Tag Archives: Compassion

Something Good

dexterishome

I interrupt this regularly scheduled post for a Dexter update: He’s home! We got to bring him home last night. He’s feeling better, eating small bland meals while his tummy heals, taking medication to help the process, and his nose has stopped bleeding. He slept peacefully last night, went on a short walk this morning, and is taking a break right now in his bed after playing with me and his Little D. I’m so glad to have him home and that he’s feeling better, even as I remain aware that he still has terminal cancer.

Now I return you to your regularly schedule programming…

1. 25 Animals Who Can’t Stop Smiling on BuzzFeed.

2. This from Pema Chödrön, “Choosing to cultivate love rather than anger might just be what it takes to save the planet from extinction.”

3. The Cultivation of Compassion on Elephant Journal.

4. Simply Perfect Food on Be More with Less.

5. 40 Inspiring Workspaces Of The Famously Creative on BuzzFeed. Looking at these revealed that I am drawn to messy, booklined spaces.

6. Recipes I want to try: Avocado Pesto Pasta, Cinnamon Sweet Potato & Kale Delight, how to make chicken stock (and my mum’s chicken soup), Avocado Tempah BLT, and Melissa Clark’s Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes.

7. 10 Snack Foods That Have Gone Too Far on HelloGiggles.

8. This, from Henry Miller, “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself,” i.e. why I don’t need to travel to have a full life.

9. Dog Loves Cat: A Love Story in Letters, a photo essay.

10. This from Tara Brach, “We are born with a beautiful open spirit, alive with innocence and resilience. But we bring this goodness into a difficult world.”

11. 10 Mindful Folks on Instagram to Follow—& Uplift & Awaken your Every Day on Elephant Journal.

12. 10 Signs Your Friend is Toxic from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

13. This from Frederick Buechner, “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” This reminds me of my mantra (so much so, it’s kind of freaky, since I don’t remember ever hearing the his quote before, but it’s so similar): Life is beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible–keep your heart open.

14. Industrial-Edged Chic in Rotterdam. This was first shared by SF Girl by Bay. If I can’t have the converted waffle factory in France, I want to live here. The colors and materials and light of the kitchen are especially dreamy.

15. An Open Letter to Employers on Create as Folk. Amen, Laura Simms.

16. This from Geneen Roth,

Here is my thought for the day: when you’re tired, rest.

I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but I’ve been watching how difficult it is for me to stop. The adrenaline rush of pushing and moving and going past my limits is so familiar. Rest is radical. Stillness. Stopping. Taking five minutes a few times a day to stop everything, breathe, rest. Let out bodies catch up with themselves.

You’re allowed to stop. You’re allowed to rest. You’re allowed to be “unproductive” and not do one thing that looks useful to anyone else. See what happens.

17. This from Your Inner Pilot Light, “Come home, my dear. You keep looking for the answers in books, gurus, therapists, your best friend, or church. And sure- glean what you can from the outside world. But when you find yourself still confused and tired of seeking guidance out there, come back to me. I have the answers, if only you’ll get quiet and listen.”

18. This from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

19. The Real You By Tara Sophia Mohr on Maria Shriver’s blog, shared first by Hannah Marcotti. In which Tara writes this,

Can you feel the one deep inside your chest,
who has existed forever?
Who has made a thousand journeys?
Who feels like a comet in the dark?
The inner filament?

I know, no one ever told you.
I know. It wasn’t the name you learned to write at school,
but that one is you.
That one is the real you.

20. Inspiring the Everyday, a blog with lots of yummy looking gluten free recipes, which I first read about on SF Girl by Bay.

21. your daily rock: make art

22. Susannah Conway’s new video on her About page. It’s authentic, real as dirt, reminds me of the videos she makes for her ecourses, communicates so clearly who she is and what she writes about.

23. 36 Awe Inspiring Online Gurus Reveal Their Fears And How They Overcame Them, originally shared by Dani of Positively Present (she’s one of the gurus).

24. Throw and Grow Confetti, also shared by Dani of Positively Present.

25. Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus.

26. A Magical Reading Life: Reading with Intention on the Mojo Lab.

27. From Erica Staab’s 40 Days of Deep Wisdom,

Breathe deeply.
Sink into your soul.
Allow whatever needs to surface to do so without judgement.
Instead of judgement try gentle curiosity.
What does your own deep wisdom have to say today?

