Oct 072014
 

Six years ago I found myself freshly sober, dripping with children, exhausted, and afraid. Sobriety was harder than I thought it’d be. Marriage was harder than I thought it’d be. Parenting was forty-nine times harder than I thought it’d be. I got scared because no one seemed to be talking about family life the way I was experiencing it- which is to say that I fiercely and completely loved my people, but our lives together did not exactly look like one of those peaceful diaper commercials. Was I just doing it wrong? What if I couldn’t hack it? What if I wasn’t meant for family life after all? Oh, GOD. Shame and fear started to set up camp in my head and warm their hands by the fire. I knew I couldn’t let them get too comfortable. Shame is the kiss of death for addicts — or anyone, really. I needed to pull Shame and Fear out of the dark inside me and into the light outside of me. Our demons are like cockroaches – they cannot STAND the light. They scurry away as soon as someone else sees them and says: me too!

So I built Momastery, one early morning and essay at a time. You joined me. And we started filling each other up every single day with truth and forgiveness and humor. And you know what happens when women fill themselves up, right? We overflow. THAT IS SIMPLY THE WAY IT WORKS WITH WOMEN. After a year together, you became so full that you began to burst. You flooded my inbox  with requests that we start serving women inside and outside our Momastery community in tangible ways. So I simply tried to give you what you wanted and needed —  an opportunity to serve your sisters. We started small, by sponsoring one Maryland family for Christmas, and then the givers and receivers started raising their hands EN MASSE and I needed help. So I asked a few brilliant woman to help me. I called them and said: “HELP ME! The good news is that I can’t pay you for your service and the better news is it’s a HELL of a lot of work! But listen – it’s also the best thing in the world — so there’s that.” And they each said YES and together we formed our non-profit, Monkee See – Monkee Do. And for the past three years the board has donated insane amounts of their time, talent, and money so that every penny and gift YOU give can go directly to another woman in need.

I followed my dream and my dream led me to service. I have come to believe that this is how it ALWAYS works. We find the place where our gift and our need intersect. We become bold enough to begin using our gift to heal ourselves. Then the Universe says: HOT DAMN! SHE’S READY! and then immediately issues us an invitation to join the world of giving. The healing become the healers. The dreamers become the servers. Our gifts are used to help others rise.

A year ago, your Board began the process of adopting a new name to better reflect the holy phenomenon happening here. We are OVER THE MOON to finally reveal it to you today:

Together Rising

Study after study shows that around the world and here at home, the surest way to lift a family or community is to lift a woman. When a woman rises, she brings her family and her community up with her. Men and women in the business of world changing know that the smartest investment they can make is in ONE WOMAN at a time. If your goal is world improving, the safest, most effective entry point is WOMEN. And so helping one woman at a time RISE is the external work of Together Rising. She rises, I rise, We rise, Our communities rise, Our world rises. Together Rising exists to heal the world, by strengthening one woman at a time.

We are not changing who we help—your giving has always reached mothers and fathers, children, schools and communities, and it will continue to do so. Our new name simply gives a clearer definition for how we have been able to make such a radical difference in the lives of so many.

We also exist to support the internal shift of our community from scarcity to abundance. We live in a time that tells us that women must grab from each other. That there is not enough love, time, attention, money, and  recognition to go around and so if you want to rise, you must push down the woman next to you. WE BELIEVE THAT THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE. We believe that the surest way to rise is to LIFT UP the woman beside you, in front of you, and behind you. And so we intentionally lift her up with a kind word, a smile, a prayer, a dollar. And the second we do, we feel ourselves rise with her.

And so Together Rising is unique in our insistence that we exist for the GIVERS every bit as much as we exist for the receivers. Because if we receive, WE RISE, and if we GIVE, we rise. We will each shift from giver to receiver through our lives. What matters is not which we are — what matters is that we are somehow participating in the most sacred rhythm on Earth: Women giving and receiving and rising together. She rises, I rise, We rise.

And so today — I am,  you are, we are — Together Rising. And we are HUGE – today we are one-quarter of a million givers and receivers strong. And we are also SMALL. We are about ONE HER at a time. We do Small Things with Great Love. We do for one woman what we wish we could do for ALL women.

And these small things — one thing at a time — have added up to A MOVEMENT.

We celebrate the Love Flash Mobs here –  but we don’t speak often about the other giving made possible through the incredible love of this community. Every day, Together Rising receives requests for help from individuals with needs great and small. And EVERY DAY, Together Rising serves them through small gifts with great love. Often all people need is a little help… gas money to get to the hospital, groceries to put food on the table, or shoes for kids who don’t stop growing during difficult times.

