Friday, December 30, 2011


Sometimes, rest is the highest spiritual practice.

- Tom Yeomans

Thinking of you on this last Friday of 2011...

xo b

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day

On Boxing Day,

We got our dance groove on
ate cookies 
played LIFE
ate cookies
decorated the driveway in matching owl pj's


and went to bed early.

On the Day After Boxing Day (today.)

I made an early morning fire 
jesse in scarf, vest, and hat was my first clue to call our fuel guy, Dave.
cooked up a pot of steel-cut oats with raisins 
with pears from Uncle George 
Ate some cookies 
why not?

Michael's at the office
Rob took the girls to the movies
Jesse and E (aka The Kratt Brothers) headed home...

and Chewy and I are in front of the fire, so quiet so cozy
I'm thinking if it's going to rain, it might as well snow, but the weather is one of a gazillion things 

I have zero (0) control over

Thank God.

let go let go let go
into love love love
cookies cookies cookies
quiet quiet quiet
family family family
fire fire fire
joy joy joy
gratitude for all of it.

ps. if I go AWOL tomorrow, I shall return! Go gently, campers.

xo b

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gold Coins

Today is my husband, Michael's birthday.
It's also the night my beloved Aunt Nip died. 

All this coming and going always leaves me feeling tender about this being alive. 

I'm "lifting" yet another email from Michael because it's Christmas Eve and I'm full of words and empty at the same time. And also because it's a reminder how special we all were to our mothers on the day we were born. There's nothing quite like it, actually.

I caught mom at a good time. She was writing me a birthday letter, sharing recollections of the day I was born.  She always recalls the pain – two weeks late with a big head. She said it helped during delivery to connect my birth to the birth of Christ, as at the time she was, in her own words, a "devout Catholic.” It was a precious time but I don’t recollect.

Johnie’s words fell on me like gold coins. 

She said she remembered the nurses at the hospital being particularly kind and solicitous in light that she was not at home with her family, but instead, in the hospital. 

Johnie recalled all the girls born that day were presented with red ribbons in their hair (glued on); while I was presented with a red bow tie. I didn’t know that until now.

She told me how much I meant to her; how much I had been “present” for her (my mind keeps saying “What? it was she who was there for me!).

Here's to heart-to-hearts with our mothers, be they living, or with us in spirit. 

Here's to a gentle Christmas Eve. 

Happy Birthday, Michael. 

Peace be with you, Aunt Nip.

And with you, dear readers.

~ This was originally posted Christmas Eve/ 2010

Friday, December 23, 2011

I Just Inhaled

It's been a 

I finished out a season of subbing...

1st grade
2nd grade
3rd grade
4th grade 
5th grade

while beginning a new gig @ our local university.

I'm a working girl... in the REAL world?

Things I heard from students this week:

Ms. Jackson, being a girl scout is REALLY hard.
My Mom and Dad don't live together anymore.
Can we do more yoga?

This from Claire this morning:

Mom, I think I just inhaled a sesame seed...

while chowing down on a bagel. 

A friend left this message: I feel quiet.

Claire and I drove Dad to the Route 84 Diner in New York State for a Christmas drop-off. He's spending Christmas with brother Dave's family in New England.

Drop and roll, Pop.

We'll miss you, Sunny!

Driving home we saw a rainbow. 

while Jesus Take The Wheel 

came on the radio as we were scanning for stations. 

I''m a tad tired and happy.

Happy Hanukkah

fa la la

and a Friday night shout-out to Angela, 
This Being Alive's 81st official follower!!!

xo b

Monday, December 19, 2011

Somewhere Very Near

  ~ in memory of my mother and dear friend

Dorothy Southam Jackson

July 7, 1926 - December 19, 2001

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no air of forced solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed 
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word 
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, 
without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was; 
there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind 
because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, 
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.

- Henry Scott Hollan (1847 - 1918)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thanks For Sticking Around

Good morning, chickadees!

mom's Irish lap blanket
christmas tree
moon still up 
+ sleeping house 

a very grateful heart.

