How to Have a Delicious Day.

“I had a little bird who rested here in a bowl until she could fly again. A meadowlark.” ~ Dawn Wink, Meadowlark

In this moment, I’m living the writer’s dream.

I don’t have a book contract and my blog hasn’t taken flight–yet.

But, every day, I write.

Today is Saturday. I’m alone.

A book given to me in 2013, barely touched before, finds its way into my bed.

Starting at dawn, I savor words and underline descriptions.

A fan whirls at the foot of my bed, as the fan did at the foot of my beloved’s bed before he died, or maybe, as he died.

I deal with my demons on paper with black ink.

My Black Lab splays at the fan’s face, running in her dreams, underneath the window sill, as the curtain flaps with the morning air.

I traverse downstairs for coffee twice.

I snuggle back into propped pillows and pages.

Blank ones invite me to jam with them.

I surrender.

Next to me sits one woman’s words, sifted through ten long years as she trekked towards tenure.

Proof. Bound trees tackled and tied into story, taken up, sold at auction, compressed, pruned, and presented to the public.

The author’s words reweave my mental tapestry.

The lyrical cadence transfuses music into me.

My heart steadies, settles, and tunes my voice.

I sip coffee and remember: my mother once wished to be a writer.

She died leaving me wonder, did she ever give in to a day this delicious?

 

 

 

How I Took on the Bully Grief.

Grief used to grab me like a predator in the night.

I never saw her coming–trapped at her mercy.

She’d punch me in the stomach, hang on my shoulders,

and stir my thoughts like cocoa into milk.

My heart jiggled like Jello-O.

I felt weak and I didn’t care,

like a heavy person ordering a pizza.

I accepted Grief’s pressure.

Better than the strain on the faces of people

who fake fine, but everyone else sees

their emotional limp.

I didn’t want that limp, so I gave in:

Go ahead, pummel me, Grief.

She beat me severely.

Over time, her fists tired.

I passed through the pain,

like holding pigeon pose in yoga.

First, the scream. Then, the release.

Today, Grief swaggered in my direction.

She set herself upon inhabiting my space.

But, in this moment, she didn’t intimidate me.

I didn’t resist.

I breathed into my grief.

She passed me by like the wind.

 

 

 

How to Listen to a Woman.

Until you give her the attention she’s vying for,
She cannot feel validated.

Turn your eyes toward hers.
Look into the endless well of unmet needs.
See the shards in her heart where
Listen to me! screams.

Look deep. Listen hard.

Pet her chaotic temperament and
Tame her mental tantrums with
Pure presence and no intention.

Look into her eyes.
Listen to her story.

Like giving medicine to a
a crying baby,
You have the power
To soothe her.

This isn’t about you.

Or becoming
Her friend.

It’s reminding one soul
She is worthy.

It’s overriding the instinct
To dismiss or disengage
Because you can’t contend
With the childhood rage
That reverberates in her energy.

Because we believe we need to fix.
(Just like men.)

You shake your head.
You don’t like this girl.

Is likability the sole criteria of a
Woman being welcomed—and if so,
Isn’t that just your subtle way of silencing?

Isn’t that the very action—
The nonchalance of others—
That throws you to your knees?

Or makes you fight
Like a caged raccoon?

A girl needs love.
Even if she’s 33,
Talks loudly and speaks of
Masturbation.
Makes you cringe.

Just know, you have the power
To continue the cycle that
Has her spinning.

Your subtle little putdown:
“Do you meditate?” reveals
You’re trying to make her
SHUT UP.

You are. But, she cannot.

She needs to be heard. Validated.
Accepted. Loved.

Like you. Can you do for her what
Other women have done for you?

Can you listen in the way you claim
To want men to listen?

You—collectively—women—me—us.
Can we authentically listen
To each other?

We talk. We empathize.

Yet, we often compete to share our stories.
Me,too! is necessary and true.

It’s time to speak. We validate
Ourselves by owning our stories.
AND
We help wipe away the tears
Of unworthiness when
We listen.

With our eyes.

How to Surrender.

“Surrender is an active endeavor.” ~ Sarah Entrup

I’ve surrendered twice in my life.

