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Aunt Bea Moves Out

28 May

Several years ago my husband and I moved to Arkansas with the intention of retiring there, but sometimes intentions collide with reality.  Our Retirement Plan A crashed when unforeseen medical issues led us back to Texas.

Rick and I shared four and one half years in the forests and mountains of the Natural State, experiencing the inspiring beauty and relentless wrath of nature.  In those woods I found pieces of myself I didn’t know existed, and unearthed passions I could have only dreamed.

The forest captured my heart, stirring instincts I’d never acknowledged, and inner strength I didn’t know I possessed as I surrendered preconceived notions to her mossy floors, and released the burden of loss into the canopy of her open arms.

Unity with the earth blossomed as I followed the umbilicus between us, and when I fell in love with my garden, I began a second blog at WordPress: Aunt-Bea-Me was born.

Growing was not Mayberry-eske but the delightful Aunt Bea character in the television series of the old Andy Griffith show was the stuff of my fantasies.  She was sensible and silly at the same time.  She was consistent. You could count on her for everything from a fried chicken dinner to common sense.  She laughed a lot and was never pretentious.

When the world was too harsh, I pulled Aunt Bea from the recesses of my mind and looked to her for comfort.  As an adult, Arkansas became my Aunt Bea.

Rick and I have been back in Texas for four years.  Texas is more than my state, it is the root on which I planted my seeds.  Once again I am living in the garden of my children, and am deeply blessed by their love and attention.  Surprisingly, I find my voice much stronger than before.  I have grown into an opinionated old bird and lost any fear I harbored along the way.

I’ve toughened with the times.

Months ago I considered abandoning the Aunt-Bea-Me blog, but before I made a final decision I did a little research on Frances Bavier, the actress who played Aunt Bea.  I was surprised.  Ms. Bavier grew tired then aggravated with the role assigned her; it turns out she and Mr. Griffith were never really friends.  They were much more adversarial than I could have imagined.  Ms. Bavier said she felt she no longer existed as an individual because people associated her with a single role she played.

She admitted to having a love/hate relationship with the character Aunt Bea; so in an effort to break away from something that seemed to own her, she shifted directions to save herself.  Ms. Bavier began to isolate herself from the world through a long, lonely process of withdrawal, and in 1989 she died alone.  In the presence of a dozen plus cats and a rundown dirty home, Frances Bavier made her escape.

We all are a bit like Frances Bavier.  Through my writing, poetry and musings I present various facets of myself to an audience of strangers who sometimes assign a single aspect of that voice as the ultimate and total truth of my entire presence on earth.

A year and a half ago I became aware I was expending a great deal of energy on Facebook.  The more “friends” I made, the more pieces there were to connect. I seemed to waste a lot of time explaining, defining or justifying myself to people I didn’t even know. It isn’t a polite world out there anymore, and I never stay too long in bitterness; so as difficult as it is for a writer to walk away from an audience, I decided I needed to.

Life’s amazing whirlwind sweeps us to corners or to the middle of the room.  Frances Bavier chose a corner.  I’ve moved closer to the middle of the room myself.  The fantasy of a dear, sweet Aunt Bea carried me through many a storm, but the reality of Frances Bavier’s life reminds me today that isolation can overtake the spirit if it stays too long in a corner.

My Aunt-Bea-Me blog is coming down.  It has served me well.  But the time to move away from my safe space has long passed, and I am moving on.

Because time is precious.  And because there is a season for all things.




Directly in the path…

25 Aug

2 the bluff overlooking the pensacola bay at grandparents home  only constant in our lives

Category Five

It is both what you say
and how you say it,
marbles falling heavily
from your mouth hitting
the floor and shattering,
each word a moth made
of steel.

It is the way you clench your
fists, break only things that
belong to me,

and the way you move,
direct, calculated,

like the eye of
a hurricane before striking.

©2000Beverly Sweet/Scheidt







Social Media,the most powerful platform for hate

22 Jan


ice storm


The internet brings our inner selves to the surface and if you think that is a good thing think again.  A mob of nasty mouth pieces are chewing the world up like gluttons at a cheap buffet.  While bashing bullies, they bully.  While discrediting hatred, they spew hate.  While expressing an ability to love those who are different than themselves, they crucify half of the population for not agreeing with them.  They label, categorize, and pronounce judgment in the name of unity.

