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.


You said they should.

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


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 132010

Tish says Grace for us at meal time. She usually says something like, “Thank you, God for this beautiful world and for Taylor Swift. And please help the people in Indiana.” She means India, which is on her mind because it was Sister’s original IJM destination. We never correct her, though. Hoosiers need prayers, too.

Tishy has always been comfortable talking to God. I think their relationship blossomed when she was two. Tish spent most of her two year old life in her bedroom taking some time out. At first we tried to put her on the stairs for time out so she wouldn’t feel isolated, but she flailed and screamed and heckled us so mercilessly that we started worrying more about our eardrums and self esteem than about her isolation. So we moved her time out destination to her bedroom.

After every one of Tish’s flagrant offenses, I’d propel her (guide her lovingly) into her room and close the door behind me, while she’d scream and fight desperately to get out. She put up such a fight that I’d have to stay in the hallway and hold her bedroom door closed with all of my might. I don’t care who you are, it is impossible to appear dignified under these circumstances. I’d sweat and shake and brace my feet against the door and pull like I was in a tug-of-war with the Incredible Hulk. I’d sweat and wince and pray that Tish would get distracted by a teddy bear or a piece of fluff, which she eventually would. And before I’d tiptoe away I’d always hear her quietly talking to herself.

I just assumed she was calling down various curses upon my head, but when I asked Chase if he knew what she was doing in there, he said “She’s talking to God. Tishy always talks to God.” So I peeked in one day, and there she was, lying flat on her back on the floor, staring through the ceiling and chattering away. When she came out, I asked her who she’d been talking to and she said God. So I asked her if she talked to Him often and she said, “I talk to Him when I’m really mad or really sad or really happy.” Hm, I thought. Me too. I was pleased, but that night I did add an amendment to my prayers asking God not to believe a word of what Tish said about me. I may have felt Him raise an eyebrow at me.

(To be quite honest, I find this eyebrow raising to be a little judgy and unfair on God’s part. I feel I must point out, in defense of my own parenting imperfections, that God’s ONLY CHILD was PERFECT. And I’m not even going to mention the little detail that He hired TWO OTHER PEOPLE to raise His ONLY AND PERFECT CHILD, for fear that this might be tiptoeing towards blasphemy. So I’ll merely suggest that raising baby Jesus and raising Tishy- apples and oranges. That’s all I’m saying. No disrespect.)

Yesterday morning at breakfast we asked Tish to get started saying Grace for us. She looked at us and said very seriously, “Today, I’m going to dance for Grace.” Then she put down her spoon, stood up, and twirled around the kitchen in her pajamas. Eventually she twirled back to her seat and stopped to shake her bottom, which she refers to as her “best move.” Then she sat back down and picked up her spoon again. She looked at us patiently and waited for us to say “Amen.” So we did.

It was the best Grace ever.

“We had been praying all along . . . we had been being ourselves before God.”

– Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk

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