How We Get to the Truth When We Don’t Want to go There.

The false dilemma fallacy is often a manipulative tool designed to polarize the audience, heroisizing one side and demonizing the other. It’s common in political discourse as a way of strong-arming the public into supporting controversion legislation or policies.” ~ David Ferrer, 15 Logical Fallacies You Should Know Before Getting Into a Debate

Are we so set on pulling up our bootstraps we can’t recognize the sadness of a worldwide pandemic?

Many of us have lost and will lose. Jobs, homes, and 401ks. We don’t want to hear that or believe there’s a train barreling towards us. Not me is our first instinct.

Yes, denial is the first stage of grief. We’re grieving the falling away of many of our personal and societal foundations.

I know grief intimately. Not just from the deaths of my brother, mother, brother-in-law, and beloved.

By the way, when the police officer on the phone first told me he found my boyfriend dead in his bed, I screamed, “NO!!!”

That was after he tried to tell me the man I love more than anyone in the world was “unresponsive.” I wanted to know what hospital they were taking him to. My heart couldn’t hear the truth. For several years, I believed my dead man could come back to me. I kind of still do.

How deep does denial run in the face of losing who or what we love?

“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,”Donald Trump said about the Coronavirus.

Sure, I myself have practiced delusional positivity.

When my mother was diagnosed with death, I fired the doctor, determined to take her somewhere to save her. I thought the doc not only cruel, but full of sh*t.

Apparently, that’s what Trump thought of journalist Peter Alexander of NBC asking the President of the United States what he’d say to “Americans who are watching you right now who are scared.”

The Commander in Chief snapped, “I say that you’re a terrible reporter!”

Yeah, that’s how I felt about the doctor who delivered the truth in a tone I didn’t like.

Maybe our leaders aren’t always able to guide us, but sometimes reflect who we are.

I’m nothing like that jerk might be what we insert, or worse.

Or, like my ultra-successful businessman friend—who once complained about having to pay $5 million in taxes—maybe you only see the good in a man who glares with disdain for truth.

Our delusional positivity is unbending when it suits our favor.

There’s a fine line between The Secret that swept our nation in 2006, just before the worst financial crisis in our history, and our ability to look at truth, facts, science, or unbecoming characteristics of our chosen ones.

The finger I point here is at the woman in the mirror.

When five years into my marriage I felt disconnected from my husband, I focused on his good qualities and how much I loved him. I refused to look at, let alone feel anything but my good feelings because that’s what got me there.

I kept saying, “I have a great life” and “He’s a good man.” Both were true.

We like to look at our favorite side of the coin, spiritual bypass with love and light, and pretend if we adhere to affirmations, we can keep the bad at a distance. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Some people live like this for a lifetime. I’m not just talking about the naïve and blind.

We always think it’s them—the Republicans or Democrats or the kind of woman who can’t get her act together, or see what seems obvious from the outside, from our oh-so-wise perspective.

It’s easy to be objective when your heart isn’t in it.

Check this. No one would call Camille Cosby clueless. She has a doctoral degree. She wrote the forward for Dear Success Seeker: Wisdom from Outstanding Women. By all accounts, she’s one of them. She even worked as her famous husband’s manager.

Camille Cosby was in Bill’s business and knew his business, or so she thought. They shared a home and a family and a history of his proven good character. She would know if he was drugging and sexually assaulting women.

Or so she insisted against irrefutable evidence—as we often do when presented with truth that doesn’t align with what we’ve decided to shine the light on.

We like to believe if one thing is truth, that’s proof another thing (the one we don’t like) is false.

That’s how the American story goes. Think positive and take action.

That’s how my ex-husband’s business went bust while he worked his butt off and assured me everything would be fine. He wasn’t lying. He drove himself to delusional positivity and I rode that ship until it sank.

Maturity is the ability to look at the juxtapositions of life, people, and situations.

Let’s be mature as we face this pandemic. We fear certain truths will destroy us.

Yet, the brave ones on the front lines have been forced to face the truth, no matter what they told themselves or believed in the beginning.

That’s what serious sickness does. It wakes us the f*ck up.

Still, I have friends claiming this is hype. They believe their president knows more than doctors and scientists who’ve been studying and preparing for this. Ok, Camille.

