Category Archives: Sandra Pawula

Something Good

miniaturepeonies1. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “Let yourself be a perfectly imperfect human being. Let yourself feel what you need to feel and process your life the way you need to process it. Let yourself BE in all your beautifully imperfect human-ness. And give everyone else the same grace.”

2. Don’t be original; be obvious.

3. 33 thoughts on reading (A manifesto of sorts) from Austin Kleon.

4. Dear Homeless Guy: I Don’t Care If You Buy Crack With The Dollar I Gave You on Medium. The last line of this really has me thinking.

5. Write from a full cup from Alexandra Franzen.

6. Truthbomb #648 from Danielle LaPorte, “I don’t want to change the world. I want to love it.”

7. Permission from Glenda Burgess, (thanks for sharing, Lindsey).

8. reasons for my leaving from lists and letters.

9. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more from Claws Carefully Sheathed.

10. Wisdom from Rachael Maddox, “Maybe the magic that was missing all along was the will to be all the way true to the call of your brilliant heart.”

11. Learning to Measure Time in Love and Loss on The New York Times, Modern Love.

12. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön

Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can I stay present to the ache of loss or disgrace — disappointment in all its many forms — and let it open me?” This is the trick.

13. 33 Mantras to Quickly Calm Your Stress Response: Because you deserve to live with ease. Sandra Pawula on Medium.

14. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook: Ultimate Forgiveness and Preach.

15. Wisdom from Phillip Moffitt,

The truth is that you will never be absolutely safe. All things change constantly, even what is most precious. You know that you and those you love will die, but not when or how. This is the angst of life, the price of being a conscious human being. It is not a flaw, although many people cannot let loose of seeing it in such a manner. It is just the way life is constructed. When your awareness of this vulnerability is triggered, you can be swept into panic, collapse into depression, or desperately try to distract yourself. One of the values of spiritual practice is that you are able to come to terms with this anxiety in a conscious manner. Your life becomes more integrated because you are no longer trying to deny or avoid what is true.

16. It Happened to Me: I Taught Fitness and Failed a Fat Test from Sadie Chanlett-Avery.

17. Wisdom from Rebecca Lindenberg, “I think there is a general misconception that you write poems because you ‘have something to say.’ I think, actually, that you write poems because you have something echoing around in the bone-dome of your skull that you cannot say.”

18. If People Were Honest About Women’s Bodies from BuzzFeed Video.

19. What Happens When Cross-Species Best Friends Reunite After Five Years? Hint: someone makes a video, I watch it and sob.

20. Wisdom from Adrienne Rich, “All new learning looks at first like chaos.”

21. Wisdom from Geneen Roth, “When you stop shaming and blaming and feeding the desire to be someone else with a different life, the war with food ends as well.”

22. a ghost’s schedule from Marc Johns. I love this so much.

23. Dear Body: I’m sorry for mistreating you on Hello Giggles.

24. 28 Teeny Tiny Wild Mice on Bored Panda.

25. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “Is it time to simplify? Instead of being spread in a too-thin layer all over the place, maybe it’s time to pare your life down to the handful of things that mean the most to you. Then let the rest go so that you can give the very best of yourself to the very best things.”

26. An Itty Bitty White Lie from Rachel Cole. Reason #238 why I love her.

27. Awake in the World: Waking Up Without Words — Ikebana by Alexandra Shenpen.

27. Wisdom from Hafiz,

I should not make any promises right now,
But I know if you
Pray
Somewhere in this world –
Something good will happen.

Satya Robyn shared this on Facebook today, and followed it with some wisdom of her own, “Pray, give thanks, ask for help, admit something to yourself or another human being, listen carefully, be kind, eat chocolate, stop blaming, love everything. It all works.”

28. To Hear the Falling World by Jane Hirshfield. (Thanks for sharing, Jessica).

Only if I move my arm a certain way,
it comes back.
Or the way the light bends in the trees
this time of year,
so a scrap of sorrow, like a bird, lights on the heart.
I carry this in my body, seed
in an unswept corner, husk-encowled and seeming safe.
But they guard me, these small pains,
from growing sure
of myself and perhaps forgetting.

29. There’s A New “Marcel The Shell” Video And It’s Freaking Adorable.

30. Wisdom from Sogyal Rinpoche, “Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life reveals just the opposite: that letting go is the path to freedom.”

31. you are your own damn permission slip from Justine Musk. Word.

