I’m excited to be on the 106th episode of the Moms With Dreams Show where I share my mission to live a truly E.P.I.C. life and, through my example, inspire my children and other mothers to do the same.
Here is the link to the episode – http://ericablocker.com/mwd-106-helping-moms-live-e-p-c-life-wjulie-neale/
Our Mother’s Quest Father’s Day Episode Coming Out Sunday
In honor of Father’s Day, our guest this week is an amazing father and a champion for under served youth – Tony Brown. His work has touched the lives of countless children, breaking the cycle of poverty, replacing it with possibilities, and a spirit of generosity.
Watch out for our very insightful conversation which will be released on Father’s Day.
Mia Sutton is a Jane of all trades. Wife, mother, writer, avid reader, Editorial Manager for Holl & Lane Magazine, and now the host of the (upcoming) Body of Hope podcast which aims to give a voice to survivors of sexual trauma. Mia is a graduate of George Mason University and spent many years working in local, state, and federal government in the higher education, administration, and human resources fields. She lives in Virginia with her husband and 2 sons.
Tell us a little about your childhood and the impact your mother had on shaping you…
I am an only child, and I spent a lot of my childhood holed up in my room reading books and writing stories in my journal. My parents divorced when I was 3 years old and I lived primarily with my mother and step-father, though I had (and still have) a very close relationship with my father. My relationship with my mother is complicated. To say the least. But she has made a couple of impacts on my life. 1) She is a hard worker. She will be 62 years young this year and she still works as many hours as she did when I was little; maybe even more since my step-father passed away a few years ago. She has never shied away from difficult situations or from doing what needs to be done. And I admire that. 2) She was what you would call a helicopter parent, often doing and speaking for me before I had a chance to do for myself. And I personally think that affected me negatively as I grew up and found myself in situations where I needed to navigate my own path. I’ve tried very hard with my boys to give them the freedom to be who they are without trying to micro-manage every aspect of their lives. It’s a balance, for sure.
What has been a “spark moment” or “moments” that set you on your path?
A huge spark moment for me was becoming a part of the Holl & Lane Magazine team. Sarah Hartley, who is the creator, designer, and Editor in Chief of Holl & Lane, has created this amazingly beautiful, open, honest, loving community where women can come together and share their life experiences and know that they are not alone. I am so honored to work with her and the H&L team. The trust that people have in us to share their stories completely blows me away. H&L has shared stories on miscarriage, infertility, mental health, body image, love, loss, self-care, and so much more. And being surrounded by the truth and beauty of those stories every day inspired me to share my own and to no longer be afraid or ashamed of being honest.
What is your passion and purpose (the “P” in EPIC)?
My passion and my purpose is to bring awareness and openness to the subject of sexual trauma. It is one that often makes people very uncomfortable, but I truly believe that it’s something that needs to be discussed. I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and it is something that I tried to avoid dealing with for most of my life, even though the damage it caused was tremendous. I felt ashamed and unworthy and unlovable for many years. But it wasn’t my fault. And I think that message needs to be etched into the minds and souls of every survivor. So, in creating the podcast, I hope to not only give a voice to survivors of sexual trauma, but also to share a shining message of hope – that what happened to you doesn’t define you.
What is one of your favorite things to do, related to one of the E.P.I.C. guideposts?
My favorite thing to do is related to the E in E.P.I.C. My family and I are avid movie-watchers and love nothing more than to be at home with a giant bowl of popcorn watching a funny movie together. It might not be fancy, but that time together is so precious to me. Plus, movies always offer teachable moments that give me the opportunity to bring those up with my kids.
What are you currently reading or listening to for inspiration?
I’m currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve heard from many people that there are parallels between the book and today’s political/social climate, so I’m very interested to find out more. But generally, I read a lot of poetry. Words are everything to me – and poetry is like fine art for the soul.
What is one message or affirmation you tell yourself to ground you on your quest?
“I am stronger than I know.” Meaning that no matter what life throws at me, I can get through it. The obstacles might seem insurmountable, but instead of giving up, I remind myself that there’s always a way.
In one word, what are you seeking most right now on your Quest?
What challenge or offering would you like to share with the Mother’s Quest Community?
I would like to encourage the Mother’s Quest Community to fully embrace authenticity. There are so many times that we put on a smile when we’re not smiling inside, or tell people that we’re fine when we’re not. And I think it’s OK to be real, it’s OK to let people know that you make mistakes or you’re struggling just like everyone else. You never know who might be out there going through the exact same thing you are and just needed you to speak up so that they could say, “me, too.”
So, I challenge the MQ Community to share 1 thing (with a friend or loved one, or on social media, or wherever) that is 100% real. No sugar-coating. Just let it all out. And then see how you feel afterwards. It always leaves me feeling lighter and often leads to some really meaningful discussions.
And then if you feel the need for more honest conversations about the trials and triumphs of life, sign up to receive a FREE mini-issue of Holl & Lane Magazine here: http://www.hollandlanemag.com/signup/
Do you want to share how you are living your truly E.P.I.C. life? Be featured on the weekly Mother on a Quest series by sending in your story here – http://mothersquest.com/mother-on-a-quest-application/
Happy Birthday to my very own mom, Fran Hoenig Lieberman! ?
