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.

How to Be a Successful Rebel. #bloglikecrazy

What’s reflective and adaptive in the short run may carry the highest price tag over time. ~ Harriet Goldhor Lerner, PhD

Dear Young Rebel, I see you.

I see you with my old woman eyes. I know the lies you tell because I was once young and told them, too.

I was old enough to do what I wanted and fool the fools.

I didn’t realize the one I was ripping off was me.

I skipped much of high school or found myself sick with the flu, and even though it was true, I missed out on a slice of life I can never get back.

I barely graduated high school, not because I was dumb, but because I thought I was too smart to play by the rules.

Kids who went to class, did homework, or listened to their parents’ advice seemed weak.

Not me, I was strong.

I do what I want! was my motto.

The truth is I was lost and scared. I didn’t know what I wanted or who I was.

I was (and still am) a rebel.

When we’re young, it seems everyone is running the same race. As the years pass, the trajectory of actions and consequences spreads wider.

It’s revealed in careers, homes, travel, marriages, and a myriad of things that require time and attention.

Maybe you’re so smart you won’t listen to me or let this be anything other than some dumb adult thinking she can tell you anything when you’re an adult yourself and you already know, right?

The only reason I’m saying anything is because I wish somebody would’ve pulled me aside, realized I was just trying to make my way, and helped me make better choices. Nobody did.

Or, at least I didn’t hear them, like you might not hear this. And, that’s ok.

And yet, when I look back, I wish someone would’ve said: You can do this.

See, I thought everyone was saying I had to and that alone made me not want to. I thought the hard work and school stuff was for them.

I doubted anyone’s sincerity that anything good was meant for me. Nobody understood what I was going through. Or, so I thought.

I’m not telling you I totally get you. I’m saying I care and you can do this.

You can stop fighting against what could benefit you.

You deserve a good life.

But no, you spoiled little brat, it won’t be handed to you.

Ooh, right there, I bet that pissed you off. Now, do you want to be all self-righteous, like Who the hell does she think she is?

Here’s who I am: a grown woman who was once a spoiled brat.

Now, I’m old enough to admit it. I admit it wasn’t the world or my father who were so hard on me; I made things hard by trying to get away with doing things the easy way.

This is not a condemnation of you. It’s the concern I wish somebody would’ve shown me.
I see you. Can you see yourself?

Can you see what I couldn’t when I was your age, but is so clear now?

Can you look at how you’re living and imagine the kind of life you might be creating?

I know how smart you are and what a rebel you can be. It’s awesome!

However, combine that with misused freedom and you might just run yourself off a cliff.
Can you see how you could be hurting yourself? You know when you move out of your parents’ house, they won’t go with you, but you will?

Your thoughts and ideas. Your money habits. Your work habits. Your ways of getting along with others (or not). It all moves with you.

You create it. Then, you own it. It’s your life.

I’m asking: Do you like the one you’re crafting?

Well, I’m not really asking because I see you and I know.

I see you avoiding life and responsibility because it seems so hard.

It’s difficult to imagine, but it’s actually easier to go to class, do the work, study for the test, and go to the job than it is to avoid and fib (especially to yourself).

Gosh, if I could give you that one truth and you believed it, it would be a springboard in your life. It could save you years.

But, maybe you’re like me; you’ve got years to waste.

If so, keep at it. You’re on track.

If you want to follow in my footsteps, please, at all costs, refuse to invest yourself in anything that will actually matter 5-10 years from now.

That’s how I didn’t truly become a student until I was 37 years old, when the pain of not having a degree caught up to me—financially, sure, but more the screaming in my soul.

See, I only had excuses while other people lived with real reasons for not finishing school. They couldn’t afford it, were working two jobs, got pregnant, or just weren’t smart like us.

Actually, back then, I thought I was dumb. Nope. I just didn’t go to class.

I later learned: attendance changes everything.

I didn’t know that then, like you don’t now.

Like you, my parents paid for almost everything in the early days and I blew it all. I blew the money and I trashed the time.

