Buckle up for a passionate discussion with Beth Berry from “Revolution From Home,” as we do a deep dive into what needs to be burned to the ground in modern motherhood. I absolutely love Beth’s honest and progressive take on how us moms are being brainwashed (and how we’re complicit… shit), the consequences of continually saying yes when our body says no, and why our isolation is so problematic for us as women, but not for the powers that be. You’ll also find out if she agrees with me that being solicited to volunteer at your child’s school is basically a form of mother exploitation, and that “toxic volunteering” is a thing. So join us and learn why the opening scene from Beauty and the Beast where Belle sings through the town is the key to happiness, and also why the motherhood revolution begins in your own home.
Brandy: Hello, Adult Conversation Podcast listeners! Buckle up for a passionate discussion with Beth Berry from “Revolution from Home” as we do a deep dive into what needs to be burned to the ground in modern motherhood. So it’s an uplifting episode, then. But it actually is, trust me. I absolutely love Beth’s honest and progressive take on how us moms are being brainwashed (and how we’re complicit … shit), the consequences of continually saying yes when our body says no, and why our isolation is so problematic for us as women, but not for the powers that be. You’ll also find out if Beth agrees with me that being solicited to volunteer at your child’s school is basically a form of mother exploitation, and that toxic volunteering is a thing. So join us and learn why the opening scene from “Beauty and the Beast” where Belle’s singing through the town is the key to our happiness, and also why the motherhood revolution begins in our own homes.
Brandy: A quick note: You know how sometimes one little computer setting can change everything? Well, that happened with this episode, and instead of my top-of-the-line mic recording me, my laptop mic took over. So yeah, the audio quality is not ultra high grade like you’ve become accustomed to (side note: I think you’re spoiled), but the content is so, so good and necessary that I didn’t even freak out about it. So I’m giving you an opportunity to practice embracing imperfection right here, right now. You’re welcome. Also, sorry.
Brandy: One more thing. 2020 is upon us and my book comes out May 5th! I will be hosting a handful of events and book signings, and I’m still working out the details, but I wanted to give you a quick heads up. I’m organizing an event in Las Vegas that’s a book signing and a moms weekend away. Basically, if you or your spouse need a solid reason for you to get some time to yourself (as if just needing it wasn’t enough), well, I’m giving you the reason. So save the date – it’s the weekend of June 27th and 28th – and grab your friends who also need to get the fuck out and come to Vegas for a book signing with me, and also a special Adult Conversation meet-and-greet event that’s to be determined and has limited space. All I can tell you about that is that I’ve rented out a swank suite in the Paris hotel for it, where the main characters of my book stay.
Brandy: I will also be doing book signings this summer in Orange County, California, Los Angeles, California, and Denver, Colorado. Dates are still being finalized, but if you want to stay in the loop with this stuff, you can go to my website, adultconversation.com, and sign up for my newsletter. I promise I won’t spam you or try to sell you essential oils, vitamins, or cardigans named after Mormon women.
Brandy: Last thing, I promise. If you want to support me and make this podcast possible, join the others by going to www.patreon.com/adultconversation. Okay, that’s all! On to the show.
Brandy: Today on the podcast, we have Beth Berry from “Revolution from Home.” She is a writer, a mother of four daughters ages 12 to 24, and a motherhood coach – but not in the annoying, “Just self care and be grateful and here’s a yoga pose for stress,” kind of a way. She’s legit all about a motherhood revolution that begins with us. Beth, welcome!
Beth: Thank you, Brandy. That was a lovely introduction. It’s good to be here.
Brandy: So I follow your Facebook page, “Revolution from Home,” and if you listeners out there don’t, you need to follow this. But I pump my fists every time I read one of your posts or your articles or your memes. You are saying the things out loud, and you’re fighting the power, and you’re calling out the oppression and systemic dysfunction that is modern motherhood that I have been talking about, and not necessarily in the same way that you are, but I feel it and have put words to it in my own way. Then to read you doing the same thing in your way and they align, thank you. Just thank you is what I want to say.
Beth: Absolutely. I don’t know how not to do it. It’s deep in me. It’s my greatest passion.
Brandy: Yes, okay. So when you’re around other people, are you sometimes like, “Am I too much for these people?” Because this stuff, like you said, you can’t not … even in social settings, I can’t not comment on this stuff.
Beth: Yeah, well, I guess I would say to that that it used to be harder for me in that way because I didn’t used to have a platform. I had all of this pent up passion and I was home with kids full time. That was when it was coming out sideways in dinner conversations with people who weren’t asking for it. Now that I have a business built up around my passion, I feel like the outlets for it are there, so I’m working with people who want to be talking about this stuff and people are paying me money to help them identify these patterns in their own lives and that kind of thing. So it’s gotten better, but yes, I very much identify with not being able to hold it back because it needs to be named, spoken.
Brandy: Yes. And it sounds like maybe now you can enjoy a dinner party or something without having to talk about it because you have an outlet for it, so like you’re saying, it’s not overflowing like maybe it was.
Beth: That’s exactly right.
Brandy: Okay, so before we get into the meat of all this, what is something that you think the listeners need to know about you?
Beth: I spent four years in Mexico with my family and it was a complete game changer. It just rocked my world, opened my heart, and set me on a completely different course. The one thing about that experience that I would say was the most profound was not even just getting an outside perspective and learning another language and the humility that comes from all of that, but it was slowing down. It was slowing down to the point that I actually had time and space to explore realms within myself that I didn’t even know existed before because I was moving so fast in a lifestyle that didn’t allow …There was no space between anything, nothing. I was cramming things in one after another. I remember walking down the street in Mexico and I actually had the thought, “Wow, I have space between every … There’s space between my responsibilities, there’s space between my obligations, there’s space between my priorities, there’s even space between my thoughts.” And it just felt so profound. I mean, it reset me and it helped me see that actually my creativity and my inspiration comes for me when I’m living at a slower pace.
Brandy: Wow. I needed to hear that. Thank you.
Brandy: Gosh. I mean, I feel like I could ask you two hours’ worth of questions just based on that. Huh.
Beth: Yeah. It’s something that I try to preserve and protect here back in the States. It’s much more difficult. We live at a different pace. But just that perspective alone has been invaluable in helping me reorient when I start to feel off center or like I just can’t find the joy very easily, and I remember, “Oh, how fast am I moving?” And almost always when I can slow back down and stop cramming so much in, then I get back to myself again.
Brandy: Well, that’s what we needed for today, so this podcast interview is over because I got what I came for. So, it was great talking to you Beth, but within five minutes you have given me what I needed. Thank you. (laughing)
Beth: No problem. Any time.
