Finding Inspiration in these Challenging Times

*Originally published on YourTango July 16, 2016

“While my heart is fearful, my ancestors guide my feet. Today, I rise.”
(Dr. Lindo Productions, Timeless)

I’ve been working around the clock, avoiding Social Media and then being dragged back in.

The images are that powerful… and so is the trauma that the images on my Facebook feed insight.

People dying… People marching… People crying and demanding change.

While this can be extremely empowering for many people who take part in this important humanitarian work, we often forget the impact that watching this day in and day out can have on those whose experiences are the ones we are marching for.

That’s when it occurred to me. I am living through the “Collective Depression” of Black communities everywhere, trying to navigate it as best I can.

As a Black woman watching the news in 2016, I feel the pain of my people – not just myself. It doesn’t matter that I live in Canada and the victims of racial violence had homes in the U.S. The color of my skin makes my time across the border risky – what if I forget my turn signal? Or wear a hoodie? Or send my children out to play in the park one day for some fresh air? Will people see us as “human” and ask questions, or would I be setting myself up for a visit to the coroner’s office?

As difficult as this is to believe, the second-guessing that I am describing has now become an everyday aspect of the lived realities of Black community members all over the world. We worry about standing up for our humanity and dignity, and we are no longer surprised by news coverage that positions us as troublemakers, criminals and violent protesters, no matter how peaceful our protests actually were.

We march and pray for love, crying out over the injustices so deeply embedded in our social systems, and making it plain that we are here to be part of the change. But our messages get misconstrued, images of our marches being relegated to those pictures that, without context, make us look aggressive and angry.

But why can’t we be angry?

Wouldn’t you be angry if you knew that shackles on our wrists and ankles were used to transport us from place to place?

Wouldn’t you be angry if, after centuries of “freedom” we are still denied access to high paying jobs and quality education?

Wouldn’t you be angry if each day you saw people who looked like you murdered and called names for saying that they have a right to life no matter the color of their skin?

And that brings us to the intergenerational impact of race-based thinking that has become the foundation of the collective depression inherent in many Black communities today.

In 1964, the Ethiopian Emperor Negusä Nägäst Haile Selassie I delivered a speech to the United Nations. Among the many timely issues raised, he stated the following:

“Until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war.”

In 1976 the legendary social justice activist and musician, Bob Marley, took Emperor Haile Saleassie I’s speech and popularized it in the song “War,” bringing it to the public’s eye in the album Rastaman Vibrations. This album recorded by Bob Marley and the Wailers became a top 10 album in the United States.

And now, in 2016, Black communities are being forced to fight for their humanity once again.

Why?

Because many people continue to believe in the philosophy that one race is better than another.

Because media portrayals – be they movies, television programs or news broadcasts – continue to position the few Black people that they cast and speak of as criminals and gangsters.

And because four days of continual race-based violence in July 2016 can be rationalized and decontextualized by focusing on what the victims may or may not have been doing or done in the past that makes it “normal” that they were murdered.

So now, with that context, let me tell you what my collective depression looks like:

Sometimes I find myself on the verge of tears for no reason (except the reason is that social media alerts me to a new death, another life lost, and another network of children, wives, parents, aunts and uncles who have to bury one of my people for no reason at all).

Sometimes I feel a surge of anger, but then I spend the rest of the day trying to pretend to be happy because I fear that my anger – however justified – will be used to justify the death of a Black person I have never met.

Sometimes my sadness is so deep that I turn to social media to be surrounded by others whose sadness is just as deep. I surround myself with others who can understand my anger at the injustices and that share the same fears that I share – of being Black in 2016.

While this sounds like individual depression, it’s not. It’s not, because it is a feeling of unease that permeates every aspect of my community.

I don’t grieve for myself, I grieve for my people.

I don’t long for justice for myself, but for my people.

I don’t recognize my own sadness, but instead I am trying to navigate the sadness of my people.

And when I pray, I am not praying for myself, I am praying for my people.

So please, send love our way. Send positivity and healing energy to the Black communities across the planet whose fear is real, whose experiences are real, and who, as Stevie Wonder warned us in 1976 when he released “Love’s in Need of Love Today” in his album Songs in the Key of Life:

Love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay
Send yours in right away
Hate’s goin’ round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before it’s gone too far

So what are you doing to send love today?

Let me know on Facebook: @DrLindoProductions

Let me know on Twitter: @drlindo123

 

The Art of Storytelling

Act 1, Scene 1

I was having writer’s block.

I have told myself a million stories about who I am, and what I stand for. But I was having writer’s block.

So, to get things moving I realized exactly what I had to do.

I told my husband and kids I loved them, I grabbed my coffee, and I found myself a quiet corner of the house to reflect.

