Dec 082009
 

Monkees…I’m back. Wow, I missed you even more than I imagined I would. I was so excited to write to you again this morning that I woke up at three and couldn’t fall back asleep. Which is fine except that by the time my kids wake up at 7, waddle downstairs, and ask for breakfast, I’ll have to tell them that mommy’s too tired because it’s been a really long day. And they’ll look confused and hungry, as usual. Consistency is important in parenting.

Anyway, I wrote many drafts of this post which explained how thankful I am to the guest writers for their brave and beautiful posts and how humbling all of the comments about me and Momastery were…but then I remembered another sign Bubba posted on our wall at home. It said “Don’t be humble. You’re not that great.” I think that pretty much sums it up. So… moving right along.

Friends, I’d love to tell you about the book proposal, but I can’t, because I’m too worried about Lou.

I’ve never met Lou. I’ve never even emailed Lou. But I really like Lou. I wish I could put Lou in my purse and carry her around everywhere with me. Like so many of you, Lou is always offering beautiful and loving blog comments and everybody needs some of those in real life. Also, if Lou were in my purse, every time I lost it I could yell “OH LOOOOUUUUUU… WHERE AAAAARE YOU?” And she could yell back “WE’RE OVER HERE G!! UNDER THE LAUNDRY PILE! And that would be so fun. Anyway, I don’t think this is actually going to happen. But the point is that I really want to make Lou happy. And Lou once suggested that it’s important to lighten things up periodically on Momastery because who wants to be part of a Revolution if the Revolutionaries aren’t constantly laughing? Nobody fun.

I think Lou is very wise. So Lou, today I’m gonna take us back to our Momastery roots. We’re gonna keep it real, Lou. How about some GOOD OLD KITCHEN HUMOR to give ourselves some breathing space?

You Monkees know Caren, right? She’s my cousin who has posted so honestly and bravely here about losing her dad, my Uncle Frank. Caren has a whole lot of amazing family left on this side, though. She has a sassy, hilarious, stunning sister named Ali and a gentle giant of a brother named Frank. Caren has a loving husband named Todd and a Gap baby with jet black hair and sky blue eyes named Amelia.

And Caren’s got a mother of a mother named JUDY. Aunt Judy to you.

I’m not sure how to describe Aunt Judy. Let’s put it this way. If Judy likes you, you’ve got it MADE. If she doesn’t like you…you’d best be ON YOUR WAY. Quickly. Because Judy is gonna tell you how she feels. And you’re gonna listen. And one more thing. If you’re hungry…Judy’s not your best bet. Judy makes me look a bit like Rachael Ray. We have this gene in my family which causes us not to be able to cook or follow simple directions. Also to be completely unable to think anything through in a practical manner. I come by all of that genetically. Here’s proof.

One day, when Caren was a child, Judy decided to “make a cake.” We have no idea what inspired her. Before this day Judy had never even “made a sandwich.” Before this day Judy had never even MADE A PURCHASE AT THE GROCERY STORE. Those of you new to Momastery will be tempted to assume that I am exaggerating. I assure you that I am not. Anyway, for whatever reason, on this day, Judy was determined. Caren, who was ten years old, was to be her assistant. Poor Caren was terrified and horrified and tried her hardest to remember all of her emergency numbers and the locations of the family first aid kits.

Now please understand that the cake Judy was determined to bake was a Jello No Bake cake. So really, the “baking” just meant pouring and stirring.

Judy poured the milk and the jello powder into the crust and then picked up the box to read the next direction. She said the following to Caren:

“Step Three. Cover and tape the cake on the counter.”

Judy looked down at Caren’s impossibly huge brown eyes which were twitching in anticipation of impending doom.

“Well, why are you just standing there? Go FIND SOME TAPE!”

Caren scurried away and ransacked the house. No tape.

Fearfully, she returned to Judy and said “Mommy, I can’t find any tape.”

And Judy said,“WELL. THEN. Go to Gramma’s house and get some tape from her! HOW THE HECK IS ANYBODY SUPPOSED TO BAKE AROUND HERE WITH NO TAPE? GO!” Also, Judy never says heck.

So Caren ran down the street, busted into my grandma’s house and breathlessly requested tape. My grandma asked her why she needed tape. Caren said “We’re trying to make a cake!” And my grandma said “Oh. All right then, it’s in the office.” Because, you see, my grandmother has never made a cake in her life either and wouldn’t have the slightest idea that tape was an unusual ingredient.

So Caren grabbed the masking tape, ran all the way home, busted through the door and yelled to her mom “Mommy , I got the tape!” Caren was quite proud to have made such a huge contribution to the cake baking.

