What are you here to teach me, Grief?

What are you here to teach me, Grief?

Life is precious and valuable. You are strong and loved.

You can handle anything, but you’re not in control.

Trust. Dive all in—to the love, the joy, and yes, the grief.

Release the fear, pain and guilt.

Let it all flow through you. Transform.

Become new. Become more you. Over and over again. Live a life of metamorphosis.

Release the old tricks and tools that no longer serve. Stop grabbing.

Be good to your body.

Suck the marrow out of life. Take time out when you need it. Be true to you.

Honor your pain, sadness, heartache, and outrage, but don’t become them.

Learn. Forgive. Love. Hope. Pray. Cry. Laugh. Write. Dance. Read. Listen.

Appreciate. Accept. Honor. Share.

Life rolls out in seasons. You hating winter doesn’t make it any less cold.

If you’re still here., it’s for a reason. Find it. Live it. Love it.

Open to new possibilities.

RAPED, THEN BETRAYED

Speaking for myself.

Alice in Authorland

How many times can a woman feel betrayed after her rape?

Every time someone questions how it happened “so easily.”

There’s nothing easy about being physically pinned down by someone stronger than you, having your body entered by someone you did not invite while your arms are held above you and your legs and body are positioned by his power.

How many times can a woman feel betrayed after her rape?

Every time someone suggests she should’ve reacted differently.

We respect grief and people’s right to do it their own way. But, with rape or sexual violation, we only give validity if a woman immediately goes to the police and says, “I’ve been raped.”

Is there no understanding of the internal schism in a woman’s psychology when she’s been violated physically, sexually, and emotionally? Over 70 percent of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows: schism.

How many times…

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How Good News Ignites Us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8

Our family received some lovely news yesterday. It’s not mine to share, but I can tell you joy rose in me like it does in a child at Christmas.

We seek to grab the good, get on our mats and stretch into it, get on our knees and pray it in, work, affirm… It all helps.

Nothing like Kundalini, but that’s just crazy me.

Yesterday reminds me: Sometimes the best gift someone can give is their own good news.

Joy over another’s fortune is as pure as music that moves us.

With the announcement, I felt surrounded by our families’ ancestral lines smiling and celebrating. Happiness fell on us like confetti.

These days, we need good news to compensate for our outrageous political and chaotic social climate, and the bombardment of media and technology we’re addicted to.

As a female citizen in the United (now acting divided) States of America, it’s my civic duty to pay attention to the occurring conversations and decisions affecting us culturally, while aligning my activist inclinations with truth, compassion, and action.

There’s an allegiant mindset determined to fix our problems. First, we must face them. Yuck!

Recently, a girlfriend said, “I don’t watch the news. I like to stay positive.”

That’s how I felt in my 20s and 30s. I suppose some people weren’t rivetted to the news as Watergate unfolded, either.

In our 50s, in these #metoo times, women (and men) can’t afford to go back to sleep. And the young people are showing up fully awake.

I don’t want to be the person who isn’t paying attention while history is making a solid mark on humanity.

For decades, through helping myself to personal growth and positive thinking, I learned the art of positive denial.

I rode it like skateboard. Then, I crashed and came face-to-face with all I’d refused to look at.

Positive denial is still denial.

Now, I’m into facing life head on, because I may not have time to circle back to see what I left under the bed.

There’s a balance, isn’t there? In previous scenes in my life, I practiced playing Pollyanna, but I’m not her.

I like being educated and informed, and yet information, understanding, and truth-seeking can be heavy.

Oh, but that good news! It ran through my blood like a happy drug. I want more.

In turbulent times, joy still dances.

People fall in love, get married, and have babies. Promotions are granted, new jobs landed, homes purchased, and travels taken.

Sometimes, when we talk about our own joys, it feels like bragging. Sometimes, I hold back–as if my joy diminishes another’s or dismisses their pain.

We must share our good news—in spite of and because of the personal and collective challenges of our times, which we must face with courage and character.

Although serious, let’s not be joyless. Let’s share good news like juicy gossip.

How Secrets Fester.

I was 24-years-old when my sales manager befriended me, told me I was smart, and soothed away my insecurities.

He gave me books to read: Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Richest Man in Babylon.

He stroked my business ego and seduced me with ideas of success—mine.

Skilled in the use of the law of reciprocity, he promoted me and doubled-down by giving me the best sales leads, or at least suggesting he had.

He trained me to close sales like a champion. My sales soared.

I felt invincible.

My manager showed up at shows I worked. In his presence, I persisted in my pursuit of dangled rewards, accolades and money.

I stepped into a leadership role, hiring and training, in the office and in the field. I made a name for myself.

My ambition and hard work were paying off.

When my 27-year-old brother died in a car accident, my manager infiltrated my family by forming an unexplainable bond with my mother.

He found an in with her while she grieved her only son. This manager and my mom spoke on the phone for hours. She embroidered shirts for him with our company logo, as she’d done for me.

Mr. Manager also pointed out my husband and I weren’t a fit, as if delivering helpful facts, rather than planting seeds of poison.

