Friday, December 27, 2013

A Cloud Of White

December 27. 2013

This dogwood doesn't look like much upon first glance; fallen to one side, tipped on its elbow in that awkward way. Somebody else might think it best to cut it up and plant a tree that stands up. In a yard full of magnificent trees, white pin oaks, towering pines, a Japanese maple, I love this tree. 

For now, it is resting

[There's always more going on than meets the eye.]

Come spring, it will break open into 

a cloud of white blossoms

note to self: trust your own timing

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Outbursts Of Praise

Oh, My God! 

Not only in church
and nightly by their bedsides
do young girls pray these days.

Wherever they go,
prayer is woven into their talk
like a bright thread of awe.

Even at the pedestrian mall
outbursts of praise
spring unbidden from their glossy lips.

- Billy Collins

Merry Christmas, This Being Alivers! 

A Christmas poem.
A resting Santa.
Let's have some outbursts of praise today!

...just because. 

xo b

Saturday, December 21, 2013

This Is Bullshit + Other Random Tales

December 21. 2013

A few thoughts on this solstice day ~


Have you ever gotten toothpaste in your eye?

It really stings. 


At a holiday cookie exchange there was talk about older parents and people's last words. One woman said her father had a pretty good one upon reading about the death of his baby sister in the obituaries. He read the obit, then said...

this is bullshit. 

The next day he curled up to sleep and died. 

Another final blurt by someone was...

i need sugar! true story

...more on that one later.


I made Mom this little pack of pear cards. When she died I took them and have carried them around with me ever since. Today I sat quietly, everyone was out! and asked -

Any thoughts for today, Mom? 

After shuffling my pears, this came up.

Mom's last words to me - i love you madly 

xo b

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Sun To Our Family

Mom loved

a good porch sit
getting her hands in the garden
her family
a good cup of coffee
her church community
a comfortable pair of shoes
her friends = just like a comfortable pair of shoes!
honeydew melon
the color purple
reading her meditations to me over a cup of tea
African violets
New York City
helping people
the ocean
a good laugh

forever grateful 
for the love of my mother, 
the Sun to our family.

in loving memory

Dorothy Southam Jackson
July 7, 1926 - December 19, 2001

Monday, December 16, 2013

Let Your Deeper Self

December 16. 2013

If you come to a fork in the road, 

take it. 

- Yogi Berra

...We are beautifully limited creatures, capable of great moments of full living, but we can't have it all or experience it all. We can only, paradoxically, experience all there is by giving ourselves completely and humbly to the small path we are drawn to.

* Center yourself and consider a decision you are facing.

* Breathe slowly, and try each path on once, no more.

* Return to your day and try not to replay your choices. Simply let your deeper self tend to these things for you.

- From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

~ A Monday practice...xo b

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snowstorm Erotica

December 14. 2013


The girls are working on the annual Gingerbread houses. It's good to have traditionsI was reading this in one of my meditation books. Ritual, traditions help keep us grounded as humans. They are things we can lean into when life feels odd and complicated.

Everything is changing all the time. 
To resist change causes suffering. Going through this fall with Michael in LA, with Jesse and her chemo and surgery, with my feelings of inadequacy over work, and worry over depressed loved ones,...on and on. There has been a softening that has come over me this week especially, seeing Jesse so vulnerable, always my teacher. 

She said, "Mom, I think you're finally coming around to my way of thinking."
"Which is?"
"You can't worry about the small stuff. Letting go of things out of your control is the best way. You seem to be doing better with this."

This while I was emptying out her chest drains.


Claire and I were out driving in the snow.
"Funny," I said, "how the weather people are naming snow storms."
"Yea, what's this one, Mom? Snowstorm Erotica?"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

She's A Fighter

December 10. 2013

Leaving Jesse sleeping in a hospital bed, post-surgery, was really hard. That is an understatement if I ever wrote one. Walking into the dark cold parking lot after a day of waiting and wondering broke me. Claire held me in the car. 

(God! I have great kids.) 

It had been a very long day for everyone. 

Jesse made it through like a champion.

Claire and I were wrung out.

Too much to wrap my mind around, Claire said.


