Category Archives: Ira Glass

Something Good

image by eric

image by eric

1. Telling True Stories with Laurie Wagner. One of the aspects of story telling that I value most is when a writer digs into the material of their real lives and shares from that true and beautiful place. If you’re wanting to strengthen that vibrant muscle of honesty in your own story telling, consider signing up for Telling True Stories, a 5-week online writing course which starts on March 3rd. I recommend this course and this woman with my whole heart.

2. Kayden + Rain, a little girl experiences rain for the first time.

3. A 21 Day Open Heart Immersion: Live in Love, another amazing offering from the brilliant and kind Susan Piver.

4. The Smoke and Mirrors Behind Wheat Belly and Grain Brain on Forks Over Knives.

5. Neil Gaiman reads Green Eggs and Ham.

6. Cool stuff from Viral Nova: Sometimes The Simplest Photos Are The Most Eye-Opening. These Ones Say So Much. and This Fairly Normal House Is For Sale In The UK. But It’s What’s Out Back That Has Everyone Talking. and I Couldn’t Believe What This Guy Was Making For His Unborn Child. But By The End… WOW.

7. I love Kid President.

8. 22 Supremely Perfect Photobombs.

9. Campers save dog lost in woods and save him a second time when his owners abandoned him on Dog Heirs.

10. In Just 2 Minutes, This Video Will Make You Feel Silly For Ever Having Doubted Yourself on Huffington Post.

11. A Funny Video That Makes You Never Want To Fall For This Natural Lie Again from Upworthy.

12. What Career Should You Actually Have? a quiz from BuzzFeed. (I got “writer”).

13. The (delicious) truth about getting older from Susannah Conway on her 40th birthday. She shares a series of posts by other women as well. Some of my favorites were top 10 reasons why being 40-something rocks and What 41 years have taught me and You are beautiful and the art of getting older, posing with snakes + playing with fire.

14. From Good Life Project, “We Asked 29 Change-Makers One Simple Question. Their Answers Would Transform the Way We Live Our Lives. Here’s What They Told Us…”

15. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Listening to talks about the dharma, or the teachings of Buddha, or practicing meditation is nothing other than studying ourselves. Whether we’re eating or working or meditating or listening or talking, the reason that we’re here in this world at all is to study ourselves. In fact, it has been said that studying ourselves provides all the books we need.

Maybe the reason there are dharma talks and books is just to encourage us to understand this simple teaching: all the wisdom about how we cause ourselves to suffer and all the wisdom about how joyful and vast and uncomplicated our minds are—these two things, the understanding of what we might call neurosis and the wisdom of unconditioned, unbiased truth—can only be found in our own experience.

16. 10 Life Coach Tips For A Killer 2014, a list from Rachel Cole.

17. 25 Things You Need to Stop Wasting Time On from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

18. Ron Swanson’s 7 Best Statements About Life from Hello Giggles.

19. collaborations with nature on random weaving. So beautiful.

20. The Risks Worth Taking from Austin Kleon.

21. “To love another person is to see the face of God.” —Jean Valjean, Act II, Les Misérables, love scripts from Alexandra Franzen.

22. Are you hanging by a thread? from Danielle LaPorte. I need to hear this so badly this week (month, year…).

23. The Happiest Animal on Earth.

24. Hopeful news flash! We can’t beat ourselves up into being peaceful. So please stop. from Susan Piver.

25. your daily rock : let kindness rule and your daily rock : let your self be awed.

26. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

27. An Open Letter To Anyone Thinking About Trying Yoga on MindBodyGreen.

28. Wisdom from Dallas Clayton on Facebook.

image by dallas clayton

image by dallas clayton

Something Good

1. This American Life 500th Anniversary, an interview with Ira Glass on Slate.

2. Broken by Ria on Hopeful World.

3. Nature and nurture (professional edition) from Seth Godin.

4. We’ve Been Robbed from Rachel Cole.

5. This wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert,

Because here’s the thing — we are really slow, as a species, to catching on sometimes that the past is past. And since there is no sense of time in the human subconscious, there is part of us that doesn’t always know, when it comes to certain dark traumas: IT’S FINISHED. Sometimes you have to talk to yourself about that fact (gently, lovingly) and explain to yourself the reality of the timeline. Did it already happen to you? Yes. Did you already survive it? Yes. Then try to let yourself go forth in peace. It’s over. It sometimes takes so much convincing for us to believe this, but whatever you’re most afraid of…? Chances are, it’s over.

