Walking each other home: Book review of Stitches by Anne Lamott

IMG_2539970996080 “My time is limited. I’m dyingyou know. Not that anybody cares.”

Sigh.

It is one of those conversations where I catch myself with one hand on the receiver and one hand on the ground so that the Earth’s trajectory – and her self pity – doesn’t send me hurling into space.

“Are you going to die today?”

“Well, no.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

It’s been almost four years since I first met Anne Lamott in Traveling Mercies. A lot has happened in those four years and in that time, I have read every non-fiction book she has written. I find that how I receive her books is very much contingent on where I am at when I read them. What jumps out at me today, might be entirely different tomorrow.

ultimately, we are just walking each other home. – Ram Dass

The main alcoholic in my life is dying Not today, or tomorrow, but soon. They have a year maybe two at the most left.I think they need to live with me so that I can help and they think they need to stay exactly where they are (over 1, 000 miles away.) They want to die the same way they live: On their terms.

I think that stinks, but nobody asked me.

I can either spend what is left of their life arguing with them, or I can see them for who they are, a child of God, and allow them the dignity of making their own choices.

Stitches is full of Anne’s trademark dry humor, subtle wisdom, and gentle heart. It’s almost poetic in its writing style and it’s soft-spoken much like Anne’s actual speaking voice. Rather than hammer at you, she almost whispers. Stitches is like a sacred conversation between old friends.

Anne writes and speaks with gentle authority and with the wisdom of a woman who has been there, done that, and lived to tell about it. Whether it’s as the overly sensitive child who learned the freedom that comes from choosing to see what is really going on, the woman who is walking her husband home after 40 years, the best friend who grieves, the mother with a mentally ill son, or the teacher who doesn’t give up – Anne teaches us that life is a miracle, the sun continues to rise with or without our permission, that we are not rags, and that if we hold hands, we can stand against the wind.

I don’t know what season you are in. For me, I’m in the thick of chapter two – The Overly Sensitive Child. Perhaps you are facing life without your mate, a sick or wayward child, the loss of a best friend or a community tragedy much like what hit Moore Oklahoma this year. And maybe you are wondering how to stitch your life back together.

Maybe, like me you need to hear that it’s okay to let other people in , that beauty has meaning, we can take our own turn and that we are not rags. Whatever season you are in, or what you may need to hear, Stitches is a book that has something for everyone. I give it 5 stars.

You can get your copy at Amazon.com

DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT: While I do at times receive free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews, no goods or services were received in exchange for this review. I purchased the book myself via Amazon and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to tell my readers about it.

Robert Downey Jr is a Class Act All the Way Around and I’m a Puddle of Tears

I’ll be honest, when my friend shared this video (via his blog – Save a Cactus Hugger) with me last week, I sat down and cried.

I didn’t cry because I’m such a fan of these two men. I am (and you my readers know that, probably ad nauseum I’m sure.) but that’s not the point. I think this video shows courage, and great humility. Robert Downey Jr has proven himself to be a class act all the way around.

I’m not sure why it made me cry really. My reaction was so strong emotionally that I’m forced to look at it and find out. Yeah me, another Fantastic Growth Opportunity. (AFGO as my friend calls it) – I know that I’ve had many periods in my life where I’ve been overcome with a severe case of dumb-butt and have needed to face that in myself. And while I’ve been blacklisted for serious infractions like admitting I’m a more of a Ben and Jerry’s Fan than a Dairy Queen Gal, I have fortunately been spared the limelight of these two men’s lives.

Not that I haven’t necessarily done worse.

I just never got caught. Or if I did, it never made the nightly news or cover of People Magazine.

Maybe I cried because I’m one of those women who loves alcoholics to death — literally sometimes. (To point, if our eyes meet across a crowded room and my heart starts doing 280, chances are pretty good they either have a flask in their pocket or a criminal record. Which is in all honesty how I landed up in a 12 step room to begin with. I was raised to believe that I am personally responsible for other people’s bologna and it took a few years to let go of that responsibility, one clutched controlling finger at a time.)

Maybe I cried out of self pity? I have several alcoholics in my life who have yet to accomplish (on a personal level) what I witnessed here.

Maybe I cried because I know so many who left the room before reaching this place of hope and real forgiveness.

Or maybe I cried because I’ve been around 12 step rooms for so long and I honesty wish church were more like this and it isn’t always.

No matter, I love the video and believe that Robert’s actions show great class, love, and humility – not to mention courage and so do Mel’s. These men are a great example of true friendship — we should all be so blessed.

Have you ever played small? Cut it out.

Making myself nothing to suit others is not humility; it’s ego and lack of trust. When I make myself small to “help” someone else feel like they are important what I’m really communicating is I think I’m too big for you to handle and you are too weak to see my greatness. Real relationships require real honesty. If I cannot allow myself to be fully me when we’re together, am I really allowing the other person to be all they can be? Of course not.