This morning I get an email from Jesse with a link to her Pinterest account; a site that has uplifting and inspiring quotes + lots of fun crafty ideas like making celery look appealing. Jess pins me with quotes to nudge me or slap me to wakefulness and the joy of life. 

The other day was:


This morning I woke at five, 

Oh God, how's Jesse? I need to call the hospital.

At 5:23 she sent me a quote for today:


Jesse is a fighter, a lover of life.

As you are, dear This Being Alive lovelies.

Writing in the dark, knowing you are out there waking to a new day, drinking your coffee, walking the dog, or snuggling up to someone you love, or even having a good cry, is a comfort. 

We are pretty fucking awesome. 
Let's keep this shit up.

xo b

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Ordinary Things

December 9. 2013

Elizabeth said, "I think all the trees are ugly."

Nobody took the bait. We wandered around the used car lot of Christmas trees, looking for the right one to bring home. 

The air was sharp and cold, head-clearing air. 

Claire and I fell in love with this odd duck. Its sweet awkwardness called to us. We moved on, knowing we could easily spot it again if need be. With that trunk?

Anyway, it was all so easy. I'm not sure why but in the past, Michael and I have argued at the Christmas tree farm, once over the behavior of Chewy, our new dog, and the other times? Maybe out of habit? Weird, I know. Let's get a tree and argue, honey.

But it was just us girls this year and it felt so easy.

How about this one?

I like it
I like it
I like it
Me too.

Jesse's surgery is tomorrow. We won't know until between five and eight pm tonight what time it will be. I've had a steady thrumming in my chest for days, a mother's nervousness over any harm coming to her child. This one is not in my hands. Dammit! 

There is so much out of my hands. how can this be?

I learned this yesterday. Again.

We gotta keep doing 

the ordinary things 

when faced with hard things. 

Especially when faced with hard things. 

Take a ride in the big blue truck.
Get a tree.
Play Christmas music.
Decorate the tree
Make a fire.
Go out in the snow in the dark night.

As Mom used to say, don't be afraid to be happy.

xo b

Sunday, December 8, 2013


December 8. 2013

I have people in my life who still write cards and letters via snail mail. This is one of the most beautiful ways to connect with someone. 

My husband and I fell in love through letters.

Taking the time to sit and compose thoughts onto paper, rather than an I-phone, this matters. Putting a beautiful stamp and sending it off from the mailbox with the red flag up is as lovely for the sender as the recipient.

My brother, Rob, sends postcards. They're short and to the point. They come into my hand and land on my heart. 



Cast All Your Votes for Dancing. I know the call of depression still calls to you. I know those habits that can ruin your life still send their invitations. But you are with the Friend now and look so much stronger. You can stay that way and even bloom! Keep squeezing the drops of the Sun from your prayers and your work and music and from your companions beautiful laughter.

Fret not about getting your Christmas cards out. Get a blank postcard or piece of paper and write to someone you love. 

Draw a picture if you can't find the words...

Send a Ping

* poem by Hafiz

Saturday, December 7, 2013

You Become Drunk Again

December 7. 2013

On Wednesday I was a substitute teacher in a kindergarten class. After taking our too brief time outside for recess, running around in the fresh air and drawing with chalk, a boy named Vincent came up to me, put his arms around my waist and said,

Ms. Jackson, I love you. 

Later I was telling Claire about Vincent's hug.

She thought for a moment, then said:

"It's like when you're little like that, you're drunk. As you get older, you get sober, serious. Then, kinda like Pop Pop, when you're old, you become drunk again."

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Very Nice Thing To Do

December 6. 2013

This morning, before my cup of tea, possibly before my morning pee, I ate a piece of chocolate which had been hidden 

(yes, it was supposed to be for Claire)

in my closet. 

It melted slowly in my mouth. 

It was a savoring, melting meditation.

I believe it was actually calling my name. 

This isn't the point. 

The point is that it was a very nice thing to do. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

In The Yielding

December 5. 2013

Although I practice daily, 

I suck at yielding to the present moment.

Either hanging in the past:

why did I do that?

why didn't I do that?

what the hell was I thinking?

did I really sleep with that guy back in 1975?

The list of questions and replays are long and looping. 

