Day of Rest (NaBloPoMo Day 25)

In my Facebook memories today, there was a quote I’ve shared for the past two years in a row. It still rings so true to me. I reshared it on Facebook and wanted to do so here too. It’s a good reminder, as I said yesterday, that just because it’s the right thing to do doesn’t mean it will be easy.

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. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors. ~Andrew Boyd

NaBloPoMo Day 24

From our walk this morning

I get to take this whole weekend off. Since I started my 500 hour yoga teacher training, I’ve been busy every Sunday. Because of the holiday, we have tomorrow off from yoga teacher training, (although I do have homework I need to do to prepare for next week). Eric is still sick, so we don’t have plans — we walked dogs this morning, then I went to my Saturday Pilates class, got in the pool and sauna after, then I came home, ate leftovers, got on the couch and pretended to watch TV but slept though most of it. I just got off the phone after talking to my mom and remembered I hadn’t written a blog post yet today.

As I stand here typing, I realize I’m not sure if I have anything of value to tell you. What I can say is that on this week off from work, two conflicting feelings arise — one is how much better I feel being away from the stress and overwhelm and confusion of that particular effort, and two is the closer I get to quitting and being done, the more anxiety I start to feel about money. There are going to be some big adjustments and there are times it’s going to feel hard and I might even second guess my choice, and yet I KNOW it’s the right thing to do, that I will feel so much better and be some version of happy and things will work out and we’ll be fine. That’s the thing about the right thing — just because it’s right doesn’t mean it’s perfect or even easy.

Gratitude Friday (NaBloPoMo Day 23)

1. Morning sky, preferably on a morning walk, although to be fair I haven’t been on many this week. My knees have not been doing too good lately. I’m trying to not be sad about it, but it’s hard when you are hurting and just want to be able to move.

2. The season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s when Eric starts sitting in front of the “fire,” and naps and cuddling are the biggest priorities.

3. Christmas cactus blooms. Although, they actually start blooming around Thanksgiving.

4. Eric. He’s been sick all week with a cold, but he still is out walking the dogs and making good food.

5. Ringo and Sam. Sam has been taking a bit longer walks and still doing okay, so our fingers and paws are crossed that will stick. Ringo turned FIVE this week. Time goes way way way too fast.

Bonus joy: sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar, the Gooseberry jam my aunt sent me, sparkling apple cider, my infrared heating pad, sleeping in, a warm shower, leftovers for days, getting our snow tires on, having the week off because we both really really needed it, good TV (I just finished watching the first season of I’m Sorry which was hilarious), good books (I’m finally reading Children of Blood and Bone, so good), teaching yoga, Pilates, the weekend off from yoga teacher training.

Three Truths and One Wish (NaBloPoMo Day 22)

The view from my front porch this morning

The view from my front porch this morning

1. Truth: Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong (article on The New York Times). “Not to rain on our Thanksgiving Day parade, but the story of the first Thanksgiving, as most Americans have been taught it, is not exactly accurate.” The innocent, feel good narrative of Native Americans and Pilgrims celebrating and feasting together is a fairy tale that obscures the truth about how we treated and continue to treat indigenous people. To ignore that truth and stuff your face, to rejoice about all the things you are thankful for, to rest and relax in the company of friends and family without taking even a moment to honor the harm that has been done to enable your good fortune and recommit to doing better is just gross.

2. Truth: The mistreatment of indigenous people continues. For example, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomed Pilgrims, but loses land on eve of Thanksgiving. There are so many more examples it’s an exhausting, overwhelming, unrelenting consideration. In this context, what does “Make America Great Again” really mean? What does it mean to have a day — a national holiday — where we celebrate ourselves, give thanks for all that we have but completely ignore all the suffering we’ve caused?

3. Truth: We can and must do better. Just some simple suggestions are: How to Support Indigenous People on Thanksgiving, and How to Talk to Your Family About Racism on Thanksgiving, and 5 Tips For So-Called White Allies This Thanksgiving, and Meditation on Gratitude and Joy.