So Judy called her over to the counter and told her to start taping. Judy and Caren used an entire roll of masking tape securing that cake to the counter. When it was completely covered and secured beyond a shadow of a doubt, Judy picked up the box and read to Caren:

“Step Four: Place cake in freezer.”

Judy and Caren stared at the cake that they had just spent 15 minutes taping to the counter.

Then Judy started using some VERY OFF COLLAR language that I can’t really post here. Caren remembers the tirade as including lots of loud requests for intersession from Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

At this point Caren picked up the cake directions with trembling hands, in hopes of finding a clue.

After a moment and several silent prayers Caren said in a teeny weeny voice:


“Mommy? Step three says cover and TAP the cake on the counter.”



It’s true. Every word.

Do you understand me a little better now?

Dec 072009
 

Lobsters, soon after they’re born, find one partner, lock claws, and walk together for the rest of their lives.
 
*I learned this lobster fact from Phoebe on Friends, so verify before sharing at a dinner party to avoid potential embarrassment.


Monkees, meet my Lobster, Amanda.

A Song She Can Sing In Her Own Company

I believe in believing in just a few, simple things.I believe that the beauty of believing is in your beliefs’ longevity and longsuffering and loyalty – that the greatest blessing is to live long enough, and open enough, to see your simple, few beliefs made real in the adventure of your life.

So, I have decided share my key beliefs with you.

[You will note that I have exerted much effort to avoid discussing many of my other, let’s say less-fundamental, beliefs with you.Sometime, it might be appropriate for us to discuss these.They include my unyielding belief that most people are doing the best that they can.That nothing is sexier than when a man stands up from the table when you come to the table and leave it.That refusing to ever say something about someone that you wouldn’t say in front of them is the highest form of living.That if you need to drink Coke with your bourbon, you’re not drinking proper bourbon, and that if you are drinking proper bourbon, it is a crime against humanity to drink it with anything other than ice.That it is not charity, but reward, to look for the goodness in others, because when you find it you can catch a glimpse of God.That people are unspeakably brave.That in this stormy, harrowing life –full of joy and miracles and suffering and nonsensical tragedy and struggles – maybe the key is not to decry the sun’s absence, but to cling gratefully to the few, rare souls who will stand in the rain with you for as long as it takes for the skies to clear.Perhaps we can discuss a little later.]

Mostly, though, I try to hold the idea that a few infallible beliefs are all we need, and exactly what we need, to sustain us and help us keep the most important things the only important things.So, these few beliefs are the center of me:

I believe in God and my family and the reality that you have to lose your life to find it.

And I believe that you have found your life when you find

A song that you can sing in your own company.

I believe in God and my family.I believe in God with the certainty that I believe that Sister loves me – even though you could never prove she does – because of the way she shows up, everyday, to save my life.I believe in God because he held me the morning I was curled up and broken on the couch on my porch – the morning I realized my dreams were crushed, every promise worth keeping was shattered, and the life, home and marriage I had built were gone.I believe in God because He stood watch at the bedside of my sorrow, nursed me to health, and restored me to a life that I could have not imagined before my suffering began.I believe in God because He is as present and real to me as the breeze that moves my hair and the leaves crunching under my feet – as He shows up, everyday, with a small miracle to let me know we’re boys, and where He wants us to take this adventuresome life.Just as some people pursue money because they have faith that it will afford them a life of security and comfort, peace and excitement, I pursue God because I can’t imagine a life more exciting, peaceful and adventuresome than the life we will have together.I believe in God because God shows up, everyday, to save my life.

I believe you have to lose your life to find it.I believe we spend a lot of our lives trying desperately to get what we don’t really need.And the trouble with that is we can never get enough of what we don’t really need – so we are constantly salivating and struggling but we remain hungry and empty.But when we finally break free from the belief that we need the things we don’t – when we give up on the standards of success and normalcy and progress that don’t come from within us but have been hoisted upon us – when we lose that life, we gain the possibility of living the life we were meant to live.“For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”Mark 8:36.

I believe that you have found your life when you find a decent melody; a song that you can sing in your own company.Ernest Becker wrote:“Most of our life is in large part a rationalization of our failure to find out who we really are, what our basic strength is, what thing it is that we were meant to work upon the world.”I think we learn our basic strength, that thing we were meant to work upon the world, when we find what breaks our heart.Or when we find what makes our heart hum.Or when we identify something that energizes and inspires us more than anything else on the planet.When we find that thing, that when we look upon it, we recognize ourselves.

