Category Archives: Poetry

Day of Rest

My friend Laurie Wagner shared a poem on Facebook this morning that was just what I needed to hear. It’s by Alison Luterman, who will be doing a reading today at Laurie’s magical home, 27 Powers. I have been thinking a lot about resistance and how it leads to suffering, how often I get in my own way, how there are hard things in my life but I’m making them so much harder, making them solid by wishing them away, wanting things to be easy. The worry around it, the discomfort feels like a sort of heartburn. I start by attaching to whatever I think is causing my problem(s), then I immediately look for who to blame, always eventually landing on myself. It’s such a painful way to be. Alison’s beautiful poem reminds me to not get so attached, to let go, to surrender to what is.

Because Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle
Try to love everything that gets in your way:
the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all. Learn to be small
and swim through obstacles like a minnow
without grudges or memory. Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle
is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl
idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad shell have that to look at all her life,
and keep going, keep going. Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids arent allowed at this hour. Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn
will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He’ll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he’ll come up like a cork,
alive. So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,
because if something is in your way it is
going your way, the way
of all beings; towards darkness, towards light.

The obstacles to your path are the path. Let go, surrender.

Type Rider II: The Tandem Poetry Tour, a Kickstarter Project

Maya Stein is one of my favorite living poets. She has a Kickstarter project that is a mix of some of my favorite things, “A pair of poets riding a tandem bicycle and towing two typewriters 1,400 miles from Boulder, Colorado to Beloit, Wisconsin, building tiny libraries and promoting poetry, community, a love of reading, and the spirit of collaboration along the way.” There are five days left to fund this project. May it be fully funded and of great benefit to everyone lucky enough to be involved.

Something Good

arterylobby1. A Photo Essay: Castle Crags on Rowdy Kitten, a beautiful act of remembering.

2. patterns + running + 10 hours of tv from Jessica Swift, a good reminder about the creative process, about balancing your effort with ease.

3. Obesity epidemic? Try hunger crisis. from Nourishing the Soul, which ends with “if we can recognize what it is we are truly hungry for, we might just be able to satiate ourselves.” Word. If you want more on this, you can always look to Rachel Cole, the Hunger Goddess.

4. On determining your worth from Susan Piver.

5. The Habits Of Supremely Happy People on Huffington Post.

6. your daily rock : cut yourself some slack and your daily rock : we are in this together.

7. Blessedly Imperfect on Painted Path.

arteryexit8. Things to remember on Superhero Life.

9. And I Know It’s Hard on Museful Things by Ken Robert.

10. I’m a F*cking Unicorn. (Or 10 Things to Do When You Get Fired for the First Time.) from Elephant Journal. I feel like I should start reading #6 to myself every morning and see what happens.

11. What, You Don’t Need Me? from Jonathan Fields. We should all aspire to this, no matter what sort of work, parenting, living we do.

12. Stop Juicing: It’s not healthy, it’s not virtuous, and it makes you seem like a jerk on Slate.

13. Good stuff from Seth Godin, The sound of confidence and #BlackFriday = media trap.

14. Program helps low-income elderly and disabled keep their pets on Today@CSU. This seems like a win-win situation, students away from home missing their own dogs or unable to have their own dog while in school and people with dogs who need help caring for them.

15. Things for My Stuff by Jason Good, one of the funniest boy bloggers around.

16. Florida State University AcaBelles – Royals (opb. Lorde).

17. Ward Miles – First Year, a dad films premature son’s miraculous first year. Of course the subject matter pulls at your heart strings, but I’m really sharing this because it’s a beautifully made film.

18. Kid President’s 20 Things We Should Say More Often. Seriously people, Kid President is one of the best things e v e r.

19. Good stuff from Buzzfeed: 38 Best DIY Food Gifts, and 29 Adorably Tiny Versions Of Normal-Sized Things, and 23 Signs You’re A Morning Person, and What It’s Like Being A New TA.

20. Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend, a really great TED Talk.

21. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list: Shaved Brussel Sprout Slaw with Pink Grapefruit and a Maple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe), and Winter Recipes – salted caramel candies + kale chips + a sweet potato salad, and The Art of Getting Started Assignments, and Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense, and Our American Revolution.

22. The journey has to feel the way you want the destination to feel from Danielle LaPorte, in which she says,

You can’t contract your way to freedom.
You can’t punish your way to joy.
You can’t fight your way to inner peace.
The journey has to feel the way you want the destination to feel.

Oh, snap.

