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. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bring Your Heart Back

Bring yourself back to the point quite gently. And even if you do nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back a thousand times, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be well employed.

- St. Francis De Sales (from On Meditation)

I am still marveling at the blooming flowers I sniffed and photographed over the Thanksgiving holiday, and thankful beyond words, for the soft air and sun of the past few days. And for the Chunky bar Michael brought me home from the easy way to my heart which goes away and needs to be brought back a thousand times an hour. 

Go gently on your own dear heart, even when it wanders.

xo b

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweeter Than The Black Friday Massacre

"This friend of mine thought her living room ceiling had a leak. Water was dripping down and she couldn't figure out from where. But then she discovered that it wasn't water, it was honey!"Nan said.

Nan is my sister-in-law's mother.

"Yes, honey."
"So they hung plastic around the space, cut a hole in the ceiling, and pulled out an enormous bee hive. The bee guy took the queen and about 86, 000 worker bees..."
"86, 000? How did they figure that..."
"Oh, I guess from the size of the hive. I don't really know."
"That is quite a tale."
"The perfect part is they gave everyone jars of home-made honey for the holidays that year," Nan said.
"Perfect gift." I said.

I love honey. hint hint

This honey tale is way sweeter than today's headlines covering what I refer to as The Annual Black Friday Massacre. A thousand people in line at a Best Buya grandfather getting thrown to the ground by a security person as he tried to save his grandson from getting trampled, pepper spraying sprees at Wal-Marts, people being hospitalized over the new XBox 360.

God Bless America?

Meanwhile, in the waterfront town of Port Washington, NY, where my younger brother lives, we ambled in the sunshine sticking our noses in glorious roses still in bloom. 

~ God bless Mother Nature and this sweet beautiful old earth.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

May We Remember This

Thanksgiving Prayer
We come to this table today, 
O Lord, humble and thankful and glad.
We thank Thee first for the great miracle of life, 
for the exaltation of being human, 
for the capacity to love.
We thank Thee for joys both great and simple-
For wonder,dreams and hope;
For the newness of each day;
For laughter and song and a merry heart;
For compassion waiting within to be kindled;
For the forbearance of friends and the smile of a stranger;
For the arching of the earth and trees and heavens and the fruit of all three;
For the wisdom of the old;
For the courage of the young;
For the promise of the child;
For the strength that comes when needed;
For this family united here today.
Of those to whom much is given, much is required.  
May we and our children remember this.

My mother shared this Thanksgiving prayer with us many years ago and I've read it at the table ever since, always choking on the second to the last line. Of those to whom much is given, much is required; 

This describes my mother in a nutshell. It was her mantra.

The last Thanksgiving my family was together, with both my mother and father, (who had divorced in my teen years), was ten years ago. Mom died three weeks later. 

Holidays are bittersweet; we miss loved ones who are no longer with us, Mom. Aunt Nip. David Ross. Uncle Ken. Cousin Derek. Meri. Scar. Nell. Aunt Dois. Rip. many more. 

For some, it's difficult to be with the ones who are still here. Open your heart to those people especially...

I wrote yesterday, judge nothing. Try it for a minute at a time.

Give thanks for all of it. 

Be glad for the newness of today.

xo b

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Judge Nothing

I confess to feeling off my blogging game after being out of town for a few days and Thanksgiving upon us. 

It matters that I show up. 
It matters that I share something worth reading:
a story
a poem
a quote
a photo

I'm working on taking things lighter, as advised by Virginia, wise and charming 93 year old who lives out at Mrs. Bush's Personal Care Home where Dad resides.

Take things lightly, she told me.

I've been practicing this two word mantra to help me along...

judge nothing.
judge nothing.

I read this somewhere recently; it stuck.  

Whisper it as you examine your face in the mirror, judge nothingor when you're stuck in traffic, judge nothing, or at the market behind the woman with the overstuffed shopping cart, judge nothing

Whisper it tomorrow over turkey, or tofu

Whisper it with family and friends

Whisper it to yourself

judge nothing judge nothing judge nothing 

It's harder than you might think but it's a gift to practice.

