Glennon Melton, creator of the wildly popular blog Momastery and New York Times bestselling author of Carry On, Warrior came to Charleston to speak at the Charleston Music Hall last Sunday. A friend invited me to attend since she knew I blog and that I read Glennon’s blog. I have to say, it was one of the best Sundays I have had in quite a while. Day trip to Charleston? Um, yes please. Getting to spend time with a friend who managed to make the 3 1/2 hour drive fly by because we chatted the whole way? Awesome! But the cherry on top was getting to hear Glennon speak. She enthralled the audience. She could have talked for hours and everyone would have been riveted. She’s that good.
Since what triggered Glennon’s rise in popularity in 2003 was her “25 Things About Me” post, I feel the best way to share what I learned at Glennon’s talk is to give you a list of 25 Things About Glennon’s Talk. To give you a flavor of her 25 Things, her # 5:
# 5. I am a recovering alcoholic and bulimic. 7 years sober…so in many ways I’m actually 7 years old. Sometimes I miss excess booze and food, in the same indescribable way you can miss someone who abused you and repeatedly left you for dead.
And here was her best friend’s #5 – My favorite thing to eat is hummus.
She read her friend’s list and thought, “OH. CRAP.” She wasn’t prepared for the reaction her honesty would receive. Her inbox was “[f]ull of messages from friends and acquaintances thanking me for putting it all out there. I read people’s stories that they’d written and sent to me well into the night, until my eyes started crossing from exhaustion, actually. And that night I decided to start writing.”
So to prepare this list, I was taking notes feverishly on my phone to share the essence of Glennon’s talk with you, but I may not exactly have gotten it word for word. And since she said so many wonderful things, I’ve decided to break this up into 2 posts.
25 Things from Glennon Melton’s Talk
(The First 12 1/2):
1. When she says she is a truth teller, she means it.
She is fearless and lays it all bare in a way that both inspires me and terrifies me to think about doing myself. Then again, I have been trying to keep it real with people when they ask me how I am doing; if I’m having a crummy day, I tell them instead of saying the standard “fine.” Baby steps.
2. “Every heartbeat is an invitation from God to co-create something beautiful.”
Right out of the gate, she said this and I just thought: this is gonna be GOOD! Plus, she took her boots off and sat criss cross in her chair. Talk about the opposite of standing at a podium. Good call, Glennon!
3. “The only things that matter are relationships: they are the most beautiful things and also the most brutally hard.”
Yes, sister. It’s all our relationships: with God, with ourself, with our spouse, kids, families, friends, and so on. This woman who cherishes relationships greets strangers with hugs and makes you feel like she’s the lucky one for meeting YOU. She gets it. Glennon has coined the word “BRUTIFUL”, the combination of brutal and beautiful. She says it this way:
“Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real.”
4. Don’t shower at rock bottom.
OK, here’s the backstory. Glennon has had many rock bottom days which she calls the valley. In fact, the name Glennon is Irish for “girl of the valley.” But when you are having a very bad day, it helps others know you are having a bad day if you look the part. DO NOT under any circumstances dress nicely, put on makeup and above all else, DO NOT take a shower! It’s like she’s saying you’ll mask your pain and your need if you shower and go through the motions and everything looks “normal.” No one will know you are dying inside. Still not sure if I can forgo the shower, but I have gone out without makeup on or styling my hair.
5. Don’t run from your in the valley moments.
When Glennon was at rock bottom, the grocery store clerk said: “Don’t knock the valleys. Up on the mountain, the air’s so thin you can hardly breathe and all you can do is stand still and try not to fall. And down in the the valley is where the river flows.”
When you think of it like that, who doesn’t want to get in that river and swim around? We fight against the hard things in life, and when they come, it’s like, “Oh no! This is tough. I can’t do this!” But in those moments, we admit we are vulnerable and NOT in control and we relinquish ourselves and give in. Not give up, but give in. Funny how in retrospect, these bathroom floor moments become life-defining. She suggests, “[w]e connect with people more in the valley and at rock bottom. Be still and look for miracles instead of hurrying to climb out so fast.”
6. “All of us have different paints and supplies to paint our own masterpieces.”
I adore this image of us all being Picassos and Rembrandts and Van Goghs and going to town on our canvases. Partially because I SUCK at art! But I love music. So use whatever metaphor you like. See yourself creating something beautiful with your life. I have a card on my desk with a quote from Max Lucado. It reads, “[t]here are things only you can do, and you are alive to do them. In the great orchestra we call life, you have an instrument and a song, and you owe it to God to play them both sublimely.”
7. “We need to get busy SISTERING.”
This was probably my AHA! moment of the whole talk. Glennon starts talking about carpentry, boards and nails, and Jesus and I’m wondering, “Where this is going?” She explains how joists work and that “sometimes joists get weak from too much pressure so carpenters say they have a weak joist in the narthex. So the carpenters get on their walkie talkies or whatever carpenters use and they bring another board and out and place it on the right of the joist. And if that doesn’t work, then the carpenters get busy again and they put another one the left of the joist.” She says, “What is that called?” and a woman yells, “Sistering!” So Glennon then says, “Sometimes life is hard because that’s they way it’s designed so we will ask for help. We need a sister to the left and a sister to the right. All you have to do is stand there and stay strong.”
Sistering. Wow. How cool an image is that. Women especially need to master the concept of sistering. As not seeing each other as competition, but rather co-conspirators, or running buddies in this life race and picking each other up as we stumble and fall along the race. Imagine if schools offered a course on this, it would be called Sistering 101. Classes would be filled with women from all walks of life and the main premise would be that you would complete the course knowing your fellow classmates and become each other’s cheerleader. How fitting that 2 of my sorority sisters from college were in the theater. One of them was my little sister, the person who you mentor when they first pledge the sorority. It did my heart good to see these 2 beautiful women and even if it was too brief, share a hug and play the catchup game together. Sistering on multiple levels!
“Sisterhood is the phenomenon that occurs when women quit seeing each other as mirrors, or reflections of themselves, and start seeing each other as one-of-a-kind works of art. Sisterhood happens when women view each other as deep wells of support and inspiration–as teammates–instead of competitors.”
8. Glennon has a tattoo on her wrist that says, “Be still.”
9. “The journey of the warrior.”
At the end of the hot yoga class, the instructor walks up to her and says, “That was the journey of the warrior.” Glennon knew she had heard that phrase before. She had been given book from a reader called When Things Fall Apart:Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Buddhist monk Pema Chodron. Chodron writes, “So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.”
You can tell that the significance of the word warrior is important to Glennon. Heck, it’s in the title of her book, Carry On, Warrior.
“We either spend our lives fighting each other or fighting our own egos. Either way–life is a battle. A few years ago, I decided to quit fighting others and start wrestling with my own fear, ego, and agner. This is a harder battle–a daily exorcism., really. Beating down my ego and letting love and peace emerge leave me exhausted some days. But choosing the inner battle instead of the outer has made all the difference. It’s harder, but simpler: now, at least, I know my opponent.”
10. Most of us simply don’t have a clue what we are doing.
11. Pain is not the enemy.
I’ve always been told to keep my envy in check, to push it way down. It’s both a negative emotion AND a sin, for goodness sake! But I had never equated envy to be a potential tool that shines a light on what you most admire and aspire to. So when Glennon said “envy can be a teacher” and it’s “a flashing arrow pointing at what we were meant to do”, it was a light bulb moment! Talk about making lemonade out of lemons.
and 12 1/2. Being in a theater full of 900 dynamic, excited women is empowering.
Part 2 will follow this one tomorrow, so check back then! 🙂