The Spirit These Times Require.

So, my dear,
you’ve learned to cry.

Not just reactionary tears,
earnest ones born of
your brave heart.

You see the darkness and refuse
to disrespect yourself
into denial.
Bravo.

Welcome to the juxtaposition:
No one asked you
to lay down
your joy.

Claim it again.
Be a warrior, enlightened.

To fight for light,
enter the darkness
dancing.

Let them hear your laughter.

Flash your smile
like a peace sign
as you pledge to do your part.

In one bucket, carry the problems.
In the other, the spirit with
which to transform them.

 

How to Lean into Joy after Loss.

“Pure and complete sorrow is as impossible as pure and complete joy.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

I’m leaning into joy the way
a cross-country runner
leans into the tape.

My chest hurts from
shining my heart forward
and flirting with men
who aren’t my beloved.
Because he’s dead.

I’m mad/sad/hurt/angry/lonely and exhausted from trying not to be.

Doing affirmations and
taking meditation courses,
along with walks in the woods.

I’m leaning into joy
the way my dog
wishes she could
lean into the wind.

But, she can’t
because I put her
in the way back,
behind the backseat
of my SUV.

She longs to be like
other dogs in other cars,
Golden Retrievers leaning out windows
with long hair blowing
in the wind and smiles
beaming from their faces.

Truth be told,
I’m still saddened
by men with fine physiques,
who wear ACDC t-shirts,
and smoke cigars.

The blues still strikes my heart like a fist.

I’m laughing loud and
leaning into the love
of being alive.

I’m grabbing gratitude
like it’s my last refuge.

I’m celebrating love, when it’s not mine.
I’m dancing to music that
didn’t exist when he was alive.

I’m leaning into joy
the way my Black Lab
asks for a third helping of food.

I’m devouring books and gathering friends and eating healthy and meeting new people and keeping up with world events and our crazy-*ss country to the best of my ability and going on evening walks with my sister and

Missing him like a dripping faucet in the background of everything.

I’m learning social media
and getting published.
I’m planning and revising.

All the while,
I’m remembering you
cheering me on
with an awe
I felt I deserved

And miss like a best friend.

I miss you.
The world goes on.
I rise daily.
I miss you.

Every time the clock ticks.

 

How to Release Worry.

“In release, we begin.” ~ Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Dear Worry,

Thank you for visiting, for doing everything you can to protect me from financial ruin and career failure.

Thank you for all the time you invested in my health issues. You’ve been busy!

Here’s the thing, Worry. You’re not actually helping. When you’re around, I rarely get anything accomplished. I waste too much time with you.

I know you mean well and are trying to help because you’re concerned about my future.

Would you be willing to step aside for a while so I can spend time with my other team members?

It’s hard to hear you’re not qualified to lead me in the direction I’m headed, but if success and health are what you truly want for me, I need you to step aside.

There may be other occasions where I call on you in the future. For now, your services are no longer required.

I’ve put together a new team with Planning, Follow Through, and Faith.

I’ll be spending time with them. When I’m not working with them, I’ll be partnering with Peace, Forgiveness, and Fun.

I just don’t have the time to be with you anymore, Worry.

This is a conscious decision, one you’ve helped me make by all the time you’ve spent with me. I know it’s not your intention, but you exhaust me!

I’m simply not able to spend my late nights and early mornings having endless conversations with you.

You tried to help me. I get it, but now it’s time for you to go. I’ve got work to do.

Thank you for your contribution and allowing me to grow on my own from here. We just can’t be partners anymore.

No, really. I must go, Worry. I want to go. I choose to go. I’m letting you go.

Just step off, Worry! Seriously, you’re holding me back and trying to manipulate me into discussing every little detail and then rehashing over and over. It’s not going to happen.

I can’t do this anymore. I need you to leave my home and my life.

Thank you and goodbye.

Sincerely,
Alice in Authorland

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 Break up with Perfection.

Dear Perfection,

I’m breaking up with you. I already talked to God about this and he said, “Go for it!”

In fact, he said he never understood why I pursued you in the first place.

Well, I won’t go that far; You’re so attractive! So ideal for me! I desire you. Unfortunately, you’re like a mirage. The closer I get to you, the more walls you put up.

