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How To Not Give Up: Anne Lamott (One of the Greatest Writers Alive Today) Shares Her Thoughts On God and Love

Guest Interview

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Julie Jancius: Want to know what’s coming up on today’s episode? Here’s a preview.

Julie Jancius: I thought you were going to say one of the most spiritual things you could do is go to Target.

Anne Lamott: Well, I was going to add that because Target is church. You know, I go to the. I walk in the woods every single day and that’s a cathedral. But you go to target and that’s like a chapel, you know, and it always works. If a girlfriend will pick you up and take you to Target, you’re halfway home.

Julie Jancius: Beautiful soul. Have you ever wanted to speak to angels? Do you believe angels can support you in your daily life? If this is you, go to my website homepage, theangelmedium.com, and sign up for my weekly angel message email. As a gift for signing up, I’m giving you access to free resources, including 31 healing meditations that if you do daily, are going to help you hear your angels and your own intuition more clearly. Start using these today and you’ll see changes in 31 days. Now take a deep breath. Feel the presence of your angels as they fill you with love, joy, peace, bliss and ease. And remember, your angels. Say the messages that resonate with you in today’s episode are meant just for you.

Julie Jancius: Hello, beautiful souls. Welcome back to the Angels and Awakening podcast. I’m your host and author, Julie Jancius. And friends, if you’re a writer or you’ve been around writing, ah, circles, or if you’ve listened to Ted Lasso, you have surely heard the name Ann Lamott her book, Bird by Bird, is a classic among writers. And she has a new book coming out called somehow. And this book, gives thoughts on love. And I just love how Anne, as a writer flows poetically between these massive thoughts and ideas, about life that we all have. And then she’ll take it back to the present moment with something like a cough drop or a story about your dad or just a story about the mom moment. Anne, first, welcome to the show.

Anne Lamott: Thank you so much.

Julie Jancius: Oh, so excited you’re here. Your book, ‘Somehow’ thoughts on love is something that you wrote for your grandkids, is that right?

Anne Lamott: I, wrote it for my son and my grandchild. I just have one named Jax, who’s almost 15. And, I wrote it to be a compilation of everything I know that’s true spiritually. That has always worked before and will work no matter what their futures hold.

Julie Jancius: Oh, I love that. And you know what? I interviewed Neal, your husband, twice recently. And after the first one, he goes, Julie, you didn’t ask me about angels, I gotta come back on. Cause I’ve got thoughts on angels and I go, okay, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna start the podcast here. And do you believe in angels? And if so, what do you think angels are?

Anne Lamott: Well, I totally believe in angels. I was asking Neal about it yesterday and he was saying sometimes he does, but my darling Jesuit friend, Tom Weston, he told me a story of asking a very old man, a very old Jesuit once, if he believed in angels. And the Jesuits said, oh, absolutely. And Tom said, why? And the man said, well, because it’s fun. And I don’t mean that in a dismissive way, I mean that it is enlightened, it enlightens me when I remember that I believe in angels. Now people can make fun of that. I believe in the physical presence of angels. I believe in angel thoughts. I wear an angel medallion. I wear an angel, the angelic presence angel medallion, because I am constantly, constantly aware that my thoughts change when I remember that I’m in the presence of my angel. And my thoughts go from cleanse and kind of judgmental and uptight and slightly bitter to light, to carbonated, to sweet. And so I kind of love the old Jesuits response. Well, it’s fun, but it’s fun and it is, what’s the word? When something is just all, everything is light again, instead of shadowy. I just go, oh, right. And I don’t have to sweat it, I don’t have to figure it out, I don’t have to make a decision, and I just have to surrender to my angelic presence.

Julie Jancius: Yes, I was reading, bird by bird again in order to kind of refresh for this show. And there’s one point in that book where you say, I want to have, or it’s to this effect. I want a friend to have the same mental illness as me. I want her to have the same imperfections. I want her to have hope. And hope is something that you talk a lot about in your new book. Somehow, especially in chapter ten, you kind of get us to this point about hope. I love that idea. As you want to have, your friends have these same qualities as you do and that hope, what keeps you hopeful?

Anne Lamott: Love keeps me hopeful. Love, as it walks and lurches and tromps and floats around me, if I have the right pair of glasses on. Now, let me explain. When Bill Wilson was starting aa in the thirties, he had a priest friend, and the priest friend said to him one day, sometimes I think that heaven is just a new pair of glasses. And so when I say my prayers, I wake up, I say my prayers, and I fish around for my glasses. Then I let the dog out to pee every single day, no matter what. And every single day, part of my prayers is that I have the good pair of glasses on. And if I do, then I just see love. Love energy. And, you know, the whole book somehow is just about all the different ways. The love energy, you know, flirts with us all day, every day. It indwells us, it surrounds us, it holds us, it supports us from the ground up. So the hope is, all around me in the beauty of the world, in the sweetness of people, in their faces. You know, I think this is the most stressful, scary time in American history. And what gives me hope one day at a time is just the goodness. People doing the right thing, taking care of the poor, helping people get to the vote, to the voting polls, getting. Getting people educated, helping, mentoring people, giving people what we have been so freely given. And so, even though some days, I think are just a little bit too long, I just get hope from the goodness, let alone when there’s a tragedy or great sorrow. What Mister Rogers mother said was, look to the helpers. And so, no matter what’s going on, I look to the helpers, whether they’re emts or whether they’re somebody that God puts in my way, who says just the exact right thing. That makes me smile.

