Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cloud Of Feathers

Yesterday, after posting the lovely quote about Mother Nature, quiet mind, & roping in the restlessness, I sat down to write and this spilled onto the page:

I am restless. Worried. But more restless. Home in the quiet. Everyone is somewhere. Michael/work. Claire/school. Dad/a class. Me/home. Thinking I “should be somewhere else” doing “something great, productive, making money, teaching people things that I know.” This is like a plague, this nagging thing that rides me all the time. I wake in the morning to a fluttering chest. I get a fluttering chest while resting on a massage table being gently rubbed with oils. I get fluttering chest walking around the neighborhood.
I am fluttering chest. Anxious, restless, waiting for a door to open, for the big break. Break-out? How about break-in?

Just now, as I type this, something dark pulls my eyes to look up & out the window. I see them, my turkeys, as the rain pours down, a quick cloud of feathers, a nod, a wink, a pause. A moment of gratitude.

I am thinking of Claire getting ready for school this morning. She is a ten year old girl; light, energetic, singing a funny song, then telling the story of waiting for the bus yesterday. Eight hundred kids packed into the gym and the assistant principal is on her microphone screaming,"Shut your mouth!"

I will not shut my mouth.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Learn To Wait

Study the cycles of Mother Nature, for they correspond with the cycles of your soul's growth. Quiet your mind. Rope in the restlessness. Be here. Learn to labor. Learn to wait. 

Learn to wait expectantly.

- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Like The Dalmations

Not sure if y'all have noticed, how could you not, but it was only a matter of time that turkeys would become followers of This Being Alive. I've been remiss in sending out a huge welcome to #55 official follower, lovely photo by the way. Please feel free to share this blog with the rest of your flock. This pic is one I took of Sandy, my *neighbor.  She really wants her own facebook page but I said absolutely not; facebook is no place for a turkey. But she wanted to greet you personally.

Jump on/ hop in/everyone is welcome! ...turkeys, turtles, yellow smiley faces, clowns, people who are afraid of clowns. Join. (Someone told me, Betsy, it's kinda hard to figure it out.) If I knew how, I'd tell you. Email the clown (follower #1). He'll talk you through it.

This Being Alive is singing the anthem of, the more, the merrier, so please share us with friends, family, people at work, your plumber. *Arms are wide open here, (except on those days when I'm curled up in the fetal position unable to go buy Cheerios for Claire's breakfast.) But that's, infrequently, right? Or I fake it and write that I'm feeling great. Now you know I'm lying.

As we ease into autumn towards Halloween, and other upcoming holidays (mums the word), how about we get 45 more official followers and make it an even hundred...

Or a hundred and one, like the dalmations.

*read The Neighbors & Arms Wide Open

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shingles and Other Common Rashes

I took Dad to see his cardiologist this morning. Boy, was that a scene. They put us in a very narrow office with wood paneling, shades of Edgar Allan Poe. I could barely breathe in there. To make matters worse, on the wall was a horrifying poster portraying (in graphic detail), Shingles and Other Common Rashes. One photo in particular, showed a man with lesions all over his face, yikes. People tend to get nervous going to the doctor. Okay, I do. So, why would you put up pictures like that? Why not posters of Provence or Tuscany, or Harrisburg. I'm still trying to shake the image which is why I'm posting this sweet shot of the river.

Rashes, river, rashes, river... 

Tick tock; we sat for quite a while in that matchbox of a room. 

Thankfully, Dad began making jokes.
"Maybe the assistant is trying to wake the doctor. Doctor, Mr. Jackson is waiting for you, please get up. Bring them a deck of cards, the doctor says. Let them play Parcheesi! I need my sleep." 

Dad's good that way. 

Don't let things trouble you, he says. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Swim More Rivers

It's a gray Sunday afternoon, not like yesterday, when we went to the river. Claire swam with Dad, aka Pop Pop. The two of them rolled around in the water like a couple of young otters.

Michael fished the riverbank, turning over rocks for worms. I strolled along the water's edge in search of a smooth river heart- stone. The air was soft and warm, dreamy. Tiny swirling leaves dropped into the water whenever the breeze kicked up.

I always get melancholy this time of year. It sweeps up on me unexpectedly, until I remember, it's September, the season of beginnings and endings/ reds and golds everywhere/ yellow sun dappled trees. All around things are falling, ripening, letting go into something new. 

