May 132014
 

When we are asked what we want out of life, we say:  I want to make a difference. I want joy. I want peace.

But when we’re asked how we’re going to get these things- we say we don’t know. Our paths aren’t clear, we insist. We don’t know what to do next. We don’t know how to find our calling.  We feel a little lost.

Last year, I sat in church thinking about the gap between what we know we want and what we actually have, and how to bridge that gap. As I was thinking, I was singing along in my hymn book, and my eyes fell upon the word compassion. I love the word compassion. I tell my children that when they feel the familiar ache of compassion in their hearts- they are to assume that God is saying, “HELP! One of my children needs you. Do something!” I ask my children to ACT when they feel compassion.  I explain that compassion is NOT your heart’s pain in my heart. That’s pity. Compassion is YOUR HEART’S PAIN INTO MY HEART AND THEN OUT THROUGH MY HANDS. Real compassion demands action.

And then I noticed something special. Look at the first part of the word compassion.

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We all wonder – what should I do next? Where do I turn? What step do I take? How do I find what my peace, my joy, my connectedness? What if the voice of compassion IS OUR INTERNAL COMPASS? What if all we have to do to get what we need down here is run towards the very things and people and places that break our hearts? And when we get there…what if all we have to do is reach out our arms, open our hands and hold space?

Tomorrow I am going to ask you to RUN TOWARDS SOME PRECIOUS FAMILIES. I need you to read their stories and look at their pictures. And while you do, please pay close attention to your own body. Please notice how you feel. If you feel that familiar tug of compassion, let it be your compass. Let it be the voice that says- TRY IT. GIVE THIS FAMILY WHAT THEY NEED, AND THEN SEE IF THAT OFFERING RETURNS TO YOU WHAT YOU NEED. See, if just for tomorrow, ­offering a stranger radical love provides you with the senses of peace, belonging, joy, and empowerment you’re searching for. Let compassion be your compass tomorrow.

LOVE FLASH MOB RULES:

  1. We can’t do great things. We can only do small things with great love. And so NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO DONATE MORE THAN $25. EVERY DONATION MATTERS.
  2. Because Monkee See- Monkee Do is an official 501(c)3, every penny of your donation is tax deductible.
  3. Any money we collect beyond what these families need will go to Monkee See – Monkee Do as we continue to meet the needs of families throughout the year. Every recipient of your generosity is thoroughly vetted by our board.
  4. Because the members of your Monkee See- Monkee Do Board work for free – WE HAVE NO OVERHEAD. EVERY PENNY YOU DONATE GOES DIRECTLY TO FAMILIES IN NEED.

While we wait with GREAT HOPE AND ANTICIPATION for tomorrow- please look back on the magic that has been made by our previous four Love Flash Mobs. On those sacred days, we followed our internal compasses and we offered these families what they needed – and then we learned that what we really needed was to believe that we live in a world where LOVE WINS and WHERE STRANGERS BELONG TO EACH OTHER. And the way we make that true is that we MAKE THAT TRUE.

Kairos for the Croyles:

Our first Love Flash Mob was held on 2/9/2012 in order to raise money for a precious mama, Kristen – who was dying of cancer and wanted to take her family of ten on their first and last vacation together.

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You raised $25,100 in ten hours to send the family on a vacation of a lifetime.  Kristin Croyle has since passed away, and her family tells us they continue to cherish the sacred memories of that week together. Kristen’s husband came to visit me recently at a book signing in Ohio. It was brutiful.

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The Van-Tastic Love Flash Mob:

Our second Love Flash Mob was held on 5/9/12 in honor of Mother’s Day. In that LFM, we raised over $83,000 in 51 hours in order to buy two vans for ill mothers who needed equipped vehicles to care for themselves and their families. Precious Claudia was one of the van recipients. Mindy was the other. I got to meet Mindy several months later at the PHI fundraiser. By then her hair was all gone, but she was smiling. Mindy is brutiful and these ladies have become heroes of mine.

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Project Home Indy:

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The LFM held on 3/5/13 was MSMD’s third LFM.  We raised $85,000 in five and a half hours in increments of $25 or less, so that Project Home Indy could bring a teenage mom and her young son without a home into PHI to live and thrive.  More than 15 people gave greater than $250 cumulatively per minute for 5 ½ hours in order to reach our goal.  All told, more than 4,500 people from 14 different countries gave toward the effort.

When people were still so moved to give after the initial goal had been met, we kept the LFM open until midnight to collect additional resources for MSMD families that had been waiting for help.  By midnight, we had raised $110,000.  In total, more than 6,000 people contributed.