28. Making Art Can Be Hard by Mati Rose.

29. In This Fragile Sacred Space, the wonderful Judy Clement Wall on Huffington Post.

30. This from Ram Daas, “we are all just walking each other home.”

31. Triangle Love DIY, a sweet way to design a journal cover, originally shared by Susannah Conway.

Not Knowing Where to Start

This is one of those posts, kind and gentle reader, that is at this moment as much of a mystery to me as it is to you. All day I have been thinking about what I wanted to tell you, what I had to say, to share, without being sure exactly what I would write. There is a big shift happening in my life right now but it’s not entirely clear to me how this is going to work out so I haven’t formed a neat and tidy way of communicating it. All I know for sure is that I want to tell you the truth.

I finally had an appointment with my new doctor. I have been struggling with fatigue for the past few years, have hypothyroidism and a family history of diabetes, (all kinds, on both sides), am most likely perimenopausal, and don’t get enough rest. I am a highly functioning food addict who has struggled with disordered eating for 30+ years, having gained, lost, and regained the same 20 pounds at least that many times. I want to be free of it, this struggle and dis-ease. I want to be strong, healthy, and whole, with the energy and stamina necessary to do the work I long to do, to live a full life.

Things have to to change. A series of unfortunate incidents with my previous doctors made me realize that I wasn’t being cared for as well as I should be, that I needed to seek out a new perspective, someone who would view me as a whole person (not just a body) and consider all the potential healing modalities available. I chose someone who practices Integrative Medicine, which according to her, “evaluates the patient as a whole. It does not view the patient as a chronic disease, an illness, a list of medications, or a recent hospitalization–but rather as a complex being made up of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual parts all interdependent and woven together. All of these elements are respectfully addressed in developing strategies to treat illness and more aggressively prevent disease.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?

It was good. But, we have some work to do. I have something to teach her about dealing with people who have a history of dis-ordered eating and self-loathing. For starters: don’t call them obese, no matter what the BMI chart says. And for heaven’s sake, don’t call them obese repeatedly. Call them curvy, solid, voluptuous, thick, full, well-rounded, sturdy, slightly heavier than optimal, weighted down–but don’t call them obese.

Brave Belly

I get it. I need to lose some weight. It’s the same weight I’ve been losing and gaining for years. I already knew that. I get it. It’s there, in part, because I am an incredibly sensitive and porous person, without natural thick skin or any other kind of protective barrier between myself and the energy of my environment, the suffering of every person I encounter, the meanness and brutality of life. I am easily hurt, and I eat my feelings. This in turn makes me bigger, more stable and substantial, heavier, harder to knock down, safer, calmer (at least in theory).

What she said hurt me. I’m pretty sure she thought I was confused about my situation, didn’t realize it was serious, and that this “truth” would motivate me to change. In reality, it sent me into a shame spiral. Thank goodness that same afternoon I was leaving for a retreat with Susan Piver, had a safe, supportive space to go in which to process what she’d said. I truly believe that without my practices, the support and wisdom I have access to, she would have only made things worse with that one word. I’m hoping the next time we meet, I can effectively and kindly communicate this to her so that she is better able to help the next person like me, a person who might not have the support, the tools I do to process and cope.

whole

For now, I get back to the work of educating myself. Along with Susan Piver, her support and wisdom and our shared practice, I am so grateful for the work and friendship of Rachel Cole. Both of these amazing women, (along with such writers and healers as Geneen Roth and Tara Brach), remind me to always approach myself, my struggles, with gentleness, to give myself space and compassion. In this way I can face this transition, which is going to be so difficult, with wisdom and lovingkindness–because this is so much more about loving myself than about what I do or don’t eat.

I can also count on the people in my life who love me to support me, encourage and help me, to make me smile, to laugh. Like my trainer, who after hearing what my doctor had said was extra encouraging to me when we worked out, telling me much more often than normal what a great job I was doing, (seriously, it was adorable). And my husband, who told me “we’ll figure this out, you’ll know what to do, and I’ll help you,” who loves me, is more concerned with the size of my heart and how much I love him back than a set of numbers anyway, who won’t judge me when I eat a cinnamon roll the size of my head. And my courage circle and other friends who reminded me of how much I am loved, of my real value, my truth worth. And my friends who gave me recommendations when I asked them for a kind and gentle therapist who works with dis-ordered eaters.

I can find and accept help, but more importantly I can trust myself.

Three Truths and One Wish

The function of a torii gate is to mark the entrance to a sacred space.