23. From Rowdy Kitten’s Happy Links list, My Uniform Life (in Five Easy Steps) and Blue Deer Forest Web Hosting and Blogging Services.

24. Everything I know about rest, I learned the hard way from Marianne Elliott.

25. The Necessary Art of Subtraction on Zen Habits.

26. From Positively Present Picks list, Essential Thanksgiving from The New York Times.

27. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 10 Signs You’ve Found Your Calling and Yum! Holiday Stuffins That Will Knock Your Socks Off (recipe).

Letterpress from Impress Studio

Letterpress from Impress Studio

28. Kat McNally is hosting Reverb13 (I have two prompts in the series) and has a new website.

29. The New Black Friday with Sherry Richert Belul.

30. The True Meaning of Non-Attachment and How It Sets You Free from Always Well Within.

31. “Boredom is Rage Spread Thin.” Paul Tillich from Jeff Oaks.

32. 64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief.

Letterpress from Impress Studio

Letterpress from Impress Studio

33. Wisdom from Lao Tzu,

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is acquired.
In pursuit of wisdom,
every day something is dropped.

34. This Dog Can Stack Anything On His Head. You’ll Die Laughing At What His Owner Has Tried. A dog in a hoodie gets me every time.

35. The Art of Cleanup: Ursus Wehrli Playfully Deconstructs and Reorders the Chaos of Life on Brain Pickings.

36. 7 Reasons to Stop Proving Yourself to Everyone Else from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

P.S. Spirit Road, Take Us Home: 100 Animal Card Readings to Usher in the New Year! a great offering from Rachael Maddox that I forgot to tell you about!

Something Good

1. READ THIS when you can’t remember who you are, what you do, why you do it — or how to talk about it from Alexandra Franzen.

2. Intimate Portraits of Cosplayers at Home from Twisted Sifter.

3. Simplify Your Life by Writing It Down and The Greatest Secret to Productivity That No One is Talking About from Be More With Less.

4. From Chookooloonks: what are we looking for? which led to what we hope to find.

5. Wisdom from Danielle LaPorte, “With envy out of the way, you’ll have more room for your own greatness.”

6. Wisdom from the Dalai Lama,

When the teachings say we need to reduce our fascination with the things of this life, it does not mean that we should abandon them completely. It means avoiding the natural tendency to go from elation to depression in reaction to life’s ups and downs, jumping for joy when you have some success, or wanting to jump out the window if you do not get what you want. Being less concerned about the affairs of this life means assuming its ups and downs with a broad and stable mind.

7. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: 10 Ways To Stop Stressing & Start Living Peacefully, and Is It Time To Stop Worrying About Sugar? (You Don’t Have To Quit It), and The Ultimate Bliss Salad With Ginger Miso Dressing.

8. My 10 favorite “Before I die” responses: Candy Chang celebrates the release of her book on the TED Blog.

9. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

We use our emotions. We use them. In their essence, they are simply part of the goodness of being alive, but instead of letting them be, we take them and use them to regain our ground. We use them to try to deny that in fact no one has ever known or will ever know what’s happening. We use them to try to make everything secure and predictable and real again, to fool ourselves about what’s really true. We could just sit with the emotional energy and let it pass. There’s no particular need to spread blame and self-justification. Instead, we throw kerosene on the emotion so it will feel more real.

10. No One is Coming from the Positivity Blog. Oh how I wish the right person would read this, really hear it. *sigh*

11. Hello 35!, a list of lessons Tammy from Rowdy Kittens has learned over the last thirty-five years. She’s one smart cookie.

12. Wisdom from Ronna Detrick, “It is one thing to admit, maybe only to ourselves, what we most want, need, and deeply desire. It is another thing entirely to trust that we might be worthy of such, to give that internal voice any semblance of credibility.”

13. Danielle LaPorte Truthbomb, “So much is a cry for love.”

14. Distraction or desiring? What you are choosing? from Jennifer Louden.

15. Good stuff from Elephant Journal: Can Yoga Save Us? and How I came to love my body–just the way it is.

16. 15 Reasons why Fort Collins is the Greatest City in America. I love where I live, but do not understand why Lee Martinez Park is not on this list. Wait, scratch that — let’s continue to keep it our little secret.

17. The Simple Guide to a Clutter-Free Home from Becoming Minimalist.

18. DIY: Hem Jeans Fast & Easy.

19. your daily rock : amazing grace and your daily rock : let someone help you

20. You don’t need to dance before your double mastectomy to be awesome from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

21. From Susannah Conways’s Something for the Weekend list, The Plant Whisperer.

22. Shared (first stanza) by Kelly Rae Roberts in her newsletter:

What in your life is calling you?
When all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris blooms by itself
in the dark forest,
what still pulls on your soul?

