Feb 012010
 


You guys, I had an amazing weekend.

Not much happened on the outside, but lots happened on the inside.

My college boyfriend once told me that I had the “lowest self esteem and biggest ego” of anyone he’d ever met. That was not nice, but at the time, it was true. I have long suspected that my only real problem is my personality…my reactions to things. Things usually go okay for me when people are telling me I’m wonderful. But when someone criticizes me or refuses to find me fascinating, I tend to cry and get angry and decide that the other person is crazy. I tend to write them off. I used to say that I did this because my feelings were hurt, but lately I’ve suspected that it has less to do with hurt feelings and more with bruised ego.

Right now, what I want most in life, and one of my reasons for facilitating this blog, is to crush my ego. My ego causes suffering for me and others, and it encourages me to believe that we are separate from each other and that I am either inferior or superior to others. It hinders my growth because it keeps me from learning from other people. It keeps me from loving others well. Ego, in personal relationships and out in the world, stands in the way of peace. Jesus, Ekhart Tolle, and that college boyfriend taught me this. My college boyfriend also taught me how to do keg stands and roll joints. These lessons were exciting at the time, but less helpful in the long run.

Anyway, that’s what Christianity is to me at this stage in my life. It’s an internal battle, with God’s help, to crush my ego. To become less of a jerk. To change the world by changing myself. To understand that all the change that needs to happen in the whole wide world starts right between my two ears and inside my heart. Like Confucious said, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Ask and you shall receive. I wanted help with ego crushing, and God offered me this blog. I get lots of praise and criticism in response to my writing. The praise is usually public and the criticism is usually private, because Monkees are kind. Praise and criticism both make it tough to keep the ego in check because praise makes the ego swell and criticism makes the ego fight. So it’s good to practice ego stillness in the face of both. Bubba always tells me “G, you’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are.” This is an important reminder because depending on the time of day, I am either positive that the UN will call soliciting my help with peace talks OR that you are all meeting to discuss how my writing has really gone downhill lately.

Last week was an opportunity for ego stillness and reflection. Bonzo didn’t like the Picnic Blanket post. She said that the post may have oversimplified things and excluded people. I DID NOT get it. For 24 hours I whined to myself, Craig and Sister. They nodded and hugged me and said all the right things, but there was still a little voice inside responding annoyingly to all of my self indulgent complaints.

But I work so haaaard.

Noone is making you.

But im just misunderstooooooooood.

First try to understand.

But it’s MY BLOG.

You said it was everybody’s blog.

BUT THEY ARE CALLING ME OUT.

You said they should.

But im tired. Ill just quit, im gonna quit.

Kay.

This is too hard.

Peace is hard. You can do hard things.

You guys, if this annoying little voice is not God, WHO IS IT??? If it’s not God, I would really be interesting in asking it to STEP OFF. It kills my buzz at every pity party I throw for myself.

But the truth is that I do believe that voice is God. Or Bubba and Tisha maybe. So I begged myself not to write Bonzo off. I begged myself, for the good of Monkeekind to stay open hearted. I asked God to help control my ego and help me understand Bonzo’s argument, knowing that her voice likely represented many Monkee voices. I felt God saying…Stay with this. This is important to Momastery. Don’t focus so much on the messenger that you miss the message. Look for the truth. You might both be right. Things are not as they appear, nor are they otherwise.

It wasn’t working. I felt tired.

Saturday night we had a dance party in the family room. I was singing Man in the Mirror and trying to moonwalk when this line hit me hard “when you close your heart, then you close your, YOUR MIND. SHAMON!”

It must have been the SHAMON that put me over the edge. Because I told Craig I had to go and I ran into my room and sat on my bed and ALL OF A SUDDEN I GOT IT. It hit me that since I was closing my heart to Bonzo, my mind was closing too. And that scared me. To a human being, a closed mind is the KISS OF DEATH. Anything but that. I thought of Mark Twain’s quote, “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just aint so.” And as I lay there, I understood what Bonzo was trying to tell me…as clearly as if God had placed the Cliff Notes in my lap.

