Tag Archives: Charity:Water

Something Good

Bench at Greyrock, but Eric Salahub

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

1. The Sunday Rumpus Essay: Grief Magic by Emily Rapp.

2. How To Thrive At Work (Even If You Can’t Stand Your Job) on MindBodyGreen.

3. Wisdom from Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, Is Your Gut Instinct Your God Instinct?

4. Celebrating Little Steps on Becoming Minimalist.

5. Always Go to the Funeral, a This I Believe essay on NPR. I learned this the hard way.

6. First Listen: Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight…, Neko Case’s new album on NPR.

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

Bench at Greyrock, by Eric Salahub

7. On Recovering the Body, Monday Discipline: Rest and Mindful Friday: You’re Already Awesome.

8. For Apologists, a Confessional Phone Line Is Reborn on The New York Times.

9. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves on Facebook,

The only thing in your way right now — is an idea. Let go of that one idea or story and the universe can rush in with a thousand new possibilities. Everything is waiting to support you. Let go of what you “think” is in the way and discover the way.

And,

Are you waiting for your one big chance? There is no one big chance. There are a thousand chances every day. In an inspired life, we keep loving, showing up, practicing our promises ourselves. We’re not looking for a ship to come in. We’re sailing daily.

10. The story I cannot edit from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

11. A Love Note to the “Hypersensitive,” “Too Nice,” & “Takers-of-It-Too-Personally” from Randi Buckley.

12. The Blessing Is Next to the Wound, Dani Shapiro on Positively Positive.


13. 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert on Huffington Post. I’m pretty overtly an introvert, but I still liked this list.

14. Wisdom and other good stuff from Elephant Journal: 50 Reasons Why You Are Absolutely Beautiful, and Ashton Kutcher Reveals His Real Name & Inspires in Speech at Teen Choice Awards and Baby, I was Born to Blog (amen, Britt).

15. How Four Years Can (and Should) Transform You: Mark Edmundson’s Essays Ask, “Why Teach?” from The New York Times.

16. When you shouldn’t give up sugar on first ourselves, in which Karly Randolph Pitman says,

But if you feel that your desire for sugar is really a symbol of a deeper desire – a desire to let your deepest essence unfold in the world – don’t cut out the sugar. Instead, listen to your desire. Befriend, allow and listen to your longings for sugar. Sit with them. Let your tears fall and ask yourself: How is my longing for sugar my voice, and what is it trying to say? What I am truly needing?

Listen to this voice. There’s so much wisdom in it.

And then be willing to go out on that limb – trusting what you hear – and live it. Let your deepest self speak, and your essence, unfold.

How many times, how many ways has Rachel Cole tried to tell me this? How many times do I need to hear it, from how many, before I finally get it?

18. Charity:Water is at it again.

17. Of tiny pink dumbbells and fat chicks from Carrie Patrick.

18. Thin Women: I’ve Got Your Back. Could You Get Mine? on Jezebel, in which Lindy West says, “ALL of our energy, collectively, no matter what our size, should be directed at the system that makes us hate ourselves for profit.” Amen.

19. What Happens Here Matters, living on the internet like I live on my block from Brit Hanson.

20. How I revolutionized my relationship to “doing”: Meet The Divine Medicine Woman & The Impeccable Street Sweeper from Danielle LaPorte. I think I need to fire my street sweeper.

21. Wisdom from Seth Godin, “Do you have three minutes?” The conservation of mental bandwidth and 120 seconds (shipping vs. rushing)

22. Wisdom from Marc and Angel Hack Life, 7 Questions You Are Too Scared to Ask and 10 Ways Happy People Prioritize Their To-Do Lists and 9 Things You Will Regret Not Doing Sooner.

