you are hungry, you can just eat, however I am one of those people who worries about eating something that’s been in the fridge for longer than 2-3 days. I need to ask Kelly Rae how she handles that.

12. morning thoughts on Doorways Traveler.

13. Bodies are NOT a Problem (Despite Some Yoga Pants’ Attempts to Make Us Think Otherwise) from Curvy Yoga. Anna also shared this great quote on Facebook from Sharon Salzberg,

As I go through all kinds of feelings and experiences in my journey through life — delight, surprise, chagrin, dismay — I hold this question as a guiding light: “What do I really need right now to be happy?” What I come to over and over again is that only qualities as vast and deep as love, connection and kindness will really make me happy in any sort of enduring way.

14. 420 Square Feet Apartment Miracle! I don’t plan on going this small, (our house is 1088), but there are some really good ideas in this space.

15. Wisdom from Phillip Moffitt,

It’s possible to transform what has been a hindrance in your life into a teacher of the heart. “Transform” does not mean to fix or make go away whatever trauma and scars you may be carrying from childhood; instead, you slowly develop a new relationship with your difficulty, such that it is no longer a controlling factor in your life. What may seem like an intractable wound may even become a point of inspiration and deep understanding for you.

16. From Your Inner Pilot Light,

Somewhere inside of you lies a healer. Regardless of what’s printed on your business card, you were put on this earth to help others, to love others, to make this world a better place. If you’re not yet sure how you might use your healing superpowers in service to the world, that’s probably a sign. You and I aren’t close enough yet. Will you be my BFF?

17. How To Help Typhoon Haiyan Survivors on Huffington Post and Avoiding despair when disaster hits: aid, advocacy, action. from Marianne Elliott. I always am looking to ease suffering, and in some cases choosing exactly how can feel overwhelming. I was thankful to have this help and thought you might be too.

18. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, “In any encounter, we have a choice: we can strengthen our resentment or our understanding and empathy. We can widen the gap between ourselves and others or lessen it.”

19. Announcing the New Improved Jonathan Fields (Just Add Water)
and Plan B from Jonathan Fields.

20. 11 Little Signs You’re Doing Just Fine from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

21. Self-Discipline in 5 Sentences on Zen Habits.

22. Welcome to Dinovember, on Medium. This is 14 kinds of awesome.

23. Wisdom from Kute Blackson,

It’s when you accept life as it is and as it isn’t that you bring yourself into the flow. When you no longer resist life then you can meet the moment powerfully.

And this,

When you acknowledge your deep intuition, and live in accord with your deepest truth, you become the truly powerful being that you are.

And this brainteaser,

Sometimes what you want is actually not what you REALLY want but what you think you want based on who you think you currently are.

And finally this,

The most powerful prayer is simply to SURRENDER. To give up what you think your goal and vision should look like, to give up your attachments to the form, and to open yourself to the highest good unfolding for all concerned.

24. Daily Rocks: your daily rock : be generous and your daily rock : just be.

25. Wisdom from Marianne Williamson,

The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one’s influence wide is to learn how to go deep. The world we want for ourselves and our children will not emerge from electronic speed but rather from a spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then, and only then, will we create a world that reflects the heart instead of shattering it.

26. Be Your Own Beloved Mentoring, what looks to be a fabulous offering from Vivienne McMaster.

27. Meet Ippo, The Adorable Zonkey Who is Half Zebra, Half Donkey on Bored Panda. Oh, the cuteness.

28. The Season of Kindness…to Yourself from Brittany Herself. I’m in. Are you?

29. This hilarious parody of Gravity set in IKEA is spot on.

30. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.

31. Where the Divine Show Up (It’s not where you’d expect) from Ronna Detrick. I’m not gonna lie, this one is blowing my mind a little bit.

32. Trying to describe your delightful new project — and drawing a blank? Start here. from Alexandra Franzen.

33. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa and Cranberries, a yummy looking recipe from Thug Kitchen.

34. Two good posts from 3x3x365, 11/13/13 and 11/15/13. Amy McCracken (in the third spot) is both one of my favorite people and one of my favorite writers, and Burg one of my favorite dogs.

35. A beautiful quote from Meade, “To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.”

36. Catch My Fall: The Healing from just Lara, who is anything but “just.”

37. I was so sad to learn DJ Cheb I Sabbah died. He made beautiful music. I bought his first album in 1999 and have loved him ever since, donated money to help pay for his cancer treatment last year, as he was a musician with no health insurance. NPR ran this piece on him after he passed, Remembering Cheb I Sabbah, DJ Who Built A New Musical World.

