Thursday, July 16, 2020

morning glories on wood fence with lots of twine

morning glories on wood fence with lots of twine

July 16. 2020

While some people have taken the time to lose thirty pounds on the Keto diet these past few months, and I applaud them, that has not been my path. Nope.

I'm more like my friend who will remain anonymous...Um, Pearly. 

Who shared recently,"What the fuck, my underwear is getting tight.

Tight underwear. ☑️ Double☑️

While some people may be experiencing this pandemic pause as time for inner work + reflection, I walk the dog under the cover of dark, snapping off pieces of jade from giant jade plants along Topanga Canyon Boulevard adding to my burgeoning potted Jade plant collection.

 I'm obsessed.

Most days I walk. Up and down the streets of my neighborhood, up hills, some days very hot, over 90 degrees. I pass by homes I'd like to see inside, notice clusters of succulents growing on a stone wall, sweaty armpits, legs straining,

Yes, Queen! 

Pushing up a hill is my salvation.

And keeping the tight underwear thing at bay.


Claire and I went to the coast to cool off. We're so blessed it's just over the canyon. We know this. There was a guy on a chair in the water with all his clothes on. Two other men were taking his picture. The thing is, it made sense. 


As noted by the top photo

morning glories on wood fence with lots of twine

I'm deep into twine. More than ever.

The vine doesn't know what I want from it.

go this way. 
go that way.

And this is true. I'm trying to fill in the space with green and flowers. I'm thinking it might help with the inner peace eluding me as the White House shuts down the CDC and Trump talks about how white people get shot too and the Confederate flag is about freedom of speech.

That stuff seeps in.

Sorry. I really wasn't going to mention any of that, especially his name. 

And yet, it seeps.

Alyssa, a student of mine wrote this in her recent memoir piece: 

We often don't appreciate the simplicity of our lives.

Simplicity is the essence of this time for me. 

Chatting with my neighbor from our driveways
The daily walk
The blessing of a home
A good book
An empty beach early in the morning
A walk with the dog
The sound of my daughter's voice over the phone
A jar of water filled with Jade cuttings
Connection through my teaching life (online xo)
A glass of red wine on the front porch
A snail mail card from a friend on the east coast
Watching Homeland with Michael 
Charlie, the five year old neighbor knocking on the door with a painted gift

Thank you, Charlie.

Alyssa also wrote this: 

Sometimes the biggest challenges lead to amazing revelations.

The more I simplify, the less freaked out I feel. 

The challenges shrink.

Revelations don't have to be sonic booms.

A small painted stone in the palm of your hand will do.

Keep it simple, lovelies.

Hearts + arms wide open. 

xo b

Friday, June 19, 2020

Fight Peacefully

Juneteenth 2020

This is my friend, Dora.

When I asked if she'd consider being a guest writer for Scratching on Paper - she said yes!

As a white woman, there's nothing in my life to compare to what Dora shares in this short piece which she originally posted on her Facebook page.

I am so very grateful, saddened, and deeply humbled to share her words.

As Dora writes, Let's keep fighting this fight peacefully and we will make a difference.  

Love you, Dora.

xo b

Hey, for all those who have a problem with #blacklivesmatter and/or feel uncomfortable, it's time to educate yourself on racism and the privilege you have. Remember, it's a privilege to educate yourself about racism, instead of actually experiencing it. Just wanna give some examples that I and many black people have experienced and experience everyday. 

1. Being the only black Registered Nurse in your unit. Or even as a student in your courses. Representation matters people. And I don't understand how they can hire like 5 additional nurses after me and none of them happen to be black. SMH, I've experienced this at multiple organizations and let me tell you: we feel it and notice it, alright. 

2. Being called "nigger" or "coloured nurse" by patients.

3. I literally requested a Lyft one night, the driver took 1 look at my face and drove off. Two white men behind me saw it and were like "wow that ain't right". I was like stuff like this happens all the time here. And it wasnt like I had any communication with the driver before. I was waiting outside for him for a while and he arrived, looked at my face and sped off๐Ÿ˜•. Little did that driver know, I had just worked a 13hr shift, saving the lives of people who looked just like him. Except, I was able to do it without bias. 

