Category Archives: Mary Anne Radmacher

Day of Rest

insideandoutfridgeThis morning on Facebook, my friend Mary Anne Radmacher asked, “Do you think the front of your fridge makes any kind of statement?” She went on to say, “I have often thought that the fridge captures the essence of the home. What is inside feeds our body and what is on the outside feeds our soul (laughter, memories, reminders).” I took the above picture of the inside and outside of my fridge, posted it, and said, “Mine, inside and out, is just like me: a passionate mess sharing her busy, full life with three boys, trying to figure herself out. (Note the three different calendar magnets on the outside and the light inside is burnt out).”

I think some of what my fridge says is that I’m busy, disordered, and overwhelmed. I’m trying to be two people, live two lives, as well as love and care for three others, and it’s too much. I’ve held on to some things for too long, things that no longer serve me — if they ever did. I’m moving so fast and taking on so much that I’m distracted, sometimes don’t even see what I have, what’s right in front of me. When I’m hungry, I don’t always allow myself access to what I need, what would be satisfying and filling. I love how Mary Anne’s perspective, her question, the picture I took captures where I’m at, moving from a year where my guiding word was “home” in which I came back to myself and my space, to one where my word is “nourish,” in which my intention is to feed and to cherish. I can see when I slow down and look closely how I’ve changed, as well as the places where I still struggle.

My snack this morning after a long walk with my three boys

My snack this morning after a long walk with my three boys, exactly what I was hungry for

I’d already spent the morning thinking about how I feed myself. I read a few chapters from Heath at Every Size, and one section seemed especially important, relevant to where I’m at right now.

While it is clear that our food choices are a matter of personal responsibility, it is important to recognize that we do not make our choices in a vacuum. We select our foods in an environment toxic with government policies that encourage cheap prices for foods with low nutrient value, and in which billions of dollars have been spent to convince us to distrust ourselves, to overeat, and to eat foods laced with ingredients that raise our setpoints and damage our health.

I find myself turning away more and more from external pressures and expectations, beliefs that I at one time had internalized as my own. For so long I attempted to live in line with what was expected of me. I really wanted to be a good girl, pretty and fit and nice — agreeable and acceptable. Things about me that didn’t fit with the norms, I hid, rejected, hated. I felt ashamed and uncomfortable and awkward. I can see it now for what it was, so much self-hatred and self-aggression.

I’m learning to trust myself, my own innate wisdom, my own hungers. I’m practicing self-compassion. I work towards every thought, every action being something that says “I love you.” Some of the transformation is visible, but so much of it is still hidden, internal, secret. I’m not sure you’d see it if you looked at my refrigerator.

 

Something Good


1. This description of a good writer, from Isaac Asimov, “You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.”

2. Something you may need to hear today from Kat McNally.

3. To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem, a post about self-compassion on, of all places, Harvard Business Review (?!)

4. On being copied from Andrea Schroeder, in which she says “people aren’t buying your product or service on its own – they’re buying your product or service animated by your creative essence.”

5. 36 Things You Will Naturally Understand If You’re From Colorado on BuzzFeed. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of these, and don’t get the childhood references since I didn’t grow up here, but it’s pretty funny.

6. Brave Love, “A love-based case for the what’s right in the world, curated by Brit Hanson.”

7. 30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die.

8. Sacred Love: 12 Things at the Bottom of Everything** from Rachel Maddox. P.S. There’s still time to donate to her Traveling Soul Circus project.

9. The Five Buddha Families and 10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion on Elephant Journal.

10. Erica Staab shares a beautiful poem, Clearing by Martha Postlewaite.

11. From Brave Girls Club,

Beautiful, true, important things almost always take a long time to come to fruition. There are often very long stretches that are tedious, thankless, difficult and hard to measure. We get tired and that makes us weak and vulnerable to things that hurt our feelings or make us want to stop trying. There are often points in the journey when we feel absolutely alone, misunderstood and even cast out. There are sometimes points in our journey when we just want to be alone…and that is hard to explain to people we love. Making progress is not easy, is it?

