Charlie on Canvas

☆ November 24, 2015

Charlie on canvas

I am SO excited about this new piece of Charlie art ~ a framed keepsake, a treasure.

This iconic image of Charlie, the collective favorite of all time, is printed directly onto canvas, and it has the texture, depth, and richness of a painting. It is then professionally mounted and framed, with a papered back and hanging wire.

Archival giclee canvas print, made by my family-run local print shop. Framed by my family-run, local frame shop. Made in the USA from start to finish.

Ready to hang and admire.
Available in my shop.

The Words

☆ November 17, 2015

Slowly but surely, I’m catching up on all the things with which I’ve fallen behind this year (which is everything). Back in May, I got requests to post the written words of my commencement address. Finally, here they are. Please feel free to share, print, re-post, facebook, etc. I’m honored and happy that my words have had an impact on so many. There’s a lot of backstory to the speech itself, which I’ll share in a later post. In the meantime, the words…

.  .  .

I’m going to tell you one of the secrets of life. You can’t avoid pain. You will lose money. Probably more than once. You will lose a loved one. Probably more than once. Your body will fail you, in some way, at some time, possibly more than once. None of us are exempt from the hard times and the heartbreaking times.

Now why would I make such a dour declaration on this day of celebration? Because, when you understand this truth – and accept it – you are immediately granted a very special kind of power, which brings extraordinary freedom. When you stop making decisions based on what you think will keep you free from pain (which is a false assumption to begin with), you start making decisions that are aligned with your unique truth. The hard times will find you whether you follow the rules or you follow your truth. So why not follow your truth?

I realized this a couple of years after I graduated from college. I was in Death Valley, alone, in May. It was 111 degrees, and the only other person I saw was the guy working at the gas station jiffy mart. I had gone to Death Valley because I was in the midst of my quarter life crisis. My health was failing, my finances were failing, and the things I felt like I was “supposed” to be doing weren’t fulfilling to me. And I had a big chip on my shoulder about it. I felt like it was all really unfair. And out there, alone in the desert, I realized this truth, that you can’t avoid pain. And that it’s not necessarily a mark of some kind of failure. It’s just a mark of life. And as I drove back home to San Francisco, I felt OK for the first time in a long time.

While camping in Death Valley, I was eating little more than trail mix, and this helped unlock the mystery of my health crisis – it was celiac disease. Ten years ago, “gluten-free” wasn’t part of the lexicon, and as I healed, I wrote one of the first books on gluten intolerance, the book I wished I’d had to help me. A few days after I signed my first book contract, my apartment building burned down in the middle of the night. Barefoot, out on the sidewalk, my neighbors and I huddled together, watching the flames. Suddenly, I possessed nothing but the few boxes of film negatives I’d grabbed as I ran out. But I held on to that Death Valley truth. And this time, while I certainly felt the shock of another Hard Time, I didn’t take it personally. I moved to a tiny studio and, instead of replacing my furniture, I got a Vespa. I loved riding my Vespa around San Francisco, and when I decided to move back to New York City, I rode my Vespa across the United States.

That ride lasted two months and exactly 6000 miles. I took the scenic route and spent nights, sometimes several days, with people I met when I stopped for milkshakes or directions. That ride changed the way I saw the land and the people around me, and it changed how I saw myself. By the time I reached New York, the country had put its spell on me and I turned around and moved to Wyoming, with no job, and knowing no one. One day, out of the blue, a new friend brought an orphan coyote pup to my door. I was not expecting this, nor prepared for it, but Charlie moved in with my cat and me, and he is now eight years old. Caring for Charlie gave me a crash course in commitment. He anchored me, and this opened the door for more animals, another book contract, and work I love and am challenged by.

Each opportunity was born from a previous choice I had made, choices that were aligned with my unique truth. With each choice, a very large percentage of my friends and family said “DON’T.” They were worried about the potential pain. And each time, I said, “the hard times are going to come whether I follow your wishes or my intuition. And so I’m going to pack in as much good as I can in the times in between.”

Each one of you knows what this means for you. You will always know what this means for you. Stay in touch with your truth, and allow it to inform your every choice.

— Shreve Stockton, Colorado State University Commencement Address, May 2015

.  .  .

Also by demand, I’ve created mini posters of the text, signed and printed on heavy stock, available here.

Telephones & Telepathy: An Email Experiment

☆ November 10, 2015

As mentioned last week, I can talk! I can sing! Badly, but that’s always been the case. Brief tangent – when I rode across the country, smart phones hadn’t been invented and I didn’t have an iPod, so I didn’t have music with me for those 6000 miles. I sang a lot. Acoustics inside a helmet are amazing, truly incredible. Somewhere in the middle of Nevada, I was like, how did I never realize I sound like Beyonce??? I was ready to change the course of my life and become a recording artist. And then I sang without my helmet on and got a reality check. I do not sound like Beyonce. Anyway, it’s thrilling to be able to talk loudly and easily – in terms of physical effort, the difference is like walking on land after walking underwater covered in weights – and not feel frustrated or ashamed by how I sound. The procedure was even worse in action than in theory, but it was only 20 minutes of torture and then I was free to drive off into the sunset.