4. Everytime I go to a parking lot in an affluent residential area (where my car is usually parked), I can see and hear the residents locking their cars 10 times to insure that I don't steal from them.

5. Getting followed around in stores CONSTANTLY. I remember being a kid and feeling like I straight up had to show my hands wherever I shopped just to get the managers off my back. I'll never forget the day I went to the shoe department in the mall, with my white friend. The manager greeted us as we walked in. We separated and she went to the aisle next to me. I kept feeling like I was being followed but whenever I turned around, there was no one immediately behind me. Uncomfortable, I left the store with her. Immediately following, she said " I can't believe that store manager was following you around and on your back like that. He was basically breathing down your neck". I said girl,  this is the life of black people everyday here in America. 

6. Oh and being told (as black women often hear) that I have an "attitude" whenever I advocate for myself and/or my patients & others.

Listen, if you made it this far, I appreciate you. I've been reading the responses to the murder of #GeorgeFloyd and #blacklivesmatter over the last few days and I see that many non-POCs don't believe that racism or white privilege exists. I felt the need to share to bring some awareness on these issues. Let's keep fighting this fight peacefully and we will make a difference.  Remember, silence is violence.✊๐Ÿฟ

Monday, May 18, 2020

Be Like Carol

May 18. 2020

I'm thinking of a particular day when Claire and I visited Dad at the memory care place where he lived the last year of his beautiful life. It was always hard to go, I had to buck myself up. But I loved being with my Dad.

And then there was Carol.

Carol greeted me every single time like we'd been friends since the eighth grade, or like I was her daughter, or maybe we'd worked together in the office back in the day. It didn't really matter which story she was going with that day because I always went with her. If you met Carol, you'd never know she was losing her marbles. She always wore a vest. She acted like she worked there, helping to set the table, welcoming visitors, keeping an eye on the other lovely, loony people.

Where have you been + I'd say, You know, busy, working, kids, and she'd smile and hug me. I get it, she'd nod. Me too.

So, there was Carol.

That particular day, Claire came with me for the visit, as she often did. We'd gone into the outer room to sit with Dad. The three of us parked ourselves in front of a window looking out onto the green lawn and a large weeping willow tree. (Was there a willow tree?)

Dad asked about my car which he did pretty much every time I saw him. How's your car + I said the car was good and reminded him how he'd had a Subaru too, except his had been silver. We talked about how much we loved our cars and the clouds out the window. Claire told her Pop Pop a funny school story and he reached over to pat her hand.

Dad's hands were always warm.

We sat in a peaceful silence for a minute or so, then Dad chuckled, maybe a sigh, then ~

Well hon, what to say? 

What to say is kind of how I've been feeling. 

I want to write, to reach out, connect but I think:

What to say? And I know we're all kinda feeling like this. I mean, there are good days where you don't feel the weirdness of a global pandemic and try to blot out the very existence of Trump. Maybe you work, take a walk, talk to a friend, draw a picture of succulents because you're obsessed with them now. Count your multiple blessings ๐ŸŒ€

And then, you sink. And don't know what to say about anything. The best thing to do is curl up with your kid and watch The Great British Baking Show. 

Totally soothing, trust me.

What to say?

Some days, I honestly don't know. 

But, write anyway. 
Call anyway. 
ZOOM anyway. 
Blog anyway. 
Send love always.

Shake off the Covid/Trump-itis for a little while.


The fuss pot in me doesn't think I should post this. It's not quite right, not ready. It's not exactly what I want to say. It's too sad or lost sounding, with a little glimmer thrown in about succulents and baking shows. But the fussy one, I see, keeps me shut down, dis-connected, cut-off. How absurd to be fussy at a time like this. Fuck the fussiness. 

Be like Carol. 
Wear a vest if you want.
Make everyone a friend. 
Hug (even virtually).
Love, always.

xo b 


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Mrs. Klein and stuff about rain ☂

March 10, 2020

I'm back from a walk in the rain with Chewy, the big-eared dog. My pants are wet, my hair is wet (although I had an umbrella and a hat, I put my face up to the rain. Is it true that turkeys do that?)  I've lit some lovely sandalwood incense to counteract the wet dog smell - a curious combo of scents. The window in front of my writing desk is open and I see all the plants I've carried out to be in the rain.


