Category Archives: Giving

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 7

reverb12

There’s one prompt from today’s group that I feel like even if I haven’t answered it directly, I’ve answered around it, so close to it, making lists of the highlights of my year, talking about what I didn’t want to forget, that I don’t feel like doing it again. It’s this: “7 Minutes: Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2012 in 7 minutes. Set an alarm for 7 minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2012. (Author: Patty Digh, with an extra 2 minutes from me [the Linar Studio]!)”

What’s the one thing you want to take with you into 2013?

This prompt is from Kat at I Saw You Dancing. Her summary of this first week of Reverb 12, her own answers to the prompts she’s been offering, the event she’s hosting, is really beautiful. You should read it if you get the chance.

The one thing I want to take with me into 2013 is my open heart. After so many years of keeping it locked up tight, trying to protect it from harm, I had it broken open, twice in a row. First I lost my Obi, and six months later, my friend Kelly. It was a painful and stark reminder of impermanence, that there are no guarantees, that I didn’t have time to waste. I decided to honor their loss, their lives by finally, really and fully living mine.

I had been sleepwalking, hiding, suffering, faking my way through my days, through my whole life, confused and afraid. That hurt, the loss, those traumas woke me up. The process started three years ago, but it wasn’t really until this year that I adopted the change as a way of being, determined that I was never going back. I don’t want to go back into my cocoon. I used to believe that it kept me safe, but it was a stinky, cluttered, lonely mess of a place.

Giving

The full prompt is: “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” (David Viscott) What is your gift to give?

First of all, this reveals the origins of the quote on the picture I shared the other day. Someone had posted it on Facebook, and I loved it so much, I had to make something with it, but I had trouble finding who to attribute the quote to, (a few places even credited Pablo Picasso), so in the end I didn’t. Now we know: David Viscott.

mypurposeMy gift is reminding people of their basic nature–awake, wise, and compassionate–and encouraging them to embody it. Reality, the world, all of it is workable. Anything that needs fixing, anyone who needs help, we can be the someone to do so (even if the life we are saving is our own), we have the power, the means to make things better, to ease suffering in the world. We will struggle, but we are not alone, we are not lost. No matter where we are, no matter how bad things have gotten, we can start again.

I won’t sugar coat it, don’t pretend that nothing is sad or broken or irritating or upsetting or difficult. I’m not lying, or making up a story with a happy ending to make it easier to fall asleep. Hope is just as problematic as fear. I am sharing what is real and true: life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible. As Pema Chödrön says, “None of us is okay and all of us are fine.”

I encourage and inspire people to keep their hearts open. No matter how much it hurts, or how hard, we have to show up, soften to what is, stay in our seats, in our bodies, on our path. There is joy to be found, love to be given. Even in the worst moments, we can take a breath, experience freedom, offer kindness and feel at ease.

Feast

The full prompt: Hopefully you’ve had more than one spectacular meal in 2012, but what is the first that comes to mind? Were you surrounded by family at the dining room table? Sitting on a bench by the lake? Bring us there.

The feast I experienced this year was a month of eating while we were in Waldport, Oregon. Fresh seafood. Marionberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots from the Farmer’s Market.

farmersmarkethaulMaple bars, Bear Claws stuffed with marionberry filling (*swoon*), cookies, and other luscious goodies from the Depoe Baykery. It was a really, really good thing we were walking so many miles on the beach every day.

depoebaykeryMy mom and aunt visited for a few days, and we ate very well. The full breakfast, spaghetti dinner, and venison stew were some of my favorites. At dinner one night with a group of my aunts and uncles, we were all stuffed from pasta, so full we could barely eat another bite but there was strawberry shortcake, so we were making the best of it, and at the same time, we were talking about food, other meals we remembered, special recipes (my grandma’s orange marmalade was referenced). I looked around the table with love and said “You know how I know y’all are my people? We are all stuffed, but still managing to eat dessert, and at the same time, we are still talking about food.”

