Throwback Thursday: Reclaiming Ourselves in Motherhood With Graeme Seabrook

Throwback Thursday: Reclaiming Ourselves in Motherhood With Graeme Seabrook

“We need these manifestos. We need each other. And we need each other’s stories.”  — Graeme Seabrook

For Season Seven, I’m excited to introduce our Throwback Thursdays segments!

In honor of Mother’s Quest turning 5 (such a great milestone!) we will be revisiting older episodes from the archives with messages that resonate more than ever. Whether you’ve heard the episode before, or its entirely new to you, I hope you find some treasures in these conversations that help you more fully live your E.P.I.C life.

This Thursday, in honor of our Mother’s Quest May Manifesto Challenge, I wanted to bring back this episode with Graeme Seabrook, known as “the Mom for Moms” which started the Challenge four years ago.

Graeme bases her approach to coaching on the belief that you need to put yourself first in order for you to thrive. Following a traumatizing birth experience and postpartum depression with  anxiety and PTSD, Graeme started her healing journey by teaching mothers and women to reclaim their humanity in a world and culture that expects women to be superhuman.

Listen in as Graeme shares with us the disillusionment she experienced in her first months of motherhood, and how she reached out for support to reclaim her life, something she then paid forward by creating and holding space for other mothers. You’ll also hear us lay out the inspiration for the Manifesto Challenge which has become an annual tradition.

Unfortunately, Graeme has been ill over the last year. She’s set up a GoFundMe to help fund her medical expenses. Proceeds from the Manifesto Challenge Course this month, now a self-guided journey with Reflection Journal, will go to Graeme’s GoFundMe. After she has given so much to our community, we now have an opportunity to support her! 

Not up for the Manifesto Challenge this year, or want to make an additional contribution?  You can help Graeme’s healing journey by going directly to her GoFundMe: Fundraiser by Graeme Seabrook: Help Graeme Heal


This Year’s Manifesto Challenge + Live Zoom Celebration with Andrea Scher:

Join us for this year’s Manifesto Challenge!

At the Mother’s Quest MemberVault, register for the Challenge and move through a reflective process, with video recordings and a special journal to capture your thoughts. All will lead you to create a guiding framework, or manifesto, that can become an anchor for how you want to live your life.

Then celebrate with me, recent podcast guest Andrea Scher and fellow MQ community members on May 24th. Register here for the live zoom event. Visit here for the episode with Andrea

Pay from the heart proceeds benefit Graeme’s GoFundMe.  Register here for self-guided experience: https://mothersquest.vipmembervault.com/…/courses/view/6

Mother’s Day has passed but it’s the right time to invest in ourselves. 

Reflect. Create. Celebrate.

 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The experiences that shaped Graeme’s childhood and conception of motherhood, including her observations of her own mother’s experience parenting, the many times her family moved, and how her home and heart landed in Charleston
  • Graeme’s honest retelling of her early months of motherhood where she remembers holding her baby and feeling like there was a wall between them
  • The E.P.I.C. spark moment that came when she shared her story online and received an outpouring of messages from other mothers going through the same experiences
  • Graeme’s “true truths” and the concept from her current favorite author, Octavia Butler, about God
  • Graeme’s description of the Ten Articles in the Mother’s Bill of Rights, how she champions and helps mothers reclaim themselves through this framework, and the support she offers in her Mom Center.
  • Graeme’s E.P.I.C. Snapshot moment revealed reflections on the legacy of our matriarchs, the mothers we claim for ourselves, and how we can become the ancestor we aspire to now.
  • A description of our co-created #OneMinuteMomManifesto challenge.

 

Full Episode Show Notes

Check out the full show notes from the original episode here: Ep 41: Reclaiming Ourselves in Motherhood ~A Mother’s Day Special~ with Graeme Seabrook

 

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/ 

Seeking Wonder and Mondo Beyondo Manifestos with Andrea Scher

Seeking Wonder and Mondo Beyondo Manifestos with Andrea Scher

Welcome to this first episode of Season Seven of the Mother’s Quest Podcast!

Today’s episode was sparked by an experience I had on my most recent big milestone birthday. The morning of December 1st, I turned 50 and the podcast, which was a 45th birthday present to myself, turned 5.

As I often do, I began my morning practice reading a book on my bedside table; the one I grabbed this time was a new one I had purchased called Wonder Seeker. Inspired by an idea within the gorgeously photographed pages, I hopped out of bed, wandered over to my bookshelf, pulled books from the shelves that were speaking to me on this occasion, and before I knew it had organized them into a pile which that became my “Manifesto for Becoming 50.” 

There was such spontaneity, joy, and ease in this creative endeavor…qualities that emanate from the book Wonder Seeker and qualities I had long admired in Wonder Seeker’s author Andrea Scher. 

So, when it came time to launch the new season and invite a guest to anchor our month-long Mother’s Quest May invitation to reclaim our E.P.I.C. lives in the Mother’s Quest Community, I knew just who to ask. What a delight it was when Andrea Scher said yes! 

Andrea is an author, artist, and life coach whose work is driven by her belief in the transformative power of creativity for joy and wellbeing. For nearly two decades, through her award-winning blog Superhero Journal, her Creative Superheroes podcast, and her bestselling e-courses, Andrea has thrilled others with their own power to find the magic all around them.

Her new book, Wonder Seeker: 52 Ways to Wake up Your Creativity and Find Your Joy straddles the world of creativity and mindfulness – playfully inspiring readers to live more vibrant lives full of presence, joy, and connection. 

Like the book, I felt like this whole conversation straddled the world of creativity and mindfulness. Andrea shares with us where she developed her unique lens of looking at things through “wonder goggles” as she calls them, about the big dreams she calls Mondo Beyondo, how she loved herself and her children through her divorce, and where she’s finding joy today. Talking with Andrea reminded me that our creative endeavors have ripple effects we may not even know and that we don’t need permission to pursue the things that we love. 

I hope you love this conversation as much as I did and open yourself to seeking more wonder in your life. I also invite you to join me and Andrea in saying “yes” to our own Mondo Beyondo dreams, to our own creativity, and to creating our own Manifestos, by signing up for the Manifesto Challenge, linked in the show notes, tapping into some of the creative ideas for expression from Wonder Seeker, like the book spine poetry I drew inspiration from, and then joining Andrea and me on May 24th to celebrate what we’re creating and manifesting together.

About Andrea:

Andrea Scher is an author, artist, and life coach whose work is driven by her belief in the transformative power of creativity for joy and wellbeing. For nearly two decades, through her award-winning blog Superhero Journal, her Creative Superheroes podcast, and her bestselling e-courses, Andrea has thrilled others with their own power to find the magic all around them.

Her new book, Wonder Seeker: 52 Ways to Wake up Your Creativity and Find Your Joy (HarperCollins) straddles the world of creativity and mindfulness – playfully inspiring readers to live more vibrant lives full of presence, joy, and connection. 

You can learn more about Andrea on her website or follow her on Instagram!

Connect with Andrea:

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • What Andrea means by “Mondo Beyondo” and some of our Mondo Beyondo moments. 
  • How Andrea mindfully engaged with her children through the experience of her divorce.
  • The simple somatic practice Andrea uses when she sees something she wants more of in her life.
  • What women were taught growing up about pursuing what we desire and what Andrea thinks we need to shift.
  • Manifesting and creating blueprints for our life goals.
  • How you can see things from a new perspective and from different angles.
  • Andrea’s magical journey to bringing her book Wonder Seeker to publication, something both 25 years in the making and that came to fruition in mere months.
  • Andrea’s most recent “Wonder Date” experience with bioluminescent algae on Tomales Bay. 
  • Our joint challenge to you is to create a Mondo Beyondo Manifesto of your own.

