Tag Archives: Pema Chödrön

Something Good

Horsetooth Reservoir, image by Eric

Horsetooth Reservoir, image by Eric

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Leap Day! A whole extra day! What are you doing with yours, kind and gentle reader?

2. Kids reading to shelter dogs. I’m glad they are doing this, because I’m not allowed in the shelter — I would want to bring all the dogs home.

3. Author and poet Mahogany L. Browne gives her #BriefButSpectacular take on “Black Girl Magic.” So beautiful, so important.

4. I want to try these recipes: Chocolate Guinness Cake, Everyday Chocolate Cake, and Vidalia Onion Upside Down Cornbread, and Ayurvedic Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup.

5. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

If we want there to be peace in the world, then we have to take responsibility when our own hearts and minds harden and close. We have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s true spiritual warriorship. That’s the true practice of peace.

6. From mailboxes to super soakers, check out these 10 items you never knew were invented by black Americans. #blackhistorymonth

7. In related news, 100 Years of Beauty – Episode 18: USA Men 2 (Lester). Every time I watch one of these videos, I am so appreciative of the effort it must have taken to put it together. (And btw, I don’t think the 90s was a good era in fashion for anyone). And while you are at it, check out the other videos on WatchCut Video’s YouTube channel. They’ve got lots of cools stuff, such as this video One Word – Episode 32: Binge Eating (Eating Disorders).

8. What They Did With These Shower Curtain Rods Might just Be The Most Secretly Genius Idea Ever.

9. Snow Day. A cheetah and dog pair have their first snowy experience.

10. The moment of truth: We must stop Trump.

11. A love letter from your fat friend: It’s okay. You’re fat.

12. None of this matters when you’re dead, “Or why I don’t care that my decade worth of blog content has been lost.” I don’t think I’d be so cool about it if this happened to me.

13. Beginner-Friendly Meditation Retreats in Some of the World’s Most Beautiful Settings. #3 is one of my favorite places on the planet, (so much so that I kinda wish they hadn’t included it cause I want to keep it my own little secret).

14. Interview with Emily Brown, from BodyLove on Light Folly.

15. Why Kale May Kill Us, So I’m Getting a Divorce. In related news, Greens, Kale & Thyroid Problems. I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and I didn’t know this.

16. Quirky New Chalk Characters on the Streets of Ann Arbor by David Zinn. Super cute. I love it that there are people in the world that take the time to do this, to practice their art, to surprise people with the joy of it.

17. Writing Down The Bones: 30 Years Later. One of my favorite writing teachers. And I am constantly amazed — this was her FIRST book. One of the most important writing books ever, in my humble opinion, and it was the first one she wrote.

18. Michelle Nijhuis’s Brief Guide to Writing Reported Essays.

19. 6 Illustrations That Show What It’s Like in an Introvert’s Head.

20. Simplicity is the Way Back to Love from Be More With Less.

21. Art at Altitude: Watch Artist Simon Beck Trample Calculated Murals onto Snowy Mountaintops. So much effort for something that’s just going to melt — and yet, it all melts eventually, doesn’t it?

22. Tips and Myths About Extending Smartphone Battery Life. I don’t know about you, but the state of my cellphone charge gives me such anxiety, so this was very helpful.

23. Wisdom from Tulku Thondup, “Unless one is omniscient or at least enjoys some degree of clairvoyance, no one can judge others. One can see how others appear and how they are behaving, but not who they are or why they are behaving in a particular manner.” During this season of politics, I’ve had to remind myself of this again and again.

24. How to make peanut butter toast. This seems to be about more than just peanut butter toast.

25. That Time I Stole an Atkin’s Diet Book From Bj’s from Mara Glatzel. I love everything about this.

26. The life that’s left from Jamie Greenwood. This is such a good reminder. “The only thing I was ever promised at birth was life and THIS, this loss wrapped in pain wrapped in sweet remembrance wrapped in joy, is all part of the package.”

27. 5 Reasons to Meditate by Pema Chödrön. “Yes, it’s a strange thing to do — just sit there and do basically nothing. Yet the simple act of stopping, says Pema Chödrön, is the best way to cultivate our good qualities. Here are five ways it makes us better people.”

28. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club,

There really is no one on this entire planet who knows every single thing that you have lived through, that you have learned, that you have endured, that you have overcome, that you have feared, that you have loved, that you have grieved, that you have built, that you have dreamed up, that you have worked toward. This is why, incredible soul, it is so important to hold yourself to be as sacred as you truly are.

