Category Archives: Writing

Something Good

Mount McConnel Trail, image by Eric

Mount McConnel Trail, image by Eric

1. Alina Baraz & Galimatias, who I’ve been listening to a lot lately.

2. Wisdom from Jessica Patterson, “If you’re only willing to scratch the surface, you will never satisfy the itch.”

3. A Whole Decade from Brittany Herself.

4. Good stuff on Tricycle: The Mindfulness Solution and Guided Meditation with Venerable Pannavati.

5. 9 Great Yoga YouTube Channels.

6. Medicating Women’s Feelings on The New York Times.

7. List of Emoticons for Facebook, something I use quite a bit.

8. Watch These Young Girls Recite Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”… It’s Awesome.

9. Andrea Gibson performs The Nutritionist.

10. She Hasn’t Changed Her Home For 72 Years. When You See What’s Inside, Your Jaw Will Drop!

11. I love myself enough to do what it takes (to get well)- PART 1 of a series about adrenal fatigue, chronic hives, hormone imbalance, weight gain, emotional healing, etc. etc. etc. from Melody Ross of Brave Girls Club.

12. On Knowing Our Own Minds from Dani Shapiro. “Our most creative thoughts and ideas spring from a ritualized dream time. In the absence of this dream time we become mechanized, robotic, detached from our inner lives.” Word.

13. Fuck the lie that we can have it all from Renegade Mothering.

14. Something Wild from Sunni Chapman.

15. Tiny Beautiful Things on Call Me Ishmael.

16. Things Black Men Are Tired Of Hearing.

17. Douglas Adams made me a writer: Neil Gaiman salutes his friend and inspiration.

18. Kindness Blog, “Kindness Images, Videos, True Life Stories, Quotes, Personal Reflections and Meditations. Because Kindness Changes Everything.”

19. Wisdom from the 17th Karmapa,

Sometimes when we practice dharma we think that we need to show some sort of external or physical sign of it. We pay a lot of attention to the rituals and these actions of our body and speech. This is practicing dharma when we’re focusing outside. But instead what we need to do is turn our attention inwards. We need to see whether what we’re doing is functioning as an antidote to the afflictions or not. We need to see whether we are taming our mind or not. We need to see whether our mind is improving, getting kinder, or not. If we don’t look at it in this way then there’s no benefit to doing these actions – we think that we are trying to do the dharma, but actually we are just making a show with our body and speech. We are putting on appearances, and that’s all we really take an interest in. And the moment that happens, this becomes spiritual materialism.

20. Good stuff on Medium: A world without advice, and Cabin Fever (P.S. I’ve seen the documentary mentioned at least four times), and I Know the Rules- I Just Don’t Care, and Parenting Advice: Don’t Kill Them.

21. Wisdom Pema Chödrön, from her book The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World,

Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.

22. Their Dying Wishes on The New York Times.

23. You Will Survive from Jack Kornfield.

24. I Eat in the Light Now from Curvy Yoga.

25. A World Gone Mad from Rachel Cole.

26. #continuouspractice – A month and a half in {with a message} from Visible and Real.

27. chocolate chocolate-chip cake, redux: the gluten-free edition on Chookooloonks.

28. UC Berkeley Students Hold Teach-In for Their Racist Professor.

29. Jessamyn Stanley talks about life, yoga as therapy, and internet love and hate on Body Positive Yoga.

30. An Open Letter to Kid Rock About the Word ‘Gay’ on Esquire.

31. A Beautiful Thing on Just Lara.

32. The Real World of the Writing Life on The Missouri Review.

33. He is black. He is privileged. And all of that concerns his parents.

34. The Man Who Snuck Into the Ivy League Without Paying a Thing.

35. Neil Gaiman’s ‘Trigger Warning’, a Sunday Book Review on The New York Times.

36. One Man Holds a PATENT That Could Crush MONSANTO and Change The World.

37. 15 People From Around the World Next to the Amount of Food They Eat Each Day.

