Mar 092010

I’ve been avoiding writing about how sick I am, because Momastery is supposed to be a hopeful place and sickness is so ugh. But in addition to hopeful, this is also an honest place. And life is painful sometimes so it’s probably best not to pretend otherwise.

It is becoming obvious that my fantastic wit and charm are not going to get me out of this Lyme disease debacle. I am shocked and offended by this, really. The truth is that Lyme has me so sick and tired that finding the gusto to even use adjectives these days is tough. What I really want to write to you every morning is:

Yo. Sick. Tired. Enjoy day. Love, G

But then I think of all the wonderful messages and well wishes you’d send me after a post like that and it feels excruciating for some reason. It’s like that quote from William Blake that I read in one of Lamott’s books,“We are put on this earth to endure the beams of love.” Beams of love are tough to endure, though I’m not sure why.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about all of you mothers out there who are sick and raising your babies in the shadow of exhaustion and hopelessness and darkness and pain. To you, I just want to say hello. Hello. Thank you for existing. Thank you for making it through the long days. When I’m feeling bad, thinking about you both breaks my heart and encourages it.

It’s hard enough to be a healthy mother, but when you’re sick, there are all these layers of guilt and anger and fear piled on top of the normal mommy layers that make things very, very heavy. When a mother becomes sick, her vulnerability makes her love her children even more, but her weakness makes her unable to care for them the way she wants to, and this feels a bit like torture.

All I have the energy to do these days is hug and smell and squeeze my children. I am so needy, but I can’t give them what they need. I can’t play. I can’t be patient. I can’t even be kind on my bad days.

Last week was so tough that the four of us just sat on the couch and watched TV all day, every day. Morning till night. Show after show after show after God forsaken show. I did nothing but try my hardest not to look weak and pathetic and to smile at them occasionally. I felt guilty and worthless. I also felt panicked that because of my sickness I was missing chunks of their childhood. In the midst of the guilt and the panic I thought… Well, at least things can’t get any worse. But then I got sicker and I stopped feeling guilty and panicked…I couldn’t even find the energy to care. And that was worse.

It’s like how a month ago I felt so guilty that I couldn’t summon the energy to make out with Craig and now some days I can’t even find the energy to smile at Craig. That’s worse.

It’s like how I used to spend so many of my healthy days wishing someone would help me take care of these damn kids and now I just want more than anything to have the ability to take care of my own damn kids. That’s worse.

So anyway. Today is just one of those Keep it Real Momastery days, Sisters. Life is tough. Nobody ever told me otherwise. I can take it. I can stay hopeful. I can do hard things. But it’s important to say it sometimes. Life is tough.

There’s good news, too. All this drama has led to some big decisions. Some big, life-changing decisions that I’ll share tomorrow. And I remain hopeful, as always. I’m comforted by my belief that if I’m in a valley, and I just keep walking, I’ll eventually find myself atop a mountain. Yeah, I do. I really believe that crap. I have good reason to.

To all of you mommies who are sick or tired or depressed or angry or alone or in some way feel like you’ve got one arm tied behind your back… Thank you. Thank you for keeping the faith. Thank you for getting out of bed each morning and putting one foot in front of the other out of sheer will and hope and love. How do you DO IT? How do we do it, ladies?

We are warriors, we mothers.

Love to you and to your babies,


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.

Jan 182010

Monkees, please be patient with me.

I have to make a few little changes to today’s plan.

I have spent the entire weekend, as has Erin, thinking about Friday’s post about food. Erin wrote a beautiful, truthful piece about our attitudes about food and how those attitudes effect our lives and other lives. Erin was right. But we both think that it’s not the right thing to do to talk specifically about “healthy eating” today.

Here’s why.

First, we don’t want to make the age old, infuriating mistake of pretending that food issues are about food. They’re not, and I, of all people should know that. I am a little confused about food. I have been since elementary school. I guess I was thinking that maybe you were more clear minded. A lot of you, clearly, are. But I’m selfishly comforted knowing that some of your relationships with food are as complicated as mine. It seems that we are one, crazy, beautiful, Monkee mess. Which is kinda nice. I’m also aware, based on some of your emails, that you will never, ever believe that I have body and food issues since I’m thin. Okay, fine. But hold on a second…would you, looking at Husband, think that he had a major problem getting made out with? Might we all, as Monkees, admit once and for all that what’s on the outside rarely offers any indication as to what’s going on inside? Please?

Unfortunately, I am reminded of the time I sat on my dearest friend Adrianne’s couch and told her how much I related to some food issues she was having and how I felt her pain and understood her completely etc etc. When I was done, she looked at me with her big beautiful brown eyes and said “Oh honey. If I weren’t so tired right now I’d get off this chair, walk across the room and ring your skinny little neck.”