Brandy: Gosh, so, yeah, that’s amazing. Thank you for that. Some of your memes that I just want to read here because I’m always like, “Oh, yes.” One of them that you recently posted was, “The path to resentment is paved with everyday moments when our body says no, yet yes escapes from our mouths.” This one hit so home for me, specifically in my early motherhood journey, and I think any mom can relate to that. So, some of the stuff that we’re going to talk about today is the systemic patriarchal oppression that happens in motherhood, but then I also felt like there were things in which I was saying yes to but I wanted to say no in terms of trying to be a good mom to my kids. And still to this day, my daughter will ask me, “Mom, do you want to play Barbies?” And what I want to say is, “Hell no. I want nothing to do with making these fake things talk.” And yet what slips out is, “Sure.” And it’s this, “Okay, yeah, sure. And so I have a hard time gauging with that, because parenthood and motherhood is also about pushing yourself and maybe doing the thing that you don’t want to do in order to better somebody else’s life. So that one is a little bit murky for me. But I just think so many of the listeners and so many of the people who saw that had to kind of gasp at how real that was. Where did that come from for you?
Beth: It came from years and years and years of exactly that, of saying yes when my body was saying hell no. I really did that. I paved my own path with resentment. I paved my path with those everyday moments that led to deep resentment. I resented a lot of things in my life for a long time and I have since made a practice of feeling my yeses and noes in my body. I’m getting better at checking that before I make a decision. Before I say yes, before I say no, that I pause. Tara Brach calls this the “sacred pause.” In practicing that … it can be five seconds or five minutes or five days, whatever it is you’re needing to be able to get to a more truthful and centered and heartfelt response.
Brandy: So for my daughter, she’s like, “Mom, do you want to play Barbies?” I’m like, “In five days, I will have the most intentional response for you.” (laughs)
Beth: (laughs) So maybe that’s a five-second pause.
Brandy: Right. So in that situation, what would you do in a situation where your kid asks you something and you don’t want to do it, but in your head you’re like, “Yeah, but a good mom does this.” How do you handle that?
Beth: Great question. I felt very much captive to this idea of being the best mom for so many years, and it really cultivated in me such deep resentment because I was doing so much of the saying yes when my body was saying no. So in a situation like this, in retrospect, in the ways that I work with this with clients now is that if your body is saying, “Hell no,” to Barbies, what can you say yes to wholeheartedly? Because often, what our kids are asking for is connection. They’re asking for our presence, they’re asking for validation that we want to be spending time with them. Those are the deeper needs that they’re wanting met through the Barbie playing, and is there something else that you could say yes to that would feel more authentic? For me, my equivalent to the story you’re telling is that my kids, when they would want to play dress-up and make believe. I would feel a, “Hell no,” in my body when they would ask me to do this, and I did say yes a lot of the time. Other times I said no, guiltily. But looking back, I finally started getting it more and more. I had got to my fourth child and-
Brandy: (laughs) So you’re saying in two more children I’ll be there.
Beth: Well, there’s drawbacks and benefits to being one of the early kids. The latest of my children got me with less energy, I’ll tell you that much.
Brandy: Yeah, yes. Mine too.
Beth: But I can so much more easily say yes to certain board games, to going outside and doing something outside that’s active, like going and throwing the ball at the park. There are about a hundred things I’d rather do than some of what they were asking from me.
Brandy: Yeah, it makes me feel better to know I think I’m on the right path, because normally what I do is say coloring. I will always color. So whenever she asks me about these things, I usually say, if I don’t feel the impending guilt and kind of go, “All right,” most of the time what I say is, “I don’t really want to do Barbies but I would totally color with you, or rollerskate.”
Beth: Totally. I think it’s a great approach. I also think incorporating them into what we’re doing to some degree can satiate them sometimes. So maybe I don’t have it in me to stop what I’m doing because I’ve got too many things on my agenda for the evening and I really got to get dinner done in order to be able to do the next three things on the list, that maybe she can chop the vegetables. There can be some connection and presence without us having to enter the kid realm. I feel like our generation of mothers … and maybe our moms a little, but especially our generation of mothers … is the first generation to feel as if we have to be the playmate. Because there aren’t a bunch of kids in the neighborhood and in most of our neighborhoods, there aren’t roaming packs of children anymore. It’s one of the tragedies of this time we’re living in, in my opinion, because I don’t think that we had the luxury of being our children’s playmate before now. We were keeping people alive. It wasn’t about play.
Brandy: Isn’t it strange how it’s like, how we were parented … I know my mom, it was in a generation where she didn’t really play with us, and so it’s such a weird spot to be in where I wasn’t played with by my parents. I did a lot of playing by myself, or like you said, in the neighborhood. But then the expectation for me is that I should play. So it’s this weird thing where that was never modeled for me, A, and B, I don’t think it serves either of us, in a way.
Beth: Right. I agree. And I really think it comes down to the fact that this structure that we’re living within … neighborhoods aren’t the same, kids are either inside on their screens or doing homework, or they’re in sports or whatever extracurricular activities. You take away something like the neighborhood kids, and suddenly the mother has an enormous extra role to play.
Beth: And the guilt, I think, comes not so much because we’re not playing with them. It’s that we know they need to be playing and there’s no one else easily accessible.
Brandy: Yeah. Man, one of the other memes that you had recently that just so resonated was, “Dear hard working mother, you are not inadequate. You are being culturally conditioned to feel inadequate so that you’ll keep spending, agree to more unpaid labor, and feel too worn down to be a threat to the powers that be.” Fuck yes. Okay, that part … all of it speaks to me, but the unpaid labor part … I wanted to get your take on this, and this is controversial, but one of the places where I think women and moms, we get sucked into giving our time for free, is at schools. I was curious your take on that, because I know it can be both things. As mothers, we want to do for our kids so that we help educate them so they have programs and all this special stuff.
Brandy: So volunteering, I think people look at volunteering at your kid’s school not as a problem. But I look at it … because I am the way that I am … I look at it as sort of a problem, because I feel like it’s taking … It’s almost exploitive. You take this group of moms, mostly … and I see some dads in there, but obviously it’s more moms. You take this group of people who are desperate, if these are stay-at-home moms … most of the time desperate to feel valued, desperate for adult conversation, and devoted to their children. Then you take them in a school setting and you ask them to volunteer for every single thing under the sun that the society will not fund or support in a systemic way, and so you’ve got these tired moms doing the work that should be set up in a system. That part just gets me. What is your take on that?
Beth: Yeah, I’m really glad you brought that up because it’s something that comes up. I have a year-long program called MotherWorthy. This is groups of 12 people in each group, and we get into some really amazing conversations, but I cannot tell you how much this one comes up, the topic of volunteerism and showing up for our kids in the schools and the expectation of that. Particularly within schools that … Well, I wouldn’t even say that. It’s not even exclusive to schools that are well funded or not well funded, or private schools or public schools. There’s an expectation at most schools that we will be contributing our time, and it really compounds the guilt that mothers already feel.