6. Dustin Hoffman Breaks Down Crying Explaining Something That Every Woman Sadly Already Experienced on Upworthy.

7. Join the circus without having to run away, Rachael Maddox & the Traveling Soul Circus. Read about it, or help fund it.

8. Summer Sabbatical Update #1 from Courtney Putnam.

9. Soul Sister Special from Liv Lane, good until midnight tonight, Central Time.

10. Wisdom from Geneen Roth,

The process is the goal. And this is always true. Otherwise, you get to where you believe the goal is, and you raise the proverbial bar. You make another goal. And then, you push to get to that one, that goal. And make another one. And in the meantime, you keep missing what you call your life. And then you wonder how it all went by so fast and where you were while it was happening. That’s how people get to the end of their lives and suddenly realize, they missed the gifts. The small moments. The ordinary moments, on the way to the Big Get. The Goal.

This moment, right now, is It.

11. on negative chatter and being brave from Jessica Swift.

12. red winkle picker regret and the dark side of decluttering from Lianne Raymond.

13. The ability to course correct and Waking up on A Design So Vast.

14. I Are Cute Duckling AWW

15. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche: Enlightenment in the Age of Disruption, an episode of Good Life Project.

16. Wisdom from Tulku Thondup, “The practice of mindfulness should not result in stress. If it does, it may be a sign that we are trying too hard—that we are grasping at ‘mindfulness’ itself, that we need to relax a little and be less self-conscious.”

17. From Your Inner Pilot Light,

Do you wonder what it would feel like to be healed, my love? Let me tell you, because as the part of you who is always whole, healed, and perfect at every moment, I’m on it. When you’re healed, you wake up every morning and feel free. Free of the grip of fear. Free of caring what everybody else thinks. Free of feeling like you have anything to prove. Free of worrying that you’re not enough. Free of self-beatings. Free of muddy confusion. Free to be unapologetically YOU. Free. You feel very alive, which doesn’t mean you don’t cry or feel sadness. When you’re healed, you may cry more than ever, actually. But those feelings come, flood you, and release, rather than getting stuck. You know you’re NOT alone. When you’re healed, you feel deeply connected- to me and my glorious spark, that is. You know that everything is happening in perfect harmony with a greater plan. So you feel free of anxiety, because you know you are held and safe and the world is conspiring to help you walk your path with ease. It’s that simple. Do you want to feel healed? Tap in, love.

18. Head/Heart/Feet on Painted Path, where Julia shares about a really great documentary project her brother-in-law is putting together, funding through Kickstarter.

19. Zoe Saldana on The Conversation.

20. Your Daily Rock from Patti Digh: your daily rock : slow down, your daily rock : love evaporates fear, and your daily rock : let go.

21. An Artist Takes Bits And Pieces Of Hate And Turns Them Into Something Beautiful on Upworthy. We got a nasty note on our car and even though Eric told me I should just throw it away, I kept it because I wanted to make an art journal page with it, wanted to convert the ugliness of it into something beautiful, something that would help me generate compassion, that would cultivate healing for both me and the author. That’s what this artist did, and I love it. Let’s do more of this.

22. Easy Caramel Apple Recipe. This should come with some kind of a warning, I think, something like this — Danger: extreme yumminess ahead, eat with caution.

23. I am trying to remain calm about this, but you can now pre-order Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened.

24. How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love on Brain Pickings.

25. 20 Ways to Get Good Karma by The Dalai Lama.

26. Adopted dog treks 10 miles in freezing cold back to shelter to be with his beloved mate. You don’t need to tell me that dogs love big, that loyalty is one of their strongest characteristics. *sob*

27. 10 (Healthy) Ways to Lose Weight (& Feel your Best) on Elephant Journal.

28. This wisdom, poetry from Galway Kinnell,

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing…

29. And this wisdom from Louise Erdrich, which I like to revisit from time to time,

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

30. “It’s not about being tough. It’s about being tender,” guest series on Jamie Ridler’s blog. Jamie’s mom passed away the day after my sweet Dexter, and when it became clear she would need to take some time off from creating content for her blog, she asked some people to write blog posts based on a theme, something her mother had said, “It’s not about being tough. It’s about being tender.” There have been some really great posts so far. Jamie asked me to write one, and it will be up on Wednesday, July 17th. I was so happy to support her, to have the opportunity to do something, anything for her as she lived this difficult transition, this loss. It is becoming more and more clear to me that the only way any of us make it through the confusion and chaos of being human is together, helping each other, showing up, offering support, being kind, “walking each other home.”

