What lights you up?
IN CONVERSATION WITH
SUZI LULA is a counselor who values motherhood as a spiritual path. Her book, The Motherhood Evolution, is helping western women value the feminine principles through their role as mothers. In this interview with Emma Ivaturi, she opens up about her own experience of motherhood and how women can be role models for their children.
Q: It’s so nice to connect with you. Thanks so much for reaching out to Heartfulness Magazine and sharing your perspective with us.
SL: Thank you, I’m also excited. I am happy to get to know you. Your website is fabulous. It’s full of so much valuable information and is really inspiring. I loved it.
Q: Suzi, tell us about yourself.
SL: I am a huge fan of assisting moms to take care of themselves and to redefine what that even means. That’s my world, my neighborhood.
Q: I would love to hear what you’ve learnt by being a mother.
SL: I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt is how to create a real intimate connection with my son. I think it is a connection that I have always wanted to have with my parents. So I feel proud about that.
Then to learn that motherhood was harder than I ever thought it would be. You know, I was on a spiritual path, a path of consciousness, well before I became a mother. I had meditated for a long time, so when I had my son I thought it would come easier to me than it did.
First I needed to learn how to identify what my needs were,
and then to provide for them, and
I think that’s what led me to the work I do
– to recognize that providing for my own needs was
not selfish and taking care of myself was not selfish.
I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that I also have needs as a mother, because it seemed so easy to look only at my son’s needs. First I needed to learn how to identify what my needs were, and then to provide for them, and I think that’s what led me to the work I do – to recognize that providing for my own needs was not selfish and taking care of myself was not selfish.
Q: Do you feel like your previous experience on a spiritual path set you up for success?
SL: I do, because I had the basic skills that I needed. I was an avid meditator, and those skills came in handy. But I think what tripped me up, and what trips many mothers up, were the cultural messages. Because I felt selfish if I took care of myself, it became an ‘either-or’ thing. Either I took care of my son or I took care of myself. So I kept putting my own needs on the backburner.
It was actually my son who said to me, “Mom, you really need to learn how to smile more. You are always so serious!” That hit me hard and I realized I needed to make some changes if I was to become the ‘connected’ mom I wanted to be with him.
Q: How do you feel your relationship with your son has helped you evolve as a person?
SL: Oh my gosh! Completely! To become the mom I wanted to be for him, and the mom he needed me to be, meant resolving the unresolved issues I had. And it stretched me to really redefine what taking care of myself meant, and to recognize that I was longing to feel nourished and nurtured as a person, so that I could show up for him the way I wanted to.
Q: How can mothers find time for themselves in this age of nuclear families and broken families? Can only those people who are well-off have that luxury?
SL: That is a great question. I think it is another cultural misunderstanding that self-care takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. So many of my clients are single moms, so their time is definitely of the essence. And we don’t have extended families living close by as much as we need to.
I think the biggest thing to recognize is that most of us aren’t taught to ask ourselves what truly lights us up in the first place. If we first take the time to connect with what lights us up, then finding the time for self-care only requires us to change our thought patterns. To recognize that I need to find that extra 20 to 30 minutes requires a certain discipline. But when I take a 20-minute walk in the park near my house, my son feels it the instant I return home, because the ‘me’ that walks in the door is instantly recognizable to him.
What you are asking is so important. It does take a certain amount of time but the pay-off we get by putting ourselves on the map is exponentially expanded. I took such good care of myself while I was pregnant because I thought, “Well, I have this baby inside of me,” but then as soon as the baby was born I forgot about me!
Q: Have you seen motherhood evolve in the 21st century? What has stayed the same or changed in the last 50 years and where are we headed?
SL: I believe that what has stayed the same is what I call ‘the guilt epidemic’, because as mothers we feel guilty if we take care of ourselves and we feel guilty if we don’t. So we are mired in this way of feeling guilty all the time. Mothers are the untapped spiritual powerhouses of the planet, but we are often exhausted and overwhelmed. If we could end this guilt, I think we would be giving the next generation of children the biggest service we could possibly give.
Imagine if each mom realized, “I am feeling guilty out of a cultural habit,” without that being connected with reality. And then imagine us as a group of mothers – I say mothers but it’s really women – all coming together and deciding that this guilt is absolutely unnecessary. It adds no value to our lives. Imagine the sheer amount of energy we would have available to us. It would be incredible. It would literally change the world; it would literally change the way we parent.
I think the biggest thing to recognize is that
most of us aren’t taught to ask ourselves
what truly lights us up in the first place.
If we first take the time to connect with
what lights us up, then finding the time for
self-care only requires us to change our thought patterns.
Q: Absolutely. That leads into the next question: what do you feel is the importance of the feminine principle in today’s world? And how integral to motherhood is that principle?
SL: I think as women we are waking up to the fact that the masculine paradigm is burning us out and it’s not advancing us. Women and mothers have the quality of nurturing and other feminine qualities. We need to be contributing our innate gifts.
You will find as a new mom – and it touches me to even think about this for you – that when we meet our children for the first time, whether it happens biologically or we adopt, whatever way a child comes into our lives, there is this spiritual medium that is unparalleled love. There’s something that happens in our hearts that is indescribable.