Something Good

Image from this morning's walk. Spring in Colorado can be confusing...

Image from this morning’s walk. Spring in Colorado can be confusing…

1. Rearranged from Kat McNally. Like I told her, she’s half way around the world and the details of her daily life are so different, but ever since I discovered her, I’ve felt like she’s my mirror. And this, the idea of being “rearranged” feels so spot on. Dear Universe, I don’t care how you arrange it, but please let me be able to one day tell Kat to her sweet face how much I adore her. Love you. Love, Me.

2. 100 questions to inspire rapid self-discovery . . . . . . (and spark your next talk, date, blog post or book.) from Alexandra Franzen.

3. What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A Yoga Teacher on MindBodyGreen.

4. Thoughts on HugDug and “Don’t do what I said, do what I meant” from Seth Godin.

5. Practice: Embodying Your Curvy + Beloved Body, a class taught by two of my favorite women: Anna Guest-Jelley and Vivienne McMaster.

6. This Rumi poem, shared by Christa Gallopoulos.

Water, stories, the body
all the things we do are mediums
that hide and show what is hidden.

Study them
and enjoy this being washed
with a secret we sometimes know
and then not.

7. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte, “You’re having an effect,” and “You’ll do it when you’re ready.” P.S. I love how I collect these to share with you and never see the connection between them until I copy and paste them into a post, see them together. It’s a weird sort of magic.

8. Wisdom from Geneen Roth,

What do you believe would happen if you allowed yourself to feel your feelings instead of avoid them or swallow them with food?

Where in your body are your feelings located? What color are they? What texture? What shape? If you don’t know, take a wild guess. Assume you’re innately sane, extraordinarily wise, and your job is to ask questions. You don’t have to manufacture answers. They have been there all the time, sleeping under the brown grocery bag of your broken heart, but you haven’t looked.

Every time you feel stuck, every time you think you know why you are doing something, but you can’t seem to make yourself do it differently, write a dialogue with yourself.

Be open to the outcome. Assume nothing. Be ready for anything. You will be constantly surprised.

And this,

To discover what you really believe, pay attention to the way you act—and to what you do when things don’t go the way you think they should.

Pay attention to what you value. Pay attention to how and on what you spend your time. Your money. And pay attention to the way you eat.

You will quickly discover if you believe the world is a hostile place and if you need to be in control of the immediate universe for things to go smoothly. You will discover if you believe there is not enough to go around and if taking more than you need is necessary for survival. You will find out if you believe that being quiet is unbearable, if being alone means being lonely. If feeling your feelings means being destroyed. If being vulnerable is for sissies or if opening to love is a big mistake.

And you will discover how you use food to express each one of these core beliefs.

9. A poem from the Dalai Lama, “Never Give Up.”

No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up

10. Drawing Eyebrows on Babies Will Not Disappoint You on Don’t Poke the Bear.

11. The re-education of Sarah McLachlan.

12. 271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book on Colossal.

13. Ditch the Diet Rules: Listen to Your Body for Optimal Health on Greatist.

14. The World Can Be Better – Kid President Songified

15. I’m Sorry. I Can’t Read Your Blog Right Now on A Deeper Story.

16. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa,

The Buddhist approach is: Just do it, on the spot, rather than reliance on the great white hope that something just might happen, and therefore, we should push toward it. The Buddhist approach is not really based on hope. It’s based on just sitting and doing it on the spot. Then a person’s mind begins to take a turn more toward experience, rather than faith alone.

17. These 27 People Are All Awesomely Clever… And Maybe A Little Jerky. LOLOL. on Viral Nova.

18. A Living Worth Scraping on Elephant Journal. I always feel like articles like this need a disclaimer, or a post script that explains that while this is true, that it would be lovely if people did work they love, someone also has to clean up —  take out the trash, pick up the poop, clean the bathroom, change the diapers — and that we all need to pitch in and help keep things together, even when that sometimes requires we do things we don’t really “like.”

19. Good stuff on BuzzFeed: Look What Two Art Students Leave On A Classroom’s Chalkboard Every Week and The 100 Most Important Cat Pictures Of All Time.

20. “All Of Me” Gets A Vintage Soul Cover You’ll Listen To On Repeat on Huffington Posts. It’s a really good cover.

21. 4 Tips On Creativity From The Creator Of Calvin & Hobbes on Fast Company.

22. Wisdom from Harry Emerson Fosdick, “Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.”

23. Wisdom from Karen Maezen Miller on Facebook,

Once you hear the Dharma, it ruins you for non-Dharma.

