Gratitude Friday

1. Lounging in the backyard. Right now is that magic moment in Colorado when everything is green and the sun is out, but it’s not too hot yet and the mosquitoes haven’t arrived. Maybe one day we’ll landscape our backyard a bit more beyond the three raised beds, the Golden Raintree, the clematis that covers one whole wall, and the roses we don’t really take great care of but they bloom anyway, but for now the green carpet is just fine for the dogs, all they really want.

2. Garden time! Eric has been working so hard on it — weeding, putting compost into all the raised beds, and planting. So far we have peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, and tomatoes. We’ll get basil once we can find somewhere with healthy plants, and I’d like to keep trying to find that variety of watermelon we planted that one year that did so well but we forgot to save the tag. I am excited about all the potential blooms on my peonies and for feeling a bit better (I’ve had a cold all week) so I can start planting some more flowers and help with the weeding.

The yummy watermelon in question

Worm bins and all the compost they made this winter

3. Good food. I’ve been obsessed with cucumbers, spinach, hummus, and falafel on naan bread. I also made biscuits the other night that were super yummy.

4. Epic naps. Since I’m trying to get over this cold, and the lingering burn out from work, I’ve been taking 2-3 hour naps almost every afternoon. It’s so obvious how badly I need the rest.

5. My tiny family. The above picture was from the other day, one of the first days it hadn’t rained, the sun was out and it was warm. At some point, all three of the boys got too hot and hunkered down in the shade.

There was a squirrel on the neighbor’s roof he was very interested in

“Can we haz some of your snack, Dad?”

Bonus joy: Wild Writing with Laurie, Chloe’ and Mikalina, Booksmart at the Lyric with Chloe’, not teaching yoga this week because I knew it was what my body needed to recover, good books (I’m almost done with There There by Tommy Orange), good TV (She’s Gotta Have It‘s second season was really good, and I liked Dead to Me), good movies (I just watched Always Be My Maybe on Netflix and really liked it), a warm shower, pay day.

Something Good

1. 4 Ways INFJs Are Their Own Worst Enemy. Hi, my name is Jill. I’m an INFJ and I’m my own worst enemy. In related news, How To Deal With Negative Emotions As A Highly Sensitive Person.

2. Words of wisdom from Jamie Ridler: “It may be hard but you are strong. It may be scary but you are brave. It may be new but you can learn. You may have no idea what you are doing but you can find your way.”

3. Solitary Voices: Thousands of Immigrants Suffer in Solitary Confinement in ICE Detention.

3. A Mindful Method for When You’re Tired on Zen Habits. This is kind of my life right now.

4. The mob fears the truth from Seth Godin.

5. passion & purpose, a post from Karen Walrond with some really helpful questions at the end. “I encourage you to explore your own motivations, gifts and mission — they could be the clues to how to add more meaning to your life and your current career, or even what to look for in a new career or employer.”

6. “Booksmart” Is The Feminist High School Movie We’ve Been Missing.

7. No one owes you a flat stomach.

8. Washington becomes the first state to legalize composting of humans. Get back soil instead of ashes.

9. People Are Sharing the Kindest Thing a Stranger Has Ever Done for Them.

10. Meet Lee, he’s homeless and spends his time on the street reading. (video) I’ll be first in line to read Lee’s book.

11. Does being a Buddhist mean you have to be a vegetarian?

12. More than 300 people came together to throw a surprise retirement party for their neighborhood mailman. (video)

13. Summer Reading Recommendations from Favorite Authors on Goodreads. I won’t live long enough to read all the books I want to read but that doesn’t mean I will stop trying.

14. Recipe I want to try: ciambellone, an italian tea cake, from Smitten Kitchen. “A ciambellone is a simple, sunny Italian tea cake with lemon zest and a rich crumb typically baked in a tube pan, which gives it a torus shape, i.e. the appearance of a doughnut, which is, in fact, what Google Translate tells me is the translation of ciambellone.” I love chocolate cakes, but I might like lemon flavored things even more.

15. A Fashion Brand Aiming To Be ‘Inclusive’ Created A Separate Instagram Page For Non-White And Plus-Sized Models. Wait, segregation is inclusive?

