(A guest post from my dear friend Jen Lemen: visionary, big heart, humanitarian, artist and award-winning, e-learning pioneer. Jen’s dreams have carried her across continents and back to her artist studio in Maryland where she generates hope in every essay, class and illustration she creates. In 2009, Jen won $50,000 from Lenovo/Microsoft to travel the world and gather images of hope from unlikely places. She currently lives in a big yellow house with her two kids, Madeleine and Carter, her good friends Rachael and Brian and a snake named Leo. She enjoys mentoring, napping and crafting unconventional solutions for impossible situations.)
In a few short weeks, my company will be launching The Mothers Guide to Self-Renewal Online Experience, a life-changing class on reconnecting with your internal guidance and learning life balance from the inside out. As a digital publisher, choosing to produce this class was an easy yes for me. Renee is an internationally acclaimed life balance coach whose teaching changes lives in ways that have ripple effects on families and communities for years to come. What I didn’t realize was that meeting Renee would change me in ways that I didn’t even realize how badly I needed.
It started with a phone call. “So, what does self-care mean to you?” Renee asked gently, in her warm casual drawl which felt to me like one part Texas, one tiny hint of California. Newly divorced, exhausted and depressed from too many life changes in too short a time, my answer came easily. “Dancing and drinking. Pedicures and naps.” We laughed at such a wrong answer to report to a wise yogini*, but I was only half kidding. That was my definition of self-care. Giving yourself a break. Blowing off steam. Taking every chance you get to get away. (*A yogini is a woman who does a lot of yoga!)
Renee didn’t say a word then, allowing gently instead the natural rhythm of our conversation to reveal the places where we could best connect. A shared love for following our hearts. A deep desire to be brave for the sake of healing. A willingness to share our truth even if it felt a little honest and raw. I felt seen, drawn in and honored in a way that felt familiar–the way I did with my sisters as a girl. Renee was just that down-to-earth and real.
A real education about self-care began weeks later when I came to work on the project with Renee in her home. Automatically, I could see this was nothing theoretical. Renee was living and breathing (literally) a new way of being in the family, in her work and in the world that honestly made me want to cry. Every room in her lovable, slightly rumpled house was an invitation to sink in and be yourself. Every meal was the simplest experience of choosing what felt natural, healthy and right. Every conversation was an exploration of what the next truest thing might be.
I felt myself falling further and further into the experience of being in my body, and I started to create in my mind a brand new definition of home.
Leaving that time with Renee, I definitely had my work cut out for me like there always is when you produce an online class, but this time there was a completely new dimension. I had the experience of what it would be like if I really did choose self-renewal instead of my own special brand of self-care which was one part avoidance, one part denial of everything that was bothering me. I had a model and a collection of practices that I could start following on my own at home per Renee’s clear and loving instruction.
And most of all, I had hope. That this make-up free, barefoot, yoga-pants wearing woman whose eyes shone every time she leaned in to help me understand this point or that, was actually guiding me in a way I could walk all by myself, one tiny practice at a time.
Will you join me this fall for the experience of a lifetime? On behalf of myself and the team here at Hopeful World, it would be our honor to host you along with Renee as together we learn the joy and delight of real self-care, the kind that makes your life healthy and whole. Learn more and register for The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: Reflect, Reclaim, Rejuvenate Your Life~an online experience here. The class runs Sept. 16-Oct. 25 and the early bird deadline is Sept. 4th!
Find weekly insight on radical acceptance, hope and belonging at www.hopefulworld.org/join.