And,

The problem is not that we are hurling ourselves into the unknown. We are always hurling ourselves into the unknown. The problem is that we think otherwise.

24. Susan Piver on compassion, “Compassion is the ability to hold both love and pain in your heart, simultaneously.”

25. On Being podcast: Joan Halifax — Compassion’s Edge States and Caring Better.

26. Wisdom from Mara Glatzel, “You are a worthy contender for the life that you are yearning for, but the only one who can truly grant you the permission to live it, is you.”

27. 30 Lessons from the ♥ Your Community Blog Tour on Yogipreneur.

28. When I am Among the Trees, a poem from Mary Oliver.

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.,/p>

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

29. What People Say When Asked To “Tell The World Anything” on Huffington Post. “The producers of a recent video series place a single camera in a public part of New York City — Washington Square Park, in this case — and hang a sign telling people to ‘Tell the World Anything.'”

30. 10 Things to Add to a Simple Life on Be More With Less.

31. Me & You, an animation from Story Corps.

32. Her Girlfriend Never Tells Her How Her Day Went. I Wouldn’t Either If This Was How My Days Ended., a beautiful and personal tribute to nurses on Upworthy.

33. Ten Steps for Creating a Personal Mandala on Elephant Journal.

34. Dallas Clayton Merchandise.

35. Anne Lamott on Mother’s Day.

36. Lessons from a Zen Garden by guest blogger Karen Maezen Miller on New World Library.

37. 28 Abandoned Structures Still As Vibrant As The Day They Were Deserted on Huffington Post.

38. Good stuff on Medium: The Gluten-Free God Is a False God and Finishing School: Why the hazing rituals of graduate school aren’t worth the trouble.

40. The whole Mother’s Day enchilada on Superhero Life.

41. Shared on Rowdy Kittens Happy Links list: Meditation: Heart Advice from 3 Exceptional Women, and How to Become a Writer, and Blogger Pulls Off $30,000 Sting to Get Her Stolen Site Back.

42. Let Go of Shoulds and Stress and Let Yourself Do Nothing on Tiny Buddha. A Week of Being sounds wonderful…

43. Feel your life while you’re in it, a beautiful quote shared on A Design So Vast.

44. An Animated Ode to What a Dog Can Teach Us About the Meaning of Life on Brain Pickings.

45. Which reminds me of this, GoD And DoG by Wendy J Francisco.

46. Sales advice from the world’s crappiest salesperson (aka: me) from Paul Jarvis.

47. 5 Little Things That Make My Life A Million Times Better on Thought Catalog.

48. Who would you be if you didn’t hold back? from Ronna Detrick.

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

We all have parts of ourselves that need working on. We all think thoughts that aren’t the best thoughts we could be thinking. We all do things we wish we would have done better, or differently, or not at all. We all make mistakes, every single day….every single one of us. And then, we all wake up every day with lots of chances to start over. It is one of the miracles of life…Let yesterday go, be done with it. Walk onto your light-filled path and make today a better day.

2. A Pathetic Internet Troll Called This Mom’s Little Boy Ugly. Her Reply Is Perfection. on Viral Nova.

3. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The opposite of samsara (the cycle of suffering) is when all the walls fall down, when the cocoon completely disappears and we are totally open to whatever may happen, with no withdrawing, no centralizing into ourselves. That is what we aspire to, the warrior’s journey. That is what stirs us: leaping, being thrown out of the nest, going through the initiation rites, growing up, stepping into something that’s uncertain and unknown.

4. Yo Oprah, I’mma Let You Finish But Amy Poehler Has The Best Body Image Advice Of All Time on Upworthy.

5. You are a writer. So, write. Deeply. on Rebelle Society.

6. Prompt of the Week: Junk Mail Poetry from Wolverine Farm Publishing Co. & Bookstore, and my dear friend Chloé, the 2014 Poet Laureate of Fort Collins.

7. The generosity boomerang from Seth Godin.

8. Five things you can do to overcome fear on Life is Limitless.

9. The Bite I Chose Not to Take, from Mara Glatzel.

10. Truthbomb from Danielle LaPorte, “Make the necessary adjustments for your life to become more meaningful.”

11. A Conversation with Julia Cameron about Channeling Your Creativity on Huffington Post.

12. The ultimate guide to naming your “thing” from Alexandra Franzen.

13. Good stuff from Zen Habits: The Habit Action List and The Reality of This Moment.

14. Be Yourself – Short Documentary.

15. 6 Things That I Understand About The Fat Acceptance Movement from the Militant Baker.

