Category Archives: Freedom

Something Good

Bench at Greyrock, but Eric Salahub

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

1. The Sunday Rumpus Essay: Grief Magic by Emily Rapp.

2. How To Thrive At Work (Even If You Can’t Stand Your Job) on MindBodyGreen.

3. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, Is Your Gut Instinct Your God Instinct?

4. Celebrating Little Steps on Becoming Minimalist.

5. Always Go to the Funeral, a This I Believe essay on NPR. I learned this the hard way.

6. First Listen: Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight…, Neko Case’s new album on NPR.

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

7. On Recovering the Body, Monday Discipline: Rest and Mindful Friday: You’re Already Awesome.

8. For Apologists, a Confessional Phone Line Is Reborn on The New York Times.

9. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves on Facebook,

The only thing in your way right now — is an idea. Let go of that one idea or story and the universe can rush in with a thousand new possibilities. Everything is waiting to support you. Let go of what you “think” is in the way and discover the way.


Are you waiting for your one big chance? There is no one big chance. There are a thousand chances every day. In an inspired life, we keep loving, showing up, practicing our promises ourselves. We’re not looking for a ship to come in. We’re sailing daily.

10. The story I cannot edit from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

11. A Love Note to the “Hypersensitive,” “Too Nice,” & “Takers-of-It-Too-Personally” from Randi Buckley.

12. The Blessing Is Next to the Wound, Dani Shapiro on Positively Positive.

13. 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert on Huffington Post. I’m pretty overtly an introvert, but I still liked this list.

14. Wisdom and other good stuff from Elephant Journal: 50 Reasons Why You Are Absolutely Beautiful, and Ashton Kutcher Reveals His Real Name & Inspires in Speech at Teen Choice Awards and Baby, I was Born to Blog (amen, Britt).

15. How Four Years Can (and Should) Transform You: Mark Edmundson’s Essays Ask, “Why Teach?” from The New York Times.

16. When you shouldn’t give up sugar on first ourselves, in which Karly Randolph Pitman says,

But if you feel that your desire for sugar is really a symbol of a deeper desire – a desire to let your deepest essence unfold in the world – don’t cut out the sugar. Instead, listen to your desire. Befriend, allow and listen to your longings for sugar. Sit with them. Let your tears fall and ask yourself: How is my longing for sugar my voice, and what is it trying to say? What I am truly needing?

Listen to this voice. There’s so much wisdom in it.

And then be willing to go out on that limb – trusting what you hear – and live it. Let your deepest self speak, and your essence, unfold.

How many times, how many ways has Rachel Cole tried to tell me this? How many times do I need to hear it, from how many, before I finally get it?

18. Charity:Water is at it again.

17. Of tiny pink dumbbells and fat chicks from Carrie Patrick.

18. Thin Women: I’ve Got Your Back. Could You Get Mine? on Jezebel, in which Lindy West says, “ALL of our energy, collectively, no matter what our size, should be directed at the system that makes us hate ourselves for profit.” Amen.

19. What Happens Here Matters, living on the internet like I live on my block from Brit Hanson.

20. How I revolutionized my relationship to “doing”: Meet The Divine Medicine Woman & The Impeccable Street Sweeper from Danielle LaPorte. I think I need to fire my street sweeper.

21. Wisdom from Seth Godin, “Do you have three minutes?” The conservation of mental bandwidth and 120 seconds (shipping vs. rushing)

22. Wisdom from Marc and Angel Hack Life, 7 Questions You Are Too Scared to Ask and 10 Ways Happy People Prioritize Their To-Do Lists and 9 Things You Will Regret Not Doing Sooner.

23. The Many Flavours of Freedom from Deva Coaching.

24. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

You can cruise through life not letting anything touch you, but if you really want to live fully, if you want to enter into life, enter into genuine relationships with other people, with animals, with the world situation, you’re definitely going to have the experience of feeling provoked, of getting hooked, of shenpa. You’re not just going to feel bliss. The message is that when those feelings emerge, this is not a failure. This is the chance to cultivate maitri, unconditional friendliness toward your perfect and imperfect self.

25. Creating Your Habit Environment on Zen Habits.

26. #Inbound13 and the Culture of Caring from Susan Piver.

27. Architecture Student Bought a School Bus and Turned It Into Cozy Mobile Home from Bored Panda.

28. 10 small things you could do today that just might change your life (or at least your state of mind) from Justine Musk.

