Cluck. Cluck. Pluck.

One of my many chickens. Perched upon my new kitchen windowsill. Along with sparklers, which are my omni-present homage to my son Cole. (It's probably a rooster, but close enough. I'm past the point of caring about perfection. And besides, I'm very supportive of gender-fluid poultry.)

Preface/ Disclaimer/ Addendum: I wrote this piece a few days ago. It's about being "less than courageous" sometimes, and how we need to follow what fills us with joy in order to reach our true potential. And to heal and move forward, rather than remain "safe" and possibly stuck in fear, stagnation, or worse yet...the pit of despair. I intended to post it that same morning. And then my internet in my new home was being finicky and so I had to wait. And in that period of waiting, as the day passed and I got caught up in other things (like more unpacking), I did exactly what I had just written about. I chickened out!!! Excellent.

And the next morning, I thought about posting it, but by then, it was too late. Doubt and the seeds of

fear of "doing the wrong thing" by proclaiming my commitment to my romance with my "Meat and Romance"moniker in a public piece of writing made me spin in circles. Which is exactly what fear does to stops us from following our dreams. Our heart. And the calling of our soul. It kills our passion and our path to true joy. Fear sucks the authenticity out of us and keeps us, and our lives, small.

Then yesterday, fate (and the marvels of the internet) intervened and lit up the runway for

my landing back on my path. Thank God, because I was getting tired of myself. I was Googling Jerry Garcia, because earlier in the day, I'd been at my favorite garden center fondling some plants in the greenhouse and could have sworn I heard the radio announcer mention in solemn tones that Jerry Garcia had died. At the age of 78. I thought of my friend Jon, who loves The Grateful Dead, and how sad he'd be. It is here I will mention that I avoid the mainstream "negative news" loop in general.

And sometimes go on news fasts for lengthy periods of time, when my heart and soul need a respite. Clearly. Because Jerry died in 1995.

So last night as I was Googling Jerry Garcia and my research revealed that he had indeed not been the musician who had just died, I did what any other curious woman would do: I Googled "musician who died today"...a question that yielded a list of musicians who had died in the past year.

And it was then I discovered that, GASP!, Ric Ocasek of The Cars had just died last week. September 19th. I was a bit stunned and felt sad the same way I felt sad when Prince died. So many college make-out memories with my late husband. (I shall not delve into detail, but my heart still pounds when I hear anything from Candy-O.)

After learning of Ric's sudden demise, I was of course moving on to the next pressing question, "Was he still married to Paulina Porizkova?" You know, the supermodel. And I marveled at photos of her still looking quite gorgeous. And then I found an article she had written and the title grabbed my attention...something about how she was speaking out to older women. And I thought, Right On, Sistah!!!" But then I discovered it was mostly drivel (the realities of ageism and sexism notwithstanding) and the photos of Paulina in her modeling prime with captions like, "While the 1980s Vogue supermodel rocks her natural wrinkles most of the time, she says it's not always easy" made me laugh. And here's another gem: "In a recent interview with HollywoodLife, the supermodel revealed that during her 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot, she actually overheard someone calling her 'some old chick.' And while the name calling was obviously incredibly hurtful, Porizkova says that's just the way it is." I mean, boo hoo Paulina. I applaud her for speaking out on behalf of women over 45, but it felt kind of silly and privileged. And out of context with most normal women's lives. And challenges.

Worrying about whether or not we're "rocking our wrinkles" and bearing the obvious pain incredible' (said with a condescendingly French accent) of being called "some old chick" as we bare ourselves for a swimsuit photo shoot so we can be oogled by men is not at the top of most of our totem poles.

Let me get out my vintage French hankies!

The final cherry on my sundae of enlightenment came this morning. I was washing my face and looked into the magnifying mirror perched on my bathroom windowsill (because we all know natural sunlight increases the joy and confidence felt when looking at your face at 500% magnification) and I was grooming my eyebrows with some brown stuff on a tiny brush, and there it was...the eyebrow hair of all eyebrow hairs. The enormous, singular eyebrow hair that weaves itself into my other eyebrow hairs, until it is discovered by moi once every half year or so.

