Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks with the dogs. It was a bit darker this week and there was a full moon. This morning, we went 4.7 miles, and I totally could have done five, and that makes me so happy.

2. All those who are helping me be healthy and get stronger. My Pilates teacher, my acupuncturist, my physical therapist, and my masseuse. It’s a team effort right now.

3. Sweet Sam. He got his teeth cleaned this week, had to go under anesthesia for it so he was pretty confused and clingy for a bit that day, but he did so good. Because I was a little nervous about it, I made sure to get a few good pictures of him this week, which normally I’m not very good at, (black dogs are hard to get a decent picture of, and Sam usually won’t look at the camera, and how many pictures can one person have of one dog sleeping?).

4. My tiny family. Taking naps together is one of my favorite things.

5. Signs of spring. Daffodils in the bathroom and in my garden, a giant hawk hunting along the river this morning, warmer weather (some of it a bit insane — like 80 degrees tomorrow?!).

Can you see the hawk?

Can you see the hawk?

Bonus joy: Roasted sweet potatoes, planning what’s going in our garden this year, tiny chocolate muffins, a big glass of cold clean water, trash service and the people who do that work, soaking in a warm tub of water, space heaters, good movies, good tv, the opportunity to make mistakes, getting to start over, Spring Break, video chatting with friends, the internet, a good camera on my phone (or maybe I should stop calling it a “phone” because really it’s a tiny computer I can carry in my pocket more than it is a device I call people with), streaming and on demand media, my Kindle, books by Roxane Gay (I am devouring everything she’s written right now, and can’t wait for her next book), a washer and dryer in my house, being able to do laundry any time I want to, people who understand when I cancel plans, clean pjs and clean sheets, sunshine.

Three Truths and One Wish

Moon over the Poudre River on our morning walk

1. Truth: This week has been a mix of good and bad. Amy Krouse Rosenthal died on Tuesday. A friend’s dog died on Wednesday. Sam got his teeth cleaned today, which meant going under anesthesia so now he feels weird and is whining and following me everywhere, making me sad for him. I’ve been able to go on the regular morning walks, started Pilates, and will start working with a new physical therapist tomorrow. I’ve felt extra tired all week too. I’m equal parts energized and worn out, both at ease and discontent.

2. Truth: I’d planned to get a lot done this week, but haven’t been able to do much. I’ve had to pay close attention to my energy, to balance my effort with ease. It’s practically Thursday and I feel like there’s so much left to accomplish — and yet I’m okay with sitting in the sun or taking another nap and not getting anywhere near “caught up,” whatever that even means.

3. Truth: This is how life goes. Ebb and flow, feeling at times on top of it and other times buried by it. I can’t stop thinking about what I read the other day, something that Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s editor said about her: “Amy ran at life full speed and heart first.” When I go, I want someone to say that about me, but I also know that to do that, I have to be smart, know my limits, take care, pace myself.

One wish: May we be gentle with ourselves even as we run at life full speed and heart first, and when we go, may we know we are loved and may our deaths be easy.

Something Good

Early morning owl, Poudre River

1. “At The Gamesman barbershop in Brooklyn, Dez Marshall is serving up some of the best cuts in the borough. Even better? She provides a safe space for the LGBTQ community to get fresh without judgment.”

2. 15+ Pictures That Reveal The Truth Behind Photography.

3. Thousands of Native Americans take their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the White House. In related news, Native Nations Rise. Also, The Women of Standing Rock. Also, Viceland: Rise, “We travel to Indigenous communities across the Americas to meet people protecting their homelands and rising up against colonization.”

4. Rep. Joe Kennedy II: “There is no mercy” in #Trumpcare.

5. Tracey Ullman – Mugged. “Guys, is dressing provocatively in expensive suits whilst having too much much to drink causing you to get mugged?”

6. ‘It’s Because You’re Fat’ — And Other Lies My Doctors Told Me.

The medical profession needs to step up. It needs to accept that diets aren’t the universal treatment option for fat people. It needs to accept that fatness isn’t the universal cause of ill health in fat people. It needs to engage with the very real damage caused by its attitudes toward fat people, and with the sub-standard care delivered to many people as a result of their size.

7. Overtaken By Events: Kids Burst Onto Scene Of Live BBC TV Interview. In related news, That Asian mom is not the nanny. Why do so many people assume she is? and BBC interview hijacked by children prompts social media debate.

8. What If Privileged People Were Othered? This Cartoon Resets the Defaults.

9. The Cost of Balancing Academia and Racism. “Researchers say that discrimination at colleges and universities may have negative impacts on black students’ mental health.”

10. How the AMERICAN WOMAN Project Aims to Make Black Women the Face of America. I am a Patron of this project, because it is so amazing and important and inspiring.

