Friday, September 30, 2011

When I Grow Up #4

When I Grow Up 

When I grow up my husband will be funny. 

I will have a horse. I will have two children. 
One will be a boy. One will be a girl. 
I will be rich and I will live in a castle.

By Ashley Kucsmas

...This Being Alive 
is taking the weekend off 
to think about children, 
funny husbands, horses, 
and life in a castle.

Peace be with you. xo b

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Like We Used To Wrap Babies

Most importantly be kind to yourself. 
Love yourself, wrap yourself up in a comforter:
Put it on the bed and lay at the corner of it and wrap your body in the comforter, like we used to wrap babies in their blankets, and allow yourself to feel the comfort of the blanket and to bask in it for awhile, and just breathe.

This was a tender note from my friend, Mary. It reminded me of swaddling my girls when they were babies. So, can grown-ups be swaddled? I'm imagining us wrapped up on our beds, cocooned in our comforters, breathing together...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Universe Has A Way

The universe has a way of putting together all the pieces that you cannot see. Do not interfere in forcing something to fruition. When you put in the right ingredients, the outcome is always good and manifests when the time is right.
-chandra alexander


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Astral Plane

Johnnie Collins, [my 85 year young mother-in-law], 

never seemed to care for talking on the phone. 

My arm's getting tired, she'd say...and ring off.

Something's shifted; she's calling more. It's delightful!

Last night we were talking about types of grapes, opening jars with her crooked hands, the state of the union, I have hope, Elizabeth, and something about Michael's brother's ex-wife. I was having a hard time keeping up until she landed in the astral plane. 

[cue her Tennessee/Southern California drawl]

"Elizabeth, I figure I'm going to have to spend some time in the astral plan. That's okay. Honestly, I don't really feel like being re-incarnated, but I have a feeling I probably will.


"Just as long as I can come back and do some good." 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Only Human

Up early, ahead of the alarm clock by an hour. 5 am? Aware of how I've been doing the what might have been dance, questioning myself about work choices, roads taken. It's monkey mind, not gentle or kind, not helpful in the least, but very human. 

I'm only human, Ann said, leaning against my car after yoga. She was eating an apple. The sky was part light, part dark. We were talking about our past lives, about things we did, our families, our lives as young girls and younger women. 

Some memories made us screw up our faces. 

Why did I do that? Why didn't I do that? 

This line of questioning is like walking around the same track over and over. You get the same results, come to the same conclusions. Your head hurts when you keep beating the what if/why drum.

The past is finito. 

Today is right now. As I type this, as you read this...


September 26

Just for today; 

Am I going to relive my past or create my present?

How much time do you spend thinking about what might have been? Right now make a commitment to focus on this day, this asana, this moment.

- Judith Hanson Lasater (A Year Of Living Your Yoga)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Only So Much

Claire walked in the door yesterday, after a full week 
of middle school, dropped her backpack on the floor, 

and said:

You can only cram so much into your head, Mom. 


[ This Being Alive will be resting tomorrow. Go gently.]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Opening Night

"Are you waiting for perfection?" Jerry said.

I'd been talking about a small collection of plays I've written, and other work I've been holding onto. Other work that need homes out in the world, beyond black binders and computer folders.

"Yea, probably," I said, "I tend to tinker." and hold on?

"Do you know the story about the director?

Before the curtain went up, he said to his cast...

We're not putting this show on because it's ready. 

We're putting it on because it's opening night!"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Are We Done Yet?

This morning I went to Elizabeth's pre-school to teach a yoga class to 15 four year olds. I arrived during snack time; goldfish, green grapes, juice boxes. 

Quick head count; 11 boys, 4 girls.

Bean? the teacher said, when I walked in. 
Bean is what Elizabeth calls me. instead of Grandma.
How about Miss Betsy, I said, since Bean belongs to Elizabeth.
Okay, they said.

I walked around the table saying hello to the kids.
I like that shirt, I said.
Do you like my shirt? a little girl asked.
Yes, I like your shirt too.

