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

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.

 

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.

Dear Small Writer Desiring to be Huge (A Love Letter).

“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” ~ Liz Gilbert, Big Magic

Dear Small Writer,

I see you. I see you journaling and churning words into publishable pieces.

I see you slogging through the blogging, learning the techniques to land the large audience.

I witness you apprenticing for publications that pay in bylines below their big names.

You’ve gone to school, gathered degrees, filled your toolbox, and taken too many classes from the masses you call masters.

You’ve written your book, hired an editor, held focus groups, invested your soul, and revised yourself into numbness.

Now, you find yourself on the floor praying your small voice can mean something more.

I see you. Standing on the precipice, wondering if you’ll ever fly.

Maybe you should just jump. End it all—because if you can’t do this—the thing you determined and believe to be your divine destiny, what’s it all worth?

You thought you had a purpose: to be of benefit and make a difference by giving your words to the world.

Maybe it will never be enough.

Maybe this noisy world will never hear you.

Maybe the world wide web is weaving itself around you, burying you.

It’s possible you’re not as capable as you imagined.

So, you consider returning to the world, working for the man, going under your self-doubt, and living a life of loud desperation.

Joining the masses, for you dear writer, is death.

Let’s not forget your contribution conspires for the good of the collective.

How dare you measure your worth by if you land on Oprah’s booklist?

All the writers who stand beside her do the reality pinch because it’s so far beyond where they started.

They started where you are, but that’s not to say you’ll be there one day.

Probably, like most, you will not sit in sunny Maui with inside chairs outside under lush trees, a camera crew, and the queen herself.

Let it f*cking go!

Instead, tell me about your joys on your journey so far.

Reading in your writers’ group—and they cried.

Your previous pastor’s brother (who you’ve never met) confessed you helped him heal after losing his soulmate of 30 years. Gulp.

A check for $300 from Chicken Soup for the Soul (even though your professor told you it was the worst contract in the world and you should’ve never signed it).

Writing about being raped and keeping it quiet for a decade. One reader said she finally understood the denial and the desire not to tell.

How about the night your family gathered on your parents’ back porch to listen to your words and you heard laughter and saw tears, evoked by you?

What did you feel in those “small” triumphs? Did you want to quit?

You crave the world stamp you legit, but baby, don’t forget, you were born for this.

You are on your path.

You arrived on this earth to spread your soul on the page like one big messy map.

Remember when you were a kid and your dad taught you how to read a map?

It blew your mind that one inch equaled 500 miles. You started in New Mexico meant to go all the way to California.

Since then, my dear, you’ve travelled back and forth in a car across the country multiple times, so often solo.

Yet, you never once confused a rest stop for your destination.

You’re always surprised about the long drives, until you arrive and realize the pure pleasure of the trip.

Stay on the road. Keep driving yourself.

Oh, how wonderful it’ll be for your ego when you land that life-changing book contract!

Isn’t that silly since your soul’s been dancing since the day you said yes?

The day you vowed, God, whatever it takes. I want to be a writer, you became one.

Money and fame may follow. Or not.

I see you. Confusing worldly success with your purpose.

Stop pretending that’s your why.

You’ve come so far. Now, you must go back.

Go back to being small and willing.

Go back to the whispers of your soul and the dancing of your heart.

Writing is a craft and a profession, but for you, it’s the calling you’ve heard since 3rd grade.

To pretend you’d ever put down your purple pen is deceit.

When the world is full of fools aching for accolades, let the angels kiss your tears away. Let your guides whisper, Let’s go.

Today, Valentine’s Day, love your small writer self so you can grow, not loud and large, but full, fulfilled, and true. Be true.

 

 

 

 

How Dedicating Yourself to Writing is Like Owning a Dog.

“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”  Liz Gilbert, Big Magic

Writing is like deciding to get a dog.

You spend your time thinking about what kind of dog you should get and imagine your joyous life frolicking with your wonderful companion.

You envision people asking, “Is that your dog?” and saying how beautiful she is, as you’ll say, “Yeah, that’s my dog.”

There’s no question getting a dog will benefit you and open a glorious new chapter in your life.

So, you start telling people, “I’m getting a dog,” like one might say, “I’m going to be a writer.”

People will encourage you; it’s so exciting. “Oh, my gosh! A puppy!”

You take on the identity of a dog owner (writer) before you even have a dog or pick up one tootsie roll poop (receive one rejection letter).

First, you commit to a breed (genre). Then, you invest in the proper kennel and leash and find the perfect place for this dog to sleep (ha!).

You read about how to care for this animal you imagine you’ll master.

Of course, you search the internet, find out which dogs are the most popular and how they’re best trained (what sells).

You might read expert advice, like The Dog Whisperer (The Artist’s Way).

Determining to become a writer is like deciding to own a dog in that it starts in your head, like all fantasies.

However, real writing is more like owning an actual animal who wakes you up at 5 a.m. with a lick you find embarrassingly delicious and coaxes you out of bed ready for play.

Becoming a writer is also similar to owning the dog who refuses to fetch a ball, jumps on company, and eats your $250 Maui Jim sunglasses.

That dog is work. That dog tries your patience. You’ll wonder if that dog might be better off belonging to someone else.

Plus, there’s so much poop to be picked up (revisions to be made)!

Writing is the dog that demands attention and time devoted in the present moment when you might prefer to be eating potato chips and reading about the preposterous President.

Writing, real writing is like owning the dog who runs away, but makes you gasp with glee, relief and the giddiness of a young girl when she returns.

The neighbors will ask, “Is that your dog” (running wild in the street)? “Yeah,” you’ll say, “She’s mine.”

