Tag Archives: Lilacs

Something Good

For those of you who are new to my blog, here’s the story behind my Something Good posts: When I am feeling bad, I will often ask my husband Eric to “tell me something good.” When I need something to hang on to, to make me feel better, something to show me that it’s not all bad. When I am in that dark hole, way down at the bottom, and the mean things with teeth are down there with me –”tell me something good.”

He’s really good at it, because even when all he can think of is “I love you,” it totally works. I mean, how great is it that the person that you picked and who said “yes” almost 20 years ago, and knows you better than anyone, knows all the embarrassing and ugly stuff, continues to love you? He usually is able to give me a whole list when I ask him, followed by a hug and “what can I do for you, how can I make you feel better?”

So on A Thousand Shades of Gray, Monday’s feature is: Something Good. I like the idea of gratitude generating joy, and the opportunity my gratitude has to spread joy when I share the good things, so every Monday, I give you a list.

Here’s this week’s list:

1. 5 Plants You (Almost) Never Have to Water on House Logic.

2. Stunning Self-Portraits by a 14-year-old Photographer on Bored Panda.

3. Diana Fayt’s Painted Rocks (& Other Lovely Things) from Lisa Congdon.

4. Be Brave: A Poem-Film for Anyone Asking for Courage to Create from Jeffrey Davis.

5. Cute Pets in Windows from Bold Italics, originally shared by Rachel.

6. Reflections on Fearlessness and Best Links (May), a great list of good stuff from Sandra at Always Well Within, (confession: one of my posts is on the list).

7. Reason to Forgive | DubStep, video of a 12 year old who is an amazing dancer.

8. You’re not needy. You’re starving. from Rachel Cole. Amazing.

9. Out of the water from Lisa Bonchek Adams.

10. Patrick Stewart Speaks About His Childhood, Domestic Abuse and PTSD. The woman involved in this specific moment wrote about it on her blog as well, Let me tell you a thing, about an amazing man named Patrick Stewart.

11. This message from Brave Girls Club came just when I needed it,

Dear Sweet Girl,

You don’t have to have special permission to take a break, you know. You have done enough. When you are tired, and weary and feeling worn out, you need to be kind to yourself and take good care of your body and your spirit.

Please be good to yourself, beautiful friend . . . the world is not the same without the best of you. The people that you love the most have better lives because of you and the people you have not even met yet will have enriched lives because of you.

Your life will be better, happier, more effective, more efficient and more meaningful if you stop and take care of yourself. No more putting guilt trips on yourself or letting anyone else do it. No more working yourself so hard that you can’t even feel anymore . . . it’s time to REALLY nurture and take care of yourself. You are a gift to the world, please take care of YOU. Today’s a great day to start.

12. There’s Just No Time from Paul Jarvis, shared by Laura of Create as Folk.

13. Rijks Museum Free Hi-Res Art Downloads shared by Pugly Pixel.

14. Introducing Prancercise, just silly enough to be kind of awesome.

15. Be the Giver from Danielle LaPorte.

16. 9 Rules for a Simpler Day from Zen Habits.

17. What is Your Gift to the World? on Scoutie Girl.

18. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

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

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

19. 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing Every Day from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

20. Make Me: Fabric Gift Bags from Decor8.

21. Celebrate and Embrace Ventures and Adventures from Be More with Less.

22. Her Lilac Jacket on SouleMama. The sweetest pictures! This one is my favorite, (her little hand!).

23. Racists Very Upset Over Interracial Family in Cute Cheerios Commercial. The little girl in this commercial is super cute. Someone posted on Facebook last week about this and added, “Whomever has a problem with this better just go buy a white hood right now and be honest with yourself.” I couldn’t agree more.

24. it’s complicated from Sas Petherick. *sigh*

25. Inside the Paris apartment untouched for 70 years: Treasure trove finally revealed after owner locked up and fled at outbreak of WWII.

26. Your Daily Rock from Patti Digh: your daily rock : what would love do?, and your daily rock : just breathe, and your daily rock : you are enough.

27. Name-calling Has Its Place: BED is Now Named as a Distinct Eating Disorder. So what’s in it for you? from Drop it and Eat.

28. Another Origami Fox from How About Orange. I wish I was better at this. I’d be making some of these, (shared by Positively Present).