You know that certain, specific feeling you have when you are somewhere new and strange and alone and you scan the room frantically for some familiar anything, and your anxious eyes suddenly rest on a smile you know and the foreign place is suddenly home, and a wave of warmth and comfort sweep over you?Just as our eyes scan for recognition of home in a strange place, I think our hearts do the same thing in this confusing world, overcrowded with so much that we don’t recognize in ourselves.And for each of us, there is a unique place where our heart’s gaze rests, and it is home – because it breaks our heart, or because it makes every fiber resonate with the joy of recognizing ourselves.Where our heart’s gaze rests, this is the thing that reveals the unedited version of ourselves – the raw, one-of-a-kind dreams and desires and passions that compose our souls.

I believe that we all crave to know and to respond to this thing – this thing where our heart’s gaze alone rests.To listen to this still small voice that whispers:I know the puzzle of your heart, and this is the piece that is your fit; this is the melody that is more beautiful to you than anyone else in the world.This is the song that you would sing over and over in your own company, if you never had to worry about what anyone else wanted to hear.

My dear friend Joanna is never more herself than when she is painting something that only exists in her exquisite brain, and because she is brave enough to create, the world sees colors and forms that would have never exist without her.The world needs Joanna’s thing.

My dear friend Allison was specifically crafted to be a friend.She will stand by her friends through anything – even when they are wrong, even when she shouldn’t – and she does it with every possible means of avoiding credit.Allison doesn’t feel her friends’ pain.She feels the pain her friends feel as if it were happening to her – because it is.I am convinced that Allison would rather burn up with me than leave me in a fire of my own making.The world, I, need Allison’s thing.

My dear friend Bill’s mind was made to mesmerize on Renaissance literature – he is brilliant at that thing – and students of the discipline for years to come will read his scholarship, and be fascinated and energized and full.The world needs Bill’s thing.

A beautiful, strong woman I know, Karishma, after attending elite undergraduate and law schools, left her fancy law firm job to become a Yoga instructor.I can only imagine she made this leap because practicing yoga makes her feel whole and integrated and calm and strong.And now she is delivering to stressed-out New Yorkers a place of tranquility and empowerment.The world needs Karishma’s thing.

I have a dear friend in New York, Michael, who loves to analyze stocks.He worked and prayed for years to land the position he is in now, projecting the viability and profitability of stocks.He is very happy, and he is helping lots of investors who don’t have his gift.The world needs Michael’s thing.

I met a woman last week – brilliant and beautiful – who wanted more than anything to use her law and business degrees to empower people to obtain better health care, but she had no idea whether this was possible or where to start.The world needs Kelly’s thing.

The world needs each of our things – each of our things we were meant to work upon the world.And each monkee deserves to walk this world to the hum of a decent melody – even if it sounds decent to her alone.

What’s your thing?

Dec 072009
 




Lobsters, soon after they’re born, find one partner, lock claws, and walk together for the rest of their lives.

*I learned this lobster fact from Phoebe on Friends, so verify before sharing at a dinner party to avoid potential embarrassment.

Monkees, meet my Lobster, Amanda.



A Song She Can Sing In Her Own Company


I believe in believing in just a few, simple things. I believe that the beauty of believing is in your beliefs’ longevity and longsuffering and loyalty – that the greatest blessing is to live long enough, and open enough, to see your simple, few beliefs made real in the adventure of your life.

So, I have decided share my key beliefs with you.

[You will note that I have exerted much effort to avoid discussing many of my other, let’s say less-fundamental, beliefs with you. Sometime, it might be appropriate for us to discuss these. They include my unyielding belief that most people are doing the best that they can. That nothing is sexier than when a man stands up from the table when you come to the table and leave it. That refusing to ever say something about someone that you wouldn’t say in front of them is the highest form of living. That if you need to drink Coke with your bourbon, you’re not drinking proper bourbon, and that if you are drinking proper bourbon, it is a crime against humanity to drink it with anything other than ice. That it is not charity, but reward, to look for the goodness in others, because when you find it you can catch a glimpse of God. That people are unspeakably brave. That in this stormy, harrowing life – full of joy and miracles and suffering and nonsensical tragedy and struggles – maybe the key is not to decry the sun’s absence, but to cling gratefully to the few, rare souls who will stand in the rain with you for as long as it takes for the skies to clear. Perhaps we can discuss a little later.]

Mostly, though, I try to hold the idea that a few infallible beliefs are all we need, and exactly what we need, to sustain us and help us keep the most important things the only important things. So, these few beliefs are the center of me:


I believe in God and my family and the reality that you have to lose your life to find it.

And I believe that you have found your life when you find

A song that you can sing in your own company.