16. Wisdom from Geneen Roth,

For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment, that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love.

17. Good stuff from Bored Panda: Photographer Takes Stunning Surreal Photos With An Old $50 Film Camera and WTF? 22 Of The Weirdest and Most Unexplainable Pictures Ever and Hidden Macro World Revealed By Japanese Photographer Miki Asai.

18. Use These 19 Genius Cleaning Hacks This Spring. I Can’t Believe I Never Thought Of #13 Til Now. on Viral Nova. Seriously, #13 is brilliant.

19. Success, failure and the drive to keep creating, Elizabeth Gilbert’s second TED Talk, in which she says,

For me, going home meant returning to the work of writing because writing was my home, because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that I loved writing more than I loved my own ego, which is ultimately to say that I loved writing more than I loved myself. And that’s how I pushed through it.

And,

Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service, it might be raising corgis, I don’t know, your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.

Word.

20. The Moment This Man Finds Out He’s Going To Be A Grandpa Will Make You Tear Up on Huffington Post. Somehow “we’re getting a new puppy” never manages to elicit the same emotion…

21. Friday’s Confession: I Was Copied from Tiffany Han.

22. How to Be a Writer by M. Molly Backes on Medium.

23. The art of Sarah Jarrett.

24. By Another Way, a poem by Jan Richardson shared by Ronna Detrick on her blog.

25. My Formula for Stumbling Through with Grace from Be More with Less.

26. Wisdom from Kristin Noelle, who describes so perfectly where I am right now,

…those stretches when you’re still close enough to some “before” version of yourself to remember him or her well, to still have his or her knee-jerk feelings and reactions to things….but you’re not that version of yourself anymore either, and you’re noticing a whole new paradigm, a whole new way of being in the world, vying for attention and time.

27. Newspaper + marker = poetry: The story behind my newspaper blackout poems, on Medium from Austin Kleon.

28. Shared on Rowdy Kittens Happy Links: The Scratch Interview with Cheryl Strayed, and On the Long Haul from Dani Shapiro, and 10 Ways I Embraced Simplicity and You Can Too from Sandra Pawula.

29. What I Wish I Knew After My MFA Ended on the Brevity blog.

30. New Age Bullshit Generator.

31. Writing Practice – why it’s time to stop thinking of writing as a profession by Damien Walter.

32. Teachasana, “An online resource for yoga teachers and teachers-in-training.”

33. On writing, courage, and showing up on Life with Lucia.

34. 28 T-Shirts For When You Literally Cannot from BuzzFeed.

35. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, Are you feeling more afraid than you need to feel?

36. How To Stop Making A Big Deal About Your Problems, Pema Chödrön on MindBodyGreen.

37. Having No Expectations: The Secret to Freedom and Happiness.

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Maya Angelou, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” No kidding.

2. The Daring Interview Series: Meet Gavin Aung Than on Brene’ Brown’s blog.

3. How to End the Endless Game of Catching Up on Be More With Less.

4. Wisdom from Mara Glatzel, “Believing takes practice.” (P.S. Click the link and read the whole newsletter. I promise it’s worth it.)

5. These 22 Photos Will Make You Fall In Love With Foxes on Bored Panda.

6. 17 Baby Elephants Learning How To Use Their Trunks on BuzzFeed.

7. Jawdropping views of cozy homes built in an abandoned office tower, a lagoon, a recycling heap and more on the TED Blog.

8. When I Am Among the Trees by Mary Oliver.

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

8. 4 Good Reminders When You’ve Had a Bad Day from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

9. 20 Magical Tree Tunnels You Should Definitely Take A Walk Through on Bored Panda.

10. He Sent A Photo Of The Sunset In Japan To His Parents. What He Got 20 Minutes Later Is Beautiful. on Viral Nova.

11. The biggest adventure: forever, then all of a sudden from Christina Rosalie.

12. Trust and attention, the endless dance and The right moment from Seth Godin.

13. Wisdom from Isabel Foxen Duke,

Trying to control our weight is really just an attempt to control the uncontrollable — primarily, but not limited to, what other people think of us…There is nothing you can do about uncertainty in life…except stop trying to control it. Let go or be dragged.

