Sep 162010

I get really overwhelmed by the world sometimes. I know you are SHOCKED by this revelation.

Craig and I are media-challenged because I can’t seem to make it through a movie or the news without crying or yelling. It’s hard on Craig, but I can’t help it. It’s all so upsetting. So many people hurting each other. Forgetting about each other. Causing so much unnecessary pain. And I get a little nuts, because I feel so powerless to fix any of it.

But whenever I get like this – worked up into a furious, despondent, self-righteous tantrum – I inevitably feel this annoying tugging on the back of my shirt. The same kind of shirt-tugging that my kids employ when they want my attention. The Tugger is God, I’m guessing. And the Tugger whispers . . . “Well, there is one thing you could do to help the world. You could try harder not to be a jerk.”

I HATE this suggestion. I always counter back by offering to send a check somewhere instead. God shrugs.

Anne Lamott says,“God loves us just the way we are, and He loves us too much to let us stay that way.” That sounds right to me.

I’ve been thinking about how I watch the news in shock and awe and marvel at how people can shoot and kill and be so damn horrific and violent to each other. My heart’s outrage suggests that I could never be capable of this viciousness. But the Tugger raises His eyebrows. The Tugger asks if maybe I am quite capable of viciousness. I just have a different weapon and socially acceptable ammunition.

Listen to me. This is my Love Experiment for the next year:

For one year, I am not going to allow a negative word about a fellow human being exit my mouth. I am not going to use my words as weapons for one year.

In short:

I am not going to nasty gossip. To anyone other than the Tugger.

And furthermore, I am not going to listen to nasty gossip.

Even if the gossip is given under the guise of “concern.” Because if a concern is big enough to talk about, then it is big enough to be addressed directly to the concern-ee. And if a concern is not big enough to be addressed directly to the concern-ee, then it’s not big enough to talk about.

I want to live in a world where women trust each other. Where people know where they stand with each other. Where women give each other the benefit of the doubt simply because they believe down deep that other people are doing the best they can. Where self control is valued. Where women don’t delight in evil. And so I am going to create that type of world for myself. Because we all create the world in which we live. That’s the secret. If you want the world to be different, then go ahead and make a different world for yourself.

Gossip is tricky. Not gossiping is even trickier. Because here’s the thing. There is something inside me that loves gossip so incredibly much. When someone shares something with me about someone else . . . a juicy little morsel, it makes me feel so IN. It just makes me feel so special and accepted and like if she’s talking to ME about HER than she must like ME more than HER and it just feels cozy and like we are in this little circle of trust.

But as my dear friend Adrianne says, (Earmuffs, Jesus) “That. Is Some Bullshit.”

When someone shares a secret or complaint or judgment of another with me, all it proves it that she’ll do the same thing to me. It offers a false sense of security, this gossiping. No time for false things during this beautiful short life. We’re looking for the Truth.

It’s going to be hard. This new Love Experiment is likely to put a damper on some friendships. It might make certain get-togethers a little less fun and I might be left out of some juicy conversations. I probably won’t be as funny or exciting. I might be a bit of a wet blanket. That’s okay. Because I want to be a woman who can be trusted. More than I want to be funny or envied or admired or IN, I want to be trusted. I want to be a safe place for friends to land. I want to be honorable.

This a scary undertaking. But there have been other times in my life when I’ve decided to get rid of destructive habits that were getting in the way of my best life. When I realized I needed to quit drinking and drugging and smoking . . . I was terrified. It seemed impossible. Because that’s what I did. That’s what most people around me did.

But the Tugger insisted that I try. He kept tugging and tugging and repeating that life could be different, better, if I just kept experimenting with His way instead of mine. And so I ignored impossible and just tried. And as it turns out, letting go of the ugly allowed room for so much beautiful.

As always, I’m betting the outcomes of this experiment will be bigger and better than I can now imagine.

I’m betting I’ll experience life differently. My perspectacles will be clearer, crisper. Because we find what we look for in life and in people. And if I stop looking for things to complain about, I bet I’ll stop seeing things to complain about. And I bet I’ll see more of the beauty in people. That’ll be nice.

And maybe as an added bonus, once and for all I’ll really start believing that I’m okay, Especially if I stop frantically trying to prove it by suggesting that others aren’t. Because that’s what we do, I think. We are all just trying to prove that we’re okay.

I don’t think we need to prove anything, after all. I really do think we’re all okay, even though we’re each okay differently. And so I think we can stop worrying and just enjoy each other. We can treat each other’s hearts with honor and care and with the Great Gentleness that each and every heart deserves.

We can be elegant.

Elegance, Hafiz


Is not easy

To stop thinking ill

Of others.

Usually one must enter into a friendship

With a person

Who has accomplished that great feat himself.



