Category Archives: Telling True Stories

Something Good

ericlongwinter031. Time to Thrive, transcript of speech given by Ellen Page on Huffington Post, in which she says,

You’re here because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives.

Then again, it’s not easy at all. It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves.

2. Wisdom from Lodro Rinzler, “Gentleness to oneself is the foundation of the entire meditative path.”

3. How “Fearless” is the new perfectionism from Your Courageous Life.

4. Let thanks land from Jonathan Fields.

5. A Photo Essay: The Lone Tree from Tammy at Rowdy Kittens.

6. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

The crazy life is oh so tempting….ohhhh sooooo tempting. It is tempting to go go go and prove prove prove and seek seek seek for apPROVE-al, isn’t it? It is tempting to do what everyone else is doing…and to make it shiny and sparkly and perfect and wonderful and to sacrifice anything and everything to make it so. It is oh-so-easy to get caught up in the competition…in the comparing…in the craziness of what it *seems* like everyone else is doing.

Beautiful friend…pay attention very closely to how you feel when you are giving in to this kind of temptation. Pay attention to how it feels to go faster than you really have strength to go….to prove that you are just as good, or just as wonderful, or just as talented. Pay attention to how it feels to constantly seek for the approval of others. Pay attention to how it feels to enter into the competition…to compare your life with the life of others. If it doesn’t feel good, any of it…….it’s time to evaluate it all.

Sometimes we get so caught up in this way of living that we forget that there is another way to live. There really is another way to live, beautiful soul. We don’t have to enter in to the crazy life…and even when we do….we really can walk away.

It is worth the hard decision of turning around and walking away from a crazy life that doesn’t make sense. It is always always always worth it to go where the peace is….where the best stuff is…….where we can just BE and not feel like we have to BE ENOUGH. We are ALL already enough.

Go where the peace is, sweet girl. You were always meant to have peace.

7. How an On-Air Panic Attack Improved My Life by Dan Harris.

8. Wisdom from Kris Carr, “Confidence and self-reliance come from a deep trust in yourself. You know that you’ve got your back and that no matter what, you will not abandon yourself.”

9. Wisdom from Meryl Streep, “This is your time and it feels normal to you, but really, there is no normal. There’s only change and resistance to it and then more change.”

10. Artist Turns Fellow Train Passengers Into Funny Cartoon Characters with His Post-It Note Doodles.

11. Remembering Maggie Estep from Neil Gaiman.

12. What I won’t and will miss, a list from Norah Ephron.

13. Uncommon Advice to Heal a Broken Heart, Susan Piver on Huffington Post.

14. College Students Scared Straight Prank. I don’t want to laugh, but I can’t help it.

15. A Lost Dog Story from Mark Hass.

16. Wisdom from Henry Miller, “Let us do our best, even if it gets us nowhere.”

17. Truthbombs from Danielle LaPorte: “Be willing to start over” and “Start leaving what you want to leave. Your future is waiting.”

18. More wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

Dear Sensitive Girl,

Your soul is whispering something to you. Slow down so you can hear it.

You know what do to…..your heart is smart, and it is telling you in a million different ways. You can trust it.

You know exactly what to do….you really do. Listen to those whispers….they are leading you toward all that is good and right for YOUR life.

You are so brave, you are so wonderful, you are so on track.

You are so loved.

xoxo

19. The story of Owen and Haatchi on Viral Nova.

20. An Awesome Book of Love, “Yael Staav’s poignant and emotional interpretation of Dallas Clayton’s celebrated storybook, An Awesome Book of Love, shows us that love is truly humanity’s greatest gift.”

21. Jump Off the Busy Train for a Simpler, More Passion-Filled Life on Tiny Buddha.

22. The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck on Medium.

23. On Softening to Pain on Zen Psychiatry. Since I read this, I can’t stop asking myself this question, “How can I soften into this?”

24. Warning: Do not read this if you enjoy clinging to excuses that prevent you from making art, moving forward + doing wonderful things from Alexandra Franzen. No more excuses.

