Lucky Me!

MAD Missives

Sunday Suppers with Laila Gohar

Margaret Drabble: The One That Got Away

from Didion to Dunham: Female Essayists Seize the Day

KINFOLK: Vancouver's Marche St George

painting: CY TWOMBLY


BERLIN, 2014
mixed media on wood
12 x 16

Beautiful painting by Robert de Niro, Sr
in the lobby of The Greenwich Hotel.

. . . in my old hood with this Trashy Bear
made of bronze . . . 


MAD about Tavi Gevinson

The face of our future . . . .

Malala's Papa

Unlearn your obedience, Bitches!
Teach your girls to unlearn their obedience.

Let them fly.

Awakening is Essential

Times are difficult globally; 
awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. 
It’s becoming critical. 
We don’t need to add more depression, 
more discouragement, 
or more anger to what’s already here. 
It’s becoming essential that we learn how 
to relate sanely with difficult times. 
The earth seems to be beseeching us 
to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. 
This is the best way that we can benefit others.

~ Pema Chodron

The Guggenheim Turns 55 today!


Not That Kind of Girl

You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. 
Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, 
who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. 
Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, 
who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. 
You’ll know that she does because she will always have 
an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking 
over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out 
when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick 
sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? 
That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, 
especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. 
If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating 
on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. 
Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. 
She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like
 to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. 
See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. 
Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses 
she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. 
Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, 
for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, 
in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. 
Let her know that you understand that words are love. 
Understand that she knows the difference between books 
and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little 
like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. 
If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. 
Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. 
It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure 
always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read 
understand that all things must come to end, 
but that you can always write a sequel. 
That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. 
That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? 
Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. 
Except in the Twilight series.

~ Lena Dunham
Not That Kind of Girl

Thanks, Jim

Sundays in Ojai

How to Survive Your Promising Life

Below is the 2014 baccalaureate commencement speech at Stanford
by Norman Fischer, the Zen Buddhist priest, poet and founder of the
Everyday Zen Foundation. You can also listen to him here
starting at the 29 minute mark.

Good morning, everyone. I am honored to be here this morning with all of you. It is, literally, awesome to see – a sea, an actual sea, of waving faces. I have no idea why I am here, but I feel quite lucky to have the chance to reflect, to muse, to ponder with you at this important moment in your lives. A moment is a moment.

It is a long while since I have been a university student. I enjoyed that time in my life immensely. It was full and it was exiting, a time almost completely devoted to study and exploration of life's big questions, with a little fun thrown in, and powerful friendships, and, yes, a certain amount of misery and angst. College is a privilege, but it is not necessarily the easiest time of life. As with all other times of life – but perhaps even moreso – there are highs and there are lows. I hope today you are feeling the high.

But time passes and you forget. These days when I go to university campuses, which I do from time to time, I feel as if I were in heaven. I imagine that heaven must be exactly like a university campus – everyone young and healthy, spending their time in social and intellectual pursuits, flowers in season, the trees well trimmed, the lawns manicured, the buildings more or less matching and clean. A university is by definition a place of promise – and students are promising individuals – you perhaps more than most because Stanford is more than just another university, it is a great and storied university that, these days, seems to be at the center of the universe. Because of what you have received – not only from Stanford, but also from your families and friends, who have given you a lot of love and support – you now have the skills and the connections – and the obligation – to do great things. And this means not only great things for yourselves: You are expected to do great things for others, and for the world. We all have high hopes for you, probably higher hopes than you have for yourselves. Let's be honest – as much as we discuss and practice wise punditry, we older people don't really know what the world will require in the coming times – and we are a bit bewildered, and unsure, though we hate to admit it. To grow old is to gradually cease to understand the times in which you live. So we are placing our trust and our hope in you. No pressure, of course. But the promise of the future really is yours.

And yet the truth is, it is not going to be so easy to survive your promising life. For one thing, there are a lot of promising young people out there – not only here at Stanford, or here in California, here in the United States, but also in Europe, in China, in Latin America, all over Asia, and in India, and Africa – some of you in fact are those people – bright, energetic, and mobile. With so much competition, and so much anxiety about that competition, it is possible that success, if it comes, will not come easily. It is also of course possible that success will not come – or that it will come, abundantly, but that you will not find it as meaningful as you had expected. It is also possible that success comes, and you do find it meaningful and satisfying – but only at first, when it is still bright and shiny. And that later, the state and pace and social implications of the successful and ambitious life you will have lived will wear you down, and you'll find yourself tired and bewildered.

