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.

How to Be a Tree.

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to us to merit the face you have at fifty.” ~ Coco Chanel

This tree, she is a woman. I’ve walked beside her and put my hands on her, exchanging energies for seven years. I never tire of her, through all the seasons, atmospherically and metaphorically.

I’ve brought special people to meet her. Kindred spirits recognize her before I introduce them. “That tree is a woman,” said one boyfriend walking with me in my grief, trying damn hard to make me love him. In that moment, looking at her, he forgot. We loved her together.

She greets me and calls to me whichever way I walk on trails through the woods. The other day, I noticed, from a certain angle, she appears pregnant. When I face her from the other side, where the bark is bare and my handprints lay, she’s a woman’s legs reaching upwards, her head buried beneath the ground. She holds her center between those long legs reaching to the everything, her privates so clear and public.

My sister and I once spotted baby racoons peaking out and hiding there, from their tree mama’s womb. They ran back down into her for safety, solid and wide, a condominium complex to creatures, in her body.

Today, I merged with her. I felt the rings of history traced and expanding within me. Bark like skin has endured and grown through a thousand seasons, rainstorms, and children’s laughter on the path beside her.

She adjusted her stance and deepened her roots years ago when people came close and carried electronics into her vibrational field. Most recently, she startled with so many human voices released into her arena. She’s come to welcome them as kindly as the deer and little masked thieves. She holds a sense of humor about humans bearing masks, only matched by her compassion.

This tree is a queen. No one tries to overthrow her. Little ones bend before her. Grass gathers at her feet in spring. A white blanket snuggles close in winter. She’s in love with the river running at her back. Like her, he’s ever-changing and always remaining. Her strength is indisputable. If she were a poem, she’d be titled Phenomenal Woman.

She sways and radiates her vibrant lime-green leaves with the wind in celebration for life. Yes, on blue sky days, but also under gray clouds, starry nights, and times when she finds herself naked again.

This tree stands at a crossroads of several paths which intertwine and encircle her, along the river, through the field, across to the cemetery where old trees salute, and home to neighborhoods where visitors live.

Today, I embody her. When I asked, she said, “I’ve been waiting.” She’s as sexy as any wide-open woman. She houses many and cares for all. All are welcome, like the Lady Liberty of our united nature. She hears and feels it when other trees fall in her forest. She nourishes the collective air and peers at the fish performing. She’s regal, standing at grace with everything. She sings with the all the birds and lets owls perch on her arms.

Nothing deters her from her purpose. To be a tree.

Who We Are When Society Stops.

“Traveler, there is no path, the path must be forged as you walk. ~ Antonio Machado

Here’s to the book burning party in my soul.

Goodbye to the agenda society smudged into me.

I’m a pink lotus flower. My crown is a cotton candy headdress. My belly a river rolling.

I’m a baby forming in the Universe’s womb.

A free being. I float. I do not know agenda.

How could I write lists when I gave my words to the earth?

Mother nature rocks me. I am new life, a mysterious seedling of divine flowering cells.

I know nothing. Thank God.

I’m not the books my mother wrote or the words she spoke or screamed.

I am love. Loved. Loving. It’s my thing.

I’m not my sister’s grief or her keeper. She’s not my savior.

I don’t owe her. I love her.

I love me, too. And our sweet destiny intertwined by mystery.

I’m not competition. I’m a feather floating.

Rose quartz, Tanzanite, and a coyote.

I cost nothing. Charge nothing.

I am the wind, the dirt, the knife my grandfather created with shiny metal and dappled colored scraps, carving my path the way rivers erode the earth.

I smell of lavender and rose petals and sage.

I don’t count my worthiness from words on pages. They take their own form.

I’m not commander-in-chief. Nor do I want to be.

I’m song and chant and freedom dance.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo. I bow to the divine teacher within.

I am Sat Nam. Truth is my identity.

Watch me, a full moon at dawn. Hear me, gratitude laced with laughter.

We are blessed and blessing. We bless as we take breath.

I’m a smooth stone and a child’s handprint in wet cement.

I don’t mind being a misfit.

