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.

 

 

Why Contemplation Belongs in the Writers’ Toolbox #bloglikecrazy

“Five hundred a year stands for the power to contemplate… a lock on the door means the power to think for oneself.” ~ Virginia Woolf

Some people are trying to raise children. I’m trying to raise a writer.

I’m trying to raise my writer self, and in doing so, I’ve had to discover what works for her.

Like a neglected child, she often has to be sweet talked after so many times of being set aside.

After dreaming so many dreams of becoming a writer and waking up to find myself a server, salesperson or teacher, my writer self sometimes sneers and says, Oh, please with that, like you’re ever…

My writer self is a wild, unruly child, but when in solitude, she dances, sings, gives speeches, and writes books.

However, when she hears a key in the door, a television, or God forbid, someone asks, “What are you up to?” she freezes.

It’s not fear so much as shifting gears from action demanding my whole being into interactions with another, even if it’s just being alert to their presence or saying hello.

Politeness demands turning from introspection into simple conversation.

Sometimes it’s the subtleties of life that let me settle for not writing, while a small shift can send me into an afternoon dancing with words.

Our writer selves require solitude, a space of our own, and time unleashed.

This is where pondering presents epiphanies, and profound ways of seeing or expressing ourselves.

It sounds simple. Go to your room, a coffee shop, or a park. Ta-da! Here’s your time! Sure, but it’s not just physical space we seek. We must find the mental space away from the chaos of daily life and to-do lists.

Amid the noise, without an agent, deadline, or outside demand, the small voices shout—to return my father’s phone call, check my email, do the laundry, or more often, put away the pile of laundry I did last week.

We need a lock on the door of our writers’ minds—the passageway into the world of words that refuse to dance in the company of commotion.

Sometimes, we wait for words. What if words await us on the other side of that door, pages preparing themselves to be written, if we can just lock out life’s little inconveniences?

Five hundred a year, some relative sum from Virginia Woolf’s time, purchases physical security—money pays the rent, feeds the dog, and keeps the lights on—and mental opportunity—the permission slip that says: Writing, you may now step to the front of the line.

When writing is relegated to farther back than our souls intend, it gets impatient, even petulant, watching us rush about.

Writing grabs furiously for our attention, the way an ignored child would, staring us down as we dart away to teach yoga, be present for margaritas with the girls, or make the meet-up group for writers.

What about me? writing cries.

She whines in the background while we resists with lists: I’ve got to order tires for my car. What are we doing for Thanksgiving dinner? Do I need to shop? Oh God, is Christmas really coming again this year? Sh*t! I forgot to call my dad. Oh, and those clothes!

Investing in contemplation ignites and expands our writing into ideas and words that flow, rather than feeling forced.

Time to mentally wrestle is the gift many of us deny ourselves in the same way we deny other luxuries.

How is it we feed ourselves junk media and divorce ourselves from nourishing contemplation?

We don’t have time. Yeah, like we don’t have time to work out.

Contemplation feeds a writer’s soul like mama’s cooking feeds the body.

The writing self, at least mine, needs nurturing.

She craves my attention and direction. She wants to be told it’s ok to play.

Contemplation is play, but that doesn’t get much credit in our society.

Contemplation isn’t something you pursue, win, or earn recognition for. It’s not like a degree, a man or a promotion. Thought is its own reward.

Contemplation catapults our writer selves into their own private rooms filled with writer toys: pens, paper, keyboards, words, and quiet.

Shhh, lock the door. Don’t tell anyone we’re in here. Let’s create something beautiful.

 

How to Embrace Opportunity for Metamorphosis. #bloglikecrazy

“Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?” ~ Rose Kennedy

My friend is lucky.
Her love lives.
She has a wife and a kid.

She’s unlucky.
As writers, we declared
Long ago: j-o-b-s distract.
She’s dedicated to a distraction.

Committed by way of marriage
And her ego’s need for independence
Managing the only 24 hours given each day.

I’m lucky, granted—by grace and my sister’s magic—
Freedom to pursue my passion daily.
The gift every writer dreams of: time
To work on our calling, the way others work
On their professions. Writing defines everything.
Writing rights us. We know no other way.
We’ll squeeze the whole world out to fit our
Writing in, but we don’t want to do it that way.

I don’t have to. I’m lucky.
Certainly luckier than most.
Of course, unluckier than many.
Losing everything, and my beloved dying.

