Gratitude Friday

1. Happy New Year! All our Christmas presents got put away or put to use, and our tree came down and got recycled yesterday. I miss the lights, but the herons will stay inside in the corner by the front window at least until the snow melts.

2. Morning walks. I missed all of them this week. I was subbing some yoga classes and the first part of the week was super cold and Sam’s restricted to just short walks again as he tweaked his back on the ice, but Eric takes lovely pictures so I feel like I was there.

3. Expecting bad news but it turning out okay. It puts everything into perspective when you are expecting the worst and that doesn’t happen. It makes all the other stuff you were worried about before seem like not such a big deal. Also, therapy helps.

4. Practice. Yoga, writing, meditation, and dog. These all help too, (see #3).

5. My tiny family. Sam tweaked his back again on the ice, so he’s been getting lots of special attention, (the above picture is Eric using the cold laser on him). It’s trash day today because of the holiday, and both boys are at the window telling off the trash collectors right now. It’s super cute because sometimes they start off barking and then switch to singing and howling, which Sam isn’t very good at but that makes it even cuter. I’m happy to have another week to spend with Eric before he goes back to work.

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Bonus joy: our new ice cream maker from Eric’s mom and dad, hanging out with Mikalina, going to lunch and a movie with Chelsey and Jon (and the movie being good), good TV, good movies, good books (lots of new ones as Christmas gifts I can’t wait to read), making a full page “2020 vision” to-do list and crossing off four things the very first day, updating my resume and realizing I have been working hard and accomplishing a lot, long naps, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, subbing a yoga class and seeing students I haven’t seen in awhile, Sarah’s New Year’s Day yoga mandala class on a day when I really really really needed it, realizing my car will be paid off in another year, the new rugs we ordered (we finally have a dog old enough that we can legitimately worry about him slipping and falling), getting in the pool and sauna at the gym, sunshine, leftover sweet potato and black bean quesadillas, clementines.

 

Something Good

Lee Martinez Farm, image by Eric

1. Some “What Ifs” For Dealing With Fatphobia In The New Year from Dances with Fat. In related news, How to Deal When Your Friends Go On Diets and New Year’s Resolutions That Aren’t Diets, also from Dances with Fat.

2. More book lists! My reading year, 2019 from Austin Kleon and 100 Must Read Books of 2019.

3. CREATE.2020 with Karen Walrond, “a 15-day, self-guided journaling course to help you reflect on the previous year, dream about the new one, and help guide you to actualize your best intentions for 2020.”

4. When Your Expectations of Others is Making You Frustrated from Zen Habits. In related news, Toward peace, from Seth Godin.

5. Journaling Prompts to Relieve Stress: 10 for Morning + 10 for Evening from Be More With Less. Even if you don’t journal, these would work as contemplations too, I suspect.

6. These are the charities where your money will do the most good, a great set of tips and strategies for giving.

7. Artists Photographs 25 Kids From Around The World With What They Eat In One Week.

8. 7 Questions for the New Year.

9. The Best Advice You’ve Ever Received (and Are Willing to Pass On) on The New York Times.

10. I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. “A glimpse of the suburban grotesque, featuring Russian mobsters, Fox News rage addicts, a caged man in a sex dungeon, and Dick Cheney.”

11. 20 Tiny Changes You Can Make in Your Home to Make Life Simpler in 2020.

12. Hand-Stitched Flowers and Landscapes Revitalize Found Photographs by Artist Han Cao.

13. Ilana Glazer Strikes Out On Her Own In New Stand-Up Special.

14. 1,000 people sent me their addiction treatment stories. Here’s what I learned. “Here are four reasons America’s addiction treatment system is broken.”

15. Why America loves — and hates — outspoken young women. “Women like Greta Thunberg and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were leaders in the 2010s. And they were vilified for it.”

16. Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis To Start Treatment For Pancreatic Cancer. May he be well.

17. How Women Are Using Knitting And Needlework As A Form Of Protest. From a year ago, but still relevant.

18. 10 Black Web Series To Put On Your Binge-Watching List For The Holidays.