It's a freedom piece, a space-maker, a portal.

judge nothing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Such Places

We give thanks for places of simplicity and peace.
May we find such places in ourselves.
We give thanks for places of refuge and beauty.
May we find such places in ourselves.
We give thanks for places of acceptance and belonging.
May we find such places in ourselves.
May we begin to mend the outer world.
According to the truth of our inner life.
~ Angeles Arrien

a rainy Tuesday night, fire in the hearth, home...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Blur

On Wednesday I wrote about kicking the day off with a poke in the eye. Claire's eye. 

After that, it's a blur. 

On Thursday I met a first grader with a long braid down her back, wearing a Little House On The Prairie dress.

"What's your name, sweetie?"
"Mabel," she said.

On Friday I met a second grader with a mop of curly hair.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"Lazarus," he said.
He showed me his home-made book about sharks and told me that he doesn't care for the playground because it's dirty.
"It has dirt on it," he said. "I don't like dirt."


So, for two days, I fell off the This Being Alive map. 
I tried to write something last night but by nine o'clock I gave up. I had nothing to offer.

Thanks to the generousity of our friend, Dan, Claire and I are taking a road trip to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. I know very little about this except it's a big complex with music, lights and snow ? and way too many people for me. I'm more of a fifty-seater black box theater kind of girl but I'm thinking, adventureAfter, we'll toddle on to Pearly's house, dear friend, for a girl's get-away. 

I still can't locate my cell phone after two weeks now? I'd borrowed Claire's, then misplaced it, now found, so I'm praying I don't end up in Maryland, rather than Philly. The good news is, I have a penchant for maps, no gps in my car, so we'll be just fine. 

Claire said, "I like doing things the old-fashioned way, Mom. We have an atlas, right?"

Atta girl.

Go gently into your weekend, dear reader.
I'll report back after the weekend...
xo b

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Poke In The Eye

"Do you know you poked me in the eye when you woke me up this morning?" Claire said.
"With your fingernail."
"Wow, I am so sorry about that."
"I had my hand over my eye like this," hand over eye like eye-patch,"the whole time I was in the shower."
"A poke in the eye is a crazy way to start the day."
"I'll live."
"Still. Ouch."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gentle On The Mental

forgive yourself for not feeling peaceful.

-Eckhart Tolle

This line made me laugh out loud... 

with relief?

Gentle on the mental, Dad likes to say.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Surrounded By Angels

I love to write because I love words. Words are beautiful and complex. And sometimes so simple. Writing is a form of art. It allows me to be creative. It soothes me. Writing things down just takes more things off my shoulders. Be they things on my list of things to do or worries, feelings. Writing simplifies, clarifies emotions, makes them more manageable. It allows me to take a step back and think better and ultimately find solutions more easily.

Sometimes I write just because I take pleasure in stringing a bunch of words together. I can create, paint with words and show others things that are in me or share with them things that I've seen.

Words are powerful. Sometimes writing them down makes me more aware of what words populate my mind. Then I can make adjustments as needed. Spoken words have there power but written words are even more powerful.

- Elsa Ordoukhanian

I met Elsa one evening in late October. She was staying at the spa where I was teaching yoga and leading a weekly evening of writing. The writing group consisted of me and Elsa. Initially I thought, this will be weird. Only one person? What will the two of us write about and do for an hour? 

But it wasn't weird. At all.

We started writing about writing and then moved onto other things, reading aloud to each other, listening. Elsa spoke about gratitude, how grateful she was to be away from her work as a doctor in the city, to have time for herself. 

I'm just so grateful for this time, for the people I've met, for this writing. I believe, she said softly, that we are surrounded by angels. Even when you feel full of despair, you are never alone. 

Her English was tinged with the loveliest lilt of accents; French, Romanian, Iranian. Elsa speaks 5 languages.

We sat talking past the hour, chatting about our lives as if we'd been friends since childhood. 

Women do that.

On Saturday, I received a beautiful letter from Elsa thanking me for our time together. She included a copy of her piece about writing because I had liked it so much. 

Writing soothes. 
And takes things off your shoulders.
And connects you with others.


We are surrounded...

