Category Archives: Inspiration

I want you to believe yourself

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. ~Anne Lamott

For the past week, I have been a mess. I am dealing with a health thing, an imbalance that is making me anxious and depressed and tired and cold and heavy, (if you have a functioning thyroid, thank it right now for all the good work it does for you). I don’t want to get out of bed, and if I do, I certainly don’t want to leave the house, sometimes can’t trust myself to open my mouth, and a lot of the time, I feel like I’m about to cry. I have a doctor’s appointment early next week that will hopefully begin the process of getting that balance restored.

Then there’s Sam. He is sweet and goofy and I love him so much, but he’s also a challenge for me. We had our training session yesterday with the amazing Sarah Stremming from Cognitive Canine, and while I’d hoped to feel better, lighter, more confident and calm afterwards, instead I felt overwhelmed and shaky and discouraged. Watching him be frustrated and anxious and feeling like I don’t quite understand how to help him navigate that just makes me so sad. Sarah gave me a lot of new information and I was trying to process and remember, what to do and what not to do, but I felt myself sinking lower and lower. I went to bed at 8 pm, because I could no longer keep myself upright and I needed to have a good cry. I know that a lot of this is due to my thyroid being out of whack, and because of that I can’t completely trust myself right now, but when you are in it, it’s hard to be rational, to remember that there’s that thing that is distorting your perception–you just feel what you feel, and it doesn’t feel good.

On Kind Over Matter’s Friday’s Lovelies list this week, there’s a link to Tanya Geisler’s “Thing Finding Thursday,” (you might remember, I wrote a post about “The Thing” before), which she describes as “stories of people who found their Things, and how they did it — so you can do it, too.” I looked through Tanya’s archives, and found two videos I wanted to watch: one with Dyana Valentine and one with Jennifer Louden, two of my favorite women.

Dyana Valentine talked about rooting what you do, your thing, in your strengths and core values. And she reminds us that “just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have any business doing it.” Towards the end of the video, when Tanya asks her “what do you want for the people watching you right now?” and Dyana’s answer had me in tears. She says:

I want for you to believe yourself. And I don’t mean believe in yourself but I want you to believe yourself. I want you to believe what you experience. I want you to believe what you say to yourself and to other people. I want you to believe that you are on the planet and we are happy that you are here. I want you to believe that if you know something is not working for you that you can make that change–you don’t have to make it now, but I want you to believe that you know the difference between right and right now.

Jennifer Louden said of The Thing in her “Thing Finding Thursday” video with Tanya “it’s okay if you found it and abandoned it and found it and abandoned it and found it and abandoned it. And we can be ashamed that we’ve given up and we’re here again, or we can celebrate and get support.” She finishes up by saying:

Sometimes the things that you most care about are the things that you’re most afraid of, so you may know very well what your thing is and you may know that you may not be able to bring it to life the way that you want and that may break your heart, but don’t let that heartbreak stop you from trying.

“Warriorship means that when there are obstacles, we do not back off,” (Sakyong Mipham). So, as I feel discouraged, brokenhearted, and messy, I choose to get support and help rather than to give up. I believe myself. And I don’t let the heartbreak stop me from trying. This is my dog, my thing, my life. “I know the more I embrace My Thing, the more exciting and dangerous the adventure of life will become,” (Brandy Glows on Thing Finding Thursday). I am challenged and afraid of failure, and more than a little tired, but I am not broken, I am not done. I am already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who I was born to be.

Full Snow Moon Dreamboard

The Full Snow Moon asks: “What desires lie deep within?”

Restore yourself. This is your year for retreat, your year to learn to rest, to study, to practice, to find your middle path, to pray and meditate, be mindful.

Bringing your practice to life. You walk the walk, the middle way. You meditate, you sink into your yoga poses, you write and make art, you learn what your dogs have to teach you, take the walks with them and notice. Peace of mind, yoga for life.

Love the weight off. You have carried the physical weight of your suffering and grief and anger long enough. It’s time to let it go, lay it down, but remember this will only happen as you love yourself. Imagine yourself filling with light.

Uncover the hidden brilliance in you. It is there. You can no longer deny it. Its luminescence shines through the cracks, a love and truth that will burn you if you try to contain it. The world needs your light.

Document your journey, a transformational journey. This is the dream, this is the work, this is the task, this is the magic, an epic journey on which you will encounter rough terrain and harsh weather, get lost and hurt, but you will be helped and find love. You must make a map for the others who have yet to travel here, who will go on to make the same journey themselves. And remember, just because you feel afraid and vulnerable doesn’t change the fact that you are courageous, brave, and open-hearted. You are a warrior of truth and love.

