How Sister Ships Sail.

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

Like ships passing, I realize I’m on one and my sister stands on the other—after we’ve ridden side by side for a while now.

Our ships never completely paralleled.

I like my ship. Even while I view the vivacious parties and glorious sunsets over there, on hers.

She might not get the same view of the sunrise or meet the peeps I will on my ship.

We have different destinations.

Either of us could be rerouted or sail into inclement weather.

We bought our tickets and said where we want to go.

Now, we enjoy the adventure, greet the people, choose events and excursions, relax and relish.

Knowing we’re not actually driving the ship, we must trust.

I’m certain my big sister read the safety rules and learned her ship’s map.

When I holler across from mine to hers, “Hey, where are you going?!” she screams back, laughing like an 11-year-old girl on vacation with her mom and best friend, “I don’t know! Where are you going?”

It dawns on me that maybe I don’t know either. As I try to formulate an answer and speak it into the wind between us, I see her man come up behind her and wrap his arms around her.

She turns to look at him the way Rose looked at Jack on The Titanic.

There goes a love story.

My sister turns and waves, joy dripping from her face.

“Have fun!” she screams.

“I will!” I shout back, like a promise. “You too!”

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 History Helps Us Endure Grief.

Alice in Authorland

“Acknowledging and letting go of these feelings brings us up to courage and, with that, finally acceptance and an inner peacefulness, at least as it regards the area which has been surmounted.” ~ David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender

I’ve fallen into grief’s pit again. I know; I’ll crawl out faster this time.

It’s temporary, but this is the place I miss him the most. Grief is a gross comfort.

In grief’s grip, no matter how magnificent my daily life, it pales in comparison to any moment, memory, or experience shared with my now-deceased beloved.

Before Kevin stepped up into the role of boyfriend, he hung around the sidelines of my life ever since my first career opportunity, where we met, and my first marriage, which I left.

Yep, Kevin was there decades ago as I burned rubber out of both.

He seemed to pop up in…

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Be Like Kevin

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Call. And call again. Take the calls—even when you’re driving to dinner with your girlfriend and looking for a parking space. Take the call, especially if it’s your dad. Not because he’s 85, because he’s your dad.

Connect with people. Laugh. Let your funny be infectious. Don’t be a hater. Speak your mind. Apologize when you screw up. And mean it. Move on.

OWN your anger. Be forthright, but be gracious. Love women. Really love them. And music. Listen to music-LOUD! Especially the 80s. Hard rock. KISS.

But take Etta James and the candles. Yeah, bring that old boom box to the beach. Play the game Washers.

Read. The Bible when you feel nudged. Take pleasure in reading. Find your guy. Kevin’s was Lee Child, but he also read Mark Twain, JR Moehringer and Alice Lundy.

Give people nicknames. ICE! ICE! ICE! Let it be your way of honoring them.

Pray. Out loud. In the morning. While drinking coffee and watching birds with your girlfriend.

Say, “I LOVE THAT!” often. Say, “I love you.” Write it. Write letters. Send Valentine’s Day cards with love to everyone.

Enjoy good food. Make memories, like taking your gal to Tony’s, where you used to go with your mom. But, also go to dive bars. Bring home Taco Bell sauce packets that say “Marry Me” and present them like a bouquet of flowers.

Seek love. Be romantic. Be real.

Follow your passions and applaud others. Take care of your business, but don’t be so serious. Make work fun. When it’s not, refocus. Readjust. Decide what you want and go for it.

Change. If you want to. Become better.

Be at peace with yourself. Take care of yourself. LOVE YOURSELF. And especially, BE YOURSELF. Kevin was totally himself, not imitating a soul.

Be emotionally courageous. Say: This is how I am. I have a temper and I can be selfish, but I’m the man for you. Yeah, be a man—in the best sense of the word.

Support your team and Diva’s team and your people. Show up. Be on time. And have some style!

LIVE your life. If it ever comes to your door, kick cancer’s ass!

Speak a different language with your brothers—one your girlfriend couldn’t understand if she wanted to. Make your cousin a brother and make the word BROTHER mean something. Make friendship and family mean something.

GO ALL IN. Whatever you’re doing: sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, sales, wooing a woman, loving your mom, hanging with friends, frying fish, developing relationships, telling a truth, listening,… damn, Kevin could listen.

I know he could talk, but he could really listen.

