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?”

Sometimes We Have to be Our Own Encouragers.

* Dedicated to my writer friends, especially the memoirists.

You, my dear, are the only one who can save yourself.

Save yourself from the lies.

Free yourself from the distractions and self-created stress.

Lean into what you love. Realign your values.

Ground in. Sit with yourself.

Listen to yourself. Hear your Self.

Look at yourself. See your Self.

Wake up. Wise up.

Come on up out of that fog!

Watch the birds, but work the plan.

Don’t give up, girl. Not now.

Not in the messy middle. This is the home of metamorphosis. In memoir and real life.

In our history—personal and societal, individual and collective.

Past, present, future, it’s all the same.

Inciting incidents. Indecisions, heartbreak and fear.

The f*cking messy middle!

Beginnings taste like taking flight. Yes, it felt like take-off when I started writing my memoir in the Summer of Alice in Santa Fe, NM in 2012, seven years ago!

The middle is like a food coma after consuming a box of donuts and a half dozen cups of coffee. It’s head on the desk, I want to go home! and Where the f*ck am I?!

The messy middle is living in a penthouse on the beach in Cancun while your boyfriend is gone all night doing cocaine.

It’s the juxtaposition that demands decision when all your decision-making capabilities feel maxed, your love story has turned tragic, and you don’t know where or how to get out.

Hello, messy middle!

Hang on, girl. Do your best. Fight like hell for your dream, but don’t make it harder than it must be.

Get on your knees. Get on your mat. Get grounded. Stay seated. At your desk.

Walk in the woods. Drink water.

TV is not your friend. And, even your friends can’t complete this book for you.

Your book is good because you’re a good writer and you have a good story, but you can make it better. Own that.

This is for you, my dear. Make it a badass book.

It’s not about being a bestseller (unless it is), but about putting out your best work for your professional debut on the playing field as an author.

Polish yourself and your baby up. Present yourselves to the world.

Bring your full Self into your new life. Leave your false self, like your first attempts before you changed the verb tense.

You alone must craft your art. Your sister can’t do it for you. Your writer friends can’t impose it upon you. Your parents can’t pray success into you.

But baby, you’ve got a gang of angels at your back applauding, whispering and arranging. They’ve got agents praying for your book and men praying for your love.

Marry yourself to your destiny. Go back in one more time.

Because baby, if it weren’t for the messy middle, the story has no tension, no juice, no life force defying the odds and fighting the obstacles, and going for the glory again, like you did in the beginning.

Babe, you’ve got this.

Why I Can’t Not Write. #bloglikecrazy

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear. My courage is reborn.” ~ Anne Frank

I longed to be a writer the way some women long to be a wife or mother.

I married my writing without even realizing it. There was no ceremony or announcement, just deep commitment and the cherishing.

Writing is my friend, confidante, and if I dare say, a sensual lover. She aligns me with my purpose.

Writing awakens my higher self to reveal my scary, funny, sad, shameful, passionate truth.

Writing connects me with my tribe and family of weirdoes and misfits.

This gift and joy paved my path since 3rd grade Friday afternoon workshops left me alone and happy under a sign that read Creative Writing.

Writing serves as my bridge across difficult and wonderful relationships and life decisions, encouraging me in a way that my verbal voice only aspires to.

Writing coaxed me through two divorces and too many loved ones’ deaths.

Writing’s my nonnegotiable necessity.

Men come and go, but with writing, I find faith and forgiveness, especially of my own errors, which, were I not to go to the page, I might never recognize.

Writing is essential to my growth and maturity.

For years, I treated her like a luxury for special people and occasions.

Yet, I treasure the writing process: morning pages that may never produce anything publishable, poems just because, and letters that need to be written, like the one I wrote my father forgiving him for not being he’d like to have been.

Writing heals. It’s divinely cathartic.

Once written, I read and relish my writer’s voice, recognizing its uniqueness.

Writing inserts purpose and agenda into my daily life, serving as my clear and commanding calling.

After treating it like a trinket through my 20s, 30s, and too far into my 40s, now any inkling of turning away is replaced by an indomitable spirit within me screaming NO! I will not sell out. I will not get sidetracked.

It’s not, “I will never go hungry again!” It’s even if I must go hungry.

Nothing feeds my soul the way writing does.

It’s easy to be distracted in this world. In the past, I set writing aside to chase money, career, security, and even men who claimed to support, but compared my writing to hunting, like a hobby.

