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 to Be a Warrior for Love.

I learned how to love by watching wise women.

Mostly, they learned the way we all do—life.

Some of the strongest relationships are third-rounders by try-harders determined to get it right. Others are first-timers who acknowledge luck, serendipity, and stick-to-it-ness.

My best friend learned by leaving and slamming the door for a damn good reason on the only man she ever loved—then years later, opening to him and love again.

Women getting love right, I salute you. Women who found your ideal mate, no matter how many frogs or fools you fell for along the way, well done. Those of you stacking up the decades and gluing them together with joy, hard work, and well-earned connection, impressive.

From you women warriors, my family and friends, I learn we each choose what works for us, what we’re attracted to, and what we cannot or will not tolerate.

For me, I absolutely refuse to endure apathy. Connection and intimacy invite me stay.

You’ve taught me one can see an upsetting truth about one’s mate and set it aside for the sake of the relationship. That doesn’t mean you’re stupid (or smart), just your eyes are open.

You have to want to stay. You have to want to make it work. Yet, you can’t manufacture those desires any more than you can make magically appear the one with whom you’ll feel that way.

When you do, as long as your partner also wants to stay and make it work, anything can be a source of growth.

Wise women, you’ve shown me marriage is a balance between working on it and letting go, being true to yourself by speaking your mind—even when you may be considered a bitch or too sensitive—and respecting with compassion your mate’s legitimate choice of a different perspective.

Watching you gals, I see the variety of relationships and marriages and how each pair is an entity of its own personality, rules and character.

Ideally, whatever the shape, it represents a synergy in which two individuals become better because of the presence of the other.

Thank you ladies for keeping me believing in serendipity and holding out for the real thing, even after I lost Mr. Crazy, Sexy, Cool.

I look forward to my next adventure, as a warrior for love.

How Women are Reshaping Society.

“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Women are taught to be kind. I was taught to be nonjudgmental.

That’s hard. Judgments pop like synapses in my brain. I don’t discriminate and I’m likely hardest on myself.

Still, we’re implored to “Smile!” as if it’s our badge to walk free in society.

Otherwise, we’re called out as bitches, even angry bitches.

Nevertheless, we persist as individual women who often smile instinctively, sometimes don’t mind if you wink at me, but get damn tired of being treated as objects or told we shouldn’t feel as we do.

In the 1970’s Women’s Movement, women stopped smiling, and wearing bras. They traded for emotional armor, determined to succeed in a man’s world.

In the 80’s, as I embarked on my career, my mom and I might as well have worn matching suits and carried matching briefcases.

We cheered in 1992 when Hillary Clinton said, “I suppose I could’ve stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

My mom and I bantered feminist sayings like tetherballs:

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. (popularized by Gloria Steinem)
Anything a man can do a woman can do… better.
Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job; Send a woman.

That wave of feminism paved the way for my professional sales career working among men, proving myself.

Women established our ability to work in a man’s world. But, when you borrow someone else’s pants, even if they’re the right size, they still don’t quite fit.

The way men built foundations, set boundaries (which they may freely bulldoze), and invited us begrudgingly—and sometimes eagerly—serves them and their agenda, even if only through subconscious bias.

We made it in a man’s world. Sure, there’s a glass ceiling and sexual harassment is rampant, but as Donald Trump inferred, harassment in the military is to be expected. His son Trump Jr. clarified that women who can’t handle harassment in the workplace should teach kindergarten.

Trickle-down bullsh*t.

Just as women made comfortable, although not equal, strides in careers and corporations, the guys we believed to be rare and living under rocks revealed themselves in the #MeToo chapter of the Women’s Movement.

“Yeah, I grabbed her by the pus…” Yeah, those guys. The bratty boys with names like Brett who threaten not to let us in the club again.

Guess what? This is a new movement of women.

We’re moving with love, yoga, hot tea, and Kundalini. We’re meeting under full moons and awakening. We’re creating a new world for women, children, and men.

We’re focusing on inclusion, understanding, showing up, and speaking truth—direct, soft, and strong, like a mother who’s had creation born through her.

We wanted in the boys’ clubhouse when we were girls. Then, we grew up and found out what’s in there. It stinks!

We’re building more than clubhouses. Women are creating families, businesses, and communities. We’re shaping societies.

Like the alt-right silently, and sometimes violently, infiltrated our institutions, women are waging a revolution. A revolution of love.

We’re burning sage and taking to the page. We’re purging toxins and cleansing chakras. We speak feminine languages. The witches are back.

We chant with our sisters and our ancestors, who stand with us as we create the new ways—devoid of glass ceilings and golden handcuffs.

Human progress. There’s no going back. Only sitting it out or showing up.