Open doors. Pull out chairs. Hug. Hold your partner tight through the entire night. Kiss too hard and love like this is your last chance and you want to get it right.

Buy little gifts. Don’t expect so much from others. Give because it makes you feel good.

Tell stories. And make them good!

Hang with your boys. Be wild when you’re young, but never grow old. Get out of the house, but spend time hanging at home, just chillin’.

Be like a kid. But be a man. Face life head on.

Be like Kevin, but you can’t. There was only one. So, be like you—the one Kevin loves. Still.

 

 

Dance Partner 2020

Soul seeks something divine.

Ego seeks everything. She’s a squirrel scrambling on life’s limb.

Soul sings and dances when I write, pray, meditate, walk in the woods, or look into baby Mia’s eyes and catch a glimpse of God.

Soul stretches in feminine containers and communities. She likes to hold hands and skip. She digs writers, artists, musicians, and sexy men.

When I dance and swing my hips, Soul and Ego kiss.

When I get grounded and attune with my angels and guides, I’m free.

But, this human American life costs money, as Ego likes to remind me. She’s not wrong.

And yet, I’ve been held by Grace’s hands of abundance and reminded what’s important.

“What’s that?” Ego Asks, “Did you say you volunteered to go broke? You don’t like money? You just want to sit around and meditate? Maybe learn to paint?”

Soul smiles. She always smiles.

“Oh Ego, I know you’re dying to get out and prove yourself worthy to this world. You’d go out—to the bar, the store, the sales job, anything to avoid Insecurity or Loneliness.”

Soul soothes, “It’s ok, honey. Come, sit with me. Together, we’ll smooth this out. Let me tell you a secret, Ego: I love you. You and I have a divine destiny.”

Going within is falling in love with Self, all her facets of brilliance, and imperfections of personality.

Soul continues, “Going within—and working on and toward our Big Dream is our courtship. So many dates to meditate, write, pray, practice Reiki and Kundalini, weave a history, the path we’ve walked through the forest of life. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Ego, I know you want to run. You resist my touch. It’s ok, baby. I know you’re scared.

Another year is ending, and you fear you haven’t done enough, been enough, or made enough progress. Sweetheart, come here. Come here. Come IN. Let Soul rock you.”

“See, Grace comes to turn the page on another year to give you a fresh perspective. You get to choose again. Do you want to come inside with me? Your friends are here.

Truth never looked so dazzling, like Lady Liberty covered in stars. And Destiny, she’s a queen, like Diana and Elizabeth. When you go in, you’ll find a thousand queens rising. Peace, she’s inside, too—lighting a fire and serving teas from faraway lands.

But Ego, you want to go outside to meet a man, or make some cash, or get drunk on distraction. You want to be entertained!

Trust me, Ego. Come inside. Let Love of Everything seduce you.

Where do you want to be? Noise and Chaos await you on the corner with their friends Judgement and Remorse. You can go out if you want.”

“Will you be sad?” Ego asks.

“It doesn’t matter if we go within or go without. We’ll be together. It’s just that when you go too fast and chase everything, I get quiet and you don’t hear me.”

“You’re right,” Ego says, “Sometimes I need the noise. I’m seduced by the drama. But listening to you, being with you, feels right. I’d like to come inside tonight.”

Soul smiles. She always smiles.

“Yes,” she says, “Let’s face the morning together, naked, happy and hungry to taste the new year.”

Cheers! May you find yourself dancing with possibility in 2020.

Letter to my Beloved, a Year and a Half after his Death.

Three and a half years after Kevin’s death, I think less, “Damn! I lost that!” I think more, “Wow! I had that!” Crazy, sexy, cool.

Alice in Authorland

“When good men die their goodness does not perish, but lives on though they are gone.” ~ Euripides

Dear Kevin,

Thank you. Thank you for embodying your authentic self and welcoming me to be the Alice Lundy you saw—not just my best self, but the real me: raw, vulnerable, smart, beautiful, jealous, funny, a writer worth reading, sexy, determined, feisty, intuitive, angry, weird, stubborn, free-spirited, and a terrible singer, but a great story-teller.

You saw me. You got me. All of me—the parts I wanted to deny, abandon, or project onto others, and especially the qualities about myself I believe on my best days.

You knew who I was back when the only thing I cared more about than selling books was the truth, and I assumed it was clear and simple.

So, I held truth against you for 20 years and you let me without pitting alternatives against me…

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