After grief, laughter.
Confusing, refreshing, out loud.
After grief, joy
Blossoms like a rose on a bush with thorns below.
Clarity ensues, pursues, and demands a better you.
After grief, growth, rebirth, metamorphosis.
After grief, we fly.
After grief, laughter.
Confusing, refreshing, out loud.
After grief, joy
Blossoms like a rose on a bush with thorns below.
Clarity ensues, pursues, and demands a better you.
After grief, growth, rebirth, metamorphosis.
After grief, we fly.
So, my dear,
you’ve learned to cry.
Not just reactionary tears,
earnest ones born of
your brave heart.
You see the darkness and refuse
to disrespect yourself
Welcome to the juxtaposition:
No one asked you
to lay down
Claim it again.
Be a warrior, enlightened.
To fight for light,
enter the darkness
Let them hear your laughter.
Flash your smile
like a peace sign
as you pledge to do your part.
In one bucket, carry the problems.
In the other, the spirit with
which to transform them.
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?
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.
“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
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?
Of course, you still choose it the way you’d still choose your beloved were he alive, but its existence, meaning, and memories don’t grip as tight as they once did.
When you flirt with other men because you want to, not just to prove to yourself you still can.
When meeting potential suitors, you no longer seethe from your soul the words that rolled off your tongue fresh after his death: Every other man is going to be such a f*cking disappointment!
Although each one will say or do the wrong thing by virtue of not being the man you called Fire!.
He lit you, warmed you, melted you, and went out in the night while you each slept snuggled in the peace you’d longed for your whole life.
Yet, you remember you once gave him a hard time, too–even considered him unqualified.
Until he shattered your walls with his Southern, all-in, “I’m not those other guys” determination and dedication without expectation.
Damn. He showed you how a real man steps in.
So, you might be getting to the better side of grief when you believe maybe there’s more than one emotionally courageous man on this earth, even another for you.
You stop banking on your beloved coming back, although you still secretly believe.
Your fascination with the other side, psychics, and signs subsides.
Sure, the songs still come, like Summer Nights for your sister, the flash from her first date with her husband some 35+ years ago, before he died after decades of love and a devoted family foursome.
That same night in the Bahamas, gals sing and slaughter Ice, Ice Baby, the song that originated Fire’s nickname for you in 1988 when your friendship began, as playful as a paintball tournament.
You’re getting to the other side of grief when these songs, reminders, and hellos from heaven break a smile instead of your heart.
You find yourself fully present vacationing with your sister, letting the alligators in the Everglades and lobster on the beach in the Bahamas own your attention.
Easy, one might say, but to grieve is to always wish you were elsewhere: with him.
When every breath isn’t I wish you were here; I miss you so much! Although the thought still indulges your days, it’s not every. single. moment. Progress!
Now, you’ve done 30 Days of Meditation, cleared everything from your chakras to your lineage, and found your heart bursting with love.
Determination isn’t only in your head; you embody it.
Goals and dreams matter, rather than just trying to convince yourself they should.
You might be getting to the to the better side of grief when birds singing and feeding at the feeder that belonged to your beloved goes from bittersweet to simply sweet.
Morning air and the wearing of his KISS robe isn’t ripe with flashbacks of early country mornings, arising from his bed and arms to let your dog out, hearing your favorite holler, “Come back, Icey! Come back!”
When you stop betting 100% he will.
Once again, you start finding two pennies repeatedly. Then a nickel and a penny, hearing him say, “For your sixth cents,” laughing, and you laugh, too.
Your own laughter rings as real and unrestrained as it flowed back in 1989, before your brother died, when you called The Fire! only Kevin, and he helped you pack your Honda CRX hitched with a U-Haul, so you could haul your ass out west and run away from husband number one.
You no longer want to run away from your own life.
Instead, you lean into the laughter and how it feels in your belly and looks on your face reflected in the eyes of your sister, friends, and strange folks you’ve yet to know.
You could be getting to the better side of grief when gratitude doesn’t feel like false affirmation, when you look forward to time with friends, and frankly, you stop wishing you were dead.
When you don’t keep your eyes on the clouds, begging for the heart shapes so prominent and clear in the first year after he died.
You begin looking at all that is before you.
You stop carrying conversations on autopilot like your decades spent in sales. You listen to others’ pain as more than pacifier for why yours isn’t so bad.
You still yourself and speak from your soul without the deafening echo of his goneness.
You hear joy—theirs and yours—and let it rise like a favorite song you sang in your 20s. Passion!
I find I’m getting to the better side of grief when I want to grab every morsel of life.
I don’t want to miss out on one grand, or even mundane experience, like savoring coffee, because I’m so damn busy missing my beloved, my Fire!, although I always will.
I crawled through the dark tunnel of grief after experiencing the ecstasy of sacred love.
It hasn’t died. His love lives in me. I’m forever his Ice Baby.
I’m all that he fell for—broken, vulnerable, smart, strong, feisty, funny, and beautiful.
We were crazy, sexy, cool. He still is; I still am.
I’m alive, eager for the moments before me, and excited for the chapters unfolding.
I feel like me again. I’m a woman who loved unbounded and grieved with every fiber of my being.
I’m not a fool. Grief will grab me again. She can knock me down with the power of a colossal ocean wave. I accept her power, her nature.
But, we may be getting to the better side of grief when we once again feel our own power and God’s grace within this brutiful life.
And giddiness! There’s no such thing as giddiness in the grip of grief.
So, if you’re in it, I extend my hand in hope to hold with your honorable despair.
There’s another side to grief. May I see you there.
She arrived on earth before my time.
Not a lifetime ahead of me,
Just a generous stride.
I’m not her namesake, although we hold
The same first and middles: Alice Ann.
Our parents married, but we’re not sisters. Besides,
My mother and her father have passed now.
We’re just two Alices.
I barely knew her as a child, but
I always knew of her: Big Alice.
(Which made me Little Alice.)
She had a job before I had a boyfriend.
So, I brought my friends to Pizza Hut
Where she made me feel special,
Not small like I did in the world.
I heard about the harshness in hers,
The wrong turns and sharp curves.
In college, I partied in her home once
And saw something I wanted to be,
But couldn’t articulate.
Grown up? Married? Maybe.
Years later, escaping my first marriage,
I met Alice for lunch in Las Cruces.
She glowed in love with a man named Jonathan—the one
Destined to teach her the third time is a redeemed heart.
I held to that ideal after leaving my second husband,
Landing smoothly into sacred love with a man I call Fire.
Yes, I thought, we’re two Alices.
We get it right on the third round.
Then, Jonathan died. (Cancer)
I cried for Alice’s loss, imagining all she endured
To arrive not just on solid ground, but home,
With him. Theirs was gift before the grief.
Then, reality demanded I follow in her footsteps and
Face the death of my favorite person, the one
I journeyed to find. My Fire
Went out in a night
Without warning. (Heart attack)
Now, I know what Alice knows.
I know why she writes poetry
That nestles into my heart like the smells
Of the New Mexico desert after a rainstorm
Or the sourdough pancakes my mom used to make.
Alice opens for the light. She takes on solo road trips
And hikes with friends in The Land of Enchantment,
Where she lives. She lets the stars on black nights
Remind her of the luminous mystery beyond.
Alice blasts beauty into this world through her eyes,
While belting a laugh that can only be called big.
I smile more than a little at the thought of her,
And me, and the mirrors life offers.