Might start to rub off on you

Of that




Yes, Please.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Sep 152010

That’s what I’m talking about Monkees. One of your sisters was in need and you stepped up, big time. It’s so wonderful when women use each other as resources instead of measuring sticks, no? Joy.

You just won’t believe it, friends. I’ve been working my Monkee tail off. I’ve got highlighters and cubbies and pencils and FILE FOLDERS. I have been reading each and every one of your comments with my mouth hanging open and my heart singing because YES, YES, YES, it’s true – We Can Do Hard Things! I wanted to take pictures to show you all my new systems but I can’t find my camera. Never fear, though. I just wrote FIND CAMERA AND A PLACE TO KEEP IT on my list of “Things To Do Today.” So likely, those things will actually get done! I continue to be shocked and awed. I will keep you abreast of all progress and setbacks. I assure you there will be both.

Structure Liberates.

It’s true, I know it. Order is beautiful. When things are in order, I don’t have to spend as much time panicking and worrying and feeling guilty, so I can do more of what I really want to do.

Which is to think about love.

I know. It’s so painfully cheesy. It’s even hard to write. Quite embarrassing. If you were sitting in front of me, I’d probably never have the nerve to tell you that thinking about love is what I like to do. But here at my kitchen table in my silent house while the rest of the world sleeps, it seems safer to tell. And it’s true. My favorite thing is to think about how to become better at loving. Not actually loving because that is much, much harder. Actually loving wellis the hardest thing ever. Close to impossible. But thinking and talking and writing about how to love well is wonderful.

The Subject Tonight is Love, Hafiz

The subject tonight is Love

And for tomorrow night as well,

As a matter of fact

I know of no better topic

For us to discuss

Until we all


Look, even the structure of that poem looks like a heart! Joy! Listen, I know that for some of you, talking about poetry and love and all this stuff is a bit painful. But I BOUGHT HIGHLIGHTERS, LOVIES. So as a reward, let’s just do it my way today.

I like to think about life as one Love Experiment after another. I get my ideas about how to become a good love-er from the Gospels. I just read what Jesus said about how to live and then I think about what I read throughout the days and weeks and years and I consider what life might be like if I actually lived how Jesus said we should. And sometimes I try out his suggestions. Mostly because I am very selfish and I want the best life I can possibly have during the few years I have on this beautiful Earth. And a while back I just sort of started believing that His way – forgiveness, honesty, compassion, humility, abundance, generosity, simplicity- is probably the best way. The way to find the most peace and joy and love. And those three things are the things I want the most.

I don’t try what Jesus said to try because I want to be “good” or “obedient,” I try what Jesus suggested because I have a hunch that it’s the best way to align myself with the way the Universe actually works. Because His way is like catching the current instead of fighting against it. Because I think the world may have it ALL wrong about what will bring us peace. And I think, based upon results from my past Love Experiments, that He’s got it right.

Every once in a while I start feel God bugging me about a new Love Experiment He wants me to try. Monks, He’s been bugging the hell out of me for the past two weeks. Like I do with Tish, I’ve been trying to ignore Him in hopes that He’ll go away. But God and Tish are persistent.

Friday I will announce my New Love Experiment. I will spend today trying to identify loopholes and ways to quit if the Experiment gets too hard.

Love you to little itty bitty pieces. Really and truly. You make my life better and bigger and saner. You people are one of my best Love Experiments ever.

Love, G

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Aug 232010

Bubba delivered this letter to our house last week.


Dear Amanda,

It is nine o’clock in the evening and I am sitting in the dark. We lost electricity about three hours ago and is not expected back on for some time. The creek is unusually dark. The only sound comes from generators grinding out power for those who can not tolerate a respite from television and overhead lights. Otherwise things are as they were several hundred years ago. It is peaceful and natural and an ebony paradise. I can hear night birds and the chugging of a distant boat motor. A cool breeze is filtering in our open windows while just a shadow of moonlight drops through the clouds onto the water. You are just across the creek in the arms of your family, a unique knot of people who moved with you to our special place about three months ago. Your great-grandmother, Dama, is here and she and Tisha are in another room making sleeping arrangements under the faint light of a lantern. The conversation seems to involve overcoming the power outage and is all to complicated to go into right now. It is, as they say, beyond my pay grade. My computer is on battery power so we are able to spend this time together in the peaceful dark.

I think you are old enough now, over two, to know about certain medical conditions with which I have become afflicted over the years. At my age, I am 64 years older than you; problems of this nature are bound to arise. I don’t think that any of them are a serious threat. Of the greatest importance is my belief that they will not keep me from fishing or building boats and crabbing or being a thorn in my children’s collective sides or bringing the things I believe to be important to into the lives of you and your brother and sister. Now that you are a citizen of our beloved Reedville I intend to introduce you to everything here that is vital. That will include sunrise on the Bay at the pound nets, pulling pots, catching rockfish, tubing on the creek and meeting my friends the Watermen, the Boat Builders, the Farmers and others of similar significance. You have already shown a good deal of interest in the waterbound inhabitants of the water surrounding out dock and have been pulling crab pots for some time and have no reluctance in handling minnows and other fish.