25. A story from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook that will make you think.

26. Rachel Cole’s 5 Essentials for a Passionate, Well-Fed Life on The Kitchn.

27. Laurie Wagner on breaking a love affair with the screens that fuel our lonely habits on Flourish. P.S. There’s still time to sign up for her ecourse, Telling True Stories.

28. Should spiritual teachers be paid? from Susan Piver. (Recognize that shrine? It’s on my writing desk.) According to the logic of the original email, it would suggest that doctors and teachers shouldn’t be paid either, that if you are fulfilling a need you shouldn’t be compensated. I don’t buy it.

Something Good

image by eric

image by eric

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

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

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

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

5. Neil Gaiman reads Green Eggs and Ham.

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

7. I love Kid President.

8. 22 Supremely Perfect Photobombs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

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

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

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

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

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

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

20. The Risks Worth Taking from Austin Kleon.

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

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

23. The Happiest Animal on Earth.

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

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

26. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

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

28. Wisdom from Dallas Clayton on Facebook.

image by dallas clayton

image by dallas clayton

Something Good

I made my best effort to find the original source of this image, but couldn't, and also couldn't stand not sharing it with you.

I made my best effort to find the original source of this image, but couldn’t, and also couldn’t stand not sharing it with you. Forgive me.

1. The Power of Asking from Laurie Wagner of 27 Powers. Laurie is an amazing writing teacher, and her next session of Telling True Stories starts on January 7th.

2. Live Your Own Life Now. Permission Slip Enclosed. from Jennifer Boyken at Life After Tampons.

3. This quote from Jonathan Fields, “You cannot create change in others. Until you embody the truth you seek to inspire.”

4. From my Inner Pilot Light, “When you let go of attachment to outcomes, the Universe is free to work its magic, and it’s a great opportunity to learn to trust that even if things don’t go the way you hoped, the Universe has always got your back.”

5. Providence, Poetry and Magic from Stacy Morrison on Filling in the Blanks.

6. Show Your Work from Jen Lee.

7. From Pema Chödrön, on training with uncertainty:

Many of us prefer practices that will not cause discomfort, yet at the same time we want to be healed. But bodhichitta training doesn’t work that way. A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s also what makes us afraid.

8. From Danielle LaPorte’s Daily Truthbomb: “Creativity is the difference between life and death.”

9. How To Keep Your Heart Open When It Breaks from Lissa Rankin.

10. Regrets of the Dying from Bronnie Ware. This is one I’ve posted before, but it bears repeating.

11. Quote from Kris Carr: “When we accept ourselves exactly as we are, in exactly this moment, we shift from living for tomorrow to appreciating today.”

12. This quote: “There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” ~Linda Hogan

13. I love what Patti Digh has to say about about making strong offerings, “Putting your work into the world without regret, without attachment to outcome, without hesitation. Voicing your voice.”

14. I want this: Walking into Fire: Sidestepping Fear, Writing Your Heart Out, and Letting Your Story Tell Itself with Susan Piver. This is an audio of a workshop with three of my favorite women–Jennifer Louden, Susan Piver, and Patti Digh, “a heart-expanding, writing refreshing day bursting with learning, craft, and creativity.” This whole site BetterListen! has lots of good stuff available.

15. Sas Petherick launched her new site, her new venture. You can download her beautiful book, Body Stories, for free! Keep an eye on this one. She’s going to do some amazing things.

16. 21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity, ” People aren’t always awful. Sometimes, they’re maybe even just a little bit wonderful.” And 26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year.

17. This quote: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ~Mary Oliver

18. Celebrating Consciousness with Patti Digh, Author and Master Teacher on the Daily Own.

19. Love Apocalypse. I found this site after watching a video Jen Lemen made, Thoughts On Newtown and the End of the World as We Know It.

20. Aimee Mann puts on one of the best Christmas shows ever. Sadly, she’s not doing it this year, but she shared this video (a compilation of videos made to play during her previous shows).