You ghost me. Then, just when I’m at peace in my life, you come courting and seducing me with sweet gifts. You give me books. You know my weakness!

One Minute Organization, You Are a Badass, You Are a Badass at Making Money, Big Magic, Spontaneous Transformation, …

I read the pages and imagine you and me making things work the way you want. It’s what I want, too. But, you make it too hard. You don’t let me enjoy myself.

You’re like the opposite of my bad boyfriend who made all my money disappear. I once told him, “I bet if I had a million bucks, you could turn it into a -$1,000,000!”

With you, Perfection, if I earned $1,000,000 today, you’d say, “How about $2,000,000?”
You’re never satisfied. Plus, you’re kind of a stick in the mud, a dud.

When it’s time to celebrate, or even just sit in the sun, you pull out a to-do list.

Well, let me ask you this: what part are you doing? Because in this relationship of ours, I don’t see you doing a lot of heavy lifting, but I sure do hear you b*tching.

Like when I completed my Intentional Blog course and felt proud—because you know that technical sh*t brings up my childhood hurdle of feeling stupid—but I did it!
You said, “Yeah well, isn’t there another course you need to complete?”

When I balked because I wasn’t being lazy, but just acknowledging one step forward, you said, “My God, Alice, it’s not like you ran a marathon. I really care about you. It’s just that I know you’re going to feel better about yourself when you have 5,000 followers.”

Perfection, here’s what you don’t get: I was already feeling good!

You and I have different values and belief systems. You say you love me, but you don’t even respect me.

You invalidate my feelings, especially when I’m happy. How can you call that love?

You don’t appreciate me for who I am, but some fantasy of who you want me to be.

You’re trying to get to some destination down the road and when you catch me relishing my life, laughing with my sister, reading a novel, enjoying time with friends—you act like I’m doing something wrong.

No, Perfection. You’re wrong!

You’re wrong in your attitude. You hold up your ideals, but make no room for the path to attainment or fulfillment.

What you don’t get, Perfect, Perfect you, memories are made from running all the miles of the marathon. There are aid stations along the way and it’s ok to stop. Not everyone has to be a world champion.

You make everything like there are two choices: either you’re perfect, like you, or you’re a loser. I’ve got news for you. There’s a whole lot of in between.

There are thousands of writers earning a living off words who’ve never been on Oprah or the New York Times Bestseller list.

There are songwriters whose success is solid, but whose names we wouldn’t know and faces we wouldn’t recognize in public.

Perfection, you’re also a snob. If someone uses the wrong word—your for you’re, a less-than politically correct term, says “honey” or “babe” when they don’t know you, or mispronounces Guadalupe, you act as if they should be banished from earth.

Come on! Give people a break! Like me.

I’m better off without you. See, I want to enjoy my life now, not someday.

I’m not an idiot. I’m no fool. I know I’ve got work to do. It’s not like I’m going to totally screw up my life without your constant supervision.

I need a partner, a lover, a friend, maybe even a coach, but not a parent.

You know me; I’m antiauthoritarian a rebel and. So, what makes you think I’d be drawn closer to you by your control tactics disguised as loving advice and encouragement?

Sometimes, I resist doing things simply because you tell me I must. Perfection, you don’t own me and you sure don’t determine where I find joy in my life.

You want us to do all these things. You plan and plan, but then when we get there, it’s never good enough for you and you head off on the next plan.

Geez! You wear me out! I just need to be away from you for a while.

I’m done chasing you trying to make something work that was never meant to be.

By the way, I’ve been hanging out with God and he said something interesting. It reminded me of my first summer selling books when my sales manager noticed my sales plummeted on the days after I talked to my boyfriend back home.

God said he noticed whenever I’m trying to win you over—and haven’t I tried?—you try to make me feel like less-than. It’s true, although I know you’ll never admit it. It’s always cloaked in “trying to help.”

I’m not mad at you, Perfection. I get it. You don’t know another way to be. I shouldn’t ask you to change. I’m not. I’m just stepping away.

So I can be me. So I can be free. So I can pursue my passions without constantly worrying about how they might play in the marketplace or measure up to your standards.

I don’t want to measure up. You think I can’t make it without you just because you’ve been around for so long?

