Category Archives: Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project

Something Good

Every year, just after Thanksgiving, someone sneaks into the park where we walk our dogs and decorates three trees that stand next to the trail. This is the Charlie Brown one.

Every year, just after Thanksgiving, someone sneaks into the park where we walk our dogs and decorates three trees that stand next to the trail. This is the little Charlie Brown one.

1. Creative Living with Jamie has been named one of the Top 25 Business Podcasts for Entrepeneurs by Entrepreneur magazine! It’s really good. One of my favorite moments from the past year is when she interviewed me.

2. “It’s not about “giving up” control…”, wisdom from Isabel Foxen Duke.

3. Good stuff from Bored Panda: I Draw Pet Illustrations Based On Their Personalities, and This 5-Year-Old Girl Sneaked A Baby Cow Into Her Home To Cuddle With It, and 24+ Beautiful Ice And Snow Formations That Look Like Art.

4. True Stories Series: Maya Stein on 27 Powers.

5. Dear Woman on the Cusp from Rachel Cole. Her new offering, Feast, is so perfect for me that it feels like she created it just for me, but luckily for you, you can come along too if you’d like.

6. Life Was Perfect When Her Son Was Born. 14 Weeks Later, Everything Changed, on the importance of gratitude.

7. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook. And also from Liz, Karaoke wisdom.

8. Truthbomb #680 from Danielle LaPorte, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

9. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

We ache and bleed and suffer when we wish things were different than they are…and we don’t even realize that the thing that is really keeping us from healing is that we are simply not accepting things as they are, but we are still wishing things had happened differently, or not happened at all.

And this,

You will come across things in your life that just feel wrong, things that make you feel heavy or confused or wobbly or sideways. Something deep inside you will feel unsettled and you will know that you want to move away from that thing or that situation or even that person … Be willing to walk away from things that feel wrong.

10. A Note from the Universe, (I want to believe this so badly…)

Jill, if, way down deep, you can even slightly comprehend that time is an illusion and that space is just a stage, then it shouldn’t take much of a leap to realize how safe you are, how much magic there is, and most importantly, that there must exist a super-consciousness with wishes and dreams all its own, that include you.

11. Wisdom from Geneen Roth:

Ask yourself if what you are telling yourself is true. Is it true that your body is ugly? Don’t answer so fast! (I heard you!) Ask yourself to what and whom you are comparing yourself? To a younger version of yourself? To a 20-year-old or an actress who works out three hours a day? Your body is the piece of the universe you’ve been given, the place where love and joy and grief happen, where happiness unfolds. Do you really want to keep believing that it’s a horrible, ugly, lumpy thing? Do you really want to keep punching yourself like that? (Call me psychic, but I have a feeling that the answer is no.)

When you stop telling yourself stories about your body, about your eating, about your life, you stop having to eat to fix how awful you feel because you stop feeling awful. Then and only then can you actually figure out what is really true. What you really want. What you really feel. What you really believe.

Ask yourself what would happen if you stopped the incessant chatter about how lumpy or stretchy or ugly your body is. What would happen if, instead, you thanked your body for taking you this far. For schlepping packages and bearing children and making love. Then listen to it carefully to see what it needs.

12. The myth of finding your purpose, from Kris Carr. It’s an older post but one of the most important, still.

13. 50 Lessons From A Decade of Blogging from Leonie Dawson.

14. Let’s make some magic in 2015! Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead 2015 workbook (FREE), one of the practices I gift myself during this busy time of year. She’s also offering a FREE 5-day email class to help you figure out your word for 2015, Find Your Word.

15. This Blog is Going to Embarrass my Husband.

16. 5 Tips For Being An Ally from Chescaleigh.

17. The Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision and We Can’t Breathe from The Daily Show.

18. Wisdom from Ethan Nichtern,

It was wonderful to be among many thousands at the rally last night, even under such brutal and tragic circumstance. Right now it feels like my practice is all about awareness: increasing my own awareness of the people in this world who I habitually ignore or fail to see. We each have massive blind spots, and the first step in transformation is accepting that we live in a world where so many people remain unseen and unheard, and simply developing the courage to look. May all people feel seen, heard, and valued.