 

Resources and Topics Mentioned

 

This Episode’s Challenge:

This Mother’s Quest May, say “yes” to the annual 7-day Manifesto Challenge, which you can access in the Mother’s Quest MemberVault. Then create your own Manifesto, utilizing the creative ideas, like the book spine poetry that inspired my “Becoming 50 Manifesto,” from Andrea’s Wonder Seekers book. Finally, you can join me and Andrea for a celebration of our creativity, Mondo Beyondo dreams, and our Manifestos (or Manifestos still in the making!) on May 24th at noon PST. Register here


This Episode is dedicated by Jamie Greenwood

Jamie Greenwood is a self-care and leadership coach and the founder of Homecoming, a 6-month group coaching program that teaches big-dreaming, high-achieving women how to take exquisite care of themselves, without an ounce of guilt.  With over 15 years of experience, Jamie specializes in helping women get really clear on who they are, how they want to live, and then actually doing it on their own terms. 

Jamie is also the host of The Path Home, a podcast that explores the many facets of the home, how we find a home in ourselves, and how we create a sense of home in our work, our relationships, our communities, and in the future we want to see.

When Jamie’s not coaching, speaking, or podcasting, you can find her running after her 5-year-old and 3-year-old daughters and wondering what’s for dinner.

Connect with Jamie:

 

Mother’s Quest May Gift Guide

Need a little inspiration to invest in yourself? Check out our Mother’s Quest Mother’s Day Gift Guide! Choose yourself and say yes to taking time off! Buy something meaningful to you, sign up for the Manifesto Challenge, or contribute to a cause you care about– there’s something for all mothers here!

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Here Comes the Sun: A Solocast on Death, Grief, and Love

Here Comes the Sun: A Solocast on Death, Grief, and Love



Welcome back to the Mother’s Quest Podcast.

I know it’s been a while– a long while.

When my father, David Lieberman, died in December, I put the podcast on pause. And in many ways, it felt like I also put parts of my life on pause. But after months of navigating waves of grief, I’m finding my way back into my life and back to my voice.

Through laughter and tears, I recorded a special solocast to officially close out Season Six of the Mother’s Quest Podcast so I can begin again. It felt like part of my healing to share my stories with you and I’m hopeful that there may be something in these reflections that can be meaningful and healing for you too.

Death is one of the few things we can all count on in our lives. And yet it’s one of the things we are most reluctant to talk about. I hope this exploration of my experience during my father’s death, and the lessons I learned, might support you to open yourself to conversations about death. In so doing, you’ll open yourself more fully to life and love.

“There is nothing so whole as a broken heart” – a quote I cut out in a magazine while working on my vision board the other day. It resonated immediately. There were so many people, only a few of you who I mention by name in this episode (but you know who you are!) whose wisdom, compassion, and caring made moving through this painful process not only bearable but at times beautiful. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You helped me and my family stay whole and I am so grateful.

 

Lessons To Guide You Through the Death of a Loved One

In this episode, I walk you through the eight lessons I learned through my father’s death, my grief, and most importantly– my love for my Dad and my family. 

1) Look for the Signs 

2) Find Your Guides 

3) Closure Can be Healing 

4) Lean Into Your Rituals. Make Them Your Own. 

5) Let Laughter In and Invite the Possibility that the Unexpected Can be a Gift 

6) Release Perfectionism and Shame 

7) Open Your Heart and Ride the Waves 

8) Have the Conversations

 

Resources and Topics Mentioned:

 

Special note about this episode:

These reflections are based on my experience navigating the death of my father who lived a full and happy life until the age of 84. I am certain that losing a child or someone of any age to a traumatic situation is a whole different experience. I do want to share a link to an episode I recorded with Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, who tragically lost her son in senseless gun violence. I invite you to listen to this episode for a different and important perspective on grief: From Grief to Advocacy and a Circle of Mothers with Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton.

 

This Episode’s Challenge:

While it’s not easy to talk about, having conversations about death is one of the best ways to prepare ourselves and those around us for when the time comes– because we’ll never know when it might happen. So say “yes” to conversations about death and dying. Use the resources at Death over Dinner to gather with friends and family for these conversations.  Also have meaningful conversations, and consider recording them, like I did with my father, with the important people in your lives. Finally, enjoy the journey, cherish the dash between the years from when you were born and when you will die and continually ask yourself the question “What is it you want to do with your one wild and precious life?”