14. The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna on Medium.

15. Real Artists Have Day Jobs by Sara Benincasa on Medium.

16. Dealing and Healing After Loss: 9 Tips to Help You Get Through the Day on Tiny Buddha.

17. Note from the Universe,

Everything in your life, right now, Jill, is awesome. Everything is in its right place, under grace, and whether or not this makes perfect sense yet, one day it will. And the time swiftly approaches when you’ll be exceedingly grateful for all that has brought you to this day and contributed to who you’ve become, because it is exactly that person who is now poised to live as you have always dreamed you would one day live.

18. A reminder from Brave Girls Club,

You know so much more than you think you know, you just have to remember it. There’s so much wisdom in that amazing heart of yours that just needs to be reminded and listened-to and encouraged to speak out.

Think about when you were a little girl….all of those hopes, dreams and ambitions that were unique and wonderful and unabashed. What held you back as you grew older, from wanting or working for those tender dreams?

Don’t be afraid to be the person that you thought you might grow up to be….that person that you dreamed of being…that amazing woman that you looked into the future to see when you were a little girl. Uncover those dreams again and believe in them….shoot for what is deepest in your heart…and be the woman that you always wanted to be.

19. How I Became a Buddhist and What It Really Means from Sandra Pawula.

20. Shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend list: Dani Shapiro on mastering the craft of writing.

 

Life Rehab Resources: Sandra Pawula

liferehabresourcesThis is happening the way things seem to for me. Rather than something coming to me or happening because I have a clear plan, I show up and dink around, and something, the thing, presents itself. It’s mysterious and magic and sometimes incredibly frustrating, but it’s happened often enough that I trust the process.

This time, I knew I’d be starting a new Saturday series, since Self-Compassion Saturday was done. Sparked by a conversation at Laurie Wagner‘s kitchen table, I thought I should do something about all of the resources I’ve used over the past two years to rehab my life. I have a half-hearted collection of links on the blog, but I’ve never really taken the time to share with you why or how those things were useful to me, at least not in any structured, direct way.

So I knew that was the thing, even brainstormed a list of everything I would include — people, places, ecourses, retreats and workshops, podcasts, blogs, films, practices and books — and how I would structure the posts, but I did it thinking I’d take a little break before I actually started.

I should know better by now. The Universe has its own schedule for these things. I got an email from Sandra Pawula, author of the blog Always Well Within, “simple wisdom for a happy life.” She wondered if I’d want to interview her for my blog. Sandra and I have a lot of interests in common. As one of her readers, what keeps happening is I’ll be thinking about something, contemplating it, trying to figure it out, and then she’ll write about it, saying what I hadn’t quite worked out yet, helping me to understand. I knew it was the Universe nudging me, “why not start now, with this?”

Sandra Pawula is a writer, mindfulness advocate, and champion of living with ease. She writes about finding greater happiness and freedom on her blog Always Well Within. Her signature e-course Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress begins again on January 6th and you can register now.

The questions I asked Sandra are relatable to her e-course, but also some personal questions I have right now, things I would ask any long term practitioner if I had the opportunity. I am so grateful for her answers.

sandradeckWhy cultivate or seek ease? What value does it bring? Shouldn’t we be spending our effort, energy and time serving others, making the world a better place, easing suffering?

The idea of seeking ease can sound self-indulgent, can’t it? But, ease is not just a luxury. Stress is associated with so many serious conditions like heart disease, immune dysfunction, anxiety, and depression that we can’t afford to dismiss our need for ease.

Ease is also an essential component of goodness, one of the qualities that truly helps others and can actually change the world. When you feel at ease, you’re more likely to be kind, loving, forgiving, and spacious. You’re more likely to be present, attentive, and sincerely listen to others.

Sadly, there’s also a tremendous amount of mental suffering in the West, which expresses itself in countless forms from addiction to anorexia to cutting to a deeply rooted feeling of not being enough or having enough. This mental suffering must be seen and addressed if we wish to have the strength, focus, and power to create a more peaceful, sane, and just world.

It’s so worthwhile to serve others and contribute to making the world a better place in any ways we can. But, if we do so in an ego-based, neurotic way, we’re more likely to cause harm and hurt others in the process. And, we may burn out, cutting our service short.

“Ease” and “serve” are not mutually exclusive. Ideally, the two would come together. If you look at some of the greatest spiritual leaders of recent times like the Dalai Lama or Gandhi, you’ll see they embody ease. Ease is the natural consequence of a loving and wise mind. If we can bring ease into our service, the effects will be far more potent.