Our river day reminded me of a short piece called "If I Had My Life To Live Over" which I've read at weddings and funerals. It was written by Nadine Stair, an eighty-five year old Kentuckian. She begins: 

I'd like to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax. I would limber up. I would take fewer things seriously. I would be sillier than I've been this trip. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers..."

"Are you waiting for me to go in, honey?" Michael asked.
"Yup," I said, "It might be our last swim for the season. You have to."

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dream in Two Parts

I am holding my old dog, Che; my arms wrapped around his large, furry dog-self. I am crying, so happy, amazed to be hugging him again, so happy to feel his physical body and to smell his fur.

The fish pond has flooded. Water is everywhere, all over the driveway, flowing out into the street. The water is very clear and I am tracking the fish, our fish. They are swimming away, but come back, like dogs, when I call to them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


A month ago, this Oxalis plant was in tatters. It was a pile of brown shriveled twiggy leaves, a pot of dirt, dead. Sadly, I left it to fend for itself out on the back porch...

until I circled back around, drizzled some water in the dust and whispered, anybody in there?

I moved it to the front hallway, where pale yellow September light drifts in. In a few days, green threads were growing.

It's been a month. Now it's a wild-tendrils-reaching-every-which-way Oxalis (shamrock) plant, practically dancing towards the light. Tiny pink flowers are bursting from the tips. 

There will be times when your life might feel like a pot of dirt; dry, dusty, dead. But something full, green and crazy-good is waiting to grow. Trust me. You may not see it right away.

But it's there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Re-entry Can Be Slippery

Email to Neeny this morning before heading home from my get-away:

I stayed an extra day and feel all kinds of things:
good, relaxed, ready to get home, nervous to come home. missing my family, enjoying my freedom...


The beach was incredible.
I went in the water yesterday. Just had to.

(back home...)

Got home @ noon.
Dad said, " You're a sight for sore eyes!"
We hugged & I took him to the dentist. Picked up Claire from school. We hugged. She told me tales about health class and the video they watched about pinching an inch.
"I'm fat," she said.

Attempting to make dinner, I burned my hand on scalding water from the kitchen sink, cried like a baby. Shrimp boiled over on stove, cried. Took a cold shower because burnt hand couldn't take hot. Cried. Michael helped Claire with science homework. I kissed him with my swollen cry-baby eyes. She gave us a funny look.
"Dad and I are pollinating," I said.

Sat outside under the full moon with Neeny & drank wine. Cried a little more & listened to crickets and laughed about all of it with baggie of ice cubes on hand.

Re-entry can be slippery.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Some Things Never Change

This is Lisa, my best friend from college.

I call her Pearly.

Some things never change.

Thank God/

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Turn Of The Key

I've been thinking about practice and happiness and what a nice couple they make, most days. They're dependable, yet surprising. Practice doesn't mean you already know. Nope. That's why it's called practice. Doing the practice invites happiness to show up.

My daily practice is writing. It starts with a notebook, pen(s), and a quiet pocket of time. I don't have a plan. I do watch turkeys and people. I stare out the window frequently. I listen.

Some days my writing leaps right into whiny, fearful worries. But, usually, in the midst of the scribble, or the rubble, a glint of light seeps in. Then comes the shift in my solar plexus; a click, a turn of the key. I step out of the cage. I am released.

Inevitably, small mind hooks and reels me back in. I turn, retreating into my cramped, but familiar cell where the scurrying mind-mice keep busy, gnawing on small bones, infinite worries.

Next day, I begin again; pull out notebook, pen, find quiet pocket of time, write. Even the briefest time brings freedom and opening; it restores me, loosens me, releases me. It’s always the same, never the same.

Write, whittle, whistle, make wine. Pick a practice. Invite happiness. Then share yourself with others. The world needs you.

ps. today is my 201st daily post of This Being Alive. I am grinning from ear to ear. So this is a a grin-out, to you and the turkeys, who just this moment meandered by, no kidding. I love those damn birds. And you! Thanks for letting me share...

xo b

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Deep Breath

Deep Breath

Deep Breath
Deep Breath
Deep Breath
Deep Breath

- from Be Generous by David Marell

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Share Yourself

"Find happiness within yourself.
Then share yourself with others."