29. Monday Blues on SF Girl by Bay.

30. The 30-Day Negativity Cleanse on Live After Tampons. I’m in. What about you?

32. Wisdom from Your Inner Pilot Light,

Not sure whether you’re making the right decision, sunshine? Ask yourself these questions. 1. Does it make you feel free? 2. Is it in line with your vision and mission? 3. Does it feel authentic? 4. Will it help more people than it hurts? 5. Does it make you break into a happy dance? 6. Will it light my fire?

32. 18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong on BuzzFeed.

33. Wisdom from Sharon Salzberg, “Generosity is the very first quality of an awakened mind.”

34. Poem shared by Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk.

35. Motherhood: The Big, Fat Fuck You on Scary Mommy. I’m not a mom, but I totally get this.

36. The Days Before Classes Begin by Jeff Oaks.

37. A free video series by SARK. Don’t miss it! on Superhero Life.

38. From Brave Girls Club,

Keep looking for goodness, beauty and truth. It is worth the effort. While life is sometimes dull and gray and even downright miserable in patches, there is always even more beauty and truth than darkness and ugliness. May you find other beautiful souls who are seeking just like you are. If you cannot find what you are seeking today, may you go out and create it. You are more than capable and you will effect more lives that you could ever know . . . especially your own. Keep looking. It is there, and you will find it.

39. From Positively Present Picks list, The Psychology of Color.

40. More on the wisdom of grief, from Amy McCracken on 3x3x365.

41. Bright Flashes, from Danielle Ate the Sandwich, just because.

42. 7 Truths About Being A Yoga Teacher That No One Will Ever Tell You on MindBodyGreen.

43. Brené Brown On Why Courage, Vulnerability And Authenticity Have To Be Practiced on Huffington Post, in which she says, “The people who practice authenticity work their ass off at it.”

44. Modern Love: Picking Up the Scent on the Road to Bliss on The New York Times, in which Tatjana Soli says,

Necessity creates opportunity that can lead to bliss… In my life, dogs have always been a part of that equation, a way to find the small, grounding moments in life — the grass, sunlight and sweet bite of plums — that we commonly call happiness.

45. If I Were a Dog, a beautiful poem by Richard Shelton.

Freedom, an Update


The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage. ~Thucydides

Independence Day in the U.S. seems like a good day to check in about how I’m doing with the guiding word I chose for 2013: Freedom. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much has changed in a year. People in my online community are posting about their preparations for World Domination Summit (WDS), which is this weekend. This event is the one year anniversary of Dexter’s first cancer symptoms, a reverse sneeze and bloody nose. I was at WDS and Eric was at “our house” in Waldport with the dogs. He didn’t tell me what had happened because he knew I’d worry, maybe even want to leave the event early.

His first thought was cancer, he could hardly help it after what happened to our Obi, but Dexter wouldn’t be diagnosed for another month, and even then it was “we aren’t 100% sure, but all the symptoms indicate a fatal nasal tumor.” We were told we’d only have 2-3 months with him, but we had almost a whole year, made it within a week of that anniversary.


My experience of freedom right now is strange, mixed, complicated.
Yes, I am free from Dexter’s cancer (as is he), released from the worry and the anxiety and the caretaking; and yet that freedom also means a direct and powerful relationship with grief, loss, and sadness, which doesn’t exactly feel free. In terms of my disordered eating, I have a kind hearted and experienced therapist to help me work through it, let it go, be free from it, but that’s clearly going to be harder than I thought. I have a list of almost 20 reasons I do what I do, which create a resistance to letting go of the behavior, freeing myself from this way of being.

Another form of freedom I long for is from my paid work, so I can devote myself fully to my heart’s work. One friend, a trained coach, helped me see I’m at a 10 now and that my ideal is a 5, (in terms of what I do, the effort involved), and another helped me to see the easiest and maybe only way for me to get from 10 to 5 would be to give up my paid work. And yet, that’s so difficult, and not an immediate option, so that particular freedom has to wait.

Fear is the cage, love is the key.


When I described how I wanted to experience freedom, I used words like simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity, and openness. Some of this is certainly happening, even around the places I feel stuck.

  • I’m decluttering my work space, creating a place at home that honors what I am truly doing, simple and clear.
  • I’m clear about the next steps in my “escape plan,” what I should be focusing on in my heart’s work. Sometimes this is about having a specific goal and working towards it, and other times it is about surrendering to the process, allowing what shows up, being open to mystery and magic, even mayhem.
  • I socialize less and less, and the things I commit to are what truly feed me, providing inspiration and comfort and joy, move me forward or help me “stay in my seat.”
  • Even thought I’m stuck in some places, I have so much more clarity about why, can see and understand what I’m really doing, what I’m getting out of it, and I forgive myself.
  • Losing Dexter was so hard, but I surrendered to that experience, stayed open and present, still am.
  • My body continues to ask for more rest, and I’m doing my best to provide it, to keep a more gentle pace, to seek out ease.