16. Students Invent Bacteria That Eat Plastic From The Oceans And Turn It Into Water.

17. This woman saved a nest full of baby birds. (video)

18. Harriet Tubman On The $20 Bill? Not During The Trump Administration.

19. Toni Morrison Awarded Gold Medal for Fiction.

20. The Struggle To Hire And Keep Doctors In Rural Areas Means Patients Go Without Care.

21. Get Your Mind and Body Out of Crisis Mode. “Unchecked stress can wreak havoc on your well-being. These are the warning signs that you’re heading toward burnout plus six steps to manage your stress.” #whyiquitmyjob

22. Milwaukee County Declares Racism a Public Health Crisis. Will More Cities Follow Suit?

23. Not Just For Soldiers: Civilians With PTSD Struggle To Find Effective Therapy.

24. How Superstore got so good. One of my favorite shows, because it’s good and because I worked retail for ten years and this reminds me of that wonderfully awful time.

25. Teenager Is Latest Migrant Child To Die In U.S. Custody.

Gratitude Friday

1. I’m still here. Yes I’m retired. Yes I’m done with 500 hour yoga teacher training. Yes Eric is now on his summer vacation. Yes the sun is finally out today after a whole lot of wet, dark, and cold. And yet, as is pretty typical every year at this time, I’m kind of stuck to the couch, reading and watching TV and taking naps. Sure I’m also teaching yoga and going to the gym and walking the dogs and doing laundry and such, but I’m feeling the full weight of the burnout that comes after the recent years of effort and discomfort and overwhelm. It’s such an interesting process, and it seems like part of me is living it and another part is watching it happen. When people ask me how it feels to be retired, I think they expect something different, a relaxed sense of euphoria and freedom, but that doesn’t come immediately. There’s a lot to work through first.

2. I’m now a 500 Hour CYT. I’m probably actually an E-CYT, but I’d need to go back and calculate my teaching hours to be sure, (it means 1000 hours of teaching experience). I’m very proud of myself for finishing this, for sticking with it. One of my primary teachers said of me, “I love your insight, dedication, and inclusiveness! You are a great teacher!” That meant a lot to me because she is a really amazing human and teacher.

3. Lilacs in the bathroom. Our bushes were burying our mailbox, so Eric did some trimming and brought them in for me. I’m glad he did because the next day it snowed.

4. Morning walks. They were sort of a risk and a bit of a bummer the past few days because of the rain, but this morning was lovely.

5. My tiny family. My favorite part of retirement so far is getting to spend more time with them.

Bonus joy: nachos, a big glass of cold clean water, writing with Mikalina and Chloe’ in Laurie’s Wild Writing class, sitting in the sauna with Eric, having the swimming pool all to myself, good books (I’m reading There There by Tommy Orange while I ride the bike at the gym), good TV (I just finished the second season of Fleabag, and it was so good), naps, hummingbirds, taking my time.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: Just like the weather, there are so many things we can’t control. We can’t control other people’s emotions, other people’s actions, the economy, the traffic, politics, the state of the environment, our bodies, etc. Sure we can respond, we can offer support or help, we can ask for support or help, we can make some sort of impact but we aren’t in control. If it rains, how we feel about it and what we do won’t change anything. All we can do is respond — get an umbrella and accept that even so we will most likely get a little wet.

2. Truth: A shift can be the tiniest thing, so small other people might not even notice it, but it moves something. This is my first week “retired” and, as I tend to do, I had big plans for what I would accomplish, what I would work on first. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time doing what looks like nothing — burn out is no joke. This morning, before I meditated, I fixed the blankets on the futon in my practice room. They were all wonky from the many times the dogs have come in and dug it up and I’ve halfway fixed them — Sam because it’s the way he registers complaints with management and Ringo because it’s what he does when he’s bored (he’ll bark as he does it to let you know it’s happening). It was a simple thing, but as soon as I straightened it up, I felt a shift.

3. Truth: It’s absolutely okay to do things at your own speed, to go slow, to pace yourself. If I trace back the timeline of the last decade, it’s clear that the journey to now started in earnest ten years ago. I didn’t decide that CSU wasn’t the right place for me, get suddenly clear about what to do next and do it. The clarity about next steps came in fits and starts. I lowered the bar for myself over and over again. I built the bigger picture one found object at a time. I did the necessary work to build a stable foundation little by little over the course of years.

One wish: May you move the way you move, love what you love, and sustain your stability and ease no matter what arises.

 

Something Good

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1. My writing day. “Authors and writers describe their typical writing day in this regular Saturday Review series.”

