Sep 292014
 

The thing you need to know about me is that I am an amazing September parent.

In August I quit parenting, because August is when I remember what I learned in early sobriety: the key to sanity is everything in moderation: especially family togetherness. We survive August. That is all. But then September comes and the kids head off to school where they belong and my plans for self/family improvement shine as bright as one thousand suns. I am NEW and fresh and I have TIME and energy because I am less busy being homicidal and so I AM GOING TO BE AMAZING. I am like Tim Robbins when he escapes from Shawshank. August is parenting Shawshank. September is the water.

The point is: NEW SCHOOL YEAR = NEW G. Which means I am going to do all the things. Like: I am going to SHOWER DAILY. EVERY DAY. And then I’ll get dressed. In DAYTIME CLOTHES THAT PEOPLE WEAR OUTSIDE IN THE WORLD. Like jeans and shirts and a necklace, even. I will wear these clothes ALL DAY instead of deciding twenty minutes after putting them on that I am “wasting them” and getting back into my pajamas. Other people put on clothes in the morning and wear them all  day long and that is what I am going to do because: September.

ALSO. I will go to yoga THRICE PER WEEK. I will do yoga until I am OOZING ZEN AND PEOPLE STOP ON THE STREET and watch me go by and say to themselves: Man, I wish I was THAT CALM. I will smile calmly at them.

NEXT, I will go back to therapy LIKE A BOSS. I will work out all my STUFF until I am STUFFLESS and people will watch me go by and say: I wish I was THAT WELL ADJUSTED. I will smile adjustedly at them.

After I am clean and dressed and zen and adjusted it will be time to get organized. AND SO: I will go to Target and ask the red people what the Sam Hill a “Bento Box” is and then request that they gently guide me to the BENTO BOX AISLE where I will buy seven BENTO BOXES and start using them immediately for whatever it is Bento Boxes are supposed to be used for. Whatever it is, I will be AMAZING at it. Then I will stack the BENTO boxes away nicely.(In the kitchen if Bento Boxes are small, in the garage if they are huge.) Then I will CLEAN. I will begin creating a clean family by bringing seven garbage bags to the minivan and disposing of ALL THE FOSSILIZED BANANA PEELS AND APPLE CORES. Then I will heroically place these garbage bags in the garbage CAN instead of getting tired and leaving them in the back seat and then pretending that I don’t know what stinks for several weeks.

ADDITIONALLY: I will drive to the kids’ school in my clean van and join eight committees. I will probably lead two of them. Actually I will run for PTA president. I will run on the platform of Bento Boxes for all. I will win. I will lead with graceful power. As you can see, it will generally be as if the ceiling cannot hold me.

In September I also adopt new “THINGS.” Hobbies, practices, identities- you know. Last year my new “thing” was incense. This year I decided that SWIMMING was going to be my new thing. I chose swimming for two reasons: one, because I live in Florida and have a backyard pool. Two, because of Scandal. Because Olivia Pope swims. You know Olivia Pope, right? From Scandal? We are the same in so many ways. Twinsies. I am always surprised more people don’t stop me on the street and say: I wish I looked as much like Olivia Pope as YOU DO. I assume they are simply intimidated so I just smile at them Olivialy. Ms. Pope and I have only one major difference: our taglines. When her people are in crisis and look to her she says: IT’S HANDLED. When my people look to me in crisis I say: I CANNOT HANDLE THIS. That is ACTUALLY what I say. A few weeks ago, Amma lost her shoes for the sixth time in in twenty minutes and I heard Tish say: Don’t tell mom again. She CANNOT HANDLE THIS.

So anyway, I saw Olivia Pope swimming laps on Scandal and I thought: maybe it’s the water. Maybe it’s the WATER that makes her so calm, cool, collected and capable. And so: Swimming is IT. Swimming is MY NEW SEPTEMBER THING. I AM BASICALLY GOING TO BE OLIVIA POPE. This is IT.

nailed-it

Nothing works the way it’s supposed to. I need a new thing. I am Olivia NOPE. The ceiling is totally holding me. September is ruint.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Sep 242014
 

To Thine Own Self Be True

From my inbox:

Dear G,

Help. I can’t figure this out…..

Imagine a bunch of adults who adore their kids and grandkids are sitting in a boat while 2 nine-year-old cousins (boy and girl – 18 days apart in age) are on a cliff, contemplating jumping into the lake below. All the voices from the boat are yelling to the cousins, “You are so brave! Be brave! You can do this! Be brave!” They yell this again and again and over and over and louder and louder until the kids jump.

This does not sound like the same ‘brave’ that I couple with ‘kind’ and run my house by (thanks to you:). So what the hell is it???? What is this thing we keep calling ‘brave’ and what happens when you climb back down the cliff and swim to the boat??

Brave is not succumbing to scary crap, is it? Isn’t it also brave to simply consider the leap? WHAT IS BRAVE?

Seeking the ‘G spin’ to make it all make sense.