Wrong again. Sorry, but it’s often when things fall apart (according to your standards) that I find my greatest fulfillment.

My life often comes together in the most imperfect and unplanned ways.

I promise, Perfection. I’ll be fine without you.

I’m walking my own path. You may not like it, might disagree, can even laugh at me.

It doesn’t matter. I’m not going to be manipulated by you anymore, Perfection.

You’re the one who’s missing out. You’re missing the messy party called life, cloud watching, sunshine sipping, ducks landing in the driveway, 30 minutes of a one-hour meditation, budget vacations, and showing up late only to find you’re right on time.

You want life with straight edges, but baby I was born for riding the curves.

Perfection, our paths will cross again, maybe when I sign my book contracts and on Christmas, but don’t plan it. This just isn’t working for me. And in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been giving you what you want either.

Besides, I like hanging out with my other friends: Peace, Solitude, Serenity, Joy, Fun, Music, Poetry, Sister and Yoga. Oh, and Laughter, Hugs, Writing, and Conversations.

You’d hate our parties. We just sit around and bliss out. Not your style, I know. That’s why you are I are done.

Please don’t think it’s easy letting you go or that I won’t sometimes fantasize about you, but I will never chase you again.

So, go be you. I’ll see you in the movies and on TV, in pharmaceutical commercials and political campaigns. Get out there and tell them how it’s going to be, Perfect—tomorrow.

I’ll be here, basking in this magic moment.

 

So, I drank too much wine and slept with a stranger last night.

So, I drank too much wine and slept with a stranger last night.

“The journey back to ourselves begins with wanting something to change.” ~ Jennifer McLean, Spontaneous Transformation

Sometimes joy rushes in like a child, “Mommy, there’s a pony!” Other times, she rises like steam from a hot cup of coffee.

Joy crashed my party last night, the welcome addition to friends swapping so many stories a line formed behind the laughter.

How did these friends weave their way into my world?

We met in a writers’ group and respected each other’s critiques for years before we started sneaking away for beers as a threesome after group. That’s when the conversations started to get good.

Then, like children lined up for spankings, we each got ours.

Death crashed like waves washing away all that didn’t matter and taking those who did: my beloved, Jeff’s brother, Sharon’s sister. Just. Like. That.

We formed a bond. We talked. We cried. We wrote. We listened. We laid off.

We struggled with our individual losses branding our hearts with sorrow. We admitted we weren’t good company and flipped off the angel of death collectively.

Now, over 12 months have passed since our latest loss. Our gaping wounds are healing scars. Our every conversation isn’t laced with tears and wretched sadness.

So, I invited them over to my place last night. Sharon brought her husband. I fell for him as easily as my Black Lab leaned into his long legs. The combination of Clint Eastwood looks blessed by a liberal bias, and one-liners that had me forgetting life isn’t the funniest joke I’ve ever heard.

Last night, it was. Roy was a hunk of authenticity and as comfortable as sweats on Sunday morning. However, when I say I fell for him, I don’t mean romantically or that I’m attracted to him.

It’s just that I don’t always dig my friends’ mates as much as they do. Of course, that’s ok. But Roy? He’s in the club. No application required.

In fact, I think I spotted a bit of a bromance between he and Jeff, as they talked about sneaking off together alone to share their well-developed music tastes.

But, hey, Jeff left me the Eliane Elias CD. Probably trying to expand my musical palette, which I appreciate.

It seems where the three of us had been holding the umbrella for each other, Roy showed up with the sunshine.

Suddenly, as if we hadn’t been saddled under grief, we swung on the laughter of life.

We’d planned a casual get together. It turned into a real party where I drank too much wine and slept with a stranger.

Her name is Joy. She spent the night, stayed for coffee, is still hanging around, and even planning our life together. You should see the smirk on my face.

Dear Suicidal Teenager (and those who love them).

Dear Suicidal Teenager,
I believe you. I believe you when you say you hate your life.

For you, life is constant pressure to conform and perform. Your world holds more challenges than most adults imagine.

Most of us have forgotten what it’s like to be 16, 17, 18, or 19. We talk to you from our adult minds and increase the disconnect. We listen to correct or inform, or even encourage, but we don’t hear your truth, experience, and perspective.