The problem with the Picnic Blanket post was not that I talked about Jesus and the Bible. The problem was that I made a general Monkee call to action and only put that call in the context of Jesus and the Bible. That doesn’t make any sense, actually. That would be like Amnesty International asking the whole world to help in Haiti and citing the US constitution as the reason they all should help. In this special place, where people of all different faiths live, if a Monkee is going to make a general call to action, she needs to base it on common Monkee values.

We talk so much about our differences on Momastery but the paradox and beautiful mystery of us is that the more we reveal our differences, the more we discover that there is something important and basic about our hearts that is the same. Like Brooks’ Guru said, “one truth, many paths.”

That one truth seems to be a general belief that we should take care of ourselves, each other, and people who need help. And we should be humble and forgiving. In a general call to action (and there will be those here) Monkees should stick to that platform.

I must tell you that this revelation caused me GREAT JOY AND PEACE. When I came back out of my room and rejoined the dance party, I re-played Man in the Mirror over and over and cried and danced with abandon and grabbed my crotch and shimmied around wildly and I FELT that song like I’d never felt it before. The children were thrilled with my display. Craig stared. I tried to explain that I had just fought a WAR FOR PEACE in my heart and I WON. It felt AMAZING. I fought my ego and I WON. Let peace begin with me. I get it. The battle for peace is fought inside, with one’s self, with one’s own ego. Fight the internal war long enough and you avoid fighting externally.

This is all to say…Bonzo was RIGHT! The dirty heathen was RIGHT! And so were all of you who supported me by commenting lovingly, praying for my heart, and encouraging me to keep the faith and be true to myself. Your support kept me from shutting down. We can do hard things guys, we made it. And we are better for it.

So here are my takeaways from this magical, exhausting weekend.

….I will write about my homeboy Jesus as much as my faithful little heart desires. You will have to decide what to take and what to leave. I encourage you to say what you need to say, and you need to grant me the same privilege. But in general calls to action, I will call upon our general Monkee values.

….I invite each of you who have different or similar viewpoints about faith to share them. You don’t need a personal invitation to write a guest post. Type it on up and send it my way. Just keep in mind that here, when we share our faith, we don’t share it like we’re in a courtroom. We share it, as Rob Bell says, like we’re showing a picture of a loved one to another loved one. We don’t attack other’s ideas. We just tell about our own.

…I hereby recant my previous no unsolicited advice on Momastery rule. Advice happens. Oh, well. Let’s all just agree that when we check the blog, we’re sort of soliciting.

…Lastly, I realized that the first two books I chose for Book Club were heavy on the J- man. Next pick will be a book to which all of Monkeekind can relate. Suggestions are welcome.


Most importantly, The TV Man is coming today. Hallelujah and Praise God and Jesus and Buddha and Vishnu and Allah and Darwin and Yahweh and Howard Zinn. My Monkee brain needs a break. What’s on tonight?

Love you.



Feb 022010
 


Have I mentioned yet that my husband is a model? He works for a few different agencies and does lots of print work and now that you know, you will probably notice him around here and there.

Craig never tells anyone about his modeling career. He is very shy about it. His friends tease him a lot and so do mine. My extended family is merciless, especially my Uncle Keith, whom you will be introduced to later in the week. Perhaps a better wife would be sensitive to her husband and refrain from writing about things that embarrass him. But it seems to me that there are many acceptable reasons for embarrassment, and being incredibly good looking just doesn’t make the cut. So sorry, Husband. Please consider this post to be an opportunity for character building. Sort of like your marriage to me.

I had a very dramatic pregnancy with Chase. In addition to the whole immaculate conception thing, which was REALLY hard for me to explain to skeptical people over and over…our doctor found a bright spot on Chase’s heart and a cyst in his brain at our first sonogram. These two markers, along with some other factors, led the doctors to believe that Chase had an increased risk for many serious health issues. We had appointments with specialists every week, and we researched and prayed and worried. It was quite a stressful roller coaster for two kids trying to get to know each other. It was like marriage boot camp. Craig and I learned early and fast how to depend on one another, and how to be dependable. We learned that in a marriage, you never crumble at the same time. You wait your turn. And we learned that when it gets really dark you just pretend you can see, or you sit quietly and hold hands until the light returns. It always does, eventually. During that time Craig and I learned that we could do hard things. It turned out to be a hell of a way to start a marriage, actually.