It was all that fitting in, proving, planning, getting over, waking up, trying, deciding, failing…so damn tiring!

Now, we just are. Nothing. From which everything forms.

A blank canvas of dark night where stars blaze and amaze and awaken imagination.

We are a society stopped, the breath in between the notes of a song not yet written.

We are harmony rising.

How We Can Unite Rather Than Divide.

“But there is a good chance that we will all keep bashing each other anyway.” ~ Van Jones, Beyond the Messy Truth

Let the media and political pundits divide.

Let truth and love unite.

Yes, but those MFs and idiots on the other side!

Admit it. That kind of thinking is part of the problem and it’s pervasive in our society, even in some families and friendships.

Ouch. Own it. Who do you disagree with?

If you’re Republican, it’s the damn Democrats—the Libs.

If you’re a Democrat, it’s the Trump rats.

If you’re apolitical, it’s all that noise.

Now, who do you disagree with and also love and respect in other aspects?

Let’s meet there—in the love in our hearts, even when we disagree. Quiet your mind and the proving of things you know.

Take a different approach.

Why the hell would you, when they are so clearly wrong and won’t listen?!

None of us wants to be told how to think or that we’re wrong or stupid.

We want to be right!

Yes, but underneath that we each want to be seen, heard, and respected.

It’s not easy to give what we want to receive.

Recently, I went to lunch with a gal I used to babysit, who’s now a completely legit grown-up with kids of her own. She’s also a Trumper.

Full disclosure, I’m a Democrat. In my soul. Please don’t hate me. Or, even if you do, read on and see how I learned to listen to a Trumper I’ll call Marie.

I babysat her when I was in high school and later, in college, I lived with and helped her family during a crisis. Marie’s mom is my friend, mostly out of loyalty because she saved my big sister’s self-esteem and confidence at a critical juncture as a teenager.

So, off to lunch I go with Marie, a gal I only kinda-sorta know, no longer the little girl I babysat, but the woman I’d later learn hesitated meeting me because we so disagree politically.

I get it. Sometimes it’s easier to keep our distance, not engage in conversation, and resist confrontation.

One of my favorite words is juxtaposition. That’s where Marie and I met for lunch.

Sitting in my Prius before I went in, I prayed for a hand on my shoulder and one over my mouth.

I took a minute to remember Marie’s innocence, and how I let her, as a young girl, ride (and crash) on my brother’s skateboard, back when I babysat for fudgesicles and money to afford Outward Bound.

I was once 15 and Marie was once lost in the shuffle. In those days, Marie had a sister and I had a brother.

In between then and now, we’ve each held a thousand broken pieces.

And we’ve risen, as women do.

So, from that place, I listened when she said bad things about Obama and raved about Trump’s greatness, while stating the fact of his lack of character.

I breathed deep and it seemed so did she.

We had an adult conversation where we found common ground without either of us turning the other one around.

In those moments that went political, it felt like work, but worth it. 

Not because I won. Not because she convinced me.

Because I listened with my heart. Although, trust me, my brain and ego wanted to take that girl on!

I turned them off. I trusted I’d be given the words to say and the ability to keep my mouth closed without resentment.

The rest of our lunch, we discussed her new job and my writing career.

I learned she didn’t remember my brother Bill, who died at age 27.

I assured her, I think, without ideal words, I understand what she’s missing in a sister. I have mine and I can’t imagine having lost her when I was little, like Marie was when her sister had a life-altering car accident that crashed their family and forever shattered the solid foundation Marie had previously been raised on.

I feel compassion, not pity, for her.

I love the woman she’s become.

Both of us earned our living in sales for decades and came close to selling our souls. But we didn’t. Deep down we value our lives and ourselves.

From that place, as women (and men), we can honor one another. Unity starts in the heart.

Sometimes it’s hardest to go there, to the space of juxtaposition with loved ones, the people we otherwise like or love, but don’t want to dance with in the political divide.

Be brave. Be an adult. Refuse to engage in rhetoric and bullsh*t. Be willing to lean in for meaningful conversation. Remember: everyone has reasons for their beliefs.

