It seems like a lifetime ago that Lisa Browning and I shared a lovely dinner at the Diana restaurant and talked about my book project. It was the winter of 2015 and it was one of those classic Canadian winter nights - wet, cold, and gloomy - but we had a cozy table and engaged in a delightfully warm conversation. I shared with her the details of my challenges with mental health and how I’ve been inspired to empower others through sharing my experience of conquering my own inner demons. Lisa did not hesitate to support me, and our conversation that night played a huge part in motivating me to push through with my writing goals.
My passion for wanting to help others was born out of living through some tough times of my own, and I’m sure many of you can relate. I was a volatile teenager, and my family found it almost impossible to get help when we needed it the most. As a result of high stress levels and low coping mechanisms, I made serious attempts to end my life and it’s a miracle I survived. I remember a time when the doctors in the emergency department looked at me as though they were seeing a ghost, and I wished I was a ghost.
But, during this incredible time, I had a revelation. I decided that if I could positively influence just one family by sharing the wisdom I learned from my own struggles, then it would be worth it. From that point on, I dedicated my life to building a career around doing just that, helping one family at a time. And so, this career basically saved my life. Now I live for, and love, what I do. One of my favourite things to do with people is to blow up some common myths:
Myth # 1 – If your parents weren’t good role models, then you can’t be a good parent.
This is absolutely untrue. In fact, some of the best parents I know had poor role models, and some of the worst parents I know had good role models. If you really want to be a great parent, you can be a great parent regardless of how you were raised.
Myth #2 – People can’t hold a job and be good parents.
It’s true that you’ll be busier if you’re juggling career and family responsibilities, but you can do it, and I know plenty of people who do.
Myth #3 – Good parenting takes up a lot of time.
Not true. In fact, parents who buy into this myth, and therefore put in less effort or give up, actually spend copious amounts of time tending to family “emergencies”. If we spend some time in the short term, it saves us a lot of time in the long term.
Myth #4 – Parents can control their kids if they have the right tools.
There’s no parenting tool kit that guarantees you’ll be able to raise children who do as you say. If there were such a thing, most of us would buy it, and we’d all have perfect families. But we’d also be bored. Raising a family is an exciting life experience filled with ups and downs. Our most memorable moments are usually the stories we share about when things went wrong, and what we learned as a result. Myth #5 – It costs a lot of money to be a good parent.
It can cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to, and I’m living proof of that. When I got pregnant I was a 17-year-old high school dropout who didn’t live at home, had little money, and zero savings. My daughter’s father and I were on a low budget, and we were able to raise a healthy and happy young lady.
I’ve decided to call my first interactive workbook series “A Map to Limitless Parenting.” It’s a 3 part series designed to assist readers in reaching their greatest potential as parents. My theory is that when parents feel confident and equipped to give guidance to their children, their children become more resilient and wholesome.
I formally published the first book in the series (which focuses on connecting with kids through mindful communication) on August 31, 2016 and have been obtaining some noteworthy feedback. There’s been interest coming from parents of all ages, grandparents, step-parents, as well as, teachers and other professionals who want to use the tools for working with clients and/or students. I’m most excited about using the book’s content to teach workshops and online classes, and donating some of the profits to child and youth mental health charities. Here are some of the highlights in this workbook:
• Readers will learn, and practice, the following mindfulness tools to assist in self-regulating: Mindful Breathing, Mindful Body Scan, Mindful 3 Part Breath, S.T.O.P., and Mindful Emotions.
• Readers will explore the softer feelings that underlie the overpowering feelings. I’ve included exercises to help readers find the right tone, and be assertive when communicating their feelings.
• Readers become skilled in troubleshooting during moments of conflict. The following tools are included to help readers stay calm and supportive: Simple Effective Communication, Gingerbread Technique, Family Meetings, Breath of Joy, Heartfulness, and Closing Statements.
I’ve been told I’m a big dreamer. A mover and a shaker. And the more I work with people, the more I see the common potential in us all. Everybody has a story and everybody has a unique quality that they can share with others, which can inspire others to recognize their qualities... and the wave of inspiration can ripple out far and wide. My personal slogan is "What makes me different, makes a difference." My greatest vision is that all human beings who I connect with (in whatever capacity) will be empowered to use their unique qualities to make a difference in our shared world.
You Are Not Alone: stories of hope, by Lisa Browning