Sep 292012
 

 

Happy Weekend, Monks!

 

Quick update this morning. Miraculously, during the past forty eight hours we have hooked up every single Monkee who made a request for The Language of Flowers with her own copy. A quarter of them will be sent out by me on Monday – copies provided by Ballantine, thank you Ballantine! The remaining three quarters will be sent by Monkees who wrote and asked to purchase and send copies to their Monkee sisters who couldn’t afford it this month.  This morning, when I looked at my list of addresses (that used to have HUNDREDS of names on it) I noticed that it’s been whittled down to twenty five. I have twenty four copies. So I am going to ask Vanessa so send one to the last Monkee on the list and we are going to call it a day. I have LOVED cutting and pasting and monkee matching and emailing for God, it’s been an HONOR, and now I’m done. No more requests, please! Love you so. Books should be received within the week.

Guess what? Vanessa just booked a flight to come see me so that we can do our book club meeting IN PERSON. We are going to STREAM it live if we can figure out what that means. It’s going to be awesome. November 8th is the book club meeting date. Finish the book the week before so you can send me questions to ask V!

 

Also, check this out. Craig Melton FINALLY gets a teeny bit of the attention and credit he’s deserved for so long. Thank you, Dadditudes!

Happy Saturday.

Take a Load Off, Warriors.

 

Love, G

 

Sep 272012
 

 Monks. Fall is our season of GIVING.  Don’t worry, that really means it’s our season of RECEIVING. That’s how it works. It’s all backwards and upside-down. I love fall. Let’s all fall into each other and then in the winter, relax hard.

I’d like to kick off our Monkee season of giving by offering you a gift. That gift is my beloved friend, soul sister, and fellow Monkee, Vanessa. She’s about to become your friend, too.

Here she is.

So pretty.

But wait, like each of us, she becomes more and more beautiful when you learn about her life.

Vanessa’s husband is PK, a high school principal turned grad student. PK and Vanessa have their wedding vows taped to their bedroom door and only have to remind each other about them “every week or so.”  PK and Vanessa have two biological children, Graciela -  6, and Miles – 5. They also have two foster children/ turned grown-ups –  Tre’von, 20, at NYU, and Donavan, 22, in Colorado training for the Olympics. Sharon – the devastatingly beautiful girl there on the right joined the family in her senior year of high school. She and Miles came to the family at the exact same time, so Vanessa always thought of them as “twins.” Sharon somehow passed on her talent and love for dancing to Miles, even though she was never able to teach him. Vanessa and PK supported Sharon through three years of  college and then she was killed by a truck while she waited by the side of the road. Just last week Miles told Vanessa out of the blue that Sharon “lives in his heart.”

Gracelia and Miles call Tre’von and Donavan their big brothers and Vanessa and PK love them like sons. When they went off to college Gracelia cried and announced:  I’M NEVER GOING TO COLLEGE BECAUSE WHEN YOU GO TO COLLEGE YOU DON’T COME BACK.  Vanessa says they are all missing Tre’von and Donavan terribly and that the house feels quiet (and doesn’t smell like Axe) with them gone.

It’s just a teeny glimpse into Vanessa’s life, but I hope it gives you an idea of what kind of woman I’m introducing to you today. She has been through hell, she has opened her heart to all kinds of danger and pain and unknown, and she has done what Mother Teresa suggested will save the world – she has widened and stretched and recreated the definition of “family.” Vanessa believes we are all family, and that all children are hers. I love Vanessa and I trust her. I’m trusting her with you- so you know how deep that trust runs.

Vanessa’s family has had some amazing experiences in the brutiful foster care system. They have been especially moved by the kids who “age out” of the system at eighteen and are virtually placed on the streets without resources, plans, or guidance. Without any support net. Nothing, just on their own. Right here, in this country. Many of them end up in jail, or homeless. There but for the grace of God and lots of helping hands go I.

Vanessa decided to turn all of the brutiful stories she’d lived and seen into A Story. Into one of my favorite stories ever: The Language of Flowers.  I won’t give away much, because it’s a journey each of you need to take on your own, I’ll just say that it’s the story of a girl named Victoria who has aged out of the foster system, and how she finds her way.

My favorite stories are always about women finding their way.

Turns out The Language of Flowers is a HECK of a lot of folks’ favorite story, because Vanessa’s story is now an International Best Seller, (on the list in America for 19 weeks!) has been translated into forty –one languages, and is now being made into a BIG, BIG, BIG time movie.