You know that. So, you say what you think we want to hear and too often you’re right.

You navigate through teachers, parents, coaches, and bosses who have little idea what you’re thinking or feeling.

In many ways, you’re smart. That’s your survival tactic.

I see you looking for a way out and screaming for help in ways no one hears. Those who do seem to make you feel worse.

I’m sorry you’re going through what you’re going through. You have more pressure than we ever did when we were your age.

And yet, even without the same chaos you’re dealing with, I was a suicidal teenager.

Now, I’m 53 years old. I recently told a close friend I’ve known since high school that I tried to kill myself my first semester in college. She said, “What? I had no idea.”

Of course not. We all keep secrets.

Dear teenager trying to get out of this world, this life, your life, I know how that feels.

People who’ve never truly hated their lives or their parents think your words are exaggerations or drama. They can’t fathom your daily pain.

Your pain is real. It feels unbearable. Hang on. It won’t feel like this forever. I promise.

During my first year in college, I lived with a nurse who had a refrigerator door full of prescription bottles. (I have no idea why.)

One night, I swallowed every pill I could and went to sleep hoping to never wake up.

I did. In a bed of vomit.

I told no one. Not my best friend. Not my sister or my mom who lived in town.

Not my boyfriend who kept trying to dump me.

I was a failure even at trying to check out. And in college, which I wasn’t cut out for at the time, I pulled a 1.9 grade point average. Stellar, right?

Looking back, I can still ignite the feelings that were all-consuming and impossible to communicate.

Two things saved me. One: I went to a counselor who made me PROMISE, NO MATTER WHAT, I WOULDN’T TAKE MY LIFE.

It was a real promise, one I couldn’t make to myself, but somehow made to her.

Later, when I had the impetus and opportunity to try again, my promise stopped me.

Is there one person you can make that promise to? One who cares about you to whom you can say, “I want to be dead, but I promise you I won’t kill myself” and mean it?

If so, please make the promise right now. If not, I raise my hand for you. Promise me.

Second, I got a summer job with Southwestern selling books on the other side of the country. This took me out of my circumstances and gave me a new focus.

It was an extreme step for a suicidal girl. I had to save my own life.

Sometimes, we need a complete shift in our environment to transform our perspective. When we can’t change how we feel inside, sometimes changing our outside world helps.

You can think your way into suicide. Please don’t! Choose better.

Stick around to see what the next chapter of life brings you. It may be your best yet.

Although I know the deep desire to end the pain, I don’t know your life. I’m not pretending I do.

I’m praying if you try to die, you get lucky and get it wrong, but we can’t count on that.

I’m praying you don’t get on the exit ramp. Drive yourself back into life. Find one thing worth living for. Just one. Let that lead you.

It’s a long road and there are many chapters to your life. You won’t always be in the situation you’re in now. I know it feels that way.

Your life won’t always feel like this. I promise.

Sometimes just staying alive takes courage. Stay. Alive. One hour at a time. Call up the brave one inside you for one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

The urges may follow you and you may have to fight them for a long time, as I did.

But, it’s worth it. I’m grateful to be alive. I’ve had multiple chapters of good and bad.

If I would’ve checked out at age 18, I would’ve missed: Spring Break in Mazatlán, falling in love—over and over again, holding my mom’s hand while she battled cancer, being my little sister’s maid of honor, getting married (and divorced), owning a home, flying on the swings at the Mall of America, laughing with my sister, traveling to Europe with eight women and one guy who didn’t like to shower, running the Chicago Marathon, waterskiing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, falling for Rod Stewart, meeting Billy Joel, learning to like jazz, barbeques on the deck, blueberry and raspberry flavored coffee, returning to college at age 37, becoming a writer, sacred love, Sedona, yoga, a collection of friends who unfold history with me (that I didn’t even know back then), watching my nephews grow from babies into men, living with my sister, dozens of road trips, being mom to the best dog in the world, making love, and best of all, being there for people when they’re going through one of life’s dark tunnels.

I would’ve missed. My life. Don’t miss yours.

This is the book of your life. Keep reading. New scenes will be written and new characters will walk in. It’s going to get juicy. Just you wait.