Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Cannot Dwell On It

It's Sunday morning, July 31st.

I am home alone but for the dog, cat, and turtle. Michael joined Claire in San Diego on Thursday to visit his eighty-five year old mother and family. 

I'm thinking of yesterday morning when Dad was here. He'd come to stay for two days. There was a dental appointment and a friend's art opening.

And then later, the email I sent Michael.

it's a beautiful day here...clear, sunny, a bit of a breeze.was up early. took dad back. left him in the foyer of mrs. bush's, he hugged me and walked down the hall with his bag and Thai hat and walking stick. Earlier he had popped out a bunch of his meds, scattering them on the kitchen floor. i found two red pills later. 

working through the general heartache of watching him "lose it", a little at a time, and wishing my brothers were also a part of this process, driving him, seeing him. it just feels like a heaviness right now.

i am cleaning the house and breathing and encouraging myself to detach with love from any heaviness i am holding around dad and his aging and all the other stuff with him...

and... we had a good two days. now I'm glad to have the house to myself. 

except i'm missing you.

he wrote back ~

there is some losing it going on here too; but I cannot dwell on it.

claire said she likes the pier, she likes pelicans and seagulls and the mussels and fish innards and the feel of the ocean and all its stuff, in so many or little words.

It's another summer morning. The best kind.

soft air
cup of tea 
new baby birds squawking to be fed
Chewy working over the torn-up basketball

I told myself no filling the space with television or radio
Instead I'm back-porch sitting, listening to the multitudes in the yard, asking the light to wash over me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Like A Four Year Old

My daughter, Jesse, inspirational Weight Watcher's leader, gives her people this very simple advice...

Eat like a four year old. 

slice up a banana 
poke with toothpick 
roll in rainbow sprinkles (or chocolate!)

Play like a four year old.

Make a puddle in the yard, lie down

You'll feel great!

~ and hang with a BIG-EARED DOG on a hot summer day...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

If One Is True

Late night quote from The Essence of Tao...

If one is true to one's inner self,
and follows its wisdom,
who is without a teacher?

- Chuang Tzu

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Guy's All Heart


whatever you need if I have it to give it's yours



It would require multiple posts for me to list all the fine qualities of my brother, Rob. 

His short note from last week says it all...

The guy's all heart ~

We should all be so lucky to have a brother like Rob.

Happy Birthday, big brother.

Thanks for always saving me a seat on the school bus...

and so much more.

xo beanie

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just Reading It

I'm feeling word-less, speechless, 

too many stories and don't know where to begin?

So, for today I offer this... 

The things that are really for thee,
      gravitate to thee.

          - Ralph Waldo Emerson

...which drops my shoulders just reading it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

In Fullness

Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise 
From outward things; what'er you may believe
There is an inmost center in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness.

-Robert Browning

Thoughts for a moody Monday...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letting Go Of The String

Michael laid his hand on my heart.

"Feels like something's shifted in here," he said.

And up came the summer of the lost kite.

We were on Martha's Vineyard, beloved island.
Set up at State Beach where the water is calm and the Cape is across the way. Fat, white ferries passing by. 

The kite was bright yellow with a red dragon. 

Michael had tied it to a beach chair, the handle and string wrapped around the aluminum, holding fast. The wind was good. The kite was way up, flying high. We were looking up, admiring the yellow against blue sky when a gust whipped up, and it unraveled, the kite handle skidding and bouncing across the sand, the kite still high in the sky.

"Catch it, oh no!" I cried out.
"Daddy, get the kite,"Claire called out.

Michael ran, as if saving a drowning child, and dove into the water after the kite. He reached for the handle, string taut, kite full of air. 

It would not be caught.

We watched it, sad at first, flying over the morning water, kite high in the sky, a splash of yellow and red, the handle a skipping stone across the water. 

"I almost got it," Michael said.
"You were amazing, " Claire and I said.
Then "It's okay."

