What are (as we say in the south) all ya’lls thoughts on compliments?
Anything come up when you give them or receive them? I’m not always so great about receiving them... some times, somewhere in my head they turn into “oh, but that’s nothing… you’re that too.” And instead of hearing and taking the compliment, I’m way too quick to mirror it back to the other person, or move on to a different subject. It’s so funny because when I do that I just deny the other person the joy of giving the compliment. I’m getting better at receiving them.

On the flip side… I LOVE to GIVE compliments… genuine ones from my heart. I can’t think of anything more delicious to do than to tell people why and how I love them… to share the beautiful ways that I see them…

Any thoughts?

p.s. i posted this same pondering at Integral Naked. you can read the comments by clicking here.

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posted by ashley


jesse in india

jesse is traveling in southern india right now. i can't resist sharing his words. i'm just borrowing the links that google offers me, the links are not jesse's suggestions and i can not vouch for their accurate relation to his words.

"we have been exploring the inland portion of India's southern tip, a few days in Kottakal with the large Ayurvedic university and it's excellent botanical gardens with thousands of species and smiling helpful staff, and it's hospital who's wards we got to peruse as they happily showed off some of their success stories -paralized people who can now walk after a few months of treatment were their favorites.

Then off to Silent Valley which is a 100 sq kilometer forest preserve that took us 4 hours to get to but we only expected it to be close day trip and weren't prepared so we only got an hour and a half inside one of the very few places in india where there hasen't been widespread human shaping of the land. And did we ever drink it up!! omygosh it was beautiful and invigorating to swim in some clean water and walk and botanize in a jungle a place to come back to for a while, after the neccesary govt. hoops to jump through. They are very worried about biopiracy by westerners, I can't blame them for example there are over thirty patents on neem preparations - none of them held by indians, I just need to come up with some credentials to do research.

Then further on up into the western ghats (mountains) we went- to Udhagamandalam or Ooty for short which at 6600 ft in elevation was cool enough to have many of the temperate plants that I am so familiar with - mahonias and rhodidendrons, monterrey cypress and dandilions. It also had all of my favorite "invasive plants" like scotch broom,
english ivy and blackberries that were so kind as to help finance this very trip. The land around there smacks of "old worldness" as all of the steep hillsides have been terraced into crop cultivation the forests have been removed and eucalyptus has been planted.

The first morning there, I was aroused by the loud opening notes of "Sweet child of mine" and the college students on break down the hall from us continued to crank most of Appitite. As many of you can expect, this brought me to my feet and out the door to investigate who these sonical saints were to bring the gospel of Guns-n-roses to this far away land. We rocked out all morning and then our core group went out to try and track down a local rootsy essential oil distiller, which eventually we found after two hours, three kilometers of walking and many bad directions. Inside a little smoky stick and tarp hut was a little old man who was busting out gallons of raw eucalyptus oil and poured us off a few pints it was a very easy contraption to make in a smaller scale. After grazing on nettles and chickweed in their garden his niece invited us into their 10x20ft home that they share with their two spouses and made us tea and showed us pictures of the other forigners that they have met, aahhh indian hospitality.

The afternoon brought us to the city's botanical garden which was more of a city park and with thousands of indian tourists to boot, most of them wanted to take thier picture with me. That evening shahar and i played guitar for the college guys, we couldn't replicate slash but we hit a chord in Hotel California- one of the more amazing things in life; to belt out the eagles with ten indians who know all the words, better than we did! It was great to hang out with these guys and talk with the focus not being about how much money you can make in amerika or buying something from them or religion, as the majority of our interactions with locals ammount to.

The next day frank and i went to a much more organized essential oil operation, which was put together as an effort to employ displaced forest workers and produces a growing list of very nice certified organic essential oils and spices, you find these little pockets of tuned in beings in this madness that is india. Then on to Mysore and its abundant markets incense makers and silk weavers, we went to the govt. sandalwood oil distillery for a tour but were met with the Lorax dillema: the place was not operating because practically all the trees had been cut down, bummer... So then we traveled here to Banglore, the major tech city and it's crossroads to new locales.