If we listen to each other we may not agree, but we can build a bridge of mutual respect. These days, we could use some new bridges.

Who I Want to Be When This is Over.

When this is over, in time too far from our liking, we’ll give oxytocin hugs and look into the eyes of strangers, knowing they’ve endured something similar in the hunkering down.

They’ve worried and missed people, resisted touch, and changed habits.

In those eyes we’ll see sadness, compassion, and in many cases, resurrection of humanity’s soul.

We’ll know something akin to what people who’ve been to war or prison or watched loved ones taken by cancer: both our smallness and our essence.

If we’re brave, we’ll change more than habits and mindsets.

We’ve been given an opportunity to reset our priorities.

Some will continue to play the games online and work away their time.

In many ways, my life as a writer remains consistent, while I recognize the reshaping of the environment and outside noise.

The world grows both louder and quieter.

Shhh, can you hear your soul?

Can you feel the collective rearrangement of reality, the realignment of the divine, the righting of wrongs, as so often happens in the face of tragedy?

It’s the worst of times; it’s the best of times.

Welcome to the resetting of society. Baby, it starts with you and me.

When I come out on the other side of this, I want to stand witness to a better world.

How dare I call this potential good when it’s obviously bad?

The same way vitality rose in me when my brother died, and I was just 25.

Five years later, compassion became my companion after cancer took my mother.

Amid my divorce(s), I understood more about who I was, who I was not, and what kind of woman I intended to become.

When we succeed—in business, careers, and relationships, it’s a joy ride.

When we fail, lose, are forced to change habits, and foundations fall, we get to choose.

We get to question, resurrect our character, and redraw our boundaries.

When I walked, awake, into my second marriage, I knew full well what I wanted and what that man offered. Hell, I manifested it!

A decade later, during the worst financial crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression, I called upon my courage and voiced my goodbye to a man I still loved, my husband. Because I knew for certain what I did not want.

Sometimes we only learn that by getting it.

In America, our actions and policies prove we wanted money to be the bottom line.

We wanted profit and power, if only for the next cycle.

We wanted to believe the bubble wouldn’t pop again.

Didn’t we all know, deep down, the emperor had no clothes?

When this is over, many of us will have looked in the mirror to find more than lines we don’t like. We’ll find the lies we’ve been telling ourselves.

Like, we’re in control and everything is good.

That’s it. That’s the one I had to learn repeatedly.

Every time, it’s helped me to surrender to something bigger—a bigger picture, a greater purpose, a larger love for myself and others.

Our cities and societies, even humanity, is experiencing her own dark night of the soul.

It’s just beginning. Like the day you finally admit I don’t want to live like this.

Or your partner speaks some truth you resist or deny.

The way I did when a friend of a friend kept talking about Coronavirus back in February. Enough already!

We shut him down, even made fun of the conversation, as if we could avoid its bigness.

We did, the way we tend to do at first when relationships, lifestyle changes, or abrupt bad news reveals what we don’t like.

At first, I thought Corona-virus a punchline to pair with Lime Disease. Funny!

It wasn’t until a conversation with my father that the enormity began to hit me.

As a career, my father worked in nuclear nonproliferation, and in his final years investigated and analyzed Iran’s weapons stockpiles. As a retiree, he researches cancer information, studies, and trials for friends contending with the disease.

Days before the intended Ohio elections, my father made a special call to tell me he didn’t think I should volunteer as a poll worker.

What? He was serious. “Any other time. It’s not worth your health,” he said. My dad does a lot of things, but drama doesn’t typically describe him.

At first, I thought maybe he’d been reading too much. Then, I reminded myself he’s trained on statistics, facts, and validating sources.

I started doing my own research, although soon I didn’t have to. Amy Acton, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, began giving afternoon news briefings.

This woman deserves a medal for her exceptional work and the way she explains science with clarity, compassion and facts.

Then, the closings came. Day by day. Schools. Restaurants and bars. Barber shops and salons. Daycare centers. Life as we knew it fell away.

Panic, the low-level buzz brewing below the surface, came crashing like waves.