Of course, you won’t blow it like I did. Yeah, that’s what I said.

For three years, I played at college, majored in partying, skipping classes and collecting my dad’s checks as if he owed me and I was getting back at him for his lack of achieving my standards of the kind of father he should be.

I missed the examples around me of people my age building successes, despite having harsher disadvantages and fewer opportunities.

I spent money on pizzas, margaritas and good times. I threw money around like confetti while wiser students juggled jobs, attended classes, clubs and sporting events, and still made time for fun.

I fumbled everything. Don’t be me.

I know, you say you won’t (because you’re smart). That’s what I said—when I dropped out of college “for a semester” three years in.

I chose the easy route and it was anything but easy later on.

I couldn’t see how fast the years would stack up.

I see you, young rebel, calling yourself an adult while doing childish things.

I hear you saying you’re smart, but acting otherwise.

I see you dancing and crafting manipulations, but more importantly, I see you miscalculating the consequences you’re setting yourself up for.

It’s not trouble from your father you should worry about. I know, like me, that doesn’t worry you at all.

The worst kind of trouble is that of your soul when you let the gifts and opportunities you’ve been given slide.

All the blame in the world won’t make your life belong to someone else.

Our souls know the truth even if it takes decades to catch up.

I traded too many years for cheap thrills while other gals and guys gathered degrees and built lives of purpose.

I told myself I didn’t care. I told myself it was just a piece of paper.

Occasionally, I even chanted the victim’s cry, “It’s not fair!”

No, it wasn’t fair that I didn’t show up for class or work or life and expected the same rewards as those who did.

See, life is fair in its unfairness and sometimes the things we get away with today we pay for in the long run.

It wasn’t my father’s actions or attitude which shaped my life. It was my mine.

As time passes, the stories that matter most are the ones we tell ourselves.

When we hold back, we’re paving a path we might not like walking later.

In our teens and 20s, it’s ok to have little money or work retail and restaurant jobs. But trust me; it’s not a thrill in your 30s.

Choosing jobs like that is fine. However, some folks just get lost, and then get stuck.

I see you, young rebel and I hope you don’t get stuck.

I hope you’re not like the guy who says he won’t run out of gas, even though the gage says empty and the light flashes. He keeps driving until what he denies becomes reality.

I was that guy. Well, that young girl playing at life and pushing the limits for the sake of proving something, maybe that no one could control me.

The thing is I didn’t control myself. I didn’t take responsibility. I didn’t go to class. I didn’t plan, study, and prepare for a better life.

I wasted money because I could. I wasted years of my life.

Somehow, I thought I’d be missing out if I did the responsible things and I was too cool for rules and damn if I’d let anyone tell me what to do.

When I look back, I wish I could grab my young hand the first time I didn’t go to class and went to a movie in the middle of the afternoon with a friend and no one said a word.

I wish I could make my young eyes see that friend didn’t have a father like mine paying the bills, so she worked that day and every other. The movie was a treat she gave herself for acing a test, not a way of life like the one I was living.

I wish the young rebel I was knew that when I lied and told my boyfriend my math class was cancelled at 8:00 am every Friday, he still went to class, loved me, had fun, and did his homework. So, he earned a degree.

I see her now, the young rebel I was, having fun. She’s a little sad.

I see the woman I am now and I’m happy with my life.

I don’t have regrets, so maybe you won’t either.

You’ll find your way, as I did.

You might find, like I did, the shortcuts aren’t.

Young rebel, I see you. You’ve got this. You’re smart.

In fact, you’re smarter than me, aren’t you?

 

 

How Kansas City Johnny Rekindled my Soul. #bloglikecrazy

 

One cool thing about people dying is it invites you to cherish the living.

Johnny said, “Is this really happening? Are we really going to see each other?”

It’s surreal. He was my boyfriend after I left my first husband and fled to Tucson 27 years ago. Then, I left Johnny and broke his heart—because he was a bit broken at the time and patience wasn’t my forte. I was in a hurry to get to success.