One wish: May we fully know and face the truth. May we make reparations, strive to heal the hurt, turn our effort toward undoing the damage and easing the suffering. May we experience the joy of good food and good company without the taint of greed and oppression. May we experience the gratitude of doing the right, just, honorable thing. May we ALL be truly free to experience life and liberty, to pursue happiness.

NaBloPoMo Day 20

I think if you teach yoga the week of Thanksgiving and you don’t theme your class around the idea of gratitude, they revoke your teaching certification. Of course, I’m joking — sort of. It’s an obvious thing to focus on, especially this week. As I was planning my class today, it’s where I went, but with a slight twist.

I was thinking in particular of this quote from Pema Chödrön that I’ve used in my classes before. It goes like this,

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

I’ve had students tell me this is a bit dark, this particular explanation of gratitude and joy. To me it feels exactly right. So often we bypass the reality of the bad things that happen and head straight for gratitude, looking for the lesson we are sure is present in our current suffering and offering thanks. We believe that we must force ourselves to always focus on the positive, the “good,” and reject what’s bad. We think this makes us kinder, wiser, more highly evolved spiritual people.

I don’t think we need to do this. We are perfectly capable of sticking with the awfulness of what is happening, making room for all of it while still managing to find our joy. To be aware that things are hard and bad things happen isn’t any kind of denial of wonder, delight, the potential joy in our lives. We can stay open, be curious, and be present for all of it.

To practice gratitude, we often skip past joy. We list the things we are grateful for with a sense of duty, of obligation — we give thanks, look for ways to return the kindness. Appreciation is something we offer, extend out. I am going to suggest to my class today that we spend some time sinking into the joy we receive, open to it, let ourselves notice it, allow ourselves to fully experience it. My suggestion is going to be that we embody gratitude by feeling our joy.

Something Good (NaBloPoMo Day 19)

The birthday cake Eric made me yesterday. He even made the chocolate covered pretzels and graham crackers himself. And yes, we have been binge watching the new season of Great British Baking Show.

1. The *new* Black Friday. “This Black Friday, go with the new black: Spend at least part of the day making a Love List as a holiday gift for someone you love.”

2. I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering Kindle Edition, on Amazon for $1.99! Such a good book from such an amazing writer.

3. New report finds Cadbury has destroyed over 25,000 hectares of Orangutan habitat.

4. Serving Time, And Fighting California Wildfires For $2 A Day. This isn’t new news, but it needs to continue to be news until we wise up.

5. 70 Books Written by Black Women You Need on Your Bookshelf.

6. Cab Drivers Refuse To Pick Up Racists After Philly Rally With Proud Boys. In related news (as in “how regular people can be a part of the resistance”), White women saunter around in hoodies to prove Tennessee mall’s policy targets black people.

7. 11 Signs Of Gaslighting In Your Relationship, Beware!

8. In this week’s “People Behaving Badly,” Woman’s T-Shirt Made Someone Feel So “Unsafe” They Had To Call The Cops, and North Dakota Motel Won’t Rent Rooms to Native Americans, and A White College Professor Reportedly Called 911 Because A Black Student Put Her Feet On A Chair, and Man who called Pittsburgh synagogue massacre a “dry run” arrested days after brother’s suicide, and Hate crimes in America spiked 17 percent last year, FBI says, and Dunkin’ Donuts Owner Calls Cops on Black Woman During Dispute Over Free WiFi, and This man pulled over to berate a couple who was protesting a Confederate monument (video), and Indigenous women kept from seeing their newborn babies until agreeing to sterilization, says lawyer, and The Police Call Was Supposed to Be a Wellness Check on a Friend. So How Did Travis Jordan End Up Dead?, and What this “Nazi salute” prom photo says about the adults in the room.