We watched the yellow kite, flying across the morning water, high in the sky, a splash of yellow and red.

The kite got away. 

This morning with my husband's hand over my heart, I felt the perfection of the lost kite, the cut-looseness, the release in letting it fly away, the relief in dropping the sad, the shift, letting go of the string, 

the flying.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I love Mona

I went to the second annual book expo at our local library today with fourteen copies of my new book, 

scratching on paper 

I sold my very first book to a woman named Mona.

14 - 1 = Lucky 13

I love Mona.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ten Mighty Fine Things

early morning yoga class
the sprinkler on a hot day
a dog with pink tongue
grandaughter in green polka-dot suit
throwing a frisbee straight and far
gardening barefoot
the smell of lemon balm on my fingers
drinking a blueberry/banana smoothie
painting with water colors
reading Mercer Mayer books on the sofa

~ feel free to add to the list today

Thursday, July 21, 2011

And No Fear

Yesterday Claire and I went to a quiet spot along the river to cool off. She was restless in anticipation of her trip to California. We needed to get out of the house.

"It feels like forever," she said.
"It feels like too fast,"I said.

We floated around, sliding over smooth rocks just below the surface. 

We left the house @ 6:45 this morning to get to Newark Airport with plenty of time to spare. Claire packed very light, I still have empty space in here, using her Grandmother Dorothy's well-traveled suitcase.

"That bag's been around, Claire. London, Paris, Copenhagen, Florence, Venice..."
"That sounds good," she said.

Miraculously, Lois, the woman at the check-in for un-accompanied minors allowed both Michael and I to take Claire to the gate. Usually, it's one parent only. 
I kept thinking, wasn't I just breast-feeding this kid?
Okay, so that's weird and Claire would be mortified, but now I'm sending her on a plane, solo, three thousand miles across the...

The lady's voice came over the loudspeaker, calling for boarding to begin. The crowd swelled. A quick hug and then Claire followed a man in a blue shirt who worked for the airlines down the ramp. She turned around twice, waved, then scurried behind him with Grandma Dorothy's bag in tow. 

I felt a sob come up but told myself, no. 

Michael and I stayed until the plane was out of sight, then walked away from the gate passing this Meditation Room which I almost ducked into for a quick breather, prayer, moment of silence.

I know this. 
We all gotta fly. 
And the thing is to keep on flying, 
coming home to rest and nest, then fly some more. 
The thing is to spread your wings. 
You don't need a plane for that.
But I have a feeling this will be the first of many trips to the airport with Claire. 
She's got the bug, an adventurous spirit.
And no fear. 

"It's kinda weird, Mom, but I don't feel nervous at all."
"Gosh, Claire, that sounds so wonderful. Can I have some of that?"


4:00 pm EST.

The eagle has landed...


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Practice Compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

-The Dalai Lama

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All The Tiny Pieces

Marriage has nothing to do with a raspberry except the way it's all bumpy and fuzzy when you run your fingers over it. When you pop it in your mouth it's so sweet, a kiss, and my tongue rolls around it, not wanting it to melt too fast.

marriage is a raspberry, bumpy and sweet, sometimes falling apart, all the tiny pieces in my hand.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Breathing Again

In the past few weeks we've had severe storms that have, in the span of five minutes, swooped in and toppled large trees in our yard . 

One minute, sky clear, then suddenly a quick darkening and heavy air, followed by rain and gail force winds. The last storm ripped through a narrow swatch of land, downing trees and outing the power in our neighborhood. Not a mile away, the sun was shining, everything untouched. 

We lived with the mess for a good ten days, unable to find the time to devote to cutting and clearing the broken trees. It was a big project...

But Saturday morning, Michael was up and moving, chainsaw in hand; we began the work. It couldn't have been hotter but the effort was worth it. 

Two truck loads later in Big Blue, 

and the yard was breathing again. 