It's also possible that as time stretches on your personal relationships will not work out as you had hoped, your sense of yourself will not hold up to scrutiny, that there will be disappointments and setbacks, acknowledged and unacknowledged – in short, it is possible, even likely, that there is some pain awaiting you as you go forth from this bright day – ruptured love affairs, betrayals, losses, disillusionments – seriously shaky moments. It's possible too that, as you move through the decades, it will become increasingly difficult for you to maintain the idealism and the hopefulness you have today. It's possible that one day you will find yourself wondering what you have been doing all these years, and who you have become. It's possible the life you wanted and have built will not be as you'd expected it to be. It's possible that the world you wanted and hoped to improve will not improve.

Anyway, you will keep busy, you will have things to do. And you will try not to notice such feelings. You will try to deny any despair or disappointment or discouragement or boredom you may be feeling two, five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years from today. And probably you will be able – more or less – to do that. But only more or less.

I am sorry to say all these things to you on such a wonderful day and in such a beautiful place as this.

I realize that baccalaureate speeches are supposed to be bright, uplifting, and encouraging. The folks at Stanford who invited me to speak today sent me links to previous baccalaureate talks so I would know how they usually go. The speeches I looked at were wonderful – they were serious about challenges ahead – but they were always positive. So, yes, I too intend to say something bright and encouraging. But I thought I would be more convincing if I were also realistic. And it is realistic to say that your lives from now on are likely not going to be entirely smooth sailing. The skills you'll need to survive may be more than or other than the skills you have been focusing on so far in your life. The truth is, it takes a great deal of fortitude and moral strength to sustain a worthwhile, happy, and virtuous human life over time in the world as it actually is.

OK, here is the uplifting part:

Your life isn't and has never been about you. It isn't and has never been about what you accomplish, how successful you are or are not, how much money you make, what sort of position you ascend to, or even about your family, your associations, your various communities, or how much good you do for others or the world at large. Your life, like mine, and like everyone else's, has always been about one thing: love.

Who are you, really? Where did you come from? Why were you born? When this short human journey is over, where are you going? Why – and how – does any of this exist? What is the purpose and the point of it all?

Not even your Nobel Prize-winning professors know the answers to these questions, the inevitable, unavoidable, human questions. None of us knows the answers. All we know is that we are here for a while before we are gone, and that we are here together. The only thing that makes sense and that is completely real is love. Love is the only answer. This is no mystery – everyone knows this. Whether your destiny is to have a large loving family or to have no partner and no family – love is available to you wherever you look. And when you dedicate yourself to love, to trying your best to be kind and to benefit everyone you meet – not just the people on your side, not just the people you like and approve of, but everyone, every human and nonhuman being – then you will be OK and your life – whatever it brings, even if it brings a lot of difficulty and tragedy – as so many lives do – as even the lives of very privileged and promising people sometimes do – your life will be a beautiful life. As I promised, this is uplifting – or at least I hope you find it uplifting.

But there's more. How do you love? How do you make love real in your life? This doesn't happen by itself. It takes attention, it takes commitment, continuity, effort. It won't come automatically, it won't come from wishing or from believing or assuming. You are going to have to figure out how to not get distracted by your personal problems, by your success or your lack of success, by your needs, your desires, your suffering, your various interests, and keep your eye on the ball of love even as, inevitably, you juggle all the rest of it.

To find and develop love you have to firmly commit yourself to love. And you have to have a way, a path, a practice, for cultivating love throughout your lifetime, come what may. Love isn't a just feeling. It is an overarching attitude and spirit. It's a way of life. It's a daily activity.

In my life I have cultivated love through a path of spiritual practice, a life of meditation and study and reflection. I think you also will need a path of spiritual practice. You also will need some kind of religious life if you are going to survive this difficult human journey with your heart intact and your love generous and bright.

