I read the word felled and fell in love immediately.

Prior to finding this gorgeous word in a poem, I had never gifted a fall the linguistic freedom to transform to felled, feller or felling.  My overbearing sense of hearing had never allowed it to be seen, tasted, smelled or touched beyond it’s logical syntax.

I am quite sure I have been felled many times –  knocked out, struck down, cut out – we all have.  I am more interested in the moves it takes to become un-felled.

Negative theology has been on my mind and has led me to the concept of –un.  To discover my unfelled self,  I will have to explore all the things I am not.  I will have to discern the blurriness of my being, and I will have to open the dichotomy of my own heart.

Most importantly, I will have to resist my attachment to life’s grammar.

Until March 2,

Allyn Lea

Belief hides in maybe, and hope is its exact western neighbor.

The stop in maybe is one that should not be overlooked, I think — it’s the place to go when your eyes are too weak to stay on the road or you need an emergency stop.  It lies in the distance of any major attraction so you will have to choose to slow down, turn the wheel and instinct your way there.  With not much to do or see on main street, you will be honored with the space of your own thoughts…

Maybe this year will suck.  Maybe it will be stunning.

Maybe you will get lost.  Maybe you’ll find your way.

Maybe you’ll win. Maybe you’ll lose.

Maybe you’ll move.  Maybe you’ll stay.

Maybe you will heal.  Maybe you will suffer.

Maybe you’ll cry.  Maybe you’ll laugh.

Maybe you will wake up.  Maybe you’ll sleep.

Maybe you will be there.  Maybe you will be here.

Maybe you will.  Maybe you won’t.

Maybe you will change your mind.  Maybe you’ll stand your ground.

Maybe you’ll shake.  Maybe you’ll be steady.

Maybe you’ll get healthy.  Maybe you will get sick.

Maybe you will fall out.  Maybe you will fall in.

Maybe this.  Maybe that.

Maybe* is the space in your heart and mind that lets all possibilities across its borders, and belief always makes a home there.  Once settled, search for the arrows to guide you on the highway towards hope**.

The sun will rise and the sun will set.  Even in Maybe.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

*Maybe, as defined in this post, is not an easily accessible destination for all.  If you get there, your job is to retrace your steps, discover how you got there and show others the way.  

P.S.
Maybee, MI is a village in southwestern Exeter Township in Monroe County in the U.S. state of Michigan, established in 1873 and incorporated in 1899. The population was 562 at the 2010 census.

You may know it as old M-11, old US 31, the Red Arrow Highway or the Blue Star Highway – all names for a road that was originally called the West Michigan Pike, the first continuous concrete highway in West Michigan.

In Harbert, visitors will encounter art galleries, antique shops and a wonderful variety of dining opportunities. Harbert has changed since the days Carl Sandburg roamed its wooded lanes, but has lost none of its appeal. The influence of the Scandinavian families who helped create this thriving resort community is still felt today.

 

 

 

 

“You have to learn how to quit,” he said.  “You have to get really good at it.”

He spoke this reality check about his addiction to cigarettes and a twenty-years-clean celebration.  I am not a smoker, never have been – I didn’t need his advice for that.  I needed it for this…

DON’T QUIT.  This cheap mantra hangs big on the walls of our earth.  It’s not even a choice anymore – we are expected to push ourselves to the limit and never look back.  We hop on the bandwagons of mindfulness and meditation to make the case for pause and it does us no good.  We are addicted to a deadly & western pursuit of happiness, never caring to wake up to the ambiguity of the state itself.

Our nation is confused and we are drowning in unhealthy habits to feel better, I think – we are exhausted by desperate efforts to locate joy, fairness and peace.  On our worst days, we numb ourselves with drags of pleasure.  On good days, we trick ourselves with motivational memes.  On all days, there are hints of finger pointing for the struggle.

The world is fake news and everyone is dying to find truth.  We are lost and turning over every rock to find our way home.  Hint: turn over your own.

We need to kick some bad habits…

Quit mindlessness.

Quit comfort.

Kick television.

Quit ignorance.

Quit self-doubt.

Quit instant gratification.

Kick CNN & FOX & BS.

Quit blame.

