Jan 212014

me in bed

I’m coming down from some serious meds here, so I hope these sentences are actual sentences.

Remember how yesterday I wrote about how wonderful it is to be needed?

The universe, in its infinite creative wisdom, offered me a balance lesson yesterday.

Yes, it is ridiculous blessing to be needed. And it is an equal blessing to need.

I woke up yesterday with my body under attack. I won’t get into the details, because they aren’t important – I’ll just say that my Chronic Lyme Disease just sort of exploded.

I was incapacitated. Couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t even see for a few minutes there – which made me completely dependent on Craig. I lied on the floor and cried while he somehow dressed me and carried me down to the end of the driveway to meet the ambulance. “What are you doing out here?” The EMT said. “You could have waited in the house!” Craig said, “Our kids are still asleep and I don’t want them to wake up to all of this.” And even in excruciating pain I had to smile at that. Because that’s a father. That’s a freaking father. I am carrying my wife out here to you so that I can protect her and my children at the same time. That was the moment I understood that this situation was painful and scary …but this was NOT a disaster.

My minister taught me recently that the word disaster means dis (absence of) and astron (stars). And so things are only disastrous when no light can be found anywhere. I caught the light all day yesterday.

The EMT was light. He was trying to keep me talking on the ride to the hospital and so he asked me what I “did” and I tried to tell him about you and about Carry On, Warrior. And so when he wheeled me into the ER he announced to anyone who would listen – “We’ve got an AUTHOR here. She wrote ‘It’s okay, Little Worrier.’ And she raises Monkeys.” And so while they were medicating me and inserting my IVs I could NOT STOP GIGGLING which made everything hurt a million times more but it was worth it because: STARS!

But then my EMT left and I started to worry again because Craig and still don’t have a real tribe down here in Florida. We just don’t have folks we can call in the middle of the night when there’s an emergency. So I figured I’d be at the ER by myself all day because Craig would have to stay with the kids. But then he showed up thirty minutes later, bearing tidings of hot tea and granola bars. Because he called Nancy, whom I teach Sunday school with. And Nancy prayed with Craig and then she sent her daughter over to babysit my kids so Craig could come stay with me. Then she called both of our ministers who then called me to say they were praying for us. And Chase’s buddy’s mom took him out to play for the day and Tishy’s friend took her. And the ER doctor was kind and wise and the nurse called me honey exactly a million times and the brain people told me my brain looked totally normal. This was amazing to me because I always feel like the brain picture people  are going to read my tests and come to me and say: “We are baffled and stunned and we regret to inform you that your brain is composed entirely of marshmallows, shards of glass, and gallons of decades-old Bud Light.” But that didn’t happen. “Your brain is normal,” they said.


And so yesterday I learned that I DO have a tribe. I do have a village, and I need them. I need them. Like folks who are traveling at night need stars. We need people like we need light. Nothing is a disaster when your people are there.

We Americans are folks who value independence. We really do feel like independence = strong and dependence = weak. Yesterday reminded me that this is some serious bullshit.

Strength is participating fully in life’s rhythms – like being needed and needing. It is being available to help and then being available to be helped. It is taking your turn being the steady shoulder and leaning on another steady shoulder. It is sometimes saying: We Need Help. Because our people need and want to help. That is how we make connections. It’s how we make friendships. We ask people to share their gifts. We allow ourselves to be weak sometimes so that others can be strong.

We should have Interdependence Day. We should throw some parties and parades for THAT MIRACLE.

Anyway. Today I’m grateful for EMTs and doctors and nurses and husbands and friends and church and neighbors and even this damn disease that never, ever lets me forget how loved I am. Life is so brutiful. Like glimmering, guiding stars on a pitch black night. Be Still, ya’ll. Be Loved. Be needed and NEED.

thumbs 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

Jan 192014


I am a mama of five (three kids, two dogs) and they need my attention. I’m also a writer, so ideas need my attention, too. Everyday ideas pull on my shirt and insist that I put them onto paper right away –  but I usually can’t because Chase needs me to watch him on his skateboard or Tish needs help with her book report or Theo needs a walk. So ninety percent of the time I have to ignore these insistent ideas and allow them to slip away and pass on to someone more available. I suppose that could drive me nuts, but it doesn’t. How lucky am I to be needed by ideas and children and animals? How blessed am I to love writing and motherhood so much that I’m constantly lovesick for one or the other?