19. Anne Lamott discusses grief and forgiveness in Small Victories on Booktrib.

20. this was a good week? from Chookooloonks.

21. Little Humans Reading Little Humans.

21. Pine Ridge Holiday Project. “There is still time to provide a little holiday cheer to the people of Pine Ridge. We have plenty of names of elementary and junior high aged children. You can also send donations for firewood to be delivered to families and elders to help keep them warm and toasty. Please email forpineridge@gmail.com and let me know if you prefer to provide simple gifts for children or if you would like to make a donation for firewood. Thank you for your kindness and generosity! Chris and Julie.”

22. In related news: “Please consider donating $110.00 for a cord of fire wood for a family on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It is already freezing up there. A small group of Lakota gentlemen cut, deliver and stack the wood…so this provides income for the wood cutters as well as warmth for a family. Here is the link to Village Earth to donate firewood (tax deductible).”

23. 10 Habits of Happy, Healthy Couples from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

24. How to Change Your Life in Just 2 Minutes a Day: 10 Quick Habits from the Positivity Blog.

25. 5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays from Zen Habits. Why limit it to the holidays? We should be asking ourselves these questions all year, the rest of our lives.

26. The Last 5 Most Frustrating Things about Simplicity from Be More with Less.

27. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: Most Questions Can Be Boiled Down To (this brilliant image is from this post), and Interview with Reading Lives, and Video of my Show Your Work! chalktalk, and a link he shared to this amazing quote, Murdering A Book.

28. Six Causes of Procrastination And How to Overcome Them on Life is Limitless.

29. Shared on Positively Present Picks: 36 Prompts to Help You Plan an Awesome 2015.

30. A Lesbian Takes Her Niece To Meet A Princess, Is Mistaken For Her Dad, And…, another great TEDX Boulder talk from Ash Beckham.

31. Why Fat-Shaming By Doctors Really, Really Matters from xojane. Reading through the tweets tagged #diagnosisfat makes me so angry, so sad.

32. This Toddler’s Killer Dubstep Dance Moves Will Even Blow Skrillex Away. I am so in love with this little guy.

33. What’s next?, a set of really great prompts from Seth Godin.

Gratitude Friday

ericwinterriver

image by Eric

1. Christmas cards. I’m not so good about sending them, but I sure like getting them.

2. Pine Ridge Holiday Project. I am only now remembering that I forgot to blog about this so you could take part too, if you wanted to — although, my guess is that if you email Julie, she might have some last minute people she needs to get gifts for that she’d love you to help with. I was able to get the same kids for the third year in a row, and this year I got their Grandma too. I love having enough that I can share.

3. Clearing stuff out, being able to let go — which is good, because there’s a lot that needs to go.

4. Warmer temperatures. Especially because that means I get to go on the walk in the morning (it’s a whopping 16 degrees today!). When it’s below 10, Eric takes Sam so they can run and stay warmer, which means I haven’t gone on the morning walk all week.

5. Intuitive Eating group. We had our last call this week, but there’s a longing to continue working together, supporting each other, and I am so grateful for that, for those women.

hiking yesterday with Dad, looking for deer

hiking yesterday with Dad, looking for deer

Bonus Joy: Sam, how he barks at stuff when I’m the only one home, and how when I come out to see what it is, if I say “shhh,” he stops barking. We are two different species who don’t speak the same language so the fact that we can communicate so effectively seems like some kind of magic.

Gratitude Friday

keepagreentree

Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come.

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Holiday twinkly lights. During this season that is so dark and cold, I have so much gratitude for the cheer of lights, colored and white, blinking and still, single strands and layered strings, hung on houses and in windows.