23. The Many Flavours of Freedom from Deva Coaching.

24. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

You can cruise through life not letting anything touch you, but if you really want to live fully, if you want to enter into life, enter into genuine relationships with other people, with animals, with the world situation, you’re definitely going to have the experience of feeling provoked, of getting hooked, of shenpa. You’re not just going to feel bliss. The message is that when those feelings emerge, this is not a failure. This is the chance to cultivate maitri, unconditional friendliness toward your perfect and imperfect self.

25. Creating Your Habit Environment on Zen Habits.

26. #Inbound13 and the Culture of Caring from Susan Piver.

27. Architecture Student Bought a School Bus and Turned It Into Cozy Mobile Home from Bored Panda.

28. 10 small things you could do today that just might change your life (or at least your state of mind) from Justine Musk.

29. Monday Blues on SF Girl by Bay.

30. The 30-Day Negativity Cleanse on Live After Tampons. I’m in. What about you?

32. Wisdom from Your Inner Pilot Light,

Not sure whether you’re making the right decision, sunshine? Ask yourself these questions. 1. Does it make you feel free? 2. Is it in line with your vision and mission? 3. Does it feel authentic? 4. Will it help more people than it hurts? 5. Does it make you break into a happy dance? 6. Will it light my fire?


32. 18 Everyday Products You’ve Been Using Wrong on BuzzFeed.

33. Wisdom from Sharon Salzberg, “Generosity is the very first quality of an awakened mind.”

34. Poem shared by Elizabeth Gilbert on Facebook, There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk.

35. Motherhood: The Big, Fat Fuck You on Scary Mommy. I’m not a mom, but I totally get this.

36. The Days Before Classes Begin by Jeff Oaks.

37. A free video series by SARK. Don’t miss it! on Superhero Life.

38. From Brave Girls Club,

Keep looking for goodness, beauty and truth. It is worth the effort. While life is sometimes dull and gray and even downright miserable in patches, there is always even more beauty and truth than darkness and ugliness. May you find other beautiful souls who are seeking just like you are. If you cannot find what you are seeking today, may you go out and create it. You are more than capable and you will effect more lives that you could ever know . . . especially your own. Keep looking. It is there, and you will find it.

39. From Positively Present Picks list, The Psychology of Color.

40. More on the wisdom of grief, from Amy McCracken on 3x3x365.

41. Bright Flashes, from Danielle Ate the Sandwich, just because.

42. 7 Truths About Being A Yoga Teacher That No One Will Ever Tell You on MindBodyGreen.

43. Brené Brown On Why Courage, Vulnerability And Authenticity Have To Be Practiced on Huffington Post, in which she says, “The people who practice authenticity work their ass off at it.”

44. Modern Love: Picking Up the Scent on the Road to Bliss on The New York Times, in which Tatjana Soli says,

Necessity creates opportunity that can lead to bliss… In my life, dogs have always been a part of that equation, a way to find the small, grounding moments in life — the grass, sunlight and sweet bite of plums — that we commonly call happiness.

45. If I Were a Dog, a beautiful poem by Richard Shelton.

Something Good

1. In honor of Memorial Day: Memorial Day: an open letter to our troops on the topic of bravery from Lisa Adams, and Shambhala Mountain Center is offering a special, extended weekend retreat for veterans and their families from August 1-4. “Outer War, Inner Peace will create a safe and intimate setting for discussions and a variety of mindfulness practices, including gentle and powerful healing work with horses. Scholarships are available.” Please share with anyone you think might benefit from this program.

2. New Hyperrealistic Sculptures by Ron Mueck on Bored Panda. So freaky.

3. 10 Simple Ways to Eat Clean & Save Green from Kris Carr.

4. Why it’s so hard to be good (and how to begin) from Sayta on Writing Our Way Home. This one really has me thinking.

5. 26 Steps to Living a Life You Love from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

6. Oklahoma Tornado Survivor Finds Missing Dog During Live Interview.
Instead of reading about all the scary, sad, terrible things, I watched this video.