38. Spring Breaks from Jeff Oaks.

39. Reexamining the Reblog.

40. Mary Lambert on Embracing Sanity, Remaking ‘Jessie’s Girl’ for Lesbians from Rolling Stone.

41. The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More on Zen Habits.

42. Shared on this was a good week from Chookooloonks: Highlights from Apple’s Favorite Photos Shot with iPhones, and Blue – Color//Colour Lovers, and 22 Contemporary Authors You Absolutely Should Be Reading, and a time lapse of a cactus blooming.

43. Good stuff from Austin Kleon: Interview on the Stacking Benjamins podcast and The So What? Test.

44. Shared on Happy Links: this Instagram account of illustrator Ann-Mari Reigstad.

45. Deaf Man Told To “Look Over There.” When He Does, You’ll Bawl Like A Baby!

46. Navigate Your Life: Chris Zydel from Jennifer Louden.

47. Time lost and found from Anne Lamott.

48. Teachers, are you accidentally shaming your students? How to Make Yoga Class More Inclusive by Amber Karnes.

49. 9 Ways to Feel Less Stress When Life Gets Crazy Busy from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

Something Good

1. Wisdom from Isabel Foxen Duke,

YES, I truly, love and accept my body exactly the way it is — I think it’s cute, I think it’s sexy, and I like the way it looks in my clothes. But that doesn’t mean everyone else thinks so.

The unfortunate reality is that while, I choose not to participate in body-shaming, body manipulating activities (like diets), that doesn’t mean other people aren’t, OR that other people don’t think I should.

No matter how “okay” I am with my body personally, I still have to navigate living in an insanely fat-phobic, thin-privileged, diet-culture world. And that will likely continue to be the case until the day I die (although, God knows I’m doing everything in my power to try and change it).

A big part of doing “body image work” means learning how to handle having different opinions about weight, beauty, and/or “health,” than other people. And that’s something that, unfortunately, doesn’t go away.

At the end of the day, accepting our bodies doesn’t mean that life becomes all rainbows and unicorns — it simply means that instead of making the globally pervasive thin-ideal our problem, we start to see it for what it is: society’s problem.

2. The First 5 Most Frustrating Things About Simplicity (plus solutions) from Be More With Less.

3. Good stuff from Alexandra Franzen: Standard Out of Office Messages Are Boring. Try This Instead, and Good Question, and What are you devoted to creating… in the new year? [a worksheet to help you focus & find the right words].

4. A Better Organizational Strategy: Throw Away Everything That Doesn’t Make You Happy.

5. “On the All of It” – Going Om from Marianne Elliott. (Thanks for sharing, Tina).

6. The tiny cost of failure from Seth Godin.

7. Good stuff from Medium: How to live like a motherfucker, How to Write, Tell a four-word story, What Habits Are Best for Creativity?, and On Kindness.

8. The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit on Zen Habits.

9. Let yourself have days to be a perfectly imperfect human being from Brave Girls Club.

10. I Won’t Let You Down by OKGo.

11. Shared on Positively Present Picks: Weekend Do: Rest and Reset and Amy Poehler’s Radical Niceness.

12. 9 Essential Books That Will Transform Your Writing Forever, shared on Tammy’s Happy Links list.

13. The Here Year: Wellness on A Design So Vast.

14. Where Would You Sleep In This 86-Square-Foot Paris Apartment?

15. Wisdom from Krishna Das, “Love is what we are; we don’t get it from somebody, we can’t give it to anybody, we can’t fall in it or fall out of it. Love is our true Being.” Also from Krishna Das,

As far as I’m concerned the only thing we need to renounce is our self-hatred and judgement of ourselves, and our sense of unworthiness, and our sense that we are not worthy of love. This is where we should start. If we could just work with that place a little bit the whole quality of our lives would change.

16. This Woman Set Up An Instagram To Show The Shocking Truth Of Being A Woman Online on BuzzFeed.

17. Wisdom from Dan Pearce,

Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called “perfection,” which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.