You are a whole lot of beautifulness, in little things and in big things. You are a whole lot of colorfulness woven together in a way that has never ever ever been woven. Don’t let others try to define you, sweet friend. Don’t let others minimize you or try to squeeze you tight into a box that makes them comfortable. You are you and you are too wild and sparkling to fit inside of ANY box. You are meant to shine your light. When you need to feel 100% understood, turn to the source of truth and light. And turn to that beautiful soul inside of you — she is so so so wise.

And remember that we can never know every single thing about others, either. We are all very complicated souls, and we would all be a lot happier if we gave everyone a little bit of grace and focus on the good things we DO know.

29. Women and Body Image with Isabel Foxen Duke, an interview. “On women and body image with the fabulous Isabel Foxen Duke as well as helpful tips and tactics to free yourself from body worries.”

30. How To Deal With Haters. Unfortunately in this age of social media, this is something we all face at one time or another, and this is really sound advice.

31. Reactions: Not everything in life is Likable. This is a really great article that talks about how the new Facebook reaction options were developed.

32. Manny Selfie Cat, one of the best accounts on Instagram.

33. Fatphobic Nurse Makes Me Say F*ck Seven Times and 11 Reasons Why I Focus On Health and Not Weight from Dances with Fat.

34. A Mother’s Confession: A Song with Footnotes from Amanda Palmer. Trigger alert: if you are a mom, this might just wreck you.

35. Wisdom from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, “If we don’t develop contentment, we can never have what we want or enjoy what we have.” Oh, snap!

36. Exquisite Curiosity and Food from Geneen Roth.

37. One of my new favorite songs, ATTLAS – Parallel Lines.

38. Magic Tricks from Jena Schwartz. So beautiful. Writers like Jena raise the bar for my writing in the best possible way.

39. The Hunger for Rest, an important reminder from the amazing Rachel Cole, because this, “If you find yourself eating as a way to avoid the rest you’re craving or as a way to silence your inner critic who bashes you for your laziness, consider embracing your unique needs for rest and see what happens.”

40. Our Everloving Quest to Control Our Lives from Zen Habits. This is such an important read. We should all probably just memorize it, recite it in the mirror every morning. We’d all be so much happier if we could “get” just this one thing.

41. Five Ways To Love Yourself Courageously on Life is Limitless. This is also so important. Caroline starts by saying, “I’ve been focused on personal growth quite intensely now for many years, I’ve read countless books, taken various courses, spent years in therapy, worked with a number of coaches and the number one thing that I learnt from it all is this: If you don’t love yourself deeply and completely, then you can’t ever be truly happy.”

Something Good

Arthur's Rock, Lory State Park, image by Eric

Arthur’s Rock, Lory State Park, image by Eric

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Two really great classes with two amazing teachers starting on Leap Day: Brave Blogging with Andrea Scher, 30 days of creative prompts and blogging lessons, and Leaping into Leap Year: What’s Your Leap? with Patti Digh, “What’s the leap forward you want to make? Let’s define it, set up conditions for success, and leap on February 29th!”

2. A Caring Chorus. “We all have a voice inside, and the best teachers help us find it. One group of students took the time to recognize their chorus teacher with a performance she’ll never forget.” Her response when they start singing is precious.

3. This boy and his family just met his bone marrow donor for the first time. Not a dry eye in sight. Such a great video. We have the capacity for so much good.

4. The Master Body Positive Resource List from the Militant Baker. This.

5. After Becoming A Mom, I Couldn’t Find Time To Paint, So I Started Doing One Tiny Drawing A Day. Sometimes small can be HUGE.

6. WATCH: “This veterinarian knew he had to get this starving rescued puppy to eat something, so he did an experiment. He got in the cage along with her, put his breakfast in a metal bowl just like hers, and showed her that they are equals – both deserving a good meal, and a little love.” I can’t even…

7. What I Learn on the Orange Couch: Creating Boundaries for the First Time from Patti Digh. Ever since her heart attack, Patti’s writing has been on fire.

8. Wisdom from L.R. Knost, “Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first.’ It means ‘me, too.'” Mind blown.

9. Watch these big cats react to cardboard for the first time! No matter how big, kitties are still kitties.

10. I Documented Two Years of Travel By Painting In My Moleskine Notebook. Amazing.

11. Recipes I want to try: Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash and No-Knead Bread and Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers and Pistachio-Lemon Bars.