Beth: The way that I see this is that, as mothers, we’re wired to notice all the gaps. What I mean by that is that there are gaps that we perceive between the way things are and the way things ought to be, or the way we can idealize them to be. The ideal when it comes to a neighborhood full of children that is relatively safe for you to send your kids out and they can play from the time they get home from school until dinnertime. The gap between that, what we want for our kids, and what it actually is right now, we feel the need to fill somehow. And so we expend all this energy trying to figure that out, “How do I do this?” And we utterly exhaust ourselves. The school system is another one of those.
Beth: What I see happening is that parents are … mothers in particular … are volunteering not because they necessarily … I mean, some may be volunteering for the kudos of being the best volunteer or having the sensation of being helpful, or the obligation of it. But what I actually also see is that mothers are trying to fill the gaps between the way things are right now … which in many public school systems is very little playtime, very little creativity, not a lot of time for music, not a lot of art … and what we imagine what would be best for our kids. We’re trying to fill the gaps. So if we put in more hours, we put in more of our own resources, maybe our kids are actually going to get what they need, to get their needs better met. And so it is that it’s being asked of us, but it’s also that we feel so passionately that our kids have their needs well met. Of course we want to send our kids to a school where their whole selves are being met instead of cranking out little robots who are getting plenty of math and science but almost no arts and movement.
Brandy: Right. But then where is that fine line between … When I’m hearing you talk, I’m hearing the word, “need,” and in my mind, at my upper middle class school, I feel like at least half of the stuff that there are volunteers for is not a need, but is a, “We’re trying to give our kids everything and then some.” There’s the garden, which is a beautiful thing, but then there’s also all of these … not fundraisers, but there’s all of these events and things like this that are just extra work for the parents that aren’t needs of the kids. That’s the thing that kills me is … For example, over Halloween, my school decided to do this other event that was just an idea that somebody had in a PTA meeting. And so instead of people going, “Is there really a need for this?,” everybody was like, “Well sure, let’s do that.” And then all of a sudden I’m getting, and everybody else in the school, is getting emails to volunteer for it. I was about to go picket the whole thing because it was more parent work… It was basically like, “Let’s do Halloween again. Let’s have Halloween before Halloween after school and let’s have all these parents volunteer to do it.”
Brandy: Now, I’m not a killjoy. I like fun, but I also look around, as you probably do too, at all these moms that are exhausted, who are overworked, who don’t have those spaces in between their life, and then the school just wanted to fit something more in. I know for me, I’m like, “I’m not doing this,” but then I know of people who were like, “I didn’t really want to do it, but it’s for the kids,” and so they do it. So that’s where I’m like, “What is the need?” Because if we’re talking about reading, writing, movement, music, art, that stuff I get. But all the other stuff, it just seems like a waste of everybody’s energy.
Beth: Yep, I totally agree.
Brandy: Sorry, that was a way-long rant.
Beth: No, no. I appreciate that because I think these things need to be named. We’re creating new social norms that are not necessary. We’re doing it for a lot of different reasons, but a lot of them we haven’t examined.
Brandy: Right, yes.
Beth: That lies at the heart of so many of these things. We’ve got to get to a place where we’re examining what’s the motivation behind adding more to our families’ already busy lives or our schools’ already busy schedules. What is this giving us that taking something off our plate isn’t? Could we be better served by removing something than adding more?
Brandy: That is always my question. Yes.
Beth: Yeah, and it seems to me that people are trying to fill a void by adding more.
Brandy: Yes. Thank you.
Beth: People are hungry for soul nourishment. That’s what I’m going to name it as. People are hungry for soul-level nourishment that we’re getting so little of in the way that society’s structured, that we’re trying to fit in more things, trying to touch that hunger. Kind of like when you’re having a crabby day and you just sort of keep eating crappy food. It never does fulfill you, you never do feel satisfied. You actually end up feeling worse. But it’s like, “Well maybe if it’s salty,” and then, “Maybe if it’s sweet,” and, “I think I need something fatty.” You just keep doing the same crazy thing. That’s kind of what I see us doing all over the place in our culture. So much of it is being driven by unconscious patters and unconscious belief systems. We’re not slowing down long enough to examine things. We’re not taking a breath and going, “Wait a minute. Is this a necessary thing?” It’s like someone had the idea in the school, it sounds great, and we’re all hungry for something, so maybe this would fulfill the hunger.
Brandy: Exactly. Okay, I see these certain people set the standards for everybody else, and then it trickles down. In kindergarten, there were 44 open slots for volunteer jobs in my daughter’s kindergarten class, and so it’s like this subconscious thing, like what you’re talking about, which is the new parents coming in … They’re new, most of them … or some of them are new … and they’re not going, “Wait, this is bullshit,” like I am. They’re not being a total wet blanket like I am, just like, “This seems like a lot.” But instead, they just kind of unconsciously sign up for stuff. And I even know there’s a mom in our class now who has signed up for three different things and it’s overwhelming. It’s too much.
Brandy: So what I think is a shame is that this sort of set up has been set, and the tone has been set, and then people just come and volunteer and don’t question, “Maybe we should do less?” The other problem is, one of my friends is always like, “You should join the PTA and you should come and say your piece.” I want nothing to do with that, so it’s also like I don’t know where the change is going to happen because I’m the kind of person who’s trying to pull back on things. I’m not going to then add “infiltrate PTA and bust down pointless bullshit.” I’m not going to add that to my list.
Brandy: But, my point here is, one of the things that you said in one of your articles … I believe it was your piece that went viral that was so great called “Dear Mothers, We Can’t Keep Pretending This Is Working for Us,” which was so powerful. But in it, you say something: “By keeping up with status quo motherhood and allowing our dysfunctional culture to determine the quality of our lives, we’re unwittingly becoming complicit in our own suffering and dis-empowerment.” This is what I see happening, and so I’m also in a community of people that I want to look around and be like, “Wake up! Everybody wake up!” And I can’t do that, but there’s this piece of it, which I think is so interesting, that by signing up for some of this stuff, we are saying, “Okay, I accept that this is how you’re going to set the tone for me and I’m not going to say anything about it.” But I think the reason that we do it is because at the end of the day, it’s like, “Well, then our kids have more events, then our kids get more,” and it’s this twisted manipulation.
Beth: Totally. I would add to that that the reasons that we keep saying yes have to do with where our sense of worthiness is rooted as mothers and as people. We’re living in a capitalistic society that has taught us and conditioned us that the more we have and the more that we do, the better we’ll feel and essentially that will get us where we want to be. We’ve been conditioned with a never enough narrative. It’s never enough. It doesn’t actually matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how much you have. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, it doesn’t matter. It’s never enough. But that’s conditioning, that’s not truth. We’ve been brainwashed.