19. You Can Now Download a Collection of Ancient Japanese Wave Illustrations for Free.

20. Move over, Avengers! This little girl is one incredible superhero. (video)

21. #NotAllHistorians: Some White People Are Upset That the New York Times’ 1619 Project Isn’t Centered in Whiteness.

22. Recipe I want to try: Onion Bacon Jam.

23. How a Stock Photography Project Is Confronting Fat Bias.

24. Philadelphia Man Wakes Up To Find Malnourished, Stray Dog In His Home After Accidentally Leaving His Front Door Open.

25. Calories In = Calories Out is BS.

26. If You’ve Survived A Gaslighting Parent, You Won’t Love ‘A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood.’

27. Parents Give Toddler A Banana As A Prank And The Video Of Her Delighted Reaction Goes Viral.

28. The Instagram Community That’s Decolonizing Fitness.

29. Kids Retell The Christmas Nativity Story While Adults Act It Out In This Hilarious Video.

30. Bonsai Master Masahiko Kimura Creates Gravity-Defying Mini Forests.

31. It’s None Of My Business If Homeless People Use The Money I Give Them For Drugs.

32. Our Year in Poems on The New York Times.

33. Dog Is Stolen, Found 2,000 Miles Away, And Returned Via 30-Person Relay Team In Time For Christmas.

Gratitude Friday

I can’t believe we got them to sit still and look in the general direction of the camera

1. Merry everything, happy always. We had a lovely, quiet and calm celebration, opened presents, cooked and shared and ate lots of good food, listened to Christmas music, took naps, and watched “Elf.”

2. I’m retired. On our walk this morning, I felt that familiar post-Christmas anxiety, that sinking feeling, the awareness that no matter how rested or good I was feeling, I was going to have to go back to work and that was going to ruin it. Then I remembered I’m retired and never have to go back.

3. The best Christmas present I can’t even tell you about. A dear friend recently got something they’ve wanted for such a long time. When I found out and tried to tell Eric, I burst into tears but was laughing at the same time. He said he’s never seen someone do that before, and it’s never happened to me, that particular mix of grief over everything they’ve been through, joy about what’s possible, and relief that the long dark night of waiting just might be over.

4. Eric is really good at gift giving. There were two giant boxes under the tree and he told me even if I guessed a million guesses, I’d never figure it out. He was right, two brass herons for my garden. He also buys me at least a few gifts just because he knows they’ll make me laugh.

5. My tiny family. My favorites.

Bonus joy: texting with my brother, cute pictures of his tiny family, talking to my mom on the phone, hanging out with Chloe’ and Mikalina, breakfast with Carrie, aqua aerobics, sitting in the sauna with Eric, naps, clean sheets, Christmas dinner leftovers for days, the new pen Eric bought me, good TV (Season 3 of Better Things is streaming on Hulu, and I accidentally started watching season one and it was so good I decided to rewatch the first two seasons before starting the new one), Amazon gift cards so I can load up my Kindle with more books, reading in bed at night while Eric and the dogs sleep, therapy, my new favorite super soft pj pants that are my self-employed introverted hsp uniform, yoga, meditation, writing, morning walks with Eric and the dogs.

Something Good

Image by Eric, from their walk

1. 27 Responses to (Never-Ending) Diet Talk. “For fat people and those with eating disorders, diet talk isn’t as benign as it may seem. Here are some ways to respond to it.” In related news, World’s Worst Holiday Diet Tips and If Diet Company Slogans Were Honest, both from Dances with Fat.

2. Successful creatives from Seth Godin, because this, “the most reliably successful people I know are precisely the opposite. They are desperate to see and know what’s making other people tick. They actively engage, and they do it with empathy and generosity.”

3. More reading lists! Twelve feminist books everyone should read, The Award-Winning Novels of 2019, Happy Merry Memoir Reading, and The 50 Greatest Coming-of-Age Novels, and Decolonization and anti-racism: a reading list, 160+ novels by black women, 2000 – 2019, Favorite Books of 2019, and These are the top 20 books of 2019, according to Goodreads users, Award-Winning Novels of 2019, The most anticipated memoirs of 2020, and The Best Queer YA Novels of 2019.