1. Truth: Really, really bad things happen all the time. I don’t need to tell you what they are or give you a list of examples. You already know, have seen and experienced it for yourself, and will do so again and again, over and over. There is no safe place, no protection, and no magic that can change this truth.

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ” ~Pema Chödrön

2. Truth: There is no stopping all the bad things from happening. We simply don’t have that kind of control, that power. People are hurt and confused, all of us generate suffering at some level, for ourselves and others, and there’s just no way we can stop all of it, no way to consistently interrupt aggression before it turns toxic, dangerous, before it hurts someone.

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” ~Pema Chödrön

3. Truth: There is something we can do. When bad things happen, when we are confronted with suffering, instead of numbing out or running away or looking for someone to blame or something to fix, we can settle our minds and open our hearts. We can stay with what is happening, with reality as it is, as we are. We can drop our judgements, our agenda and simply be with what is. We can soften and open up, approach ourselves, the situation, the environment, and others with gentleness and compassion, allowing enough space for wisdom to arise. In this way, we will know what to do, if there is anything that needs doing.

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent, dynamic nature of your own being and of reality, you increase your capacity to love and care about other people and your capacity to not be afraid. You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open. And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression. You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds, from now until the day you die. And, you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities to start to do things differently.” ~Pema Chödrön

Shinto shrine at Shambhala Mountain Center

One Wish: That when we are in the midst of suffering, we can approach it with compassion, can be gentle and allow space for wisdom to arise. That we can be brave and keep our hearts open, that we can be tenderhearted warriors.

Full Moon Dreamboard: Full Worm Moon

Jamie says of the Full Worm Moon:

I share all the time that when I first heard the phrase “Full Worm Moon,” I was less than enthusiastic, but as I discovered that this March moon is when the earth starts to soften and the burrowers of her soil find their way to the surface, I started to change my mind. What if we took our cue from spring and allowed ourselves to soften? What if we let what’s within us find its way to the surface? What tender dreams would be revealed?

Under this Full Worm Moon, open your awareness. Pay attention to the the dreams that are wiggling their way to the surface. What wishes are asking for your attention? What is beginning to emerge? Let your dreamboard guide the way.

What dreams are emerging? What’s stirring?

fullwormmoondreamboard13

As they all do in their own way, this dreamboard surprised me. I began with the guess that it would be about my intention to train to be a yoga teacher, about the ecourse I’m developing, the way I want a small and simple life that is at the same time deep and wide.

What came through that I didn’t expect was focused on art and creativity, healing and courage and practice.

Cobra pose
back bent
heart open
eyes turned towards the sky.

I want art to take me
up and away
away from the expected and the normal.
To me.
Art is the first phase
in a spiritual journey
toward the great mysteries.

And again, Kaun Yin, the Bodhisattva of compassion.
She who hears the cries of the world.
She holds a lotus flower, the innate purity of Buddha nature.
She holds a sutra, the enlightened wisdom of the Dharma.
She holds a mala, the vow of the Bodhisattva to save all beings from suffering.
She holds me.
May I ease suffering,
in myself and the world.

Making a positive difference means:
being more conscious
having the courage to create
being calm and focused
cultivating peace of mind
and the art of asana
staying relaxed
practicing contemplation
allowing the healing power of creativity
inviting grace
giving, making space
breath, life, and vitality of the spirit
opening to love, to joy.

Art & gentle words heal.
Move with ease,
stretch, and breathe.
By balancing effort with ease,
learn to stay open to experience.

There are a thousand different ways to access creativity.
(“A thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground,
a thousand ways to go home again”).
Each one, at its bottom,
is about tapping into the stillness of each of us
call it grace, God, or Big Mind
the place, the moment where all things are possible.

Something Good

1. This quote from Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, “The purpose of all major religious traditions is not to construct big temples on the outside, but to create temples of goodness and compassion inside, in our hearts.”

2. Street Compliments from Soul Pancake.

3. This quote from the Dalai Lama, “These days, in our materialistic culture, many people are led to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. Consequently, when they don’t have enough of it they feel let down. Therefore, it is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves, and that it is related to nurturing our natural inner values.”

4. Harlem Shake Karme Choling edition. I only learned this week what the Harlem Shake is, and thought this was an especially funny version.

5. Please Mind the Gap on Scoutie Girl, which says “How is it that we suddenly don’t know how to just do nothing? All those empty spaces seem like such an inconvenience. A total waste of time when I could be being productive.” Exactly. And this, “But the spaces in between can provide some of life’s most meaningful moments,” and “We need space to breathe, to ponder, to take in the world around us, to rest, to be inspired.”

