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.

Mombbatical Mindset: The Past

“Sometimes it’s best to leave some baggage at the baggage claim.”-Jim Phillips, my father.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Ah, the age old adage from writer and philosopher George Santayana. These words could not be more relevant than now as we watch the United States go up in flames from the coronavirus pandemic. The narrative is playing out exactly as it did during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. I watched a play-by-play analysis of the Spanish Flu response side-by-side against the current pandemic response and was struck by how the country learned nothing from this significant moment in history.

“It either haunts us with its traumas and mistakes or intoxicates us with its fanciful moments of nostalgia, trapping us in thoughts of what we believe was a better time.”

This should be of no surprise. When a culture prioritizes power, money, and dominance, its citizens will always be the collateral damage in that pursuit. Full stop.

For us as individuals, the past wears many different masks. It either haunts us with its traumas and mistakes or intoxicates us with its fanciful moments of nostalgia, trapping us in thoughts of what we believe was a better time. For my own father, thoughts of the past were something to avoid altogether as he had suffered great losses, including his mother when he was only 22. I remember asking him once why he seldom spoke of her or those experiences from his past and his response was both poignant and simple, “Sometimes it’s best to leave some baggage at the baggage claim.”

I never pushed for more as I didn’t want to open any wounds, but looking back on my father’s life, his temperament, and the ups and downs, I often wonder if he had engaged in a deeper examination of those pains, would he have made different choices, quelled certain impulses, or perhaps been more forgiving of his own failures?

While discussing the concept of resilience, a brilliant friend of mine, Rebecca, offered the idea that often when we are confronting difficult times, we prefer to frame our stories in either the past, the present, or the future. There is both power and safety in all of those frames, however, how do we use the past as a teacher and not as a captor, holding us back from living in the present moment? And how do we honor the possibility of the future without deferring our very present responsibilities towards our own growth? More specifically,

  1. How often do you live in the story of your past?
  2. How does the narrative of your past impact your relationships? Your accomplishments?
  3. How do examine the past without feeling like you are in full on therapy?
  4. Do you have a clear sense of who you were in the past relative to who you are now?
  5. How do you use that sense of identity to empower you in the present?

These are the things we will be discussing in the next Mombbatical Mindset conversation on Sunday, August 2nd at 11 am PST/2 pm EST/ 8 pm CET. For details on how to join the conversation, click here.

Mombbatical Mindset: Discomfort

“. . there is also an underlying discomfort that is lingering for all of us as we face our way of life and the toll it has taken on society, the environment, and our very souls.”

According to Vocabulary.com, discomfort is “the feeling of irritation, soreness, or pain that, although not severe, is annoying. The noun discomfort is good for describing situations when you aren’t quite in pain, but you don’t feel very good.”

I love this explanation as it so accurately defines the unending state of uncertainty that has overshadowed the joy of my mombbatical. I landed on discomfort as one of the emerging lessons of my mombbatical because it seemed as if everyday, I was summoned to step into moments of discomfort. Whether in the attempt to use my French language skills or in the literary leaps that I was making each time I penned a blog post, laying my thoughts and perspectives bare for others to see and judge. I was not in pain, but I was at times annoyed or stressed by the vulnerability from these moments. Would I make a mistake? Am I on the right path? Will anyone listen to what I have to say?

The moment we are facing as a global community has been riddled with discomfort. For some, there has been great pain from the loss of loved ones to COVID-19 or unjust violence. Financial and economical upheaval have also created stress for many. But, there is also an underlying discomfort that is lingering for all of us as we face our way of life and the toll it has taken on society, the environment, and our very souls.

“Ultimately, our discomfort is intended to challenge us to grow into more of who we are really meant to be.”

The pause of the lock down may have forced many to confront the discomfort of a long-standing relationship that has not been working or a job that has been unfulfilling. Discomforts that were not severe enough to facilitate change as it is easier to tolerate the status quo than invite complete upheaval, but annoying enough to leave one not feeling good most of the time. Perhaps the brutal killing of George Floyd has brought to life, particularly for white Americans, the discomfort of facing how their privilege and false sense of superiority has existed on the backs and lives of Black people for centuries. A discomfort that likely they always felt, but were never moved to address.

This week’s conversation is about the discomforts that we have been living with and how they have impacted our well-being. We will also focus on our ability to step into new discomforts as a way towards healing old wounds or expanding our perceptions of our own capacities. Ultimately, our discomfort is intended to challenge us to grow into more of who we are really meant to be.

Some questions that will drive the conversation:

  1. What discomforts have you been dealing with recently?
  2. In what ways have they challenged you? In what ways have they inspired you?
  3. What lessons did you learn during that process?
  4. Have the recent racial and social justice issues caused you any discomfort and if so, how has it inspired any action?
  5. How will you embrace or step into discomfort in the future?

For details on how to join this conversation on Sunday, July 26th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST/8 pm CET, click Mombbatical Mindset Conversations.

Mombbatical Mindset: Books

“How lucky are we to have books at our disposal to conjure up and tend to every possible emotion in our capacity?”

I honestly can’t remember in time in my life when books were not central to my existence. They have been an ever present friend, a reliable anchor in difficult times, a magical escape, and even a mischievous curiosity. They ground warm memories, like trips to the Brooklyn library with my mother as a little girl. Books were a source of father-daughter bonding when my Dad would take me to the Happy Booker at the local mall and buy me books and stickers. He wasn’t much of a reader himself, but he knew that good parenting meant acknowledging and supporting my adolescent passions.

The memories that books have provided me over the years stick so tangibly in my mind. I remember these Monster books that my brother and I would read about a really tall, yet gentle monster who was loved by everyone in his neighborhood. As I would periodically reminisce about these delightful books, no one I knew had ever seen or heard of them, to the point where I thought perhaps I had made them up. Then, while perusing a teacher colleague’s first grade classroom library, I was reunited with Monster tucked away in the stacks. My colleague could see my six-year old self emerge in that moment and gave me the book, handing me a treasure from my childhood.

Allistair Cooke’s America gave me my first look at the brutality of lynching in the South. I would return again and again to that black and white image on the glossy pages, struck by the smiling white faces looking back at me. Judy Blume provided hours of relief from rainy day boredom. Alice Walker’s Temple of My Familiar ignited my soul. The suspense and shifting perspectives in Dean Koontz’s Intensity gripped me from night until the early morning hours as I bypassed sleep turning page after page. Oh the Places You’ll Go was the first day of school routine that I shared with Emmanuel from Kindergarten until 7th grade when he lovingly told me, “Mom, I’m good.” as I reached for the book on the shelf.

Albus Dumbledore tells us through JK Rowling’s pen that, “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. . .” More truer words could not be spoken, in my not so humble opinion. How lucky are we to have books at our disposal to conjure up and tend to every possible emotion in our capacity? I am a firm believer that if we stay open, the right book will find us at the very moment that we need it. They impart that lesson or provide comfort or shake us to our core, sometimes propelling us towards new adventures.

This week’s Mombbatical Mindset conversation is a celebration of the books in our lives, with a special focus on those books that have found us, delivered to us by the Universe as a synchronistic gift on our journeys. The guiding questions will be simple.

  1. Share with us a book that found you at the exact right moment.
  2. How did it find you and what was happening in your life at the time?
  3. Share some of your favorite quotations.
  4. Have you ever had the opportunity to pay this book forward to someone else and if so, who and why?

If you’d like to join this Sunday, July 19th conversation, click Mombbatical Mindset Conversations. The time is 11 am PST/2 pm EST/8 pm CET. Hope to see you there.