In the silence between your heartbeats
hides a summons.
Do you hear it?
Name it, if you must,
or leave it forever nameless,
but why pretend it is not there?
~Terma Collective

23. A 4-Year-Old Girl Asked A Lesbian If She’s A Boy. She Responded The Awesomest Way Possible, a really great talk Ash Beckham gave at the TEDx Boulder, shared here by Upworthy. I especially loved, “Hard is not relative, hard is hard,” and “When you do not have hard conversations, when you do not tell the truth about who you really are, you essentially are holding a hand grenade.”

24. Shared by Tammy Strobel of Rowdy Kittens on her Happy Links: Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Microbusiness and There are no rules.

25. Lessons in love – a tribute to Charlie on Life is Limitless. *sob*

26. This is an actual essay written by a college applicant to NYU.

27. Golden Retriever Puppy Cam. This is only going to get better.

28. Dogs vs. broccoli from Dog Heirs. I had no idea this was so popular.

29. 11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business from .

30. Comfort Food: No one brings dinner when your daughter is an addict on Slate.

31. There is no gone, on Painted Path. Amen.

32. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves,

You want to know “how” you will do your dreams. You want a guarantee. I’ll give you one. Commit to tasting the nectar of anything that brings you joy or peace. Get hooked on your own idiosyncratic ecstasy. You will have found your reason. You will have experienced an undeniable power. Then you will listen to yourself. And that is how you find your how.

33. Wisdom from Parker Palmer, shared by Curvy Yoga, “The heart is where we integrate what we know in our minds with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human.”

34. Creating the Life We Want from Annie Neugebauer, in which she says really good stuff, like,

It can be indescribably difficult sometimes, to follow through with our desires. For me, the main push-back comes from intangible socieital pressures. I don’t want to care what others think about me, but holy crap do I ever. I really care. I want people to like me. (Why is that made into such a despicable sentiment? Doesn’t everyone want to be liked?) More importantly, I want people to respect me – or at least accept my choices. The problem, then, arises when what I want isn’t what society wants me to want, and I must overcome that natural instinct and step beyond its draw.

35. 2013 Holiday Gift Guide – Part Two from Rachel Cole. Registration for Rachel’s Wisdom Notes for a Well-Fed Holiday is now open. Most people have holiday traditions, and I think this is becoming one of mine.

36. Stunning Portraits Of The World’s Remotest Tribes Before They Pass Away on Bored Panda. Makes me think two things are natural about, fundamental to humans, that honoring these things is essential to our survival: we are creative and we have a relationship with the earth and its creatures.

37. The first lie… from Seth Godin.

38. Free High-Resolution Photos from Paul Jarvis.

39. Wisdom from Mark Nepo, “To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken.”

40. Day 1: ‘Hey, What’s The Neighbor Doing To His Lawn?’ Day 60: ‘OMG!!’ This is exactly what we are doing to our front yard, little by little.

41. From Positively Present Picks, Two people decided to surprise New York’s jaded subway conductors, and the results will make your day.

42. Photographer Takes Beautiful Portraits of Shelter Dogs to Find Them Homes, shared with me by Justine, who like me wants to rescue all the dogs.

43. New music on SoundCloud. I am obsessed with Furns, and Sales is good too. Furns “Power” might be my favorite new song.

44. Are You Happy And In Love? Here’s Why That Makes You So Sad. from Upworthy. The only thing I disagree with here is that he says the Buddhist practice of non-attachment means you don’t care, and that is just wrong, a misunderstanding of the basic concept.

45. The Control Myth, a brilliant blog post by Michael Baugh that combines dog training with the wisdom of Pema Chödrön and Brene’ Brown, and says “What do we want, control or connection?” Thanks for sharing it, Sarah (and thanks for about 100 other things too), my favorite dog trainer.

46. Two brilliant pieces on being self-employed from the brilliant Susan Piver, Self-Employment: Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me and The pain of pricing.

Day of Rest

While at 27 Powers this past week, I was lucky enough to get to sit in on one of Laurie’s Wild Writing classes. How the class works is Laurie gives a prompt, reads a poem and then gives a line or two to spark the writing, which is 15 minutes of never letting your pen leave the page, seeing where it might take you, and she offers three rounds of the practice per class session. On this day of rest, I’d like to share a bit of what I wrote.