Live the life you’ve imagined. This is your dream, your desire, your deepest wish, your passion.

Something Good.

I woke up this morning knowing I had a few links for today’s post, but not sure what else I might include. I did some brainstorming when I was writing my morning pages, but nothing seemed to really spark. I worried this post would be sort of “bleh.”

And then I turned on my computer, checked my email and logged into facebook, and the Universe sent me so many good things I could share, so many, I had to stop reading my email, stop looking because the list was getting w a y too long. When this happens, I wonder why it is that I don’t trust it, how I could possibly have so little faith in the magic that happens if you invite it, if you show up and allow it to happen? Silly human…

“30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself”

I posted yesterday about a list from “Marc and Angel Hack Life” called “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.” Today, they posted this follow up, beginning with the quote “Remember today, for it is the beginning. Today marks the start of a brave new future.” I like the list, and I love that quote, because it’s a reminder that we can always make a fresh start, a new beginning.

Photo by Steven Depolo

“The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain

I am reading this book for my book club, and I can’t tell you yet if it will be good as a whole (I am only on page 22), but I am so far loving the language, especially the way the main character describes the feeling of meeting and getting to know the person she will love. For example, after their first kiss, she says “I couldn’t think about whether anyone had seen us. I couldn’t think about anything at all. His face was inches from mine, more charged and convincing and altogether awake than anything I’d ever seen.”

“The Man Who Dies With The Most Stuff” by Kristin Glenn

This is a guest post written for The Minimalists. There is one section that really resonated with me, verbalized why I have been attracted to the notion of a simple, minimalist life for the past 20 years.

With eyes wide, I realized my selfishness. For wanting, and wanting, and wanting. And never, ever, thinking about the impact that my want had on the rest of the world.

Generally, people turn to a minimalist lifestyle to make their day-to-day existence easier. To save money, to save time, to focus on what’s truly important. These reasons are admirable—they allow us to find meaning beyond our jeans and gadgets.

But my travels abroad turned me onto minimalism for a different reason. I slowly saw the impact of my consumption taking a toll on the environment, and on others. It became a personal thing. And I realized that minimalism isn’t just a lifestyle decision, but a chance to save humanity.

That’s a pretty bold statement: minimalism will save humanity. But over the following year, I became more convinced of the power that lifestyle choices have on changing the world.

My time abroad changed my perspective—not only on what it means to live with less, but to live. To live is to make choices, day in and day out.

“The Disintegration Loop” by William Basinski

From the user who posted the video to YouTube:

During the summer of 2001, Basinski set about transferring a series of 20-year-old tape loops he’d had in storage to a digital file format, and was startled when this act of preservation began to devour the tapes he was saving. As they played, flakes of magnetic material were scraped away by the reader head, wiping out portions of the music and changing the character and sound of the loops as they progressed, the recording process playing an inadvertent witness to the destruction of Basinski’s old music…the loops themselves are stunning, ethereal studies in sound so fluid that the listener scarcely registers the fact that it’s nothing but many hundreds of repetitions of a brief, simple loop that they’re hearing.

It really is like music from a dream, and the way it happened was some kind of tragic magic.

The Dream I Had Last Night

I had a dream last night that people where “evolving” into rosebushes. All of us in the dream knew it was coming, and wondering what our lives would be like as flowering plants. The alarm went off before I could find out, but I posted to my heART swap partner‘s dream art facebook page, and she (who works with dreams and dreamers) was able to give me the most wonderful interpretation. Lindsay said,

If it was my dream, I recognize unknown people as unknown parts of my own personality, evolving into rosebushes could mean that my shadow sides are transforming into beautiful flowers. With my feet planted in the ground, I know I have a deep connection with the earth, yet I know I am able to open my flowers and show my beauty to the world.

“Change for a Dollar” short film

This video is proof that it isn’t necessary to have a lot to give a lot. If you are like me and cry during Hallmark commercials, grab a few tissues and hit “play.”

This Quote

“We are so accustomed to disguising our true nature from others, that we end up disguising it from ourselves.” ~La Rochefoucauld

“A Father Who Creatively Captures His Kids (20 photos)”

These little girls and these pictures make me smile. If you need a pick-me-up, go view his Flickr photo stream, or go to their blog, “kristin and kayla: a photo journal of two sisters.” I’d share one here, but he’s a photographer and his work is copyrighted, but trust me, you won’t be sorry you looked. It’s a super duper, heaping, massive dose of cuteness.