Women are showing up united, ignited, empowered, and determined. We’re here for the future of our children, country, and society.

We might even do a little house cleaning!

What my Mom Opened the Door For.

“The idea that I should be fine with the status quo even if I am not wholly affected by the status quo is repulsive.” ~ Roxanne Gay

After decades. there comes a day when your mother’s goneness rubs up close, the way cats you don’t like swerve and lean into your ankles for attention.

You look behind the curtain of everything she’s missed.

Marriage to a man she never met. The divorce she didn’t get to hold your hand through.

Two degrees. She would’ve beamed with pride.

My dog mom self. I’m a pretty good one.

Teaching college. I bet she’d say, “Alice Ann, I told you you weren’t stupid.”

Becoming a writer, like she once entertained.

Sacred love. His death; my devastation.

My sister, your daughter Jayne earning her MBA. Your grandsons becoming men.

Tommy’s (her husband’s) cancer; Jayne’s grief.

Your daughters living together—in our 50s!

Our trips. Mom, we travel! Australia, North Carolina, D.C., Jamaica, Belize, Bahamas, Florida, and of course, New Mexico. Do you miss the sunsets?

We’ve come so far.

Oh, Mom! You would’ve loved Obama! And applauded Michelle.

The books that have been put out. Even you—voracious speed reader—would have trouble keeping up.

The shows we’ve seen! Wicked!, Phantom, Cirque du Soleil, Neil Diamond…

You would’ve loved going backstage at Balletmet and seeing the costume design center. I could feel your presence.

You’re like the wind, only noticeable when I stop and allow myself to feel.

And know: You’ve seen it all and been here when I needed you.

I need you now, Mom. I love you. I miss you—your wisdom and opinions I was too young to ponder before your passing.

There’s so much I wish I could ask you now.

Now, in these personally peaceful, but collectively chaotic times.

Mom, you should see the advances in women’s rights—and the reversals. You’d engage in the outrage.

You played a pivotal role for women’s progress.

Now, it’s my turn, our turn.

How did you do it, Mom? How did you have the gumption and ambition to create change when you were fired for being pregnant and lost a promotion because you were a woman?

You never stopped speaking, researching, and fighting. And you won.

A lawsuit against my hometown school system for sexual discrimination. Bravo! And then you shared your winnings with your grown children.

We were part of your journey. You did your best to fight for women’s rights, so we wouldn’t have to.

Thank you for leading as an example of a woman doing what’s right, being strong, and standing up for women.

You helped create the opportunities we’ve become accustomed to.

As a kid, I had no idea not all moms took part in the women’s movement of the 1970s. I thought all women stood up for women and women’s rights.

Nope. There will be those who sit it out as history reveals the character of our society, nation, and world. I don’t want to be one of them.

I intend to follow my mother’s footsteps and let my values determine my words and actions.

My mother, Sandra Dee Kelley, was a woman warrior. I’m proud to be her daughter.

Happy Birthday on the other side, Mom. I love you.

6 Steps to Manifesting & How I was Doing it all Wrong.

My sister is the best manifestor I know. She doesn’t waiver.

When her husband died, Jayne—in the throes of wretched grief—wrote how she’d like her life to be, specifically.

She wrote about the kind of job she wanted: the company, culture, income, minimal travel, and optimum opportunity to affect people. It’s the job she now has.

She wrote about the kind of place she wanted to live, long before I came on the scene.

It’s where we live now: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, basement with storage space, safe, walking distance to restaurants and nature, awesome landlord… Some things have changed and maybe we’ll move on, but Jayne manifested more than just a place to live. It’s home.

That’s an almost impossible task when home for 35 years was with her husband. So, after losing him, recreating that kind of space meant a major mind leap.

What’s more, she wrote about the kind of relationship and man she wanted.

A couple of guys flitted in and out, revealing their inability to step into the kind of relationship Jayne sought. She easily released them, rather than trying to make something work that wasn’t meant to be, as so many people do, especially women, and even more so for vulnerable widows. Not my sister.

One guy she really liked early on forgot to mention he had a girlfriend, because he was so busy telling Jayne how fabulous she was. One day, while she was at work, his girlfriend showed up at our door, making me the bearer of the bad news. Jayne laughed it off.

After your husband/life partner/best friend/protector/father of your children dies, cheating boyfriends get swiped away like flies.

Even after Jayne got deep enough to let a relationship develop with her current man, she never stopped working to create the kind of communication that makes a long-term love worth the heart and time investment. She speaks her mind, gets angry, asks questions, listens, and brings him coffee in the morning.

That’s amazing manifestation and continuous development.