Here are some examples of what we did (and continue to do) with the funds that were raised in excess of the $85k needed for PHI:

  • We sent household items to a single mom with young son who left an abusive relationship and just got a job to support her son.
  • We sent funds to an 8th grade group of Girl Scouts making fleece blankets and hygiene kits for a local domestic violence center (they wanted to give something to folks who are at a crossroads in their life and to give each child who enters the shelter a warm fuzzy blanket that they can call their own).
  • Sent a vacuum to a mom whose toddler son has several respiratory issues and their vacuum just died;
  • Sent funds to the family of a little boy born with severe heart disease, has had several surgeries and whose father lost job due to being out of work for all the travel; and
  • Sent funds to support an organization that provides a weighted teddy bear to families who have lost a child at a late stage in utero.  The bears are weighted to the child’s “birth” weight.

Guardian Angel Service Dogs:

The LFM held on 9/17/13 was our fourth LFM. The goal was to raise enough to provide four alert dogs as guardian angels and companions for children desperately in need of canine companions.  Two children suffered from Type 1 Diabetes and needed diabetic alert dogs in order to participate in life in ways we take for granted – go to school, visit a friend’s home, sleep through the night.  The two other children posed high risks for wandering away into dangerous situations – one as a result of autism and the other as a result of Down Syndrome.  MSMD exceeded the goals of the LFM by a landslide:  One hundred thousand dollars was raised in six hours – with maximum donations of $25 each.  In total, $120,288 was raised in just twelve hours.

Here is Piper and her Raven.

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You guys. You know I started sweating as soon as this Love Flash Mob began to form- which was a month ago. BECAUSE THIS IS A VERY CAREFUL PROCESS- THE FAMILIES WE ARE MOBBING KNOW THAT TOMORROW IS THE DAY. THEY WILL BE WATCHING AND WAITING AND PRAYING THAT WE CARE ENOUGH TO PULL THROUGH.

Please show up. Show up tomorrow, friends. With small offerings and big love.

Hopeful and Sacred Scared and Grateful That Sister Flew to Florida To Hold My Hand for the Next 48 Hours,

G



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


May 092014
 

Friends, Got This Email Yesterday:

Glennon, you are a mess. Perhaps you should wait until you’re a stable human being before you write to thousands of people?- Tina*

Tina, Hello. The theory I think you’re suggesting is that we should improve ourselves before we show up for life.  I do not subscribe to that theory. There are already PLENTY of people writing about how stable and fine and smooth and lovely life is. That’s not really my bag. My job is not to become a stable, perfect human being with a smooth life and then write about it. My job is just to keep showing up and keep being a messy, beautiful, fully human being in front of other fully human beings.

I think self-improvement is a crappy closet in which to lock oneself. Like addiction or snark, self-improvement is just another hiding place. People who live in the world of self -improvement never seem to enter the world of WORLD improvement. We only have two jobs down here: 1) Follow Our Dreams and 2) Serve our Brothers and Sisters. The cool thing is that they go together. If we’re following our deepest, truest dream- the outcome of that is always service. And so we just need to get started.

I think the main reason people DON’T get started with their two simple jobs is that they are waiting to “be better” first. That sounds like this: I just need to be more patient or smarter or thinner or braver or more stable or more whatever before I get started. When we subscribe to that theory we never, ever get started. Because people don’t really change that much. We really don’t “improve” significantly. Especially by the time we’re my age- 38- it’s probably time to accept that we’re already pretty much who we’re gonna be. I mean, the fact is that nobody who writes a haiku about me is EVER gonna put the word “stable” in it. So I’ve just decided that instead of saying:  I NEED TO IMPROVE! it’s more brave and kind to say: MAYBE I’M GOOD ENOUGH FOR MY LIFE AS I ALREADY AM. That’s what I tell myself each day. I just assume that even though I’m messy, I’m good enough to provide whatever the day calls for. And then I just go ahead and show up –  all jacked up.

Look at what can happen when you just show up all jacked up, Tina. This happened on Sunday night at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Herndon, Virginia.  Here’s the backstory. As a response to the love of Zach’s warrior mama, Rachele –  1229 Zach Attack packages were sent to more than 80 sacred locations to celebrate Warrior Mamas this Mother’s Day.

450 people showed up at Trinity, Tina. Not a single one of them was perfect. Many of them almost didn’t come, because it’s just completely nerve wracking to show up at an event like this.  Especially alone. It’s so much easier to stay home. Still, they showed up. Every single one of them was fighting some sort of battle- trouble at home, trouble at work, trouble in their hearts. They just showed up anyway, all jacked up. And because of that, all this magic happened. These 450 imperfect women bought tickets that made these Zach Attack packages possible, and the wrote hundreds of cards of encouragement to Warrior Mamas across the country, and they assembled, boxed and labeled the boxes.  And then took them to the post office to deliver to strangers – Warrior Sisters – fighting battles nationwide.