Something Good (Part Two)

Uh-oh! I got so excited that I pushed publish before I was done making my list, so here’s part two.

21. Your Daily Rock from Patti Digh: your daily rock : break old patterns, your daily rock : own your messiness, and your daily rock : love your life.

22. Sit Every Day by Diana Winston on Shambhala Sun, a really great post on meditation practice, and Happiness Defined: Your Interpretations Of What It Means To Experience Joy on Huffington Post, both originally shared by Patti Digh on her Thinking Thursday list.

23. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

Dear Smart Girl,

Sometimes we all forget things that are very important, and very simple – so simple that we really shouldn’t be forgetting these things, but we do. One of these things that we forget, many times when it is MOST important, is that we mustn’t turn to destructive things when bad things happen. We mustn’t treat hard times with things that will make us feel even worse.

We do it though, don’t we? We over-eat when we are feeling stressed or lonely or lost. We drink too much, or we spend money we don’t have or we indulge in other kinds of addictive self-medicating. We say mean things to ourselves. We treat people we love with unkindness. We do things that we will regret almost as soon as we are done doing them.

Lovely, sweet friend, please take a few deep breaths when you are feeling a little off, and before you turn to something that will really make you feel even worse, really THINK about how you want to feel tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. And then turn to something that will bring you comfort, guidance, truth and peace. The rush might not be as fast as the destructive things, but the results will be lasting, productive and positive. You will end up in a peaceful place instead of a miserable place.

Call a friend, read something positive, go for a walk, write in your journal, pray, meditate, hold and animal or a baby, visit someone who is sick, look at the sky in the fresh air. Let the feelings pass. They will pass.

You are so loved. You are worth making good choices, you are worth taking care of. Please take good care of yourself.

xoxo

24. How To Stick To Your NO When People Keep Pushing from Alexandra Franzen on Mind Body Green.

25. The part we get to choose from Judy Clement Wall.

26. Michael Buble duets with 15 year old boy, a moment which starts off with a heckler, but turns out to be something else entirely.

27. This quote: You have unconditional authority to deconstruct your own reality. ~Roy H. Williams

28. Three books I want, and it’s all Brain Pickings fault: Make Good Art: Neil Gaiman’s Advice on the Creative Life, Adapted by Design Legend Chip Kidd, Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life, and No Kidding: Women Writers and Comedians on the Choice Not to Have Children.

29. More wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert,

LET’S TALK SERIOUSLY ABOUT UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Everyone, will you help me (and a fellow seeker) out with this?

A visitor to this page has just asked me whether “unconditional love” means staying in an abusive relationship and learning how to love the person despite how he harms you.

This question makes me want to cry.

Dear one, dear friend, dear heart — the answer to that question is very simple: NO.

No, no, no, no, no, no.

Also: Never, never, never, never, never.

The wisest teaching I’ve ever heard about this came from a dear monk friend in India who told me, “We must love everyone. That is what God asks of us. But some people can only be loved from a safe distance.”

And in regards to some people, that “safe distance” may mean: Never See Them Again. Never Take Their Calls. Never Let Them Near You. Never Let Them Know Where You Live.

Pema Chodron, the great buddhist teacher, has also taught beautifully on this subject. She explains that we should not close our hearts to anyone, but that we must also set healthy and safe boundaries. She urges us not to mistake compassion for compliance. As she said once in a lecture, “Put people in jail, if they are unsafe to others, but do not close your hearts to them.”

Being a compassionate person does not mean allowing anyone in the world to treat you (or anyone else) abusively. There is nothing to be “learned” in an abusive relationship (except how to finally leave.) There is no emotional growth waiting for you in an abusive relationship. There are no day-to-day lessons that will make you a more enlightened being if you learn how to bear it, how to endure it. You will not be a better person in any way for staying. On the contrary, it will corrode your soul. Staying with somebody who harms you (in any way) does not mean you are compassionate; it only means you are co-dependent and very likely in psychological, spiritual and/or physical danger.

This one absolutely breaks my heart, guys.

Please, if somebody is harming you in any way: GO. Today.

All Love,
Liz

30. 8 Secrets from 8 Curvy Women Who Love Their Bodies, and The Battle of “Not Thin Enough,” both shared by Stephanie in her Weekend Treats post.

31. Be More, Do Less on Think Simple Now, and Self Improvement VS. Self Acceptance on Owning Pink, both shared on Positively Present Picks.

