How to Release Worry.

“In release, we begin.” ~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Dear Worry,

Thank you for visiting, for doing everything you can to protect me from financial ruin and career failure.

Thank you for all the time you invested in my health issues. You’ve been busy!

Here’s the thing, Worry. You’re not actually helping. When you’re around, I rarely get anything accomplished. I waste too much time with you.

I know you mean well and are trying to help because you’re concerned about my future.

Would you be willing to step aside for a while so I can spend time with my other team members?

It’s hard to hear you’re not qualified to lead me in the direction I’m headed, but if success and health are what you truly want for me, I need you to step aside.

There may be other occasions where I call on you in the future. For now, your services are no longer required.

I’ve put together a new team with Planning, Follow Through, and Faith.

I’ll be spending time with them. When I’m not working with them, I’ll be partnering with Peace, Forgiveness, and Fun.

I just don’t have the time to be with you anymore, Worry.

This is a conscious decision, one you’ve helped me make by all the time you’ve spent with me. I know it’s not your intention, but you exhaust me!

I’m simply not able to spend my late nights and early mornings having endless conversations with you.

You tried to help me. I get it, but now it’s time for you to go. I’ve got work to do.

Thank you for your contribution and allowing me to grow on my own from here. We just can’t be partners anymore.

No, really. I must go, Worry. I want to go. I choose to go. I’m letting you go.

Just step off, Worry! Seriously, you’re holding me back and trying to manipulate me into discussing every little detail and then rehashing over and over. It’s not going to happen.

I can’t do this anymore. I need you to leave my home and my life.

Thank you and goodbye.

Sincerely,
Alice in Authorland

6 Steps to Manifesting & How I was Doing it all Wrong.

My sister is the best manifestor I know. She doesn’t waiver.

When her husband died, Jayne—in the throes of wretched grief—wrote how she’d like her life to be, specifically.

She wrote about the kind of job she wanted: the company, culture, income, minimal travel, and optimum opportunity to affect people. It’s the job she now has.

She wrote about the kind of place she wanted to live, long before I came on the scene.

It’s where we live now: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, basement with storage space, safe, walking distance to restaurants and nature, awesome landlord… Some things have changed and maybe we’ll move on, but Jayne manifested more than just a place to live. It’s home.

That’s an almost impossible task when home for 35 years was with her husband. So, after losing him, recreating that kind of space meant a major mind leap.

What’s more, she wrote about the kind of relationship and man she wanted.

A couple of guys flitted in and out, revealing their inability to step into the kind of relationship Jayne sought. She easily released them, rather than trying to make something work that wasn’t meant to be, as so many people do, especially women, and even more so for vulnerable widows. Not my sister.

One guy she really liked early on forgot to mention he had a girlfriend, because he was so busy telling Jayne how fabulous she was. One day, while she was at work, his girlfriend showed up at our door, making me the bearer of the bad news. Jayne laughed it off.

After your husband/life partner/best friend/protector/father of your children dies, cheating boyfriends get swiped away like flies.

Even after Jayne got deep enough to let a relationship develop with her current man, she never stopped working to create the kind of communication that makes a long-term love worth the heart and time investment. She speaks her mind, gets angry, asks questions, listens, and brings him coffee in the morning.

That’s amazing manifestation and continuous development.

At work, my sister insisted she wanted to be able to wear jeans every day, as she had in her previous job. She kept saying it over and over.

Guess who left this morning, as she now does every morning, wearing jeans? It took years, but the policy got changed!

Here’s the way many of us try to manifest. Well, at least the way I’ve been known to finagle. Let’s say I wanted to wear jeans, but the policy was business casual.

I’d say, “I wish we could wear jeans,” but then I’d try to make myself happy with business casual and feel good wearing certain outfits that I wouldn’t wear if I wore jeans. I’d even try to rationalize myself into feeling as if I was for the policy I truly didn’t prefer, while whining about it over drinks with friends every few months.

