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Untamed book club

“Your body will tell you things your mind will talk you out of. Your body is telling you what direction life is in. Try trusting it. Turn away from what feels cold. Go toward what feels warm.” Glennon is talking to Martha on the phone, as cartwheels and summersaults are jumbling her thoughts about leaving her marriage to be with Abby (page 124). I chose this passage because it so clearly explains the how and why of mindfulness bringing one closer to the Knowing. 

I once heard a child tell his teacher, when she asked, “‘What’s the main function of your body?’ and the child responded, ‘So we have a way to carry our heads around.’” The crazy narratives our thoughts tell us aren’t necessarily true. Yet, we aren’t taught to pay attention to our bodies, to quietly listen to what our body is telling us when we feel pain, or tightness in our throat, or a tingling in out feet. Simple breathing, ‘dropping into our bodies’ turns off the voices in our head. Instead of contracting, we can create spaciousness and warmth. We are connecting to our deeper self…the Knowing. We are open to all of the experiences in the present moment. 

Unfortunately, we’re not naturally wired to trust in the Knowing, which is why we practice mindfulness. The more we practice, the stronger the Knowing becomes. Glennon gets through this practice, clear sighted about her choice, and ends this section with, “I trust women who trust themselves." I love this line. But I take it further – I trust people who trust themselves. People who trust themselves are authentic; they have insight, integrity, and consciousness. I know who they are and I trust them.

There’s a serious danger in not Knowing. I was always extremely close to my oldest son, but he became a little quieter several months before he was to go to a college in New York on a full Science Scholars Scholarship. He attempted suicide the night before we were to fly to New York. Smack! Just like that, we became estranged, he had no insight, no higher consciousness and I suddenly didn’t know who he was, nor did I trust him. Seven years later, after 2 months in a residential treatment center in Boston he did attend University. He has a Masters in biology and is home, studying for the MCATs. He’s much more open with what’s going on inside his mind and body, and we’re much closer as a result. But this is a work in progress…only he can determine who he is and what he wants his life to be about.

My other favorite section is (p. 136) when Doyle explains the word, selah, “found in the Hebrew Bible seventy-four times. “Selah…is a direction to the reader to stop reading and be still for a moment, because the previous idea is important enough to consider deeply. The poetry in scripture is meant to transform, and the scribes knew that change begins through reading but can be completed only in quiet contemplation. Selah is a transformational moment of awareness.” Deepak Chopra calls this ‘the gap,’ a present moment, which offers us infinite possibilities. Have you ever felt that the powerful beauty in a song is the space between the notes? I experience this in Leonard Bernstein’s composition, “Somewhere,” from Westside Story.


  1. Fatihe- I loved this section too.

    Selah and Glennon's description of it are perfect. Like the quiet at the end of dramatic reading or poem or powerful song. Selah is our mind's time to rest. It is also a great word to chant during meditation.

    Thankful your son has found his way, and continued health to all of you!

  2. Oh, Faithe… I am saddened to read about your son's attempted suicide. I am so sorry for what he, you and your family went through. Thank heaven your son is doing well now, and that he is more open with his thoughts and feelings. I think we are each a "work in progress", by the way! Best wishes to him for successful studies and a career he loves, with plenty of friendship, love and hope every day of his life.

    Here's one thing that Glennon writes about in this week's section that I'd never contemplated before. As women, we raise our children with the hopes they will follow their dreams. Yet, as parents, we often put aside our dreams for the sake of our children and/or our spouse. If this cycle continues, we really just wind up following our dreams until we become wives & mothers. We look to the future with hopes that our children will find their Knowing, follow their dreams and live full, authentic lives. We don't normally look back and realize that our mothers wished that for us, too. Generation to generation, our longing to live the best life we can imagine gets short-circuited when we become wives or moms. Our instincts for our own emotional & spiritual survival can practically dissolve once we have children. How did this come to pass? We aren't insects who only live to procreate. We have such capacity to learn about history and the universe, to explore the planet, to create art, music, etc, and to connect with and love others.

    In so many ways, modern women have it easier than just 2 generations ago, when dishwashers, laundry machines, dryers, etc, were not available. Instead of being strapped with chores like rubbing clothes on a washboard for half the day, we have more time to run our kids around to piano lessions, sports practices and play dates. Of course we want to be great moms, yet we really haven't learned how to take great care of ourselves at the same time.

    At least we are talking about it now, and realize that taking better care of ourselves will make us better moms & wives.

  3. I, too, was delighted with the concept of selah. I wish that many books would feature that notation because I have a tendency to rush past concepts that truly require further consideration. Every now and then I need to be reminded to pause.