This Episode is dedicated by Donna Helete

Donna Helete thrives in the realm of human connection.  She’s a regenerative grief coach, bereavement counselor, relationship tender, mentor, educator, and community builder with experience in non-profit leadership. She holds space for conversations around grief, love, life, and death.  She walks a path toward elderhood, bringing with her real life credentials which include the death of her husband of 28 years in September 2015.  Through her experience, she emphasizes the regenerative nature of grief, which allows us to be renewed again and again. 

To learn more about her work, visit donnahelete.com and learn about her one on one sessions and workshop offerings.

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

Embracing Neurodiversity and Being an Adult with Julie Lythcott-Haims and Ryan Neale

Embracing Neurodiversity and Being an Adult with Julie Lythcott-Haims and Ryan Neale



I’m excited to welcome you to a special episode of the Mother’s Quest Podcast that I am extremely grateful for, just in time for Thanksgiving, featuring the amazing Julie Lythcott-Haims and my 17-year-old son Ryan Neale.

Julie is an incredible mother to two, a former Stanford Dean and New York Times bestselling author of the anti-helicopter parenting manifesto How to Raise an Adult, which gave rise to a TED Talk that has more than 5 million views. Her second book is the critically-acclaimed and award-winning prose poetry memoir Real American, which illustrates her experience as a Black and biracial person in white spaces. I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Julie for the podcast several years ago when that book was first released. 

When I heard about Julie’s new book Your Turn: How to Be an Adult, I knew I wanted to invite her back to the podcast again. And, I hoped that my son Ryan, on the threshold of adulthood himself, would join us in the conversation.

The stars aligned and Ryan was available the day of the interview, enabling Julie, Ryan, and I to explore the concepts of her book, about navigating adulthood and embracing our differences, especially our neurodiversity, in deeply personal and relevant ways. 

In this episode, I’m also excited to share a dedication from Deborah Reber, former podcast guest, fellow mother on a quest, and host of the TiLT Parenting Podcast.
Deborah’s heart-felt dedication honors Julie and other mothers raising neurodivergent children. I could not agree more with Deborah’s assessment about what an exceptional human Julie is, about the power of Julie’s commitment to put the stories of a diverse group of young people with different identities on the pages of her book, and about the impact of Julie’s work for normalizing and honoring differences. 

As you hear our conversation unfold, I know you’ll be as struck as I was by Julie’s wisdom and humility as she talks with Ryan, helping him to understand that he deserves to be cherished for who he is, that he can approach things like writing in ways that work for his differently-wired mind, and that he can seek out environments, like college, that enables him to play to his strengths and allow him to thrive.

Since our conversation, Ryan was able to take Julie’s advice to heart, using voice to text without shame to write his personal statement for college applications and sharing his personal insights on a panel at the recent Stanford Neurodiversity Summit. You can follow the link in the show notes to listen.

Finally, this conversation is a demonstration that there is no destination to becoming an adult, but an ongoing journey of learning and discovery, that parents and their children can support one another in reciprocity with curiosity, and that we can all benefit from asking ourselves the question from Mary Oliver’s famous poem, that Julie gives us as our challenge, “What is it that we want to do with our one wild and precious life?”

As we approach Thanksgiving, the five-year birthday of the launch of Mother’s Quest, and my 50th birthday, I can say there is nothing I’d rather do than hold space for a conversation like this one and share it with you.

About Julie:

Julie Lythcott-Haims believes in humans and is deeply interested in what gets in our way. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the anti-helicopter parenting manifesto How to Raise an Adult which gave rise to a TED Talk that has more than 5 million views. Her second book is the critically-acclaimed and award-winning prose poetry memoir Real American, which illustrates her experience as a Black and biracial person in white spaces. A third book, Your Turn: How to Be an Adult, is out now.

Julie is a former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean, and she holds a BA from Stanford, a JD from Harvard, and an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. She serves on the board of Common Sense Media, and on the advisory board of LeanIn.Org, and she is a former board member at Foundation for a College Education, Global Citizen Year, The Writers Grotto, and Challenge Success. She volunteers with the hospital program No One Dies Alone.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner of over thirty years, their itinerant young adults, and her mother. 

