40 Transcript: How Deep Listening Can Hep You Find Your Calling (Laura Thompson Brady)

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J: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, episode number 40.

L: In any moment when you're not sure of what to do or you're afraid or you don't know how to move forward with somebody, just simply ask yourself, “What would love do?”

Intro: Welcome to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast, stories of vibrant women living happy lives. And now, your host, Jen Riday.

J: Hey there, Jen here, and welcome to Vibrant Happy Women; I am so glad you're here. This past weekend, I had the chance to spend time with my extended family for a holiday get-together and it caused me to think about, “What's really important to me? And am I using my time in a way that matches up with what's important to me?” So my top 2 priorities are spirituality/self-care and family time. And I realized this weekend, prior to relaxing enough to see this, that I had been spending way too much time on another priority which is my career. I love doing my podcast and all the other things I get to do as a life coach, but having this downtime helped me to realize, I have to get back into balance. And so I want to challenge you to think about, what are your top 4 priorities or maybe even your top 2? And does your use of time match up with what's important to you? Are you spending more time on Facebook or tidying things in your house than you are with the people who are important to you or the things that are important to you; whatever those might be? You alone know what your priorities are, but we all need to know, does our use of time match up? Well, this week is the last week of that free class I've been offering, ‘Seven easy steps to create more time for the things you love’. Essentially, if I were to rename it, that would really mean ‘Seven easy steps to really put your priorities first and make sure your time use aligning of those priorities’. So I want to invite you; there are some classes this week again, they're free. You can sign up for those by going to jenriday.com/jenclass. You know, time flies and this time of year, the holidays, is such a great time to think about, “What's really important? Are you really living your life as fully as you want to?” This class is your chance to sit back for 1 hour and think about those things that are important to you and whether you're using your time effectively so you can go forward towards those goals and priorities that really count. So, again, join me for the free class this week, it's offered at 3 different times. You can sign up by going to jenriday.com/jenclass.

Well, last week, I talked with Jane Stoller all about getting organized, and if you didn't get to listen to that, go back and do so; she had some great ideas. And in today's episode, I'm talking with Laura Thompson Brady who shares her story of being a stay-at-home mom for her kids, but after a time realizing she felt a deep level of sadness in a dimming of her inner light, and she began kind of a journey of asking, “What am I meant to be doing?” and finding that thing that really recharges her and lights her up, and then balancing that with her role as a stay-at-home mom. I've had the exact same experience. It's so critical to do those things that really energize you in addition to being a mom or whatever else you might be doing with your time, but doing those things that recharge you, not just giving and giving and giving. So you're going to love this episode. Truly, Laura is a special woman, she has deep insight and let's go ahead and jump in.

Welcome to Vibrant Happy Women, I'm Dr. Jen Riday and today, I'll be talking with Laura Thompson Brady. Laura has a PhD and is the founder of The Nourished Home, she leads the Mama on a Mission movement where she helps visionary women step outside of the box and lead the way to greater harmony, freedom, healing, and joy for themselves, their families, the communities they serve, and the larger world we call home. Laura lives with her husband and 2 girls in Maine. Welcome, Laura.

L: Thank you so much for having me, Jen. I'm really happy to be here.

J: I'm so happy you're here too and I can't wait to hear the quote you want to share for us.

L: So the quote that I want to share is, “Resolve to be always beginning.”

J: Mm.

L: “Resolve to be always beginning,” and that comes from Rainer Maria Rilke. And this quote came into my life very personally when I got married many moons ago now. One of my dearest oldest friends, she gave us as our wedding gift this quote framed.

J: Mm-hmm.

L: And it has sat with me for all of these years and sits with me on my desk. And it is something, the meaning of that and the anchor it has been in my life, it was very subtle at first and it has become such an important anchor and reminder to come back to the fact that, no matter how much we think we know, that there is always something more to learn, there's always something more to grow into. And so whether it's, you know, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with my children or my understanding of myself and my understanding of the world, of what's happening in our world, that if I am in the space of that, “Resolve to be always beginning,” that there is so much more space for truth and for aligned living and for… for really being in a space of courage and fullness to come through me.

