Dec 072009
 




Lobsters, soon after they’re born, find one partner, lock claws, and walk together for the rest of their lives.

*I learned this lobster fact from Phoebe on Friends, so verify before sharing at a dinner party to avoid potential embarrassment.

Monkees, meet my Lobster, Amanda.



A Song She Can Sing In Her Own Company


I believe in believing in just a few, simple things. I believe that the beauty of believing is in your beliefs’ longevity and longsuffering and loyalty – that the greatest blessing is to live long enough, and open enough, to see your simple, few beliefs made real in the adventure of your life.

So, I have decided share my key beliefs with you.

[You will note that I have exerted much effort to avoid discussing many of my other, let’s say less-fundamental, beliefs with you. Sometime, it might be appropriate for us to discuss these. They include my unyielding belief that most people are doing the best that they can. That nothing is sexier than when a man stands up from the table when you come to the table and leave it. That refusing to ever say something about someone that you wouldn’t say in front of them is the highest form of living. That if you need to drink Coke with your bourbon, you’re not drinking proper bourbon, and that if you are drinking proper bourbon, it is a crime against humanity to drink it with anything other than ice. That it is not charity, but reward, to look for the goodness in others, because when you find it you can catch a glimpse of God. That people are unspeakably brave. That in this stormy, harrowing life – full of joy and miracles and suffering and nonsensical tragedy and struggles – maybe the key is not to decry the sun’s absence, but to cling gratefully to the few, rare souls who will stand in the rain with you for as long as it takes for the skies to clear. Perhaps we can discuss a little later.]

Mostly, though, I try to hold the idea that a few infallible beliefs are all we need, and exactly what we need, to sustain us and help us keep the most important things the only important things. So, these few beliefs are the center of me:


I believe in God and my family and the reality that you have to lose your life to find it.

And I believe that you have found your life when you find

A song that you can sing in your own company.


I believe in God and my family. I believe in God with the certainty that I believe that Sister loves me – even though you could never prove she does – because of the way she shows up, everyday, to save my life. I believe in God because he held me the morning I was curled up and broken on the couch on my porch – the morning I realized my dreams were crushed, every promise worth keeping was shattered, and the life, home and marriage I had built were gone. I believe in God because He stood watch at the bedside of my sorrow, nursed me to health, and restored me to a life that I could have not imagined before my suffering began. I believe in God because He is as present and real to me as the breeze that moves my hair and the leaves crunching under my feet – as He shows up, everyday, with a small miracle to let me know we’re boys, and where He wants us to take this adventuresome life. Just as some people pursue money because they have faith that it will afford them a life of security and comfort, peace and excitement, I pursue God because I can’t imagine a life more exciting, peaceful and adventuresome than the life we will have together. I believe in God because God shows up, everyday, to save my life.


I believe you have to lose your life to find it. I believe we spend a lot of our lives trying desperately to get what we don’t really need. And the trouble with that is we can never get enough of what we don’t really need – so we are constantly salivating and struggling but we remain hungry and empty. But when we finally break free from the belief that we need the things we don’t – when we give up on the standards of success and normalcy and progress that don’t come from within us but have been hoisted upon us – when we lose that life, we gain the possibility of living the life we were meant to live. “For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36.


I believe that you have found your life when you find a decent melody; a song that you can sing in your own company. Ernest Becker wrote: “Most of our life is in large part a rationalization of our failure to find out who we really are, what our basic strength is, what thing it is that we were meant to work upon the world.” I think we learn our basic strength, that thing we were meant to work upon the world, when we find what breaks our heart. Or when we find what makes our heart hum. Or when we identify something that energizes and inspires us more than anything else on the planet. When we find that thing, that when we look upon it, we recognize ourselves.

