Jan 012013
 

 

This picture was taken at the kids’ holiday concert.

I was mesmerized throughout the whole show – I always am when I watch teachers make dozens of kids sit, pay attention, follow complicated instructions and incidentally, create something beautiful. Why do we not give teachers awards? Those things they create…the skits, the dances, the songs? Teachers are magicians. They spend their lives and days creating the beautiful moment of glory for us at the end. The show. And in the end, the end isn’t what matters at all. We parents sit and we clap – knowing that the performance isn’t even the good stuff.  The good stuff is the hours of practice and focus and togetherness and patience and teamwork and discipline and joy that went into the preparation.  The good stuff is the time in the classroom that changed our children from the folks we dropped off in the fall to the just- a-little-bit- better folks we see standing in front of us at The Show.

We should recast The Oscars this year. The actors should sit out for the night and the 2013 Oscars should be an evening to celebrate teachers. We should sit at home at our Oscar parties and watch classroom highlights. We should witness some of the sweat and time and love that teachers all over the country pour into each precious little one while no one is watching. We should witness the moment where a child learns to read for the first time – next to the teacher who has pointed to the same letters for days, weeks, months – alone with that one child and her relentless hope for him. We should look at that huge golden screen on stage and watch the Shy Child join into the jump rope game for the first time. We should sit on the edge of our seats while we watch her gather all of her courage and pour every drop into that one sentence she’s been practicing with her teacher before recess every afternoon.

“Can I play, too?”

Then the excruciating pause. The whole country holds its breath.

“Sure,” the other girls say. “Jump in.”

They’ve been coached too, of course. By this teacher. By this conductor of hope.

Shy child looks over at her teacher with bright, terrified eyes. Hope is so terrifying. Teacher flashes her a thumbs up and a teary smile. “JUMP IN!” she calls silently with her eyes. Shy Child jumps in. Permanently.

Oscar worthy.

Who’s the boss of the Oscars? I’m going to write to her.

Back to the holiday concert. I sat and watched the children and the parents watching their children with their cameras and pride and babies all bundled around them and tried to contain my love for them inside my body. Containment is impossible for me at moments like these. At moments like these, my love is too big and so it sneaks out, through runaway tears and sighs and stifled cries and way too loud cheers and whoops and hollers which forever embarrass my son and husband. Children making music together. Who can stand it? It’s too much to be handled gracefully. Love and hope and joy escape. Can’t be contained inside bodies. Shouldn’t be.

In between songs, I noticed a mama in front of me on the bleachers struggling with her toddler. Little One was squirming and yelling and I wondered if she was having the same joy-containment problem that I was. I smiled at her and we played peekaboo for a while. Stressed Mama glanced back at me gratefully. Then I looked over and the mother beside me rolled her eyes my way. She was mad. I could feel her panic. Oh my God this baby is going to ruin my baby’s moment. Can’t I just have one moment of peace?? Just one perfect morning? It’s always something. Damnit, it’s always something. I understood Mad Mama. I feel that way daily. Because: No, you can’t. You cannot have perfect peace. No one can. We’d be less exhausted and angry if we’d accept it. But we can’t. Nope. Not me anyway.

I saw Stressed Mama notice Mad Mama’s annoyance. I ignored Craig’s: “Oh God, Glennon, just stay out of it this once” look, which he has mastered despite its absolute ineffectiveness. I looked into Mad Mama’s rolly eyes, gestured toward Little One and said, “Do you remember those days? I sure do.” Then I leaned into Stressed Mama’s ear and said, “Don’t worry about your beautiful baby. She’s fine. Look, they’re about to start singing again. The music is always louder than the crying.”

Then I settled back into the bleachers. And I tasted that last sentence in my mouth.

The music is always louder than the crying.

I turned it over and let it run on repeat through my head and heart and through my veins again and again. It rang true. It was a gift to me, that sentence. My gifts usually come from above in the form of beautiful sentences.

The music started and I watched Little One. She was still squirming. Still babbling away. But I couldn’t hear it. Not really. The singing was too loud, too irresistible. It enveloped me. It does, if we let it.

For me, there has been a whole lot of crying this year.

A few months ago, God lifted the curtain and it became clear that what I thought was my real life was actually a carefully rehearsed show. There were all kinds of artificial forces, namely fear and shame, pulling the strings back stage. They were making my precious cast dance and move and say things that weren’t real. That weren’t true to who they were. It wasn’t real, my life. That was a big fat shock. I looked behind me –at the messy, messy backstage and back towards the startled audience and said: “WHAT? My world is BUT A STAGE? I didn’t know.”

Everything disappeared. Everything.  It all just fell away. And for many, many weeks, each morning and night, it was me and God. Just us. People came. People helped, in the way people can help. But in the quiet it was just God and me. God must love me very much to want me alone so badly. We did good work in the quiet. God told me I had to wait. God promised me that all evidence to the contrary, I was safe. I heard that over and over again. You are safe. You have to wait. Time takes time. There is nothing harder than letting time take time without trying to fix a damn thing. There is nothing harder than making no decision. But that is what was required of me at the time. And I had excellent company with which to wait.

God waited with me. I trusted God and God trusted me. I did not lose my mind. I did not lose my faith. I just moved my faith. I took it back from the folks around me and from my ever changing  feelings and my fickle and broken heart and my bat shit crazy mind and Craig and my kids and my religion and everyone’s advice. I took my faith back from all those things and I gave it to time and quiet and breath and rest and water and God and fierce, jagged, solid love. Not the kind of love that hugs and smiles and giggles and bubbles and draws hearts. The kind of love that waits for things to become clearer.

In the end, this year was not about the end. It was not about the big performance, the reveal, the Christmas show, the happily ever after.  It was about the hours I spent with God. It was about the trust we built in each other. The time we passed together – the practice and focus and togetherness and teamwork and discipline and agony and relief. It was about how God dropped me off in 2012 and then visited my just-a-little-bit-better self this morning. This first morning of 2013.

In the end, this year was not about Craig and me at all. It was not about saving my family. This year was about learning that all evidence to the contrary, I am safe. This year was about proving that nothing, but nothing can separate me from the love of God.  Even if we die, we don’t die. If our dreams die or our bodies die or our beloved dies – We do not Die. I know this.

“In three words I can sum up all I know about life. It goes on.”  - Robert Frost

Life has gone on. And in the end, I have learned this: My peace is not dependent upon anyone else. Not anymore. My peace is God, and God is as close as my decision to sneak away for a moment and find quiet and find my breath and remember that the music is always louder than the crying.

 

It’s gonna be a fierce 2013.

 

 

 

Love you so.

G

 

 

Jan 072013
 

 

When Chase was in kindergarten, he wrote a really beautiful poem. He brought it home to me and I loved it and insisted he show his teacher. He resisted, but final agreed. He came home crying the next day and when I asked him what the fuss was about, he told me that he won a writing contest. I said wow, that’s awful. He said I know. Tragically, his prize was the opportunity to read his poem to the whole school at an evening assembly. Oh, I said. I see. He’s not the spotlight type, Chase. We used to have to exit birthday parties immediately upon sight of a piñata. Too much pressure. His first soccer game, I had to hold his hand throughout the entire game…on the field . . . while holding a nine month Tish in the other arm. Throughout the entire game, Chase dragged me back and forth across the field, screaming FASTER FASTER MOMMY! We’re never going to WIN!!!

You’re right, Chase. We are never going to win. That is true, I said. Craig, former professional soccer player and Chase’s coach that day was so proud.

So when Chase told me about the assembly,  I wondered why folks always decide that because people are decent at writing words, they must be decent at speaking them. Seems like two separate things. As a matter of fact, most writers start writing because they’re a little reclusive. A little piñata averse. A little hidey, maybe.

The night of the big assembly Chase cried all day. I told him that once we got to the school, he’d see his friends and relax. I lied. He did not relax. He wouldn’t walk up to the stage without me holding his hand and following him. Fine, I told myself. No biggie. Once he holds the mic, he’ll hit his stride. Wrong again, mama.