With all of that in mind, however…think even more seriously about how miserable it is to stay stagnant. Think of how awful it feels to know in our hearts that we are meant for something, but to continue to ignore it, run away from it….or stay stuck just looking at it in fear.

12. The Well-Fed Woman: Tara Sophia Mohr on Rachel Cole’s blog, in which Tara describes something I know all too well, in a way I hadn’t quite figured out how to say it yet:

I grew up making art of all kinds – but when I went to college I couldn’t find a way to create comfortably in the highly competitive, hierarchical environment there. My center drifted over to my more intellectual, left-brain side, and that became my comfort zone. The more I was centered there, the harder it was to create. I became very, very afraid making art – so frozen in my creativity, afraid of failure, afraid of “not being good.”

13. Also on Rachel Cole’s blog, a brilliant reframing of perfection, The New (Im)perfection.

14. rodrigo y gabriela, and a lesson in passion on Chookooloonks.

15. your daily rock : love what you do

16. ZenPen: Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth, a great new offering from Courtney Putnam, a six week writing ecourse. I swore I wasn’t taking any more ecourses, needed to put my energy into creating my own, but this one makes that vow so hard to keep.

This microcourse, How to Create a Microbusiness that Matters, from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less, is also making this promise a tough one to keep.

17. “Often I busy myself trying to find the key – and fail to notice the door has no lock.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

18. The August Break with Susannah Conway is back! I’m in.

19. how joy is a toughie for me from Jessica Swift.

20. My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today.

21. Rachel Cole linked to a song in her Midsummer’s Joy post, and I was so happy, not realizing that Mary Lambert, the gorgeous female voice on Macklemore’s “Same Love,” had her own full song, She Keeps Me Warm. I bought her EP Letters Don’t Talk and have been listening to it on repeat (it’s only five songs).

22. Note from the Universe,

Dreams come true, Jill, that’s what they do. The only variable is when. For the slow approach: Resist. Attach. Insist. Deny. Stop. Second guess. Whine. Argue. Defend. Protest. Cry. Struggle. And ask others, when you know the answer yourself. For the quick approach: Visualize. Pretend. Prepare. Dodge. Roll. Serpentine. Do not waiver over intentions, but over methods. Show up, even when nothing happens. And give thanks in advance. You knew that.

24. This wisdom from Henri Nouwen and his book Turning My Mourning into Dancing, (shared by Satya in Writing Our Way Home’s newsletter),

I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.” As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.


25. Your Permanent Record from Seth Godin, in which he says, “Perfect can’t possibly be the goal, we’re left with generous, important and human instead.” Also from Seth, People like us do stuff like this.

26. A birds-eye view of this right now {Just One Paragraph 4/30} from Christina Rosalie, in which she says, “Time is a trickster. A torrent one minute, then a slow as honey crawl the next.”

27. Amazing Plant Sculptures at the Montreal Mosaiculture Exhibition 2013 on Bored Panda.

Self-Compassion Saturday: Mary Anne Radmacher

Yesterday, I caught myself “shoulding” — “you should write this post early and have it ready to publish first thing in the morning, at midnight even, because people are waiting for it, and if not that, you should work on it first thing and publish it as early as possible.” I was able to stop myself because it doesn’t make sense for a post about self-compassion to be pushed, to be a should.