18. Addiction recovery takes body as well as spirit, a piece about Jennifer Matesa and her new book, (it’s SO good), The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober.

19. Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper. How to Not Cheat on Your Creative Life. from Rachael Maddox.

20. Molly Crabapple’s 15 rules for creative success in the Internet age.

21. Truthbomb #659 from Danielle LaPorte, “Take up space.”

22. Comfortable: 50 People 1 Question.

23. Anne Lamott: “We stuffed scary feelings down, and they made us insane” on Salon, in which she says,

Grief is just so scary. Our grief and rage just terrify us. If we finally begin to cry all those suppressed tears, they will surely wash us away like the Mississippi River. That’s what our parents told us. We got sent to our rooms for having huge feelings. In my family, if you cried or got angry, you didn’t get dinner.

We stuffed scary feelings down, and they made us insane. I think it is pretty universal, all this repression leading to violence and fundamentalism and self-loathing and addiction. All I know is that after 10 years of being sober, with huge support to express my pain and anger and shadow, the grief and tears didn’t wash me away. They gave me my life back! They cleansed me, baptized me, hydrated the earth at my feet. They brought me home, to me, to the truth of me.

24. Wisdom from the Journey of Love deck by Alana Fairchild, (shared by Susannah Conway),

There are many teachers on this path, some humble, some wise, some great companions on your life journey and some who will enter in and out of your life quickly, perhaps imparting a helpful word or teaching you a more challenging lesson about trusting and relying upon your own wisdom. The greatest teacher, however, is Life itself. You can trust your own experiences and know that it is the divine spark within you, the life within you, that is the one true teacher who carries you home in reawakened reunion with the Divine.

25. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The Buddhist master Shantideva set forth a path for training in spiritual warriorship. In his text The Way of the Bodhisattva, he explains how the bodhisattva or spiritual warrior begins the journey by looking honestly at the current state of his or her mind and emotions. The path of saving others from confusion starts with our willingness to accept ourselves without deception.

You would think that a training whose intention was to prepare us to benefit others would focus exclusively on other people’s needs. But the majority of Shantideva’s instructions entail working skillfully with our own blind spots. Until we do this, we are in the dark about how other people feel and what might soothe them.

26. Wisdom from Susan Piver,

Meditation is more than a technology to employ on the path to success or even health. It is a method for communicating with your own brilliance. It is a way to relate with the mystery of your life. Something, everything, is trying to communicate with you. When we use meditation as a means to instruct our reality rather than listen to it, the magic disappears.

27. Because I Love to Make You Laugh and Why I Failed Nutrition Coaching 101 from Sue Ann Gleason. The video at the end is still making me laugh.

28. Why You Have To Destroy Doubt To Create The Life You Want on MindBodyGreen.

29. none of it was a mistake on Effervescence.

30. Wisdom from Jo Pillmore, “We are not here to be perfect. We are here to be whole.”

31. Free Mandala Workshop from Julie Gibbons.

32. Beautiful Things, River Teeth’s weekly column which “features very brief nonfiction that finds beauty in the every day.”

Glimpses, glimmers, meditations, moments, reflections, refractions, interrupted shadows, river shimmers, darkened mirrors, keyholes, kaleidoscopes, earring hoops, slabs of cracked granite, cracks where the light gets in. Beautiful things.

33. Little Hamster Bartenders Serving Tiny Food and Drinks on Bored Panda.

34. What Has Become Clear from Gerri Smalley.

35. Woman Photoshops Herself Into Her Mom’s Childhood Pictures For Touching Photo Series.

36. Note from the Universe, “If you keep asking ‘May I?’ Jill, I’ll keep asking ‘Will you?’ It’s never been up to me.

37. Holiday Hungers from Rachel Cole.

38. Thrive on Chookooloonks.

39. What It’s Like As a Bartender to Watch Your Awkward Tinder Date.

40. Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ Fits Almost TOO Perfectly With Aerobic Dance Video From 1989. Having lived through the Jane Fonda french cut leotard and big bangs era myself, this made me laugh and laugh and laugh.

