Monday, December 28, 2015

You Are The Boat

December 28. 2015

Today's meditation from The Book of Awakening (by Mark Nepo) is about Integrity. 

 Integrity is the ability to listen to a place inside 
oneself that doesn't change, even though the life that carries it may change.

- Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man

Follows is a story about a troubled man who, exhausted from his suffering and confusion, asked a sage for help. The sage looked deeply into the troubled man and with compassion offered him a choice: "You may have either a map or a boat."

After looking at the many pilgrims about him, all of whom seemed equally troubled, the confused man said, "I'll take the boat."

The sage kissed him on the forehead and said, "Go then.

You are the boat. Life is the sea."

  • sit quietly and put down all your maps for the moment,
  • Let your breath take you safely out to sea
  • Breathe gently and bob there...and simply listen...

xo b

Sunday, October 18, 2015

That Infuriating Sage-Calmness

October 18, 2015

There's a story about some wise men, let's say wise people, who've gone to see a local Sage. Sage pours tea into their cups which sounds lovely but he keeps pouring, sitting there with a smile on his face, tea spilling over the rims of the cups. The wise people don't say anything at first, even though they're losing it on the inside.

Can you point things out to a sage? I vote yes but be prepared for the answer.

They watch until they can't not say something. 

Um, Excuse us, but tea is spilling everywhere!!

Sage, in that infuriating sage-calmness says -

empty yourselves
therein is the silence
and in the silence
your answers

xo b

Sunday, October 4, 2015

And Then, Kid Rock

October 4. 2015

I found writing on the back of a library receipt, tucked inside a favorite book. Sometimes these random scribblings hold tiny messages that feel worthy of sharing. So here goes: 

Reading about meditation my mind wanders to Hollywood
Pamela Andersen and her giant fake boobs and then, Kid Rock,
and then me going to India, a red dot in the middle of my forehead.
I hear Michael getting ice in the kitchen, the jingle of Chewy's collar as he settles into sleep and I am reading this line - 

Might this actually be the best season, the best moment of your life? 

If that was so what might that mean for you?

xo b

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Crossing Guard Hands

September 30. 2015

I'm keeping this simple on this last day of September. In the midst of seasons changing, my beloved mother-in-law passing, super moons and lunar eclipses, and the last sliver of this morning's dream about Joni Mitchell. She was smoking at the Kennedy Center Honors up in the balcony, puffing away. In the dream I'm thinking, wow, Joni just doesn't give a shit. puff puff.

This is a story of a walk. Two days ago I donned my sneakers and started off on two loops around the  neighborhood. I've been listening to podcasts on writing, or forgiveness and vulnerability. This one's title was There's Nothing Wrong by Cherie Huber, a Zen Buddhist woman who is funny and charming and been through her own hell. Cherie's come to understand that on a very real level, with everything going on, that really - nothing's wrong. 

She says, chuckling - "Well, I start with there's nothing wrong with YOU. Then I go a step further and this really sends people spinning. I say, there's NOTHING WRONG. Period."

We don't believe this for a minute but say it out loud, then check in with yourself. 

there's nothing wrong 

I'm walking, listening to Cherie chuckle about how she doesn't know how this all works, looking up at sky and birds, feeling grateful to be outside when a neighbor pulls out of his driveway and rolls his window down. I don't feel like talking. I'm walking and feeling happy, not nervous. I say hello and ask how he's doing. Within minutes, he's telling me about his hip, how he fell from scaffolding thirty years before. Here we go...

Then, "Do you get Consumer Health Reports?"
I'm thinking, no I do not.
I say, "No."
"Well, there's an article in the recent one, it's called What Can Go Wrong..."

I put my hands up in that gentle crossing guard way. Stop. I smile and back away from the car while saying, "Hey, not going there today, have a beautiful day. I'm walking."

I kept walking.

