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.

The Mother to Heal All Wounds

The Mother to Heal All Wounds

I’ve been down deep in a cave, hiding out from the whirl and sheer velocity of a brand new year, a brand new season. In years past it seemed like there were so few people in the world debating their word for the year, deciding on their intentions, filling their hearts, their souls, their minds with as much spirit and soul as is shining in the world these days.

Times are changing.
Can you feel it?

I’m in this space of needing rest, needing quiet, needing privacy. Wanting the intimacy of knowing looks, gentle hugs and the companionship of long walks, no words. These are not things you can get on the internet, no matter what your word is. These are things we must experience in our real lives, in our real relationships, in the real eyes of the ones whose eyes meet ours when we wake in the morning. In the gesture of those who turn away when we wish so badly they would lean in.

It’s a point that must be made.
This medium, these letters, these classes, these videos, these Facebook statuses…they might be our lifelines, our medicine, our vitamins, but they are not our salvation.

The only thing that saves is the warmth, the connection, the strength, the wisdom, the fearless courage of Mother, that sense of being in the world that reminds us we can risk, we can try, we can rest, we can cease from all our striving and be found once again at home in the place where we first started.

This is horrible news, I know.
Whether your mother was an angel or a devil.
Whether you are the mother now with such an impossible task to even begin to try to do for another.

How could anyone ever give us all of what we ever needed?
Isn’t it too much to ask?
Isn’t it better to just move on? Do the best you can? Forget it ever happened?

I wish I could say yes to these questions. It would make everything so much easier.

But the truth is that without the Mother there is no home for our weary hearts.
Without Mother there is no confidence in our first tentative steps.
Without Mother there is no joy in our silent quiet triumphs.

And so without saying, even as we gently release our human mothers be the mothers they are and not the Mother To Heal All Wounds, we go on our quiet secret searches for the rest and reassurance we need. And in so many ways we find her. In the feel of the brush against the canvas, in the coziness of a freshly made bed or in the excitement we feel when a song or a dance or a story makes us feel like something amazing and bigger than us really can happen after all. We see glimpses of her in art, we feel the magic of her in our bodies, alive and awakened to longing, the same way we did as fresh born babies rooting for the breast.

She is bigger than us. And so tiny.
Hidden in everything intricate and beautiful, juicy and alive.
She is underneath the surface, down deep in the earth where we don’t feel silly to sway or open our eyes to the rising moon, the setting sun. Where we feel so free to just be ourselves.

This year in Hopeful World, my dream is to honor her and to be close to her and to find all the ways I have pretended she hardly ever mattered.

To seek her out like a precious ring, rife with memory and meaning, that is hidden somewhere in the house, that time you decided to put it someplace “safe”.
To look under all the rugs and behind all the curtains and in the basement and in the attic and all those other places in life or society, civilization or history, that you place things you can’t deal with right now, because they are too messy or simply don’t yet have their proper place.

This journey, I can see so far, will mean a lot more writing for me. More travel. More love. More rest. More tenderness. More honesty. More quiet. More fun. And even though I know deep down it’s a journey I have to take on my own, as always, I never really want to do anything like this without a tribe, without a family to come home to, without a community of people who care about these things, too.

So if you’ll have me this year, I hope to share some quiet hours in the real-world with you. In simple gatherings of heart and soul where we don’t have to say too much, but just looking in each other’s eyes is so much more than enough.

I want this, and I want you to hear, while I’m being quiet, words and wisdom from so many more of the people who are home to me, the ones who embody Mother in ways that give me confidence, freedom, acceptance, challenge and grace.

Some of these people are my sisters, some are my dearest friends. Some are men, actually, who have somehow managed to hold the feminine in their spirits without altering in any way their kingly masculine souls. Others are real mothers of the most divine proportions. All are so honestly on their own journeys and feel like I do, that no one of us has the corner on anything, we are so solidly in this thing together.

To do this, we might need to actually come see you–I have my eye on a handful of US cities right now–to either drink tea, go on a long walk or enjoy a deep conversation about the way things can be. How does this sound?