38. A heartbreaking post from Humans of New York.

39. Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, posting about something I know a lot about — canine therapy and amazement.

40. Just showing up from Christina Rosalie.

41. Dani Shapiro: Self-doubt is a writer’s best friend on Salon.

42. Winter Joy Retreat with Cigdem Kobu. This is the second year Cigdem has put together a program like this, (last year it was Reset. Revive. Restart.), and it’s looking like it’s going to be a yearly holiday tradition for me.

43. Wisdom Notes for a Well-Fed Holiday with Rachel Cole is becoming one of my other yearly traditions.

43. Dog tired! Adorable toddler and his ‘puppy brother’ Theo who nap together every day is stupid cute, (i.e. someone or something that is so attractive it disrupts your ability to intelligently process information while looking at it, something so unbelievably cute it makes you stupid). I am a sucker for black and tan dogs, also for naps with cute boys. Here’s her post about adopting Theo, Wishes Granted: Theo and Beau, and here’s where you can follow her on Instagram for all the cuteness.

44. Good stuff from Chookooloonks: #naphopomo 2013, day 16: redone office (and a giveaway)! (I love getting to see people’s workspaces, and this one is particularly cosy), and #naphopomo 2013, day 18: cutting back, shooting forward.

45. Wisdom from Nadia Bolz-Weber, “But being good has never set me free the way truth has.”

46. This is why I am doing too much: people I adore come up with fun stuff like this, Kickin’ It Old Skool Blog-a-thon.

47. Help Me Attend Earth Activist Training, another one of my cousins trying to do good things.

48. Dog Songs: Mary Oliver on What Dogs Teach Us About the Meaning of Our Human Lives on Brain Pickings. My favorite line from this book is “A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.”

Something Good

1. Fall session of ZenPen, “Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth” from my dear friend Courtney Putnam starts September 30th.

2. Finding Freedom and Writing Memoirs with Meg Worden, an interview on BlogCast FM.

3. Funny stuff from Elephant Journal, Sorry about all the poop: The 10 Commandments of Your Dog and Conan O’Brien and Louis CK “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” And not so much funny as true, The Truth About Hitting Bottom.

4. An excerpt from The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert’s new novel.

5. A Bunch Of Young Geniuses Just Made A Corrupt Corporation Freak Out Big Time. Time For Round Two. on Upworthy. Boulder certainly is one of my favorite things about Colorado, for reasons just like this.

6. 36 Surreal Instagram Images From Burning Man. I’m not hip enough to attend, and besides it would be too hot and there would be too many people for me, but I’m so glad that something like it exists.

7. Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? on Tiny Buddha, (and, the answer is “uh, yes!”). Also from Tiny Buddha, 10 Journaling Tips to Help You Heal, Grow and Thrive.

8. Honor the Signs Your Future Self is Sending You and Finding Your Creative Flow: 17 Writer’s Tricks to Get Un-stuck and Start Creating on Scoutie Girl.

9. A few thoughts & actions that will help you open up more and Money: A Love Story. Kate Northrup & I talk debt, cash, freedom. from Danielle LaPorte.

10. This post from 3x3x365, in which Patti Digh describes the very best reason to marry someone.

11. Brene’ Brown interview, Vulnerability and Shame, on How She Really Does It with Koren Motekaitis.

12. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, in her book Comfortable with Uncertainty,

Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allowing ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion; to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance. We cultivate bravery through making aspirations. We make the wish that all beings, including ourselves and those we dislike, be free of suffering and the root of suffering.

13. Wisdom from Thich Nhat Hanh, “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

14. Wisdom from Atticus Finch,

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyways and you see through it no matter what.

15. Truth from Gloria Steinem, “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

16. Wisdom from Tara Brach,

When we identify with a small self, we are perceiving ourselves as a cluster of ocean waves, not recognizing that we are made of ocean. When we realize our true self is ocean, the familiar pattern of waves—our fears and defensiveness, our wants and busyness—remains a part of us, but it does not define us.

17. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves,

When you’re in transition, you walk in two worlds. You walk in the world in front of you, which may seem stark or burdened. Yet you also walk in the world you carry in your heart. You know you are blossoming & the fruit trees hang heavy, the sun shines, & the clients call, & money is not an issue. The life you are feeding is the life that becomes true.

18. 10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People from Fast Company.

19. 10Q, a really fun thing that Rachel Cole shared last week,

Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. When you’re finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection.