7. The Obstacle is the Path on Zen Habits. I know this, but sometimes I forget. It’s good to be reminded.

8. Simplify Your Life and Quiet Your Mind on The Spin Cycle and Your Definitive Summer Slow Down Guide on Be More With Less. Courtney Carver’s posts end up on this list almost every week. Maybe I should just put a permanent list item that says “Read Be More with Less.” She’s also doing a Charity:Water campaign for her birthday, because she’s awesome.

9. “Fortunately, it is not required for happiness.” 7 words to re-focus your mind on what matters. from Alexandra Franzen. Same here — maybe you should just take it for granted that I will be telling you every week to read something Alexandra has written, consider it a standing order?

10. Indie Kindred Trailer, a documentary by Jen Lee. Can’t wait to see it.

11. Daily Rocks from Patti Digh: your daily rock : be selfish sometimes and your daily rock : trust yourself.

12. Luke’s Barely Habitable, a video tour of a 78-square-foot live/work apartment in Manhattan. He pays the same amount for rent as my mortgage on an 1100 square foot house. Every video like this inspires me to downsize, start getting rid of stuff, get clear about what I really need.

13. 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, a set of gorgeous pictures.

14. This wisdom from the Dalai Lama,

Whether one believes in a religion
or not, and whether one believes
in rebirth or not, there isn’t
anyone who doesn’t appreciate
kindness and compassion.

We are all the same — we just want to be happy and safe.

15. Super Summer Challange on Back to Her Roots. This would be super fun and of benefit, if I weren’t already doing one million other things, (yes, I said one million).

16. From Couch Potato to One of the World’s Fittest Menon Forks Over Knives — also very inspiring but probably not something I’m going to do this summer.

17. lisa congdon : THink — a glimpse into the studio + creative world of the artist from Woodnote Photography. I love Lisa Congdon, her art and her story, and love to hear the stories behind people’s tattoos, so this interview is a win/win.

18. My diet secret…The ONLY diet you will ever need! from Kute Blackson. If you have body or food issues, if you struggle, you have got to read this post, watch the video. What Kute has to say here is spot on, and he delivers his message with a huge smile and a ton of energy. Watch it. I’m not kidding. You can thank me later.

19. Creative Living with Jamie: Eric Maisel, Jamie’s weekly podcast interview with a creative person. I mention it this week for a special reason — that Jill she refers to at the very end is ME! But seriously, if you are a creative type, do yourself a favor and take a look at her podcast archive.

20. Convos with my 2-Year-Old, Episode OneI have it on good authority that this video is pretty accurate, not just of this guy’s 2 year old, but of kids in general.

21. roots, on Doorways Traveler, where Lisa Field-Elliot shares this poem,

Allow, by Dana Faulds
There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream and it will create a new
channel. Resist, and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.
Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild and the weak; fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practice
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.

22. This wisdom from Kurt Vonnegut,

Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Which is good news, because apparently, according to this comic, I am an artist.

you-might-be-an-artist-if-640

23. Fear & Loathing on Facebookfrom Real Mom Nutrition.

24. How buying a pair of mom pants led to an epiphany from Wellness by Design. All I have to say in response to this is amen, and thank you.

25. Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe unlocked and on display after nearly 60 years.

26. When she comes home from a long day at school, having a bad day, been told off or sad… She cuddles her best friend. This was on Reddit, and I’m totally in love with it. It makes me wish my dogs were a tiny bit bigger.

girlandbestfriend

27. From Your Inner Pilot Light,

When you notice a sensation or symptom in your body, that’s me talking to you, my love. You know that, right? Sometimes you can be a wee bit stubborn. Sometimes you don’t listen when I whisper. Sometimes I have to get scrappy and start bellowing at you in ways I know will catch your attention. Don’t make me yell, my love.

28. Here’s How Austin Kleon Writes on Copy Blogger. At one point, Austin shares this John Cleese quote, “Creativity is not a talent, it’s a way of operating.”