I live my grandfather’s legacy:
I’ve had a lot of loss, but
I’ve had a lot of love.

Both unlucky and lucky,
Like my friend, all my
Friends, family and strangers.

Love, freedom, time and money.
Health, opportunities and obligations.
Coping, managing and manifesting.

Luck. We can’t hold it. It’s a
Hot potato. Good and bad luck.
We juggle them both, knowing:

For all the good, there’s a price.
I willingly pay.
And the bad?
Opportunity for metamorphosis.
I play my part.

I change. I grow.

We’re all lucky. And unlucky. Then, lucky again.

Sometimes life swings full
Circle and you realize
How lucky you are.
How lucky you are!

How Facebook Helped Heal my Grief. #bloglikecrazy

Dear Facebook Connections,

When my boyfriend died in March of 2016, you heard my cries. You read my words.

You walked beside me on my journey and many of you shared yours. We connected. You helped me heal by hearing my pain and not minimizing.

I’m fortunate to have a web of flesh friends and family who were there for me. I’m grateful for them, obviously.

Yet, Facebook folks were also integral to my healing. You were a safe space for me to publicly state my truth and share my tears without being faced with grimaces, the oh-so-subtle rolling of the eyes, the sigh of impatience, or the look of pity.

Nor did I feel alone. Many of you commented on and connected with me in my grief.

You also stand witness as my sister and I commemorate, celebrate and memorialize our loved ones who left this party called life too soon.

Not just my beloved Kevin, although losing him weighs heaviest on my heart. With him, I experienced sacred love. The love endures and you continue to react to my writing through this metamorphosis. Thank you.

Thank you, Facebook folks, for serving as a support system.

My sister found great solace with widownet. Deep Grief, Great Love and Grief Yoga educate, elevate, comfort, and even commiserate with me. Yes, sometimes we need that, too.

Elephant Journal publishes pieces (including mine) on grief, how to live a better life, and be of benefit to others.

Facebook friends, you’ve benefited Jayne’s life and mine by welcoming our stories about my beloved Kevin Lentz, my brother-in-law Tom Gerlach, my mom, and my brother Bill.

Thank you for serving as a sounding board for our losses and allowing us to use you to keep their memories alive as we learn to live without them.

We miss our people who died. It’s indescribable, and yet, you let us try.

How I Exercise my Introvert/Extrovert Status

If someone says, “She’s high maintenance” referring to me, I’ve got one thing to say: You’re damn right.

I don’t understand low-maintenance, high-functioning folks. Sometimes I see people maintaining themselves by sucking on other people’s energy.

I sustain my own energy by tending to the two sides of me.

I envy extroverts who get revved up by hanging with others.

For me, these are my required maintenance procedures:
1. Writing—morning pages, journaling and writing with purpose for publication.
2. Yoga or stretching. My body gets physically knotted up and I’m in pain if I don’t find a way to untie the knots. (Massage works, too.)
3. Walking in nature. It’s the act of movement, and nature kisses my skin and whispers to my soul if I go it alone.
4. Reading—expands my mind and heart.
5. Prayer—to God, angels, guides, Mother Mary, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, and my loved ones on the other side. It can take a while.
6. Meditation—without it I’d come undone.

These are solo pursuits. When I take these steps I’m better able to connect with the world.

Also, I love being alone. I’m not bored. I’m not lonely.

Extroverts, I love you with your eager invitations and how you can’t fathom my time alone is your competition. It is.

Introverts, I’m with you in the magnitude of solitude, silence drawing out peace and presence for ourselves in order to invoke any magnificence we may hope to possess.

Extroverts, you drag me from the dark depths of myself—beyond the blackness. Some days and nights, I stand at death’s door begging for entry into something beyond. You entertain me and keep me awake to others’ laughter, dancing, voices and stories.

You make me come out and live. Thank you.

Introverts, we know our time alone can be where we feel most alive, authentic and valid. They may think we’re hiding, but it’s here where we face life head on. We’re not afraid of darkness. Or light. The sacred ignites our souls. We see stars intimately. We speak poetry as if it’s our first language. We dance with music because it becomes us. Alone, we’re more than we care to explain, show or present to the great pretenders running the world we run away from.

Extroverts, I adore your laughter and our connections. Yet, I can’t comprehend your apprehension toward solitude. How can it not soothe you?

Don’t you dare to dance with your one true soul mate—you?