J: Hmm, I love that. Just that openness to learning and… and that humility to learn, like you said.

L: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

J: Okay, thank you for sharing that.

L: Yeah.

J: Well, let's dive right into your low point, Laura, and share what you learn from that and how you were able to maybe apply this way of thinking of aligned living and being open to learning to that situation.

L: So it was funny, when I was thinking about what was the low point, I want to be totally real and basically say that I'm like there have been a lot of low points and there's been a lot of high points. (Laughs)

J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

L: So, but I was thinking, “What would be a low point that I can share that I sense is going to be most supportive to all of the women listening in your community?” And… and so, with that said, I honor the fact that there are a multitude of low points and a multitude of high points in my life.

J: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

L: The one that I want to point to was when my second daughter… I have 2 girls, Leila and Flannery. And when Flannery was about a year old, my second daughter was about a year old, I had been in the space (after my first was born) of feeling this level of clarity and devotion and mission in my life around motherhood that I had never felt in all of my seeking and learning and education in any other phase of my life. And so this concept of Mama on a Mission I would say first came actually through the devotion that I felt, the fierce devotion that I felt to just creating a home and an environment in which my children could thrive and grow. And that that felt so strong and, even though I did not know what I was doing in every way, that that was so strong. And so I really threw myself into that fully, took a leave of absence for my PhD at that time to dive into being at home. And, for me, it was so right at the time and it was a beautiful start, you know, for our family. But when Flannery was about a year old, I really was needing to and I guess couldn't not at that point acknowledge this deep level of sadness…

J: Mm.

L: … that was in me that although there was so much joy in my children and so much joy in mothering them, that there were these other parts of me that I had never felt, I would saym free enough or courageous enough to be in my full expression around. And it's so much just question about, “Who am I? What am I here for? What am I meant to be doing?” I felt so many questions around that and so much fear around that that it was kind of an opportunity to just kind of let those things go in those very early years of raising my children. But what was underneath that it was a deep, deep sadness and a dimming of my light in all of the other ways that I am genuinely called to be showing up and living and expressing myself and being creative and making impact with my life. And so that deep sadness arose and I remember, I had this moment really feeling depressed and… and letting myself finally accept the fact that that was

true, you know?

J: Uh-huh.

L: Not… to not try to stuff it away anymore. And I remember looking at Flannery, at my second child, and we were just in the kitchen and I think I was probably making dinner or something like that, and seeing this child and feeling such profound love radiating out of me, I'm looking at her and just thinking in my mind, “I want the world for you, child; I want the world for you. I want you to feel.” You know, when we look at our children, we know we want them to feel free to be in their fullness and to grow into healthy, thriving, successful adults, right?

J: Mm-hmm.

L: And to do their thing and to be alive; to be enlivened. And I'm sitting there looking at her and feeling all of that and just being hit by that. And then right after it, in that moment, feeling the heavy weight of, and revelation of, “Well, if I want that for you, then I must give it to myself now.”

J: Mm-hmm.

L: “If I want that for you and if I want you to find the way to that, the best way I can do that is by living that and figuring that out and modeling that for you.” And so that hit me really hard and that the ways that I had been trying to live in devotion to my children, although they were coming from the best of intention, that I was neglecting these parts of myself and that I really needed to lovingly tend to them and listen to them and opened myself up to the possibilities of what it could look like to be in the space of really loving the opportunities that I had through motherhood and being with my family, as well as having the opportunity and the openness to really look at, “What are the other ways that I am called as a human being to make impact and to show up in this world while I'm here?” So that was the kind of turning point, I guess, that I wanted to share.

J: Mm, so… so you realized you could be a mom and love and serve them, but that you had other callings and you wanted to do both so you could show your daughter how to really embrace life fully.