We walked down the hall to another room to do our yoga. As soon as I spread out my mat, Jacob said, I need to go to the bathroom. We sat, crossed our legs, crisscross applesauce, flapped our arms like wings and looked up at our hands. Palms together.

We were 

even with wild wind and storms; the mountain is steady.

Are we done yet? Jacob asked.

The teachers and I nodded at each other. 

Yes, that feels about right. We're done.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Little Weird

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."
- Dr. Seuss

Since I feel a little weird pretty much all the time... 

I found this comforting and sweet and true.  

A Wednesday gift for you, dear reader.

xo b

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Incessant Urge

I woke feeling rattled and weak. 
Middle age, middle school, Claire's math homework, rain?
"What's wrong with me, Michael?"
"Read your meditations, honey," he said.

September 20th.

Those areas of our lives we struggle with the most, such as impatience, control, energy, or procrastination, offer us opportunities for great victories. But even more, they offer greater learning, and the greatest chance for further growth and development when we relinquish our struggle. We can be certain that any activity attracting our involvement will provide chances to demonstrate both our positive qualities and our defects. Our human need to be rid of defects can hamper our progress, keeping us stuck in old behavior. But when we come to accept defects as normal, we can even capitalize on them...We need to remember that defects are generally assets that have become twisted with use. Therefore, we can understand their origin and smooth off the rough edges.

I read, aware of how I struggle to be rid of my defects...

If only I weren't so ______.

Then I'd__________. What?

all gently remind me that 

there is nothing wrong. really.

With me. Or you. 

We are whole and perfect. Rather than trying to scrub away parts of myself that I deem defective, maybe I'll try hanging out with all of me, and see how that feels. 

arms wide open, right?

My defects will offer me new learning today if I relinquish my incessant urge to be free of them.

[from Mom's meditation book: The Promise of a New Day]

Monday, September 19, 2011

Even For A Little While

I know it's Monday; the beginning of the week when most everyone is gearing up. But I'm thinking about what a friend said to me on Friday.

"Sometimes you need to treat yourself like a sick person. You know, allow yourself to do a little, then rest. Maybe sit in the sun. Have a cup of tea. Then do a little bit more. Then rest. Slow things way down. It helps to do that, even for a little while."

Yesterday I did some weeding in the scraggly garden and tossed the frisbee for Chewy. But for a good part of the afternoon, I stretched out in the lounge chair with eyes closed. When I felt the air cooling, I'd get up and pull the chair into another sun spot, then settle down again. No book, no journal, no nothing. 

Curled up in the sun...

Like my cat. 

Claire stacked the wood pile without being asked. Michael waved at me while he was tinkering on the lawn mower and said, Stay right where you are, honey. 

So I did.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

That Holds The Whole World

Take a very deep breath in
and a very slow breath out

Sit up very straight
Notice that as your spine lengthens,
your heart opens.

Now breathe into the space
of an open heart - feel into the
space of an open heart.

A heart that is empty, a heart
that holds the whole world.

Feel into a heart that 
can hold the whole world.

Breathe into the sweetness of this moment.
Allow yourself to be whole-heartedly
alive and well in the life you have, now.

-Rolf Gates

This Being Alive is going to slip away for a long weekend.

I'll be back on Monday...

With love and gratitude for your shiny selves.

 xo b

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tell A New One

"Print out your manuscript, let someone else read it."
"Good idea," I said.
"Then you can start a new story," she said.

We'd been talking about how we keep telling the same stories to ourselves and others. 

How we hold onto the same story. but it's MINE!!!

How it's really our call to let go and tell a new one

Maybe not latch onto any story. WHAT?!

But who would we be without our stories.

Old stories are so reliable, familiar, comfy.

So what if they skip like a broken record. 

this happened then this happened then this happened then this happened...

Just for today, I could tell myself a new story.

You could too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Don't Know About That

[another gem from the *When I Grow Up series...]

