Category Archives: Tribe

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie's post

What do you wish to experience?

Contentment. Satisfaction and peace, surrender and acceptance, ease and relaxation, fearlessness and joy, simplicity and engagement.

Love. On every channel, all the time, 24/7. Know it, feel it, be it. Love, love, love. And then, more love. Keep it coming, keep it going.

Health. Full body and full life wholehearted and embodied wellness. I want to light up, shine with it, glow, radiate.

Confidence. Certainty, courage, daring, determination, faith, tenacity.

Self-love. This is most likely a combination or culmination of the rest, what is at the center, the heart of everything else, its foundation, but it seems to be worth an independent mention. I want to move through the hours and days of my life with supreme confidence in my innate wisdom, compassion, strength, and fundamental goodness.

That part of the list is states of being, but there are also “things” I wish to experience.

Playing the ukulele well enough that I wouldn’t embarrass myself. The secret wish underneath is to someday be able to do a duet with Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Just once, please. But I have a lot of work to do first, like learning to play.

Publication. I’m okay without it. I have a full writing life, even if it never happens. Writing is like prayer for me, a spiritual practice, and I am utterly devoted to it. But…I’d also like to be published, as in paid for my work, as in people curled up in hammocks or in front of a fire on the couch cuddling with their dog reading my books.

Paid work that isn’t work, but rather pure love, aligned with my calling, maybe even God’s work. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating that I don’t need what I love to pay my rent, or turn into a business, and yet…it might not be the worst thing if what I love, the work I would do regardless, the thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night thinking and planning, the stuff that makes me wake up and rise at 4:30 am every morning, and the money, the means to take care of what needs taken care of, would be in the same location at the same time, would feed each other, work together, and then I could just do what I love, all the time, instead of trying to juggle full-time paid work with everything else I want to do. It is sometimes like trying to live two lives, and that can be exhausting, and lonely.

Hike the Appalachian Trail with Eric.

My very own writing cabin.

A whole summer in Amsterdam.

Dathun, a month long meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center.

An in-person workshop with Brene’ Brown.

P.S. The magic power of wishing, part two: Holy wow! Brene’ is going to be in Boulder for a two day workshop in May, and I am going.

A yoga retreat with my friend and yoga teacher Jessica.

A writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg.

Church with Anne Lamott.

A meet-up with Susannah Conway. Really, what I would love is a long weekend on the beach with her, writing and blogging and taking pictures and talking and taking long naps and eating and laughing.

P.S. The magic power of wishing: I just found out this morning, less than 24 hours after making this post, that Susannah is going to be at the World Domination Summit, and has proposed a writing workshop. Even if the workshop doesn’t go (it so will), there is a very real chance that I am going to be able to at least tell her in person how much I adore her. I can hardly believe it, but it’s true!

Walk and talk with Mary Oliver. This is most likely the craziest wish on this list, but I would just love to be near her and able to tell her just once in-person how much I love her, how much her words have meant to me.

Swim without fear.

Hike with Judy Clement Wall.
A walk on the beach with Julia.
Take pictures or paint with Andrea Scher.
Sit with Jen Lemen at her kitchen table.
Sit in stillness with Erica Staab.
Meditate with Susan Piver, (oh wait, I actually get to do this in a few weeks!).
Discuss writing with Margaret Atwood, and not embarrass myself.
Trust over a cup of tea with Kristin Noelle.
Make art with Patti Digh.
Take a yoga class with Jennifer Louden.
Ask Pema Chödrön one million questions.
Take a Nia class with Jamie Ridler.
Go on tour with Aimee Mann.
Teach an art and writing class for girls with Kandyce.
Draw with Hugh MacLeod.
Listen to Neil Gaiman read.

I could keep going with this list forever and ever…so many good people doing so much good stuff and I want to just hang out with them and soak up all that goodness and tell them to their sweet faces how much I adore them.

Joy Jam

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

1. Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop afterglow: I’ve been basking in this all week. Remembering and daydreaming about it, running into and hanging out with women who were there, hearing their good feedback and receiving their generous appreciation, seeing the glow in them, and thinking about how loved and lucky I am. Hopefully this weekend I’ll finally find time to tell you more about last weekend, because I have so much I want to share.

2. Sitting in the backyard in the sun with the dogs: Yes, it’s muddy back there today because all the snow melted, and Sam and Dexter were putting their dirty, slimy toys on me (neither one really wanted me to actively play or even touch them or the toy, just wanted to be partly in my lap while they played), begging for attention, and not letting me write or relax much, and it was only 45 degrees, but it felt good and made me long for the seasons when we can sit out there for hours at a time. In the same way I choose to go barefoot whenever I can, I’d prefer to be outside.