I believe in God and my family. I believe in God with the certainty that I believe that Sister loves me – even though you could never prove she does – because of the way she shows up, everyday, to save my life. I believe in God because he held me the morning I was curled up and broken on the couch on my porch – the morning I realized my dreams were crushed, every promise worth keeping was shattered, and the life, home and marriage I had built were gone. I believe in God because He stood watch at the bedside of my sorrow, nursed me to health, and restored me to a life that I could have not imagined before my suffering began. I believe in God because He is as present and real to me as the breeze that moves my hair and the leaves crunching under my feet – as He shows up, everyday, with a small miracle to let me know we’re boys, and where He wants us to take this adventuresome life. Just as some people pursue money because they have faith that it will afford them a life of security and comfort, peace and excitement, I pursue God because I can’t imagine a life more exciting, peaceful and adventuresome than the life we will have together. I believe in God because God shows up, everyday, to save my life.


I believe you have to lose your life to find it. I believe we spend a lot of our lives trying desperately to get what we don’t really need. And the trouble with that is we can never get enough of what we don’t really need – so we are constantly salivating and struggling but we remain hungry and empty. But when we finally break free from the belief that we need the things we don’t – when we give up on the standards of success and normalcy and progress that don’t come from within us but have been hoisted upon us – when we lose that life, we gain the possibility of living the life we were meant to live. “For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36.


I believe that you have found your life when you find a decent melody; a song that you can sing in your own company. Ernest Becker wrote: “Most of our life is in large part a rationalization of our failure to find out who we really are, what our basic strength is, what thing it is that we were meant to work upon the world.” I think we learn our basic strength, that thing we were meant to work upon the world, when we find what breaks our heart. Or when we find what makes our heart hum. Or when we identify something that energizes and inspires us more than anything else on the planet. When we find that thing, that when we look upon it, we recognize ourselves.

You know that certain, specific feeling you have when you are somewhere new and strange and alone and you scan the room frantically for some familiar anything, and your anxious eyes suddenly rest on a smile you know and the foreign place is suddenly home, and a wave of warmth and comfort sweep over you? Just as our eyes scan for recognition of home in a strange place, I think our hearts do the same thing in this confusing world, overcrowded with so much that we don’t recognize in ourselves. And for each of us, there is a unique place where our heart’s gaze rests, and it is home – because it breaks our heart, or because it makes every fiber resonate with the joy of recognizing ourselves. Where our heart’s gaze rests, this is the thing that reveals the unedited version of ourselves – the raw, one-of-a-kind dreams and desires and passions that compose our souls.

I believe that we all crave to know and to respond to this thing – this thing where our heart’s gaze alone rests. To listen to this still small voice that whispers: I know the puzzle of your heart, and this is the piece that is your fit; this is the melody that is more beautiful to you than anyone else in the world. This is the song that you would sing over and over in your own company, if you never had to worry about what anyone else wanted to hear.


My dear friend Joanna is never more herself than when she is painting something that only exists in her exquisite brain, and because she is brave enough to create, the world sees colors and forms that would have never exist without her. The world needs Joanna’s thing.


My dear friend Allison was specifically crafted to be a friend. She will stand by her friends through anything – even when they are wrong, even when she shouldn’t – and she does it with every possible means of avoiding credit. Allison doesn’t feel her friends’ pain. She feels the pain her friends feel as if it were happening to her – because it is. I am convinced that Allison would rather burn up with me than leave me in a fire of my own making. The world, I, need Allison’s thing.


My dear friend Bill’s mind was made to mesmerize on Renaissance literature – he is brilliant at that thing – and students of the discipline for years to come will read his scholarship, and be fascinated and energized and full. The world needs Bill’s thing.


A beautiful, strong woman I know, Karishma, after attending elite undergraduate and law schools, left her fancy law firm job to become a Yoga instructor. I can only imagine she made this leap because practicing yoga makes her feel whole and integrated and calm and strong. And now she is delivering to stressed-out New Yorkers a place of tranquility and empowerment. The world needs Karishma’s thing.


I have a dear friend in New York, Michael, who loves to analyze stocks. He worked and prayed for years to land the position he is in now, projecting the viability and profitability of stocks. He is very happy, and he is helping lots of investors who don’t have his gift. The world needs Michael’s thing.


I met a woman last week – brilliant and beautiful – who wanted more than anything to use her law and business degrees to empower people to obtain better health care, but she had no idea whether this was possible or where to start. The world needs Kelly’s thing.


The world needs each of our things – each of our things we were meant to work upon the world. And each monkee deserves to walk this world to the hum of a decent melody – even if it sounds decent to her alone.

What’s your thing?