So write to us, will you? Let us know where you live, and what kind of gathering might be a beacon and a light of your own hopeful world journey back to Mother. Tell me what you wish I would say if I wrote for days and days and if you feel called in your heart, tell me that I can do this, because the time for real in-the-world, bodies and soul connection, feels like NOW to me, and I want to do my part. I don’t want to miss it.

With so much love,
Jen

In Case You’re Really Hoping Things Can Change

In Case You’re Really Hoping Things Can Change

Go ahead fill in the blank.

Oh, in my family, everyone thinks I’m _______________________ , but I don’t really see myself that way.
Yeah, I never got to do _______________________ . I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me.
Things could be different for me, but this relationship with my (mom/dad/husband/wife/boss/friend) means I really can’t __________________________.
Here’s the thing, life doesn’t just work like that. Not everyone can _____________________.
If only my (mom/dad/husband/kid/wife/friend/co-worker) would stop treating me like __________________________, things would get so much better around here.

Sentences like these make up the story of our lives, and these stories shape up, direct us and convince us of what’s possible for us. They also teach us what can never be ours.

When Ria first started developing The Story of You, I was very much on this page. I was recovering from a divorce and a very intense period in my life where I had decided to put my own responsibilities on hold in order to help someone else who I thought really needed a miracle. The problem was, once I did my part to help the miracle happen, my life was in shambles. Everyone around me could see the disaster coming from miles away, I’m sure, but to me, I felt embarrassed by my mistakes and extremely limited because of the decisions I had made.

Everything felt fixed, and I was sure my work now was to accept things as they were instead of leaning into any kind of hope or change.

Ria uncovered tons of research for The Story of You, which involved talking to people who had spent years examining how the brain holds stories and how the soul interprets them. Her data seriously challenged my doom and gloom assumptions. I was convinced that I had to embrace the pain, go deeper, try harder, but from everything she was learning, that was not the case.

What I did need was a chance to loosen my white knuckle grip on my story, which I was holding like some precious ancient infallible religious text. I needed some way to let in a more hopeful point of view, and one that wasn’t just positive mumbo-jumbo, pie-in-the-sky. I needed balance in my story and the willingness to entertain the possibility that the story of me could be a blessing and not necessarily a curse, because of all my crappy choices.

And the research said I could actually have that. I could have balance. I could have hope. I could have a framework that opened up the future and gave me new options for a hopeful future.

Getting this through my head was NOT easy, which is probably one of the reasons why The Story of You is so good today. Ria had to keep coming up with more and more playful, fun, creative options to shake up my psyche. And the kind that wouldn’t shut me down or scare me, so the change in perspective could come naturally, with the kind of ease that made me more malleable, and less invested in my suffocating narrative.

This is truly a foundational, life-changing class for Hopeful World. And as time goes on, we can really see that the approach presented here, really does help you soften into the kind of shifts that change you forever.

For the next 24 hours, we’re doing an experiment. We are waiving the fixed pricing (the class usually goes for $197) and inviting anyone who feels drawn to this course to pay whatever they would like. If that feels too fuzzy, you can think of it in increments of 25 between $25 and $250, with permission to pay just $2 if that’s what you know is an honest contribution right now. (Yes, we’ve been there, too!)

Our hope is that by doing this experiment we will throw open the floodgates…to our community, to our classes and to our hearts. We are delighted by the story we’re holding for ourselves in all of this which is that we are cared for, we are seen and we are blessed. And so are you.

Will you join us? For The Story of YOU? Pay-what-you-can registration is here.

With so much joy and love,
Jen and Ria

P.S. Want to learn more about what we do? Visit us at hopefulworld.org/join.

Light the Darkness

Light the Darkness

I was nursing my baby, standing in the kitchen, watching the little television a neighbor had lent me to get through the early days of life with a newborn and an undiagnosed case of postpartum depression. I don’t remember much other than feeling completely flattened listening to hour after hour of coverage, including the distressed voice of a soon-to-be mother of twins ask a newscaster if he could find her husband who worked in the Twin Towers, because she really needed him home. She really couldn’t be without him.
I stood at the kitchen counter and wept.