All my life I've been painfully aware of the suffering in the world. I've wasted beautiful moments on sunny beaches, in the arms of my loving husband, cozy and safe in my bed, weaving disaster tales. Scary stuff lives in my fat cells. I don't need help with what can go wrong.

I invite you instead 

to keep a running list of all the ways life delights you and helps you and energizes you. Describe everyday miracles you take for granted . . . the uncanny powers you possess... the small joys that occur so routinely you forget how much they mean to you . . . the steady flow of benefits bestowed on you by people you know and don't know. What works for you? What makes you feel at home in the world? 

- Rob Brezny, Freewill Astrology

Practice Crossing Guard Hands (CGH). They work, even on yourself. 

Whoa! There I go talking about scary things that haven't happened.

Smiling and stepping away is advisable. Yes, you can step away from yourself.

Keep walking, working, driving, or sitting with a loved one who is dying - and make a list in your head of all the ways life delights you, and helps you. Let all the small joys that happen in a day - the ones we barely notice but carry us, shimmer on your tongue. 

Try it.

the sky is not falling

Look up. 
It's not.

xo b

ps. to find Cheri Huber + other great talks go to

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Is That Even A Word?

September 13, 2015


adjective: not showing fear or hesitation in the face of danger or difficulty.
synonyms: resolute, determined, single-minded, dogged, steadfast, solid, resolved, firm, committed, steady, unwavering, unflagging, unswerving, unfaltering, undaunted, fearless

Recently, I was sharing with a new friend about This Being Alive, how I fumbled my way into putting together my first post, circa March 1, 2010. We'd been talking about work, following one's calling in spite of the discomfort and uncertainty. I told her that my battle cry on that very first post was to trust my path unflinching. 

She said, hmmm, what's unflinching mean? 

I'm not sure it's even a word, I said, it may need ly, but to me it means sticking with something, holding fast to yourself, a dream - no matter what. Even, and most especially, when the voice(s) show up. They always show up:

Who do you think you are?
Why do you think You have some kind of calling? 
What the hell do you mean by unflinching anyway? 
Is that even a word? yes.

The voice(s) show up on schedule after having an inspired conversation with someone, or even an inspired moment with myself while throwing the ball for the dumb dog. The voice(s) like to stir me up, fearful of the bliss of creative energy and joy. 

What's the point of this story? Who cares?
What are you planning to DO with it?
Have you made any money yet? 

Part of me wants to believe they mean well in their own bitchy way. They're looking out for me, challenging me to see if I really believe in this unflinching trust. The voice(s) have crumpled me in tears but crumpling won't kill you and sometimes you need to weep yourself clear. I know this: the tug I feel to do the work, share the work, connect with people is more important than knowing or explaining why. 

The opposite of unflinching is  


I feel all of those things every day. That's when I call on unflinching self.

What part of your life needs unflinching energy? Where do you feel shaken, shrinking, scared? Take a deep breath and remember you're everything you need to be today. 

Baby steps, a giant leap, a gentle stroll. It doesn't matter. Just begin. (again)

xo b

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Yesterday's Face


                                  self portrait

September 1. 2015

Yesterday morning I dropped Claire at the bus stop and pushed on to walk the track at our local university. This was my goal. This is my goal for September. Get up + get moving. Don't get weird because school is starting and Claire's going into tenth grade when most of the time I still imagine her like this:

No! That's me in an alternate dream life in California - riding horses and smiling a lot.

This is the one:

She's smiling a lot too. Maybe being five, instead of almost 16 has something to do with it.

Unlike many Moms who posted their kids first day of school pics on Facebook, I couldn't do it. (and I took a really cool one.) Claire would've been disturbed by my behavior and anyway, I wanted to post my self portrait instead. 


I was walking by myself at the track, talking myself off the ledge about seasonal affective disorder kicking in too soon, coaching myself about the uncomfortable life as a writer with all its twists and turns and dead end streets when the ROTC crowd thundered past me. One guy shouted, 

Good morning, Ma'am, which was polite and nice to bring me into the group but really I need to wear a sticky note saying, Please don't call me Ma'am. He meant well.

