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To-Do List

The first few weeks of my summer vacation, I did whatever I wanted. I slept in, watched a lot of TV, read, took long walks with Eric and the dogs, ate good food, took naps, went to aqua aerobics and yoga and Pilates, got a massage, had lunch with friends, wrote, meditated, got naked with Eric. Sure, I kept up with the laundry and the bills, but the big summer to-do list could wait.

Then I went to Oregon for a week, spent the few days after I got back recovering and unpacking — reentry. Now it’s time to shift gears and tackle the list.

My strategy is to do at least one thing a day. Yesterday it was actually two — cleaning off my desk and balancing the checkbook. So far today I’ve already done three loads of laundry, meditated, did my morning writing practice, and ate breakfast, but none of those things are on the list. Later, I’ll go to a yoga class and a Pilates session, but those aren’t on the list either. I’ll take a shower when I get back, maybe a nap or read some more of Sherman Alexie’s new book, see if Eric wants to get naked with me — also not on the list.

On the list: Painting the outside of the house, repairing and repainting the spots on our drywall where they put in insulation, calling the insurance company about the damage on the door of my still-feels-new-to-me-but-is-actually-more-than-a-year-old car, making an appointment to take it in to get fixed (along with a few other things it needs), dust the living room, get a haircut, clean around the dog beds, work on some tasks from the classes I never finished, mail stuff to a friend, and swap out our modem for the new one they sent us months ago. Other things are happening too, a new furnace and a new fence, but Eric is taking care of those.

I’m not sure exactly what my point is. Maybe it’s just me checking back in, dipping my toe in, saying “hello” and this is where I’m at, what I’m doing, but even this isn’t the whole story. I’ve written you many times in my head, but haven’t been publishing much — that is on the list too.

Day of Rest

On a very basic level all beings think that they should be happy. When life becomes difficult or painful, we feel that something has gone wrong. This wouldn’t be a big problem except for the fact that when we feel something’s gone wrong, we’re willing to do anything to feel OK again. Even start a fight.

According to the Buddhist teachings, difficulty is inevitable in human life. For one thing, we cannot escape the reality of death. But there are also the realities of aging, of illness, of not getting what we want, and of getting what we don’t want. These kinds of difficulties are facts of life. Even if you were the Buddha himself, if you were a fully enlightened person, you would experience death, illness, aging, and sorrow at losing what you love. All of these things would happen to you. If you got burned or cut, it would hurt.

But the Buddhist teachings also say that this is not really what causes us misery in our lives. What causes misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life, always trying to avoid pain and seek happiness—this sense of ours that there could be lasting security and happiness available to us if we could only do the right thing.

~Pema Chödrön, excerpt from her book Practicing Peace in Times of War

Something Good

1. Important stuff from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds: Trust Me, I Don’t Wanna Talk About This Shit Either and This Is A Test Of The Emergency Broadcasting System.

2. 100 Days of Investment in Black Lives, “a series of direct actions to invest in Black lives and the organizations that bring dignity to Black Lives.” A really great project from Now We Rise.

3. 5 Calls. “Turn your passive participation into active resistance. Facebook likes and Twitter retweets don’t create the change you want to see. Spend 5 minutes, make 5 calls. There’s one simple and straightforward way to influence the Government that is supposed to represent you: Call them on the phone. Calling is the most effective way to influence your representative. 5 Calls gives you contacts and scripts so calling is quick and easy. We use your location to give you your local representatives so your calls are more impactful.” And if you are like me, this might also help, How to call your reps when you have social anxiety.

4. An Open Letter to Women Who Voted for Trump.

5. People Are Calling This Song The Anthem Of The Women’s March Movement. In related news, Why I Threw Out My Speech for the Women’s March, and An Unpopular Opinion on the Women’s March on Washington, and Some Inconvenient Truths About The Women’s March On Washington, and You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry., and Woman in Viral Photo From Women’s March to White Female Allies: ‘Listen to a Black Woman’, and Some Thoughts On The Women’s March That Already Feels Like So Long Ago Because These Are The End Times.