I think it’s also accurate to see working with your own mind as a form of service. When you decrease the harm you bring to others and increase the goodness you share by transforming your negative mind states, you’ve offered a tremendous service to the world. Your positive attitude and actions will inspire others and may even have an amazing ripple effect.

sandraswanWhat do you see as the biggest challenges to ease?

Our own mind. Although some of our stress triggers are external, the way we respond to them still depends upon our own mind. As Marcus Aurelius said,

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.

And, we’ve become adept at generating stress internally by dwelling in the past, which cannot be changed, or anticipating the future, which cannot be known. This stirs up worry, anxiety, anger, frustration, and all forms of afflictive emotions, which detract from feeling at ease.

Many suffer unnecessarily because they don’t know that they actually have the capacity to change their own thoughts, emotions, and perceptions for the better. Instead, they are ruled by automatic patterns and feel like a victim of circumstances, relationships, and their own chaotic mind. If they could learn to tame their minds, how different their lives would be.

At the same time, we need to understand that stress is a biochemical affair and some people are genetically predisposed to a stronger stress response or a weaker relaxation response. There are other factors that can adversely impact our stress response as well, for example: some immune-related diseases, a lack of early nurturing, trauma, and the number of stressors that occur during any given period of one’s life.

Whatever blocks us from ease – big or small – doesn’t have to permanently stop us from finding more peace and serenity. Most people see significant improvement through the use of simple stress reduction practices.

sandratreepathWe are both Highly Sensitive People — what are some strategies for comforting, soothing the overwhelm that can come from being out in the world with an open heart?

I feel the right perspective changes everything. We must accept that suffering exists and not turn away from it, or the truth will someday knock us out flat.  But, we can feel encouraged knowing it’s possible to bring an end to suffering.  Every time we replace a negative thought, word, or action with a positive one, we’re demonstrating that suffering can be overcome.

If we dwell on despair or hopelessness, naturally we’ll feel overwhelmed. But, if we remember that each person, no matter how confused or negative they may seem to be at present, has the potential for goodness, we’ll tap into possibility and the energy of compassion.

On a practical level, I need to take regular measures to replenish myself like plenty of quiet, time in nature, meditation, naps, and inspirational reading. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s a sign I need to pause and take time for myself.

At the same time, I don’t intentionally avoid feeling the pain of this world. When it rises, I let it rise and break open my heart a bit more, knowing that most suffering is unnecessary. It’s actually manmade and therefore can be changed. This recognition fuels my resolve to work with my own mind and to be of help to others.

I also know whatever painful emotion arises will dissolve on its own if I don’t feed it with more thoughts and emotions. So I don’t have to be afraid of any emotion.

sandraflowerbutterflyI recently had an epiphany that anxiety is fundamentally a crisis of confidence — in our basic worth and wholeness, in our innate wisdom and sanity, in our belief that we’ll be able to handle what comes, in our faith that our experience is workable. What tips do you have for dealing with anxiety?

Your insights resonate strongly for me, Jill. Our essence is fundamentally good, loving, and worthy but it’s obscured by all our thoughts and emotions. If we can fully believe in our basic sanity and goodness instead of becoming embroiled in thoughts and emotions, so many problems like anxiety will begin to dissolve.

However, it’s not necessarily easy to deal with anxiety once it’s become a long-held pattern. My approach is to see anxiety as just another construction of my mind, which can be gradually deconstructed through mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques and other forms of relaxation.

When anxiety makes an appearance, we can tell ourselves it seems “real,” but it’s not actually solid or true, and be very compassionate towards ourselves. If we keep siding with what’s true without rejecting the anxiety, we’ll slowly break apart the tendency to be anxious.

I’m far less anxious than I used to be because I know the anxiety is not true. But, I also know that it’s my bottom-line response. I’m able to accept that rather than be distressed by it. That helps to deflate the power of anxiety as well.

If people have serious anxiety issues, they may need counseling or the help of drugs to calm their system. It’s difficult to work with the mind when it’s so stirred up. These resources can help us get our mind to a more manageable place so we can start on practices like meditation, loving kindness, or stress reduction.

sandrablueflowerWhat would you like people to know about your upcoming Living with Ease course? What can they expect?

In my course, Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress, you’ll have a chance to identify your personal stress triggers, learn a new mindfulness-based stress reduction technique each week, use reflection exercises to explore unhelpful beliefs, and acquire a menu of simple supportive practices to help you lock in a more relaxed way of being.