We introverts don’t quite understand the loneliness you speak of, for others tend to engulf us in emotional claustrophobia.

Me, I dance between the world of people and parties and my full-on presence. Too much out there invites pretense, lest I speak truth most don’t care for.

Truth—I kiss her and let her seep inside my soul alone on quiet nights and precious days. She allows me to return full and ready, capable of conjuring words, not to hurt but ideally to awaken and elevate.

I’m two sides of the personality coin: introvert/extrovert. I must spend them equally. And so I dance—in the world and in my kitchen.

 

Writers Group

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“Take what you want,” said God. “And pay for it.”—Spanish proverb

I disappointed myself yesterday. It was writers’ group and I was one of the readers, volunteered by a fellow writer grieving his brother’s death. I felt an unspoken expectation we’d both read pieces on death, grief, and life after a loved one exits earth.

I mentally toyed with the pieces I might read, many still rough. I even started a new piece. It was juicy, but it might cause people to question my sanity, so I set it aside. I rejected all my pieces on grief.

Instead, I read one about being raped almost three decades ago. I’ve done extensive work on this piece and submitted it several places. One online journal published it, but I didn’t get paid and they’re no longer around, so how can that count?

I chose the rape piece because it’s farther away than the grief. I told myself it wasn’t ego; I didn’t need pats on the back. I wanted feedback to get it into supreme shape for publication.

Early in the day, I unintentionally opened the drawer where letters holding my dead boyfriend Kevin’s heart out to me in his exquisite handwriting hide. The juxtaposition of beautiful and horrible: because he’s gone. Reading three engulfed me in all the grief I could handle for the day.

While I blog about owning my grief, it still feels very private. It’s still raw, even though most days I attempt to convince myself I’m ok now.

When sharing grief is more challenging than reading about a personal rape, I have a way to go. I didn’t consider maybe sharing my grief in its roughness could be part of my healing.

Instead, as I printed and stapled copies, I self-congratulated my professionalism and preparation on my turn to read, rather than showing up half-assed as I judged a couple writers.

I’ve struggled with this group, although I never had a disagreement or run-in with anyone. I joined the group when I arrived in Columbus three years ago, thinking I was only here for the summer. I never quite got a grasp of what the focus of our feedback should be.

I attended a university writing program and taught writing courses, but this is my first writers group. My feedback tends to be what’s working and what needs work. Maybe I lean too heavy towards what needs work with writers who really just want to hear, “Good job.”

On the few occasions I read, the feedback makes my ego as satisfied as a dog who’s killed a rabbit. But, my ego isn’t going to get me published. I must improve! So, I wrestle whether this is the group for me. In the meantime, I’ve become attached to these folks, even formed friendships.

Still, I considered dropping out. For the last two years, while I was seeing Kevin, my group attendance was sporadic at best. Besides, I intended to move somewhere with Kevin soon.

On my drive to the first writers group meeting after he died, I started crying one of those hysterical cries complete with screaming and pounding on my steering wheel. I had to pull over. I wasn’t safe to drive. I texted to let the group know I wouldn’t be there; I couldn’t stop crying. Maybe I overcompensated for that by my choice of what I read last night.

As my friend and fellow griever read a piece about his recently deceased brother, I felt like a fraud. When this writer cried, I saw his courage.

I chastised myself for choosing wrong, for not risking. When I read my rape piece, people praised me. I wondered: is it courage if you’re hiding behind yesterday’s bravery?

One of the group leaders, Donna said she better understood the vulnerability and denial that can arise after rape. She told me my piece is important and should be in a national publication. Another gal revealed she reads my blog regularly and hopes it can be made into a book.

It’s taken me a day to allow those opinions to penetrate. I spend so much time trying to smash my big-ass ego and live by my soul, sometimes I don’t let the words sink into my heart where I need to hear them. Those gals voiced my grand intentions. The universe mirrored back to me, patted me on the back and encouraged me forward.

Of course, my ego grabbed the compliments, but today my writer’s heart hears them like the first time a lover says, “I love you.” The words penetrate and tell me to keep on my path.

So, I didn’t let myself down. I asked for a pick-me-up without even realizing I needed it. Writing is a solitary pursuit and I like it that way. Yet, sometimes writers need to be reminded we can touch the world. All it takes is a couple of people hearing us amid the cacophony. What a blessing, this writers group.