Like an ex you sleep with after you've had too much champagne, each time we meet, it's as we're meeting for the first time. I react to it with a sense of horror, laced with wonder. And, also, it makes me laugh out loud. How does it grow to the length of boa constrictor and covertly weave itself into my otherwise not especially lush eyebrow? Without my noticing it?!

And in that moment, it was all clear: That eyebrow hair is a symbol. A stark reminder of what brings me joy. MY PURPOSE IN LIFE. And that is, to help us keep smiling and laughing through all the baloney that life brings our way. Through the changes and trials and tribulations. Via whatever means necessary.

Because I truly love making you smile and laugh, because it makes me smile and laugh. And it makes me happy to be alive. And...isn't that WHY we're alive? Otherwise, why bother.

(Also...I'm selfish that way. Joy is a priority!)

And now, if you still have room left in your eyeballs to keep reading, I'm going to include the actual

post I wrote the other day.

Sending you much love and may the force of the eyebrow be with you. ;)



Original Post:

I love chickens.That said, I don't generally like to think of myself as one. But I've been being one. (Insert chicken clucking sound here). Sometimes we're all chicken. About something. Even the bravest amongst us. And I've been pretty brave. But still, the chicken thing takes over my soul

upon occasion and I don't know about you, but when it happens to me, it feels really icky. And I feel

out of balance. Not proud of myself. Annoyed with myself. Or downright angry with myself for not

jumping in and doing what I'm always telling other people to do...which is, to follow their heart.

To NOT follow the safe and secure and most times boring and non-challenging path. To follow the

calling of their soul. To do what lights them up inside. To remember that life is so short and our last

breath is so unpredictable and may be much closer than we imagine.

After we go through a major life change/trauma/loss we especially need to follow the calling of our heart and soul. How do we know what that is? Well, from my experience, it's those little (or big) things that bring anything from a definitive tingle to a lightning-bolt-ish jolt of excitement. The things that bring an immediate smile to your face. Or to your heart. Without you even being fully aware of it sometimes. The things that make you glow and radiate positive energy and pure delight.The things that make you feel alive. And connected. To other living things. To the Universe. To your true self.

For a while now I've been actively admitting to or avoiding committing to some of the things that actually bring me the most joy. Because they can feel too "out there" or too huge or too insignificant...or too potentially controversial or deep. Or place me in too vulnerable a position.

I kept feeling I should (always a bad word to follow!) be doing something more professionally "acceptable." More mainstream. Something that brings one more fame and fortune and potential accolades. Something seen as more acceptably helpful to other grief-stricken humans. I lamented the fact that it would be so much easier to earn a living as a therapist or grief counselor. Because I'd make a great one! If only I could stand the thought of sitting in a room day after day, listening to people's sad stories hour after hour. I would honestly rather shoot myself. I mean, I am empathetic to the pain of others. Very. But I am not a huge fan of talk therapy, or a believer in the powers of rehashing our sad tales over and over with other sad people under the guidance of group leader who usually seems to be sad, as well. (Thank goodness there are other patient and lovely people better suited to those occupations!).

I've been asking for branding help and paying for "professionals" to help tell me who I am and what

I want. The problem is, I have known for many years who I am and what I want. And it's not always pretty. Or polite. Or socially acceptable. :) Somehow, being widowed and then losing my son made me feel beholden to all other grieving people to heal their wounded hearts, as well. To do something big and important. Within the boundaries of our mostly small-minded and traditional society.

Or maybe I often feel imprisoned by the small-mindedness of traditional society because I live in New England. :)

And then I realized, no one on this planet has been standing next to me with a gun to my temple,

shaming me into becoming a therapist or working at a hospice. I've been doing it to myself! Yikes.

It's really tough when we come to terms with the fact that we are often our own jailer and our own

worst enemy.