12. One Big Reason Your Life Is Harder (And Busier) Than It Has To Be from Marc and Angel Hack Life. *Spoiler Alert* “Here’s the thing: Busyness is NOT a badge of honor. There’s zero honor at all in endless busyness. Busyness is just an illness that makes everything harder than it has to be.”

13. Don’t forget this about eating… from Isabel Foxen Duke.

14. Don’t Fall into the Self-Esteem Trap: Try a Little Self-Kindness by Kristin Neff, who just so happens to be an expert on the subject of self-compassion. “Striving for self-esteem is about trying hard to feel special, above average. It’s absurd. We don’t need to feel extra-special or over the top. We need to touch who we really are in any given moment.”

15. Before You Blow Up Your Life, Do This from Jonathan Fields. “What if, instead of blowing up what lies outside, we broke open what lies within?” Is it utterly horrible to believe that he wrote this just for me?

16. Wisdom from Brave Girls Club, “Rest does not need to hold hands with guilt. We do not have to pay for rest when the rest is over.”

17. Why We Struggle with Change on Zen Habits.

18. Dog Adopts Orphaned Opossums, Gives Them Awesome Rides On Her Back. How am I ever going to hold on to my belief that opossums are gross when people keep sharing stories like this?!

19. I’ve spent years trying to get skinny. Oprah’s Weight Watchers ads convinced me to stop. Because this,

My epiphany was this: Oprah is one of the most accomplished, admired, able people in the world. She has an Oscar to keep all her Emmy Awards company. She creates magic for other people and herself on the regular. So if Oprah can’t do permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be done. Oprah is also crazy rich. If Oprah can’t buy permanent lifelong weight loss, maybe it can’t be bought. And that sucks.

But it is also incredibly freeing if you, like me, have thought about your weight so many times throughout every day of your life that it becomes as maddening and distracting as if you’d stowed a beating telltale heart beneath your floorboards.

20. Female Friendships and Online Literary Sexism on The Rumpus.

21. (How To) Get Over Comparing Yourself To Other Creatives from Adam Kurtz. Such good advice. In related news, Sentimentalizing Everything.

22. Killing Us Softly 4 – Trailer [Featuring Jean Kilbourne]. *sigh*

23. 21 Hilarious Tweets That Perfectly Sum Up Your Relationship With Your Co-Workers. *gigglesnort*

24. 10 Best Yoga Tunes of the Year, from Yoga Journal. “Early ballots for the 2016 Grammy Awards included nearly two dozen albums inspired by bhakti yoga. We listened to them all to choose our favorite yoga music for the year.” I haven’t listened to any of these yet, but I’m excited for some new music.

25. Watch Hozier’s Haunting New Music Video About Domestic Abuse. The song is so beautiful, so sweet, that without the video I might not have realized what it was about.

26. Nigella Lawson: “Women should eat what they want. Not what they think they should.” Word.

27. Having It All Kinda Sucks. “Only women would sign up for this much crap.” An important read.

28. Syd Rocks. At 10 years old, Sydney was diagnosed with LCH, Langerhan’s Cell Histiocytosis, a rare blood disorder. The cause of the disease is unknown and it is estimated that Histiocytosis affects one in 200,000 children each year in the U.S. After treatment (not fun), Sydney is doing better, but she’s committed to donating 100% of the profit earned from her Syd Rocks necklaces to medical research to find a cure for LCH and pediatric cancer. She’ll have a booth at Wanderlust 108 Chicago on May 16th, or you can shop at her website.

29. Sia Carpool Karaoke. I love this series so much.

30. Lip-Reading Software Brings Hitler’s Most Intimate Words Alive In His Silent Home Movies. Interesting and creepy.

31. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

The power of the paramita of patience is that it is the antidote to anger, a way to learn to love and care for whatever we meet on the path. By patience, we do not mean enduring — grin and bear it. In any situation, instead of reacting suddenly, we could chew it, smell it, look at it, and open ourselves to seeing what’s there. The opposite of patience is aggression — the desire to jump and move, to push against our lives, to try to fill up space. The journey of patience involves relaxing, opening to what’s happening, experiencing a sense of wonder.

31. Growing Together by Thich Nhat Hanh on Lion’s Roar. “In his introduction to the book, Love’s Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships, Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how we can use loving relationships to cultivate the seeds of buddhahood inside us.”

