Inspired by Simone Biles…6 Tips For Your Teen Athlete’s Mental Health

Inspired by Simone Biles…6 Tips For Your Teen Athlete’s Mental Health

As the parent of a varsity high school athlete who has also struggled with mental health issues, I was struck by Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from the Olympic competition and the issues it highlights. I decided to reach out to my friend, Mother’s Quest member, and mental performance consultant Lisa Bonta Sumii LCSW, CSW, for her thoughts. Even though our children may not all be “elite athletes,” there are lessons we can take away from these seven points Lisa offers, inspired by Simone Bile’s decision to prioritize her well-being. 

Parenting a teen is an experience that is different than parenting at any other time in a child’s life – identities are emerging, peer relationships become a priority, teens push against the authority of the parent(s), brains aren’t fully developed yet, while teens are making meaningful decisions on a daily basis. If that teenager happens to be an elite athlete, it adds an additional dimension to the parenting experience. With Olympic Gymnast Simone Biles in the news for prioritizing her mental health, we’re reminded that elite athletes are humans. Athletes at this level sacrifice so much for the love of their sport, the opportunity to compete, and in Simone’s case, the chance to represent her country on the world’s biggest stage. Her journey is an inspiring one that highlights some very important points that every parent could benefit from. 

  1.  Mental health is just as important as physical health– there continues to be a lack of accurate information to differentiate mental health and mental illness. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. To stay mentally healthy, we must prevent, assess, and treat, just like we do to stay physically healthy.  Mental health falls on a continuum and can be impacted by various forms of stress and pressures.
  2. The impact on mental health does not discriminate– you can be the GOAT in your sport (just like Simone Biles,)  have all the gold medals in the world, have the most coveted sponsors, have popularity, be “rich and famous” and still endure the effect that pressure, sexual abuse, racial injustice, and the pandemic have on your mental health.
  3. Excellence vs. Perfection– supporting our kids to strive for excellence in their sport, not perfection, can keep the enjoyment and feelings of success high. If Simone continued to push, even though she didn’t feel completely herself, she could have seriously injured herself which could have led to long-lasting negative effects beyond the Olympic Games. On this day, her pursuit of excellence included protecting her mental health. Let’s commit to this every day!
  4. Pressures come in many forms– from our coaches, from the public, from the media, from within, and in this day and age- from social media. Today’s elite athletes deal with a world where their whole life can be captured, at any time, for public consumption. Not just in everyday life, but in every moment of competition. Their reactions and responses to their own performance are made available, analyzed, dissected, and judged. They experience immense pressure to be “liked,” and seen as successful. Implementing tools and practicing skills to manage all kinds of pressure is essential for optimal mental health.
  5. Making an impact can come in a supportive role- the elite athlete doesn’t have to be front and center to contribute to their team, all the time. Simone Biles used her voice to speak up for her own mental health. She feared her current mind space would put her at risk for physical injury. She chose to contribute to her team by giving moral support, by cheering for them, and by using her voice to encourage and uplift. 
  6. Simone Biles, like any elite athlete, has value beyond their sport – teen athletes should not be defined by how they perform or the “score” that they get. Competing in their sport is one way to express who they are, it is NOT all of who they are. 

Our children, who happen to be athletes, are human first!!

Lisa Bonta Sumii, LCSW, CSW is a sports social worker and mental performance consultant to elite athletes. In her private practice, she provides clinical support and performance consultation to collegiate, Olympic, and professional athletes. Lisa is also the Mental Health and Sports Performance Specialist at the Oakland Roots Sports Club, a professional men’s soccer team and purpose-driven club. Her 14-year-old daughter, Malaya, is a high-level softball player AND an awesome human being!!

Motherload Liberation

Motherload Liberation

Podcast guest, long-term community member, and Mom for Mom‘s Graeme Seabrook has an amazing new program launching, Motherload Liberation. We asked Graeme if she would share what she means by Motherload Liberation and why it’s so important, especially in the wake of the pandemic’s impact on mothers. 

