Category Archives: Hugh MacLeod

Something Good

1. Life in Five Seconds: Minimalist Pictogram Summaries of Pop Culture and Historical Events on Brain Pickings. (I think the Michael Jackson one might be a bit harsh, but the rest are pretty cool).

2. Savor on Just Lara. Some day I will learn how to do this.

3. This quote from Thich Nhat Hahn:

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don’t try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.

4. 20 Ways Toddlers are Like Drunk People and How Having Children is Like Living in a Frat House. So funny, because it’s true.

5. An Apology to End All Apologies from Julie Daley on Unabashedly Female.

6. The Beauty of Losing from Jennifer Louden.

7. The Pace, The Process and The Promise from Sas Petherick.

8. Dolphin Seeks Help from Diver.

9. This quote from Hugh MacLeod, “If you’re unhappy, nine times out of ten it’s because you’re clinging onto something. Nine times out of ten, happiness and letting go are synonymous.”

10. This quote from Ernest Hemingway, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”

11. How to Slow Down: A Simple Guide to Slow Living from Cigdem Kobu.

12. On Turning 35 from Christina Rosalie. “This, this is my beautiful, reckless, heartbreaking, perfect life.”

13. “In truth, there is enormous space in which to live our everyday lives.” ~Pema Chödron

14. 20 Great Writers on the Art of Revision on Flavorwire.

15. You are Beautiful Book Kickstarter Project. You know I pledged.


16. A new website, Make Me Joyful. Yes, please.

17. Goodbye Mom. A beautiful tribute to his mother, and a message for all of us.

18. Brene’ Brown on the Today Show.

19. A Good Life from Judy Clement Wall, and a really good question.

20. This quote:

Meditation is not something that you do. Meditation is a movement into the whole question of our living: how we live, how we behave, whether we have fears, anxieties, sorrows; whether we are everlastingly pursuing pleasure; and whether we have built images about ourselves and about others. ~J. Krishnamurti

21. Patti Digh reminded me of this post, Simple Living Manifesto: 72 Ideas to Simplify Your Life.

22. This quote:

Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control. We can love and care for others but we cannot possess our children, lovers, family, or friends. We can assist them, pray for them, and wish them well, yet in the end their happiness and suffering depend on their thoughts and actions, not on our wishes. ~Jack Kornfield

23. Meet this transient world with neither grasping nor fear, trust the unfolding of life, and you will attain true serenity. ~Bhagavad Gita

24. Kindness is the Cure for Depression from Gennifer Carragher on Kind Over Matter. (P.S. I am compelled to add, however, that if your depression doesn’t get better with this method, is more than mild, please ask for help).

25. The Truth About Simplicity on Be More With Less by Courtney Carver.

26. Rachel Cole’s Pooches Pintrest board. Oh, the cuteness!

27. Tickets are now on sale for Rachel’s 2013 Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Tour. Now I just have to decide which one to go to…


28. A few of these things came originally from some other really good lists you should read, if you like this sort of thing:

29. Wide Awake: The Path of Meditation, a webinar with Susan Piver, an introduction to the basics of meditation practice.

30. And finally, quite possibly the cutest thing all week: A Pep Talk from Kid President to You.

Something Good

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

  • World Domination Summit (WDS) is this weekend!!! I have been looking forward to this for a very long time, and there are things I have the chance to do there that I couldn’t have even imagined when I bought my ticket. I am also approaching it as an opportunity to remain calm, care for myself, respect my limitations, practice awareness and mindfulness, to be confident, surrender and let go. My mantra is “This is me. I have enough. I am enough.”
  • Congregation: the crazy awesome results of being amidst world-changing people, a post on Scoutie Girl by Tara Gentile about WDS.
  • Regrets of the Dying (and other possibilities for life) by Sandi at Deva Coaching.
  • When you don’t want to belong from Jennifer Louden. Have I said lately how much I adore this woman? I’m hoping at WDS to have the chance to tell her, (hopefully without freaking out, or throwing up on her shoes).
  • Ease Into Health With Green Juice and Smoothies on Be More With Less. Apparently, Courtney Carver’s badassness has no limits, and as soon as I get back home to Colorado, I am getting serious about doing the juice thing I’ve been talking about for months.
  • Tammy at Rowdy Kittens is quitting sugar, which she explains in her post An Ode to Sugar. She and Courtney Carver are like this badass super duo instigating all kinds of crazy change in my life. Juicing, then giving up sugar!
  • An Open Letter to Mean People Everywhere by Lissa Rankin. I write lots of open love letters, but someone needed to write this one too.
  • How to Be Creative, a manifesto from Hugh MccLeod. I love a good manifesto, and I love Hugh, so it’s a win, win.
  • 50 Inspirational Quotes to Power Up Your Inner Badass on Kind Over Matter. So much wisdom here. One of my favorites is this: I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality
    and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it. ~Johnny Depp
  • 50 Ways to Open Your World to New Possibilities on Tiny Buddha.