This is how Sam feels about having to come back inside so I could write this post:

You've got to be kidding me, Mom.

3. Cleaning my house: Okay, I know that probably sounds strange, maybe even a little crazy to some of you, but it happens so rarely anymore that it was a joyful thing. The only year since Eric and I’ve been married when I didn’t work and/or wasn’t in school, the first year we were back in Colorado (he got the job here after I’d already been accepted into two graduate programs in Oregon, and it was too late to apply at CSU, so I took a year off), I would clean the bathroom, dust, and water the plants once a week, every week. I cooked and worked out every day. My house was clean, and I was well rested and fit. Sometimes, I really miss that.

4. Preparing a WILD writing session: My writing group is coming over today. I’m hosting, which means opening my home, providing food and drink, and planning the writing we’ll do for the three hours we spend together. I’ve had bad experiences with writing groups in the past (too much building up and tearing down of egos), but I love, love, love this group of women.

5. My home: As I cleaned it this morning, I was reminded how much I love this place. It’s small and needs lots of work still, but that only makes me love it even more.

Something Good

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is a U.S. federal holiday marking the birth of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the age of 35, he was the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, choosing to turn over the award ($54,123) in order to further the civil rights movement. His commitment to non-violent change, to standing up for civil rights (or sitting down for, as the case may be), speaking out against popular opinion in the face of a clear injustice, is worth remembering, worth celebrating, worth an aspiration or two. I was reading quotes from MLK this morning, and thinking about how smart, how brave, and how kind his words, his way of being in the world: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964.

Another good, related read is “5 Lessons from MLK on Living, Leading, & Communicating” from Jeff Goins.

Seth Godin and the TED Imperatives

In a blog post by Seth Godin this week, he shared:

The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) imperatives

  1. Be interested.
  2. Be generous.
  3. Be interesting.
  4. Connect.

He goes on to suggest that these “aren’t just principles for TED, of course. They’re valid guidelines for any time you choose to stop hiding and step out into the world.” Amen!

Downtown Abbey

I haven’t started watching this yet, but people can’t seem to stop talking about it, and I just noticed that the first season is available on Netflix streaming.

“Fearless Creativity” with Susan Piver

Fearless Creativity: A Meditation & Writing Retreat with Susan Piver” is going to be held at the Shambhala Mountain Center, April 13th-16th. Guess who gets to go? ME!!! So excited…Holy wow! I’ve mentioned Susan and her Open Heart Project here many times. She is an amazing teacher, smart and kind and funny, and this retreat is a gift I am giving to my artist self, to my sad and tender warrior heart.

Meditation Hall at Warrior Assembly, Shambhala Mountain Center, Summer of 2009

Susannah Conway

I have a big, fat girl crush on Susannah Conway–yet another amazing woman, teacher, artist, and love warrior you have heard me talk about before. I love, love, love her work. I preordered her next book, “This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart.” Her recent “My ABC of important things” is a great post, a great idea for a writing prompt. And as soon as registration opens, I am signing up for her e-course “Blogging from the Heart.” Her perspective, one that she shares with kindness and an open heart, presents grace and stillness and beauty, freely to anyone who chooses to see.

Image by Susannah Conway, "Stillness" Series

Creative Living with Jamie Ridler

Okay, I didn’t realize until just now that today’s Something Good has a strong focus on all the amazing women I am in love with right now. One more is Jamie Ridler, who hosts Wishcasting Wednesdays and Full Moon Dreamboards, and does a great podcast, “Creative Living.” This past week, she talked with Julia Cameron, (you might have heard of a little book she wrote, The Artist’s Way). In looking through her archive, I also see she talked with Susan Piver, Tara Mohr, Rachel W. Cole, Britt Bravo, Brene’ Brown, Chris Guillebeau, Jennifer Louden, Patti Digh, Susannah Conway–okay, I have to stop listing them because I am feeling a little dizzy and about to swoon! So many good people, and an archive of two years worth of these interviews on Jamie’s site.


48 things to be grateful for when you need to shift your focus.” I am grateful for this list, and to Susannah Conway for sharing it in her “Something for the weekend” post this week.

One of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

“Enjoy Every Sandwich” Book Trailer

This is heartbreaking and inspiring, in equal measure.

The Joy of Books

Great video, must have taken forever to put together.