4. Roo’s Story – Pet Cancer Awareness Month from one of our favorite trainers. Roo really was something special, and this story reminds me so much of both our cancer dogs.

5. Black Women Led the Way to Trump’s Impeachment. “We have never been Team Trump, and we never will be.”

6. Grief Becomes You by Maya Stein, “a collection of poems, essays, images, and other narratives of loss, a compilation of work from nearly 60 contributors from the United States and abroad.”

7. New Zealand man sets up ‘stick library’ for dogs.

8. the_happy_broadcast on Instagram, “Anxiety free news, a counter hate & fear project that features positive news from around the world illustrated by @maurogatti & friends.”

9. Fifteen Ways To Survive The Coming Collapse Of Civilization, from 2012 but worth a reread.

10. Your output depends on your input from Austin Kleon.

11. 31 Days of Devotion hosted by Adreanna Limbach, who is joined by “6 teachers for this FREE, online, annual mediation series that was developed to help you get grounded, clear, and intentional in the New Year.”

12. Koala-sniffing detection dog the latest weapon in saving wildlife after devastating bushfires.

13. I’m Not Your Typical Ultramarathoner. Here’s What I Want Everyone To Know About Size And Fitness. “Ultrarunner Mirna Valerio is here to tell you that the trails don’t care what you look like.”

14. Ram Dass, spiritual pioneer, dies at 88. In related news, The Wisdom of Ram Dass Is Now Online: Stream 150 of His Enlightened Spiritual Talks as Free Podcasts.

15. 70-Year-Old Woman Cleans Up 52 Beaches in a Year “For Her Grandchildren.”

16. Reforming My Relationship With Food and Exercise. “I deserve to be nourished and fulfilled. I deserve to be abundant. I needed to stop thinking of exercise as a punishment for the way I look.”

17. Striking Portraits Featuring Powerful Women of Color Painted by Artist Tim Okamura.

18. In Defense of McMindfulness. “Modern mindfulness may not bring about a social revolution, but was that the practice’s original goal?”

19. The Decade in Pictures on The New York Times.

20. 69-Vehicle Pileup on Virginia Highway Injures 51, Police Say on The New York Times.

21. Letter to the Editor: Historians Critique The 1619 Project, and We Respond on The New York Times. “Five historians wrote to us with their reservations. Our editor in chief replies.”

22. ‘The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show’ Revives A Classic Holiday Tradition.

23. UPS Delivery Guy vs. Icy Driveway. (video) “Last week we had an ice storm. My driveway was smooth, wet ice… super slippery. I heard the UPS truck pull up so I opened the garage and told him to just leave the package at the sidewalk and I’d figure out a way to get it, but he insisted on getting it to me. Above and beyond… this guy is awesome.”

24. Vaping Patients May Be Prone to Relapse, C.D.C. Warns on The New York Times. In related news, CDC Confirms A THC Additive, Vitamin E Acetate, Is The Culprit In Most Vaping Deaths, and Researchers still striving to understand cause of vaping-related illnesses, and Young people who vape are basically in denial about the risk of lung damage, says study.

25. Burnout Symptoms and Treatment. This is such an accurate description of what happened to me, what I’m experiencing, it’s almost embarrassing. Apparently, I’m a total cliche.

26. They asked, you answered: Heartsick Richmond animal shelter overwhelmed by locals’ love – and food.

27. The “four right exertions” of Buddhism teach you how to regain control of your own energy.

28. How Do You Even Get Started Writing a Book?

29. The House just voted to impeach Trump. In related news, Trump Wanted to Get Something Off His Chest, and in His Letter to Pelosi He Did on The New York Times, and President Donald Trump has officially been impeached.

30. Recipes I want to try: Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars.

31. 11 memes that captured the decade.

32. A Georgia family found an owl hiding in their Christmas tree.

33. SPLC, allies sue ICE for ignoring medical, mental health and disability needs of detained immigrants. #AbolishICE

34. How Do I Get This Out? Your Guide To Stain Removal.

35. Lynda Barry: A Comic Exercise in Building Character. “Create Your Characters and Build Their World in Less Than an Hour.”

