What is Splendid Spark all about?
This. These things here. It’s what I believe and why I do what I do. If they resonate, welcome. You’re in good company. If they don’t, that’s fine too.
I believe women’s actions can dramatically shift the story around motherhood. When you speak up, connect with others, and maintain your own worth apart from your role as a mother, you shift the cultural narrative. The story we grow up with is that moms sacrifice all for their young. And sometimes, yes, that’s true. But your child is not getting eaten by a lion everyday. That’s an old story that does not fit the current cultural circumstances. The mother is not the only caregiver. When we give up ourselves for our kids and families, we disappear. Both enabling inequality in our families and jeopardizing our relationships and personal well-being. When we stand up for our own needs, our partners step up. This shifts the cultural tide. There might be some education involved, but when we stay silent, holding all the things in, our partner will not know how to participate equally.
Make yourself a priority. Everyone benefits.
It is healthy for individuals to speak up about their needs and desires. When you do, it gives your children and partner permission to do the same. This creates healthier, more trusting relationships because communication becomes the norm. People adjust to what’s around them. If you set the standard that each person is valuable and worth time, space, and creative energy, then your children will grow up with that as their foundation. They will not give up their beliefs or rights, and you’ll have created a culture of responsibility and openness in your family that will ripple outward into the world. Healthy people communicate their needs and honor the needs of others without the weight of caretaking or carrying the weight of the world.
Using your voice shows others how.
Using your voice, for yourself and your children, makes you a role model for others to own their truth and speak up for themselves. It should be said that it’s never necessary to make others wrong. You own your truth, your needs, and your life, and let others manage their own. It takes bravery to speak your truth and voice opinions that may go against mainstream thinking, but when you’ve got a strong foundation in what matters to you and your family, that’s what’s most important and the other stuff ceases to impact/influence your mindset.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
You’ve heard it before, but it’s imperative that you and your family define what matters to you in terms of how you want your life to be lived. What matters to you? What matters to each of your children? Decide what you want to pay attention to – things that align with your values and goals – and then let the rest go. There will always be someone who looks or acts smarter, better, prettier, whatever. They all have their moments too. Focus on what matters to you.
Uniqueness and diversity make us stronger.
There are so many ways that this is true: culturally, gender-wise, interest-wise, and of course the myriad ways of differently wired individuals. We all have strengths to contribute, AND when one of those strengths is thinking differently. Seeing the world from outside the ‘normal’ boundaries and status quo is extremely powerful. We as moms need to foster that uniqueness in ourselves, our children, and our communities. Creative uniqueness and diverse thinking is what changes the world. It’s what can bring people together in new ways. It can change systems to be more inclusive and suited to all individuals.
Set strong boundaries.
While I understand the concept that children are nastiest with their parents, I do not think you ever need to be a disposal that takes in all the crap. Let’s be honest, setting boundaries is a super important part of parenting, and it’s probably the suckiest part. But there are ways to allow your children to express themselves without allowing them to suck all your energy or dump on you and walk away. Never tolerate harm or neglect from anyone, not even your children. They will have days, for sure. We all do. It needs to be clear, however, that you are a valuable human with emotions and dumping on other people is not ok. Not you, not anyone. Another example when you speak up about your needs, emotions, and challenges, you model healthy ways to do the same. (Assuming that you’re not dumping on anyone either!)
Find your people.
Surround yourself with people who lift you up and appreciate how amazing you are. The first person needs to be you. As women, we grow up being told to not be ‘too’ anything. Perhaps downplaying successes, staying out of the limelight, or thinking that we have to be ‘more’ whatever. Love who you are and who you are becoming. Stay connected with that beautiful woman, appreciate her, and give her time and space to grow. Life is busy and, especially with young children, there will be times when that seems impossible. Guard your space and time. Hold on to something that fuels you and renews your spirit, outside of your role as wife or mother or daughter or employee or volunteer. Just you. You are complete and lovely as you are right now. And you have more to contribute to the world. When you connect with that piece and maintain connection with your splendid spark, you change the world and you help others do it too.
Creativity exists in you. It wants out.
It’s one of the things we do for our kids: we keep them engaged. We let their interests guide our actions and events. We find things that we know they’ll love. We introduce new materials to grow their brains, their perspective, and enrich their experiences. You need that too. You don’t need to paint or create studio worthy art to be creative. You don’t need to make those bento box lunches with vegetable animals to be creative. That will work for some. Find what kind of play and creativity you enjoy and grow the shit out of it while you do the same for your kids. When you give yourself permission to try new things, to be silly, to make mistakes, and suck at something… when you excel at a creative endeavor, build a business, hone a personal strength… your kids will see it. They will do what you do. And they will embrace their own creative spark and keep it close.
Fun is not frivolous.
Fun is often the first to go when challenges knock. Work, responsibility, worry. It all squeezes fun out the door. But just as we need a creative outlet, we need play. That’s why creative outlets are so powerful. We need humor and laughter and play. And that’s really hard to foster when you’re not speaking up for your needs, when you’ve lost your sense of self, or you feel so exhausted that the only thing you can think about wanting to do is sleep. (There will be those times, but it does not need to be your new normal.)
It’s ok to say no.
There will be a million demands on your time, your body, and your mental energy. It’s ok to say no. Figure out what’s important to you, to your family, and then actively and happily say no to anything that doesn’t play into your value schematic. If it drains your energy, say no. Fast. No guilt. Be honest and unapologetic. No.
It’s ok to say yes.
It’s like working out. Sometimes you’ll avoid saying yes to things you know you’d love. It might be because you’re feeling tired or out of sorts. Be honest with yourself about what you need and act accordingly. But, like yoga, running, or any physical activity, it takes the initial push to get out the door and then you always are glad you made the effort. Sometimes you’ll avoid saying yes because it scares the shit out of you. Those are the things that need a big yes. Those are the things that touch at your creative outlet, what your heart desires. That’s why it’s so scary. Those are the things to definitely say yes to, even if its a baby step yes. Say yes. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to follow your heart and fan the flame of your splendid spark.
Even when you don’t want to get off the couch or out of bed, your body craves mindful movement. Any kind, all kinds. It doesn’t even matter what you do, simply that you find a way to move your body that helps you connect with it, appreciate it, and listen to it. Your body holds important keys to help you unlock freedom in both mind and body. Movement helps access those places, find the keys. Listen.
That’s Splendid Spark.