I've been missing in action, after leaving you two days ago with the words of Eckhart Tolle:

You are here 

to enable the divine purpose 
of the universe
to unfold. 

This is how important you are.

Go ahead. 
Read it out loud to yourself. 
Take a moment to believe it, 
even if you think it's nonsense. 

Me? Part of the divine purpose of the universe? Poppycock. 

I took Chewy out for a morning pee, barefoot, under the morning moon. At first the frosty ground felt delicious but I quickly found myself doing an Irish jig while he took his usual sixty second pee. My neighbor's kitchen was lit a warm yellow through the trees. I hopped, in my sarong-barefoot-with-winter-coat ensemble and dog, moon-gazing. 

I am happy I said to the moon. 

This was a lovely surprise coming out of my mouth since I'm prone to sadness and a certain kind of melancholia that as far as I can tell, I've carried like a small but steady companion, since I was a little girl. Even when I'm laughing with the best of them, my very funny brothers, I'm aware of another feeling; a longing to hold on to the laughter and moment of closeness, a mix of love and loss.

Sometimes a feeling sweeps through me where I think: 

How is it that my brothers and I don't still live together? I have a vision of us crowded into the tub, at least 3 of us, full of toy soldiers with bayonets and matchbox cars. The bathroom floor wet with puddles while Mom or Dad stands by with an armful of towels. 

How did we get to be middle-aged people who live in separate houses with children in the bathtub and us holding the towels?

I know. It's called growing up. and we wouldn't fit in the tub now.
Still, I wonder about these things.

As I write this morning ramble, 
I am holding you, dear reader, 
in my mind's eye.

Wondering how your morning is unfolding. 
Wondering how you're feeling and thinking. 

A therapist once wisely told me, "Oh, Blanche" he called me that sometimes, "You have no idea the things people think about. Trust me." 

Just for today, the whole thing feels like a wonderful mystery that I don't need to figure out. Amen to that.

peace and blessings on this December day.

Thanks for sticking around. xo b

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You Are Here

You are here 
to enable the divine purpose 
of the universe
to unfold. 

This is how important you are.

- Eckhart Tolle

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Daughter Of My Daughter

The short one is 

Elizabeth Mary

daughter of my daughter...

She also goes by...

Lemony as in Snicket



but prefers to be called...

Christopher Kratt [ see PBS/ The Wild Kratt Brothers]

She calls her mother, Martin (Chris Kratt's brother)

Martin? I'm hungry.
Okay, Chris.

Today is her birthday

Chris Kratt is FIVE YEARS OLD. 

where does the time go?

happy birthday to my
up before the sun better you than me, martin!
walking in the woods

[the kid's run 2 5k's before turning 5!]

... Christopher Kratt

Love, Bean xo

read: Elizabeth And Bean/ March 3, 2009

Monday, December 12, 2011

She Doesn't Have Pre-Algebra

"I don't know, maybe it's because it's Monday but I'm feeling kinda anxious," Claire said.
"Well, sometimes I try to imagine what my eighty-year old self would say. I imagine something like, don't sweat the small stuff?"
"She doesn't have pre-algebra, Mom."


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Another Voice


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

-Mary Oliver

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Don't Eat Cupcakes

Yesterday's substitute plans included another *code 


which, if you ask me 

looked dangerously close to 


Upon closer inspection I saw it had been broken out to

Students Will Understand That


In the computer lab a boy looked at me and said, 

I know a lot about cars.
I know when the ABS light pops up on the dashboard it means your anti-brake system is in trouble
Do you know the Ford Windstar?
There's a whole lot of problems with all of them
Windshield fluid
Oil light
Engine light

"What's your name?" I asked.

I was so dazzled by Tommy I followed him to his computer, all the while jotting down furiously on a scrap of paper his version of Car Talk.