29. Busy Philipps on The Conversation talking about body image.

30. Cabin Porn, shared by SF Girl by Bay. I could get really lost in this site.

31. Freebie | Ephemera from Goodnight Little Spoon, shared by Pugly Pixel.

32. 22 Ways To Get Your Vegan Snack Attack On from oh she glows, shared by Patti Digh on her Thinking Thursday list.

33. Avocado Frozen Yogurt recipe, shared by Kind Over Matter.

34. 70 Cutie Baby Animals Bring You a Good Mood, shared by Positively Present.

35. How to Dance Properly, shared by Susannah Conway on her Something for the Weekend post. Oh my, this brings back memories and brought up lots of laughs.

36. Shared by Tammy on her Rowdy Kittens Happy Links list: Three Essential Elements of Personal Power on Always Well Within (I found this super interesting because what she’s describing is what I would call basic goodness), Famous Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers on Brain Pickings, and My writing practise on Beautiful Again.

37. 21 Love Lessons They Didn’t Teach You in School from Rebelle Society.

38. 10 Best Cases of On Air Giggles from Hello Giggles.

Something Good

frozenpond021. My heart is broken, but please don’t try to fix it from Heather Plett.

2. On clarity, crapness & tiny flames from Susannah Conway.

3. Silence and Grief and Permission from Annie Neugebauer.

4. Yelling Mime, “Quiet People, Loud Minds… To those who silently live in their heads.”

5. “If you do good, you’ll feel good”: Ann Curry explains origins of #26Acts of Kindness, and the 26 Acts of Kindness Facebook page. Also, #26acts of Kindness, I’m in @AnnCurry :: Are you? Plus a ton of ideas, videos & printables to aid you! from Kind Over Matter.

6. Dear 2012… a writing exercise, from Sarah Salway.

7. SPCA Driving Dogs. I sent the link for this to Eric, and told him to make sure that Sam didn’t see it, because I am convinced that when he rides in the back of the car, standing facing front the whole time unless it’s a really long ride, already thinks he’s driving, so I don’t want to give him any ideas.

8. Holiday, a beautiful post from Walking on My Hands. Especially this, “The holidays seem to be made of extremes: brilliance and shadow, joy and sorrow, twinkling lights and the longest darkness.”

9. The Week of Inward Looking is happening again! I’m planning to organize a personal retreat around the week, love the prompts from these brilliant beings.

10. “If you really knew me, you’d know…” (the ultimate conversation starter & story-sparker) from Alexandra Franzen.

11. “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

11.5 “We don’t see the things the way they are. We see things the way WE are.” ~The Talmud

12. Wishing You Love and Light on Ordinary Courage from Brene’ Brown.

christmasevemorningsky1013. Sitting in Sadness Together on Nourishing the Soul.

14. From Pema Chödrön:

DISSOLVING OUR SELF-IMPORTANCE: The fixed idea that we have about ourselves as solid and separate from each other is painfully limiting. It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than other people. Self-importance hurts us, limiting us to the narrow world of our likes and dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up never satisfied.

We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs—or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality, or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious—to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs—is the best use of our human lives.

15. “When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without
flinching — they are your family.” ~Jim Butcher

frozenpond03

16.”We must have the daring to be nothing but ourselves if we are to know what true power is.” ~Danielle LaPorte

17. Interview with Sandra Juto and Johan Pergenius, (from Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list). The pictures of their Berlin apartment (especially the very first one), the character of the space, the history, the big windows, the wood floors, the simplicity, the wabi-sabi, makes me want to go to Amsterdam, rent an apartment and stay there for a few months, maybe forever.

18. Leaf Type, leafs made into a font (also from Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list). I love this, but even more I love that there are people out there who have such ideas, take the time to do, to make them, and then share. If you were to ask me why I am so in love with us, with life, this would be one of my answers, one example of many.