32. Deepak Chopra Wants Us To Meditate Our Fat Away from Dances with Fat. Just no, everything about this no.

33. High rent is forcing Las Vegas families to take to the sewers. In related news, check out the Seeker Stories YouTube channel.

34. On the Submerged World from Dani Shapiro. This is why I practice, why I keep showing up.

35. Troops betrayed as Army dumps hundreds of heroic war dogs. To be honest, I couldn’t even finish reading this, it just hurt too much. We need to do better, by ALL our vets.

36. In Memory of David R. Tolstrup, D.O. My friend Jim’s brother died unexpectedly last week. “He was a much loved son, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend and will be very much missed by many. He was also a dedicated and compassionate physician who believed in healing the whole person and who often worked with underserved populations in his medical career. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you donate to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that works tirelessly around the world to see that some of the most vulnerable among us receive life saving care regardless of their means.”

37. Kickstarter: The Tiny Book Show. “The Tiny Book Show is a mobile museum of miniature books traveling across the US this summer in our 1965 Covered Wagon caravan.” One of my favorite projects by two of my favorite poets.

38. This Cat Has Been Reunited With The Refugee Family He Lost In Greece. All the feels…

Something Good

orange

So great to be partnering with Wanderlust to share this list with a larger audience.

1. Multitasking is Killing Your Brain. “Multitasking is not a skill to add to the resume, but rather a bad habit to put a stop to.”

2. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön, from her book Start Where You Are: a Guide to Compassionate Living, “The reason that people harm other people, the reason that the planet is polluted and people and animals are not doing so well these days is that individuals don’t know or trust or love themselves enough.” So simple. So incredibly complicated.

3. Good stuff from Patti Digh: Your life is the vision board. Better get a new glue stick. and strong offer Friday : transform terror into commitment, and entitlement into hope, which includes the video and transcript of Laurie Foley’s Life is a Verb Camp talk.

4. The Best Female Rock Climber In the World is 14 Years Old (so cool) from Great Big Story, whose tagline is “From the cosmos to cosplay and pizza to our very planet itself, it’s time to feed your feed with the most curious and compelling stories being told.” Take some time and check out their other videos.

5. Let Them Eat Cake: My Weight Restoration Story. Because this, “The only weight that I needed to drop was that of internalized misogynistic self-hate. I didn’t need to lose any pounds. I needed to lose the sound of “You’re worthless” that reverberated in my ears — in my own voice — every time I had a craving for chocolate or was too tired to go to the gym.”

6. Husband Asks Wife To Draw What’s On Her Mind, Gets More Than He Expected. #same

7. New music: Paublo Nouvelle. This is my jam. There used to be an online radio station called Beach House Radio, and if they were still around, they’d totally be playing this. I heard him first on the Chill station I listen to on SiriusXM satellite radio (so good, “downtempo electronic and deep house”), but you can also find his stuff on SoundCloud and YouTube, or buy his new CD.

8. Bringing Kindness, Full Stop on Allowing Myself. Justine told me recently that when she got her yearly blog report, it showed I shared her stuff the most of anyone — because she’s so good.

9. Dog Breaks Out Of Kennel To Comfort Abandoned Crying Puppies. This story gives me all the feels. Here’s the video.

10. 13 Plus-Size Models Killing The Fashion Game Right Now. Next step: stop calling them “plus size” and just call them models.

11. You Get To Decide from Michele Woodward. This is an older piece, but I wanted to share it again in honor of Laurie, who entered hospice this past week. Here’s a podcast she did a few years ago, Episode 7 – Laurie Foley – A Practice to Find God.

12. Life Before And After Getting A Dog (9 Pics). Word.

13. One-of-Kind Wool Rug Artworks by Alexandra Kehayoglou Mimic Rolling Pastures and Mossy Textures. These are amazing.

14. The One Thing We Need To See In Plus Size Fashion In 2016, (p.s. besides that thing where we stopped called it “plus size” and just call it fashion).

15. the shutterbugs: salva lópez on SF Girl by Bay. The colors, the wood and the plants and the light, the patina — so gorgeous.

16. 10 Reasons I Ditched Dieting from Dances With Fat. Amen.