Love,
Courtney

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

Dear Courtney,

I recently took my daughters to one of those mall pagodas to get their ears pierced. When it was our turn, my younger daughter took a deep breath, climbed into the chair, closed her eyes and said, “Okay! I’m ready!”

The piercer smiled and laughed and several onlookers said, “Look at her! So brave! That little one is so brave!” When her little sister hopped off the chair, my older daughter hung back, eyes wide, arm around my leg. Everyone looked at her expectantly and the piercer waved her over, but she stood still and said in a small voice, “I changed my mind. I’m not ready today.”

Before I could speak, the well-meaning piercer said, “Sure you are, sweetie! Be brave! Your little sister did it! It doesn’t hurt at all!” Tish’s grasp on my leg tightened and I flashed hot red inside. I knelt down to Tish and said, “Wow. That is SO BRAVE, honey. Even though all these people are here and want you to do this to your ears– you listened to yourself instead of to them. I am so proud of you. Trusting yourself to make decisions about your own body is so brave. You are BRAVE, Tish, in your way. Just like Amma is brave in her way. Let’s go. You’ll know when you’re ready. I trust you to know.”

We have to teach our children (and ourselves) that caution is often a sign of courage. That often NO is as brave an answer as YES. Because the little girl who says no in the face of pressure to pierce her ears or jump off a cliff might become a bigger girl who says no in the face of pressure to bong a beer or bully a peer.  Whether her answer is YES OR NO- give me a little girl who goes against the grain, who pleases her own internal voice before pleasing others. Give me that girl so I can call her BRAVE loudly and proudly in front of the whole world. Give me a girl who has the wisdom to listen to her OWN voice and the courage to SPEAK IT OUT LOUD. Even if it disappoints others. Especially then.

As my little brave Tish said to me the other day in the car, “Mom, how come everyone says YOLO to try to get people to do dangerous stuff? How ‘bout be SAFE because YOLO???? You Only Live Once, so try not to get yourself dead so soon.” (Tao Of Tentative Tish right there, yes ma’am. BRAVE.)

I’m with you, Courtney. If we are going to tell our kids to be brave, we must also tell them what brave means. Over time I have come to believe that brave does not mean what we think it does. It does not mean “being afraid and doing it anyway.” Nope. Brave means listening to the still small voice inside and DOING AS IT SAYS. Regardless of what the rest of the world is saying. Brave implies WISDOM. Brave people are not simply those who JUMP every time. They do not necessarily “do it anyway.” Brave people block out all the yelling voices and listen to the deepest voice inside the quietest, stillest place in their heart. If that voice says JUMP, they jump. And if that voice says TURN AROUND – they turn around, and they hold their head high. Often the one who turns around shows GREAT BRAVERY, because she has been true to herself even in the face of pressure to ignore her still, small voice and perform for the crowd.

Brave is VERY SPECIFIC and EXTREMELY personal. It can’t be judged by people on the outside. Just can’t. Sometimes brave means letting everyone else think you’re a coward. Sometimes brave is letting everyone else down but yourself. Amma’s brave is often: loud and GO FOR IT and Tish’s brave is often: quiet and wait for it. They are both BRAVE GIRLS. Because each is true to herself.

Brave people only answer to ONE voice and that is the voice that arises within. Brave people are just people who trust themselves more than they trust the crowd.

Brave is: To Thine Own Self Be True. And Brave parents say: I trust you, little one – to Be Still and Know. I’ll back you up.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Sep 182014
 

Craig Doing Hair

Our rhythm during this season of our family’s life is that I get up and write from 6 am to 10 am while Craig gets the kids up, fed and off to school. I take over in the afternoons so he can work, and then we all come back together in the evening for dinner and family time.

I walked into my bathroom and saw this scene this morning- and I thought- THIS is the beauty of my family during this season. Right here. It got me thinking.

When Craig and I were first married, we both went away to work and Chase went to daycare. It was hard and good.

Then Craig lost his job, so he stayed home while I went away back to teach. That was hard and good.

Then I got pregnant again and I stayed home while Craig went back to work. That was hard and good.

At no time were our kids more or less loved than any other.

Now we both have full time jobs outside the home again- and we both have full time jobs inside the home, too. So we are both “mom” and we are both “dad.” Craig cooks and grocery shops and I do the laundry and the dishes. Craig packs the lunches and I help with the homework. I get the oil changed and Craig does ponytails. It’s hard and good.

Our marriage is not like a parade, with leaders and followers. We are more like a see-saw: each of us constantly adjusting to balance the emotional, financial, and household loads. Trying again when one of us hits the ground. Laughing a lot. Crying some. Trusting each other to stay put and keep adjusting.

It’s hard and good.

Love,
G

PS: That look Tish has on her face? It appears every time Amma dares to wear a skirt when Tish has chosen pants. We are working on it. Being a sister is hard, but good.

PPS: Yes: Craig is shirtless. As a soccer player, model, and Florida resident- shirtless is his way of life. His tattoo is Japanese for “family.” Craig is also half Japanese.Though I am not sure that explains why he is half dressed.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest


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