So, maybe not. Maybe you’ll never believe me. But as a last ditch effort, I’d like to remind you that I was once hospitalized for eating issues. I have the PAPERWORK. So I’ve got street cred, friends. I’m just saying.

I have read and reread your comments from Friday and it is clear to me that a lot of you have a healthy relationship with food and want some nutritional advice. I am going to hook you up with Erin at the end of this post. But it is also clear to me that some of you did not appreciate the fact that I seemed to be breaking my own rule: NO UNSOLICITED ADVICE at Momastery. This is not a self help place. Maybe it’s a “self breathe” or “self relax” or a “self laugh” or a “self connect” place. I don’t know what the heck it is, honestly, but it’s certainly not a place where we believe in trying to change each other on a surface level. Heck, no. That’s not the truth. If I know anything, it’s that happiness is not one new eating plan away. The truth is that I believe we are just fine the way we are and I also believe our kids are going to be fine and the only thing I believe we need to do differently is to reach out to each other more and stop hiding and thinking our secrets are the most unforgivable and our heads are the craziest and our hearts are the most confused. We just need to quit thinking we’re alone.

Now, I’d like to pause for a moment to publicly acknowledge MommySpoon. If you haven’t yet, please read her comments from Friday. What MommySpoon did in her comment was to remind me and Erin that when a friend is hanging, white knuckled and terrified, onto the edge of the food trauma cliff, it might be better to offer her a hand than a copy of an organic food pyramid. And since MommySpoon was brave, a lot of you started breathing easier. That was obvious. MommySpoon woke us up and kept it real. She went seven layers deeper than we were going, and I was impressed and grateful. So grateful that her name will be immortalized on this blog. From now on, if I offer unsolicited advice or in some way pretend that things are simpler than they really are, please, somebody call “SPOON! SPOON! SPOON! SPOON! If you’re really tired, one SPOON! will do. But SPOON! is now our code word for “keep it real.” The only rule is you’re only allowed to use it on me, not on each other.

Erin and I spent most of the weekend talking about this, and we’re learning. Erin heard you, and she is now is going to spend some time focusing less on nutrition and more on how our minds work. She loves us a whole lot, and she’s smart. She knows that if we’re gonna hear her, she’s got to understand us. For example, remember my organic week last week? It didn’t go as well as my posts may have suggested. I actually felt quite suffocated and panicked I sneaked out of my room each night and quietly stuffed my face with whatever I could find that was close and refined and processed before bed. Hmmm. Good luck with that one, Erin. She’s got her hands full. I’ve asked her to start by reading everything Geneen Roth ever wrote about compulsive eating. And one day, sweet, wise, passionate, Erin will hand us something that will help us. I think it might be what she was made for. But she promises it won’t be a juicer or a list of organic foods. It will be something helpful to our hearts and minds, too.

For those of you who are ready and want it, Erin has some health information for you, and she would love, love, love to get to know you, so email me and I’ll put you in contact. For those of you who would rather have an ear or a hand or a shoulder to cry on than a new eating plan, we’ve got that here, too. Keep sharing. We’ll listen and say “ME TOO.” Craig has software which shows that in the last four months 50,000 people have visited this site. Every time you are brave enough to share your heart here, you help another woman, somewhere, feel less alone. I have hundreds of emails to prove that a lot of women depend on your comments to feel connected and understood. If you have something to say, it might be because somebody else has something to hear. Just maybe.

For now, let’s get back to the point of this blog, which is to remind each other that we are fine, our kids are fine, and the world is going to go ahead and keep spinning for awhile, likely. And that God digs us BAD. He is WILD about us. The crazier, the weepier, the better.

And in keeping with this theme, I now introduce our NEW HERMIT CRAB BOOK CLUB selection:

I know a lot of you have probably already read it. I have. Let’s read it again. We can never be reminded too often that He’s got the whole darn world in His hands. As always, if it’s a bad money month, email me and I’ll send you a copy. Don’t hesitate. It’s important to me that you read this book and you should do things that are important to me because I lose a lot of sleep for you people.

I realize you might be too tired after reading this ridiculously long post to read another book. Maybe take a long break first.

I love you, Monkees.

P.S. Today, let’s all take a moment to remember a man who believed in Love Revolutions and justice and turning the other cheek and treating others as he wanted to be treated. A man who gave his life for those beliefs and in doing so, changed the world. Thank you, Dr. King. Thank you, thank you, a million thank yous.