So, a key is to know and stand by what you truly want and not try to convince yourself to feel differently because you’re afraid you can’t have that which you desire.

Of course, I’m not saying Jayne magically gets everything she wants, but her magnetic mind is staggering.

Another example: she wanted more vacation time. When she was hired, she’d been told that wasn’t possible. It was the one thing on her ideal job list she didn’t get.

However, not long ago, I received a text: “Guess what?!”

In the interim, she repeatedly said, “I make great money, but the thing I’d really like is more vacation. I don’t mind working. I just like playing, too. I just don’t have enough vacation time.”

Then, after years of working for the company who couldn’t give her that, they did. Jayne received another week of vacation.

Just. Like. That.

It’s simple, but I’m more of a complicate the hell out of it and reevaluate 42 times kind of manifestor.

I need to get out of my own way and keep it simple.

For example, I’m a writer, but not yet as successful or as solvent as I intend to be. My sister supports and encourages my writing career.

When I first moved in with her, I’d freak out every few months, feeling guilty for not bringing in more money. I’d tell Jayne I could go back to teaching or get another job. She’d say, “No, this is what we’re doing. You’re pursuing your dream.”

I did. I have. I am. I’ll never give up.

However, I’ve been known to get sidetracked, as in, do you think I should teach yoga?

Also, I’ve wanted my health, but enjoyed beer and pizza.

Conflicting desires sometimes prioritize through pain. On my path to better health, my body no longer tolerates pizza. Now, I choose my health over cheap thrills.

There are times we need to renegotiate with the Universe and things don’t always happen the way we want, but often it’s because we’re unclear and keep changing our minds.

Like a couple of my single girlfriends. They’ll admit and recommit to wanting a man and a relationship. They’ll go speed dating and on dating sites and on some dates.

Then, when we get together the question of dating or meeting someone special comes up. Inevitably, these gals will go on about how happy they feel in their lives and therefore, they don’t really need, or even necessarily want a man.

These are successful women with fabulous friends, family, and a full life. They’re happy.

And yet, each one of them, like me, carries a deep desire to connect with a special someone in the way that a relationship with a mate offers.

We’d love to manifest love for ourselves, but we waiver. We tell ourselves we don’t want it because we’re already happy, as if fulfillment in other areas of our lives negates our desire for intimacy with a partner.

We say dating is too much work and we’re busy and we don’t mind being alone—because we don’t.

It’s all fine, but should we settle for fine when our hearts crave fabulous?

Just because we have a delicious meal, it doesn’t mean we don’t want desert. It’s fine if we don’t, but let’s not lie to ourselves.

I love my life. I’m happy as it is, right now, and I’m up for manifesting more and better, like a book contract and maybe even a fresh new man.

I’m following in my sister’s footsteps for manifesting and creating a life I love.

How about you? Are you clear in what you want or do you tend to waiver?

If you want to move into the direction of your desires, here are the six steps the best manifestor I know follows:

1. Know what you want.
2. Say what you want.
3. Believe you can have it.
4. Practice patience.
5. Do your work while you wait.
6. Allow what you want to come to you.

Or, the shorter version:

1. Know what you want.
2. Don’t waiver.

So, I’m off to manifest my writing success—as in a savvy agent and a life-changing book contract—along with a crazy, sexy, kundalini man. Because I believe I can.

How about you? What are you up for manifesting in your lovely life?

 

How to Break up with Perfection.

Dear Perfection,

I’m breaking up with you. I already talked to God about this and he said, “Go for it!”

In fact, he said he never understood why I pursued you in the first place.

Well, I won’t go that far; You’re so attractive! So ideal for me! I desire you. Unfortunately, you’re like a mirage. The closer I get to you, the more walls you put up.

You ghost me. Then, just when I’m at peace in my life, you come courting and seducing me with sweet gifts. You give me books. You know my weakness!

