Monday, December 29, 2014

Exhale The Goldfish

our christmas tree. 2014

Does this happen to you 

where you decide upon opening your eyes, to have a good day, a non-worry day, to practice acceptance and kindness towards yourself and others, especially others, like your partner, or maybe the family dog-

You get up early, make a cup of hot tea, pull out your journal. You even go so far as to roll out the green yoga mat on the rug and sit with eyes open, staring out into the back yard, morning sun drifting over everything. You do some down dogs, a pigeon, and slide back into child's pose and rest your forehead on the ground. 

Breathe - 

That's when you notice the one orange goldfish (as in Pepperidge Farm) swimming in a sea of dust under the television stand. You remember the Strategies for Acceptance podcast you listened to last night and inhale, everything is, exhale, as it should be ~

( you may need to do this multiple times to access your acceptance button)

You exhale the goldfish and go take a shower. So lovely until you step out and notice the puddle of water against the wall, on the outside of the shower. You wipe up water muttering, things are really breaking down around here. Fresh and clean you spot the old cat's litter box which you should've dealt with prior to showering. This brings up the question you've been wrestling with " Is it time to put my old boy to sleep?" since old boy is slowly failing in the bladder department. He's seventeen, for God's sake. You see him curled on the bed, sleeping like an angel cat and say, 

"Not today. I can't do it today."

Anyway, things are going like that and then you stop, just stop, and stand very still. You feel your feet on the ground and the breath in your body and then watch the rattling train of thoughts clattering around in your head go straight off the cliff, one car at a time - 

clatter clatter clatter

like in a cartoon

with Wile E. Coyote, 
stars and moons swirling 
around his head. 

xo b

Thursday, November 27, 2014

May We Remember This

Dear Ones,

I've been gone so long! Oh my. I miss you. 

A very busy girl, 

writing a book (woo hoo!)
tending to family, Dad, home, snowy driveways,
and myself?

just when it's time for this bear to go into hibernation. 

I shall return with a This Being Alive update, soon.

Offering up my mother's Thanksgiving prayer ~ oh how I miss her.

Thanksgiving Prayer

We come to this table today, 
humble and thankful and glad.
We are thankful first for the great miracle of life, 
for the exaltation of being human, for the capacity to love.
We are thankful 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.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Any Place Will Do

October 6. 2014

You can transform any situation by bombarding it with compassion. 
Make sure you include yourself, and you can always do this. 

- Martha Beck

While leaving to take Claire to the bus stop this morning, Jesse shouted down the stairs. 

Make it a great day! 

Claire in her low-key teenage voice said, Yea, best day of my life, um.
I chimed in, Well, you never know...
Claire said, Mom, I know.

Heading off to high school at 6:45 on a Monday morning is not the best day of your life, even if you're homecoming queen or valedictorian or a cheery member of the cheer squad. Claire's right. Um. Mom, trust me, I know. What struck me is how in our have the best day, live your best life, go go go culture, I can feel like a total slacker if I have just a good day. Or an okay day. If I sink to a low day, the slippery slope of autumnal sadness, feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, hell. That really worries me because that's a best day of my life I've screwed up, not taken advantage of, blown. 

That's crazy thinking. You can't blow a day.

The steady drum of anxiety pumping in the air that says, not good enough not good enough is hard to miss. If you're on the sensitive side, you may be walking around wondering why you haven't made the pumpkin walnut muffins this morning before work, (and after your thirty minute yoga practice).  Or checked your 401K portfolio to make sure you're on track for retirement because the commercial asks the question, Are you going to outlive your money? I don't even know how to answer that question. It makes me breathless and light-headed. 

Just for today, lie down for five minutes and breathe into your ordinary, good enough, beautiful, best messy life. I like stretching out in the road in front of my house, when the sun has heated up the concrete. (palms up, open to receive. ah.)

Bed, living room floor, your classroom, office. Or don't lie down. Sit in a chair, on a subway. You can be walking, jogging, food shopping, banking, having dental work ~ 

Any place will do.

bombard yourself with compassion. 

xo b

Sunday, September 21, 2014

More Of The World

September 21. 2014

It's been a stellar day.

I had the joy of leading a yoga/writing retreat early this morning. It's an irreverent group of women which is why I love them. We laugh a lot. One woman came up to me afterwards and said, I'm glad I took this. I thought we might be standing in tree pose and writing at the same time. I said, That might be fun. Might have to try it. At the end, I read this little ditty written by a second grader named Jason, from 1997.

It goes like this: (I am writing it the way he did)

When I grow up I want to be a travler Because I want to see more of the world and icsplore unkone placece that I never seen in my life. and read thigs I have never red before. But I will go see anchint things to. Then go check out museums then climb the steepest monten.