32. And because Eric asked me to share this on my blog, just Snoop Dog with some dolphins.

snoop

33. This quote: The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy or too impatient. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

34. Because it’s just too cute. You’re welcome.

mamaandbaby

35. Fitch, Please. Ellen sticking up for people like she does, one of the reasons I adore her.

36. 21 Reasons Ira Glass Is The Most Perfect Man Alive on BuzzFeed. Only 21? I say they didn’t work hard enough on this list, because there are more than 21 reasons.

37. Summer Journals A-F, places taking submissions.

38. On accidental sabbaticals from Susannah Conway.

39. magical architecture from Sas Petherick. (One of 25, baby).

40. 6 Questions You Need To Stop Asking Yourself from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

41. Mutual pillow, double love.

doublepillow

Something Good

bare1. Unravelling the Year Ahead 2013, a beautiful workbook from Susannah Conway. I adore the way she frames the practice, did it with her last year, and am doing it again.

2. Tiny Home from Kate Conner. As someone who also lives in a tiny home and loves it, I appreciated this post.

3. Somewhere Else from Stacy Morrison’s blog, Filling In the Blanks.

4. Ira Glass on Rescuing a Pit Bull Dog with a Ridiculous Diet. I’ve heard Ira talk about his dog in his live This American Life show, and it only made me love him more.

5. A Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness, via Cigdem Kobu.

If I have harmed anyone in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions
I ask their forgiveness.
If anyone has harmed me in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions
I forgive them.
And if there is a situation
I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.
For all the ways that I harm myself,
negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself
through my own confusions
I forgive myself.

decembersunrise046. Instagram Parody video from College Humor, (it’s funny because it’s true). A few of my students were watching it in class the other day, laughing and laughing, and then one of them said, “Shhh, don’t laugh so loud, Jill likes Instagram and we might make her feel bad.”

7. The Secret to Living to 90 from Rachel Cole, or more specifically, from her grandfather, who just turned 90.

8. Christine Hassler’s Words Of Encouragement.

9. The Myth of Ownership by Courtney Carver on Be More With Less. I know you have heard it a hundred times already, but she is so wicked smart!

10. David Whyte reading his poem, Sweet Darkness, after he talks a bit about learning to say no. From the end of the poem, my favorite lines:

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

decembersunrise11. On Being a Late Bloomer on Rookie, “Success doesn’t happen overnight.” Amen.

12. Do Idols and Role Models Limit Our Potential? on Scoutie Girl. An interesting idea, something worth considering.

13. Poet Breathe Now, a video of a 17 year old poet performing one of the most beautiful poems ever, shared by Julia on Painted Path. I left Julia a comment after I watched it “Holy wow. Holy crap. This is what happens when voices are encouraged and heard instead of suppressed and silenced.”

14. Finding Momo. I share this with you along with a serious cuteness warning. You will waste a lot of time finding Momo, you won’t be able to stop or to help it.

15. White Space Enhances Productivity on Pick the Brain.

16. 5 Tips to Avoid Overextending Yourself on Think Simple Now.

17. 7 Videos That’ll Stop You From Ever Saying “I Can’t” from Jonathan Fields.

18. The Work You Love is Waiting For You from Zen Habits.

19. This picture on Instagram from Kind Over Matter, for small creatures such as we.

20. Open Heart Retreat with Susan Piver, Shambhala Mountain Center, April 5-8th. I am all in.

decembersunrise0521. The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck. I want this.

22. 9 Reasons You’re Stuck Where You Are on Marc and Angel Hack Life. Oh, #3…I hear you. Also from Marc and Angel, 12 Things to Stop Doing in the Next 12 Months.

23. Just to be clear, I have permission.

If you frequently give yourself permission to doodle, wander, and be
totally unproductive, Jill, and you actually relish such interludes, I
can guarantee that your genius, creativity, and productivity will
increase exponentially.

I’ve seen it happen a billion times.

Through the roof,
The Universe

24. Changing Corners on SouleMama. I’ve said it before, if I were a mom, this blog would most likely make me feel bad about myself. But, I’m not, so this blog makes me want this family to adopt me, pretty please.

25. Finding Your Voice from Jen Lee. I can’t buy any new stuff, any more things, especially ones that require me to do something, but this always calls to me, and “For 2 Days Only: Enjoy 20% off everything in our store (enter code 2DAYSTOSAVE at checkout before Wednesday, 12/13/12).” She has some really awesome tshirts too, that say things like “Love makes us brave” and “It’s your story. Tell it.”