17. Toddler GoPro Hide and Seek. “Strap a GoPro to your toddler and play Hide & Seek. So much awesome!” So cute.

18. Refugee Girls Got To Dress Up As What They Want To Be When They Grow Up. “The International Rescue Committee recently sent photographer Meredith Hutchison to meet with young girls in two refugee camps in Jordan and ask them about their hopes and dreams.”

19.‘Stop using BMI as measure of health,’ say researchers. Yes, please. In related news, BMI mislabels 54 million Americans as ‘overweight’ or ‘obese,’ study says.

20. The new Beyoncé video is nearly five minutes of unapologetic blackness.

21. The 20 Funniest Tweets From Women This Week.

22. Not Just a Death, a System Failure.

23. No exceptions from Chookooloonks. “If you want to be good at your job, at parenting and/or at life, you must practice self care. No exceptions.”

24. The Powerful Super Bowl Ad That Washington Redskins’ Owner Dan Snyder Needs to See. Word.

25. Super Bowl commercials 2016: the 9 best and 5 worst ads.

26. “Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Me” from Amy McCracken, one of my favorite writers, one of my favorite humans, and this is just one reason why.

Untitled

pathwithtextTo be honest, I was starting to think maybe I’d picked the wrong word this year. A month has passed already and instead of feeling immersed, focused, clear, I was feeling a little lost. Yoga and writing come more naturally to me, but I was finding it hard to meditate, let alone deepen my study of the dharma. This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, trying to find some direction or distract myself when I saw a post from Lodro Rinzler, “New video teaching up to kick off a year series studying Atisha’s mind training slogans.” I recognized the screen capture from an email I got at the beginning of the week from him, one that I’d filed away like all the others for some later date when I have “more time.”

You can sign up for Lodro’s newsletter and he sends a meditation challenge every Monday. Sometimes I watch, but more often I file it away for later. When I saw the post on Facebook, I actually read what it was about, and I was in.

Three years ago, Susan Piver was focusing her Open Heart Project Practitioner teachings around the lojong slogans. I enjoyed it so much, was learning so much. I have two books from Pema Chödrön about the same topic and was using them to help deepen my understanding. Then Susan made the difficult decision to discontinue the Practitioner program, and we never made it past the 17th one. So I was so happy to see that Lodro was teaching them, that he was committed to the full set of 59.

Lojong (or “mind training”) slogans are from a classical Tibetan Buddhist text, and are described by Pema Chödrön as offering “pithy, powerful reminders on how to awaken our hearts in the midst of day-to-day life, under any circumstances.” The editor of the book by Chögyam Trungpa about these same slogans describes them this way,

The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind is a list of fifty-nine slogans, which form a pithy summary instruction on the view and practical application of mahayana Buddhism. The study and practice of these slogans is a very practical and earthy way of reversing our ego-clinging and of cultivating tenderness and compassion. They provide a method of training our minds through both formal meditation practice and using the events of everyday life as a means of awakening.

Pithy. Practical. Perfect. I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, kind and gentle reader, but it’s that practical application component that draws me to Buddhism. All the stuff about various deities and realms and karma is interesting to me as an intellectual exercise, but it’s the part where the rubber meets the road that I get excited about. I look to the dharma as a way to understand how to be a better human — how to meet what is beautiful and tender and keep my heart open, how to face what is brutal and terrible and not give up.

And the first lojong slogan is one of my favorites. It presents what are sometimes referred to as the Four Reminders. The slogan is “first, train in the preliminaries,” and those preliminaries or reminders are:

  1. Maintain an awareness of the preciousness of human life, the luck of a human birth
  2. Be aware of the reality that life ends, death comes for everyone
  3. Know that karma is real, actions have consequences
  4. Contemplate that as long as you are caught up in yearning for pleasure and shying away from pain, the suffering of suffering, you will remain trapped in unhappiness

I’ve written about the Four Reminders before. I was happy to revisit them this morning. Even happier to feel myself back on the path, encouraged by what Pema says about this study, that “when we work with the slogans, ordinary life becomes the path of awakening.”

Wild Writing: “As You Go Through Life”

The Poudre River, from our walk this morning, just before I noticed a mink running along the ice

The Poudre River, from our walk this morning, just before I noticed a mink running along the ice at the edge

We recently started our spring session of my Wild Writing class, and I’m so glad to be back at it. In class on Friday morning, after I read my last piece, Laurie said “blog it” before moving on to the next person, so here it is.

