How to Transform a Heart.

“After all, most people see no reason to question their own beliefs, much less solicit yours.” ~ David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

Fire, Water, Mother Earth, God, Angels, transform me.

Rebirth me. Pull me from the ashes. I welcome the metamorphosis.

I do not resist. I do not go numb or deaf or die. I awaken.

I’m a seedling under the cement—screaming to bloom.

I’m parched for water and sunshine. I seek the light with my every cell.

In this black night, I see the stars. I’m enchanted.

I feel angels hovering over us, making way for breakthrough.

Everything is different now: my brain, health, vision, belief, expectation…

The sky sings lavender tanzanite. Clouds dance the purest white.

Our voice, tears, and physical presence shift. We stand hearty.

Present for the party of the people, hangover and all.

Learning to be. Remembering to listen.

Seeing anew.

Walls fall. Boundaries clarify.

Scars expose themselves without apology.

Dreams arise, not from the mind, but the heart.

Time ticks precious. Moment by moment. Intention for joy: everyone’s.

Acceptance of pain. Connected. Alive. In all the messiness.

All that it means. What no longer matters.

Beauty to behold. Unafraid. Unattached.

Free to embrace what comes next.

Should I Get My Hair Done?

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, infinite.” ~ William Blake

Our amazing hair stylist, the one my sister’s seen for 19 years and I’ve gone to for seven, opens shop May 15th, as allowed by Ohio.

My sis immediately sets the first available appointment. I panic.

When a person gets Coronavirus, they’re asked where they’ve been. Would I say I risked my life to be pretty?

My sister doesn’t hesitate. She’s in job-seeking mode and Zoom welcomes like the new boardroom.

Not to mention she has a fiancé. Don’t we all like to look our best for ourselves and our mates?

For me, the salon feels like a date with fate. I can’t shake the fear of being intimately close to someone, even a woman I know and trust. The asymptomatic aspect of Coronavirus scares me. Someone can look and sound healthy and still be a carrier.

Heck, I avoid people with the flu! When I first heard of Corona, I didn’t even want to speak of it for fear my magnetic mind might attract it.

This isn’t the flu. Currently, 286,371 people in the world, 80,423 in the United States, and 1,357 in Ohio have died. Our desire to resist statistics, science, and history seems as contagious as the pandemic.

I pride myself in my ability to seek, understand, and accept truth so I can deal with it.

The truth is I love going to the salon, being pampered and beautified. Isn’t our emotional health connected to our physical?  

If I feel pretty, am I protected?

My sister clearly chooses this trip to the salon. Yet, she refuses to enter a grocery store.

I take that risk if I miss ordering online in time. Or I need spinach (beer). The other day, I said, “I’m never going in the store again!” People in every aisle. I freaked behind my mask. It felt like running an obstacle course.

Upon checkout, a young brat, I mean lady, didn’t stay in her place on the red X. Mask free, she came forward, passed so close behind me I could feel her breath, just to put her Little Red Riding Hood sized basket back on the rack. Then, she stood youthfully convinced of her invincibility less than six feet from me.

We each get to decide how we’ll act and react within this new reality. The way I make peace with people like Miss I Do What I Want is A) remember I, too believed myself invincible in my 20s, and B) practice compassion and recognition surrounding the stages of grief.

We’re collectively grieving life as we knew it, even as many of us bask in more comfort and ease than some citizens will experience in their lifetimes. Still, whatever we did and how we did it before stay-at-home orders paved the path is gone.

We’re in a new normal. The old lifestyle died. Enter denial. Denial in a worldwide pandemic is almost comical. This isn’t happening. It’s made up.

Will we dare to face the truth in this worldwide crisis? Or will we stick to these early stages of grief—denial and anger?

We tend to cling to old ways even when they’re not working, like in failing relationships or unfulfilling jobs. We hold tight to what’s threatened for fear of loss.

Then, we bargain for balance amid our resistance as we teeter into the new unknown.

