Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Did Mr. G. Have Kids?

Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.... 

-Kahil Gibran  

Did Mr. G have kids? Did he put his son or daughter on the bus for the first day of kindergarten? 

Or middle-school? oddly the same feeling as kindergarten.

And though they are with you, they belong not to you.

I get what he's saying. 

On an intellectual level

or if I let go into the Great Awareness that is beyond this material life, this seen life, beyond breathing and blood and birthing my girls, beyond breast milk, and bus stops.

Beyond belonging?
"You know, parents aren't really allowed at the bus stop," said the Mom who has way more kids than I do. Five? 
Clearly an old hat at this.
"Well, Claire and I like to talk in the car," I said, "that's what we did last year so..."
"I'm kidding," she said. 
"Well, it's the first day, right?" I said.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth...

Jesse was my first arrow.
Now, Claire.
I am a good bow. 
Michael too. 
At 2:58, I will be at the bus stop hiding behind a tree 
to see how my arrow fared.
I'm certain she'll be full of great stories, as always. 
Fodder for this mom/writer/bow.

We are all life's longing for itself ~ 

middle school, middle age...makes no difference.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And I Will Still Read To Myself

When I Grow Up

I will get married and have 11 kids and my husband will look cute and he will stay home when I go to work. He will go to work when I have the day off. 
I will get a babysitter on Sunday when both of us are at work. And I will still read to myself again and I will be happy again.

Jamie Gardner

11 kids? Her husband better be cute. 

This week may turn into a string of posts penned 

(or penciled) 

by my second graders, circa 1995...

Because wow.

And because these little kids hammered out 
tiny gems in less time than it takes to tie your shoes, 
which for some of them, was still troublesome in 1995.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Life Of My Own

After all these years, I still get the itch, 
right about now, to set up my classroom. 
It can't be helped; it's in my fat cells.

The urge to staple red and orange leaves to the bulletin board, sharpen a fistful of #2 pencils, 
prop up big bear by the bookcase, 
fill the crayon bin to the brim, 
lay out journals for emerging writers ~
is still alive.

Some of my dearest friends were second graders. 

During my most recent excavation of papers, I found a newsletter from 1995 that our class put together.

We called it:

MARCH 1995

The theme for Vol. III was When I Grow Up.

This piece is from Anna, a yellow-haired, bright-faced girl from a large Russian family.

When I Grow Up

When I grow up I will travel to China and Russia. They are my favorite places in the world. The second thing I want to do is have a husband and kids. The third is to have a house that is blue and has yellow doors, windows, and has a lot of furniture. Like pink couches and gray walls. I would like to have a life of my own.

By Anna Sinistsky

Here's to Anna, pink couches and a life of her own...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Trap Of Thinking

Almost everything: all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. These things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. 
Steve Jobs (1955 - ) 
Joe, our local weather person, posts daily quotes with his forecast for the week. This one popped up yesterday and stuck with me.
As the wind bends our big trees and we set up to play a game of Clue [Col. Mustard in the parlor with the candlestick]

I'm thinking about all the external expectations I... 

cling to for dear life? 

out of pride, 
fear of embarrassment, 
fear of failure.
Just for today:
May the wind blow them all away

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Riding Life

I woke after having a dream where a huge, curling wave was heading for the beach. Someone said, "The ferry we're getting on has to go through that." Oh.

It is the proverbial calm before the storm.
The air, eerily still. Nothing moving.

The trees stand, at ease, in the yard.  Zen-like?

We've had some big trees come down over the summer. Our un-cluttered yard will likely be littered with branches tomorrow. We might lose power. I hope not. We need bread; Michael will have to make the trip. I can only imagine the lines. No love lost between me and the supermarket.

I'm thinking about trees. How they root, grow towards the light, become home for cardinals and squirrels. Leaves fall, branches break. They grow old, die. Someone chainsaws them down, green shoots rise out of stumps. Root again. That kind of thing. 

Trees are not braced for anything. 

Claire slept at a friend's last night.
"Maybe you should get me before lunch," she said, "You know, with the storm coming. I'd like to be home." 

I'll do that.
Go get my girl.
Bring in hanging plants, tuck chairs in shed.
Secure anything else that could fly through the air.
Batten down the hatches. 

That's what I've been thinking about with Hurricane Irene barreling up the coast. It's good to be prepared, as best you can; bread, water, candles, wills. But even when there is no storm...

I am braced for the next thing, the shoe dropping.

Riding life

rather than bracing for the next hit, feels way better. 

I'm tired of fight or flight, my twitchy, familiar pal.

Even if there's no hurricane in your life today, stand. 

Like a tree?

Whatever it is, ride it out.

       be safe...

