Jun 222015
 

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I try to live by this little quote I read years ago:

“There are two types of people – those who walk into a room and say: ‘Here I am!’ and those who walk into a room and say: ‘There you are.'”

The idea of there you are is how I make decisions about what to post on Momastery and on all of my social media accounts. Before I post, I ask myself: Is this self-serving or others-serving? Does this post say: LOOK AT ME, or LOOK AT US?  These questions have served as good guides for me. My essays about me are really not just essays about me. I hope you’ve noticed that. I don’t write about me until I know that what I’m really writing about is all of us. I just use myself and my little life as as jumping-off point to discuss all of us and Life. And I know enough to know that none of this is about me. I’m just lucky enough to have been chosen to serve this incredible community. So I try to be a responsible servant.

It’s gone well here, in this place. And for a long while I’ve been trying to figure out how to better implement this philosophy in my speaking life–my life on the road. Our Momastery and Together Rising events are wonderful but they feel a little HERE I AM to me. So I dreamed up this dream in which every city we visited we’d SERVE, somehow. We’d do a love project or better yet, we’d find a local hero and invite her to the event and I’d dedicate some of my stage time to hold her up and say: “LOOK, AMAZING COMMUNITY. Here is one of your own doing OUR KIND OF WORK! HELP HER!” Because we know that the most revolutionary thing we can do is introduce people to each other. I had this little dream that in every city I went to, I’d be able to leave it better. Support the good work already being done in the community. Instead of swooping in and saying: “WOOT HERE I AM!” saying “HI! HERE I AM TO SAY: LOOK AT YOU! Meet each other. You belong to each other!”

We decided to test this dream out in Herndon, Virginia this month. We called our friend Becca, who is the beloved minister of Trinity Presbyterian Church where I was preparing to speak, and we told her our dream. We said: what does your community need? She and her people met. She came back to us and said: we are all feeling BOOKS. Our beloved elementary school across the street serves many low-income students and always in need of books. We feel like we should collect kids’ books.

TURNS OUT, these kiddos desperately needed books more than we could have imagined. You see, Herndon is a Title I school—57% students qualify for free and reduced lunch and 45% are English Language Learners. Many of these precious ones don’t speak English at home and their families don’t have much money—so they don’t always have access to books when they go home for the summer. Studies consistently show that low-income students learn as much during each school year as do middle-class students, but every summer, kids from low-income families lose two or three months of reading growth, while middle-class kids add a month of reading growth.

Making matters worse, the principal at Herdon Elementary had just learned that the privately-funded program that the school runs all year to help the kids who are most behind in their reading was cut — it was over.  One Herndon teacher — Lizzette Bennett — was particularly sad and worried about her beloved little ones. So she had been dreaming up the idea of a Bookmobile. Her dream was that she and a team of other volunteer teachers at Herndon Elementary would drive her truck into two of the neediest local neighborhoods every Wednesday of the summer. They would set out boxes of books on blankets in the grass and the teachers would help the students choose just right books for them. Then the teachers would read with the students and send them home with books so they could keep practicing and enjoying all week. And there would, of course, be many popsicles.  The dream was perfect — the only problem was she didn’t have any books.

WELL THANK GOODNESS WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER, RIGHT?

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We sent an email out to all the Momastery readers registered for the Herndon event and asked them to bring gently used, high quality books if they wanted to.

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You guys. We collected over 2,700 books for the Herndon Elementary Bookmobile.

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Thank you

LIZETTE AND LITTLE WARRIORS: THERE YOU ARE!!!!!!!

I donated 175 LOVE WINS shirts and one of the event organizers painted wall signs for us to sell and every single penny that we made that night went to Lizette’s Bookmobile — $1,622.08!!!  (SO MANY POPSICLES!!!)

And then, you guys— Together Rising (YOU!) gave Herndon Elementary School a check for $5,000 so that they could immediately restore the reading program that had been cut. Because: NOT ON OUR WATCH. There were tears. It was good.

And so when we left the event that night, we left knowing that not only had the roomful of women been filled up, but we  OVERFLOWED. We had offered this beautiful community of Herndon, Virginia the love and respect it deserves. We found and held up the heroes of the community like Lizette and said: THERE YOU ARE.

DREAMS KEEP COMIN’ TRUE, LOVES.

It’s good. What we’re doing here is good. And it is such a pleasure to serve with you.

G & the Together Rising Board

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And then, the program.

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Trinity Presbyterian Church

Love Wins. We win. The kids of Herndon win. When we women take care of ourselves, when we put on our masks first, when we fill up: We overflow into our communities. That’s the way women work.

FILL UP TODAY, sisters.

Love,
G

Photo credits: Kallie Frances Photography

Jun 162015
 

Love your Down Self

Okay, I only have a hot second here which is why I used this particular picture that has nothing to do with anything. Yes, that’s my office. I’m doing the best I can.

I need to talk to my canaries. (My depressive, anxious bunnies, bi-polars, addicts, sensitives, woo-woos… all of you—listen to me for a moment.) We are the best people ever. Really. But only if we get help. Our fatal mistake is not getting help. When we try to control our own internal fire we are exactly like a heart patient who has decided to perform open heart surgery on herself. Messy, blind, deadly, ill-advised idea.

