Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fresh Baby

On the Birthday of my youngest, as he turns 8. My last fresh baby.




Fresh Baby

Drink it in, it spins your head
this dizzy love
delicious smell.
You are not tainted with life
and its dirt
You are only new: newly arrived, newly alive,
Newly become
You.
Softly caress, marvel anew
Fine skin bears the lines that will come later.
Drawn-up knees, froggy curl, arms a-stiff and flailing
Curve you round mother's warm body, inside out,
you are not alone.
Fresh baby, fresh baby there is no other like you!
Every mother's heart thumps in universal delight
to recall
The first sight of a new person whose little world became the wide world
Oh those fresh baby shivers
Fresh baby smells

Your tufted crown holds the elixir of love.



Happy Birthday Phoenix.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Bones of the Earth

On Sunday I had the misfortune of throwing out my back, while flinging 45 bales of pine straw in the beds around the yard. The rest of the day, all night, and into Monday, I moved slowly and hobbled around, unable to bend or twist. At the risk of sounding 40 a day before the big day... what in the world, world? I was in pain and in even greater annoyance that I might be feeling less than my best on the day I planned to treat myself to some pampering.

The thought of 40 has circled inside me for the past year - was it a big deal? Would I care? Would I be depressed? Run away? So as I came home from work, thinking about my last day at 39, I called my Mom. I was cheerful, planning to ask her about a night 40 years ago... and was she at the hospital yet, or did labor start in the night. The usual birthday eve thoughts we recount year after year. Only, that thought struck me in tandem with this one: Mom is the only one left who was there that night. My Dad, my grandparents - all gone. I sunk like a stone. I went to a dark corner like a small creature. As I eased my aching self down to sit on my closet floor, I pulled a box close by - my Dad's stones. It had been unloaded into the closet over a year ago when we moved, and there it still sat.

In his last years, Dad's affinity for geodes, gemstones and crystals grew. He bought them from mines across the country, wherever he happened to travel. In the divesting of his belongings, I claimed a small cardboard box filled with ziploc bags, labeled and containing one stone each. I went through the box twice - once when it first came to me, and once when I chose a stone to give to a special friend. So as I opened the box, fully sentimental and tearfully missing my Dad, I grabbed the folder on top, recognizing the font as his favorite and eager for his words.

"Everything is energy" he wrote,  "a combination of atomic and sub-atomic particles. These particles are in constant motion, vibrating, and creating an electromagnetic force field that extends beyond the physical boundaries of the 'matter' itself... when you hold a crystal or gemstone in your hands, your sub-atomic particles are intermingling with the rock's sub-atomic particles. In that way we are energetically connected with all of existence."

I smiled through the tears, reading his words, feeling his sincerity, lifting the stones out of the box one by one. I couldn't remember even seeing them before that moment. I continued reading, and unwrapping stones.

"Stones were the Earth's bones... and it was believed that stones held certain energy to either assist humankind or to record information throughout the ages. There is nothing on Earth as old as stone. They have seen the full range of human trials and tribulations, disasters and times of milk and honey."

I dug through the box, dissolved in longing for my Dad, and hunting for a message from him.

"There is no greater resource to you than your own instincts. If you happen to be drawn to a particular stone, or happen to come into one 'by coincidence' it may be just the thing that your 'inner guidance' is trying to motivate you to obtain."

I smiled at the "Dadness" of this article, at the way he put his whole heart into what he believed. The promise that he would always be there for me, though I may need to look for him in the trees, after he passed from our realm to the next. I had spent my time with one leg in that realm after he passed. I know it is there, just along side of us, but I also know I am part of the living. I had to step away from the mystical heart of me, or miss out on what was right before me, visible.

But we have a pact, Dad and I. I will always acknowledge the power of the unseen. I will always speak to him, speak to my Mamaw, speak to my Gig - and I know they hear my heart. I laid my almost-40-year-old heart on that floor and missed the three that celebrated the morning I was born. Imagined their presence there with my Mom, welcoming me.

After a time, I stood up from the closet floor, shook off the memories, and made my way downstairs. My eyes widened and a grin like no other split my face.

The back pain was gone.



I am 40 and as long as there are still mysteries, life is good.