The last 18 months have been brutal. But let’s not all pretend it was sunshine and roses before. We moms, all 43.5 million of us, moved into this pandemic period already bruised and on the edge of (or fully in the midst of) burnout. It’s how modern motherhood is set up. We are expected to manage the mental, emotional, physical, financial, and cultural/spiritual health of ourselves, our children, and our families. We’re expected to do this while also being contributing members of our wider society outside of those roles. We’re expected to excel in all of these areas as if patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy aren’t poisoning us and our world. 

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic, if so many millions of us hadn’t internalized these expectations. So yes, this pandemic period has been awful in many ways – and it has also revealed rot that was already there. 

I work with moms. As the founder of The Mom Center™, I hear from all kinds of moms from all around the country (and the UK and Brazil so far) and I’m hearing the same thing – burnout, frustration, and anger. 

Even while so many of us are celebrating our moments of reconnection with friends and family, while we’re trying to navigate this ‘new normal’ I know that we cannot let the lessons learned during the height of the pandemic fade. 

The way it was simply assumed on every level from the national government down to individual households that mothers would bear the childcare burden. 

The way that was assumed by moms, themselves. 

The millions of mothers who were forced out of the workforce. 

The millions of mothers whose spouses began to work from home, but who never acknowledged all the home-work that was being done on a daily basis to make that possible. 

Each year, I teach a course called Motherload Liberation. Not in 2020, though. I spent last year reworking the entire thing from the ground up. I did that because what I was seeing in homes across the country and around the world broke my heart and filled me with rage. 

Mothers were being ignored, discarded, undervalued. Fathers who were oblivious. 

And now the talk has shifted to going back to offices and jumpstarting the economy and somehow gaining back the losses women in general and mothers, in particular, have suffered. I don’t see how that’s possible without both personal healing for moms and collective action to change the systems in this country (and globally). 

Because this will happen again. Or something similar will. There will be some emergency that puts pressure on the idea of the 50/50 relationship and the lie will crumble right before our eyes. 

I cannot, on my own, affect systemic change. I can help moms to peel back the curtain and understand how these systems have impacted them, their partners, and their parenting. I can help moms make sustainable changes in their lives and relationships that will alter the balance of responsibility.

Motherload Liberation is a 10-week course for mothers who are married or partnered with men that address how patriarchy and capitalism show up in your relationship and in your parenting. The course includes an entire year of support from me as well, so no matter what comes our way you will not be alone in navigating it. 

This course supports the inner healing work necessary for you to make sustainable changes in your life and in how your family works. I’m not talking about reading an article and trying something for a week – I’m talking about a seismic shift in who is responsible for all aspects of raising your children. 

This course is for the mom of young ones who have been under immense pressure to be your child’s everything while in isolation and is overwhelmed and exhausted. 

This course is for the moms of older kiddos who navigated online school, and missing friends, and reentry drama. 

This course is for moms of teens who think it’s too late to make real changes and who are just holding on until graduation. 

If you’re a mom in a relationship with a man, this course is for you. And now is the time. You’ve seen how even though “he’s not as bad as my friends’ husbands” he still doesn’t carry anywhere near the load that you do. You’ve felt the exhaustion and cried out the frustration. And I’m telling you that you can, you absolutely can break these systems down within your own home. 

That change will ripple throughout your life. That change will embolden you when you are in the world outside your home. That change will show your children what adulthood and motherhood can be. 

Motherload Liberation is enrolling now. I hope that you’ll join us. I hope you’ll share it with your friends. I hope you’ll choose now as your time. 

Graeme is offering 10% off* for Mother’s Quest members. Prices go up after August 5, 2021. Click here to sign-up today!

P.S. Did you ever tune into the Mother’s Quest Podcast episode featuring Graeme? It’s a powerful conversation. Check it out here. During the episode, Graeme and Julie conceived of the Manifesto Challenge, what became a 5-day experience, with recorded videos, daily prompts, and a reflective journal to help you reclaim how you want to live your life in motherhood. You can now follow-along in a FREE self-guided journey on the Mother’s Quest Portal. Sign-up here.

