Tag Archives: Woody Allen

bye to Betsy

Yesterday was my final session with Betsy. Yep, I can call her that. Even though she’s my therapist, we’ve had a casual, friendly style. I’d know her before–she’s a musician and singer in the community–but not on a personal basis. It was more that we knew who each other was.

She told me she’d miss me and that, if something came up, I could call. Betsy checked my file and told me I’d been seeing her since November 2004. I first went to see her when I was dating T. and I was cast in a net of angst about relationships. Mine was a Woody Allen kind of neurosis. Eventually things settled down and I used my inner social worker to deal with things.

Early 2007, I remember pulling to the side of a road and calling her. My words were something like: “I think I need to see you again to deal with issues of loss and grief.” I was driving home from seeing my mother, at home under hospice care. She was dying of lung cancer. At the same time, my girlfriend A. (who I dreamed I could marry) started withdrawing. Either one of these losses could have done me in but both at the same time seemed too much to handle.

By May of that year, I discovered the joy that had been hidden inside (but that’s another story). I owe much of my recovery to Siddha Yoga practices. The fact that I was divine revealed Herself. Iris and daffodils bloomed wildly around me. The first puppy I ever had sat next to me on the garden bench. Birds were chirping. The creek flowed, teaching me about change. I was retired, had a home in a lovely setting, and life was good, after all. Sometimes I even found bliss.

Betsy said I’d grown from “What’s wrong with me?” to a greater acceptance of myself. I told her if I were President of the United States, I’d include a once-a-month counseling session for everyone in the new health bill. How gratifying it was to have someone to hear me out each month and be my advocate (when I couldn’t be one for myself). I have my friends and my writing and meditation: all these are ways to keep in touch with myself. Meanwhile, I’ll see Betsy next month: she’s doing a concert at College Hill Coffee Company. I’ll be there in the audience cheering her on.


Meeting Diane Keaton

“You made her laugh!” a cute young woman told me as I headed for the chocolates at the reception table after meeting Diane Keaton. As someone who blogged several of the SmartTalkWomen talks, I was invited to a reception afterward. It turned out this friendly woman is a personal assistant to Ms. Keaton. What had I said? “I’d recognize that skirt anywhere!” It had been very distinctive from the stage so when she walked into the reception, I noticed her right away because of it.

The skirt Diane Keaton was wearing was black with pink and white flowers and it was some sort of hoop skirt. It stood out! But then that’s not surprising: fashion is very important to her. In her talk at the Aronoff last night, she confessed that she never wanted to be ordinary. She discovered her trademark hats, beginning with one at a Salvation Army thrift store. Recall the trend she began with her Oscar winning role of Annie in “Annie Hall.” It was the 70s and women could suddenly wear anything — even men’s ties, that crossover androgynous look.

Actress in over fifty films, a director and producer as well, Diane Keaton was the final speaker in the Smart Talk/Connected Conversations series. Of the three I heard, she was my favorite (and they were all excellent). There is something about Diane Keaton that is so genuine, so lovable (tip from the personal assistant: this perception is accurate).

Besides how genuine she is, I liked how much she acknowledged other women. As a child she’d wanted to be an actress “so bad.” And her mother wanted her to have what she wanted. “Mothers are perhaps the most powerful relationship we experience in our lives.” Hers had recently died from Alzheimer’s. Interspersed throughout her talk were several film clips of an overview of her movies, her mother, and her children. We saw Dorothy as a young mother and as a woman in her 80s. As Diane describes, she “watched her slowly become unrecognizable.” But her mother’s strength became a gift: “For the first time in her life she didn’t give a damn what people thought!”

Age is a big issue for Diane Keaton. This 63 year old spokeswoman for L’Oreal makeup told us that, as she aged, she realized men were looking through her, not at her. She noticed in her most recent films, she tended to be acting across other women and was no longer the young love interest with a famous male actor. These actresses were “rooted in reality. Women know that depth of feeling is an intelligence.” Age discrimination “annoys” her. But this spirited actress is not about to let age be “an act of submission.” At age 50, then 55, she adopted two children, Duke and Dexter, who have given her “waves of joy.” The short video she shared of them gave us a wonderful sense of how much delight they add to her life.

During the question and answer session after her talk, she was asked about other actresses and actors. She spoke of being discovered for a Broadway play in 1969 by Woody Allen. As a director, he was laid back, giving the actors a lot of freedom. Warren Beatty, however, would do 45 takes of the same scene. Still, Diane credited “Reds” as being “a great movie.” The one most people resonate with recently is “Something’s Gotta Give” with her co-star Jack Nicholson. The audience loved hearing her inside scoops on some of the stars.

A word she used in her talk — “vibrancy” — captures Diane Keaton’s essence. Not anyone in her 60s would dare to wear a brightly colored hoop skirt! That personal assistant and I can vouch for this much loved film star being as genuine and free spirited as she comes across on the big screen.