36. 7 Comedy Specials That Transformed Stand-Up in the 2010s.

37. Four Students Wrote A Letter To Neighbor Asking If They Could Walk Her Dog, And “The Dog” Wrote Back.

38. Man Refuses To Pay Babysitter, So She Shares Their Text Convo To Shame Him.

39. Review: ‘The Rise Of Skywalker’ Makes For An Exciting, Exhaustive, Effortful Ending.

40. So, I’ve Been Breaking Up With Random People Over Text Message Again.

Gratitude Friday

Merry everything, happy always

1. Winter holiday season. This year it’s been especially lovely for me. In years past, I spent the weeks before scrambling to get CSU work finished before heading out for a 4-6 day writing and meditation retreat and scrambling either just before I left or just after I got back to get presents bought, wrapped, and shipped, and even with all that effort, usually because of the dates of the retreat, I’d miss being home for Eric’s birthday. This year NONE of that happened. I wasn’t working, I didn’t go on retreat, and I had all the presents bought, wrapped and shipped by Eric’s birthday, which we celebrated together. Then I found myself with a whole week left to enjoy the anticipation of the big holiday without any of the stress and speed. I could get used to this.

2. Holiday traditions with Eric. We got a tree again this year, only our 3rd or 4th one, and last night we went to a holiday themed show at the Lincoln Center, a venue only 10 minutes away from our house. I was way into Mannheim Steamroller in high school. That said, Eric and I went to their Christmas show last night, and it was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. Like at one point I leaned over and said to Eric, “if I were high right now, I’d be so freaked out.” It was like a Christmas rave. The light show and supplemental video was bonkers (at one point in the show, a song ended and the entire audience was so distracted by the accompanying video, no one clapped), and even though it was a Christmas themed concert, the arrangements were so fantastic, I didn’t even recognize most of it. Good show, just bonkers. We’ve been watching holiday themed TV at night and listening to Christmas music. We’ll go out for Chinese food at our favorite restaurant on Christmas eve. I went to the grocery store today to get most of what we need for Christmas dinner before things get too busy, and even though I forgot my list at home and Eric was napping so couldn’t text me a picture of it, I got everything but two items.

3. Flowers in the bathroom, holiday themed.

4. Teaching holiday themed yoga. My Tuesday class was one of the last ones most of my regular class would be at, so we had some fun renaming poses (downward dog became “downward reindeer”) and making up some moves (“snow angels” and “dancing reindeer”), listening to Christmas music, and sharing gifts. It was fun.

There’s a container of cheddar biscuits on the counter and they are trying convince me they are “for dogs”

5. My tiny family. They are the best.

This little dude turned 52 this week. This is him in a suit his mom made for him, and it’s one of my favorite pictures.

Bonus joy: hanging out with Mikalina, writing with Carrie, talking to my mom, running into friends I haven’t seen in a while, grocery shopping (I know, I’m weird like that), having all the laundry done even if it’s not quite put away, the twinkle of Christmas lights in the dark, texting with my brother, finding a present the two year old liked, good TV (even if it’s sort of dumb, or maybe especially if it’s sort of dumb because sometimes that’s all you can handle and exactly what you want), good books (I’m finishing The Night Circus), impeachment (even though I don’t actually want him removed because Pence is just as bad just more sneaky about it, and I’m not feeling hopeful he won’t get reelected, but at least there has finally been some shred of consequence for his actions), a good Pilates class, the pool and sauna finally reopening, a massage, a big salad, good bread.

Something Good

From our walk

1. Building a Mindful New Year, a FREE online program with “6 Transcendent Themes / 6 Buddhist Teachers / 6 Meditations to Guide You into 2020.”

2. Eat to Love e-course. “A six-week online program based on the bestselling book Eat to Love: A Mindful Guide to Transforming Your Relationship with Food, Body, and Life. Led by nutrition therapist, meditation instructor, and certified Intuitive Eating counselor, Jenna Hollenstein, the Eat to Love e-course is a supportive and enriching environment to change your relationship with food and your body in a lasting way.”