According to Yogapedia, “Surrender may be the key to curing mental suffering because it directs the focus away from selfish desires and wants. It is in this way that the goal of experiencing unity with all can be achieved.”

In 2011, I said, “Whatever it takes, God. I want to write.” Thus began my journey.

In 2014, I surrendered to love in a way I never had. In the past, I’d given myself to love and fought for love.

Surrendering freed me, like the physical stance of arms wide open.

The other night, in a container of radiant awakening women, I surrendered to my great love again: my writing life.

I surrendered my book and its revision, landing an agent, and getting published. I surrendered my blog and my financial striving toward making money from my writing.

Surrender doesn’t mean giving up. It means setting my deepest desires into the hands of God/Goddess, angels and guides, and welcoming divine magic to take the burden of struggle from me.

No matter my ego’s insistence, surrendering isn’t quitting.

When I surrender, I trust all that’s beyond to lead me to places I haven’t found on my own. To the alter, I bring my map, plans, dogged persistence, and predetermined pictures of outcome.

I imagine my writing life like hummingbirds I’ve been seeking. Surrender means a new, clean, bright red feeder I fill with fresh sugar water and hang outside my kitchen window.

Surrender is a new invitation, rather than piles of expectation.

I’ve lived in this home five years. Here, nature serves my eyes the delight of bright red cardinals and yellow finches. With my dog as their starting whistle, I’m entertained by squirrels racing and leaping from our deck railing, flying to tiny tree branches like a high wire. The woods welcome me like my own living room. And oh, the deer!

On a walk the other evening, my sister and I gazed at a mama and her spotted twins lounging behind our yard. Such ordinary bliss.

But, hummingbirds? No, not one in five years. We hung out a feeder before. Nothing.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a new feeder at a farmer’s market. How could I go wrong for $7? I reread instructions for the ideal sugar to water ratio.

Now hummingbirds, with their magnificent wings and luminescent green, hover at the feeder. They’re slower than New Mexico hummingbirds, as if they’re lingering.

Hummingbirds remind me my deceased mother, as she was enthralled by them. As their wings flutter, so does my heart.

They answered the invitation. I ‘d almost forgotten my reverence toward them.

Dictionary.com says reverence is: a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration, and the outward manifestation of this feeling.

With reverence, I surrender my writing life and career. I set it on the altar of the divine.

I ask for it to be blessed, cared for, and delivered into this world like a newborn baby.

May she grow healthy and be of benefit. As she does, may I delight in the joy of her creation.

I continue to fill this new bright feeder with words. I surrender my gift, but not my desire to give it.

 

How to Open to the Present.

I stand at tomorrow’s doorway—afraid to knock. What if it opens to nothingness, to self-betrayal?

My beloved doesn’t live behind tomorrow’s door. He died so many yesterdays ago. Yet, I can’t help but cling.

I was whole before we embarked into sacred love, before he said, “I’m all in” and exposed his congruence.

This man without waver allowed me to settle into love like a swaddled baby.

We took each other to places we’d never been and always wanted to go, within ourselves and a relationship. All we’d hoped for was made manifest. Everyday life became a vacation. Sharing coffee in the morning was pure pleasure.

He set me afire with his love, filled me to overflowing, and quietly died in the night.

I want him back. Not possible. Still, I fantasize.

More than my beloved, I long for my wholeness, the peace I had without him before I was with him.

His love enhanced my sense of aliveness. His death rearranged my energies. I’ve been trying to align ever since.

I must not blame my imbalance on his passing. How can I when he speaks to me still?

Is there a new chapter behind tomorrow’s door? Yes. Yet, I resist knocking.

Today, I sit with myself the way I did before he burst into my life like the Fire! he was.

With prayer, I open myself to be transformed in this moment. And then the next. 

Not yesterday; it disappears like his cigar smoke.

Not tomorrow. That door swings from the other side.

Today. No fear. Only love. Gratitude for all he gave and my readiness to receive.

Now, the universe is tapping me on the shoulder with gifts galore. I open my eyes to the present.

I’m lit up by nature, the beauty of a hummingbird’s luminescent green feathers and fluttering wings, like a magic trick before me.

Behold. Something in me takes flight.

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.