Julie Jancius: Your chapter ten is called general instructions, and I asked permission beforehand. I just want the listeners to know, because normally I can’t ask an author to read the entire chapter. Their publisher would kill us, to just go through this chapter and explore it, because, for those of you listening who haven’t read Anne’s work yet, she has this beautiful, poetic way of lacing together these huge thoughts with just the present moment and really bringing us to a resolution always within our hearts to feel something very, very deeply. And so, in chapter number ten, it’s general instructions. And you start out talking about how you teach Palm Sunday at a school where there’s a lot of children from a Sunday school with a lot of children from a poor community. And you hear about this shooting that happened in Nashville, where three little children are shot and three aides are killed as well. And you’re thinking about this sermon that you have to give or teach to the kids on Sunday and. And trying to think through. Can you even give that sermon because of what’s just happened?

Anne Lamott: Yes. Well, I never give sermons, and, I just have a tiny Sunday school of all ages. It could be a five year old, two nine year olds, I think it was that day, and a couple of teenagers. And I never give a sermon, but I always check in with them to begin with. And, before we even pray. And I knew that this had just happened, and I had two nine year olds that day, and the kids that were killed in the shooting were nine year olds. And so I began by just asking, how are you? Are you okay? What I was going to talk about, I always do a Bible story, especially what they love are Bible stories about cranky or bad people, because we’re all kind of cranky, kind of mixed grill people. So they love bad swords in the Bible like I do. And anyway, I was going to talk about Jesus, on Palm Sunday, riding in on a borrowed donkey into Jerusalem, which they typically love because Jesus just says to one of the disciples, oh, just go across the street to that guy and ask if you can borrow the donkey right now. You can’t do that in 2024, right? Go say, oh, I’m going to borrow your donkey. Right? It’s like, I’m going to call 911. But the guy goes, okay, here, because the Holy Spirit’s gotten its mitts on him. But anyway, I was thinking, wow, I don’t know that this is appropriate on a day when there’s been a massacre of children their ages. And so that’s, how the story begins. That I don’t know if I’m going to be able to articulate this very well, but if I surrender to what is true and to the Holy Spirit and to my guardian angel, I can let go of what I’m positive was the right thing to do and to just be with where they are and where I am and where we can be together in truth for an hour. Together in love.

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Julie Jancius: You say here they are so lovely and innocent. They wake me up, which is good, because I find myself tired most of the time. They make me laugh. And we were recently reviewing some of the things we know about God. Love, creator, healer, friend. And one of the kids announced, blase, knowingly, God is basically like a vet. This is exactly right. The love, the enjoyment, the profound care, and sometimes needing to cause pain in order to do the healing. And you go on to say, you know, you were asking the kids, did your parents and teachers talk to you about this? How do you feel? And they said, not really. They just told us as it happened, and we saw it on the news. We had a shooting drill and my mother cried a lot. And I thought, oh my goodness, you just opened us up to something where we don’t know exactly how to talk about this with our kids.

Anne Lamott: Yeah. I mean, it’s excruciating. But so much of life can be, you know, they’re also going through really, really miserable divorce and custody issues and fights with parents who hate each other. And they’re also going through the knowledge of terrible, terrible climate catastrophe. And so I. They don’t need bumper stickers, you know, they don’t need happy horse poo. They need real. And they need, people to say to them, tell us what you really think and feel. Tell us what it’s like for you. And you don’t have to make it sound good. You don’t have to do anything, but you can be real if you want to. Right here and right now. I’m listening.

Julie Jancius: Yes. And you told them. But first, I told them almost everything I know about life. That it is a precious gift and hard. That it is full of pleasures, messes, delights, loss, suffering, love. I also shoehorned in a suggestion that they pour themselves into reading that this world would give them better lives. All good books are books of ourselves.

Anne Lamott: Yeah. Oh, well, it’s really true because I feel more and more, people say, oh, you just say stuff that I’ve thought but I would never say out loud. And everything I write about and say is stuff that I believe to be universal. I mean, I have intimate stuff I share with my husband or my son, or my very best girlfriend, but I don’t share it on the page. And so when I share it on the page, I’m positive that you, for instance, would identify whether you go, oh, yeah, well, me too. I do that. Or I felt that, or I tried that, and that didn’t work for me either.