Sunday, February 21, 2016

Women's Lives Club

I've been wanting to write about this cool new club I've jumped into, and now, now we are officially in The Media! So. You can read about our new Women's Lives Club all prettied up and professional! Here We Are"Be A Part of The Smartest New Book Club" and this title is everything - these women are S  M  A  R  T  and interesting and it is so much fun to be inside the same books, having revelations, and jumping online to talk about it.

You're gonna want to join this.
You CAN join this - we are welcoming all and hoping to take the world by storm! We sold out Amazon and B&N in one day when the first book choice was announced. BOOM.

Rachel Syme, one of my favorite writers today, threw out a spontaneous idea on Twitter one day - and a month later here we are, finishing up our first book, having fantastic mass-follow-backs on twitter and generally feeling like the kick-ass Book Club that we are.

Take a coffee break and read my favorite piece from Rachel last year, and then let the selfies flow... SELFIE was a work in progress when I first followed Rachel, and she tweeted bits and pieces of her research, and her thoughts along the way. She had twitter selfie roll-calls where we dropped what we were doing and sent in ourselves at that moment, saying we are here, hi, this is my life. And it became captivating to see these moments in time, from all over the world. In SELFIE, reading about women with stories that were erased, simply because they were women born in a time that did not allow their personhood, moved me. Galvanized, I should say, as I told friends about it, shared it online and generally spoke only of SELFIE for weeks. (Thanksgiving in Cleveland was Selfie City, right?! Or Ussie, I should say!)

Fast forward to a January day on Twitter when Rachel said, hey, if I start a book club where we read about and celebrate women's lives, would you be interested? Um, hi. You had me at "book."
My heart thunders to learn about the women that have shaped and are shaping our world - and I feel so woefully uneducated on this topic, it is bordering on shameful.

It makes me very thoughtful about having grown up in a small conservative Southern town, with quite clear limits placed on what was taught and allowed into my life. I may have had full reign of the Brown Library, but what was even the extent of the biography collection at that time? I remember the orange-backed biography section - Ethan Allen and The Green Mountain Boys, Jim Thorpe, various Presidents and famous figures... If I read any women's biographies, they must not have been very memorable. I've tried to play catch-up over the years, always feeling behind and out of the loop when the names of remarkable women pop up. Like, how could I live this many years and not know about X?

It is the just-right time to connect and learn and I am ON IT. If you are feeling the spark too, then come on! Join the #WLClub. You won't regret it. Rachel is the  most thoughtful, kind leader one could wish for in such a club. And she takes a selfie like a voodoo master. Connect HERE to our Google Group, or on Facebook.

Friday, January 8, 2016

'A Solitude of Being'

I have eternal admiration for Sue Monk Kidd and her lovely novels. They seem to come my way at just the right time, and resonate with me in just the right way. This week I re-read The Mermaid Chair, and it had been long enough ago when I first read it, that I didn't remember the story clearly. So it was new to me and I rolled in it like a fresh puppy.

"What comes to mind are ridiculous things like 'my own space,' 'my independence,' but they sound so shallow. They don't capture it."

"I never could make them understand that what I needed was to be alone with myself."

"Around here they call it 'a solitude of being.'"

- The Mermaid Chair p216

I've been turning that phrase, and those lines in my head for days. Feeling them on my tongue. A solitude of being. It has become an intense craving, battling with 'adventure' for top spot in my heart. I re-read these lines. I put them in my own words. I try to convey the striking, galvanized pull of solitude. I try not to feel smothered by togetherness and need.
I think it is a struggle many mothers face.
I think we put on our smile, and though it is a true love for our children that we carry, we still must choose the smile over the struggle. I used to call them 'stolen moments' if I could get away alone. But I'm facing an emergence of being. A recognition and an embracing.
A solitude of being is what I need to Be Me. To refill the well. Recharge the batteries. Refill my spirit.

"...the separateness, my independence, this abiding new loyalty I have to myself now..."