6. I am in love with Kid President, and Soul Pancake. Here, Kid President Interviews Rainn Wilson.

7. Illustrator Emily McDowell.

8. Tara Brach shared this poem on Facebook, and I just love it.

Spacious

Dear you,
you who always have
so many things to do
so many places to be
your mind spinning like
fan blades at high speed
each moment always a blur
because you’re never still

I know you’re tired
I also know it’s not your fault
The constant brain-buzz is like
a swarm of bees threatening
to sting if you close your eyes
You’ve forgotten something again
You need to prepare for that or else
You should have done that differently

What if you closed your eyes?
Would the world fall
apart without you?
Or would your mind
become the open sky
flock of thoughts
flying across the sunrise
as you just watched and smiled
~Kaveri Patel

9. This quote from Chögyam Trungpa, “Before we produce anything at all, we have to have a sense of free and open space.”

10. The 20 best interiors blogs. Eye candy.

11. A few more posts on The Radiate Sessions, one from Kelly Rae Roberts and one from Andrea Scher.

12. Melt Your Emotional Blocks: Emotional Freedom Technique on Kris Carr’s blog. As with all good things, this might be crazy, might be magic. I tried it a few times this past week when I was feeling overwhelmed, and it really helped calm me down.

13. Perfectly Imperfect Self-Care from Rachel Cole.

14. When People Want You To Stay in The Shadows from Katherine Stone.

15. Writing advice from Cheryl Strayed, shared in her website’s F.A.Q.

What advice do you have for beginning writers?
1. Write a lot.
2. Don’t be in a hurry to publish.
3. Find the work that moves you the most deeply and read it over and over again. I’ve had many great teachers, but the most valuable lessons I learned were from writers on the page.
4. Be brave. Write what’s true for you. Write what you think. Write about what confuses you and compels you. Write about the crazy, hard, and beautiful. Write what scares you. Write what makes you laugh and write what makes you weep. Writing is risk and revelation. There’s no need to show up at the party if you’re only going to stand around with your hands in your pockets and stare at the drapes.

Amen.

16. Recipes shared by Soule Mama that I want to try: Smoky Corn Chowder and Oatcakes.

17. Belief Without Compassion, a post from Jonathan Fields.

18. The Power of the Numberfrom Back to Her Roots.

19. Trust: My Sober Familya post about staying sober long term on Guinevere Gets Sober.

20. Brilliance from Susan Piver,

I’d like to take a moment to remind you of the pointlessness of guilt and shame, especially in regard to your spiritual practice. We are all going to miss days, weeks, or years. We are all going to become confused at various points along the path. None of this means that you are bad or stupid. It’s so strange to have to say that, but believe me, I have to say it to myself about 1 zillion times per day. For some reason, we are prone to think the worst of ourselves. But neither guilt nor shame have ever led to breakthroughs in wisdom or compassion, at least not for me.

21. Paris and proposals. Spoiler: I said “no.” from Make Me Joyful.

22. We Found Our Son in the Subway, a wonderful adoption story, and a story about how a family was made, by Peter Mercurio.

23. MOYO Magazine Issue 3.

24. You already have permission, a brief yet brilliant post by Seth Godin.

25. I just love the #StuffMyGirlSays – the interview with my 5 year old on Bliss Habits. I think every parent should do this–no I demand that you do! (and email it to me)

26. The One and Only IvanI am reading this book by Katherine Applegate right now (yes, it’s for kids) and am so in love.

27. Stardust: A Mesmerizing Short Film About the Voyager 1 and the Wonder of the Universe and Words To Live By: 5 Timeless Commencement Addresses on Brain Pickings.

28. Geneen Roth: Compulsion vs. Awareness, a one minute sound clip.

29. Shared by SF Girl by the Bay, Craftsman and Wolves.

30. Creative BadAssery with Justine Musk, in which Jennifer Louden interviews Justine Musk.

31. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list:  Relax! You’ll Be More Productive, which says,

Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.” And, “Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably.

Also from Susannah’s list, The Empathic Civilisation.

32. From Positively Present Picks, this quote:

Dogs don’t know about beginnings, and they don’t speculate on matters that occurred before their time. Dogs also don’t know — or at least don’t accept — the concept of death. With no concept of beginnings or endings dogs probably don’t know that for people having a dog as a life companion provides a streak of light between two eternities of darkness. ~Stanley Coren

And these links, Meet the Rules of the Internet and 4 Ways To Deal With Negativity in the World, on Pick the Brain blog.