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Becca. the Love Wins Minister at Trinity. I love her.

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I’ll let someone who was in the audience describe the feeling in that room. For me- it was ridiculous- pure joy. We told the TRUTH to each other. We laughed hysterically and cried till we couldn’t see. It was one of the most INTIMATE conversations I’ve ever had- and I was with 450 people.

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That’s Rachele, Zach’s mama.

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That’s my mama. Standing up to comfort a man who was feeling shame because he couldn’t save his daughter from her eating disorder. He asked me if my parents ever felt guilt for not being able to save me as a child. He didn’t know my parents were in the audience. Tisha stood up and looked right at him and she was such a brave truth teller. She told him yes, every day of her life. It was a moment.

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And then Bubba stood up and offered a monologue about why we should take it easier on our husbands. We laughed, but you know, we didn’t take notes or anything. 

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These are the books that Monkees all over the country sent to be put into the Zach Attack packages. Thank you, Monkees. I want you to know that I thought long and hard about how to MAGNIFY your generosity. I waived my speaking fee so that every penny of the tickets could go towards the packages – and we donated 600 t-shirts and brutiful cards and stationary to make the packages even more wonderful. Trinity then donated all the bags and tissue paper to create the packages, and Monkee after Monkee volunteered to brave the cost and inconvenience of the post office to get them mailed. YOUR SMALL ACTS OF GREAT LOVE started a LOVE FIRESTORM. Loaves and Fishes up in here, folks. 

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That’s Zach’s mama, Rachele. She just lost her baby ONE year ago. She sure as hell wasn’t “ready” to show up. But she did. She flew from Minnesota to help Love Win. Here she’s writing a note of support to a struggling mama she doesn’t even know. Her love and grief is her FUEL. We Can Do Impossible Things Because We Belong To Each Other.

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This is Liz. She runs the show at Monkee See- Monkee Do. She shows up EVERYDAY to make LOVE WIN for strangers. She is one of my heroes. THANK YOU, LIZ. 

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 Those are some of the places that Warrior Mamas got Zach Attacked. The entire list is at the bottom.

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 This is the face that launched a thousand (1229) Warrior Mama Zach Attack Packages.

We don’t self-improve and THEN world improve. We show up all jacked up in order to World Improve. Before we’re improved ourselves, before we’re ready, before we’re perfect. And we love people and allow ourselves to be loved. AND THAT IMPROVES US. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.  World Improvement before Self Improvement, Tina. All my Love to you. Mean it.

G

P.S. The Zach Attack packages were sent to more than 80 locations, all chosen from your Monkee nominations, including the following places where Mama Warriors reside:

MUSC Childrens Hospital (Charleston, SC)
Whitehorse Child Development Centre (Whitehorse Yukon, Canada)
Providence Christian Church Women’s Center (Clovis, CA)
Dopkins Reedley Funeral Chapel for Stillborns & Infants (Reedley, CA)
Family Links/North Valley Youth & Family Center (San Fernando, CA)
Yale’s Children’s Oncology Ward (Wallingford, CT)
Central Nova Women’s Resource Centre (Truro Nova Scotia, Canada)
The Durham Child Development & Behavorial Health Clinic Support Group (Durham, NC)
Candelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation (Las Vegas, NV)
Mary Washington Hospital NICU (Fredericksburg, VA)
Starpoint family support group for children w development disabilities (Canon City, CO)
St Ann’s MOPS Mother’s Day project for Single Moms (Stoughton, WI)
Marillac Place, shelter for young homeless mothers (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Baltimore Inc. (Baltimore, MD)
Child Epilepsy Project (Colorado Springs, CO)
Advocate Children’s Hospital (Park Ridge, IL)
Children’s Hospital Boston- Cardiac ICU (Boston, MA)
California Pacific Medical Center NICU (San Francisco, CA)
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Special Delivery Unit (Philadelphia, PA)
Maggie’s Place, home for expectant homeless mothers (Phoenix, ZA)
"more than words" Pediatric Therapy Associates, Inc. (Valdosta, GA)
Duke Center for Eating Disorders (Durham, NC)
Ronald McDonald House (Rochester, MN)
Faith’s Lodge, refuge for families facing child’s death or serious illness (Danbury, WI)
Shepherd’s Gate, supporting women to end homelessness, abuse & addiction (Livermore, CA)
The Children’s Bereavement Center (San Antonio, TX)
Hubbard House, domestic violence shelter (Jacksonville, FL)
Alpha House of Tampa, safe house for pregnant women & children (Tampa, FL)
Hope Lutheran Church (Jordan, MN)
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital NICU (Cincinnati, OH)
Kids On The Move (Orem, UT)
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, NY)
Central Community Health Board Drug Services (Cincinnati, OH)
American Family Children’s Hospital (Madison, WI)
Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation (Springfield, VA)
FACETS, supporting homeless and low income (Fairfax, VA)
The Meyer Center for Special Children (Greenville, SC)
Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation (Cleveland, OH)
Twin Cities Church Single Mom’s Group (Grass Valley, CA)
Hazelden Center for Youth and Families (Plymouth, MN)
Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel PICU (Portland, OR)
Elizabeth House, homeless shelter (Pasadena, CA)
Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital (Toledo, OH)
St. Luke’s Children’s Neurology (Boise, ID)
Matthew’s Crossing Food Bank (Chandler, AZ)
House of Ruth, ending homelessness & abuse (Washington, DC)
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center (Omaha, NE)
Morningstar Women and Family Recovery Center (Joliet, IL)
West Texas Rehab Center (Abilene, TX)
Maddie’s Footprint, supporiting families through miscarriages, stillbirths & loss of an infant (Lafayette, LA)
Hackerman-Patz House, a homelike place to live while family is hospitalized (Annapolis, MD)
Tate House, Hospice of Chesapeake (Linthicum Heights, MD)
Focus:Hope, anti-racism & anti-poverty non-profit (Detroit, MI)
Manna House, transitional housing for women and children (Cliffwood Beach, NJ)
Therapy Buddies, support group for families of children receiving therapy (Bloomingdale, IL)
New Life for Girls, residential treatment supporting recovery from addiction, eating disorders & sexual abuse (Westminster, MD)
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology Unit (Grand Rapids, MI)
Children’s National Medical Center (Washington, D.C.)
The Hole in the Wall Gang, camp for children with serious illness (Ashford, CT)
Kennedy Krieger Institute (Baltimore, MD)
Grace House, shelter for women & children (E Wenatchee, WA)
Abington Memorial Hospital Special Care Nursery (Abington, PA)
The Blume Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic (Charlotte, NC)
Sunrise House Mother and Me Residential Treatment Center (Lafayette, NJ)
Dayton Children’s Hospital (Dayton, OH)
Ernie J Norman Center for Homeless Women and Children (Grand Forks, ND)
Kadlec Regional Medical Pediatric Center (Richland, WA)
The Tomorrow Fund, supporting children with cancer (Providence, RI)
The Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City, OK)
University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (Minneapolis, MN)
BDI Playhouse, pediatric therapy providers (Naperville, IL)
INOVA Children’s Hospital, PICU (Falls Church, VA)
Mercy House Women’s Shelter for Homeless Families (Harrisonburg, VA)
Children’s Mercy Hospital (Kansas City, MO)
EnCompass – Amethyst Place, Transitional Housing for Women in Recovery & their Children (Kansas City, MO)
The Gingerbread House, Child Advocacy Center (Morganton, NC)
Al DuPont Hospital for Children (Wilmington, DE)
Vera House, supporting survivors of domestic & sexual violence (Syracuse, NY)
Midland Children’s Rehab Center (Midland, TX)

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  For all 600 Monkees from across the country who sent books for this project, and for all the women who showed up in Herndon on Sunday to do this good, important work, and for Rachele who teaches us to show up before we’re ready. Not a single one of us perfect- but every single one of us is good enough to make a difference.

 *Names have been changed to protect the precious.



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


May 072014
 

Step One: Admit that your life has become unmanageable.

Hey. I’m Glennon. My addiction to the internet has made my life unmanageable.

Twelve years ago, I walked into my first AA meeting and picked up a list of addiction warning sign questions. I silently answered yes to every single question. I was an addict- no doubt about it. For twelve years I’ve kept that brochure on my bedside table. Last week I picked it up and once again – I silently answered yes to every single question. I’m still an addict. Not a recovering one- an active one.

Have you ever tried to stop your involvement with the substance, only to last a couple of days?

Many times. I’ve taken many internet “sabbaticals.” I often sneak back on- and even when I make it through a sabbatical- I jump back on afterwards with full force.

Do you find yourself using more and more of your substance?

Yes. Sometimes I promise myself I’ll just log on for a few minutes and two hours later I’m still mindlessly scrolling through people’s “pages.” People I don’t even know.

Is your involvement with the substance making your life more narrow?

Yes. Sometimes I feel like I live more in teeny corners of the internet than I do in real life.