Instead, my morning looked like this: I meditated, wrote my morning pages, reread Mary Anne Radmacher’s latest book, took a long walk with Dexter, had a hot shower, and savored my breakfast — then I turned on my computer. I was able to “turn down the volume of demands and listen to the grace of the small, the silence, the whisper,” and I was “aware that my life is a walking poem, meditation, praise and prayer,” just like Mary Anne suggests in Honey in Your Heart: Ways to See and Savor the Simple Good Things. I know that she’d approve of the way I approached my morning.

peacedream

I’ve written about Mary Anne before, describing the way in which I came to have an original piece of her art, made just for me. In that post, I explained that she’s an amazing artist, writer, teacher, friend. I love everything she does. Her quote “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow” has offered me so much comfort, helped me to see that being brave, showing up and being vulnerable isn’t always a big event, a dramatic heroic action, but that courage could be quiet too, could be soft and gentle. She’s been offering her work for over 30 years, has written at least 13 books and created countless pieces of art, and describes herself as an “Artist, Author, Actionista.” She also has two of the cutest dogs on the planet.

Mary Anne’s superpowers are creativity, generosity, and truth telling. She’s an oracle, able to see and offer the truth in the most compassionate and creative way. She encourages and inspires with her words and her art. She’s a healer, offering up wisdom wrapped in beauty to soothe and comfort, to ease suffering. She is one of the kindest, wisest people I know. Which is exactly why I asked her to respond to my four questions about self-compassion.

Because it’s her nature to be generous, Mary Anne answered a few extra questions and included a Body Gratitude Practice, and had all of it to me within 24 hours of my original request. She sent me two versions of her answers, one short and one longer, and I confess kind and gentle reader that for the most part I’m sharing the longer version with you — it’s just that good.

mary anne radmacher portrait

Bonus question: How can I help the harm that has been done unravel itself?

Forgiveness is the great unraveler. Forgiveness for myself for what I have done and would have been better to not have done; forgiveness for not putting my hand and shoulder to an opportunity that was mine to claim. Forgiveness is a gift first to myself. Foremost, to myself. To give forgiveness to myself, first, lets me forgive someone else. Then, not only does the harm unravel…it contextualizes differently.

Bonus question: How can I help others find their own wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor?

I find, connect and utilize/apply my own wisdom, kindness and sense of humor. I find it. I use it. And then I tell the story, “This is how it worked for me. I tried this – and I tried this – and finally, I tried THIS and it worked.” Then, I ask questions. What didn’t work for me might work for someone else, so that’s always part of the story. It might look like failure but in my story it’s something I tried that didn’t “work.”

A question you didn’t ask but told a story about so I’m going to answer the implicit question…”Who do you think you are?”

For decades I’ve said, “What if I just pretended everything was easy?” And I asked myself the question, “How would I behave if I actually knew how to do this?” Famously Neil Gaiman included that encouragement in a speech he delivered last year – to simply act like someone who knows what they are doing. So much greater than the “fake it ‘til you make it,” mentality there’s no fakery involved. In that context I am able to quiet my mind, remember and call to bear all the things I DO know, consider the various resources available to me…and often, in short fashion, taking advantage of synthesizing what I do know with what I know how to discover, I have resolved that which seemed unresolvable.

abirdneverasks

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

Following the model of my behavior toward the human I love and adore the most. Treating myself at least equally as well, if not better. The first time I heard a flight attendant instruct, “Place the oxygen ask on yourself first, before assisting others with theirs,” the metaphor lit up. Immediately.

Listen to yourself. Listen to your truest, kind inner voice.

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

I am still learning self-compassion.

The consequences of not listening to my own instincts, of overriding the messages from my body, have been great. The books that helped me the most are: How to Live in the World and Still be Happy by Hugh Prather; The Key: And the Name of the Key Is Willingness by Cheri Huber. And I’ve read biographies of historical luminaries and taken heed of their great lessons.

While I do not wear a label, nor do I ever singularly identify myself this way – but I grew up with a menu of abuse. And such abuse so early in my life has given me a remarkable opportunity to define how I deserve to be treated. It is an ongoing lesson. From an aha experience when I was 9 that led me to nearly break an abuser’s jaw with the instruction,”Never again,” to the legal document that I delivered to an abuser just a few years ago. It was the shortest letter I’ve ever written in my life. And it’s the last thing I ever wrote to that source of mistreatment. What did it say? “No.”