26. E-Interview with Writer and Poet, Laurie Marks Wagner at Giving Voice to the Voiceless.

nest27. This quote: “Anything becomes interesting if you look at it for long enough.” ~Gustave Flaubert

28. This quote: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” ~Robert Brault

29. Peace on Earth from Kristin Noelle.

30. Why I Gave Up Chasing Goals from Danielle LaPorte. Also from Danielle, Cosmic Radio: an audio contemplation for total encouragement.

31. Colored Owl Drawings by John Pusateri on Colossal.

32. The Prayer, gorgeousness from Hannah Marcotti.

dec12sky03

33. This quote: “If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?” Dōgen Zenji

34. And this quote: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
~Dalai Lama

35. And this one: “A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”- Mahatma Gandhi

36. And finally, this one:

Sooner or later we admit that we cannot do it all, that whatever our contribution, the story is much larger and longer than our own, and we are all in the gift of older stories that we are only now joining. Whatever our success, we are all looked after by other eyes, and we are only preparing ourselves for an invitation to something larger. ~David Whyte

37. The cutest thing you will see all year, and the best dog ever. Eric and I had this conversation about it:

Eric: I love how the dog is clearly thinking, “what the heck is he doing? Should I stop him? Shouldn’t you (the person with the camera) stop him? Am I missing something here? Humans are strange…”
Me: I love how he just waits until the kid comes back for him.

Something Good.

If you are at all like me, on a Monday you can use all the extra goodness you can get. So, here’s this weeks list.

  • My new favorite drink: I modified the recipe for a Perro Salado (Tequila Salty Dog), and now it is my drink of choice, without the tequila and salt most of the time, and a lot more juice than the original recipe calls for. I am drinking a virgin version right now.  Doesn’t it look refreshing?

Here it is if you want to try it:

  • Ira Glass: as I mentioned yesterday, a friend and I went to see Ira Glass. “Reinventing Radio” was the name of his show, and I had seen it a few years ago in Boulder.  My favorite part of the show, besides when he makes a balloon animal or cracks a joke, is his explanation of how to tell a story: there has to be narrative momentum (this happened, and then this, and this), a pleasing surprise, and a moment in which the universal meaning or message of the story is revealed.  He talked last night about how he thought for a lot of years that he’d invented this structure, worked for eight years to figure it out and understand it, only to realize that it’s the standard structure for a sermon, and was already old when Jesus did it.

Photo by Jeremy M Farmer

Here are a series of videos where Ira talks more about storytelling.

  • This American Life: This is the show that Ira hosts and produces.  It isn’t just something good, it’s one of my favorite things.  You know how safe and happy you felt when your parents read you a story at bedtime? (Okay, maybe that’s just me, and if you don’t have that memory, I am so sorry, because it really can be one of the best things in life.)  That’s exactly how I feel listening to this radio show.  It’s so comforting, safe, interesting, funny, smart, kind, and good.  I listen to old episodes when I am wrapping Christmas presents every year or when I am balancing the checkbook and paying bills, I listen to the new show every Sunday, or as a podcast later in the week if I have missed it. If you have never heard it, you can go to the This American Life website and find archived broadcasts.
  • In a video I mentioned the other day, Brene’ Brown talked with Jennifer Louden and said that if she had known the TED Talk she did in Houston would be selected to be on the front page of the TED site, be a featured video, she never would have talked about her breakdown spiritual awakening or “all that other stuff.”  She was vulnerable because she didn’t realize how important it was going to be, how many people would actually see it, and look at what happened–because she was able to be brave and vulnerable, she’s been able to help so many more people, me being one of them.

  • And finally, just for giggles and since I am not dressing up this Halloween, here’s me a few years ago, and another of me from many years ago.  I have to say, I don’t think I’ve really changed all that much.

  • Your turn: tell me something good.

Shadow Comforts and Time Monsters

I mentioned yesterday that I had watched “Wise Person Call with Brene Brown,” a video of Jennifer Louden talking with Brene’ Brown.  In it, they talked about Shadow Comforts and Time Monsters, who, from the sounds of it, are the younger siblings of these two:

Picture by Cubby

Jennifer Louden wrote her first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, when she was 25. “I had no idea how to take care of myself. I wrote the book to discover how – and as I learned about self-care and self-nurturing, I realized how much of the time I comforted myself in ways that actually made me feel worse…I discovered that healthy comfort and shadow comfort are different in how they make you feel. More alive, more centered, more you? Healthy comfort. Dull, self-hating, anxious? Shadow comfort,” (from an interview with Jennifer on Marianne Elliott’s website).