Quit possessions.

Quit fear.

Quit shortcuts.

And quit attributing happiness (or un-) to a person, an object or a reason.

Quitting is a lonely job – you’re the only one there and the nicotine of life won’t go down without a fight.  It will beg you back around as soon as it sees you shake.  Hint: If you start to lose your balance, focus on something that isn’t moving.

Take my uncle’s advice and learn how to quit.  Get really good at it.  Be alive enough to anticipate the twists and turns.  Ground yourself to the earth. Then, wake up and let your heart be known.

Hint: Quitting takes persistence.  Get over the irony of life and back to your best habit…you.

 

 

Death sucks; it gets us stuck in the horrendous depths of life.

I was raised Catholic, and not just a little Catholic; an every-Sunday-service, go-to-church-camp, mom-taught-God-every-Wednesday-night kind of Catholic.  Later in life I turned my cheek to the hours I logged as a devout Catholic to bow towards my own exploration of spirituality.  Every ounce of that choice and journey has lifted me up and for all the right reasons. 

The counter-narrative showed up this week…

I found myself back in the Catholic church to celebrate a life gone too soon.  My strong and centered self began crying the moment I knelt down and leaned my back against the welcomingly hard pew.  Tears immediately streaked down the sides of my face and dropped deep into my chest for reasons we would all agree obvious; I was bearing witness to stunning struggle, breathtaking loss and the realness of hearts-held-hostage to pain.

I was blindsided by my other tear-filled reasons; invisible reasons that could only be understood by the bravery of my own soul.

The entire experience was an overwhelming flood of my being. The first note of Amazing Grace hit my memory with the kind of joy that stops you in your egotistical tracks.  I could hear my mom & dad’s voices singing along with everyone in the congregation.  I was suddenly 7 years old again, sitting-in-shenanigans alongside my two brothers (of whom I can selfishly still hug next week at Thanksgiving).  I remembered the strength of my parents and their unwavering guidance to make us sit our butts in those cold, hard benches every Sunday.

More voices emerged;  One Bread, One Body and On Eagles Wings. I found myself struggling to lift my head up and acknowledge the awfulness of the situation; a dear friend battling sadness and despair.   My weakness turned to embarrassment when I realized that my twenty years of faithful neglect had left me out of new refrains and I eagerly awaited the moment when we would be invited to extend peace to those around us through harmonious handshakes.  Once held in the palm of another’s hands, I was incredibly proud to accept Communion and to touch the experience of this glorious world to my tongue.

I may not be attending church every Sunday, but I accept my Catholic upbringing and respect the incredible influence it has on who I am today.  Ritual, discipline and forgiveness are all things I believe in and they cannot be understood from my perspective only.  Setting foot inside the glass-stained archways of this world is necessary because I am destined to get stuck; days when the sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine.  In these heart-wrenching moments, I will need to let go; my own beliefs and experiences will have to kneel in understanding to the beliefs and experiences of others.  There will be no full or resounding answer because truth exists in both individuality and totality.

Amazing Grace is a lyrical legacy that breathes life back into people, and balance can be found within vicissitude.  When we choose to show up in the crossing of life & death, we are invited to be hugged in grace.  We are offered closure and rebirth.

The beautiful and full life that was lost this week is meant to be cherished for every moment it intersected with another.  I have no idea how to deal with death, but I can choose to live a fuller, deeper and more honest life in honor of those who have already given the same.

We are here for such a short time. 

One of my final projects in graduate school was to capture the evolution of my identity throughout the program.   I chose to create an album – 11 songs that could map out a life that intersected my research papers & chapters-to-be-read.  Though deeply inspired by my year in 2006, it’s not a bad playlist if you need car-ride company.

On the inside cover of the album, I wrote the following…

I recently dusted off this lyrical map in search of a spot marked “YOU ARE HERE”.  This time, my mixed tape clarity showed up in one freeing form…

I am funny 
and the one liners I dropped last week 
are literally
suffocating me
in boomerang giggles right now.

I am smart
and I should already believe this
by the sheer number of times
Jon Locker tells me
alongside his ‘you are beautifuls’.

I ugly cry
as much as I smile
and I have accepted that life

is never going to gift it to me
any other way.