Julie Jancius: Did you know I give away a new free reading each month to a listener who leaves a five star rating of this show on Apple podcasts or Amazon. After you leave five stars, go over to the contact me page on my website, theangelmedium.com. Fill out the contact me form letting us know that you gave five stars. That way we can contact you when you win. The more five stars you leave, the more chances you have to win. And your name always stays in until you do. Don’t forget to stay subscribed to our emails so that you know when you’ve won your free session with me, sending you so much love and gratitude for your support on this. Thank you. Now let’s dive back into the show.

Anne Lamott: I really feel that we’re all. There’s kind of one of us. You know, in the Christian tradition, we’d say that we were cells in one body. And I think in any kind of ecumenical tradition and any tradition having to do with physics, there’s just only this one thing, is what Einstein says. There’s one thing. It’s made out of one thing. It’s going at different speeds. You know, six year old in my class is going at a very fast speed, or a hummingbird. And the desk I’m sitting at and knocking on is going at a very slow speed. A glacier is the same energy going at a very slow speed. Very slow speed. And so I believe there’s one thing, and there’s one. There’s one us. There’s the we. It’s the we.

Julie Jancius: Your words just bring us back into that. And one of the things that you had said in Bird by Bird, but you touch on it again and hear is, wouldn’t it be wonderful if God worked, like Glenda, the good witch? Like, tapping you with a wand and everything would be magical, and you take it one step further in somehow, and you say that you realize that we’re the wand.

Anne Lamott: Well, if I were God’s west coast representative, which I think I would be really good at, with my ever excellent ideas for how everybody else should live, I would just have a different system where bad things didn’t happen to really sweet, decent people. I think there would be one rule we could all agree on, which is children should not be hurt. Children should not be shot. Children should not be shamed. Children should not be put in the middle of awful, awful adults or adults who are behaving awfully. But I’m not in charge. I’m in charge of almost nothing. I feed my animals because they don’t have opposable thumbs, and they up can’t reach the drawer where the can opener is. And I’m in charge of me and my own emotional acre, and everybody has their own emotional acre, and they get to play it, this one short life, however they’re going to. They get to have rusted car parts on their acre or weapons, even, you know, and I get to have books and animals and children and, you know, potted plants that are easily kept alive by someone like me without the gift. But for me, over and over and over, it’s just because I don’t have the magic wand. It’s just release, release, release people to their own higher power. People get to think what they think. Probably not much. I’m going to say is going to change how people think. But what I can do is offer up some love. And I’m old now. I’m 70, and I can offer up, you know, the tribal wisdom, that I’ve amassed along the way. And, you know, one thing is if what? People will complain about my book sometimes either in a review or not in a review because they’re assigned to read my book, but, like, on Amazon, or just. I’ll get horrible letters, and. And I think maybe you’d be happier reading someone else. I think there are some other writers out there with whom you might be more comfortable, you know, but people get to. People are going to do what people are going to do, and I can’t stop them from doing it. All I can do is try to protect children, and that happens largely through the ballot box. You know, I can vote for politicians that I think will help keep children safe, who will help keep women safe. And it’s very frustrating, and I have to. I always. When I watch myself try to manipulate a situation or a person, I literally grip myself by the wrist and I say, Annie, stop. And then I say three times, release. Release. And then. This is crazy. I push on the air in front of me with my palms facing outward, and I release them into the arms of their higher power, who is definitely not me. I am a retired higher power. And then I take those same hands, and I cover my heart with them, and I surrender into the care of my higher power, who I call God.

Julie Jancius: M. Your words just seep so deep into the soul. And every time I read your work, in bringing through the small details and those things that all of us are thinking, but we, a lot of times, just don’t have the words or the poetry like you do. Your words aren’t poetry, but they flow like poetry. Because I find poetry hard to read. So anybody listening, it’s not poetry. It’s very, very easy to read. It’s spiritual. And I just wonder if you find writing to be spiritual. And I just want everybody to know that for me, your words have always brought me to a deeper spiritual realm, just through the everydayness of life.

Anne Lamott: Oh, well, thank you, honey. Well, I don’t really love writing, and I really. No, I find it really hard going. I mean, ‘Somehow’ is my 20th book, and I face the same things that every writer listening faces, which is this sort of equal proportion of low self esteem and this raging ego. But I’m doing a lot of work at this, community my son helped found called a writingroom.com. All, one word. And because the spiritual work I can do for other writers is to share my experience, strength, and hope, and to share that I give up sometimes. And to share that, I just lose confidence. And I think, oh, my God, it’s another book of, meditations and essays on hope and love and blah, blah, and God and God and you love my husband, Neal, who wrote ‘Better Days on Taming the Inner Critic’ and the inner critic on my 20th book just as much as on my first book, is going, oh, talk about beating a dead horse or, you know, whatever. And so I go to a writing room where I do these talks, and I just say, don’t like my son Sam has we never give up tattooed on his forearm. And I can share that publicly at a writing room. And I say, I don’t give up. And how do I not give up? That’s the spiritual question. How do we not give up on our writing? How do we not give up on life? Well, for me, it’s mostly come through community, which is exactly what a writing room is. It’s a community of people who want to write, have always written, have been published, are just starting, whatever. How did I not give up on getting sober? I got sober in 86 when I was 32. Well, all these women, I said, I don’t even think I want to do this. I’m a writer. You’re supposed to drink alcoholically. You’re supposed to take drug. You’ve signed a contract. And they said, just don’t give up today, okay? And here’s my number, and you can call me and I can come over and get you or whatever. How do I not give up when the political realm just seems so tilted to the evil and the corrupt and the terrifying community, I reach out to somebody who I know feels like I do. Now I call my best friend. It’s a community of two all the time. And I might say something like, I hate everyone and all of life. And she never says, what? You’re supposed to be a spiritual teacher. And she’s never once said that. She’ll say, oh, I’m so glad you called. Come get me. Let’s go to Target. And then one of the most spiritual things you can do is to be in a car with another human being or with the Beatles stationed on Sirius.