So much has happened since then—for both of us.

On a recent road trip from Columbus, OH to Santa Fe, NM, I met Johnny in Kansas City in front of the Hilton Hotel, where I stayed with my Black Lab, Phoenix. The three of us walked around the back of the hotel and sat on a bench. Johnny and I drank beer as Phoenix played greeter to guests entering and exiting the doors.

I stared at Johnny—full beard and long dreadlocks, everything on him heavier with the years. I searched his eyes for the young man who decades ago ravished my body day after day as if we were trying out for the sex Olympics.

Before arriving in Kansas City, I worried I might leap into bed with him as I’d done the night I picked him up in a bar and took him back to my Tucson apartment.

Instead, I now studied the man. I said, “Did you always walk like that?” I missed his youthful bravado. I wanted it to summon mine.

“No,” Johnny said. “I’m a man beaten down.” Disappointment found its way to the place where my white woman’s heart witnesses the emotional scars a black man carries by living. Of course, he didn’t say it was about that.

I remembered a day before either of us cracked 30, when Johnny sat on the edge of my bed crying. He said, “You don’t know.”

Back then, he was a clean-shaven, suit-wearing, bright-eyed young man. But, that day a woman crossed to the other side of the street when she saw him coming. Most days, trivialities like that stood undiscussed. That day, Johnny cried.

I held him. I loved his tears as much as his laughter and the jazz he introduced me to. He had deeper reasons for the sadness, but sometimes a stranger could hit his hot button and awaken me to my ignorance.

All these years later, we talked about what happened the time Johnny visited me in Louisville, KY in the early 90s.

I travelled for work and had gone with a co-worker to a bar that was several under one roof: country, rock, jazz, big, winding, crowded and loud.

As I led us through the people, Johnny said he wanted to leave, but I couldn’t hear him. He grabbed my arm, no more forceful than the moment warranted, but in the snap of a finger, five cowboys surrounded us, apparently prepared to fight for my protection.

Johnny turned and left. I followed, trying to grasp what had happened.

In the parking lot, he screamed, “Are you trying to get me killed?”

I said something like, “You can’t love me because I don’t consider race and be mad at me for it, too.”

I was new to the nuances that are a part of a black person’s normal. I was unaware because I walk in the world as a white woman. I didn’t know my privilege; I simply relished it.

On that same trip, I took Johnny on a dinner cruise I’d gone on earlier in the week with my (white) coworker. I wanted to share my cool experiences with Johnny.

Instead, I got a taste of his. We were seated in a corner right next to the kitchen, then ignored. I’d never been so brushed off by a wait staff. We did get food, finally.

Who knows if the less-than-stellar service had anything to do with the color of Johnny’s skin, or the contrast to mine? I only know how it felt.

I remember Johnny telling me I could escape racism just by breaking up with him, but he didn’t have that option.

I did break up with him—not because of his blackness. I was desperate to get somewhere and young enough to believe love like ours lived on every corner.

Now, Kansas City Johnny—the man beat down by life—seemed to revive as we reminisced about old times and how I got him addicted to raspberry coffee.

I heard his deep masculine voice, his undeniable pride for his children, and his refreshing laughter.

We talked late into the night, hugged, and said goodbye like we needed to part to process these precious moments.

I saw him again the next day. I played him a mixed cassette tape he once made me. I don’t know what’s more amazing—that I still have it or that I have a cassette player in my 2007 Nissan Murano.

That mixed tape used to play on my boom box while we got ready to go out on the town. Now, Toni Toni Toni takes us back to Tucson and our 20s, watching Johnny shave and dancing in my undies.

I glance at Johnny sitting in my passenger seat smiling the kind of smile that bubbles up from within and paints a man’s face with light. It was one of those moments where goodness wins.

Nothing else matters and I remember how much I love this man, still.

It wasn’t the sexual ecstasy I imagined before we saw each other or the unrequited feelings he might’ve feared. I didn’t have that power over him anymore.

Listening to the music seemed to remind Johnny that nothing has the power to take him down and encourage him to stand tall again.