2. Letting Go of “Health-ism” and Related Panic from Isabel Foxen Duke. This is so important.

People steadfastly cling to the belief that they can make themselves “pure” or even immortal (outsmarting death, disease, etc.) by making “correct” food choices—spending hours studying the literature, listening to gurus, or trying to find the golden key.

This idea that we can outsmart death and disease—that we can effectively prevent “bad things” from happening to us if we make the “right” food choices—is particularly interesting, considering how incredibly faith-based, and un-scientific, this sentiment really is.

Food doesn’t even come close to the top of the list of things that will likely kill me or anyone else—genetics, environment, age, and various factors outside of my control are far better predictors of illness or death—yet we cling desperately to the delusion that food is the primary determinant of our fate, frantically trying to “play God” through our food choices.

3. ‘Attention Is the Beginning of Devotion’, “The late poet Mary Oliver warned against looking without noticing. In an age of distraction, her work is more urgent than ever.”

4. Wisdom from Andréa Ranae: “We are not powerless. Your identities, your experiences, the histories you’ve inherited in culture and body, your gifts and skills, your vision, your communities, your will, the resources you have access to…. these are all sites of power – abundant wells for you to tap into and use to consciously cultivate the world that y(our) descendants will inherit from all of us. You cannot control the world around you (thank goodness), but you can decide how you’re going to use the power that you do have.”

5. Why Introverts Won’t Survive Without Self-Care.

6. Morehouse College Graduates’ Student Loans to Be Paid Off by Billionaire on The New York Times.

7. The anti-gay extremist behind America’s fiercely strict abortion bans. In related news, Republicans, Men and Christians Aren’t Trying to Ban Abortions. White People Are.

8. Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins Accused of Verbal Abuse and Sexual Misconduct. Is anyone really surprised?

9. Guatemalan Toddler Apprehended At U.S. Border Dies After Weeks In Hospital.

10. Grumpy Cat, Internet Celebrity With a Piercing Look of Contempt, Is Dead at 7 on The New York Times.

11. A new report shows how racism and bias deny black girls their childhoods.

12. Farmers Remain Silent at Auction So This Young Man Can Buy His Family Farm Back.

13. Tim Conway, Who Relished The Role Of Comedic Co-Star, Dies At 85.

14. Keuka College Commencement Speech “from the future.” (video)

15. Malaysian school kids trying to hula hoop. (video)

16. Mom, a sweet video about a dog looking for a mom.

Gratitude Friday

A collection of plants

All the plants from my CSU office

1. Zero more days at CSU!!! It hasn’t completely sunk in yet. I am so focused on prepping and teaching the capstone for my 500 hour yoga teacher certification on Sunday that I haven’t fully relaxed into the reality that from here on out, I am the one making all the decisions about where I focus my time and effort. This morning, I removed myself as an admin on the Facebook page, logged out of the Instagram and Twitter accounts, and checked my email for the last and final time: done.

2. It’s finally time to put a garden in. I recently finished the novel Tulip Fever and am reading a nonfiction book about the same topic, Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused. That, combined with my Dutch roots, makes me want to plant a bunch of tulips this year, in varying shades of purple.

3. Morning walks. There are all kinds of babies right now, the river is full of snow melt, and everything is turning so green. Not only do I not need a headlamp, but I start out wearing sunglasses!

4. Wild Writing with Laurie and Chloe’ and Mikalina. I signed up for a short session to launch myself into my “retirement.” This morning is the first meeting and I can’t wait!

5. My tiny family. It’s only been a day and a half since I finished up at CSU, but I already can feel how much I missed getting to spend time with my boys, and how lovely it’s going to be getting to be around them more. If nothing else, there clearly will be WAY more pictures of them to share.

Bonus joy: hummingbirds, the sound of the whole house fan in the morning, the prospect of finally being able to clean out and organize my home office, teaching yoga, aqua aerobics, Pilates with Ashley, the smell of my lilacs, how healthy my Peonies are, tape, that place you get when you are transitioning or moving where you finally can surrender and let things go, working in my pjs, Ann’s irises continuing to thrive, dandelions, a big glass of cold clean water, my infrared heating pad after getting needled at physical therapy, health insurance, the privilege and luxury of being able to quit my job, long naps, reading in bed at night while all three boys sleep, good TV, clementines.