Now, I feel the need to confess my part in the mess. My sister and I went to the movies the last night they were open. Because we could, but wouldn’t be able to the next day.

Last week, when I already knew better, I hugged a friend. I don’t regret that one.

I’ve also hugged my sister. And two new friends in their home recently after we didn’t sit six feet apart.

I also bought extra toilet paper. That was an accident, I promise. (I thought the rolls in the garage were paper towels.)

My sister and I live together and typically hug each other every morning when she goes to work, every night when we go to bed, and whenever we say goodbye. She’s no longer going to work. We’re no longer hugging goodnight. When she left to go see her fiancé we said, “Virtual hug.” This sucks.

I’m not very good with rules, but I want to follow these because the last thing I want to do is accidently, or unknowingly, cause someone to be sick, hospitalized or die. That someone could be a stranger, a loved one, or me.

I choose to be educated, aware, and take right action in this critical time. So, I’m home, resisting trips to the grocery store or even around the corner for beer.

I’m here, trying to listen to my soul and let something better than the chatter rise. We’re going to get to the other side. When we come out, people will ask what we did.

I’m more interested in who we’ll become. Who will each of us, and all of us, those of us who live through this, become?

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 to Be Brave Again.

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” ~ Anne Frank

I used to be brave. I climbed in canyons alone and hitchhiked when I was a kid. I rode a bus across the country at 14 to go to Outward Bound. I rock climbed blindfolded.

I knocked on doors and did in-home sales for decades, going into strangers’ homes unafraid of anything but flubbing my closing lines.

I drove across the country numerous times and moved to Mexico once. 

Even after being raped by a boss at age 24, I held an invincibility at my core.

Things are different now. I’m different, but so is my country.

Years ago, my sister and I went to the Bahamas. On a walk along the beach, local men laid like lizards on cement walls and leered at us like we were meat. Their eyes on us felt animalistic.

I’ve seen that look in the eyes of some American men more often in the past few years.

There was the guy in the parking lot at the Mexican restaurant when I walked to get my jacket from my car parked next to him. I said hi and his eyes met me with hatred, enough to make me sprint back to the restaurant. I’d like to say he was the only one, a rarity.

But, in today’s society, being female is a vulnerability. Yes, it always has been, but not to this extent, not for a long time.

You can tell me I’m paranoid, or just devoid of logic. Logic isn’t what’s guiding our society. Even when it was, that left out female knowing.

I know too much, see too much, and feel too much fear.

It’s not just about the men who leer. It’s about knowing, due to our hyper-vigilant gun ownership, any altercation could turn dangerous. And it’s not just altercations. It’s concerts, movies, and children going to school gunned down in innocence.

This isn’t to point blame or suggest maybe we have a problem with violence. It’s acknowledging that the overwhelming presence of guns most places I go can make me want to stay home, to hide in safety.

My mom owned a gun and believed in gun rights and the NRA. Oh, what I’d give to have a conversation with her today.

Just like with pizza or beer, a little isn’t bad, but as a lifestyle too much can be devastating.

I’ve altered my lifestyle for safety and security. Certainly, this is in part due to growing out of youth’s invincibility.

However, even as an adult, I used to feel freer, just a few years back.

Isn’t America about freedom? I don’t feel as free and fear it will get worse.

Too many of our heroes have been revealed as dangerous predators. Too many more roam free, eager, and now, emboldened.

What’s a woman to do, but be afraid? Be brave! You say?

Yes, but not in the way of denial of danger. Not, for me, in grabbing a gun to be part of the society hell bent on rights beyond legitimate concerns.

We all agree mass shootings are bad, as well as individual ones. Cop killings are bad. Cops killing? Really bad.

What I fear is the structures we’ve come to count like the ground we stand on are crumbling. The rules have changed in every area. Truth is disputed.

Serious journalists, the likes of the New York Times and Washington Post, once the bastions of our civil society, who took down Nixon, have been framed as enemies.

Roger Stone has a tattoo of Nixon on his chest and the guy in the White House defends him.

No, I’m not bashing. I’m looking clearly.

As a nation, can we see, or shall we continue to be as blind as Camille Cosby?