In her published books, she describes shadow comfort this way:

  • A shadow comfort is anything that masquerades as a cherishing self-care technique but in fact drains your energy”
  • Shadow comforts are encumbrances like eating too many sweets, watching too much TV, shopping for things we don’t need, surfing the Internet for hours, reading too much — numbing out. Another word for these behaviors is soft addictions or buffers [or counterfeit comforts],” and “Shadow comfort doesn’t nourish you, it diminishes you. It’s what many people think of when they think of comfort. They are actually punishing themselves instead of nourishing their souls.”

In my attempt to learn self-care, this is an important distinction.  When I was looking up more definitions for it, looking into it further, I found an old article by Jennifer Louden in which she provided an exercise to help you identify your shadow comforts.  In a continued effort to be brave and vulnerable, to be public and accountable, and thereby hopefully some kind of inspiration to someone else wanting to do the same, and as a way to help you understand shadow comforts if the concept still doesn’t make sense, here are my responses to the exercise.

1. List your favorite shadow comforts.

  • EATING, and eating, and eating.
  • Feeling sorry for myself, depression, worry and anxiety.
  • Sleep.
  • Illness.
  • Mindless TV watching, internet surfing.
  • Mindless chores, busywork.
  • Doing for others, taking care of them.
  • Working out.
  • Shame, blame and anger.
  • Smashing myself to bits.
  • Shopping online, buying books or signing up for classes.
  • Alcohol, sugar.
  • Procrastination and avoidance.

2. What are four or five situations or feelings that trigger a shadow comfort response in me?

  • My job.
  • Family problems that I feel helpless to fix.
  • Fear of failure, fear of success.
  • Shame, feeling not worthy or not enough.
  • Poverty mentality, a sense of scarcity, that there won’t be enough.

From Jennifer Louden about shadow comforts, “We often choose to do things that numb us or distract us because we are afraid.”  Based on my lists: um yeah, yup, okay, I see it, “whoomp there it is,” duh.  She goes on to say:

I know, cue smoting of forehead! How obvious but still, like many obvious ideas, huge when you get it.

We eat sugar or check email for the 1000000000000 time because we are afraid.

Afraid of our feelings, our power, our desires, our longings.

Afraid of intimacy, change, beauty, joy, the sweetness of life.

Afraid of anger, disappointment, judgment, shame.

Afraid of being afraid!

Sure, we choose shadow comforts for other reasons too (being tired, not knowing what we really want, being revved up, lack of self-permission, not thinking). And yet, behind even these, often lurks fear.

Then, there are the Time Monsters. Jennifer describes them as “Closely related but slightly different from shadow comforts are time monsters – anything we pretend is a creative, generative use of our time but is actually a way to dodge doing what we really want to do…I’ve coached many women whose lives consisted almost entirely of time monsters because they were too afraid to do what they really wanted to do – for fear of failure, for fear of what their mother/husband/children might think, for fear that when their long-held dream was realized, it would become tarnished by daily living…We spend our lives doing things that don’t matter, and meanwhile, our desires are sobbing, locked away in the basement.”

WAH!!!!  This is what I have been doing for at least the past 20 years.  20 years!  My good grades, my good behavior, my generosity, graduate school, in many ways my job…bleh. Time Monsters. Not a waste of time, just a manifestation of a basic confusion, a huge misunderstanding. I bought into what I thought I was supposed to do, what I thought would make people accept and love me, what would make them like me, think I’m cool or special.  I wanted to be smart, pretty, and popular, and I sacrificed the work that really mattered to me because I thought it would get me there. 

Photo by Toni Verdu

Again, I want to sink into thinking “what a waste of time,” but I remind myself that it was all necessary, that “It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now, and now is right on time.

There’s hope, there’s a plan, a practice, a way out. You can learn self-care, real and true “I love myself and I am worth it and I am going to show up” kind of care. In another article, Jennifer gives a strategy:

When I look at my habits or practices as something I am teaching myself, instead of as fatal flaws that I can never change, I create enough space to identify what I am doing that doesn’t feel nourishing. Then, if I choose to, I can move into the mood of being a creator, of shaping my life, by asking some of these questions:

Is this teaching me what I want to learn?

Is this helping me live my truest life?

Is this giving me energy?

And the most powerful question of all:

What do I really want?

I have to admit that right now, it feels like I really want a cookie, or an entire chocolate cake, but I know that would be a shadow comfort. Instead, I am off to see Ira Glass, the host of one of my very favorite radio shows “This American Life,” one of my very favorite things, with a good friend.