Yea, we just got our car fixed
It cost us over $700 and something's still not right
But my Dad got the Car MD
It's a scanner that you run over the engine and it lights up if there's a problem

Tommy was pudgy with shaggy hair and baggy shirt 

see middle aged man minus the hair 

I really wanted to hang with him but it was time for 

Math Houses lots of little windows to cut out

and a whole lot of glitter

Tommy and I crossed paths again at recess. He was walking around the parking lot all by himself so I said, "I'll race you!" and we ran to the end of the lot. Someone kicked a soccer ball our way so we had a little back and forth with that.

Close to the end of the day he came into my classroom with a tray of mini swirly-topped cupcakes from the market. 

I said, "Oh no thanks," like I don't eat cupcakes would rather have carrots thanks so much bullshit, but his face sagged just a little so I said,"I'll have a chocolate one, please," and he held the plastic tray out to me. 

Pick whatever you want, he said.

"How old?" I said.
"My favorite year," I said "Happy Birthday, Tommy!"

Happy Birthday! my students shouted

as they watched me, mouths hanging open,

pop that mini chocolate cupcake 
into my mouth 
in one bite

*read TSWBAT / Nov. 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The One's Column

Mother's Journal 
11.15. 01

I feel like a beginner these days. Like a kid in second grade just learning how to regroup in math. How is it when you add up the numbers in the first column you need to carry what's left over, or too much, into the next column. 

Next door to Mr. Ten's House.

Or maybe Ms. Hundred's house, depending on how far you've gotten.

Claire was one when I wrote that. 

She's twelve now.

And I'm still a beginner, still regrouping.

I feel a wave of understanding rise up in me, a sinking into the feeling that my class full of seven year olds must've felt on their first day of second grade. 

All the questions, all the unknowns.

Who will be in my class?
Is my teacher a nice one or a mean one? What if I forget what I learned in first grade? What if I don't know what she's talking about? What if? What if? 

I can still see their faces; bright, open, smiling, willing to try something new. Simply because I asked them to try it. This was so easy for some of them that I had to keep putting new things in front of them. Some kids were happy to be beginners. They knew they had a lot to learn and there was much they didn't have a clue about.  They jumped in anyway. Tongues sticking out of the corners of their mouths, pencils clutched tightly.

There were the kids who hated beginning. They wanted to be there already, to know it, to have crossed the finish line without running the race, to be on the top of the mountain without doing the climb. 

A tad impatient. I can relate.

To be a beginner means starting from scratch. To feel like you have nothing to hold onto, nothing to wrap yourself around. 

It's flying without wings
leaping off the proverbial cliff.

Beginning again is a trust in the journey. It's believing I have been guided to this place for a reason, to discover something inside me I never knew existed. Or if I did, I was too scared to check it out.

You don't learn regrouping by 

jumping to Ms. Hundred's house. 

You have to start in the one's column.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Little Red Hen & Other Things

I spent Friday with a room full of first graders doing the sub thing in my friend's open, sunny, peaceful room. 

open + sunny + peaceful = Robin

I sat on the rocking chair, kids on the floor 

(Mother Goose?) 

and read The Little Red Hen.

Who will help me cut this wheat?
Not I, meowed the cat.
Not I, squeaked the rat.
Not I, barked the dog. 

Then I will do it myself, said The Little Red Hen.

Afterwards we chatted about helping out. 

"I help my Mom sweep the kitchen floor."
"I help my Mom do the dishes."
"I help my Mom fold the laundry!"
"Any Dads out there?" I asked.
"My mom and dad way awound and I do all the work." 

I'm into waying awound.

It was the most beautiful December day:

blue skies
warm sun
cool air
fat hawk high in a tree

which had me thinking of the headline in the paper:

The World Is Our Classroom 

which is exactly right, don't you think? 

So why is it that little kids (and big!) 
only get fifteen minutes a day to be out in the sunshine (or rain or snow) running around, turning rocks over, bird watching, making up dance moves... 

and for that matter, teachers too. 