One Minute Organization, You Are a Badass, You Are a Badass at Making Money, Big Magic, Spontaneous Transformation, …

I read the pages and imagine you and me making things work the way you want. It’s what I want, too. But, you make it too hard. You don’t let me enjoy myself.

You’re like the opposite of my bad boyfriend who made all my money disappear. I once told him, “I bet if I had a million bucks, you could turn it into a -$1,000,000!”

With you, Perfection, if I earned $1,000,000 today, you’d say, “How about $2,000,000?”
You’re never satisfied. Plus, you’re kind of a stick in the mud, a dud.

When it’s time to celebrate, or even just sit in the sun, you pull out a to-do list.

Well, let me ask you this: what part are you doing? Because in this relationship of ours, I don’t see you doing a lot of heavy lifting, but I sure do hear you b*tching.

Like when I completed my Intentional Blog course and felt proud—because you know that technical sh*t brings up my childhood hurdle of feeling stupid—but I did it!
You said, “Yeah well, isn’t there another course you need to complete?”

When I balked because I wasn’t being lazy, but just acknowledging one step forward, you said, “My God, Alice, it’s not like you ran a marathon. I really care about you. It’s just that I know you’re going to feel better about yourself when you have 5,000 followers.”

Perfection, here’s what you don’t get: I was already feeling good!

You and I have different values and belief systems. You say you love me, but you don’t even respect me.

You invalidate my feelings, especially when I’m happy. How can you call that love?

You don’t appreciate me for who I am, but some fantasy of who you want me to be.

You’re trying to get to some destination down the road and when you catch me relishing my life, laughing with my sister, reading a novel, enjoying time with friends—you act like I’m doing something wrong.

No, Perfection. You’re wrong!

You’re wrong in your attitude. You hold up your ideals, but make no room for the path to attainment or fulfillment.

What you don’t get, Perfect, Perfect you, memories are made from running all the miles of the marathon. There are aid stations along the way and it’s ok to stop. Not everyone has to be a world champion.

You make everything like there are two choices: either you’re perfect, like you, or you’re a loser. I’ve got news for you. There’s a whole lot of in between.

There are thousands of writers earning a living off words who’ve never been on Oprah or the New York Times Bestseller list.

There are songwriters whose success is solid, but whose names we wouldn’t know and faces we wouldn’t recognize in public.

Perfection, you’re also a snob. If someone uses the wrong word—your for you’re, a less-than politically correct term, says “honey” or “babe” when they don’t know you, or mispronounces Guadalupe, you act as if they should be banished from earth.

Come on! Give people a break! Like me.

I’m better off without you. See, I want to enjoy my life now, not someday.

I’m not an idiot. I’m no fool. I know I’ve got work to do. It’s not like I’m going to totally screw up my life without your constant supervision.

I need a partner, a lover, a friend, maybe even a coach, but not a parent.

You know me; I’m antiauthoritarian a rebel and. So, what makes you think I’d be drawn closer to you by your control tactics disguised as loving advice and encouragement?

Sometimes, I resist doing things simply because you tell me I must. Perfection, you don’t own me and you sure don’t determine where I find joy in my life.

You want us to do all these things. You plan and plan, but then when we get there, it’s never good enough for you and you head off on the next plan.

Geez! You wear me out! I just need to be away from you for a while.

I’m done chasing you trying to make something work that was never meant to be.

By the way, I’ve been hanging out with God and he said something interesting. It reminded me of my first summer selling books when my sales manager noticed my sales plummeted on the days after I talked to my boyfriend back home.

God said he noticed whenever I’m trying to win you over—and haven’t I tried?—you try to make me feel like less-than. It’s true, although I know you’ll never admit it. It’s always cloaked in “trying to help.”

I’m not mad at you, Perfection. I get it. You don’t know another way to be. I shouldn’t ask you to change. I’m not. I’m just stepping away.

So I can be me. So I can be free. So I can pursue my passions without constantly worrying about how they might play in the marketplace or measure up to your standards.

