Staying on the Mat

I have been working through the online course, The Wisdom of Story, by authors Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown. I appreciate the deep inner work that is creating shifts within and opening up space around my heart. Tonight feels like the right time to share some of my thoughts. 

In my life, I have more easily dealt with physical pain rather than emotional pain. In order to avoid pain, and the eruption of emotions that might accompany it, I have spent much time and energy trying to control life. That is an exhausting way to live. And the ultimate result was that my emotions became so deeply buried and protected that even when I wanted to express sorrow or anger, I was unable to. 

Glennon writes “The healthiest of us are physical beings, emotional beings and spiritual beings.” 

I’ve embraced my physical self and nurtured my spiritual side. However, I voted the emotional part of me off the island long ago. I broke up with that perplexing self and I have refused to be reconciled. 

Until recently. 

I recognized ten years ago how important it is to accept and hold sacred my emotional being. But allowing myself to feel pain when it threatens to engulf me has been difficult. I know from experience that out of grief and pain strength and change are born. I know that. In the midst of crises though, I fall into the default behavior of avoidance, withdrawal and closing down. 

My desire to grow into my emotional self signaled the Divine that I was open and willing to learn. I was drawn first to The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, which helped me to understand what happens on an energetic level when I close my heart down in an attempt to protect myself from pain.

And recently I was led to Glennon and her books Carry On, Warrior and Love Warrior. With transparency and candor and raw emotions, Glennon shares her own journey through a time of upheaval and great pain. Something shifted in my heart and cracked open, as I read her words, revealing a place long protected and then ignored. 

The Wisdom of Story course is allowing me to explore this tender new space within that had long been barricaded. Brené shares in Lesson Three “When you deny your pain, it owns you. When you own your pain, it sets you free.”  I am done with denying pain or difficult situations. I am finished with being owned, and held captive by pain and my refusal to feel my emotions. 

Glennon tells the story of accidently attending a hot yoga class, while working through a difficult season in her life. She wanted to leave the class, which has the participants move through yoga poses in a very warm room. When the instructor asked Glennon what her intention was for the class, the sweaty frustrated Glennon answered that she just wanted to “stay on this mat and make it through whatever is about to happen without running out of here. ” For 90 minutes she simply sat still and let everything in her life that she had been running from appear in her mind. She stayed on the mat, and did not run, and she did not die. 

I want to stay on the mat. When faced with pain or hard things, I want to stay present, stay aware, and let what’s going to happen, happen. The word crises comes from the Greek krinein, which means “decide”. Pain forces a decision. Will I close down and try not to feel? And in protecting myself actually lose a part of who I am? Or will I stay on the mat, and feel…feel the pain, feel loneliness, feel grief? Can I choose to be still and feel and let the pain pass through? 

I can. I can stay on the mat. I will stay on the mat. I am staying on the mat. 

I am willing to embrace my emotional self, and welcome her back after her long exile, and at last see what she has to teach me. I am ready to be set free. 

Check out The Wisdom of Story HERE 

The Wisdom of Story

Earlier this month, I signed up for a four part series of lessons. The Wisdom of Story is the fine result of the collaborative efforts of authors Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown. These two soulful and authentic women have shared from their hearts and lives on topics such as addiction, shame, loss, joy, love and the importance of being fully who we are, via their books and blogs. 

I recently “met” Glennon through a post on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page. I read both of her books, Carry on Warrior and her recent release, Love Warrior. (Read my review of Love Warrior HERE). I was so moved, so unsettled, so ready to own my story and give it voice after reading Glennon’s memoirs. And into the midst of my longing for something more, came this class. Oh, the marvelous Divine timing of the events that have led me here. 

Tonight I had the opportunity to begin the course with Lesson One. Using a series of videos to present the lesson and the exercises, Glennon and Brené share candidly from their own lives. Life has been “brutiful” (beautiful + brutal) for both of these courageous women. Life is brutiful for each of us, if we are honest, a mix of beautiful moments that take our breaths away, and brutal moments that knock the breath from us, leaving us gasping in pain. 

To grow, to own my story, I must accept both in my life. 

Because this is a paid course, I will not be sharing about the lessons in detail. Here is a link to the CourageWorks website where info about the course is presented. The lessons can be started at any time and completed online, taking as much time as needed. There is an e-workbook included, that can also be printed out, to record answers to questions and exercises. 

The course is very well done. I wouldn’t expect anything else from these encouraging women. Brené and Glennon suggest reading Love Warrior in conjunction with completing The Wisdom of Story. 

I am excited about working through these lessons, slowly and thoughtfully. After reading Glennon’s books I desired to be more aware of my own story and desired as well to be able to tell the story inside of me with my voice. That desire went out. And this course appeared almost immediately, for me an answer to a need I had only just become aware of. 

I love how things work out. 

Book Review: Love Warrior

I was recently introduced to the writing of  blogger and author, Glennon Doyle Melton, by way of a Facebook post on Elizabeth Gilbert’s page. After reading through several of her blog posts at I was intrigued enough to order her first book, Carry on Warrior. I loved it! Funny and yet starkly honest and authentic, Glennon’s book taught me much about compassion, acceptance and transparency.

Getting to know Glennon at this time was fortuitous, because as I finished her first book, a second one, Love Warrior, was about to be released. I received my copy last Thursday, two days after its release, and read it over the weekend.