19. Mini Gingerbread Houses, (from Dani’s list on Positively Present). For some reason, tiny things are extra special.

christmasevemorningsky13

20. Compawssion: Portraits of Rescued Dogs. If you want a serious dose of cute, check out the gallery.

21. This quote from John Steinbeck in Steinbeck: A Life in Letters on Literary Jukebox

There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.

22. Blog Post Idea Generator. Check out the others, some are funny, some are pretty useful, (although, I’m not naming my next dog Bunk or Gilligan).

christmasevemorningsky02

23. My Charity:Water campaign still has a few days left, if you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, or your stocking. I am so excited that even if no one donates another penny, we gave enough so that 20 people will be served, have access to clean water. Best birthday present e v e r.

24. Rachel Cole is launching a new six week course, Ease Hunting. It’s going to be magic, just like everything she does. And yet, this will be extra, more than magic because this, this is what she does, this is her superpower.

25. Feel It from Hannah Marcotti.

26. And this great post from Kris Carr, The myth of finding your purpose, in which she says:

Your purpose has nothing to do with what you do. There, I said it. Your purpose is about discovering and nurturing who you truly are, to know and love yourself at the deepest level and to guide yourself back home when you lose your way. That’s it. Everything else is your burning passion, your inspired mission, your job, your love-fueled hobby, etc. Those things are powerful and essential, but they’re not your purpose. Your purpose is much bigger than that.

27. The Stuff We Let Go from Judy Clement Wall.

Reverb12: Day Two

reverb12Again, I am answering many prompts, from the various Reverb lists. I might not be able to keep that up, but for now I’m having such a good time, having so much fun with the process–answering all the prompts!

Limits

The full prompt is: “We often learn our limits the hard way. Were there any limits you realized this past year? Alternately, what self-imposed limits were you able to move beyond this year? (Author: Carolyn Rubenstein).”

I definitely felt limited by time and energy. This is an ongoing, lingering issue. I try to be really smart about what I commit to, what I say yes to–it has to be “hell yeah” or I say no. I work to to stay away from energy vampires, time monsters and shadow comforts. I have to keep a close eye on my physical limitations, my energy level and available strength, my body’s capacity for whatever activity it might be.

The self-imposed limits, (besides the ones that are setting reasonable restrictions intended to protect my health and wellbeing), are my beliefs about what is possible, what I’m capable of, my worth and my value. I spent so much time waiting for permission to participate, thinking that the gatekeepers would let me in eventually, that the party planners would send me my invite, that I’d finally earn my certification, my entry into the guild, that the project, my thing, would fall out of the sky fully formed. Then I realized, if I wanted something to happen, I needed to stop waiting and happen.

Help

The full prompt is: Asking for help can be the hardest thing we ever do. When and how did you ask for help? Alternatively, did someone ask you for help, and how did it play out for you?

This year, I realized that one of my superpowers is generosity, I love to help, want nothing more than to ease suffering in the world. With organizations like Kickstarter, Kiva, and Charity:Water (my birthday campaign runs for 28 more days, if you have any interest in helping me raise some money–100% of your donation directly funds clean water projects in developing nations), it was even easier to find ways to help those who needed it. I gave my cousin the $100 I got at the World Domination Summit to help her fund charity work she hopes to do in the near future, I helped John F. Ptak get the cancer surgery he needed, I regularly give to my local dog rescue and meditation center, and I helped save our local independent theater. In return for that last donation, I got to make a slide that is currently playing while people sit and wait for their movie to start.

lyricslidefinal

Writing

The full prompt is: What piece of writing are you most proud of from 2012? How does this piece differ from your other pieces?

This blog, for sure, is the writing I am most proud of from this past year. The fact that I kept at it, that I have continued to show up, have been open and authentic in my posts, that there are kind and gentle souls reading, sharing and connecting with me. I have loved everything about it. The other writing I’ve done that I feel especially good about has the same quality, of being wild and real and on purpose, not fake, not trying to get you to like me, but telling the truth–beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible.