My writing is not a choice. Teaching or selling? That’s a choice. Staying married or not? A choice. Living in Santa Fe or St. Paul? Another choice.

For me, in this chapter of my life, writing is a decision made.

I either own my writing and offer it to the world or to wear regret like a tattoo. I hate tattoos.

 

 

It’s Not the Other Person We Want Back

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Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking it’s the other person we want back. What we want is the part of ourselves that pranced bold and brave into the hands and heart of that lover.

We crave our confidence and strength. Mostly, we long for the kind of faith our infatuation and falling in love ignited. Faith like that feels like flying.

After we’ve fallen, getting back the other person appeals and feels like setting things right. WRONG.

The effort we put into praying for and attracting another is the energy we need to enact for ourselves. From our deeper selves we give birth to our new and better selves.

It’s metamorphosis. You don’t stop transforming because it’s a little sticky in here. Do you not imagine yourself a beautiful winged bird, the phoenix emerging from the ashes?

There’s no magic. You will go through darkness. Perceive yourself having the iridescence no less than a dragonfly.

The lover back there, the one you wanted to go back for, the one you’d turn your back on yourself for, maybe all along, he was just a mosquito.

 

 

Letter from My 81-year Old Self to My 51-year Old Self

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My Dear,

You’re more beautiful and powerful than you imagine. You’ll be published, well-known and paid plenty. You’ll touch lives. But, you will not be without struggle.

My goodness, have you not yet discovered you thrive on challenge? Stop saying you want it’s easy. It’s not. You wouldn’t like it if it was. That’s not your style. That’s not your story.

Yours will be a rich story now. From here on out, you’ll be rich in love. You’ll have all the money you need.

Here’s the thing to focus on: joy. If you don’t enjoy what you have and where you are, you disinvite more and better.

Of course you’ve had and always will have struggles. You’ll find your way. You must make sure it’s YOUR way.

No person can steer your path for you. Even if you let them take the wheel for a while, you’re still in the driver’s seat.

The more you scoot over and let God do the driving, the more you’ll enjoy the ride. Relax, honey. God’s got this.

Everything you know to be true is true. You’re surrounded by angels. You have a divine destiny. You’re going to be okay. You don’t have to figure it all out.

Everything you know to be false is false. You, my dear, don’t tolerate bullshit.

So, don’t. Not from others, and certainly not from in yourself. Your dreams are your daily life. And yes, it just keeps getting better.

Keep praying. Keep writing. Keep believing. Nurture yourself. You are high maintenance. You need to take your time alone.

You have love. You are love. Your books are your way of loving the women in the world, the ones like you who lost their way. Their gratitude will shine on you like light from the heavens.

Your writer’s life is the rollercoaster you love to ride. Don’t forget how much you love it, even though it’s scary and sometimes makes you sick to your stomach. It’s the greatest rush you know.

You’re right where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.  Enjoy it.

At a least expected hour, you will meet with your destiny. Dance with her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lesson Mother Intended

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When I was young, I told the world how strong I was. Imagine a girl like me: a hundred pounds and a couple of decades. Maybe we are invincible in our youth, as I believed and felt.

I hitch-hiked. I took a Greyhound bus from Albuquerque to Philadelphia. And North Carolina. I rock climbed. Blindfolded. I camped. Alone. I fell in love. With ex-cons, gangbangers, and other women’s husbands.

My mother raised me on women’s rights and responsibilities. Basically, NEVER need a man; take care of yourself. Be strong and successful.

I thought I was and always would be. Without the need for a man. Maybe that’s why I chose so many I later discarded.

I couldn’t buy into the fairy tale. Because my mom told me and showed me it was a lie.

Later, she and her ideas appeared weak in the face of cancer and the kind of loneliness a daughter can’t cure.

After she passed over, it occurred to me she might do a few things differently given the opportunity.

My mom died needing and not receiving the closeness of a husband she managed a long-distance marriage with.

Maybe her first marriage to my father shattered something in her. She modeled what I later mirrored, trying out for the role of wife.

My mom and I each experienced how a man you love can grab you by the throat and kick you in the stomach simply by putting you second and practicing everyday nonchalance.

Or is that the story I tell for things I wish I could’ve done differently?

The decades have stacked to five and my mom’s been gone two.

Am I strong? Yes. Invincible? Not even close. That’s no longer the question.

I am loved. That was the lesson and the choice worth waiting for.