Also: The Language of Flowers is our new Monkee Book Club Book!!!!!

Here’s what the book looks like. I was sitting behind this lady on a plane recently and watched her pull out Vanessa’s book. I leaped up, tapped her on the shoulder and said, “Oh my Gosh! My best friend wrote that book! (I tend to exaggerate about my relationships.) Can I take a picture of you reading it????”  The lady looked at me very wary.  Then she looked over at her husband and said, “Uuum, maybe you could just shoot the book and not me?”  “Okay,” I said.

Warning- we are swerving off point for a moment.

I just think sometimes people need to be a little more excitable. I mean, my friend wrote that whole book with her own brain and heart!!! And Plane Lady, you are reading it and right at this very moment falling in love with the Victoria that Vanessa CREATED! And you and Vanesssa don’t even KNOW each other but you are sort of having this intimate meeting of the minds without even being in the same STATE! You are in the AIR, actually! And now I’M here behind you thinking about how you and Vanessa and Victoria are all connecting MAGICALLY!! This is EXCITING, LADY!! Books are MAGIC!!!

Anyway- Chase agreed that it was exciting and that books are, in fact, magic – but he told me to get my picture taken and sit back down right away. He usually knows best, so I did. And soon I had to stop taking pictures of random people reading The Language of Flowers and sending them to Vanessa because I started noticing that EVERYONE was reading the book and I was running out of batteries. Also, as Craig pointed out one day, “Vanessa probably already knows what her book looks like.”

Swerving back to the point.

As always, if you don’t have the money to buy this book- please email me and I will send you a free copy. Vanessa’s publisher graciously sent me several books just for this purpose. If you do not participate in this book club, please let it be for lack of interest or time, not for lack of money. Trust me, this book is TOO GOOD, TOO BRUTIFUL, TOO life-changing for that. Vanessa will join us online for our book club via Skype if I can ever learn how to use that crazy thing.

NOW.

Here’s the thing.

Vanessa might seem a little “different” because of all of those fancy things I just mentioned. But she’s just one of us. She’s a Monkee and she meets us here every day, and she prays for your kids when she reads about their struggles and she laughs at your comments and she cries for and with you.

Vanessa’s just a mama. Doin’ her thing. Turning her life into art and then turning her ART INTO SERVICE.

AH. AHHHHHH. Life- Art – Service. Sound familiar, Monks???  Here goes. There’s more. THERE’S MORE!!!!

We get to read the book and then we get to MAKE A DIFFERENCE for foster kids. We get to join Vanessa and her partner, Isis, as they help American kids aging out of the foster system step out onto level ground with their heads held high.

PLEASE WATCH THIS.

And then CHECK THIS OUT.

Please. Four minutes. You’ll get the chilly bumps and you’ll be AWAKENED.

In Vanessa’s words:

“We are just getting started, but already amazing things are happening.  A man in New York who runs a mediation firm just offered up a full time job with benefits AND will pay for a youth’s schooling.  He said he’d always wanted to do something for a young person in foster care but he didn’t know what to do.  See!  That is exactly what we thought!  People are generous and big hearted and GET that these are OUR kids.  They just need to know how they can help.  We are trying to create a way for every single person to be able to give what they can give (money, encouragement, opportunities) and make it safe and easy to do so.  We believe that when kids feel supported and can access opportunities, lives will change.”

 So here is what Monkees can do:

SIGN UP.  Join the movement and create a profile page.  Check out my profile here: and make yours here. IMPORTANT: when they ask you what you are known for, say being a monkee! Here’s Glennon’s profile!

BUY STUFF.  Kids are registered for what they need: computers for college, furniture for their first apartment, a crib for a new baby.  It’s like going to a baby shower for someone you don’t know, but who really, really deserves to be supported –  just like all the kids you do know.  Buy them a crib, sheets and towels, diapers.  Make it a little easier, and let them know someone cares about them. Buy, buy, buy. Meet our youth here

 SEND LOVE.  Leave messages of encouragement for kids.  You are a Monkee.  You know what it is like to get a message from someone you don’t even know that radiates love and belief. It helps.  A lot.  The internet is full of social networks but this one is safe, monitored, and specifically designed to create a place where young people can be loved and supported. 