Rain in Los Angeles is cause for celebration although earlier, the people at the Ralph's supermarket didn't look all that pleased in the parking lot. I, on the other hand, was laughing. I so wanted to do an imitation of Mrs. Klein, our junior high algebra teacher. She had a very loud, classically beautiful, New York whine. I loved Mrs. Klein, the way she faced the board but shouted out to the class behind her. People! Come on, People!




dog with plants on porch

This morning I woke with my Henny Penny anxiety over the virus (+ other things, of course) which is very scary and causing people to clear the shelves of toilet paper at the market. Trump has been enough to put more people on anti-depressants and anxiety meds since...I don't honestly know when. But holy smokes, are we supposed to walk around gripped with virus fear now because I've kinda been...gripped.

I was a second grade teacher years ago. I've been a dedicated hand washer forever.

Shout out to my teacher pals. 


wash your hands and sing Happy Birthday 2x repeat
stay home if you're sick
stop watching the news?

I was still in Henny Penny-dom this afternoon, the sky is fu*king falling, and then came the rain. Then I went out in the rain and took a long walk with the dog - in the rain. Back home, I stayed out in the rain and pulled weeds in the front yard.

Weeds surrender easily when it rains. Be like a weed.


Maybe it's not raining where you are. 
Or maybe it rains so much the sump pump never shuts off.
Maybe you don't like rain and want only sun, or snow, or fog.
Can you tell I like rain?

I know this: with all the fear and anxiety that life already generates (especially if you're a card-carrying member of the Henny Penny Club) it's really important to cultivate a little sanity.

Do something nice, calming, kind for yourself, and possibly others.

Maybe, like Chewy, it's going with something like the double dog bed-thing. 

Whatever brings you comfort and ease. 

xo b

Saturday, February 29, 2020


February 29. 2020

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to
draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of
initiative ( and creation), there is one elementary truth, the
ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence
moves, too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would
never otherwise have occurred.  The whole stream of events
issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of
unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness
has genius, power and magic in it.”

- W.H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition


I've always loved this quote. It goes straight to the heart of my own holding back in life, hesitations about doing what I love, my deep desires to create and connect when I know + have experienced the unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, when I've stopped thinking about it and took the leap. Wonderful things have happened, come my way. Things I never thought I'd do, but did.

Here's to not thinking so much.

I have to push my worried, Henny Penny self out of the way, relegate her to the backseat.  The one who likes to keep things under control, always preparing for the worst. Otherwise, I'd never do anything. 

What if I took a different stance about my life, a more open, trusting stance. 

In what ways can I leap? 
In what ways do I still hold back, stalling myself out of some imagined fear(s)? 

• Failure = so what. 
• Not having control of the outcome = we never do. 
• Having a dream but thinking it's okay for others but not me? = ridiculous.

What is nudging me (you), wanting my attention? Maybe it's tiny. Like, please take a walk. Maybe not so tiny? Like, please leave this work situation or find a publisher, move.

Not every leap needs to be dramatic and BIG or flashy.  I've never been a fan. But I'm more open to bigger leaps these days since I've often been tentative in the past. 

Hesitation, wanting to step, move, say YES, but holding back gives power to anxiety and depression.  I'm familiar with those dark twins. They've kept me stuck in some serious ditches. Caged when the door was open the whole time.

Hesitation = suppression of something longing to be seen, heard, put into action. 

Always the voice says not now, not yet. 

I ask, If not now, when? 

Maybe your leap, your decision, is to rest, relax, do nothing. 
Maybe it's to release yourself from someone or some thing. 
I don't know what your leap is, but you do.

A leap can be anything. 
Whatever your leap, give yourself a firm yes today, drop the hesitation.
Take a leap with both feet (the only way).
See what happens. Stay curious.
It's possible you'll be amazed, surprised, freer, happy you finally did it?
You might end up saying, What took me so long?


Thousands of seen and unseen helping hands are supporting you/me. 

Sending peace and a dash of courage.


xo b

*drawing by Michael Collins xo

Friday, February 14, 2020

Feast on Your Life

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. 

-        Derek Walcott

xo b