29. This quote, People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. ~Iris Murdoch

peoniesonmydesk02

30. Google Poetics, (shared by Positively Present). “This blog started collecting Google Poems on October 2012 and is run by its founder Sampsa Nuotio and curator Raisa Omaheimo. Google Poetics is born when Google autocomplete suggestions are viewed as poems.” I could get lost in this site for a very, very long time. For example,

pain is temporary
pain is weakness leaving the body
pain is inevitable suffering is optional
pain is love

Or,

I am a disco dancer
I am a dwarf and I’m digging a hole
I am a dynamic figure
I am a dreamer

Pure awesome.

31. Patti Smith, We all have a creative impulse, shared by Susannah on her Something for the Weekend list. The site where this video is posted, Channel Louisiana, has lots of other really cool stuff, if you want to get lost for a little while and haven’t already spent all your time on Google Poetics. Also on Susannah’s list this week was What’s Inside Our “Going Out” Bags.

32. Humans of New York. I’ve shared this site before, but it’s so good, I want to share it again in case you missed it the first time. You can also follow them on Facebook.

33. Issa Rae: Own Your Awkward on The Conversation.

34. From Rowdy Kittens’ Happy Links post: A Revolution of Contentment by Sandra Pawula on the Bridgemaker, and Chic Tiny House in Omaha Nebraska on Air BnB, (the loft beds in tiny houses always make me think of sleeping in a tree house — magic).

35. My Dentist Was Made To Believe I Was Dead And It Made Me Realize Why I Shouldn’t Kill Myself And You Shouldn’t Either on xojane.

36. This wisdom from Marianne Williamson, “The kind of rest you seek you will find not from sleeping but from waking.”

37. This Poster Might Just Change Your Life. by Nicole Duncan on Elephant Journal.

38. This wisdom from Lama Christie McNally, The Tibetan Book of Meditation,

Tibetans say we should do our meditation practice “as if our hair was on fire.” We should have the same urgency to get out of this pain filled place as someone who has just woken up in a burning, smoke filled house. But it’s hard- all the distractions of this life keep stealing away our time and our mind. We keep telling ourselves, “I’ll meditate later.” Then one day you look up and realize life has passed you by, the time is gone, and it’s too late.

39. This wisdom from Jen Lemen, “I don’t want to be famous or popular or known for anything other than that I was deep and wise and had a soul that was wildly beautiful, full of mercy and light.”

40. Amanda Palmer on Creativity as Connecting Dots and the Terrifying Joy of Sharing Your Art Online and Be All Your Selves: Joss Whedon’s 2013 Wesleyan Commencement Address on Embracing Our Inner Contradictions on Brain Pickings.

41. Quotes shared by Justine Musk, You cannot truly enjoy life through your mind…It’s through the heart + the body that we get to party,” (Kagiso Msimango), and “There’s nothing more powerful than a woman who has met the truth inside her. Nothing,” (Meggan Jane Watterson).

42. Are Children Natural Vegans? by Sara Crolick on Elephant Journal.

43. This quote from Cheryl Stayed, “That silence is such a beautiful thing. It’s like the stars at night in the great alone and you there beneath them, saying thank you.”

44. Karma and Smartphones: How to Use Technology From a Buddhist Perspective, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on Huffington Post.

45. Dog People Problems, from Reddit.

goodmorning

46. 2 year old problems: cinnamon rolls aren’t instant, from Reddit.

twoyearoldproblems

47. Wisdom from Chogyam Trungpa,

Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquility, nor is it attempting to be a better person. It is simply the creation of a space in which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes.

48. Father and 2-year-old boy sing Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ in viral hit.

49. Let go … again, still, more from Lindsey on A Design So Vast.

50. The Pros and Cons (But Mostly Pros) of Adopting a Shelter Dog on Hello Giggles.

51. you are worthy. from Liz Lamoreux.

52. Feeding the Right Wolf, with Marianne Elliot on Sacred Circle.

53. The Big Book Giveaway! from Susannah Conway. This is a great set of books, some of my favorites! You should totally enter this, (but just know, I plan on winning the Book Bomb).

bigbookgiveaway

P.S. I think this might officially be the longest Something Good list e v e r.

#SmallStone: Day 31

Camo Dog

Dexter stands behind the lilac bushes, blending in with the colors of winter. The branches are bare and gray, some with tight honey colored buds at their tips, and some still holding golden brown clusters of dried seed pods. The ground is covered in dirt, mulch, and dead leaves in various shades of color ranging from brown to black, some dry as dust and others wet and slimy. The fence behind him is faded and weathered but still standing, just like him.

Day of Rest

When Eric and I were coming to the end of our walk with the dogs this morning, he asked if I wanted to stop at the grocery store on the way home, “or are you going to still try and make it to yoga?” I told him, “I haven’t decided if I’m going to yoga or meditation at the Shambhala Center.” He asked, “How do you decide which one you are going to do?”