I’m sorry, but this is different. This is real.

If you’re on the front lines, thank you for bringing dignity, grace, and honor to all of humanity. We are forever in your debt.

To my niece, a nurse, nephew, a cop, and other nephew, a firefighter, I could not be prouder of you or more scared for you. Please stay safe, I say, knowing where you work is the least safe place in the world right now.

Truth sets us free once we embrace it. Denial can kill. Especially now.

Four Ways to Look at Coronavirus.

“Life was more innocent for all of us not so long ago.” ~ Marianne Williamson, The Gift of Change

1. Denial

I don’t want to hear this!

Why do you keep talking about this?

Everything is fine.

This doesn’t affect me.

It’s not that bad.

It’s just like the flu.

Get me a Corona!

2. Hype

This is horrible!

We’re all going to die!

Why is this happening?!

It’s transferred through the eyes so the masks don’t help.

3. Spiritual Bypassing

This is all about bringing people to a higher order. So, if people die, it’s their soul’s contract, just as everything is intended. La-la-la.

4. Maturity: the ability to see beyond black and white and take responsibility

This is a pandemic of proportions we’ve never experienced in our lifetime.

It’s challenging individuals, families, and societal structures.

Like every crisis, good things will be born from it and character will be revealed.

May I do my part, small or large, and be a force for good.

How Queen Corona Rules.

“A queen is wise. She has earned her serenity, not having had it bestowed on her but having passed her tests. She has suffered and grown more beautiful because of it. She has proved she can hold her kingdom together. She has become its vision. She cares deeply about something bigger than herself. She rules with authentic power.” ~ Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth

Queen Corona has come to town, travelling with a thousand horses and an army of men. She is feminine power.

You cannot pay her off.

She’s not a princess you can seduce.

Or a child to be trifled with.

People step aside for the queen, yet peer behind for the king.

Where is he? The king got drunk on power, slept with all the pretties as if they were playthings, spent his fortune, and send his troops to wrong wars.

The king beheaded himself.

Queen Corona is feminine power.

We all bow before her.

First, in fear.

The closer she nears we see the parade is not for show.

She earned her crown. The queen rides with dignity.

She’s come to clear the field, to wake us up to our own greed and evil.

Queen Corona teaches us what matters by her royal presence.

She loves like a mother, after the father fled and the children grew wild.

Although she’s shrewd, Queen Corona doesn’t pretend everything is a business proposition.

She sends us to our rooms, lays down new rules, takes no backtalk, and reminds us what’s important now.

Take care of each other. We are family.

How My Parents Taught Me to Walk at Age 47.

In 2012, I spent the summer with my parents in their home in Santa Fe, NM.

Most mornings and evenings, they headed out for walks. They had to get their little coyote-looking dog Ginger out, but the walks saved them from life’s daily stresses.

Most times, I was invited. Often, I joined them on the streets winding around adobe homes, dirt paths, and arroyos. I learned “a little walk,” unless it was dark, typically took an hour. So, sometimes I declined in honor of time and solitude.

Often, I heard my stepmom say, “I’m a little tired. I’m going for a walk” or I could see her emotional edge (we all have one) sharpening. Those moments called for solo walks with Ginger.

They both returned brighter and kinder. The desert air, the smell of dirt and pine, and the expansive skies covering the Land of Enchantment can clear the blues. 

Back in junior high, my stepmom introduced me to running by entering a ten-mile race through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado on the day she married my father.

At 14, my skinny legs and thick willpower carried me through the course.

Mary Jo was a runner. So, I became one. Not a jogger. Certainly, not a walker. In my mind, walking was what old people did in malls.

I ran through my teens, 20s and 30, but by my forties, my body wasn’t as forgiving. Yet, my mind couldn’t imagine the power of walking, except for wimps. I’m not a wimp!

Neither are my parents. Now in their 80s, they’re big time drinkers—of water. They’ve travelled the world, and ridden bicycles across the country on serious trips: across the Great Divide, from New Mexico to my dad’s high school reunion in South Dakota, and one summer they rode 4,000 miles from Virginia to Oregon, covering over 50 miles on most days.

So, it shouldn’t have surprised me when, the summer of 2012, my dad met my offer to join him on a bike ride with, “I need to get a real workout in.” Ouch. Hey, old man!