  • 5 Ways to Be Present This Summer on The Change Blog. I’d like to suggest we apply this list to all four seasons.
  • For all the beautiful young writers & artists trying to ‘figure it all out’ on Unicorns for Socialism. Alex Franzen is one flaming brilliant badass, and in this post, she proves it once again. You don’t have to be young to benefit from this wisdom:
    Try things.
    LOTS of things.
    Don’t get attached to obvious titles or tracks.
    Examine your feelings.
    See what lights you up.
    Do more of that, and less of the other shit.
    Repeat for approximately 100 years.
    Well done!
    The end.
  • This is it from Jonathan Fields. This is it, that is all. Amen.
  • Lumps, a great post from Pamela at Walking on My Hands.
  • And finally this: a wish that you look up or out today and see something this beautiful, whatever that might be for you–the smile on a face you love, rain where there had been too little, a new bloom, a fresh berry, a soft feather, a heart-shaped rock, your solid house with its open door, or your own brilliant reflection reminding you that you are alive, and therefore free.

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie's post

What do you wish to experience?

Contentment. Satisfaction and peace, surrender and acceptance, ease and relaxation, fearlessness and joy, simplicity and engagement.

Love. On every channel, all the time, 24/7. Know it, feel it, be it. Love, love, love. And then, more love. Keep it coming, keep it going.

Health. Full body and full life wholehearted and embodied wellness. I want to light up, shine with it, glow, radiate.

Confidence. Certainty, courage, daring, determination, faith, tenacity.

Self-love. This is most likely a combination or culmination of the rest, what is at the center, the heart of everything else, its foundation, but it seems to be worth an independent mention. I want to move through the hours and days of my life with supreme confidence in my innate wisdom, compassion, strength, and fundamental goodness.

That part of the list is states of being, but there are also “things” I wish to experience.

Playing the ukulele well enough that I wouldn’t embarrass myself. The secret wish underneath is to someday be able to do a duet with Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Just once, please. But I have a lot of work to do first, like learning to play.

Publication. I’m okay without it. I have a full writing life, even if it never happens. Writing is like prayer for me, a spiritual practice, and I am utterly devoted to it. But…I’d also like to be published, as in paid for my work, as in people curled up in hammocks or in front of a fire on the couch cuddling with their dog reading my books.

Paid work that isn’t work, but rather pure love, aligned with my calling, maybe even God’s work. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating that I don’t need what I love to pay my rent, or turn into a business, and yet…it might not be the worst thing if what I love, the work I would do regardless, the thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night thinking and planning, the stuff that makes me wake up and rise at 4:30 am every morning, and the money, the means to take care of what needs taken care of, would be in the same location at the same time, would feed each other, work together, and then I could just do what I love, all the time, instead of trying to juggle full-time paid work with everything else I want to do. It is sometimes like trying to live two lives, and that can be exhausting, and lonely.

Hike the Appalachian Trail with Eric.

My very own writing cabin.

A whole summer in Amsterdam.

Dathun, a month long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center.

An in-person workshop with Brene’ Brown.

P.S. The magic power of wishing, part two: Holy wow! Brene’ is going to be in Boulder for a two day workshop in May, and I am going.

A yoga retreat with my friend and yoga teacher Jessica.

A writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg.

Church with Anne Lamott.

A meet-up with Susannah Conway. Really, what I would love is a long weekend on the beach with her, writing and blogging and taking pictures and talking and taking long naps and eating and laughing.

P.S. The magic power of wishing: I just found out this morning, less than 24 hours after making this post, that Susannah is going to be at the World Domination Summit, and has proposed a writing workshop. Even if the workshop doesn’t go (it so will), there is a very real chance that I am going to be able to at least tell her in person how much I adore her. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true!

Walk and talk with Mary Oliver. This is most likely the craziest wish on this list, but I would just love to be near her and able to tell her just once in-person how much I love her, how much her words have meant to me.

Swim without fear.

Hike with Judy Clement Wall.
A walk on the beach with Julia.
Take pictures or paint with Andrea Scher.
Sit with Jen Lemen at her kitchen table.
Sit in stillness with Erica Staab.
Meditate with Susan Piver, (oh wait, I actually get to do this in a few weeks!).
Discuss writing with Margaret Atwood, and not embarrass myself.
Trust over a cup of tea with Kristin Noelle.
Make art with Patti Digh.
Take a yoga class with Jennifer Louden.
Ask Pema Chödrön one million questions.
Take a Nia class with Jamie Ridler.
Go on tour with Aimee Mann.
Teach an art and writing class for girls with Kandyce.
Draw with Hugh MacLeod.
Listen to Neil Gaiman read.

I could keep going with this list forever and ever…so many good people doing so much good stuff and I want to just hang out with them and soak up all that goodness and tell them to their sweet faces how much I adore them.

The Thing

I love hearing stories about artists who are just doing what they enjoy, not thinking about it in terms of it being a project or product, not planning it out or considering how marketable it might be or who the audience is–just having a good time, when they stumble upon “The Thing.” Some small, seemingly random and unimportant thing that ends up being the big thing, the thing that they are known for, paid for, maybe even famous for–The Thing.

image by Tim

For example, artist Hugh MacCleod. His story, in his own words, is:

art by hugh maccleod

When I first lived in Manhat­tan in Decem­ber, 1997 I got into the habit of dood­ling on the back of busi­ness cards, just to give me something to do while sit­ting at the bar. The for­mat stuck.

All I had when I first got to Manhat­tan were 2 suit­ca­ses, a cou­ple of card­board boxes full of stuff, a reser­va­tion at the YMCA, and a 10-day free­lance copyw­ri­ting gig at a Mid­town adver­ti­sing agency.

My life for the next cou­ple of weeks was going to work, wal­king around the city, and stag­ge­ring back to the YMCA once the bars clo­sed. Lots of alcohol and cof­fee shops. Lot of weird peo­ple. Being hit five times a day by this strange desire to laugh, sing and cry simul­ta­neously. At times like these, there’s a lot to be said for an art form that fits easily inside your coat poc­ket.

Now Hugh writes a wildly popular blog, has published two books, is commissioned for his art on a regular basis, gives talks at conferences, is the CEO of a wine company, and sells prints of his work for hundreds of dollars. He found his thing.

art by Hugh MacCleod

Then there is author Dallas Clayton.

Dallas Clayton is a person who wrote a book for his kid, and it ended up starting a revolution of sorts, certainly led to a career where he got to work doing what he loved. He says, in an interview with Brene’ Brown: “Do what makes you happy. Use that to make other people happy.” He’s a guy who wrote a book for his kid, and it ended up being his thing.

And Austin Kleon, “a writer who draws.” His story, in his own words:

I’m probably best known for my Newspaper Blackout Poems—poetry made by redacting words from newspaper articles with a permanent marker. I started making them in 2005 when I was right out of college and facing a nasty case of writer’s block. The poems spread around the internet, and in April 2010, Harper Perennial published a best-selling collection, Newspaper Blackout. New York Magazine called the book “brilliant‚” and The New Yorker said the poems “resurrect the newspaper when everyone else is declaring it dead.”

Currently, he’s writing a new book called Steal Like An Artist. His work has been featured on 20×200, NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The Wall Street Journal. He speaks about creativity, visual thinking, and being an artist online for organizations such as SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist. But he started by just doing what he did and sharing it, and “it” turned out to be his thing.