When I was seven months pregnant with Chase, he stopped moving completely. He didn’t move for 24 hours. I was teaching at the time, and during my lunch break I ate a candy bar and lay down, sure that the blast of sugar would get him going. It didn’t. I became terrified and called the doctor, who told me to get myself to her office right away. I called Craig, but he was in a meeting and didn’t answer his phone. I drove to the doctor’s office by myself, and sat in the waiting room and cried. I thought for sure that the doctor would tell me Chase was gone. I wanted Craig really, really bad. I prayed “help help help help.”

The doctor called me back to the examining room and asked me to change into a robe. She laid me down on the table and strapped the monitor around my belly. She told me that she would need to monitor Chase for several minutes and then she’d come back and meet with me. She asked if I’d like a magazine to keep my mind occupied and I said yes, please. But I didn’t really want a magazine. I still just wanted Craig really, really bad.

The doctor handed me a magazine and patted my head which made me both comforted and afraid. Then she left the room. I opened up the magazine with very shaky hands, and this is what I saw.



That’s Craig. That’s my HUSBAND. POSING as a STROLLER VALET.

In an ad that he’d done a decade before, and that neither of us had ever seen.

And here’s what I felt God say to my heart in that cold room all by my lonesome.

Look, sister, it’s ok. Craig will be pushing a real stroller soon and your son will be inside it. And no, Craig won’t be wearing that ridiculous vest, promise. But stop with the Immaculate Conception story, honey. Nobody’s buying it.

Craig busted through the exam room door while I was still staring at his picture in the magazine. He had listened to my phone message and talked to the doctor. He appeared to be completely terrified.

As Craig grabbed my hand, I looked up at him, smiled, and told him not to worry… everything’s going to be all right, I said.




Feb 022010
 


As promised, today I’d like to introduce you to the first best friends Sister and I ever had, our cousins.



Meet Lindsay, who always looks like she just stepped out of a magazine. Her beauty is so dramatic that it almost feels like an act of aggression. She lives in Arizona and I’m pretty sure she runs the place. She and her b-fri Jonathan have hearts as big as their bar tabs. Just like her parents do, Lindsay takes special care of the littlest ones in our family. She makes them gifts and plays with them when no one else is watching. I always notice and appreciate her for that. My kids do, too. Children are good judges of character, and they’ll tell you that Lindsay is their favorite. This could be because Lindsay makes them practice saying “Lindsay is my favorite” over and over, but for whatever reason, they love her. I do, too.


Here is Allison. Allison stepped into a few big dreams this year. Her life love, Troy, who is definitely a Monkee at heart, asked her to marry him several months ago. They are planning their wedding, with the help of their little girl, Audrey. Allison and Audrey are living proof that biology is not necessary to motherhood. Allison has stepped into her role as a mother to Audrey with as much excitement and ease as I put on my yoga pants each day. It’s a miracle, really, their little family. They are going to take good care of each other, and I’m grateful. Thank you, Troy. We really like you. Although apparently not enough to take a picture of you. Sorry, buddy.


Meet Bill William Football. This is what he used to make us call him when he was little. Now he’s big, and kind and hilarious and a super star in our family. Bill is the younger brother of Lindsay and Allison. When he was smaller, Bill used to have an imaginary friend named Jake, whom Bill made us acknowledge and feed and play with. Now he has a realer, much more attractive friend named Erin. If you meet Erin, you will be tempted to put her in your pocket so you can pull her out when you get sad. Bill and Erin are both studying to be elementary school teachers. I feel happy for the world about that.