He was right, though. I couldn’t keep up with him mountain biking on the trails, and though I intended to, I never made it up the vertical-as-a-wall killer hill he took like a 12-year-old.

Between bicycle rides, walking served as my parents’ constant. Like water, it’s the simple, almost unnoticeable key to health and longevity.

As Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron states, “You might walk out with a problem, but as you walk, you come into a solution.” She added walking as a third tool for writers, after morning pages and artist dates.

Between Ms. Cameron and my parents, walking became my secret weapon.

Even if walking doesn’t bring me to a solution or resolution, it transforms me. When I’m angry, I must run, but when agitated, irritated, or tired, walking offers revival. It can be medicine, but it’s best taken daily like vitamins.

After that summer in Santa Fe, I returned home to Minnesota, but not to my husband. Yeah, I’d learned to walk in several ways.

Anyhow, in my next chapter, I took up walking with my new neighbor Michael and his German Shepard Jessie. As Michael and I walked among the Victorian homes of Cathedral Hill, St. Paul, we discussed men and women and relationships.

Each step dropped our defenses and forged a friendship I doubt would’ve happened over coffee or meals. Walking made talking easy.

I also walked alone, slowing into the pace of poetry.

Later, when I moved to Worthington, OH with my sister Jayne, our evening walks tamed workday stresses and unraveled the threads of grief, relationships, and childhood memories matched with our adult perspectives.

During winter, my sister and I long for and lean into spring so we can get back to our synchronized steps.

Up until a year ago, my Labrador Phoenix joined us. There’s nothing like a dog to get us out for walks. She’s gone now and it’s more of a chore to drag myself outdoors during the cold days.

Still, every time I go, especially stepping into the woods and letting nature return me to mine, I’m better for it.

On my most recent visit with my parents in their new small Santa Fe apartment, I said, “I need to get out for a walk. Would either of you like to join me?” They both declined the cold. The wind of their aging blew through me.

Of course, we shared many walks that week: down Canyon Road by art galleries, along the downtown arroyo surrounded by glistening yellow Aspen trees, and a drive out close to my folks’ old neighborhood where Ginger could run free as Mary Jo and I plunged up and down hills and through sandy arroyos where she lost her hat and we had to go back.

Walking carries us back and forward, to reflection and perspective of beauty that a drive, or even a bicycle miss.

Ginger is slowing. My parents are growing into what, despite their health, is old age. My companion Phoenix aged out.

I try to pick up the habit of running again, but I’m thankful my parents passed onto me a new constant to carry me through life’s daily joys and challenges.

So, when you’re feeling lost or blue, I encourage you to get out and experience the magnificence, simplicity and magic of walking. 

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 I Walk Forward with the Chaos of Grief.

I didn’t just lose my boyfriend. I lost the man and relationship I spent five decades looking for, the one that fit me—in all of its imperfection. I lost my sense that I belong in that special club for two.

I never really believed in “the one,” but of all the men I’ve known and loved none of them knew me and loved me the way Kevin did. He said the same thing about me. The cool thing was both giving and receiving unconditional love, living in a no-bullshit zone.

Now, a year and a half after his death, I’m back to the bullshit. The people who think they know me may, but I don’t feel truly known or able to reveal myself fully because what I am now carries such sadness.

I spout off about grieving taking as long as it takes, but I’m pissed off that it’s taking so much of me.

I’m no longer in despair every moment. I set goals. I go forth. I attend events. I laugh and mean it. But, the backdrop of it all is the desire to go back to being with my beloved.

The truth is the extraordinary events without his presence on earth rarely stir me as much as the seemingly ordinary events like watching TV, talking on the phone, or sharing coffee did when he was alive.

Kevin was my man. He once said he wanted me to look at him like, “I know he’s an idiot, but he’s my idiot.” I did—when it came to my less-than-favorite of his tendencies, as he did mine.

I didn’t have to convince myself to overcome my feelings or force feed myself into affection, conversation or presence.

That’s always been an issue with me—being told what I should feel—often by myself and certainly by other men.

Kevin respected my feelings, even the irrational ones. I wasn’t put off by his bullshit, not after we went from friends to our all-in relationship.

God, please forgive me for wishing another one of those fools I loved would’ve been the one who died instead.