41. Wisdom from Galway Kinnell, (shared by Lindsey),

To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.

42. Ready as I’ll ever be, from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook.

43. Where to Begin? Judith Kitchen from Jeff Oaks.

44. The Disease of Being Busy from On Being.

45. After A Death, Should We Get A Dog? Brain Study Signals “Yes.”

46. Navigate Your Life: Anna Guest-Jelley, an interview with Jennifer Louden.

47. Wisdom from Jen Lemen,

i don’t know if this path is for everyone.
i don’t know if it should be.
but if it is for you, i know how incredibly painful it is to pretend otherwise, and how difficult it is to constantly question yourself because you have this pain and this truth pulsing inside you that makes it nearly impossible to blow anything off or to try to be like everyone else.

48. Antonya Nelson’s Ten Writing Rules.

Blog Hop

27powersmorningWhen my dear friend Laurie asked me to take part in this blog hop — to answer four questions about writing, publish my responses a week after she published hers, invite three other bloggers to follow me (this part didn’t go exactly as expected — I ended up with one instead, too late to invite two more, but the one really is a good one, so there’s that), bloggers who would then invite three more bloggers, and so on and so on — I immediately said yes. I was curious to see how I’d answer the questions, what I might learn from the exercise. I also would say yes to just about anything Laurie asked me to do. I’m crazy about her like that.

Last fall, I took three trips to 27 Powers, Laurie’s home, a magical retreat in Alameda, CA. By way of the time I spent there, and with Laurie’s guidance (along with that of Jennifer Louden, Andrea Scher, and Rachel Cole, and in the company of other amazing and brave women who joined me there), I found my way back to myself, made my way home. I took my seat at the table, joined a long lineage of creative women, belonged.

bycarolyneicher1. What am I working on/writing?

Morning pages, my daily writing practice. Blogging, always blogging. An ebook about self-compassion, which is a compilation of my story and the wisdom of the women who took part in my Self-Compassion Saturday series.  A memoir about how I saved myself through the practices of writing, yoga, meditation, and dog. And a few other short pieces, always a few stragglers and loose ends, collecting like dust bunnies under my writing desk.

2. How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

I don’t know how “different” my work is, other than the fact that everything I write has been filtered first through my own experience, is colored by my particular view, and in that way is unlike anyone else’s. For example, I write about grief and loss, but I get there by way of losing two of my dogs to cancer, through falling to my knees in the weeds of my flowerbed on the day before my friend Kelly died, shoving my hands into the dirt in the only prayer I could offer.

I write a lot about practice, struggle and transformation. I mix self-help with memoir, and I like to think my phrasing and word choices can at times be almost graceful while still being dirty and true, but mostly I try to communicate how messy but also brilliant it is to be human, to offer a map for others trying to find their way. Rather than trying to be different, I aspire to write as honestly as someone like Anne Lamott and as beautifully as someone like Christina Rosalie.

3. Why do I write what I do?

For the same reason I do almost everything: to ease suffering, in myself and in the world. I write first to help myself, to find understanding and clarity, to transform, to heal. Then I offer what I think might help others do the same. Hopefully what I write can make us feel less alone, encourage us, keep us from giving up.

4. How does my writing process work?

First of all, it’s a daily practice. I show up, no matter what, and I write. I get up by 5 a.m. every morning, let the puppy out, go to the bathroom, make a cup of coffee, sit down and write. Every day starts like this. As I write — getting down all the details of the day before, getting rid of all the garbage floating around in my head — ideas for other things come up. I write as much as I can to give myself a start, so I can come back to it later. Sometimes I get lucky and my morning pages are something almost completely formed. All I need to do is type it up, make a few edits, and send it off or publish it.