As mothers we have certain qualities, like “a mother’s intuition”. We didn’t come up with that phrase for nothing. A mother’s intuition is such a powerful feminine quality that often goes untapped. Our intuition, our hearts, and our ability to connect with others and create intimate relationships are such undervalued qualities. The qualities of the feminine can change the world, and they will certainly provide a model for our children of what is really important.
But then it’s not ‘either-or’, right? The masculine paradigm is equally important. It’s just that we will awaken in us the feminine qualities and bring the feminine into a masculine-dominated culture. We will enrich our culture, we will enhance our culture, and we will take our culture to the next level. And the same will happen while raising our children – we will include our feminine rather than leaving it out. In many households it’s left out altogether because we have such an emphasis on doing; the masculine is more important. Doing the laundry is more important, and taking our kids to ten different activities is more important than having a simple, yet profound, connection with them.
Q: Can you describe more about what you see as the masculine paradigm?
SL: I think mothers are indoctrinated into a paradigm that tells them that taking their children to many activities after school, focusing on their grades, worrying about what preschools they go to and what colleges they go to are the things that really matter. It teaches our children to look for their sense of worth and value in their ‘doing’, their achievements, rather than their ‘being’ and the kind of person they are. It is externally oriented and very ‘doing’ oriented. We take it for granted that we need to get them into the right preschool, and when they are in elementary school they need to read early.
It’s not that we need to undervalue any of these things; sending children to school is important and finding the right school is important. I am not saying ‘either-or’. What I am saying is that when we become mothers, we get on the hamster wheel of activity, including making sure the house is clean and the dishes are done to the exclusion of our feminine qualities. Then what happens? We are out of balance. We become burnt out, overwhelmed and exhausted, and then we don’t have the bandwidth to have simple kindness, presence and patience with our children. We raise our voices and do things we swore we would never do.
And we have to make sure that we are not
giving importance to all of the ‘doing’ activities
to the exclusion of this gift of motherhood that we bring.
Being connected with our kids takes a lot of bandwidth. It means being patient. For example, can we expect a little three-year-old with no idea of time to understand that it’s important to be ready at 8 in the morning? Can we expect an eight-yearold who doesn’t care about it to want to brush her teeth? How to have the bandwidth to be connected and have the patience to talk an eight-year-old through the process of brushing her teeth?
As mothers, we do have connectedness and patience within us; we have these feminine qualities. And we have to make sure that we are not giving importance to all of the ‘doing’ activities to the exclusion of this gift of motherhood that we bring. Does that make sense?
Q: Absolutely. It’s a beautiful clarification.
SL: I feel for moms. I work with moms all day long and I feel for us as a collective group, because we’re trying so hard. We’re trying to keep the house clean and be patient with our kids. Why I am so passionate about self-care is because I feel for moms. I work with many single moms and we’re all just trying to get through the day. I feel for us as a collective group because we’re trying to do such a good job, and it’s almost like we’re trying to do it single-handedly, having thrown away the feminine in favor of the masculine.
That’s why I want to empower mothers to nourish themselves, play music during the day, take time to write a journal, or whatever is their thing. This gift will benefit children more than you could possibly imagine. You know, for an 8-year-old who doesn’t want to brush her teeth, the gift of having a patient mother at the end of the day is priceless.
Q: How do you see young women blossoming so that they can contribute to this direction of humanity, and how can we better prepare them for motherhood?
SL: At the risk of sounding dramatic, I honestly think we could change the world and our world on that question. And it goes back to being role models for our children – both girls and boys. Just think about it: if a mom models to her daughter that it’s important to take care of herself, then her daughter grows up knowing what she needs and meeting her own needs. If she has the patience to give and serve her daughter, not from her emptiness but from her overflow, then her daughter learns to be kind with herself. If she is kind with herself and knows what her needs are, then she will not succumb to peer pressure. That young girl will feel empowered inside of her own being and have the courage to say, “No,” to the things she does not want. Think on it.
Where boys are concerned, I have a son and I want my son to see a mother who takes care of herself. If he has a partner one day, then he will be that generous man. He needs to see the feminine qualities in his life in order to value them. Then hopefully he will be that kind of man who offers women the dignity to value and care for themselves.
On a different note, I think that if children see their mothers looking after and respecting themselves it will end bullying, because a bully is someone who hasn’t learnt to value themselves and takes it out on others. When a child sees their parents taking care of themselves, they’re going to feel secure about their own needs, and this will create a different culture.
We hear the Dalai Lama say that kindness is religion, but we undervalue this simple kindness and its power. When we take the time to care for ourselves, we connect with the ability to have patience and kindness and compassion for others. When we care for ourselves, we will automatically care for the next person and this can spiral out to caring for our world, caring for humanity. I think the spiral is endless really.
Q: Beautiful. It reminds me of something my mom would always tell me: Give of your light but not of your oil.
SL: That’s a beautiful principle to live by. I think your mom would have been connected to her light. In these past 50 years, there have been many moms who have been working and being a mom. We need to make sure we are connected through our light so that we are not giving of our oil. That’s a beautiful saying; I have never heard it before.
Q: It’s something that a spiritual friend of hers shared with her. Is there anything more you want to add?
SL: Only that I really want motherhood to become more visible and more valued on the planet. Thank you so much.
Interviewed by EMMA IVATURI
November 01, 2017
November 01, 2017
November 01, 2017