Instructions for Living a Life

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
~Mary Oliver

This morning, walking the dogs with Eric, I saw: a huge tree that’s been dead for a long time finally fell down (and it was big enough that it certainly went “boom” when it did), a dead beaver carcass, two white tailed deer, one whose tail wasn’t quite working so it might be hurt, one massive turtle still looking for a spot to lay her eggs walking like a tiny dinosaur through the grass by the creek between Wood Duck Pond and the McMurray Ponds (same exact date we saw her last year, so May 31st is now officially Turtle Day), two mini Herons, one of which looked more like a Penguin as he stood on a log fishing (turns out they are actually called a Black Crowned Night Heron), one large Blue Heron in flight over the river that later was heard squawking and flying in the other direction, and finally, a bicycle parade.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Black Crowned Night Heron

I received gifts: access to workshops with amazing women at the World Domination Summit in July (yoga with Marianne Elliott, Writing with Susannah Conway, Book Content Mapping with Cynthia Morris, and Identifying Superpowers with Andrea Scher…holy wow, such amazing women that I so adore, my head/heart might explode), my Kickstarter reward from Danielle Ate the Sandwich arrived, along with her new album, which is every bit as good as I knew it would be, and I found a heart-shaped rock on our walk.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

I gave gifts: some were shared words of wisdom and kindness, others were scholarships for Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project Practitioner level, and finally there was my heART exchange project, which I finally finished and mailed to Australia today. I plan to write a post about the process (I didn’t just make something, I learned stuff) once my swap partner receives it.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

heART exchange project sneak peek

Tribe: it’s Tribe week in my Unravelling ecourse with Susannah Conway, so I’ve been thinking a lot about that, how we can be a tribe of one even. I spent a little bit of time being a tribe of one, writing and eating lunch while waiting for a friend to arrive so we could be a tribe of two and have a long talk about perfection, art, boundaries, dogs and trust. Then, I spent part of the afternoon having another long talk with another good friend, drinking mango lemonade and eating a blue flower cookie as big as my head. I have amazing women in my life, in my tribe.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

Yay Turkey, Split Pea Soup, Root Beer, and a notebook at Red Table.

I’ve had moments of being wholehearted, with myself and others in my tribe. These two quotes from Anne Lamott remind me how wonderful and difficult that is: “The love and good and the wild and the peace and creation that are you will reveal themselves, but it is harder when they have to catch up to you in roadrunner mode” and “We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” I am reminded to slow down, stop doing so much and be.

I paid attention and was astonished, and I wanted to tell you about it.

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 zenhabits.net 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!

Full Moon Dreamboard: Full Cold Moon

Last night was a full, bright moon. It was so light and white out that when Sam went to go potty before bed, he had a shadow that followed him around our snowy backyard.

Full Moon Dreamboards: This is another practice offered by Jamie Ridler. She describes it this way,

Dreamboards are fun and powerful creative tools. Using words and images, they express our desires and dreams, making them easier for both us and the Universe to see. Engaging in a regular process of dreamboarding can inspire, increase self-awareness and help you manifest your dreams. And to infuse this creating with even more energy, we harness the power of the moon by making or sharing these boards when she is full.

This is my first Full Moon Dreamboard, Full Cold Moon, (you can click on the image to see a larger version). This moon’s question:

“What comforts are you dreaming of?”

Some of the themes and elements that came up for me as I worked on this:

The ocean. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, only a few hours from the ocean.  Living with the sun and mountains of Colorado is home, but so is being near the Pacific. And even though I miss it every day, I still feel so connected to it.  Every other summer, Eric and I rent a house in Waldport, Oregon and spend a month hiking, eating seafood, reading, taking naps, and walking up and down the beach. This coming summer is the year we get to go, so I am dreaming of the comfort that place gives me.

Balance. Practice and study, but also stillness and rest, a blend of comfort and craft.