How We Can Allow Life to be Easy #bloglikecrazy

“Someone who has more information than we do about the nature of reality is worthy of respect.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa, Smile at Fear

My yoga teacher started class with the intention: “Let it be easy.”

She wasn’t just talking about yoga. She was talking about life.

Let it be easy. Let it be. Easy.

But, “Life is hard.” And, “No one said it would be easy.”

Sometimes we take the grains of truth and tattoo them on our minds like chosen mantras.

My stepmom once said, “We have to learn everything the hard way.” But, do we?

Could we stop making everything hard and let it be easy?

Sometimes, life is hard.

But, Addie, the yoga teacher I so admire, suggested I could let it be easy.

As if I could stop trying so damn hard.

Wow. What if I’ve been the resistance in my life? That’s not easy to admit.

I’ve taken challenges and made them struggles. I’ve made miscommunications reasons for refusal. I’ve forced financial situations into avalanches. I’ve owned life’s difficulties.

Could we really just let it be easy? It sounds so easy it seems absurd.

“Easy for you to say.”

Does everything have to be difficult to be worthy?

I used to live by the words:” “What doesn’t destroy me makes me strong.” But, at a certain point I was attracting circumstances to prove my strength. I stopped doing that (intentionally).

The Question Book asks: If you could have a consistently good life or one filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows, which would you choose?

I’m certain I chose the peaks and valleys before I arrived in this world.

Even so, can I let it be easy? The idea attracts me like a handsome man I’m not sure I can have.

Easy sounds sweet and seductive, so much so my instinct is to dismiss.

However, when I took the easy intention to my yoga mat, I had one of my best practices. I was strong, focused and flexible—with ease.

Yoga is the master teacher. What we learn on the mat follows us into life.

Come on, ease!

What if I can let it be easy…

To regain my health, energy and vitality? I could stop searching for answers and diagnosis and allow my body to rebalance itself.

What if I let my writing be easy? Writing is easy for me. That doesn’t mean it’s not work.

But, I can return to flow, where my soul resides and my desire to be of benefit unfolds.

What if I let my relationships be easy? I could stop putting them under the microscope, judging and determining their worth. I could be present, with ease.

Could I let building a blog, attracting an audience, landing a publisher and contract be easy? Why not?! I’ve tried to make it hard. I’ve tried to suffer for my art. Enough so that I’m willing to try a new way.

Could I let my grief be easy? A year ago this would’ve been larger than leaping the Grand Canyon. But today, I let my tears fall easy, my memories land lightly and the signs arrive as they will.

It’s better than trying to make myself get over it and move on or demand the kind of communication that only arrives divinely.

The more I think about it—letting life be easy is about letting the divine unfold—rather than ordering and dismissing miracles.

I doubt the flowers sprouting through sidewalks or cardinals finding my feeders fought their way there. Isn’t nature easy?

Maybe it’s only human nature that makes life hard. Why do we do that?

It’s a protection mechanism. Like if we accept or prepare for how hard life is, it will be less so. Unfortunately, the mechanism is faulty.

Listen, I don’t believe in positive denial. I’m a stickler for truth—although a friend recently pointed out I’m not perfect in this area either. That’s true.

I’m not seeking perfection and I refuse to affirm, “I’m happy! I’m happy! I’m happy!” or even, “It’s easy.”

However, we don’t have to make things hard or assume they are.

We can just let life be as easy as it is. We can allow for the ease.

Sometimes we take grains of truth and tattoo them on our minds like chosen mantras.

My new mantra: I let it be easy.

Why I Can’t Not Write. #bloglikecrazy

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear. My courage is reborn.” ~ Anne Frank

I longed to be a writer the way some women long to be a wife or mother.

I married my writing without even realizing it. There was no ceremony or announcement, just deep commitment and the cherishing.

Writing is my friend, confidante, and if I dare say, a sensual lover. She aligns me with my purpose.

Writing awakens my higher self to reveal my scary, funny, sad, shameful, passionate truth.

Writing connects me with my tribe and family of weirdoes and misfits.

This gift and joy paved my path since 3rd grade Friday afternoon workshops left me alone and happy under a sign that read Creative Writing.

Writing serves as my bridge across difficult and wonderful relationships and life decisions, encouraging me in a way that my verbal voice only aspires to.

Writing coaxed me through two divorces and too many loved ones’ deaths.

Writing’s my nonnegotiable necessity.

Men come and go, but with writing, I find faith and forgiveness, especially of my own errors, which, were I not to go to the page, I might never recognize.

Writing is essential to my growth and maturity.

For years, I treated her like a luxury for special people and occasions.

Yet, I treasure the writing process: morning pages that may never produce anything publishable, poems just because, and letters that need to be written, like the one I wrote my father forgiving him for not being he’d like to have been.

Writing heals. It’s divinely cathartic.

Once written, I read and relish my writer’s voice, recognizing its uniqueness.

Writing inserts purpose and agenda into my daily life, serving as my clear and commanding calling.

After treating it like a trinket through my 20s, 30s, and too far into my 40s, now any inkling of turning away is replaced by an indomitable spirit within me screaming NO! I will not sell out. I will not get sidetracked.

It’s not, “I will never go hungry again!” It’s even if I must go hungry.

Nothing feeds my soul the way writing does.

It’s easy to be distracted in this world. In the past, I set writing aside to chase money, career, security, and even men who claimed to support, but compared my writing to hunting, like a hobby.

My writing is not a choice. Teaching or selling? That’s a choice. Staying married or not? A choice. Living in Santa Fe or St. Paul? Another choice.

For me, in this chapter of my life, writing is a decision made.

I either own my writing and offer it to the world or to wear regret like a tattoo. I hate tattoos.