I situated Chase in front of the mic, smiled, and handed his poem to him. He immediately burst out crying again –  directly into the mic this time. Every time I tried to encourage him, he cried harder. The crowd did its best to look supportive, but you know, they were staring. It wasn’t their fault, that’s really the crowd’s job. So since I’m a good mom, I took the microphone and the poem and tried to read it for Chase. But here was the other problem:  In ridiculous, awful and important situations like these, I tend to involuntarily do what’s MOST inappropriate. Like I’m supposed to be helping my son, but all I can think about is….what if I grab this mic right now and scream VAGINA AND PENIS!! into it?

It’s like when you’re on a balcony and you think : What if I just jump? What if I do? Oh my God, I might! Why isn’t there anyone here to stop me??? TOO. MUCH. FREEDOM AND POWER!!  I am not wise or self- controlled enough for this precarious situation!! I’m NOT READY!

That’s what I’m thinking. On every balcony.

In church, too. It looks like I’m praying but I’m mostly wondering: what is the absolute most profane, awful thing I could scream into this sacred silence? Then I think of the thing. It’s always really, really bad. It’s always an awful thing. I immediately feel horribly guilty because I don’t know much about God, but I’m fairly certain he can see into folks brains, especially at church. So I try my very, very hardest to UNTHINK that awful thing. But then it becomes like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scene in Ghost Busters. I CAN’T unthink a thing. And this situation is so ridiculous that I always, always start laughing.  It’s that awful laugh…that  funeral laugh. That: Oh my god I canNOT be laughing right now laugh. My husband is glaring at me because I’m embarrassing the family again, and that is TOTALLY hysterical, of course. So now my shoulders are lurching up and down and tears are coming out of my eyes and I eventually have to excuse myself because there is no other way out.

This is what happened to me on stage.

Chase was hysterically crying and I was hysterically laughing. It was nerves. But it looked like I was laughing AT Chase. And the whole school audience was slack – jawed. Including Craig, whom I saw lower his video camera, dissociating with us officially. I finally pulled myself together enough to squeak out a couple lines from the poem. Then I grabbed Chase by the hand and pulled him off stage as quickly as I could without appearing to be both emotionally AND physically abusive. We both cried our way back to our seats. When we flopped back down, I noticed that Craig looked stunned. He stared straight ahead. He was speechless. He looked like he was trying to pretend to belong to the family on his other side.

Chase and I both wiped tears from our eyes. I looked down at Chase and he looked back up at me. He smiled through his tears and said, “Wow! We did GREAT, mom. That was awesome.”

“Um. Yes, yes we did, baby. Yes we did. We were the best.”

All of this is to say . . . I’m a little nervous about my book tour.

 

Happy Monday.

Love,

G

 

Jan 092013
 

 

So, as I wrote about on Monday, when I think about 2013 I sweat profusely and then end up in bed. I am a reckless truth teller and relentless hope spreader. I’ve found my fit with these jobs: I am finally what I wanted to be when I grow up. I also wanted to be calm, but that is not going to happen. There are some things we must let go. I am who I am already, I think. With room for growth.

But this year, due to forces beyond my control, I am not going to be just a writer but also a traveler and public speaker and dresser upper and people meeter and TV show guest and magazine poser. G rated magazines – please resume breathing. These things are going to happen. Hold.

I just crawled back under my covers. Really, I did. Here I am. Snuggly and safe. It’s okay. Breathe in, Glennon. Breathe out. Courage, Love. You can do this. What if we were made for such a time as this?

This is what’s going to happen this year. Lots of shiny stuff. (I’m going to try to mostly keep the blog and Facebook page un-shiny and real. US, not me. Upper Case Life here and Facebook, my lower case life over at Instagram. Follow me there if you like me details.)

This year I and Monkeedom will be OUT IN THE OPEN. There will be many more, quite public opportunities for success and failure. What if I don’t do well with these “fifteen minutes” the Universe has offered? What if I don’t handle it well? HOW does one handle it well? These questions keep gnawing on my brain.

Then this suggestion hit me last night. I wrote it on my mirror. It will be my mantra for 2013.

(Yes, I have blue fingernails, a rhinestone phone cover, and a very messy bathroom counter. Again, I yam what I yam.)

When my “fifteen minutes” are over, I want to look back and rest in the fact that I used it wisely. And here is how I think attention and praise are used wisely: when they’re given away. Catch it all, smile, and then throw it around.  Sprinkle what’s leftover to others. Because when you think about it, 15 minutes in the spotlight is sort of like the few years we’re given on this earth, right? What will we do with this one shot deal? As Mary Oliver wrote and my friend Kelle always asks herself: Self…

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?