* This post contains affiliate links to courses and products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Love of Family and Pursuing our Fate with David Lieberman – A Father’s Day Special

Love of Family and Pursuing our Fate with David Lieberman – A Father’s Day Special

This Father’s Day 2021, many of us are re-emerging and with so much change, I find myself wanting to return to words of wisdom that can ground me during this time of transition.
Rather than recording a new episode with a father this year, I’m putting together an episode to highlight my favorite insights from fathers I’ve interviewed since the podcast began. So stay tuned for that episode coming out soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to re-release this full interview with my very own father, David Lieberman, with a dedication by my son Ryan, whose voice no longer sounds anything like this. Though so much has changed, the words from the dedication and the interview itself feel as true and powerful as ever.

Sending love to my own Dad, father in law and husband this Father’s Day and wishes for all of you to discover or rediscover connection and inspiration from the fathers and father figures in your life.

Much appreciation,

P.S. Know someone who would love this conversation? Pay this forward to a friend who may be interested.

Original Show Notes – 2018

Love of Family and Pursuing our Fate ~A Father’s Day Special~ with David Lieberman

What an honor it is to bring you this episode with my own father as one of two I’m having with men on the podcast this month in honor of Father’s Day.

Two things sparked my interest in having my father on the show now…first, a desire to feel more connected to my grandmother Molla, my father’s mother, who passed away years before I was born from pancreatic cancer. I wanted to hear from my Dad about his experience of his mother, how she shaped him, and the ways he notices her spirit living on in us today.

Related to this, I recently went to a workshop to learn about uncovering our family ancestry and at that workshop they discussed the power of oral histories. My Dad is a storyteller and I wanted to use this amazing platform to capture his stories and life lessons, for me, for my children and the Mother’s Quest Community.

The episode is an exploration of my father’s E.P.I.C. life, how his mother’s passion as a voice and elocution teacher shaped him into the powerful speaker and human being he is today, the moment he first saw my mom when she was just 11 years old, how he built a career and a family, and a love of golf to help him cope with the effects of Type 1 Diabetes. And, how he views love of family and the pursuit of fate as a theme that runs through it all.

This episode’s dedication was shared by Vanessa Couto, an astrologist who considers fate and what’s written “in the stars” for us as part of her exploration and practice. Vanessa honored her father Guido with this dedication and reflected on the ways that fate, legacy, and character help us live a life of purpose.

I loved reflecting on these same elements of my father’s life in this conversation. I wasn’t surprised that there were moments that made my Dad and I laugh and cry during along the way. But, I was surprised by the insights that emerged…about the ways in which my grandmother and my father’s qualities live in me. I’ve known I’m much like my mother, but it wasn’t until the end of this conversation that I realized that the “seeker” in me, the one who is always on a quest, comes from my father.

My Dad believes that fate play a role in all of our lives, but that we must actively pursue it to fully realize it. Our challenge this month is to reflect on the moments in our lives when we chose to pursue our fate and what happened as a result. Also, to notice and seize the new opportunities and possibilities that call us to take action today in our E.P.I.C. lives.

In honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to add one more challenge that we didn’t discuss in the interview but came to me as I wrote this introduction. Seek out the father or father figures in your life to ask them about and record the stories, lessons and insights they have to pass along to this and future generations.

I promise you’ll learn something powerful about yourself and how to more fully live your E.P.I.C. life.

**Stick around till the end for some light and funny bloopers from the interview.

This episode dedicated by:

Vanessa Couto – Artist, Astrologer, and Teacher. Visit her website at www.vanessacouto.com and connect on Facebook 

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • My father’s view on fate and how it has been a thread weaving through his whole E.P.I.C. life
  • The ways my grandmother shaped my father and the thing she said to him that sealed his fate for a life he loved in California

  • How fate brought my father and mother together, from his first site of her receiving a drama lesson from his mother, to summers as children and teens in a bungalow colony, to 50 plus years of marriage.