Today my baby is a middle schooler and my then husband is gone, off to a new chapter, doing the best he can with his new life as I try my hardest with mine.

The new president who won an election on the premise of hope, is arguing for the authority to start something that looks remarkably like a war, and mothers all around the world nurse their newborn babies, listen to the news and hope against hope for their husbands to come home, even when bad goes to worse.

Everything changes, I said foolishly once. Nothing stays the same.

Only when it doesn’t. Only when we get caught up in a loop that looks and feels exactly like a pattern, a pattern that must be broken before we run the grooves too deep in our minds and start to think things can never ever change.

I want to tell you today, that things do change.

Even the most difficult, most painful, most heart-wrenching things.

The kind of things that leave you in a state of terror in your bed at night.

The kind of things that make you feel tiny and small and incapable of taking care of anyone else, let alone yourself.

I know this because I have seen it with my own eyes.

I know it because when faced with a choice to make things different for one another, so often there are moments of magic where we set aside our restraints, our limitations, our preferences and choose, even out of our own lack, to make things different for someone else.

This is the heart of kindness. And when we stay open and tender to that possibility, we embody the essence of hope.

Today, in honor of September 11, I’d like to invite you to visit The Light of Human Kindness Project, an online experience and interactive mural in Richmond, Virginia. Hopeful World is a proud sponsor of the mural and played an integral part of the hopeful story the wall tells. The wall is a work of art, but more importantly it is an invitation to the Kindness Revolution as each light on the wall will only be illuminated in real time when someone like you shares hope in a dark place. You can read more about the wall (which goes live tonight!) here.

And if you’re reading today, thinking, I cannot possibly do anything for anyone else, then I invite you to sink into some serious self-renewal with me. It’s okay, to be the baby that needs to be carried for a while. It’s really okay to need the care of a divine and indefatigable mother.

All my love,
Jen

P.S. If you’re feeling blue today, send a message to help(@)hopefulworld.org. I’d love to hear how you’re feeling on this day in particular, where you were on September 11, and what it was that helped you then (and now) hold on to hope.

photo credit: Aimee T. McNamee Photography

The Hope Jar

The Hope Jar

I’m overwhelmed.

It’s a feeling I know well, many times it comes because of too many tasks or too much emotion. In this case, I am overwhelmed by all the hope and kindness — by Jen’s sweet declaration of appreciation, by a mailbox overflowing with your notes for the Hope Jar.

Just fyi, since our official P.O. Box is down the street from me, it makes sense that Crowdsourcing Hope was my project to manage. I wish I could share with you the physical sensation of opening an overflowing mailbox and having your letters tumble out. It feels like Christmas morning!

I am buoyed that you would write to a stranger, your simple words of encouragement to a nameless soul who suffers — the kindness of picking out a hopeful thought that holds meaning for you, finding an envelope, rummaging in a drawer for a stamp, sometimes even including extras. You wrote to us from Montana and Florida and Maryland and Texas and New Mexico and Canada and too many more places to name. After collecting and pasting them all, we filled 19 pages!

If you’ve been receiving these weekly reflections for awhile, you might have noticed this for yourself — that a particular struggle or pain that Jen gives voice to is your own, and perhaps you find comfort too, knowing that you’re not alone in it. It’s been a turbulent summer for me. I lost a grandmother. I lost my adopted dad. Your letters and the Hope Jar have become an anchor for me as I swim in the deep end of grief and loss. As I read each note you sent in, I felt my head nodding and discovered that truly, they were for me! Sometimes silently and sometimes out loud I found myself saying, Yes! I get that. Or, Yes, that’s true. It’s really something, people — this physical experience of being together in our darkness and the lightness that comes with each expression of hope.

Our shared darkness makes it possible for me to be here, to go where I’ve never allowed myself to go, to feel safe in excavating old hurts and a lifetime of unacknowledged losses, understanding now that even though I myself have not been in it like this before, many of you have… and have come out on the other side, somehow burnished by your sorrow into a stronger version of yourself.