Connect with Julie: 

About Ryan

Ryan Neale is a neurodivergent 12th Grader from San Mateo, California. His parents discovered he was differently wired when he was 18 months old but he has been in fully mainstream education for his academic career, with most people around him not knowing about some of the struggles that he faces.

His experiences publicly masking his neuro differences have given him a unique perspective on many of the struggles neurodiverse people face, such as public stigma, ableism, and the ever-present desire to fit in. As he has begun advocating more for his needs, he has high hopes to use his perspective and communication skills to increase public understanding of neurodiversity, and hopefully create a more inclusive society for everyone.

In his free time, he enjoys playing varsity basketball for his high school team, coaching youth sports, roughhousing with his little brother, and diving headfirst into his many fantasy special interests. He is thrilled to have participated in this fall’s Stanford Neurodiversity Summit on a K-12 student panel. You can listen to the panel here.


Connect with Ryan: 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • How Julie’s experience listening to students as a Stanford Dean and raising her own children led her to write a book about young adults
  • The painful admission Julie shared about overlooking her own son Sawyer’s challenges with ADHD and anxiety and the poignant moment when her son acknowledged Julie’s shift in understanding him 
  • The ways that Ryan identifies as neurodivergent, how he has adapted, and the pain he has experienced trying to fit in a neurotypical world 
  • Julie’s advice to Ryan about embracing who he is
  • Her recommendation of the book Normal Sucks by Jonathan Mooney 
  • The revelations parents can take from Julie’s book
  • How to help young adults figure out what next steps to take on their path to becoming an adult 
  • The lessons Julie has personally gained from writing her books
  • Julie’s words of wisdom for Ryan on how to move through his resistance of writing by trying methods that might work better for his differences and strengths 
  • The biggest takeaway that Julie learned in her research and in her own journey writing the book about how to be vulnerable and connected and open to the support of others so that you don’t have to feel alone
  • Julie’s challenge for all of us that can help us live our best lives as adults

Resources and Topics Mentioned:

This Episode’s Challenge:

Ask yourself the question from Mary Oliver’s famous poem, “what do I want to do with this one wild and precious life?” Explore what would you do if it was only up to you…if nobody else’s opinion really mattered. Go to a quiet place, a shower, out in nature, or on a hammock and ask yourself “What is the work that brings me joy? What are the places and spaces where I feel valued and seen?”


This Episode is dedicated by Deborah Reber

Debbie Reber is a parenting activist, New York Times bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a top resource for parents like her who are raising differently wired children. The TiLT Parenting Podcast has grown to be a top podcast in Kids & Family, with more than 3 million downloads and a slate of guests that includes high-profile thought leaders across the parenting and education space. A certified Positive Discipline trainer and a regular contributor to Psychology Today and ADDitude Magazine, Debbie’s newest book is Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World. In November 2018, she spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, delivering a talk entitled Why the Future Will Be Differently Wired. In the summer of 2020, she co-created the Parenting in Place Masterclass series.

Prior to launching TiLT, Debbie spent more than fifteen years writing inspiring books for women and teens, including Doable: The Girls’ Guide to Accomplishing Just About Anything, Language of Love, Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful You, In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers, and more than a dozen preschool books based on the series Blue’s Clues. In 2008, she had the privilege of creating and editing the first-ever series of teen-authored memoirs, Louder Than Words.

Before becoming a solopreneur, Debbie worked in TV and video production, producing documentaries and PSAs for CARE and UNICEF, working on Blue’s Clues, and developing original series for Cartoon Network. She has an MA in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research and a BA in Communications from Pennsylvania State University. In 2019, her husband, and 17-year-old twice-exceptional son relocated to Brooklyn, NY after living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands for five years. 

Connect with Deborah:

You can also check out my conversation with Debbie on the Mother’s Quest Podcast about embracing differences here!