Mindfulness is a powerful catalyst for rewiring the brain, and that’s exactly what we need to change our stress response. It’s been shown to strengthen the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, in short our executive and cognitive functions, which improves our capacity to rewire old habits and build resilience to adversity.

Mindfulness offers a simple, inexpensive, and scientifically proven way to beat stress.

sandraI recommend Sandra’s blog as a Life Rehab Resource, for its constant reminders to be gentle with ourselves, and as mentioned above, her signature e-course Living with Ease: 21 Days to Less Stress begins again on January 6th and you can register now. Other ways to connect with Sandra are to follow her on Facebook or on Twitter.

Something Good

For those of you who are new to my blog, here’s the story behind my Something Good posts: When I am feeling bad, I will often ask my husband Eric to “tell me something good.” When I need something to hang on to, to make me feel better, something to show me that it’s not all bad. When I am in that dark hole, way down at the bottom, and the mean things with teeth are down there with me –”tell me something good.”

He’s really good at it, because even when all he can think of is “I love you,” it totally works. I mean, how great is it that the person that you picked and who said “yes” almost 20 years ago, and knows you better than anyone, knows all the embarrassing and ugly stuff, continues to love you? He usually is able to give me a whole list when I ask him, followed by a hug and “what can I do for you, how can I make you feel better?”

So on A Thousand Shades of Gray, Monday’s feature is: Something Good. I like the idea of gratitude generating joy, and the opportunity my gratitude has to spread joy when I share the good things, so every Monday, I give you a list.

Here’s this week’s list:

1. 5 Plants You (Almost) Never Have to Water on House Logic.

2. Stunning Self-Portraits by a 14-year-old Photographer on Bored Panda.

3. Diana Fayt’s Painted Rocks (& Other Lovely Things) from Lisa Congdon.

4. Be Brave: A Poem-Film for Anyone Asking for Courage to Create from Jeffrey Davis.

5. Cute Pets in Windows from Bold Italics, originally shared by Rachel.

6. Reflections on Fearlessness and Best Links (May), a great list of good stuff from Sandra at Always Well Within, (confession: one of my posts is on the list).

7. Reason to Forgive | DubStep, video of a 12 year old who is an amazing dancer.

8. You’re not needy. You’re starving. from Rachel Cole. Amazing.

9. Out of the water from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

10. Patrick Stewart Speaks About His Childhood, Domestic Abuse and PTSD. The woman involved in this specific moment wrote about it on her blog as well, Let me tell you a thing, about an amazing man named Patrick Stewart.

11. This message from Brave Girls Club came just when I needed it,

Dear Sweet Girl,

You don’t have to have special permission to take a break, you know. You have done enough. When you are tired, and weary and feeling worn out, you need to be kind to yourself and take good care of your body and your spirit.

Please be good to yourself, beautiful friend . . . the world is not the same without the best of you. The people that you love the most have better lives because of you and the people you have not even met yet will have enriched lives because of you.

Your life will be better, happier, more effective, more efficient and more meaningful if you stop and take care of yourself. No more putting guilt trips on yourself or letting anyone else do it. No more working yourself so hard that you can’t even feel anymore . . . it’s time to REALLY nurture and take care of yourself. You are a gift to the world, please take care of YOU. Today’s a great day to start.

12. There’s Just No Time from Paul Jarvis, shared by Laura of Create as Folk.

13. Rijks Museum Free Hi-Res Art Downloads shared by Pugly Pixel.

14. Introducing Prancercise, just silly enough to be kind of awesome.

15. Be the Giver from Danielle LaPorte.

16. 9 Rules for a Simpler Day from Zen Habits.

17. What is Your Gift to the World? on Scoutie Girl.

18. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Tigers Above, Tigers Below: There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

19. 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing Every Day from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

20. Make Me: Fabric Gift Bags from Decor8.

21. Celebrate and Embrace Ventures and Adventures from Be More with Less.

22. Her Lilac Jacket on SouleMama. The sweetest pictures! This one is my favorite, (her little hand!).

23. Racists Very Upset Over Interracial Family in Cute Cheerios Commercial. The little girl in this commercial is super cute. Someone posted on Facebook last week about this and added, “Whomever has a problem with this better just go buy a white hood right now and be honest with yourself.” I couldn’t agree more.