No matter the facts, she chose loyalty to what she perceived as truth, to the man she knew as good. Who can blame her?

We love who we love. We put our faith in them. We lower bars to make way for them.

When it’s personal, like a marriage and family, it takes time to see a reality so in conflict with what we’ve been told and shown and believe in our core.

As a county, do we have time?

I’m fearful. I’m told to think positive. I try not to be cynical.

Shall we wait until global warming becomes unbearable?

Geez, this gal’s negative! Turn away. Or don’t. I understand the impulse.

What are you grappling with? Where is the collective personal and the personal societal?

Apparently, we need to learn from personal experience and until it touches us, let’s turn off the TV, call the truth fake, and for God’s sake, take care of ourselves.

Yes, I’ll take care of myself to the best of my ability. I’ll also care for loved ones and strangers when and where I can. I’ll speak and write truth.

I’ll be brave again. Courage is revealed in the face of fear.

To call upon mine, I’ll reread Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Like Frank and Frankl, even if the worst is upon us, we can be diligent in our faith, seek purpose, and imagine ourselves being a part of a better world, or at least paving a path for future generations.

We can be brave again. We must be brave again.


 

How Good News Ignites Us.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8

Our family received some lovely news yesterday. It’s not mine to share, but I can tell you joy rose in me like it does in a child at Christmas.

We seek to grab the good, get on our mats and stretch into it, get on our knees and pray it in, work, affirm… It all helps.

Nothing like Kundalini, but that’s just crazy me.

Yesterday reminds me: Sometimes the best gift someone can give is their own good news.

Joy over another’s fortune is as pure as music that moves us.

With the announcement, I felt surrounded by our families’ ancestral lines smiling and celebrating. Happiness fell on us like confetti.

These days, we need good news to compensate for our outrageous political and chaotic social climate, and the bombardment of media and technology we’re addicted to.

As a female citizen in the United (now acting divided) States of America, it’s my civic duty to pay attention to the occurring conversations and decisions affecting us culturally, while aligning my activist inclinations with truth, compassion, and action.

There’s an allegiant mindset determined to fix our problems. First, we must face them. Yuck!

Recently, a girlfriend said, “I don’t watch the news. I like to stay positive.”

That’s how I felt in my 20s and 30s. I suppose some people weren’t rivetted to the news as Watergate unfolded, either.

In our 50s, in these #metoo times, women (and men) can’t afford to go back to sleep. And the young people are showing up fully awake.

I don’t want to be the person who isn’t paying attention while history is making a solid mark on humanity.

For decades, through helping myself to personal growth and positive thinking, I learned the art of positive denial.

I rode it like a skateboard. Then, I crashed and came face-to-face with all I’d refused to look at.

Positive denial is still denial.

Now, I’m into facing life head on, because I may not have time to circle back to see what I left under the bed.

There’s a balance, isn’t there? In previous scenes in my life, I practiced playing Pollyanna, but I’m not her.

I like being educated and informed, and yet information, understanding, and truth-seeking can be heavy.

Oh, but that good news! It ran through my blood like a happy drug. I want more.

In turbulent times, joy still dances.

People fall in love, get married, and have babies. Promotions are granted, new jobs landed, homes purchased, and travels taken.

Sometimes, when we talk about our own joys, it feels like bragging. Sometimes, I hold back–as if my joy diminishes another’s or dismisses their pain.

We must share our good news—in spite of and because of the personal and collective challenges of our times, which we must face with courage and character.

Although serious, let’s not be joyless. Let’s share good news like juicy gossip.

How Miracles Arrive.

How Miracles Arrive.

“Hope is believing in spite of evidence, then watching the evidence change.” ~ Jim Wallis

I didn’t realize I’d been holding my breath until I saw the breaking news of 12 boys and their soccer coach saved from a cave in Thailand.

I hadn’t followed the story closely. My heart couldn’t take it. No more innocents dying!