Because I am so empathetic it’s tempting to put myself second, or last. To imagine that someone needs something more than I do. Now – I’m inclined to occasionally eat the last piece of something on a plate. I don’t save the best for others: I share it with others, yes. But I use it myself.

thisiswhat

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

I nap whenever I need to. I no longer use the word “deadline” in common exchange. I say, “targeted completion date.” With due respect to Yoda, I am now inclined to say, “I will try – and if it’s not going to work for me, I will let you know.” And then I do. Try. And say “no” if it’s not a fit.

I have a ruler that has the 12 measures of what is most important to me. If opportunities come to be that are AWESOME but are outside the scope of what matters to me in the moment…I lovingly say No. Without regret. Or apology. My “no,” given truly, is always someone else’s, “Yes.”

I actively live within my own story. It’s self check. “Is this your story or someone else’s story? Is this YOUR job or someone else’s job?” What joy I experienced when I recognized I was only responsible for – me! AND the companion realization to that is, “No one else is responsible for me or my happiness.” Blammo. Blame goes out the window. I own my stuff and I don’t blame it on others.

compassofyourheart

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

4A. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand?
Yeah. This is a tough one. What I think I still need to learn hardly ever turns out to be what the next lesson is. Life has a way of dishing up whatever the next lesson is. So I can answer – that I still need to better understand how to notice the lessons before they hit me over the head.

4B. What is missing from your practice of self-compassion.
Dynamic physicality. I write. I create. I administer. I teach on line. That can read, I sit. I sit. I sit. And when I’m done sitting, I sit some more. The hula hoop I made is sitting in the garage. I dance to get my engine started in the morning. For minutes. Just for mental joy…not for body benefit. Oh, dang. I’ll write it: e x e r c i s e. Yep. I try calling it playground time. Play. I am inclined toward stillness. And yet I know my practice needs movement. Baby steps. Big dog – I’m his person and I walk him. It’s a self compassion trick…because THE DOG needs the walk. I go. So clearly plenty of opportunity for learning here.

4C. What do you still struggle with?
I learned five years ago that I have extreme sensitivity to gluten, eggs and cow-dairy. Just recently studying the Aryuvedic disciplines, the Kapha path is helping me manage my health and sensitivities in ways that make so much sense and are having very positive results. No nuts. Little red meat. Already embraced gluten-free, egg-free and cow-dairy free styles. The struggle? Sometimes I will willingly trade, against all common sense, two days of feeling great for ten minutes of a huge cheese cake slice. Or, half a cheese cake. My self talk improves the ratio of times I pass to times I succumb. “What are you actually feeding?” “Is the trade really worth it?” “Is there an alternative that will satisfy this craving that would serve you better?” Increasingly the answers to these questions help me make a more viable choice for myself. But there are times when only half of a Trader Joe’s cheesecake will do. And slowly those times occur with less frequency.

In summary: So now I refer myself, and you, back to the whole harm and unraveling thing that I began with. My self-compassion is tied to Forgiveness.

Forgiveness. It’s my newell post. My cornerstone. My balancing point. My net. My invitation to a more compassionate life.

I am filled with love and gratitude for Mary Anne, and especially thankful for what she had to say about forgiveness. To find out more about Mary Anne, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Andrea Scher.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Mary Anne Radmacher’s Body Gratitude Practice

This practice is a generous gift from Mary Anne Radmacher, who is featured on today’s Self-Compassion Saturday. For the practice, get comfortable, somewhere quiet and alone, and focus on each part of your body, saying thanks, sharing your gratitude.

mary anne radmacher portrait

Gratitude Bones

Toes: Thank you for lifting me up and helping me peer over fences, tall cupboards and possibilities.

Arches: Thank you for being so high and letting me know what kind of shoes you need to navigate the soil with grace and ease.

Heels: Thank you for being my balancing point and keeping me from going backwards when those unexpected Things are launched at me.