Two Final prompts so related, they had to be combined for one single answer

Part one: What was your most significant expenditure in 2012? It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact. What difference has it made to your life?

Part two: What was the most memorable gathering you attended (or held) in 2012?

Answer for both: World Domination Summit. It cost me a lot of money–plane ticket, summit admission, car and hotel room rental, food. It was expensive, more than I would normally spend on myself, but it was so worth it. I met so many amazing people, some I already knew but had never met in person, some I didn’t even know existed until I met them there. I was inspired, overwhelmed, gobsmacked. I have stayed connected with many of them. Just this morning on Skype, I had the most heartwarming, encouraging, spontaneous, fun conversation with someone I met at WDS, felt an instant connection to (seriously, it was one of those moments where you meet a complete stranger and think “there you are, I’ve been looking for you”). I continue to do good work, to plan great work, to make a difference because of the spark of that event, that experience.

I’m 45?!

Today is my birthday. I’m 45–I’m not sure how that happened. I mean, 45 is only five years from 50! And yet, there are ways that I know I’m older, more mature. Sadly, some of those ways are how my body has changed, like how I don’t just look tired when I’m tired, I look that way all of the time, am tired most of the time. I have 5-10 extra pounds that won’t go away no matter what I do. My body doesn’t heal as quickly as it used to and every injury comes with the worry that it will become a permanent issue, that it won’t heal completely, and I can get injured doing the smallest, simplest of things, like getting up from the couch, or turning to walk in another direction and suddenly something hurts.

Eric and I made a list a few years ago as a joke, “How you know you are a grown up.” It had things like having “backstock” (so instead of just the salad dressing that’s in the refrigerator, you have two more in the cupboard–you don’t run out of things because there’s always a backup), insurance, preferring staying home to going out, and getting up before the sun (which means going to bed ridiculously early).

me–many, many birthdays ago

There are other ways in which my age is a gift, how I know I’m a grown up. For example, I know who I am, and finally, finally I’ve stopped denying that, stopped pretending or trying to be someone else in order to fit in or be liked, (most of the time, anyway). I have let go entirely of the idea that I will ever in my lifetime be anywhere close to cool. There’s a fortune from a cookie taped to my computer screen that says “Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself,” and I now know this to be true. I understand that how I am, flaws and all, is a strength, something I can feel good about.

One of the ways I manifested this belief is a brave move, completed only moments ago. I donated to a Kickstarter campaign for our local independent movie theater (which would have been forced out of business without the help, and they are amazing, we are so lucky to have them), and as part of my reward, I get to have a slide that will play for two weeks on the big screen while people are waiting for their movie to start. I wanted to use it for good, and was really torn about what to do–advertise my favorite charity? send a message from the universe? I finally realized that if I believe this blog is doing good, if that is my purpose and intention, to remind people that they are fundamentally wise and compassionate and awake and powerful, that I could take the leap and use the slide to share my blog. Here’s the design I sent to the theater this morning. *gulp*

There was a time when I wouldn’t have done this because it would have felt selfish, when I would have heard that old mean voice in my head saying “who do you think you are? you think you are so special, so smart…well you aren’t better than anyone else, you know, and you should be careful you don’t get too big for your britches.” But now, I realize that I have something to offer, and that it might help someone, that what’s selfish is keeping that to myself, refusing to share it.

The other way I know I’m a grown up is that I get more pleasure out of giving than getting. I’d rather help someone else get what they need than receive a present, more stuff for myself. In fact, I feel guilty having it so good when others are still suffering. I have causes that are dear to me, such as dog rescue and access to education for all girls and women, but there are others that it seems like should matter to everyone, like making sure that every person on the planet at the very least has enough to eat and access to clean water.