2. The Annual Dell Big Crow / Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Holiday Gift Project and “my” Pine Ridge kids. This is my third year doing this. The first year, I got the names and lists of a boy and girl. On the second year, they selected those same two kids for me, randomly and magically. This year, I insisted that if they weren’t already assigned to someone else, that I get “my” kids, which I did. More about the project:

As you may know, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is one of the most impoverished and marginalized regions in America. While we seek to address the underlying causes of poverty on Pine Ridge, we also recognize the importance of building connections between people on and off the reservation. We work at Pine Ridge throughout the year with Service Learning projects, a winter coat drive, providing families with firewood, home repairs, winterization, and other sustainable development projects.

2012 marks the 7th year of our Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project! Last year, thanks to the kindness and generosity of friends, families, hundreds of amazing individual donors, and our colleagues at Colorado State University, the Holiday Project provided gifts to more than 1,100 children and elders on the reservation! Donors like you forwarded the original project email on to their families and friends and we received responses from all over the U.S. as well as Germany, Australia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, France, Japan, Belgium, and Canada! We would like to invite you to contribute a holiday gift for a child or elder this year.

The project is very “grass roots,” since just two of us “Elves” volunteer and coordinate the project. Once again we are working with several reservation school teachers, counselors, community organizers, homeless youth centers, the Pine Ridge Veteran’s Emergency Shelter, etc. in order to identify children and elders with the greatest needs.

It’s really easy to get involved, and there is still plenty of time, still so much need. All you have to do is email Julie Ann Sullivan at julie.sullivan@colostate.edu OR Christine Bartholomew at forepineridge@gmail.com and ask for a name or two, or visit their Facebook page to find out more. I feel so grateful for all that I have, especially during this season of thanksgiving and love, and it is so important to give some of my good away to someone who might not have so much.

3. Magic opportunities, the sharing of good ideas, and genuine, openhearted effort and connection. I didn’t used to have the confidence to say “yes” to this, but now I do, and this past week I have, again and again, and I am so excited about the possibility of this coming year, so curious to see what’s going to happen.

4. Eric, who believes in me, loves me, wants me to be happy. He leaves me love notes, checks books out from the library that he thinks I’d like, celebrates my successes with me, takes care of me when I don’t feel that great, makes me potato soup and biscuits, and walks my dogs.

5. Warmth and shelter when it’s so cold outside. Warm hats and gloves, wool socks, long thick soft sweaters, big fluffy down blankets, a functioning furnace, two dogs who love to snuggle.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. He’s doing so good, has stuck around so long after he was predicted to be gone, that it’s almost easy sometimes to forget that he’s dying. Two months ago, I didn’t dare imagine he’d make it to Thanksgiving, and here we are, there he is with only two weeks to go until Christmas. Here’s a picture of him, from a Christmas five years ago, when he and his favorite big brother Obi were both young and healthy, and cancer wasn’t even something we thought about.

dexterobichristmas

Wishcasting

In this last month of 2011, I keep getting reminded to reflect and celebrate the past year, as well as look ahead, dream, and anticipate the next. The newsletter I get from writing coach Cynthia Morris of Original Impulse Inc. came today and included a link to an end of year review, “Celebrate and Let Go: Take some time to acknowledge yourself for what you have accomplished and who you have become over the last year.” I went in my meditation room and lit the candles on my shrine with the intention of working with it, but I ended up taking a nap instead, honoring my need for more sleep. I did this because in the last year, I have become a better friend to myself.

Happily and coincidentally, Wishcasting Wednesday on Jamie Ridler’s site today is “What do you wish to celebrate?

from Jamie's post

First, I wish to celebrate Jamie Ridler and her outreach to dreamers and wishcasters like me. Today is her birthday, and her birth, her commitment to being who she is and sharing that is a gift to all of us. She throws a wishing party every week, bakes a big cake, and invites all of us to blow out the candles and make our own wish.