Really there's nothing else to say after that. Jason nailed it for me. 

Joy in what we do is not an added feature; it's a sign of deep health. - Mark Nepo

I thought about that, or rather felt it in my whole being this morning. I got to do my favorite things. 

downward dogs 
talking (can't shut a preacher's kid up)
telling stories 
telling jokes
listening to people read their stuff

I want this kind of work all the time.  Joyful work. And I want to be a travler. And I want to tell you how I read a memoir called A Year Without Sugar recently and then the very next day met my friend Jane for tea at Wegman's where I ate a carrot muffin + a sticky bun all in one sitting; clearly a defiant move on my part. These things happen. 

After the yoga Claire and I went to Starbucks to people watch. She was concerned about me bringing a blueberry muffin (that I'd taken from the retreat!) into Starbucks. What? I'm Scottish.

Is that too weird, I asked.
Well, maybe just a little odd.

I left the muffin wrapped in a napkin in my backpack. (I bought a carrot muffin inside.) 

At home, I moved ten wheelbarrow-fuls of old red bricks from one part of my yard to another. Who needs to join a gym Why not? I cleaned out more garden beds which is way cheaper than a therapist. Claire drove our old blue truck down to the lake in our little neighborhood and I jumped in the lake.

as in, go jump in a lake!

This was joyful too. Really joyful.

All to say, because I have a propensity for autumnal melancholy, I am doing what I can to wake up my joy self. It's easy to be Henny Penny running around my yard worried about all kinds of stuff; shooters on the loose, aging, the mortgage, what to eat for dinner.

Just for today I say, No Henny. Take a break. Breath.

Like Jason, I want to see more of the world and icsplore unkone placece that I never seen in my life. Even when I feel like a hot mess, or confused or uncertain - all that stuff, I am claiming this little quote that I found for my birthday mantra (that was a few weeks ago, yea! September) -

you are the laboratory and every day is an experiment.
go and find what is new and unexpected. 

- joel elkes

Love you, lovelies. 

pass this on.


xo b

Friday, September 5, 2014

Have Mercy

September 5. 2014

This little guy is on top of the world, taking the hawk's eye view of things. Or toad's eye.

My perspective is somewhat larger but in the scheme of things, not by much. I'm thinking about how we walk around holding tight to our view of things and how we fit into the world, when if you took a step right or left, forward or back, change happens. It'll change something. Most of us don't do that until something jars us, something wonderful or not so wonderful wakes us up.

I bumped into an acquaintance at the local Panera this morning. I had a meeting. She was on the fly to a Weight Watcher's meeting after having just weighed in earlier. This is how the conversation went:

How are you?
I just went to a Weight Watcher's meeting. I hate myself.
Don't say that.
I haven't weighed this much ever. I think I need a bagel. I hate myself.
Whoa! You hate yourself?

This lovely person was swirling in this Brutal Vision of herself. Warped? But it was a mirror moment because, like many humans, I have a brutal-meister who beats me up, down. If I'm off center, tired, uncertain, __________, if my perspective needs tweaking but I haven't taken the steps...

do the hokey-fucking pokey, but for God's sake turn yourself around!

it's a whipping post when the nasty voice kicks in.

We need each other...

To flip the switch, spin us around, tell a different story, help us see the world and ourselves from a different vantage point.  My bagel-hungry friend was beating the shit out of herself for a number on the scale.

If it's not the scale, it's our age, or income, or zipcode. Something.

I helped a little. She bought yogurt instead of the bagel. She said she was happy she ran into me. She said it was like talking somebody out of going into the liquor store. It's all the same stuff, people. But here's the thing: I was happy to run into her too. My voice(s) were rolling this morning.

have mercy on yourself I told her.

We hugged and said our goodbyes. She left with a yogurt. I left lifted by my own message.

It's a simple one, This Being Alivers. It just takes doing, again and again.

Do the hokey pokey, turn yourself around.
Find a new way to look at yourself, an issue, a worry.
Look someone else in the eye and say, have mercy on yourself.

then take some for yourself too, amen.

xo b

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Never Out Of Mind

August 26. 2014

I'm thinking, no matter what I post today all that matters is that I write something because the last time I was here was back in July and ever since I've wandered off from This Being Alive

out of sight but never out of mind, lovelies.

It's been a good wandering. 

Barcelona for my summer writing program; 

a baptism of 
map reading
new friends
the trill of Spanish in my ears
hands in the air

I fell in love. big big time.

