Thursday, May 24, 2018

heed the car wash, grasshopper 🌀





















May 24. 2018

The car wash story has been on my tell-list from the beginning of the year.

Relax... Let the conveyor ease you through the wash 

That day, I followed the directions. Car in neutral, hands OFF the wheel.

It was thirty-seconds of ease. 

I've been fretting way too much about getting back here after being gone since January? I'm like my students who miss a few classes and never come back because they feel too weird or lost or embarrassed. Where have you been, I ask when (+ if) they return. Like when a friend says, catch me up on everything. How? I'll begin here:

Winter took it out of me, us. can I get an amen?















😳 We were in the company of thousands of other people. 

One storm (Toby?)left us eight days without heat, water, electricity. My mantra was, We have no power. I'm out of power - not a great mantra. That week was crashing trees, stoking the fire, a funky motel, sleeping at a friend's house, wandering through our dark cold house with camping lights.

Yup, this winter took it out of us.



Except for Chewy. 

Looking back it was a very tough labor with lots of cursing and moaning but today it's hard to remember how bad it was because the baby finally arrived.













I'm a little like this poem by Hafiz, like whoa what happened?
__________________________________________________________
A Strange Feather

          All
The craziness,
All the empty plots,
All the ghosts and fears,

All the grudges and sorrows have
         Now
        Passed.

I must have inhaled
    A strange
    Feather

That Finally

     Fell

     Out.

     🌀

I suck at letting the conveyor belt of life ease me through. Some days I am so white knuckling the steering wheel like I got you, mother f*cker. A serene image, yes?

Heed the car wash, grasshopper.

Relax... Let the conveyor ease you through the wash 

So right now, lift your hands off of whatever and float them up in the air.

Palms open.

xo b













Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I Only Know This














                    






Here's a short list I jotted one night before bed. It was - 2 when I wrote it:

The cashiers
Googling winter depression (see face below)
Rabbi Kushner's quote
Moving the body
Doing one kind thing
My button is bigger than your button? We're so fucked.
Why can't the dog wipe his feet?
The car wash message

Every January I'm surprised by feelings of crazy and crowded.














Then I remember. (Or a family member reminds me) Oh yea, I'm like this every winter.  It's minus 2. The windows are closed. Dark at 5:00 pm. All I want to do is nap and read. Eat Ritz crackers with peanut butter. Make lists. Drink tea. Daydream about the hundreds of bulbs I planted in December. I guess this part could go under Chapter 2: Googling Winter Depression. Stay tuned. 

I'm not sure why, when in stuck-land, we forsake the things that bring us the most joy but the good news is, we return. I love this space. I love doing the podcast. Keep an ear out for a new one @ (betsyjacksonwriter.com) It's +39 F out today. I'm ready to break out my flip flops.

Always, alway, we begin again. 🌀
_____________________________________________________________________

Chapter 1: The Cashiers

Marie at Price Chopper is seventy years old.  I only know this because she told me.

She said, I love being old. (I asked her to repeat that a couple of times for me)
She said, I'm seventy years old. I don't care what people think of me.
She said, I love my life.
She said, I love my husband.
She said, I have one glass of red wine at dinner - that's all, one glass.


Margaret at Target is sixty years old.
I only know this because she told me.

She said, When I turned sixty, I started watching tv.
She said, And drinking.
She said, I used to read, do crafts, always cleaning.
She said, I'm more relaxed now.
She said, My drive is an hour, that's not great.
She said, But I say, Okay God, let's do this.
She said, I drive with God.


_______________________________________________________________________


Peace and love to you and yours

          + 





xo b 


Thursday, November 9, 2017

I am the Hedgehog























#Ican'tbelieveshe's18!

Hello lovelies! It's been months since I've written on these pages. I can't believe the last post was back in the summer. I can't believe my one kid is eighteen, or my Dad's been gone two years, or that Donald Trump is still president. There are a lot of things I can't believe but alas, they are. 

acceptance and surrender are key to serenity. 🍁

My last post was called Monday Night is Garbage Night - which had to do with things we do know, like garbage night, and other things which are mystery like building a stick sculpture on the beach without caring how it comes out and trusting the creative process which is the stuff of life. 

That summer piece ended with this:

We are an experiment in tenderness + trust + staying connected + keeping it real.🌀




I love that last sentence. I love the invitation it offers to be so very kind and gentle with ourselves. In a world where people are shot down at a music festival or praying in church, it's easy to be silenced and shut down. It's feels like the most logical thing to become a hedgehog and curl up into a ball and wait out whatever crazy shit is going on. But you can't wait life out. We're here, now.

It's been a shocking time. 

Some days I am the hedgehog. 

But even in a ball, it's tenderness and keeping it real, and connection that nourishes my life. 

I know that this whole thing is an experiment in arms wide open, in giving and receiving 

joy and love and beauty. 

To simplify in a world gone kinda nuts.

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter...to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. 

- John Burroughs

Let yourself be thrilled today. 

big love xo







Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monday Night is Garbage Night





















July 25. 2017

I post notes to remind myself about things that I want (and need) to remember.

Like, Monday night is Garbage Night. It used to be Thursday night and then it got switched and messed me up for a few weeks. That's when I wrote myself a note.

 Trust the path unfolding is the mantra I mumbled when I started this blog seven years ago. I think the original was - trust my path unflinching. Key word being, trust. I've been flinching all along, but no so much anymore. Like anything, the more you practice, the more ease shows up. More ease, less flinching. More trust, less twitching. 

Besides the garbage, what do you need to remember? I've got notes all over the house. 
__________________________________________________________________________

At the beach I wandered around picking up sticks and ribbons and seaweed and tied this weird curvy sculpture together. I had more fun playing around with this and not thinking at all about how it was going to turn out. Collect a few things and make something. paper clips, ribbon, a pencil? 

