Jan 272014

“Recovery is like defrosting” –  Carry On, Warrior

My power is that I’m EXTRA. Extra think-y, extra feel-y, extra needy and hungry and happy and sad and angry and ecstatic. Many are born with this Extra Power. Maybe all of us, even.


Just like a teacher hands a student a pencil, My EXTRA was given to me by God as a tool to get my Earth work done. But I didn’t know that when I was young. I didn’t know that my EXTRA was my gift to others, I thought it was a mistake. My EXTRA was too much for me and others when I was a little girl and so what I heard from the world was: Conceal, Don’t feel. Don’t let them in. So I tried to be good. I tried to reel it in, take it down a notch, match other people. I gathered ideas about how a good girl “should” act and I created a fake me. I introduced her to the world and locked my true self inside the cold room of addiction. That’s when my sister lost me. I was eight and she was five. She sat at the door of my life and cried and asked me to please, please come out and play. And I sat on the other side of the door- knowing that I was bad and different and that she was better off not really knowing me. Everyone was. That was level One for me.

Level one is hiding your power away. It is abandoning your self in order to be accepted.  

Frozen 2

Then I left home for college.

And I finally decided: F THE WORLD THAT PUT ME IN HIDING. I’m coming out. And I quit holding my breath and I released all my EXTRA into the world with a VENGEANCE. I built an ice castle made up of horrific behavior and drugs and booze and I lived by my own rules and I answered to NO ONE. I quit hating myself and start hating the world instead. I could finally be my EXTRA self inside my castle. I could rage and weep and cackle and dance and despair and no one could see me or make me feel ashamed of who I was. All alone on top of that mountain it was cold-  but THE COLD NEVER BOTHERED ME ANYWAY. I was FREE. I needed NO ONE. That was Level Two for me.

Level Two is abandoning people in order to accept yourself.

(Watch how much lighter and stronger she becomes when she TAKES OFF THAT CAPE!)

And then, one day– God knocked on the door of my ice castle. God had a baby in God’s arms. God handed me this baby and told me that this baby didn’t want to live in my ice castle. This baby needed to live in The World. With People. And so if I wanted to be his mama, I was going to have to find a way to live among people, too. At first I said: NO. HELL NO. I am never abandoning myself again.


But then I looked behind God and saw Sister there. Sister had followed God up the mountain of my addiction and she wondered aloud if maybe there was a compromise to be made. Maybe I could come back to People, but come back as ME. The real, Extra me. Then she said that the world was pretty cold without me. She said she thought the world might NEED some of my extra to warm it up. That maybe I actually had a responsibility to come back and help. I’d frozen my family and friends out – but she thought I could thaw my relationships with the same powers that made the ice. My Extra. My Extra had made the mess and my Extra could fix it. And she wondered if maybe I needed the World and People, too. That maybe I wasn’t meant to live alone. That maybe isolation – even when you’re the Queen-  is a hollow, artificial version of freedom.


And so I thought and I thought and I touched the walls of my cold castle and I scanned my insides and noticed that my heart was dangerously icy. And I touched that warm baby’s cheeks and I decided that some people are worth melting for.


And I held that baby and followed God and Sister down the stairs and back out into the world. But I followed with my head held high and my shoulders erect and with every intention to never, ever hide who I was again. The world could just deal. They could all deal. I would love them for who they really were and trust that they could do the same for me.

And so I moved back into my Home In the World, but this time- I threw the gates open and I started showing up as ME. All extra. All “crazy” and joyful and angry and wild and anxious and ME. And this radical self acceptance allowed me to accept and LOVE others radically. And that was freedom. I actually started melting other people’s hearts just by loving my own heart so un -apologetically. Love thaws your own heart and the hearts of everyone around you. But you cannot, you cannot love others until you love yourself and your own power. You are not safe to others until you stop trying to kill your real self. When I got sober- I stopped trying to kill my real self and let my real self LIVE. And the beauty of living in that freedom made me utterly obsessed with helping others find their freedom, too. And I was at Level Three.