1000 Lives in 100 Words.

This project is really cool. The author of the project describes it this way “1000 Lives In 100 Words is here to remind us that our lives are important. It’s here to remind us that it’s not the years in your life; it’s the life in your years. Because we’ll all end up as 100 words someday. So let’s make each one count.” The first one, as I look at it this morning, is written by Nicole, who says:

Your direction in life doesn’t matter. What matters is staying true to your self. Do this, and the direction takes care of itself. New roads appear, the right people appear, books fall off the shelf for you and the right lessons show up. Art and spirituality run on parallel tracks. They go hand in hand, and when they run at the same pace synchronicity happens. My art is writing and my real work is finding joy in everyday things; things taken for granted or overlooked. From flying squirrels to paper airplanes, nothing is out of the realm of my pen.

Color me inspired.


Fortune in my Cookie.

Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself.” I immediately taped it to my computer screen.

Superhero Jr. Dancing the Nutcracker

Andrea Scher, of Superhero Journal, posted this video of her son Ben yesterday, dancing along with a performance of the Nutcracker. This kind of honesty and joy is my holiday wish, for all of us.

Nutcracker Ben from andrea scher on Vimeo.

  • Anything you want to add to the list this week?

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.”

heART Exchange Art Project Arrived!

I’ve blogged about this before: I took part in an art swap, the Global heART Exchange.  Today, I received my art piece from Lindsay in the mail, all the way from Belgium. She describes herself on her blog as a “Mixed Media Artist, Photographer, Writer, and Dream Worker.”  Here’s the postcard she made to send with her painting:

I am exactly twice Lindsay’s age and we live more than 5000 miles apart (8100 kilometers), but when I read the “about” page on her blog, I notice how much we have in common. We both love “Nature.. nature.. nature!” and adore cats and rabbits, watching the stars, lying in the grass, summer evenings, birds singing, the water, spirituality, meditation, yoga, and the potential of dreams.

We also both like “inspiring people, people who are kind, people who truly dare to live their lives.”  I believe that both of us are those kind of people: inspiring, kind, and daring to live our lives.

What’s amazing to me is that she couldn’t have known the color of my art studio, and yet the mixed media painting she made matches it perfectly.  Here’s a picture of it, sitting on the corner of my writing desk, where I spend so many long and happy hours.

It’s almost 1 am in Belgium, and I suspect Lindsay is sleeping.  I am sending her love and gratitude, and wishing her the sweetest of dreams.  I will keep her painting on my desk, and when I took at it, I will remember that I am loved, and wish her the same.

heART Exchange Art Swap

My swap partner received her art, so now I can really talk about it. I said a little the other day, but here’s the whole story. To recap, I started off thinking I would do a painting, but didn’t end up having enough time. This led to trying to figure out something to do with fabric left over from making a square for Kelly’s quilt.

What could I make?  To be honest, I’m not that crafty or artistic. I am a writer. I like to color and make collages, silly drawings, and hand-made cards, and I have a good eye, a sense of what works and is pleasing, but I’m not really that good at producing. However, I can sew. I don’t have a sewing machine right now, so it would have to be hand-stitched. I remembered seeing craft projects based on Tibetan Prayer Flags, so looked around on the internet to see what I could find. I found a really fun website, Future Craft Collective, that had a project they called “hope wish prayer flags.” Yes, this was it.

Traditionally, prayer flags are intended to generate peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom, and come in sets of five. The flags do not carry prayers to gods (as is commonly believed), but rather the prayers or mantras printed on the flags are blown by the wind and in this way they spread good will and compassion into all of space, providing benefit to all beings.

I didn’t have pinking sheers, so couldn’t make the fun edge, would have to stitch it.  The fabric is so beautiful, I wanted my swap partner to be able to see it on both sides, so I decided for each flag that I would stitch two pieces of fabric together. I sewed up three of the edges, flipped them right-side out, and ironed them. It was then that I noticed the way I had sewn the first two pieces of fabric together turned each flag into a pocket. This made me imagine all the things you could put inside: prayers, promises, wishes, worries, dreams, treasures, secrets.

And when I thought about what to write on the front of each flag-pocket, I decided to use the Metta Prayer as my inspiration, “metta” meaning lovingkindness. This is a Buddhist prayer that can be said for yourself, others, or even the planet. This has been a powerful practice for me in my own life. There are many versions, but in general, it goes something like this:

May I be peaceful.
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I awaken to the light of my true nature.
May I be free.