Making myself nothing is just another mask for fear. Fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real. What are we really afraid of when we do that? Rejection? Failure? Pride?

We get caught up in the lie that we are being too prideful if we boast (talk) about our accomplishments. Really? Isn’t playing small prideful as well? Yes, we can be very prideful in our ability to make ourselves small — I see it all the time in church. We get hung up on thinking that playing small pleases God. No it does not.

God did not create us to be small nor did He create us to fit in. We are created in HIS likeness in order to make a difference in this world. We cannot make a difference if we are playing down to nothing.

Making myself nothing so that other people can feel like everything is about manipulation and control. It’s about people pleasing and being liked.

Let go of the control.

Be who you were created to be and make a difference.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

Fisher’s Of Men – or – How I Met My Husband.

I am 22 when my boyfriend decides to dump with the classic line of “It’s not me, it’s you.”

I am crushed.

Inconsolable even.

Drunk on Hagen Daz ice cream and dreams of what could have been (AKA self-pity in over drive), I am a horrible mess. In a moment of what I can only call pure desperation, I reach for my Bible and start talking to God.

He Dumped me! Can you believe he dumped me? I’ll never get married. My life is ruined. What am I going to do God?

Flip, Flip, Point.

I looked down to see where my finger had landed.

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19 for you purists)

Fishers of Men? Really God?I’m in! Yeah!

I put down my bible drive to the mall and buy myself the BEST fishing wardrobe minimum wage can buy. You know, little black dress, red lipstick and fish net stockings. Shortly after that I pack up my little bag of sorrows, leave Redford and moved to Chicago where I spend the next few years participating in the catch-and-release program.

Not to be confused with the prison release program, which is something entirely different.

Okay, if I’m counting the guy I met in front of the Sears Tower that one Spring, not really.

But there you are.

One day I meet this really cute guy at work who gets me to go out with him by hawking the fact he plays guitar in a rock band. We’d only gone out a couple of times when he calls to tell me he wants to take me to church on our next date.

I thought he was speaking figuratively and dressed accordingly.

Do you know he took me to church?

For real?

Wow, am I popular. I even meet the woman’s auxiliary. They call themselves “The Church Basement Ladies.” I am not making that up. I ask them what they do and they tell me they mostly sew quilts and cook supper for Jesus.

Now I was not raised in the church but even I know it’s been at least 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth so either these ladies were pulling my leg, or they’ve held up remarkably well.

Best,

Deana

No Longer a Vagabond

A New Beginning. It still needs paint and such, but what a great start.

“If you are bored with life, if you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things – you don’t have enough goals.” Lou Holtz

My husband surprised me this weekend by emptying the spare bedroom where he keeps all of his music gear. Once the room was empty he ripped out the carpet and laid new flooring. This will be my new office / art studio and the front living room will be our new music room; complete with french doors and eventually a baby grand piano.

For those of you who don’t know, J-man is a VP for a national telecommunications company by day and a musician by night. In other words, he’s an artist who can afford to eat.

Depending on who you are and where you are in your life this may or may not be a big deal. It’s a big deal to me though. I left Corporate America back in the 90’s to raise a family. That was a huge life change for all of us. I was raised to have a career, not raise a family. While that choice meant great sacrifice for all of us, being there for our kids while they grew up made the sacrifice worth it. This sacrifice also allowed him the freedom – and motivation – to pursue his career and take it as far as he is able. He works amazingly hard and does well, and I’m very happy for him.

Contrary to some people’s belief that I am “basically retired and living a life of leisure,” I consider being a stay home mom a full-time commitment and a job in itself. I am by no stretch a Martha Stewart. There are many women who do far better at this domestic goddess role than I. This explains why even as a Mommy Blogger I rarely wrote about domestic things. So not my forte’.

On top of being a SAHM, I’ve spent the last 14 years volunteering throughout the community and in school, as well as continuing my education. I even held a few part-time positions when certain financial needs arose. Our oldest is a junior in college and our youngest is a senior in high school. They are wonderful well-adjusted young men and I am proud of them both. While I realize this isn’t the choice for everyone, we as a couple, made the right choice for our family.

This season is coming to an end and it is time to look forward to a new beginning.

With corporate a distant memory, I’ve chosen to gather together the things I do well such as speaking, writing, and art and start my own company. Jeff bought me a laptop three years ago and I’ve been a writing vagabond ever since. I take my computer with me where ever I go. This has been wonderful so far but is also constraining. I need my own space to breathe, write, and create.

Even if he is getting another room down stairs, giving me his music room is no small feat. This is a tangible act of love and faith. Being married to a man who not only believes in me, but follows up on that belief with action is priceless.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved.