Jan 162015
 

Books are like people

Here is the thing about books and me: It’s possible that our relationship is not entirely healthy.

I am a speed reader. Not officially, but enough so that every time I’m on the elliptical at the gym, someone stops me and says, “I have to ask- are you actually READING that thing?”  To put things into perspective, “every time I’m on my elliptical at the gym” has been exactly three times in three years. But this has happened all of those times.

I read frantically –to the point that it becomes less enjoyable than maybe it should be. I read like I used to (sometimes still) eat. Like the book or cookie is ON FIRE AND SO I MUST FINISH IT IN THIRTY SECONDS OR IT WILL CERTAINLY TURN TO A PILE OF ASHES. Also, I am frantic even if I’m not actively reading or eating.  If there is an unread book or an uneaten cookie in my home I can pretend to pay attention to the people in my home but I cannot actually  pay attention because I am looking at them and nodding but the distracting and all-encompassing words looping through my brain are THERE IS A BOOK AND/OR COOKIE IN THE VICINITY OF US AND SO HOW THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE CARRYING ON AS IF ALL IS FINE WHEN CLEARLY THERE IS  UNFINISHED BOOK AND COOKIE BUSINESS IN THE VICINITY OF US.

And so often I sneak away to read and eat. I have to sneak because it feels wrong to prefer being in my  book and cookie world more than being in the real world which is not REALLY true except for it’s a teeny bit true. It’s just mostly true but not completely.

It’s completely true. I prefer book and cookie world.

The point is that I do not eat nor read leisurely. I eat and read like I suspect that maybe every book and grain of sugar is saving my life. I think this might be why a lot of folks with food issues don’t eat in front of people. Because for us, eating is not a social activity. It’s full immersion. It’s –  like – SERIOUS.  We do not nibble on food or books – we devour them. Almost whole.  Without even chewing sometimes. It’s so personal that it feels private. I don’t know.

ANYWAY. Here is my point: I finish a book maybe every three days.  And I always love them. I ALWAYS LOVE ALL THE BOOKS. To me, books are like people- they don’t need to match me perfectly- I just need to be able to learn something new from them. And I always do. I always learn something new. My favorite person is usually the one I’m with right now and my favorite book is always the one I’m reading right now. And so every time I finish a book-  I want to thank the writer in some HUGE way and then tell you all about the writer in some HUGE way to show how HUGE MY LOVE IS FOR BOTH THE WRITER AND FOR YOU but then it all seems too huge to try –  so I just do nothing.  This is actually the entire story of my entire life.

But no — I cannot let this happen! Not when it comes to BOOKS! Let me neglect anything but books and writers and you!

The enemy of good is perfect. Things are better done crappily than not done at all. Tweet: The enemy of good is perfect. Things are better done crappily than not done at all. http://ctt.ec/b63QE+ ‎@momastery Everything worth doing is not worth doing well — and on and on etc., etc.

So here’s what I’m going to do: Every time I finish a book I am going to post a picture of it here or on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram and then I am going to ask who wants it and then I’ll randomly choose one of you and then you will email me their address and then I will go to the Post Office and send it to you.  Since I hate going to the post office with a burning, burning fire – I will offer that up to the author as my deep and sacrificial THANK YOU.  *Please note that when you receive your book it will VERY  likely have water damage because I drop every book in the bathtub at least one which is why I’m not allowed to have a kindle. Consider your book well loved. No returns, please.*

First Book!!!

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Anne PachettI assume that everyone here knows Ann Patchett, but we are going to need to talk about her anyway.

I just finished This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, which is collection of her essays. You need this book. In it she writes about her divorce and her friendships and her beautiful second marriage and Nashville and the Sisters who helped raised her and about the pure, fierce, tender love between her and her dog, Rose. The blurb on the cover says, “A collection of sparkling essays.” I finished the book on a plane and then sat with the book in my lap, just staring at it and thinking. As I stared I noticed with great delight that when the cover catches the light, it literally sparkles- because subtle glitter is hidden inside the strong layers of color. When I discovered this I was so tickled that I tried to show the man in the seat next to me. He was not as excited. I think maybe you have to read the essays to become sufficiently delighted by how PERFECT the cover is.

The way the cover works is exactly how Patchett’s writing works. Her essays are strong, layered, bold – with subtle but very real sparkle. She is a master. Her writing is so crystal clear and good and steady that it doesn’t even feel like WRITING. It’s like she presents her entire story WHOLE. Here is the thought in the back of my head as I read her:  This woman is so SANE. She is just so SANE. And she makes sane seem so damn attractive. So wait- one can have a life with this much depth,  this much beauty,  this much wisdom and ALSO be totally SANE?  I usually feel a little bit hostile toward sanity but she and her friend Elizabeth Gilbert make me want to consider considering it.

In one essay, Patchett is deciding what to do about her less than healthy marriage, and a friend asks her: does he make you a better person? It’s a good, hard question and this whole book is sort of an answer to it. It’s  about what makes her a better person. I believe that Ann Patchett’s writing makes me a better person, so I am going to keep her around. You should, too.

One important thing: Ann and her friends Mary and Karen opened an independent book store in Nashville called Parnassus. They did this because they believe in the power of the independent book store to bring a community together. It is my new goal in life to go to Parnassus and just sit on the floor and read for many hours. If you must know, I will only pretend to read while out of the corner of my eye I will  spy on Patchett and gather ideas about how one might kick start this sanity thing.

Parnassus

I bring all of this up because the right thing to do, if you decide to order any of Ann Patchett’s books, is to order them not from Amazon, but from Ann Patchett.  No ill will toward Amazon, but Patchett makes me want to do things right. Visit her! Small bookstores are so important. I’m grateful that she and her partners are doing their part to keep them alive. Also, I would like to formally register my concern that — in the distribution of fiery, cool, talented, beautiful hearts and minds –Nashville has been egregiously over-served. This is a fact, jack. SHARE, Nashville.

 



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


Jan 132015
 

EVERYBODY: Remember when I posted this image a few months ago

Still Fabulous

Thank you for this meme, Flying Yogini!

  Here’s what I wrote with it:

NEW PLAN OF ACTION:

You know that voice in your head that’s always telling you that you’re not a good enough woman, man, wife, husband, mother, father, friend, artist, worker, giver, human? Let’s retrain that voice today.

Let’s practice speaking to our self kindly and with respect- like we would speak to a good friend. We need to make friends with ourselves. We are stuck with our self ALL DAY, so let’s be kinder, gentler, more amusing company. Let’s take our own hand and say, “There, there, sister. You’re doing a good job. I’m proud of how you’re handling all this craziness down here. Don’t give up. Carry on, warrior.” Life is a long journey. Let’s become better traveling companions to our self.

HERE’S THE PLAN: TODAY – when we lose our temper with the kids, when we accidentally eat that third brownie, when we don’t send that thank you card for the fortieth day in a row, when we forget to stop at the gym, when we’re late for that meeting – anytime and every time we fall short of the ridiculous expectations we put on ourselves – we are going to say to our sweet, well-meaning selves:

“Whatever. I’m fabulous anyway.”

That’s grace. TODAY we shall offer ourselves GRACE and see how THAT goes. Let’s make friends with our selves. We deserve to have a good, kind, gracey friend. We can BE that friend to ourselves.

We must practice believing that we are deserving of Love and forgiveness. We are. Life is Forever Tries. Tweet: We must practice believing that we are deserving of Love and forgiveness. We are. Life is Forever Tries. http://ctt.ec/NxVcs+ @momastery

Love,
G

WELL, a few months later…LOOK what Mama Kristy sent me!

Dear G:

Thought you would appreciate seeing the note I taped to my daughter’s saxophone this morning (after driving 40 minutes round trip to retrieve it) to salvage a crappy situation made crappier by my reaction. The irony is that normally I am headed to work but today I was off and looking forward to 6 glorious hours of nothing and now I only had 5 hours and 20 minutes of it.

But reading your blog gave me an idea that turned this situation into a bonding teachable moment instead…. you are making a difference one family at a time….. Much love to you and thanks.

Kristy

Still Awesome

VICTORY!! WARRIOR MAMA! SUPERHERO – FORGIVING HER KID & HERSELF IN ONE SINGLE BOUND!!!

You guys- here’s my hunch: we think we’re somehow being good parents if we beat ourselves up for every mistake. As if guilt and hemming and hawing and self doubt = LOVE. But one of the many problems with this belief is that this critical voice we use to berate ourselves becomes our kids’ internal voice, too.  They learn that the way to love people is: Try to be perfect for them and then when you’re not –  Make yourself miserable in their honor. BOOOOOO. Bad plan! Horrible plan! Not love! What if every single time something went wrong- we did what Kristy did? What if we just GOT OVER IT? Got funny about it?  What if we lived in a constant state of radical, relentless forgiveness? (Grace)

Might our kids end up  with a kinder, gentler, funnier, less neurotic inner voice? Might we?

Would our kids learn that actually, love is just showing up as you are, trying, making mistakes, and then trying again? Would we?

Go forth and forgive ALL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MOSTLY DOING THE BEST THEY CAN, ESPECIALLY YOU!!!!



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


Jan 072015
 

Abundance
“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is
something we tune into.”

– Wayne Dyer

I think comparison and competition exist partly because we believe that there is a scarcity of good things in the universe. And that belief makes us kind of small and scared and unable to feel true joy for others or peace for ourselves.

Let’s see.

When a friend (or “a friend”) mentions that she’s received a promotion at work, her son won an award at school, she’s just bought her third vacation home, or recently lost ten pounds . . . how do we feel? I know we say we feel happy for her, but how do we really feel? I think sometimes we really feel a little panicked. Like a determined bride at one of those terrifying Filene’s Basement wedding dress sales, we feel like our friend’s news means that now we have to run a little faster, push a little harder and get more aggressive in general. Because if our friend is getting extra money, approval, admiration, and general blessings . . . that must mean there are fewer of those things less left over for us. And how do we feel when one friend gossips about another? I know you probably don’t respond this way because you are lovely, but a little secret part of me always thought . . . “SCORE. Less respect for gossip victim, more respect for me.”

Like an author I love once wrote, some of us believe that there is a “cosmic pie” and a bigger piece of goodness for you means a smaller piece for me.

A few years ago I got overwhelmed and consumed by jealousy and this made me feel all clenchy and small – so I decided to try believing in abundance. And it sort of looked like this: When a friend shared good news, and I started feeling jealous, I told myself — kindly and gently (which is the only acceptable way to tell yourself anything) — to cut it out because scarcity is a lie and the truth is that there is ENOUGH to go around. And so I went out of my way to build her up even more. I want the best for you, I’d think. I really, really want you to have everything you’ve ever dreamed of.  And you guys, somewhere along the way, I started believing myself. I started believing that I was the type of woman who wanted the absolute best for everyone around her.  I started believing that I was a woman who would help the woman next to me get whatever she dreamed of. I became a person who believes that the bigger I help you become, the bigger I become. The happier I help you become, the happier I become. The more successful,  fulfilled and healthy I help you become — the more successful,  fulfilled and healthy I become. So let’s get started!

What on Earth is cooler than THAT? Nothing. That’s just the best, most exciting. expansive, HUGE way to live. To not only believe in abundance, but to CREATE more of it. To quit fighting for a bigger slice of pie and just bake a bigger pie and invite everybody you know to share it with you. Nothing beats that. That’s POWER.

The thing is, when someone is bragging to you about money or accomplishments or yadda yadda, what she is really doing is asking  you to see and love her. Maybe she’s not going about it the best way because she hasn’t learned yet that if we want love, it’s best to lead with vulnerability. She’ll get there eventually. For now, she’s just got this part of her that she believes is lovable in her hands and she’s holding it out to you and she’s saying:  Will you see me? Will you love me? And so — as someone who knows that people are not good or bad, they’re just at different places along the path — you can be a translator and then say: “YES! Well done! I hope you get more wonderful things! You are loved! You deserve to be happy!” And then you can feel yourself expanding. Often we need to ignore the words people say and attend to their underlying, urgent, life or death questions: Am I valuable? Am I loved?  The great thing is that the answer is easy: YES! The answer is always yes. We don’t have to think too hard.

The amazing thing about love and attention and encouragement and grace and success and joy is that these things are infinite. We get a new supply every single morning and so we can give it away all day. We never, ever have to monitor the supply of others or grab or hoard. There will be more in the morning and it will be enough.  It’s like when my dad takes me out on the bay at dawn to watch the fishermen pour from their nets the thousands of fish they catch every morning. And I always think, MORE? Millions of fishermen have been at this for century upon century and there are still more fish? It’s like magic. Or, you know, God.

 



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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