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The Bee in My Bonnet

Why is there a bee in my shoe?

On Mother’s Day, I headed down to the basement to walk on my beloved treadmill. I was in the middle of a dark film, Winter’s Bone, and anxious to find out what would happen. I turned on the television, put on my headphones, and hit play. Eyes on the screen, I scooped down to pick up one of my shoes and started to slide my foot inside. With a start I realized my shoe was vibrating, but before I could react, an enormous bumblebee crawled over my foot, brushed across my hand, dropped to the floor and buzzed angrily right under the treadmill.

I paused the movie and took a deep breath—the bee went quiet.

I’ve been stung more than once. I suffer a localized allergic reaction (as opposed to the much more serious systemic type) to bee stings. When I was quite young, a bumblebee left a cloud of bees being removed by a bee keeper from a prominent spot on our farm, flew past any number of grown ups and dogs that were monitoring the removal, found me at what we had thought would be a more-than safe distance, and stung me right between my eyebrows. As a yogi I’ve learned this is the location of Ajna, my third eye. At five, all I knew was that something really noisy hurt and when I reflexively put my hand up to investigate, the bee stung my finger, too.

Later, my mother would explain I was stung by the queen bee—she’s the only bumblebee that can sting more than once. I had red, painful swelling all around my eyes and a huge index finger for a nearly a week.

Although the severity of my bee string reactions has diminished over the years, I do not encounter bees with ease. Still, I knew I wanted that Mother’s Day bee safely out of my basement, so I found an empty water bottle and a sturdy piece of paper and used the chest strap heart rate monitor to nudge the bee out from under the treadmill. Then I trapped him with the bottle setting it around him gently, slid the paper underneath, and carried him outside. Inside the water bottle he buzzed and buzzed; released into the fine May sunshine, he danced away.

I am not a purist—I’ll save a bumblebee, a spider, or a beetle, but kill a mosquito, a flea, or a tick. I’ll combine mission furniture with a modern light fixture, or Mexican rice and black beans with a Greek salad. In a single yoga practice I might lead my class through Ashtanga style sun salutations, attention to aligning and holding a pose in the manner of the Iyengars, and end with a restorative accompanied by sweet grooves of Van Morrison. I take good care of my body and eat well, but I’m not beyond enjoying a little caffeine or a really cold martini. Thus, my eclectic theory of decorating—something I’ve long claimed—is if I like something, it’ll go with or at least compliment everything else in my house. One of the messages I’ve gotten from the buzz in my shoe, I realized thinking and thinking about that bee, is that my eclectic approach to home furnishing is, in fact, my eclectic theory for pretty much everything.

It took a few days, but when I saw one vanity plate that read BEEZ MOM and another shortly after that read STINGR, I realized I hadn’t yet gleaned all of the messages that bee was offering. That eclectic theory of living allows me to delight in my daily horoscope (I’m a Virgo, Gemini moon), to consider the Chinese Zodiac (Snake, 1965), and to consult Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. Here’s what I read about my bee sighting:

If a bee has shown up in your life, examine your own productivity. Are you doing all you can to make your life more fertile? Are you busy enough? Are you taking time to savor the honey of your endeavors or are you being a workaholic? Are you attempting to do too much? Are you keeping your desires in check so they can be more productive?

… Are you taking time to enjoy the labors and activities you involve yourself in? The bee helps remind us that activities are more productive and sweeter if we take time to enjoy them. (Llewellyn Publications, 2009, p. 337)

That bee asks some tough and important questions! They are excellent questions to live with, to take to the mat, to mull and discuss—and so I will as I ponder and muse and, with a little perseverance and your indulgence, continue share those thoughts here.

Happy Full Flower Moon, Rxo


About Robin Bourjaily

I currently perform my own stunts as a mother, writer, editor, yoga instructor, and certified Yoga As Muse facilitator. Overneath It All is a medium for sharing my stories--my commitment is to post on the full and new moons, plus or minus a day or two, and the occasional personal holiday. My novel, Throwing Like a Girl, is now available in e-formats on Smashwords. Please visit to download. Thanks for checking in. xoR

2 responses »

  1. well, it really is all about the shoes, isn’t it? love the juicy bee and honey energy reminders…

    makes me kinda want to write about the Turkey trotter and the fox trotter and my Old Main Trotters…

    more, more


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