I am reminded that I might have been painting too idealic a picture for you all who haven't been here yet: India is a challenging place, most of these journeys have been made on bumpy,jerky, overcrowded buses that we were standing up on for half the time. Walking down the street breathing a constantly changing atmosphere of diesel fumes, urine, vomit, rotting produce scraps and occationally oxygen, hopping over cow pies and open sewers, being constantly accosted by people wanting to sell you things, or just wanting to shake your hand because you are a westerner and what a story that'll make for the wife and kids. But most of them wont have a chance to meet you cuz barefoot and pregnant is the status quo, most hindu females are married off by 21, moslems by 15, and married or not its the women doing most of the work here and they are kept behind closed doors. Personal space is in very short supply here, there are throngs of people everywhere even towns that look small on the map are coated with people it's a good look at what modern medicine and the green revolution have brought us in massive unchecked population growth and what the rest of the world will look like soon enough. India is an amazing place, don't get me wrong, but there is a very fine line between "wow this is cool and exotic" and "this place is gross, why am I here?" keeping your health in equilibrium is key to that, once that tilts, the line is crossed. I have been pretty lucky so far, considering how unhygenetic the food is here, but not naieve to the dangers, constantly nibbleing herbs, espetially amalaki has helped a great deal."

AMAZING... thank you jesse for sharing.
posted by ashley

Near Ayparahui, Bolivia, South America
photo found at national geographic's photo of the day.
posted by ashley


this week

the rhythm of my week has looked something like this:

sunday: an ecstatically pulsing and deeply loving heart
monday: wading through murky waters
tuesday: M A G I C A L and delicious
wednesday: eerily still
thursday: wide eyed and curious

it's all so very interesting to me!! how about your day/days... if you had to choose a couple of words, what would they be?
posted by ashley


"At the center of the universe is a
loving heart that continues to beat
and that wants the best for every person.

Anything we can do to help foster
the intellect and spirit and emotional growth
of our fellow human beings, that is our job.

Those of us who have this particular vision
must continue against all odds.

Life is for service."

~mister rogers neighborhood - fred rogers - 1928-2003
posted by ashley



today i needed to know how to spell coom baya (that was this world's worst speller's first guess)and what it meant.

the straight dope helped me out, here's a taste:

"Oh Lord, kumbaya. Also spelled kum ba yah, cumbayah, kumbayah, and probably a few other ways. If you look in a good songbook you'll find the word helpfully translated as "come by here," with the note that the song is "from Angola, Africa." The "come by here" part I'll buy. But Angola? Someone's doubtin', Lord, for the obvious reason that kumbaya is way too close to English to have a strictly African origin. More likely, I told my assistant Jane, it comes from some African-English pidgin or creole--that is, a combination of languages. (A pidgin is a linguistic makeshift that enables two cultures to communicate for purposes of trade, etc.; a creole is a pidgin that has become a culture's primary language.) Sure enough, when we look into the matter, we find this conjecture is on the money. Someone's grinnin', Lord, kumbaya.

Kumbaya apparently originated with the Gullah, an African-American people living on the Sea Islands and adjacent coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia. (The best known Sea Island is Hilton Head, the resort area.)"
posted by ashley


Drumming up a happier workplace

check out this article in the BBC NEWS:

"When the participants - staff at a Pennsylvania nursing home - took part in six weekly drumming sessions, it improved their mood by almost 50%.

Dr Barry Bittman, the author of the report, said there was a decrease in feelings of fatigue and depression.

In the drumming sessions at the nursing home the participants performed a series of exercises, including beating the drum in the rhythm of their own names, copying those of someone else, representing their feelings by drumbeats, playing along to music, and discussing ongoing stresses with the group.

Immediately after the sessions were completed, the staff were said to show a 46% improvement in mood.

And six weeks after the sessions ended the same people showed a more than 62% improvement in mood, the report added, suggesting that the emotional boost can continue long after the music has ended."

wishing you a happy work week...
posted by ashley


living in truth

chris corrigan has been rapping about and unwrapping some details around living in truth. here's a taste... he's referencing john engle's account of his life in haiti right now (john's original words are here, and chris' are here).

"You see, this is an example of all the high falutin' musing I have been doing about living in truth. John and his Haitian colleagues like Fremy Cesar, whom I have met and who I like a lot, just keep plugging away at the little bits of truth that shine through all of the darkness that wants to surround them. In the moment it seems as if their work pales in comparison to the chaos that has engulfed parts of the country, but if civil society is exactly this kind of engagement and reflection and support for grassroots leadership, and the biggest danger facing Haiti is the breakdfown of civil society, then these guys are in fact holding open the possibility for a new society to emerge from whatever happens over the next couple of months.