You know that certain, specific feeling you have when you are somewhere new and strange and alone and you scan the room frantically for some familiar anything, and your anxious eyes suddenly rest on a smile you know and the foreign place is suddenly home, and a wave of warmth and comfort sweep over you? Just as our eyes scan for recognition of home in a strange place, I think our hearts do the same thing in this confusing world, overcrowded with so much that we don’t recognize in ourselves. And for each of us, there is a unique place where our heart’s gaze rests, and it is home – because it breaks our heart, or because it makes every fiber resonate with the joy of recognizing ourselves. Where our heart’s gaze rests, this is the thing that reveals the unedited version of ourselves – the raw, one-of-a-kind dreams and desires and passions that compose our souls.

I believe that we all crave to know and to respond to this thing – this thing where our heart’s gaze alone rests. To listen to this still small voice that whispers: I know the puzzle of your heart, and this is the piece that is your fit; this is the melody that is more beautiful to you than anyone else in the world. This is the song that you would sing over and over in your own company, if you never had to worry about what anyone else wanted to hear.


My dear friend Joanna is never more herself than when she is painting something that only exists in her exquisite brain, and because she is brave enough to create, the world sees colors and forms that would have never exist without her. The world needs Joanna’s thing.


My dear friend Allison was specifically crafted to be a friend. She will stand by her friends through anything – even when they are wrong, even when she shouldn’t – and she does it with every possible means of avoiding credit. Allison doesn’t feel her friends’ pain. She feels the pain her friends feel as if it were happening to her – because it is. I am convinced that Allison would rather burn up with me than leave me in a fire of my own making. The world, I, need Allison’s thing.


My dear friend Bill’s mind was made to mesmerize on Renaissance literature – he is brilliant at that thing – and students of the discipline for years to come will read his scholarship, and be fascinated and energized and full. The world needs Bill’s thing.


A beautiful, strong woman I know, Karishma, after attending elite undergraduate and law schools, left her fancy law firm job to become a Yoga instructor. I can only imagine she made this leap because practicing yoga makes her feel whole and integrated and calm and strong. And now she is delivering to stressed-out New Yorkers a place of tranquility and empowerment. The world needs Karishma’s thing.


I have a dear friend in New York, Michael, who loves to analyze stocks. He worked and prayed for years to land the position he is in now, projecting the viability and profitability of stocks. He is very happy, and he is helping lots of investors who don’t have his gift. The world needs Michael’s thing.


I met a woman last week – brilliant and beautiful – who wanted more than anything to use her law and business degrees to empower people to obtain better health care, but she had no idea whether this was possible or where to start. The world needs Kelly’s thing.


The world needs each of our things – each of our things we were meant to work upon the world. And each monkee deserves to walk this world to the hum of a decent melody – even if it sounds decent to her alone.

What’s your thing?

Dec 072009
 

Lobsters, soon after they’re born, find one partner, lock claws, and walk together for the rest of their lives.
 
*I learned this lobster fact from Phoebe on Friends, so verify before sharing at a dinner party to avoid potential embarrassment.


Monkees, meet my Lobster, Amanda.

A Song She Can Sing In Her Own Company

I believe in believing in just a few, simple things.I believe that the beauty of believing is in your beliefs’ longevity and longsuffering and loyalty – that the greatest blessing is to live long enough, and open enough, to see your simple, few beliefs made real in the adventure of your life.

So, I have decided share my key beliefs with you.

[You will note that I have exerted much effort to avoid discussing many of my other, let’s say less-fundamental, beliefs with you.Sometime, it might be appropriate for us to discuss these.They include my unyielding belief that most people are doing the best that they can.That nothing is sexier than when a man stands up from the table when you come to the table and leave it.That refusing to ever say something about someone that you wouldn’t say in front of them is the highest form of living.That if you need to drink Coke with your bourbon, you’re not drinking proper bourbon, and that if you are drinking proper bourbon, it is a crime against humanity to drink it with anything other than ice.That it is not charity, but reward, to look for the goodness in others, because when you find it you can catch a glimpse of God.That people are unspeakably brave.That in this stormy, harrowing life –full of joy and miracles and suffering and nonsensical tragedy and struggles – maybe the key is not to decry the sun’s absence, but to cling gratefully to the few, rare souls who will stand in the rain with you for as long as it takes for the skies to clear.Perhaps we can discuss a little later.]