I don’t want to measure up. You think I can’t make it without you just because you’ve been around for so long?

Wrong again. Sorry, but it’s often when things fall apart (according to your standards) that I find my greatest fulfillment.

My life often comes together in the most imperfect and unplanned ways.

I promise, Perfection. I’ll be fine without you.

I’m walking my own path. You may not like it, might disagree, can even laugh at me.

It doesn’t matter. I’m not going to be manipulated by you anymore, Perfection.

You’re the one who’s missing out. You’re missing the messy party called life, cloud watching, sunshine sipping, ducks landing in the driveway, 30 minutes of a one-hour meditation, budget vacations, and showing up late only to find you’re right on time.

You want life with straight edges, but baby I was born for riding the curves.

Perfection, our paths will cross again, maybe when I sign my book contracts and on Christmas, but don’t plan it. This just isn’t working for me. And in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been giving you what you want either.

Besides, I like hanging out with my other friends: Peace, Solitude, Serenity, Joy, Fun, Music, Poetry, Sister and Yoga. Oh, and Laughter, Hugs, Writing, and Conversations.

You’d hate our parties. We just sit around and bliss out. Not your style, I know. That’s why you are I are done.

Please don’t think it’s easy letting you go or that I won’t sometimes fantasize about you, but I will never chase you again.

So, go be you. I’ll see you in the movies and on TV, in pharmaceutical commercials and political campaigns. Get out there and tell them how it’s going to be, Perfect—tomorrow.

I’ll be here, basking in this magic moment.

 

How I Found my Forgotten Bank Account with a Million Bucks.

“And further, the thing put to rest–whether it be a loved one, a dream, or a false way of seeing–becomes the fertilizer for the life about to form.” ~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

There’s no man in my life right now, but I’m embracing love. I’m letting it rise in my body like the sun from behind the trees.

I was in love with life before I welcomed my friend Kevin to claim me, calm me, and call me into sacred love. We uncovered our deeper desires as I neared 50, after dancing in and out of a decades-long friendship.

Then, he died. March 4, 2016. Unexpectedly. In his sleep.

Losing him put me on my knees in prayer and sorrow.

A few people said things like “Kevin wouldn’t want you to be sad.” My response was a basic F*ck off!

Kevin wanted me to own all my emotions. We had a no bullsh*t zone. That’s why our relationship transformed into something each of us had only dreamed of before.

Sometimes I try to minimize the extraordinariness, as if that could dim the pain.

Then, some random 6:00 am morning, I open the drawer of my bedside stand to the letters he wrote, even as there’s a chant in my head: Don’t do it!

Handwritten letters starting in 2014, as rare and special in the age of text and email as our crazy, sexy, cool love was.

The one letter I allow myself this morning reminds me of the truth I know and try to let go as much as I cling to it: ours was no ordinary love.

It tasted as real as shared morning coffee, felt fun as the seven trips we took together in under two years, and opened as passionately as his smooth, swooping handwriting curving across lined yellow pages.

What follow are Kevin’s words from only one of the dozens of letters:

“Being with you, loving with you, and talking with you takes my emotions to places they’ve never been before.” With. He was so with me.

“Listening to you read last night touched me in a place I didn’t know I had.”

“You and I are unique in this love affair.”

“My devotion to you will not waver. I love you deeply more each day.”

He never wavered. Our relationship didn’t falter. We had no warning. He was gone.

I’m left with a drawer of letters mirroring the magnificent gift we somehow manifested.

We embodied Kevin’s last unfulfilled mission on earth: to love and be loved without walls.

How blessed I was to be his last love. Being involved and intimate with Kevin Lentz welcomed a pivotal shift in my life.

It’s one thing to believe that kind of love exists, but experiencing it was like the quench of water when I hadn’t realized my thirst.

Losing him was like the sun going behind the clouds and refusing to come out.