 OFFER UP AN OPPORTUNITY.  Remember your first summer home from college, when your mom called her friend who called her friend and you got that awesome summer internship at city hall?  Let’s be those moms and mom’s friends for these kids—let’s seek out opportunities and connect young people to them. 

Thank You, Monkees, Thank You!

Love, Vanesssa and Isis

Check it all out, Monkees. Check out the you tube videos, the Camellia website, the kids, your heart. Buy the book please, and if you can’t- let me know. Fall in love with Victoria, Vanessa, and Isis and let them guide you into a deeper understanding of what’s going on with these kids, right here, right now. These are our kids. Ours.

It’s so simple. We can make such a big difference. Such a HUGE difference in this country just one teeny act of love at a time.

ALL GOD’S CHILDREN ARE OUR CHILDREN. THIS WE KNOW.

We belong to each other.

Love, G and V and I

Sep 242012
 

I have been intensely, self-indulgently, a-little-bit insanely cranky for the past few days. I feel like a powder keg, giving off sparks. Everything seems like an overwhelming project or problem. I can’t really TELL you about any of these overwhelming projects or problems because spoken aloud, they each seem (are) insignificant and small. But trust me, I feel ICK. And when I feel ICK for a couple days, I start to decide that my life sucks, in one huge way or another and that I need a HUGE change of some sort. Then, usually, on the third day, I wake up with forty zits. And I go…..hm. Crap. Maybe it’s this:

Mona Lisa Smiles (one of Momastery’s first posts)

This morning, stuck home alone with my children, I had the following epiphanies:

-My husband hates me and our kids. When he called yesterday to say good night to us from his “layover in Atlanta”, he was actually sipping his fifth margarita at a resort in the Keys, where husbands really go when they say they’re on business trips.

-My house is filthy, and too small to exist in. Too small to breathe in with all of these high pitched voices and dolls and teeny shoes. I am not a home-owner, I am a half-home owner. I accidentally purchased half a home, which is perfect since it’s worth half of what I paid for it. Where is the other half of my house?

-My son will be in therapy soon for co-dependence. He keeps nervously telling me I am “the best mommy in the world,” which is his effort to keep us all on this side of social services when he rightly senses I’m teetering on the edge.

-Tish will join him in therapy to deal with her neglect issues. This morning when she fell down and cried for the fourth time in an hour, I left her there crying, without even turning my head. I’m sorry, but somebody’s got to start sucking it up around here.

-My parents definitely like my sister more. Which is understandable, but still. Rude.

-My hair is horrible. And I am too short, and ugly, like a gnome. And on the day I die the undertaker will have to use concealer on my wrinkly 80 year old chin because I still will not have grown out of my acne.

-I have far too many children. Every time one of them says “Mom,” I bristle like it’s an act of aggression. One or two will have to go. In an effort to avoid playing favorites, I will get rid of the next two who ask for water. I am done getting water. Forever.

UGH. And one more gloomy, lifeless, miserable UGH for good measure. actually, I’m too blah for capital letters today. so… ugh, instead.

At one point this morning, as I stared at the wall and wondered how I hadn’t noticed before that my life was spiraling into this black hole of despair and drudgery, I was brought back to my surroundings by a sharp cramp in my side.Then another, and then finally the big epiphany…OH. OOOOOOOOOOOOOH.

I got my period for the first time when I was 12, which means that it caught me completely off guard for the 250th time this morning. Why don’t I ever see it coming? Why aren’t I ever prepared for the viciousness of it?

After breakfast when the kids and I were playing Chutes and Ladders …the game that makes me grateful we don’t have guns in the house, for fear that I might use one on myself if I land on that long freaking slide one more time…I heard an interesting news report on the radio.

Apparently, a woman walked into the Louvre today and threw a mug of coffee at the Mona Lisa. She was immediately arrested and the commentator described it as an “unforgivable” act by a woman who was clearly “not well.” But I immediately understood this woman, and I smiled for the first time all day. In fact, I had half a mind to walk out my half a house and put some bail money in the mailbox.

Maybe the poor woman just woke up on the wrong side of the month this morning. Maybe she walked into the Louvre and saw that smug Mona Lisa hanging there with that composed, unruffled, amused smirk that she wears everyday regardless of the time of the month, and the woman had her own epiphany: Mona Lisa’s going down.

I, for one, stand in solidarity with this woman. As a matter of fact, when the kids go down for their naps, I will go outside and spit my Diet Coke in Mona Lisa’s general direction. Take THAT, Mona Lisa.

ugh.