The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Trail, trees, and sunrise on our walk this morning

From our walk this morning

One of the first things Eric said to me this morning was, “this is the first day of the rest of your life.” Yesterday was my last day of work at CSU. It was weird, but also right. A lot of people assumed I was some mix of excited and scared, but fear has nothing to do with it at this point. Yesterday felt a little bit like my birthday, a little bit like the first time I left home – which I also did at nineteen years.

I first came to CSU 19 years ago as a graduate student in the English M.A. Communication Development program, a program that doesn’t even exist anymore. While a graduate student, I worked as a tutor in the Writing Center, as a Writing Teaching Assistant, and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. After graduating, I taught various Composition courses, did lots of coding and web design, was a web project manager for a bit, was an editor, a web manager, and eventually the department’s first Communications Coordinator. I created our first blog, had a big part in redesigning the website not once but twice, had interns and a budget. And then it all got to be too much.

There were seven years somewhere in the middle I spent working in a super toxic situation. The person in charge of a big project I worked on is a narcissist. I used to call him that as a joke, and then one day I looked it up in the DSM-5 and realized he fit the description exactly. As hard as that experience was, as awful as that time was, I learned a lot from it. I learned how not to treat people. I learned how to deal with someone constantly abusing me without lashing out or hurting myself. I got lots of therapy, and started practicing yoga and mediation. When my strategies of self-care and coping stopping working in the face of the abuse, I hit my breaking point.

When that happened, I was going to leave CSU. My plan was to quit altogether. Eric talked me down from a ledge, suggested I write up a new job description. I did, explained I could no longer continue to work as I was but that I still had a lot to offer. They agreed and I stayed. It worked out okay, but the workload just kept growing, and even though I said regularly to those in positions of power that it was too much, that it wasn’t sustainable or healthy, nothing really changed. The stress and overwhelm impacted both my mental and physical health. When I turned 50, I thought about how I’d probably work another 10-15 years, and I couldn’t imagine doing what I was for that much longer. I knew I couldn’t keep going.

My now empty office

To be fair, the job had never been my “thing.” It was confusing though, because my thing IS  teaching and writing, and the position allowed me to do something that sort of looked like that. And yet, I was doing those things according to someone else’s agenda, fulfilling someone else’s purpose, meeting goals that weren’t my own. It never really felt like the right fit, like an exact match. It always felt like a shoe that was half a size too small, or using a fork when really what you needed was a spoon.

After what feels like a decade of prep, months of having little to no time off because I was teaching my own things in addition to my CSU work or completing various teaching certifications, almost eight years of showing up to write regularly here, hours and hours of what career change coach Laura Simms calls a crossfade — “a transition period where your current and future careers overlap. Your current career fades out, and your new career fades in,” I finally was able to make the choice to leave. To be clear, I can only make that choice because my husband has a full time job he doesn’t plan on leaving, I can get on his health insurance, we own our house and have a really low mortgage, we can pretty easily modify our spending habits, and we don’t have kids. It’s a choice I can make because of my privilege. That said, I’ve also worked since I was 14 years old, and NONE of those jobs were pursuing my own purpose. That, finally, is what I intend to do now.

From our walk this morning

I don’t know if I’ve shared it here yet, but my new job title is: Contemplative Practice Guide. I am going to specialize in yoga asana, meditation, and writing as practice. I am going to teach in person and online. My mission remains the same as always, to ease suffering — in myself and in the world. My intention is to hold space for those cultivating the foundation of a sane mind and open heart, embodied compassion and wisdom. My hope is that from that foundation we can work together to make things better. Along with teaching, I’ll still be writing a lot, maybe even finish one of the books I’ve been working on for so long.

This Sunday is my final day of my last module of my 500 hour yoga teacher certification. That means for the next few days I’m focusing on putting together my capstone class I’ll be teaching. It requires that I create a 40-45 minute sequence that includes something from all of the modules so it’s a pretty big deal. After that, I’m going to circle back and finish my certifications from Curvy Yoga and Yoga for All. Then I’ll spend the summer cleaning and decluttering and repairing and painting our house, planting and maintaining the garden, reading books and taking naps, cooking (I want to learn to make bread, in particular), with one trip to Oregon to visit my family. I’m going to be researching places where I can teach locally, as well as considering the online platform I want to use for some classes I’d like to offer in the fall. I’m going to put together a new website that’s more focused on my “work.”

So that’s a little about where I’ve been, how I got here, and where I’m headed. As always, I can’t thank you enough, kind and gentle reader, for being here. For showing up, for listening, for offering encouragement. I am so grateful for you.