6. 75 Books for the Next Four Years, “Writers recommend necessary reading for the inauguration day and beyond.” In related news, Forget Nineteen Eighty-Four. These five dystopias better reflect Trump’s US.

7. Autocracy: Rules for Survival.

8. The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet [Infographic].

9. Unwelcome in my Country, Unwelcome in my Church.

Nonviolent resistance was not a matter of sitting back and forgiving, waiting to see what would happen next. Nonviolent resistance was an active refusal to allow derogatory and damaging physical, legal, and cultural violence to continue to take place behind the scenes. Because of the nonviolent resistance movement, which brought the struggle into the open and into America’s living rooms via the television screen, average white Americans had to confront their complicity in a system built on intolerance and violence. They had to confront the fact that they were a part of the system that incited such violence. That this violence was being enacted in their name. The nonviolent resistance movement forced White America to look at the brutality visited on black bodies. It would not allow people to pretend that they did not know the symbols of power this violence was meant to enforce. The nonviolent resistance movement compelled white Americans to understand their culpability in the slapping of all those cheeks.

10. Syllabus for White People to Educate Themselves. I’ve probably already shared this, maybe more than once, but it’s a great resource.

11. Why I’m moving my money to a credit union.

12. Three simple ways to support Muslim women. In related news, Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Illegal.

13. Woman Who Caused Emmett Till’s Death Admits to Lying.

14. The U.S. Government Turned Away Thousands of Jewish Refugees, Fearing That They Were Nazi Spies.

15. Week One. “It’s been one week since President Trump took office, here’s a list of everything he has done so far.”

16. The 19 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week.

17. Creating Your Personal Action Plan, an online workshop. “These times call for creative action and resistance. What’s yours to do?”

18. Alternative Facts and Fake News – Verifiability in the Information Society. In related news, Finding Good News.

19. How the Media Should Cover Donald Trump, a video from GQ.

20. A moving speech by Mahershala Ali, one of the actors from Moonlight.

21. ‘Unprecedented’: Trump Adds Bannon to National Security Council, Kicks Out Intelligence Officials. In related news, How Steve Bannon Took Charge Of The Trump Administration, and Trial Balloon for a Coup?, and West Wing leaker goes dark after pulling back the curtain: Trump “irrational”, staff “demoralized.” Something to do about it from Wall of Us, action 3: stop the loose bannon.

22. The Secret Language of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths: How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims.

23. Each word, image, and video we share online has a ripple effect.

24. This Simple Comic Perfectly Explains Privilege, And Everyone Must Read It.

25. We Are Very Angry from Lisa Congdon about how she’s using her social media platform and her creative expression to contribute to activism.

26. Stop everything: the nation’s zoos are in a vicious, wonderful #CuteAnimalTweetOff.

27. “Sometimes we are so confused and sad that all we can do is glue one thing to another.”

28. How Donald Trump Answers A Question from Nerdwriter, “a weekly video essay series that puts ideas to work.”

29. Approaching Life with Beginner’s Mind from Zen Habits.

30. Former President Barack Obama Issues Statement on Anti-Trump Protests.

Vintage

vintagepillowcase

I love vintage pillowcases. I’m afraid to buy them at a thrift store now because of the recent bed bug scares, (probably not even a real thing I should worry about, but it’s made me cautious anyway). I have a few sets I’ve had for at least a decade. I love the patterns, the colors, the nostalgia, but the best thing is how soft they are, a soft that’s only possible after years and years and years of washing and sleep.

Eight years ago when the vet called to tell me Obi had lymphoma, that the lump wasn’t just cancer but a kind that was incurable, I was home alone with the dogs, waiting for Eric to get home from a work meeting. I ignored his phone call when he was done telling me he was on his way home because I didn’t want to share that information with him over the phone and then have him driving an hour on the highway in rush hour traffic, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to lie, hide it from him if I answered. I needed him to be focused, safe. I needed him to make it home to me in one piece so that I could tell him and then fall apart.

While I was waiting, I took out my sewing kit and started some mending. The hem of one of my vintage pillowcases had started to come unstitched. My hands and my mind needed something to do, something else to focus on. I needed a distraction so I wouldn’t spend more time on the internet, reading anymore about this thing that I couldn’t fix.