    I agree in part with your notion that when we become wives and mothers we put our own dreams on hold. But I don't think that means that we can't pick up those dreams again and pursue them at a later time.

    I didn't even KNOW what my dream was when I became a mom. And it was precisely because of my child that I began heading in the direction of the desire that I couldn't articulate, even to myself. I'd always wanted to be a writer but I didn't give myself permission. Once my son was in school I was required to invest a specific number of volunteer hours in the program, and I took on the job of writing the newsletter. No one else wanted it, and I coveted that position! I did it for years. He moved on to middle school, and I moved on to the PTA newsletter there. I'm sure the PTA president felt very wily about conning some poor mom into doing that work that nobody else wanted, and I was secretly afraid that someone else would come along and steal the job!

    Having written so many newsletters I began taking on more writing-oriented work in my professional life as well. I owned/operated an on-call secretarial service, and I had lots of opportunities to write for clients. One thing naturally led to another, and now I am a freelance writer full time. Honestly, I don't think I could have gotten here without my son's "help".

    And I didn't make the leap to full-time writing until my son had outgrown the need to be mothered. I'm so happy with where I am, and I have no regrets about giving up my own ambitions to raise a child because I believe that nurturing a child's development into a quality human being is the most sacred duty that one can undertake. I guess you could say that I'm satisfied with the way things have turned out.

  4. I love this comment, Kelly. Thank you. Especially in combination with Sue's. I think for me, the major point here, is that each of us needs to be clear on what we want. That if we are happy to put everything on hold once we've had children and return to it later, because we're following our Knowing and making our choices accordingly, EXCELLENT. However, I believe many of us, as Glennon writes about over and over again, are fulfilling roles and acting in ways we think we should. Ways we learned we "should" from our families or society or whatever. I'm so glad that you made the choices that were right for you and have no regrets. And, certainly, it's okay for women to have regrets over decisions they made, even if it's to stay home and raise children.

    I am a firm believer that no one can have it ALL without something "giving." But, as the years have gone by, I am also a firm believer in exactly what Glennon describes along her journey of identifying who she really is and what she really wants. We only have one life to live. How many of us worry more about what it would look like or feel like to OTHERS in contemplating life's choices and put our needs on the back burner or off the list entirely?

    So, I guess, what I'm saying is in line with Glennon in the way that each of us can decide what is right for us…no one gets to "tell" us what is right for us. But..where and how are we making those decisions? I know, as the mom of a daughter, that I FOR SURE don't want her to sacrifice her KNOWING for anyone, including me. Have a taught her how to follow her knowing. Not yet, but I hope I'm working on it by figuring out how to follow my own.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post, Faithe! Thank you for sharing about your son. I echo what others have said here. I'm so glad he's doing better and that your relationship is growing closer in the process. You know how much love I send you both for continued healing. It's a process.

    I loved the sections you chose to highlight. I didn't know that word before, Selah. But, like you, have experienced it in learning how to meditate…the gap, the pause. Lately, I noticed myself really noticing that instant, that moment when the breath has gone out and the next not yet come in. I don't know if that means anything other than I'm slowing down enough to notice it, and even enjoy it. But I love the concept of slowing down. It's really foundational to everything, I think. Slowing down enough to notice.

    Also, in a practical way, I highlighted the area on p 139 when Glennon writes out what she says to Tish. I'm a fixer by nature, as so many mothers are, and it has been a VERY difficult habit to break. I'm going to transcribe her words on to a notecard and practice saying them. "I see you're upset. Are you ready for a solution or do you need to feel this way for a while longer?" I know I wasn't allowed to express negative emotions when I was a kid and have a hard time "allowing" my daughter to do the same…again, without jumping in to fix. We all want to be seen and heard for how we're feeling…I'll let you know how it goes. I'm sure I'll get lots of chances to practice!

  6. Yes! Sue that’s so true! I had my Knowing, then lost it when I became a wife and mother. When my family was in crisis, my only regret, and the one which I share with other parents in my position then, is that I didn’t meditate, no self-care, nothing but a trance of getting through each hour, each day, each month. I survived day to day, we got through the Cage of mental illness; but I lost many precious and meaningful moments. In fact, years later, I had forgotten what our lives were like until I wrote about it.
    Thank you for you good wishes for my son. I do fully embrace that I have no control over his choices—but I am in control of my reaction to them. ❤️

  7. It’s interesting how we find our path, right? I had a fulfilling career, and when my youngest son was diagnosed with Tourette’s, I, too, volunteered for everything, got a payout from my company, and spent 15 years learning everything I could about mental health, lead investigators of ground breaking studies, treatments, historical studies, etc. I knew nothing about the mental health system or the ways in which our minds can betray us. Now I’m thinking of creating work that helps direct people where to go for help, and provide them with mindfulness and gratitude tools.