20. The Magic of Impermanence from Lisa Congdon.

21. Stop Chasing Success. Seek Significance. from Becoming Minimalist.

22. Interview with Jen Smith of LivingLegendary.org from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

23. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, and even more wisdom from Elizabeth.

24. 10 tips for a mindful home from Karen Maezen Miller.

25. Staying Awake from Jeff Oaks.

26. I Found A Blind Baby Sparrow Below My Balcony After A Storm from Bored Panda.

27. {this moment}, a beautiful end of summer image on SouleMama.

28. 8 Good Morning Questions that Create Happiness on Marc and Angel Hack Life.

29. What this internet addict learnt from three weeks offline from Satya on Writing Our Way Home.

30. Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte, “It takes as long as it takes.”

31. My friend Sherry sent me this last week, a poem from Hafiz,

How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being, otherwise, we will remain too frightened.

32. Wisdom from Geneen Roth’s latest newsletter,

…binge eating is not defined by the amount of food you eat but by the way you eat it. Two cookies can be a binge if you eat them with urgency, desperation, and the pressing need for an altered state. Food is a drug of choice, and when you binge, you are using your preferred substance to deny, swallow, or escape your feelings.

33. Whatever Happens Next, a beautiful and heartbreaking story of saying good-bye on Huffington Post from Judy Clement Wall.

34. I want to talk about Body Positivity, OK? from Mary Lambert.

35. Here Come the Good Movies: A dozen films opening before Thanksgiving are more than worth your time and money on Purple Clover.

36. Stop beating yourself up…It’s a WASTE of time! from Kute Blackson. I already shared this yesterday, but I really want to make sure you don’t miss it.

37. The Value of Suffering, an opinion piece by Pico Iyer on The New York Times, also something I already shared, but want to make sure you see it.

38. Shared in this week’s Positively Present Picks list: Custom Pet Stamp on Ebay and Do You Suffer from the “Easy to Buy, Hard to Use” Phenomenon? on Happiness Project.

39. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: It’s OK Not To Want It All from Amy Palko, Amelia the Airstream, a Vacation Home on Wheels on Design Sponge, and A poem a day from Austin Kleon. Bonus: Susannah shared two of my links!

40. Speaking of Susannah, How I Do It: An Interview with Susannah Conway (+ a Giveaway!) on In Spaces Between.

41. Wisdom from Kute Blackson, “Every feeling is a signal, which if you pay attention to will point you in the direction of something that you actually need to deal with, a part of you that needs loving compassion or needs to be released.”

42. 55 Quick Tips to Start Your Self-Care Practice from Anne-Sophie.

Self-Compassion Saturday: Courtney Putnam

I am posting late today, kind and gentle reader. I went hiking with my boys this morning, a long and quiet time together, space and silence that I sorely needed. This post was waiting for me to write it, but I knew that if anyone would understand the choice to be out in the green instead, it would be my dear friend Courtney Putnam.

I haven’t actually met Courtney in person, and yet she’s one of my favorite people, a true friend. A few years ago, a piece of her art was selected for the cover of a reader being used in the English Department at Colorado State University, and the Composition Program director at the time, friends with Courtney’s mom, told me, “you and Courtney need to know each other.” We became friends on Facebook, and the connection was immediate and true. We have lots in common, but more than that, Courtney is pure magic, pure medicine, full of courage and love and joy.

Courtney describes herself this way, “Solopreneur of Rising Bird Healing Arts in Seattle, WA. Massage therapist, Reiki Master, Intrinsic Coach®, artist, writer, teacher,” a Creative Healing Artist.

I told her when she emailed her responses to these questions, “As with every interaction, every time we connect, every time you touch or encourage or inspire me or make me smile, I feel the deepest longing, make a wish that we were closer, that some day, some day…” Some day we will meet, have a long conversation over tea, but for today I am so happy to share her perspective on self-compassion with you, a thing both powerful and gentle.

courtneyom1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

I love that the word “compass” is nestled in that word compassion. So is the word “passion.”  In self-compassion, the compass points to yourself; the passion for self-understanding is part of our mission. Self-compassion is self-love, self-empathy, self-mercy. Self-compassion is the act of saying YES to yourself, of sending the message “I matter,” and of experiencing self-love even when self-loathing has the louder voice.

For me, self-compassion is making room for all that I am, even with my struggles, illnesses, challenges, pain, and insecurities. Self-compassion says, “That’s okay, I still love you” to pain even when pain writes me a letter that says, “Dear Courtney, I hate you. Yours, Pain.”