Over the last several years, our hearts and minds have taken in and pushed back on school shootings, a political arena that resembles the WWF, grown-ups fist fighting and flinging flagrant disrespect, suicide rates soaring, police involved shootings (both as victims and perpetrators), hurricanes in Houston and lead-contaminated water in Flint, white supremacy rising, everyday people getting dragged off airplanes, children being kept in cages, a friend’s mom dying of painful cancer… My heart screams no more!

I want to turn off the news, but as citizens today, we can’t afford to be complacent.

A society gone astray stirs up chaos in our individual and collective hearts.

In this environment, it’s increasingly easy to be frenzied or even flip out on someone, for something as minor as having a meeting at Starbucks. What?!

At first, each incident seems isolated, but it’s all a mirror of the society we’ve created, or the one hatched while we watched The Bachelor.

Shootings in schools, theatres, and nightclubs reveal more than one crazy individual.

Like the one running our country with lies, corruption, and the master manipulation of a reality show king. To those who continue to point to the clothes they insist the emperor’s wearing, there’s nothing to say.

We’ve lost the art of discourse and taken on anger, violence, and disrespect as if our Constitution reads not, “We the people,” but, “You people!”

Here’s how it actually starts:
We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure Tranquility, provide for the common deference, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Amazing! Yet, no matter where we stand, disappointing news arrows into our hearts, filling the American diet in a way we haven’t seen in decades.

So, today I happily focus on this miracle of people from around the world coming together for the sake of these children.

Today, I focus on the miracle of people from around the world coming together for the sake of the children.

Can we focus on the miracle of coming together for the sake of the children?

 

How a Political Refuge from Chilé gave me much to be Thankful for. #bloglikecrazy

How a Political Refuge from Chilé gave me much to be Thankful for. #bloglikecrazy

 

“I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage and contributions of refugees past and present.” ~ Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General

It was the day after Thanksgiving last year. My best friend Andrea was out of town. I called her father, Mr. Mena to see if I might stop by and visit.

I said, “Hola, it’s Alice.”

Papi said, “Oh, mi otro hija!” (my other daughter).

When I arrived, he wanted to cook for me. I didn’t let him, but I said yes to his Chilean wine and pride. We sat at the kitchen counter talking about life, family and politics.

Although I’ve known this man since high school and he once introduced himself to my mother as, “Hello. I’m Alice’s father,” it’s never been just the two of us. Usually, I was in his home visiting Andrea.

You know how sometimes you drop by just to say a polite hello, and somehow time opens up to make space for words never considered?

Mrs. Mena was in the back bedroom sleeping. She hasn’t been the same since her stroke 20 years ago.

Although I never considered this question before, I asked how they met—some 50 years ago. Papi told me when he was a teenager he was friends with Mrs. Mena’s sister. Then, he saw Andree with her long hair, but he said, “I wasn’t thinking anything. I was 16.”

Later, he got free tickets for a concert because he’d pounded a dent out of a bus and the owners gave him the tickets. He fell asleep on the bus ride to the concert and awoke to Andree kissing him on the cheek.

His eyes lit up as he recalled their young love. They used to go out dancing and he’d buy her Coca Colas.

Even back when he was a teenager, Mr. Mena worked on cars. He built a car that was in a three-country race: Chilé, Peru and Argentina. Then, he got hired by the university and earned a paycheck! Mr. Mena told me he never had trouble making money.

Later, Andree wanted to get married. He was 19. She was 17.

Both their fathers approved and went with them to get married. Both moms were opposed, especially his because he was the family breadwinner.

Then, Mr. Mena told me about the coup and Pinochet coming in as dictator of Chile. That’s when Mr. Mena became a part of the resistance.

Because now Pinochet was in charge of all the companies, Mr. Mena and his coworkers would do things like leaving the lights and water on all night to wreak havoc. In the shop where he worked, they made sharp objects to throw in the road to stop the military and secret police.

He also took people to the French Embassy to escape.

Papi described helping one mom and her three girls go out the back of their house and in the front and out the back of three houses to escape the military police, who, he claimed were “so mad!”

“Why were they after her?” I asked. “Because her husband was part of the resistance.”

Mr. Mena drove the woman and her girls to a farm. Those were just the things they did. Yes, it was dangerous.