Civil society is not an idea, it is a practice, and it begins with an invitation to engage. I'm holding open a belief that John and Fremy and Bayyinah and Merline and others will simply and elegantly continue their work and set the tone for Haiti's future."

i'm holding open a belief that we will all simply and elegangtly continue our work, living in truth, and set the tone for the future...
posted by ashley


homage to the weekend

Teetering on the edge
Feet flirting with the gradual slip of time
Poised to fall, to travel
Into the promised land
The expanse of weekend
A playground of inner freedom
And outer delight

aaaah, I sigh. and turn off the computer and re-possess my mind and being and retreat from the week of work and begin the journey back to space of self.
This is my time... and yours.
Enjoy the weekend, friends.

~ by andrea
posted by ashley


cool compliment

hi gang...

we-- those of us playing on the easily amazed playground-- got such a great complement. it was sent to me, but i know that it really goes to all of us (us being those that write AND those that read):

"i love your site, it reminded me today to take a second to appreciate and
be aware of the current moment."

YIPPEEE.... in my current moment... the coffee jitters have me boinging from one task to another. the sun is pouring into my room in such a gentle way. the corners of my eyes are smiling. crazy smells of sizzling beef and aromatic candles are mingling with one another. i'm feeling slightly overwhelmed by all i want to do today, and pleasantly enjoying the slow pace at which i am moving!

what does your current moment look like?


posted by ashley


miss rodeo

my dad sent me these pictures of Ashley Cooper. the secret's out... you now know how my life has changed since i moved to texas!
posted by ashley

fun friends

i just found this wesite, house of ingri. the most exciting thing is that the creator of these fun friends, is a fun and very talented friend of mine. check out the other figures... they send such unique feelings running through me, i just love their expressions.
posted by ashley


open to the sky

"The top of his head was open up to the sky & when he walked down the street he'd end up with strange things in there like the number of dogs in China, or the time it takes to cook a pig. It's not really useful, he said, but I'd miss this stuff if it ever closed up."

~ Brian Andreas

If you don't know about story people... wander to the right and check the site out. Or stroll down to a neighborhood gallery, i've seen these fun friends on walls all over this land! Today I'm really drawn to the image inside my own head of a man wandering around with his head resting open and all kinds of information jumping in.

It's kind of like the opposite of the magic dish that Dumbledore has in one of Harry Potter's books. Oh, I dream about this amazing tool that stores memories and thoughts. An aid for emptying out some of the many strange things that land in my own head. Anything that one wishes to let go of, to not hold onto at the moment, can be taken out and placed in the dish. It's not gone forever. It is easily accessible. But the space is cleared inside... more room is made for new, different memories, thoughts, and such.

wouldn't that be great! a magic bowl seems much easier than something like meditating!!!
posted by ashley


pregnancy by alex grey
posted by ashley



An article on listening came my way (and google sent me here for the original source)

"listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force... the friends that listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultra-violet rays...When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life... it makes people happy and free when they are listened to.. when we listen to people there is an alternating current, and this recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. we are constantly being recreated. Now, there are brilliant people who cannot listen much. They have no ingoing wires on their apparatus. They are entertaining, but exhausting, too.

... when someone has listened to you, you go home rested and lighthearted.

When people listen, creative waters flow.

Now this little creative fountain is in us all. It is the spirit, or the intelligence, or the imagination - whatever you want to call it. If you are very tired, strained, have no solitude, run too many errands, talk to too many people, drink too many cocktails, this little fountain is muddied over and covered with a lot of debris. The result is you stop living from the center, the creative fountain, and you live from the periphery, from externals. That is, you go along on mere willpower without imagination.

It is when people really listen to us, with quiet, fascinated attention, that the little fountain begins to work again, to accelerate in the most surprising way."

when i read this article (that was given to me to share with parents) i was moved by thoughts of all of the angels in my own life who listen to me. i am an individual that heavily depends upon the gift of listening from others. i know that i create, grow, and evolve because of the loving, listening space that is held for me by those that i love and that in some way love me. i was excited to share this article with you... as a way of honoring the exchange of communication that involves expressing and receiving. listening and sharing. and then, when i googled brenda ueland and found the link to the art of listening , i was thrilled to see these words

"It is through this creative process
that we at once love and are loved"

more words from a journal of mine, first written in march of 1999 and evolving into may of 2001

i want to love and be loved.
i want to appreciate and be appreciated.
i want to know the strength of inner-happiness and to live by it Always.


i LOVE and am LOVED
i KNOW the STRENGTH of TRUTH and Live from it ALWAYS.

and in different forms..