Mostly, though, I try to hold the idea that a few infallible beliefs are all we need, and exactly what we need, to sustain us and help us keep the most important things the only important things.So, these few beliefs are the center of me:

I believe in God and my family and the reality that you have to lose your life to find it.

And I believe that you have found your life when you find

A song that you can sing in your own company.

I believe in God and my family.I believe in God with the certainty that I believe that Sister loves me – even though you could never prove she does – because of the way she shows up, everyday, to save my life.I believe in God because he held me the morning I was curled up and broken on the couch on my porch – the morning I realized my dreams were crushed, every promise worth keeping was shattered, and the life, home and marriage I had built were gone.I believe in God because He stood watch at the bedside of my sorrow, nursed me to health, and restored me to a life that I could have not imagined before my suffering began.I believe in God because He is as present and real to me as the breeze that moves my hair and the leaves crunching under my feet – as He shows up, everyday, with a small miracle to let me know we’re boys, and where He wants us to take this adventuresome life.Just as some people pursue money because they have faith that it will afford them a life of security and comfort, peace and excitement, I pursue God because I can’t imagine a life more exciting, peaceful and adventuresome than the life we will have together.I believe in God because God shows up, everyday, to save my life.

I believe you have to lose your life to find it.I believe we spend a lot of our lives trying desperately to get what we don’t really need.And the trouble with that is we can never get enough of what we don’t really need – so we are constantly salivating and struggling but we remain hungry and empty.But when we finally break free from the belief that we need the things we don’t – when we give up on the standards of success and normalcy and progress that don’t come from within us but have been hoisted upon us – when we lose that life, we gain the possibility of living the life we were meant to live.“For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”Mark 8:36.

I believe that you have found your life when you find a decent melody; a song that you can sing in your own company.Ernest Becker wrote:“Most of our life is in large part a rationalization of our failure to find out who we really are, what our basic strength is, what thing it is that we were meant to work upon the world.”I think we learn our basic strength, that thing we were meant to work upon the world, when we find what breaks our heart.Or when we find what makes our heart hum.Or when we identify something that energizes and inspires us more than anything else on the planet.When we find that thing, that when we look upon it, we recognize ourselves.

You know that certain, specific feeling you have when you are somewhere new and strange and alone and you scan the room frantically for some familiar anything, and your anxious eyes suddenly rest on a smile you know and the foreign place is suddenly home, and a wave of warmth and comfort sweep over you?Just as our eyes scan for recognition of home in a strange place, I think our hearts do the same thing in this confusing world, overcrowded with so much that we don’t recognize in ourselves.And for each of us, there is a unique place where our heart’s gaze rests, and it is home – because it breaks our heart, or because it makes every fiber resonate with the joy of recognizing ourselves.Where our heart’s gaze rests, this is the thing that reveals the unedited version of ourselves – the raw, one-of-a-kind dreams and desires and passions that compose our souls.

I believe that we all crave to know and to respond to this thing – this thing where our heart’s gaze alone rests.To listen to this still small voice that whispers:I know the puzzle of your heart, and this is the piece that is your fit; this is the melody that is more beautiful to you than anyone else in the world.This is the song that you would sing over and over in your own company, if you never had to worry about what anyone else wanted to hear.

My dear friend Joanna is never more herself than when she is painting something that only exists in her exquisite brain, and because she is brave enough to create, the world sees colors and forms that would have never exist without her.The world needs Joanna’s thing.

My dear friend Allison was specifically crafted to be a friend.She will stand by her friends through anything – even when they are wrong, even when she shouldn’t – and she does it with every possible means of avoiding credit.Allison doesn’t feel her friends’ pain.She feels the pain her friends feel as if it were happening to her – because it is.I am convinced that Allison would rather burn up with me than leave me in a fire of my own making.The world, I, need Allison’s thing.

My dear friend Bill’s mind was made to mesmerize on Renaissance literature – he is brilliant at that thing – and students of the discipline for years to come will read his scholarship, and be fascinated and energized and full.The world needs Bill’s thing.