This is Lauren, our resident genius, with her boyfriend, Justin. Lauren takes after our grandfather and is studying to be a surgeon. She’s in podiatry school right now and while examining a cadaver, she identified a previously undiscovered condition, and she won awards for an article she published about it. Every once in awhile Lauren sends Sister and me doctory essays to “edit,” and we spend ten minutes trying to read all the six syllable words and then we give up and send it back with a smiley face and a GREAT JOB! So we feel partly responsible for Lauren’s medical success.


Sister and I used to call Kathleen, the best we’ve got. No offense to the rest of the cousins, but you know it’s true. Kathleen is smart and kind and has always been wise and mature far beyond her years. Which is why none of us really understood much of what she was talking about for a long while. But now we do, and she makes us so proud. If we had to send a representative of ourselves somewhere, we’d send Kat. Kathleen is interning with a non-profit this summer and I would vote her most likely to change the world.


Here is Sister and Colleen. Colleen is our baby, although she’ll probably be annoyed that I described her that way. Colleen is SASSY. She likes dancing and fashion and cheerleading … and just when you think you’ve got her pegged in a nice little high school category, you catch a glimpse of her report card on the fridge and notice that she has a 4.3 GPA and is taking classes like AP genetics. So I don’t know. That girl is something. Lauren, Kathleen, and Colleen are sisters, and best friends. Their mama raised them right.


Here is Christine, the only cousin I might describe as quiet. Which really just means that she is not constantly screaming, like the rest of us. She is elegant, that Christine. Actually she’s the only one of us whom I’d even consider describing as elegant. Christine is studying to be a pharmacist and I imagine she looks really hot in that white coat. I also imagine that being raised in our family encouraged her belief that prescription drugs can be very, very important. She is a good listener, which is hard to be in our family because of the unbelievable din. Christine is a gentle, bright soul.



Natalia is a singer and really, besides Lindsay, the only one of us who can really dance. Her mother and father are both career dancers, and they passed on their genius and gracefulness to Natalia. Natalia is a little fancier than the rest of us. Even her name is a little fancier. And she has the best laugh, for sure. I love trying to make Natalia laugh. She and her sweet and very tall husband, Chris, are expecting their first child in a few months. So our party next year will be plus one. We just found out that our plus one will be a little boy. Joy.



This is Frankie with his classy, beautiful girlfriend. I don’t know where to start with him. Frankie’s the biggest cousin, with the biggest heart. When Frankie sees me and his face lights up and he picks me up a little off the floor and keeps hugging me longer than he has to, it always makes me tear up. Frankie makes everyone feel special, like each of us is his favorite. Just like his daddy used to do. Frankie is just like his daddy, who is another post all together. I’ll get to Uncle Frank when I can figure out how to do justice to someone whose personality was larger than words


Here is Ali –the spiciest one we’ve got. If you’d like to know where Ali got her spice, please see this post about her mom, Judy. Ali is a hair stylist, so she always looks this cool. That’s her b-fri Josh. If you ever come visit us in Ohio, you’re gonna want to find a seat next to Ali so you can be sure to hear everything she says. You won’t be disappointed. Ali never disappoints.



And finally, here is my Caren. This picture was taken after Sister asked us to show her our “best sides” for a picture. I grew up a little bit in awe of Caren. A lot in awe, I guess. She was my brave pioneer, always experiencing life a few steps ahead of me. When we were little we spent hours in my grandma’s attic making up dances, and then held the whole family hostage watching us perform. I remember once performing “Like a Virgin” for all the aunts and uncles and my grandma and grandpa. That had to be a little awkward, but I don’t remember anybody letting on. As we got older, Caren taught me how to do my hair and make-up and even took me to high school with her once to teach me how to walk the halls and talk to boys. I never learned to do either one without terror, but she tried. Now we both have babies and husbands and we’re learning how to navigate those waters together, too. I wish everyone had a Caren of their very own. If you don’t, you can share mine, because she comments here almost everyday which fills my heart to bursting.



This is how every Kishman New Year’s Eve party ends. I know, weird, right? I’ll explain tomorrow.

Thank you for meeting my family. Wow, it means a whole lot to me.