Julie Jancius: But I thought you were going to say one of the most spiritual things you could do is go to Target.

Anne Lamott: Well, I was going to add that because Target. Target is church. You know, I walk in the woods every single day, and that’s a cathedral. But you go to target, and that’s like a chapel, and it always works. If a girlfriend will pick you up and take you to Target, you’re halfway home.

Julie Jancius: I’m writing this down for the show notes. Target is church. That is amazing. But this is what I mean. And bring. And do you like Ann or Annie?

Anne Lamott: Well, you can call me Annie. Yeah.

Julie Jancius: Okay, perfect.

Julie Jancius: Annie. Annie always brings us back to coffee cough, drops, or, target. And it’s amazing. So one of the things that I was going to ask you, too. Your dad was an author. Do you feel like it’s just in your blood that it was just passed down, or did you see him writing? And so it was like a mental, map. You just knew how to do it.

Anne Lamott: Well, I saw him every single morning at 530. My father, whose name was Ken Lamott, was at his desk in this tiny study downstairs. And you would hear through the floor, the ceiling, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And he taught me. He wrote five days a week. He taught me, you don’t wait for inspiration. You just sit down. That’s. That’s what I talk about most at a, writing room, because people think I have these secret hacks that make it, just really easy for me. It’s not easy for me. It’s just writing is hard, and the voices are hard, and the inner critic is there, and you have to learn these skills. You can learn them in better days. To be aware of the inner critic. As soon as you’re aware of it, that it’s chatting in your ear, you can go, oh, it’s just you, you know, that’s what Neal teaches you. Oh, it’s just you. Could you go sit in the library and I’ll come get you later? I’m going to try and get my work done right now. And so, between the inner critic work and seeing my dad, he sat down from 530 to seven every morning, and then he made his whole breakfast. Two brothers. And then he got back to work. And then I, I just learned the habits from him that you, sit down at the same time. If you sit down at the same time, it teachers, helps your subconscious kick in, because that’s the well of, ah, vision and memory and dream and thought and visions from which we write. And so, my father’s always with me. And then, of course, you know, I’ll just tell the bird by bird story, in case people haven’t read it. That was a book I wrote 30 years ago, if you can believe it, on writing. which was that my older brother John, hated school, didn’t do homework, just had a hard time with it. In California, in northern California, in the fifties and sixties. When you did in fourth grade, you did your first research paper. Up till then, you might have paper that’s had room to illustrate it, too, in big, huge lines. But in fourth grade, you did a research paper. One was on, one semester was on the Sacramento trip, the Capitol, and one was on birds. And my brother had had a semester to write his term paper, his research paper, and he hadn’t started. And it was the weekend before, and we were out at our one room cabin, and my older brother, who was a tough guy in pegged pants in fourth grade, was crying. And we had Roger, Tory Peterson and Audubon and all these bird stories from the National Geographic and whatnot. He couldn’t put a word down. And my dad just put his arm around him and said, just take it bird by bird, buddy. And that writing advice has changed everything for me because he said, you know, read about chickadees and then tell me in a paragraph, in your own words. And that’s all any of us are doing. You or me or anyone listening. You’re reading up about chickadees, or you’re doing a deep dive into a memory about being at a pond the first time you saw someone really drunk, or you’re remembering that first day of school, or you’re remembering the last day of college or whatever, and then you’re telling us about it in your own words. My friend Randy says, tell me a story, make me care. And you do that bird by bird.

Julie Jancius: That’s amazing. Tell me a story and make me care. Wow. So for those who are not writers, what I think that writing does, bird by bird, just writing, what’s with you at the time is spiritually what Eckhart Tolle talks about, bringing you into the present moment, bringing you into the now, helping you to just get closer to your soul self, your inner voice, as I would call it, your inner wisdom. And for those of you who are writers, because I know that there’s a lot of you out there, and you always talk about having just a rough first draft, and that inner critic is going to come in after that rough first draft and go, oh, this is poo. This is not, you know, like, it’s not great, but you keep going because that second draft, where you can really polish it and shape it up, the.