This year, I pledged to “donate” my birthday to Charity:Water. On my campaign page, I explain that I believe everyone has the right to clean, safe drinking water. I first heard about this organization at the World Domination Summit this summer. Founder Scott Harrison told his story, explained what compelled him to do this work. His story broke my heart, inspired me, so when he asked at the end of his time with us if we would donate our birthdays, all 1000 people in attendance stood up and agreed. I highly recommend listening to his story. It will change you.

Since 2006, Charity:Water has funded water projects around the world to help millions of people get access to water, hygiene education and improved sanitation. Private donors cover the charity’s operating costs so that 100% of the money donated goes to clean water projects. My wish on my 45th birthday is to raise $1000, an homage to my blog (A Thousand Shades of Gray), in honor of my hope that somehow through writing it, connecting with my kind and gentle readers, I can inspire others to help ease suffering in the world, that I can be part of that, that I will be inspired to do more, to change what I can change. What can $1000 do? Help 10 families in Ethiopia get access to clean water. What else will it do? Give me the best birthday present possible.

Something Good

1. Message from my Inner Pilot Light:

In case you forgot, my love, The Universe doesn’t need you to be in control. I swear. It’s handled. All is well. You can relax now. Stop wrangling your life like it’s an unruly animal. Life doesn’t have to be that hard. Instead, set goals but release attachment to outcomes. Trust the process. Let go of the handle. Surrender to the river of life. Watch for signs. Let yourself be guided. Know that everything is a gift, every crossroads is divinely placed in your path, and the way will be made apparent, if only you pay attention.

2. Wisdom Notes for a Well-Fed Holiday from Rachel Cole. I signed up because as I’ve said before I love everything Rachel does. Meeting her, working with her was a pivotal moment in my life, and she’s creating some especially powerful stuff right now.

3. This poem says everything you need to know.

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now.
~David Whyte

4. This quote from Wayne Dyer: “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.”

5. The Willingness to Think Differently from Leo Babauta on Zen Habits.

6. Child’s Own Studio. This one has made my list before, but it’s worth another mention. I was reminded of it this week when someone posted a link to the studio’s Flickr gallery.

7. Positively Present’s 30 day gratitude photo challenge. I’m not doing it, but I wish I had time to because it looks really fun.

8. The Power of the Pause by Courtney Carver on Be More With Less. She really is one of my favorite bloggers. I want to grow up to be just like her.

9. 3 Destructive Work Habits That Can Drain the Energy Right Out of You on the Positivity Blog. I am guilty of all three in my paid work, even sometimes in my heart’s work.

10. Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction. This is so cool. Just another reason why you should help me raise $1000 dollars for Charity:Water. These kids could save us, but first we might need to save them = clean drinking water.

11.This quote from Reggie Ray:

Because it is who we are, spirituality is not something that we need to seek outside of ourselves. In a way, it is not even something that we can gain or attain. Rather, it is the depth and subtlety of our person and of our experience that we gradually uncover. Religious traditions are usually necessary for providing an understanding of our inborn potential and for showing us how to realize it. But when they claim proprietary ownership of that which we seek, they betray themselves and get in our way.

12. All. In. This. Together. Sandy, The Elections, and Everything After. by Ethen Nichtern.

13. I told you last week how much I love the blog 3x3x365. This post, all three of the entries, is/are so beautiful, each in their own distinct way.

14. Three amazing women, generously and bravely sharing their stories: In Praise of Zoloft by Rachel Cole, On anxiety, panic attacks and being brave by Andrea Scher, and this is my anxiety story by Kelly Rae Roberts.

15. 12 Unconventional Habits of Highly Productive People on Marc and Angel Hack Life. I’m not sure if this is a very good title, or maybe it’s just me–even the word “productive” makes me tired. I almost didn’t read it, but it’s such a good list. #1 is Meditate.

16. finding beauty amidst disaster from Positively Present. She ends with a really good list of beautiful things you can do.