On Jamie’s “about” page on her website, she includes this list:

I believe…

  • The arts belong to everybody
  • In finding the courage to be who we are meant to be
  • In experiencing life
  • In celebration
  • There is room for you, all of you
  • Our bodies are wise
  • The world needs our gifts
  • That having fun and working hard are awesome companions
  • That life is sacred
  • In the Universe

Jamie’s open-hearted and generous work helps me to believe these things too. On this day of her birth, may she be peaceful. May she be happy. May she be safe. May she be awake to the light of their true nature. May she be free. (See what I did there? Now when other wishcasters come, and finish the practice by wishing “As you wish, I wish also” it will send Jamie an even bigger birthday wish–maybe I should warn her about all the goodness coming her way? Nah, I think I’ll let her be surprised.)

I wish to celebrate the wisdom and kindness I practiced during this past four months, specifically at work. I was teaching, which is always intense, and working with a few difficult situations, but I managed it with grace, most of the time. As much as I could be, I was wise and kind, and at the very least, I managed to generate less suffering.

I wish to celebrate this blog, and all its kind and gentle readers. I started this blog on a whim, a “sure, why not” moment of inspiration that I described like this “I had my students set up blogs for a semester long blogging project they’ll be doing. One girl raised her hand and said, ‘Can I just say how excited I am about this? I have been wanting to start a blog for the longest time, and ever since you said we were going to get to in this class, I’ve been so excited.’ Hey, me too…I think I’ll start a blog. Why not? And especially, why not now?!” and ever since that moment, that first post, this has felt so right.  The Universe keeps saying “yes” to me, celebrating with me that I finally broke through and got unstuck and started.

from Hippie Dogs' blog

I wish to celebrate all the kindness being practiced by so many.
There’s so much of it that if you are paying attention, there really is no time for criticism or negativity, there’s just no room. If you haven’t received your invitation yet, roll up your sleeves and get dirty.

I wish to celebrate all the people and projects who’ve made it easy for me to get involved and help do good: especially the Pine Ridge Holiday Project, Animal House Rescue, Heifer International, and the Larimer County Food Bank.

I wish to celebrate the choice I made to honor and love myself. This is one of the best things I have ever done, and I can’t stop thanking myself for it. I heard wedding vows the other day and it struck me that they are similar to the promise, the commitment I’ve made to myself: “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.” Amen.

Something Good

1. Monday is almost over. This is the last week of classes at CSU, and as in love as I ever was with my class and as much I adored my students, I am ready to be done now.

2. The art of Hugh MacLeod. He posts his work on his website, gapingvoid, and it is this lovely mix of sharply funny (like the edge of a knife sometimes), smart, and open-hearted.  In honor of the first item on this “Something Good” list, here’s one of my current favorites:

art by Hugh MacLeod

3. Seven Day Weekends. Not having to go to work for almost the whole week of Thanksgiving was great.  We should do that more often.

4. This kid, and everything about him and this video. The moment he takes a deep breath, wipes his tears, and holds up “But…I’m not going anywhere,” was the best, so brave. After you watch the video, make sure to read his update, which says, in part: “The video is real, and true…Love and peace to all who are hurting.” Amen.

5. Pine Ridge Holiday Project. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but I am just so in love with this, and I really think you should try it. You don’t have to be in Colorado, people from all over the world have taken part in the past, all you need to do is email Christine or Julie and get some names. In the last few days, they got more lists, specifically infants, and have so many kids, infants, and elders left who really need your help this season. From my heart: if you have enough this season and you are loved, please share that with someone who might not be so lucky.

6. “Women, Food, and God” Eating Guidelines. These are so simple, so complicated, and have been so helpful to me. I highly recommend this book to any woman who struggles with her relationship with food. Here they are, the seven guidelines to eating more consciously, (and if you can already do this, good for you–please be kind to those of us who are struggling):

Eat when you are hungry.

Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.

Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.

Eat what your body wants.

Eat until you are satisfied.

Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.

Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.