Beth: So because so many people have been brainwashed, inevitably so many mothers have been brainwashed into thinking that the way to fill the void is to do more, to buy more, to volunteer more. One of the things that I think is so critical is that we develop self awareness as women, as mothers, so that we can start to examine what’s going on in our body when we see that volunteer sheet, and take that sacred pause. And rather than just go ahead and sign up, we can actually get into the discomfort and more quickly be able to say, number one, “Is this a yes or a no for me?” and actually have self authority and decide for ourselves what’s best for ourselves. And number two, be able to go, “What part of me wants to say yes to this, even though I know it’s going to overwhelm me and I already have enough on my plate? There’s some part of me, but this isn’t the whole part. Not all of me thinks this is a great idea. There’s a lot of me that’s resisting this. But there’s some part of me, and it’s probably a people-pleasing tendency or some other conditioning or trauma response.”
Beth: So the more self awareness we can develop, the better we can be with guiding our own lives in such a way that keeps us from depleting ourselves, from saying yes when our bodies are saying no, and ultimately that ending in resentment. And then we can start to recognize, where is my worthiness and sense of importance really rooted? Who am I really? Not this perception of who I should be as a mother or what I should be striving for that’s just, frankly, bullshit and a construct to keep us spending and discontent so that we’ll spend. How do I get clear on who I am and what I’m here for so that I know what to say no to, so that I can live in an empowered way and not be so pulled off my own course by everything that’s asked of me? This has taken me years and years, but I don’t volunteer for many things at all anymore because the things that I do invest my time and energy in are really intentional. And I’m clear. I’m clear on what I’m here for. For example, I’m not saying yes to the PTO either, at all. I tried a little, it’s not for me. I’ll say yes to the camping trips.
Brandy: Right. The places within it that you like. Yeah.
Beth: Yeah, the things that I can actually do with a genuine, wholehearted yes. I mean, it might not always sound fun, it may not be exactly what I want to be doing, but if I’m going to show up for my kids, here’s the ways that I’m going to show up and it’s actually going to feel authentic and wholehearted. That doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes make compromises, clearly. But when we’re living a life of compromise based on the things we think we should be doing, or that we’ve been conditioned to think we should be doing, then there’s not a lot of authenticity in that, therefore there’s not a whole lot of joy in that. And, we’re modeling this self-sacrificial way of parenting for our kids, who will one day be parents.
Brandy: Exactly. Yes. In that article that you had written, there was something … oh gosh, there are so many things. Well, one thing real fast that I just want to mention is, you had posted something yesterday referring to moms as … You had it and it says, “A tough but necessary message for mothers who also identify as changemakers.” And gosh, just the word “changemakers” helped me to understand so much. I know that that can mean people who are here to do something, who have a passion, who have a purpose and it’s intentional and all of that kind of stuff. But when I first read it, I read it as moms who are here to change the culture of motherhood. And just having a word for that, changemakers, helped me understand why I have a hard time with some social settings that are related to parenting, because it made me realize if I’m in a group that’s mostly not changemakers but are the people who are unconsciously just saying yes to all the things, I feel such a disconnect there. So, thank you for that word, because it really helped me to understand myself, but then to understand why I’m drawn to certain people.
Beth: Yeah. As you were just talking, as you were just saying that, I realized another piece of this. When we’re talking about the over-volunteering or the saying yes when our bodies are saying no-
Brandy: We could call it “toxic volunteering.” (laughs) I’m just going to throw that out there.
Beth: (Laughs) That’s great. I love it. Okay. When we’re involved in this sort of over-volunteering or toxic volunteering … which I love … another need that I believe we’re trying to meet subconsciously is a need for belonging. You can just imagine so many mothers who are doing this whole daily grind by themselves in their homes and don’t feel particularly connected to their neighbors, they may not feel particularly connected to a lot of people at all. If they say yes and volunteer, they might feel in with a group. I really think that our desire to belong and to have that felt sense of belonging is also driving us to say yes.
Beth: Because not only do we feel like there may be a group we can belong to if we volunteer, but that we might … just this sensation in our body of saying no to it makes us think we might not belong. Our nervous systems are wired to be in connection and community, and so if we’re saying no to something, subconsciously we’re saying no to connection and community. I think that we’ve got to examine some of that and figure out, what do we want to belong to?
Brandy: Exactly. And that’s the part that feels manipulative to me, because when you have this group of people who want to belong, who are in this role as a mother … and for many of them, it might be like, “What is this? I was an independent woman who had a career and all this, and now I’m in this world and and trying to make sense of it, but I want to belong here.” And so that’s what feels so sinister in a sense to me, is that those are the things that feel like are being exploited. So is the only way to belong somewhere is to say yes to giving up more of your time? If that’s the case, that sucks.
Brandy: And so that’s the part that I have the problem with, is you have this group of people who are kind of … and not everybody, because I know that there are certain people who really, this stuff brings them joy. And so I want to have room for that. I mean, there are worse things you can get manipulated by than helping at your kids’ school. But when I really look at what’s happening is, if this is where these people want to belong or feel like they should belong, the only way to do that is to give up your time when you don’t want to? Doesn’t that feel messed up?
Beth: Yeah, totally. Again, I think we’ve got to slow down and break that down, break that open. If we’re just jumping on whatever train of belonging happens to be going by, we’re not going to be necessarily on the train we want to be that actually nourishes us. So if the idea here, if the goal is to feel alive and to feel joyful and to feel nourished and to feel connected, then we actually have to belong to the things that are meant for us. We can’t just belong to just anything. In fact, belonging to just anything takes us away from the felt sense of belonging to ourself. We’re betraying ourself.
Brandy: And I think that it’s so easy for moms to do that because they don’t actually know who they are anymore, because motherhood does that to you. And so if you’re not at the place where you’re at or maybe I’m at where you know who you are and you’re okay with going against some of the social norms, then you just get pulled right into it because you don’t know who you are, so, “Maybe I’ll try this kind of person on.” And by the way, in order to do that, I have to give up any of the free time that I have. I think about these women who’ve been at home with kids for years and they finally get them into full-day school and then they’re at the school. It’s like, I don’t know what to make of that.
Beth: Right. Well, there’s a handful of those who may actually really love that.
