Anne Lamott meets Elizabeth Gilbert in this inspirational, side-splittingly funny exploration of the power of living with love, forgiveness, and honesty.
For years Glennon Doyle Melton built a wall between herself and others, hiding inside a bunker of secrets and shame. But one day everything changed: Glennon woke up to life, committing herself to living out loud and giving language to our universal (yet often secret) experiences. She became a sensation when her personal essays started going viral. Her hilarious and poignant observations have been read by millions, shared among friends, discussed at water coolers, and have now inspired a social movement. In Carry On, Warrior, Melton shares new stories and the best-loved material from Momastery.com. Her mistakes and triumphs demonstrate that love wins and that together we can do hard things. Melton is a courageous truth-teller and hopespreader, a wise and witty friend who emboldens us to believe in ourselves and reminds us that the journey is the reward. Carry On, Warrior proves that by shedding our weapons and armor, we can stop hiding, competing, and striving for the mirage of perfection, to build better lives in our hearts, homes, and communities.
This reading group guide forCarry On, Warriorincludes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book clubThe suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Ten years ago, addicted and unwed, Glennon Doyle Melton discovered she was pregnant. Shocked and terrified, she did the only thing she knew to do: she collapsed on the bathroom floor and prayed. When she stood up, she decided to become a mother. She married the father of her child, a man with whom she had only spent ten sober nights, and vowed never to have another drink, cigarette, or drug again. In the decade since, Glennon has learned what it takes to be a loving mother, wife, sister, and friend. She wakes up every morning ready to do battle. Recovery is a battle; faith is a battle; living an honest life–one full of love, one where the truth of what’s inside is mirrored by the experience on the outside–is a battle. And like any good warrior, Glennon has realized that fighting these battles comes with incredible rewards. Carry On, Warrior is Glennon’s call to living out loud–being as honest and open as she can be, no matter what obstacles she faces. Obstacles abound—as they always do, for everyone. From financial struggles, to a thwarted dream to adopt a child, to helping her sister through heartbreak, to keeping the rug vacuumed. But Glennon’s journey has shown her that life lived honestly, openly, and in connection with others is one that is rich and full.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. In the opening of Carry On, Warrior Glennon is baffled: a woman says to her at church, “You are so pulled together. It makes me feel so apart.” (1) Why do you think Glennon decided to begin the book with this scene? How does she eventually reveal herself as not quite “pulled together?”
2. Compare Glennon’s present-day life to her low point on Mother’s Day in 2002. What did it take for Glennon to hit bottom? How did she decide so suddenly to turn her life around? Can you imagine doing the same in her position?
3. According to Glennon, “Life is brutiful”–equal parts beautiful and brutal. (7) How can something be both beautiful and brutal at the same time? Make a list of a few things that you consider “brutiful.”
4. After describing all the unsuccessful attempts to fill the hole in her life, Glennon writes, “If there’s a silver living to the hole, here it is: the unfillable, God-sized hole is what brings people together.” (21) Do you agree with Glennon that our weaknesses and our emptiness help us relate to other people? Why or why not?
5. Taking a cue from the writer Anne Lamott, Glennon reveals, “I have three prayers I repeat most often. They are: Please, Thank you, and WTF?” (40) What are the greatest sources of “WTF?” in Glennon’s life? What are your most common prayers? What makes you wonder, “WTF?”
6. Discuss the similarities and differences between Glennon and Sister? How have these two sisters taken different paths in life? How are their personalities similar, and how are they different? How do you think they’ve stayed so close over the years?
7. Discuss Glennon’s hilarious approach to housework, like the way she convinces Tish to help her “vacuum” the carpet? Why do you think her family is so tolerant of Glennon’s trial-and-error approach to bag lunches, laundry, and other daily tasks?
8. Consider Glennon’s explanation of Chronos, “regular time,” and Kairos time, “those magical moments in which time stands still.” (112) What are some examples of Chronos? What are some of your your favorite moments of Kairos, when time is suspended? What can you do to “Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day,” as Glennon suggests? (113)
9. Revisit Glennon’s “mommy resignation,” when she officially gives up listening to her children’s pointless stories, refereeing their fights, and smiling through their spills. (165) If you had to resign from your everyday duties, what would you be happiest to quit? Do you think you would miss any of those daily annoyances if you “resigned?”