These are surely divisive times, but division only works if one side is willing to turn against or destroy the other.  It is no coincidence that critical thinking skills have been cut from school curriculum, or that students are pushed away from a central prospective toward wildly varying extremes in efforts to coerce blind obedience to one narrative or another.  There was, I promise, a time when our children were neither pawns nor targets.  There was a time we were not girded in hatred and suspicion.

There was a time we didn’t feel so terribly entitled or supremely knowledgeable.  There was a time we didn’t excuse bad behavior by insisting such behavior was a right.

Once I said and believed I would never lose a friend over differences in political or religious points of view, but that was before I understood people have grown to deeply believe reality is either black or white, never grey; that compromise is a sign of weakness rather than strength, and that one personal opinion far outweighs all of the other personal opinions in the world because it belongs to you.

I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t cool to fall in love with the sound of our own voice, and rather than loving a rush that comes after having verbally slaughtered or shamed a perceived opponent, we would have ourselves felt shame.  So, in deed, I have lost friends as I stepped into the new world where perspectives are carved in stone, and everyone demands validation.

But I have to say I feel empty inside; in spite of the fact that I know I am not alone.  And as I pull away to rebuild, to light once again the inner flame of compassion and trust I’ve lost, I often find tears running down my face, and I am filled with disappointment and woe for what might have been.

I don’t want a trophy or special attention because I know I’m not special, and neither are you.  We are all in the same boat, rocky as it is, and God help us as we bicker like spoiled children to see which lie we want to believe.

And God save us from ourselves.


Staying happy

18 May

“…the courage with which we bear our darkness frees others from having to carry it for us…”

John Tarrant, The Light Inside the Dark


That’s a quote from one of my all-time favorite books. The title is fairly self-explanatory and jives well with my basic life philosophy that from all things, most especially the dark or challenging experiences we encounter in life, there is great potential for inner growth.  And inner growth, when used to its fullest promise, impacts not only the way we live our lives but the way we view and interact with others.  This, of course, opens us, prepares us to achieve the highest levels of empathy and kindness which, in turn, benefits the entirety of planet earth as the love rolls outward, playing it forward.

exercising old ladies

Sometimes I watch the athletically gifted, or merely inclined, with near envy.  I was never much at outdoor activities unless it involved walking on the beach collecting shells, or sitting under a tree studying insect activities in mossy/dirt-laden carpets beneath the trees.  Usually there was a pen and tablet close by where I recorded my most profound and dramatic perspectives concerning the universe.  I wanted to be athletic, but a slight heart defect kept me from participating in strenuous activities so it worked out well that I enjoyed being a word-nerd.

Had life been different I doubt that I’d be running marathons or taking dance lessons at my age; I’m too reserved to be comfortable being Outstanding at anything these days.  Whenever there’s one handy, I still love walking on the beach, although I admit I sit gazing at the horizon more often, pen and tablet still in hand.  I love the woods more than it loves me, (I’m a flea, tick, and chigger magnet), but I still venture in to study the miracles and viciousness of nature.  And take notes.

old lady on beach

The world is full of darkness and grief; every day we see, experience or read about one extreme tragedy or another, and it’s hard to imagine when faced with horror there might be light at the end of the tunnel, let alone a potential for inner growth.  But there is.

I’m not as optimistic as I used to be but I still expect good things to happen.  I’m realistic about it though.  So if ten bad things happen I can usually find hope in at least six or seven of them.

The most important thing to me is maintaining absolute honesty with myself.  I own up to my stuff, positive or negative.  If I feel I’ve let someone down, for example, I say it out loud.  I let myself sit with the weight of that statement for a while, then forgive myself and move on.  I don’t brood anymore, and I try very hard not to dump my pain on others, although I struggle with the fine line between sharing and dumping at times.

If it’s really ugly, you can bet I’m going to keep it to myself.  Well, except for my poetry; that’s almost always tragic.

Still, I’m going to keep striving to be as stoic and respectful of others as Mr. Tarrant is.  I really don’t want anyone else to have to carry my load.  You can walk beside me, come along for the trip, but that’s all I’m really be comfortable with.  I love having goals and my heart is still good enough that I can stretch to reach them without injuring anything.





