Calves: Oh, for the reach and the stretch. Thank you for working so well to connect and make the whole system run smoothly.

Knees: Great Director of Flexibility and Balance, Thank you. You are my change agent and Recovery Department. Thank you for getting me back up when I fall.

Thighs: Thank you for all the ways you accommodate, for all the shifts and sizes I pace you through and thank you for always standing up for me.

Hips: Thank you for saying yes when I wanted to learn how to throw a hula hoop. Thank you for hauling me around so consistently and for sitting down so gracefully.

Pelvis: Thank you for transitioning me into a different phase of my life. I am grateful for all the things I am learning from you about how to be a woman at this age of my life.

Waist: Thank you for giving me curve. Thank you for helping me bend and stretch. Thank you for centering my belly and joining my digestive system on this learning journey of what is right and what works for me.

Ribs: Thank you for protecting me. For being there for my fragile breathing mechanisms. Thank you for being my shielf.

Breasts: Thank you for being healthy. Thank you for adding line and dimension to my form. Thank you for your proportion to the rest of my being.

Back: Thank you for the strength, durability and resilience you demonstrate after all I ask of you. Thank you for complying with the posture I ask of you and for all the hours of stillness I require of you as a writer.

Shoulder: Thank you for what you bear. Thanks for your willingness to bend and not break. Thank you for allowing me to carry what I have chosen to carry throughout my life. Thank you for helping me bring words to the world.

Elbows: Ah, thank you for helping me work diligently. Thank you for your capacity to clean tough stains out of pans, clothes and my heart.

Arms: Thank you for helping me serve and love others. Thank you for your role in my writing life.

Hands: Thank you for being so small and doing such big things.

Fingers: Thank you for sticking with me even though I’ve placed you in harm’s way time after time. Thank you for the way you dance when I am unable to.

Neck: Thank you for turning. Thank you for letting me rotate to see blessings I might have missed and harm that I’ve been able to miss.

Skull: Thank you for bearing the scars of your abuse with such grace and forgiveness.

Face: Thank you for your smile, your hydrated skin, your eyes that weep willingly for the pain of others and those lips that will deliver a smile to anyone, anywhere, any time.

Voice: Thank you for allowing me to raise up my voice on behalf of my own interests and the interests of others.

Toes to Head: Thank you for managing the pain and difficulty of allergy and joint issues and labels which I will not name but conditions that cause you pain. Thank you for receiving my gratitude and continuing to work with me to do good work in the work. Dear Sweet Body – You are the only one I’ve got and I am spending a lifetime learning how to love and care for you better every day. I love you and I thank you for the good and enduring service you provide me every second of every day.

love, mary anne radmacher – the animating force that breathes within your bones, cells, blood, DNA.

Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning

i'm still standing

You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~Buddha

For just a minute, I am taking a deep breath and sinking into this moment. Eric is in the kitchen making pie crust — I’ve had a thing about pie lately, buying store made versions that claim to be Marionberry but aren’t quite, and he wanted to make me a “real pie.” Emeli Sandé is singing Next to Me, part of a mix I made myself on Rhapsody that I listen to while I write. Both dogs are asleep in their beds behind me. The window is open and I can hear the wind blowing, see the blue sky and bright green of my lilac bushes and the trees above. My hair is still wet from a shower, and I’m wearing clean soft cotton pjs and my favorite sweater.

*sigh*

I feel pretty content right now, in this moment. But I don’t always feel like this. I struggle, I suffer, I smash myself to bits. There are old, habitual ways of thinking and being that no longer serve me, and yet I still act them out, get stuck.