Questions for Diane Keaton

* How do you keep looking so good? There is a certain vibrancy about you.

* What are your passions, the interests that have kept you going over the decades?

* I can remember you in “Annie Hall” back in 1977. I was 27 then and loved the free spirit you represented in that film. As you reflect on the various roles you’ve played over 30+ years in film and on stage, would you comment on how you see U.S. society has changed re women?

These are the questions I would ask Diane Keaton. She has always been one of my favorite actresses. There is something about her that has always caught my attention. I don’t even mind watching the commercials I see her in from time to time!

Is it her smile, those cute granny glasses, her hair, her joie de vivre? The best word I have come up with is VIBRANCY. I know there’s a bond I feel because I literally grew up with her in film, beginning with the whimsical Woody Allen film “Annie Hall.” I’m sure she must be sick of being identified with a persona decades old but I will always remember her this way. I mean, the woman started a new fashion trend, okaying women wearing ties and dressing like men, i.e., androgynously!

Diane Keaton will be in Cincinnati this Tuesday, May 19th; Des Moines, May 20th; and Minneapolis, May 21st. She is the final speaker this spring at the Smart Talk Women series. If you are interested in going, there are some single seat tickets remaining. Because I’ve been blogging about the last few speakers, I have been offered an opportunity to pass along some discounted tickets to readers of my blog. Here is the information:

Please send payments to Tickets@SmartTalkMedia.com via paypal (Use code: DKISER) or call the appropriate box office.

Here are the cities and the pricing:

CINCINNATI, OHIO – Tuesday, May 19th, 7:30 pm
Aronoff Box Office:  (513) 621-2787
Rear Balcony

DES MOINES, IOWA – Wednesday, May 20th, 7:30 pm
Civic Center – (515) 246-2300
Rear Orchestra

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – Thursday, May 21st, 7:30 pm
Orchestra Hall – (612) 371-5642
Tier II D / Tier III

~ for more information, go to: www.smarttalkwomen.com

To watch her accept the Oscar for Best Actress for Annie Hall, visit this video:


the therapist & I tap into my most neurotic fear + Poem #28

It was somewhere near the end of today’s session when I realized I’d never mentioned Betsy Lippitt, my therapist, in this blog. Now I don’t know about the ethics of client – therapist blogging tales but, since I told her I’d make sure to include her and I’m ok with it, here goes . . .

I had caught her up on the past three weeks (we’re in the phasing out phase). There’s probably a term for when the client suddenly blurts out a juicy topic or theme just before the session is officially over. That’s what happened today. I had originally gone to Betsy when my mother died and the girlfriend left the next month. It was a bit too much loss for me to deal with at the same time. And, every now and then, I get a little worried about being a lesbian getting older by the minute and living — and dying — alone.

I told Betsy I had three people listed under Emergency Contacts on my cell phone. Well, they give you that much room so why not be careful? Janice sometimes doesn’t answer her phone and my sister Linda almost always get interrupted by incoming beeps. So I added Eileen because she is home and might be responsible about answering if she got — the call. So I was in this space when I went into a ‘story’ — Betsy pointed this out; smart alec that she is, she had just heard Byron Katie’s talk on Friday night and was showing off — about What If.

The What If story goes like this: what if I suddenly toppled over of a heart attack or went unconscious for some ungodly reason? There I am, living on this rural road with a cow and a horse living less than a mile away. The fear that I unearthed is that I would, well, die — either suddenly or after lying there awhile, unable to crawl on my stomach to my cell phone which wouldn’t be far away but still inaccessible. I’d be lying there for a couple of days. So here’s the kicker: what would my dogs do? Actually, I’m more worried about Bodhi because Mia would take her cue from him. Bodhi is close to his wild canine roots and this German Shepherd – Norwegian Elkhound mix is a ravenous eater. Here’s what I’m worrying about: after a few days, he would be very hungry. Now, he knows where the dog biscuits are. If he got desperate enough, Bodhi would certainly have no compunction about jumping up to the counter and trying to open the upper cabinet door, knocking down the huge bag of biscuits. They would, of course, sprawl all over the kitchen floor and he and Mia would gorge on them.

So that might keep them at bay for a day. But then what? Here’s my real fear: at some point, Bodhi would toss loyalty aside and take a bite — in other words, he might eat me. Mia, looking up so to Mr. Bo, would follow and there you have it. A Woody Allen neurotic story if I ever heard one. Fortunately, my therapist heard a shorter version of this or I would have had to pay extra!

Are you happy, Betsy? You were mentioned in my blog.

Poem #28

fears can be easily explained / they are
not what you think they are / they
bubble up unexpectedly when you’re running out of time