I closed my eyes. I took some deep, cleansing breathes. And I allowed myself to relax into the realities of who I really am….

I am the author of my destiny.

I have been working with the idea that I am the author of my own destiny a lot lately. I have been grappling with the pros and cons of this idea, wondering about the multitude of experiences that have felt out of my control and considering how I could be the author if someone else is throwing new characters into my life. I have found it especially hard to image when the new characters who have appeared in my life are working with a different, less appealing script.

So is it true? Am I really the author of my destiny?

I surely wouldn’t write that!

I can’t imagine that I would write a story where my children lost their father. It’s been very difficult watching them grow up missing a man, the memory of whom is fading day-by-day because they were so young when he died. Just the other day Sofia (now age 10) came home, explaining that she had a rough day because she had chosen to do her “A Special Person in My Life Is…” assignment in class on her dad. Everything was going great, she explained, until the teacher asked her to draw a picture of her special person and Sofia could not remember what he looked like.

And just last week Danica (now age 7) I found Danica crying uncontrollably at daycare when I came to pick her up. They were playing with Lego and she had built a beautiful slide. When it was time to clean up, Danica began to feel anxious. She didn’t want to tear apart her wonderful creation. So the teacher pulled out a camera, assuring everyone that they could use the picture to re-build the slide the following day. That triggered in Danica a huge memory. “Mommy,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks, “I remembered when Daddy left and never came back home and that I can’t remember what he looks like without a picture!” My heart broke thinking that this was our story…

But if I am the master of the plot’s direction…

The greatest storytellers know that the excitement of the works they publish – the ones that take off and end up on Best Seller lists – are those that are the most complicated. The passages within the story that we remember most fondly  are the ones that have struck a nerve within our imaginations because the author has described for us the messiness of life and our life’s choices.

So maybe I was the author of my story, and I was writing the saddest film in town. That means that I focused all my attention on grappling with raising children whose lives were torn apart by the death of their leading actor. And as I authored chapter after chapter about our losses, our heartbreaks and our broken dreams, the universe supported me by providing an unending amount of plot twists that served to help deepen our loss and sadness.

… Maybe I can write a different story!

Or, maybe I was the author of my story, and I was aiming to write an adventure. That meant that when Michael, Sofia and Danica’s father, struggled with cancer, I worked diligently to get through each of the twists and turns that this story told. And when Michael died, I looked at our children and thought, “It’s the end of Act 1, but Act 2, 3 and 4 await!” And as we stumbled into Act 2, each of us grieving in our own ways, I looked down and found in my hands a new pencil. A pencil sharpened and ready to write whatever our hearts desired in our new adventure.

So I am the stories I tell myself!

And this insight alone is super empowering.

 

 

 

 

It’s Been a Long Time… But It’s NEVER Too Late!

So much has happened, and so much has been learned.

I’ve learned that my life is really all about my story. And I’ve learned that if it’s true that my life is all about my story, than I’m the protagonist. And I’ve learned that if I’m the protagonist, than I am destined to win.

So that’s why I’ve signed back on. To share this amazing news. And it just keeps getting better…

Because in YOUR life, it’s all about YOUR story. So YOUR the protagonist and YOUR DESTINED TO WIN, too!

I’ve learned this through learning about Peaceful Parenting…

I’ve learned this through learning to help others engage with Difficult Conversations…

I’ve learned this through teaching about the Law of Attraction.

And I’m  here to share these insights with you. But while I share, I also want to “keep it real.” None of these lessons have come easily. I’ve messed up, just like you. And I’ve been knocked out and felt discouraged. But even during those moments, I have learned that I am the master of my life’s story, and so I can choose how long I stay down and when I’m ready to get back up.

What I desire more than anything in this world is to share these insights with you today. 

As a testament to my desire to work with you, I am taking the 10-week challenge.

For the next 10 weeks I am going to share 1 insight in my new course “Storytelling… A Model for Success.” If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch.

I’ll be waiting for you at “The End”!

;0)

With Love, Light & Healing,

Laura Mae.

When the Universe is Calling for Change…

Something’s not working…

The family has entered into a new phase and the old methods are no longer working as effectively as they once did.

There are long faces (parents AND children!), drooping shoulders, and unpleasant conversations that leave all of us feeling drained.

Yes… there’s a new baby in the house.
Yeah… mommy’s attention has been re-directed.
Yup… everyone is feeling the energy of life’s changes.

But I have been taught not to give up. I have tools and I have tips and I have laughter… and I’m ready to use them!

To my support network – new and not so new –  as I create a new approach to strengthening our relationship… as I learn and re-learn all that I have been trained to do…

Cover me!