21. 46 Reasons Why My Three Year Old Might be Freaking Out. You don’t have to be a parent to get why this is so funny, (thanks to Susannah Conway for this link).

22. Beautiful pictures by Kevin Russ, (thanks to Susannah Conway for this link).

23. A New Year’s Ritual. Andrea Scher always has the best New Year’s prompts, and this year she shares them in a series of videos, (it’s a total bonus that she’s also super cute).

24. This quote: “Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” ~Earl Grollman

Something Good

it looks like it’s waving at us, doesn’t it? or offering a hug.

1. An Intentional Life by Leo Babauta on Zen Habits.

Many of us go through our days awake, but following patterns we’ve developed over the years. We are going through the motions, doing things at home, online, at work without much forethought.

Contrast this with the idea of an Intentional Life: everything you do is done with consciousness, fulfilling one of your core values (compassion, for example). Everything is done with a conscious intent.

2. This quote: At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. ~Albert Schweitzer

3. This quote: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy

4. Anaïs Nin on Life, Hand-Lettered by Artist Lisa Congdon on Brain Pickings. When I was in my 20s, I read all of Anaïs Nin’s diaries. She was brilliant and strange, and I loved every word. These illustrated quotes are fabulous.

5. 40 Ways to Feel More Alive on Tiny Buddha.

6. Music is My Church by Sarah McLachlan on Huffington Post. Amen.

7. Six Simple Ways to Reduce Your Stress Levels, from Dumb Little Man: Tips for Life. Oh boy, did I ever need this advice this week.

8. You Are Beautiful Project. Sometimes, something simple can be powerful.

9. Community, A Structure of Belonging from Patti Digh on 37 Days.It is such a sign of hope in a world of pain that we take care of each other, still.” There is still time to give to the John F. Ptak Relief Fund. It always feels good to help someone who needs it, but when they are so grateful and full of love, it feels even better.

10. The next round of Telling True Stories starts on September 10th. I loved Laurie Wagner’s 5-week Writing ECourse, (see my open love letter to her and the class), loved, loved, loved Laurie’s wild, open-hearted, brave teaching, and if you are a writer looking to be inspired, to get wild, I think you will too.

11. Aimee Mann’s New Video. Aimee Mann’s music is brilliant, but a close second to that talent is her sense of humor–both of which are clear in this new video.

An open love letter to Laurie Wagner and Telling True Stories

Certain people that you encounter in your life will change you, alter the way you experience the world in significant and long lasting ways. The impact of their light, their nakedness, their wild love continues to ripple and shiver and quake all corners of your life, sending out aftershocks that continue long after your focused time together, making things forever different, illuminated. Laurie Wagner is one of those people.

image from Laurie’s website

I first heard of Laurie Wagner in the same way I heard about every other good and precious thing I’ve discovered in the past year, on Andrea Scher’s Superhero Journal, this post to be exact. Rachel Cole was also talking about her, how Laurie is an amazing teacher and writing mentor. That was all the proof, the second opinion, the encouragement and nudge I needed (I’m no dummy), so I signed up for Laurie’s Telling True Stories ecourse, the very first run of it.

Holy wow.

Holy crap.

The structure of the class is simple enough: “a 5-week writing course with 3 weekly lessons, writing assignments, and deadlines. Writers will share their work with the community, giving and getting feedback.” Laurie also set up a private Facebook group for those of us who wanted to play. As in every other ecourse I’ve taken, it’s really up to you how much to participate. Some of us posted something every week and shared feedback and chatted on Facebook, others never said a word–you can do as little or as much as you can, be involved or not, to whatever degree you like.

image from Laurie’s website

Even though this is an online course, Laurie’s energy is radiant, vibrant and raw, lighting up and electrifying the space, however virtual it might be. She is at once your favorite grade school teacher, most popular camp counselor, beloved childhood friend (the one who climbed trees and loved books), best girlfriend, and precious mother. She also is the most skilled and kind doula, every piece I wrote for class felt like I’d given birth to something magic and wild. The class wrung me out, wrecked me, in the best possible way. In a Well-Fed Woman interview with Laurie, Rachel Cole says “I know her teachings and how they can crack you open.”