Together Rising takes the overflow from the Love Flash Mobs and the generous gifts that so many of you make year-round to reach out to needs in our community and beyond throughout the year. Because we have an all-volunteer Board, every tax-deductible donation you make goes straight to someone who needs it. This is very, VERY unusual for a non-profit. We want you to know about it. You need to know what we are doing together.

Together Rising Gives Big

BUT WE ALSO CARE DEEPLY ABOUT GIVING SMALL.

Requests for help fill our inbox every day, and your board and a team of volunteers work tirelessly behind the scenes to meet as many needs as possible.  Below are just a few examples of the small things with great love that your donations have been used for in 2014.
  • $100 gift cards for 50 single moms for Valentine’s Day.
  • School supplies for 150 families in need.
  • Funds to a single mom of 2 boys who lost her 35 year-old husband to leukemia/lymphoma.
  • Money for a military veteran single mama who lost her job and has struggled to find steady work. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer and was on the verge of being homeless.
  • Funding for a group of 8th grade Girl Scouts so that they could make fleece blankets and hygiene kits for a local domestic violence center.
  • Funds to the family of a little boy born with severe heart disease called Tetrology of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. He has had several surgeries and his father lost his job as a result of missing work for all of the travel.
  • Money to a family who is struggling to make ends meet after the father sustained an injury and the mother has been unable to find a job. We sent them money to help them pay for a necessary car repair and their electric bill. We sent toys for their daughter’s birthday and a gift card for clothes.
  • Money to help with travel costs for cancer treatment to a single mom with stage 4 inflammatory cancer, who is fighting to stay alive and raise her 5 year-old daughter.
  • Funds to a mom in desperate need of providing clothes for her kids.
During the past three years Together Rising has raised over $648,000 to help people in need, connected thousands of individuals & sponsored hundreds of families through our Holiday Hands outreach, and renovated two special needs schools through a collaborative giving program with Microsoft.

Every single penny you give is a tax-deductible gift that goes directly to help someone in need.

This month we are going to tell you some stories from the HERs you’ve been serving.

For today, we just ask two things of you.

VISIT YOUR BRAND NEW TOGETHER RISING WEBSITE.

KEEP IN TOUCH.

I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE:

Together Rising

 

Love,
Liz, Amy, Allison, Amanda  and G-  Your Grateful Together Rising Board

 

PS. This is it, friends. This is what we’re DOING HERE everyday. We knew it, right? We KNEW something life changing and world changing was happening here. We knew we were changing. And the holy secret is that when an internal revolution happens- it always leads to an external revolution. We rise, the world rises. VIVA LA ReLOVEution!!!!!



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


Oct 032014
 

This is what happened yesterday.

Yesterday morning I was sitting in my cloffice trying to write words. Every day, from 6am- 10am – I try to write words. Then I leave my safe, tiny cloffice and force myself- for the rest of the day- to be part of the scarier real world. This is how I avoid becoming lost forever in my mind world. That is no place to get lost forever. The real world with real people and real animals and other brutiful, terrifying real things is the place to mostly be.

Yesterday when my morning writing time was almost over, I looked at the side of our Facebook page and saw that a reader named Nicole had posted something very special. Nicole’s friend lost her baby boy, Liam, last year. October 3rd- today- is the first of his birthdays that his family will spend without him. Liam’s mama asked her friends to commemorate the day in a couple of special ways. One was a random act of kindness. The other was releasing a red balloon.

I clicked on the link to Liam. I looked at Liam’s gorgeous face and my heart ached for his mama. I immediately remembered Ansley and her precious mom and how she taught us that we need to show up in real, physical ways for those who are grieving. Turning feelings into real, physical, tangible things is important to me. When it comes to compassion, it is easy to get lost in the mind/feelings/ideas world. if If I leave it there- if I just “feel sad” for someone and then try to move on, moving on becomes difficult. Sadness without any action is very sticky. I get stuck. And so I often have to take my sadness into the real world and turn that energy into something beautiful. It’s not like this for everyone- I understand- but for me it is. I need my love for others to become real- to be able to see it and touch it and hear it. Otherwise I start losing track of what’s real. I start doubting myself. Do I really love? Do I really hope? Do I really feel sad for others? Do we really all belong to each other? Yes. I know I love and I know I feel and I know we do because I did it and I saw it and I felt it and I heard it.

I have to make invisible things visible so I can keep believing in invisible things.