And there’s SARK. In a dark moment of her life, after a failed suicide attempt, she wrote a poem in her journal called “How to Be an Artist,” her statement that “we are all artists of life.” Her friend saw it and said “wow, that should be a poster,” so SARK tore it out of her journal and put it on her wall, saying “there, it’s a poster.” Her friend said, “no for the world!” and SARK replied, “I wouldn’t have any idea how to do that.” She found out, and four days later there were orders for hundreds, and she ended up making 11,000 by hand.

Now she writes books, makes art, gives talks and workshops. She found her thing.

And one final example, Patti Digh. She explains:

In October of 2003, my stepfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died 37 days later…The timeframe of 37 days made an impression on me…What emerged was a renewed commitment to ask myself this question every morning: “what would I be doing today if I only had 37 days to live?”

It’s a hard question some days.

But here’s how I answered it: Write like hell, leave as much of myself behind for my two daughters as I could, let them know me and see me as a real person, not just a mother, leave with them for safe-keeping my thoughts and memories, fears and dreams, the histories of what I am and who my people are. Leave behind my thoughts about living the life, that “one wild and precious life” that poet Mary Oliver speaks of.

During the launch party for her new website, Patti shared how she started. She said that at first, she was simply writing for her girls, making something for them, and then she started a blog, to give herself and the project some accountability. Not so people could tell her if what she wrote was good or bad, but so that if she didn’t post on Monday like she said she would, someone would say “where was it?” She wrote her blog for two years, and was contacted by a publishing company: “We’ve been reading your blog and we’d like to publish a book with you.”

That first book was “Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally,” and it’s filled with art created by her readers. She’s published six books and is at work on another, and still writes an award winning blog. Patti Digh “travels the world teaching others about mindfulness: to live fully, love well, let go deeply, and make a difference. Patti’s comments have appeared on PBS and in The New York Times, Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, the London Financial Times, and many other international publications.”

On the main page of her new website is this statement: “I’ve learned to say yes to life–and that’s why I write, why I speak, why I teach: to open space for others to say yes to their lives in a big, joyous, fantastic way. I want you to live fully, love well, let go deeply, and know that you matter. Together, let’s re-discover the extraordinary in everyday life, every day. No urgent striving, just amazing being. And room to breathe.” She found her thing.

Here’s what I think is so magical and important about these stories and others like them: to be an artist, to be fully awake and alive, you don’t have to wait for permission, you don’t need to have a great idea or a plan first, you can simply start. You don’t need to wait for something to happen, you can happen. Simply start, and don’t get too caught up in “what does this mean? where is this leading? who will want to buy it?” because that’s not what it’s about. It is about being present, showing up and allowing whatever is going to happen, being open to whatever arises, being alive and loving the process without having to know where it’s leading–and trust that eventually you will find your thing.

So often we get caught up in trying to come up with a marketable idea, with determining who the audience is and what they want and how we get them to buy our product, that we forget we are all open, raw hearts looking for something true. We all just want to be happy and free from suffering, and we need to be reminded that we are loved and alive and good.

art by hugh maccleod

Something Good

I was thinking, as I made this list, “wow, the Universe is so in love with me, sending me all this good stuff” but then I realized “the Universe is so in love with us.” I am only just recently understanding and fully opening up to this idea: I am so loved. You are so loved. We are so loved. How amazing is that?

Do me a favor, even if that sounds too fantastic or sappy or impossible, give it just a moment. Don’t get too caught up in where or who the love is coming from, let go of having to attach it to a source and simply allow it truth and space, just for a minute. Right now, let go of any skepticism or bitterness or whatever else might block the idea. Let it all go and allow yourself to feel, fully experience what it means to be loved. Go ahead. Close your eyes, maybe even put your hands over your heart, take a deep breath, and remember, really know: You are so loved.

art by hugh macleod

Here’s the rest of today’s list:

Quotes from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

“If the mind is flexible, the world is flexible.”

