I’ve just begun a 10-month online course called Awakening Joy with Buddhist meditation teacher James Baraz and a whole host of guest teachers. As the name would indicate, it’s about cultivating happiness, wellbeing, peace, serenity, whatever you call it, in your daily life. I continue to be amazed and humbled by technology because it really is the next best thing to being there; they have videos of the in-person class in Berkeley, assignments, discussion forums, etc. which is just a great way of learning for someone like me.

I want to practice making peace and serenity my new default switch. In fact, I think this is one of the most important things I can do, for myself and for Sami. My current default is a mixture of fear, doubt, and insecurity. I have to work very hard to overcome that; I suppose much of humanity does. James talks about it as our primitive brain, our amygdala, which is that part of our brain designed to scan the horizon for threats and danger.

Today, I know that I am my own worst enemy, my own greatest threat. I take difficult situations and challenges make them more painful by throwing heaps of self-judgment and shame and blame on the pile. I know that all of this must not be very good for my health. It isn’t a way of living and thinking that I want to teach Sami.

I want to be a person who is alive and at peace. I know I am already that person. The task that lies before me is to let go of all the habits and ways of being that get in the way of who I already authentically am. So…as part of The Year of Loving Myself Passionately, I’m dedicating myself to cultivating joy.

One of the first tasks we are asked to do in the course is to write a “nourishment list” of everything that brings us joy, and to indicate which ones we could see ourselves doing in everyday life. I’ll put a * next to those activities. Here’s mine. If anyone out there is reading, I’d love it if you would do your own and post as a comment or link to it on your own blog.

My nourishment list:

Snuggling and kissing my son *

Loving my child *

Meditation at dawn *

Mindful prayer *

Burning a stick of Nag Champa *

Long hot baths *

Eating healthy whole foods, freshly prepared *

Reading a fantastic novel *

Writing in this blog *

Going to live shows

Listening to Sigur Ros, Iron and Wine, Low *

Remembering Amma’s darshan *

Talking on the phone with my peeps who get me *

Travel to new places *

Learning how to make digital videos *

Putting together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles *

Getting tattooed (I know, not everyone’s idea of nourishing)

Painting my nails funky colors *

Zoning out to a trashy TV series when my brain needs a rest

Visiting the Peace Park

Going to the ocean

Walking in Rock Creek Park


…that’s all I can think of now. It is a lovely exercise to reflect on the things that bring joy. And part of loving myself passionately is that I will make the time and effort to do these things.