However, Kevin didn’t define me. He refined me.

I know and accept myself more completely since being loved by this man who knew, accepted, respected, and appreciated me.

His death made me starved for his affections. And yet, he never really left, as he reminds me: “I’m here, Icey! I’m here!”

Icey. I miss getting drunk on sound of his deep, masculine voice calling me Ice Baby and revealing to me the secrets of his soul.

I don’t doubt his words in my head, but it’s not the same as physical presence. In that, I’ve been ghosted.

On the other hand, imagine you’re struggling to pay your bills and you find a forgotten bank account with a million bucks and your name on it.

Yeah, Kevin left me a full account of love. Not only that, I’m the woman he fell for.

On the weekend that transformed our friendship into my favorite love affair, I was engaged with life.

I was in love with my writing dream and pursuing the publishing of my book. I was drenched in gratitude for my dog and sister and sitting in Kevin’s friend Big Daddy’s boat, soaking in the sun while we floated on Lake St. Louis.

I leaned back, looked up at the sky, and shouted, “I’m so happy!”

Kevin said, “With what, Icey?”

“With this moment. With my life.”

Yes, I was rich in love before Kevin and I became Fire and Ice. Fire filled my bank account to overflowing and never drained it.

I’m rich! All the love I had and all the love he gave lives inside me. I’ve been left full.

In fact, sometimes I think I could burst with the love I feel for my beautiful 10-year-old Black Lab companion. She’s a special creature, as anyone who meets her can attest. We share a beyond-reason bond, even getting sick simultaneously.

Once, when I went with Kevin to Florida, the kid who was watching Phoenix called with some bad news. There was something wrong with her. I asked him what he thought it might be. He nailed it: “Master Separation Anxiety.”

Every morning I give Phoenix a dog massage and tell her she’s the best dog in the world. We go for walks in the woods daily and I take as many pictures of her as new parents do of their baby. She’s got me captivated. Still.

And my sister? Don’t even get me started! When I moved in with her “for the summer” five years ago, I thought I knew everything about her.

We were close, even more so due to holding each other up through the losses of our only sibling, our mother, and Jayne’s husband.

Now, I think what I knew of Jayne just a handful of years back was like what you read on the spine of a book compared to what’s inside. We’ve learned so much more about one another, not just the stories we hadn’t had time or felt ready to tell, but the day-to-day way we walk in the world.

Jayne has taught me how to share a home with someone in a healthy, committed, communicative relationship. You’d think I would’ve learned that after two marriages and five decades on this earth, but what I’d learned was how to manage parallel lives. It’s as similar and different as water and ice.

My sister lost her husband of 33 years. She modelled how to rise after your favorite person dies, although neither of us imagined I’d need the lesson so soon.

My sister consistently speaks her mind and feelings and encourages me to do the same, as if she and Kevin were given the same lesson plans.

She puts present time experiences front and center and makes plans for us to spend time together, the way Kevin did.

Whether it’s grabbing a beer at Pies & Pints, riding camels in Australia, going down water slides in Orlando, taking road trips to Michigan to visit her son and daughter-in-law or home to Ohio from our childhood state of New Mexico, Jayne isn’t just riding along; she’s with me.

The way some people sleep on road trips, too many people sleep through their relationships. They’re missing out because there’s always more to learn about a person.

Jayne Gerlach is my sister and she’s one of my best friends. I’d say I couldn’t love her more, but I’ve learned love keeps growing.

And life, just like Kevin said, “It just keeps getting better.”

Even through the pain, I’m falling in love again—with life. Mine.

What do you love most about your life?

 

Letter from Above.

Letter from Above.

Dear Alice, (or Cindy or Sarah or Melanie, or Woman),

I’m proud of you. You keep stepping forward in your life and toward your dreams.

Let’s take stock of the steps. You overcame your mother’s death.

You’ve fallen in love, moved, and travelled with men you meant to make it work with, and when those relationships deteriorated, you determined to grow forward.