Thank you, Elsa.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Grow Somewhere Else

I am a leaf and I see a big sun.
I see a leaf next to a small cat.
I love the sky.
I love the blue water.
When someone picks me up,
I grow somewhere else.

By Jared (3 gr.)

This Being Alive fell off the radar yesterday after another day in the classroom, subbing this time for 2nd graders, my old stomping grounds. But here I am, early Saturday morning, re-reading this poem by Jared, a 3rd grader I met on Wednesday. 

I woke thinking about my own life, surprise surprise, about where else I might grow or how do I want to grow, and how lately my growing feels tinged with pain...growing pains.  Like when my brother, Rob, as a teenager, was always snapping his arms open and closed, hands held together and snap snap, because his arms bothered him. 

He had growing pains. 

I grow somewhere else. 

Something about that line strikes a chord. I'm not sure. But I like the line. I love the whole poem. And I love how Jared states things so simply, so clearly. 

Then there's this: bloom where you are.


May you have a most beautiful day, blooming/growing.
I'll be back Monday.
Peace be with you.

xo b

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Calling Out

Up early in the morning light to take Claire to the bus. There's more laughing now that we're not sitting in the pitch black in anticipation of the flashing lights coming down the road. 

The light eases things.

Home to find Chewy, big-eared dog, waiting for me, tail wagging. Leash on and out the back door to the road, Truman, that bumps up to the edge of our backyard. 

The neighborhood black cat, two glossy crows, and a four-point buck are all standing in the middle of the road ahead of us. Chewy and I stop, his bat-like ears on high alert. Crows lifts off to higher ground. Buck strolls away. Black cat moves to the grass to sit and watch us. A yellow leaf tumbles. Chewy strains on his leash.

Something about this one cat makes him cuckoo.

I could turn back to avoid black cat 
and Chewy's pulling, 
but the air is so delicious, 
so soft, 

a cool hand on my cheek.

I breathe. 

Stay here.
Right here. 

I am usually not here. Most often I'm digging through the past, or keeping my eye on the future, in the false belief that there I will find salvation there. 

I think...

There everything will be well.  And I will be fine(r).

But what about right here, with myself, just as I am. 

Middle-aged woman, on a quest for...

What? Who? Where? Which way?

 A magic box? 
 A secret scroll?
 The perfect fit?
 The fountain of youth?
 A perfect path?
*The answer to life's persistent questions? 

Nothing needs to change for me to be okay right now.

A caucus of crows 
sit on bare branches 
above my head

Calling out.

*courtesy of Garrison Keillor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Spent the day in substitute-teacher land: 3rd grade.

It took awhile to crack the code of this lesson plan entry...

TSWBAT improve ORF by at least 2 wcpm by the following RTI cycle. What?

There was no code-cracking. I had to ask Miss Pino across the hall. But only about TSWBAT. I didn't want to completely blow my cover as clueless. 

Back in the day, my lesson plans were hand-written: 

read Henry And Mudge by Cynthia Rylant
discuss the characters and other things we liked (or didn't)
write and illustrate our own stories about dogs (or ?) 

I'd add a few colorful doodles in the squares across each day of the week just to pretty it up. We didn't use codes. I wish I hadn't thrown all those beautiful books away. They'd be museum pieces now. 

I feel ever so dinosaur-ish.

The good news: kids still give good hugs ~ 

TSWBAT = The Student Will Be Able To... 

or maybe = The Sub Will BAble Tmake it through the day?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shifts Happen

Some days it helps to change things up. In order for an internal shift to happen, an external shift is called for.

Wrap a scarf around head, *turban-style, don your kid's plastic glasses sans lenses...with a touch of video tape-tape tied in a bow over your nose and voila!

*Good medicine for  MONKEY-MIND...

Or, maybe a black wig is whispering your name, shades of Cher, minus the multiple plastic surgeries and the daughter, Chastity who turned into Chaz, a son the size of a New York Giants linebacker. 

Sorry, Chaz.

Honestly, most days I take this whole shooting match 
way too seriously!  

External to internal.
Internal to external.

