Aug 042015

Amma and the Green Blob

Amma’s been walking around for four days with a green blob on her head. We didn’t say anything or even look that hard at it because Amma is our third child. If seven-year old Chase had entered my presence with a green blob on his head I’d have gasped and scrubbed him down with an organic wipe and grilled him about the source of the green blob and googled the source to ensure that there were no toxic materials in the creation of the green blob source and then, for good measure, I probably would have taken him to the pediatrician. Just in case. In a million years, I’d never have let Chase walk around in public all green blobby.

But the thing is that every subsequent child I have feels less and less like a reflection of me. Chase is an upstanding citizen, officially. So I can push him out front of the family and say to the world: Look! I made at least one reasonable one. This child is proof that I can make decent people. As for the rest of these cats…well, I certainly cannot be held responsible for all of them. We call those two “free spirits.” This phenomenon is the reason the further a child is from firstborn the less and less neurotic she is. Because we parents aren’t trying to prove ourselves through them quite as desperately—so they’re freer to be themselves instead of mom and dad’s trophy.  I think it was Kelly Ripa who said kids are like pancakes: you kinda screw up the first one but the rest turn out okay. Love you forever, Chase. Sorry about all that. “Smile and say hello, Chase. Eye contact please. Wipe your nose.” “But mom—Amma’s cursing and crawling across the street naked and she appears to have gotten yet another tattoo.” Chase! Eye contact! Use your manners! 

Anyway—like I said, Amma’s been green for four days. I kept thinking the green would fade but every morning it somehow seems fresher, brighter. So this morning I made her take a shower, because desperate times call for desperate measures. When she got out of the shower I noted that the green was gone and I dried her off in her snuggly towel and sent her off to her room to get dressed. Five minutes later Amma walked back into the kitchen with A NEW GREEN BLOB ON HER HEAD.


So I said, “Sister. I give up. What’s going on with the green blob?”

And she looked up at me and said, “I’m a CHILD OF GOD, mom.” She pointed to her forehead and said, “My green is to Remember. So I can be brave.”

You guys. She’s marking herself. She’s recreating Ash Wednesday every morning. She’s making herself a SACRAMENT, which is an outward reminder of an invisible truth. Every morning she’s saying to herself and the world: I’m GOD’S. SO I CAN BE BRAVE.

Most Repeated Phrase in the Bible:  FEAR NOT.

Awesome, God. Easy for you to say. But we’re afraid all the time. HOW DO WE FIGHT OUR FEAR?

Second most repeated phrase in the Bible: REMEMBER.

Fear Not By Remembering that YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. And as such you are free to dream and risk and love and fail and lose and rest and try again, forever. A child of God’s birthright is: Forever Tries.

Do whatever it takes to remember that you’re a child of God, friends. Paint it above your door, tie it to your wrists, stamp it on your forehead: I AM A CHILD OF GOD. And then remember the flip side of that brilliant, life-saving truth: So is everyone else.

As you walk around today, imagine that every single person you meet has a green blob smack dab in the center of her forehead. Then treat her accordingly.

Be brave because you’re a child of God. Be kind because everyone else is, too. Tweet: Be brave because you’re a child of God. Be kind because everyone else is, too. @momastery




Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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Jul 282015

At the start of every summer I feel overly hopeful and enthusiastic. I decide that this summer I will be SUPER MOM and the kids and I will plan educational field trips and do crafts and science experiments and something about s’mores and water balloons and making memories!!! It will be just like summer camp at our house. We will totally Carpe Diem the whole summer long! But then summer starts, and I remember, swiftly, that with young children it is really quite hard to carpe fifteen minutes in a row – much less an entire diem. And then I remember that I forgot to actually think of any crafts and that blowing up water balloons and handing them to small people to throw at each other never ends well for anyone. The IDEA of family things is just so, so far from ACTUAL family things. So very far.

Last year, twelve minutes into the first day of summer, Craig walked into the kitchen and two of my three kids were crying and we’d already run out of fun summer activities. In twelve minutes. And so I looked at Craig and said, “You know what is so much better than “just like summer camp?” ACTUAL SUMMER CAMP.”

I know they say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy ACTUAL SUMMER CAMP and after a week I was unable to detect any difference. Tweet: They say money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy summer camp & I am unable to detect any difference. @Momastery

And so, off they went every morning while Craig and I stayed home to work. We picked them up each day at 3:00pm and we were really glad to see them — but I’ll just go ahead and mention that 3:00pm ’till bedtime is still a really long time, especially because our girls were in FIGHT CLUB MODE that summer. No happy moment left behind. All fighting, all day.  All my signs that say LOVE WINS and WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER and all my standing on the couch and yelling “MOMMY IS TRYING TO START A LOVE REVOLUTION! GET. ON. THE. LOVE. TRAIN!” were completely ineffective. Nobody around here cares. They are AGAINST EACH OTHER, these people in my house.