A spiritual or a religious life doesn't need to look like what we have so far thought of as a spiritual life. The world now is too various and connected for the old paths to work. Not that the old paths are outmoded – they are as useful today as they ever were, perhaps moreso. But they need to be re-formatted, re-configured, for our lives as they are now. And above all, they need to be open and tolerant, transparent and porous rather than opaque, and expansive rather than exclusive. A spiritual life can and should be much more lively and various and interesting than we have previously imagined. To investigate at the deepest possible level the human heart and the purposes of a human life that is essentially connected at all points to and with others and the planet Earth can be – and should be, maybe must be – deeply engaging and satisfying. There are a million ways to approach it. But the main thing is, I think, that you need some commitment, some discipline – and you need a regular practice, something you actually do.

The most important characteristic – the defining characteristic, I would say – of a spiritual practice is that it is useless. That is, it is an activity that has no other practical purpose than to connect you to your heart and to your highest and most mysterious purpose – a purpose that is literally unknown, because it references the unanswerable questions I mentioned a moment ago. We do so many things for so many good reasons – for our physical or psychological or emotional health, for our family life or economic life, for the world. But a spiritual practice is useless – it doesn't address any of those concerns. It is a practice that we do to touch our lives beyond all concerns – reaching beyond our lives to their source.
For me that practice is and has been for a long time sitting in silence. That's a good one; maybe it will also be good for you. I certainly recommend it to everyone – regardless of your religious affiliation or lack of one. But there are many others. Prayer, for one. Whether or not you believe in God you can pray. You can contemplate spiritual texts or art, poetry, or sacred music. You can walk quietly on the Earth. You can gaze at the landscape or the sea or sky. And there are many other such useless practices you can devise or invent.

You could practice gratitude – when you wake up every morning, as soon as you put your feet on the floor from bed, sitting on the side of the bed you can close your eyes, be quiet for a minute, and say the word "grateful" to yourself silently, and just sit there for a moment or two and see what happens. You could practice that right now…

Or you could practice giving – always making the effort to intentionally say a word or offer a smile or material or emotional gifts that confer blessings on another person.

Or you could practice kind speech – on all occasions, even difficult ones, committing yourself to speaking as much as you can in kindness and with inclusion of others and their needs, their hopes and dreams. Not just speaking from your own side.

Or you could practice beneficial action, committing yourself to intentionally acting with a spirit of benefiting others, of being of some use to others, in whatever way you can, even stupid ways that seem not to be useful or beneficial but could be if you intend them to be. For instance, you can practice benefiting others by wiping sink counters in public restrooms, or in your own kitchen. Wiping counters with a spirit of beneficial action – with that thought in your mind intentionally – can be a daily spiritual discipline. Or you can cook a meal with love for others, with a spirit of benefiting others. Even if the meal is for yourself, you can benefit yourself with the good food, that you paid close attention to when you prepared it, because one's self, truly and kindly understood, is also another.

Or you could practice identity action – recognizing that when you do anything, whatever it is, you are not, and cannot, do it alone, by your own power. Inevitably whatever you do involves others and the whole world, this Earth we live on, its life-giving sunlight and plants and animals. So that every action we ever take involves others and a world of support. You could notice that whenever you do anything.

Or you could practice compassion – going toward, rather than turning away from, the suffering of others – and your own suffering too. We all want to avoid pain, to make it disappear. But when it's impossible to make the pain disappear you can go toward it rather than running away – you can become softened by it.

I could go on and on. Spiritual practices are unlimited – and they are imaginative. And – especially – full of love. They come from love, they encourage love, and they produce love. When you do them over time you find that you are living in a world full of love. And for your life and for our lives collectively in the times to come we are going to need love – lots of love. In good times, love is lovely. Nothing can be better. And in hard times, love is necessary. It turns tragedy into opportunity – something difficult and unwanted becomes a chance to drive love deeper, to make it wiser, fuller, more glorious, and more resilient.

A while ago my friend Fenton Johnson, who is a wonderful novelist and writer and professor of literature, and a lifelong spiritual practitioner – and who is sitting in the audience today! – sent me an email about this talk. He wrote, "If I were giving such an address I'd talk about the mystery of life, how one can and should lay great plans, but how life has its own ebb and flow, and our first duty is to be present to that ebb and flow, to realize that failure and success are social conceptions that can be useful but that in their conventional definitions have little to do with what really matters, which is the study and practice of virtue." As Timothy Kelly, who was abbot of Gethsemani Monastery, Thomas Merton's monastery in Kentucky, said, "How one lives one's life is the only true measure of the validity of one's search."