At work, my sister insisted she wanted to be able to wear jeans every day, as she had in her previous job. She kept saying it over and over.

Guess who left this morning, as she now does every morning, wearing jeans? It took years, but the policy got changed!

Here’s the way many of us try to manifest. Well, at least the way I’ve been known to finagle. Let’s say I wanted to wear jeans, but the policy was business casual.

I’d say, “I wish we could wear jeans,” but then I’d try to make myself happy with business casual and feel good wearing certain outfits that I wouldn’t wear if I wore jeans. I’d even try to rationalize myself into feeling as if I was for the policy I truly didn’t prefer, while whining about it over drinks with friends every few months.

So, a key is to know and stand by what you truly want and not try to convince yourself to feel differently because you’re afraid you can’t have that which you desire.

Of course, I’m not saying Jayne magically gets everything she wants, but her magnetic mind is staggering.

Another example: she wanted more vacation time. When she was hired, she’d been told that wasn’t possible. It was the one thing on her ideal job list she didn’t get.

However, not long ago, I received a text: “Guess what?!”

In the interim, she repeatedly said, “I make great money, but the thing I’d really like is more vacation. I don’t mind working. I just like playing, too. I just don’t have enough vacation time.”

Then, after years of working for the company who couldn’t give her that, they did. Jayne received another week of vacation.

Just. Like. That.

It’s simple, but I’m more of a complicate the hell out of it and reevaluate 42 times kind of manifestor.

I need to get out of my own way and keep it simple.

For example, I’m a writer, but not yet as successful or as solvent as I intend to be. My sister supports and encourages my writing career.

When I first moved in with her, I’d freak out every few months, feeling guilty for not bringing in more money. I’d tell Jayne I could go back to teaching or get another job. She’d say, “No, this is what we’re doing. You’re pursuing your dream.”

I did. I have. I am. I’ll never give up.

However, I’ve been known to get sidetracked, as in, do you think I should teach yoga?

Also, I’ve wanted my health, but enjoyed beer and pizza.

Conflicting desires sometimes prioritize through pain. On my path to better health, my body no longer tolerates pizza. Now, I choose my health over cheap thrills.

There are times we need to renegotiate with the Universe and things don’t always happen the way we want, but often it’s because we’re unclear and keep changing our minds.

Like a couple of my single girlfriends. They’ll admit and recommit to wanting a man and a relationship. They’ll go speed dating and on dating sites and on some dates.

Then, when we get together the question of dating or meeting someone special comes up. Inevitably, these gals will go on about how happy they feel in their lives and therefore, they don’t really need, or even necessarily want a man.

These are successful women with fabulous friends, family, and a full life. They’re happy.

And yet, each one of them, like me, carries a deep desire to connect with a special someone in the way that a relationship with a mate offers.

We’d love to manifest love for ourselves, but we waiver. We tell ourselves we don’t want it because we’re already happy, as if fulfillment in other areas of our lives negates our desire for intimacy with a partner.

We say dating is too much work and we’re busy and we don’t mind being alone—because we don’t.

It’s all fine, but should we settle for fine when our hearts crave fabulous?

Just because we have a delicious meal, it doesn’t mean we don’t want desert. It’s fine if we don’t, but let’s not lie to ourselves.

I love my life. I’m happy as it is, right now, and I’m up for manifesting more and better, like a book contract and maybe even a fresh new man.

I’m following in my sister’s footsteps for manifesting and creating a life I love.

How about you? Are you clear in what you want or do you tend to waiver?

If you want to move into the direction of your desires, here are the six steps the best manifestor I know follows:

1. Know what you want.
2. Say what you want.
3. Believe you can have it.
4. Practice patience.
5. Do your work while you wait.
6. Allow what you want to come to you.

Or, the shorter version:

1. Know what you want.
2. Don’t waiver.

So, I’m off to manifest my writing success—as in a savvy agent and a life-changing book contract—along with a crazy, sexy, kundalini man. Because I believe I can.

How about you? What are you up for manifesting in your lovely life?

 

How to Own Your Destiny.

“We have to stop waiting to wake up.” ~ Sarah Entrup

I am my destiny. When I came into my mother’s womb, I restored hope.

I radiate the fullest source of my being. I always was my destiny.

I float in a lavender bubble and sparkle from within whenever I let my light shine.

When I almost died as a baby, but didn’t, I showed the world resolve. Even the nurses were amazed; I had a remarkable destiny.

I learned to ride a bike, color, climb trees, play hide-n-seek, spend time alone, and write stories about this crazy, beautiful world. I was always my destiny.

I wrote stories about squirrels, stole money, and broke rules by ditching Camp Fire Girls. I got into trouble for living my destiny and being free—and I loved it!