And so Craig and I developed a summer sanity-keeping strategy, which included a daily yoga class for each of us while the kids were at camp. If I didn’t make it to yoga (which is what happened every day since I’m better at creating strategies than carrying them out) I’d do a little yoga video at home for a few minutes. Like four minutes. Mostly the lady would just say hello and I’d say hello and then I’d get bored and turn it off. But still, it counted. And so, when the kids got home and started fighting, Craig and I would look at each other and smile and take a deep breath together and say, “No problem. Totally not going to freak out. I am So Zen. So Zen.” This was our mantra all summer: “Totally not freaking out. I am So Zen.”

One day, as summer came to a close (which it does every year because Jesus loves us), Amma threw one of her tantrums that we lovingly refer to as “Amma-geddon.” Every once in a while, something goes terribly wrong in Amma’s life (like, Tish breathes too loudly) and Amma throws a tantrum that makes me feel like maybe a demon is actually being exorcised from her body. And when this happens, we place her in her room to go ahead and work it out. We live in Florida, but during these tantrums my parents often call from Virginia to ask how Amma’s doing. Because they can hear her. On this particular day, I let Amma yell in her room for a few minutes, and then I put on my riot gear, opened her door and said, “Honey, as soon as you calm down, I can start your time-out timer, and you’ll be able to join us again. You just need to stop freaking out first.”


Suzanne. That’s what she thought we were saying all summer. I am Suzanne.

She didn’t even question it. She never said: why are are calling yourself Suzanne, mom? Why are you calling yourself Suzanne too, dad? Please God don’t let this be some kind of IQ test.

Yes. Absolutely, friends. You may borrow this mantra whenever you need it. Moms and dads and nannies and all the yelling children: Today — YOU ARE TOTALLY NOT FREAKING OUT. YOU. ARE. SUZANNE.

I decided that I needed to have this mug so Sister made it for me and we added it to our Zazzle store. I like to think of us all calmly sipping together all [interminable] summer long.

I am Suzanne

And just in case you’d like to put a face with the name, here’s Amma. This is what happened right after I called her “sassy.” I am still preparing the official transcript, but I believe she is saying: “I’m not sassy, girl, I’m not sassy. C’mon. What, what, what? Kick it. What? Word.”

I think maybe she wants to fight me. Whatever. I am Suzanne.

Originally published in 2013.


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

Jul 082015


Hey my precious friends.

One of my all-time favorite books in the world is Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. The reason I haven’t told you about it is that when I finished it, I decided no one should ever comment on it. It’s written so true and beautiful and perfect that I could not imagine mustering the audacity to add one more word. When I read the last word of Truth and Beauty, I thought of that line, “speak only if you can improve the silence.” So I just nodded, put the book in a place of honor on my bookshelf, and that was that. Please read Truth and Beauty so we can not talk about it. Today I need to say at least this much though: in the book there is a letter from Lucy to Ann that begins like this:

Pettest of my pets. There is a crisis in leadership . . . Jane Fonda has had ribs removed, a la Cher. Is this true? I can’t bring myself to believe it. What ramifications does this have for us? I am so terribly disappointed in her, though I also understand the mania twixt this ribectomy comes… Is she afraid of something? What could it be? Are we afraid of the same thing, the same sort of thing, whatever it is?  . . . . I forgive her to the end, yet something is different. Jane is as fallible as us: she always was…  – Truth And Beauty

I think about this paragraph every single day. It’s so freaking funny to me – there is a crisis in leadership – and so horrible and so true. It’s so true how we’re always looking for infallible women heroes and how we’re so afraid when they are afraid and so despondent when the poison in the air affects them, too. How when we discover again and again that there’s really no ONE to follow—there’s no Oz behind the curtain—we feel so suddenly scared and alone and directionless. All of this is why it’s a saner policy to love people than to admire them. Admiration involves putting a person on a pedestal and since people are wobbly—pedestaled folks always end up falling down.