"It feels so good to have that done," I said last night.
"It had to be done," Michael said.
"But it feels like more than trees were cleaned up. It feels like blocks were removed. I just feel a whole lot better. I can breathe."

All to say that sometimes the best thing to do, when we don't know what to do, is to tackle what's right in front of us. Sweep the kitchen floor, throw in a load of wash, make the bed, walk the dog, or lift heavy pieces of trees, load in big blue truck, and haul away.

When in doubt, make space.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Meet Yourself With Joy

It is the difficult things that we meet that enable us to bring into action the greater power within us; difficulties, therefore, are the most valued of opportunities, and if taken advantage of as such, will always be met with joy.

-Christian D. Larson

The title of this short piece was called 

The Joy of Discomfort.

Oh goodie.

Lately, I've been harboring a generalized discomfort about my life. It's been hanging around for a while now, but like any good fighter, I keep fueling it with my relentless resistance to the dissolving of old forms, out-dated beliefs, old ways of seeing and being.

More sandbags! The walls are leaking!!

The things I can do when I put my mind to something. 

Damn I'm good. 

Yes, very good, Betsy. Excellent resistance. 
You are mah-velous at this!

Why do I keep doing this?


What's the discomfort?
Where in my body is it living?
What is it trying to tell me?
What do I want?
Pay attention.

I remember my brother, Rob, as a teenager, constantly snapping his arms, locking and unlocking his elbows. 
"It's driving me crazy," he'd say, snap snap snap.
"You're having growing pains, Rob," Mom would say.
And he was.

Me too. You? 

Growing pains are not limited to childhood or adolescence. They arise when needed, when we are being called to change, risk, grow. 

Like a lobster, my shell feels too tight. 

I've been watching myself clinging to the perceived safety of the riverbank, branch, cliff, ledge

don't let go don't let...

knowing the ease I long for will come
when I let go and float. 

Time for the mind to stand down 


Dear faithful heart is lovingly, yet firmly
prying my fingers off the things I cling to...

Cut yourself loose, she whispers.

Meet yourself with joy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Guided With Ease

Saturday mantra:

I trust I am being guided with ease. 
I am open to new ways of being and doing.
Smooth seas ahead.
Sail on.

~ photo courtesy of brother, Rob, heading out on full moon sail. BLISS?

Friday, July 15, 2011

In Remembering

I keep forgetting

the natural order of things...

the ebb and flow of the tide
the in and out of the breath
the waxing and waning of the moon

In remembering, my shoulders drop.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Your Own Quirkiness

Claire suggested I get one of those professional photographs taken...

"You know, Mom. Where your hair is done and a little of this and a dab here, a dab there."

She didn't say it exactly like that. But I got her drift. So I asked Michael to take a few pictures of me out by the tree with our frog prince. I don't think this is what Claire had in mind. But that's okay. Maybe one of these days, just for the fun of it, I'll get someone to pull me together and gloss me up. dab here. dab there.

Honestly, fabulous woman in the red dress aside, 

this is me. 

Hanging with a frog prince and his tattered crown.

Who knows? Tomorrow I might break out my boa.

In order to be an "original", you have to enjoy and accept your own "quirkiness". 

- chandra alexander

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Child In Thee

"I God Am Thy Playmate
    and I will lead
the Child in Thee
Wondrous Ways for
    I have
Chosen Thee!"

-heard by Mechtild of Magdenbourg, Germany

1314 -1400. A Free Spiritual Woman

Dad has this posted on his bulletin board, drawn in a mix of green, red, orange, yellow and blue magic marker. It immediately catches the eye when you enter his room (9E) at Mrs. Bush's Personal Care Home. It caught mine after a day that started at 7:30, driving to his neurologist in Allentown, then home for an hour, then to his eye doctor. We got back to Mrs. Bush's at 3:30. A long day.

In the car we talk about growing old, dying, doing good work in the world, how good life is, the benefits of oatmeal, all while passing Chevrolet billboards, people talking on phones while driving, wide open corn fields, a hawk on the telephone pole.