11. Recipe I want to try: Spinach Pesto Pasta (seems like this would be yummy with salmon too).

12. New Ferguson Video Adds Wrinkle to Michael Brown Case.

13. Man spends 4 years building a church using only living trees.

14. Support Injured Medic Sarah.

15. The Funniest Tweets From Parents This Week. Kids aren’t required in order to giggle at these.

16. The Lonely Towns of Fukushima.

17. Internet warriors: inside the dark world of online ‘trolls.’

18. John Oliver’s interview with the Dalai Lama is an unexpected delight.

19. The Real Reason Republicans Want To Pull The Plug On Obamacare. What’s so upsetting to me about this whole debate (other than all the people who will probably end up losing their health insurance, all the suffering that will be caused) is the assumption by many in our culture that healthcare, health insurance, is a luxury, when it should be a basic fundamental human right. In related news, Laziness isn’t why people are poor. And iPhones aren’t why they lack health care.

20. In the Early 1900s, Albino African-American Brothers Were Stolen From Their Virginia Home to Be Circus Performers. This Is Their Story.

21. Learning to swim in Zanzibar. “Even though it is an island, many in Zanzibar cannot swim. A charity is helping children learn.”

22. Your Calls For Unity Are Divisive As F*ck.

23. Finally, an actual bathroom user speaks up about trans bathroom laws. *tee-hee*

24. Love Letters for My Children – The Maggie Doyne Documentary, a Kickstarter Project.

25. Diverse Stock Photos. “The world’s first inclusive, body positive and weight neutral commercial-use stock photo site.”

26. Official Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights Shirt. Every shirt sold benefits Planned Parenthood & True Colors Fund.

27. Reading lists: 5 New Books That Will Make You a Better Feminist, and Your International Women’s Day Reading List, (“Nine female nature writers who will inspire you to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet”), and 24 Empowering Books Every Feminist Needs to Read.

28. New (to me) music: Andra Day. She reminds me of Amy Winehouse.

29. List: Woman Facts from McSweeney’s.

30. YouTube sensation Shane Koyczan transmits hard-to-hear messages by my friend, the amazing writer, blogger, yoga teacher Kirsten Akens.

31. Amy Krouse Rosenthal on The Interview Show with Mark Bazer, possibly one of her last public interviews. In related news, Creative Superhero Podcast #6: A tribute to Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Make the most of your time here. Also, Amy Krouse Rosenthal – TEDxSMU 2012 and her short film The Beckoning of Lovely.

32. What Happens When Bookstore Employees Get Bored.

33. An Insider’s View of Alaskan Inuit.

34. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, “When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience our fear of pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”

35. A Reddit AMA with Margaret Atwood, “author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and executive producer of the Hulu original series based on the novel premiering April 26.”

36. Statue of Girl Confronts Bull, Captivating Manhattanites and Social Media.

37. The Racist History of Dr. Seuss & What it Means in Today’s Social, Political & Educational Context.

38. Should A Writer Get An English Degree, Yes Or No? from Chuck Wendig.

39. White Privilege for DUMMIES.

40. Just a tiny porcupine called Wilbur eating a slice of banana.

Day of Rest

I am craving spring. And it is fast approaching, with the windy days, occasional rain, the tips of iris stalks and new grass poking their way out of the ground, along with crocus and mini iris blooms. Even the “spring forward” of Daylight Savings time is a sign. Soon it will be time to clean up the garden, making space for the return of what is already there and getting the ground ready for the new things we’ll plant.

This particular spring is a mix of hope and anxiety. Yesterday I attended a livestream of the ACLU’s “People Power” Resistance Training, (you can watch it online here — it’s a great watch, inspiring and informative, even if you have no plan to be active in this particular movement). There were 100 other people there with me. I took nine pages of notes, clapped from time to time, and even cried a little. I went in part because it makes me feel better to be doing something, anything, and to be surrounded by people who want the same.

The ACLU describes themselves this way, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” The fact that there are people who disagree with what they do, actively resist and criticize it, and still insist they are active and concerned citizens of the United States baffles me. And yet, in another way, it doesn’t surprise me at all. If we are honest, our Constitution’s preamble begins with the phrase “We the people of the United States of America,” and was written in a time when “we” very clearly meant “white men.” The Constitution as originally written wasn’t intended to apply equally to all people. Women and people of color were not considered “equal,” then or now. In that light, I shouldn’t be surprised that so many are intent on maintaining white supremacy and the patriarchy, and can be so violent and vile in their defense of such ideals.

Faiz Shakir, National Political Director for the ACLU, spoke twice during the event. He is the son of immigrants and a Muslim. Early on the first time he was on stage, he said, “This is not the America we want to live in. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We cannot be bullied out of our humanity.” One thing he said later that really stuck with to me was, “As Donald Trump is going about his hate agenda, we need to live our love. We need to live our values… Whatever he’s doing, let’s have an equal and opposite reaction.”