A beautiful, strong woman I know, Karishma, after attending elite undergraduate and law schools, left her fancy law firm job to become a Yoga instructor.I can only imagine she made this leap because practicing yoga makes her feel whole and integrated and calm and strong.And now she is delivering to stressed-out New Yorkers a place of tranquility and empowerment.The world needs Karishma’s thing.

I have a dear friend in New York, Michael, who loves to analyze stocks.He worked and prayed for years to land the position he is in now, projecting the viability and profitability of stocks.He is very happy, and he is helping lots of investors who don’t have his gift.The world needs Michael’s thing.

I met a woman last week – brilliant and beautiful – who wanted more than anything to use her law and business degrees to empower people to obtain better health care, but she had no idea whether this was possible or where to start.The world needs Kelly’s thing.

The world needs each of our things – each of our things we were meant to work upon the world.And each monkee deserves to walk this world to the hum of a decent melody – even if it sounds decent to her alone.

What’s your thing?

Jan 042010
 

I was laying in bed this morning thinking about the thirty-three year period in my life when I used to wake every morning without you Monkees to play with. I can’t really imagine it now, but it must have been awful. I’m so grateful for you. Husband and Sister are too, because I’m sure you can imagine that I was a lot for two people to field on their own. It seems kinder to divide responsibility for me among all 242 of you. Thanks for helping my caretakers.

On to the Monkee Business of the day.

If it’s not too exhausting, I’d like to amend our Monkee Motto. In 2009 we were “trying very hard not to be jerks.” I’d like to add a little something for 2010. I’d like us to ALSO start “trying very hard not to be afraid.”

So it would look a little something like this:

2009: Monkees try to be LOVING.

2010: Monkees try to be LOVING AND FEARLESS.

As always, when we get too tired, we will stop trying and read trash magazines and eat Cheetos. It is crucial to make back up plans.

Today my dear friend Jessica is going to tell you about her efforts to fear less. If I had to choose one friend with whom to be stranded on an island, I’d choose Jessica. Unless booze on the island was limited. Then I’d choose someone else. Jess and I met in college and since then, we have loved each other and tried to take care of one another. In college, that meant providing each other with endless Marlboro Lights. Today it means providing each other with encouragement and honesty while we try desperately to act like grown-ups, wives, and mommies and keep the faith. Jessica is special. She is funny and interesting and interested. She listens. She prays for her friends. She loves Jesus, Trent, Emme, Nate, her brother, her parents, her friends, and a glass of wine after an exhausting, beautiful day caring for all of them.

Monkees, meet …your Jess.


Fear. Less.


As others have mentioned, Glennon’s advice to me about writing this piece was this: don’t think too much; don’t try too hard; just tell your truth. She promised that the topic would come to me if I prayed about it and listened for God’s answer. Well friends, I struggled, because every time I got quiet enough to think about the blog and to let God do his thing, all that I could hear, taste, feel, and smell was FEAR. I mean seriously, write for Glennon?! In my mind, Momastery is sacred ground, and Glennon is the master groundskeeper. I knew I couldn’t say no, but to say yes made my pulse quicken and my head spin. A dear friend of mine (and fellow Monkee), summed it up best when she said, “writing for Glennon is like singing to Celine Dion or dancing for Baryshnikov”.

Yeah, it’s kind of like that.

So I sat with the idea and I waited for something marvelous and ground-breaking and Momastery-worthy to come to me. Ironically, the longer I sat and the quieter I became, the louder and uglier the fear became. This is ridiculous, I thought. You are not going for the Pulitzer Prize here. And your fellow Monkees are wonderful. They will not judge you, even if you can‘t build bonfires, write poetry, speak Tibetan, or organize a charity event. (Geesh, y‘all are a hard act to follow!). It is a BLOG, for Pete’s sake. But the truth is we all know that it is more than that. And the harder I tried to push the fear away, the stronger it made its presence known. Until it occurred to me that this fear, this thing that was holding me back from even wanting to accept Glennon‘s invitation, was exactly the thing I was suppose to write about.