- Yogi Blues Away tea bag

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "S" Word

I've been called the "S" word, most of my life. You know, sensitive. In some circles, the term, HSP, gets tossed around to describe people like me (and a lot of my friends). HSP's are Highly Sensitive People, which is why I like to be at home, hanging with my *neighbors, the wild turkeys. They're quiet types.

Perhaps I'm just thin-skinned and need to grow a tougher hide. I try to give myself pep talks...Come on, kid. Buck up. The world's gonna chew you up and spit you out if you take all this stuff to heart. This is the real world, grow up. The problem is, I don't believe what I'm trying to tell myself...and maybe I don't want to buck up. Maybe bucking up isn't so great.

I should've stayed home yesterday. I was tired, and yes, feeling sensitive. When I came face to face with this decal in the supermarket parking lot, I felt like I'd been sucker punched. My head snapped back. All I wanted was milk and bananas.

I took the photo because I thought, who will believe me when I say somebody had this on their car? But this is fluff compared to some stuff out there, right? We've all seen worse. You know I love a good bumper sticker, but this was so, not funny. So not about fishing. Or fishin'.

I almost left a note on the car:
Dear Mr. Creepy Man.
Do you have a wife, a daughter, a mom, a sister?
You might want to re-think this.

But I didn't.

*read: The Neigbors & Fence Sitting

Monday, September 13, 2010

Groove We Do

Celebration of the Arts, COTA fest, Jazz fest, the people you see once a year-fest. It was a long weekend of sunshine, singing, food, jazz, rain, a woman with blue stripes on her face, and one really cute baby.

Okay, there were more cute babies. But this little guy looked me right in the eye.

It's always hard to groove into Monday after a festival weekend.

But groove we do, right?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learn Ease

"Today I'll choose groundedness and freedom. I'll choose to learn ease...and slip myself off the hook where I stay hung up out of fear, fear of the unknown and perhaps fear of freedom."

- from Promise of a New Day (Mom's meditation book)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Did I See A Bouquet?

How'd you sleep? is Claire's favorite question in the morning.
She asked her teacher every day last year.
I'm not sure what his answer was.
Mine is usually, "Pretty good, honey."
I know it's middle of the road; but it works whether I've slept like a lamb, or wrestled at three am. with one of the many, who live in my head.

After me, she taps Michael, always in mid-yawn, reaching for his first cup of coffee.
"How'd you sleep, Dad?" she says, leaning into him for a hug.
"Pretty good, Claire," he says, wrapping his arms around her, another huge yawn.

This morning I heard Claire, upstairs, surveying her grandfather.
"How'd you sleep, Pop?" she asked.
"What?" he said.
"Did you sleep okay last night, Pop?!"
"Did you see a bouquet?" he said.
"Did I see a bouquet?" he said.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Arms Wide Open

It's my birthday. And I'm still in bed, at noon. Decadent, I know. But I feel unusually peaceful, so I say bring it on. I've surrounded myself with books, journal, this computer, the phone, a cup of tea, Owen the cat, a box of colorful markers, magazines, tape, and scissors; my grown-up version of preschool.

Outside, I see trees and green and wind.

I've been in bed all morning. It's crazy. No laundry, no sweeping, no worrying. I can't get over how happy this small act of self-care is making me feel. Michael brought me tea. Claire laughed while I tried to write a note for school about picking her up early. It took me three tries. Can you say neurotic? Dad was whistling in the kitchen. I took off from bus stop duty and let Michael take Claire. Hugs all around. I stayed put.

A little after nine, I spoke to Jesse about dropping Elizabeth off at her first day of preschool. Elizabeth was a happy, excited camper. Jesse was in tears.
"I feel like I've spent my time worrying about other things rather than being with her," she said.
"Not true," I said, "But most Moms go through that. It's okay. Be sad, then let go. New things are here. There's a lot of letting go. Damn. Take a deep breathe."

And isn't that the truth? I've spent way too much time worrying about other things. But I've been present too. And I know that this beautiful life is best lived with arms wide open, fearlessly loving, rather than focusing on losing. It's a practice.

Like learning to tend to myself, my one true birthday wish. That, and peace on earth. I don't need new shoes. Nope. But I do need to tend to myself, with deep kindness. And then take it a step further...& allow others, the people who love me just because, to tend to me as well.

The sweet part is this: When I finally leave this birthday bed nest, and I have to... I need to pick Claire up, remember? I get to carry this newborn tender-ness out into the world, as a peace offering to you.

xo b