Tag Archives: Superhero Journal

Something Good

This post is late. I had a long, long, hard, busy day yesterday, and by the time I got home at almost 8 pm, I just didn’t have it in me to do it. So, here it is–better late than never?

1. Creative Superheroes Interview: Laurie Wagner on Superhero Journal.

2. Neil Gaiman announced that he’s writing another Sandman. You might not already know this about me, but I love Neil Gaiman’s writing and his voice, and the Sandman series was how I first encountered his work, so I’m very excited that there will be another.

3. This quote: I couldn’t live without dog. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (German Philosopher). Me either.

4. Land Art. I was reminded of this when I found a post on This is Colossal about the work of Andres Amador. There’s also this post and this one and this, and of course there’s Andy Goldsworthy, whose work is the first Land Art I’d ever seen.

5. Maybe. Maybe Not. on Nourishing the Soul. “If we are caught up in defining the events of our lives as positive or negative, we lose our ability to see and to hear the quiet ways in which other opportunities are presenting themselves.”

6. Convalesce on SouleMama. “I don’t know that we currently live in a world in which we can all lay low, painting in the sunshine and spending weeks recovering from illnesses. But I do know for certain that in small but important ways, we can all be a little bit gentler on ourselves – and each other. And that a cure for so many things lives in moving slowly and being still. ”

7. How to Become Open to Life on Zen Habits.

8. Manifesto love: three manifestos for creatives on Zebra Sounds. I love a good manifesto, and I love Judy Clement Wall.

9. How to Be an Explorer of the World on Brain Pickings. 

10. This quote from Raam Dev:

There are times in life when we need to go with what feels right. Ignore all the critics, the naysayers, and those who will judge us by their own definition of truth. Create your own path, forge your own destiny, and make all the mistakes and dead-end turns necessary to arrive alive. Sometimes what we need cannot be put into the context of right or wrong but must be defined and acted upon by the compass of our soul.

11. This quote: What most of us think of as fear is primarily a mental process of imagining situations that do not exist in the moment. ~Cheri Huber

P.S. Tuesday’s Three Truths and One Wish will be a day late this week too, will be written and posted tomorrow. I’m sensing a theme, seeing a pattern to this week…

Something Good

no matter what the weather, the sky is always blue

1. More by Erica Staab, one of my favorite bloggers. Probably because she says things like this “One of the gifts of grief (be it from a death, a loss of a dream, a loss of the life you thought you wanted etc.) is that when your heart is broken open it naturally creates more space for love if you let it.”

2. The Daily Post at WordPress.com. This seems like a good site to keep in your back pocket if you are a blogger who ever feels stuck about what to write. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll also see a list of daily writing prompts, or check out the “Inspiration” section.

3. John F. Ptak Relief Fund. Read Patti’s post, “Community is a Verb,” or visit the Team Brilliant Facebook page. If I or anyone I love finds themselves in this situation, I can only hope to be helped by so many kind, generous people, which is the best reason to help: at some point, we are all going to need it, so it’s good to give it when we can.

4. What the world needs from you by Marianne Elliot. Such a good list.

5. This quote: It doesn’t have to be pretty or smart, just honest and true. ~Mark Nepo

6. This quote: Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what
dies inside us while we live. ~Norman Cousins

7. We think we move through the world unseen, a heartbreakingly beautiful post by Andrea Scher. Have I told you lately how much I adore her?

8. You just call out my name on A Human Thing by Judy Clement Wall, another writer, woman, badass that I completely adore. This post is good for all kinds of reasons, but specifically because she says something I’d been trying to verbalize, in reference to the loss of the amazing writer David Rakoff,

Critics, when they review Rakoff’s essay collections, often focus on his pessimism and his razor sharp, sarcastic wit, but underneath that
is the thing that drew me to his work: a defiant sort of sweetness, an underlying hope.

9. Because he was so sweet, his loss so sad, and because you may not know who he is and need to see for yourself, and because cancer sucks, takes from us the most beautiful of things:

When I watched this video, knowing that he was gone, the dance at the end broke my heart, but at the same time was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.