10. Glennon believes, “Confidence and humility are two sides of the same coin.” (172) How does Glennon find confidence in knowing she is a “child of God,” and how does knowing everyone is a child of God make her feel humble? What is one good way to remind yourself to feel confident and humble every day?
11. After one of her blog readers made a comment about Glennon’s abortion, Glennon realized, “I walk onto this field every day without armor or weapons, by choice, and so the risk is that every once in a while, someone will ignore the rules and shoot.” (192) What are the unspoken “rules” that the anonymous commenter ignored? What kinds of risks does Glennon take when she writes about her life online? What are the rewards that make those risks worth taking?
12. “We are each an island, but [God] gives us gifts to use as bridges into each other’s lives. When we lay down our gift, we walk right over it and straight into another heart.” (209) Think about the “gift” that your best friend, your spouse, or another loved one has offered you. How does that gift give you access to that person’s heart? What gifts do you think you offer in return?
13. Revisit the painful story of Glennon and Craig’s efforts to adopt a child. What are the main obstacles that they encounter? How do they face these obstacles together, and how do they recover from their disappointment?
14. Glennon lists the “widening circles” that protect her: her husband, children, community, and faith. (7) Try to picture the circles of protection in your life. Who are the loved ones in your widening circles?
15. Glennon and Craig consider their family “religious rolling stones”–they hesitate to commit to a denomination. How does Glennon keep Jesus in her heart, even when she doesn’t have a regular church? In what ways does her daily life resemble a sort of prayer?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Check for updates on Glennon’s phenomenal website, http://momastery.com/blog/. When you’re ready to commit to living mindfully, as Monkees do, visit http://monkeeseemonkeedo.org/ to join the community and lend a helping hand.
2. This book club meeting will have no “hostress”: welcome to stress-free hosting! Make this meeting a potluck, and ask everyone to bring something to eat or drink. Pajamas and bring-your-own-glass are optional, but encouraged!
3. According to Glennon, “Dancing sober is just honest, passionate living.” (25) Get your book club warmed up with a session of sober dancing! Play your favorite pop song or visit the “Feed Yourself” section on Glennon’s website to download her Momastery Mix at http://momastery.com/blog/feed-yourself and get everyone moving, no matter how silly it looks or feels.
4. Anne Lamott, Maya Angelou, Geneen Roth, Joan Didion, Emily Dickenson, Elie Wiesel, Ken Follett, Kathleen Norris, Sylvia Plath—these are just a few of the writers Glennon mentions in Carry On, Warrior. To see a list of some of her other favorite books and movies, visit the “Feed Yourself” section of her website at: http://momastery.com/blog/feed-yourself.
5. When she gets fed up, Glennon puts on one of her “paper bag hats,” where she can “breathe and hide.” (177) Make paper bag hats–with smiley faces and breathing holes, of course–with your book club members. All you need are some leftover shopping bags, a marker, and a sense of humor!
6. Take a look at, Monkee See—Monkee Do, the not-for-profit charitable organization that emerged from Glennon’s website. The mission of the group is to acknowledge needs in communities and do something about them. Their work is an expression of Mother Theresa’s philosophy that we can do no great things, only small things with great love. What small steps could you take to make a difference in your own community? Read the stories of the families Monkee See—Monkee Do has helped and see how you can get involved by visiting www. http://monkeeseemonkeedo.org.
Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Carry On, Warrior and Love Warrior, an Oprah’s Book Club selection. Glennon is also the founder of the online community, Momastery, where she shares shameless, humorous, and inspiring essays about marriage, motherhood, faith, addiction, recovery, and connection. She is the creator and president of Together Rising—a non-profit organization that has raised over three million dollars for families around the world through its Love Flash Mobs, which have revolutionized online giving. Glennon is a sought-after public speaker both domestically and internationally. She has been featured on the TODAY show, The Talk, OWN, and in The New York Times, Ladies' Home Journal,Glamour, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, Newsweek, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and in other television and print outlets. Glennon lives in Florida with her family.
