Marching, Listening, With Love

Due to a severe crowd phobia and legs that are unable to support me for hours on end, I did not march in Washington or Charlottesville last Saturday. I did however march through my neighborhood to honor all of my friends and relatives who went to towns and cities around the world to let their voices be heard. My spirit walked beside those who marched for unity, love, equality, truth, freedom, and non-duality. My spirit walked beside those suffering from war, poverty, hatred, hunger, disrespect, and for those who can not see. I walked and prayed to end the idea of the the good versus the bad, Republicans versus Democrats, men versus women, and those who hate because not everyone is on their side.

I am disturbed by the idea of the “Other.” Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, white, brown, black, yellow, straight, gay, trans, rich, poor, pro-lifers, pro-choicers, male, female. We really are all one. I’ve watched polarity and negativity growing on Facebook, Twitter, and on the streets, among those who had at one time seemed to be united in their cause. For months fear and hysteria have gripped our nation. I was there along with everyone else.

Now that the deed has been done, and Donald Trump is the new president, we’re still breathing, we’re still alive, and we still live in the best country on earth, on the bluest, most sparkly planet in the Universe. That, however, does not mean that all will be well. Climate change will still happen, some people will still hate one another, many will continue to worship money, and few of us will agree with everyone else all of the time.

There is a huge amount of work to be done. Being kind, taking care of ourselves as well as those who stand next to us, speaking out, making phone calls, signing petitions, and writing letters are some of the things we can do.

Since seeing the turnout on Saturday, I feel better about the future of our country. I will work to respect everyone’s individuality and belief systems. I will work to look beyond my own prejudices and look at what is best for all of us. I will work at being loving and kind even when I don’t see eye-to-eye with those around me.


I’m The Proud Parent Of A Lesbian

June 20, 2014. My daughter Lisa and her Partner, Deena, were legally married in Washinton, DC.

June 20, 2014. My daughter Lisa and her Partner, Deena, were legally married in Washinton, DC.

Years ago when my new gas range wasn’t working properly, I called a repairman to come fix it. He arrived at lunchtime while I was eating a beautiful salad I had just prepared for myself. I stayed put, thinking he’d get the repair done quickly and be out of my way. He seemed very nice at first, but it was an election year. He began ranting about people on the left and about certain deranged people who think they should have special rights to marry other people of the same sex.

My stomach went sour. Steam started coming out from my ears. Trying to be halfway decent, I told him that I didn’t discuss politics while I was eating and to please stop the discussion. He continued his tirade. I stood up and told him that my daughter was a lesbian and that his comments were not appreciated or appropriate in my home. I said, “Please stop talking and do your work, or leave.” He got quiet, mumbling to himself as he finished up the repair. When he was done, he snapped, “Well I guess I won’t be asked to come and fix your stove again!” My reply was,“You Betcha! Now tell me how much I owe you for the repair and get out of my house.”

To say that I was angry would be an understatement. I was crimson with rage. Hot tears streamed down my face, and I began my own rant to my husband, Bill, a member of the same choirI belong to, who was agreeing with me all the way.

Friday’s Supreme Court decision to give marriage rights to all gays and lesbians no matter what state they live in was a landmark decision that will join the ranks of others: Giving women the right to vote, giving African Americans the right to vote, Roe vs. Wade, and so many others.

I’m proud to say that my daughter is a lesbian, a member of a community filled with love, and has been sticking it out to fight for her rights. I’m even more proud that our country is standing up for and offering support to her and her brothers and sisters.

In the wake of all landmark decisions there are always disagreements and nay sayers who can make the climate uncomfortable and even dangerous. Those who don’t agree with big changes do have a right to disagree and protest, just as the gay and lesbian community had the same rights to protest their treatment.

However, it does not give anyone the right to be hateful. I allow myself to listen and discuss just about anything, but only if hatred is left at the door and tolerance fills the room where we talk.

Have you seen those bumper stickers on the back bumpers of cars saying: “I’m A Proud Parent of an Honor Roll Student at Such and Such High School?”

Well, I have a new one I’d like to get printed out and put on my back bumper:

“I’m The Proud Parent Of A Lesbian.”

On Getting Lost and Found

IMG_0499I’ve always been afraid of getting lost.