When you live at Level Three you bring your whole self to the people in your life. You do not abandon yourself and you do not abandon your people. You apologize for mistakes but never for who you are. You accept and embrace yourself and your power and you fall in love with yourself. You build a safe place for this true self, yes, but you throw the gates open to others, often, and you make yourself a safe place for them, too. You use your power for LOVE. You are free but careful. Full of care. You want your power to heal the world, because you are finally wise enough to know that that’s why you HAVE POWER. To heal yourself and others. You know, now – that the best use of your own power is helping others tap into theirs. When you are at level three –you are grown- no matter how old you are.

If you believe that you are bad and that everyone else is okay- you are at Level One. If you believe that everyone else is bad and that you are okay- you are at Level Two. Level Three-ers know that every last one of us is okay. Level Three-ers believe that each person is a holy, beautiful mess of love and fear and hypocrisy and brilliance and joy and pain – so we should embrace our own power and flaws and do the same for others.


sister and i arms raised


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson 

Note: All film images are from the Disney movie, Frozen.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jan 232014

I was raised by an “old school” football coach. Our family hero was Vince Lombardi, our family motto was “no guts, no glory,” and our Friday nights were spent on the sidelines, cheering on my dad’s team. Sundays were for church and reviewing game film. I knew how to call a play and a penalty when I was five. Most of my old boyfriends decided I was a keeper during football games – listening, slack-jawed, to me argue with the commentators and refs. I know football.  But I don’t watch the NFL anymore, because I find it depressing. The behavior I see on the field now is light years from the way I was taught that football players behave. I guess I’m old school, like my dad.


My dad used to say- “If you make it to the end zone, Glennon – act like you’ve been there before.” He meant: If you do your job successfully- shut the hell up about it, for God’s sake. Help up the guy you beat, HAND the ball to the referee, and get to the sidelines. For the love of all that is holy, do not DANCE. Do not GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY. There are folks out there saving lives, okay? You don’t see heart surgeons doing dances after they complete a bypass surgery –because they know they’re just doing their job.  Just do your job and get back to the sidelines to prepare to do your job again. Like every coach- when my dad talks football- he’s really talking LIFE. For him humility is not just a football value – it’s a family value of the highest order. I know he’s proud of me, because he finds a million private ways to tell me. But when folks ask him if he’s proud of my writing career he says one of two things: A: Hey, her mother and I are just grateful she’s not in jail. or B: Of course I’m proud, just like every father whose kid shows up for work each day is proud. She’s a writer- she writes.

In other words: She has a job. She does it. Big whoop. No need to dance about it.

In even better words: I’m proud of who she is, not what she does.

Pep Talk

And so humility has become a family value for Craig and me, too. Sports boasting or life boasting or kid boasting of any sort is a cardinal offense. Hearing boasting actually PAINS me. And so we keep the NFL off. Because it’s insane to try to make it something it’s not anymore. It’s different now, and I’m the same. So we’re not a good match.

But last Sunday night, the kids were (pretending they were) cleaning their rooms while Craig and I flipped through the channels. We caught the last two minutes of the Seattle/49ers game, and then we saw Sherman’s now infamous “rant.” And I just sat there on the couch – wide eyed and stunned for a moment. Then I became disgusted. Then angry.  Then outraged, really. And  I looked at Craig and said, “My God. What A F****ing Punk.”

I know. But that’s what I said.

I went to bed really upset about that rant. Not mine, Sherman’s. I took it personally. My inner commentary was this: This guy- all the guys like him- they’re ruining the game I love. Just ruining it. This game that used to be the center of my family is now something I can’t even have on in my HOME. What a punk.

And then the next morning I logged on to the web and saw the public shaming of Sherman. And I read a few articles about him and about our country’s reactions to him. And I started to get a little uncomfortable with myself.

As you know, I’ve been working on “firing the judge in my head and hiring the witness.” I’ve been trying to judge myself less harshly. And it turns out that when you start to judge yourself less harshly – you automatically start judging others less harshly. Because you can’t fire the judge of you but keep employed the judge of others. You have to be a judge all the time or none of the time. That’s where that “judge not lest ye be judged” comes in. It’s all or nothing.