24. it’s complicated from Sas Petherick. *sigh*

25. Inside the Paris apartment untouched for 70 years: Treasure trove finally revealed after owner locked up and fled at outbreak of WWII.

26. Your Daily Rock from Patti Digh: your daily rock : what would love do?, and your daily rock : just breathe, and your daily rock : you are enough.

27. Name-calling Has Its Place: BED is Now Named as a Distinct Eating Disorder. So what’s in it for you? from Drop it and Eat.

28. Another Origami Fox from How About Orange. I wish I was better at this. I’d be making some of these, (shared by Positively Present).

29. This quote, People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~Iris Murdoch

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30. Google Poetics, (shared by Positively Present). “This blog started collecting Google Poems on October 2012 and is run by its founder Sampsa Nuotio and curator Raisa Omaheimo. Google Poetics is born when Google autocomplete suggestions are viewed as poems.” I could get lost in this site for a very, very long time. For example,

pain is temporary
pain is weakness leaving the body
pain is inevitable suffering is optional
pain is love

Or,

I am a disco dancer
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
I am a dynamic figure
I am a dreamer

Pure awesome.

31. Patti Smith, We all have a creative impulse, shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list. The site where this video is posted, Channel Louisiana, has lots of other really cool stuff, if you want to get lost for a little while and haven’t already spent all your time on Google Poetics. Also on Susannah’s list this week was What’s Inside Our “Going Out” Bags.

32. Humans of New York. I’ve shared this site before, but it’s so good, I want to share it again in case you missed it the first time. You can also follow them on Facebook.

33. Issa Rae: Own Your Awkward on The Conversation.

34. From Rowdy Kittens’ Happy Links post: A Revolution of Contentment by Sandra Pawula on the Bridgemaker, and Chic Tiny House in Omaha Nebraska on Air BnB, (the loft beds in tiny houses always make me think of sleeping in a tree house — magic).

35. My Dentist Was Made To Believe I Was Dead And It Made Me Realize Why I Shouldn’t Kill Myself And You Shouldn’t Either on xojane.

36. This wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The kind of rest you seek you will find not from sleeping but from waking.”

37. This Poster Might Just Change Your Life. by Nicole Duncan on Elephant Journal.

38. This wisdom from Lama Christie McNally, The Tibetan Book of Meditation,

Tibetans say we should do our meditation practice “as if our hair was on fire.” We should have the same urgency to get out of this pain filled place as someone who has just woken up in a burning, smoke filled house. But it’s hard- all the distractions of this life keep stealing away our time and our mind. We keep telling ourselves, “I’ll meditate later.” Then one day you look up and realize life has passed you by, the time is gone, and it’s too late.

39. This wisdom from Jen Lemen, “I don’t want to be famous or popular or known for anything other than that I was deep and wise and had a soul that was wildly beautiful, full of mercy and light.”

40. Amanda Palmer on Creativity as Connecting Dots and the Terrifying Joy of Sharing Your Art Online and Be All Your Selves: Joss Whedon’s 2013 Wesleyan Commencement Address on Embracing Our Inner Contradictions on Brain Pickings.

41. Quotes shared by Justine Musk, You cannot truly enjoy life through your mind…It’s through the heart + the body that we get to party,” (Kagiso Msimango), and “There’s nothing more powerful than a woman who has met the truth inside her. Nothing,” (Meggan Jane Watterson).

42. Are Children Natural Vegans? by Sara Crolick on Elephant Journal.

43. This quote from Cheryl Stayed, “That silence is such a beautiful thing. It’s like the stars at night in the great alone and you there beneath them, saying thank you.”

44. Karma and Smartphones: How to Use Technology From a Buddhist Perspective, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on Huffington Post.

45. Dog People Problems, from Reddit.

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46. 2 year old problems: cinnamon rolls aren’t instant, from Reddit.

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47. Wisdom from Chogyam Trungpa,

Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.

48. Father and 2-year-old boy sing Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ in viral hit.

49. Let go … again, still, more from Lindsey on A Design So Vast.

50. The Pros and Cons (But Mostly Pros) of Adopting a Shelter Dog on Hello Giggles.

51. you are worthy. from Liz Lamoreux.

52. Feeding the Right Wolf, with Marianne Elliot on Sacred Circle.

53. The Big Book Giveaway! from Susannah Conway. This is a great set of books, some of my favorites! You should totally enter this, (but just know, I plan on winning the Book Bomb).

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P.S. I think this might officially be the longest Something Good list e v e r.