  • Where the seeds for his playful nature and love for his children and grandchildren were planted early in his life

  • How he pursued a career in a business he built, the people he met and helped along the way, and the importance of being a person of integrity

  • The impact of Type 1 Diabetes and stress on his life and how his love of golf became his remedy

  • Some funny stories of crazy things that happened to him, several involving the Wall Street Journal, and one that you may want to turn the volume down on if your children are listening with you.

  • The favorite toasts passed down to him by his mother

This Week’s Challenge:

There are three challenges this week:

  • One from me, to look back on our lives, notice the moments when we chose to seek our fate, the impact that has had on us, and to share it with our family members
  • One from my father to continue to seek out our fate, taking action on opportunities even when we’re not certain what might come from it
  • And one that emerged from my son Ryan, to share this episode with the fathers or father figures in your life, let them know how you appreciate them, and explore and record their stories and lessons learned.

Other Special Episodes with the People in My Life:

 

Support the Podcast

If you’d like to make a contribution to Mother’s Quest to support Season Four of the Podcast and/or help provide coaching scholarships for mothers, follow this link to make a contribution.

If you would like to “dedicate” an upcoming episode to a special mother in your life, email me at julie@mothersquest.com

 

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. lifeEngaging 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/

Honoring Black Mothers: A Special Mother’s Day Episode with Anna Malaika Tubbs, Author of The Three Mothers

Honoring Black Mothers: A Special Mother’s Day Episode with Anna Malaika Tubbs, Author of The Three Mothers

Welcome to Season Six of the Mother’s Quest Podcast and this special Mother’s Day episode, which shines a light on the untold stories and far-reaching impact of mothers and in particular Black mothers. For this episode, I had the honor of talking with Anna Malaika Tubbs, the brilliant biographer of the groundbreaking book The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.

In addition to being a mother to a 1 year old boy and pregnant with another child, Anna is an author, advocate, educator, scholar and Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Growing up abroad and influenced by her exposure to all kinds of cultures and beliefs, and by her own mother’s work advocating internationally for women’s and children’s rights, Anna uses an intersectional lens to advocate for women of color and to educate others.

During her time as an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Anna took from what she’d seen in her parents’ work and began honing her own identity as an activist. As the First Partner of Stockton, CA, she co-authored the first-ever “Report on the Status of Women in Stockton” to guide future policy decisions with the experiences of diverse women in mind. She’s published articles featured in the Huffington Post, For Harriet, Darling Magazine and Blavity, on issues ranging from mass incarceration to the forced sterilization of Black women, as well as the importance of feminism, intersectionality, and inclusivity. Throughout all her work and writing, she draws on her personal experience and extensive research to examine and make relevant gender and race issues in the US, especially the pervasive erasure of Black women.

In this incredible debut book, The Three Mothers, Anna celebrates Black motherhood by telling the story of the three women who raised and shaped some of America’s most pivotal civil rights heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin were all born at the beginning of the 20th century, all were forced to contend with the prejudices of Jim Crow as Black women, all forged their own unique paths, using their beliefs and talents to shape not only their children but those around them, and all three had to bury their children, two of them after losing their sons to gun violence.

In these mothers and their stories, amidst the pain and grief, there also existed vibrancy, love and conviction. One of my biggest takeaways from my conversation with Anna is the importance of acknowledging the continued injustices that Black women endure today and that although Black women continue to experience tremendous grief, they also experience joy and they are not “a conquered victim,” but are living through life as whole human beings.

My Mother’s Day wish is that you will find time and space to slow down and truly listen to Anna’s insights about the mothers whose stories she so beautifully tells, that you will get and read her book The Three Mothers, and that you’ll join me in saying “yes” to Anna’s challenge. She asks that all of us advance our understanding of different forms of motherhood. Picking up books she says, especially those that focus on Black mothers and Black motherhood, can bring healing for everybody.

