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Something Good

Image by Eric

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

~From New Year Blessing by John O’Donohue

1. The Best New Year’s Resolution I Ever Made Was To Exercise Less.

2. Betty White: First Lady of Television “A warm look at the life and career of the beloved television and film legend,” streaming on PBS.

3. A wild card foretelling hope for America’s future on CBS Sunday Morning. “Correspondent Steve Hartman asked a clairvoyant, Winslow Eliot, for a look ahead in 2022 and how America might fare during this uneasy time. The tarot cards – and assorted acts of kindness Americans have shared with one another – offer a sign of hope.”

4. Take a Good Look at What Dr. Oz Is Selling Us Now on The New York Times. Because this: “As we collectively face yet another surge of coronavirus infections, leaders who extol individualism aren’t simply ineffective — they’re dangerous. If there’s anything we should be taking away from the past two years, it’s that autonomy and self-reliance are inadequate for 21st-century problems such as climate change, structural racism and the pandemic.”

5. Unlearning Weight Stigma: The Latest Science on Trauma and Weight.

6. Why Doctor Visits Really Are Different for Highly Sensitive People.

7. Notes From the End of a Very Long Life on The New York Times. “With the death of Ruth Willig at 98, a Times series on a set of the oldest New Yorkers — chronicled over seven years in 21 articles — offers their lessons on living with loss.”

8. Why I Answered My Dad’s Gay Sex Ad. “In the Christian parenting books my dad wrote, we were always the most perfect devout family. When I found out he was secretly trolling for gay sex online, I became obsessed with unmasking the truth.”

9. Becorns on Instagram. “Ex-LEGO designer, traded in plastic bricks for acorns and sticks.” These are so sweet, a mix of magic and nature.

10. Diet culture is everywhere. Here’s how to fight it. In related news, Diet messaging is everywhere right now. Here’s how to tune it out.

11. When facing loss, embrace change and don’t force closure, a therapist urges. “In her latest book, published in December, The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change, Boss offers ways to heal from the everyday and catastrophic losses of the last two years — without trying to erase them.”

12. What are the symptoms of Omicron? I got tested last week because of this list, but turns out the common winter crud symptoms are exactly the same. Ugh. Are we there yet?

13. Enchanting Photos of Madeira’s Ancient Fanal Forest Filled With 500-Year-Old Trees.

14. Making Peace With My Writing Career One Walk at a Time. “With every step, I realized I didn’t have to be juggling All The Things to be a worthwhile member of society. I just needed to exist.”

15. Ethereal Oil Paintings by Ekaterina Popova Glimpse the Warm, Intimate Interiors of Home.

16. Good stuff from Anne Helen Petersen: “I had been hating my body like it was a job for years and I wasn’t happier, healthier, or thinner. I was just…tired,” an interview with Ragen Chastain, and How to Build a Rugged, Resilient Society.

17. The Great Surrender: How We Gave Up And Let COVID Win from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

18. How Would You Describe Yourself in Five Words?

19. Seventy-one reflections on 2021. “I asked people to write down what they were feeling in the moment. The responses are presented unedited.”

20. The True Meaning of Ikigai: Definitions, Diagrams & Myths about the Japanese Life Purpose.

Three Truths and One Wish

Image by Eric, from their walk this morning

This post is slightly different from how I typically write them. Usually it’s just the list without much context or explanation. For some reason this time it felt like I should explain how this particular list arose. I was writing this morning, thinking about all the things that have happened in the past few weeks, (omicron on the rise; Betty White died 17 days before her 100th birthday, only a few weeks after bell hooks; seven people where shot and five died in Denver; and around 1000 structures were burnt in a series terrifying wild fires in Boulder County, Colorado), and feeling so sad. In particular, I can’t stop thinking about all the people who not only lost their homes in the fires but who couldn’t get back in time to save their animals — that GUTS me.

When I was doing my writing practice this morning, I was thinking about how as a human, I want to open my heart to all of it, the beautiful and the brutal, the tender and the terrible. I believe what Andrew Boyd said, that “You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.” This is resilience, beyond simply surviving, a place from where you can do your best to ease suffering without generating more of the same harm.

But it’s so HARD. When things are difficult, my instinct is to shut down or run away. I’m a highly sensitive person (“thought to have an increased or deeper central nervous system sensitivity to physical, emotional, or social stimuli”), who already feels so much extra, gets easily overwhelmed, so opening myself to the moment and the suffering that arises there is an awful lot like trying to drink from a fire hose.

I asked myself as I was writing “so, what is the strategy? how do you stay open? open without being wrecked? what is the answer?” This is what came to me. It’s certainly not the full answer and won’t work for everyone, but it feels true to me, in this moment.

1. Truth: Stay home. So many people are heading back to work and school after the holidays, don’t feel like they have a choice. For me, I felt extra compelled this week to stay home as much as possible, to read and be creative, to nourish myself, to rest as much as possible, to keep my germs to myself. I can make that choice, am so lucky to have that privilege, and it feels right to honor myself this way.

2. Truth: Stay off social media, quit spending so much time reading the news. The problem is that so much comes at me so fast in these environments and it’s hard to process, let alone turn myself around and do anything helpful. It’s a lot of noise, and so much of that noise is rage and grief. I long to hold space for people doing their best to cultivate sanity and compassion, but I also need space and have to take a break sometimes, find quiet.

3. Truth: Find other ways to connect, while also working to build resilience. There’s a place and time for staying home, disconnecting from the noise, being alone, but in terms of healing and helping, connection is necessary, and there are so many other ways to connect. The silent partner of that is resilience, being able to stay with what arises when you reach out — “strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”

One Wish: The first part of the Andrew Boyd quote I shared above is “Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it.”

May you and I, kind and gentle reader, learn to carry the Universe in all the ways we know how and all the ways we haven’t figured out yet, without being crushed by it.