Special Q & A Brunch with Julie Lythcott-Haims

Join Mother’s Quest and Happy Women Dinners for a special opportunity to receive Julie’s new book, get it personally signed, and enjoy brunch and a Q & A with Julie at Julie Neale’s private home, outside, in the SF Peninsula on January 23, 2022 from noon to 2:30 pm. Cost is $125 and includes brunch and a copy of the signed book. Email jill@happywomendinners.com to secure your spot ASAP. Tickets are sold out with the exception of a small number for Mother’s Quest listeners and members. Proof of vaccination required. 


Mother’s Quest is Turning Five – Celebrate With Us!

On December 1st, Mother’s Quest will be celebrating it’s 5th birthday. To honor this milestone, we are having a virtual celebration with poetry, music, toasts and more.  If you’ve been impacted by Mother’s Quest and have wishes to share for our next chapter, I’d love for you to join us. Email hello@Mothersquest.com to get all the details and RSVP.

Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.

Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).

Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/

On a Quest for Peace and Reconciliation Parents Circle Interview With Layla Alsheikh and Robi Damelin

On a Quest for Peace and Reconciliation Parents Circle Interview With Layla Alsheikh and Robi Damelin


I’m honored to share this special episode of the Mother’s Quest Podcast. Thank you for showing up to this important conversation about two mothers and their quest for peace and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel. Thank you for choosing to press play. 

If ever there was a year demanding us to “show up” this has been one. From COVID to floods and fires and refugee crises…our consciousness has had a lot to hold. It can be all too easy to shut down. To throw up our hands. And to say “what can I do?”

That question “what can I do?” is one I asked myself during the crisis that unfolded in Palestine and Israel In May of 2021. For days, watching the horrifying headlines, I felt powerless. Then several truths came to me and an intention to find a path to action which I shared in a FB post, like sending a wish to the universe.

The very next day, the “guides” I was looking for appeared.  In a conversation with my mother, I learned about the Parents Circle, an incredible organization of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost children or family members in the conflict, and instead of turning to revenge, come together to work toward peace and reconciliation.

Soon after, I found myself recording a conversation with Layla Alsheikh, a Palestinian mother originally born in Jordan, who lost her son Qussay at the age of 6 months old. And Robi Damelin,  an Israeli mother, originally from South Africa, who lost her adult son David while he was serving in the army.

Although today’s topic is especially heavy – one of loss and tremendous grief, Layla and Robi share their narratives with us for a specific purpose – to help us understand their experience and to support their efforts in bringing Palestinian and Israeli mothers in particular together to work toward change.

Inspired by all they shared with me, the week after we recorded, I began to raise money toward a fund to help them bring together bereaved Palestinian and Israeli mothers of the Parents Circle.

Along the way, I’ve been moved by so many mothers who have already contributed. Mothers like Jena Schwartz, who dedicates this episode with a beautiful poem she shares at the end of this conversation. Jena was the first to donate and her powerful words are an invitation to you to say “yes” to this cause. 

To date we have raised $5,000, half of the $10,000 goal I set. And we have more to go. Though the height of the crisis in May has receded from the headlines, violence continues in many forms, and the path for peace and reconciliation is needed more than ever. 

I ask you to listen with an open heart, to follow the links in the show notes to learn more, to contribute in any amount meaningful to you, and to amplify the voices of Layla, Robi and others like them, mothers closest to this conflict. They are a key to any path forward.

 

In this episode we explore:

  • The experiences of two mothers Robi and Layla – one Israeli and one Palestianian –  who lost children in the conflict and turned their grief into a quest for peace and reconciliation.
  • The tremendous power of listening to bereaved mothers’ stories. 
  • How Robi and Layla each got involved with The Parent’s Circle, an organization of Palestinian and Israelis that brings bereaved parents and family members together in solidarity. 
  • How you can help support the Parent Circle and promote peace and reconciliation among Israeli and Palestinian families.
  • The importance of not importing the conflict into our own countriesWhy we shouldn’t position ourselves as Pro-Palestinian or Pro-Israeli but Pro- Peace.
  • How Robi and Layla sustain themselves and find continued hope, even in their loss. 
  • Opportunities to get involved and how we can specifically support the mothers of the Parents Circle to come together. 
  • Poet Jena Schwartz’ powerful poem “The Undefended Heart” and an invitation to contribute. 

