Before becoming a mother, I was first a Science Teacher and then went to graduate school to become a Counseling Psychologist. I was a Licensed Professional Counselor in Pennsylvania before my son was born and continued this work after weaning him. When I became a mom, I read all the books about positive discipline, mindful parenting, the “whole brain child”, peaceful parenting, Montessori at home…the list goes on and on. I wanted to know all the theories, weigh all the options, and have an overflowing toolbox of strategies and philosophies. I thought all this learning would enable me to be the best version of myself for my loved ones and my clients; however, no matter how thoroughly I studied or how widely I explored, I could never seem to manifest what I’d learned in my day-to-day life as a teacher, counselor, mother, and human being…until I found Purejoy Parenting.
When I became a mother four and a half years ago, I felt overwhelmed most of the time. Before becoming a mother, I enjoyed being excited about life, involved in activism, full of positive energy, and involved in lots of exciting projects (albeit without ever finishing half of them—yes, I have been diagnosed with ADHD). I only felt overwhelmed by all of this when I was on some sort of time constraint, or when my actions would impact others. As a mother, it felt like ALL my actions impacted my son, and his needs took up so much of my mental bandwidth! This pushed me over the edge into constant overwhelm.
Thank goodness I discovered Purejoy! At its core, Purejoy Parenting isn’t about knowledge, or theories, or philosophies—it is about being radically present and honest with ourselves, moment to moment. Pure Joy showed me that, in order to bring any of my pursuits to fruition, I needed to start by nourishing the soil in which I was planting: MYSELF. I needed to see that I was planting all this learning in soil riddled with negative stories about myself: that I am scatterbrained, that I am a clutz, that I am too needy, that I am too selfish to be a good mother because good mothers are completely selfless, as my mother was. I needed to recognize my perfectionistic tendency to beat myself up when something I’d planted ended up wilting or not even sprouting at all (metaphorically speaking).
It is counter-instinctual to choose to sit in one’s metaphorical muck and examine it, but, as a Counseling Psychologist, I certainly recognize the value in doing so. However, I don’t like to sit with my own muck. I have a deep-seated fear of being “a burden” to others. I chose helping professions that allowed me to sit with others in their muck and “help” them, but to avoid my own (“This is for and about YOU, not ME”). Purejoy facilitated my realization that, despite my intentions, I was dragging my muck around with me everywhere, including in my work and my parenting. I sought to practice Rogerian therapy, which is client-centered, non-authoritative, offers clients “unconditional positive regard”, and believes that clients hold the wisdom needed to find their own healthy path and solutions. Yet, as a Counselor, I found myself driven to sound authoritative and knowledgeable and to offer my clients “solutions” to feel that I had given them something “valuable” during their session. Purejoy facilitated my realization that this was a manifestation of my own muck. How could I ask clients to sit in their muck if I wasn’t willing to do the same? How could I connect with my clients and my loved ones from a place of openness and curiosity if I wasn’t able to connect with myself from a place of openness and curiosity? Purejoy taught me how to do so using the SafeSeat practice. The SafeSeat practice establishes the practical infrastructure and daily practice needed to create the healthy habit of PAUSING, tuning into one’s body, sitting with vulnerable feelings, recognizing the stories being told, attending to the young voice inside, and offering kindness to ALL of it.
So, why do I recommend Purejoy Parenting? Because, head and shoulders above any of my other education or training, Purejoy taught me the most about how to manifest my own inner wisdom in my day-to-day life. Purejoy trained me to recognize when I am feeling overwhelmed and to bring awareness to the emotions and stories underneath that overwhelm. One of my favorite quotes is by Viktor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Purejoy taught me how to recognize that space and go to my SafeSeat, where I nourish the soil of myself by offering ALL of it, including the muck, acceptance and love. Purejoy facilitated my realization that I could not ask my clients to sit with their uncomfortable, vulnerable sensations, emotions, and stories, and to hear the vulnerable young voice inside of them and offer themselves unconditional positive regard, until I learned to do so with myself. Purejoy led me to see that I could not hear the vulnerable inner voice of my son and offer him unconditional love until I offered this to myself. I LOVE this world and my greatest desire is to be fully present every moment of my blessed life, especially with nature, with my loved ones, with my clients, and, most especially, with my son. Purejoy has made this so much more attainable in my day-to-day life, and I am forever grateful.