The Beat poet Philip Whalen was my dear friend and teacher. Like me, he was also a Zen Buddhist priest. As a poet and a spiritual practitioner, he couldn't do anything other than search. His genius was that he could express the seriousness of his search while maintaining not only his sense of humor and play – but also a clear and sane knowledge that the whole thing is actually as ridiculous as it is tragic. Here is a poem of his, written in the 1960s:


This world is not
The world I want
Is Heaven
& I see
There's more of them

I've seen most of this world is ocean
I know if I had all I wanted from it
There'd still not be enough
Someone would be lonely hungry toothache
All this world with a red ribbon on it
Not enough
Nor several hells heavens planets
Universal non-skid perfection systems

Where's my eternity papers?
Get me the great Boyg on the phone.
Connect me with the Button Moulder right away.

So please do seriously think about it – but not without some joy and some lightness. Today you are closing the door on one life and opening the door to another. Today you fall out of heaven. Where will you land? What will you do there? What is really worthwhile and what is just distraction – however much people tell you it is not? You are the only one who can ask and answer these questions.
So I am saluting you this morning – you and the wonderful life of promise you have lived up to this moment, and the new life of challenge and difficulty and passion that you are entering. Cheers and congratulations.

MAD Missives

Women on Top

Into the Unknown: Who is Chris Ofili?

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being Phyllis Rodriguez + Aicha el-Wafi

Who is Charles Blow?



CINTRA, 2014
mixed media on wood
12 x 16

Good Morning, Ojai

There are four palm trees beside my studio
that are the pecking grounds for these
ebullient wood peckers.
They start early and carry on throughout the day....


This Royal is on her way to Seattle too!

MAD Couplings

For Jessica, My Daughter

Tonight I walked,
lost in my own meditation,
and was afraid,
not of the labyrinth
that I have made of love and self
but of the dark and faraway.
I walked, hearing the wind in the trees,
feeling the cold against my skin,
but what I dwelled on
were the stars blazing
in the immense arc of sky.

Jessica, it is so much easier
to think of our lives,
as we move under the brief luster of leaves,
loving what we have,
than to think of how it is
such small beings as we
travel in the dark
with no visible way
or end in sight.

Yet there were times I remember
under the same sky
when the body's bones became light
and the wound of the skull
opened to receive
the cold rays of the cosmos,
and were, for an instant,
themselves the cosmos,
there were times when I could believe
we were the children of stars
and our words were made of the same
dust that flames in space,
times when I could feel in the lightness of breath
the weight of a whole day
come to rest.

But tonight
it is different.
Afraid of the dark
in which we drift or vanish altogether,
I imagine a light
that would not let us stray too far apart,
a secret moon or mirror,
a sheet of paper,
something you could carry
in the dark
when I am away.

~ Mark Strand
from Collected Poems, 2014

painting: JEMIMA KIRKE

Excellent issue dedicated to ways in which we can
become mindful of our habituated behaviours, reactions, and thoughts.



This beauty is on her way to her new home in Seattle!

I don't know what Lena means when she says
that she's not that kind of girl . . . .

~ Lena Dunham
Not That Kind of Girl

Mrs Calder Comes to Carve

Sam Smith is opening up about his sexuality.
In a new interview with Fader, the 22-year-old breakout singer from Britain reveals that despite writing songs about love, he's never experienced it himself.
"I've never been in a relationship before," Smith admits. "I've only been in unrequited relationships where people haven't loved me back. I guess I'm a little bit attracted to that in a bad way. [My debut album] In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn't love me back. I think I'm over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn't felt love before. I've felt the bad things. And what's a more powerful emotion: pain or happiness?"

Smith says his unrequited love knows that his album is about their relationship.
"He does," the "Stay With Me" singer says. "I told him about it recently, and obviously it was never going to go the way I wanted it to go, because he doesn't love me. But it was good as a form of closure, to get it off my chest and tell him. I feel better for it. I feel almost like I signed off this part of my life where I keep giving myself to guys who are never going to love me back. It feels good to have interviews like this, to chat about it and put stuff to bed. It's all there now, and I can move on and hopefully find a guy who can love me the way I love him."
Smith says he has no problem talking publicly about being gay, but that he also doesn't understand why it's an issue.