In the last two steps of the Metta Prayer, one would first imagine a specific person or a group, wishing these things for them, starting with “May you be peaceful.” And then in the final step of the practice, one wishes the same list of things for all beings.

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.

The final step of my heART project was to sew ribbon on each flag-pocket. In this way, you can tie a single ribbon and hang a single flag-pocket on the wall or on the knob of a drawer or dresser.

Or, you can tie the five of them together and hang them like more traditional prayer flags.

I imagined that my art swap partner could write or whisper her worries, wishes, prayers, promises, secrets, and dreams into these flag-pockets, put them under her pillow when she sleeps, or slip it into the pages of a sacred book, or hang one or all of them where she can see them and remember, or put precious treasures inside, like a shell from the beach or a rock found on a walk or the key to her heart, and some sort of magic will happen.

Her worries will disappear and she will be safe.

Her wishes will come true and she will be happy.

Her prayers will be answered and she will be well.

Her promises will be kept and she will be peaceful.

Her secrets will be kept and she will be free.

Her dreams will come true and she will awaken to the light of her true nature.

As I mentioned the other day, it was really nice to be working on a sweet, handmade art project for someone else in the days leading up to my birthday, and oddly, it felt like I was doing it for me too: pouring all this care and lovingkindness into a creation that I blessed and let go, sent into the universe to love someone else. I think this is at the heart (the heART) of why I am an artist: to learn to love and be myself, and then send that love into the world, hoping it lands with whoever needs it most.

Something Good.

It’s Monday, so it’s time for me to tell you something good.

Just a cute baby owl. That is all.

Friday Birthdays.  When your birthday is on a Friday, like mine was this year, there’s a universal rule that you get to celebrate the whole weekend. On Friday, a good friend took me to lunch, gave me a sweet gift (two actually, one was wrapped and the other was her telling me the nicest thing I’d ever done for her and how much it meant), lots of birthday wishes on Facebook (one of the top five reasons to have an account), one sweet email wishing me love and thanking me for a gift I had given that was “life-changing,” a present and phone call from my mom, and more presents from my aunt and boy (Eric made me a book with a secret compartment, so cool!).

Then on Saturday, another good friend took me to lunch and gave me a handmade gift (she’s an amazing artist, so even her cards are something special), and a phone call from my brother and another good friend.  Sunday morning, we found that the mail had been delivered late in the evening, so there was a package from my brother and nieces, and another card from a good friend who always says the nicest things, Sunday morning yoga, and lunch at Mount Everest Cafe, where our favorite waiter didn’t even ask us what we wanted to start, he simply brought us out a chai and a glass of Fat Tire as soon as we sat down.  It was an awesome birthday weekend.

Picture by Philip Bragg

Shantideva Quote: “If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?”

The Open Heart Project. I have a confession to make.  I have been struggling with my meditation practice lately.  Then I read about Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project on Jennifer Louden’s blog.  Susan Piver is a student of the Shambhala tradition, which is also where my meditation practice started, so to begin, she comes from a place I understand. She’s shared a series of videos, meditation instruction and guided meditations anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes.  Using these videos to focus my own practice has been so helpful.

Wishcasting Wednesday. This is something started by creative living coach and blogger, Jamie Ridler. She explains it this way: “What would happen if every week you made a wish? What magic might start to stir? Wishcasting Wednesday is a safe haven for wishes, a fertile field in which to plant wish seeds and have them witnessed and tended lovingly. It’s a place where magic begins.”  I am going to add this feature to my Wednesday blog posts.

A New Post from Hyperbole and a Half. This is actually more than a month old now, but I somehow had missed it.  I had thought/worried about Allie on and off over the past few months.  She’d posted she was working on a book, but then disappeared, and knowing what I know about freaking out and freezing up even/especially in the face of something big and good, I wondered if she might be in trouble. Her latest post is called “Adventures in Depression,” and as always, it is heartbreaking, true, and funny.  Sometimes I wonder if she realizes how brave and wonderful she really is.

Rachel W. Cole, and her list of suggested reading. I am so excited about her coming out to Fort Collins to do a Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop, (Sunday, February 19th, 12:30-3:30 at Om Ananda Yoga Studio–more details to come soon). On her website, Rachel shares her list of “11 Books that Changed My Life,” and you can also link to her much longer, full list of recommendations.  I am starting with “Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth.

And finally, links to a few very special, sweet videos.

*”Being Elmo” Movie Trailer

*”Lily Shreds Trailside.” I can’t decide if I like this so much because there’s a dog and she’s so cute, or because it’s just such a cool video.

*Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

  • Okay, now it’s your turn: Tell me something good.