This is my dilemma every Sunday morning: 9:30 – 11 a.m. yoga class, or 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. meditation. Sometimes, I go to yoga and sneak in late to meditate at the end, but I’m usually a little sweaty, not dressed for it, feeling kind of gross and tired, and really want to go home, shower and eat, so usually I don’t. I usually pick yoga, since it’s one of the only classes taught by one of my favorite teachers, and because I sit whether I go to the public time or not. If I skip yoga, I skip yoga for the day, but if I skip the public sit, I’ll still meditate on my own.

I explained to Eric that yoga is intended to synchronize body and mind, is sometimes seen as preparation for sitting practice, and as a writer/reader/thinker who spends so much time in my head, as a disembodied mind, that what I usually need more is to mindfully move my body.

But if my brain is especially discursive or troubled, when I’m avoiding thinking about something, denying some reality, yoga can end up being a way to avoid, a method of denial or distraction. It’s times like these when I need to meditate, to calm and train my mind, to face reality, to connect with what’s really going on, to work with it on its own terms, as it is and as I am.

That’s what I needed today, to work with my mind, meet it where it’s at, try to give it some space. I’m thinking, or rather trying not to think, about someone I love who is suffering–more than one someone, actually. I woke up last night and worried instead of sleeping, and feel sick to my stomach, heartbroken about it. Each update about the situation feels like a knife, a sharp cut, and yet I can’t seem to look away. My mind rushes between “what should I do? what’s going to happen? what should I do?!” and “I’m not going to think about it, just ignore it, numb out, avoid it,” neither of which is a healthy state of being.

 

So today, my mind needed meditation, more than it needed mindful movement. And it also needed writing and dog (both of which I got plenty while I sat in the back yard drafting this post, a dog lounging in the grass on each side of me).

I’m not having an entirely restful day of rest, but I am doing the best I can, and that’s really all any of us can ever do.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. The smell of lilacs on the breeze, still sweet even as they begin to fade away.

2. Spring morning birdsong. I’m not tired of this yet. It makes me so happy to hear them out there, chirping and singing and fluttering, even when it’s still dark, before the sun rises.

3. Avocado and figs. There are some foods that I actively hated as a kid (brussel sprouts being one) that I am loving now, and these are two of them. So rich and creamy and satisfying.

4. Sick days. Getting to read a new, whole book that I’d been looking forward to, being able to finish it in just two days; watching an entire disk of Downton Abbey episodes, one after the other while in my pjs and purple bathrobe on the couch; taking long naps; cuddling with my dogs who were so sweet and calm; having Dexter (who hasn’t slept in the big bed with us for months and months, maybe more than a year) bring his Little D in and cuddle next to me for almost the entire night; and Eric making me breakfast for dinner, including pancakes. When you can’t do anything else, you are forced to be gentle and take care of yourself, and even as wrong as sick during a beautiful spring can seem, it can also be a gift of sorts.

5. Brave Intuitive Painting: Let go. Be bold. Unfold. This book is gorgeous, precious. If you are a creative type or an artist of any kind or just a lover of all things beautiful, I recommend you get a copy. What’s so wonderful about the book is that it’s an invitation to anyone who wants to create. You do not have to be a painter. Just bring your open heart, desire to make something, and willingness to get messy. I suspect that especially if you are feeling blocked, stuck, stale, bored, or cramped, this book is just the magic you need to start moving again, to let go, be bold, unfold. Just looking, doing nothing more than gazing at the pages, not even reading or painting, makes me soften, feel giddy with grace and warm with joy. The riot of color and play that fills these pages is inspiring.


Bonus joy: I was gifted so many kind words, so much generous feedback this week about my writing. My husband in the kitchen, a friend in the locker room at the gym, two emails on facebook, comments on various posts, feedback on my pieces for the Telling True Stories class I’m taking, and an email from a dear friend. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the love, the validation. I know I shouldn’t need it, but it’s so nice to hear that what you are doing touches others, helps them in some way.

Something Good

the lilacs are still blooming

1. 10 ways to view your fears with kindness on kind over matter.

2. Zencast.org, an archive of once a week dharma talks that dates back to 2005. And if that’s not enough for you, check out Audio Dharma, which has an archive that goes back to 1999.

3. The Crash & Burn Antidote (and why I don’t do gratitude lists) from Laura Simms of Create as Folk, who gives a great alternative to gratitude lists in this video, (and besides, she’s just so cute).

 

4. Acute How-To: DIY Fabric tape on Scoutie Girl. This one gets filed under “how I know I’m a nerd” because I can’t wait to try this.