10. Two more things about David Rakoff: Our Friend David Rakoff by Ira Glass and On Already Missing The Angry, Passionate Writing Of David Rakoff.

11. 50 amazing gifts from living in the now and Overcoming perfectionism in a culture that promotes it on Tiny Buddha.

12. This quote: Perfectionism is a form of self-aggression. ~Me

13. This online radio station: Lush on SomaFM.

14. 50 People, One Question. What’s your secret?

15. Uncharted Waters on Sas’ Magical Mystery Tour. I loved this post, and I want to go to there. She makes me believe it’s possible.

16. My message from The Daily Flame, which just so happened to be the exact thing I needed to hear.

Dearest Jill Salahub,
It’s all okay.
I promise.
It may not look the way you anticipated it would look, but I swear to
you, it’s all going right according to plan. Soon you will see the method to The Universe’s madness.
You will find the gifts in the uncertainty and disappointment. You will understand why it’s taking so long to get where you’re trying to get.
Be patient, love. All this – and more – is coming your way.
Speaking the truth,
Your Inner Pilot Light

17. Confessions of a control freak (dentists and book launches) on Writing Our Way Home, another message I needed to hear, especially this part:

For me, faith doesn’t mean an assurance that all will be well. Things often don’t go well. Instead it means being able to relax back into the dentist’s chair, and trusting that whatever happens, whatever discomfort I’m in, it will pass.

And a deeper holding, too. Something harder to put into words. Something about it being okay even when it’s not okay.

It will pass, and I’ll find myself on the other side.

18. Write Yourself Into Motion with Alex Franzen at 27 Powers. This would be, will be, so awesome.

19. Mamahood + Business: Dr. Brene Brown, an interview with Kelly Rae Roberts. My favorite is when Brene’ says this, “A long time ago someone told me that a good marriage is not 50-50. A good marriage is having a partner who’s willing to show up with 80% when you only have 20% and who can count on you to do the same.” Poor Eric has had to be 95% in the past few days, so I know this is true. I also love Brene’s list of what she wants for her kids–I want that for myself!

20. Linus, the sweetest accidental adoption story.

21. Posie Gets Cozy. The pictures on this blog are dreamy.

22. This quote: Wherever we are there are voices saying: “Go here, go there, buy this, buy that, get to know him, get to know her, don’t miss this, don’t miss that,” and so on and on. These voices keep pulling us away from that soft gentle voice that speaks in the center of our being: “You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.” Prayer is the discipline of listening to that voice of love. ~Henri Nouwen

23. This quote: When we drop the idea that we’re supposed to be having a certain kind of experience and open ourselves to the experience we are having, then we avoid nothing, and we fear nothing, because we are right here with ourselves. ~Cheri Huber

24. Liv Lane’s favorite blogs. We like a lot of the same things, so I imagine I will get lost for a while in these lists.

Wishcasting Wednesday

What do you wish to experience?

Swimming. I can’t. Well, I sort of can–I can keep myself from drowning for about three minutes, but it’s not pretty, and that’s what’s stopped me from learning, from relaxing into what I might already know–fear, of drowning, of dying, of being out of control and uncool. But, I wish to know what it feels like to glide through the water, to feel safe and confident there. And Jamie Ridler told me I have mermaid hair, so I think it’s required of me to know how to swim.

Performing, singing and playing my ukelele. I wish to take lessons for both and someday get on stage to sing and play my little heart out (but not all by myself, maybe as part of a band?).

I wish to experience being in a flash mob.

I wish to experience holding my published book in my hands. I’ve held it (them?) in my heart and my head and my notebooks and computer files for so long, I wish to manifest its full form, to share it. I wish to know what that feels like, being able to claim that I am a writer, an “author” in a way I’m not able to yet.

Spending a whole summer in Amsterdam. I still can’t really explain it, but I love this place, and I think spending the summer in a house boat or apartment in the center of town, walking or taking the train, shopping in the outdoor markets, visiting museums and writing in cafes, would be amazing.