Anyway. The other day I was on the road looking at some pictures you guys posted of me from Sacred Threads, which I will tell you more about later because it is simply one of the most special places I’ve ever been in my whole little big life. I was scrolling through and saw this one picture in which I just looked SKELETAL. Like not my normal smurf-sized self at all, like scary skinny and weak. Sister and I were in a hotel room and I pointed at the picture and said: “Good Lord, this pic is awful. Can I hide it? Is that wrong to do?” And she said: “That’s not a bad picture, actually. That’s just what you look like right now.” “And I said I LOOK LIKE THAT?” And Sister said yes, you do. And I lay on the bed and stared at that picture and this thought crossed my mind: Uh-Oh. There is a crisis in leadership. I’m all jacked up again. I looked at that picture and KNEW, I just KNEW: That’s not right. I’m not right. This is not me. I’m not strong right now. Not.

And the next day I called my very honest friend and I said: “Tell me the truth. How do I look right now?” And she said: “Look. I want to say this as gently as possible: you look like shit, honey. You just look like shit.”

A friendship like this is a treasure. It really is.

So often, people’s lives are presented to us as before and after stories. It’s always: “Look! My mess is fine because I’m ALL BETTER NOW! Ten steps to FREEDOM! Look at me, I’m FREE!” Sometimes it feels like it’s only okay to talk about your Cinderella story when you’re at the ball. When the tough, ugly parts are over. When everything is shiny and happily ever after, promise!!

But there is no ball. There is no point in which you stop working and just brush your long pretty hair and flit around, untouchable. Done. All better. There is no before and after. Most honest folks with food/body/God/shame/etc. issues will tell you that it’s just the same damn thing, over and over. That you just fall down seven times and get back up eight. That each time you earn a little more wisdom to help you up faster the next time you fall. So I came here today to say: You guys. I got a little jacked up again. And I’m in the middle of the mess now. I’m not at the ball. I’m scrubbing floors: wondering why everyone else gets to dance and make it look so easy. I’m a little angry and confused that I’m almost forty years old and STILL DEALING WITH THIS SHIT. Why I don’t have all of this figured out yet. Why I can’t just get on with it already.  It’s exhausting, to tell you the damn truth. And embarrassing. But it’s real. The before it’s fixed part is real. The storm before the calm is real. The during is as holy as the after. And it’s okay. It’s a good place to start. Tweet: The storm before the calm is real, the during as holy as the after & it’s okay. It’s a good place to start @momastery

So: here’s the good news. I know what to do when I get all jacked up. I made an appointment with my therapist. I started back to yoga. I’m taking it easy on the elliptical—reminding myself that if I use it every time I get anxious, every time the fire starts inside of me: I’ll never get off of it. I need different strategies to deal with my fire. Strategies that don’t make me disappear. Because despite every lie we hear from every seller of things on Earth: it is not a woman’s job to get smaller and smaller and take up less and less space until she disappears so the world can be more comfortable. Tweet: It's not a woman's job to get smaller & smaller until she disappears so the world can be more comfortable @Momastery

And I’m eating again. I’m reminding myself that there is no prize for she who denies her hunger, her humanity the longest. I am reminding myself that life is not an exercise in maintaining control. It’s just not. Life is a feast and she who sits out the feast to follow the underneath rules of the world just misses the hell out.

So that’s good, right? It’s a start. We don’t have a crisis in leadership. It’s just that leaders are human and your leader of Momastery and Together Rising is ESPECIALLY, JUICILY, and UNAPOLOGETICALLY HUMAN. And she’s doing her damnedest to use her fire to light the world instead of burn herself up. And she knows how. She does. She forgot for a minute but now she remembers and so she is not afraid.

Remember. Don’t be afraid. Begin Again.




Since I have decided to live out loud and put my art into the world, you are free to respond how you’d like to. You are an artist too, with your response. We are always creating. Every word we speak or write either says: LET THERE BE LIGHT or Let there not be. It’s a big responsibility: responding to people’s pain in a way that unleashes light.

If you’re interested, here are some responses that make people like me feel loved, and some responses that don’t:

Perhaps avoid saying things like: Yes. Yep. I noticed you looked really skinny. I’ve been so worried about you. That makes me feel stupid, like everyone’s been on a secret I just found out about and the secret is me. Even if it’s true, it’s just not helpful.

Maybe avoid commenting on my appearance or physical or mental health at all.

Things that are helpful:

Vulnerable sharing of your own experiences in this arena of food and weight and body and being a woman in a culture that offers many, many confusing messages to women.

Sharing of non- gimmicky things that help you when anxiety takes over, when you feel like life is just TOO MUCH for a spell.

Gratitude for my commitment to fighting out loud.

Simple love. That’s the best offering. So much light in love.

*Consider speaking only when you can improve the silence.

Love you.


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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