5. This quote: To study the dharma is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. ~Dogen Holy Wow, and Whoa…

6. What is Mindfulness? 9 Points to Ponder on HealYourLife.com, a really great post that describes this important experience. For example, the first point is:

Mindfulness means observing things just as they are—our thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and what’s happening in the world around us. It shows us the world just as a mirror reflects images: clearly, openly, and without bias. It’s what happens when the mind watches and engages consciously with life, rather than being blindly caught up in what’s going on.

I want to go to there…

7. Book Title Poems. I’d really like to do some of these, but I think right now it would instigate a whole mess of dusting, organizing, and simplifying that I’m not ready for. One example is Nina Katchacourian’s Sorted Books project, (make sure to click on each image to see the full series). Another is from one of my favorites, Judy Clement Wall of Zebra sounds. And one more by Annie Neugebauer.

8. Radical Self-Love TedxCMU Talk by Gala Darling. This is a message that I just can’t hear enough times.

 

9. A Brief Manifesto On MAGNETIC CLARITY — & 3 Questions To Get You There from Alexandra Franzen on Unicorns for Socialism.

10. And my favorite something good for this week: yowayowa camera woman diary, levitation photos. I first read about this online at the New York Times Lens. There’s something so sweet, haunting, and magical about these images.

My cat Guru died this afternoon 14:27.
He had been suffering from congenital kidney disorder.
Thank you Guru. I was very happy to have met you.
黒猫のグールが今日の午後14:27に亡くなりました。
先天性の腎不全を患っていました。
ありがとうグール。あなたに会えて私はほんとうに幸せでした。

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. The afterglow of “Fearless Creativity.” It was magic, and it was medicine, and it continues to shine, to soothe me.

2. Photo Editing. This black and white from this weekend makes me look at least ten years younger, and editing makes photography doubly fun–first taking the picture, then playing with it.

3. Older Dexter. At almost nine years old, he is so adorable and sweet and gray, and so much calmer and complacent than he was as a younger man. I want to keep him forever.


4. Young Sam. He is equal parts cute and handsome, playful and calm. I want to keep him forever.

5. Confidence. After so many years without it, it feels incredible.

6. Seeing Eric. Between his conference and my retreat last week, over the course of seven days we only saw each other once, for three hours. Seeing him again was so great. I want to keep him forever.

7. English Department Retreat. I don’t think it’s news to anyone that I don’t always love my paid work. And at yesterday’s retreat, there were moments of eye rolling and tension, but for the most part, it was great to reconnect as a whole department, to dream together about how good things can be, to give support to the suffering that can happen along the way, and to be reminded how funny, smart, creative, and interesting we all are.

8. Ingrid Michaelson concert with a dear friend. My friend and I are both busy, don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like, and when we do, we don’t get to talk as much as we like, so this was a good chance to do that. And, the concert was really good. Seeing Ingrid sing “Ghost” live gave me goosebumps. Her voice is so much bigger and she rocks so much harder than I expected. And, there was a super sweet stranger who had his friends scoot over and who sat by himself on a step, on the floor, so we could sit in regular seats. Dude, wherever you are, I hope you know how awesome you are.

9. The surprise smell of lilacs. They are in crazy bloom right now, all over town, and I keep getting surprised by them, smelling before seeing.

10. Being told I have the perfect mix of comedy and insight.

11. People clapping when I talked about how important it was to value having a healthy whole life, not just “work/life” balance.

12. A message from someone I admire, saying it had been a delight to meet me in person.

13. Unravelling class started, and Telling True Stories continues. And, I have some serious catching up to do with them this weekend.

Gratitude Friday

This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Lilacs. They are blooming, and I cut some yesterday to bring in to the house. They are my favorite flowers, but they come and go so quickly.

2. Dexter and Sam. I spent a lot of extra time with them this week, we took lots of walks, cuddled, and hung out in the back yard. They make me so happy.

3. Eric. He was gone a lot this week, and missing him so much made me appreciate him that much more. I sincerely do not know what I would do without him.

4. Blogging from the Heart. Today is the last day of class. I will attempt a longer post, a review, a thank you at some later date, but for now I will simply say this class was amazing, and I am so grateful, for it and for Susannah Conway and all that she does. Luckily, her Unravelling class starts on Monday, so we’ll only be apart over the weekend.

5. Fearless Creativity, a writing and meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center led by Susan Piver. I am headed there today, am so excited about it. I won’t be back until Monday. I have some posts set to release so that I don’t miss anything, but I will be otherwise absent. I will return with lots to share, I’m sure.