When I Grow Up  #4

When I grow up I will drive. I will not get married. I will have a house in the city. It will be in Bayonne or Charlotte. I will have a good life in Charlotte or Bayonne. I can stay out as long as my heart desires. I won't smoke. I might use a knife, I don't know about that. I might play for the Packers. I don't know maybe I will live longer than most people. I guess that I will go to Charlotte in a car but I will let Jordan drive. 

I will have a dog too.

By Mike Gallagher

Read: "A Life Of My Own"
           "And I Will Still Read To Myself"
           "When I Grow Up #3"

Monday, September 12, 2011

thank you

"To those who feel that they have no choice 

but to create, 

thank you."

-Seth Godin

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fallen Angels

Things to Think
Think in ways you’ve never thought before
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.
Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.
When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.
-Robert Bly

in memory of fallen angels 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Springing Up

"Everything you see has its roots in the unseen world. The forms may change, yet the essence remains the same. Every wonderful sight will vanish; every sweet word will fade, but do not be disheartened, The source they come from is eternal, growing, branching out, giving new life and new joy. Why do you weep? The source is within you and this whole world is springing up from it." 

- Rumi

Peace to you on this September Saturday ~

Friday, September 9, 2011

Queenie Is My Tadasana

They called me Queenie until I turned five, at which time I asked to be called, Betsy; our babysitter's name. 

What if her name had been Esther? 

Mom said it was like calling the dog.
"Dave, Rob, Queenie, Pete! Come on in for supper. Queenie! Out of the sandbox, honey." 

I know this: 

I was never treated like a dog. The only girl in a family of boys, I was cherished by my parents and brothers.

deeply loved, nurtured, protected. 

Well-fed. [see chunky thighs.]

In yoga I encourage my students to find your tadasana, your mountain pose, your steady stance. 

Breathe into standing on your own two feet. 

Gaze forward 
feet planted
no apologies for taking up space

Queenie is my tadasana. 

She is solid, rooted, facing forward. Nary a concern over the size of her thighs (although they did slim down over the years). She doesn't give a shit about thighs. The less clothes, the better. Hats, always. Stripes, nice. A mud-pie maker extraordinaire.

Queenie is well-rounded. 

Thoughtful, curious, happy near water. Loves to be hugged, held close, hair stroked. Laughs easily. Cries easily. Feels deeply. 

Always a thinker, wondering...

What happened to the cat's tail, Mommy? 

(It got slammed in the car door.)

Heart open, easily broken, always wide open.

I've always been fascinated with one's true nature? 
What makes a person that person and how much time we waste squeezing our true nature into tight, tiny places. Shoved to the back of the closet, silenced out of fear of not fitting in, conforming to a job, relationship, school, institution... etc. 

Honoring one's true nature is the path. 

Queenie's always known this. Betsy, on the other hand, has spent too much time waffling and worrying...

over things that never mattered to begin with...

Queenie is my true nature.

Today is Queenie's birthday. 
Betsy's Birthday. 
My birthday.

My wish:

Let Queenie, Betsy, me...

just be.

feet planted
steady gaze

Happy Birthday, Queenie.

Welcome home.

Here's to finding your tadasana...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Feeling And Fumbling

...for human beings are creatures of feeling and fumbling. 

           - from Mom's meditation book/ The Promise of a New Day

                             [toward the light?]

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When I Grow Up #3

When I Grow Up

When I grow up I want to be a teacher, a doctor, and a famous baseball player.

By Jimmy Schreffler

famous baseball player

ba-da bing.
ba-da bang.
ba-da boom.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monkeys Do That

"We have no power,"Claire said.

It was six am. Dark, rainy. A new day of middle school, after the restful Labor Day weekend. We lit candles. Michael made hot water on the camp stove for tea and coffee. Last week, we never lost power during the worst of Hurricane Irene. Miracles.

Then quietly, this morning, no power.

Well, no electricity. 

In twelve-step programs the very first step is admitting you are powerless over whatever monkey happens to be sitting on your back, maybe playing with your hair, searching for termites or other tasty bugs. Or maybe, it's shitting on your back.

Monkeys do that.