Sh*t New Age Girls Say

I swear, this is the last one I’ll share, because I am noticing that this meme is starting to spin into mean, even racist and homophobic territory, but this one makes me laugh. “I saw my first UFO at Burning Man.”

Dexter napping on the footstool

My boys can turn anything into a dog bed.

Guest Post by Rachel W. Cole

Yup, you heard that right: later today I’ll be publishing a special guest post “Three Truths and One Wish with Rachel W. Cole.” P.S. There is still time to register for the Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop here in Fort Collins, but you should hurry! Jamie Ridler did a Creative Living podcast with Rachel this summer that you might also be interested in.

Wishing you lots of good things this Monday, and always!

Reflect and Resolve

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~Epictetus

image by dan

On this Winter Solstice, and in these last few days of 2011, I am reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next. So much has happened, and I feel on the cusp of so much more. I want to honor what I have accomplished, forgive myself, let go of what no longer serves me, and set my intentions for what I want to manifest in the new year.

I don’t typically make New Year’s Resolutions, at least not the kind that work out–for so many years I said this is the year that I’ll get in really good shape, lose weight and eat healthier, or take better care of myself, or get published, and so many times I let myself down–so it seemed better to not commit to anything.

I know better now. I was asking things of myself that denied essential truths, ignored reality, glossed over the things that really needed my attention, and were wished out of a fundamental self-hate and lack of acceptance that needed to be dealt with.

Then last year, I made a wish that I would be a better friend to myself. And slowly, things have shifted. I am in the midst of a life-rehab, and I feel the desire to mindfully and lovingly take stock of the last year, really see where I am, and contemplate what I might do in the next year.

I have already selected my guiding word for next year (retreat), and am considering which of the many strategies available I’ll use to review and plan.  Here are some of the ones I am looking at:

  • Patti Digh, of 37 Days, shared on her blog that at the end of every year, she asks herself two questions: “What do I want/need to let go of as I end this year?” and “What do I want to create in the new year?”
  • Cynthia Morris, of Original Impulse Inc., shared her End of Year Review Worksheet. This is a simple worksheet you can print out that she’s entitled “2011 in Review: Celebrate and Let Go.”
  • The visionary Andrea Scher, of Superhero Journal, Mondo Beyondo, and Superhero Photo fame, shares a link to her “Mondo Beyondo Completion Worksheet” in a post where she also offers a discount for the next session of Mondo Beyondo, (which I highly and wholeheartedly recommend–the class was like an invitation to wake up and live).
  • Another set of reflective questions comes from Reverb 2011, intended to be done one question per day, every day in December, but useful no matter when or how you might get to them. You can find a set here and also here.
  • My most favorite of all, a post that I am utterly in love with, written by the amazing Jennifer Louden: “2012 Predictions for You.” If you read or do nothing else on this list, go read this.

As I was thinking about putting this post together, the Universe sent me a few more things to share.

  • Susan Piver, gentle and brave meditation instructor, originator of the Open Heart Project, shared two posts this week, “New Year’s Resolutions: Part 1” and “Part 2” in which she suggests a slight alteration to the tradition. These were very helpful to me in framing how I would approach the practice, “two suggestions for making new year’s resolutions in such a way that they become a part of your spiritual practice rather than an exercise in wishful thinking and self-aggression.”
  • Courtney Carver, of Be More with Less, wrote “You Can Stop Now” in which she reminds us to “slow down and enjoy the last few days of 2011.”
  • And this: I had seen the video already, made a mental list of the women who’d be in my dream circle, and one of the dear ones on that list emailed me today, saying “Wish we could do this together, maybe next year” and I thought “why not this year?” So, while we can’t be together in the same physical space, as I make my bundle and burn it, our hearts will be together in that moment, adding power to the “Mother of All Releasings Ceremony.” If you’d like to do your own, here’s the directions. I had to make some modifications, use Star of Anise as my offering, and fabric left from when I made a square for the quilt we made for Kelly. It has the image of a crane on it, head down and solemn, instead of being plain black as suggested in the instructions. The Star of Anise is kept whole for luck, and these two have been on my meditation shrine for the past three years. Star of Anise is burnt to increase psychic awareness and power, so it seems like an appropriate substitution.

No matter what you decide to do to honor this transition, even if you choose to ignore it, I wish for you as Susan Piver did for all of us at the end of her New Year’s Resolution: Part 2 post:

May all of your dreams be realized exactly as you imagine, quickly and without obstruction.