In fact, the military police captured and tortured Mr. Mena, but he “never told them anything because then they’d have no use for me.”

Then, they’d kill him. Mr. Mena’s sister and many of his friends were killed.

While he was held and tortured, Mrs. Mena searched and did everything she could to find her husband. By this time, they had three small children.

Mrs. Mena pleaded with the French Embassy and told everyone she could that her husband had been captured. She made a lot of noise and with the help of the French Embassy, Mr. Mena was released and the family fled the country.

Mr. Mena showed me some old black and white pictures of one man who came to Santa Fe, NM to visit and thank Mr. Mena for saving his life. He showed me a letter the guy had written him. Of course, it was in Spanish.

Somehow, our conversation wound to God. Papi said he doesn’t believe in God. But he said, “How easy to find him in this,” as he picked up an apple, “or a flower or ants building things.”

He told me he gets mad, all those people dying. ”Why does God do this?”

His wife, Mrs. Mena was healthy, fine, until a doctor prescribed Premarin which caused a blood clot and then she had the stroke.

I listened as this strong, masculine man, my father figure, praised his wife for getting him out of Chile, encouraged him to buy the land the house we sat in was built on and to work hard. She always supported him, and the kids in all their sporting events.

Papi said he talks to his son Ish, now grown with his own kids, about what it means to be strong.

“I say to him, ‘You can’t go to Albertsons, give them money, and say you want to buy time.’”

Mr. Mena emphasized the importance of being strong, deciding what you want and going for it.

Then, he told me—the girl who used to enter road races under the name Alice Mena because I wanted to belong to his family—how proud he is of me, how strong I am, how he sees me as having done everything on my own. (Not quite true, but I ate up his compliments the way I used to devour Mrs. Mena’s langostino empanadas.)

Papi kept preaching about how proud he is of me for finishing school. (Oh, yeah, I completed my bachelor’s degree at age 37!)

He told me what a great example I’ve been and that his daughter, (my best friend) Andrea looks up to me. The feeling is mutual.

Mr. Mena and I continued our conversation, now onto marriage and divorce.

It makes him mad when people say how much they respect him for still being with and taking care of Mrs. Mena.

“Where else would I be? She’s my wife. She’s my life.”

Mr. Mena has always been a proud man. It felt different on this day.

More than in the past, I took in his kindness. How respectful and full of admiration he was for the woman who welcomed me into their home, cooked for me and often restaurants where she was dealt the blows of conflict between her Chilean Spanish heritage and the New Mexican Spanish culture I grew up around.

Mrs. Mena slept for most of my visit. Papi and I went into the back bedroom and woke her up. She looked at me with a mother’s adoration. Tears of joy leaked from her eyes.
I held her, hugged her, kissed her, looked into her soul and told her I wished I could take her pain away. She shook her head no.

Mami pointed to my diamond circle pendant necklace, diamond earrings and rings and her eyes lit up like I’d landed some rich man. I reminded her I worked in a jewelry store for many years. She always loved jewelry. She still loves it and shopping.

Mrs. Mena eyed for (since spoken language is no longer her friend) Mr. Mena to give me a big bag of Lindt chocolates.

Papi told me about the foot surgery she had to fix her foot that wasn’t quite right since the stroke. Now, it’s even worse. She can hardly walk. He drives her in a van and she has a scooter.

Mr. Mena’s doctor told him he better take care of himself or he’ll die before her. “I try, he said.” But, he has diabetes, is overweight and his health doesn’t look like it’s rooting for him.

He showed me a new Mercedes he’s working on making into a truck. He’d sold his old prized Mercedes sedan. “What do I need with a car I can only drive once or twice a month?” He also sold his apartment in Chile. “Andree can’t travel.” It seems not too many years ago he was insisting otherwise.

His priorities have shifted. His purpose is caring for his wife and watching his grandkids grow up.

Mr. Mena told me he spoke in Washington, DC at the UN years ago. His talk was called “The Ismael Menas of the World.”

I considered the multitudes of people like papi who came from harsh circumstances to build their American dream.

The Ismael Menas of the world: people to be thankful for.