Yes, crack you open and let the light in.

Laurie says in one of her latest blog posts, “If I’m about anything, it’s authenticity. That’s what I teach, that’s the edge I consistently lean into. It’s what I encourage my students to do – to trust that showing up as their natural, vulnerable, imperfect, Words With Friends playing, gorgeous bed-head, didn’t-have-time-to-brush-their-teeth-selves is all we want. In fact that’s WHAT we want!”

image by andrea scher

I’ve signed up to take Laurie’s “Straw Into Gold” in the fall, but in so many ways, I feel like I’m still in a class with her. Most certainly, her teaching hasn’t stopped. When I sit at my writing desk or stand at my computer, afraid to say what I really want to say, I think of Laurie, her support and her strength, and it gives me the encouragement I need to get real, be messy, tell the truth. Just this week, she posted “10 Tips for Telling the Truth” and #1 was “Ask yourself what you’re afraid to write about. Bingo. Write this.” See, still teaching me.

What my writing needs, adores, desires: space and time, gentleness, kindness, nature, joy, my Pentel Clarius medium point black ink pen, my blog, my copies of Writing Down the Bones and Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott’s Facebook status updates, my dogs, my yoga and meditation practices, quotes from Pema Chödrön, dharma talks by Susan Piver, Mary Oliver poems, friendship, a camera, music, long walks, enough sleep, and now, the beacon of Laurie Wagner’s wild love, her insistence that I show up as I am and speak my truth.

If you are someone considering taking Laurie’s upcoming Telling True Stories, let me tell you, first hand: take this course, do not hesitate, run don’t walk, just do it–you will not regret it. Rachel Cole said it perfectly, about how Laurie and her teachings can “crack you open.” And yet, you will feel utterly safe and protected reaching down into the darkest, most raw place and be willing to roar like a lion about what you find there, will discover a wild power that you didn’t even know was there. Life altering…no kidding.

Something Good

1. Before and after of a mess. I realize that this is really only something good for me, but I still wanted to share it.

before

after

2. Got my shirt! It fits and it makes me smile.

3. Peonies. I don’t know why, but I am obsessed with them right now. I am planting at least three or four bushes when we redo our front yard so I can have them on my writing desk the whole season.

4. Obi’s rose bloomed. I’m not sure what kind of rose bush this is, but the smell and color is intense, and each bud has about 1000 petals. It grows next to one of Obi’s favorite places in the yard, by the back fence in a spot where he could see both the front and the back.

In the last months that he was alive, every time a new bloom would burst, I’d wonder which would last longer, the rose or Obi. I took a picture of him next to that rosebush during those last nine months that ended up being the picture I posted on Facebook the morning he died. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending so much time in the backyard lately, but I have been missing that boy like crazy.

5. I can no longer, another great post from Christa at Carry it Forward.

6. The (Fearless) Love Essays by Judy Clement Wall. They’re here, they’re here! I can’t wait to read my copy. And Judy so wants them read, she’s offering them at variable pricing ($7 suggested), so if you can’t pay, you can still download a copy–because that’s how she rolls!

7. An excerpt from Patti Digh’s Commencement Address at Guilford College:

Carol Sanders…writes… “Follow the idea that calls you. As you start on your own life’s passage, follow the idea that makes you wake in the morning without an alarm, that calls you to scribble ideas on napkins and scrap paper and to lose all sense of time, that makes your heart beat faster at every corner with the endless possibilities.”

Yes, please!

8. Cultivate Your Play Ethic by Hannah Kane on Scoutie Girl.

9. Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be: Where to Start by Anne Lamott. One of my favorite quotes from this is “We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.” Amen.

10. The 3 Most Important Questions by Vishen Lakhiani. Holy crap, this is gooooood. Watch it, do the practice, do it now.

11. Summer Manifesto. I love this idea, want to write one–way better idea than my summer to-do list.

12. 27 DOs + DON’Ts for being a badass woman from Justine Musk. Listen to this woman, she’s a badass.