Breathing room.

Why aren't we outside cutting wheat with kids?

Take off your shoes.
Stand in the grass. 
Feel the earth underneath your sweet feet.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And No Self Doubt

Penguins have 
a really good attitude 
and no self-doubt. 

- a biologist working in Antarctica

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dinner With Rumi

I have lived on the lip 
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!

- Rumi

I'd love to have dinner with Rumi. 
The man is onto something.
He's a gentle tap on the shoulder/ or a slap on the head?
He could talk and talk and I'd sit, very quiet, 
Nodding every now and then.
Possibly over a glass of red wine and candlelight 
on a Saturday night?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jolt Of Joy

I don't know what to write. 

I suppose I could write about how I woke up this morning and made a conscious decision, a vow to myself, to smile all day. 

maybe not ALL day

Not in a fake way, 
just a turning up of the mouth way. 
Possibly even a big-ass grin way...

"Look, honey," I said to Michael.
He looked up from the paper.
"I'm smiling!"
"I like it," he said.

Even with my crooked front teeth, I told myself, SMILE ANYWAY.

Try it right now. It feels good, doesn't it?

Sometimes I catch myself in the mirror and wonder, 

What the hell is that woman thinking about? She appears to have something very serious on her mind, probably something really, really important... not likely

That's when I grin at myself. 

Hey you, slap a smile on your face, sister!

Doing that makes me smile more.

Out in the world today, I smiled at everyone and said, good morning and received many good mornings back from surprised strangers. 

One woman in a green paisley skirt said,"How are you?" and I said, "I'm just fine, thank you," then she said, "That's great," and I said, "Enjoy this beautiful day."

She kept on into the market and I smiled and put the groceries in the back of the car. A simple exchange. 

Free for the taking, or giving.

This reminds me of the time Jesse and I were driving home from Vermont. We decided to wave to everyone we saw; people walking down the street, rocking on front porches, flying by on the highway. 

It was a jolt of joy 

We'd wave, then most of the time get a wave back. 

good morning

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Very Short Talk

"I was thinking about puppets again," she said.
"That's all."


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Proclamation Of Goodness

It arrived in the mail from Karme Choling, the Shambala Meditation Center in Barnet, Vermont where I spent a week last October. It was tucked in with holiday shopping fliers, an electric bill, and other stuff.

Upon opening the envelope 
a small, bright orange card 
dropped into the palm of my hand

an invitation.

Proclamation of Goodness

May basic goodness dawn.
May the confidence of goodness be eternal.
May goodness be all-victorious.
May that goodness bring profound, brilliant glory.

 ...this song of goodness arose in the mirror of my mind. 
     May it bring the world into a perfect state of goodness.

    Written in Kalapa Valley by the Sakong

      Jampal Trinley Dradul

Goodness is news worth sharing.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It Might Just Be

Chewy woke us up with a crazy round of barking. He was carrying on so bad I got up to look out the window for deer, dogs, or people but saw none of the above. 

I couldn't tell what he was barking at...

until I took him out for a walk. The closer we got to this old leaf bag and rake, the more he dug his heels in.

The look in his eyes said, this thing is dangerous...

which got me to thinking how often my perceptions are screwy. Sometimes I think with all my heart that one thing is going on, when that thing isn't happening at all.

I am truly gifted at conjuring up the scariest, saddest, most heart-wrenching stuff you could imagine. you don't want to know

I could lead workshops on 

           how to scare the shit out of yourself. 

But this is not a good use of my time and talent.

Scaring myself
over imaginary things 
is stupid. 

And just a little exhausting.

Besides, it doesn't pay all that well.

unless it's a blockbuster movie about
vampires and wolves
and a girl having to choose

which begs the question,

Why Haven't I Written A Really Scary Screenplay

so I could be writing to you from Tuscany?

Anyway, Chewy got me thinking:

The Boogey Man 
might just be 
a bag of leaves and a rake.