On this day of rest, with spring on its way, I find myself doing just this — living my love, not allowing myself to be bullied out of my humanity, making space and getting the ground ready for what’s to come.

Gratitude Friday

1. Morning walks with the dogs. This week I was back on our regular schedule of solo walks two mornings of the week. I am not back up to 5 miles just yet, but I’m getting there. I especially appreciated the light this week, since Daylight Savings time this weekend is going to steal an hour, plunging us back into the dark for just a bit longer.

2. Signs of spring. Crocuses are popping up around town and things are starting to turn a tiny bit green around the edges. I got so excited the other day because I remembered I planted daffodil bulbs in the fall. Fingers crossed that some of them come up.

3. Chat dates with people I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with.

4. The sweetest little plant from a work colleague. I’d helped her with some computer stuff so she brought me a purple shamrock. I looked up how to care for it and learned one of its common names is Love Plant.

5. Golden years with the dogs. Especially when you have two dogs of varying ages, there’s a thing I refer to as the “golden years.” This is an all too brief moment of time when no one is a baby and no one is dying. Add to that the precious moments where no one is sick or injured, and you get this minute of time where you simply get to enjoy each other’s company. It didn’t last very long with my first two pairings of dogs, so with this third one, I’m reminding myself to savor it.

Bonus joy: bran muffins with dried raspberries, sour cherry juice, being caught up on the laundry, sunshine, good books, naps, having enough money, good health insurance, subbing for one of my favorite yoga classes, my Bluetooth speaker, a clean car, clean sheets, dark chocolate with salted caramel, flowers, the promise of another garden, roasted sweet potatoes, all the good dinners Eric has been cooking, the internet and a good connection.

Three Truths and One Wish

Poudre River, from our walk yesterday morning

1. Truth: I push myself too hard, don’t know when to slow down. In fact, the only way I slow down is to crash, crap out, collapse. I just want so much, want to make things better, love all the things and all the things break my heart and I want to fix all the things. If I know of something that could help, I want to do it right away and not stop until it’s done. And I end up so tired and overextended, way before I even realize I’ve taken it too far.

2. Truth: I know I’m not the only one. So many other women, people I admire and respect and try to be more like, are also running themselves into the ground trying to be good, to show up, to be brave, to make things better. It’s so funny how wholeheartedly I can wish rest and peace for them but somehow not be able to give the same to myself.

3. Truth: Sunshine helps. Naps help. Sometimes sugar and tv even help. Yoga is good, so is more sleep. A glass of cold water is usually a safe bet. Getting told thank you and I love you and you are awesome is also nice. Focusing just on what absolutely has to get done right now and letting the rest go feels workable. Getting up and stretching, moving around is sometimes the key, but other times sitting or lying down does the trick. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I am good, that it’s okay to slow down, to stop even.

One wish: May we rest, may we find ease, may we know that we are loved and remember that we are good, no matter what.

Something Good

Sometimes Mondays make me feel just like the person lying in the middle of this circle

1. You May Want to Marry My Husband by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This broke my heart this weekend. Not just because it’s a beautiful piece written by a human woman only two years older than me dying of cancer about her love for her husband and her life, “I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet.” It’s more than that — I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal, this specific, particular, wonderful human. She wrote one of my favorite books, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, and was always doing some cool new project or making a movie or writing yet another children’s book. I had no idea she was even sick until I read her essay this weekend. I emailed my friend Sherry, who hosted a “Plant a Kiss Day Blog Hop” I took part in back in 2013 in honor of Amy’s birthday. She’d only just heard the news as well, and quickly put together plans for another collective project to honor Amy. I invite you to join us, kind and gentle reader, both in celebrating Amy and in our brokenheartedness.

2. Wisdom from Alexandra Franzen, “If you hold yourself to incredibly high standards, and if you’re really hard on yourself—like, ALL THE TIME—I just want you to know that you’re so beautiful and wonderful and smart, and it’s OK to be nicer to yourself. You’re doing a really good job. Just wanted you to know. In case you forgot.”

3. Stop Procrastinating. Start Writing. A FREE class co-lead by Susan Hyatt and Alexandra Franzen. “If you want to write—but you struggle with procrastination and perfectionism—this is for you. It’s a short class that I’m doing with my friend Susan Hyatt. It’s happening on March 9th. It starts at 9:30am Pacific. It will be uplifting and fun. It’s ONLINE. Also, it’s FREE! If you sign up here, you’ll get instructions on how to participate, and you’ll also get a video recording that you can watch later if you can’t attend the live dealio.” I signed up, because Alexandra is one of those people who is able to inspire me when I’m at my lowest.

4. The Republic of the Body: A New Writing Group from Jena Schwartz. Don’t let that title throw you — yes, Jena introduces her new writing group at the end of the post, but before that, she says some really thoughtful, interesting things about the connections between yoga and writing.