i love and am loved
i appreciate and am appreciated
i always am.

we love
we appreciate
we share
we inspire
we are

thanks to each of you for being a part of the we... for playing in this alternating current, and for keeping my little fountain working!

posted by ashley


click here and breathe deep

this link blows my mind every time i see it...

posted by Rebecca


the heart

i read somewhere that aristotle thought that the mind was in the heart. and then i read:

"as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is." ~proverbs 23:7

i ponder as a man thinketh and find a book review which reads:

The dreamers are "the saviors of the world," Allen writes, and our dreams are "the seedlings of realities." "The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs."

this morning, i welcome in the dreams that rest in our hearts.
posted by ashley



"the glow of other wonders just over the horizon."

~ Chris Weaver
posted by ashley


being open at the playground

i listened to a conversation between ken wilber and serj tankian. i loved this comment made by serj... it won't take you long to figure out why!

"We're supposed to be playful. Part of our life is supposed to be playful... I think the most open times for me have been when i'm completely goofy and creative. It kind of opens you up to whatever's really coming through. The most serious and powerful things can come through that goofiness and openness."

if i start to get nervous about being open, i just remind myself to make mistakes. for real my motto goes like this:

keep putting it out there.
make mistakes.
you are learning.
have fun!

and then that playful side just slides right in and get's the show on the road!
posted by ashley
pondering easily amazed...

it's so incredible to see the different sides to life that each person brings to the table. i wonder if folks are reading it, and then i'll receive an email or talk to someone and be surprised that they peek in to see what is going on here. and even more thrilled to read/hear what they have to say about it!

for me, easily amazed is a playground. i love it when there are others on the playground. i also have fun tooling around on my own. sometimes i swing and watch, sometimes i swing and get lost in the swinging. those things you talk into on one side of the playground and hear through on another side, they only work when you are with another person. walking across a balance beam is a me-and-me-only activity. oh...how about swinging on a tire swing with others. guranteed fun...or guaranteed nausea!

just thought i'd share!
posted by ashley



posted by ashley



Becky wrote:

"i think that if you don't make yourself vulnerable to others, you'll never gain anything due to your state of being closed. that's one reason why i feel you, ashley, and others like you are able to squeeze so much juice out of life. by opening yourself up, you allow more ____ (love, people, lessons, experiences) to come in. that makes you so much richer inside. so yes, it can be dangerous to be vulnerable but isn't the reward that comes with that state ever sweeter?"

you bring up such a valuable point... and introduce so many powerful questions.
what does it mean to be vulnerable?
is the reward sweeter?
is it dangerous to be vulnerable?
what does it mean to squeeze juice out of life?
what happens when we stay in a state of being closed?
what does it mean to be closed?
what do we allow in when we open ourselves up?
how do we open ourselves up?

we did an exercise in one of my classes where we acted out different feelings. two different people acted out "vulnerable." the first guy kept using his arms and hands to pour out love from his heart. he was giving...everywhere...constantly. warm, open, and loving was the approach he took. nobody guessed vulnerable. the next woman stood up there and crossed her arms over her heart, curved her body in, and lowered her head. she was protecting herself. vulnerability required some sort of protection, defense. nobody guessed vulnerable. what does it mean for you to be vulnerable?

it is one of my goals to be vulnerable. i make conscious efforts to open myself further, to express my vulnerability, and to protect myself from being abused because of my vulnerability. i agree with you, becky, that by keeping one's self closed, one is restricted in the new life, love, pain, joy, people, lessons, experiences, etc. that are allowed in.

but is the reward greater? i think that is an individual's decision. what one person sees as richer may be chaos for another person. and to welcome in the danger, the pain and the sorrow, the extreme feelings on one end of the spectrum may not be desired simply for the gains of "ever sweeter" rewards on the other end of the spectrum.

personally, i am flattered to be seen as someone who squeezes juice out of life. i am thrilled and amazed by the juicey moments in my days. but i also like the juicey ones like yesterday where tears flowed constantly. i know that i grow from the juicey days were i feel so lonely and isolated. i get such a kick out of people who say to me: "you're always in such a good mood." i'll take the label, optimisitic, but a constant good mood. HA HA HA... my journey is one of highs and lows and i LOVE the rhythm of traveling the waves!!!
posted by ashley


this blew across my path this weekend:

"I want to know how God created this world.
I am not interested in this or that phenomena
in the spectrum of this or that element.
I want to know His thoughts,
the rest are details."

-Albert Einstein
posted by ashley

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