But that’s what we do, because this is what happens to us. We are in our homes. We start sinking. Down, down, down. It comes. We are HURTING. We are in the bad part. We are fading and freaking and disappearing and terrified. So we make an appointment for help. Our appointment is in a few days. We wait.

And then we start to feel a little bit better. And the day of our appointment we shower and look at the doctor or therapist or whoever and we can’t even REMEMBER who we were or what we felt like three days ago. Our Down Self is IMPOSSIBLE to explain. And since canaries are usually people pleasers we end up saying things like: “I don’t know. I get sad. I guess everyone does. I’m fine now, I guess.” And we leave.

And then a few days later we are in our homes. And we start sinking. Down, down, down. Down. You see how this goes.

LISTEN. WHEN YOU START SINKING INTO THE GRAY, THE BLACK, THE DOWN, TRY THIS:

Get out your phone or a notebook or whatever you have near you and write a few notes from your DOWN Self to your UP Self.

Write down how you feel, right now. Get your DOWN Self on paper. This does not need to be an essay or a novel or even all that legible. Here is one of my notes from my Down Self.

It’s all gray.

I can’t feel.

I am alone.

I’m so tired.

That is seriously one of my notes from a while back. Then put your note away in a safe place and call for an appointment. When you go to your appointment – TAKE YOUR NOTE from your Down Self.

When you sit down with your doctor say: Hello. This is me, all showered and “fine” looking. I don’t need help for this Up version of me: I need help for THIS version of me. Take out your notes. Read them to your doctor. So your doctor can understand. You don’t even need to remember. You don’t need to translate. You just need to read.

This is how you take care of your Down Self. How you can be her friend. How you can represent her truthfully and bravely and get her the help she needs.

I love you and I love your Up Self and I love your Down Self.

P.S. Here’s some more thoughts for my beloved Canaries:

People Who Need Help Sometimes Look A lot Like People Who Don’t Need Help

Use Your Words

Fourteen & Fifteen

All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in the Mental Hospital

 

Jun 112015
 

Craig & Me

Remember when I told you we were going to have this new SYSTEM in which I’d recommend great books to you every single Friday? So the thing is that when I dreamed up this system, what I forgot is that I hate systems’ guts. Systems cramp my style. I feel like systems are always trying to be the boss of me and so I resent them immediately upon their creation. This is how I also feel about all appointments and plans. The IMMEDIATE MOMENT after I make ANY sort of appointment or plan I start plotting how I’m going to cancel it. Actually, I usually reschedule because then whoever’s on the other end of the line will understand that I still care. That I have good intentions. I have been rescheduling one particular dental appointment since the third grade. Tweet: The MOMENT I make any plan I start plotting to cancel it—I've been rescheduling one particular dental appointment since 3rd grade @momastery

It’s possible I’m getting off track here. The point is, since I had no PRESSURE to do this, LOOK WHAT I DID! I asked Craig to tell me what books he’d recommend to other men and why. What followed was a deep, flowing nuanced, scintillating conversation—as you will see below.

Craig’s suggestions to your people and his specific endorsements are as follows:

Momastery Great Books for Dad

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle “Favorite book. This guy’s my hero.”

The Heroic Path by John Sowers “This one made me believe there are other men out there dealing with the same hard stuff I am.”

Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary Haugan “This one hit me in the heart. It forces you to see what’s really important.”

Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids by Susan Stiffelman “The only parenting book I read. She’s the best.”

What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self by Richard Rohr “This guy makes sense. I like the way he thinks about God.”

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle “I don’t get this book at all. But when I’m reading it I can tell it’s important.” (Side note from G: this is my favorite book endorsement of my entire life ever)

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan “I’m into food and heath.” (G side note: Proceed with caution. We are swimming in avocados and kale and our tears from lack of sugar. The other day Chase asked Craig what was for dinner and Craig said, “brussels sprouts and quinoa.” And Chase screamed “I JUST WANT A NORMAL LIFE!” There is so much quinoa in my life I am considering renaming myself Quinoa-tifa. I am just saying that I love you and so PROCEED WITH CAUTION.)

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck “Ten percent of this book pissed me off and the other 90 percent made perfect sense.”

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Soloman “Still reading this. Fascinating.”

Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari “I like books about drugs.” (Sidenote from G: Me too.)

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller “All the guys gotta read this one.”

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown “Really great book. Helped with work.”

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön “This book is important to Glennon so I carry it around. She seems to like that. It’s pretty light.”

You may notice (as I did) that my sweet husband forgot to suggest HIS WIFE’S BOOK. When I pointed this out, Craig said, “YES. I have been meaning to read that one. I have heard mixed reviews.”

Carry On, WarriorSo here’s my book, too. In case some other husband would like to read it.

And there you have it. Craig’s Book Picks for the Dads in Your Life! Happy Father’s Day to us all. Tweet: Craig’s Book Picks for the Dads in Your Life! Happy Father's Day to us all. @momastery http://ctt.ec/1fmcg+

Craig, good talk—love you forever.

 

 

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