I don’t mean just a little afraid. I mean the kind of afraid that sits in my gut and makes me want to run and hide. Sometimes it feels as though I can’t breathe. Thoughts race through my mind resulting in confusion. I don’t know what to do. Driving in a place I’ve never been before, I’ve sometimes had to work hard to keep my cool and keep going, rather than freezing in place.

My panic attacks can happen anywhere. They can arise in a crowd of people as I’m being pushed, shoved, and bumped along. I’ve had them walking through Times Square in New York. I once had one at a wedding where I didn’t know any of the other guests. Traveling to places like Greece and Portugal where I didn’t speak the language have also been times of panic for me.

These seemingly uncontrollable reactions seem to be about my fear of being abandoned, of looking stupid, and my having a low sense of self esteem. They’re about getting lost in life … fear of the unknown, of being alone and unable to take care of myself.

As a kid, I rarely felt capable of doing anything right. My parents were very critical. I never mowed the lawn properly, or got the dishes as clean as they wanted them to be. And I rarely got the perfect grades they wanted me to get in school. Getting a C on a test was like flunking in their eyes. I didn’t think much of myself either. I followed the rules, tried my best, but always felt like a loser. Sometimes I just plain gave up trying.

As a result, I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy searching for things I didn’t think I had … approval, love, and a purpose. Without them I was continuously lost, unsure of myself, and prone to painful moments of panic.

Part of the problem was that I didn’t know what approval, love, and purpose looked like. I was too busy watching my back, or preparing to run or fight back, to see that I was loved, that many people respected me, and that I was not broken.

A year or so after I was married, I was parked diagonally in front of a pharmacy where I had to pick up a prescription. While I was inside, the person who parked next to me opened his car door, slamming it into the side of my car, leaving a huge dent. After we exchanged insurance information and I was on my way home, I started to panic. I was convinced that Bill would be mad at me for putting a dent in our newly purchased car. I was expecting his reaction to be like my father’s would have been … blaming me for “letting” this happen by parking to close to the car next to me.

By the time I got home I was in tears. When Bill came out to help me carry packages in from the car, I tearfully started apologizing for the dent. He calmly asked me how it happened and when I told him, he held me in his arms and told me it wasn’t my fault. He asked, “How could you think that?”

After our son was born, I spent a few months battling postpartum depression. When I saw a therapist to get help, he realized I was suffering from something more than mixed up hormones. His big question to me was, “What are you so afraid of?” My response was, “I don’t know.”

But his question began to haunt me and I began the slow process of trying to find the answers to his query.

As I examined old memories and explored the road I had been traveling, I found the cloak of victimhood I began to wear as a child and tore it to shreds. I started taking responsibility for who I was and what I did. I began to see that my parents had done the best they could … that they had their own difficulties to overcome … that I didn’t have to live by their rules or limit myself to what they would approve of.

Fear still occasionally jumps out of the shadows, finding me vulnerable, and sometimes ready to run. But it’s more easily banished now. I know what love looks like, and that the only person’s approval I need is my own. I’m no longer afraid of getting lost. If I don’t know where I happen to be at any given time, I know that nothing terrible is going to happen, and that I’ll soon be back on track in the direction of where I want to go.

Around The World In Fifteen Days With Only One Stop

IMG_0787I’ve been home for just over two weeks since we returned from London.  The first week was great.  The second week I had a nasty cold. I’m over it and the jet lag, though last Saturday’s time change is setting me back a bit. I’m very happy to be home. It’s no fun being sick when you’re away from your own space and without the usual comforts I keep stashed away for just such an occasion. Like my  “Sure-to-Cure” Elderberry syrup and sweat inducing chicken soup, filled with big chunks of carrots, parsnips, shredded chicken, and brown rice. I frequently clicked the heels of my ruby red slippers together while sniffling away, and repeated “There is no place like home.”  But I didn’t wake up like Dorothy did, to find myself in my own bed with Auntie Em and Toto welcoming me home.

But really, it wasn’t all that bad. The Organic Planet grocery shop right around the corner from the flat we rented was a huge help. They had dynamic smoothies and carrot/apple/ginger juice which I enjoyed several times a day at the peek of feeling aweful.  And I wasn’t alone.  Bill got it too. But it wasn’t like the time we both got the flu with severe body aches and fevers while visiting New York City.  We were staying in a not so great hotel in Chinatown, that didn’t have room service. It was in the middle of winter with snow on the ground and freezing cold winds whipping through the canyons between skyscrapers.