It’s that kind of ease practice gives me. I start to see things as I move through my day that will become blog posts or essays or part of a book. I don’t just write differently because of practice, the way I see my life, my experience, has been transformed. The writer is always watching, making meaning and seeing patterns, working to understand.

I blog pretty regularly, so I’m usually either starting a post or finishing and publishing one, (although not quite so much lately, what with yoga teacher training and a new puppy). Some of my posts run on a schedule, so all I have to do is show up and do that thing I do, and others spontaneously arise, insist on being written. Bigger writing projects seem to either be a flash that burns bright and fast and I just need to keep up, or slow moving, requiring endurance and my patience.

Essential to my writing process is reading. A bad habit I picked up in graduate school is that I’m usually reading at least six books at a time. I just started Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing and Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work. I also read a lot on the web, blogs and articles. Reading feeds me, gives me pleasure, but it also teaches and guides me, fuels and informs my own writing.

I carry a notebook and pen everywhere, always ready to write something down, capture it when it comes to me.  I also moodle as part of my process. Brenda Ueland insisted that imagination needs moodling, which she described as “long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering.” To write, I need some portion of my time spent daydreaming, staring at my toes, doing nothing.

Finally, my other practices (yoga, meditation, and dog) are inextricably linked to my writing process. Moving my body through a series of yoga poses, training my mind and making friends with myself on my meditation cushion, and taking daily long walks with my dogs all allow me to crawl inside myself, be still and write.


My fellow blog hoppers;

Laurie Wagner is a writer and writing teacher. She teaches Wild Writing at her home in Northern California + hosts the 27 Powers Traveling Writers Series, which brings the brightest, grooviest, most unusual writers to Alameda to teach. Her books include, Living Happily Ever After: Couples Learn about Longtime Love, and Expectations: 30 Women Talk about Becoming a Mother, both from Chronicle Books. Her essays have appeared in Salon, Glamour, Brain, Child + The Berkeley Monthly. She blogs at 27 Powers Writing True Life.

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Justine Taormino is an INFJ and a Pisces with moon in Scorpio – dualities, emotions and intuition are her jam. Warm, empathetic and resourceful, Justine worships the world through feelings and deep conversation. She is interested in experiences – how people anticipate, dream of, live through, enjoy and reflect on their daily lives. In 2010, after struggling with years of anxiety, pressure and whole lot of “shoulds,” she got herself a therapist. This is also when she began her blog, Allowing Myself, adopted a dog, bought a beach cruiser and began falling in love with her “one precious life.” She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and best-dog-ever Carter Cash. The most recent quote to break her heart is by Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.” You can find her on Instagram @jtaormino21 and Twitter @jtaormino.

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Something Good

ericpinksky041. New Architectural Watercolors by Maja Wronska on Colossal. These make me want to get on a plane, immediately.

2. Brightly Painted Stairway in Turkey Starts Revolution Against Drab Gray.

3. 5 Things to Do Before Breakfast for a Happy Day on Elephant Journal.

4. Beck’s new album, Morning Phase. I’m not a crazy Beck fan, but I am in love with this album, although it at first made me super weepy (it’s quite melancholy).

5. 30 Cats And Dogs Losing The Battle Against Human Furniture on Bored Panda.

6. What I’ve Learned as a Writer on Zen Habits.

7. Permission To Be Hungry by Meg Worden. Such an important message.

8. “What stands in the way becomes the way.” ~Marcus Aurelius

9. On Messing Around from Lisa Congdon.

10. Old stories from Kat McNally.

11. Treasure Hunt: Color Collecting is Andrea Scher’s new photography ecourse. It looks so fun.

12. 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently on Huffington Post. There are things on this list that I regularly criticize myself for doing. That stops now.

13. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa

People have difficulty beginning a spiritual practice because they put a lot of energy into looking for the best and easiest way to get into it. We might have to change our attitude and give up looking for the best or easiest way. Actually, there is no choice. Whatever approach we take, we will have to deal with what we are already. We have to look at who we are.