  8. Kelly, I meant this reply (under Tracey) to you. I wasn’t the typical woman who had to have kids. My husband, when we dated, said he ‘wanted a daughter named Martha’. Well, there is no daughter, but my sons brought out in me Big, unconditional love—bigger than I ever thought a heart could hold. I am, in a way, grateful for their “obstacles” because I never had the indulgence to want anything for them but to live, thrive, and be happy— whatever that meant for them. It was a perspective I had to accept, because I had to be realistic about what they/we were going through. I was determined to get them the best possible treatment outcomes. They/we’ve been through things most kids luckily will never experience— but this has given us perseverance and lots of gratitude.

  9. Tracey,
    When I learned that both of my sons were coming home from University, I was concerned. Then I realized that when they were young, I raised (ooh yucky word) them with love and fear. Now, however, I choose to be their Mom, and come from a place of nonjudgmental love. Yes, I make mistakes, but as long as I take a breath before I freak out, it’s usually okay. They have the skills to be independent, make mistakes, fall and get up again. I am here to listen—when they ask. I’ve learned that almost anything else I might offer is, right now, irrelevant. Their life, their choices, their success.

  10. Tracey, you’ve got this. It takes practice until it feels good. My sons actually notice how much I’ve tried to be mindful and kind. One son said, “Yeah,you’ve been so much easier to get along with since last summer”. It’s a start.

  11. Yes. We have to be kind and patient with ourselves and I know Glennon writes about this (I’m paraphrasing but I don’t have the page). Selah, my sweet friend.

  12. Faithe,
    Thank you for sharing about your son and your insights from this section. I am so thankful to hear that your son is working through all the tough stuff and becoming more in touch with his knowing.
    The knowing is everything!

    I love the theme in this section about dropping into your body, being still, and knowing everything you need is right there with you all the time. Selah, the touch tree…we have what we need, but we need to pay attention.

    I love how Glennon describes her daughter as her family's selah. Her daughter Tish won't let them skip the hard stuff. We all want to. We all try to ignore the pain or push it away as fast as possible, but the reality is we all need to face it.

    I could relate to some of this because my daughter is her own person. She does not pretend. She feels it all. That has been very hard for me because I always want everything to be "ok". I have been learning to let my daughter feel what she needs to feel and be who she is. It has not been easy. Not too long ago, she and I had a conflict because she did not want to go to an appointment I had scheduled for her. Unpleasantness ensued, but she ended up attending the appointment. Before I would have followed up with "Thank you for cooperating" or something like that to acknowledge that she did the thing that I told her to do even though she didn't want to. But after reading this, I had a new thought. So, instead of the "thanks for conforming to my will" message, instead I said, "Thank you for doing that even though it was hard for you." I followed up with the message that we can do hard things. Instead of teaching her to abandon herself or ignore her feelings because it is the "right thing to do", I want her to know that she can face things that are difficult and she can get through it.

    Everything Glennon said about motherhood also jumped out at me. Wow.
    "What if love is not the process of disappearing for the beloved but of emerging for the beloved?"
    "What if the call of motherhood is not to be a martyr but to be a model."

    All I can say is…YES!!!!!!!!
    I matter. You matter. We all matter. What a lesson to teach your children- your daughters and your sons.

  13. Tracey…yes! Jumping in to fix.
    There is an amazing picture book called Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang.
    In it the main character, a monkey named Jim was grumpy. All his friends tried to convince him that he shouldn't be grumpy. They tried to give him advice about how not to be grumpy. But in the end, Jim just needed to be grumpy. The moment he got some space to feel his grumpiness and not try to push it away, he started feeling a little better.
    His friends were all just trying to help him, but it didn't help at all.

    I bought this book sometime last year and have noticed SO many times that I have been rushing to "fix" for my kids or my friends. It is interesting how hard we often work to avoid/prevent pain, both in ourselves and others.

    P.S. You should totally look up Grumpy Monkey on youtube. It is awesome!

  14. Yes, Faithe, accepting that we can't control what others do is an important step. That has surely helped me to keep calmer over choices my kids have made!

  15. As I read all of your comments, I so wish we could meet in person because there is so much to talk about. So much to share amongst us, so much support & encouragement to be given. Tracey, maybe you've done this before (sorry if I forgot), but would you consider a Zoom session (or 2, or …) for this book club at some point? This book is AMAZING and we have so much to say.

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