 

Much appreciation,

P.S. Know someone who would love this conversation? Pay this forward to a friend who may be interested.

This Episode is Dedicated by: Sybrina Fulton

After the death of her beloved son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, in February 2012, Sybrina Fulton was charged with a new mission. A desire to transform family tragedy into social change allowed her to establish the Trayvon Martin Foundation in March 2012.

As Fulton traverses the globe, she passionately embarks on a journey designed to bring awareness to senseless gun violence and serves as an advocate to families, the catalyst for her dream project, the “Circle of Mothers.” Winning the national support of president-elect Hillary Clinton, Fulton rallied to the forefront in 2016 at the Democratic National Convention with a cadre of African American trailblazing women known as “Mothers of the Movement.” The women, connected by tragedy, are the inspiration behind  “Black Lives Matter.”

In 2017, Fulton co-authored her first book, Rest in Power, The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin, a memoir recounting the death of her son, and the subject of a six-part docuseries, Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, produced by hip-hop mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter for Paramount Network and BET (July 2018).

Bestowed with many distinguished awards, Sybrina Fulton has represented the United States at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss racial discrimination; the National Urban League, Black Lives Matter, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, The Triumph Awards (2016), Essence Festival & Conference (2017, 2018), and was selected as the White House’s guest of honor for the unveiling of former President Barak Obama’s initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper.” Fulton is also one of the 2018 recipients of VH1’s Trailblazer Honor Award.

A Miami native and graduate of Florida Memorial University, Sybrina Fulton, along with her son, Jahvaris, are on a mission to build better, safer communities. She is a proud member of the Miami Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Metropolitan Dade County Section of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

She created the Circle of Mothers to bring together mothers who have lost children or family members to senseless gun violence for the purpose of healing, empowerment, and fellowship towards the larger aim of community building. 

 

Connect with Sybrina:
Facebook 
Twitter 
Instagram
Trayvon Martin Foundation

 

Give a Mother’s Day Gift: Help mothers heal from the loss of a loved one by supporting and donating to the Circle of Mothers, Sybrina’s weekend retreat for mothers who have lost a child to gun violence. You can support the cause here.

Special thanks to Jill Daniel of Happy Women Dinners for introducing us to Anna and her work! 

 

In This Episode We Talk About:

  • Anna’s commitment to fighting the erasure of Black women’s stories.
  • What inspired Anna to focus her first book on the mothers of sons of the Civil Rights Movement.
  • How painful moments like George Floyd’s murder, and joyful moments like Stacy Abram’s organizing in Georgia, had Anna editing and adding more relevance right up until the book was published.
  • Anna’s decision to focus on MLK Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin as the three famous sons, and their mothers, Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin whose stories she would tell.
  • The lessons revealed in Anna’s book that all mothers can learn from across the E.P.I.C. guideposts.
  • The importance of making visible the lives of Black women as whole human beings, experiencing grief but also joy, and with far-reaching impact. 
  • Anna’s challenge for all mothers listening to expand our awareness through reading and her hope that this book will be seen as a celebration of Black womanhood.

 

This Episode’s Challenge:

Anna invites us to think about what we can all read to advance our understanding of different forms of motherhood. Picking up books that focus on Black mothers and Black motherhood can bring healing for everybody. The more we are informed, the more conscious we become. 

Anna’s next recommendation after finishing her book: The Power of Purpose by Alicia Garza which begins with a powerful description of the impact of Alicia’s mother on her. 

 

Learn More More About Anna:

Anna Malaika Tubbs is an Author, advocate, educator, and a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Anna grew up abroad in Dubai, Mexico, Sweden, Estonia, and Azerbaijan. Influenced by her exposure to all kinds of cultures and beliefs, Anna is inspired to bring people together through the celebration of difference. Motivated by her mother’s work advocating for women’s and children’s rights around the world, Anna uses an intersectional lens to advocate for women of color and educate others.