However, back to my medical concerns. To put it plainly I am and have been having a heart problem. This particular issue is of the chronic and acute variety. It began with your grandmother Tisha about thirty-nine years ago. She walked into a faculty meeting at a high school where I was teaching and as she passed by she just took my heart with her as if it belonged to her in the first place. It was as brazen an act of theft as has ever been witnessed. I did not even know her at the time of the crime and later when I did get to know her she refused to admit to the larceny, made no move whatsoever to return my heart and to my dismay displayed no interest in discussing the subject. Believe me it is a shock to lose your heart and not easy to adjust to living without it. But when it is stolen you just do the best you can until you can get it back. In my case it seemed a long time before she relinquished it, years in fact. But I did finally retrieve it, sort of. I take credit there that I should not. I did not take it back so much as she allowed me to use it now and then. But not for long.

No sooner did I get some use of it than she gave birth to your mother. I did not anticipate a new and different medical problem but one arose immediately. That is to say your mother took more than my heart she also took my breath. Now please consider my situation. A man who has lost his heart is one thing, a man who has lost his heart and his breath is in dire straits. But this time, because of my previous experience with your grandmother Tisha, I recognized the condition. It was helpful to know that I could live without my heart but it was still extremely inconvenient to be constantly fighting for air. I must tell you that your mother was, to misuse a phrase, heartless about it all. She took my heart with no discernable concern and just kept it. For a very long time. But, I stayed the course so to speak and after several very rewarding years I found myself in possession, to some degree, of my own heart and was able to breathe without support.

But then……Tisha decided to give birth to your namesake, Mandy. And your Aunt Mandy just up and grabbed my newly replaced heart with her little hands like it had been hers from the start. So there I sat, once again a man without a heart; a man trying to get some air. It went on for years. Tisha had it, your mom had it, and your aunt Mandy had it. I thought I’d never get it back. But one day I found that I was in recovery. What happened, and I was and still am confused about this, was that I found that my heart could live in several places at one time. Plainly it had to. Strangely it could be with Tisha, with your mom and with Mandy and I could still use it whenever I needed it. I began to relax with the situation.

But then to my shocked dismay and astonishment it got more complicated and my poor heart got moved farther and wider than I could have imagined. It got spread all over the place.Your brother Chase was born. It got completely lost again, that is my heart did. That was a particularly difficult and confusing time heartwise.

Just when I found myself able to cope with those conditions your sister Tish arrived. Well that was not a picnic, let me tell you. I found myself going from pillar to post trying to find my heart. Tish was, well you know what she was. But she was also a grabber of hearts and she took mine without so much as a thank you or a fair thee well. But once again I became accustomed to the situation; that is I could see that there was a balancing act involved and I adjusted and found that I could lose my heart to the likes of someone as charming as Tish and still carry on. So, confident in that knowledge I determined to move forward as best I could. And I did, I did very well and my heart problems seemed to subside into a manageable and enjoyable confusion.

Or so I thought. But then you came dancing and prancing sideways into the mix. Now one would think that a man who is a veteran of these many heart transplants would have a hand up, would be prepared and able to deal with what should have been familiar to him. One would think that a 10% addition to the bill would not be overwhelming. One would think so. But in your case, one would be wrong. The hard facts are that you have brought about new dimensions and challenges in heart loss. To a man my age this is not an insignificant matter. I admit that my heart has expanded with the demands placed by earlier thieves but somehow those thefts when compared with your robbery seemed less extreme, less final and more likely to be treatable. You are, to use a medical term, more of an epidemic for which there is no known treatment. It is as if there are ten or twenty of you and each one coming with a new or different claim. Suffice to say it has been an overwhelming experience. One staggers at the shear number of ways in which you present your claims to my heart. On the other hand I have decided to end researching a cure. I have found that, having been forcibly required to entrust my heart to you, I am content with your management of it. In point of fact all evidence suggests you are an excellent and desirable custodian of it. This despite the fact that since you took my heart it has undergone a good deal of swelling and is likely to race with uncontrolled warmth when you are about. Nevertheless, at the cost of putting to fine a point I on the subject, I find that my heart is happy and is in very good hands. This is not to diminish the fact that I have now spent the majority of my life both heartless and breathless. So go ahead and keep my heart. It appears you will do so with or without my permission. Keep it as long as you wish but also keep in mind that for over nearly 40 years it has had a good deal of handling and use and should be treated accordingly.



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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