Beth: But I’m guessing that there’s an even much bigger handful of people whose identity is so heavily wrapped up in motherhood that there’s actually a lot of fear in letting that go to the point where they have to then figure out, who are they as women. Because that becomes the question that they haven’t asked themselves in a long time, or even allowed themselves to contemplate. So if your entire identity is wrapped up in motherhood and you haven’t cultivated your sense of self as a woman, and then your kids start pulling away and needing you less, it actually creates a whole lot of fear in your body. Because you belonged, as a mother … at the very least, you belong to your children. You belong to this … you’re needed. They actually do need us on a really primal level, and when that starts to lift, then it can feel really ungrounding and disorienting. Lots of mothers actually come to me during that time of life when their kids are now in school and they’re going, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” It’s actually when they have to start facing the parts of themselves that have been repressed and they have to start reckoning with their own self abandonment. It can be a really challenging time.
Brandy: So what does that look like when you work with somebody who’s at that place? What are some of the things that you do to help them to figure out who they are, or to remember those pieces?
Beth: A lot of things. The answer to that is multi-layered. But part of it is that we start by just sort of mining for the pieces of themselves that have not been said for a while. So, what used to bring you joy? Or, what did you used to feel passionate about? And this is often before motherhood. It’s often sometimes before a particular phase of motherhood. There are some seasons of our lives where there is more sacrifice that’s required of us. The newborn phase, it’s really intense. That’s a seasonal sacrifice. But it’s the self-sacrificial identity that I think is so dangerous, that, “I’m a good mother dependent on how much or how deeply I self sacrifice.” Even getting into what are some of the things that used to light you up when you were younger, even as a kid? One question I sometimes ask is, what would your nine-year-old self, your own inner nine-year-old, be disappointed that you’re not doing with your life?
Brandy: Oh man, mine would be really bummed that I’m not married to Kirk Cameron. Although, the current me is really jazzed on that not working out. (both laugh)
Beth: I wrote Kirk Cameron a love letter one time and actually sent it.
Brandy: So did I. Oh my God, we were fighting for the same dude. Did you ever write Ricky Schroder a letter?
Brandy: Were you into him?
Beth: No, I was one single track, Kirk Cameron.
Brandy: (laughs) Oh my gosh, all Kirk Cameron. That’s amazing. Oh my God. Something else that you wrote that I just thought was so profound was, “It’s not simply overwhelming that parenting standards have risen dramatically while support systems have vanished. It’s an unfair setup that has mothers thinking their personal inadequacies are to blame for what is actually the fault of a broken system and distortions of reality.” That one right there … I don’t know if you know this, but I wrote a novel that’s coming out next May and it’s a darkly comedic but deep look at modern motherhood. One of the questions of the main character, and with the book, one of the themes … The themes are basically so many things from that article that you wrote, but one of the themes is, is motherhood broken or am I? So this woman goes to therapy to figure out which … Because when you’re in it, it’s so hard to know. So obviously, that piece really spoke to me.
Brandy: So will you talk a little bit about in what ways is the system broken? I know we’ve touched on a couple of them. Like these distortions of reality. I know you wrote something … I think you were talking in terms of emotional abuse, and you said, “The difference with motherhood is that we’re being oppressed and manipulated not by one person, but by the culture at large. We’re being conditioned to think we’re the ones with the problem, AKA gaslighting, which keeps us craving, spending, and too weak to be much of a threat to those calling the shots, namely patriarchy and capitalism.” So will you talk a little bit about these systems and this set up that is not us, it’s not our fault, it’s not our inadequacies, but it’s the way modern motherhood exists?
Beth: Oy. (both laugh) Let’s see. The question of what’s wrong with the system.
Brandy: Yeah, I mean, and obviously, this would be a five-day summit, as many of the topics on here are. But maybe just give us one of the things to unpack a little bit of something that a lot of moms think that they’re inadequate or they’re not doing it right, but it’s actually not their fault.
Beth: When we’re thinking about this, I think it’s really helpful to look back to the way things used to be before we were moving so fast and before we became so dependent on the mechanization of culture and technologies, when we needed each other to live. Because I think the structures that were in place when we actually needed each other for day-to-day existence created more opportunity for connection and for the meeting of our needs than the ways that we now are dependent on things.
Beth: So if you go back to that and just sort of look at how a village might be structured, every day in the things we’re doing just to survive … you’re passing by neighbors, you’re having conversation … your kids are inevitably and always running around with other children. It’s not just kids they’re with. They’re with people who are a little older and there’s uncles and there’s the shopkeeper and everyone’s keeping an eye on each other. So-
Brandy: It’s basically like the opening scene from “Beauty and the Beast “with Belle when you’re in the village and there’s just life happening, right?
Beth: Life happening all around you. That right there, if that were happening in our lives, so many of our problems would disappear right there. Day to day, in order to get to work and get to the store and do what we need to do … and our kids, too … if we were out among each other … not in cars, not on buses, not on trains, but in each other’s presence and we knew each other because it was a relatively … it wasn’t this ginormous city that we’re navigating or whatever it may be. But if it were a closer network of people that we interacted with all the time and the kids knew each other and the adults knew each other and we trusted each other, I think it would dissolve so many of our problems. Because then we’ve got the needs met for connection, for a sense of belonging, for a sense of safety. Our nervous systems would be not so tightly wound because we’re actually outside among other people. There’s a sense of like, “Here is my place, here are my people.” We need that in order to feel okay.
Beth: Instead, we’re in our single-family households … which I think is very unnatural … and a lot of times we barely know our neighbors. But even if we do know them, we’re not interdependent in our day-to-day lives. We’re not needing them in order to bring in the crops and help birth the babies. So we’re not doing the kinds of things with the people right around us that would help us to feel safe and secure and connected. So that right there is a major flaw in the system, as I see it, that we don’t have a greater sense of connection to the people around us. Solving that problem, that’s another summit.
Beth: And then because we have these deep soul longings, another thing that I see as so influential to our day-to-day lives is that capitalism comes in, the consumer culture comes in, and tries to meet needs that we have. And they have people making millions of dollars. There’s thousands of people out there researching to figure out how our brains are wired, what do we deeply desire, and they’re trying to satiate these needs through products. So we’re being taught that the things that we need most, that we can buy them. So if I’m feeling down one day, rather than my instinct being that I’m going to go sit on the porch and drink coffee with my neighbor and shoot the shit, my instinct is to get on Google and get on Amazon or to … I’m not saying me necessarily, but that is so … and me too, sometimes. I mean, I-
Brandy: We’re all human.
Beth: We’re all human, and I’m certainly guilty of when I’m not feeling great and I’ve had kind of a shitty day, I get on Etsy and look at my favorite artist’s stuff. I’m not necessarily satiating that deepest desire, but I think of it as junk food for the soul. It’s like we’re trying to get at that deeper hunger, that deeper desire, but we’re doing it with things that aren’t very nourishing. But we’ve been conditioned that way, and every holiday … So there’s a children’s book author that you may know of, Tasha Tudor, and she has these beautiful books and they depict kind of an idealized life of the child. I think the book is called Through the Seasons, or I don’t remember the name of the book. But one of her books has these beautifully illustrated pages full of what it was like for her when she was a kid throughout the seasons, throughout the year. And they had this wonderful harvest celebration where they would do these magical things with acorns and apples, and the pictures are just … It’s like everything I could ever possibly want in life is happening in these pictures. And especially everything I could possibly want for my kids.