14. How to Find Body Compassion on Magpie Girl.

15. On Desire and the creative kindness of limits from Hiro Boga.

16. 33 Ways to Be Childlike Today from Tiny Buddha.

17. Wisdom from Rumi, the poem “The Guest House,” a reminder I need again and again.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

18. This wisdom, a Note from the Universe. I need to hear it at the same time I don’t want to hear it, don’t want to believe it even though I know it’s probably true.

Protocol Clarification: Jill, in the adventure of life there are no “brownie points” earned for suffering, sacrifice, or tears. Nor for anguish, altruism, or selflessness. In fact, you don’t even get any for generosity, gratitude, or compassion. In time and space there are no “brownie points,” period. Might as well just do what makes you happy.

19. The True Cost vs. Benefits of a Dog. {Infographic} on Elephant Journal. I love this, although in my case the cost has been much higher, and it says nothing of the emotional cost, of having your heart broken in the end.

this one has already cost me plenty

this one has already cost me plenty 🙂

20. 7 Questions I Asked Myself from Executive Coach Michele Woodward.

21. Shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend list: What You Learn in Your 40s and “What should I write about?” 33 prompts to unlock new blog posts + stories that need to be told …

22. From Positively Present Picks: “The best journeys answer the questions that in the beginning you don’t even think to ask” (image) and 8 Things To Do Alone… For A Change.

23. To That Guy Who Made a Fat Joke about Me to My Boyfriend from The Militant Baker.

24. 18 New Life Hacks from viral Nova.

Life Rehab Resource: Practice

liferehabresourcesDisclaimer: I could write a whole book (and am) about practice, so to imply I’m going to be able to say everything there is to say, or even only the very most important things there are to share about practice in a single blog post is just silly. And yet, this is the life rehab resource that wants to be shared today.

I started thinking about it when I was writing my morning pages. This is a practice I first learned by way of Julia Cameron, who describes it this way,

Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* – they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.

She even made a video about the practice.

As I was writing my morning pages today, I was thinking about how they are a life rehab resource I’ve been able to maintain no matter what else is going on in my life. There are lots of other things on my to-do and to-be lists right now that I’d love to be doing but had to give up, temporarily. For example there are stacks of books I want to read, a list of movies I’d like to watch, Nia and yoga classes I’d like to attend, letters I want to send, courses I’d like to design, two books and various essays I want to write, but for now there just isn’t time. But morning pages, those get done every day no matter what. For me, they are like warming up before exercising. It’s the thing I need to do to be ready to write the stuff I plan to share.

Just as Julia describes it, much of what I write as part of my morning pages is garbage — whining and complaining, rants, confessions, anxiety, speculation, disillusion and confusion, lists, “and then he said” nonsense. A record of confusion. It gets it all out of the way, clears a path, makes space for the truth, what needs to be said, wants to be shared — the lotus that pushes its way out of the muck.

morningpages

there is a tattoo of a lotus on the inside of my right wrist to remind me of exactly this

In writing out all the crap I can see how silly it is, how ridiculous I am. It’s the same when you watch your thoughts and emotions arise in meditation, where the instruction is to observe them arise and let them go without getting attached. I realize through sitting practice how much of my life is spent in reaction to my thoughts and emotions, getting triggered and hooked. Someone says something, judgement kicks in, and off I go. A thought arises and I run after it, trying to catch and hold it, turn it into something solid.

A fundamental quality of all practice is the cultivation of observation without attachment. Practice helps me to see the ways I habitually react, sometimes allowing me to interrupt myself and rest in the gap between thoughts/emotions and action. Through practice I contemplate how my habitual patterns and discursive thinking are no longer serving me. In this way, practice helps me to ease suffering. Over time I start to realize how blindly driven I’ve been by my thoughts and emotions, see how empty they actually are, and start to relax, consider other options, access a deeper wisdom and compassion, and employ more skillful means.