Anne Lamott: Second draft is also where it starts to be fun. You know, the first draft could just be torture and, like, pulling teeth you know, in bird by bird by bird, I have a whole chapter called broccoli, because Mel Brooks said, the, 2000 year old man, he said, listen to your, listen to your broccoli and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it. And of course, what he meant was what you were talking about, which was your intuition, your inner voice, and, your truest voice. And so my students used to always get me broccoli pins and stuff like that. But, anyway, Neal, in his teachings on writing, I can give you 37 great hints and tips on writing at Neal’s site, which is called shapesoftruth.com, all lowercase. And he has 37 tips for writers, and they are brilliant. Like, write from the verb. You don’t write. You don’t use adverbs to cover up the fact that you never got the verb right, stuff like that. But one of the things he talks about is, finish what you’re writing. The critic is going to tell you that m, it’s like what you said, it’s just poop. Throw it away. Put it away. Blah, blah, blah. He says, finish it. Just finish it. Make yourself finish it somehow. And if you can, finish it. Oh, my God. The second drop. You know this as well as I do. It’s a small miracle to have a second draft. It’s a small miracle. I would hold it up to lords. You know that out of that blank paper and bad self esteem and inner critic, you got something in front of you that’s no longer the unassaulted ice flow of blank pages. It’s an effort. And then you push back your sleeves, you make yourself a cup of tea. You sit down at the same time and you do the things that you do to loosen your neck up. And then you start, like a swiss watchmaker, taking out stuff that doesn’t work. Maybe you’ll use it somewhere else. You don’t have to throw it away with contempt. You just put it somewhere else. You start seeing what does work. You start, bringing forth what you love. You start quieting down, which you did need to mention, but maybe not so extensive. You know what I mean?

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Anne Lamott: Am I making sense?

Julie Jancius: Absolutely, you are. It’s beautiful. And then you say, for any writers out there, the third draft is just edition, editing, polishing, grammar, that type of thing. Which is amazing way to look at it. Because if you perfect it and you talk a good way about perfection, you’re just going to sit with it for forever. But just get it out.

Anne Lamott: Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s a whole chapter on perfectionism and bird by bird. Because, the perfectionism and the people pleasing have been the two qualities that were taught me, drilled into me, that have been most devastating to my spiritual life and to my life in every realm, was the perfectionism and the people pleasing, getting my value from what other people think of me and having to do things perfectly. And you know what I hate to tell everyone. You’re not going to be able to. And also you’re going to. It’s, it’s not, you don’t want it to be, you know, like all those rug makers in the east, in the Middle east, you know, they leave mistakes in the rug so the devils can get out. You know, mistakes are not a bad thing. They’re. They’re about being human and being real. And, the third draft, I think I said in bird by bird that the first draft is the child’s draft. The down draft. Just get it all down. Just get it all down. You don’t stop and figure out what. Figure out is a bad slogan, bad mantra for life. And the second draft is the adult draft, where you clean it up. You get a little strict with yourself. It’s like, when I was coming up, there was a, pediatrician named Doctor Spock, not from Star Trek, and his, mantra was, two year olds was firm but friendly. And so the second draft is, you’re a grown up and it’s firm but friendly. And you say, we really can’t use that here. It’s funny and cute, but it sticks out. You know, we’re going to put it aside. And then the third draft, what you were talking about is the dental draft. And you go by it tooth by tooth, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence. You wiggle and you jiggle and you floss and you see if anything needs a little extra attention or it needs a appointment of some sort.

Julie Jancius: Yeah, I think that’s just like the most beautiful process. you going back to chapter ten of somehow you talk about Snyder’s pretzels a lot, and I had no idea where the idea of pretzels came from. Tell everybody that story.

Anne Lamott: Oh, well, I think you’ve read this book more recently than I have. But at, any rate, the pretzels come from, the middle ages, when the bakers would use their leftover dough that from leftover, from pastry or from bread. And they make it into these twists, the pretzel shaped twists, which symbolize the way that the people used to pray, which was with a hand on each shoulder and their arms crossed.

Julie Jancius: Wow, that’s so fascinating.

Julie Jancius: I had never associated pretzels spiritually before, but the same.

Anne Lamott: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re a lenten food because they’re children with their arms crossed, praying.

Julie Jancius: That’s amazing. So you said, in the book, I’ll just read this part time for a snack, I announced to myself. They looked around, this is you and your Sunday school group. It was early for snacks. I got out the box of Snyder’s pretzels. Yay, America. But I was suddenly in sync with the spirit. And I knew what these chill children needed. Sugar. Yeah, I read that. I was like, go, Anne.