At the start of the second session Laurie read us Maya Stein’s poem, this is how you do it, and gave us the lines “this is how you do it” and “you were trying to save the world, that’s all.” I wrote,

This is how you do it, tender imperfection and fierce compassion and the dirty dishes and the bills and the way he looks at you and the burs and slivers and stickers that need to be carefully removed, the broken bits to be swept up and tossed or glued together depending on how precious the piece or how much it feels on this particular day like you need it, even if it is only a shadow of whole.

This is how you do it, you get on the plane, rent the car, show up in space, come in from Colorado or Monday or a dream, you show up, you are present, and when it’s over, you go back home. You kiss the boy, then the other boy, you leave the bag packed in the corner, eat dinner, go to bed, get back to work the next morning, digging in the bag for what you need right now, but still not unpacking.

This is how you do it, you get back to practice — you pull a card, write the words, sit and follow your breath, walk the dog, move your body into the poses. You show up, return, let go and come back, again and again.

This is how you do it, you write the content, edit the pieces, code and publish, answer the questions, troubleshoot the issues, get paid.

This is how you do it, even though you know the deal, impermanence, death is real, you’ve lived with it, been there, let it in, let it go, even thought it’s like stripping naked and handing them the sharpest knife, this is how you do it, allow it all in, to touch you, beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible, the mess, the dirt, the stink, the blood, the light, the laughter, you let it warm you, burn you, destroy you.

This is how you do it, bird by bird, every day, every moment, showing up for when it’s brilliant, for when it’s sharp, for when it’s the same old shit again, you show up, you stay with it, even when it makes you want to poke your eye out with a pencil, to run away screaming, to smash something, anything, to be anywhere but here, you show up, you stay, you keep coming back, letting go. You are trying to save the world, that’s all, and this is how you do it.

27powerslightIn the last round, Laurie read Maya Stein’s poem trash mandala, and the prompts were, “let your pain become a trash mandala” and “what’s torn away can steer you.” This round, we were running short on time, so we only wrote for 10 minutes. I wrote,

Let your pain become a trash mandala. So, unlike some who build a shrine, a dwelling, or worse yet a home or a fortress from what’s been lost, what hurts, who move in and live there, nail “no trespassing” signs to a fence made from bones and knives and broken liquor bottles — not like that, not that way, but rather pick up the pieces, what’s torn, the bits of what is lost, what is left, what you’ve found, and arrange it, shape it into something that heals, the kind of thing that wouldn’t have been possible without the broken bits, the left behind, the lost. Make what only you are able to see, looking in the cracked mirror of your grief.

Let your grieving meet the shoreline, walk into the water and let the waves knock you down, then get back up. If you keep practicing, it will get easier, you’ll get stronger. Pick the pieces the waves offer you, what calls to you, sparkles when the light touches it, pick them up and put them in your pocket, keep walking, keep collecting.

What’s torn away can steer you. Your life, all the struggles, what you see as obstacles, this is the path, this is the stuff to work with, this is your material, this is the trash, the treasure.

Let your pain become a trash mandala. Maya will make a bike, you could string together a trash ukelele, someone else might grind it all up and make paint, or medicine. See what you see, offer it and let it go — don’t move in and live there.

I hope you go to Maya Stein’s website and read more of her poetry, kind and gentle reader. She’s amazing.

Day of Rest

And our story starts:
“We were here.”
~Shane Koyczan

And if you liked that, here are 8 beautiful and heartbreaking poems from Shane Koyczan.

Here’s a collection of pure joy shared by Jen Lemen.

People are always making and sharing beautiful things. These are just some of them. There is so much good in the world. The beautiful mess that is each one of us is just the beginning. Go ahead, say it with me: We were here.

Something Good

1. Oh, hell yes, from the Bloggess.

2. On Starting Over Again, from Lisa Congdon.

3. How Depression Serves Us on Elephant Journal.

4. I need to find a dance studio, stat: Watch this 2-year-old and her mom break it down to Beyonce on Hello Giggles.

5. You are not broken or in need of fixing, a beautiful poem on Many Voices, a Sounds True blog.

6. Wisdom from Thomas Merton,

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is itself to succumb to the violence of our times. Frenzy destroys our inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

7. 12 Storytelling Podcasts That You Need to Be Listening To on BuzzFeed.

8. Who Sees The Real You? from Soul Pancake.

9. Kids on LOVE! from Soul Pancake.

10. Wisdom in the form of a poem by Hafiz,

We have not come here to take prisoners,
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
To hold ourselves hostage from love.