Spending two months traveling around all of Europe.

Spending time in Japan. I’ve never been, but I love everything about it, the aesthetic, the mood. I’d find shrines and meditate, I’d take an Ikebana class from a master, I’d see the cherry blossoms and the maple trees and the cranes, I’d eat the food, see the people (trying not to stare or be rude), and I’d take a million pictures.

I wish to experience speaking another language fluently.

Leading a retreat. The more I think about it, dream and plan, the more of them I visit as an attendee or even do on my own, the more I wish to offer this to others, to give them the gift of being able to sink into practice, to soften and relax and open in a supportive and inspiring environment.

Teaching an ecourse. Another thing I am thinking of, dreaming and planning.

Teaching yoga and meditation. Along with writing, these two practices have benefited me so much that I want to be able to share them, to have the knowledge, skill and training necessary to do so effectively, ethically, and safely.

Finding my “thing,” my unique offering, and being a creative entrepreneur, being able to quit my paid work if I’d like.

Being able to make, sew, build, craft whatever I can imagine, and selling it in my etsy shop.

Making art and taking a workshop with Patti Digh.

Doing yoga and going on a retreat with Jennifer Louden.

Painting and yoga with Flora Bowley.

In person Wild Writing with Laurie Wagner.

Finding and making magic with Andrea Scher.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail (at least some of it) with Eric.

Having an urban farm. I wish to get my hands dirty, to tend the earth, to provide, feeding not just us, but having enough to share, and keeping animals and insects too, chickens and rabbits and bees and ladybugs. I would love to have a cow, but I wouldn’t be able to eat it.

I wish to experience healing, whatever form that might take.

I wish to experience complete self-love, acceptance, worthiness.

I wish to experience wholeness and wellness.

I wish to experience my life, all of the beauty and brutality it has to offer, the whole thing, all of it, and to know at the end that I made a difference, that I showed up with an open heart and was loved, that I mattered and was able to ease suffering in the world.

An open love letter to Andrea Scher

Photo by Mara

I’ll admit, kind and gentle reader, I am afraid to write this post. I have avoided it for months, while at the same time silently writing and rewriting it in my heart, longing to say it out loud, to tell her. But what do you say to someone who has given you so much, altered your experience so completely? How can you ever possibly thank them? See…I’m right to be afraid, because every time I think about it, about how much I adore her and how grateful I am, I start to cry (now, for example).

Andrea Scher has been the sun at the center of a universe of amazement and goodness, the shiny middle that all the other bright and precious things orbit around.

self-portrait by andrea scher

Here is just a short list of what she’s given me, what she’s introduced me to: Boho Girl, Susannah Conway, Kelly Rae Roberts, Brene’ Brown (!!!), Jen Lemen, Flora Bowley and the wonder of painting, Laurie Wagner, Rachel Cole, Mondo Beyondo thinking, and the joy of photography.

I’ve taken two of Andrea’s classes, Mondo Beyondo (which she taught with Jen Lemen) and Superhero Photo, and on Monday, June 18th, I’ll be starting Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab.

Horse or Dog?

horse or dog? picture I took of sam during superhero photo

Superhero Photo altered how I saw the world. I got down on the ground, climbed on chairs and tables, went out in all colors and weights of light, looked close and far away, and went on treasure hunts. I took some of the most magical pictures I ever had, and I haven’t stopped taking them.

Mondo Beyondo fundamentally shifted the way I approached my life, the way I saw myself. In this post, (which Andrea wrote when she first introduced the course in 2009), she describes the concept of a Mondo Beyondo list, what that approach looks like and means. She says,

I had been making these kinds of lists for years but had never had a name for it, or ever formalized my mental list by writing it down. My Mondo Beyondo. I liked the sound of it. I also loved the idea of stretching yourself into this world of the outrageous. If your imagination could reach a bit farther with this exercise, then you were giving yourself a powerful gift: expanding your idea of what is possible.

image by jen gray

Here’s the list of what I’ve done because of Andrea Scher, things I can cross off my Mondo Beyondo List:

  1. Started writing this blog
  2. Bought a ticket to World Domination Summit (WDS, just a few weeks away!)
  3. Took a few classes with Susannah Conway, got a signed copy of her book (sent by her!), am taking a writing workshop with her at WDS, and attending an event on her book tour at Kelly Rae Robert’s studio (!)
  4. Met Brene’ Brown (holy crap, I even talked to her!), took a two-day workshop with her
  5. Signed up to take a yoga class with Marianne Elliott at WDS
  6. Went to a Fearless Creativity writing and meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center with Susan Piver (oh how I adore that woman!)
  7. Hosted a Well-Fed Woman Mini Retreatshop led by Rachel Cole
  8. Started writing a book

Maybe for some people, this list wouldn’t seem that astonishing, but we are talking about me here: INFJ, introvert, highly sensitive person who suffered from depression, anxiety, and writer’s block for 25+ years, (maybe longer?). This list is huge, ginormous, crazy wild amazing.

andrea scher, taken by laurie wagner

I found Andrea Scher’s blog, Superhero Journal, at a time when I was so brokenhearted, such a mess, so stuck, so tired. I didn’t know how to keep going, where to even start. I was searching, my view clouded by grief, knew that I had abandoned myself and my dreams, but didn’t know how to find my way back.

The person I am today: writer, artist, warrior, brave, open-hearted, funny, strong, joyful, sane, is possible in part because of Andrea Scher. She invited me to expand my idea of what was possible. She encouraged me, was kind and honest. She was constantly admitting the things that are hard and messy, while still pointing out what’s beautiful and precious. She reminds me of this quote from Muriel Rukeyser, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Split open, and through the cracks, the light would get in (or maybe get out?).

Thank you, Andrea. I adore you and am so grateful for your work, your truth and your light, which have been of such great benefit to me as I stumble along.

An open love letter to “this i know: notes on unraveling the heart” and Susannah Conway

I first discovered Susannah Conway’s blog the way I’ve discovered all my favorite women on the internet: through a link on Andrea Scher’s Superhero Journal blog. For me, Andrea has been the sun at the center of a universe of female planets, the shiny middle that all the other bright and precious things orbit around. The next love letter I write will be to her.

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

~Hafiz

I started following Susannah’s blog and immediately adored her. She is consistently honest, open-hearted and funny, willing to share her “wobbly bits” along with the brilliant beauty of life. Her words and photography are gorgeous and authentic, and at times heartbreaking (in the very best kind of way, cracking you open to let in the light).

In March, I took her Blogging from the Heart course, which was absolutely brilliant. I am currently taking (and falling miserably behind) her Unravelling: Ways of Seeing Myself course, which I am also loving. Her lessons and prompts are full of opportunities to unravel, which she describes in this i know.

It’s not coming undone or losing control. It’s letting go in the best possible way, untangling the knots that hold you back, unwrapping the gifts you’ve hidden for too long, unearthing the potential that’s always been there, finally ditching the labels and should-haves, and letting yourself be what you were always meant to be.

For two back to back afternoons, I sat under a tree in a lawn chair in my backyard, reading this book, the sun making leaf shadows on the pages and birds singing in the background, taking the occasional break to throw a toy for one of the dogs or to stare at the sky.

At first, I didn’t want to mark the pages of this copy, sent to me and signed by Susannah, the most precious of gifts. I wanted to keep it pristine and protected. But as I turned the pages, read the words, I felt exactly the way I do about cake, not knowing if I should go slow and savor every bite, make it last, or gulp down huge handfuls, devouring every last crumb as fast as I could. I found myself wanting to tear out the pages and eat them, taste the colors in the photographs.

Then I remembered the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which is all about accepting transience, and about knowing what is beautiful is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Something is wabi-sabi if “an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing” and this view “nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect,” (Wikipedia entry on wabi-sabi). I got out my pencil and started underlining my favorite bits, making notes in the margins, loving this book in a real, messy, wabi-sabi way.