Anne Lamott: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. Well, you know, you think that. What. You think that what kids need is this and this and this, but they’re getting all the this and this and this from the outside world. They’re getting it at school. They’re getting it from their teachers. Really. What they don’t need more is this and this and this. They don’t need more structure. They don’t need more, information that you think they should try to commit to memory. What they need is play. What they need is, you know, I know people have a lot. I don’t eat sugar anymore, but I know people have a position on sugar. And in Sunday school class, I have no position on what they eat or what they draw. I take them outside into the grass for bible study. You know, I take them out and we look for evidence of God in the weeds, you know, and we see. We see beautiful bugs in the weeds. And we see that some of the weeds are broken through cement or concrete or rocks. You know, we see. We move a rock in the weeds and we see all of life, the microcosm, as above, so below, you know, so, I just don’t think they need more this and this and this. They need what they need. What you and I are talking about. They need spirit. They need spaciousness. They have every other adult breathing their hot breath down their necks trying to get them to do better. And I can offer this other way of being with them.

Julie Jancius: Yeah. So after that, you have them take out these art supplies and make cards, for the other children in Nashville, in this Nashville school. And you say, it might not seem like much to you, I said, but because love is God, acts of kindness, compassion or generosity can be seen as God. Grace, forgiveness is God’s love on steroids. Now let’s get to work. And you talk about just God in the best way. And I wondered if you could share with us, that story about the sparrow and the horse.

Anne Lamott: Oh, sure. That’s one of my favorite stories. It’s about an old, arrogant war horse coming upon a sparrow in the middle of the road. And the sparrow has all. Both, of its legs. It’s on its back, and it’s got both of its legs pushed up straight up into the sky. And the war horse says, what on earth are you doing? And the, sparrow says, I’m trying to hold back the darkness. And the horse just laughs at him. He says, what. What do you weigh? 3oz? 4oz? Maybe. There’s a silence. And then the sparrow says, one does what one can.

Julie Jancius: Oh, it’s just so powerful.

Anne Lamott: Oh, thank you. I love that story.

Julie Jancius: One does what they can. And you go on to say, this will save them. Art and imagination. The power of imaginative joy. It tells us we will not plummet to the ground. We will be caught. Why is service so important? I know it’s on your heart, and it’s on my heart, but service really takes us to a different dimension of life.

Anne Lamott: Oh, you know what? If you want to be happy on any given day, if you’re clenched and uptight or whatever, you want to have loving feelings, which is what joy is. You do loving things. You take the action. You go to Safeway, and you fill up a bag of food for the food pantry in the poor neighborhoods or at your church or whatever your synagogue. And service is where we get happiest, you know, if you serve at a food kitchen on Easter or passover, if you. It gets you out of yourself. It gets you out of this small little mind of self absorption and fixation. And it helps you hook into this beautiful, huge thing that is timeless and spacious, and it’s the breath of life and of love. And it’s sort of counterintuitive, because the culture, the world and every advertisement tell us that if we want to be happy, we should get this or that or, achieve this or that or lease this or that or date this or that. And we’re not. It tells us we’re hungry for what we’re not getting, right? But we can get it and, get it delivered. And what we’re hungry for is what we’re not giving. And if I feel empty, if I want to fill up, I just give. I give. I give. I call my most annoying aunt, and I listen on the phone. And when she goes into full weird, I stay on the phone with her and I don’t fight back. I just say, oh. Uh-huh. Oh, that’s an interesting idea. And if I give and I give it and give, then I am at my. I’ll just tell you. I don’t mean to sound too biblical, but when I first got sober in the eighties, I realized that my whole life I’ve been kind of running around with this empty chalice. The psalm says, my cup runneth over. My cup was not runneth thing over. I would run around and try to get everybody’s overflow, especially if they were important or a man in a position of power or esteem. And I’ve been doing that for my entire life here. That’s what girls did. And I realized that if I just stopped and I let God and spirit and love and service do their thing with me, my cup would overflow. And then I could give from a place of abundance what had been so freely given to me, instead of giving always from this place of deprivation and desperation. So that’s why for service. But the main thing is unhooking from my tight, anxious little mind and instead plugging into something so much bigger, which is all that is holy, all that is sacred, all that is just lovely.

Julie Jancius: And makes you smile amazing from the outside looking in. Just an observation. I think there are so many people that I work with every day who are having this mental mindset of when life is perfect or when I am perfect. I will be meditating all day long and everything will just be amazing and there will be no challenges, and there I won’t feel any negative feelings anymore, I won’t suffer anymore, and I won’t, you know, have to learn any lessons. And, and what you get so clearly out of your work and your words, Annie, is your spirituality comes not by rising above those things or going below or underneath those things or circumventing those things, but through it.