We arrived in England to temps in the 70’s with clear skies and sun, though it turned into typical London weather a few days later with on and off rain and a bit of a chill.  Our second day out, we walked four miles through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, enjoying the glorious day, the swans adrift on the pond, and lots of dogs running free, playing frisbee or ball with their people.  We ate a lovely lunch right in Hyde Park and in the evening went to St. Martin in the Fields to hear the music of Beethoven and a host of other composers. How sweet it was. The following night we met a friend and went to see the play, “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time.”  It was a “WOW” show. Bill has written up a brief review of it and the other shows we saw, on his blog if you’re interested.

The first week ended perfectly with an overnight to Canterbury where we caught up with friends we haven’t seen in years, their gorgeous daughter, and amazing grandchildren. Back in the city we returned from dinner and a movie to find a terrorist arrest happening just around the block from our flat. There were dozens of police, guns, roads roped off, and gawkers standing about.

Then the “Cold” hit the fan. During “Much Ado About Nothing,” with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, my throat was sore and my nose started running a marathon. I had no tissues with me. Despite the big names, we were both unimpressed with the show. At intermission we hightailed it out of there and went home to bed. I pushed myself to go out a few nights later for dinner and another show, (Ibsen’s, “Ghosts,”) with friends. The meal, the show, and seeing our friends were great, but I was feeling worse and by then Bill was sick as well.

We spent the next few days, like two caged birds, lying about and shlepping out to the Organic Planet for juice, lozenges, and vitamin C, while mountains of yucky tissues were building around us.  Happily I read a lot and finished up Part II of my memoir.

Bored and pretending he felt better, Bill took in two more plays while I languished at home. Stubborn as mules, we took to walking again, saw a few movies and made a visit to the fabulous, Chelsea Physic Gardens, where I was in seventh heaven.  It is a small (3 1/2 acre) garden with plants that are used for food, medicine, and cosmetics.  Before we went, I envisioned shelves of the gift shop filled with plant tinctures and bottles of elderberry syrup to help me get through our upcoming return journey across the Atlantic.  No such luck, but I did enjoy a delicious salad made from plants grown right there.  Then there was the arduous seven and three-quarter hour flight back to Washington which made things even worse. I was weak, impatient to get home and very grouchy.

IMG_0885Would I do it again? You betcha!

Getting out of town and our own country to see what is happening in the rest of world is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself and your kids. It is a learning experience that brings new perspectives on how we view ourselves and the world around us. I haven’t been out the country for a long time and while I was busy here at home, I found out that we are becoming one big global village. In some ways it’s frightening, but it’s also very exciting.  If the creek don’t rise and I continue to have the stamina to spend all those miserable hours just getting there and back, I’ll go again and hopefully to other places on my bucket list as well.

The last time I was in London was well over ten years ago. Things have changed. This time, walking down the streets, I heard languages from every corner of the planet. I heard much less English.  While the U.S.A. is mostly attracting people from South and Central America, England and the rest of Europe are attracting people from the Middle-East, the Balkans, Asia, and North Africa. Food from all over the world is served in an amazing variety of restaurants. In some areas of the city, women with head covering or full face coverings are a common sight, as well men sitting at outside cafe’s smoking hooka pipes.  When I left on this journey I didn’t realize I was going to have a mind-bending cultural tour around the world.

I came to realize that we as human beings are doing what we have always done: migrating from our homelands to find a place where we imagine work is easier to find and we’ll feel safer. But we’re doing it on a much grander scale than ever. Many of us are uncomfortable and threatened by the many problems it brings. I see us needing to begin adapting to an era of change, in which the entire world becomes the melting pot. Hopefully we will tolerate and celebrate each other’s cultures with love, not war.

If anybody out there wants to know what is really happening beyond your back yard, buy a plane ticket. Go visiting instead of relying on American media to show and tell. In a country that is as close culturally as we can get to our own, I found the whole world just waiting for me to step into it.

IMG_0848Yes, at heart I’m a homebody. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I was sick. Yes, I came home exhausted and I was at times unnerved by the numbers of people I had to navigate through. But I had a look into what the future is perhaps going to look like. I came home a much more tolerant person and hopefully wiser. All in all, it was simply a lovely time.