This one, for me especially, is really powerful: “The self-assured strength that grows from knowing that we already have what we need makes us gentle, because we are no longer desperate.”

Audio Dharma

Thanks to Rachel Cole for sharing this link. “This site is an archive of Dharma talks…Each talk illuminates aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. The purpose is the same that the Buddha had for his teachings, to guide us toward the end of suffering and the attainment of freedom. [The “end of suffering and the attainment of freedom”?! Amen!] These talks are freely available for download or to listen to in streaming audio.” There are hours, years of dharma talks available here. An amazing resource with talks on compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, busyness, awareness–and you do not need to be Buddhist to benefit from this wisdom.

The Small is Beautiful Manifesto

I have added a new button to my side bar that says “small is beautiful.” It links to the “Small is Beautiful Manifesto” on Magpie Girl’s blog, a statement co-authored by the amazing Jen Lemen:
The Small Is Beautiful Manifesto

We believe stories are valuable, no matter how many people read them.
We believe following your passion is more important than watching your site meter.
We believe in the handmade, the first try, the small start, and the good
We believe that small is beautiful.

I believe it too, which is why I’ve added the button.

The Mild Manifesto

This is from the Mildly Creative blog, and begins this way:

We, the mildly creative and the mildly productive, are a calm, cool collaboration of travelers on a creative journey. We lead lives of quiet inspiration and are nourished by our shared imaginations.

Before we make money, we seek first to make meaning.

Before we attract customers and clients, we seek first to attract friends and kindred spirits.

Before we make a profit, we seek first to make a contribution.

Count me in, all in.

Mexico by The Staves

Susannah Conway posted this video on her blog a while back, and I can’t stop watching it. It is a beautiful song and a beautiful video. I have listened to it at least 20 times in a row this morning, so I think I am going to have to buy their new EP, which was just released a few weeks ago.

12 Questions to Make 2012 Your Best Year Yet

This set of writing prompts by Tara Sophia Mohr looks really interesting.

The Last Writing Prompt You Will Ever Need

In contrast to the above set of prompts, Jeff Goins suggests in his latest blog post, quite simply and elegantly, that we should “Write something meaningful and share it.” That is all, and that is everything. Amen!

7 Ways Meditation Increases Creativity

I am printing this post, written by Orna Ross and posted on Jane Friedman’s website, and reading it to myself every day before I meditate, to remind myself that it isn’t a chore or a project or a punishment or an escape, but essential to my sanity and my ability to manifest and embody my basic wisdom and compassion.

Legos Ad from 1981

I love this so much, and wish more advertising were like it.
Lego Magazine ad from the year 1981.

Shit Yogis Say

Again, I might be offended by this, if I weren’t laughing so hard.

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie's post

Today’s Wishcasting Wednesday question from Jamie Ridler is: “What is your wish for the New Year?”

I am spending this week doing my own “Review, Reflect, and Resolve,” cobbling together pieces and parts of various annual review and resolutions strategies, worksheets, and practices from around the web. I am adding pages to the front and back of my new 2012 Weekly Planner to formally record the process, and to have something I can keep with me throughout next year, as a reminder and an inspiration. There are lots of personal wishes there, just for me and my life, made solid by the mindful and measured way I’ve put them together, and through my resolve. So my wish for the New Year isn’t a personal one, although it is for me as well.

This New Year, I wish for all of us a letting go and leaving behind of the habits, emotions, expectations, fear, self-hate, stories, grudges, hurts, attachments, addictions, misery, grief, suffering, thoughts, memories, and even the hopes that no longer serve us. We will let them know that they are not invited into 2012.

We will release them and be free.

Picture by Erik Sagen

This is my wish for the New Year, for freedom and a fresh start, for all of us.

P.S. Right after I published this post, I checked my email and there was this image from The artist, Hugh MacLeod (one of my favorites), explains that “So much human suffering is tied to hanging on to things; material, emotional, or otherwise…If you’re unhappy, nine times out of ten it’s because you’re clinging onto something…Nine times out of ten, happiness and letting go are synonymous.” So, I suppose that means the secret wish under the wish is for our shared happiness in the New Year.

art by Hugh MacLeod