Anne Lamott: Yeah, going through it. Yeah. Yep. The only way out is through the only way that anyone ever changes or gets the healing or gets sobriety or gets help for their eating disorder or their anorexia or their anything is through the pain. The willingness comes from the pain. And when we’ve made ourselves crazy enough with the perfectionism and an impossible standard that we might stop. We might then, like I call it, the sacrament of ploppage, you know, we might just go, m I’m sick and tired of making myself sick and tired. And then you look at what you could do. You’re not going to meditate for the rest of the day, I can tell you right now. But what if after you turn off this podcast, you did a three minute meditation. I’ll tell you my favorite one. And you can do it. You can do it for three minutes. You can do it for three minutes or five minutes or 20 minutes. I saw this from tich nhat Han huh? I have it on the wall of my bathroom mirror, which is how you can tell it’s important. He said it goes. Breathing in, I calm myself. Then you pause, and breathing out, I smile. And you don’t smile. A big pepsidant smile. You smile a tiny Mona Lisa smile. I’ve just. Right. Okay. And then, breathing in, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile the tiniest upturn of your mouth. And if you do that for three minutes imperfectly, thinking about half of the time about how your butt itches or how you really, really need to remember to get graph paper later today, it’s going to change you molecularly. And so I do that. You know, in bird by bird, I talked about the, one inch picture frame that all you have to do on any given day is write what you can see through a one inch picture frame. One passage, one paragraph, one page, whatever. And that’s really true spiritually. But we’ve just been indoctrinated and really pretzelized by this belief all through our childhoods and teenage years with the teachers and whatnot, that if you tried harder, you could do better. I wrote in Bird by Bird, I was 35 when I discovered that a, b was good grade. I had never been told in my family, which were intellectual atheists. When you brought home a b, it was like, Annie, I think we need to have a little conference. Oh, God, dad, not a conference. And then you had to go into my dad’s office, and then he’d lower his Ben Franklin glasses to the end of his nose and he’d say, is there a way to bring this up? Is there extra credit? Is there time in the quarter? Right? And so no wonder it’s scary for me to do pretty well, to do beautifully, but not perfectly. And it’s, you know, it’s a long road back from it, and it’s a long, imperfect, herky jerky falling on your butt way. But that’s why community is so profound. Because if you’re in community, you might fall. I’m going to get some terrible reviews for somehow, trust me. And I’m going to take them seriously, and they’re going to get under my skin. And then somebody, my grandson or my girlfriends or my husband, they’re going to pull me back to my feet. And if I. And I’m if I share that, it really is getting to me, and I don’t keep it a secret. Life is going to pull me back to my feet, and I’m going to get my sense of humor back, you know? And so it’s a process of sharing. Oh, I did that imperfectly. I made a mistake, and I want to give up. And it’s like, oh, thank you for sharing. Let’s go to targeting whatever. Whatever it takes to get your sense of humor back. You know, I said somewhere that laughter is carbonated holiness. And if you can laugh a little bit about it, it’s another form of church.

Julie Jancius: I’m not saying this to build you up, and I hope it doesn’t come off the wrong way, because I don’t mean it in any way bad. You study writers growing up, right? Like, in school, in high school and college, in elementary school, and you hear about these amazing writers, and I was just always in awe of them. And here you are, where I think many consider you to be one of the greatest writers alive today. Yes. And I want people to hear this because I want them to hear your work will be studied, hopefully, for hundreds and hundreds of years after. After you’re gone. But you get upset by those couple of reviews that are negative and they impact you.

Anne Lamott: Let me tell you one, and then you’ll get it. That is so sweet of you to say. And I’m just thinking, what are you on? Like, are you doing some crack cocaine or something? But, Because I don’t see myself that way at all. But, I got a review a few books ago. I think it was the hope book, right? So, really, really helped. Really helpful at the Chicago Tribune, which means that I get a bad review seen by 500,000 people, plus syndication. And it said, reading this new book is like being in the backyard talking over the fence with one of the Kardashians.

Julie Jancius: No, no.

Anne Lamott: Yes.

Julie Jancius: No. Witness.

Anne Lamott: God is my witness.

Julie Jancius: Who is this person?

Anne Lamott: And what, because I’m a Christian and our main, response is blame and thoughts of revenge, I immediately went to Amazon to see if they’d ever publish a thing, which, regrettably, they hadn’t. And that helped a little bit. But, Yeah, it just hurts. You know what it’s like. You can have this incredible life you’ve created in your podcast and your shows and your writing. Somebody says something, it just hurts. It just does. It hurts your little kid.

Julie Jancius: But everybody always says, well, Julie, don’t let it impact you. Don’t let it hurt you. How can you not like you spent all this time, all this work, creating a free podcast, free, radio show that reaches millions, and yet you still get that one podcast, review, and there’s thousands and thousands of wonderful reviews, but it’s that one that just feels like a knife to the heart.

Anne Lamott: I know. It just gets under your skin. Well, people are really. People can be just really cruel. And it’s also like we’re in the wrong business because we’re both so incredibly sensitive. But, it just comes with the territory. And I get, oh, my God, I get terrible, terrible responses on tweet, on Twitter, and I can’t turn it off. But, it’s because you take a chance with your writing, with your presenting yourself in the way that you do. For instance, the way that I’m with you today, doing that. And it’s like you are living in such a way from spirit. You’re putting your heart in your soul and your very best six year old self out for the world. And if somebody looks at it with contempt and goes, well, that’s ridiculous. That’s navel gazing. Oh, you know, whatever, then it hurts your little kid. And I don’t have an effective mental defense against it. But what I do have is an incredible community of people who rise up against the offender, and help me get my sense of humor back.