13. Call Your Girlfriend Robyn/Erato cover by Lennon & Maisy Stella. I loved the original version of this song, but I loooove these girls. They were on the Today Show, or some similar morning show performing this week. I want them to come to my house and sing me to sleep every night.

14. Infusing Play into Mundane Tasks from Leo Babauta at Zen Habits. I like the way he thinks.

15. Joan Didion on Self-Respect on Brain Pickings.

16. A Girl and Her Room: Portraits of Teenage Girls’ Inner Worlds Through Their Bedroom Interiors on Brain Pickings.

17. This quote 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.

Amen.

18. Good advice for those attending the World Domination Summit with me (and hundreds of other people) in July.

  • A Story of Yes, from Andrea Scher on Superhero Journal, posted last year but still relevant, (she’ll be presenting again this year).

19. Live the Questions: Jacqueline Novogratz’s Advice to Graduates. Another commencement speech, another post from Brain Pickings.

20. Rilke on Embracing Uncertainty and Living the Questions on Brain Pickings.  Sorry for yet another, but this site was on fire this week.

21. Message from your Inner Pilot Light: When you choose to numb out – whether you numb out with TV, sugar, alcohol, drugs, smoking, or busyness – you dim my light. When you’re brave enough to face the truth, you’ll feel me glowing in the center of your chest, warm, steady, increasing in strength. Are you willing to face the truth without numbing out? With me, you’re safe to face anything. I’m right here.

22. A special offer from Susannah Conway. You already know how much I love this book, this woman, and this is a really great offer from her. Class starts tomorrow, so there’s still time!

22. Telling True Stories with Laurie Wagner, class starts on June 18th. I took the first round of this class, and highly and wholeheartedly recommend it.

Bonus something good: As someone who lived this era (the 80s) and loves a good musical almost more than anything, if this movie works, it will be so friggin’ awesome!

Gratitude Friday

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. The smell of lilacs on the breeze, still sweet even as they begin to fade away.

2. Spring morning birdsong. I’m not tired of this yet. It makes me so happy to hear them out there, chirping and singing and fluttering, even when it’s still dark, before the sun rises.

3. Avocado and figs. There are some foods that I actively hated as a kid (brussel sprouts being one) that I am loving now, and these are two of them. So rich and creamy and satisfying.

4. Sick days. Getting to read a new, whole book that I’d been looking forward to, being able to finish it in just two days; watching an entire disk of Downton Abbey episodes, one after the other while in my pjs and purple bathrobe on the couch; taking long naps; cuddling with my dogs who were so sweet and calm; having Dexter (who hasn’t slept in the big bed with us for months and months, maybe more than a year) bring his Little D in and cuddle next to me for almost the entire night; and Eric making me breakfast for dinner, including pancakes. When you can’t do anything else, you are forced to be gentle and take care of yourself, and even as wrong as sick during a beautiful spring can seem, it can also be a gift of sorts.

5. Brave Intuitive Painting: Let go. Be bold. Unfold. This book is gorgeous, precious. If you are a creative type or an artist of any kind or just a lover of all things beautiful, I recommend you get a copy. What’s so wonderful about the book is that it’s an invitation to anyone who wants to create. You do not have to be a painter. Just bring your open heart, desire to make something, and willingness to get messy. I suspect that especially if you are feeling blocked, stuck, stale, bored, or cramped, this book is just the magic you need to start moving again, to let go, be bold, unfold. Just looking, doing nothing more than gazing at the pages, not even reading or painting, makes me soften, feel giddy with grace and warm with joy. The riot of color and play that fills these pages is inspiring.


Bonus joy: I was gifted so many kind words, so much generous feedback this week about my writing. My husband in the kitchen, a friend in the locker room at the gym, two emails on facebook, comments on various posts, feedback on my pieces for the Telling True Stories class I’m taking, and an email from a dear friend. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love, the validation. I know I shouldn’t need it, but it’s so nice to hear that what you are doing touches others, helps them in some way.