Retired Judge

25 Feb

images (1)

Although difficult, for me, running against the wind is instinctive.  I wanted to be the peaceful type full of hope and pink ponies and optimism; but ever since I can remember, I’ve taken rough back roads instead of flowing along with crowds down pristine super highways.  I’m not a glass half empty woman any more than I’m a glass half full one.  For me, there’s water in a glass that has plenty room for more.

As a child, I used to groan under my breath at family gatherings when the topic for discussion shifted to the elders’ perception of change.  The word change, it seemed, was interchangeable with self-indulgence and destruction.  “The younger generation is going to bring about the end of everything we’ve built and cast the world over the cliff into a hungry abyss that will swallow it whole.”  Blah. Blah. Blah.

kitchen women

About this time I would generally inch my way toward the back door, planning escape.  I wish I’d listened more when I was young, paid more attention.  I wish I’d been more respectful of the process of wisdom gathering, opinion formation and varying styles of perception.  These are skills that come to fruition with aging, but I didn’t get it and I was really quite arrogant about it all, shaking my head at the gloom and doom old fools I left in the living room worrying about the future of the planet. It never entered my mind they were worrying about my life, what the realities would be in the wake of monumental change following the Great Depression and World War 2.

However, my perspective shifted noticeably when I crossed the 60 year line myself as I struggled with unsettling feelings of semi-bitterness for the rapid fire changes that had beset a world I was no longer familiar with and often uncomfortable in.

Those were emotionally exhausting days spent holding myself back, or propelling forward like rotted chicken catapulted from a giant sling shot.  And once again, arrogance, as I assumed my way was somehow the best way, often better even than the steady voices of men and women of peace, or the predictions of masterful economic minds, or the advice offered by strategic planners, or the exaggerated threats from political movers, and the woeful forecasts of intellectual shakers.  I was so full of righteous indignation I felt bloated and dour and sad.

Watching a friend lose her way in extraterrestrial philosophies and questionable directives from  guides from the other side, I paused long enough to reevaluate my own beliefs and deal, face to face, with the inflexible judge I had become.

et 2

It was a process.

Just as in childhood, I found myself inching once again toward the back door in an attempt to purge poisons I carried inside.  I thought, ‘perhaps if I fill my lungs with fresh air, or eat an apple in the swing on the front porch, or pick a bouquet of Black-Eyed Susans,’ I might feel better’.  And so I did all of those things and more, binding myself more closely with the cycles of nature and the rhythmic beat of my own heart , mindful of the emotional and mental chaos I’d created in the past and how unsatisfying the experience had been.

peaceful garden

I won’t say I killed the judge inside my soul, but I let her fade away.   I am an observer now; judging nothing, not even myself.

When I choose to watch the evening news and hear the ranting and ravings of judgmental zealots, a sense of calm fills my senses, and I feel the good intentions and the fear inside each loud voice.  I make mental notes about where they are standing, which audience they are addressing, the time of day they speak, lapel pins, the shapes of glasses they wear, and the voices of reporters trying to make names for themselves.

Adults are often little more than large children and that can go either way because a child can engage or detach as he sees fit, but when all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, it is a magnificent occasion.

These days I spend more time paying attention to what other people say.  I love hearing their ideas and opinions; I love reading what they are thinking and how they disseminate unique perspectives and personal views. I learn so much as I immerse myself in both studied and unexplored concepts.  More and more, I spend time reading non-fiction, opinion pieces, and most especially blogs.  The passion and sincerity bloggers express touches my heart.?????????????????????????????????????????????

Every time I experience the strength of another person’s voice, my own grows; but I’m not in love with the sound of my own voice.  My own opinions don’t impress me either.  I often find it difficult to express them now.  Blogging has become more challenging as I struggle to share without preaching.  I’ve learned that listening is an integral part of observation.  So is keeping an open mind.  The boundaries of my perceptions have seeped or bled into the fluidity of the times freeing my mind to explore new possibilities. I’m happy that I don’t feel responsible for the fate of the entire world. I am finally comfortable in my own skin and at peace with the ever evolving world around me.