Julie Jancius: That’s amazing. That’s amazing. and you just made us all feel more human. Thank you for that. I was going to wrap this up with, like, the best way because you talk just so beautifully. And somehow, as you’re ending chapter ten, you say, now I’m going to tell you the craziest thing in the bible. I announced after the passover meal of bread and wine, Jesus washed the feets of his disciples. He wanted them to know that that was their calling. Not to gain power and prestige over others, not to get, but to give, to share, to be humble. I told them about the man who told me he’d come into an aa as a hot shot, but worked his way up to a servant. Oh, beautiful words. I know that doesn’t make sense, I said, but serving others is where we find our happiness. And here’s the crazy thing. Jesus even washed Judas Judas’s feet. He knows Judas is about to betray him to the roman authorities, which will lead to the crucifixion on Good Friday. And it washes his feet anyway.

Anne Lamott: Yeah.

Julie Jancius: Oh, my gosh. You go on to talk about God as love and God cannot be loved and how we can talk to kids about cancer and global warming and pray and this entire chapter. I just. I wish I could read it all. I hope everybody out there just goes and gets the book for this chapter alone. But the rest is just wonderful as well. I don’t even know where to go from there, but where is coming to you?

Anne Lamott: I just feel like that we’re here to serve God or good, orderly direction, or goodness, or the great outdoors or. My favorite acronym for God is, the great universal spirit, which spells Gus. And the way that we do that is that we share freely and we also rest and we also do radical self care. All truth is a paradox. So that I need to do both in balance. But maybe we’ll close with that beautiful, beautiful line of Rumi’s where he said, through love, all pain, all pain will turn to medicine. And m so through love, whatever happens, whatever we’ve had to bear up, whatever we’re watching each other bear up, get through the dark nights of the soul, it will be medicine. It will be light. Let there be light, I say. And let it begin with me.

Julie Jancius: Yeah.

Julie Jancius: And going back to that, that quote about Glenda the good witch, and wanting God to just have a magic wand that touches everybody here. The wand is us. the magic wand is us. I think that’d be a great title for another book. How can people, or how do you, when you’re really feeling just down or in your own head with that inner critic, keep yourself going?

Anne Lamott: Well, I do that inner critic work of saying to that bad voice, oh, it’s just you. It’s not truth, it’s not holy. It’s just this thing that kept me alive when I was a young child that kept me from running out into the street. And, I pray and I say that I wrote a book called help. Thanks. Wow. The three great prayers. And I usually close my eyes and I just say, oh, help. I’m such a mess. Or I’m just being so negative. Or have the bad pair of glasses on. Help. And 100% of the time, the phone will ring or a text will come, or, you know, or I’ll turn something on and there will be my next operating instructions. And I will either know who needs me, who I can pour myself into, or I’ll know that I need a rest, or I’ll know that it’s time to do the sacrament of ploppage and do and read something that will get me laughing or smiling again. Help me get my sense of humor back. Help me get that carbonated holiness, and help me breathe.

Julie Jancius: Amazing. And your book somehow is available, for pre order, I’m sure. Or it might be out when it’s, ah, available in August or. No, April.

Anne Lamott: No, it’s out on April 9. And my 70th birthday is April 10.

Julie Jancius: Ooh. All right, it’s out on April 9. And Annie, so happy birthday, in advance for your 70th birthday. Yeah, somehow thoughts on love can be purchased on Amazon, borders, Barnes and noble. We’ll put links in there and local bookstores, I’m sure.

Anne Lamott: Thank you so much, love. This was just a real treat to be with you.

Julie Jancius: Oh, thank you so much for being here. I feel so humbled to have you on.

Julie Jancius: Beautiful soul. Thank you so much for joining me today. My name’s Julie. You know, I’m all about connecting you with messages from your angels and loved ones on the other side. If you’ve been listening today and you’re super excited and just have to know which angels are around you right now, who’s connecting with you and what messages they have for you, go to theangelmedium.com, register for a session. You can do a reading with me or a member of my team. We’re all incredible. We all talk to angels daily, and we can help you in making sure that your angels are doing the very best they can to support you and guide you to your best life. If this sounds like you, virtual sessions, they’re only offered on my website. Sign up today. And if you’re the person who’s really excited, you’re ready to go all in. Developing all of your unique spiritual gifts. M growing your intuition, starting your own healing business. You can sign up for my angel Reiki school to become a certified angel messenger. That’s for the healers among us who feel called to grow their intuition to the max and serve humanity with their gifts. You’ll learn Reiki mediumship, how to deliver angel messages, and how to get clients. That’s the angel Reiki school@theangelmedium.com. Or dm me on Instagram angelpodcast with any questions before you go. Connect with your angels by placing your hands on your heart. Take a deep breath. Imagine a doorway filled with God’s unconditional love is right in front of you. Step into that love and feel it as it fills your body, chakras, and auric field. Now ask your angels, what would you have me know today? And open yourself to the positive, loving messages they have just for you.

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