And so I tried to get myself out of the judge seat and into the witness seat with this whole NFL/ Sherman/ America situation. I took a step back and asked myself: What is happening here? What am I witnessing?

Here’s what I witnessed, as objectively as I could:

A man had a public reaction that was leagues outside of my comfort zone. I reacted viscerally. I became appalled by what I labeled his anger and pride. More specifically, I became angry and prideful about his anger and pride. I judged him, categorized him, labeled him, dismissed him according to my values – and then pinned my despair about the whole world onto him.

So interesting. As a witness – I became less mad at him and less mad at me. I just became interested in both of our reactions.

And then I reread this beautiful article by Christena Cleveland.

And then I started becoming REALLLY interested in all of us.

I noticed a shift. My inner dialogue switched from “HE IS A PUNK AND I AM RIGHT” to, “why am reacting so strongly to this? Why did he react so strongly? What are we all so angry about?

It’s really interesting, isn’t it? To become the witness instead of the judge? To see yourself and the people with whom you disagree as characters in a drama- from whom you get to remove yourself, sit back and learn? To allow yourself permission to let go of labeling anyone good or bad and instead  gain perspective and gather empathy for all? To wonder about how different our definitions of “sportsmanship” “pride” and “humility” might actually be?  To consider that maybe Sherman grew up with a whole different understanding of” how you act” when you get to the sidelines than you did? To wonder if maybe your coaches (meaning your culture, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, your teammates) have a lot to do with what kind of player you become? To allow in the idea that maybe many of our ideas about right and wrong are cultural, subjective – really, really gray?

But I know – we do not want to talk about the possibility that right and wrong might be grey areas. We want to say: “WHAT ARE YOU SUGGESTING, GLENNON… that there is NO RIGHT OR WRONG????”

No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying that for ME, the older I get –  the more I understand that it is RIGHT to stop making snap judgments about folks. To instead ask to borrow the glasses they see the world through and walk around wearing them for a while. I don’t mean that there is no right or wrong in the world. I just wonder if maybe as far as I’M concerned –deciding whether Sherman is right or wrong is not my business. But maybe deciding whether my reaction to him and my thinking about him and my words about him are right or wrong IS my business.

I keep thinking about this: if my kids had been watching that “rant” with me- my knee jerk reaction would have been FEAR. FEAR that they would SEE that behavior and think it was RIGHT and that they would become just.like.him. And so I would have done everything I could have to distance US from HIM. I likely would have turned to my kids and said: “THAT IS NOT HOW WE ACT.” THAT MAN IS WRONG.” But the more I think about it- the more that scares me. Because I don’t want my kids to judge their knee jerk reactions as TRUTH. I don’t want my kids to categorize and dismiss people and think of folks as good or bad. I don’t want my kids to think in terms of “us” and “them.” I want them to be curious. I want them to wonder where folks are coming from. I want them to be wise enough to look deeper- beyond behaviors and cultural differences and sound bites to the places where we are all the same. I want them to be wise and gentle. And so now, THAT’s why I’m glad my kids weren’t in the room for Sherman’s rant. Not just so they didn’t see HIS behavior- but so they didn’t see MY behavior.

I don’t want to spend the rest of my life deciding who’s right and wrong and who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy. Because I think all of those decisions reveal more about my particular culture’s values than any objective truth. And making all these decisions about folks makes me feel rigid and cranky and old and weary and afraid.  I think maybe this IS how people become old and cranky. They refuse to widen. Their categories for folks become more and more rigid until their comfort zone becomes so small that barely anybody’s allowed in. I want to get wider as I get older. By the time I die I want to be so expansive that I could embrace the whole world. And I think that begins by admitting that I don’t even KNOW what I don’t know about other people, other races, other cultures, other professions. But I’m open to learning. That’s all I’m saying.  I want to learn. I admit, I have a whole lot more to learn than I have to teach. And so what I want to do is quit writing people off – and start writing everybody IN.

 “Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong- doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”  – Rumi



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