Friday, August 26, 2011


A Friday message:



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Go Forward

In the mix of the electric bill, bank statement, and a whole bunch of junk mail that comes for Dad, there was a letter for me.

A lovely letter decorated on the outside with words like magnificent and adoring and here comes the sun, and a drawing of a smiling sun.

Inside, a brief note on yellow paper:

Dear Bets,
While this is my horoscope, I believe that you as my soul sister would benefit from reading (and believing) it! 

Remember the infinity in you is the reality in you.

Loving you always, 

So, as a shout-out back to the magnificent Ms. Katie and because you out there in this sweet-sometimes-scary-but-really-good world are my soul people, I know Katie won't mind one bit if I pass her horoscope on for all of us to breathe into... 

LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)

Maybe you don't know what to expect,
but that hasn't stopped you before.
Go forward. You are a beloved child
of the universe and will be cared for as such.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Only Moms Can Do That

Let's all gather at the river
the beautiful, beautiful river...

This snippet of hymn is running circles round my head; memories of my large, boisterous family, belting this baby out, as much as the Presbyterians of my childhood belted.

Actually, we belted quite well.

beautiful, beautiful river ~

Claire and I gathered by the river today.

The very river she put on her *list of likes...

while I was pining for the sea yesterday.

"So, does this change your mind, Mom?"
"It's beautiful. Gosh, I just need to be by the water."
"Me too," she said.

We sat in our chairs, popping green grapes. 
"So," I asked, "do you want me to sign up to be a mom who helps kids figure out how to use their locker combinations, or...?"
"I think they already have a bunch of moms to do that, you know, the ones who can't let their kids go..."
"Trust me, I'm not dying to be with a bunch of freaked-out sixth graders on the first day of school but if you want me..."
"Trust me," Claire said, "you don't, Mom."
"Okay, then I'll just wrap you in a bubble of love and put you on the bus." and try not to break down weeping.
"But what if somebody pops my bubble?"
"Well, wrap yourself up in another one until..."

"But only moms can do that," she said.

* Read "Not Quite Home Yet"/ Aug. 23, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not Quite Home Yet

I slipped away over the weekend to get Claire, my traveling daughter, who's been to one end of the country... LA/San Diego for two and 1/2 weeks- home for one day, then promptly out to the very tip of Long Island - Montauk - by way of the Hampton Jitney bus, (86th St. between Lex and 3rd Ave.) for ten days of camping in an old army tent...(sun, ocean, flooding rains), finally to be retrieved at my brother's place near the coast of Connecticut.

It was great to see my kid again. 

"Wow, I really missed you," I said, squeezing her close.

I really missed her.

"I missed you too, Mom,"she said, squeezing right back.

Then,"and it's nice to visit new places,"she said.

I get that. 

Visiting new places. 

Send me off with my backpack on an adventure ~ 

...with a hug, a kiss, a prayer, a few bucks.

But my timing's off.

This morning had that autumnal chill in the air. 
School letters arrived. 
We school-shopped. 
Next week, Claire starts middle school. 

My adventure was barely two days. I wanted more.

So,I'm not quite home yet.

I'm still by the water, toes buried in sand, face to the sun, my arms slicing through salt water, strong legs moving me through waves. 

I'm hearing sea gulls and watching 

the old woman in her purple suit and bathing cap, 

mouth open, fish-like, doing the side stroke.

Today Claire said, "I like where we live."

"Why?" I asked, daydreaming of 

battered wood pilings
green, grassy salty marsh 
smooth stones

She listed things she likes about where we live... 

our home
living near Sissy (Jesse) 
the non-trashy parts
the awesome Delaware River

"Living near Sissy is a good thing," I said.
"Yup,"Claire said.
"But I still want to live by the sea, Claire."
"That would be nice too," she said.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Go To Your Belly

Go to your belly...

When facing a decision today, be it small or large, pause first to pay attention to what you feel in your belly. This "second brain" will never lead you astray.

- from A Year of Living Your Yoga

My second brain is saying, take a few days off.

This Being Alive will be back on Tuesday.

Take care. 

And when in doubt, go to your belly.

xo b

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Think Love

When you think about others, 

think love.

When you think about yourself, 

think love.

Then, watch your thoughts transform your reality.

- from The Language Of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Like A Really Great Vacation

What would it feel like to let go of wanting 

to change anything? even for sixty seconds...

your slightly crooked teeth
your work
bank account
what you did when you were seventeen
fear of elevators
the weather (which has changed since yesterday's brooding sky)
your age
your partner
the town you live in
this moment


Everything cool just the way it is right now.

I'm thinking it could be like a really great vacation.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Thought Of You

I am not here. 

But my brother, Rob, his daughter, Reeve, and Claire are [without us this year]...wading through their campsite on this Monday morning. Shades of our *camping experience last summer at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk, NY where I managed to post a blog every day while living in a tent. 