7. Felted animals. I have been in love with these since I first saw them.

by artist Alisha Harms

There are artists that will use a picture of your dog and make you one that looks just like them. If the ones who are really good at it didn’t charge so much ($299!–the work is worth that amount, but I just can’t justify spending it), I’d have ones made of Obi, Dexter, and Sam and take them with me everywhere. I’d especially like one of Obi. He’s gone, but I could carry his miniature around in my pocket. And I know just who I’d hire to make them for me: Kay from Canada, of Kay’s K9s.  Her work is amazing! Here are a few of her custom pieces:

Dexter’s Mini D is pretty good, but not quite as close of a match.

8. Sharing a banana with Sam every morning. No matter where he is in the house, no matter how soundly asleep, he hears the snap of the top of a banana and before I can get the first side peeled, he’s sitting in front of me asking for some. One thing I love so much about it, besides the cuteness of a dog eating a banana, is that Obi loved bananas too.  Right after he died, the first banana I had all to myself was the saddest thing ever, so Sam has returned eating a banana to a joyful practice.

9. The Idea Manifesto. This is the work of Bernadette Jiwa, a “Results Coach” born in Dublin and living in Perth, Australia.

10. Twinkly lights.

  • Love and peace to all who are hurting.

Joy Jam and Gifts

I didn’t get to respond to yesterday’s National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) writing prompt yet, or today’s, so I’ll start there.

“What was the first tangible gift you remember receiving?”

I had to think really hard about this, but I believe it was my Mrs. Beasley doll. The Mattel Company created the Mrs. Beasley doll in 1967, so we were “born” the same year. She was Buffy’s favorite doll on the late 60s TV sitcom Family Affair, and I wanted to be Buffy, imagined I was. Mrs. Beasley wasn’t a baby doll, but rather this strange grandmotherly figure, which seems an odd thing for a little girl to want to play with. Buffy’s doll on the show didn’t talk, (in the sixties, talking dolls were not that common—this was long before Barney the purple dinosaur or Tickle Me Elmo), but mine had a string on the back you could pull and she’d say things like:

  • “Do you want to hear a secret? I know one.”
  • “I do think you’re the nicest little friend I ever had.”
  • “If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for?”
  • “If you were a little smaller, I could rock you to sleep.”
  • “Long ago I was a little girl just like you!”
  • “Speak a little louder, dear, so Mrs. Beasley can hear you.”
  • “Would you like to try on my glasses? You may if you wish.”

Honestly, she was the ugliest little thing: black square framed glasses, gold sock-shoes that covered up oddly large ball-shaped feet, a blue dress/pantsuit thing with white polka dots and gold trim, and bad hair.  And yet, she was so cheerful, had such a happy expression, and I took her with me everywhere I went.  My first official act as a “big girl,” after answering my mom’s very serious “are you sure about this?” many times, was to sell her at a garage sale.  I cried myself to sleep that night.

What was the most disappointing gift you received as a child?

My answer to this prompt isn’t about one single gift, but rather a practice of giving. My dad grew up poor and my mom was from a farm family of twelve kids, and we didn’t have a ton of money either, so my parents were very frugal–and rightly so. I learned a lot from them about simplicity and minimalism that I am so grateful for now, but as a kid, being so careful didn’t seem quite as joyful.

Sometimes in the fall, during the back to school season when all the winter coats would go on sale for 50% off, my mom would take us in to pick out a coat.  However, we didn’t get to keep it just yet.  She packed it away to save for Christmas.  The sense of anticipation on Christmas morning when you opened that package was disappointed by the recognition of the item you helped pick out and already knew about.  It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the gift, it was just that I missed the surprise.

Joy Jam: What were the 3-5 things that gave you joy this week?

This prompt comes every Friday from Louise Gale and her new project, “your heART makes a difference,” and the stated purpose is to “radiate the energy of gratitude, thankfulness and celebration of everything that gave us joy this week. Together we will help send positive energy out into the world.” You should join us! The trouble I always have with this prompt is there are more than 3-5 things, so I have to save a few to add to my Monday “Something Good” post.