I am confused by commas,
exclamation points steal my joy

and I am currently
considering
punctuated discernment. 

I have a heart that shines
when I read the headline
“World’s Kindest Person Gets Pissed Off”  

and I ride open-eyed and screaming
because “Subtle & Quiet Doesn’t Mean Unexcited”.

I runway jumpsuits, stocking hats and heels
and trust the spirited stylist
who once told me
I look good despite
all my coffee-spilled fumbles.

I shut down alilocker.com to create space for allynlocker.com.  Folding the map back up, I have realized that I don’t have to be Ali or Allyn.  I get to be both and everything in between.  Ponytail, curls or straightened.  They are all me because my names are the bookends of my soul.

I found the X – I AM HERE.

Research is part of the very messy journey that us writers call process.  In the rare times of writing well, we invite our readers into the complex journey of comprehension.  What a magical intersection.

Synesthesia.  Look it up like I had to after hearing it for the first time last week.  Let it make sense or let it confuse you.  If you care to ponder more, the following words are here for you…

My son is 7 1/2 amazing years old.  He doesn’t know how to ride a bike without training wheels yet and the other day he invited his dad and I to the playground to show us that he had finally learned to swing by himself.  We didn’t tell him how proud we were of him.  We joined in right alongside him with smiles that matched the delight of his grin.  He had all the joy he needed right inside his own heart.  We didn’t have to push him past his moment and into ours.  His childhood accomplishment belonged rightfully to him.

The compassionate heart and open mind that my son is building within himself is going to face far more challenges than the chain links of a swing.  Life will leave the skin of his hands tattered and exhaust his inertia in ways that I am unable to predict or prevent.  I don’t lay in bed at night worrying about whether he will to learn to ride a bike without training wheels.  It doesn’t concern me for the same reason I didn’t worry if he would learn to tie his shoes and won’t worry if he will get through algebra.  He will.

My deepest, fall-to-my-knees worry is the gift of intuition that I recognize in him and whether he, or the world around him, can appreciate it’s definition.

On more than handfuls of occasions, I have watched my son cover his ears and cry in the midst of loudness – situations that are too noisy or that include too many people.  If I level him at the surface, I have an explanation for this behavior.  He was born with a condition that is fully connected to the health of his hearing – it makes total sense.  But when I slam the dictionary shut and check another source, I discover the other story…

This little boy is in tune to the frequencies of life.  I observe it in him every day.  The world is loud with emotion through his eyes and he hears interactions with slow-mo vision.  It’s why he touches my hand when I am hiding my sadness and says things like don’t worry mom, the world is just a story that you get to dream in. you’ll be okay.  And on the funnier side of wisdom says things like, dad it’s okay that you don’t have it in you to be patient. you have lots of other really great things inside you. just keep looking.  It’s why he takes walks by himself and why he once asked me to take him to a cemetery (mom, it’s so neat to see how everyone & everything is connected).

His perceptual understanding of the world is real.  On most days that will serve him well. On other days he will have to figure it out, because the world is too beautiful and too unbearable when you see it in double.

There are not enough conversations I can have with him to help him make sense of his superpower and all the ways it will help him understand himself and the world.  To push him towards it or away from it does him no good.  It would cheat him from the depths of introspection that are waiting for him.  He simply needs a vision of what it looks like to embrace the journey.

That is something I can do for him…because I feel the world in color.

 

 

 

 

If you have never watched Schitt’s Creek, may I suggest that you open Netflix immediately and begin at season 1, episode 1.  Most won’t be wise enough to appreciate the humor, but those that stay will fall deeply in love.  I fell deeply in love and stole the title of this blog post directly from a character’s mouth.

My parent’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past July.  I had the opportunity to give a toast.  It went something like this…

This landmark celebration has been such a gift to myself and my two brothers.  It has gifted us the space to grow closer through memories & laughter. By looking at each moment more deeply, it has built a gratitude in all of us for just how grand the journey has been.  We have become more and more aware of a connectedness that has actually been there the whole time.