If your hands are too full to grab that idea out of the air- let it go. To have your hands full is a ludicrous blessing. So if you must- if you must let go of the urgent to tend to the important then do it, you lucky dog. Let it go- smile and let that idea or opportunity pass onto another sister knowing that more will come. There is always more on its way – more opportunities, more ideas, more love. Think abundance- always think abundance. Belief in abundance is the source of all generosity and peace. Know that there is enough. Know that you are enough. Know that you have enough. Enough time, enough talent, enough love.

You can’t miss your boat. It’s yours. It stays docked till you’re ready. The only boat you can miss is someone else’s. Let them have theirs while you wait for the boat God made for you. God’s never early and never late. And know that love and life are patient. And that God is forever tries.


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

Jan 162014

a caring question pin

When I was a mama of three very tiny, very messy, very beautiful rug rats, we had DAYS THAT WENT ON FOR LIFETIMES. Craig left at 6:00 am every morning and as I watched his showered, ironed self leave the house I felt incredibly blessed and thrilled to have so much time alone with my babies and incredibly terrified and bitter to have so much time alone with my babies. If you don’t believe that all of those feelings can exist at once- well, you’ve never been a parent to many tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats.

When Craig returned each day at 6:00 pm (he actually returned at 5:50 but took a STUNNINGLY LONG TIME TO GET THE MAIL) he’d walk through the door, smile, and say– “So! How was your day?”

This question was like a spotlight pointed directly at the  chasm between his experience of a “DAY” and my experience of a “DAY.”  How was my day?

The question would linger in the air for a moment while I stared at Craig and the baby shoved her hand in my mouth like they do –  while the oldest screamed MOMMY I NEED HELP POOING from the bathroom and the middle one cried in the corner because I NEVER EVER EVER let her drink the dishwasher detergent. NOT EVER EVEN ONCE, MOMMY!!! And I’d look down at my spaghetti stained pajama top, unwashed hair, and gorgeous baby on my hip – and my eyes would wander around the room, pausing to notice the toys peppering the floor and the kids’ stunning new art on the fridge . . .

And I’d want to say:

How was my day? Today has been a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I’d explode. I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone. I was saturated- just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do. Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst. At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption. Husband – when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period. But I’m not complaining. This is not a complaint, so don’t try to FIX IT. I wouldn’t have my day Any.Other.Way. I’m just saying- it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain- an entire day with lots of babies.

But I’d be too tired to say all of that. So I’d just cry, or yell, or smile and say “fine,” and then hand the baby over and run to Target to wander aisles aimlessly, because that’s all I ever really wanted. But I’d be a little sad because love is about really being seen and known and I wasn’t being seen or known then. Everything was really hard to explain. It made me lonely.

So we went went to therapy, like we do.

Through therapy, we learned to ask each other better questions. We learned that if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them – we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers. We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: “I’m not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you.” If we don’t want throw away answers, we can’t ask throw away questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love.

So Craig and I don’t ask “how was your day?” anymore.  After a few years of practicing increasingly intimate question asking, now we find ourselves asking each other questions like these:

When did you feel loved today?

When did you feel lonely?

What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?

What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?

What can I do to help you right now?

I know. WEEEEEIRRD at first. But not after a while. Not any weirder than asking the same damn empty questions you’ve always asked that illicit the same damn empty answers you’ve always gotten.

And so now when our kids get home from school, we don’t  say: “How was your day?” Because they don’t know. Their day was lots of things.

Instead we ask:

How did you feel during your spelling test?

What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?

Did you feel lonely at all today?

Where there any times you felt proud of yourself today?

 And I never ask my friends:  How are you? Because they don’t know either.

Instead I ask:

How is your mom’s chemo going?

How’d that conference with Ben’s teacher turn out?

What’s going really well with work right now?

Questions are like gifts – it’s the thought behind them that the receiver really FEELS. We have to know the receiver to give the right gift and to ask the right question. Generic gifts and questions are all right, but personal gifts and questions feel better. Love is specific, I think. It’s an art. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become.

Life is a conversation. Make it a good one.


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