It was on my seventh lap around, I was walking in circles, that I became aware of my face. Obviously there weren't any mirrors around - this is a good thing - and I didn't whip out my phone either. It was an in-my-body moment when I realized that I had the above look on my face.  

(Note: I've decided to devote some of my free time to self-portraiture - stay tuned) 

How would you describe it?

Oh no! 
Fuck, this is not good at all! 
Stop this train I've got to get off?

The thing is, I was having a great time walking. Feeling really good that I was at the track at 7:00 am, walking and moving and breathing, rather than still in bed staring at the ceiling with that face. I know I was worried about my Dad who is in the hospital which is right next to the track - maybe I was vibing that whole thing because hospitals and I don't socialize well. It may have been that. And just the million other things on my mind like how fast kids grow up and change is a constant so you'd better flow with it rather than trying to swim upstream and how we define work in our society in such an outward way which is weird for some of us because we live inward, in the mystery? and so in order to make room for all this I need very wide eyes and a mouth like a big O


I did a check-in with my face  while writing this to you. No mirrors, just feeling, and came up with:

go ahead, try the face thing right now.

Today's is way more relaxed than yesterday's face. The hair is par for the course, that just climbed out of my camping tent look. My kids adore that look, I swear. Maybe because I'm writing and have a cup of tea and the dog is staring at me to go out. The house is quiet, the fan, spinning. Maybe because I'm not working in a school this year, choosing sanity + forging ahead with my writing instead. 


I have a plan for today and the hospital to go to (feeling the resistance rise up) but in this moment, the only one any of us have, maybe I'm allowing myself to lean into calm. 

As opposed to, run the fucking house is on fire!  

Part of today's meditation says, Be patient. Relax and trust. Let go. Then, let go some more.


xo b

                  Forgive me, Claire. xo

Saturday, August 22, 2015

As In Ship Ahoy

August 22, 2015

I've had a full-out beautiful trust me, there's been some weep-fests too summer - 

writing, finishing a thesis, graduating (wow), traveling, then traveling a bit more, visiting family, + now, settling back into home. 

I have a suitcase full of stories to share I will be sharing! 

You are the laboratory and every day is an experiment. 
Go and find what is new and unexpected.

- Joel Elkes

Try this be the laboratory thing. It's very freeing.

love love love

For today, I'm saying saying hello, or Ahoj as they say in Czech ~ 

(like ahoy, as in ship ahoy!

... and sharing today's teeny powerful thought from Mom's meditation book. It's a gem which my faith and trust self  knows to be true, while you've got to be kidding self says, um.

I'll party with all of my selves oh so many while breathing in ~

Today I'll be as happy as I want to be. 

xo b

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Sexy Moment

June 7, 2015

In her book, Thinking About Memoir, Abigail Thomas has a chapter called The Habit of Writing. She says, “A lot of writing consists of waiting around for the aquarium to settle so you can see the fish. Walking around muttering seems to hasten the process. Taking public transportation nowhere helps.”
I don’t have a fish tank, but I do mutter and wander. Often while driving, stories and memories rush through me. No radio, trees flashing by. I lean precariously on the dashboard with a pen and scrap of paper, stenographer of my life, trying to get them down before everything slips away.

The other day I was at the dentist. It was seven o'clock in the morning. I thought that was too early to get my teeth cleaned. The office had the news going which always gets me stirred up. The magazines had pictures of women in bikinis which stirs me too. Why do I want to see Gwyneth Paltrow in a white bikini with leather straps on the side? Doesn't the water make a mess of that leather? I was getting my teeth cleaned and then had to go to school to be with first graders for the day. That stirred me up too. I'm like a good cup of coffee. I get stirred easily which is one of the reasons why I write. 
After the dentist, I wrote this on a scrap of paper.