At the end of those two afternoons of reading, something had shifted in me. A calm determination had settled into my core, a deep knowing–this was absolutely possible and so certain it might as well have already happened. Confidence bloomed in my belly, the kind that Susan Piver describes as “the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.”

This confidence has to do with two things. First, I know I will stop smashing myself to bits, I will manifest my basic goodness, I will embody my inherent wisdom and kindness, I will save myself, I will be a beacon to others looking to do the same, I will live a wholehearted life. I will do as Susannah suggests in the book, “Living mindfully, appreciating what I have, learning to let go of what I no longer need, and practicing kindness as often as I can–especially toward myself.”

Second, more than two years ago, I had a vivid dream about a book. At that time, I was sure it was the book of a friend–must be, because I was not an artist, and in my dream, the book was a mix of art and text–so I told her about it, that she needed to write it. Two years later, she still hadn’t, and I realized it was my book I’d dreamed. I started to see books that reminded me of it, were physical manifestations of what I’d dreamed, showing me it was indeed possible. But it wasn’t until I held Susannah’s book in my hands, the weight and the color of it, that I knew for certain. My book hasn’t yet been written, nothing exactly like it done by anyone. It’s waiting inside of me to be born, will never exist if I don’t make it–messy, raw, small and simple, brutal and beautiful.

I held in my hand a love letter to my own possibility.

image by susannah conway, her beautiful hand, her brilliant ring, and her precious book

Any woman who has experienced grief and loss (that is, every woman alive) should read this book. For some of us this is the loss of a loved one, for others the loss of self, or for others still it might be the loss of both. This book is a map of one woman’s personal journey through bereavement and rediscovery of self, but it is also offered as a guidebook for those making their way along the same path, traveling through that same territory of loss. And yet, as Susannah says, this “is not a story about grief, although it informs everything I’ve learned about life. This is a book about unraveling the layers of our lives and exploring what we find in order to better understand ourselves, our relationships, and our path.”

This book embodies, through both word and image, the tender heart of that sadness, not shying away from the reality of it, the truth that life can kick your ass but that we can also lean into joy and be softened by beauty, can and will encounter grace, and know love. We may have tears streaming down our face or feel bad about our thighs, but with our eyes and heart open wide to both the brutality and beauty of life, we can heal, we can live a wholehearted life.

This book might first be about one woman’s individual journey towards wholeness, but in the end, it is an offering to the reader, an invitation to unravel our own hearts. Sometimes, simply knowing that others have walked a similar path is all the medicine and advice you need, but Susannah Conway takes it one step beyond, offering a reflection at the end of each chapter, small creative exercises that invite the reader to explore, to unravel. In this way, it is a book that one could come back to again and again.

In the end, this book is like a long, intimate conversation with the best girlfriend ever, one who has been where you are, can authentically sit in that dark place with you, but who also has a map that shows the way out, an invitation to the rest of your beautiful life.

I’ve already given away one copy of this book, and I plan to give out many more. The brilliance at the center, the wisdom at the heart of the book is this:

I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves we can truly make a difference in the world.

Amen.

This particular day

Remember that this particular day will never happen again. ~Susannah Conway, from this i know: notes on unraveling the heart

A few moments from today:

Sleeping in until 6:15 am (yes, this counts as “sleeping in” when you typically get up at 4:30 am), Sam stretched out beside me, his warmth and deep breath lulling me back to dreams.

Roses from my garden, white and deep red, in a Mason jar on my writing desk. The open window lets in cool air, bringing with it morning bird song and the smell of rain, which mixes with the scent of the roses. I write in my notebook, but not about that.

Walking with Eric and the dogs, we see a man park his truck, get out dressed in nice work clothes (button down shirt and slacks), pull a pair of dirty work boots out and put them on. With a rake slung over his shoulder, he walks towards the ball field. We walk one lap around the dog park, and when we get back, he’s still raking lines in the dirt as if it were a giant zen garden.

I clean up the house a little more, folding sheets and sorting laundry. At first, the dogs follow me from room to room, but finally settle somewhere and sleep.