In seasons of grief and loss, I try to stop, turn off the voices of the world, and the louder ones in my head, the ones chattering in the night.

Shhh. I need to get quiet and move into my heart. What do I feel? What do I know to be true in the depths of my being (far below my ego)? What’s right for me and how do I weight that with what’s good for others?

As the doors of salons and restaurants welcome us again, we each have the freedom to choose. Freedom comes with responsibility.

On May 7th, reporters asked Dr. Amy Acton, Governor DeWine, and Lt. Governor Jon Husted if they’d be eating at the restaurants when they open. Governor DeWine said he and his wife Fran would continue supporting restaurants and ordering takeout. He went on to name a few of his favorites. Well fielded, Governor.

Dr. Acton said her life is so busy that’s not what she’s craving. When she gets time, she’s hoping for a walk in the woods. And sure, of course, down the line, she’ll dine out, but it’s not on her radar now. Way to walk the line, doctor.

Lt. Governor Husted said yes, indeed, he’d take his wife out for Mother’s Day, although dining in restaurants didn’t present as an option then.

I said to my sister, “I bet Amy Acton isn’t going to get her hair done.” Jayne said she didn’t think Dr. Acton would support opening if she didn’t believe it’s safe.

I agree in theory, based on Acton’s exemplary character and expertise. However, as DeWine says, opening isn’t without risk. None of the medical experts insist this phase is completely safe. In fact, a spike is likely.

We’re making the transitions as safe as possible, as a worldwide pandemic touches close to even the most protected, tested, and powerful.

Vice President Pence’s press secretary Kate Miller tested positive for coronavirus, as did a personal valet of the president’s, along with Ivanka Trump’s personal assistant.

Back to the important question: my hair. At our salon, temperatures will be taken before we can enter, and then only individually. Taking care of clients presents a risk for the stylists. too. They weigh this with the prospect of being out of work. We all have bills to pay.

Yes, we can do two things. Can we acknowledge business profits and people processes can be both contradictory and complimentary? We don’t like juxtapositions. We stomp our feet for concrete answers.

Maturity means facing the multiple aspects of decisions to navigate wisely.

I don’t want all this work just to decide if it’s safe to get my hair done! I want my yesterday!

So, my sister and I call our research-minded father for his take. He says he’s just realizing this coronavirus season may go on for another 18 months. Gulp. In that case, he says, we can’t keep in our homes.

Jayne tells about the temperature taking, and she and the stylist wearing masks. I trust our stylist, but it’s not a matter of trust. She has a husband who works as safely as he can. My concern revolves around the expansion of our so-far safe circle.

You know how if you have sex with someone, you’re sleeping with all the people they’ve slept with? Now, when you’re in someone’s breathing space, you’re sharing it with all those they’ve been in contact with. Cooties!

My dad says the risk is minimized by the precautions. Yet, you’re very close. The man with all the answers can’t say for certain, the way he did when I intended to work the voting polls. “That,” he said, “is not a good idea.” It turned out DeWine agreed. Thank goodness for the simple answer of vote by mail.

As far as getting my hair done, I’m chicken. For years, I fought an undiagnosed illness which affected the quality of my life. I found some answers and steadied, but I haven’t forgotten the feeling of not being able to breathe normally or being in pain consistently. Now, I cherish my health. I’m not ready to take extra bets on my immune system.

My ego hates this decision! My rebellious heart resists rules. Self-regulation isn’t my strong suit. And yet, this time, I say no.

My sister will return home from the salon looking fabulous. Besides, if she’s going and we live together, I’m going to get whatever she gets, so why not go? Hello, bargaining.

Shhh, quiet. Right now, for me, my gut says no. B*tch. I’ll keep practicing safe distancing. My sister will support our stylist, come home looking fly, and land a job she likes, if she likes, because we each get to choose.

May we all choose wisely, for ourselves and for each other.

Why I Stopped Seeking the One Thing.

“If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?” ~ Kahlil Gibran

In the past several years, I’ve taken yoga classes and teacher training. I’ve been a student of kundalini, meditation, and reiki. And, of course, writing and publishing courses galore. I’m a seeker.