It has to be fed, this loyalty to one's self. Fed and stoked and petted and coaxed. We too easily become agents of care taking and caregiving, feeling that as we have chosen to walk along this path, we must slough off our skins and wear the coat of Motherhood, which is always heavy and often fraught with misconceptions.
The coat of Selfhood fits like the skin it is.
I am smoothing it on; burnishing the creases; becoming a Self again that is not stolen away or borrowed but a full-fledged right.
It is not without a price. The status quo gets shaken as I find my way. I'm desperate and slightly angry, spinning to and fro with my elbows out. This is not a graceful moment or a time of loveliness.
Birth never is.
It is portended by pressure and pain. Brought to being by blood and effort.
There is so much drama in birth of every kind!
It is a worthy momentous occasion though, because I know I will find true health and wellness for all the corners of myself.
Here's to this new year, and to all who seek a solitude of being... again and again.

XO
Bethany

Sunday, December 27, 2015

If Only

If I had known how much I would miss
The people in the ether
The incorporeal ones that I love
I would have named children and pets and cars and trees
For them
Sung their names on the wind
Called the dog Floyd
Named the girl Joan
Spoken them into my life each and every day to keep
them present and part
of us and threaded through
All that we do as a quiet benediction
A nod to love
A affirmation of the people who
were my person

If I had known.

BL 12.27.15

Friday, December 18, 2015

In Which I Investigate The Missing Pieces

It has come to my attention that for all the word-spilling and storytelling and general tomfoolery of my blogging, lo these many years, I haven't been communicating properly. Because I can tell you, two people that should be very close to me, in fact Experts, don't Know Things! Integral Things. Facts about B! Let me lay it out for you.

Exhibit A, the husband: On hearing me chatter about some fantasy author or another.
"But you don't read fantasy, you read romance."

GAH. Glkjhsdfenm!!
In what universe does this person live, and breathe and what in the what! We live in the same house! Here's your spousal parallel:  I will freely admit, I don't know the names of athletes, or which teams they play for. But I for sure know which sports my guy likes, and I for damn sure know which teams! Because eyes! Apparently I have to come out of a closet I didn't know I was in, and announce myself as a Reader of Fantasy and All Manner of Other Interesting Things. You know my love of all things fantastical and paranormal. The monsters, I like them. The magic, I need it. The superpowers, give me more. The amazing and freaky new worlds, I am into them. The fight scenes, where asses get kicked and rowdy hijinks roll in on a cloud of crazy-town, yahoo. I sure like a good romance now and then, and can go for some Nora Roberts or Elizabeth Lowell. But I'd have to say the main chunk of what I read is fantasy.

Exhibit B, the Mom: This morning, She Who Lives Under A Rock informed me that she had heard at the Pack N' Ship that there's a new Star Wars movie out. Thanks for the hot tip Mama! I think she blocked out my childhood years, in which I was in love with Star Wars in general, and Han Solo in particular. Mom, I'm a nerd. I love Star Wars and I read freaky fantasy novels.

And this is how you get to age 39 and realize that your mother and husband are missing pieces of you. I've been toying with the idea of book blog posts, and now my mind is made up ... I want to post about some upcoming books - January/February are going to be big months for some of my fave series!
Here's what I'm looking forward to in January and February:

Feverborn: A Fever Novel - I am obsessed with this series. I re-read all 7 books every year. This is Karen Marie Moning's urban fantasy at it's best, set in Dublin but with the world of Faery bleeding into our world. It's got your Seelie and Unseelie Fae, it's got your bad-ass fight scenes and it's got Mac, Barrons, Dani and Ryodan. *le sigh* I'm almost done with my re-read, prepping for January's release!

Morning Star: Book III of The Red Rising Trilogy - Pierce Brown blew me away with Red Rising and Golden Son, and his Mars-based revolutionary adventure. Darrow, a Red, is caught in the lowest caste of a new class system... but not for long. I burned through the first two books in 3 days... they were that good.

City of Blades (The Divine Cities) - I just finished Robert J. Bennett's first one in this series (City of Stairs), and I absolutely loved it. He writes effortless prose and dialogue, and builds a city of such intrigue and beauty... Shara and Sigrud and the mysteries of Bulikov were entrancing.

Here's to worlds unknown, my friends, may we learn more about each other each year.

