Do You Want to Be a Conscious Parent?

Do You Want to Be a Conscious Parent?

Sometimes we carry ghosts around as grownups. The way our mother spoke. The way our father neglected. Enter your own kids and there’s nothing you want more than for your children to know peace where you experienced pain or upset. And even if your own childhood was somewhat even, you still wonder why you yell or become exasperated.  You still wish you could give your kids more patience, more love, instead of being triggered. Early this fall, I began talking to different parenting experts about what makes some parents able to stay connected to their kids, while other parents stay stuck in the cycle of losing it, feeling bad, compensating, etc. Each person spoke to a particular mindset–the kind of gentle perspective that made space for acknowledging when you’re getting triggered and also keeping the channels of communication open. They called this mindset Conscious Parenting. Since informal conversation has always been one of our favorite ways to connect at Hopeful World, we decided to host a series of kitchen table conversations to delve deeper into this topic, and the result is a beautiful audio series full of stories, laughter, honest confession, hope and practical tips for staying connected to your kids, even when you feel like you’re at your wit’s end. If you’re a parent who wants to do better and is tired of feeling guilty for losing your temper or overpowering your kids, this series is for you. You’ll hear from Dr. Shefali of Oprah fame, on why choosing to parent consciously can change your whole life. You’ll hear from Teresa Brett, social change activist and seasoned mom, on how a tiny shift in perspective can let in so much more compassion. I talked to Bhagavan Bauer of Joy-filled Parenting on how you can start being conscious in any moment, even if you’re a dad who may have not always been parented like this before. I also talked to the hilarious and wise Jennifer Day, founder of Applied Emotional Mastery, on how humor and play can help you address the darker sides of your child’s personality. Rebecca Thompson and I talked about how the brain works in breakdowns and how you can get back on track so fast with one conscious shift. And last but not least, I spoke with Cathy Williams, matriarch and wise elder, about her legacy of love in her own multi-generational family, where conscious parenting was not just a strategy for better behavior, but a way of life. Right now we are offering this instant downloadable audio series for $47. You receive an introductory talk from me along with six recorded conversations to help you find your way. As an expression of our gratitude this holiday season, we are offering this series for $27 when you use the discount code 154FA now through 12/4. You can go straight to the registration page here, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Jen Lemen, your host and co-founder of Hopeful World, at help@hopefulworld.org. I am honored to bring this series to you with the help of my dear friend and co-collaborator Melissa Rivera. Our dream is that thousands of parents will take this gentle introduction and receive the support and encouragement they need to connect with their kids in a meaningful and effective way, triggers and all.

In Case You’re Tired of Feeling Low About Mother’s Day

In Case You’re Tired of Feeling Low About Mother’s Day

Here we are. Again.

Eating our Mother’s Day brunches. Browsing last minute grocery store cards. Wondering how we got here, back again to this holiday that dredges up so much and leaves us too often more curious than satisfied about why the whole thing is just so hard.

Maybe it’s hard because you’re old enough now to understand you can’t really be okay without your mother.

Maybe it’s hard because letting go of mother also meant letting go of a certain kind of dream of a life, of a world, of a partner, of a child where you could actually feel like yourself. Where you could know, really know, that the way you are is actually completely fine, everyone else’s opinion be damned.

Maybe it’s hard because not having that love won’t do anymore and living like it doesn’t matter, this long line of mothers and grandmothers behind you, holding you, supporting you, guiding you, will not do, not for one more day.

Not one more second.

Because the truth is you need her.
Because the truth is you want her.
Because the truth is she’s the only one who knows you in some strange and sometimes horrible way. And when you’re disconnected, you can never feel at ease with just how amazing and powerful you really are.

Because this is what the mother does. Or what we all know somehow in our bones she is supposed to do. She is supposed to be here. To validate. To understand. To guide. To insist. To cover. To dream. To reveal. To see. To love. To be everything and nothing at all, without saying a word.

In times past, this desire carried with it so much pain, because human mothers, whether they are us or we are waiting for them, have been disconnected from the mother line from before we were even born. In times past, we didn’t stand a chance. And they didn’t either. We were all, each one of us, adrift and unattached, the cord free floating in some kind of endless space. And the world we have created reflected back to us that lostness.

But I am here to tell you today, dear soul, that that world, the one that kept you unattached from that primal essential memory of being held by something so constant and greater than yourself is passing.