Later, I attracted men and love and left them to be my destiny, not my karma or drama. I had sh*t to do!

In my last life, I learned the price of contorting myself and playing it safe. Now, I live into my destiny.

I’m health and nature and joy.

I’m bringing sexy back over and over as many times as I like.

It’s my destiny, like laughter, the woods, words, and even getting hurt. Those are my growth spurts!

I am my destiny. I’m not resistance or stuckness. I’m F*ck yes! and Hello, life!

I’m knocked down; get back up.

I’m: here’s what I learned when I was down there, in there, back there, over there. Now, I’m here.

What? You say I look different? I sound different? No, baby, I’m the same. I’ve always been my destiny.

I dance with my history and lineage. There are no limits, only gifts.

The opportunity to shine into the full line of me.

You thought I forgot who I was? Ha! I tricked you! Tricked myself, too!

But, I’m back to my destiny, twirling and swirling and smiling.

Through all my lifetimes, I’ve screamed delight flying on the swings with my sisters.

And lovers? Boy, have I been lucky!

I experienced the legendary love I longed for in my last life—the one I gave up my life force for, back when I went dark.

I had to make a choice then with what I knew and the times I lived. That’s when and how I made a vow to my divine destiny.

The me that I kept hidden away behind the protocol of that time protects me now.

When I walk down yesterday’s path or slip into somebody else’s destiny, mine whispers, “Not that way, this way.” Suddenly, where I was once unsure, I’m certain.

I am my destiny, not my habits or quirks. That’s just personality.

I’m royalty walking as a commoner, kissing the sweet sunshine of freedom. Incog..neato!

I breathe deep. I do Downward Dog, Upward Dog, and Destiny Dog.

I’m my destiny the way my Black Lab Phoenix exhibited the full loving expression of herself without apology, pretense, defense, or need to analyze.

I know people need love, light, laughter, and listening. Hello, destiny arriving! No problem. Pure joy. No inconvenience.

My destiny is not to be mean—even to myself. I’m kind and cool and lean into joy.

I let sadness flow through me when it comes, knowing it’s part of my destiny to fall and rise and realize new insights about myself and life.

This is my nature: to be transformed, shaped, and radiate today’s femininity.

Beyond definition. The divine feminine ignites birth, braves motherhood, raises people, owns beauty, and beholds grace. She makes way for messy blood and medicinal hugs.

Feminine spirit is raw, as destined as the apple seed to the apple.

She respects and dances with, but will never bow down to masculine musculature.

Because she’s not supposed to! That’s not her destiny.

That’s not my destiny. I am my destiny. My destiny is change and transcendence.

My destiny is growth, wisdom, and light. If we have to light this world on fire with hope and spirit and compassion combined with sisterly and motherly love, so be it.

We are here. This is our destiny.

We’re the firefighters of our time.

We are willing to burn for better things.

We’ve been here all along. Oh, you just noticed? Well, welcome to the party.

Destiny is always on time, even when she’s late!

I am my destiny. I am words and footsteps, connections and creations.

I’m poetry and art, travel and speaking, books and teaching.

I’m as loud as hawks squawking, quiet as sunshine, and vibrant as a song called Life.

Destiny is as undeniable as the color purple, as heavy as gravity, and as well-designed as a hummingbird.

She is me and I am nature.

I smell of lavender and sway my hips like a front porch swing. I sell you truth smoother than Tennessee whiskey and make you forget time before you knew me.

I am destiny. I arrive with the current of the ocean and all the treasures within. You can pollute me, but never contain me.

I am my destiny. I am fulfillment.

I’m stories told for generations and values held by women around the world.

I’m education, expertise, respect, and truth.

I shall not yield. I need not fight. Watch me rise.

I am destiny. Unstoppable.

I storm in like winter and blossom like spring—just when you thought I was in the ground.

I am life. I am death. I am peace and anger. I am hope and happiness.

I’m the first time I roared down a dirt road alone on a four-wheeler, dust everywhere and a grin so big I caught bugs in my teeth.

Nothing you say matters, but I hear it all. Clearly. So clearly now.

I am destiny. I always have been.

 

Leaning in with Her, The American Warrior Woman.

Leaning in with Her, The American Warrior Woman.

“I want to express gratitude to all the millions of women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed, bills to pay, and dreams to pursue.” ~ Oprah Winfrey, Golden Globes Speech

Generations of American warrior women
Standing up for what’s right
Against tyranny and bullies
At the risk of…everything.

Things could go real bad real soon.
Or, we the people, could consent
To some sort of reset,
Like a ship off course.

Like adults.
Like Americans.
Like now.