I was fervent in my dedication.

Yesterday was a wash; I was not fervent. 

I mustered the energy to teach a 7:15 am yoga class where we lay on our mats in savasana, breathing along to the steady drumbeat of rain. 

I came home, 
walked Chewy, 
and quietly crawled back into bed. 

And stayed there. 
All day.

Around three in the afternoon, Michael and I donned raincoats and took Chewy out to throw him a tennis ball. I pulled weeds. Michael threw the ball. 

wet, smiling dog
skidding across the grass
green ball in mouth. 

The rain fell, 
a steady veil, 
unraveling from the sky.

Everything, a deep green.

A bright green leaf stuck to my red garden clogs. 
I wanted a picture but it was raining too hard. 

See wet green leaf stuck to bright red garden clog.

Yesterday I was fallow? 

I never showed up for This Being Alive. 

Rather than force myself to write, think, create 

~ I did next to nothing.

Wait. Not true. 

I did come to the computer, 
more than once, and stared at the screen. 
And thought what to write? 
then went back to bed. 
And read. 
And napped. 
And lay across the bed horizontally, 
just to change things up. 

At 8:30 pm, I sat one last time, staring at the screen. 

I thought of you ~

blew a kiss, 

then climbed back into bed 
a book
cup of tea 
and the rain.

It was that kind of day.

How was yours?

*Read "Salt Air" (and other posts from that week) July 13, 2010

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Practice Receiving

I called a friend to see if she wanted to meet me on my country road for a walk with our dogs. She showed up five minutes later. 

We walked, talked, listened. 
I felt way better afterwards.

I asked Michael if he would please go to the market 

because I just couldn't do it. 

He said of course, honey.

Simple stuff, but still...

note to self: practice receiving.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Do Not Hold Back

Six weeks ago, this Mama cardinal and her mate, set up camp in the tree outside my writing room window.

Together they built a small, compact nest that managed to withstand a few walloping summer storms with high winds. She sat patiently through the heat wave, beak parted. Occasionally she'd head out for a bite to eat, only to return to sit some more. She was very patient; a model of patience. And since I am most often impatient, wriggling out of yet another skin, I found myself sitting by the window to watch her. 

Every day I'd watch her sit. 

We sat together although she took no notice of me.

Fiscal matters, partisan politics, aging parents, litterbugs...none of this stuff was on her radar. 

She was nesting. 

Making ready for new life. 


It's been years since I adopted this small red bird as my official writing totem, my lucky charm.

A flash of red wings; I feel a charge: write. 

I bought a cardinal with my mother years ago. You can find these tiny birds in any floral shop. I didn't know that at the time. I remember holding it in my hand, so happy to have found it. 

Back home, I placed my bright red cardinal on the windowsill and wrote. That summer-into-fall was a prolific time. A full-length play flew out of me faster than I could get dialogue on paper.

It was a giddy time.

Mama hatched her chicks. Triplets. 

When I saw their necks reaching, mouths wide...

feed me feed me feed me feed me feed me

I thought, baby birds do not hold back.

A cardinal totem almost always reflects the need to assert the feminine aspects of creativity and intuition more strongly...They remind us that regardless of the time of day or year, we always have opportunity to renew our own vitality...

- from Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Minute You Feel

When the mind is quiet, the heart opens. A frantic mind keeps all the energy above the neck and keeps the heart closed. Sit quietly, breathe, and ask yourself how you REALLY feel. 

The minute you feel, your heart opens. 

- Chandra Alexander

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Screw Perfection

Yesterday's non-essay comforted me. 

Writing it, I relaxed. My scrunched shoulders drop. 

That old LET GO, LET GOD thing really works.

yes. yes. yes, I thought.

simple practice 
simple practice
simple practice


That is really good stuff. I stand by it.

But there's one more thing. You already know this.

It (you, your life, relationships) will still feel messy.

Occasionally tangled, utterly unclear.

There is no magic pill.

Last night I got the big tap on the shoulder -

Pssst, Betsy. You'll never do it perfectly. 

So, give yourself a break if ~ 

you're not the steady-practicing-non-judgemental-trusting-your-path-unflinching-love-in-your-heart person you aspire to be. Or you ate the chips, or stayed up too late, or don't quite know how to build the bridge back to a friend. Or can't get over missing your mother and know you will never have linen closets that touch the sheer order and perfection of hers. Fuggedaboutit.

Screw perfection. It's a distraction to living.
Do your work anyway.
Relax anyway.
Let go into ease anyway.
Trust anyway.
Enjoy the mess anyway.
Practice anyway.

LOVE anyway.

I'll never do it perfectly.

I'm doing it anyway.