Brandy: It sounds like holiday porn. Is this holiday porn?
Beth: Yeah. (both laugh) Right. But a really holistic kind.
Brandy: Right, like ethical.
Beth: Right, ethical, holistic holiday porn. Yeah. So I would read Tasha Tudor to my kids and be like, “Gosh, that’s what I want.” Because she gets at the essence of the beauty of celebrating the seasons and doing things that feel really honoring and ritual and ceremony and things that I really wanted. So when I was raising my kids when they were little, I’d read this book and then I would try to take on another thing. Like because I don’t have a village that celebrates the solstice, I’ve gotta come up with the solstice celebration.
Brandy: So we are the village. The moms are the village.
Beth: The moms are the village. By ourselves in our homes.
Brandy: Thank you. Fuck. Fuck.
Beth: Yeah. I know. So we’re trying to be the people who create the ceremonies and who create the ritual and make meaning of things and bring in the beauty and bring in the magic and also keep them safe. We’re in part doing that because the culture isn’t doing it, but what the culture is doing is bringing in all these things that feel like threats to our nervous system like everything online that our kids have complete access to as soon as they have a phone or our phone in their hands. And so not only is the culture not bringing in nourishment, it’s not set up to nourish us and our children, but it’s actually set up to create toxicity in our lives. We feel that on an instinctual level, we know that.
Beth: So many intentional mothers are trying to keep things as nourishing and wholesome feeling as possible within the home life and within the lives of their children, while pushing back with all their might against all of the toxicity that’s coming into the culture. So what’s supposed to be happening is that we’re supposed to be nourished by our whole community … it’s supposed to be a community effort, a culture-wide effort … and it’s not happening. So we’re not having those needs met for nourishment and there’s toxicity in its place. We are. We are individually, singularly trying to be the village within our home.
Brandy: Wow. I mean, I feel it, yes. That’s such a great articulation of it. It’s like not only are we trying to … kind of what you were talking about at the beginning. We’re trying to fill the gaps, but then we’re also trying to resist and fight and change. That’s part of why it’s so overwhelming, is we’re doing both of those things. We’re trying to make everything great for our kids and give them what they need, and then also trying to change it so that other people don’t have to live like this.
Beth: That’s right. Yep. So we’re trying to be activists and we’re trying to create social change while trying to create safety and security and magic and mystery and wholesomeness for our children. And then trying to maybe cultivate a sense of self and preserve a sense of self in the mix, and then wondering why we feel so overwhelmed and defeated.
Brandy: Right. And then by the way, there’s a dance party at the school that they thought would be a great idea on a Friday night when everybody’s exhausted, and can you volunteer?
Beth: Exactly. (both laugh)
Beth: Yeah, completely.
Brandy: Okay, so I want to talk to you about … You had on your article a few things that each of us can do to orient ourselves towards true and lasting cultural change. And also, from reading this, our own well being and kind of chilling out our nervous system. So I wanted to at least go through a couple of these. People can go and find this article for more, but I know when I talk to other changemakers like yourself, it’s hard to not just get into a place where we’re like, “This is nuts. I’m going to drive my van through the whole thing on fire. We’re just going to burn this shit down.” So I wanted to talk about things that we can do … that of course won’t feel like enough … but something that we can do in order to help change things, but also help take the burden off of us.
Brandy: One of the things that you have on your list as number one on this article was, “Create safe spaces for authentic sharing, courageous connecting, and truth telling. Learn to be a safe person.” I wanted you to explain that and just maybe talk about some of your other favorites.
Beth: Yeah. Another tragedy that I see within our generation of mothers and women in general … people … is that we don’t trust each other. We have, again, largely been conditioned not to. Because we don’t feel like we belong and we’re so desperate for belonging, other women become a threat, other people who are doing it better than us, maybe, or that we perceive to have it more together than we do. Whatever it may be, that are better moms, better resource, they have better marriages, they’re more beautiful, they’re hotter, they’re thinner, whatever. This is conditioning.
Beth: One of the things I think is so important is that we start to say no to that construct. And those of us who have any inkling that we might be leaders or that we’re even willing to try to be need to be creating circles of whatever kind. And I’m not advocating for adding more to your list just to add more. I’m really specifically talking to people with the heart of a leader. And you know who you are. Whatever it is that is your platform, whether you are a writer or a community organizer, or you just want to have four or five women in your living room once a month. Whatever it is, that we’ve got to create spaces where we can feel like we belong, because those of us who remember how to hold safe space for people and practice non-judgment and show up wholeheartedly and say, “I don’t have this shit figured out either, but I’m doing my best and I’m going to continue to self-examine so that I can be a better and better and better leader.” We’ve got to be creating safe spaces for women to gather so that we can have these conversations. The conversation that you and I are having right now needs to be had all over the world, because we’ve got to get to the point where we can tell the truth about how hard it is, how fucked up things are, how discouraged we feel, how inadequate we feel, and then … So here’s something that’s really been occurring to me lately that feels actually quite hopeful.
Beth: If you look throughout history, we had more sense of belonging, perhaps, because we needed each other, right?
Beth: So you knew that you belonged to your community. But what we did not have, historically, is freedom. Now we have more freedoms than we’ve ever had, collectively as women, ever, but we’ve forgotten what it is to belong. But we can do it. This is the first time that I see that we really have the potential for both freedom and soulful connection. Because people aren’t saying, “You can’t meet with other women.” There are places in this world where the level of oppression keeps women from gathering, but that’s not true, at least in this country, in this culture. We can gather. So we have freedom as women to create our lives, and we have the potential for connection. So it’s this combination of when free women gather, that’s kind of new.
Beth: But the problem we have in our culture right now is that we’re forgetting the power of gathering. We’ve forgotten what sisterhood feels like, because it wasn’t modeled to us much by our mothers or their mothers. So we’ve got to find it and feel it and create it again, the sensation of sisterhood, that I can feel safe within groups of women, that I trust other women, and that I can find and create my tribe. And when I can start to create that sense of safety and we have freedom, then I think we have power. I think the thing that’s missing in our culture right now is that we don’t feel connected, therefore we don’t feel empowered. Even though we have freedom, we’re not maximizing on our freedom because we’re still so separate from one another because we don’t trust each other.