The trauma of that hasn’t really left me, along with many other traumas large and small. They still live in my body. Sometimes they are silent, heavy and stuck like dead things. Other times they are triggered and rise up, ripping through me like something sharp and hot, not just alive but murderous.

In an effort to release them, I’m starting EMDR work with my therapist. She told me at the start of our last session that she’s moving out of state by the end of the year, and gave me the option to wait and start with someone else, but I feel like there’s no reason to put this off any longer. She warned me that it can bring up a lot of stuff, be unsettling, but I told her that I feel like I’m in a place where something is going to break anyway, come unhinged, regardless of how or who starts it, and it might as well be under supervision, with support, and now.

Step one of the process is getting a general sense of the various traumas we’ll be working with. We started with my history of sexual trauma. We talked for our whole hour. She filled up an entire sheet of paper with her notes, front and back, and I wasn’t even done. No wonder what Trump said all those years ago and continues to say and justify has me so upset.

This morning as I was putting clean sheets on the bed, I noticed that the pillowcase I mended that day eight years ago has come unstitched again. Something about that seems right, perfectly timed.

 

Something Good

Fish Creek Train, by Eric

Fish Creek Trail, Pinegree Park, by Eric

1. “I trust u, do u trust me?” “Blind Trust Experiment – I am a Black Male, you do not have to fear me! Free Hugs – Montgomery, AL.” We need more of this.

2. Fat fitness: the new breed of body positive exercise trainers. “If you’re feeling that impulse to congratulate me for getting out there and doing something about my weight, stop that thought right there. When I choose to engage in exercise, I don’t do it to change what the scales say or the size of my butt (because I know from decades of sometimes bitter experience that that’s not a productive path to go down). Instead, I choose to treat my body as the precious and indispensable machine it is; in need of maintenance and care rather than moral judgement and harsh punishment. When I exercise I want to feel built up, not shrunk down.”

3. For all that adjunct and part-time professors do for students, many are not even earning a livable wage. The disgusting truth.

4. Here’s why there are literally no stray dogs in Holland. Just one more reason to move there, along with the way they treat drug addiction and prison reform.

5. Recipes I want to try: Apple Pie Bread, and One-Pan Garlic Parmesan Chicken And Vegetables, and Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies, and Cheesy Bacon Potato Bake, and 4 Easy Slow Cooker Dinners, and Creamy Avocado Vinaigrette, and Balsamic Glazed Chicken, and if that’s not enough, now that fall is officially here: 45 Thanksgiving Side Dishes.

6. Pinksourcing, “where women are a bargain at the workplace, since you only have to pay them 77 cents on the dollar! It’s the first episode of our new series, #CelebsHaveIssues.”

7. This 8-year-old girl is the youngest ever to skate in the Vans U.S. Open Pro Series. Every mom who watches this video is going to think, “where is your helmet?!”

8. He’s been there for every part of her life. Watch as she gives him a present he never expected: adoption papers. *sob*

9. Decision making criteria, a really helpful list from Patti Digh.

10. A Herd of Cats Fill Advertising Placements at a London Tube Stop for Two Weeks.

11. Mike Birbiglia on the podcast Sooo Many White Guys. “The actor, comedian and director reveals the truth about maleness AND whiteness in a heart-stopping episode that will leave you breathless.”

12. Relationships can be tricky, a hilarious video of a Husky with his stuffed Husky toy.

13. What They Took With Them. “Cate Blanchett performs the rhythmic poem ‘What They Took With Them’ alongside fellow actors Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Gaiman. The poem was written by Jenifer Toksvig and was inspired by stories and first-hand testimonies from refugees forced to flee their homes and items they took with them.”

14. Angels are waiting… from Erica Staab.

15. Handling client anxiety about weight gain from Be Nourished.

16. A tale of two bodies. “Or: Reasons to stop projecting your unhealthy assumptions onto everyone around you.”

17. Bernie Sanders Publishes Stunning OpEd In LA Times, Makes Major Announcement.

18. Dwellings. “These homes were all found in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, all within a mile of my own house. To me, they demonstrate a creative spirit and determination to make a life in this very expensive city.”