I vacillate between holding my breath and crying. 

And then laughing. 

At the doctor's office I'm whispering, 

Breathing in, my whole body is calm. 
Breathing out, my whole body is calm. 

My heart is full to bursting when we walk slowly to get his x-ray and see the woman in a wheelchair with the oxygen tank. 

Dad says, "There but for the grace of God go I."
I say, "I know, I know."

I keep thinking, this is a very weird joke because in my family, I win, hands down, as the most freaked out by hospitals and anything medical.  

But here I am, smack in the midst of it. With my Dad.

When Dad says, This is a good life, on the ride home, I about pull over by the bank of orange lilies and weep... with joy and grief and fear of loss and change and longing for change and wanting my Dad to be young again, hiking up the trail ahead of me, carrying my pack when it gets too heavy. 

Monday, July 11, 2011


Just for today ~ 


and the net will appear...

or something else. I've been reviewing how much I fear risk and change (yet crave it ) and in the fear, 

lock myself in

I'm good at tallying up all the monsters in the room. 


I woke up thinking:

Time to choose another way because fear is crippling. 

I am open to new life (without knowing one little detail)...

Monday shout-out to the fine people who jumped on This Being Alive... 

Let's hold hands ~

1 2 3 LEAP!!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Crowing Away

This morning was the first annual Quiet Valley Rooster Run...

Tour the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm property over hill and dale, past the farm ponds, pastures, apple orchards and historical buildings. Course has varying surfaces including grass, dirt, gravel and paved roads.

Claire and Michael took the dare. My niece, Reeve, and I were content to cheer from the shade of a large maple tree handing out cups of water to red-faced runners.

It was one of those steamy July mornings. 

It was a hard race. Over hill and dale was no joke

"At one spot there was a skinny path, Mom, we had to go in single file. Some lady fell in the mud," Claire said, gulping her water.
Michael said, "I could hear the rooster crowing as I was running through the woods."
"Was it the guy in the rooster suit?" I asked.
He'd come across the finish line, flapping his wings and crowing, in spite of having just run a 5K in a rooster suit.

"No, it was the real rooster, crowing away."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Still My Mother

Today is my mother's birthday. 

Dorothy, or Dot, would've been eighty-five. I'm not sure she would've liked being eighty-five but what do I know. I know she was very independent and would've hated being a bother to anyone. She slipped away quickly which worked out since she was brought up not to linger over goodbyes; leftovers from a military father.

I know she would say, 

I had a very beautiful life.

It'll be ten years since she walked through the door. 

Some days it feels like a month. Some days I pretend I can drive to her house in Connecticut; we'll sit and have tea and talk about books we've read. And talk about children and marriage and how there's not a whole lot we have control over. We'll eat corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes with fresh basil from Lyman's Orchard . 

I know this is magical thinking. 
Occasionally, I let myself have at it.

Mom liked to say, 

Bets, don't be afraid to be happy.

A good thing to catch yourself mumbling...don't be afraid to be happy, don't be afraid to be happy, don't be afraid...

This tiny piece from Be Generous by David Marell is a lift.

Proof That Life Goes On
My friend, Gertrude, died.
Gertrude is still my friend.

I think, my mother died. She is still my mother.

~ in memory of Dorothy Southam Jackson

       July 7, 1926 - December 19, 2001

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Out Loud

Years ago I wrote a full length play called Pieces Of Evelyn which but for a few dark scenes is pure comedy. I laughed out loud most of the time I was writing it. I often think about it as a beautiful, pain-free birth. I'm longing for another creative birth like that...

The other day, while washing dishes, I thought...

I've lost my sense of humor.

Next thought, from out of the blue was...

It could be worse. 
I could look like Keith Richards.

I had an out loud laugh at such an odd thought, I never think of Keith Richards, then carried on with the dishes, grinning.

Note to self: nothing's ever lost.