This episode’s challenge: 

Both Layla and Robi challenge us to join them in fighting for peace instead of violence in the following ways: 

  1. Contribute to the fund to help them bring together Palestinian and Israeli mothers
  2. Invite representatives of the Parents Circles to your groups, synagogues, churches, mosques and organizations to share their stories. 
  3. Follow the work of the Parents Circle and participate in their educational and awareness-building opportunities

About Layla:

Layla Alsheikh was born and raised in Jordan. She had a peaceful and normal upbringing and graduated with a degree in accounting and business management. She eventually met her husband in Jordan 1999 and moved to Bethlehem, where her husband lived for the wedding. However, a few years later tragedy struck her life.  

In 2002, her 6 months old son, Qussay, became ill and Israeli soldiers prevented Layla from taking him to the hospital for more than five hours. Qussay soon died from the lack of timely treatment.

Layla joined the Parents Circle in 2016. Following her son’s death, she never thought of revenge, but rather has devoted her time and energy to ensuring a better, more peaceful future for her children.

About Robi:

Robi Damelin was originally from South Africa and came to Israel in 1967. She originally came to Israel as a volunteer after the “Six Day War”. Her real plan was to live in the states but after spending time in Israel she developed a love-hate relationship with the place. She eventually got married and had two kids here.

Unfortunately, Robi’s son, David, was killed by a Palestinian sniper in 2002 while guarding a checkpoint near a settlement during his army reserve service. She speaks to Israelis, Palestinians, and audiences all over the world to demand that reconciliation be a part of any peace agreement. Robi was named a 2015 Woman of Impact by Women in the World.

Follow Robi: 

About the Parents Circle
The Parents Circle – Families Forum is a joint Israeli-Palestinian organization made up of more than 600 bereaved families. Their common bond is that they have lost a close family member to the conflict. But instead of choosing revenge, they have chosen a path of reconciliation.

American Friends of the Parents Circle – Families Forum shares the human side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the American public in order to foster a peace and reconciliation process.

The Parents Circle Policies:

  • We work towards an end to violence and towards achieving an accepted political agreement.
  • The members of the Parents Circle oppose the Occupation and believe that it is possible to end the conflict.  They wish  to influence the public and in turn, decision makers, to choose reconciliation and the path of peace over violence and war.  
  • Our goal is to create a framework of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians to support any political peace agreement.  
  • To prevent further bereavement and to avoid the use of bereavement for further violence and retribution. 

Connect with the Parents Circle 

This Episode is Dedicated by: Jena Schwartz 

Jena Schwartz is a writing coach, poet, and activist in Western Massachusetts whose work is deeply rooted in Jewish values. As a mother herself, “The Undefended Heart” emerged as a prayer of sorts out of her own yearning for peace in the face of so much injustice and suffering in Israel/Palestine.

Jena brings her unique brand of fierce encouragement to helping writers of all kinds get words on the page and out into the world. Learn more about her work and feel free to reach out to her at www.jenaschwartz.com.

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Additional Reading/Listening:

 

Special thanks to Shehla Faizi, Kris Zarnoch, Jen Fornal, and Bear Beat Productions for their help and care in editing this episode

Original FB Post That Set the Intention For This Episode:

“Swirling in a sea of uncertainty

My voice, tenuously found over the last few years, silent again

I don’t know enough, I tell myself

But deep down, feel this to be untrue

In the quiet of my late-night scrolling, searching for answers I never find, instead I reveal some truths within.

We are all deeply connected

The harm to one mother and her child is harm to every mother and every child, regardless of our differences

A history of oppression and casting out can never justify more of the same

Extremism in any form becomes a cancer

Silence and doing nothing is a choice. A choice I cannot make.

So I will remember I am not alone

There are guides all around me

And ways to make an impact that will reveal themselves

If I just take the first step.”

Julie Neale
May 17, 2021