It can be any combination. Don't think about it. Build and feel the Quick therapy.





















See what happens with all of it...

relationships • work • traveling to some place you've never been • changing your mind  • loving yourself • loving the dog • caring for an old Dad or Mom • watching kids grow up • letting go • holding on • not taking the lid off the rice before its done • speaking up • saying less • changing your mind again (it's ok) • wearing the striped pants • planting seeds in July • letting yourself rest • 

Some things are clear: Monday Night is Garbage Night. 

We are an experiment in tenderness trust staying connected keeping it real.
🌀xo b




Friday, June 16, 2017

somewhere in the mix




















I'm remembering being inside the memory care unit where my Dad, Sunny, spent his last two years. He'd always been a walker, a hiker of trails and mountains and then, as an old man his wanderlust proved unsafe for him.

Settling him into this new place broke me open to crushing sadness and grief. Dad didn't seem crushed. There was confusion, yes. But most of the time sitting together, talking quietly, my hand on his was enough. Thank you, hon. I'm so grateful for your help. 

He'd notice a jar of daisies I'd brought from my garden and his joy was near rapturous.

Some visits I'd psyche myself into such dread, my whole body contracting around my fear of "these people" and what was my father doing in a place like this and the ultimate self-focused reaction - Dear God, what if I end up in a place like this?

There was my internal fear cluster and then I'd enter the community room and Dad's face would light up at the sight of me (and Claire, who was my partner through those years). He'd forgotten many things but somehow held onto his children which was somehow crucial to my feelings of not having lost him completely. Next thing, I'd be sitting in a circle of chairs batting a green balloon over to Joe, WW II fighter pilot, or Carol, who always greeted me like we were long-lost friends, Gosh it's been a while, Betsy. 

Even very quiet Helen would play, gently tapping the balloon off her lap.


Somewhere in the mix, I got into the game wholeheartedly laughing and cajoling, rushes of joy when the balloon was saved from hitting the floor. For some brief precious time I was relieved of my frightened projecting head. And though I never completely relaxed into my father living there, or his growing old and frail, or some of the more serious cases who lived there with him, I came to love these people and balloon volleyball, and my father ever more deeply.







Instead of my usual no no, I can't do this I cannot do this, it shifted.

I can 
I have

I'm here playing balloon volleyball with
Joe
Carol
Helen
and my sweet father, Sunny.

We're here.
We're laughing.
The sun is streaming through the window.


xo b











illustration by Michael Collins

Saturday, May 6, 2017

i bring the whales





















After a breath-taking Easter week up and down the California coast, visiting colleges and leaning into the idea of a future new life out west, there was the last day...

The Pacific in front of us, mountains sweeping up the coastline. It was a quiet morning at Point Dume when we spotted the dolphins. Two of them rising up out of the water like parentheses. Like through glass, we count seven dolphins riding the breaking wave. This was enough of a mother nature gift but the surprise surfacing, like a peaceful submarine, a mountain top, is the whale that brings tears to our eyes.

No words. (No pictures even.)

The whale swims north, occasionally lifting its face, rolling to one side with a wave of a fin. Dolphins scout along side the whale and then we see more - two, three, five whales was our final count. Submerged for the longest time then an exuberant spray from their spouts,

a huge exhale. 
___________________________________________________________

Tears and no words feel right these days.

What words for tenderness, whales, and the ever-changing nature of everything?

For children growing up.






Yes, it is the blink of an eye.
__________________________________________________

We say, You had to be there.

We have to be here. 

In whatever space we find ourselves: tears, joy, connection, the deep ache of loneliness or shall I say, the deep ache of being human, watch it, watch yourself, stay.🌀

When I'm not resisting the daily ocean of emotions, I experience the ordinary awe of everything. At night when I can't sleep and go to jump on the worry train,

I bring the whales to my bed.

They moved with ease.
Coming up for air.
Dropping down to the deep.
Then up for air and sunlight.


















xo b


~ Whales by Claire Collins


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Without Sacagawea




















Blizzard Stella Notes:

Blizzards are fun because everything stops. Everything gets very quiet and muted. Cozy fire, eating, naps. But watching multiple episodes of Chopped on Netflix is exhausting. The tension alone...So, in an effort to pull out of our weird indoor stupor, Claire and I went out with shovels and lay in the driveway. Shoveling snow is a major cross fit activity, minus jumping up on boxes while praying that both feet will land at the same time.

Why do people do that?















During the 40 mph wind gusts, Claire had a blizzard riff on Sacagawea.
____________________________________________________________________ 

Act One

Claire: Can you imagine being a soldier in the Revolutionary War? In winter? With deer hair for shoes?

Me: Rags.

Claire: And how about Sacagawea?

Me: Sacagawea?        

Claire: She was 16 years old, a year younger than me, when she took Lewis and Clark on their explorations. And, she was pregnant!

Me: Sacagawea was pregnant when she was helping those guys?

Claire: Yes, her husband was a French explorer and when Lewis + Clark asked if he knew anybody who could help them he said, take my wife. She'll guide you.

Me: Nice guy.

Claire: So Sacagawea was like, let's do this. And then...

Me: Then what happened? To Sacagawea?  [I love saying her name]

Claire: That winter she had her baby.

Me: Sacagawea had the baby out on the trail? With Lewis and Clark? Where?

Claire: Who knows, in a hut made of squirrel skins. She barely took time out. She had her son, then kept on going. All I'm saying is without Sacagawea, there would be no Louisiana Purchase.

Me: Can you imagine if those guys got pregnant?

Claire: Trust me, Mom. Without Sacagawea, those guys would've never made it.