Mombbatical Mindset: Love

“Real love. . .exists in the quiet spaces when we are alone, independent of the things and people we hold hostage to our happiness.”

The journey of my mombbatical brought unexpected reflections and experiences, but what was perhaps most surprising was that it was a renewed journey to self-love. I had spent years on the self-help train, reading everything from the Bible to Iyanla and all that fell in-between. I had been to therapy, forgiven those who brought me pain and drew strength and self-appreciation from the many hats that I had worn–mother, educator, leader, etc. Little add-ons like becoming a Crossfit addict at 47 or earning an executive masters degree helped shore up my self-esteem for sure.

But, my mombbatical time–time away from my greatest love, my son–revealed a new dimension to love that I had not fully understood before. During that time, I was stripped of all the identifiers that fortified my ego, including mom. Often, I was forced to sit in my solitude and get comfortable with just being in that moment. While at times I relished the freedom and lack of demands, I also felt purposeless and of no use to the world. I kept questioning the decision I had made because there was no external evidence of how to define my life. It was disorienting and downright frustrating.

Then, I came to understand that that was the point. Real love does not reside in our accomplishments or labels or the number of people who know our name or come to depend on us. It exists in the quiet spaces when we are alone, independent of the things or people we hold hostage to our happiness. It is in the touch of a cool breeze on our skin and the blazing reds and oranges embedded in the clouds as the sun sets.

I was just saddened by what seemed like their mutual insatiable appetites for love and recognition and the destruction it had wrought on their union.

One day, I sat and listened to a friend air grievances about their partner and the looming end of their relationship. I was struck by the tit-for-tat dissatisfaction they shared with each other for simply not acknowledging or supporting the accomplishments of the other. Over time, resentments had piled up as they both expected the other to provide the external validation that would make them feel whole, feel loved. I had no judgment on either side. I was just saddened by what seemed like their insatiable appetites for love and recognition and the destruction it had wrought on their union.

It’s an exhausting endeavor, seeking the external to fortify the internal. We are conditioned to believe that this is our quest. Our entire society is built on this idea. Yet, that has never been the charge of the Divine. Alice Walker says it best in The Color Purple, “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” Of all of the sadness, brutality, and triumph in this timeless classic, it is this simple notion that is the lesson for us.

In this week’s final Mombbatical Mindset conversation, we will discuss love and where it resides in our lives and how we can live more fully in love even in the midst of the storm. Some questions we will cover are:

  1. What did love feel and look like for you growing up?
  2. In what ways do you conditionally love others?
  3. In what ways do you conditionally love yourself?
  4. Take a moment and reflect on a time when you could feel and embrace the love that was in your present experience? Was it something you saw? Heard? Tasted?

For details on how to join this week’s conversation on Sunday, September 13th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST/8 pm CET, click here.

Mombbatical Mindset: Urgency (of Motherhood)

“As I allowed myself to go deep into my own spiritual and emotional spaces, the conversations that I wanted to have with my own son became richer in their content.”

When I decided to start blogging, I didn’t have any real sense of what the experience was supposed to be like given my circumstances. I remember seeking out other “Mom” blogs for some guidance, especially the ones that had become relatively popular.  Much to my dismay, I found them to be a bit shallow, floating between self-deprecating rants about how terrible of a mother the author was and unrealistic DIY projects that most women I knew had neither the time nor patience for and only fostered a toxic competitiveness.

When I shine a light on modern motherhood, I’m surprised by how much the narrative really hasn’t changed in decades.  The conversation typically centers on all that mothers have to juggle or all that we have given up in order to be mothers. We seldom dive into the complexity of motherhood and womanhood, allowing everyday women to give voice to the layers of their existence–their sexuality, dreams, fears, questions. Creating a space to address these contours emerged as my vision for this platform.

The emptiness and callousness of our capitalist systems forced me to set new boundaries with Emmanuel about consumption and ownership. We reset our values around experiences instead of possessions.”

