Star Spotlight 26: Betsey

Betsey’s another woman I could write for pages about. She has a tremendously diverse range of talents and gifts, which she readily and joyfully shares with the world. She has a presence that’s truly unique: a stunning blend of giving and receiving, of standing in the background and shining in the spotlight. In fact, Betsey’s a woman who gets the spotlight more than many I’ve featured in this series. But I can’t resist allowing her the opportunity to bask in my little limelight, as well.

Since I know Betsey so well, it’s feels hard for me to do “zoom out” and give a more objective description of her irresistible personality. To be honest, I’ve been shy about writing a feature on Betsey; I’ve been afraid of “not doing her justice,” or being unable to encapsulate all the beauty that she radiates. However, in a serendipitous turn of events, I started my morning today with a guided meditation led by Tara Brach — and it feels so apropo to my process in reflecting on Betsey today that I feel compelled to start by sharing it with you all.

Tara Brach tells us:

Bring to mind someone in your life who it’s easy to feel love for. Sense this person, to be reminded of what you love — the goodness of the spirit that shines through, the way this is expressed. How they show affection… their humor and brightness. How they look when they’re really happy. Whatever’s most special to you about them. How they communicate care, and how I communicate it back to them. Simply saying “thank you” or “I love you.” Sense the goodness of this, and the goodness of this being and yours, and the goodness of the love that’s here.

After then inviting us to grant a sincere blessing to ourselves, in addition to the other person we are conjuring, Tara then urges us to bring this person to mind again — this time, thinking of them as if for the first time.
Look for the things you may have missed because of familiarity. Anthony De Mello says “You cannot love what you cannot see afresh. You cannot love what you are not discovering anew.” Take these precious moment to discover afresh the goodness in this being who is dear to you. And as you sense what you care about — that being’s creativity or vibrancy of way of showing love… their brightness, quirkiness, mischievousness, humor, expression of warmth or light — feel it viscerally. And from that space, offer your blessing, offer that prayer of care, a mental prayer, a whisper, from your heart to that being’s heart.

I must admit, this beautifully encapsulate what this whole Generosity Chronicles series has been about: deeply seeing people. And Tara’s urging to see deeper – to shine light into the recesses of the darkness, in addition to the easily noticeable brightness of being – helped me approach my meditation on Betsey from a new vantage point.

So imagine me now, sitting on a perch that’s new and unfamiliar. Peering into Betsey’s home, as if for the first time rather than the thousandth. I see a woman with tremendous light. She glows with a glorious grace, and her spirit shimmers and shimmeys. She’s deeply intuitive, with an inner terrain that’s complex, intricate, nuanced, sensitive, and overwhelmingly empathic. She’s many things to many people: healer, teacher, leader, inspiration, student, friend, daughter, mother, wise goddess, divine feminine. She’s sublime and silly, warm-hearted and absurd, disciplined and free-spirited, creative and attuned and connected and sometimes, in her own lala land. There’s one thing that’s unerringly clear: she’s a gift to the world.

Betsey’s an astoundingly talented dancer. These days, her movement mostly encompasses Liturgical Dance and Interplay, but she has used her body throughout her life as a vehicle for expression, a method of creativity, a way to heal and nurture and transform. She’s danced her way around the globe — from Australia, to Ireland (and soon, Jerusalem!), and everywhere in between. She’s danced as nearly every character in the Christian gospels: men and women, holy and lay, cherished and condemned. She’s danced on stages in front of thousands, and in the rugged stages of the outdoors that only Mother Nature is capable of creating. She manages to be polished while still being deeply exultant and expressive. When she moves, she does more than dance: she communicates. She shares her truth: truth of the texts she works from, truth that’s alive in her own heart. The truth of the world, of our deep human needs for connection and love, of God. And ‘lest I fail to mention: yes, of course she’s danced the sacred, but she’s also danced the silly. She’s one of my favorites to boogey with on a wedding dance floor, or even to go wild and crazy alongside in the living room.

Betsey’s a fantastic facilitator. She’s able to lead a group in ceremony, dance, song, meal, or liturgy with grace and finesse. She’s confident and brave, and seems effortless when in a position where she’s the center of attention. She’s able to navigate intricate social dynamics in a way that allows everyone in attendance to feel seen, heard, and respected. She’s also light-hearted, and brings a much-needed dimension of goofiness and humor to her work and play, alike. She’s able to transform a homily (even those that could be written off as “dull and lifeless texts”) into a piece of work that writhes and wriggles, leaps and cavorts its way through the words of scripture. She energizes every religious experience she’s apart of, absolutely, but she also energizes any group that she is engaged with. Whether this be a cocktail hour with her wise women friends, or a big family dinner, or a spontaneous dance party – on the streets, in the park, in her backyard, around the kitchen.

Betsey’s talents as an artist and creative reach beyond simply her abilities as a dancer, however. She’s staged numerous video projects, and incorporates film as a method to reach her audiences, and spread her teachings and wisdom. She’s savvy technologically (okay, depends on who you’re comparing her to… but she can put together a newsletter with impressive finesse, and wiggles her way through the nuances of social media quite effortlessly), and has a finely tuned eye for choreography and staging that will complement and enhance her physical talent. She’s thoughtful in her communication, and shares stories through movement, music, and also through words. She is a FABULOUS writer! I have often been moved by her poetry and prose, alike.

Betsey also demonstrates a strong commitment to nurturing and supporting her body. Her line of work (dancing hours every week!) requires a high level of physical capacity, and Betsey has a personal care practice that is consistent and supportive. I see this as a profound way for Betsey to demonstrate a radically loving gesture to herself. She’s done an hour of personal yoga practice, every day, without fail, for the past 25-odd years; attending studio classes for far longer. Seriously. Truly. What a way to send her body the message: “Hey, I care about you. Not only that, but I’m taking care of you. In the way you’re asking for and the way you deserve. In the way that will keep you in alignment, and keep you where you want to be.” How powerful this messaging is! It is no wonder she has preserved a somewhat uncanny ability to continue to dance with seeming effortlessness, though she’s nearing her 60th birthday. She has consistently invited her body to remember its power, to embrace its flexibility, to exult in its strength. This is visible in her human form, but also evident in her spirit body. I feel a comfort and ease, yes, but perhaps more importantly, a trust. A solid belief in herself.

Betsey is an adoring mother, caring sister, doting aunt, supportive wife. Family has always been important to Betsey, and she carves out significant amounts of time and energy for those who are near and dear to her. She shares stories openly and with spirit, and it is always a joy to hear her speak about her new projects, her recent travel experiences, or whatever she is currently feeling passionate about. She also listens voraciously, and is able to reflect back to whomever she is in conversation with, with a gorgeous blend of affirmation and critique and support. She is a fabulous gift-giver, seemingly able to hone in on exactly what would best suit the recipient. It is clear she derives much joy, not only in being gifted material things, but also in the buying and sharing of them. Along those lines, Betsey finds a similar give-and-take between receiving accolades and also giving them. Clearly, there is immense pleasure she feels when being given affirmation for the amazing work she does; however, she truly “shares the love,” and is able to express to others how meaningful they, too, are to her.

Betsey is a sweet sweet sweet spirited soul. I feel so blessed to call her godmother, aunt, friend, fellow life journeyer & devotee to beauty, light, and love. Betsey, I love you so much!

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