You found your way out and onward without compromising your dignity or destroying those men.

You said goodbye when it was hard and hurt like hell.

You didn’t compromise on your soul. You took stock, acknowledged your role, and learned your lessons. Bravo, brave girl!

You became a woman. Your mother would be proud, for you’ve pursued something she didn’t have the courage to, not really. Not after round two.

Your mom died of a broken heart. You determined not to let loss kill you.

It’s not in the falling; it’s in the rising.

You sought sacred love long before you knew the term. You yearned for authentic communication, courageous emotional intimacy, and truth even while you were served the opposite.

You didn’t cave. Congratulations!

Then, one day, you let life surprise you. You let the Fire melt your walls and warm your heart. You embraced real love and connection, the kind you longed for your whole life.

What’s more, you gave love. You gave truth. You trusted. You accepted your own insecurities without allowing them to be your excuse for less than loving behavior or leaving.

You saw this man as he was–flawed and fabulous and you loved him in the way he wanted and needed. You wanted that, too.

You don’t just want to receive love. You want to be appreciated, understood and cherished and you want to understand, respect and admire the man you’re with. Well done, my dear.

You attracted that. You lived into it. You lost it–not because of something he did or you did, but because life sometimes delivers sh*t sandwiches.

Then, you did the most challenging thing: you allowed yourself to feel the pain. You  resisted society’s impulses: Get up! Get up! Get up!

You didn’t let your ego play a role in your healing. Honey, you had the courage to dive into the dark, sticky, gooey, messy, all-encompassing pain of grief.

Do you know how many people either can’t or refuse to go there?

Not you. You answered the call of your soul. You tended to your broken heart. That’s brave.

That’s always been your style–the phoenix rising. But first, the blaze burning what came before in order to transform you into more. Your life epitomizes the process of transformation.

This is what you were born for. Others don’t do it because they don’t have to, but it’s your path, your destiny. You’re a Scorpio.

How many steps have you taken in the name of transformation and education and becoming a better you? Numerous–and I’ve got news for you darling, news you’re finally ready to hear.

This pain, this loss, this rebuilding, it never stops. You can handle it. In fact, you chose this. You know that even when you want to throw it back.

You chose the challenge just as you raised your hand for the gifts. 

Haven’t you been lucky? Fortunate in love?

Not just love of men (although amen to that, sister!), but love of friends and family and the most fantastic sister, the same one you cussed out before your crossed the border to move to Mexico after your mom died.

There it is again: gifts, growth, transformation, love. It seems to be a theme in your life, wouldn’t you say? Isn’t the pattern as solid as the seasons?

You’ve learned along the way not to cuss winter for being cold, but to curl up with a hot cup of cocoa, build a fire, and find the lovely in the falling snow.

In your youth, you could be shivering (emotionally) and deny winter was going to be wicked.

No more. Not only have you allowed for the depth of pain, you’ve welcomed compassion–not the rhetoric of it, but the person-to-person, face-to-face understanding that we all go through something hard. We all deserve a hand.

We each deserve love–because we’re human. We all came into this world as little girls and boys, happy babies long before we got on our knees and backs on yoga mats, long before the world saddled us with society’s baggage or our own personal sh*t storms.

So, now my dear, now that you understand, you remember. You remember the joy and how life can surprise you, like when you went to Champaign, IL for a summer job and some redhead dude climbed down from his roof. Soon you said to your mom, “I want to share my greatest accomplishment and my deepest disappointments with him.” And you did.

Until you didn’t. Because you weren’t meant to stay, but you’re meant to remember life surprises us with joy.

A friend you’ve known for decades can embody something bigger than you ever dreamed–both in life and in death.

Love lives on. Love returns. Love surprises. Love arrives. You don’t have to do a damn thing. In fact, you can’t. You can’t prepare or predict.