Yet, as I continued to observe so much of our world splitting at the seams, I realized that there was an urgency to my parenting that went beyond ensuring good grades or manners. As I allowed myself to go deep into my own spiritual and emotional spaces, the conversations that I wanted to have with my own son became richer in their content.

#Metoo inspired conversations beyond consent into discussions about sex–when? why?  The emptiness and callousness of our capitalist systems forced me to set new boundaries with Emmanuel about consumption and ownership. We reset our values around experiences instead of possessions. Black Lives Matter, school shootings, the climate crisis have all been catalysts for me to examine Emmanuel’s own activism, while also intentionally having the conversations that affirm his identity as a kid, i.e, Do bugs have souls?

In this week’s conversation, we will discuss the urgency of motherhood at this moment in time and the power of the mother’s voice beyond the caricature of a persistent nag or worrier.  We will examine the spiritual lessons we have learned and how we use them to strengthen our relationships and interactions with our own children. And we will discuss how we can forgive ourselves for our perceived “failings” as mothers and put that damn narrative to rest.

Some questions we will consider:

  1. What prepared you for motherhood? What were the conversations that you had before that moment?
  2. Tell us about one of the most enriching and meaningful conversations you’ve had with your child(ren)?
  3. Where does your self-doubt still reside when it comes to mothering?
  4. In light of the state of our world, what are the urgent conversations you are having or are longing to have?
  5. What nurturing do you need to give yourself on behalf of your children?

This week’s conversation is Sunday, August 30th, 11 am PST/2 pm EST/8 pm CET. For details on how to join the conversation, click here.

 

Mombbatical Mindset: Synchronicities

Now, I understand that the synchronicities that confirm our way transcend judgment of right or wrong, good or bad.

When I think about the wisdom that we attempt to pass along to young people as they grow–whether in schools, in the home, or in other institutions, like church, I wish we spent more time talking about the stirrings of the soul and the very real miracle of synchronicities. I, myself, had noticed “signs” or odd coincidences that would occur in life, but I never understood that those signs were gifts from a loving Universe.

We are taught to reason things out in life, that the power is in our minds and spirit is a dogmatic, distant entity to which we are morally beholden. Bound by religion and rules, I believe we miss what it actually means to commune with spirit–to engage in a present-moment dialogue with a force that lives within us, not outside of us.

But the Universe is kind and so we are sent synchronicities when we need them the most, validating the small voice that we hear inside of us. A synchronicity is not some random coincidence. It is our soul working in concert with spirit to light our way. It is profound magic that we co-create to confirm our journey towards our deepest yearnings.

For the longest time, I used to shame myself for being consistently seduced by the synchronicities and signs that left me locked in a toxic attachment to a former lover. In my healing process, I judged myself for not being able to break free. I cursed a distant God for leading me down a path that seemed to always lead to heartbreak and longing. I kept questioning why I was on the journey, why all the signs kept me there, yet left me unfulfilled and distraught. I believed that I was wrong.

“If there is pain when we follow the whisper, it is for our highest good. And if there is joy, that is for our highest good as well.”

So, I began to question and resist those signs, doubting my own discernment about where my soul was leading me. Instead of celebrating the healing that I had achieved by following the painful path, I proclaimed  that I would try to protect myself from it in the future. A ridiculous endeavor to consider as I express these words “out loud.”

Now, I understand that the synchronicities that confirm our way transcend judgment of right or wrong, good or bad. They are neutral gifts intended to show what our higher selves are desperately trying to whisper to our hearts. If there is pain when we follow the whisper, it is for our highest good. And If there is joy, that is for our highest good as well.

In this week’s Mombbatical Mindset conversation, we will discuss synchronicities, how they show up and what happens when we resist them? I invite participants to share the synchronicities that have been the most validating and the most surprising and the ones that even led to pain. Some questions that we will cover are:

  1. When did you come to understand the power of synchronicities in your life?
  2. What are some that have been the most life-affirming?
  3. What are some synchronicities that have created mystery for you?
  4. Tell us about a time when you have resisted the synchronicities in your life and why?
  5. How do you stay attuned to the presence of synchronicities in your life now?