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

Wishcasting Wednesday

What do you wish to believe in?


from jamie’s post

I wish to believe in the reality of change, impermanence, no ground or center that will hold, no safe place. I cause myself so much suffering clinging to these ideas, chasing after them.

I wish to believe in this, “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.” ~Chögyam Trungpa

I wish to believe in my inherent worth, my basic goodness, my fundamental wisdom and compassion and strength. I cause myself so much suffering through self-doubt, lack of confidence.

I wish to believe in the value of rest, of doing nothing, of giving nothing, the possibility of health and wellness.

I wish to believe in the possibility freedom, complete and utter freedom. Simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity, openness.

I wish to believe in my intuition, about my mission and my work, to have confidence that what I dream of will manifest, it will all work out, so I can relax into the experience, being in this moment, concentrating on doing one thing at a time, giving it my full attention.

I wish to believe in my value, to stop chasing after something “out there,” external validation and things, stuff and nonsense, and know that everything I need or want, I already have.


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.

Day of Rest

I had planned to do a bit of gardening this weekend. I’d noticed last week that some of my irises were starting to send out tiny green shoots, and I hadn’t yet cleaned out remnants of last year’s plants. I was going to clear some space, give Spring some room. Then Winter decided to make a comeback, bring snow for the third time this week, even more than we got before. There would be no gardening today.

There are at least two other blog posts insisting on being written right now. One I already started last night, but I “ran out of gas” and left it unpublished. There’s also an ecourse I’m supposed to be developing, a checkbook that needs balanced and laundry that should be put away. I am getting better and better at doing this, leaving things undone when it’s clear that there is something else I hunger for, letting go of the “shoulds,” focusing more on my experience than on my output, lowering the bar, trusting myself.

Last week was rough. I wasn’t sleeping very well, was worried about both dogs, had this awful feeling of not being able to keep those I love safe, of not being safe, and it wore me down. It was a horrible feeling of anxiety and dread, and I was stuck in it. At night, I would wake up if Dexter got up and worry about him, and after a few nights of that and a nervous system that was completely raw, I resorted to sleeping with earplugs, completely surrendering to sleep which I so desperately needed, trusting that Dexter would be okay and knowing that if I didn’t get some rest, I wouldn’t be able to help him if he wasn’t.

Then finally, there came a day when I didn’t feel so rough. I let myself be touched, moved. I was weepy and open. Watching Ben and Leslie’s wedding on Parks and Recreation, I cried during their vows, (they said “I love you, and I like you”). I asked my friend Pam, who gives me super quick “drive by hugs” at work, to give me a right proper hug because I’d had a tough week. I relaxed as I watched Dexter and Sam cuddled next to each other on the dog bed next to me on the floor, each playing with their own toy, eventually falling into a shared nap.

I relaxed the tight ball in my chest that morning, first when my Sam leaned his head into mine and let out a deep sigh, and later in yoga, taking deep breaths, stretching and sinking into each pose. When my friend Mitch said goodbye to me after yoga class, leaned in and play punched my arm, I let myself feel that he loves me, that people can genuinely love each other and that doesn’t have to be weird. All of the anxiety and awfulness of the past week broke me open, left me raw and vulnerable, and because of that I was able to be present.

So today, when some plans got changed due to the weather, I was fine with it. I love the snow here, and today it allowed me to snuggle up, sink in, slow down, relax. It makes everything quiet, fills it with light. I knew that what I most needed was to read some Pema Chödrön, specifically her new book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change. Clearly, I wasn’t wrong about this book, her gentle wisdom was exactly what I needed right now.

My word for this year is Freedom. It is a quality, an experience that I am trying to cultivate in my life. This past week, when I was stuck in a spiral of anxiety and despair, I was not free. I wish for suffering to ease, in myself and in the world, and for love to grow in its place, but instead I trapped myself in my own confusion and grief. In Pema’s book, she says,

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

This is where I’m at, what I’m working with. At times, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and I don’t think I’ll be able to stand it for another moment, but then the next moment comes, and I’m able to start again. Rest in this sense means trusting that “this too shall pass,” that nothing is permanent, and that’s okay. Rest means allowing what is to be as it is, rather than rushing to change it or escape it. Rest even means taking the Bodhisattva vow, which as Pema describes is “a commitment to dedicate our lives to keeping our hearts and minds open and to nurturing our compassion with the longing to ease the suffering of the world.” I am filled with this longing, along with gratitude for the wise and compassionate help that is available to me as I continue to try.

