There was gratitude in 2017

I am grateful for my friends and family above all. But we all need all the help we can get so below are some people, places, and things I followed, listened to, read, visited, and watched in 2017, and probably will continue to in 2018, because they improved the quality of my life

Tara Brach— I access her work through her profoundly compelling book, Radical Acceptance, and by watching and listening to her weekly meditation talks posted on her website. She writes and speaks with clarity and compassion. Her voice is a genuine invitation to transformation.

Michael Singer— I read his book, Untethered Soul, soon after reading Radical Acceptance. Both Singer and Brach are Buddhists. Brach’s work deepens my knowledge of Buddhist thought which I greatly appreciate. Singer does not provide that kind of context in this book. Instead, his is a voice of that just tells it—I laugh out loud in surprise and embarrassment as I recognize the limits of my thinking in his words. His clarity gave me the confidence to change.

Hend Amry—@LibyaLiberty She shares with followers a lived experience that is unlike my own and yet continuously resonates with me. She is hilarious—I hesitate to emphasize that because the news, the perspectives, the geographic points on the map she references are vital and challenging to me. But she also makes me laugh out loud, often.

Alyssa Harad—@alyssaharad She is a writer who tweets and retweets about culture and politics. She takes the occasional break from Twitter (which I admire) but never on Sundays when she produces #FlowerReport–photo after photo of flora and fauna from front porches to furthest frontiers, it will improve the quality of your right now.

Philip Lewis—@Phil_Lewis_ He is a front page editor at @HuffPost. He answer to a recent twitter question, “What’s your earliest memory of a news story?” was “9/11.” I thought, “Oh damn! I am old.” My answer is Vietnam on the evening news (Huntley/Brinkley–my mom, the cultural contrarian, didn’t like Water Cronkite). Also, many of his popular music references go over my head—I know it’s important and I know I’m way behind. His generational perspective is especially valuable to me.

OpenCulture—@openculture Books, music, art, culture, archives, interviews, the past, the present, the future. It’s all here. It’s the best rabbit hole around.

Al Jazeera English—@AJENews It’s not the only site I follow that offers information and perspectives I don’t see in mainstream US media but it is surely the best.

Jonathan Foust— He produces podcasts of his meditation talks every few days. His typical talk focuses on a single topic (anger, anxiety, equanimity) and provides a way of thinking about that issue more clearly so that I come to my next experience of it from a mindful rather than reactive place.

Viroqua, WI—Highway 14 in southwest Wisconsin Imagine you need to drive from somewhere near Iowa City, St. Louis, or Chicago to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Make sure your route takes you through Viroqua (even if it adds a little time). When you get there go to:

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters—buy a pound of beans and order the world’s best cold brew coffee,

Driftless Café—a great lunch spot,

Viroqua Food Co-op—not a great co-op for a small town just a great co-op,   

Driftless Books and Music—the building itself is worth a visit and the selection is fabulous and so are the very nice people who work there,

FYI The word “Driftless,” as you noticed, is all over this town. It refers to a region in Wisconsin that the most recent glaciers did not touch. As a result there’s none of the residue in the area that is typical of the glaciers (gravel, boulders, etc.). So Viroqua is not only a great town it’s in a geologically unique place,