Have you ever found yourself having an “eye- opener?”

Yes. Often the first thing I do in the morning is roll over and “check my phone.”

Are you preoccupied with the substance?

Yes. I feel fidgety and unfocused whether I’m with or away from my phone – I feel unable to be present in the moment.

After your involvement with the substance, do you feel badly about yourself?

Yes. After time on my internet/ social media accounts I often feel empty, competitive, anxious, icky, untethered, somehow “less than.”

Is your involvement with the substance negatively impacting your relationships with others?

Yes. I find myself tuning my children out to “check” my social media accounts. I often choose to scroll through strangers accounts rather than engage with my husband.

Has your use of the substance damaged your relationships?

I think so.  As I look back on the last three years of my life- the number of online “friends” I have compared to the number of “real life” friends I have seem to be inversely related. I am more “successful” online than ever before- and I’ve never had fewer real life friends.

Does your involvement with the substance put your health or the safety of others at risk?

Yes. Last week I found myself “checking my texts” while driving. I knowingly chose to put my life and the lives of other drivers at risk because I couldn’t control the urge to “check.” WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? An otherwise smart, loving human being risking LIVES in order to engage in a ridiculous meaningless behavior??

OH. Yes. I remember what that is after all.  I spent the first half of my LIFE doing that.

It’s a lock, you guys. I’m addicted to the internet.

Twelve years ago I fought my way out of the world of alcoholism and food addiction. I was on the straight and narrow for a while. I woke up every morning and found all of my worth from just BEING. Just Being was a miracle to me. I listened to my inner voice and the voices of people who loved me and knew me. I felt myself beloved on this Earth. Now I wake up every morning and I run to social media to find my worth. I give it away each day. I do not ask God or myself if I am loved. I ask Facebook if I am loved. I ask for the opinion/voices of a million strangers before I check in with the quiet.

My head is down. My head is down for much of the day. I am missing all of the miracles and beauty of the life right in front of me and around me and under me and above me and within me because my eyes are on a six inch screen that has nothing to do with me.

I’m afraid that one day when my children think of their mama- the picture in their mind’s eye will be me with my head down- saying “one second, honey.” I’m afraid that when I try to help my kids navigate the world of social media for themselves- when I try to convince them that the internet is not the Real World- I won’t have a leg to stand on. Because they will do what I do and not what I say.

This year I won Best All Around Social Media on the internet on Parents Magazine.  I am good at gathering online friends. But last week I saw a friend’s post about a big party she had at her house and I started crying in car pool line because I couldn’t think of ten friends I could invite to my house. I’ve let them all fall away. I am gaining the world and losing my soul. The more online friends I have, the fewer real life friends I have. I don’t have time or energy to invest in real life people because I’m spending my whole self on online people. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t make it a worthwhile pursuit. I was good at drinking too – I once out drank a 6’4” college football player beer for beer. That doesn’t mean it was anything to write home about.

I have lost the ability to Be Still with myself in the Quiet and Know that I am enough. That’s the definition of sobriety for me. To just be able to SIT STILL even when it’s uncomfortable without escaping the present moment through booze or food or shopping or freaking twitter. I’ve lost my peace. I was on the path, but I stepped off and took a detour called “social media.” It’s okay. It’s all right. I just need to get back on the path. That’s all we can do. We can stop- look down at where we are- and crawl back to that damn straight and narrow path where all the growth and LIFE happens. “So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior – Pema Chodron. I have forgotten how to sit with my hot loneliness  - and the hot loneliness is where all the good and real stuff is born. I am numbing my restlessness with my phone. No numbing.

Last week I stumbled upon this gem: “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”- Thoreau. Oh. Being “good” at the internet is much, MUCH too expensive for me. I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to exchange any more of my life for it.

I’m home now, – working this out with great fear and trembling. I’m setting up some new boundaries. I will not leave you. I am a writer. I will write. I will get my writing to you. That is certain. But I am starting to understand that somewhere along the way I forgot that my work is writing, my work is not getting people to love me by being a social media darling.  Somewhere along the way I forgot that I am already Beloved and that my little life with my family and my church and my community is Miracle Enough. I am going to remember. I’m going to re-enter and LIVE in my brutiful REAL WORLD.

The first step is admitting there is a problem. I’ve taken the first step.  I’m on my way home. Woot.

Love,
G

PS. I certainly know and have seen the good that comes out of the internet/ social media. Please note that nowhere in this essay did I say that social media is inherently evil or addictive. I do not believe that any more than I believe that wine or food are inherently evil or addictive. I am simply saying I am addicted to it and need to reset my boundaries.



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