I don’t know if I can control whether or not I do well, but I know I can do good. And I know that doing good is more important than doing well. Whether or not I do good matters to a whole lot of folks. Whether or not I do well only matters to me. I can get over myself pretty quickly.

So that, my friends, is how I am going to use this year. I am going to catch your love and then throw it around. I’ll keep a little for myself and then I’ll sprinkle the rest all over the freaking place like its fertilizer that’ll help things grow. Which it is, of course. Love is like Miracle-Gro.

 

I went to visit my publishing house in New York City last year. Scribner had a little (huge) surprise party for me there. I walked into a room and there were one million fancy people who all stopped what they were doing and looked at me expectantly. Sweat. I was supposed to speak – that was horrifying-ly clear. so first I spun around and curtsied. Tish did it at her ballet recital and I thought it looked pretty cool. Then I said what I’d needed to say to these folks for decades: thank you.

I said THANK YOU to book makers for creating the only legal escape and vice I’d ever discovered. I said thank you for healing me in ways that doctors and psychologists have never been able to and thank you for showing me to the world even though I’ve never traveled. I said thank you for introducing me to dreamers and geniuses and lost folks and found folks and for teaching me empathy and providing a cure for my loneliness and isolation. I said THANK YOU to the bookmakers…who provided me a safe place to hide for decades …and then, as if they hadn’t already done enough . . . provided me a place to come OUT of hiding . . . by offering a home for my first book.

I know I repeat this quote often…but one more time, with feeling . . .

The most revolutionary thing we can do is introduce people to each other. 

I can do that, through books. I can invite you to sit down with someone who is different from you but who is wonderful in her own way and might open your eyes and ears and heart a little wider. I’ve got wide eyes and wide ears and a wide heart and all five of them are gifts from writers.

Once a month, for the next however-long-I-can-stay-focused, I’ll be introducing you to a book and author I love. I’ll also be giving away a bunch of books. And often introducing you to the authors. They’re going to COME HERE. It’s going to be grand.

Some things to remember:

  1. They’re just books I’ve enjoyed. I’m not making any kind of cosmic statement about the world or my views of it or Monkeedom or religion or politics with my choices. I think we make a mistake when we reject books because their writers think a little differently than we do. Like people, every book has something to offer if we are ready to receive. We’re not trying to get everyone to think the same here, we’re just trying to get everyone to think . . . together and respectfully. I’m pretty sure that this long lost skill is the key to peace. So we have to practice.
  2. There are no strings attached. I don’t have any hidden agenda or deal with these other authors. We’re not trading attention. I just like them and I like you and since I can’t invite you to coffee…this is the next best thing.
  3. There are plenty of places on the world wide web to criticize the books I choose, but here isn’t one of them. These authors are like guests in my home.  Actually, none of them had the option of rejecting my invitation. So, I supposed they are sort of kidnapped hostages in my home. We will not kidnap folks, hold them hostage, and then talk smack about them. This is a community, but it’s also my second home. I almost always allow criticism of me here, but I won’t allow anyone to trash YOU or any of my guests. That’s my rule. When somebody has the courage to get naked on stage…we don’t have to love everything they say, but we’re not gonna be the one who yells BOO at them. Not the Monkees.
  4. No spoilers before we discuss the book together. Please. Pet peeve.
  5. Here’s how it will work. If you’d like the book, you will fill out a simple form. At the end of the week, I will use the random winner generator thing to choose winners. It won’t be first come, first served anymore. At the end of the week- I will send the books out. Everyone who entered will receive an email letting them know if they won or not. ***This time around . . . everyone is eligible to enter: folks who can’t afford the book and folks who can. Easy- peasy.

 

I’ve thought it through carefully and I can’t imagine that anyone would be unhappy with this plan. Except for the sweet older man behind the counter at my local post office. He is NOT happy with my spread-the-love-through-books mission. Not at all. When I showed up with my boxes full of Brene’s books, he scowled at me. I’ll work on him. He’ll be a Monkee in no time.

 

First book giveaway FRIDAY!!!!!!

Love,

G