Connecting to center, the heart of wisdom and compassion. A return and rest in stillness and simplicity, mindfulness and meditation, the seat of power and love.

Blue. The water, the sky, the Medicine Buddha, (the doctor who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings).

A return, a connection to what is simple and true. That which is never faded or broken or lost. Freedom from attachment to external things, a settling in to being, here and now.

Gifts. Connected, centered in self-love, self-care, and self-knowledge, I can simply be. The magic of an open heart and a still & skillful mind is that I also generate enough to share. I hum with power, and my superpowers are gentleness and mindfulness. I open my heart and give away what I don’t need. “Give, look, love.”

Wishcasting

In this last month of 2011, I keep getting reminded to reflect and celebrate the past year, as well as look ahead, dream, and anticipate the next. The newsletter I get from writing coach Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse Inc. came today and included a link to an end of year review, “Celebrate and Let Go: Take some time to acknowledge yourself for what you have accomplished and who you have become over the last year.” I went in my meditation room and lit the candles on my shrine with the intention of working with it, but I ended up taking a nap instead, honoring my need for more sleep. I did this because in the last year, I have become a better friend to myself.

Happily and coincidentally, Wishcasting Wednesday on Jamie Ridler’s site today is “What do you wish to celebrate?

from Jamie's post

First, I wish to celebrate Jamie Ridler and her outreach to dreamers and wishcasters like me. Today is her birthday, and her birth, her commitment to being who she is and sharing that is a gift to all of us. She throws a wishing party every week, bakes a big cake, and invites all of us to blow out the candles and make our own wish.

On Jamie’s “about” page on her website, she includes this list:

I believe…

  • The arts belong to everybody
  • In finding the courage to be who we are meant to be
  • In experiencing life
  • In celebration
  • There is room for you, all of you
  • Our bodies are wise
  • The world needs our gifts
  • That having fun and working hard are awesome companions
  • That life is sacred
  • In the Universe

Jamie’s open-hearted and generous work helps me to believe these things too. On this day of her birth, may she be peaceful. May she be happy. May she be safe. May she be awake to the light of their true nature. May she be free. (See what I did there? Now when other wishcasters come, and finish the practice by wishing “As you wish, I wish also” it will send Jamie an even bigger birthday wish–maybe I should warn her about all the goodness coming her way? Nah, I think I’ll let her be surprised.)

I wish to celebrate the wisdom and kindness I practiced during this past four months, specifically at work. I was teaching, which is always intense, and working with a few difficult situations, but I managed it with grace, most of the time. As much as I could be, I was wise and kind, and at the very least, I managed to generate less suffering.

I wish to celebrate this blog, and all its kind and gentle readers. I started this blog on a whim, a “sure, why not” moment of inspiration that I described like this “I had my students set up blogs for a semester long blogging project they’ll be doing. One girl raised her hand and said, ‘Can I just say how excited I am about this? I have been wanting to start a blog for the longest time, and ever since you said we were going to get to in this class, I’ve been so excited.’ Hey, me too…I think I’ll start a blog. Why not? And especially, why not now?!” and ever since that moment, that first post, this has felt so right.  The Universe keeps saying “yes” to me, celebrating with me that I finally broke through and got unstuck and started.

from Hippie Dogs' blog

I wish to celebrate all the kindness being practiced by so many.
There’s so much of it that if you are paying attention, there really is no time for criticism or negativity, there’s just no room. If you haven’t received your invitation yet, roll up your sleeves and get dirty.

I wish to celebrate all the people and projects who’ve made it easy for me to get involved and help do good: especially the Pine Ridge Holiday Project, Animal House Rescue, Heifer International, and the Larimer County Food Bank.

I wish to celebrate the choice I made to honor and love myself. This is one of the best things I have ever done, and I can’t stop thanking myself for it. I heard wedding vows the other day and it struck me that they are similar to the promise, the commitment I’ve made to myself: “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Amen.