Category Archives: Hummingbirds

Gratitude Friday

1. Generosity and kindness and love, between friends and strangers, enemies even, the way it can transform a moment or a life, how the benefit goes both ways, giving and receiving.

2. Fresh, local food. Strawberries, still in season. Watermelon, season almost done and being savored, devoured. Peaches, a moment of sunshine in my mouth. Tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden, still and so many.

gardensweetberries3. The surprise of a humming bird feeding on our Bee Plants, the happy return of the bees after they’d sprayed for mosquitoes the night before and I worried about them all night, the sweet way Eric rinsed off the plants at dawn just in case, the crazy loud commotion of their breakfast later that morning.

4. My new tarot deck. I am learning so much, feeling guided, helped, loved.

magicallittleme5. Morning walk at Reservoir Ridge. We had to make it a short one because as soon as the sun came up it started getting hot, but it was a good reminder that we live in a beautiful place.

Bonus Joy: Sam, what he teaches me about change, what he shows me about the confusion of my anxiety, and the comfort of his companionship.

Gratitude Friday

sunflower02

1. Sunflowers. Eric stopped at Garden Sweet‘s stand to buy strawberries, but they didn’t have any, so he got tomatoes instead, and a sunflower for my desk.

2. Sweet Sam, asleep in his crate while I work, learning to eat at the “big dog” spot, protecting me from garbage trucks and squirrels and mail people and animals on the TV, putting up with all the extra attention, sleeping in with me, taking lots of walks, and all the wordless communication that can happen when I really pay attention.

tinyganesh

3. New Quan Yin and Ganesh for my writing desk, bought from Nepal Tibet Imports, a local store where I’ve been shopping for the past 20 years, still owned and worked by the same family that started it. The Quan Yin is sitting on a Snow Lion, which looks like a huge dog, is a symbol of bravery and the guardian of truth.

4. A new dishwasher, (yes, Mom, we finally got one!), and a local company to buy from that has been around almost as long as me, Poudre Valley Appliance, established in 1968. The thing Eric and I hadn’t expected is how much more counterspace we have now since there’s no longer a need for a dish rack.

hummingbirdfeeder

5. Hummingbird feeder. We loved the one at the cabin so much that we decided to try one in our backyard. We’ve only seen one hummingbird so far, and we aren’t sure if it was actually able to get anything from our feeder, but we are hopeful that word will get around that the lunch buffet is open.

Bonus Joy: Teaching from Pema Chödrön. I have been watching a series of videos she made for a weekend at the Omega Institute, “Marks of Existence,” and her talk on suffering was very helpful. She is so wise, so funny, tells the best stories and gives the best advice.

Day of Rest

We just got back from spending three nights at a cabin up at Crystal Lakes. After losing Dexter, we needed to get away to the green and the quiet, spend some time just the three of us, hit the reset button.

The cabin is called Lofty Lookout, and it has a gate at the end of a long driveway lush with aspens and wildflowers that hides the house from the main road (when Eric saw that, he said “I approve”), and is four floors high (basement, main floor, sleeping loft, and another sleeping loft). It was way too big for the three of us, but we rented it because of the location and the decks.

The view was amazing, there were hummingbirds at the feeder all day, and we could walk out the front door and land directly on a five mile hiking trail that wound through pine trees, aspen groves, and meadows. At the sight of one spot along the trail, filled with aspens and wildflowers, Eric said “you almost expect a unicorn to come walking out of there.”

We hiked every morning, took naps every afternoon. I watched some HGTV and one day read an entire book, Neil Gaiman’s latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was a wonderful book, but I’m biased because I love everything he writes — graphic novels, adult fiction, children’s books, essays, blog posts. One of my favorite parts of the book was this,

I have dreamed of that song, of the strange words to that simple rhyme-song, and on several occasions I have understood what she was saying, in my dreams. In those dreams I spoke the language too, the first language, and I had dominion over the nature of all that was real. In my dream, it was the tongue of what is, and anything spoken in it becomes real, because nothing said in that language can be a lie. It is the most basic building brick of everything. In my dreams I have used that language to heal the sick and to fly; once I dreamed I kept a perfect little bed-and-breakfast by the seaside, and to everyone who came to stay with me I would say, in that tongue, “Be whole,” and they would become whole, not be broken people, not any longer, because I had spoken the language of shaping.

The land, the trails and the trees and the sky here in Colorado are magical. The time spent there was medicine, and yet I wasn’t without suffering, wasn’t beyond generating my own suffering. As a part guard, part herd breed, Sam takes a while to settle in anywhere new, is nervous and worried. I felt bad at first for forcing him along, even though I know that doing new things is good for him, that challenging him a little helps him to become a more confident dog. He panted and whined that first night, checked on every new noise and sound. Then on the second day, just as he was calming down, he got a spider bite on his belly and I worried about that.

The first night, I slept terrible, between Sam’s whining every time we moved and us choosing apparently the most uncomfortable bed in the whole cabin. Then there was the night we were boiling water to cook some corn on the cob and something that had been spilled on the burner drip pan caught on fire. And that night when we moved to a different, more comfortable bed, I had to move the carbon monoxide detector (the little green light would have kept me awake), and unplugging it set it off and I couldn’t figure out right away how to stop it.

Then on our hike the final morning there, our car alarm got triggered while it was parked at the trailhead, and malfunctioned so that it keep going off, stopping and starting for who knows how long, and someone left a nasty note on our car window (saying things like “rude” and “extremely annoying”), as if anyone would do such a thing on purpose. So even as I tried to relax, to heal, I continued to generate my own suffering. I can’t escape myself, no matter where I go, no matter how far I hike.

On our last afternoon, we saw a hummingbird sitting on its nest. When they are making their nest, they gather up anything soft they can find and they bind it all together with spiderwebs. They do this so that the nest will stretch as the babies get bigger. I was comforted seeing this, because earlier in the day, a war had begun around the hummingbird feeder on the cabin’s main deck. We’d been enjoying it so much, how we could sit right next to it but they would come feed anyway, letting us watch. But at some point, things turned sour and they began fighting over it, guarding the feeder by chasing and attacking each other, even though there was so much food available there was no way they could ever eat it all. We are like that too, I thought as I watched them, so convinced that there’s not enough, that the only way to get what we want, what we need is to fight for it.

Every time I feel anxious or sad, irritated or uncomfortable, I try to remember what Pema Chödrön teaches about working with groundlessness,

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.

We cause so much unnecessary suffering for ourselves and each other, can be so confused, allow ourselves to get caught up in the anxiety of “not enough.” I am trying to be gentle, to forgive myself for that. Every moment I try and keep my heart open, to soften and surrender to what is, to notice the magic happening around me, to generate compassion and ease suffering. Some moments I am more successful than others, but I keep showing up, keep trying.

Something Good

tulipbloom

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

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

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

4. Wisdom from Susan Piver,

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

(PS This applies to everything.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. This wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

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

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

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

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

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

13. Anatomy of a Leap by Maya Stein.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24. This video. *sob*

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

26. Invitation to Basic Goodness Day.

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

28. A Show of Hands from Susan Piver.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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