It's a pointless practice, to say the least.

Then there's my foolish attempts to control the future: 

thinking thinking figuring figuring

if I do this, then that will happen.

if this happens, then I'll be _____________ 

(safe, happy, rich, a successfully published writer...)

if I can just figure out this puzzle then POOF, problems solved.

Up at midnight last night, I finally yielded with a good, old-fashioned weep on the phone with Michael. Michael is presently working in Los Angeles and far away from our little family. This is a whole other story of work and marriage and how more families are having to figure things out creatively. 

This is not the standard text-book way. 

But it's a way, until WAY opens to something else.

The yield came in picking up the phone and crying to my husband that I am tired of being strong. That my unyielding is making my body feel squeezed. That somehow, if I could muscle up, I'd save my kid from this cancer experience, and the other one from middle-school hell, or fill in the blanks of Dad's memory, or find work I love that pays/ But this pushing the boulder up the mountain practice is futile. You will get crushed. Better to yield, better to step aside and watch the boulder of 

fantasies of controlling outcomes

tumble and fall.

Not easy if you are a fighter, a muscle-er. 

Try it anyway.

Peace comes 
in the yielding.

xo b

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A String Of Such Moments

December 4. 2013

A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.

- Christopher K. Germer

rest + a little bit of stillness = self-compassion

xo b

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

To Tip Ourselves Over

December 3. 2013

We are cups
Constantly and quietly being filled
The trick is knowing
How to tip ourselves over
And let the Beautiful Stuff out

- Ray Bradbury

Monday, December 2, 2013

Get Your Jolly On ~

December 2. 2013

This season, we are doing the 25 days of Christmas, thanks to my very holly, jolly daughter, Jesse. Even with her surgery looming (that's how it feels to me, looming), she has brought the spirit of this season fully into our home. 

Mom, you need to get your jolly on, she said.

That was putting it nicely.

In the spirit of getting my jolly on I am offering up something each day for my beloved This Being Alivers. It may be a pic, a quote, a rant, but I'm showing up daily this month.

Show up. Offer. Let go. 

Yesterday while picking up sticks, chop wood carry water, I saw this set of antlers poking up from the ground under the apple tree. Holding its smoothness in my hand, 

rush of 

mystery + calmness + peace 

swept through me. 

I felt my heart lift.  You know what I'm talking about.

a sign

In my copy of Animal Speak by Ted Andrews is a long piece about the special qualities and characteristics of deer.  How Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table, followed a white hart deep into the woods through many adventurous encounters, how Buddha is often pictured with a deer, representing innocence and a return to the wilderness. 

But it was this paragraph that settled me into softness.

When deer show up in your life it is time to be gentle with yourself and others. A new innocence and freshness is about to be awakened or born. There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures. Ask yourself important questions: Are you trying to force things? Are others? Are you being too critical and uncaring of yourself? When deer show up there is an opportunity to express gentle love that will open new doors to adventure for you.

-  from Animal Speak

Here's to gentle jolly + love ~

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Comfort Of Stillness

photo by Dave Jackson

December 1. 2013

The still mind of the sage is a mirror of heaven and earth - the glass of all things.

- Chuang Tzu

In our own personal stillness, we find the solutions to the challenges facing us. We need to be willing to be quiet and turn our attention inward. No information we need eludes us for long when we dwell in the stillness.

Our opportunities for growth are hidden within the challenges that attract our attention. We need these if we are to contribute to the world. No challenge is beyond our capabilities or relative ease if we have sought the comfort of stillness.

I'll have the answers I need, when I need them, If I turn within for them.

from Mom's Meditation Book

Thursday, November 28, 2013

As Close As Our Breath

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Prayer

We come to this table today, 
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.


This prayer came to me from my mother many years ago. I read it aloud every year, always choking up at the end. There is something about the wisdom of the old, the promise of the child, the strength that comes when needed. Something about offering up thanks and remembering that we are all in this together. A prayer of thanks can be spoken, whispered, chanted, danced, written on the back of your grocery list every day of the year. To embrace every day with thanks-giving, even with rice cookers flying, or cancer, or loved ones no longer with us, yet are as close as our breath, this is a worthy path to walk.

b xo