A blog post that brings me to tears of gratitude and recognition, exactly what I need to hear, and I wonder once again “how will I ever thank her?”

A shower while Eric barbeques steaks for lunch. The 1/2 side of organic beef we bought at the beginning of the year allows such extravagance, midweek and midday.

Another walk, at a different park. We try to identify trees, guess the types. Everything I don’t recognize, I call an Elm–Honey Locust, Kentucky Coffee Tree, all of them Elms.

In the backyard, reading this i know: notes on unraveling the heart, the sun making leaf shadows on the pages. Sam drops a toy for me to throw, and when I do, he jumps across my chest, over my lap and the chair to go after it, like some crazy agility move or circus trick. Later, both dogs are sprawled out next to me, Sam hoarding all the toys.

This particular day will never happen again…

A few of my favorite things

our wedding day, October 9, 1993–we were so young, and in love, now we are older, but still in love

Eric and I often say to each other “you’re my favorite.” He and my two dogs are constant in my life, my companions, my family, and whether I was making a list of “things I’d save first if there was a fire” or “things I’d want with me if I were stranded on a desert island” or “things I’m grateful for” or “my favorite things,” the three of them would be at the top of every list.

Yesterday and today, I have been home with the crud, being kind to myself, practicing gentleness, taking it easy, and getting some rest. As I’ve been doing so, I’ve been thankful for paid sick days, for the kindness of other beings, for the time and space to rest.

As I’ve spent so much time inside these past two days (with short breaks wrapped in a blanket in a chair in the backyard to get some fresh air), I’ve also been noticing the preciousness of my environment, and wanted to share with you some of my favorite things.

Mala Bracelets and Ibex Shak Merino Wool Jacket

A mala bracelet is made from Buddhist prayer beads, used when chanting mantras similarly to a Catholic Rosary, and is intended to be a more portable version of a full mala, which is 108 beads. The teak mala bracelet I have is inscribed, each bead with the same wish, something that translates roughly to “may all your dreams come true,” or “may your intentions manifest.” I’ve had it for more than ten years, and the wood smells of the patchouli oil that both Eric and I wear. I had two of them to begin with, but gave one to a dear friend. When I saw her again last year, after a few years of not, she was still wearing it.

The crystal and amethyst mala is newer. I just bough it at the Shambhala Mountain Book and Gift Shop when I was there for the Fearless Creativity Writing and Meditation Retreat with Susan Piver. I’d been wanting another one, have been loving how Susannah Conway layers her bracelets, and have often admired the crystal one Susan Piver wears sometimes. In my practice tradition, and in other forms of Buddhist practice, crystal is a symbol of awakened mind, of enlightenment. When I was picking which one I wanted, I was drawn to this one because of the amethyst. My favorite color is deep purple, but I also found out later that the amethyst crystal is meant to help with addiction, to instill a sober mind, to ease insomnia, to guard against guilty and fearful feelings, worn as a protection against self-deception, symbolizes spiritual wisdom and openness, can be used to attract love and happiness, to aid in meditation, is often worn by healers, and has a calming, cleansing, and protective energy. These are all good things.

And my wool jacket. I have worn the Ibex Shak Fullzip Classic for many years now, as has Eric. They are simply one of the most versatile, well-made items of clothing I have ever encountered. They are thin and work well in warmer temperatures, but are also warm enough to wear alone when it’s cooler, and work great as a layer when it gets really cold. I can wear one with a nicer outfit or to walk the dogs. They really are beautiful, and worth the higher price. This one came to me instigated by a loss. I had a black one, fairly new, to replace the one I’d worn out, and while in Boulder, I dropped it while walking the two blocks from a restaurant to the Shambhala Center. Even though I realized it right away and went back, it was gone. When I got online to replace it, it was too late in the season, and there were no more black, so I got this purple one. I normally would have never bought another, brighter color, would have stuck with black, but I love this one, so that story has a happy ending.