1. Shopping for “my” Pine Ridge kids. I wrote about the Pine Ridge Holiday Gift Project the other day, and a few days after that in my Monday “Something Good” post.  I magically got assigned the same two kids this year, a five year old girl and a 10 year old boy. I typically don’t really like shopping, but love giving gifts, and buying for these two, now for the second year in a row, makes my heart so full.  A football, flashlights, mittens, hats, socks, soft cuddle blankets, a memory game, silly putty, coloring books, and crayons. I hope these material things can somehow carry all the love I feel for them, somehow communicate all the good I wish for them, these kids I have never met.

2. Walking the dogs Thursday morning with Eric in the snow. Typically, Eric and I don’t walk the dogs together in the morning during the week, but this Thursday, Eric came with us on “my” day. There hasn’t been enough snow yet this year for me to be tired of it, and I miss Eric during the week because we work and don’t seem to get to see each other much, and we had the park all to ourselves.  It felt like we were on vacation.

3. Conferencing with my students. Considering I did this for eight hours straight on Tuesday and didn’t leave campus until 8 pm, you’d think I’d complain, but I have such good students this semester! They make me laugh, make me feel useful when I can help them or make them feel better, have such great and interesting ideas, and like we all do, generate so much unnecessary suffering for themselves. I wish the best for them. Maybe they will save the world.

4. A new pack of metallic markers in fabulous colors. I can’t wait to use these.

5. Rediscovering my knee length sweater. It is so warm and soft, and a bit more stylish than my purple fleece bathrobe.  I can feel like I am lounging, but still look like I am dressed.

  • Wishing you gifts and so much joy!

Something Good

It’s Monday, so here’s a list of things that are good:

heART Exchange

This is such a great project, and the gift you make and receive seem to keep on giving, and giving, sending out ripples of joy, waves of love. If you are an artist, you need to watch this website and get in on the next art swap.

Cyber Giving Monday

I first heard about this from 365 Give. I love having even more opportunities to make a positive impact on the existence of another being, so I am in. This morning, in honor of my dear friend Kelly, who was an avid gardener, I donated a “Gardener’s Basket: This basket represents everything a family will need to start a sustainable farm – tree seedlings, rabbits to generate organic manure, chickens to eat pests and a hive of bees to pollinate crops and increase yields” through one of my favorite charities, Heifer International.

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation – Dell Big Crow Holiday Gift Project

I can’t say enough about how great this project is. Recently ABC News and Diane Sawyer did a Special 20/20 Edition on Pine Ridge called, “Hidden America: Children of the Plains.” I dare you to watch even just the first ten minutes and not want to email Christine or Julie immediately for names of tribe members to send gifts to. If I had the money, the first ten minutes of the episode would have had me rounding up supplies and a crew of people who knew how to do stuff to go down there and fix peoples’ houses, and then I’d start scholarship funds for every kid, make repairs to the schools, make sure every kid has enough to eat, every day. But I don’t have that kind of money, so I need you to help, starting with this one project. It is not right that in a country where, even with the poor economy, so many have so much and these people have so little. You can say what you want about grown ups, but no child ever did anything to deserve to grow up in such poverty.

Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

This book has been a real help to me.  For example, “When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself — that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control,” (82-83).

Morgan Spurlock’s New Project, “The Failure Club.”

I first read about this project on A Year of Living Wisely. Here’s an article about the project, “Morgan Spurlock Launches ‘Failure Club’.” In the trailer for the show, “Welcome to Failure Club,” he says “We’ve all been told for so long in our lives the things we should be doing that most of us don’t ever do the things that we want to be doing. And the minute you break down that one little piece that’s holding you back, your whole outlook on the world will change.” Amen!

The Moth: True Stories Told Live

We listen to this on satellite radio, but there are also some stories you can listen to online. I love this show almost as much as I love This American Life.

Cardboard People

Since this week’s list has been more serious, maybe even a bit preachy, here’s something fun. Anton Tang, a talented artist and blogger from Singapore, photographs plastic “cardboard people” in everyday settings and environments.