5. Our Lady of Strays. “The world’s greatest dog sanctuary is on a small farm in Costa Rica, where hundreds of canines run wild over the land—eating huge piles of food and slobbering happily on Lya Battle and her small band of dedicated volunteers.”

6. Intricate Fruit & Vegetable Carvings by Japanese Artist Gaku. This is so cool. Check out his Instagram for more good stuff: https://www.instagram.com/gakugakugakugakugaku1/

7. Steve Martin Teaches Comedy, an online class. “Learn how to find your voice, gather material, develop an act, and take your comedy to the next level.” I am really tempted to take this class, even though I don’t think I have any interest in going into comedy. In related news, Here are 250 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free.

8. ’13th’ wasn’t around to watch in your history class. 13 reasons to watch it now. Such an important film.

9. 6 Things You Need to Recover From Every Day. I know how to push; I’m not so good at recovery.

10. How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage In a Trump World. At this point, I’ll try just about anything.

11. Bob Harper’s Heart Attack from Dances with Fat. “What we need is a paradigm that is based on health, not body size, where the focus is on creating a world where people have the opportunity to love and appreciate their bodies, and see them as worthy of care, and where everyone has access to types of movement they want to do, types of food they want to eat, and the kind of healthcare that wealthy people like Bob Harper get.”

12. A very good list of vital writing advice — Do not ignore! from Chuck Wendig.

13. Darling ’50s trailer home in Palm Springs can be yours for $55K. Love the style, but it would be too hot for me there.

14. Joint Address Issues Survey. “Now is your chance to give your input. Let us know what issues you want President Trump to focus on and your ideas for the future of our country. Take the survey and share your thoughts.”

15. Unlearning Fat Phobia Is A Lifelong Process. Word.

16. What Does Your Black Future Look Like?, a short video.

17. Becoming Acquainted With Ambivalence. “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s assertion that faculty members tell students what to say and think distorts a basic fact: most professors are dedicated to teaching their students to think independently and critically, argues Susan Resneck Pierce.”

18. Keep Learning About Black History With These 23 Vital Books.

19. Let’s Bring a Goddamn Bookstore to the Bronx! “An initiative by The Lit. Bar to bring the ONLY bookstore to a borough of over 1.4 million people.” They met their goal, but there are still 13 days left to give them a little more help. In related news, 30 New and Old Books by Black Authors You Should Read.

20. Me & Eve, “my way of giving women the opportunity to be seen, heard, and respected. One Women + One Question = Change.” A really cool project.

21. My Glorious Return to the Library. “If you can get to a library and afford it, get your library card. You don’t even have to use it to be helping out in a real way. But I think once you do have that library card burning up your pocket, you’ll hear the books calling.”

22. Podcasts with Isabel Foxen Duke, a Certified Health Coach and Emotional Eating Expert who helps women stop feeling crazy around food: https://www.nicoleantoinette.com/podcast/isabel-foxen-duke/, https://www.christyharrison.com/foodpsych/2/isabel-foxen-duke-eating-disorders, http://www.lifeunrestricted.org/lu029/, http://www.homepodcast.org/episodes//episode-74-isabel-foxen-duke, and http://thefuckitdiet.com/episode-14-isabel-foxen-duke/

23. Introducing The Winner Of The 2017 Tiny Desk Contest: Tank and the Bangas.

24. Detroit student Dannah Wilson’s emotional response to Betsy DeVos. #BlackGirlMagic

25. Fragile Crocheted Leaf Sculptures by Susanna Bauer. Be sure to check out her Instagram account too.

26. The Story of Sancho. Left in an abandoned house to starve, Johnjay Van Es found Sancho’s original family and reunited them. I love this so much.

27. Women’s History Month: Women of color.

28. Open Heart Project Sangha membership special offer. Good through March 14. Join for a year (totally worth ten times as much as is being charged) and get $200 extra additional goodies.

29. How Do You Raise A Feminist Daughter? Chimamanda Adichie Has 15 Suggestions.

30. This Weekend Some White Lady Is Running a Tag Sale At John Hope Franklin’s House, An original poem by Camille T. Dungy.

31. Unemployed Indigenous poet Ali Cobby Eckermann wins $215,000 literary prize.

32. Notes from the Wreck by Jeff Oaks.

33. This lab puppy barking and howling in his sleep is stupid cute.

34. Fort Collins for Progress gains momentum with small staff, but big plans. They are certainly helping me stay informed and active.

35. Time’s 2014 ‘Person of the Year’ Dies in Childbirth. So sad.

36. New Show Tackles The Crap Asian American Women Deal With Everyday.

37. 5 Ways I Need White Women to Level Up Feminism Right Now.

38. Magician perfectly destroys anti-transgender bathroom argument. In related news, An Introduction to Transgender People.