Anne Lamont, great inspirational writer that she is, shares about hope in her latest, Stitches – A Handbook On Meaning, Hope And Repair. (This is a good one to read before another family holiday dinner.)
Alone, we are doomed, but by the same token, we’ve learned that people are impossible, even the ones we love most: they’re damaged, prickly, set in their ways. Also, they’ve gotten old and a little funny, which can be draining. It is most comfortable to be invisible, to observe life from a distance, at one with our own intoxicating superior thoughts. But comfort and isolation are not where the surprises are. They are not where hope is. Hope tends to appear when we see that all sorts of disparate personalities can come together, no matter how different and jarring they may seem at first.
Cool Mona note: My inspiring words on hope? Look for it, just keep looking for it.
Nothing inspires my guests or annoys my in-laws more than a Salty Chihauhau at the holidays. It’s a pretty drink guaranteed to bring some oomph to the party. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3H6amDbAwlY
- 4 ounce(s) tequila, divided
- Coarse salt (optional)
- 2 ounce(s) orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau, divided
- 3 cup(s) grapefruit juice, divided
- 4 grapefruit slices for garnish
- Wet the rims of 4 glasses and coat with coarse salt (if desired); fill the glasses with ice. Pour 1 ounce tequila and 1/2 ounce liqueur into each. Top each with 3/4 cup grapefruit juice and stir. Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
Cool Mona note: But is it inspiring? To say the least.
The great inspirational writer, Anne Lamott, shares from her latest book, Stitches – A Handbook On Meaning, Hope And Repair, about getting over the biggest losses in our lives.
What if the great secret insider-trading truth is that you don’t ever get over the biggest losses in your life? Is that good news, bad news or both?
The good news is that if you don’t seal up your heart with caulking compound, and instead stay permeable, people stay alive inside you and maybe outside you, too, forever.
This is also the bad news, not because your heart will continue to hurt forever, but because grief is so frowned upon, so hard for even intimate bystanders to witness, that you will think you must be crazy for not getting over it. You think it’s best to keep this a secret, even if it cuts you off from certain aspects of life, like, say, the truth of your heart, and all that is real.
The pain does grow less acute, but the insidious palace lie that we will get over crushing losses means that our emotional GPS can never find true north, as it is based on maps that no longer mention the most important places we have been to.
Pretending that things are nicely boxed up and put away robs us of great riches.
Cool Mona note: I am passing on these beautiful words to friends who need to read it. I bet you have some as well.
Let’s just say mine is full. And let’s just say that I dare not sort and discard to make room because I’ve tried that. Rooting into my personal anger abyss, I am reminded of all Uncle Graham’s accusing words, the silence from my mother, my downsizing while the lackeys remained. Thinking it through with dramatic sighs, I put them all back. I had not let them go after all.
To let that stuff go is to be vulnerable. It is acknowledging that I lost because I couldn’t handle the situation on my own. The old stuff becomes new, the new stuff goes into the box and becomes old. I have many of them. Some are colorful designer shoe boxes and some look like an 8 year old’s decoupage project. Sunsets, happy smiling people, assorted wildflowers. I keep it on my desk so that when I’m working and my thoughts get steered to a place I don’t want to revisit, I look at the box. Letitgo, letitgo, letitgo. If I get stuck with the thoughts, I scrounge around for a paper, a receipt, a tissue and write it down one more time. Let. It. Go.
I need a letitgo box. What I don’t need is the eye twitch, the lack of focus and the extra carbs. I have things to do, people to see and a world to change. And today I just might let it go.
Cool Mona note: Inspired? Then let it go. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYMuVeJSlwg
Anne Lamott, inspiring author of Stitches – A Handbook On Meaning, Hope And Repair, continues to see things as they really are. No cuteness allowed. She writes about meaning, finding meaning and what you can do with it when you find it.
It is not now and never was in anybody’s best interest for you to be a seeker. It’s actually in everyone’s worst interest. It’s not convenient for the family. It may make them feel superficial and expendable. You may end up looking nutty and unfocused, which does not reflect well on them. And you may also reveal awkward family secrets, like that your parents were insane, or that they probably should have raised Yorkies instead of human children. Your little search for meaning may keep you from going as far at your school or your company as you might otherwise have gone, if you had had a single-minded devotion to getting ahead. Success shows the world what you’re made of and that your parents were right to all but destroy you to foster this excellence.
Cool Mona note: I hoist my marg glass to our community of seekers and strugglers. Most seekers struggle. Most strugglers seek. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-2Of9aznxg
What would it take to make you happy? It’s an excellent question and I can twerk on it all day. What I cannot do is find a straight-forward answer. For years I have wished to be happy. When blowing out birthday candles, I wished even harder.
I learned the following exercise from Dr. Phil McGraw’s down-to-earth Texas self, shared in his Life Strategies book. I hope you’ll try it with me.
Ask yourself a series of 4 questions:
- What do I want?
- What must I do to have it?
- How would I feel when I have it?
- So, what I really want is to feel ____? (Fill in the blank.)
Number 4 is the one that trips me up. Answers 1-3 are more difficult than I thought and it’s challenging to do this by yourself. But I am determined.