This manager often “just happened” to be working close to my territory. He’d call to check on me. And oh, we should meet for a celebratory drink. Or to analyze the sales that slipped away.

My boundaries weren’t yet buckled down. I enjoyed his company. I was eager to succeed.

I leaned into the learning curve. For the first time in my life, I felt like a responsible adult with a career and a vision.

He was my manager. I thought he was my friend. I trusted him.

He manipulated me with calculation and precision I couldn’t see, or even fathom, due to my inexperience with treachery.

One night, this manager raped me in the office where we worked, the office that felt like home, the office I ran when he was late or absent, where I interviewed, hired, trained, took calls, and began to build my career.

My manager raped me when I was 24 and the world was an open door.

I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing or what I was wearing. I only know the date because it was his birthday and my first year in the business.

I was overcome with an unquestionable urge to repress.

For over a decade, I told no one. Not even my mother.

Now, I wonder about a night she came back to my house after an evening with him.

She said he was crazy. Their friendship ended as oddly as it had started.

Although we were close, she and I never discussed it.

It’s hard to talk about the thing you’re desperate to deny.

How convenient for a master manipulator/rapist.

Did he rape my mother, too? Would she, were she alive, be saying #MeToo about a man I introduced her to?

It’s a very real possibility I try not to bite down on too hard.

Now, I know: I’m not invincible. 

I’m not going to pretend I am and go to work and about my business pretending it didn’t happen to me, pretending it hasn’t happened to others, and hoping it doesn’t keep repeating.

It’s our responsibility to talk about what’s become pervasive and perverted in our society.

Along with thousands of #MeToo sad, but true stories, I’m telling mine.

It’s no longer just about what happened to us as individuals. Now, it’s about what’s been happening to women collectively while we quietly nursed our individual wounds.

Truth only stays submerged in society for so long. #TimesUp. #MeToo.

No, we will not go quietly. That didn’t work for us.

We refuse to mirror denial any longer. 

Every Step (in Grief) Counts.

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On the road to metamorphosis, every step counts. Those books you read on grief count. The prayers you prayed, walks you took, tears you shed, hugs you embraced, the contemplation, questioning, wishing the truth away, wasting days watching Law & Order or submerging yourself in Facebook—all part of the process.

It all counts. The phone calls you took and the ones you resisted. The words and prayers you let seep into your heart. The warmth you felt on that one sunny afternoon for one minute—a special step forward.

You can’t see it now. You feel stuck, frustrated, so done with not being done with this! I get it.

You’re not alone. You’re a work in progress. Part of your divine destiny is learning to process grief. You’ll always be learning and taking steps forward.

Some will seem miniscule. Moving your beloved’s picture from your bedside stand to your dresser will feel like divorcing the yesterday you love. You will crumble.

What was once little will become huge. What was once important will become meaningless.

Plans taken by the tornado of life don’t make one eager to plan more. You will.

You’ll make many plans in your head and carry out few—for now.

The good news is you’re still here. Even that may feel like another bad hand.

Question that. Find answers worthy. Or don’t. Just stay. Stay for the next act, next character, the next scene of your life.

Keep turning the page. You don’t have to learn the meaning of every word or sign, unless that helps.

Just know: every step counts. Play the music and dance when you can, even with tears. Let the laughter sneak out. When you need to, break glasses, throw eggs, or punch pillows.

Or, better yet, hold your anger and sadness like babies. Just hold them. That sitting with your feelings is a championship, albeit counterintuitive, move out of the depths.

Remember: it all counts. You can’t lose points or do it wrong. You won’t be punished for any of your moves.

Except getting drunk and falling on your face. You’ll pay for that.

But seriously, you’re growing and changing—like adolescence, pregnancy or menopause.

You’re giving birth to a new chapter in life. An old chapter is being ripped away. There will be pain.

You may be in the worst of it. On the road to metamorphosis, everything baby crawl counts. Just don’t count yourself out.

 

What I Found in the Arizona Sun.

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

There’s a flood flowing through the Arizona desert. Can you feel it? It’s me peeling off the layers of my life.

How many chapters did I dance and sleep under these Sonoran-orange skies? How many afternoons and evenings found me painting and drinking words at The Coffee Plantation? Meeting friends at Pizza Uno?

How fortunate I feel to be flooded with flashbacks of old lovers—Henry, Tom, and ha-ha, I forgot about Chad! Back then, decades ago…

What a brave badass inhabited my young body! I fled to Sedona, Vegas, or Palm Springs on a moment’s notice.

I raced Jim in his pearl-white Infiniti while I pressed the petal on my Mazda Millenia along I-17. We drove too fast in a time when cell phones were fresh and eye-catching, like us.

In those days, my girlfriend Sam and I danced until dawn, drank like we’d live forever, ran in the early mornings to insure we would, and worked like we were destined to run the world.

We led a mystery tour (where you don’t tell the others where they’re going, just what they need to bring and what time to be ready) to Laughlin, got lost, answered The Question Book, crashed jet skis, won more coins than I could carry, and drove drunk on joy, listening to The Lion King soundtrack, while a band of stars escorted us home.