Brandy: Yes. And I think another piece of that that just seems so ironic is … and it’s also hard to do that because in order to do this in some ways, we have to get childcare. So that piece to me, the having to get childcare in order to do so much of this … And I know that there’s a certain amount that you can do with kids, but some of this real true, “Who am I outside of a mother?,” you have to be able to afford or find childcare. And of course, that’s your partner helping as well, but those things don’t come so easy. Which is one of, I think, the huge issues with our whole framework, is that in order for a mom to do any of this stuff, that’s first on her list. Any time she has a free thought about, “Oh, you know what I’d love to do?” The second one is, “But I’d have to find childcare.” And aside from the stuff that we can enjoy with our kids and do, but for yourself? I think that stops so many people.
Brandy: So I’m thinking about this and I’m visualizing as you’re talking about these groups. I’ve held groups like this before. They were more of newborn sort of groups so that you could bring your baby. But I’m thinking, A, everybody’s so exhausted, so would people really do this? And I know there are groups that do this, and it’s super important. But then also, could people get childcare? And then I’m angry again, because you see the cyclical way that this goes, which is the people who need this can’t get it because they can’t get childcare. And then they can’t get childcare, which makes them angry that then they need it. It’s a revolving door.
Beth: Yep. It’s really true, and that’s true in so many different aspects of the life of a mother, unfortunately. So I created an online program called MotherWorthy a few years ago. This was my response to this need that I see going unfilled in so many mothers, which is the need for sisterhood, the need for contemplative, soulful conversation, the need to feel heard, the need to feel seen, the need to feel safe, the need to be able to explore these realms of ourselves and grow and evolve and become more self aware with other people who are living within similar circumstances. So I created MotherWorthy, which is a year-long online program, where we meet via conference call. There’s a curriculum that I’ve created. We have a different theme every month that we explore. Then at the end, we meet … or toward the end of the year together, we meet in person for a retreat.
Beth: When I started doing this work, I didn’t know how effective it would be to have an online platform, to be connecting this way online. But what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t meet all of our needs, but it actually meets a few of the most essential ones really well because you don’t have to get childcare. You can put yourself on mute, you can try to coordinate it with the nap time if you can. If you can’t, I don’t care if your kid’s running like crazy in the background, or stick them in front of the screen, or whatever you need to do. You don’t necessarily have to pay someone to watch your child in order to be able to show up to these calls. You also can be in your pajamas. You show up where you are, however you are. So it takes that element out of it, and that piece actually has been a pleasant surprise. It’s less of a barrier to entry.
Beth: So what I’ve found is that some of the needs that we have that are so essential as awakening intentional mothers … a need to feel understood, a need to feel empathized with, a need to feel heard and seen, a need to be able to feel like a freaking mess and still be accepted and validated, a need to be able to share our messy processes without feeling like we’re going to be judged, a need to escape some of these really monotonous and lifeless conversations, a need to converse in a way that is different than around fashion or around shopping or around the weather or the politics.
Brandy: Or even parenting stuff. Kids.
Beth: Exactly. And so, what’s been so beautiful is that these are groups of mothers, and we rarely talk about our children. We’re talking about ourselves, we’re talking about our own needs. We’re talking about feeling whole as women who also happen to be mothers, and the beautiful thing is that we all understand the mother’s struggle. We all understand this never enough narrative that we’re living with within. And we’re reworking this notion of worthiness. We’re saying, “No, you’re worthy, because I see you and you’re amazing, and I’m watching you do amazing things day in and day out.” And we’re coming to love each other. I mean, I have true, soulful, beautiful sisterhood with dozens of women now and I’m watching these women bond and connect, even though they haven’t met in person. Now these groups just keep going year after year after year, so now we’ve got groups that have been going three years together who are bonded. They’re in it. They’re lifelong friends now. And then to get to meet in person on top of that is just … I don’t even know how to describe how beautiful it is.
Brandy: I can’t even imagine. Oh my gosh, that has to be amazing.
Beth: It’s amazing. So I guess what I’m saying with that is that we’ve got to get creative. We have to get creative in solving these dilemmas. I think one of the ways that we can do this is to relax some of our idealism. Ideally, we would be doing this in person, right?
Brandy: Right, correct. Yeah.
Beth: But I can tell you that in-person circles are a whole lot different. If I were to lead an in-person circle, I would have to rent a space, I would have to show up to that space early and get the tea set up and the cushions on the floor-
Brandy: Clean your house.
Beth: Right, or clean my house. So there’s a lot more barriers to entry. Then we get there, we have our hour-and-a-half-long circle, and then I’ve got to stay longer for all the people who want to visit afterwards and small talk and keep going. They don’t want to leave. They just got there. They need that. So the online platform actually gives … We all show up at exactly this time, we end at exactly this time, and we go in deep and there’s no small talk happening on these calls. We’re diving deep. So we’re not meeting all the needs, but we’re meeting some of the needs for some people really well.
Brandy: Gosh, Beth. You really have me thinking about the possibility of doing something like that. I love this idea. I’m just so glad that you’re out there doing it and creating it, because you’re right. What’s the saying? Never let perfection get in the way of good enough. It’s not going to hit all the things, and so just do something. But I have to ask you. I was on your website looking around and I saw this group, and it looks like everything that you have right now is sold out. Is that true?
Beth: It’s true. I am in a point of pretty rapid growth in my business. I just finished my own book, and it will be published in March of 2020.
Brandy: I was hoping you were going to write something. I’m so excited to hear that.
Beth: Yeah, I’ve been working on my book for seven years. It’s called Motherwhelmed.
Brandy: Oh, yes.
Beth: My vision is to be able to have more and more of these groups be forming, so I will be offering more. By next fall, there should be quite a few to plug into. So that’s one thing, and then there’s another piece of my business I’m growing, and I don’t know exactly how quickly I’ll be able to get there. That is to begin a circle facilitator training program of some sort …
Brandy: Oh, awesome.
Beth: … so that I can be helping people to gain some of the skills they would need to start something themselves, even online or in person in their local communities. Because I think circling women is really one of the most important things that we can be doing right now. We’ve got to get together so we can help each other remember a new way into being.
Brandy: Well, and it’s funny because it sounds like the revolution begins in the company of other women in these groups. It’s like the two energies of revolution and also the feminine and masculine, which is like revolution and also it begins by doing these things for each other and within the presence of each other is such a great starting place.
Beth: And being able to do personal growth work with other people doing similar work, it takes it up a notch.
Brandy: Yeah. Well, there was one other on your list, another one that caught my eye, of the things that we can do. One of them said, “Weed toxic narratives and people from your life like it’s your job. Deconstruct any narrative that has you feeling small, overworked, underseen, or devalued.” That’s a big one. And then the question popped up in my mind, “But what do you do if that means setting fire to your marriage?”
Brandy: And I’m not speaking for myself here, because I’m good on that front, but I’m sure that there are some listeners out there that are like, “Aw, shit.” So what do you say to that?