Love Warrior is a memoir, written three years after her earlier work. As chronicled in Carry on Warrior, Glennon is a recovering alcoholic and bulimic, whose life changed when she found out she was pregnant. Considering her situation an invitation into a different life, Glennon sought healing from her addictions, married her sweetheart, Craig, and devoted herself to caring for their three children.

Life was hard, but Glennon learned she could do hard things. She found a way to express herself, through writing, and discovered her honest, humorous portrayal of life as a wife and mom created connection with other women who understood and shared her perspective.

Just as it seemed Glennon had life figured out, with a happy, growing family, an adoring spouse and a succesful writing career, her husband revealed that he had been unfaithful throughout their marriage. Love Warrior is Glennon’s story of her soulful journey, through pain and rage and confusion, as her beautiful life fell apart.

What she learned was that pain offers an invitation to grow and learn and go deep within, so that transformation can take place. This book is so much more than a story about one marriage, one couple, one family. It is a roadmap to soul healing, to living a fully free and authentic life, brimming with love.

This is a powerful book. While Glennon shares glimpses of humor in its pages, the focus is on transformation through the fire of pain. She writes boldly about topics such as pornography, sex, infidelity, addiction and shame. And with equal honestly, she shares that we are taught, from childhood, to survive in a messy, broken world by learning to hide who we really are. We don’t offer our real selves. We send out representatives of ourselves with the hope of finding a semblance of love, so we won’t feel the “hot loneliness” so profoundly.

I took Glennon’s words deeply into my heart, where they have ignited a fire within. I read through the book quickly, because I couldn’t put it down. I want to read through Love Warrior again, slowly, pondering as I read.

I was drawn to Glennon and her books for a specific purpose. Five years ago I faced my fears, staring them down, staying present with them, until they revealed to me the gifts that lay behind them. An amazing spiritual awakening came as I integrated who I sought to be with the self I tried to hide.

This year, desiring to heal my physical body and live a pain free life, I was drawn to Anthony William and his book, Medical Medium. This journey is ongoing, and not only am I healing, I have settled into my body, becoming very present with myself and aware of my nutritional needs.

I realized today that I have tolerated physical pain much more willingly than I have emotional pain. I don’t like pain that is felt as grief, shame, weakness or crises, in myself or in others. I shove it away, refusing to feel it or acknowledge it. I recognize that I am being invited, by way of Glennon’s words, to sit with pain, learn from it, and be made free, in ways I have not experienced yet.

It is crucial to me that I not back away from this Divine invitation to grow. I want to offer my truest, healthiest self to the world. I want to tell the story of my inner life, with my outer voice. I want to be fully known and know others. Only then can I deeply love and accept love in return.

During this year of surrender, I have been brought here, to this place now, to learn from Glennon Doyle Melton. I have been invited to expand my awareness, to receive the gifts pain offers, to feel the hurt and not run from it, to love with a whole and healthy heart.

Yes. Yes, I accept the invitation. I am becoming…a Love Warrior.

The Gifts in our Lives

This week ushers in the beginning of school. Although the calendar says we have another month of summer, nothing marks the end of the season like going back to school. 

As a child, this time of year was a mix of excitement over starting a new school year, and sadness that the long, lazy days of summer break were at an end. I loved seeing my friends again and meeting new teachers at school. And who doesn’t love the enormous potential that awaits in brand new school supplies? And yet I was keenly aware of the passing of time and my helplessness to slow it. I loved the freedom of summer and sunny days spent exploring my neighborhood and the deep recesses of my heart. What mixed emotions accompanied me on the first day of school. 

My five grandchildren all return to school this week. I’ve spent time recently with Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, and this evening with Dayan and Jonathan, and they all share those same feelings about the end of summer and the beginning of school. The grandkids range from being a senior in highschool to a second grader, and they feel that swirling mix of excitement and sadness, the allure of fresh possibilities and the loss of freedom that comes with long hours in classrooms. 

I just finished reading the best book, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Glennon writes the blog, Momastry, with candor, humor and total transparency, and the book consists of essays from her blog. One of the essays, Brave is a Decision, really caught my heart this week. Written to her son, Chase, as he was entering third grade, Glennon shares with him  this wisdom:

“I think God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you. So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.” 

She goes on to tell her son that if he sees a child being left out or hurt or teased, his heart will hurt a little…he’s feeling compassion…and to act on that. He can step into the situation or he can talk to his teacher or his parents. She emphasizes that together they can come up with a plan to help. Together they are a team, for him and for his whole class. 

What amazing and heart felt words to share with a child returning to school! What stirring words to embrace as adults! 

I want my grandchildren to hear and/or read these words and see their teachers and classmates as gifts from God…each one as a gift…and know that they too are gifts in the lives of others. 

And I want to remember that the same is true for me. Every person who crosses my path is a gift in my life. Every one. When compassion stirs my heart, it’s also time for me to act, by getting involved, by speaking up, by giving, by finding someone who can help. 

Glennon concludes the letter to Chase with these words:

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.” 

Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…enjoy the gifts that you receive in your classrooms this year. Appreciate each one. Be kind. Be brave. Reach out to those who feel alone. And know that you are my greatest gifts. I love you and cherish you. 

Read Glennon’s full blog post here.