This, to me, brings hope. This is a beacon that I cling to in my all too real experiences of loss, that I too will discover a depth for feeling that I didn’t have before, and a new understanding of myself and my place in this world that wasn’t available to me just a few short months ago.

So today I offer yourselves back to you, along with all the love and kindness with which you sent your tributes of hope, multiplied a hundredfold. As you make your own Hope Jars with the full collection of hope notes you can download here, remember that across 50 states and several countries, you are joined by me and Jen and Henry and so many others who are with you in this small way of making a more hopeful world for ourselves and each other.

With so much gratitude and always hope,
Ria

p.s. If you are inspired, we invite you to post a picture of your Hope Jar on the Facebook Page.

p.p.s. A thousand blessings to you who sent in notes. Your SASE are on their way! xo

What Makes It Easy

What Makes It Easy

I love this song by Patti Griffith.

Maybe it’s growing up with sisters.
Maybe it’s being part of big urban families as a grown up.
Maybe it’s coming to terms with all the ways that it’s so lonely to try to make big changes on your own.

Any way you slice it, I was made for partnership, especially that particular kind of friendship where you have each other’s back, you shoot straight and always laugh first when it’s clear that everything is falling apart.

I’m feeling the blessing of it today especially, this partnership I forged with Ria just two years ago. She’s my right arm, my ace in the hole, my one sure thing and the best partner-in-crime I could have ever asked for when we started Hopeful World in 2011.

I mention it today because I’m aware now more than ever that there’s a way we’re struggling in this culture, mostly because we have it in our heads we have to do it alone, when it never ever made sense to be singular units in the first place. Our lives are interdependent, whether we realize it or not, and learning to lean in to all the ways we are together is just the ticket if we’re hoping for a little more mercy in our lives, a little more grace.

When Ria and I formed Hopeful World, we did so over the internet, having never met. I just knew I needed her, and that her unique brand of gifts and heart for the world were necessary for this next chapter. I was nervous waiting by the sidewalk at the airport in St. Louis, hoping to God that when I got in her car that it would not be vacuumed meticulously and that she herself would not be dialed in with a kind of perfectionism that would only spell doom for our business together or my natural laid-back style.

Lucky for me, she arrived smiling, with bed-headed children and the usual array of kid crap on the floor of her mini-van. (She didn’t tell me until later that this was the exception, not the rule.) We stayed up half the night like teenagers, reading cards and telling stories, not knowing that our giddy triumph would soon give way to a rollercoaster ride that we both have scars from to this day.

Our road together has not been easy, but it has created the space we needed to grow and to learn and to believe in ever more honest and truthful ways that we are never alone — not a single one of us. We have learned from our failed marriages and our challenged romances how to be true friends, and how to lend each other the kind of support that makes us both hopeful and brave as we lend our hearts to this hopeful world together.

Lots more major announcements coming your way about Hopeful World and The Light of Human Kindness especially, but in the interim, know that our sisterhood is extended to you, and that each day as we Skype and pray and open up our hearts to whatever the Universe asks, our deepest wish is that you would feel the love and radical acceptance we feel for you and that we can give because of the sisterhood we enjoy with one another. Feel free to write us (as always) and say hi to Ri at help(@)hopefulworld.org. She’s holding down the fort over here 24/7.

With much light and sisterly love,
Jen and Ria

P.S. Please, please, please if you haven’t already, go LIKE The Light of Human Kindness and Hopeful World Facebook pages when you can. We have huge announcements coming and want you to be the first to know.

P.P.S. Our mailbox is stuffed FULL of letters for our Crowdsourcing Hope project. Watch your mailbox, too…letters are coming soon. We have SO many, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Thank you.

P.P.S. I’m working like a madwoman to put all my love and light into this class. More soon…

Crowdsourcing Hope

Crowdsourcing Hope

I’ve been in a little cave over here, without many words.
Do you know that place?
The only things that make sense are simple. Like making oatmeal in the morning. Or taking your time to really scrub the kitchen sink.