Beth: Yeah. It’s an interesting thing because when it comes to the job of weeding toxic narratives and people from our lives, what often ends up happening is that we recognize that some of the people closest to us are actually creating that toxicity, whether it’s parents or partners. Often, when it’s those close-in people, we’re the most tangled up in that, right? Well, obviously.
Beth: It’s a tricky answer because, again, we come back to that same dilemma where you need some resources to be able to get the support you need. Marriage counseling, for example, is so important. I don’t know how anybody makes it without it. Getting those kinds of supports in place is so essential if we want to be in a healthy partnership, because we change and we grow and evolve and life is tough and we need support.
Brandy: Right, and we all come from some kind of wounding and trauma, just as being a human.
Beth: That’s exactly right. So thankfully, we’re living in a time where mental and emotional healthcare is becoming less stigmatized. It’s not so shameful anymore. It’s becoming more normalized, thankfully. But it still costs money.
Brandy: Yes, and requires childcare.
Beth: And requires childcare. So often what it comes down to is that I help mothers recognize, what are the other barriers aside from money and childcare? Because often, those things are there, but they’re also easier places to default as the excuse, when sometimes we’re also terrified to go because we’re afraid it’s going to mean that our marriage is going to fall apart. Or we’re terrified for our kids to all be in school because then we have to look at what we haven’t been looking at. We’ve had a distraction all this time. Now we have to look at our stuff. Or I have to look at how miserable I am in my marriage if I go to counseling. It brings up a lot of fear.
Beth: So inevitably, when women start to do this kind of work of waking up to their own worthiness, of deconstructing cultural narratives, familial narratives, personal narratives that we’ve adopted or created, inevitably we start realizing that some of the narratives have been either created or perpetuated or encouraged by people who love us, people we love. So some of the narratives that have us feeling small and overworked and underseen and devalued are sometimes coming from out partner or coming from our parents or our in-laws or our faith community or whatever it may be.
Beth: This is another reason it’s so important to have other people doing personal growth work around you, because we’ve got to have some sense of belonging and support to hold you and to ground you so that if it becomes necessary for there to be restructuring in your relationships, that you’re grounded, you’re held, you belong somewhere. It’s the women who have no deep soulful friendships, they have no sense of sisterhood, they don’t have a counselor, they don’t have a support group. That’s the real isolation. That’s when it’s really hard to make the kinds of change you need to make in order to feel good in your life, and that’s why it’s so scary, that’s why we’re such a threat to the powers that be when we gather. Because we start reminding each other, “Actually, I’ll hold you. If you need to let go of this abusive partner, we’re here. We got you. We’re going to help you through this.” Whereas if you keep women isolated in their homes and they don’t have that sense of sisterhood, then it’s too terrifying because our nervous systems are wired for community. It actually becomes almost impossible emotionally to make that leap if you don’t feel like there are people there holding you and supporting you through the process.
Brandy: And I would imagine, too, doing this with a group, doing personal growth work with a group of people, is helpful for … I mean, not just if your marriage has to end or if you have to restructure it, but even just that process of, “I’m realizing these things. What do I do? How have you guys implemented this? What is it like when you’ve asked this question? Is your partner supportive of you or not? Is this a normal reaction?” or whatever, and just having a group to be able to bounce that stuff off against. And then go back and do the work which we all have to do, which is the work of marriage. And like you’re saying, just to have that group to hold you while you’re doing that, or at least a frame of reference, somewhere to connect about it, even if it’s not like, “I need people to hold me for when I pack my bags and leave him.” It’s like, no, even just doing the work of marriage, we need to be supportive of each other. I also think that men and husbands and partners, they need to support, too, and that’s a whole other five-day summit.
Beth: Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree that men need this, too. It can create quite a gap in relationships when you have one person doing lots and lots of personal growth work and the other person not. And, men don’t have as much social, cultural permission to tap into their feelings, to explore these realms. So I actually think what’s happening, culturally, is that women are having to remember and wake up to this first, this need to reconnect on this deeper level and have that need met, and then we’re going to be reminding men how to do it. Because we have more access to our emotional bodies, we have more permission to be emotional beings. So I think we have to lead the way in this. We are trying to raise boys with greater emotional awareness and intelligence. That’s happening.
Beth: I think that’s coming, but I think we have to lead the way as women because we’ve had more access to our emotions all along, so we don’t have as far to go in reclaiming this.
Brandy: Yeah, that’s such a great point. Beth, I feel like I could just sit here and chat with you for days. I wish you were my neighbor, is really what I wish.
Beth: I know. I wish that I could just handpick my village. That would be so amazing.
Brandy: I know. Which is kind of what the internet allows us to do in a way, right?
Beth: Yeah. I mean, the truth is that I feel like I have done that. It’s not always in person, but I feel so deeply fed by the sisterhood in my life in a way that even five years ago I didn’t have. I really believe it’s possible. I really do. I think it’s possible when we start to recognize this as a need and get creative about it and be courageous in the way that we make decisions about what we say yes to and what we say no to and what we sign up for and what we don’t.
Brandy: Yeah. So where can people find you online?
Brandy: I love it. It’s like the revolution begins at home.
Beth: Yeah. That’s what it feels like to me. What’s my part in the revolution? That starts within. A lot of the work we’re doing starts in our homes and deconstructing and reconstructing narratives.
Brandy: Yeah. Burning the shit down.
Beth: Burning the shit down from the inside out.
Brandy: This interview totally inspired me and made me ask myself, “What more can I be doing to facilitate these places of gathering, whether online or in person?” So the wheels are turning there for me, so stay tuned. And maybe some of you were inspired, too, and are thinking about how you can offer a safe space for moms and women. I also wanted to validate that not everyone knows what they’re here for, and that’s totally okay. I don’t think everyone has to have a known purpose or passion. Being a light in the lives of the people who love you is a fantastic purpose. Not everybody has to be a change maker.
Brandy: But wow, Beth totally makes a case for why it’s important to be thoughtful about what we’re choosing and what we aren’t, i.e. our complicitness, to ask ourselves, “Is this what I want to do? Does this support my and my family’s mental health?” To really take that sacred pause, which is maybe more of a survival pause. If you’re curious to explore what your thing might be or where you might belong, part of figuring that out is figuring out who you are, and that’s going to take some trial and error. So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve joined something you don’t like. Just try to find your way out and know that it’s okay to leave something that isn’t true to you. The visual that’s in my head right now is that meme of Homer Simpson just slowly backing into the hedge. Just do that.
Brandy: And oh my gosh, the part about us being a threat if we gather, because we actually allow each other to let go of abuse and mistreatment. That was like gah … man. As always, thanks for listening.
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