And so I got in my car and I went to the dollar store to try to turn my sadness into something beautiful for Liam’s mama. And I got home and after doing the beauty I wrote this and posted it.

*******************************

Dear Liam’s Mom,

My name is Glennon and I’m a mama, too. Your friend, Nicole, posted something on my wall this morning that made me ache. She wrote that you lost your precious Liam last year on October 3. Nicole added that you asked your friends to perform acts of kindness or release red balloons tomorrow to mark this sacred anniversary.

After I read Nicole’s post, I drove to my local dollar store and asked the nice lady behind the counter for “a red balloon for a boy named Liam.” She went into the back and then returned and said, “we don’t have any plain red balloons left. We only have shiny red hearts back there.”

I smiled and that thing happened in my throat- you know when everything swells huge and you can’t talk and you have to swallow hard and then hold your breath for a second? I recovered quickly and said, “Of course. Perfect. I’ll take one. One shiny red heart, please.”

Then I came home and Craig looked at me funny because I was carrying Liam’s shiny red heart. So I told Craig all about your Liam, and I asked him to come outside with me to release Liam’s balloon. We stood together in our front yard and squinted into the light and watched Liam’s balloon float forever through the bright, blue sky. Craig said, “it looks like it’s dancing, doesn’t it?” 

liam's balloon

Liam’s mom, I don’t know you. But I felt your love for your boy today while I watched that red shiny heart dance toward the sun. Feeling another mother’s pain and love in your own heart is hard magic, but it’s magic just the same. So I just wanted to say thank you for that magic today, October 2nd. Liam Eve.

Thank you, Liam’s mom. I am so, so sorry. Liam was just beautiful.

Love, G

*********************************

And then I went to take a shower because I’m trying to do that more often. And also because the whole thing was very, very emotional and I was trying to push the reset button. And then I came back to the computer. And underneath the post I had written there were a million comments pointing out problems with my offering. People were ANGRY for these reasons:

First of all- Balloon releases are, apparently, problematic for the environment. People were upset that not only had I released one- but that my action might encourage others to do the same.

Second of all- Liam’s day was October 3rd, but I had gotten confused and done the release on October 2nd.

I sat stunned at the computer. Then I became immediately furious at everyone. I suddenly HATED everyone who cares about balloons and the environment. I suddenly HATED everyone who always knows what day it is. And I suddenly HATED everyone in the whole entire world who has ever used social media. (Embarrassment is a ship that will take you from Love, Love, Love Island to Hate, Hate, Hate island in one second flat.)

I jumped onto the comment thread and broke my only Momastery rule for myself and I STRAIGHT UP LIED. I typed, “I KNOW what day it is. I did this on October 2nd ON PURPOSE.”  Lies, Lies, Lies. When I saw this ridiculousness typed out in black and white – I realized I was out of control. I pictured Jesus covering his sweet face with his hands, peeking through his fingers down at me and uttering, “OH NO SHE DIDN’T to the angels.

I gathered all my precious hate tight around my heart and I called Sister and started yelling things to her.

“What if Liam’s mom sees all of this controversy about her day? What if everyone hates me for releasing balloons? Why does everyone want me to be all imperfect and then when I am imperfect they want me to be perfect? How come I never know what day it is??? WHAT THE HELL IS THE THING ABOUT THE BALLOONS????? How am I supposed to know everything? I was trying to do something KIND and I screwed it all up and I can’t do this anymore. I can’t I can’t I can’t. I hate everything and everyone.”

Then I started crying, you guys. Of COURSE. And then I went for a walk and said lots of prayers which basically just means that in rhythm with my steps I said. “Help, Help, Help me make this crap beautiful” again and again with occasional really, really bad curse words laced in between the helps.

And I heard what I ALWAYS hear when my pride is all scuffed up and my heart is darkening and I’m wanting to SHUT DOWN and retreat and lick my wounds forever. I hear: STAY OPEN. STAY OPEN. STAY OPEN.

You guys, that’s the only way to make a mess beautiful. Stay Open. To everyone and everything. All the time. I’m absolutely convinced of this horrible truth. The good news is that I know this. The bad news is that Staying Open is the hardest thing on Earth.

Thank God We Can Do Hard Things.

So I came home and walked back into my cloffice and sat down at my computer and took a deep breath. And I clicked on one of the anti-balloon links. And there I saw pictures of baby birds and all kinds of animals that had been killed by fallen balloons. My open heart took that in. I got a little squirmy. Squirmy is how you feel when your open heart starts to get a little bigger without your expressed permission.