I’m standing stronger myself. An enduring friendship, a long-awaited visit, cool conversation, and some old songs made my soul sing. My mind reawakened.

My path rolls out on the road before me. I’m grateful Johnny reconnected with me in the wake of my boyfriend Kevin’s passing in 2016, and all the 2 am phone calls he took where I told him I just didn’t give a f*ck because it hurt too damn much. He acknowledged my pain and said, “I know Alice, but you’re going to be ok.”

Now I am, mostly. As I continue on my trip, another lesson from my deceased boyfriend echoes: “I know good people and I make time for them.”

 

Why Everyone Needs a Good Cry. #bloglikecrazy

Sometimes crying is the gift we give ourselves.

My sister hates to sweat. Sure, she can have a good cry, but the idea of hot yoga to induce a sweat sounds sick to my sister.

Although she likes yoga and loves the warm sunshine, she draws the line at sweat the way some people draw the line at tears.

We can be sad, but “Don’t cry” is the American mantra—unless you’re on “reality” TV, of course.

Listen, after the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or the 872 frustrations taken with smiles on our faces, crying is the sweat of our emotional workout.

Tears are valuable. Created from our emotional body, tears are nonexistent until we allow our feelings to ignite them.

It requires depth to cry—happy tears as well as sad. Not only that, but tears have health benefits.

According to Psychology Today, biochemist and “tear expert” Dr. William Frey of the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis determined emotional tears hold stress hormones which exit the body through crying.

Stress hormones? Why would we want to hold those in? Let ‘em flow!

A good workout is required to break a sweat. One must go to the gym, hit the trail, or pick up the weights to build muscles and endurance.

What if our emotional muscles, as individuals and as a society, have turned flabby?

What if because we’re so afraid to cry, we’ve forgotten the overwhelming rush of happy tears? Or the emotional release, even high, after a good cry?

What if doing our emotional workouts on a regular basis is the key to a fulfilling life? A full feeling life. Isn’t that what we’re after—the feeling?

To feel it all—the ache of death, the natural high of children, the joy of food and family, the anger at government and outrage over poor treatment of people by those who lack compassion, the bliss of a soft, wet kiss—is to be alive.

This is a call to cry. Don’t tell me you’re over that thing that cut your heart, just because you paste a smile on your face and refuse to cry.

Trust me, if daddy touched you wrong or abandoned or damned you—you need to cry.
If your mother, brother, sister, or beloved died, you need to cry.

If your kid is on heroin, your daughters are teenagers, or your ex is bat-shit crazy, you need to cry. And that’s just the happenings in our own homes.

What about the state of our nation? Don’t we have enough reasons to cry?

Stifled tears are toxins.

Often, the one resisting the tears, denying the pain, or pushing people away doesn’t realize she’s doing it. It’s the technique she learned to keep her safe—the one she acquired as a daughter who had to play the mother.

Personally, I didn’t know I was retreating to safety by hiding my vulnerability. That’s the way my mom taught me.

Don’t ever let them see you cry. For years, I tried not to.

I was tough—like a man—because that suits society.

Now, in my 50s, life has tenderized me. It taught me to cry.

Maybe the gigantic universe heard my mom’s words, “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

I wailed over the death of my beloved. I cried every day. I owned my grief and let it flow through me. I cried until I could laugh.

The physical loss of the man and our plans on earth deserved every tear. My grief was genuine. I let it move through me and serve as my path to laughter and awe, wonder and delight.

In my grief, I opened up to a wider array of emotions. I forced myself to seek, find and embrace beauty. I gazed at deer, little red and yellow birds, and blue dragonflies. I started a love affair with the sky.

I bonded closer to my dog, sister, family and some friends. Others fell out.

You know, the ones who couldn’t hold the weight of my tears without the need to rescue, one-up, or dispense the attitude of platitudes. Yeah, I had to let them go.

Because truth be told, I want to hang out with the criers of this world, those dripping from the fullness of emotion. Not every damn day drama queens, but when it’s called for.