19. Atlanta. I am loving this show. “A single camera comedy that revolves around two cousins on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene whose opposing views on art versus commerce, success and race will make their quest anything but easy.”

20. But how much does it cost? from Seth Godin. Such a good reminder.

21. A Caiman Wearing a Crown of Butterflies Photographed by Mark Cowan. Magic.

22. Susan Piver on Writing, Magic, and Meditation. I love her so much. The retreat referenced in the post is amazing. This will be my fourth year going. I get so much writing done, get to see Susan, visit a place I also love, and am reminded who I am.

23. The Art of Withstanding Fear from Jena Schwartz.

24. You don’t need an extreme bucket list to find happiness. Just eat more waffles. Word.

25. Ambien Tales on Terrible Minds. Crazy.

26. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “Don’t teach anyone anything. Help them discover something.”

27. Drink, Drunk, Drank. There’s a book that’s making the rounds right now, a memoir that’s getting a lot of attention, and most of the people reading it are saying it’s so raw, real, authentic, honest, but I read it and I just don’t see it. This piece by Laurie is why. Laurie has taught me what truly raw, vulnerable, real, risky, messy writing is, and I have a hard time now accepting anything less. I am punched-in-the-gut, fall-to-my-knees, want-to-crawl-into-her-lap-and-stay-there-forever lucky that she’s my teacher, my friend, and that she writes things like this.

Gratitude Friday

waldportbeach

1. Being here. At the beach, in Waldport, in our favorite house, in Oregon, on vacation.

beacheagle2. Long walks on the beach. The closest access is only two blocks from our house and if you walk from one end of the beach to the other as far as you can go, it’s about six miles. There are seals that nap on the bayside and a pair of bald eagles.

pbandjandc

3. So much good food. Even just a regular peanut butter and jelly sandwich is on a whole other level, (blame it on the marionberry jam and secret ingredient — potato chips!).

4. My tiny family. My three boys, and all the walking and reading and napping and playing and cuddling and couching.

threeboyscouchingringocouching samcouching5. Being close enough that I can visit with family, who I don’t get to see enough.

Bonus joy: quilts made by my aunt, a salad that was so huge it felt like it took three hours to eat it, clam chowder, veggies and berries from the farmer’s market, the very best pancakes, reading, sitting in the sun, watching bad tv with Eric, staying up too late and getting up too early, Ringo feeling better (YAY!), being able to afford a vacation, our new car, new flip-flops, the blister on my foot going away, sunshine after a day of rain, clean water, a warm shower, helpful customer service people, a washer and dryer in our rental, Depoe Baykery, naps, meditating with Ringo in the morning, knowing Sam’s breed (he’s 50% Border Collie and 50% Chesapeake Bay Retriever), the way Ringo ran around the yard like a mad man last night, texting with friends, pictures of our garden back in Colorado from the “farmer” we “hired” to tend it.

Day of Rest

image by eric

image by eric

This is no day of rest. It’s a day early and I’m spending it packing and preparing to leave for our trip to Oregon tomorrow, but I feel compelled to write this now, and might as well post it since it’s already written.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality. A sometime student of mine and fellow yoga practitioner died this week. He was young, had just gotten married last year and had a baby boy. His death was an accident, a fall at a construction site, and a shock. I didn’t know him well, but I’d chat with him from time to time. He was one of those people who was always around, always said “hello” and had a smile on his face. He was the nicest guy. I just took a yoga class with him a few weeks ago. And now he’s just…gone.

Death is confusing for those left behind. Especially when the death is sudden and unexpected, but even when it’s not it is so hard to comprehend that someone you knew, someone you loved is just…gone, that you will never see them again. There’s a particular difficulty when you didn’t get to say good-bye, when you didn’t realize that the last time you saw them was the last time you’d ever see them.

Yes
by William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

Maybe you are tired of hearing me say it, kind and gentle reader, but life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal — keep your heart open. And may all of us, those here and gone, rest in peace.