9. This man left New York’s nightlife scene behind to bring clean water to over 8 million people worldwide (video). One of my favorite charities.

10. Joe Biden Adopts a Rescue Dog Named Major.

11. Trying to make balloon animals. (video) This guy’s videos where he tries to learn to make stuff are hilarious.

12. Neo-Nazis Have No First Amendment Right to Harassment, Judge Rules on The New York Times.

13. When White Ladies Act Like They Want That Action, Give It to Them. In related news, Why Do White Women Keep Voting for the GOP and Against Their Own Interests?, and Most White Women Are Very Happy With White Supremacy.

14. Georgia’s Stacey Abrams Admits Defeat, Says Kemp Used ‘Deliberate’ Suppression To Win. In related news, Georgia Lawmaker Arrested Amid Protest To Count Every Vote In Governor Race, and Federal judge finds Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act by rejecting ballots.

15. This Bread-Baking, Ex-Con Entrepreneur Is Creating Jobs For Others With Criminal Pasts. They also make amazing bread.

16. Judge Orders White House To Reinstate Jim Acosta’s Press Credentials.

17. Enjoy this video of a girl who used to be paralyzed surprising her nurse.

18. Ever wondered how sounds in movies are made? (video)

19. What Is More Important Than Weight Loss? “F*ck you and your ‘Wellness Committee.'”

20. This immigrant-owned restaurant in DC always has its doors open for those in need. (video)

21. Generous but useless donations flood wildfire evacuation centers. Here’s what to send.

22. For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies.

23. 80 years apart and the best of friends. (video)

24. New Dallas district attorney wants to charge officer with murder for killing Botham Jean. In related news, White Man Who Shot at Lost Black Boy in Michigan Will Serve at Least 4 Years on The New York Times.

25. Doctors who support gun reform are showing the gruesome reality they deal with each day, after the NRA told them to ‘stay in their lane’. (video)

26. Russian Fisherman Posts Terrifying Creatures Of The Deep Sea, And People Want Him To Stop. Equal parts creepy and cool.

27. Freddie Mercury and the Erasure of Queerness in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’

28. Dogs working sheep…Impressive video!

29. Meditation Is a Powerful Mental Tool—and For Some People It Goes Terribly Wrong.

30. Creativity is Messy: Questions to Explore When You’re Being Harsh with Yourself from Jena Schwartz.

31. 25 Reasons To Keep Making Stuff from Chuck Wendig.

32. 100 Easy Ways to Make the World Better for Trans People.

33. Seattle high-school teacher shares ‘the wonder of books’ with students on a different kind of field trip.

34. Speaking of my husband, Hal Isaacson; 7/1/74 – 10/27/18 – Forever.

35. 9 Things I Wish People Knew About Me As A Highly Sensitive Introvert.

NaBloPoMo Day 18

It’s my 51st birthday today. I have very little time this morning before I need to shower and get to yoga teacher training, where I’ll spend most of the day. I slept in this morning, knowing I should prioritize rest over everything else, but that meant I lost two hours I’d normally have to meditate and write and take things slow. Instead, I got up and started working on my homework for teacher training. I was finished with it on Friday, but I keep futzing with it. There’s one part I’ll have to teach later this afternoon, and I wanted to run though it one more time, fine tune it. And knowing the way I teach (one part planning, one part showing up and responding to what happens), I’ll probably change it again while I’m actually teaching.

It feels a little unfair to be making so much effort on my birthday. I’d rather stay home with Eric and the dogs, relax, maybe go see a movie, go out to eat, but what I’m doing instead is important to me too. And I really can’t complain at all because I’m taking next week off from work. Don’t feel sorry for me for one second. Do something nice for yourself instead — it’s my birthday, I make the rules today and that’s what I want, kind and gentle reader. And if you can’t think of something nice to do for yourself, do it for someone else. Ease suffering, in yourself and in the world. That’s all I ever want, no matter what day it is.