Let’s have the courage to own our emotions.

I find these criers to be grievers, yogis, musicians, singers, teachers, health advocates, spiritual practitioners, and courageous managers.

Maybe the emotionally evolved can be found anywhere, even in the mirror.

Let’s Restore Peace to the Playground of Life.

“When we turn on light, darkness disappears.” ~ Marianne Williamson

We want black and white, good and bad, light and dark. We want to choose sides, draw lines and know we’re right—in the church we’ve chosen, the political party we’re affiliated with, and the side of the law “our” people are on, as if DNA hasn’t exonerated hundreds of falsely convicted.

It takes courage to examine the gray.

Personally, I like to draw a line and call Donald Trump the devil. Maybe, but maybe he’s the wake-up call our society has served itself. Maybe there’s some good there.

That thought is quite a stretch for me, but I actually like trying to understand, even when I disagree with other sides. I’m curious how people come to their conclusions.

While I’m a thousand miles from sharing certain ideologies, I can sometimes see, stretching into openness, how someone arrived. Sometimes I can imagine maybe if I was born to those parents, with that DNA and raised in those circumstances, with their challenges (or wealth and opportunities), I might conclude things that given my particular path I can’t fathom.

Curiosity is a start. Not just what do you believe, but how did you get there?

Maybe if I understand another’s journey, I can simply honor—for them—the seductiveness of a philosophy that’s foreign to me.

And yet, this consideration scares me, due to the rhetoric and bullsh*t I like believe I’m immune to. How many of us like to think I’m smarter than that?

Well, I’ve seen intelligent women fall for deceiving men (and vice versa), smart businesspeople fail, and good family members and friends vote for a charlatan.

I myself have been manipulated, multiple times. Then, I awoke.

Things I believed in my 20s and 30s no longer serve me. That doesn’t mean I was wrong. I was on my path.

Maybe that’s the best I can do—respect each has a path and invite light on mine. What I can’t do is become so understanding of darkness I go there.

I cannot condone hate. I cannot stand idle to the fall of our democracy, to mistreatment of children, animals or marginalized groups.

But, maybe I can say, “Yes, I see you there” because people want to be seen. I see you in your darkness. I won’t make you defend it.

I hope and pray with everything I’ve got that I may shine light. Not me alone, but together with other women and men walking in the light.

The truth is I’m afraid of the dark: violence, anger, hatred, judgement, self-righteousness. Screaming is enough to shake my soul. I’m a peaceful warrior.

For so long, I’ve been walking the path of peace and believing that was enough. Now, it’s time to awaken the warrior and spread the light.

I’m little in a sea of opposing forces. But, still I swim here. I live here. I love here. Collectively, I’m part of a new path. I’m walking in spite of my fear.

Why show up at all? For one, I have a beautiful little niece named Madeline who’s dancing in the light of childhood and innocence. Life will teach her many hard things. My hope is she doesn’t have to grow up into a world welcoming her with proof that darkness prevails.

Second, my mother fought for women’s rights. I witnessed that fight and naively believed it had been mostly won. No, the baton has been passed. I’m called to continue.

Third, my stepmom marched for civil rights. Doesn’t the name say it all? What happened to civility?

We, as a country, have turned cruel. We’re not embodying the basic principles most parents teach their children—kindness, fairness, decency, respect, showing up, not being bullies.

My God, I saw a group of middle-aged adults engaging in fist fights at their children’s high school graduation, over someone saving seats. Really?!

This is the playground of life. Some swing on the swings happily oblivious.

But, there’s a bully beating others to a pulp while a crowd chants, “Fight! Fight! Fight!” Someone runs to tell a teacher/leader, but they don’t want to jeopardize their comfort. So, they hang in the lounge pretending not to hear.

We must walk through the crowd of instigators and pull the bully off our democracy. We must say: Stop. That’s enough.

We don’t care who threw the first punch. We care about stopping the fight and restoring peace to the playground.

Sure, it’s more complicated than that. Or is it?