Still, the sun disappears every night and reappears like magic the next morning.
Darkness. Light. Hopelessness. Hope.
It’s what it means to be human, I’m finding more and more. Try to avoid that hopelessness and you automatically incur more. Try to stay in the light and your shadows grow monster-like and long, waiting for a chance to overtake you.

I’m uncomfortable with my level of discomfort, a friend said to me recently, eyes shining in the park with a smile on his face that can only mean you feel like crying.

And yet, this is life.
We shine.
Even when everything is more than enough to bear.

Today as I write to you, I’m aware that while there’s a way we have to face these dark nights of the soul on our own, there’s another way we do not.

We’re allowed in the dark to ask for light.
We’re allowed in the light to remember what it feels like in the dark.
We can turn on the light for one another when we’re too weak to reach the switch.

We can slide down to the bottom of the hole and just be together until one of us has the strength to show the other where there’s a handhold to get back out and up.

I have a dear one in a hole right now. And I’m wondering if this isn’t the moment to crowdsource a little hope for her, since the very idea of light is too much at the moment, the darkness feels so thick.

Here’s what I think we can do. Let’s send in a handwritten sentence along with a self-addressed envelope to Hopeful World Headquarters (address below). Just one thought, one simple line of wisdom or truth that you yourself try to hold onto when you’re losing your hold on hope. We’ll take each one and put them in a giant jar for this dear one, and whenever she’s feeling low, for however long as she’s in that dark space, she’ll be able to take a note from that jar and remember that she’s not the only one who ever wondered if she should keep going on, if her life even matters. Your light will be right there. And it will help her make it through.

And then, because you need that jar, just as much as she does, we’ll send you back in your SASE (self-addressed envelope) a page full of all the simple sentences we’ve received, and you’ll be able to cut them out and make your own jar, and you’ll know, too, that in so many ways you can never be on your own either. And that, on your cloudy days, will help YOU through.

What do you say?

I know it’s a little bit more effort to mail these in, but that’s the kind of hopelessness we’re dealing with here, people. The kind that requires just a little push, so that we can remember all the ways light comes and goes, along with the necessary darkness, no matter what’s happening on this or that particular day in your hopeFULL or hopeLESS world.

With so much love and light,
Jen

P.S. One of the things that is absolutely transforming my silence and my summer is listening to the audio meditations that are part of the Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal Online Experience we are doing with our dear friend and ally Renée Trudeau this fall. Early bird registration is open here and I’m happy to help you decide if it’s a fit for you, if you want to send me a message at help(@)hopefulworld.org

P.P.S. Send SASE to Hopeful World, P.O. Box 9191, St. Louis, MO 63117

Broken

Broken

We’re surrounded by positive messages.
I should know, messenger of hope that I am and have been.
We are instructed/invited/encouraged to embrace our fabulousness!!!! double-smiley face.

But what of our brokenness? Is there room in the embrace for that too?

Sometimes I don’t feel like being a good soldier, of making lemonades out of lemons, of looking on the bright side, and searching for the silver lining.

Can’t it be okay to accept the weight of it, sometimes? … the burden of all the ways that I’ve messed up, picked the wrong door, said the wrong thing at the wrong time, took the easy way, hidden behind some poor excuse, or let someone down — my kids, a friend, probably most especially, myself?

Yes, I know, there are gifts there, there’s growth and connection and beauty… blah, blah, blah, blah. But there are days when all those broken pieces of me don’t want to be repurposed into something brilliant and helpful and productive. They just want to be picked up and held for what they are — fragile, lost, tender, discarded, awkward, scared, and yes, broken.

So if there really is connection and humanity in our brokenness, and your heart is saying I so get you right now… I invite you to sit with me and share just one moment of not fixing or picking up the pieces and soldiering on but instead, honoring those parts of ourselves which are never celebrated…

the parts that is tired;
the parts that is frail;
the part that is frustrated,
overwhelmed,
stuck,
easily hurt,
afraid,
resentful,
threatened,
angry,
judgy,
feels powerless,
can’t quite go with the flow,
wants to give up,
wants to complain,
… and is hurting.