Either way, shifts happen.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Move On To Joy

November 4

Move On to Joy

Are you willing to be here in constant, abject pain one minute longer? I'm not. Are you willing to be here suffering endlessly and needlessly through distressing situations - worrying, fussing, fretting about things you can do nothing about? I'm not. And we don't have to be.

We're here to feel joy and absorb all of life's beauty we can. If pain comes, let it pass quickly through. Then move on to joy.

It's a conscious choice.

-Melody Beattie 

Thus ends today's reading. 
A helpful one for this recovering worrier...
Passing it on to you, dear readers.
Peace be with you. And JOY too!
I'll be back on Monday.
xo b

Thursday, November 3, 2011

When I Grow Up #6

When I Grow Up

When I grow up I will go to college and learn what I have to do. Then I will get a house in New Jersey and in Florida. I'll get married to a nice guy and travel places. I'll have a child that will grow up like I did. I can make whatever I want and if the lights went off I can touch it myself. I won't have to go to school anymore because I learned what I had to learn in the summer. I'll make a fire myself and I'll drive a car all by myself. Like when I was little I couldn't drive because I was too small. Maybe I'll learn more languages. I can go to Africa, Europe, Asia, Russia, China, Jordan. I could use a stove all by myself and I can help people build my house and on holidays I could drink alcohol. I could go down bad steps. I cannot wait to grow up.

By Danielle Palardy (2nd grade)

~ another gem from the When I Grow Up series.

    ...from my past life as a second grade teacher.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's The Only Way

I dropped Dad off at Mrs. Bush's Personal Care home this morning after a sleep-over at our house. Walking into his sunny room I immediately see LOVE DEATH! on a bright yellow post-it note stuck to his mirror. 

Underneath he'd drawn a Cupid's heart with an arrow. 

"I'll walk you out," Dad said.

We strolled down the hall to the door. I spotted Jenny (jigsaw puzzle expert) in the small salon, Lily's Cut-n-Curl, getting her hair rolled up in curlers. We waved to each other. Then, Virginia came out of her room, leaning on a cane. Virginia is short and round with a full head of white wavy hair. (And ninety-three.) Claire and I had met her and her best friend, Dorothy, a couple of weeks earlier.

"Good morning, Virginia,"I said.
"Well, good morning," she said, taking my hand, "I'm out for my morning walk."
"You remember my daughter," Dad said, as he continued ambling towards the door.
"My daughter Claire was very taken with you and Dorothy the last time we were here," I told her, "We spoke about you on our drive home, how light-hearted the two of you seemed, laughing and smiling."
"We try to take things lightly,"Virginia said.
"You're my angel for today, Virginia, because I have to admit I don't always fare well with that."
"Oh no, sweetheart," she said, squeezing my hand.
"You must try to take things lightly. It's the only way."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Personal Guru

Today, on this first of November, 

I stumbled on a question from a book called *Listening To Depression (How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life). 

It's okay, keep reading, even if you're thinking...

Gee whiz, Betsy, must you go there

and isn't it All Saint's Day?  Is that a happy holiday?

And it's Penny's birthday, artist-extraordinaire, painter of color and light and one of the sunniest, if not, saintliest, people I know. 

Happy Birthday, Penny! (google Penny Ross)

I could write about Penny and some of my favorite saints who's the one for lost things? while tallying up all the Kit-Kat bars I ate last night. 

But depression is so mysterious and goes well with chocolate...  

Listening to Depression has a beautiful take on the 

voice of depression. 

Or voices. Is there a committee camping out in your head?

It speaks to looking at all the things we dub negative, like mistakes, feelings of failure, grief, uncertainty, and spinning them around to see them as gifts and doorways to new ways of being & doing. 

I like gifts and doorways.

pg. 133 -

Ask yourself, "If the events of my life are meant to be my personal guru, what message is my guru giving me about the direction I should take at this point in my life?"

I'm cozying up with one teeny Kit Kat bar, and a chaser of Tension Tamer tea (is it okay to mix those?) to have a chat with my personal guru to see what's up...see where my compass is pointing ~

What's your personal guru telling you today?

* Written by Lara Honos-Webb, PH.D