Message from the Universe

I first heard the idea of picking a word for the year in a Twitter post from Daniel Collinsworth, open-hearted and brave author of the blog Metta Drum, in which he said “I have chosen a life theme for 2012. I will talk about it in my final blog post of 2011, near the end of this month. Do you have one too?”

I thought about it, and posted this response, (tl;dr: my word is retreat). Then Hannah Marcotti, the sparkly, joyful, magical author of Hannah’s Harvest posted about her word. She explains that this practice, selecting a guiding word, “replaces the resolutions, goals, plans. A guiding word is what you look to when you feel lost, uncertain how to move forward. A guiding word puts action into your world, it lights the fire under your purpose. A guiding word is a gift to yourself for the New Year.”

photo by dan at

And since I picked my word, I have been getting messages from the Universe that this is good, this is the right word. First was my “Heart Advice: Quote of the Week” email from Pema Chödrön, (not directly from her, but rather a teaching selected from one of her books published by Shambhala Publications–you can subscribe to the email here), “Not Too Loose, Not Too Tight.” This is one of my favorite teachings from Pema, one that I need to hear over and over.  Here’s the exact quote:

My middle way and your middle way are not the same middle way. For instance, my style is to be casual and soft-edged and laid-back. For me to do what usually would be called a strict practice is still pretty relaxed, because I do it in a relaxed way. So strict practice is good for me. But perhaps you are much more militant and precise. Maybe you tend toward being tight, so you might need to find out what it means to practice in a relaxed, loose way. Everyone practices in order to find out for him- or herself personally how to be balanced, how to be not too tight and not too loose. No one else can tell you. You just have to find out for yourself.

I’ll repeat that last bit, for me as much as for anyone else reading: “Everyone practices in order to find out for him- or herself personally how to be balanced, how to be not too tight and not too loose. No one else can tell you. You just have to find out for yourself.” This is at the heart of why I picked the word retreat.

I push to get more done, make improvements, keep working, harder, faster, better–but this is too tight. I burn out from this way of being, and I slip into sickness, exhaustion, numbness, and depression–and this is too loose. I need to learn what balance is, where the middle way is for me. I need to stop using other people’s measures, external criteria for what is enough, for who I should be and what I should do.  I need to stop looking outside myself for validation, acceptance, permission, and love. I need to get still and quiet, practice and pray and meditate and listen, learn to love myself, to be content.

And then on, Leo Babauta posted “Quashing the Self-Improvement Urge.” The link came to me just as I was caught up in all the end of year reviews and goal setting ideas I was seeing online, printing out and bookmarking, planning to add more to an already over-scheduled, overdone, overwrought list of must do, should do, have to–caught up in trying to improve myself.

This post felt like Leo had written it just for me, was speaking directly to me, and it had all the power of the Universe behind it. Leo asks, what if instead of constantly trying to improve ourselves, we “learned to be happy with ourselves?”

Would that be horrible, if we were just content and didn’t need to better ourselves every minute of every week? Would we be lazy slobs, or would we instead be happy, and in being happy do things that make us happy rather than make us better? And in being happy, perhaps we would show others how to be happy? And crazy as it might sound, maybe we’d start a little mini-revolution of happiness, so that people wouldn’t feel so inadequate, or need to spend every dime on products, or spend all their time on self-improvement.

A revolution of contentment.

Leo goes on to say, “Realize that you are already perfect. You are there. You can breathe a sigh of relief.”

For so long, I tried to skip ahead, jump past or ignore my self-hate, tried to find and do my “great work” in spite of it.  I really thought this would work. But as long as I don’t value and love myself, I cannot generate anything of great value or love. As long as I smash myself to bits, obsess about food and use it to numb out and cover up the pain, there is no clear path for the wisdom, no kindness. It’s like a dancer living in a house with a hoarder–no clear path, no space, no air, no room, and a real chance that if she tries to dance, someone will get hurt.

And finally, working with questions from “The Comfort Queen’s Guide to Life” by Jennifer Louden, considering the difference between pleasure (a short term fix) and happiness (something true and lasting), I uncover the conflicts in my life. For example: pleasure is eating food, but happiness is being healthy, and pleasure is being loved, known, and adored, but happiness is loving, knowing, and adoring myself.

These are the things I need to work on, figure out, sit with, love, accept, and let go. I’ve tried to short cut the process, tried to live the life while leaving myself behind. This is why retreat–repair, rest, rehab, reflection–is my word for the next year. 2012: the end of the world as I know it.

heART Exchange Art Project Arrived!