"I am comfortable with myself, and my life is amazing in that respect," he says. "I'm very comfortable and happy with everything. I just wanted to talk about him and have it out there. It's about a guy and that's what I wanted people to know—I want to be clear that that's what it's about. I've been treated as normal as anyone in my life; I've had no issues. I do know that some people have issues in life, but I haven't, and it's as normal as my right arm. I want to make it a normality because this is a non-issue. People wouldn't ask a straight person these questions. I've tried to be clever with this album, because it's also important to me that my music reaches everybody. I've made my music so that it could be about anything and everybody—whether it's a guy, a female or a goat—and everybody can relate to that. I'm not in this industry to talk about my personal life unless it's in a musical form."

In honor of Thay's 88th Continuation Day, 
we invite you to offer a present of the heart 
- send Thay your promise.
Here is what Thay has said is 
the greatest gift we can offer him:
"Of course we can buy a present from the market 
and we put a lot of love into it. But to tell you the truth, 
my hut in Upper Hamlet in not large enough to store 
all these kinds of presents. I would like to have a kind 
of present that I can enjoy every day and you also can 
enjoy every day - a present that can last for a long time, 
a present of the heart.

I think that the best kind of present you may like to offer 
is a promise that you are sure you can honor, like: 
"Dear Thay, I promise that from now on, every time I hold a cup of tea,
 I will see the cloud in the tea and the cloud within myself." 
That kind of present would be wonderful. 
Don't make a big promise, like: 
"Dear Thay, I promise that from now on 
every step I make will be in mindfulness." 
That may be a little bit too difficult!
So, look deeply and make the kind of promise 
that you believe you can honor. Not too much, just one. 
And the maximum is two...I suggest only one promise...
the kind of promise you are sure you will do. 
Just a little promise that will last all your life. 

That would be the most wonderful birthday present for Thay."

Sundays in Ojai


HEAVENLY FATHER, in your infinite goodness 
you created the earth and blessed us with its clear, 
abundant waters and fertile lands yielding plenteous harvests 
of fruits and vegetables and grains, some of which happen to contain gluten.
 We praise you, Lord, for creating gluten, an important yet humble 
source of protein enjoyed for centuries by the peoples of many nations, 
the great majority of whom didn’t even know it existed until recently. 
God, you sent gluten into this world as you sent your own Son, 
to save us, not to torment us with vague and possibly imaginary 
physical symptoms. So please help certain people to remember, 
gracious Lord, even as they shun and revile gluten, 
that it is still a creation of your own Almighty hand, 
and that, being God, you probably knew what you were doing 
when you created it. Enlighten those of us in your flock, O Lord, 
who go about slandering gluten with great authority and volume, 
even though they never heard of gluten until last year. 
Gently remind the fearmongering gluten slanderers to study Wikipedia
 — which you also created, Lord, so that we might come to know 
your wisdom more instantaneously — for they might be surprised 
to learn that gluten was discovered in the seventh century 
by Buddhist monks who used it as a substitute for meat, 
thus sparing from slaughter many of your beloved cows, chickens, 
pigs, and sheep, all of whom might be totally extinct by now were 
it not for gluten. Also help us to be mindful, O merciful God, 
of how gluten itself must feel — for who are we to say that gluten 
does not have feelings? (We imagine gluten is appalled, to put it mildly.) 
As you yourself opined in Romans 14:3, “Let not the one who eats 
despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains 
pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” 
Gluten certainly takes no umbrage at the estimated one out 
of every 135 people who actually suffers from celiac disease 
or the euphemistically yet still hatefully named “gluten intolerance.” 
Gluten has been around long enough to know that you can’t please everyone. 
No, gluten has no problem with these people. Gluten will tell you 
who it has a problem with, Lord, and that’s the shameless opportunists 
who have turned “gluten-free” from a legitimate health mandate 
into a “lifestyle choice” for no reason other than their own personal gain, 
preying upon the fear and ignorance of the hitherto gluten-tolerant masses 
with websites such as (“on a mission to Make Gluten-Free Fabulous © for everyone, everywhere”) and the sudden proliferation of such glossy publications as Gluten-Free LivingSimply Gluten-Free, and Living WithoutMagazine (a self-defeating title if ever we’ve heard one, as presumably the publishers do not want readers to live without the magazine itself). 