Run my dear,
From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings.

Run like hell my dear,
From anyone likely
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend
Those aspects of obedience
That stand outside of our house
And shout to our reason
“O please, O please,
Come out and play.”

For we have not come here to take prisoners
Or to confine our wondrous spirits,

But to experience ever and more deeply
Our divine courage, freedom, and Light!


11. Shared by Positively Present Picks: Jerk Cats Knocking Stuff Over.

12. Brene’ Brown’s new ecourse, The Gifts of Imperfection.

13. Flying Takes Getting Used To, a poem from Ken Robert.

14. Little boxes on the hillside… home to 40,000 Buddhist monks: The stunning makeshift town that has sprung up around a Tibetan monastery.

15. Pema and Me and the Essence of Life on Huffington Post, in which Robin Amos Kahn says,

The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it’s sweet and sometimes it’s bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it all together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your life experience. There is something aggressive about this approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

all of life is to be embraced, that all experience is here to teach us important lessons, even the most painful ones, and all human beings struggle with this at some point in their lives — it is part of being alive and connected to each other.

16. This close, another beautiful post from Christina Rosalie.

17. your daily rock : trust your heart.

18. Joy Retreat, an upcoming offering from Cidgem Kobu that’s sure to be wonderful, (because everything she does is, she is).

19. 7 Things You Should Stop Expecting from Others on Marc and Angel Hack Life.

20. How to Wish Someone Well for Real in a Way that Will Blow Your Heart Wide Open from Danielle LaPorte.

21. Still Writing, a review of Dani Shapiro’s new book on A Design So Vast. I just started reading Dani’s book Devotion this weekend, and can’t wait for her latest. In Still Writing, Dani shares this quote,

The good writer seems to be writing about himself, but has his eye always on that thread of the Universe which runs through himself and all things. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

22. Wisdom on the Buddhist teaching of emptiness,

The actual teachings on emptiness imply an infinitely open space that allows for anything to appear, change, disappear, and reappear. The basic meaning of emptiness, in other words, is openness, or potential. At the basic level of our being, we are “empty” of definable characteristics.

23. Adorable Brothers and Best Friends: Baby and His Dog Share Strong Bond, cute pictures on Dog Heirs.

24. living ether, from Doorways Traveler.

25. How Sweet It Is, Kat McNally saying sweet things.

26. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves,

When you’re tired, you don’t feel creative, hopeful, capable or blessed. You can’t touch the light or depths. Rest is the first step to flight. Our culture runs us ragged. Go against the grain. Don’t be so “productive.” Rest and let the sunshine break through the clouds in your soul.

27. 25 Examples Of Artistic Watercolor Tattoos from Bored Panda.

28. Go Outside: mini-mission from Be More With Less.

29. Danielle LaPorte: Living With Fire And Desire, an interview on Good Life Project.

30. Thank You from Mystic Vixen. *sob*

31. October Notes from Jeff Oaks.

32. Why Self-Compassion Helps You Meet Life’s Challenges on Psychology Today.

33. On Publication Day from Dani Shapiro.

34. This Is The Most Inspiring Yet Depressing Yet Hilarious Yet Horrifying Yet Heartwarming Grad Speech on Upworthy. Really, you should watch it — it’s awesome.

35. Is Disordered Eating The New Normal? on Do You Yoga.

36. A Note from the Universe, “Jill, you’ve done better than you know. You’ve helped more than you realize. And you’re closer than you think.”

37. Wisdom from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estès,

Be wild; that is how to clear the river. The river does not flow in polluted, we manage that. The river does not dry up, we block it. If we want to allow it its freedom, we have to allow our ideational lives to be let loose, to stream, letting anything come, initially censoring nothing. That is creative life. It is made up of divine paradox. To create one must be willing to be stone stupid, to sit upon a throne on top of a jackass and spill rubies from one’s mouth. Then the river will flow, then we can stand in the stream of it raining down.

38. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Basic wakefulness, natural openness, is always available. This openness is not something that needs to be manufactured. When we pause, when we touch the energy of the moment, when we slow down and allow a gap, self-existing openness comes to us. It does not require a particular effort. It is available anytime. As Chögyam Trungpa once remarked, “Openness is like the wind. If you open your doors and windows, it is bound to come in.”

39. Neglected Ducks Get Their First Swim on Elephant Journal. This is what real joy, true freedom looks like.

40. Rachel Cole on The Fulfilling Life an interview with Kelly J. Dahl.

41. A new post from Hyperbole and a Half: Menace.