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.

It’s My Birthday! Version 5.3. #bloglikecrazy

Fly free and happy beyond birthdays and across forever and we’ll meet now and then and when we wish, in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.” ~ Richard Bach 

It’s my birthday. “5.3, Icey!” I hear my deceased boyfriend say.

Yes, I’m 53. It’s a gift, I tell myself—trying to overcome my feelings with my mind.

I’ve already gotten 26 more of these celebrating days than my brother’s 27.

I’m three years shy of my mother’s whole life.

There was a time when their deaths made me dig in and live with fury.

I’m slower now, not old woman slow, but embodying acceptance that I’m not in control, trusting grace and allowing life to reveal itself.

You know, when I’m not comparing to those I marvel at and clinging to the sweet taste of yesterday (my beloved, aka The Fire!).

I’ve never been one to settle, but I find beauty in coming to peace with it all.

I’ve spent too many autumns of my life missing the colors while cursing the bitter winter I knew was coming.

The seasons are predictable, just not their intensity. Saying I want to be complete with my grief is wanting winter to end.

Spring will come, but there are often the surprise cold snaps after we’ve put our winter clothes away.

I’ve walked a thousand miles in grief’s shoes and I’ll walk a thousand more, because once I move into spring regarding the death of my beloved, another death of another loved one will arrive in my life—unless I go first, which I refuse.

So, I vow to live with the knowledge: people die. We know this. Yet, we resist.

Me? I’m going to live, eyes and heart open to all the seasons. I’ll grow old with grace and gratitude.

Today, I’ll sit back and laugh with my ladies. I’ll smile at babies and pet puppies. I’ll count on the sunset and let it caress my eyes. Heck, I might even dance on tables, just to prove I’ve still got my groove.

I’m still here. I breathe the breath of spring and find the delicious in everyday delights.

Life unfolds. Angels hold me, owning this space and time, infusing me with courage and refining my character.

There’s nothing to chase. I stand in this moment and allow memory to befriend me.

I smile with every drop of my flowing blood, picturing my beloved flexing in his bedroom on his final birthday: “5.8, Icey. Pretty good. What do you think—5.8?”

I thought he’d live longer. I thought he was the most handsome version of 5.8 ever created.

I love the way he saw himself and how he helped me see all of me with new eyes.

As my birthday dawns, I celebrate life’s rich hues. It’s been colorful and even when I can’t feel it, I hear him say, “It just keeps getting better.”

I lean into my belief: “5.3, Fire, what you think? Pretty good. It’s me: Icey 5.3.”

How I Pray for my Friend in the Meantime. #bloglikecrazy

“Being open to miracles is a discipline and an art.” ~ Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation

Dear God,

This is a prayer for my friend. She’s lost her way and is starting to question.

Be her answer. Be her flashlight. Be her map.

Hold her hand through the dark.

Show her the way and reawaken her to what matters.

Let her know you didn’t forget her.

Unclench her clinging hands.

Free her from the burdens of her body and let her return to love—the love she had as a little girl, before she followed the rules and they broke her.

Take her heart to the time before she tried so hard and decided it was never enough, or she wasn’t worthy, before her subconscious kicked her to the curb and encouraged her to settle for less.

Give her a clean slate. Refresh her spirit. Present new opportunities she’s yet to imagine.

Whisper her soul’s song to her again.

Deliver the kind of connections which reflect back the picture of her you keep on your dresser.

Remind my friend what she calls mistakes merely prove her perfectly imperfect humanity and the arrangement she made with you so long ago.

Revive her passion with opportunities offering fulfillment and surprise and make her rise like she came here to do.

Let her feminine come out to dance and play. Brighten the light in her eyes.

Map out all that’s meant to be, and in the meantime, while she waits and hesitates, infuse her with patience.

One day she’ll arrive in that place on her path where she stands in awe and knows it was all worth it, but she’s not there yet.

Please, God and angels, meet her where she is.

Give her your omnipotent kiss.

Thank you.

Amen.

How I Negotiate with Grief. #bloglikecrazy

“A thousand times she has let go of grief, and it has returned to her a thousand more.” ~ Amy Weiss, Crescendo

I negotiate with grief. In the beginning, it was a heavy weight I committed to carry.

At six months, I thought she’d be lighter, or I’d be stronger. I vowed to keep walking.

First came the end of the calendar year in which my beloved died in March. Grief grounded me.

Surely, at the one year anniversary of his passing, I’d turn the page to something blank and hopeful.

But, grief had already written a pink slip on every day.

Now, it’s two years since the month I spent at his place when we delighted in magic moments and spinning memories I didn’t know I’d rely on to comfort me.

Presently, grief is lighter, like the sunlight on the fall leaves in his front yard, like the crisp morning air when I left his bed and pulled on his KISS robe as I let my dog out.

Grief is bright, like the moon the night we made love on his deck overlooking the river in the country, where I never wanted to live but now miss.