I give that part of you permission to not want lemonade. Maybe what is called for is just a moment of leaning in, instead of walking away. Maybe our brokenness just needs the nod. And a simple acknowledgment is just the balm that can begin the healing.

If there is such a part in you that is calling out to be embraced and you feel you can’t hold it all by yourself right now, send me a message at help(@)hopefulworld.org with BROKEN in the subject line.

I’ll write it on a slip of paper and add it to this bowl to honor it and you — in a small ritual to being together in our brokenness.

with love and togetherness,
Ria

p.s. I struggle with blogging publicly still so it’s a rare occurrence for me to be so raw in the wide open but I invite you to join me here, where I share my musings more regularly on the art of embracing your truest self.

photo credit: henry lohmeyer

A Tiny Tsunami of Hope

A Tiny Tsunami of Hope

It’s 7:27 AM and already I’ve had two good cries. One out of gratitude for a new experience of sweetness. One out of sorrow for my kid who is feeling the loss of two brother-like friends who have been gone long enough now for him to realize they really aren’t coming back.

I have a hate/love relationship with these tiny tsunamis of emotion. Sometimes they make me feel better. Sometimes they make me feel worse. All the time I hold them inside in a hostage-like state of bewilderment. Technically, I know feelings are normal but practically, I have no idea how to deal with them unless they compel me to express unbridled appreciation or serial angst. And even then, I have no idea what to do with their aftermath… that wake of emotion that they appear to stir up in someone else. Sometimes it seems to be for the best, other times for the worst.

I wish I wasn’t always at a loss. I wish I didn’t have so many feelings about how I feel about my feelings. I wish it was simpler for me like it seems to be for everyone else. I wish it didn’t feel so complicated.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer. Maybe it’s because essentially I’m a thinker, but for the longest time I’ve been able to pass in regular society as a seemingly intact person when it comes to emotions. I can talk about them, so I’m good, right? But over time I’ve realized that talking about how I feel isn’t quite the same as letting those feelings do their wise work in my soul and in the relationships I value so much.

In fact, my inability to express them when it counts, to really let myself feel them and the people I love see them is actually becoming the number one reason in my life why I still so often feel disconnected and isolated when what I’m longing for most is tenderness and belonging.

Sigh.

Is there anyone else out there struggling with this?  Can someone please say I’m not the only one?

I know there’s hope for me on this point — yes, at 44 years old — because the Universe keeps bringing people into my life who deeply care about the things that are troubling me most.

Enter Melissa Rivera, for example. Gentle, persistent emailer. Secret whirling dervish of fiery wisdom and passion. Wicked smart researcher, PhD holder and Harvard grad. Just so happens we’ve been circling each other for years and now she’s working on the embodied practice of emotional mastery with brilliant author and method-maker, Jennifer Day.

Just so happens that Jennifer Day has a thriving practice in the UK and the most joy-filled, down-to-earth way of helping you get to the heart of things without feeling stupid or silly for needing to know.

Huh. Coincidence? I pray to God not.

I’m diving into deep waters with these two women at the end of July and it would mean the world to me if you would join me. Registration is here. I am genuinely scared of my feelings. There, I said it. They feel so overwhelming to me at times, but I’ve found in these two women a lightness and a strength that is making it feel safe for me to gently explore what’s up for me about this. And I know I have to do it (did I mention I’m 44?) and I really want to experience deep love and connection in my life in ways that heal and strengthen me before it’s too late.

With warmth and so much hope,
Jen

P.S. It would mean so much to me today especially if you would write and let me know if you’re in the same boat with this feeling thing. One of the most painful things for me on this point is feeling like I’m somehow a freak or the only one. Your “yes, me too!” would be a real boon and a blessing.

P.P.S. The first 20 people who join me will receive one-on-one deep listening calls from Jennifer, Melissa and me. If mentoring is not a possibility for you at this time but you know you would benefit from a personal touch, this is truly the Hopeful World experience for you. xo