You can only live and love: your sister and the club for two she’s created, your dog dancing as your true companion, green trees swaying against blue skies, learning to cook healthy, and a tribe of women who help you heal scars you forgot you had. And these women allow you to nurture them, hold space, and encourage them to seek their center.

Again, surprises–delivered by life and the rising.

You, my lady, you’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re divine.

Don’t forget it. Own it.

 

 

 

 

So, I drank too much wine and slept with a stranger last night.

So, I drank too much wine and slept with a stranger last night.

“The journey back to ourselves begins with wanting something to change.” ~ Jennifer McLean, Spontaneous Transformation

Sometimes joy rushes in like a child, “Mommy, there’s a pony!” Other times, she rises like steam from a hot cup of coffee.

Joy crashed my party last night, the welcome addition to friends swapping so many stories a line formed behind the laughter.

How did these friends weave their way into my world?

We met in a writers’ group and respected each other’s critiques for years before we started sneaking away for beers as a threesome after group. That’s when the conversations started to get good.

Then, like children lined up for spankings, we each got ours.

Death crashed like waves washing away all that didn’t matter and taking those who did: my beloved, Jeff’s brother, Sharon’s sister. Just. Like. That.

We formed a bond. We talked. We cried. We wrote. We listened. We laid off.

We struggled with our individual losses branding our hearts with sorrow. We admitted we weren’t good company and flipped off the angel of death collectively.

Now, over 12 months have passed since our latest loss. Our gaping wounds are healing scars. Our every conversation isn’t laced with tears and wretched sadness.

So, I invited them over to my place last night. Sharon brought her husband. I fell for him as easily as my Black Lab leaned into his long legs. The combination of Clint Eastwood looks blessed by a liberal bias, and one-liners that had me forgetting life isn’t the funniest joke I’ve ever heard.

Last night, it was. Roy was a hunk of authenticity and as comfortable as sweats on Sunday morning. However, when I say I fell for him, I don’t mean romantically or that I’m attracted to him.

It’s just that I don’t always dig my friends’ mates as much as they do. Of course, that’s ok. But Roy? He’s in the club. No application required.

In fact, I think I spotted a bit of a bromance between he and Jeff, as they talked about sneaking off together alone to share their well-developed music tastes.

But, hey, Jeff left me the Eliane Elias CD. Probably trying to expand my musical palette, which I appreciate.

It seems where the three of us had been holding the umbrella for each other, Roy showed up with the sunshine.

Suddenly, as if we hadn’t been saddled under grief, we swung on the laughter of life.

We’d planned a casual get together. It turned into a real party where I drank too much wine and slept with a stranger.

Her name is Joy. She spent the night, stayed for coffee, is still hanging around, and even planning our life together. You should see the smirk on my face.

The #MeToo Movement and How I Was Complicit.

I am my mother’s daughter, as she was her mother’s daughter. In an age when women stayed home, my grandmother took nontraditional jobs like welding.

My mom embodied the fight for women’s rights. She also believed education to be the great equalizer. When I was in elementary school, my mom earned her master’s. While I entered college, she completed her PhD. Her checks read Dr. Sandra D. K. Kelley.

She could shred me with one look of disappointment and shoot me into unwavering determination with five words: “Honey, you can do it.”

I rose as a national sales trainer just as she lost her job. We lived together in Denver while I travelled for work. She made sure I got to the airport on time and picked me up when I flew in. She took my car in to get the oil changed, ran untold errands, and made the mundane easy for me.

My mom set aside her pride and took jobs that were beneath her, like doing administrative duties on an oil tanker and selling encyclopedias.

Sandra Kelley was a woman warrior, but even warriors succumb to cancer. She died on April 28, 1995 at age 56.

For years, I danced for the affections of a woman now gone from this world.

It took me decades to see what my mother sacrificed in the name of women’s rights: her femininity. She couldn’t afford vulnerability. All that pushing down of emotions—propelling forward when two marriages fell apart and her only son died—ravaged her on the inside.