I guess all I can do now is love myself the way Kevin loved me—with appreciation for my femininity and humanity.

What would Kevin say of this grief? He’d hold me through it, as I did for him with the grief he carried over his mother’s death.

She died in 2012 and in 2014 it was still eating him inside, although few knew the extent of his pain, although many must’ve imagined, knowing how close Kevin and his mom were.

Now he’s with her. It’s lovely. And, it sucks.

It sucks that Kevin is not here for his father as he committed to be. Around Thanksgiving in 2015, Kevin was in Tampa with his father when the doctors considered cutting off “Coach’s” big toe due to diabetes. Kevin was relieved when his father bounced back and basically told his sons to get out of his house and hit the road.

Kevin made it clear to me when the time came, he’d be there—in Tampa—for his dad, even move there, whatever was required. I respected that.

Of course, Kevin couldn’t imagine he’d be dead when the time came. Or that his dad and twin would truly be scared when Irma hit Florida recently.

Or that at age 86 Coach would conclude doctors cutting off his foot was the right move. So, now that’s happened.

I can’t imagine having a foot cut off, but I suspect Coach would say losing his son was harder.

I didn’t just lose my boyfriend. I lost knowing the people he loved were better off because he was there for them—physically present without being asked, speaking directly, kidding and seriously making life easier to manage.

I feel helpless—for a foot that’s been cut off and a twin brother who’s shouldering the burden Kevin would’ve willingly carried.

I miss him more than ever. I miss him for the others who miss him more than ever.

This is the journey. This is the chaos of emotion one doesn’t master, but learns to live with like a missing limb.

How I Exercise my Introvert/Extrovert Status

If someone says, “She’s high maintenance” referring to me, I’ve got one thing to say: You’re damn right.

I don’t understand low-maintenance, high-functioning folks. Sometimes I see people maintaining themselves by sucking on other people’s energy.

I sustain my own energy by tending to the two sides of me.

I envy extroverts who get revved up by hanging with others.

For me, these are my required maintenance procedures:
1. Writing—morning pages, journaling and writing with purpose for publication.
2. Yoga or stretching. My body gets physically knotted up and I’m in pain if I don’t find a way to untie the knots. (Massage works, too.)
3. Walking in nature. It’s the act of movement, and nature kisses my skin and whispers to my soul if I go it alone.
4. Reading—expands my mind and heart.
5. Prayer—to God, angels, guides, Mother Mary, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, and my loved ones on the other side. It can take a while.
6. Meditation—without it I’d come undone.

These are solo pursuits. When I take these steps I’m better able to connect with the world.

Also, I love being alone. I’m not bored. I’m not lonely.

Extroverts, I love you with your eager invitations and how you can’t fathom my time alone is your competition. It is.

Introverts, I’m with you in the magnitude of solitude, silence drawing out peace and presence for ourselves in order to invoke any magnificence we may hope to possess.

Extroverts, you drag me from the dark depths of myself—beyond the blackness. Some days and nights, I stand at death’s door begging for entry into something beyond. You entertain me and keep me awake to others’ laughter, dancing, voices and stories.

You make me come out and live. Thank you.

Introverts, we know our time alone can be where we feel most alive, authentic and valid. They may think we’re hiding, but it’s here where we face life head on. We’re not afraid of darkness. Or light. The sacred ignites our souls. We see stars intimately. We speak poetry as if it’s our first language. We dance with music because it becomes us. Alone, we’re more than we care to explain, show or present to the great pretenders running the world we run away from.

Extroverts, I adore your laughter and our connections. Yet, I can’t comprehend your apprehension toward solitude. How can it not soothe you?

Don’t you dare to dance with your one true soul mate—you?

We introverts don’t quite understand the loneliness you speak of, for others tend to engulf us in emotional claustrophobia.

Me, I dance between the world of people and parties and my full-on presence. Too much out there invites pretense, lest I speak truth most don’t care for.

Truth—I kiss her and let her seep inside my soul alone on quiet nights and precious days. She allows me to return full and ready, capable of conjuring words, not to hurt but ideally to awaken and elevate.

I’m two sides of the personality coin: introvert/extrovert. I must spend them equally. And so I dance—in the world and in my kitchen.