For example, on the yoga mat, I observe how in a pose I might criticize myself for not doing it “right.” Maybe I compare myself to the person on the mat next to me who seems to be doing it “better,” or I judge myself against a “perfect expression” of the pose. The thought arises that I’m doing it wrong and I begin to criticize myself. Shame quickly follows and soon I am smashing myself to bits, not really practicing yoga at all. In a final act of aggression, I force my body further into the pose, causing discomfort or pain, possibly even injuring myself.

sundaymorningyogaThe longer I practice, the more I am able to interrupt this pattern. I notice the thought or emotion arise. I pause and am curious about it instead of immediately acting on it. I consider what might be triggering it, notice how it feels in my body, all while trying my best to not start telling myself a story about it. Staying with this, I might understand that my body is unique (in the case of the yoga pose “gone wrong”), and at this particular time this is what is. Maybe my quads are especially tender after lifting weights or doing a lot of walking earlier in the week, or maybe I didn’t get enough sleep the night before and I have less energy. I recognize that the compassionate thing to do in this moment is a slight modification of the pose to maintain alignment and accommodate my body’s current state. My self talk shifts to love for my body, appreciation that I showed up to practice, gratitude that I’m paying attention and working with my body in this way, listening and trusting, being gentle.

Suddenly there is space, ease where before there was struggle. As in yoga, it’s best when writing morning pages — with all practice, actually — to not force or attempt to control, but rather show up with an open heart, be curious about what is, and in this way sink into and allow the truth of the moment.

Gratitude Friday

ericredsky02

image by eric

1. Eric: He gets out more than me lately, takes more pictures. This one has a funny story behind it. When Eric left our house, the sky was the brightest red and he knew it would only last for about 10 minutes, so he ran as fast as he could to the park to try and get a good picture of it, but by the time he and Sam got to the first open field, it had faded to pink. Still a pretty amazing sky, picture if you ask me. Oh, and he also bought me flowers yesterday, not for Valentine’s Day but for being me, for being a good mom to our dogs.

2. Love. Deep and enduring, unshakable. “We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.” ~Robert Fulghum

3. Being a writer. I love it so much. When I’m not writing as much (like recently), the words build up inside of me, my fingers itch and my heart aches, and in my dreams, I’m always writing.

4. My interns at CSU. It’s all the good things about teaching, working with students, without any of the grading or other tedious nonsense.

5. Retirement. I hadn’t had access to my account balance for awhile, set it up to only receive e-documents and then could never figure out how to get into my account. When I finally did, I was so happy to see the amount, so grateful for it.

Bonus Joy: The trainer who stayed after puppy class answering all my questions. All of my dogs have been hard puppies, and a full Blue Heeler is a whole other level of hard. I also seem to have total amnesia when it comes to how this whole puppy thing works, how long it takes for the uber puppy constant attention to be over.

ringoearsBonus, Bonus Joy: Sam. How lazy he is in the morning, how content being walked, fed, and loved. How well he’s made this transition, even though he’s not completely well. How he shifted so easily to not being crated when we aren’t home, mostly just hangs out on the couch and sleeps — we know this because we’ve videoed him a few times to be sure. How good he is playing with Ringo, even though we have to limit how much he does.

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Day of Rest

blankpagesI wrote so much for you today, more than I’ve been able to write in a long time. One guest post, another short piece about telling true stories, a Something Good post for tomorrow, and an outline for a submission about beginnings. And then all day after that, I kept coming back here to check in and see what you thought about what I wrote, forgetting I hadn’t published it, hadn’t posted it here. It’s like I’ve mailed a letter and you haven’t read it yet, and as I wait for a response, I miss you. I long for the days when we had so much time to spend together, talking about everything and nothing, feeling like we had all the time in the world.

Still, I am comforted knowing you are there. Like I told a dear friend today: We might be in a boat that is guaranteed to sink, but we are in it together, and I know that when I get too tired, I can put my head in your lap while you row, or we can lean into each other and simply drift for awhile.