Prompt: As You Go Through Life by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Laurie doesn’t typically share poems that rhyme, but like she said, this one just has too many good lines. I was surprised when I Googled it to find a link to share with you that it was published in 1910, that the poet is long gone.

“Bend and let it go over you.” I keep coming back to this when I’m teaching yoga — that balance isn’t about finding a fixed point and sticking there, stable and still, but rather it’s about all the tiny (and big) adjustments we make to keep from falling over, to stave off collapse, and how even collapsing, giving up and going over, is part of balance. We fall over, we soften into it, and then, if we’d like, we get up and try again.

It reminds me of the story Pema Chödrön tells about her teacher, how she asked Chögyam Trungpa in a moment she was having a really hard time what she should do, how to handle it, and he told her it’s like standing in the ocean, how each wave crashes into you, knocks you down, takes you in and under, but you get back up. And in time, you get stronger, you learn to move with the waves, and instead of feeling like you are drowning, like it’s so bad and so hard you are going to die, you are able to move with it, to meet and ride the wave. Bend and let it go over you.

I wonder if students who aren’t teachers understand that a teacher only ever teaches one of two things — what they know so well they have it memorized, so it’s safe and easy, requires no real effort and little attention; or we teach what we need to learn, what we are trying to figure out, what seems so big and complicated it feels like we’ll never be able to understand it, what terrifies us, what makes us tender. In one case we phone it in, in the other we send out an S.O.S., it’s almost a cry for help, but we know, we trust that there is help to be had, that our bones know, and if we keep asking the questions, either answers will come or we’ll surrender to not knowing.

Day of Rest

Selfie I took with my new laptop while on retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center -- what I look like when I'm working

Selfie I took with my new laptop while on retreat (writing and meditation with Susan Piver) at Shambhala Mountain Center — what I look like when I’m working

Over time, as the thinking mind begins to settle [through the practice of meditation], we’ll start to see our patterns and habits far more clearly. This can be a painful experience. I can’t overestimate the importance of accepting ourselves exactly as we are right now, not as we wish we were or think we ought to be. By cultivating nonjudgmental openness to ourselves and to whatever arises, to our surprise and delight we will find ourselves genuinely welcoming the never-pin-downable quality of life, experiencing it as a friend, a teacher, and a support, and no longer as an enemy. ~From Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chödrön

As I mentioned recently, my guiding word for 2016 is path. In a moment of luck, serendipity, magic, or auspicious coincidence, the monthly theme for January in the Open Heart Project Sangha is “stages of the path.” In Susan’s talk introducing the topic, one thing that really stood out to me was something she said about discipline being related to remembering our priorities — some of the most important of which are to find out who we are and share what we have to give, to nourish and nurture ourselves so we can be of benefit to others.

For so much of my life, I was confused about this. I looked to external standards and measures to determine who I was supposed to become, what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to be. None of this process ever asked, “who are you? what do you have to offer?” My effort was completely disconnected from my inherent being, and was focused on becoming something else. I spent most of my adult life denying who I was, lost to myself, homesick for something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

A conversation with a friend got me thinking about how I got here, how I found myself back in my own body, reconnecting to my true self, and about all the remaining ways I still struggle. I went back through the timeline (starting nine years ago) and considered all the things that had to shift, all the effort and patience it required. It wasn’t easy, and I’m nowhere near done.

And I know that sounds like I’m talking about changing, about self-improvement, but that’s not it exactly. Before I was a constructed, false self, and the effort now is about sinking into my authentic self, letting all that other crap fall away. For example, some people might look at my body now and think “she’s bigger, she changed,” when actually it was the previous form of my body that was a construct. I put so much effort and struggle into how my body was before. It wasn’t natural or healthy, and yet to look at me, I was a better fit with the norm, the standard women are measured by. My body before by external measures was preferable, but I had to suffer to have it. I had to hurt myself to look like that. I’m now making the choice to not generate more suffering, to be kinder and less judgmental. I no longer go to the gym to change the way my body looks, but rather I’m there to feel good in the body I have. Sure, I hope the effort translates into an increase in strength, endurance, overall health, but I can no longer be motivated by needing things to be different, thinking I can control the outcome, hating myself because I don’t measure up.

And what a wonderful surprise to realize that the most important thing I have to offer, the best thing I have to give can only come from being fully myself. That who I really am is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing I need to fix or hide, but rather something to honor, something precious, something to set free. No smashing myself to bits. No more striving. Instead, I just need to relax, sink deeply into my tiny ordinary life, just as I am, letting the edges of my practice soften so that there is no longer any difference between my life and my path.