Piecing together the story of our parent’s commitment, we quickly began to realize that every moment is, in fact, a hint towards the next.  You see…

I now know why my oldest brother and his wife chose to sign their wedding license at their dining room table; growing up, my mom would decorate our dining room table to celebrate every holiday and birthday.  I ran home from school on those days, in full anticipation of how spectacular the set up would be.

And I now know why my other brother and his wife go to concerts for their date nights and make sure that their two kids have the ultimate taste in music.  Appreciation of music wasn’t a choice in our house; we were connected by our touches on the ivory keys of my grandmother’s piano.

And I now know why I recently traded in city life to live in a modest house on open land surrounded by trees; the huge oak tree in the front of my childhood home was where I discovered my heart and values.

From both of you, we learned that it is far more important to pay more attention to the clouds in the sky than to the time we set our alarm clock.

You reminded us that we need not count our failures, but rather feel every insight they have to offer.

You demanded we care more about the sensation of the ground under our feet than the number of miles we have walked.

You taught us that time doesn’t really exist; life is simply an exponential experience of moments.  

I never thought this toast to my parents would find a thread to a series produced by Not a Real Company Productions, but let’s embrace a character that chooses to wear a leather sweater in the dead of summer.  Most people would consider him crazy or careless.  I, on the contrary, think he has it all figured out.  I recognize my parent’s wisdom in him.

If you choose to take the plunge and take on the series, which I highly encourage you to do, you will note that it never seems to be fall or winter in Schitt’s Creek.  Perhaps that is because of filming efficiency or limitations to the setting.  Personally, I believe it is just another part of the show’s brilliance.

Regardless of the reason, the show has certainly let go of the restraints of time.  The writers don’t care if the weather elements make sense or not.  They want their characters and audience to develop within the ambiguous ebb & flow of life.  To do that, they have to resist the pressure of perfect timing.  I am so appreciative of their relentless resistance of time, because if David (played by Daniel Levy) was counting the seasons and waiting for the ideal weather to arrive, he would never have the chance to wear his rad get up.  And, I never would have gotten to jump into the depths of incredible laughter & joy that came from the brilliant take in the first minutes of that episode.

David holds moments in his hands. He can, because he already knows that his fashion is impeccable.

 

you always start with a look.  no words.  just a sizing up of loyalty.  the words come later.  always.

eyeing a trusting body up & down, you decide it’s worth the sacrifice.  you determine that an open heart can survive the firm press of your lips as you suck the life out of her.

you steal all her “firsts”, take her to get her first tattoo and ink all of your desperate desires onto her life.

tied to the beds of your grip, she builds a super power against your pressure.  turns her head and learns to appreciate the moments that pass as you finish your daily fit.

now she can see you coming from 100 miles away, dimming the lights to your preference.

she is obsidian, rooted at the base of her spine, and swallowing the shit of the world.

 

For years, I have facilitated writing experiences with teachers, many of which have been grounded in the teachings from Georgia Heard and her text, “Writing Toward Home”.   In one of her chapters, she suggests writing an apostrophe- the kind of apostrophe used in drama or poetry and from the Greek word meaning “to turn away”.  You are asked to choose someone, alive or gone, and speak/write directly to them.  It is an unfiltered type of writing that is rooted in honesty and healing and I have literally witnessed it changing people’s lives as they pour their hearts onto paper.  

Through all the times I have offered this experience to other writers, I have also attempted to write my own for 10+ years and never gotten “anywhere”.  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME I have chosen the same person and started the same way….”unimaginable, what you have done & how you have chosen to exist”.  If you were to look through my piles of writer’s notebooks, you would find that same line over and over again followed by a few weak and fearful lines.  Until last week…

I reread Heard’s chapter on the apostrophe and followed her subtle accommodation to this exercise.  If you can’t seem to write to a person, she suggests that you write to an inanimate object or emotion.  In all my years, I had never chosen that path.  Until now…

“You” in the piece of writing above is not a person.  “You” is a state of mind & being and I was finally able to address it head on.  This piece was never meant to be written to an individual.  It was meant to be written to both the dark and light sides of life.  It was meant to be written about the strength we can all find within ourselves as we journey the world each and every day. 

Today my writing broke the bounds of time & space and arrived at truth.  

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 10.38.19 AM