I’m going in.

:0)

With love, light & healing,

Laura Mae.

Step 10: Celebrating the Child

What an amazing journey we have begun together. Not only am I able to celebrate my children, reveling in the excitement of strengthening our connection each and every day, but I am able to celebrate the child inside of me! Today I stand firm in my belief that building a loving connection between my children and I means (re)building a connection with my younger self – healing my hurts, taking care of my bruises, and letting my inner child know that everything is okay. It has all ended in a big smile!

As I celebrate this evolution in parenting, I am celebrating a new way of communicating. This new language of feelings and needs does not only support a positive relationship with my children, it also spills over into other aspects of my life. At work, when it is time to engage in a difficult conversation, the same tools I can draw on to speak about challenging topics with my children can be harnessed to communicate more effectively in the workplace. When trouble brews among friends, listening with empathy is just as important as it is when listening to the children. When I am triggered by any experience – when I feel stressed out and at the brink of loosing my cool, I can look to a sensory tool to help get me “back online” making more capable of finding my way to a solution. This new method of communication is also passed on to my children who watch me re-adjust my language when things get tense. They are surprised when I meet their anger and frustration with play, and as the calm energy of our home envelops us more and more, I know in my heart that the children will take these new skills with them into their worlds even when I’m not there to suggest it.

As I celebrate this evolution in parenting, I am celebrating a new level of respect for my family. The dominant paradigm suggests that children should be seen and not heard, bossed around and controlled, and forced to do what adults want when adults want it. But today it is clear that this is ineffective if we are truly invested in helping our children become responsible, loving, empathetic and gracious adults. For that to happen, they need their own feelings to be respected, and their own needs to be taken seriously. They need me to hold a space for them to work through big emotions and they need to be given the space to creatively consider new solutions. I am convinced that each success means we are taking two steps towards our goals, and when I see the pride in the children’s faces after finding their own way through tricky feelings and conflicting needs, I know that we are on the right track.

Today I celebrate our growth as a family. I celebrate our connections and I celebrate our disconnections, because each disconnection is an opportunity to re-connect in new and wonderful ways. I celebrate our loving community in and outside of the home, and I celebrate the joy that my children have brought to my life. And most of all, I celebrate the playfulness that raising them has allowed me to explore through their laughter and through their tears each and every day.

Welcome from all of us to all of you and congratulations on taking this step right alongside me.

With love, light & healing,

Laura Mae.

Parenting Manifesto

Calling all like-minded parents!

Join me today as we commit to making Peaceful Parenting a reality.

A Peaceful Parenting Manifesto:

  1. I will go easy on myself: Peaceful Parenting is a process and no matter how committed we are, change will not happen over night. We all need time to settle into the new groove of Peaceful Parenting. So be good to yourself! Invest in self-care, remind yourself of how amazingly well you are doing, and never forget that if you are reading this, you have already taken your first step in becoming a Peaceful Parent.
  2. I will set aside judgment when communicating with my child: Peaceful communication cannot grow on a foundation of judgment and criticism. Your commitment to set aside judgment will open up the possibility for understanding your children’s reasoning and will provide insight into how you can help.
  3. I will approach my children with curiosity and wonder: This new lens through which to understand your child”s behaviours will help you continue to authentically connect with your child.
  4. I will not be afraid of my limiting beliefs: Finding out what triggers you is key. Committing to looking inside of our selves and figuring out why we do what we do will allow us to break through our fears and become a Peaceful Parent.
  5. I will set aside self-judgment: Letting go of that critical voice in our head – the one that provides harsh criticism of our parenting choices – is an important step in becoming a Peaceful Parent. Re-framing our “mistakes” into”learning opportunities” can help us move forward in more pro-active ways.
  6. I will strive to be “okay”: Aiming for perfection is impossible. No perfect parent exists. So let’s aim to be “okay” and let’s have a great time while we watch ourselves meet that goal again, and again, and again!
  7. I will make time for play: Play can be fast, simple, and the best tool for connecting with your children. Committing to play will help build communication and provide a “way out” when things get rough.
  8. I will clarify my family values: What we value as a family can be supported as a family. Take the time to work together and settle on your family’s top 5 family values. With those in hand, helping to realign behaviour to meet the needs of your family will be much easier to do.
  9. I will review my family values with the family regularly: This will allow younger children with a gentle reminder about agreed upon values – a reminder that is not always tied to their struggles with “Big Feelings.”
  10. I will surround myself with like-minded parents: Building a community of support is an important step in becoming a Peaceful Parent. Your community will be your resource when things get tough, your cheerleaders when you’re feeling down, and your support network when you’re ready to celebrate your successes.

Welcome to the team!