Lee is my teeth cleaner.
She said, you have a cool life.
She loves red wine.
Her husband gets her a case of Malbec for Christmas every year.
Lee has three kids. 
That's one if the reasons her husband gets her a case of wine. 

Can you tell which one is me?

Some days I don't want to be in school where kids have to stay in a line and find the text evidence in the passage they just read. Do you know what that means? But it's not all bad. There's always some sweet kid who draws me a picture to take home to put on my fridge. Wouldn't it be great if people did that in the workplace? 

Here Bill, drew you this picture. 
Hey Annette, I drew this picture of us! 
Jean, whaddya think of my dog?

Some days I want to be a famous writer giving readings and throwing my head back in a witty laugh. [That is how they spend their days, right?]

Today I'm happy to be in my backyard with my plants and dog and trees swaying over my head. I had a sexy moment where I fixed my John Deere all by myself (the belt was off the looping thing). I took a victory lap around the yard and mowed some grass. I miss my husband who is in Los Angeles. I miss my father who is losing his bearings slowly and sometimes painfully. I miss my mother, dead for a dozen years. These things come over me and I don't feel so good. But then I fix my lawn mower or talk to a friend on the phone or see a Pileated Woodpecker fly over my head and land on the tree near the wood pile. 

Pileated Woodpeckers remind us to embrace our uniqueness. 

Pigs don't fly and famous writers are just like the rest of us, messy beauty and missing and ______. 

Today I will be happy with dog and trees and birds, plants, and daughters close by.

Happy even with my missing.

Mary Oliver got it right when she wrote:

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

xo b

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Perhaps I Am A Bear

Perhaps I am a bear, 
or some hibernating animal underneath, 
for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is so strong in me. 

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I love nuts and berries and being buried in blankets, cozy and cave-like. In the book, The Medicine Wheel, Bear is my animal totem, my power animal, my spirit teacher. This is based on my birth month which is September. 
Thanks to the Medicine Wheel calendar, I'm not a Sturgeon. 

(I believe that's October.) 
I am a bear. I even kind of look like one. 
When the black bear walked by our back door I followed it. 
Through the yard, around trees, near the stone wall.
It turned to look at me. 
I said, hey and waved. 
Bear stared at me, then lumbered on.
I felt the connection.
My kids thought I was nuts. Barefoot mom runs after bear. 
Why? Why must you do that?
Because I'm a bear. Get over it.

Owen portraying me as a bear.

It's been a long winter. (Understatement)

Like weary animals, Bostonians are just peeking out of their homes today, right on time for the Spring Equinox and another snow storm? We didn't get Boston kind of snow. We got enough. Enough to keep us home from school, at least once a week for two months. This only reinforced my bear-behavior. 
 wine (not in bed!)
 window to see the world outside
= Bear cave

I shoveled, went sledding. Got milk. How else would Claire eat her cereal? When there weren't snow days, I did work. Because I work in two schools with young children, I now shout in my sleep -

sneeze into your damn elbow! 

(Home today because somebody didn't sneeze into their elbow. Jaden? Violet? Chris?)

In January, I accidentally joined a cross fit gym. They call it the box. After school I'd go do 80 burpees, throw a medicine ball at the wall, lift 55 lbs in power snatches - okay, it was 35 lbs. 

But what about that name, power snatch?

Between colds (this is my second), sneeze into your elbow, Claire's track schedule ( a totally bogus excuse to get out of burpees), and not being ready to give up my hibernation, I quit the box and bought myself a kettle bell. I've watched the video of how to use it and feel a little more toned already. 

So, life hasn't been complete bear bed rest.

And I've been writing, just not here. Not to say I haven't missed you. I have. You know when you're out of touch for so long, it's embarrassing to say, hey, I'm still here. Because people move on if you sleep too long. 

Hey, I'm still here. Hoping you're still here too.