XO

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A little Rumi on your Tuesday

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

From Essential Rumi

by Coleman Barks

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fear and Love in a Modern World

I was a fearful child. I was easily spooked, easily convinced of creatures lurking because I could see their movement out of the corner of my eye. I startled awake at a dog's bark, certain that intruders were closing in. I saw aliens in the night, in the form of bee-like swarms, hovering over my bed and ready to invade me. I had recurring nightmares of Nazi war crimes. I lived in my head and in my stories and a rampant imagination kept me on edge.

 With a preacher father and a Scripture-laden home, there was surely a verse for this ailment. My parents had a verse for everything. I used this one as a mantra: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." And as a fearful girl, would mutter it in a long unbroken string of sound, much like Jenny on Forrest Gump dear god make me a bird, so I can fly far, far, far away...  It was like the beads on a rosary, rubbed smooth and reflexively. I would shout it in my head, pronounce it firmly to my racing heart - hoping for peace and a quiet mind.

Fear exists to be tamped down, to be put in its place. To be shoved aside and railed against.

We are shoving it aside right now, in our home. The local media alarms us that Atlanta is on the list of terror attack locations. A sleepless daughter whispers she is afraid. She is afraid there will be an attack and she will not be with us. She is afraid her school may be on the list.

I think back to my fears; I look deep in her eyes and tell her we all have fears. And then I confidently demolish every spoken fear with logic and assurance and overall, love. I lie face to face on her pillow and I hiss fervently of protection and power, whisper of evil in the world that will try to press fear upon us. We will not accept it. I choose not to live in fear. Having tamped down imaginary boogeymen my entire life, I am armed for bear. I speak in fast, unbroken cadence as though my words will draw the fear from her head.

L'amour gagne toujours L'amour gagne toujours L'amour gagne toujours
Love always wins Love always wins Love always wins

It is the only battle cry for me. There will always be a sea of troubles to take arms against, but I do not fight on that battleground. My fight is in every ounce of love and light pushed toward our leaders. In every step forward, refusing to give up liberty and live in fear. My fight is in raising compassionate children that will one day be compassionate adults. Adults who still see the endless possibility for peace in our world. Who accept the flaws but do not dwell on them.

Be strong. Hold fast. Don't give in to boogeymen.
The only way a small minority wins is through the overlay of fear on the majority.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Burn Notice or Not

"There were no hot beverage sleeves in those wild days. It was ok to burn us without warning."

I'm writing today and I'm really into this line. It is saying many things to me. I am saying many things to myself. Most of them are a kick in the pants. Others are gentle sweet murmurs of encouragement. I think I've read too many time travel novels and have slipped under the notion that time doesn't exist. It's the only explanation I embrace.

Here, have another line:
"Grown-up minds think the top shelves are safest; childish minds go straight for the top, certain that Things Worth Finding will be up high."

See? We don't even mean for our thinking to change, but it does. Constantly. When do we go from hiding things in truly good places, to simply hiding them up high? Any good Thing-Finder knows the tricks to finding things. (I hope your children are reading the brilliant Pippi Longstocking, she speaks their language.) And even more, knows the knack of valuing what they find. 
That's the banner of the day, friends. Value what you find. In yourself, in your friends, in your words, in your world. This must be what is called a gentle kick in the pants. Or a murmured kick of encouragement. Go out and be dear!

B.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Something True

Tell me somethingTell me something true...

I have a lot of true things rolling through this brain these days. It's like I've lost the filter, you know, the one that tells you pretty lies. And reassures every little worry. Was it just me all along? Does everyone not have that filter?
Then let me tell you a story.

Sometimes, in some places, there is a girl who lives without anxious hurry. She believes the best about people; she believes in life and the wheel's potential to bring good things. She believes time will allow for many desires and goals to be fulfilled.

This is why I have begun asking friends what exactly composes a midlife crisis. This is more of a midlife evaluation, no? I am digging and brushing away chaff, and I am looking for substance. I am pushing away the pieces of life that hold no interest or value to me, and I am swallowing whole the experience of no filter. No hiding from myself. 
I am experiencing 39.
In classic style. 

Examining emotions
Considering angles
Implementing change 
Dissecting paradigms

Fun, right? 
Come along and join me. Tell me.