They Call Me Batty



There’s a gentle sweetness to this term for crazy: it conjures up an elderly woman pottering harmlessly about the garden, hair coming undone every which way, talking to herself (or the plants or the birds), oblivious to creatures of the human persuasion. It is closer to eccentric, or deeply peculiar, than to the harsher nuts, wacko, bonkers, or bats. It is not clear why bats (or nuts) are synonyms for crazy —considering that bats have radar, their flight is anything but. Still, before people knew about the radar, bat flight must have looked, well, nuts. Batty may derive from the phrase bats in the belfry, or from the name of the prominent English physician, William Battie (sometimes Batty), who wrote a Treatise on Madness in 1758, and advocated therapeutic asylums rather than prisons for the insane. –JS


A while back, as I was doing some writing, using Scrivener, I used the word “batty” and while looking for another word to use in its place, the above Word Note flashed up on the screen. I like that about Scrivener and only wish I could master the rest of the program. I’m not terribly computer savvy. I can’t even figure it out with “Scrivener For Dummies,” parked in front of me. So later this month I’ll be taking a class with a real human being so that I’ll be able to use the program for my further writing.

But back to where I was going with this wonderful note about the word “batty.”  My grand kids call me Batty, instead of Grandma, Nana, Ma maw, Granny, Gram, or any of the other names that are assigned to most grandmothers.

Zoe, almost thirteen now, started calling me Batty as soon as she started talking and then Noah, who will be ten next week, picked it up as well. I am now known to the entire family as Batty. Even my little nieces, Anya and Julia, call me Aunt Batty.

I don’t know what made Zoe pick that name for me, but I remember that when I found out that Lisa was pregnant, I was extremely happy. Besides asking for a healthy grand baby, there was one more wish I put out into the Universe: “I just don’t want to be called ‘Grandma.’ I’m way too young for that.” I guess the Universe heard me.

Zoe and me before my hair turned grey.

Zoe and me before my hair turned grey.

I was not in the room when Zoe was born, but  waiting out in the hallway, pacing back and forth, anxious because it had been a long and arduous labor, resulting in a C-section. Later I got the chance to hold eight pound plus, baby  Zoe.  She wasn’t one of those sleepy eyed newborns that just want to be fed and go back to sleep. She was wide-awake, seemingly noticing everything around her.  When she looked up into my eyes, I thought I heard her gasp, “I know you, but can’t remember from where.” Later on I began to think she recognized something very different about me and though we’d never met before, we were members of the same clan. When she christened me, Batty, I was sure of it. I think she is the only person who truly gets me.

And about that word note up above? Yes, I do potter about the garden, talking to the plants and the birds. I am getting elderly, but I’ve still got a whole lot of living to do. My dear neighbor, Harmon, is called “Gaga,” by her grandchildren. I often suggest we write a book entitled, “The Adventures of Batty and Gaga.” I think it would be a great kid’s book about grandmothers and how magical they can be. I would love to have purple hair in the book. And Harmon’s hair has to be fuchsia with yellow highlights! 🙂

June, 2013

June, 2013

P.S.  I just had the pleasure of spending the past week with both Zoe and Noah here in my home without their parents. It was a great time. We swam, saw movies, laughed, giggled, and even disagreed once or twice. I could relate to Noah being homesick. I clearly remember the painful days when I was a kid and was sent to spend time with my grandparents. I so wished I could make his pain go away.  On our last day together, while Noah went to see “Super Man,” with Uncle Mark and Granddaddy, Zoe and I went to lunch, had pedicures, and did some shopping.  When we got back into the car she said, “I’m soooo happy.  Thank you so much.”

It is to Zoe and Noah that I owe my thanks for stepping into my “Batty” world for a week and allowing me to observe life through their eyes. When Bill helped with a few extra dollars so that Noah could buy a book he wanted badly, he asked Bill to call me, so that Zoe and I might have the same deal.  He deeply believes in being fair, and doesn’t want his sister to lose out. I just love it!

P.P.S. Some may say I‘m a bit peculiar and a bit eccentric, but I’m far from crazy. Zoe is not yet “batty,” but one day, when she grows into the wild woman she’s destined to be, I’m sure she will be as batty as I am. But never crazy.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!

P.P.P.S. After reading this Lisa reminded me that Zoe weighed in over ten pounds.  It was my son, Mark, who was 8+ pounds and his birth was also by C-section.  Must run in the family.