I had the joy of teaching my Scratching on Paper writing workshop to the fabulous Upward Bound students of East Stroudsburg University. Shout out!

did yoga too.


Draped snakes around our necks? 

why? why?

I feel an urgency to play catch up, to connect, to let you know I'm still here. I've felt odd and cranky, like knowing you need to call a good friend but for some reason can't pick up the phone. You want to talk but feel full up? 

This summer, I've been deep into being alive.

what a concept! To live rather than think about it. hmmmm

Instead of taking time to be the recorder of my experiences, like blogging, other than my never-ending scribbles in notebooks, I've been on a quest to enjoy them. I've had outbursts of God, I am so happy right now. This has happened repeatedly, especially in Barcelona. (I've got my apartment picked out!)

I love

feeling it 
saying it 
sharing it.

Try it: I'm so happy.

When I feel those weird autumnal pangs and the familiar melancholy sweeping over me, it's starting, I'm going to remember and repeat my summer mantra until it washes over me, like the sun through the stained glass at Sagria Familia.

I am so happy
I am so happy


Monday, July 7, 2014

Sky From My Window

sky from my window ~

Barcelona 2014

On June 23rd, I moved Dad into a Memory Care Unit. That particular day, he didn't smell so good. Rather than wait for help 

a problem of mine

I gave him a shower. 

"Should I strip down?" he asked.
"Yes, Dad."

He stripped down, used his walker and wobbled into the shower. I soaped his head and back. He took care of the rest. 


Three days later I was on a plane to Barcelona for a second summer of writing workshops, craft seminars, severe jet lag. weeks. This is a dream. Si?

I've had problems accessing my computer and email which is both frustrating and a relief? I may not get back here again? [my computer] Even now as I write this, it's taking very long to load my photos. I have a class to attend in twenty minutes. 

For now I can say this:

I love:

mucho dogs here walking without leashes
old women in shirt dresses.
tiny streets and wide avenues
beautiful women (+ men)
incredible sinks in el bano
a railing to hang my drying panties on

This list says nada of the mountains and valleys of feelings. 

This Being Alive is sitting by a window looking out on the green park. It is raining. The first time since I've been here. It is almost two o'clock and I have not had a cerveza. This is good. Maybe because the rain has cooled things off. Or the tea is just as good.

I miss my family; the girls, the dog, cats, my garden.
My husband, Michael, working in Los Angeles. 
Our family life is a fluid thing, 
This is what we say.  

We are fluid. 

I'll say this before I run to class ~

It's never too late to do something new, to find an open door, a kind of freedom. I've danced all my life with my need for this freedom, the balance of motherhood, family, responsibilities,

showering old dad?

wanting to walk streets I don't know, 

all my myself. 

besos y abrazos,

xo b

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nice Turn Of Events

Butterfly by Krista

May 18. 2014

Maybe it's spring. The way it bursts out of the gate, first the snowbells coming up in the snow, then, I don't know, purple crocus tucked by the rock in the backyard, magnolia teacup, the blaze of the forsythia, crazy yellow. Next thing I know the irises are waving their tall and slender selves, the apple tree blooms + turns flush with green leaves. The yard where I walked up to my thighs in snow all winter is freshly mowed. 

Maybe it's that Michael came home from Los Angeles for a couple of weeks and life felt a little more normal, or a little less lopsided. Having your husband working on the opposite coast is challenging, especially through the hardest winter I can recall. 

But west and east
point b and point a
it's how we fell in love in the first place. 

~ that's a good story

Maybe I'm noticing more moments of gladness after what feels like years of a thrumming worry running through me/ not that I was always worried. But you know the underground stream.

Not that it has disappeared, it's in my fat cells. 

It's about allowing the gladness.

like it's possible that it can be a natural state of being.

Like wearing really red boots, I don't have any but still..., or hearing the Happy Song on the radio when you pull in the driveway and you start dancing with your kid until the whole song is done, or smothering a graham cracker with peanut butter and sliding a piece of chocolate on top followed by eating, or the first grader who comes up and says in a very sincere voice - 

Ms. Jackson, I love you. we'd just met that day!

Or the other sincere first grader who shared that she had repeated first grade but wasn't quite sure she was ready to go to second. 

I knew exactly what the kid was talking about. 

Why leave, I like it here!

you got to flow with the river, kid.

I don't have to be fretful. Nothing personal, Henny. 

I can sweep my barnyard without watching the sky.

I can sweep and walk and sleep and love + dance and be awake in the middle of the night and miss my guy and wonder about Dad and hang with six year olds or my John Deere and still,

be filled with a kind of gladness instead.

It's feels like a nice turn of events. 

namaste, lovelies.

xo b