33. This quote from Ram Dass,

You spent the first half of your life becoming somebody. Now you can work on becoming nobody, which is really somebody. For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of mind shines through unobstructed-and the natural state of mind is pure love.

34. 30+ mantras for people who over-work, over-commit, and are generally terrified of “missing out.” from Alexandra Franzen.

35. Hackschooling Makes Me Happy: Logan LaPlante at TEDxUniversityofNevada. One thing referenced in the talk, Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes comes from a study with some very interesting results.

36. 4 Ways to Stay Positive in a Negative World post on Belief Net by Marianne Elliott, in which she says,

An open heart can leave us feeling unstable. We balance this by cultivating a steady mind. Meditation trains our mind to hold steady under the onslaught of disturbing images, thoughts and feelings, helping us maintain a sense of center when the world spins out of control.

Word.

Breathe In the Longing, Breathe Out the Wish

lastretreat

Breathe in the wish, the longing to take away the suffering; breathe out the wish to send comfort and happiness. ~Pema Chödrön

I am allowing myself space on this retreat. As I mentioned yesterday, I dropped the plan, and am instead seeing how things might naturally arise. There is wisdom, clarity that will emerge if you allow it room and time. I am trusting in this.

Today I was very aware of suffering, in the world and in myself. I was touched by the suffering of others, those dealing with illness, death, loss, grief, self-hatred, fear, abuse. I was softened by my own suffering as well, so similar, so much the same. I gently contemplated my regrets, my failures, the ways I’ve lived in the shadows, stayed hidden away and closed off this past year.

Rather than beating yourself up, use your own stuckness as a stepping stone to understanding what people are up against all over the world.

Breathe in for all of us and breathe out for all of us.

Use what seems like poison as medicine. Use your personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings. ~Pema Chödrön

I practiced Tonglen for all of us. In a video I watched, Pema Chödrön talked about how in Tonglen, we “relax into the outbreath,” and how the practice is about sending space, relief and comfort and ease, so that those who are suffering will know that their hearts and minds are indeed big enough to accommodate their discomfort, their fear, their despair, their anger, their physical or emotional anguish.

And today there was also so much joy and gratitude. I experienced compassion and comfort through the connections I’ve made in the past year, long conversations about important things, short exchanges that make me smile so big my face hurts from it, sharing our experiences, cheering each other on. So many brilliant and beautiful women who offer their support, wisdom, kindness, strength, and good humor, who fill my life with so much grace and laughter.

And later into the snow on a walk with my little family, I feel the cold air as I draw it into my lungs, warm it and release it. I feel the strength of my lungs and legs, the willingness of my whole body, my whole self to move. I revel in the company of my three boys, the beauty of the world around us, and wonder at my luck.

I live in a place where every year someone decorates a few of the trees along the trail. I live in a world where people open their hearts to each other, sharing our stories and our pain, a world where people offer each other support and help. A world where every day our hearts are broken, and yet once they are, we see that there is room for all of it, the suffering and the joy, that there is so much to love, to live for.

I’m so glad you are here with me, kind and gentle reader. Life is tender and terrible, beautiful and brutal–may we keep our hearts open to all of it, may we know that they are big enough to hold all of it.

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie’s post

What Peace Do You Wish For?

The peace of accepting, loving, being who I am. No more pushing or improving or rejecting or denying or hiding or smashing myself to bits, but rather radical self-acceptance as Tara Brach describes it, “the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.”

To have the peace of confidence the way Susan Piver describes it, “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

The peace of knowing, as Patti Digh describes at the end of this video conversation with Susan Piver, that what I once thought of as my brokenness is actually my superpower.

The peace of my innate worth, my fundamental nature as Pema Chödrön describes it,

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.

The peaceful awareness that I am meant to shine, as Marianne Williamson explains,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I wish for the peace of showing up as I am with my heart open, even when it’s hard and it hurts, the contentment and clarity of embodying the openness, intelligence, and warmth that is my basic nature. While I wish this for myself, know that it would bring peace to my heart and to my life, I also wish it for others, so that this peace would manifest in the world, that our comfort and courage, our collective awareness and mindfulness, would ease suffering in the world.

One of my favorite hymns in church as a kid had these lyrics, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” This is my wish.