In many ways, I’ve marched behind my mother—two marriages in my wake, a couple of degrees earned late, and grief that threatened my desire to fulfill my destiny.

I carry my mother’s strength and I’m meant to be, do, and own more. Be more at peace in my own skin. Do what’s right for me, not just to prove my power. Own my feelings and truth.

Own this moment in history—mine and the collective. We’re our mothers’ daughters, but we’re so much more.

A friend of mine told me her mother wasn’t on the front lines of the fight for women’s rights. In fact, she advocated for no change and thought women like my mom were insane for trying to shake things up, jeopardizing the sweet position her mother held at home with the kids. She loved being a housewife. What?

I’d never considered that mindset. I didn’t know this friend when I was a child in the 70s. I believed every woman felt the calling to rise out of her current circumstances.

I also couldn’t fathom that my friend’s mother would feed her scraps of judgement on homosexuality and therefore invite my friend to hide hers—even from herself—until her mid-30s.

We’re our mother’s daughters, but we’re not our mothers.

Every movement, every step of progress, brings challenge.

To compete with and find our place in the workforce dominated by men, we often became like them, never letting them see us sweat or struggle or cry.

That “never send a boy to do a man’s job; send a woman” still implied the job belonged to the man.

We’ve journeyed far enough down the historical line to prove a woman’s place is wherever she wants to be and works her way into.

However, along the way—maybe as backlash to the women’s movement or maybe a salute to Disney’s influence—little girls weren’t told they could be President or queen, but that they were princesses. Pink became the perpetual color of a generation of women who could be my daughters.

Too many either didn’t know or forgot the lessons of our mothers. I heard young women in my own family laughing off flirting bosses and other men who were clearly crossing the line.

I know educated women in their 30s and 40s who chose to vote with their husbands and invested less time researching issues and candidates than researching their next vacation or home decorations. Because their husbands knew better?

Use it or lose it applies to our voices and our votes. Just because you showed up doesn’t mean you voted your conscience or what’s good for your kids, especially your daughters.

The Me Too Movement was born after we individually and collectively tried to brave the worst of circumstances.

Here’s the sickest truth I know: the man who raped me likely raped my mother.

I can’t prove it and since she’s deceased I can’t ask her, but I’ve never seen my mother shaken like I did after the night she went out with him.

She was a woman warrior—the kind who would’ve sworn before that she would make sure a rapist would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Many years prior, she’d won a discrimination law suit in my hometown when a less qualified man was hired into a job she’d applied for with the school system.

In 1988, I continued a friendship with my manager and continued working for him after the night I tried to forget—the night he raped me.

Shortly after my brother died on December 10, 1989, this man—let’s call him Dick—called my mother’s house to speak to me and ended up talking to my mother for over an hour.

I didn’t know then, but I can see it now. Dick began grooming my mom in the way a career criminal and master manipulator grooms a grown woman who’s fresh into the storm of grief over the death of her only son.

I can’t go on with that story because even now I want to deny what I know is true—how my trying to be strong was wrong. I did my best. Still, I think: what have I done?

What have we done? Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too.

Men are the culprits (typically), but have we, at times, been complicit by keeping quiet?

No longer. This is our time. I applaud Andrea Constand, Victoria Valentino, Ashley Judd, and yes, Stormy Daniels.

Because every voice matters. Because truth matters.

Because Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, Bill Cosby, and other men who abuse their power can’t be taken down by a few women, but the collective rising is a mighty force.

We’re feminine and fierce. We’re vulnerable and strong.

This is our time. We collectively call out the BS so the Me Too Movement can move us into honest, challenging, and courageous conversations that pave the path forward.

Now, we’ll scream if we must. We will be heard. The daughters of future generations will be treated with respect and dignity.

Women have the power to change society. Like the women who came before and the women who came before them.

We say Me Too. We call BS. Enough. No more princesses. Let’s be warriors and queens.