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