Grief is musical, like the blues he introduced me to and his deep, manly voice.

With time, grief’s become sweet, like the laughter we wrapped in intimacy and his chest holding my head as he stroked my hair.

Grief lingers. She doesn’t leave, although she’s done a little shape-shifting.

I know there will still be heavy days I can hardly stand under her weight.

But, today, I’m strong. I’ve negotiated well.

And grief, she’s beautiful, like his smile when he looked at me.

 

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.”

 

How I Learned to Turn the Corner in Grief. #bloglikecrazy

“Often, that which is hardest to digest, to process, to integrate into our life experience is what ultimately transforms us in a positive way.” ~ Marianne Williamson

I’m turning a corner. I can feel it. I’m rising up again. I love the image of the phoenix flying through the fire.

However, this rising from grief is more like a toddler learning to walk.

I fall to my knees, repeatedly. I stand. I’m walking! I take three steps forward. I try running. I fall. It surprises me. I cry. I crawl.

Sometimes, I’m more comfortable on the floor. Until I’m not.

So, I push myself up. I stand again.

But, rising from grief—or learning to walk with it—isn’t like a little one learning to take steps with a cheering audience.

Although people don’t speak it aloud, something inside me feels the crowd cringing each time I fall again. Unlike a baby who cries for the pain of the moment, each time I trip, memories multiply like dominoes.

My resistance screams from the insane part of my brain where society lives and speaks pretty platitudes—like Time heals all wounds. Does it?

When I cried as a child, my mother often said, “Alice Ann, that’s enough!” If I couldn’t make myself stop crying, she’d send me to my room.

It’s not such a bad move. Alone, I can cry it out and let the sadness run through me.

These days, I’m maturing in my grief. You no longer catch me wailing in public restrooms. Well, at least not as a habit.

I’m turning a corner. Unlike a child who has seemingly only minutes behind her and a whole world to look forward to, my yesterday held me in my beloved’s arms like bookends of a lifetime, making today’s future feel like drudgery.

Still, I remind myself to stand. It’s not my nature to stay down.

Hope whispers as my grief quiets. Remember.

Years ago, I couldn’t fathom I’d turn the corner from divorce and fall into sacred love with my friend Kevin. But, I did.

As we giddily rode the curves of love, we couldn’t imagine he’d die unexpectedly in the dark of one night. But, he did.

So, here I am riding grief’s groove. I’m being graced with an expanded heart and maybe even a sprinkling of wisdom.

She’s telling me a groove can lead to a rut. (Get up!) With grief as my constant companion, it’s seems impossible to set my sights on tomorrow.

Actually, I don’t believe I have to, not any more than I had to seek for love.

See, I lived my moments full, letting my losses of long ago create a wake that propelled me into my destiny.

Sometimes we can’t see that beautiful gift coming at us.

So, I simply choose to embrace this moment. I allow myself to feel what I do in the present and know, by that mysterious force, I’m turning a corner.

Grief is the Brave Dance We Do.

“Life is a continuous balancing of love and loss, because in order to have any loss mean something, we first have to have something we truly value.” ~ Alexandra Stoddard

On the front of my 9×11 hardcover calendar book it reads: “2017 is a good year to have a good year.” But, am I?

There’s a chasm between wanting to be over the grief of my beloved dying and clinging to the chaos born from his death.

After losing a loved one, this is the brave dance we do. We wrestle, grapple, fight, resist, and take ownership of our grief. We acknowledge, admit and attend to the full array of feelings which arrive with sorrow’s storm.

Many choose not to undertake this step. They prefer denial and bucking up. I don’t blame them. I’ve been there. I’ve tried the detour.

Folks are free to choose any path that works for them.

However, this time, I just can’t go around. I’m in the mess as much as I was into the relationship with the man I love who died a year and a half ago. A man I called Fire who burned bright right up until the night he died unexpectedly in his sleep (damn heart attack!).

He said to me, “I’m all in,” and he was. Until he was out. Not by his choice. Nor mine. I was all in, too.

Since his death, I’ve grieved like it was my profession.

Grief has been an honor, a spiritual opening and a building of my emotional biceps. And yet, even athletes don’t stay in the gym all day.

A friend recently asked me, “Do you think it’s true that the greater the love the deeper the grief?”

I said, “Yes, with a caveat.” (Because I love saying that word.) I had great love, as did my sister. So did the woman standing before me asking the question. We each still experience deep grief.

And yet, I don’t think the longer and harder one grieves is the measure of their love. With hard loss comes pain. How people cope is as individual as the paths to love.

For me, grief is a challenge, gift and opportunity bestowed upon me by the grace of a sacred love I was lucky enough to live. The aftermath is wretched. And it’s beautiful. In this moment, I vow to do my best to grow from it.

There’s no right way. There’s no wrong way. There’s only grief.