It came to me recently that at the heart of all of my issues, underneath every irritation or sadness was one thing. And when I realized what it was, I felt a deep longing, an intense hunger to understand, to heal, to transform that suffering, and I knew that I was connected to a tribe of wise and compassionate women who could help me, if only I was brave enough to ask.

pathgate

So I sent a request to them. It started like this,

Dear Beautiful You,

I said a prayer and took a deep breath before beginning this message to you. I am so worried it will come off like a creepy sales pitch or inappropriate request — it isn’t. This email, this request is an utterly authentic wish from the deepest part of my heart, an expression of my ongoing longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world, and to be of service. It isn’t about my blog stats, building my own worth or value, or any other self-serving, self-fulfilling ego bullshit. This is not about little me, this is about Big Love. In fact, it would be so much easier for me to not do this, to not ask, but I feel compelled to, and as Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home.”

I am writing to you with a tender heart full of longing. I am writing to YOU because you are a wise and compassionate teacher, writer, healer, artist. I am writing because I have big questions and I think you can help me answer them.

“How can I help the harm that has been done unravel itself? How can I help others find their own wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor?” (Pema Chödrön actually said that, but they are also my questions). As a writer and a teacher myself, the spark for the enclosed request came to me as these things always do: I was curious and confused, felt a hunger to understand something.

I was struggling and went to a new doctor to seek medical advice, to determine if the cause for my suffering were in my body. The help I was offered, the “answer” I was given didn’t sit right with me. In fact, every cell of my body said “that’s not it.” That very afternoon, I left for a meditation retreat led by my dear friend and teacher Susan Piver. In that safe and supportive space of contemplation the real answer, the true path, revealed itself: self-compassion.

Great! – and yet, what is that, how do I do that?! Having been in a long term abusive relationship with myself, I don’t know how to be in love, to be loving, to fully and completely accept myself. The momentary sadness of not knowing faded when I realized I knew many amazing, wise and compassionate women who have been my guides already in so many other ways – I could ask them.

So I ask you, humbly and with such gratitude and love, these four questions:

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

As a writer and a teacher, part two of anything I learn is the strong desire to share it, the knowledge that if this is helpful to me there are others who also must need it. So my intention, my wish is to not only benefit myself from your answers, but to share them in two ways:

1. “Self-Compassion Saturday,” a once a week post on my blog that includes an introduction to your other good work, explains why I asked you specifically, gives your answers and link(s) to your work.

2. When all the answers I get have been posted, I’d like to collect them into a PDF ebook that can be downloaded by anyone for free – not a “follow my blog/sign up for my newsletter and get a free gift” thing, but a truly free gift to anyone who would benefit, an offering made from love.

mettaprayer
This is the plan, kind and gentle reader: one post each Saturday until they stop coming, (29 women have said “yes”), and then I’ll create an ebook including the whole collection that anyone can download for free. These women’s willingness to be a part of this project, their generosity and kindness, has left me gobsmacked, so full of love and gratitude. And each response that I’ve received so far to the four essential questions has been a gift filled with compassion and wisdom that I can’t wait to share with you.

First up, next Saturday, is Artist, Author, Actionista Mary Anne Radmacher, (I’ve written about her before). She had her responses to me less than 24 hours after I asked, and even answered three extra questions! It’s so good.

I must go now. I smell pie 🙂

Something Good

1. the pursuit of happiness: how part-time dream-chasing works from Liv Lane. This makes so much sense to me, seems to be how things are working in my case.

2. From a poem shared by the lovely Jessica Patterson,

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
~Judy Brown

3. A quote shared by Christa on Carry It Forward,

The gift you carry for others is not an attempt to save the world but to fully belong to it. It’s not possible to save the world by trying to save it. You need to find what is genuinely yours to offer the world before you can make it a better place. Discovering the unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge. The offering of that gift – your true self – is the most you can do to love and serve the world…and it is all the world needs. ~Bill Plotkin

4. After School Snack: Almond-Oat Bites. This recipe looks so yummy. I wonder what it would taste like with avocado? 🙂

5. Pets Add Life Outtakes. If this doesn’t make you giggle, we probably wouldn’t get along.

6. This quote from Lin Yutang, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

7. This quote from Pema Chödrön,

Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what’s going on, but that there’s something missing in us, and therefore something is lacking in our world.

Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look. That’s the compassionate thing to do. That’s the brave thing to do. We can’t just jump over ourselves as if we were not there. It’s better to take a straight look at all our hopes and fears. Then some kind of confidence in our basic sanity arises.

8. This quote from Ram Daas,

Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we’re so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is the supreme creative act.

9. [How I Relax] An interview with Marianne Elliott on The Freedom Experiment.

10. Anne Frank’s Chestnut Tree: Self-Compassion and Resilience from Lea Seigen Shinraku.

11. International Artist Mary Anne Radmacher Talks Living Boldly on 365 Bold.

12. “A great writer reveals the truth even when he or she does not wish to.” ~Tom Bissell

13. 9 Steps to Creating a Successful e-Course from Pro Blogger.

14. I Never Thought A 1-Minute Video Could Punch Me In The Heart. Yet Here We Are. Seeing Anne Frank with gray hair made me cry.

15. Washed Away, a New York Times book review of ‘Wave’ by Sonali Deraniyagala, by Cheryl Strayed. After reading this, I immediately ordered the book, knowing it’s going to break my heart.

16. Creating Your Zen Den on Positively Positive.

17. Wisdom from Osho,

When you have dropped all the tension about the future – that I should become this and I should become that – the ego evaporates. The ego lives on a base of the past and the future. Understand this a little. The claims of the ego are of the past, “I did this, I did that” – it is all in the past. And the ego says, “I will definitely accomplish this, I will definitely show you that I can accomplish that.” That is all in the future. The ego simply does not exist in the present. If you come to the present, then the ego disappears. That is death to the ego. Coming to the present is the death of the ego.

18. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön: Comfortable with Transition, a Good Minute Weekly Wisdom offering from Sounds True.

19. Generosity for Georgia, a really great fundraising effort for a single mom fighting cancer. If I had my way, no kid ever again would lose their mom to cancer. For now, the only thing I can do about that is to give some money and love to people like Georgia, and share the link with you so you can too.

20. Wisdom from Patti Digh,

A thought: If we can walk to our edges without judgment–edges are those “hot spots” of discomfort and disequilibrium where real learning can occur–we can learn something valuable about ourselves. But we have to choose between judging and learning, because if we go into judgment (of ourselves or others), we can’t learn. Carry on.

21. A great story from Jen Lee on The Moth.

22. Trading in Consumption on Be More With Less. Courtney Carver continues to be such an inspiration to me.

23. This quote from Tony Schwartz,

Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.

24. Five Ways To Nourish Yourself from Nourishing the Soul.

25. Objects of Desire from Lisa Field-Elliot on Doorways Traveler. I love, love, love her writing, her view, her heart. Every post she says something so true, something that startles and stops me, makes me cry. This time it was this, “it is not about accumulating, it is about recognizing and eliminating what does not speak the truth.”

26. i could live here: a converted waffle factory in lille. from SF Girl by Bay. Everything about this place is yummy, gorgeous and good, and I can’t help but wonder, how different would your life be if you lived in a space like that? I mean, it’s a converted waffle factory in France that is decorated and furnished beautifully– everything about that is good. In my dream of it, it still smells like waffles, warm maple and vanilla.

27. Wisdom from the Dalai Lama,

If we unbalance nature, humankind will suffer. Furthermore, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy as, if not healthier than, we found it. This is not quite such a difficult proposition as it might sound. For although there is a limit to what we as individuals can do, there is no limit to what a universal response might achieve. It is up to us as individuals to do what we can, however little that may be. Just because switching off the light on leaving the room seems inconsequential, it does not mean we shouldn’t do it.

28. From Rowdy Kittens Happy Links list: Speaking Up About Grief and Why We Rescue Interview, (this project only has one entry so far, but it’s such a good idea, and a really good first interview–I’m a sucker for a good rescue story).