I spent so much of this year recuperating, existing in what felt like a sub-par state, and an interesting side effect was that I became hyper aware of all the things that bothered me. Things and habits and people that I had previously ignored, or compensated for, or powered through – suddenly, I no longer had the spare energy to do so. A lot has fallen away. People and habits and things that I realized were causing disproportionate grief have been rearranged or let go.

The singular, most consistent source of stress for me, over the past eight years, has been email. I’ve mentioned before that I cannot compose sentences on the computer. I write my books and my blog posts by hand. I don’t know what my problem is – I am a fast and accurate typist when transcribing my hand-written words into the computer, but am incapable of composing and typing simultaneously. I love reading email, love it so much, but when it comes to replying, I am flooded with anxiety and stress, because it’s so hard for me to reply if the reply warrants more than an emoji or a link or an answer to a common question (“Charlie is 8!”).

I have thought about answering emails by hand, taking a picture of what I wrote, and emailing the pic as my response. Alas, too many steps for that to be sustainable. I got a Wacom tablet which turns writing (on the tablet) into typing (on the screen), but the zillion errors per sentence, even after practicing, makes that inefficient, as well. So my inbox piles up with meaningful, beautiful, helpful emails from meaningful, beautiful, helpful people, and the bigger the pile, the more anxious I get and the longer I put off replying. I still have emails I received in August that deserve a response. So, guilt gets added to the anxiety-stress mix and then it’s really bad. It’s really bad. I basically feel horrible all the time whenever I think about email.

My auto-responder has, for years, shared that it is impossible for me to answer every email while tending to Farmily duties, and that I will reply via telepathy. Which I do. And I feel this is fair and sufficient for a lot of email (telepathy is real). But there are messages that warrant a more tangible back and forth, one which I am inept at participating in via email. I want to try answering emails via telephone.

Crazy? Old fashioned? Who does this anymore? I think it’s worth an experiment. I love the phone, and, thanks to my neck injection, I love talking again. I am a stressed-out wreck when I try to tackle email, but I am not a stressed-out wreck when I talk on the phone. I can talk on the phone while lying on Baby, or weeding the garden. Phone calls are more alive to me, something created together, versus the ping pong of email. Will this, like my vocal cord procedure, be far more challenging in practice than in theory? No idea. I obviously can’t answer every email by phone, just as I can’t answer every email by email. I shall still engage in telepathy. And I shall still send emoji and answer quick questions via email.

UPDATE: Thank you so much for all the ideas and feedback in the comment section! Really illuminating and helpful. I’m hooked on Wo’s idea (#33) of a weekly or bi-weekly video session of answering emails and questions left on the blogs (I’ll probably start with just audio, since I can record that easily on my phone). This makes so much sense, both in time management and in sharing – everyone can listen in, this way! Thanks so much for brainstorming with me.

2016 Charlie Calendars!

☆ November 3, 2015

2016 Charlie Calendar

The 2016 Charlie Calendar is ready to debut!
This is CCIX (Charlie Calendar #9), can you believe it?

I picked our favorite images from the last year (those which received the most comments on The Daily Coyote) and added a little something new this year – or should I say, a little something old? A baby picture! I couldn’t resist, and I had a feeling you all would love it, too.

Please visit THE SHOP to see larger pictures and reserve your calendar.

PS: I can talk now! More on that in my next post……

This, That, & the Other

☆ October 27, 2015

My nasopharynx was deflowered last week. After huffing a numbing solution that tasted like diesel and wasn’t particularly effective, a long tube with a light and camera on the end of it was sent up my nose and down my throat by my laryngologist so she could see my vocal cords live and in action. I get to do this again tomorrow, with the added bonus of gigantic needles! My doc will send the camera back up my nose and down my throat, then go straight into my neck with said needles, and, with the aid of the live video, inject the musculature behind my left vocal cord to poof it up. Hopefully, this will help me talk longer, louder, and more easily. It’s craaaaazy how much I took my voice for granted before all this.

Charlie calendars are coming!! They really are. I’m still running behind in every aspect of life, but the 2016 Charlie Calendar is at my printer and I’ll have previews and the shop listing up next week. Stay tuned! And thanks for your patience. It’s a little bit late but as fabulous as ever.

Thanks, also, for all the Eli love. I cannot believe I have to actually type the following, but: Charlie did not kill Eli. Got a lot of Qs about this. They lived together for nearly a decade; if that can’t squash the cynicism, what can?

To end on a more frivolous note…. my latest Netflix binge is The Great British Baking Show. It’s the antithesis of Top Chef (which I also love). It’s so friendly and polite, though the matriarch judge makes a spectacular WTF face, and she makes it often. It’s full of strange bakes such as three-tiered pork-prune pie. The tiers, here, not meaning layers within one pie but three giant stacked pies, like a wedding cake of savory pie. Sounds disgusting to me, but it’s fun to watch.

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