This photo is not the most current, but an important one for me as it represents the unconditional love and support you have always given me, Mom.
For 10 years, the Project YouthView Film Festival was close to my heart, and after the first year (when I realized I created something special that I was sorry you missed!) you flew up for the event every single year after, from Los Angeles, to be right by my side.
So much of the person I aspire to be is modeled after you…your incredible warmth, how you value community, your championing of social justice issues, what a loving friend, wife, and mother you are, and your ability to appreciate every phase of your life when you are in it.
Last week, you honored your mom, my grandmother, through our new feature on the Mother’s Quest Podcast…a “dedication.” I see so many of those qualities that you named in your mom in you…and I am so grateful Grandma brought you into this world on this day so many (well not that many!) years ago.
❤️?Love you mom,
P.S. I read this to Jake and he picked the hearts just for you
Focus on our Goodness. I Choose Love.
In the days after Trump was elected I entered a period, like many others I know, which I now recognize as the stages of grief. Just before launching the Mother’s Quest Podcast, I reached “depression,” and found myself in a state of paralysis, unable to do the “work” needed to move forward with something that had previously inspired me.
Thankfully, I recognized something needed to shift and I reached out for help. In a blog post I wrote for Medium, I share how spiritual healer Navjit Kandola, from Episode #1 of the podcast, helped me honor and integrate my feelings, and create an intention for moving forward.
Reflecting on a childhood experience when I faced a ferocious dog that had previously terrified me, I determined that I would not live in fear. And that the only form of “acceptance” I would take in this grief cycle would involve me accepting an expanded version of myself, that of an activist. I knew I would need to be my own version of an activist…would need to do this in my own way to stand in love, not fear, to champion what I believe in.
Reminder from my Son
One of the amazing things about being a mother is the reciprocal transformation that is possible between parent and child. This has become one of the founding principles of Mother’s Quest, a key in the “Theory of Change” I crafted that guides me.
On the day of the inauguration, I was reminded of the power of this reciprocity. I was watching coverage of the day, and voiced my thoughts to my four year old. It went like this:
Me: Trump is our President now
J: Is he going to be nicer now?
Me: I hope so Jake, but I’m not so sure.
J: I think he is. Look, he is giving high fives.
Me: You know what I do know Jake, we should focus on what we can control and be the best people we can be.
J: [wheels turning]
Me: So, what should we focus on Jake?
J: Our goodness
His exact words, to focus on “our goodness,” bolstered me and inspired me to show up at the Women’s March in Oakland the next afternoon with a sign that read “Focus on our Goodness. I Choose Love.” That day, I felt a powerful collective solidarity, hopefulness and connection. Contrary to what some imagined, the energy there was incredibly positive, like we were standing, not in opposition or in a place of negativity, but for the ideals we hold dear.
Lean into love and not division
But today, in the wake of a heart-breaking weekend where hundreds were detained after President Trump’s executive order on immigration, and Steve Bannon, a known white supremacist, was placed on the National Security Council, I found myself falling into the abyss of fear again.
No doubt, these events were compounded for me personally, as a Jewish woman, by the fact that the President purposefully excluded a mention of Jews in his official statement last Friday acknowledging Holocaust Remembrance Day — a move that seems to be flirting with Holocaust denial, at a time when we most need to remember the lessons of that chapter in history.
But, I am committed to staying awake in this chapter of my life, to inspire my children by my example, and to learn from them.
And, I am also paying attention to the “signs” that speak to me with a common message. To my interview on Episode #7 with Jenjii Hysten, where we discuss how, after her raw and honest post connected to Black Lives Matter, we have begun finding our common humanity as mothers of sons, across divides of race, class and religion.
To this article I read today about veterans coming to help when Muslims were blocked at airports.
And to Nancy Netherland’s conversation with me on Episode #10, coming out Thursday, about how Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, helps her to “widen the space,” before acting. This practice has helped her forge connections with parents with widely differing political beliefs, united by their common love for their chronically ill children.
Part of my “Mother’s Quest” — Nurturing my inner activist
So, with these messages from my guides, including my four year old son, I am turning down the volume on my television today, stepping away from my Facebook feed, and focusing on seemingly small, but important action steps focused on our goodness, our civil rights, and our common humanity.
I just sent a message to a Muslim friend to ask if there is a local mosque he can connect me to and how I can support, I have called my local representative to request that she take a firm stand against Trump’s immigration ban and appointment of Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, made a donation to the ACLU, emailed another friend, a Trump supporter, with genuine curiosity, to understand his views in the midst of all that is happening, and when I next see my sons later, I will greet them with my full presence and ask them what they did to help someone else today.
Focus on our goodness. Stay awake. And nurture my version of activism, rooted in love and not fear.
What messages are calling to you right now? What do you do to make sure fear doesn’t consume you? What is your framework for action? I would love to learn from you…Please share in the comments below.
With love and goodness,