And I thought: Could this be an AND/BOTH situation? Could I AND the anti-balloon people be acting out of love? Could we both be doing the best we can to heal the world?

Yes, damnit. Of course that’s true. (Additionally- damnit again, for good measure.)

I’m not going to release any more balloons, ever. And I don’t hate you, anti-balloon readers. I love you. I get it. I understand. I didn’t know. We do the best we can and then when we know better we do better. (Dr. Angelou, of course)

Also, sorry about all the lying. Please forgive me. I had no idea what freaking day it was. I don’t have a calendar.

All the magic in the world happens when we undig our heels. We gotta be fluid. We gotta be more fluid. We gotta be willing to be MOVED if we want to feel moved.

Today is October 3rd. Today is Liam’s first birthday since he died. If you would like to perform an act of kindness today in his honor – please leave it HERE- so that today Liam’s mama will see VISIBLE proof of the INVISIBLE truth that We Belong To Each Other. I’m closing comments here in order to direct all love and energy and words Liam’s mama’s way.

Liam, in honor of you and your mama, I stayed open. I learned something new. I made some mistakes but then I tried to make my mess beautiful for you.



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


 Posted by at 9:13 am  Comments Off
Oct 022014
 

Kindergarten Report

I’m in a new life season over here. I’ve got all three kids in school and I’m working from home, so I’m taking my turn. I’m heading into the school to help the kids’ teachers when I can.

For all of you parents who can’t make it in because you’re in a different life season- I’d like to offer you my OFFICIAL KINDERGARTEN REPORT:

THE KIDS ARE FINE.

The over-achievers are concentrating and the artists are doodling and the rascals are rascalling (why do the rascals always have the most hard-to-resist grins?) and the ones that struggle are with the teacher getting some extra love and smiles. They’re painting and sharing and getting band-aids for invisible paper cuts and singing math songs and talking over each other and telling twelve minute stories during circle time that have absolutely nothing to do with the topic being discussed.

Teacher: Who can share something special about fall? Little One: Oh! OH! ME ME ME! Teacher: Yes. Sarah. Sarah: MY GRANDMA’S NAME IS ALICE AND SHE HAS A BLUE CAR AND ALSO NINE CATS!!!! (then twelve more minutes about each cat, obviously.)

But let’s cut to the chase. I know what you’re most worried about. LUNCH. Parents worry about LUNCH.  Thinking about our babies eating in a cafeteria brings every lonely feeling to the surface.  Elementary School Cafeteria =  LORD OF THE FLIES!!!! HOW WILL HE SURVIVE?  Here’s the thing about that. Lunch is hard for them. For one reason: THE FREAKING KETCHUP.  At this very moment there are one million kindergarten hands in the air across this land. One million of those hands are either requesting ketchup or complaining about their inability to OPEN KETCHUP.  (WHY, KETCHUP MAKERS, WHHHYYYYYY???? WHY DO YOU MAKE THESE PACKETS SO HARD TO OPEN??? WHY DO YOU HATE LUNCH LADIES SO MUCH????? ) Also, parents: you can stop spending so much time planning your kids’ fancy lunches. Nobody eats them. Nobody. Except, of course, the ones with fruit roll ups and brownies and 6 pounds of sugar in their bags. They eat it all. Well played, sugar mamas.

LISTEN TO ME: THE KIDS ARE FINE. They don’t miss us. I KNOW they swear they do and they cry before drop off and they make us feel fifty shades of crappy before 8 am and I’m not saying that they’re lying: but let’s just say THAT THEY ARE DRAMATICALLY MISREPRESENTING THEIR EXPERIENCE. I don’t know why they do this. I think that maybe after our babies are born and the nurse takes them away to have their “first bath” she actually takes them a workshop entitled: “THIS IS HOW TO LAY ON THE MOMMY GUILT HARD AND FAST. DO IT OFTEN AND EARLY- SHE’LL BUY YOU MORE CRAP.” Don’t buy them more crap.  They’re happy. I watched them all really closely this morning- and they are being cared for. We have a-freaking-mazing teachers in this country and they are DOING THEIR WORK so that we can breathe and do ours. And all of them- the overachievers and the artists and the rascals and the story tellers and the strugglers – they will be okay. They have nets. Breathe Deep and Carry On, Warriors.

P.S.  Those lessons you’re teaching your kiddos about BEING REAL and HONEST? They’re working. One little man walked up to me this morning, touched my hair and said, “Oh. My mommy cut her hair really short like yours. She cries about it a lot.” So. Good job, parents. I guess.



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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