3. Go, Dog, Go from Jena Schwartz. Because this, “The world will not crumble if you pause. The world will not crumble if I pause. The world will not crumble if the thing you are working on takes much, much longer than you ever could have imagined. But the world might crumble if you ignore what your soul is telling you, if you deny what your body needs, and if you override the deep knowing that never, ever leaves.”

4. Jillian Michaels Is Still Trying to Glamorize Bullying from Dances with Fat. “Fat people being allowed to exist, be happy, do stuff, live our lives, achieve things, be in the spotlight etc. aren’t ‘glamorizing fatness’ we’re just being happy, doing stuff, living our lives, achieving things, and being in the spotlight…There is no way to go ‘too far’ in the direction of people being treated with respect and equality regardless of size.” Also from Ragen, Fat People and Your Tax Dollars.

5. Manifest 2020 with Andrea Scher. “The New Year has always been such a rich time of reflection – a time to acknowledge how you grew this year, how you were brave, what was hard…and declare your year complete. This creates a beautiful space to vision what is to come. What if you could name your dreams and desires for 2020 and create a plan to make them reality?”

6. Read the Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump on The New York Times.

7. Merriam-Webster dictionary just announced the personal pronoun ‘they’ as 2019’s word of the year.

8. You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting.

9. The Practice of Using December for Retreat, Reflection & Letting Go.

10. Good things from Susannah Conway: The Unraveled Heart, “a soulful monthly subscription to support you in building a deeper and more nourishing relationship with your self,” Find Your Word, “a FREE 5-day email course to help you figure out your word for the coming year,” and Unravel Your Year, a FREE workbook that helps you reflect and look ahead.

11. How the director of ‘Waves’ constructed one of the year’s most poignant soundtracks.

12. More reading lists! The Ultimate Best Books of 2019 List, and A 2020 reading challenge: 52 books by women of color in 52 weeks, and We read these 29 books in 2019. You should too, and The Best Reviewed Books of 2019: Memoir and Biography, and The Best Poetry Books of 2019.

13. Hey Yoga Teacher, Stop Touching People For No Reason.

14. Greta Asks Media to Focus on Other Young Climate Activists.

15. Fossil fuel companies responsible for more than half of ocean acidification, study says. “It certainly can’t hurt for individuals to try to limit their consumption of fossil fuels and other products that are the result of oil — things like single-use plastics, for instance. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that even with all of the consumption of these products that we are responsible for, the majority of the burden still lies with the companies that have chosen to continue extract, refine and peddle fossil fuels despite being armed with knowledge well in advance that doing so would damage the planet. No harm will come from reducing your own reliance on fossil fuels and related products — but more good will come from holding the real culprits responsible for their actions.”

16. Have you swept your rhino today? (video)

17. Weinstein and His Accusers Reach Tentative $25 Million Deal on The New York Times.

18. This is what an antiracist America would look like. How do we get there? “Opposing racism is not the same as building an antiracist society. Our new series, Antiracism and America, looks at the structures that sustain a racist society – and how we dismantle them.”

19. This app matches marginalized communities to therapists who share their background. “Teletherapy app Ayana matches users to licensed professionals based on their culture, race, and experiences. Can it help close the mental healthcare gap?”

20. We need to learn how to relax, without guilt. “Being busy all the time is part of the way we live. But, whether gardening, reading or spacing out on the sofa, taking time to rest is just as important.”

21. These Students Want to Create a Required K-12 Racial Literacy Curriculum. “The teen authors of Tell Me Who You Are want to change how American students are taught about race.”

22. Gifts For Writers 2019 from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

23. 21 Day Meditation Challenge Winter 2020. “A 21-Day Immersion in Wisdom, Compassion, and Community.”

24. Home: a 30 Day Yoga Journey with Yoga with Adriene.

25. How a denial of tenure at Harvard became a national controversy. “The decision is a blow to ethnic studies departments everywhere.”

26. Judiciary Committee Report Argues Trump ‘Betrayed the Nation’ on The New York Times. “The 658-page report asserts that President Trump should be impeached for abusing his office and obstructing the congressional inquiry into his actions.”