I’ve blogged about this before: I took part in an art swap, the Global heART Exchange.  Today, I received my art piece from Lindsay in the mail, all the way from Belgium. She describes herself on her blog as a “Mixed Media Artist, Photographer, Writer, and Dream Worker.”  Here’s the postcard she made to send with her painting:

I am exactly twice Lindsay’s age and we live more than 5000 miles apart (8100 kilometers), but when I read the “about” page on her blog, I notice how much we have in common. We both love “Nature.. nature.. nature!” and adore cats and rabbits, watching the stars, lying in the grass, summer evenings, birds singing, the water, spirituality, meditation, yoga, and the potential of dreams.

We also both like “inspiring people, people who are kind, people who truly dare to live their lives.”  I believe that both of us are those kind of people: inspiring, kind, and daring to live our lives.

What’s amazing to me is that she couldn’t have known the color of my art studio, and yet the mixed media painting she made matches it perfectly.  Here’s a picture of it, sitting on the corner of my writing desk, where I spend so many long and happy hours.

It’s almost 1 am in Belgium, and I suspect Lindsay is sleeping.  I am sending her love and gratitude, and wishing her the sweetest of dreams.  I will keep her painting on my desk, and when I took at it, I will remember that I am loved, and wish her the same.

Something Good.

It’s Monday, so it’s time for me to tell you something good.

Just a cute baby owl. That is all.

Friday Birthdays.  When your birthday is on a Friday, like mine was this year, there’s a universal rule that you get to celebrate the whole weekend. On Friday, a good friend took me to lunch, gave me a sweet gift (two actually, one was wrapped and the other was her telling me the nicest thing I’d ever done for her and how much it meant), lots of birthday wishes on Facebook (one of the top five reasons to have an account), one sweet email wishing me love and thanking me for a gift I had given that was “life-changing,” a present and phone call from my mom, and more presents from my aunt and boy (Eric made me a book with a secret compartment, so cool!).

Then on Saturday, another good friend took me to lunch and gave me a handmade gift (she’s an amazing artist, so even her cards are something special), and a phone call from my brother and another good friend.  Sunday morning, we found that the mail had been delivered late in the evening, so there was a package from my brother and nieces, and another card from a good friend who always says the nicest things, Sunday morning yoga, and lunch at Mount Everest Cafe, where our favorite waiter didn’t even ask us what we wanted to start, he simply brought us out a chai and a glass of Fat Tire as soon as we sat down.  It was an awesome birthday weekend.

Picture by Philip Bragg

Shantideva Quote: “If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying? If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?”

The Open Heart Project. I have a confession to make.  I have been struggling with my meditation practice lately.  Then I read about Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project on Jennifer Louden’s blog.  Susan Piver is a student of the Shambhala tradition, which is also where my meditation practice started, so to begin, she comes from a place I understand. She’s shared a series of videos, meditation instruction and guided meditations anywhere from 5 to 40 minutes.  Using these videos to focus my own practice has been so helpful.

Wishcasting Wednesday. This is something started by creative living coach and blogger, Jamie Ridler. She explains it this way: “What would happen if every week you made a wish? What magic might start to stir? Wishcasting Wednesday is a safe haven for wishes, a fertile field in which to plant wish seeds and have them witnessed and tended lovingly. It’s a place where magic begins.”  I am going to add this feature to my Wednesday blog posts.

A New Post from Hyperbole and a Half. This is actually more than a month old now, but I somehow had missed it.  I had thought/worried about Allie on and off over the past few months.  She’d posted she was working on a book, but then disappeared, and knowing what I know about freaking out and freezing up even/especially in the face of something big and good, I wondered if she might be in trouble. Her latest post is called “Adventures in Depression,” and as always, it is heartbreaking, true, and funny.  Sometimes I wonder if she realizes how brave and wonderful she really is.

Rachel W. Cole, and her list of suggested reading. I am so excited about her coming out to Fort Collins to do a Well-Fed Woman Mini-Retreatshop, (Sunday, February 19th, 12:30-3:30 at Om Ananda Yoga Studio–more details to come soon). On her website, Rachel shares her list of “11 Books that Changed My Life,” and you can also link to her much longer, full list of recommendations.  I am starting with “Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” by Geneen Roth.

And finally, links to a few very special, sweet videos.

*”Being Elmo” Movie Trailer

*”Lily Shreds Trailside.” I can’t decide if I like this so much because there’s a dog and she’s so cute, or because it’s just such a cool video.

*Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

  • Okay, now it’s your turn: Tell me something good.