So here, my friends, is my truth du jour.

The first time I remember fear affecting my life was at the age of 6 or 7. I was excelling in gymnastics and one day the coach approached my mother and me to discuss my moving on to the next level. He wanted me to begin competing and, although I would be the youngest girl on the team, he was confident I was up to the task. I was absolutely paralyzed with fear. Not because I didn’t love gymnastics and certainly not because I was fearful of the possibility of injury. No, my fear grew from a place of insecurity, pride and self-preservation. I was fearful that I might not prove to be as good of a gymnast as I had tricked the coach into believing I was. That I might not win. That I might want to quit but not know how to say so. That I might let people down.

That I might fail.

During my sophomore year in college, I had a similar experience when I felt a calling towards the study of medicine. The idea of taking on such a challenge terrified me and I tried to ignore it for as long as possible. As the window of opportunity to switch majors began to close, I decided that the least I could do was look into it by talking to the Dean of the department. When the day of our meeting finally came, I went off without telling anyone of my plan and remember the butterflies in my stomach as I entered the office. After a very brief discussion and review of my transcripts, the Dean stated rather unequivocally that I did not appear to be a candidate. To this day, I cannot tell you his reasons for saying so. I was a straight A student, had a passion for studying, and had all the means and support necessary to pursue a career in medicine. What I can tell you is that I experienced an enormous sense of relief as I walked out his office that day, for the simple fact that the decision had been made for me. That someone else had confirmed my fear that I might not be good enough or smart enough to be a doctor and that now, I didn’t have to find out on my own.

I could offer you numerous other examples of the ways in which fear has snaked its way into my life, but the point is this: when faced with a challenge that I perceive to be beyond my means, I fold. I rarely even try. I have become a master of choosing things that I am really good at and avoiding things that could potentially result in failure. Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that failure was the enemy and was to be avoided at all cost. That risk-taking was for other people, even though I was left envious of their courage.

There has been a lot of talk on this blog of the state of our souls and the light that resides there. One of the most unfortunate consequences of fear is that it dims that light; contains it. It has also been my experience that a fearful, timid nature drives people away. As a general rule, people are not attracted to these qualities and so when they sense it in others they turn away, for fear it might be contagious.

My time in our “momastery” has reminded that living, TRUE living, involves a whole lot of risk and, yes, even failure. As I prayed and mediated on the writing of this piece, I tried to imagine what risk would look like now. I tried to image myself in those scenarios, those dreams, and those challenges that I have side-stepped for so many years. As you might imagine, my old friend Fear reared her ugly head almost immediately. But whereas three or four years ago I might have allowed Her to stop me there, I now have the impetus for change: my children. For as a mother, I want so much more for my kids. I want them to experience all that life has to offer without fear of failure. More importantly, I want them to feel secure enough in themselves to take risks on behalf of others. I must teach them this. I must show them this.

I believe God has called me to share this with you so that you might pray for me. That you might help me to transcend that which attempts to hold me back from living life more fully.

The key to overcoming fear, then, is total and complete trust in God. Trusting God is a refusal to give in to fear. It is a turning to God even in the darkest times and trusting Him to make things right. This trust comes from knowing God and knowing that He is good.

A spirit of fearfulness and timidity does not come from God and I am confident that we will be judged more by our efforts than by our failures. Certainly, Glennon has reminded us of this by offering herself and her life as a beautiful example of how to live faithfully and fearlessly. Her light remains bright as she continues to take risks on behalf of others. She is brave enough to be still when asked to be still and soar when she is asked to soar (and write frantically when she is asked to write frantically). I can only aspire to learn from her example and from all of you as we take this journey together.

Monkee see, Monkee do.


*********************************************


See, Monkees? I told you. She’s special.

If you get a chance, comment and tell us…


What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?



ps. first meeting of HC book club is tomorrow. we’ll discuss just courage by gary haugen. i think i’ve set itup so everyone can participate. no worries if you don’t have the book.

pps. if i had a dime for every time i’ve been compared to baryshnikov…….