“In Carry On, Warrior, Glennon Melton’s honesty, thoughtfulness, and humor will keep readers racing through the pages—and set them thinking more deeply about their own lives.”
– Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home
“Glennon embodies all that we want to be and fear we are not: she is authentic, funny, wise, loving, and resilient in the face of extraordinary challenges. But the magic of Carry On, Warrior is that by the time you finish the book, you realize you ARE all those things, and more. It is a book that actually makes you feel that you are loved and cherished. Has a book ever accomplished anything more marvelous than that?”
– Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of The Language of Flowers
“CarryOn, Warrior is a fierce, outrageous and laugh-out-loud book about emergingfrom addiction and living life at full-tilt.”
– Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food and God
“Funny,honest, and brave, Glennon Melton joins the ranks of Anne Lamott, Sara Miles,and Barbara Brown Taylor by giving her readers a precious gift:permission--permission to doubt, permission to believe, permission to struggle,permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth, and permission to do it allimperfectly. Carry On, Warrior takes its place among the best ofspiritual memoirs as the kind of book readers will want to return to again andagain. It reads like a conversation with a close friend, but impacts theheart like an encounter with the divine.”
– Rachel Held Evans, author of Evolving in Monkey Town and a Year of Biblical Womanhood
“An inspirational guide. Only by living in a state of loving vulnerability [was Melton able] to do what she desired most: touch others and be touched by them in return. Gentle words of wisdom from a woman driven by 'senseless, relentless hope.'”
– Kirkus Reviews
"Refreshingly frank. Writing, or as she calls it 'living out loud,' is for Melton a bracing therapy to chase away loneliness, learn humility, and banish the fears of revealing the less than flattering sides of herself."
– Publishers Weekly
“Glennon Doyle Melton is church and Carry On, Warrior reads like one of those old rollicking hymns that make you want to stand up at the end and shout, “Amen!” Life is indeed “brutiful” but Glennon’s humor, warmth, and honesty are profound reminders that there is beauty in our struggle. I can’t stop thinking about this book.”
– Brené Brown, Ph.D., New York Times bestselling author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Tra
“First and foremost, Melton's book is chock-a-block with great characters, and she's number one. Melton pulls this off with the help of smart, funny, plain prose.”—
– The Agony Column, Bookotron.com
“Carry On Warrior is like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a friend to share stories, laughter, and tears, mixed with a whole lot of “me too!”s and “I thought I was the only one.” You leave refreshed, renewed, and reminded that we aren't alone in this. Not even a little.It isn't the kind of book you put down and say “oh, that was good.” It’s the kind of book you put down, then go to the store and buy three more copies because you know you are going to run into someone who needs them.”
“Glennon’s writing is like a warm embrace. She shines that little light of hers over the whole wide mommy world, reminding us that it is OK – more than OK, our right – to be who we are, no apologies. And we as mothers matter. Because when you spend so much time focusing on everyone else’s needs, you often forget that you count too.”
– Family Circle.com
“Will melt your heart and inspire you in one fell swoop!”
“Carry On, Warrior is precisely the kind of book I hope the parents in my congregation will read. Melton is a richly gifted storyteller, and her shamelessness is the best kind, rooted in a refusal to believe that she is anything other than a forgiven and beloved child of God.”
– Katherine Willis Pershey, associate Pastor First Congregational Church of Western Springs Illinois, Christian Century Magazine
“Glennon is…a fantastic writer and speaker -- funny, real, open, passionate, heartfelt, and inspiring. I was inspired both personally and professionally by her presence, her talent, her humility, her message and her vulnerability.”
– Mike Robbins, Huffington Post, Good News Blog
“Every once in a while, a writer turns up who is just that special. This is definitely the case with Glennon Doyle Melton. She’s a hit because everything she writes runs deep and true–and makes us laugh. Glennon’s like your favorite girlfriend: game to talk about anything, unafraid to take chances, and refreshingly honest about her past and present struggles.”