TrustYourself by Courtney Putnam

TrustYourself by Courtney Putnam

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

The human body has been my primary teacher in my journey with self-compassion. The body forgives us, doesn’t hold grudges, and is constantly working to create equilibrium for us. It does this naturally, innately, and autonomically. We don’t need to ask our bodies to work on our behalf: it does so with complete humility and love.

I have been a bodywork practitioner for over eleven years, and I have had the honor of working with people and their amazing, wise, truth-telling bodies. What I have learned is that the body we inhabit knows only self-compassion and self-acceptance, even though our minds often don’t. We can be very hard on our bodies – not only in how we ask a lot out of them physically, but also in the way we think about and talk to them.  And we can ignore the messages of the body completely, which makes the body’s self-healing/self-compassion system have to work harder.

ScarMatrix by Courtney Putnam

ScarMatrix by Courtney Putnam

The body is a barometer for how we are doing and in my work I see the deep interconnection between the mind and body. Our bodies want to be acknowledged. It’s a very simple process, but sometimes hard to do because we have so many thoughts and feelings in the way – worry, anxiety, self-loathing, grief, sadness.

Here’s an example of how self-compassion is my teacher and guide during my sessions:

When there is tension or pain, I place my hands where I feel stuckness and I ask my client, “What is here?” or “What is it like for you right in this spot?”

I hear answers like,  “My grief lives here. It’s spreading like wildfire. It’s red. Burning, burning.”

I ask: “What does this spot want?  Listen.  Allow the messages to come….”

Client: “It wants air, moist cool air. It wants to cool down. It wants me to cool down. My grief needs room to breathe. It doesn’t like being contained in the fire.”

Me: “Let’s give this place cool, moist air then, okay? Imagine your next breath is cool air filling your whole chest, soothing everything.” [I place my hands on my client’s diaphragm and ribs.]

Client: [She breathes a few times. The body receives the acknowledgment of the pain, of the hot grief, the constriction — and in response to the attention and intention, the breath deepens, the heart opens. Tears flow.] “I have more room now. The red is turning green with pink on the edges.” [Another big breath surfaces naturally.]

Me: “Now what does this spot in your body have to tell you? What are you noticing?”

Client: “I hear ‘Thank you’ coming from the grief. And the grief isn’t burning through me. It’s more like it’s flowing like a river. It’s cooler, softer.” [My client’s body whole body softens.] “I also hear that I’m okay, even with this grief, right in this moment I am okay.”

LetEverythingGo by Courtney Putnam

LetEverythingGo by Courtney Putnam

The body loves to be heard and our act of listening deeply and asking what our bodies want or need to tell us is self-compassion embodied.

Compassionate transformation happens when we notice + ask what is needed + listen + breathe in what is needed.

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

My self-compassion practice has many incarnations, including …

… asking my body what it needs and then obliging its request

… dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band in the living room wearing sequins and feathers

… napping with  my cat Selkie (in the middle of the day, even when it is beautiful out)

courtneyandselkie

Courtney and Selkie

… crying while creating mixed media collages and listening to Sigur Ros

… writing YOU ARE OKAY in dry erase marker on my bathroom mirror

… reciting these mantras when I feel anxious: “ride the wave, it will pass” and “just be with it, don’t resist”

… saying “no” to going to an event or party

courtneygrateful4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

Oh goodness, there are oceans and caverns and mountains I still need to learn when it comes to self-compassion.  For starters, it is much easier for me to help others with self-compassion than it is to help myself.  Helping my clients, my friends and my family with self-love and self-healing comes naturally, but when it comes to my own self-nurturing, I have to work at it.  I know a lot of people in the helping professions would agree with me on this. We often give and give and neglect to receive. We can fray at the edges, feel the weight of other people’s problems, and exhaust ourselves. We neglect to ask for help or to take the time to give ourselves the same attention we give to others.  I have to be very attuned to my own body’s messages – and learn to take breaks, say “no,” or ask for support from others. As of this writing, I am giving myself a huge helping of self-compassion: I am taking a summer sabbatical from my bodywork practice to recharge, recalibrate, and soak up some self-nurturing time. I hear my body gently whispering yes yes yes.

courtneygentleI am so filled with gratitude and love for Courtney, for taking the time to share her responses, for doing the work she does, for being just who she is. As I told her, I so needed to hear her talk about the body being connected to the practice of self-compassion, and when I read this the first time, “We don’t need to ask our bodies to work on our behalf: it does so with complete humility and love,” it made me have to pause and cry a little.

To find out more about Courtney, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Tammy Strobel.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.