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
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


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 on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest


Sep 172014
 

chickens-pecking-500

Parenting is exactly like getting pecked to death by merciless chickens. – G

 

Sister had her baby two months ago. Now she has a two-year old and an infant and she is also handling all things Momastery and so I think maybe she hasn’t showered since May. She called me one afternoon last month and said: “LISTEN. THESE KIDS ARE LOVELY. REALLY. I LIKE THEM AND ALL. BUT THEY ARE ALSO KILLING ME. AND IT HAS RECENTLY COME TO MY CONCERNED ATTENTION THAT I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL I’M DOING HERE. AND SO TELL ME THIS- HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO LEARN??? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO LEARN ANYTHING ABOUT PARENTING WHEN WE ARE ALREADY DRIPPING WITH CHILDREN??? IT IS LIKE ONCE WE HAVE THEM, IT’S TOO LATE!!! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME????!”

And I said, “Because if I had told you what it was really like, Sissy, you might never have had Bobby and Alice. And I really wanted them. So I just planned to ask forgiveness later. But: I know. There’s no time to learn. It’s like we’re so busy putting out fires that we have no time to step back and learn why the fires are starting in the first place. I’ve got a shelf full of parenting books and I’ve never read any of them. Except for one. Parenting Without Power Struggles. You really need to read that one, Sister.”

This was, apparently, the wrong thing to say.

“WHAT? I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE A HOPE SPREADER!!!!! WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN? READ??? I CANNOT READ. I REFUSE TO READ. I CANNOT EVEN SLEEP, SISTER. I ATE UNCOOKED MAC AND CHEESE FOR LUNCH. ACTUALLY- NO CHEESE! JUST UNCOOKED MAC. MY TEETH STILL HURT. DON’T TELL ME TO READ, SISTER. SHOULD I ALSO TAKE UP KNITTING IN BETWEEN DIAPER CHANGES AND TANTRUMS?? I AM HANGING UP ON YOU.”

And so I thought about my sweet Sister for a while and about all of us Monkees who know that parenting it is one of the most important, sacred jobs we’ll ever do in our lives — and hate that the most important job we’ve ever had is the one job for which we never received training. How odd is that?

And then I thought about my dear friend Susan Stiffelman. And how after I read her amazing column on the Huffington Post, I ordered her book and read it cover it to cover. It was the first and last parenting book I’ve ever completed. And how after I finished it I wrote to her and said: “THANK YOU for approaching parents and children with the RESPECT they deserve. Thank you for understanding that parenting is nothing less than a spiritual practice. That one of the reasons it’s so hard is that it brings to the surface all of our STUFF. And for knowing that this is not our fault- this is purposeful. Because maybe parenting is just another chance to heal. Anyway, thank you for refusing to offer shame and instead offering REAL help and ideas and BEAUTY! Your book not only made me a better parent but a better person. I found myself using your approaches with my NEIGHBOR the week after I read it. THANK YOU.”

And how she wrote back and we became friends. So wonderful. And then I thought: WAIT A MINUTE. I AM FRIENDS WITH ONE OF THE WISEST, MOST BELOVED PARENTING EXPERTS IN THE WORLD. AND I LEAD A COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE – MANY OF WHOM ARE DEDICATED TO BEING THE MOST WHOLE, HEALTHY, PRESENT PARENTS THEY CAN POSSIBLY BE. HMMMM.

And so I called Susan. And I said:  “SUSAN! Would you help me and Sister and my Monkees?? Would you talk to us? We need you. But here are the things: We don’t have a lot of time. And we don’t have any desire to get dressed. And we don’t have a lot of money, either. The reason for all of these deficiencies: our kids. The other thing is that we need your help NOW. It has to be NOW because September is the Parent New Year and for one solid month we are fresh and energetic and dedicated to becoming amazing parents wooohoooo! But honestly by November we’re kinda like: Meh. FORGET IT. Too hard. Everybody just watch TV and we’ll try again next year. So it has to be Now, Susan.

AND SHE SAID YES. Because she loves us. She reads every essay and participates in all the giving and is obsessed with you guys and your huge hearts and minds. So listen: not only did she agree to offer a three-week parenting workshop just for US but she agreed to do it for a fraction of what she usually charges and THEN SHARE THE PROFITS WITH US SO WE CAN USE IT TO HELP DEFRAY BLOG COSTS.

I thought long and hard about this and could not come up with a single way this was not a win/win/win. SOOO….starting September 28th at 7:00 pm EST, we’ll come together online for three Sunday evenings in a row (in our jammies) and spend an hour with THE BEST the parenting world has to offer, Susan Stiffelman. I’ll mediate – which means I will ask her your questions and offer stunning insight (comic relief). Since it’s a webinar- you’ll be able to see us and it will be funny and warm and HELPFUL and easy and wonderful. And together we will learn some truly helpful strategies that are UNIVERSAL and will not only better your relationship with your kids and your partner and yourself but with everyone in your life. That’s what I love about Susan’s work – it’s about becoming a better lover of self and others, not just little ones.

OKAY! JOIN US???? CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!!!! INVITE A FRIEND!!! SEE YOU SUNDAY NIGHT STARTING SEPTEMBER 28th!! And, if you can’t meet live on those three Sundays — NO PROBLEM! You can still sign up and hear the whole workshop whenever it’s convenient for you.  Easy Breezy.  There are FAQs about the whole thing at the link.

Parenting Without Power StrugglesP.S. Susan said to tell you that she suggests reading the first chapter of Parenting Without Power Struggles before the first session, but she does not want this to cause us even one minute of stress. You can still come and learn from the webinar without reading first. And also the chapter is short and full of graphics.

P.P.S. The last time I spoke with Susan she said: “Ok love, I have to run because I need to send some writing to Ekhart.”

“To Ekhart? “I said.  “EKHART WHO?”

“Ekhart Tolle.”

“Ah. Yes. I see. I have to go too, then. Because I have a coffee date with Yoda. And then the Pope’s coming over for a sleepover. So, you know. I’m really busy, too. Bye.”

 



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