Cool Mona note: Get inspired. Share it with a friend.
Them (smiling): So, what do you do?
Me: Well, I have 20 years in Marketing and Media.
Them (smiling): Oh. So that’s what you do?
Me: No. I was downsized several years ago.
Them (smiling): Are we talking in the 90’s, 2001 or 2008?
Me: All of them.
Them (looking over my head): What do you do now?
Me: Oh, different things. I write. I blog.
Them: I don’t watch reality shows.
Me: Well, actually, reality shows and blogging are different.
Them (smiling): Do you have children?
Me: No. Er, yes. Step-children. Grown.
Them (half-smiling): Do you have pets?
Me: No. We lost two last year and haven’t gotten over it.
Them (clearing their throats): Do you play golf?
Them: Do you play tennis?
Them (perspiring): Siblings?
Them (taking a long pull on their drink): Is your family here?
Them (blotting their mouth): So, where are they?
Me: That’s a good question.
Them (waving absent mindedly): Excuse me, I see my friend over there.
Cool Mona note: I’ll stand next to you at the party. Close. And I mean the entire party. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uG2gYE5KOs
You’ll befriend Alan Clay immediately. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, struggling for his job as he pitches his high-tech company to the King. He’s broke and broken. His business ideas are great on paper, not so much in execution. (Think bicycle manufacturing in Budapest with communist-era equipment.) His father and ex-wife pitch him back and forth with their unsparing barbs.
The read is a spot-on parable of the U.S. in the global economy. The Middle East taunting and dangling and challenging. It’s a rally for the American businesses trying to play in the Saudi sand box. It’s the American dream wearing a thobe.
Clay is an unforgettable character, his young colleagues and local acquaintances all richly described and smartly embedded into his daily existence. In his head, Clay writes to his daughter, sometimes defending her mother and sometimes telling her he can no longer pay her tuition.
Dear Kit: The key thing is managed awareness of your role in the world and history. Think too much and you know you are nothing. Think just enough and you know you are small, but important to some. That’s the best you can do.
Kit, you know the key to relating to your parents now? It’s mercy. Children, when they become teenagers and then young adults, grow unforgiving. Anything but perfection is pathos. Children are judgmental on an Old Testament level. All errors are unforgivable, as if a contract of perfection has been broken. But what if one’s parents are granted the same mercy, the same empathy as other humans? Children need more Jesus in them.
It’s a supremely written read and so I give it 5 margaritas in the Cool Mona rating system.
I don’t know Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.
Dag Hammarskjold, Markings
Continued brilliant thoughts from the #1 inspirational writer, Anne Lamont. Miss 1 and 2?
3. I Think My Dogs Are the Two People to Whom I Am Closest
That’s not entirely true: I know they are. They make it possible for me to bear life. (I believe I first experienced anxiety and dismay an hour or so after implantation.) People have really, really hurt my feelings, betrayed me or died. One ex-boyfriend wrote a novel about what it had been like to be in bed with me. This was exhilarating. Three close friends have told me that they don’t love my nonfiction. But dogs? Dogs are the closest we come to knowing the divine love of God on this side of eternity. They love me all the time, no matter what. And they love my nonfiction.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my friends and my two brothers. Their love, companionship and loyalty are why I have such deep faith in God. They are God’s love in cute, chubby bodies. But dogs are like oxygen masks on airplanes. Dogs are umbilical. Dogs are first responders. Dogs never betray you or hurt your feelings, like certain people I could mention if I weren’t so polite.
Okay, maybe I’ll just mention one.
4. I’ve Been Quite Mad at My Dad Lately, Who Was the Person Closest to Me in My Life, and Who Has Been Dead for 34 Years
He was handsome as a Kennedy, brilliant, funny. He adored me. I was his ideal daughter. I got perfect grades for him. I rubbed his feet, and read way beyond my years, like a cross between a geisha, and Hannah Arendt. I overlooked his character defects, and the destruction he wrought on our family, like so many fathers in the 1960′s did. I became who I am—a writer, storyteller, great conversationalist and listener and black-belt co-dependent, to please him.
When he got sick with brain cancer, at 54, when I was 23, I devoted my life to his care. I hung out with him every day—took him to chemo and radiation, bookstores, beaches, bakeries—because his girlfriend had a job, and my younger brother was in high school.
I missed him beyond words. However, a few years ago I came upon journals he kept the last two years of his life. He wrote about how unpleasant it was that I was sometimes so emotional. Along those lines he wrote, “Annie came to the hospital, full of the usual false good cheer and bad jokes.” It stung me to my core.
You would think I could cut him some slack, because a) he had brain cancer, and b) it was 30 years ago.
Anger and grief are the way home to ourselves. So I stopped speaking to him. Recently, after many prayers and long conversations with friends, I have felt the first stirrings of forgiveness. I’m glad. And I’m sorry it took so long. But my work has been to become friends with my own heart, and he hurt that heart. I like starting to miss him again. It is both painful and lovely. I mean, he was my dad.
Cool Mona note: You can probably understand why I like Anne Lamont so much. Here’s my review on her book, Help, Thanks, Wow – The Three Essential Prayers. It’s worth reading. The book, I mean.