If you are familiar with Brene Brown, a research professor who has dedicated two decades to studying shame, vulnerability, courage, and empathy, who has done TED Talks and who now has a Netflix special called Brene Brown: The Call to Courage, then you might be familiar with the concept of wholehearted living.
I'm so inspired by Brene & her work that I would literally name a daughter after her (if only my partner would ever approve it). She talks about wholehearted living in her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" that it "is about 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 also brave and worthy of love and belonging." I could literally quote her whole book to you because it is foundational that in this very vulnerable journey of parenthood, we remain connected to our emotions and our heart. If we become disconnected from ourselves, we run the risk of resentment, anxiety, comparison, fear, worry, you name it.
A whole section of my fledgling blog is dedicated to "wholehearted parenting" which may seem like an odd choice. Truth be told, I wonder how much content I can fill in this section. While the concept is rooted deep in our being, it speaks to more than our surface level, daily ups and downs. Wholehearted living is making the choice daily to be present to our own selves and be authentic with the community around us. Wholehearted living is admitting when we were wrong and asking our spouse or our children to forgive us. Wholehearted living is being vulnerable to speak up when we have needs or when we are scared. It's making the choice to show up as our true selves and take off the mask that we're always okay or always happy. I've seen this radical wholehearted way of living transform people, relationships, and marriages in ways can be described as miraculous. It sounds grand and lofty, but it's something that is up close and personal. It's making the choice to listen instead of putting up defenses. It's taking space to care for yourself instead of lashing out at your loved ones when you're on your last thread.
Wholehearted parenting is a choice to love yourself and those around you from a true and authentic and vulnerable space. There is nothing fake or insincere about it. The cost is steep (and often painful) but the reward is something truly and utterly priceless. Practicing it will lead to living from a deep sense that you are worthy of love. Trying and desiring to parent out of that mindset is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our kids.
Wholehearted parenting is a small slice (but a significant one) of wholehearted living. Some people have gifts of leading radical social justice movements. Some people are skilled strategic leaders that can build billion dollar companies from the ground up. I believe that wholehearted parenting can have just as much impact on the world. The way we interact with the children in our lives and model a kind and empathetic way of life teaches them about the safety and operation of the world around them. It's taking the time to learn ways we can encourage healthy social emotional skills and show empathy so they can do that in the world around them.
It could change a generation's way of thinking and interacting with injustice, poverty and disparity between race and class. It could mean seeing the classmates around them who desperately need a friend and a place to belong.
There's a catch. The beginning of this wholehearted journey involves digging into those places that have been painfully locked away. Sometimes for decades. It's recognizing maybe some ways you were parented that seep into the way you parent your child. It could be as simple as acknowledging how scary and vulnerable it is to start something new and be afraid to fail. Like me, starting this blog.
The amazing thing about wholehearted living is that when you can identify who are the safe people in your life who will accept you with your mask of perfection and togetherness off, there is a sense of freedom and liberation. There's grief, yes, but run towards what is healthy and good. Try not to look back. It's hard not to listen to the lies in your head that tell you that you aren't worthy of love. But you are. Just the way you are. Just as the broken person you are.
This is the community I want to create. One that recognizes that we are broken people trying to bring more light and goodness into the world. And in this space and for our purposes, I will be focusing on wholehearted parenting as a part of living joyfully with toddlers and those around us!
Questions for Reflection
How can we raise our children in a way that they learn what it looks like to be kind, respectful, and empathetic to others around them?
How can we care for ourselves as parents so that we can model that for them?
What is holding me back from digging deeper and what would it take to choose courage and vulnerability with my loved ones?
If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! I hope that it is a refreshing and encouraging space for you. To learn more about me and this community, check out this post here or subscribe to stay connected!