During her time as an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Anna took from what she’d seen in her parents’ work and began honing her own identity as an activist. She served as the president of Stanford’s Black Student Union when she was only a sophomore and she was also the Executive Director of Stanford’s Alternative Spring Break. In these roles, she organized rallies and events focused on the concerns of the Black community, she fundraised money for women’s clinics in the Bay Area and grew her passion for advocacy and social justice.

As the First Partner of Stockton, CA, she co-authored the first-ever “Report on the Status of Women in Stockton” to help guide future policy decisions with the experiences of diverse women in mind.

Anna is also a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant who has worked with companies and individuals interested in progressing their DEI goals.

Anna has published articles on issues ranging from mass incarceration to the forced sterilization of Black women, as well as the importance of feminism, intersectionality, and inclusivity. Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, For Harriet, Darling Magazine, and Blavity. Her first book, titled The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation, is being published by Flatiron Books in February 2021.

Grab a copy of Anna’s The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation HERE!

Follow Anna:

 

Additional Resources:

 

 

Announcements: It’s Mother’s Quest May!

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you’ll seize this holiday as an opportunity to say “yes” to yourself. We’ve declared it Mother’s Quest May in our community and have so many wonderful things to share with you as the month progresses: 

Join the free Facebook Group and sign up for email updates at www.mothersquest.com to learn all the details and come along with us during this special month.  

 

Acknowledgments:

A big THANK YOU to our “patrons” for helping to bring these conversations to myself and other mothers through financial and/or in-kind support:

Amanda Kruger Hill
Graeme Seabrook
Anne Armstrong
Herve Clermont
Samantha Arsenault
Vickie Giambra
Casey O’Roarty of Joyful Courage
Kathie Moehlig or TransFamily Support Services
Anne Ferguson of MamaFuel
On the Move and etsuko Kubo
Kate Amoo-Gottfried
Nicole Lee
Olivia Parr-Rud
“Vince” of the While Black Podcast
Sara Brannin-Mooser
Lindsay Pera
Julie Castro Abrams
Alexia Vernon
Brooke Markevicius
Democracy Clothing
Michael Skolnik
Helgi Maki
Kari Azuma
Tamara Sobomehin
Katie Krimitsos
Carrie Caulfield Arick
Rachel Rosen
Chandra Brooks
Jen Simon
Monisha Vasa
Celia Ward-Wallace
Vanessa Couto
Desiree Adaway
Rachel Steinman
Katie Hanus
Denise Barreto
Sage B. Hobbs
Samantha Nolan-Smith
Jody Smith
Emily Cretella
Collette Flanagan
Titilayo Tinubu Ali
Carly Magnus Hurt
Lizzy Russinko
Suzanne Brown
Mara Berns Langer
Mallory Schlabach
Katharine Earhart
Jessica Kupferman
Jen Jenkins Dohner
Genese Harris
Tonya Rineer
Liane Louie-Badua
Cristin Downs
Erin Kendall
Niko Osoteo
Erik Newton
Claire Fry
Divya Silbermann
Rachel Winter
Caren and Debbie Lieberman
Cameron Miranda
Fran and David Lieberman
Debbie and Alan Goore
The Sustainable Living Podcast
Samantha Arsenault
Attica Locke

 

Support the Podcast

If you’d like to make a contribution to Mother’s Quest to support Season Four of the Podcast and/or help provide coaching scholarships for mothers, follow this link to make a contribution.

If you would like to “dedicate” an upcoming episode to a special mother in your life, email me at julie@mothersquest.com

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. lifeEngaging 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/

 

A Love Letter to Honor Edd Conboy

A Love Letter to Honor Edd Conboy

In loving memory of Edd Conboy, who through the gift of reflection helped me see myself so that I may also see others.

I’m honored to bring you this special bite-sized reflection from my own E.P.I.C. Life as a bonus to Season Five. 