I have spent the past twenty-five days getting settled into my new "home." A wonderful old farmhouse that seems to have been built just for me. And I'm so grateful and feel so lucky to be in this new place (still in Maine...because as it turns out, my love affair with Vacationland is still going strong!). I never could have imagined finding a place so beyond perfect...but then again, I do seem to possess a real estate superpower for finding perfect places to plant myself. And I intend to do a lot

of growing here. And to stay here for a bit. I am done with the romance of moving for the time being.

Before I began search for my new place, I had changed my website/ URL to Sandi Amorello Studios. Because, let's be real, "Meat and Romance" does sound like it could indeed be a website for sensitive souls who enjoy their porn by candlelight. (For a brief history lesson on Meat and Romance, join me here.) But by ditching Meat and Romance,I was being completely chicken-sh*t wimpy and doing the exact thing I don't even believe in doing (i.e. succumbing to our collective deep-rooted fear of not being accepted by mainstream society and/or being judged and ridiculed for being true to your authentic self. Not matter how wonderfully wild and weird that true self may be).

Going back to using my name felt safe. It made sense. It sounded "professional" and acceptable and totally WonderBread mainstream. Great. NOT!!! I felt kind of dead inside. Kind of numb. Kind of like a sell-out. And like a total liar. Not even following the advice I love to hand out to others.

As I've been unpacking my many (many, many...many) boxes the last few weeks, I've come across a piece of paper, sticking its neck out of the top of a notebook (one of my many, many, many...many)

notebooks. And on it, in indelible Sharpie marker, is scribbled "Meat and Romance." It's a piece of

paper from a full year ago. I'd scribbled the words as I was brainstorming heart-stoppingly-happy business ideas with my talented and fabulous daughter, as we sat in a living room in a cozy

cottage we were renting on the Cape (as in Cod)...overlooking the dunes and ocean for a week.

I was deliriously happy that week. And part of that happiness stemmed from my total and fearless commitment to "Meat and Romance."

And my heart still jumped for joy when I saw the words on that rogue piece of paper as I was unpacking. And when your heart is still jumping for joy about ANYTHING after a year, whether it be a

lover, a pair of cowboy boots, or a business venture...well, you must pay attention. Because there's a big old message in there for you.

So I'm committing and planting my flag (again) and this time, it's for KEEPS.

Because I've come to one overwhelmingly huge and important conclusion in the aftermath of my

son Cole's "moving on" and that is this: when you're heart-broken and dealing with tremendous loss and overwhelming grief...anything or anyone or any place that makes your heart sing is where

you MUST put your attention. You must listen to those feelings of joy. However small or fleeting.

They are lighting your way. Showing you your path back to yourself and to your happiness and

your purpose. To your future,

When you're sad and grieving, if "Meat and Romance" makes your heart sing, and the thought of being a therapist makes you want to kill yourself, well...then you know your new business. And it's not going to require a PhD in psychology. Although it may help people just as much. Or even more.

I know without a doubt that the best thing I can do for the many other grieving people in this world, at least the ones with a positive attitude and a sense of humor, is to be courageous enough to do what brings me joy. And to be fearless. So I can radiate all of that joy and courage to them and possibly help them out of their very own comfy but unhealthy pit of despair.

Grief (and especially the grief of losing a child) is not the end of your life. Although I have found

many articles and many people on many online chatrooms and support sites who feel it is indeed

the end. And really, that depresses me. And I want to shake them up and tell them they have a choice.

Living and smiling and finding joy again is a choice. Moving forward is a choice. Laughing is a choice.

And whatever helps you get there is exactly what YOU need to do.

So, I hope my honesty can help you to be brave, if you're floundering. Or to persist, if you're already on the journey forward.

There are already enough chickens in the world. Where do you think all those eggs are coming from?

May your day be as light and luscious as a French omelette.



Note: These words are from the heart. Not the editor's desk. We are not taking complaints involving minor spelling errors, incorrect sentence structure or mishaps involving punctuation at this time. Unless they are painfully grievous. In which case, obviously, we welcome your loving input. Which you can provide here. ;)

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