"Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it." —Mark Twain
Ask any parent what they most want for their kids and most will likely say, “I want my kids to be happy and successful.”
This begs the question - What is happiness and success, really?
I thought I knew. Then life happened.
Today I enjoyed an inspiring keynote talk at my kid’s school with Julie Lythcott–Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult. She spoke beautifully about the fears we as parents carry around with us each and every day as we navigate this crazy uncharted territory of parenting in the year 2015. She pointed to our good intentions coupled with our need to assure our kids future success. One remark that hit home for me:
“Having the courage to be who we really are is the path to a truly meaningful and rewarding life.”
YES!!! I thought, now we are talking! Isn’t this what we want for both our kids and ourselves? A meaningful and rewarding life?!
I was also struck by her use of the word courage. It seems to be a word that is coming up a lot lately.
Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one: strength in the face of pain or grief.
Yup that about sums parenting up in a nutshell!
The truth is, it is in fact, an extremely courageous act to raise children. Parenting requires a huge leap of faith, dashed with loads of unbridled trust and perhaps peppered with an occasional glass of wine!
I am currently reading Brene Brown’s latest book, Rising Strong. In it she speaks boldly about what she calls Wholehearted living. She defines Wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.
I believe authentic happiness and success are uniquely defined by each one of us individually. And the way to finding authentic happiness and success is within. I believe that all creativity, genius, and power live within each of us. I believe everything starts within, including courage. And I believe that happiness and true success comes from the clarity that we tap into when we are deeply connected to our inner voice.
Most importantly, I believe no one is better equipped to know what is best for you, besides you.
When I first got into this journey of parenting, I was committed to “doing it right”. I read every book possible and spent a lot of time looking to the experts for advice on how to be the perfect parent and raise a perfectly happy child. Not too long after my first child was born I found myself dismayed at the “expert” advice. I felt let down and at times discouraged. “Wait!” I could hear myself thinking, “What’s going on? I did just what the book said and it’s still not working?” I worried that I was doing something wrong and everyone else has it all figured out.
And then I learned the truth. My friends felt the same way. No one had it figured out at all and we were all navigating new territory together. This was scary and hard and simply exhausting much of the time!
Truth is I had no idea how challenging this thing called parenting would actually BE. And I learned one huge lesson. The so called ‘experts ‘ knew nothing about ME and MY kids. Although there is a load of great advice 'out there' the biggest lesson I've learned over the last 18 years is that all I need to know about parenting MY kids and creating the family I desire lives right here within ME. The truth is I am most at home when I listen to my own inner wisdom.
So the game of parenting became about me finding and tuning into that inner wisdom. Ironically, I soon learned that my kids were my guides.
When I got THAT, I quickly shifted my focus to what was most important – me. I learned that finding what was true for me and parenting from that place was key to my success as a parent.
With a wealth of life experiences over the last 18 years the greatest lesson I have learned is to tune in to my inner voice. That voice never lets me down.
It’s true I still get mislead by the allure of media or the “others” out there painting a dreamlike picture of what happiness, success and life should look like, but now I know better. I know that I can quickly tune in and appreciate that what’s best for “them” may not be best for my family and me.
When I am tuned in and aligned with my inner voice I am clear and make the right choices for me. Those choices may not always be popular, however so far they have not steered me wrong.
And what’s true is that voice is not always easy to hear. It can be drowned out by my crazy busy life, my work, my kids, the media, the experts and of course my unconscious fears beneath it all.
But now I have the tools to slow down and make space to listen deeply, learn and lead my family and me from the deep well of wisdom that lies within me.
Not ironically, the Latin root of the word courage is cor or heart. What means to me is when I am living courageously I am living from my heart.
And living from that place takes a huge leap of faith.
And there is no place I feel more at home.
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