2013 Vision Board

I finally, finally and just in the nick of time (since I have to go back to my paid work tomorrow) finished my 2013 vision board. Liv Lane describes the practice this way, “Rather than waiting to ‘see what happens’ in 2013, creating a vision board allows you to see what can happen in 2013.”

I couldn’t get a very good picture of it, and it’s too big to use my scanner, but here’s what I came up with:

New Year, New You

“The new year is always the perfect time to make a commitment to yourself to increase your daily fitness and live a healthier life. This year, make another commitment to find new ways to slow down your busy life and create a little peace and serenity.”

Free, free, free, free, free.
(Freedom is my guiding word, my intention for 2013,
to feel free, free from and free to).
Walking in the park…shades of gray.
A thousand shades of gray.

Making space,
radical self-acceptance,
beautiful you.
Dreaming. Comfort.
Change your space, free your mind.
Relax. Open. Deepen.

Path is simple: to root in purpose.
“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,” (Kris Carr).

To tread lightly.
To remember.
To be outside.
To step off the path.
To play.
To live.

The art of living knows no bounds.
Free, free, free, free, free.
Truly joyful.
Truly memorable.
Truly original.

Images: The image of the submerged stump in the lower right corner for me represents that the growth you can see, the life that is visible is only part of the story, that there is so much more below the surface.


This year I intend to continue sinking deep into my body and the present moment, running and practicing yoga and walking in the park and meditating and getting naked.

There is an elephant on the lower left side, like Ganesha, a protector and remover of obstacles. Art, light, writing, and strawberries, (I’m planning a berry bed that will run the entire length of the front of my house). Arrows and a strip of map, a path, direction and movement.

The picture of the woman on the typewriter is a tiny bit of magic. I originally had a picture of a woman in sitting meditation, but felt the board wasn’t done, it needed something that represented my desire, my longing, my aspiration, my intention to write and publish. I opened up an issue of Taproot and started to flip through the pages, and there she was, the turquoise of the typewriter so perfectly matched to the blue of the water below it.

What is so magic about it is that hat looks suspiciously like one owned and worn by my good friend Sherry Richert Belul. If it’s not you, Sherry, please don’t tell me. The thought that it might be her/you, that she/you might represent the friendship and support of a collective of kindreds, of like-minded artists and warriors, of all those in my tribe, including all my kind and gentle readers, gives me so much joy.

P.S. Magic update: If you read the comments, it turns out that IS Sherry in the picture. How cool is that?!

Day of Rest

itsokayI’ve written here before about how I choose to believe that the Universe is communicating with me, sending me messages, and about how Eric fundamentally disagrees with me.



There are times when I have to interpret the message, guess what it means to see a flock of Robins, to find feathers or a heart-shaped rock in my path on a walk, or to dream about someone I haven’t see in a long time.


Other times, the message is quite literal, spelled out you might say. The message in those moments is pretty clear.

knowyourlimits stay

This past week, my friend Courtney posted a picture of cards she’d pulled on New Year’s Eve, (Soul Coaching Oracle Cards: What Your Soul Wants You to Know, by Denise Linn) and added “Anyone else want me to draw a card for them?” to which I responded “Me, me, pick me!!!”

The card she pulled for me?! Freedom. This is the word I picked for myself this year, my intention for 2013, the way I want to feel–freedom to and freedom from. I want to invite this into my life, this sense of complete freedom, and with it simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity, and openness.

Card Meaning: Break free, express yourself, and let your spirit fly! Flaunt your stuff, dance, laugh, explore, and go beyond predictable behavior. Be daring. Fling your arms to the heavens in joy.

Your soul wants you to know: You aren’t here to be ordinary, but to step beyond limitations and self-imposed boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped by convention or the expectations of others. You have the ability to choose your life on your terms. Replace the phrase “I should” with “I could, but choose not to at this time.” Perhaps you aren’t always free to create the exact circumstances of your life–but you’re certainly able to decide what meaning to give those situations. Select meanings that empower you, for this is the time to break free.

Affirmation: “Boundless freedom surges through me.”

freedomcardcourtneypulledformeDear Universe,

Message received, loud and clear. Good to know I’m on the right path, that you agree, that I picked the right word.

Love you.