It is passing and in its place a new very ancient possibility is being born.

A possibility that can only emerge out of so much collective anguish over losing the link to the only thing that ever gave us any hope of ever having a deeply connected, deeply loving, deeply true way of feeling like we belong.

A possibility that can only be born out of the mess of so much ego and hierarchy and power and money gone mad.

A possibility that can only be born out of a planet that is fading for the sorrow of being so neglected, so exploited, so used for anything and everything but a sustainable, gentle, kind stewardship of love.

This grief you feel? It is not yours only. It is in the eyes of so many women and men everyday who exchange energy, even at a glance. You are not the only one.

It is a sign, in fact, of a new day, a new dawn, a new era, where the only way to return you to the Mother is to create a world where she would feel at home. Where the way she shares, the way she cooperates, the way she insists on collaboration and working it out, the way she holds space for everyone to feel part of a family is the way the world actually has to work. Or it will not survive.

A world where our shared longing must be reflected in our infrastructure, in our economies, in our cultures, in our families, in our world.

This path to this world is written on the palms of our hands. It is written on the inside of our hearts. It is our oldest memory and in it is in our collective power now to turn our tears into a fierce and persistent cry for a different way.

Consider these words from our friend and ally Marques Anderson:

We have tried our own way to figure out how to survive, even though the answers were always with us. There quietly nestled in the beginning, lay the ancient wisdom of birth. As we are delivered into this new world, we will never forget; but rather remember our purpose and our mission to live and thrive, to create and manifest greatness into the world. Where freedom is not auto corrected by how much money or status you carry, but how deep your truth resonates with the source. Even though the world has gone through so much hurt and pain, we are still being nurtured to dream and live lives full of growth and hope. We have been given the opportunity to create a new world and a new way of being, moving into a life infused with shared values, common courtesies and collective expansion. All this can be found in the eyes and heart of the Mother, for she is the nurturer of spirits and dreams.

Think of this today, when you have no words. Think of this when you have no hope. Inside this hopelessness, a bright and beautiful hope is being born, the kind that can only be birthed out of sorrow. The kind that can only push forward because you gave up so long ago on being surprised.

Your Mother is coming. She is almost here. And she will arrive because you dreamed her. Because you finally decided these tears were enough and that there must be now, some other, some strange and beautiful, old familiar way to the beginning we all can share.

With so much hope and love,
Jen

P.S. We are excited to travel to San Francisco this next week to the SHARE Conference sponsored by Peers.org and SOCAP to discuss the sharing economy and a more hopeful world. We’re even more excited to be traveling with the award-winning creators of The Light of Human Kindness Project, Patience Salgado and Hamilton Glass as well as Marques Anderson of the WE Foundation and Kelly Bean of African Road.

If you’d like to support our efforts, please join the Kindness Revolution here or write to me.

Mutual Weirdness and Other Love Stories

Mutual Weirdness and Other Love Stories

I can’t stop watching this video.
If I didn’t know these two personally, I would not believe they could possibly be this honest, this sweet or this devoted, but they are. So much, so ridiculously much.

I met Scott (the World Guinness Book record holder for wearing a nametag the most days in a row — 11 years and counting) in St. Louis through Ria and then later Brittany when together they moved to New York City to make their dreams come true. I spent time with them in New York every so often, listening to their stories, hearing their hopes and watching, oh-so-carefully as they made the gentle (but dramatic transition) from caring more about the beauty of the “we” than any other success they might have imagined as separate entities.

In September, they married. (Our first Hopeful Wedding!) And I was lucky enough to be their witness first at the New York City courthouse and then a week later as their officiant at a small ceremony in St. Louis. I was excited and honored but also a little nervous. When you do your entire life in your pajamas and have basically one uniform with two not-so-slight variations (jeans/dress, bangles/beads, cowboy boots) to wear everywhere else, I always panic going into more traditional social settings. Combine that with the fact that I make a living out of having profound and deep, meaningful conversations with people (and am consequently a horrible chit-chatter — the fodder of weddings, office parties and baby showers everywhere), I was a little worried.

But Scott and Brittany were so clear. Please just come as yourself. Wear your cowboy boots, your bangles and your beads. You being you is an expression of who we are, too. And we are more than happy for everyone to see you, exactly as you always are.

It was one of the most genuine gestures of acceptance I’ve ever received.