The show has been on a pause between seasons and will begin again in May, in time for Mother’s Day. Until then, I invite you to catch up on episodes that you’ve missed, including the Season Five finale with my mentor and former colleague, Leslie Medine. The finale was dedicated to Edd Conboy, a special person who was a coach to both of us and led us for years through a process called Adult Reflection.

Edd suffered from a stroke and passed away on March 20, 2020. In my conversation with Leslie, I committed to writing and recording a love letter to Edd and sharing it on the podcast. It was therapeutic to write the letter, share it with others from my Reflection Circle grieving Edd’s loss, and to record it for you.

Thank you for listening and witnessing. I hope learning about Edd’s impact will touch you and inspire you to think about someone in your life who you’d like to honor.

Dear Edd,

As I write this, I hope that you know how loved you are. How much you are missed. And how much you have made an everlasting impact on me and so many of us.

It’s hard to believe it has been a year since you died. You slipped into a coma, just as the world was slipping into what has felt like an alternate reality. In December, I interviewed Leslie for the podcast and held space for the ways that you impacted her.

In perfect synchronicity, before I released that episode, I found an email that you wrote at the same time of year, the winter solstice 15 years ago, on the darkest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Your words reminded me that the light we so often seek, especially in our darkest days, resides within ourselves. Which was so fitting, because one of your greatest gifts was to create reflective space, get curious and ask a powerful, illuminating question that would help me, Leslie and so many others find our answers within.

As we reach this anniversary of your death, we are reemerging in many ways. We are also approaching another seasonal milestone, the spring equinox, which miraculously occurs this year today, on March 20th, the anniversary of your passing. Therefore, this moment that we remember and honor you, as I record this to bright sunshine and spring flowers blooming, is the moment that represents the balance of light, of new beginnings, a festival of awakening, and rebirth.

I’ve been wondering what messages you have for us Edd. What are you trying to tell us about darkness and light? About seasons? About the power of pause and reflection? About moving from darkness to light. And seeing again in new ways. 

These were the words you shared in that email at the winter solstice:

“For the last few months I have had the great good fortune to be surrounded by some extraordinary young people (some of them are on this list!).  

Gradually, they are infusing me with hope, and even a little faith.   Being with them has brought me to realize just how much I am dependent on them to make meaning of my life long after I am gone.  I am aware more keenly than ever that this moment I call a lifetime is all I have right now.  And that awareness is unimaginably liberating – a healing gift that lightens the load when I can stay in that awareness.   I hope within this expansive moment, we all have many more little moments to share, moments like glass beads for all of us to string together.”

I thought about these glass beads that you speak of…and realized they are a metaphor for what you created in our lifetime with you. You brought us clarity, you brought us connection, you instilled in us the realization that we can be and bring our fullest selves to one another, that we can love and be loved for who we are and who we are becoming. 

In your presence, I learned to hold tension, to examine thoughts and feelings, even when they’re uncomfortable, so that I could see and understand myself in new ways. With your coaching, I learned that when things feel the most overwhelming, it’s because I’m holding too much or trying to hold too much by myself, and that so much more is possible when I welcome others in. You helped us realize that alone we are but single glass beads, but that we can create something of beauty and value when we come together.

Edd, I wonder if your spirit is aware somehow of the legacy you have left us. If you know that you brought us together again, some of us who had not been in regular communication with one another for over a decade. After your passing, we met on zoom every first Sunday for the entire last year, a challenging year filled with wildfires, sheltering in place, racial reckonings, and one of the most historic elections of our lifetime. We acknowledged that we could not have made it through the year without one another and without your lessons.

The last time we gathered, we honored the anniversary of your passing. We imagined a virtual unveiling of your headstone and what words we each would inscribe on it. These are the words I shared and offer to you.

In loving memory of Edd Conboy, who through the gift of reflection helped me see myself so that I may also see others.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have known you Edd, to have been coached by you, apprenticed by you, and known by you. Your legacy truly lives on in all of us.

Much appreciation,

P.S. Know someone who would love this conversation? Pay this forward to a friend who may be interested.