Most of us, whether we cop to having a particular addiction, have some kind of monkey we're carrying around. Maybe it's so small it can sleep in your purse. Or maybe it's more like a silverback; mitt-like gorilla hands wrapped around your neck, leathery gorilla feet dragging behind you as you try to move forward.

Saying, I'm powerless or we have no power, is a very brave thing to do. Even if, in the end, it's just a tree that took a wire down and Met-Ed fixes it, voila, the fridge kicks on and the toilets flush, 

~ remembering that space when you were sitting at the kitchen table with the candles burning and the thought landed, 

fingertip tap tap tapping on your heart,

I'm okay. 
We're okay. 
My my, puddin' pie

is a good thing...

Admitting, whenever you can muster the nerve, that you are out of power, that a whole lot of stuff is out of your hands is actually powerful...

It cracks you open. frees Curious George to stop messing with your hair and go back to the jungle where he was doing just fine before the Man with the Yellow Hat came along.

Monday, September 5, 2011

You Rest

labor = in the middle of birthing, there are pockets of time where you don't strain, or push, or pant. You lay very still, gathering your energy to bring forth the fruits of your labor. 

                  You rest.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More Than Ever

It's been a very long week. The toll from Hurricane Irene is deep and wide. Family in Vermont got slammed. Who knew that the Green Mountain State would be hit so hard by a coastal storm? Over 200 roads closed, people's homes washed away. Bridges out, river mud everywhere.

The two men in the canoe are paddling down Promised Road where my brother, Rob, lives by the Long Island Sound in Connecticut.

Friends in New Jersey, flooded, no power for days.

It's an understatement to say 

there's a lot of swirling energy

"I feel like I find my center, then get blown right off," I said to Michael.
"It reminds me of sailing, honey. You're steady, and then something blows you off course, sails flapping. Maybe you just need to nudge the rudder make a slight correction. You're okay."

After yoga yesterday, I was chatting with a friend about middle school, transitions, Dad's growing forgetfulness, my pocket of worries. 

"I woke up feeling so off this morning. So, I talked. And had a good cry with Michael holding my hand. My brother called. Jesse called. I heard from a new reader on This Being Alive. And now, yoga and you."
"Remember there are angels everywhere, "she said, "they show up right when you need them."

Last night, Michael and I drifted into a conversation about faith. Not in a religious way, he said.  

but Faith as in showing up even if you're unsure 
Faith as in not always getting it right, 
or things always going well, 
or even knowing much other than 
what you're doing matters. 

Faith as action...

As in, this being alive is as an act of faith ~

composing a new song
digging your neighbor's car out of the mud
having a baby
getting married
taking the new job
moving to a new place
calling your mother
asking for help
letting go and trusting

acts of faith ~

Maybe some days you ask yourself, 

The world's a madhouse...Does this even matter?


more than ever ~

*This Being Alive is taking a weekend break. Go gently. xo b

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can't Know It All

Claire came home yesterday slightly overwhelmed. 
She described one teacher as very intense.
"If you don't win, it's no fun!" he chanted, "Coming in second or third is not the same as coming in first!"

Whoa nelly! First day, remember?

Lunch turned out okay. Riding the bus too. We went for a you-made-it-through-the-first-day Italian ice when I picked her up,
not hiding behind a tree,  at the bus stop.

Day Two:

I woke even earlier than yesterday. 4 am? 
The alarm was set, but my inner clock was on high alert. 
What if we oversleep, miss the bus?

"I feel more nervous than yesterday,"Claire said.
Me too?

"I know, but you got through okay. You figured things out. You'll do the same today," I said. 
"But what if I make a mistake and get in trouble? What about...?"
"Honey, you are the least likely person I know to get in trouble. Everyone's new," I said, "The teachers must be open to questions, right? You can't know it all on the first try."
"And the schedule is so confusing, Mom. I mean, really."
"Ask a friend, Claire. When I was in school, I always asked friends who seemed to know what they were doing. And, Claire?"
“Yea, Mom?”
“Go easy on yourself. It’s just the first day.”

Encouraging my kid = encouraging myself.