My then-boyfriend and I gambled it all in Vegas and bet again on Cancun, MX.

Arizona, even though I left you to move with him, I came back, didn’t I?

I made you laugh by taking the easiest sales gig I ever had. Selling water systems in the desert!

Oh, Phoenix! If your palm trees could tell stories, the wind would rustle up a few of mine.

Like working out with John Allen, eating at Ra, and driving Natalie everywhere—until the day all the lights on the dashboard of my Ford Probe flashed me into a new (used) car purchase.

My unlikely friendship with Natalie formed on drives that took us to a sisterly depth. The kind of sisters that disagree and occasionally don’t talk for days.

Like a big sister putting on my lipstick, Natalie owned her femininity and passed it on to me. She shared her frilly clothes and admired me like a gift.

Our friendship weathered lightning flashes, but no matter how loud we crackled, we took the calls, as years carried us to different places.

New Yorker Natalie heard from me after 9/11 and she called me and spoke tender words to me in my grief.

Now, we’re here. In Arizona. Together again. All grown up after maxing out our youth.

We appreciate (even while resisting) our age. We own our current beauty.

At this stage, we know secrets we didn’t even entertain the questions to while meeting in the morning of our time together.

Now, as women of a certain age–an age where we’re certain–we seek truth, open to mystery, and align with magic. We know peace.

On this visit, Natalie and our friend Jennifer and I sew close the seams of sisterhood. We do it poolside, drinking straight sunshine.

Natalie’s exotic features and her Black Beauty hair still shine. She’s easy to the touch, familiar, her skin as soft as her eyes.

On this return to Arizona, I tour through time, revisit friendships, and peruse old chapters. They weren’t all pretty, but they’re all mine.

So, I smile. The scenes float across my mental movie screen. I allow for their release.

The old edge still exists, like snaps on the wind as adobe buildings pose before me.

Weathered, proud, humming with memories, and flinging doors open to new guests and adventures.

I am that adobe building. I stretch my arms wide to the sky and welcome every blazing color. I stand solid before leaving.

Arizona, my lover, this time is different.

For my married decade far away, I longed to be back in your arms, to have you warm me and whisper, “You’re home.”

Not this time. Yes, you hold people I love. I love that about you.

I cherish your spicy food, the curves of your landscape, and the cadence of your accent. I love your son, Jerome, and your daughter, Sedona.

But I no longer throw myself at your feet. I’m free. I’m happy to visit you and thrilled to go home.

My shadow will linger as sure as the stories I buried in your dirt.

You’re the Main Character, Darling.

Can you, my darling, hold your center without committing to a tribe?

Can you choose a color without forcing favorites?

Can you stop clarifying, classifying, and organizing long enough to breathe life?

Can you let loose just enough for the magic to linger?

When, when will you stop trying so darn hard to do oh-so-much, as if everything you haven’t done matters immensely and every step forward is the final act?

Isn’t it time you rise into your greatness?

Of course you can’t see it; Greatness unfolds as uniquely and mysteriously as the exact shade of one’s eyes.

When you look in the mirror, recognize yourself.

See your capacity unfolding like a movie in production.

You’re the main character, darling.

We need you.

Of all the people worth emulating, why not choose the one who birthed herself into your baby body, grew into toddler shoes, swung on the elementary school swings, gave ’em hell as a teen, made early adulthood look like landing an aircraft (until she crashed), and all along learned lessons divinely designed for her?

Emulate your own magnificence.

Go at the speed of your soul.

Let the speckling sound of rain signify the washing away of all the sad stories.

Can you, my darling, hold your center and rise?

 

 

 

How to Have a Delicious Day.

“I had a little bird who rested here in a bowl until she could fly again. A meadowlark.” ~ Dawn Wink, Meadowlark

In this moment, I’m living the writer’s dream.

I don’t have a book contract and my blog hasn’t taken flight–yet.

But, every day, I write.

Today is Saturday. I’m alone.

A book given to me in 2013, barely touched before, finds its way into my bed.

Starting at dawn, I savor words and underline descriptions.

A fan whirls at the foot of my bed, as the fan did at the foot of my beloved’s bed before he died, or maybe, as he died.

I deal with my demons on paper with black ink.

My Black Lab splays at the fan’s face, running in her dreams, underneath the window sill, as the curtain flaps with the morning air.

I traverse downstairs for coffee twice.

I snuggle back into propped pillows and pages.

Blank ones invite me to jam with them.

I surrender.

Next to me sits one woman’s words, sifted through ten long years as she trekked towards tenure.

Proof. Bound trees tackled and tied into story, taken up, sold at auction, compressed, pruned, and presented to the public.

The author’s words reweave my mental tapestry.

The lyrical cadence transfuses music into me.

My heart steadies, settles, and tunes my voice.

I sip coffee and remember: my mother once wished to be a writer.

She died leaving me wonder, did she ever give in to a day this delicious?