27. 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2019.

28. Hallmark Apologizes, Reverses Decision on Same-Sex Wedding Ad.

29. Most Women You Know Are Angry — and That’s All Right. This article is a few years old, but I feel like some people need reminding.

30. Experience: a burglar made me think I was losing my mind. “Things were going missing, but everybody told me it was probably nothing.” Something similar happened to me, although as far as I know nothing was taken. I’d come home and sometimes the inside of our house smelled like cigarettes, and someone kept tying all my shoes in my closet when I always put them away untied. One time I went home early from work because I was so sure someone had been in our house and I needed to go check. It made me feel crazy. After we moved out, we found out the maintenance man regularly went into people’s apartments when they weren’t there, without permission. He was a smoker.

31. Author Interview: ‘Imagine Pleasant Nonsense’ With ‘Strange Planet’ Creator Nathan Pyle.

32. ‘I Refuse to Listen to White Women Cry.’ “Activist Rachel Cargle has built a brand — and a business — by calling out racial injustices within feminism.”

33. Joe Hammond’s final article: ‘I’ve been saying goodbye to my family for two years.’ “Last year the author wrote about parenting with motor neurone disease. Here, he reflects on the end of life, before his death two weeks ago.”

34. Melania Trump Thinks Greta Thunberg Had POTUS Attack Coming.

35. Cards to Help Fat Patients at the Doctor’s Office – English and French Versions from Dances with Fat.

36. Fresh Air on NPR: What Happens To The Stuff You Donate?

37. For the Holidays, the Gift of Self-Care on The New York Times. “A Buddhist teacher offers five simple steps to quiet your mind and soothe your stress any time of year.”

38. Adorable doggo sneaks into the house next door to join their kids’ bath every night.

Poetry is Weights and Measure

Yesterday I did some wild writing with Mikalina. As my teacher Laurie Wagner describes it, wild writing is a timed writing practice where, “we write as fast as we can, pen never leaving the page. By writing so quickly we are able to push past our inner critic and our ego and all the ways we stay trapped in looking good. This gives us a chance to move into a less self conscious, loose groove where, if we’re lucky we may stumble into the fertile imagination that lingers within us, conjuring up stories and memories that are waiting to be written.”

To start one round of writing yesterday, Mikalina read Maya Stein’s poem, weights and measure. A round of wild writing always starts with the reading of a poem and the suggestion of a few select lines or phrases to use as a starting point, then we write for about 10-12 minutes. When I shared my response, Mikalina told me I should post it to my blog, so here it is.

When I read Maya Stein, I somehow imagine that she writes each poem as quickly as we wild write, that what she writes comes out fast and fully formed. Clearly that’s not possible, not how it happens. Sometimes, I’m sure a line rises to the top like a bubble in the water, a fart in the bathtub, but it doesn’t always work like that.

Writing poetry is about space, about lingering, about circling back to the thought just before this one, or that thing that happened 20 years ago. It’s the smell that triggers a memory. It’s also getting somewhere and realizing you don’t remember the trip at all, you simply woke up and found yourself where you were going.

Poetry is like hunger, like forgetting to eat, like dreaming, like a long walk in the woods where you are surprised by a hummingbird or a bear, where you get lost or you find a particular rock that you just have to put in your pocket, take home and put on your writing shrine, always and forever able to remember where you found it, where it came from.

Poetry is that dream you can’t quite remember. Poetry is the map of an unknown territory that you study so much it’s like you’ve been there before, already. Poetry is like water, like air, like blood, like dirt, like roots, like waves. Poetry is grains of rice you can boil and eat even though before that they were hard and entirely inedible.

Poetry is the white noise that helps you sleep, the music playing in another room your ears strain to recognize. Poetry is citrus. Poetry is when Eric roasts peppers in our tiny kitchen in our tiny house and my eyes burn from the smell. Poetry makes you cry in the same way cutting an onion or a strong wind does. Poetry is your baby blanket, the satin edge of it frayed in one corner from all those nights you rubbed it against your cheek so you could fall asleep.