Mostly, I think, because the pain of falling outside the lines is so great. It’s not easy to let your rough edges show, and harder still when you struggle with the social skills to hide them like everyone else. Having that exposure, the kind you can’t manage for the public, is humbling and sometimes embarrassing, but it’s also a strange gift. You have to be yourself. You don’t really have a choice. Pulling off all the other options doesn’t come without extreme contortions or massive effort.

This is who you are, come hell or highwater. This is it.

I’m oh-so-slowly making peace with that weirdness in myself, and am deeply thankful for the people I know who are gently making their rough edges known, one creative, brave act at a time. It’s one thing if being yourself makes you a natural fit for traditional or conventional frameworks. It’s another thing entirely if it makes you unusual, strange or a little bit off the beaten path. You have to be okay with not always fitting in, and you have to hold out hope for the kind of radical acceptance or “mutual weirdness” Brittany so wisely calls love.

This space that Brittany and Scott are holding… this space that says you don’t have to be ashamed to be your own wild, weird, alien amazing self, and that you can be completely accepted and even adored, in your most true natural state, is here for you today.

It really is.

And I’m standing in that space, and I hope if you need to, you will stand here with me, too.

With so much love,
Jen

P.S. So honored and happy today to share with you our very first Hopeful Mix made by request by our friend Shannon, a dear ally of Hopeful World and a frequent flyer in our classes. We hope you’ll enjoy her unique expression of hope and that it brings you so much joy and light!

P.P.S. If you missed our pay-what-you-can offer, it’s not too late to join us for The Story of You. There’s magic that happens when you make room for a new story of you. Will you join us? Class starts Monday.

Everything Happens

Everything Happens

I have the hardest time being gentle with myself.

Maybe it’s because I can see how deeply responsible I am for my choices and the life I’ve created. Maybe it’s because I think when I’m suffering as a result of my mistakes or missteps I deserve punishment more than any comfort or companionship.

Are you ever hard on yourself in this particular way?

I wish I could tell you I’ve got this great new trick I do that helps me not isolate or hibernate like this, but I don’t. What I can say is that I’m beginning to realize there are so many people around me who can see my dilemma and are willing to offer me solace if I’m willing to admit things are not okay.

Choosing to acknowledge that we are loved more than we can sometimes say breaks down the case for thinking we are alone. It gives us back our power to open up and acknowledge the host of people around us who are trying to get through, the dear ones who want to be near even though we can’t imagine why and had our sights set on others who were more distant and elusive.

Last June, during a particularly painful time, my dear friend Corinna Robbins came to visit me for a weekend of making art and hanging out. My oldest friend Maya Story flew in from Portland to stay with us in the big yellow house. We didn’t realize at the time that this would be the very weekend that my housemate and dearest family friend Rachael Maddox would see the final break in her marriage and agree with her husband Brian to part ways.

Brian and Rachael more than any other two people I know believe that even at the darkest moments you can experience hope, connection, comfort and light. We spent the weekend filming both their last moments together in between bouts of crying, laughing and being quiet with each other on the couch. The whole weekend was surreal. It wasn’t until we were in the editing process that we realized every single person you see in this video was living through a major life transition when we filmed, even the kids.

It’s been almost a year since we were all together. I had to leave the big yellow house. Brian and Rachael have forged an honest friendship. The little boys you see who were like brothers to my son have moved far away to Turkey. The woman celebrating a birthday is beginning a new life. Corinna is on the cusp of breakthrough as a filmmaker, and I’m not nearly as low as I was that day Corinna filmed me, sprawled out on my bed saying all the things I myself most needed to hear.

Everything changes. And when we can remember that during the low times, our hearts can fill with hope. And when we can tell each other this in the good times, our hearts can fill with gratitude. No matter what, we can be gentle, we can be kind. And we can remember, that even in this, we are never, ever alone.

Here’s the link to our first Hopeful World short film here… we know this content is not for everyone, but for those of you who are walking through big changes or who are feeling the pain of loss and regret, please accept it as our acknowledgment of what you’re going through and of the hopeful future that awaits you.

With so much love,
Jen

P.S. Thank you so much for sharing our Mother’s Day post. Ria and I were so honored by the way this message of comfort spread far and wide, in part because of you. We hope you’ll continue to share anything we create that you know will speak to someone who is hurting.

