Apr 022014
 

#CarryOnParents

As you know, this essay about Mrs. Pitt was shared 5 million times, and then the TODAY Show ran this segment:

Today Show with Mrs. Pitt

After all the LOVE HOOPLAH died down, I received hundreds of emails saying: “WOW! So, WHAT’S NEXT? The way this teacher identifies lonely kids is brilliant and beautiful! What does she do next? What does she do with that information to make a difference?”

GREAT QUESTION, I thought. So I made another appointment with Mrs. Pitt. “So what’s next, Mrs. Pitt?” I said.

And she said something like this: “I would never try to tell another teacher what’s next. This note card system is a paintbrush, and every teacher is an artist. Each teacher has to paint her own picture, because each child and family and administration and classroom and group of students and day is different. We all have different materials to work with. The note card system is just an instrument that each teacher uses to START creating community. Creativity is What’s Next.”

Mrs. Pitt is always saying smart things.

Teachers and parents are artists, for sure. There is no one size fits all formula for teaching kids to be KIND AND BRAVE or for encouraging COMMUNITY. Teaching and parenting are art.  But there are certainly many wonderful paintbrushes –  like the note card system -that in the artists hand would make painting easier and more precise.

I started  thinking about how I SEE all these awesome Kind and Brave ideas –  like the Buddy Bench and I think I’m GONNA USE THAT but since I’m a distractivist I forget and then the idea is just gone forever. And so I thought about how nice it would be to have all these paintbrushes in one place. Like a supply closet to help us turn messes- when our kids gets left out or there’s a new student whose being bullied- into something beautiful. I felt like we needed a place we could quickly turn to when we have extra time to prove to the kids in our life that We Belong To Each Other. That KIND AND BRAVE ARE WHERE IT’S AT.

But then I thought – wait a minute- this “treasure trove of good ideas in one place” I’m inventing sounds familiar. Wait.  PINTEREST!  This is where people go to collect creative ideas! CRAP. Never mind. Pinterest stresses me out.  But then one day Parents Magazine reached out to me about doing a project together. And it clicked: Parents Magazine knows all about Pinterest. MAYBE PARENTS COULD HELP ME MAKE A TREASURE TROVE OF KIND/BRAVE COMMUNITY BUILDING IDEAS FOR WARRIOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS!

And Parents said: YES! We’d LOVE TO HELP YOU WITH THAT! BA- BAM!

So that is what we get to do together this month. Let’s collect GOOD together. Come visit the Parents’ Pinterest page and our Pinterest page. We’ll be sharing some Parents.com articles throughout the month and well as gathering your ideas. On our CarryOnParents board, we’ll be repinning all of the ideas, images, and resources you add to this project. Just share your Pinterest pins and tweets with #CarryOnParents and we will repin. Leave ideas, resources, and links in the comments below and we’ll add those to our board as well. Together, we will create a collection of ways to foster Kind & Brave in our homes, schools and communities. Come to the page and look at what we have so far and add your ideas. And check out this page, where we’ll be repinning your ideas!  Together, we will create a collection of ways to foster Kind & Brave in our homes, schools and communities. Good stuff, right?

LOOK AT ME!! I’m PINNNNNNING!! I’m PINNING. I would do anything for love, people.


PS. UPDATE:

Award for Mrs. Pitt

A very special local organization saw the Today show segment about Mrs. Pitt’s brutiful classroom system that helps her locate lonely kids.They chose her as the winner of their annual “Stand Up for Justice” award. Mrs. Pitt asked me to come to the ceremony to introduce her. Last night  was the night. Chase came with me. I’ve made it through 7 million speeches this year without crying- but let’s just say that the streak is over.

Mar 312014
 

Come Alive

 I went to school for Tish’s conference this morning. All is well enough. She’s doing fine- especially in her own estimation.

tish i am good

As we were waiting in the hall, I saw this art work on the wall. Tish explained that the assignment was to write about their biggest, boldest dream.

You guys- I only had time to get three pictures, but over and over- again and again and again- I read:

“My dream is for my family to be happy.”

family happy 1

My dream is for my family to be happy.

family happy 2

famiy happy 3

Tish’s  poster wasn’t done yet. I asked what her dream was and she said: “To be Taylor Swift and for my mommy to be happy.”

Oh, I said.

Then she added: “Everyone at my table wrote ‘I want my mommy to be happy!’”

Oh, I said again.

You guys. They want us to be happy.

They’re not saying:

My dream is for my mom to be perfect.

Or my dream is for my mom to be thinner or better looking.

Or cooler.

Or have more friends.

Or have better things.

Or to have had a prettier past.

Or have a cleaner, bigger, nicer house.

Or be richer.

Or be divorced or reunited.

Or work less or more or outside the home or inside the home or part time or whatehaveyou.

None of that.

Just:

My dream is for my family and my mommy to be happy.

Holy crap, you guys. We’ve got to get our joy back. We think it’s love to allow our roles –mother, wife, volunteer, career woman – to consume us like a fire until we can’t even be seen anymore – but that’s not love. I think our kids want to really see us. They want us to leave a part of ourselves unconsumed so they can see us. I think our kids want to see us come alive sometimes. Our kids never asked for martyrs.  It is not love to allow yourself – your spirit – to be buried and then fade away.

At first- these thoughts stressed me out this morning because I am passionate and I am kind and sometimes I’m ecstatic and I can usually find gratitude but I’m not “happy.” I’m intense and up and down and I get depressed and anxious and my anxiety makes me hard to be around sometimes. Because I’m impatient and snappy. I snap at people I love all the time and that makes me feel bad about myself. I want to be zen. I am so not zen. Whatever zen is- I’m the opposite of it.

But you know what- none of those papers said that “My dream is for my mom to stop snapping.” None said “I wish my mom would stop being so anxious and just relax and be more like Jesus or Buddha.” Their dreams were less about us in relationship to THEM and more about what they really want for US. As PEOPLE. They want us to be happy. Because they love US. And because they know, likely, that they are supposed to learn how to be happy during this brutiful life from us. And so if we’re slugging our way through life without joy- they are probably thinking- deep down- if she can’t pull some joy out of life- how will I?

And so those posters served as some SMELLING SALTS for me this morning. They woke me up.

And I thought: WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY? What is one thing that I could do today that has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ROLES I PLAY and just FEEDS MY SOUL?

Because that’s important. It is important to feed my body, mind and soul every day. If we are going to ask for our daily bread- we’ve got to take the time to receive it and eat it. God provides –but we’ve got to slow down long enough to TASTE AND SEE. And we cannot say that our list of things to do is too long to slow down and feed ourselves. Because there are URGENT things and there are IMPORTANT things – and no matter how much URGENT there is – we must fit a few TRULY IMPORTANT things into our day or the URGENT things will consume us every day forever and ever ’till we die. We feed ourselves or we die. It’s inconvenient- especially in a culture that worships productivity and efficiency and busyness for busyness’ sake- but it’s THE TRUTH. We eat or we die.

WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE? WHO ARE YOU BENEATH ALL OF YOUR ROLES? HOW DO YOU FEED YOURSELF?

Listen. This is a thing. We are going to figure this out together. If joy is so far out of reach that you don’t even remember what the word means- let’s talk about getting to a doctor. That’s step one.

If you can’t remember how to feed yourself but you remember what joy is: BE STILL. YOU HAVE TO GET STILL BEFORE YOU CAN REALLY GET UP. GOD MADE EVERYTHING WONDERFUL AND CREATIVE AND BEAUTIFUL OUT OF NOTHINGNESS- STILLNESS AND GOD STILL DOES. So find some quiet. 10 – 5 minutes a day. Try this- Travis sent it to us last night:

1) Prepare to pray the Psalm in 5 consecutively diminishing sentences.
2) Either aloud or quietly to yourself, say the words, “Be still and know that I am God”
3) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still and know that I am.”
4) After a couple deep breaths, pray “Be still and know.”
5) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be still.”
6) After a couple deep breaths, pray, “Be.”
7) When ready, pray, “Amen.”

READ THIS:

“When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately, the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.” – Mark 5

AH! 12 years old. That’s when it happens. That’s when we start looking to find our joy in other’s expectations and boys and magazines and cigarettes and food and we start getting buried. Go back. Before you were 12. What did you love?

MY FRIEND: YOU ARE NOT DEAD. YOU ARE JUST ASLEEP. YOU JUST NEED TO GET UP AND EAT.

LITTLE GIRL, GET UP!

GET UP AND EAT!!!!

Mar 272014
 

Zach Attack

UPDATED!

*** April 24 Update:  We just learned that Zach’s Warrior Mama Rachele is flying in from Minnesota to celebrate our Mother’s Day Zach Attack with Us at our May 4th event in Herndon, Virginia!!  Come to the event if you can — I will be speaking and signing books — and together, we will put together the Zach Attack Love Offerings to send to the places you nominated.  It will be Brutiful.  

Thanks to your generosity, we already have 713 packages to send!  Let’s try to get 287 more so we can send 1,000 Warrior Mama Zach Attack Love Offerings!  So, come if you can! Register here and consider donating an additional Zack Attack package.  If you can’t come to the event, but would like to donate a Zach Attack package for $15, you can do that here.  Thank you and so, so much love and gratitude for the Warrior Mama net you are building.***

ORIGINAL POST:

Five weeks ago, I received an email from a Mama Warrior named Rachele, who explained that twelve years ago she was blessed with the most magnificent son on the planet, Zach.

Rachele described Zach’s ten-year fight for life and how he died at age 12, almost one year ago, on Mother’s Day weekend.

I have met enough bereaved mothers to know that a mama never truly lets her baby die – and Rachele is no exception. Rachele decided to channel all the energy of her rage and pain and grief about Zach’s death into love and light in honor of Zach’s life. In honor of her son, she and her tribe perform “Zach Attacks” – love projects that spread wide and deep the love that Zach brought to the world while he was here. Over Christmas, the Zach Attack team bought holiday gifts for families on two floors of a local Children’s Hospital; and they regularly “Zach Attack” random strangers in coffee lines and grocery stores:

This Mother’s Day will mark the first anniversary of  Zach’s passing.  Rachele says: “I didn’t understand why Zach had to die on Mother’s Day. Why every year I would have to remember that I lost the best kid in the whole, wide world on the day that I was supposed to be showered by love and flowers and brunches and homemade gifts that the kids made in school. Instead I would re-live over and over the day that my heart was ripped away from me.”  But then, Rachele says, she thought, “maybe I lost Zach on Mother’s Day weekend for a reason. Maybe because I get to remember every Mother’s Day that I was a mom to an amazing kid, but maybe it’s also so I can remember all the other moms that need a little joy in their life too.”

I know. I cannot stand it. Zach’s mama is the personification of Brutiful.

Rachele will spend Mother’s Day 2014 – the first anniversary of Zach’s death – spreading comfort, compassion and joy through a HUGE Zach Attack.  She is preparing a gift basket for each Warrior Mama spending Mother’s Day watching over her precious baby at Gillette Children’s Hospital- where Zach was treated. As Rachel knows all too well – many of the mamas and kiddos there have endured months in the hospital, Warrior-ing On. Every freaking day- waking up and Warrior-Ing On.

In her email, Rachele said someone gave her Carry On, Warrior one month after Zach passed and that the book was a beloved companion through her grief and anger and remembrance and hope. This, I could not really believe but she swore it was true. She believed the book would help the mamas at Gillette Children’s Hospital find the Brutiful in their trial too, so she wanted to include Carry On, Warrior in each of the 66 gift baskets she delivered to mamas. Obviously this crushed me into itty bitty pieces because: Really? I’ll try to get you whatever you need…are you sure the book is what you want? I said. REALLY, she said. They need the book.

So I reached out to my publisher and my beloved Scribner jumped at the chance to give Rachele all the books she needed. But when Rachele and I reconnected just one week later, her ridiculously generous tribe had already ordered all the copies of Carry On, Warrior they needed for the Zach Attack.  Love cannot be contained. Sometimes it cannot even wait one little week.

So I thought and thought about some small thing we could do with great love with these books that Rachele’s love brought to us. I’ve got it:  ON MOTHER’S DAY, LET’S TAKE A ZACH ATTACK NATIONWIDE!  Here’s how:

Think about a place in your community where you think Warrior Mamas are spending their Brutiful time. Think of a place where there might be some unseen mothers who could use a little extra proof that Love Wins this Mother’s Day.  Is it a Children’s Hospital? A Chemotherapy Center? Rehab? A Shelter for Survivors? Temporary Housing for Homeless Families? Your therapist’s office?

Then, in the comments below, tell us briefly about the Mama Warriors at the place you’ve identified; give us the name and mailing address of the place; and an estimate of the number of Mother’s Day Zach Attack Love Offerings that should be sent.  At the end of today or tomorrow, we will choose as many of these places as possible as recipients of Mother’s Day Zach Attack Love Offerings. My act of love will be to go to the Post Office and wait in line to send the Love Offerings because SWEET JESUS. On the packages I will write: YOU’VE BEEN ZACH ATTACKED. FROM ONE GROUP OF MAMA WARRIORS TO ANOTHER. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.

Obviously this makes me VERY squirmy inside because really? These Warrior Mamas deserve so much, and here we are with our humble Love Offering.  But I’ll just put my squirm aside and do this small thing with great love. Because we each just have our little offering, right? So we “ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering.” Just do something. We just do something small with BIG LOVE and call it enough.

I’ll leave you with Rachele’s words,

G, Would you share Zach’s story? Would you tell people what we are doing in honor of these amazing moms? Every state has a Children’s Hospital; every state has a Mom that will be sitting by her child’s hospital bed this Mother’s Day.  And I think there are Monkees in every state who can show these Moms that they are Loved and Not Alone. We can let each mama know that no matter what the circumstances and how much her heart is broken, there is always a glimmer of hope to be found. I know one act of kindness turns into another act of kindness, and so one simple act of kindness can change a life, and then the world.”

Zach

PREACH, Rachele. You’re Doing Zach Proud.

Love,
G

PS Monkees have already donated 50 more books for this project! If you’d like to donate a book to the Mother’s Day Zach Attack project to help us reach more Warrior Mamas, you can order them by clicking here. We’ll find a Warrior Mama who might be otherwise invisible this Mother’s Day for every book we receive.

FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE!

So, I’m just going to stick to the facts today, because this is all so emotional that if I start with the feelings I will inevitably drag you all into my swirling vortex of bruty and PEOPLE ARE GOOD and LIFE is HARD and the only thing that makes life a little easier IS THAT PEOPLE ARE GOOD.

Okay.

  1. With Scribner’s original donation & your ridiculously generous Monkee donations yesterday, we now have enough books to put together Zach Attack Mother’s Day Love Offerings to 397 Warrior Mamas!!!
  2. You all have nominated more than 3,000 Warrior Mamas in your communities to be Zach Attacked and I have read EVERY SINGLE NOMINATION and it never stops blowing my mind that there are WARRIORS, WARRIORS EVERYWHERE. So many women fighting so many battles. WE ARE THESE WOMEN’S ARMY. We can’t fix the pain for them but we can sure as hell make sure they know they don’t fight alone.  I am keeping this list and amazing things will happen between our Monkee Community and These Communities. Just wait. I know it.
  3. Scribner watched closely your reaction to Zach yesterday and you guys, you keep making all these Fancy New York Folks Cry in Their Offices. I love it. SCRIBNER HAS NOW GENEROUSLY OFFERED TO MATCH EVERY BOOK YOU DONATE TODAY UP TO 200 MORE BOOKS!!!  Let’s take Scribner’s challenge and Zach Attack even more Mamas on Mother’s Day! If you can, order here and we will send each one to one of your Warrior Mamas this Mother’s Day.
  4. THERE IS MORE GOING ON behind the scenes right now than I can tell you yet. PEOPLE ARE PLANNING THEIR OWN ZACH ATTACKS ALL OVER THE PLACE. PEOPLE ARE LOVING EACH OTHER FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN: WHAT THE HELL ELSE IMPORTANT IS THERE TO DO DOWN HERE????

More from me soon.

I cannot BELIEVE how lucky I am to do life with you. HOW LUCKY ARE WE TO LIVE IN THE MIDST OF ALL THIS MAGIC MAKING??????????????????????

Love G and Your Momastery Team- all of whom are freaking out.

Come to our event in Herndon, Virginia on May 4 to hear me speak and be part of putting together the Zach Attack Love Offerings. Zach’s mama Rachele is coming to celebrate with us — it will be brutiful!

PS  Make sure to visit Rachele’s blog read more of her story.