For details on how to join the conversation, click here.

 

Mombbatical Mindset: Passion

“What would you tell your younger self about living with passion?”

You know the feeling. The rush when you are fully immersed in doing something that you love down to your core. Time bears no consequence to the present moment. In fact, it moves too quickly as you savor each minute, whether it is while singing or dancing or climbing a mountain. Miles of bike trails pass beneath the rubber tires that bear the weight of your passion. Scents swirl in the air, luring those you love to partake of your latest culinary concoction. A child’s smile fuels your conviction as you offer them your gentle care. The drive is undeniable. The joy is simply unmatched.

But, then there’s the heartbreak of a passion lost. Maybe it comes from rounds of rejection that lead you to just give it up. Or from the doubting words of those who are closest to you. Their motive is unclear, yet they strike with such precision at the most tender and vulnerable places in your soul, changing the very face of your dreams.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron tells her readers that reclaiming our passion to be creative starts with recovering our sense of safety. As we purge the demons who have blocked our way, whether internal or external–the monsters who have created the narratives that tell us we do not deserve to live the life that we want, the passion that wells inside of us is unstoppable. It cannot be contained nor denied.

“Man is not free to refuse to do the thing which gives him more pleasure than any other conceivable action.”

Stendhal

In this week’s Mombbatical Mindset conversation, we will discuss our Passions. The things in life that light our fires. We’ll also reflect on the passions that have been lost over time and the ones we have found the courage to reclaim, sometimes through our sweat and tears. Some questions we will cover are:

  1. What were some of your earliest passions when you were young?
  2. Were you able to keep them in your life? If not, why not?
  3. Who have been your greatest champions for you to pursue your passions?
  4. Have you ever played the skeptic in someone’s passion story, whether a friend, a child, a niece or nephew? From what are you protecting them?
  5. What would you tell your younger self about living with passion?

To join the conversation on Sunday, August 16th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST/8 pm CET, click here.

Mombbatical Mindset: Tribes

“Everyone seems to be seeking the highest good for all in our Zoom world while asking for nothing in return but presence.”

I never thought about the concept of tribes until my mombbatical when I took part in an experience called Alps to Alaska. I have been a part of work and church communities, families, even a sorority, but the concept of a tribe had a completely different feeling for me. When I found myself in this bona fide tribe–a group of individuals all committed to the ideal of supporting one another as we each embraced our own personal growth journeys–I was moved by the unconditional, yet interdependent energy of the group. There was no vying for power or ego jockeying. It was a peaceful exchange of ideas, energies, and vulnerabilities.

“The question is can we translate this same type of energy and generosity to the very institutions that are failing us or are in question right now? Our schools? Our workplaces? Our governments? Our economies?”

The pandemic has really forced us to look deeply at our people groups–our work communities, our families, even our friend groups. While separated from all those I hold near and dear, I found comfort in the tribes that intentionally sought virtual connection during those months. Even in the digital universe, I appreciated the way these tribes simply nurtured the connections without demands or obligations. Everyone seemed to be seeking the highest good for all in our Zoom world while asking for nothing in return but presence.

What I am learning in my tribal interactions is that there is shared power. Some may direct the momentum in certain directions, but every member’s contribution holds its own weight. No one is fighting to be seen or heard because the space has been created for that very purpose. The question is can we translate this same type of energy and generosity to the very institutions that are failing us, or are in question right now? Our schools? Our workplaces? Our governments? Our economies?

In this week’s conversation, we will talk more deeply about tribes and how their very nature is the healing balm that we need in this moment. We will contemplate the following questions:

  1. What are the tribes that sustain you in your life? Try to think beyond family or other groups to which you have obligations.
  2. What are the lessons that you have learned from those tribes?
  3. How do the tribes that we attract affirm beautiful aspects of ourselves?
  4. How have the members of your tribes challenged you to step outside of your comfort zones?
  5. How might your tribes inspire greater collective action to bring about real change?

This week’s conversation is Sunday, August 9th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST/8pm CET. For details on how to join, click here.