29. This quote from Geneen Roth, “Compulsive eating is only the symptom; believing that you are not worth your own love is the problem. Go for the love. You will never be sorry.”

30. From Susannah’s Something for the Weekend list, Thai Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing.

31. Good stuff from Elephant Journal: Facebook for Buddhists? Five Rules for Maintaining a Mindful “Buddha Status,” and This is Why I Practice, which says,

I don’t practice because I am righteous or virtuous. I certainly don’t practice because I am perfect or peaceful. Nor do I practice to impress you or to prove some inane point about my wonderful brilliant sparkly shininess.

I practice because without practice I am a mess.

Amen.

32. Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You from Space2Live.

33. Pack Animals, from Guinevere Gets Sober, in which she says,

We need each other. The trick for me is to accept that need, to allow myself to satisfy it, and even to enjoy it, without allowing it to overtake the rest of my life and make me sacrifice myself.

34. Kid President Laugh Party! I adore Kid President.

35. Do not do shit just to please your parents. In fact, do not pursue anything in order to please someone else. Ever. Wisdom from Danielle LaPorte.

36. The Real Journey of a Writer, wisdom from Justine Musk.

#Reverb12: Day 8

reverb12

Okay, I knew this had to happen eventually: today a few of the prompts have started to repeat, to overlap. From Carolyn Rubenstein’s Reverb11 list, “Limits: We often learn about our limits the hard way. Were there any limits you realized this past year? Alternately, what self-imposed limits were you able to move beyond this year?” I answered this one already on Day Two.

Art

The full prompt: What was the most moving piece of art that you saw/experienced this year? This could mean a painting or a sculpture, or a performance you took in, or even a book that you read – tell us about the kind of art you encountered, and the way that it moved you.

The most moving piece of art I saw this year was original artwork made just for me by Mary Anne Radmacher. It wasn’t only the art (which is gorgeous, so precious) but the cycle of compassion it was part of, proof of the power of kindness and love and creativity. I wrote about it the day it arrived.

peacedream

Reading

There are two prompts for today that are almost exactly alike. The first prompt: What has been your favourite book or blog or magazine you’ve read this year? (Author: Carolyn Rubenstein), and the second prompt: Your favourite book? What was the best book you read in 2012, and why? (And by “Why?” I mean: Why did you read it? And why was it your favourite? Although these answers could be one and the same…!).

P.S. I think it is utterly adorable that the two prompts that overlapped are from places where it’s a “favourite” book, rather than a favorite.

I already wrote about books on Reverb12 Day Five. So, instead I’ll share some of my favorite blogs that I followed this year, (most of these are in addition to the list I shared in this post).

  • Ken and Paper. I especially love his “Meet Ken” page because except for the part about being divorced and a man, we have the same story.
  • I Saw You Dancing. Kat is hosting the main Reverb12 that I’m following, and that was initially how I first found her blog, so I’ve only just started reading, but I am really enjoying it. We seem to have a lot in common.
  • Justine Musk. I may have been reading her blog for more than a year now, but she continues to regularly inspire and encourage me, saying things I would never dare to say but that I so need to hear.
  • Be More With Less by Courtney Carver, who is a complete badass. I told her so when I got to meet her this summer. She consistently writes things that make me want to live a simpler, better life, and she makes that seem absolutely possible.
  • The Daily Breadcrumb by Sunni Chapman. Time and time again she writes the kind of wisdom that snaps me wide awake, breaks me open. She is kind and generous, she is powerful and wicked wise, she is a ray of light and love wrapped in human skin.

P.S. I got distracted by one of the dogs when writing this post, (I can’t tell you how many times this happens, mostly because I’ve lost count), and forgot one of the blogs I wanted to share.

  • 3x3x365, a blog co-authored by Patti Digh, Kathryn Schuth, and Amy McCracken (Amy is one of my new most favorite people), “Three friends in three states share one photo every day.” The stories these women share are so beautiful, sometimes simple and sometimes incredibly complicated, but always touching and precious.