Something Good

It's still Christmas on the Poudre River Trail.

It’s still Christmas on the Poudre River Trail. Every year, someone sneaks over and decorates three of the trees along the trail, always the same three trees.

1. SECRET BAD GIRL: A Sexual Trauma Resolution Revolution, a Kickstarter project by Rachael Maddox. “How I broke my long-standing sexual trauma spell and grew vibrant, vital & free. A provocative memoir & wildly wise resolution guide.” The deadline to contribute is 12/30 at 5 pm EST. I’m adding my own contribution because I want to read this book and because Rachael is doing important work here.

2. Is it too little butter, or too much bread? from Seth Godin. Oh boy, do I need less bread.

3. Nepal’s Earthquake Victims Face Cold Winter Without Shelter, Aid. Check in the comment section for ways to help, places to donate that might actually have a chance of getting help directly to the people who need it.

4. “If you have a moral attachment to a way of eating, that’s a disordered behavior”: How dieting culture, fat shaming and food porn shape our lives. “Salon talks with Kelsey Miller, author of ‘Big Girl,’ about unlearning toxic messages around food and weight.”

5. Everyone has “their” song, a hilarious short video that I can’t stop watching.

6. Let’s Give The Gift of a Fresh Start, a project started by Humans of New York. Brandon described it this way,

Earlier this month we profiled eleven Syrian families that were preparing to begin new lives in America. They have escaped a horrible war, and have finally secured a degree of safety and security, but the road will be very tough for them. They will be starting at zero in a new country. In addition to the culture shock, they will face innumerable obstacles, including the need to learn an entirely new language. As they attempt to get their footing, they will be provided with little more than the bare minimum needed to subsist. This holiday season, let’s give them a little breathing room. The amount we raise over the next 48 hours will be divided evenly among the refugee families that were featured on HONY this month. Many of these families left Syria with nothing. For years they’ve been forced to stretch every dollar to provide for basic needs, so direct assistance will go a long way. Many of these families are large so we certainly can’t cover all their financial needs. But we can lighten the load and help ease the anxiety of starting over in a strange land. So please consider taking part in this gift by making a small donation.

7. Give Me Five, a hilarious cat video.

8. Watch the stars of ‘Downton Abbey’ play a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity.

9. A DIY mindfulness jar. I love this.

10. What yoga instructor Jessamyn Stanley has to say on body image is brilliant.

11. Your Brain on Restriction. This is SO important, and I wish I’d written it.

12. 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest Gallery. Amazing images.

13. Why you should always buy the men’s version of almost anything. Grrrr….

14. A wild sea otter chose to give birth at an aquarium and everyone’s hearts are melting, including mine.

15. If Gyms Were Honest, from Dances with Fat. Reason #111 I want to start my own gym, and when I do, this will be my mission statement.

16. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Limitations can be acknowledged without exaggerating or succumbing to them. When we’re confident that our mind is workable, our failings don’t seem like such a big deal. They’re as temporary as clouds, and in no way diminish the skylike nature of our mind. With this kind of confidence in our limitless potential, the mightiest challenges won’t cause us to lose heart.

17. Pema Chödrön & k.d. lang talk Buddhism, creativity, and “gapaciousness” on Lion’s Roar.

18. Buddhism A-Z: 10 Buddhist books everyone should have, a great list from Lion’s Roar.

19. The Heart of Generosity by Gina Sharpe on Lion’s Roar.

20. Rare bird discovered at Gardens on Spring Creek during Christmas Bird Count. I love everything about this — it’s local, it’s a rare bird, and there is such a thing as a “Christmas Bird Count.”

21. Parents Tell Stepparents What They Really Think, the sweetest video from Soul Pancake.

22. My 4-year-old was told not to say, ‘Happy holidays.’ Here’s how I responded. Word, Dad.

23. 10 Reasons Not to Focus on Your Weight in the New Year, from Be Nourished. SO important. Again, I wish I’d written it.

24. The 15 Best Books of 2015, a list from Brain Pickings. “Rewarding reflections on time, love, loss, courage, creativity, and other transformations of the heart.”

25. SAVE MY ARTWORK a gofundme campaign from Sabrina Ward Harrison, one of my favorite artists, who is in danger of losing a storage unit full of original work, which would be a loss for all of us.