Quilt, Khata, and Lotus “Thangka”

It is traditional to have a Thangka over your meditation shrine. Usually, they are painted or embroidered, and are a representation of Buddha, or some other Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala. “Thangkas are intended to serve as a record of, and guide for contemplative experience,” (Buddhanet). As I mentioned in my post about my tattoos, a lotus flower is that representation for me. Eric bought me this one a few years ago (notice the deep purple color). I love how the bloom that is still a bud reaches towards the sky.

The quilt behind it is what served as my Thangka before I had the other. It was made by my aunt, my godmother, who is a fabric artist and quilter. Some day I will write a post, give you a tour through the amazing collection of her work that covers the walls of my house, and both Eric and I’s offices. Her work is truly amazing, and she has gifted me with a lot of it over the years, because she knows how much I love and appreciate it. I have also bought my own pieces from her shows, and my mom has also given me many over the years.

And finally, the Khata that is draped over my Thangka, is a special object, so precious to me. A Khata is a traditional Tibetan scarf, used as an offering of gratitude and good luck, a show of appreciation and love on the part of the giver. It’s often used as a way of decorating an object of practice or great value (such as draping it over the picture of a spiritual teacher), or offered by a student when they receive a teaching or practice, or given to someone who is about to depart on a journey. At the retreat with Susan Piver, on our last day, I gave her this scarf along with letters of love and gratitude, along with my adoration and appreciation. As might happen, the teacher can offer it back to the student, and Susan did just that. This act was so precious to me, I am crying about it again as I tell you. I can’t think about that moment without my heart going soft and tears starting. I know that ultimately I have saved myself, but there are some people whose support was critical, whose wisdom and kindness made all the difference, who I will never be able to properly thank, and Susan Piver is one of those people.

My writing desk

This is where you will find me almost every morning around 4:45 am, after I’ve fed the dogs and made a half cup of coffee. Even if it has to be later than that, I still make it to this spot, every day, and I write at least 3-5 pages in my journal. This is one of my favorite spots, and because of that, there is a collection of my favorite, most important things nearby:

  • a heart-shaped candy box that I covered with shells and rocks I found on the beach
  • Obi‘s last collar with his tags
  • Two different urns with some of Obi’s ashes, the original one they were packaged in, and the other that is blue porcelain and also contains some of his fur and a tag with his Oregon address
  • My HappyLight
  • a Lilac
  • a coaster I use for my coffee that has a purple lotus on it, given to me by a good friend
  • Thousand Shades of Gray mascots, tiny owls from DouDou Birds, Bot and Millie
  • My collection of Full Moon Dreamboards
  • “Dreamer” owl bag from one of my favorite companies, Papyrus
  • a small white porcelain Guanyin that I found at a flea market in Waldport, Oregon for $1
  • a pawprint of Obi’s foot
  • a picture I framed (I worked as a picture framer many years ago) for my Grandma, that I got back when she passed, that says “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
  • Various rocks and love notes from Eric
  • And of course, my current journal and my favorite pen, the Clarius by Pentel

Words

I’ve written before, many times, about my love for books, for reading and writing. Since I’ve been sick, I don’t have the energy for much (in fact, this post has been written in fits and starts over the course of two full days, with many nap breaks in between), but Eric had brought home Cheryl Strayed’s new book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail from the library. He got it for himself to read, but I’ve kidnapped it. I love that the copy I am reading has the “here & now” sticker on it. At our library, that means it’s a special new book and you can only keep it for seven days, but for me, it means something else–that all there is for me to do right now is to sink into this story, this book that is not, as some mistakenly think, a narrative about a journey through a physical place you could find on a map, but is rather about an internal trip, a woman travelling through her own memory and in to the very center of her heart.

And then last night, my copy of Brave Intuitive Painting: let go. be bold. unfold. by Flora Bowley came in the mail. I first saw her work on Andrea Scher’s Superhero Journal, because Andrea was lucky enough recently to do a painting retreat with Flora in Mexico. This book and Flora’s work and the world of open-hearted, brave color what she invites the reader into is so fantastic. I cannot wait to feel better, get out some paint and get messy!