Someone asked me the other day, “What’s the one thing that’s made the biggest difference?”

It’s the same question I asked my friend Sam, who recently lost 90 pounds.

I’ve known her for 25 years and never seen her look better. It’s more than physical. She’s embodying the best version of herself. So, of course, people want to know how she did it.

I asked, “Is it being away from your stressful job?” She was let go, one of those gifts one wants to throw back, but can’t, and therefore learns to seek the opportunity.

“Is it your diet?” She’s gone vegan. “Is it working out?” Sam’s running, biking, and hitting the gym consistently. She’s always been an athlete, but now upgraded, no longer competing with or berating herself.

Her answer: “It’s not one thing; It’s everything.”  

At first, I this everything-answer discouraged me. I’ve already been overwhelmed chasing health, reducing stress, and seeking publications, with the never-ending steps.

Over weeks and months, my friend’s answer started to settle in, the way truth tends to do.

I reviewed my efforts, after losing my beloved four years ago, to overcome grief and strive for solid ground. It wasn’t one thing.

Each step propels us forward, even when it seems immeasurable in the moment.

Now, I stop looking at what I’ve done with the judgement of: That didn’t work! Next! constantly searching for that special magic to cure me of uncertainty, save my sanity, or make me as strong as I know I can be.

I also refrain from envying others’ accomplishments. I see the steps that led up to Sam’s success, including the previous loss and regaining of weight, taking her to a level of disgust and determination to never go back, all played a part in her everything.

This mental shift allows me to be kinder to myself about what I’ve done or not done yesterday.

For example, when I originally wrote my memoir, I needed to put down the 130,000 words. I didn’t yet know 80,000-100,000 was the norm. I couldn’t revise what I hadn’t written, and I couldn’t, even if I’d known, just stop at 85,000.

I also didn’t understand how to write a book proposal or the art and challenge of creating a succinct, impactful query letter.

On another note, for several years, I endured physical sickness which interfered with the quality of my life. That is, if you call this interference: belching as loud as a team of seals, not being able to catch my breath, constant pain, nausea, and inflammation, having strangers run up to help me on the street, and visitors to my home suggesting I see a doctor. Of course, I’d been to many and endured numerous tests, to no avail.

I tried avoiding gluten, dairy, meat, and the other things I suspected might be the culprits—with nopowerful relief. I tried a couple (literally—a couple) of pills doctors prescribed. I searched for answers, but held a deep fear I might be dying.

A few years ago, I learned about lectins, proteins in certain plants that can cause havoc in the body. Bingo! Avoiding lectins became the next step on my path, inconvenient, but now manageable. And, as far as lectins go, they’re not in one thing. They’re in everything!

I could go on, and I will. On my path. Learning, trying, and experiencing what works and doesn’t work for me, as each of us does.

We don’t have to do everything, but everything we do helps us learn what works for us, what we have the capacity to continue, and what we can dismiss because it doesn’t work or we’re unwilling to do the work.

I stopped seeking the one thing to save me, even though hundreds of advertisements tell me daily: THIS IS IT!

I’m still a seeker, just not of the one thing. We don’t have to do everything. We can lean into what works for us, trust our intuitions, hearts, and minds to lead us on our journey to embodying the best version of ourselves.

Then one day, someone will ask us, “How did you do it?”

How to Risk Again.

How to Risk Again.

“Like a magnet, you will draw new and exciting events and people because like attracts like.” ~ Chin-Ning Chu, Thick Face Black Heart

If you could get back all you lost and love—

The places where you stand on solid ground, expanded.

Sacred love. Diving into your calling. Living in the spiritual gulf stream.

Divine laughter. Nourishing lovemaking. Enough money not to worry.

Faith to progress forward in the face of hard things.

Energy to persist. A heart willing.

Would you go all in, all over again, if it meant

Risking losing your mind and desire to live,

If you lose, all over again?

Yes, 2020. ALL IN.