In Case Mother’s Day is Hard for You

In Case Mother’s Day is Hard for You

(with my mom, who understood so deeply the pain and beauty of mother’s day)

Let’s be real. Mother’s Day can completely blow sometimes.

You want to be cheerful. You want to be with the program. But some years there are all these little points of pain that will not go away.

The baby you never had.
The one you gave up.
The kid you lost to something bigger than you.
The child that slipped away before you ever held her.
The one that was never born.
The one you worry you’re failing.
The one that failed you.

The mother who’s so close and yet so far.
The one you loved so much who couldn’t love you back.
The one you could never love because it hurt too much.
The one you lost too soon.
The one who is slipping away.
The one you can never please.
The one you wish you could live up to.

There are no cards to honor these children or these mothers. There are no holidays to contain all the parts of you that fall outside the lines of generally understood sorrow or celebration.

But there is this moment, this incredible moment, where you can feel it all. Where for once you can’t stuff it down or forget it. Where you have to be with it, because it is not going away.

And here, my friends, is where something important happens. This is where we connect, where we understand we are frail, where we are human. Where we see in new ways what life means. Where we are issued a compelling and persistent invitation to mother ourselves. To cut ourselves the breaks we didn’t get. To ask for the help we always needed. To let tears come and say, This is how it is. I’ll ask in this one tiny moment, for the courage I need to let everything just be.

No matter what your point of pain or challenge today, I want you to know that you are not the only one. Somewhere over a silly Mother’s Day breakfast, there is a woman faking a smile who feels just like you do. Somewhere in a very silent house with no one to call, there is a woman who is tending the ache of her loss, just like you. Somewhere standing in a shower there is a woman who is feeling it all and letting the tears come, just like you.

As you go about this day, know that over here, Ria and I have candles lit for all these unspoken things, and that we are holding the space and thinking of you. You — the faraway, soulful you — will be in our meditation and in our warmest thoughts. We are sending you light and love and the deep wish that you would know today of all days, nothing is wasted and we are together in ways we cannot always see but are just as true. That the night can never last. That even in our darkest moments, there will be someday, the surprise of a laugh, a comfort, a dawn.

With so much love, hope and light,
Jen

P.S. Will you share this around? We know there are so many women who are feeling it today. And if you know you appreciate things like this, please sign up for our weekly messages at hopefulworld.org/join. Our hope is that everything we send out brings radical acceptance for who you are and relieves your suffering. Thanks!

photo by Patience Salgado of kindnessgirl.com

Your Story Matters

Your Story Matters

Why do our stories matter? Because every day, we make meaning by taking pieces of our daily experience and weaving it into narratives for ourselves. We can’t help it. We’re storytelling animals. What we are often unaware of is that the story we choose to tell ourselves about ourselves actually has the power to shape our life experience — and that story can drive us apart or bring us together. I happen to know this because… well, let me tell you a story….

Last spring, Jen and I piloted a class called The Story of You. My contribution to this project was sharing my life story and unravelling it, tracing my journey and my reflections along the way. In the process, I discovered a deeper story that was hidden underneath, one that explained why I kept re-creating scenarios that I would just as soon… um, not!

I was compelled to look at my personal narrative through a completely different lens. And what do you think happened? Retelling my story created a radical shift in my life. I’m not just talking about an internal perspective shift, people — I’m talking about new experiences, new places, new people, new relationship dynamics — including being able to spend a magical week with my family on the other side of the world! I would share more but that would be a spoiler… since we’re offering another session of The Story of You and we’d love for you to join us in the experience.

It’s a five-week class designed to help you own your story and explore personal storytelling as a vehicle for transformation, growth and healing. You’ll learn why stories matter and how the narratives we tell ourselves have the power to propel us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and those we love.

I will again share my own process of reimagining my story to help you uncover how your own narrative can become a blueprint for personal growth and change. In addition, audio conversations and story sharing between me and my friend and veteran guide, Jen Lemen as well as one of my favorite storytellers, world-renowned author, Oriah Mountain Dreamer will help you see where thoughtful story exploration can take you. And, weekly activities will give you clear direction as you develop a practice of looking at your stories through the lens of gentleness and courage.

The online class runs from October 15 – November 16. Class registration is $99/each or $170/for two (since everything is even better together).

REGISTER here for $99 or here to sign up with a friend for $170.

I can’t wait to have you join us, as together we celebrate, explore and honor the story of YOU!
Ria