Gluten knows perfectly well that Exodus 14:14 says, 
“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent,” 
but gluten has been silent for centuries, God, and guess what: 
it’s not working. Therefore, gracious Lord, gluten would like you to know
 that it has recently met with an attorney regarding a potential defamation claim. And gluten will tell you something else right now, Lord: it was here long before these gluten haters were born, and it will be here long after they’re gone. 
Not unlike yourself, O Lord, gluten is here to stay.

by Wendy Brenner

BRAVA, Malala!

So WONDERFUL to wake up
to the news that Malala Yousafzai has
been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 
at 17 the youngest recipient ever of the award.

Watch the documentary Class Dismissed.

Read an excerpt from her memoir, I Am Malala.

MAD Missives


Daum on Dunham
Don't Call Lena Dunham BRAVE


Check out the awesome street art in Djerba


Inspired by Brittany Maynard

Brittany Maynard, 29, has scheduled her death
for November 1st, determined to die on her own terms.
 This beautiful, bright, brave young woman 
is working to make her last few weeks on Earth
meaningful beyond her own tragic circumstances.

Read her story here and let us all keep here in
our thoughts and hearts.

Somebody LOVES her Daddy!

The Limits of Friendship

Maria Konnikova has written an interesting piece
in the New Yorker this week, The Limits of Friendship
and how social media is changing the way we cultivate 
and maintain our relationships.


The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. 
The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number 
of people we call casual friends—the people, say, 
you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: 
a hundred at the low end and two hundred 
for the more social of us.) 
From there, through qualitative interviews coupled 
with analysis of experimental and survey data, 
Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases 
according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” 
The next step down, fifty, is the number of people 
we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite 
to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that 
you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: 
the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, 
the ones you can confide in about most things. 
The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your 
close support group. These are your best friends 
(and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend 
to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, 
the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. 
While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. 
Your five today may not be your five next week; 
people drift among layers and sometimes 
fall out of them altogether.

Who is Lorraine Loots?

MAD about Michael Eastman

I want to tell my stories and, more than that, 
have to in order to stay sane… 
And if I could take what I’ve learned 
and make one menial job easier for you, 
or prevent you from having the kind of sex 
where you feel you must keep your sneakers on 
in case you want to run away during the act, 
then every misstep of mine was worthwhile… 
No, I am not a sexpert, a psychologist, or a dietitian. 
I am not a mother of three or the owner 
of a successful hosiery franchise. 
But I am a girl with a keen interest in having it all, 
and what follows are hopeful dispatches 
from the frontlines of that struggle.

~ Lena Dunham
Not That Kind of Girl

READ: Don't Love or Hate Lena. Create More of Her.

One of the most difficult challenges in life is learning 
not to take things to heart and hold on to it. 
Especially when we’re younger, or if we’re very sensitive, 
we take so much of what comes our way to heart. 
This can be overwhelming and unproductive if it throws us 
off balance on a regular basis. When we are feeling criticized 
or attacked from all directions, it becomes very difficult for us 
to recover ourselves so that we can continue to speak and act our truth. 
This is when we would do well to remember the old saying 
about letting certain things roll off us, like water off a duck’s back. 

Most of the time, the attacks and criticisms of others 
have much more to do with them and how they are feeling than with us. 
If we get caught up in trying to adjust ourselves to other people’s 
negative energy, we lose touch with our core. In fact, in a positive light, 
these slings and arrows offer us the opportunity to strengthen 
our core sense of self, and to learn to dodge and deflect other people’s misdirected negativity. The more we do this, the more we are able 
to discern what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. 
With practice, we become masters of our energetic integrity, 
refusing to serve as targets for the disowned anger and frustration 
of the people around us. 

Eventually, we will be able to hear the feedback that others have to offer, 
taking in anything that might actually be constructive, 
and releasing that which has nothing to do with us. 
First, though, we tend ourselves compassionately 
by recognizing when we can’t take something in 
from the outside without hurting ourselves. 
This is when we make like a duck, 
shaking it off and letting it roll off our back 
as we continue our way in the world.

~ Madisyn Taylor

Sundays in Vancouver

Spent a glorious week in this beautiful city and its surroundings
staying cool, riding ferries, eating well, biking gorgeous parks,
walking lively streets, and enjoying the effusive Canadian hospitality.

THANK YOU, Vancouver!