Change What You Can Change


I don’t know about you, kind and gentle reader, but I’m with Abbie: I’m ready for this election to be over. I don’t like competition, get no joy from a good debate, am so uncomfortable when people are angry and fighting and upset, and hate to argue. I remember once, sitting at an intersection where opposing sides were picketing across the street from each other, random people yelling from their cars or honking, so much noise and chaos, and I asked myself “which side would you be on?” and the answer made me laugh out loud, “I’d rather make everybody cookies.”

And it’s true, I’m a peacemaker. I always have been. It’s my nature. I avoid discussing religion or politics, including here on my blog. Philosophy and faith I’ll talk about, but I steer clear of anything that would spark a real dispute. I don’t want anyone to miss the more important message, to be cheated out of a kindness because they disagree with my politics. I want my blog to be a safe place for every reader, for them to come here and realize they are not alone, to inspire good things to happen.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion on things. But stronger than my opinion is my commitment to promoting love and kindness, the sense that our time would be better spent changing what we can change than arguing about things we can’t control.

I’ve read a few things in this past week that have said it better than I could. One is Courtney Carver’s Make Your Vote Count on her blog Be More With Less, in which she says

If you want your vote to count, to really matter:

  • Vote for your health by eating good food, mostly plants.
  • Vote for your community by volunteering with local organizations.
  • Vote to feed hungry people by giving freely.
  • Vote for your friendships by saying “I’m sorry” and “I love you”.
  • Vote for your happiness by taking a walk.
  • Vote for your children by listening to them.

Your health and happiness is not dependent on who will be sitting in the Oval Office. Policy may change, but you will be ok. Vote with your dollars. Vote with your time. Vote with your heart. Make it count.

And then Susan Piver posted Only Us: Beyond Republican and Democrat, in which she says

Right now, we have a chance to take a view that is so much larger than Obama or Romney, Us or Them, My Way or The Highway. Without budging an inch in what we believe and whom we support, we could take a moment, just a millisecond, to imagine that the “other” side feels as much passion, despair, longing, and fear about the election as we do. We could care about each other, American to American… In these attitude shifts, even if we can only hold on to them for a moment, everything is possible. We could at least try.

We are all in this together, we can make a difference in the world, ease suffering, even if it’s just our own, even if it’s only temporary–we can at least try.

One of the greatest enigmas of human behavior is the way we isolate ourselves from each other. In our misguided perception of separation we assume that others are not sharing a similar experience of life. We imagine that we are unique in our eccentricities or failures or longings…When we don’t share the secret ache in our hearts—the normal bewilderment of being human—it turns into something else. Our pain, and fear, and longing, in the absence of company, become alienation, and envy, and competition. ~Elizabeth Lesser, The Open Secret

Elizabeth Lesser “The Open Secret” from Omega Institute on Vimeo.

We have so much opportunity to make a difference. Our true power as citizens, as humans goes so far beyond a single vote or series of elections. Once these events are over, our community, our world will still have the same issues. People will still be hungry, not have access to clean water or adequate medical care, there will be illness and dis-ease, we will still be confused about so many things–the same suffering as the day before. And we’ll still have the exact same chance to change it or ignore it, to help or start an argument or walk away.

Change what you can change. One thing we can all change for certain is ourselves, so start there. Beyond that, get involved with someone’s good work, or start a project of your own. If you need ideas, here’s a list of people and groups doing good work:

Donate to Charity : Water, I am donating my birthday to them this year.

Join Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project. This will help with changing yourself, or rather becoming brilliantly aware of who you already are, awake and kind and wise and strong.

Donate to Heifer International, one of my favorite charities.

Donate to or volunteer with your local food bank.

Give to the Sandy Relief Effort.

Go to Kiva or Kickstarter and find a project or person to help.

The Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” I agree with that statement, “I resemble that remark,” and would add one more thing to it: my politics are simple–kindness. In that spirit, I am working to change what I can change, to help who I can help, to do what good I can do, and I so hope you will join me, my kind and gentle reader.

P.S. Looks like I answered the NaBloPoMo prompt a day early: “What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?”