L: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Yes, and…

J: So you hit that low point, that one of many low points, but you…


J: So you realized you needed to find a different balance, how did you go forward from there?

L: So it began with really deep listening and allowing the desire and the seed of what was in there to come forth and to have space; to let it have more space than the fears that I had had about what it would mean or, you know, doubt about, “Well, am I good enough for that?” or fear about being visible with my gifts or what… whatever, you know, the various fears and doubts that had arisen throughout my 20s, you know, and… and I would say even as a teenager, that held me back from really looking at what I want to do. I just first let myself listen, “What are the ways that I'm being called? How do I want to be showing up? What is the work that I feel called to do? What is the thing that I'm longing for?” so I allowed myself to really have the space to deeply listen. And what came through there was something that I had known really my whole life, which is that I've always felt called in some capacity to do healing work with people.

J: Mm-hmm.

L: And so I let that just come through in its simplicity, “I want to do healing work with people. Okay.” (Laughs). So… okay, so that's there and I had… as I mentioned before, I had been in a leave of absence from a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies and just kept taking it semester after semester after semester.

J: Mm-hmm.

L: And I got to that point where I was like, “Okay, I'm out of crossroads now, I need to make a decision about whether or not I want to finish,” and I was very close to the finish line by the way. it was ABD, all I needed to do was finish analyzing and writing the dissertation; everything else had been done.

J: Mm-hmm.

L: So I listened to, “Okay, is the call to complete this research and the lessons I'm going to learn through it and the ways that I'm going to be able to be of service, is that worth it? Is it worth it to put the time and energy in?” And the other part that came through for me in the deep listening, and that took space and time I would say, was around allowing myself to acknowledge that this was an academic track that I was on with this, and to acknowledge, “I want to be able to work with people more directly, so what might help me do that?” And through the listening and the contemplation and a little bit of research, I decided that I wanted to merge my academic background with really supporting people in a very empowering, positive way. So I ended up, while I just did decide to finish the PhD, to also do certification in holistic health coaching at that time to kind of bridge that…

J: Mm-hmm.

L: … and a number of other, you know, experiences and training that I had had throughout my life. So I listened for that, I let myself get grounded in, “What are the supports that I sense I needed to move forward?” So from researching those options and making the decision, as well as bringing in and seeing, “I really need support, tangible support in my life, that again, feels aligned with my values as a mother to allow myself more spaciousness to devote some time to this work.” And so I called in, you know, support from family, from friends, from neighbors, looked at different ways, you know, whether that was through day care or, you know, my beloved parents who are so helpful to us, to me and my family, “What are the ways that I can actually call in support and not be so isolated in my parenting?” And so it was a real opening up of looking at, “How can I embrace the ways that I want to be very present to my children and also be more open to the gifts that are, not only available to me, but to them, in really having this community of support and love and… and guidance and mentorship (I would even say) to my children through having more people, more trusted, loving people, really helping me take on the responsibilities of family life?” And so it was really opening myself up to that idea, that was not always an idea, but a real reality (Laughs)… not that long ago in most societies where the village is really participating in the raising of our children. And so it was really building the networks of support in my life and allowing myself to be in a space of receiving. And the last 2 little pieces I'll say, another that was so radically important in terms of the inner work that was required for me, it was a round really acknowledging, with love, all of the fears that I had about stepping into my work. From the fears I had about what that might mean for my family, as well as to all of the fears and doubts, my inner critic, you know, my fears around visibility, my fears of being… stepping into a larger space of, you know, in the community, whatever those fears were, to lovingly acknowledge them and to even befriend my fears.

J: (Laughs)

L: To be in relationship with them and to let that wiser part of myself (that I really tuned back into through that deep listening) to be wise counsel to my fears and to allow myself to see what really genuinely feels like a smart aligned risk for me to take at this time, and how can I let my fear know that it's okay take this risk so that I may feel more free to move forward; so that was another huge part. And then all of this, like, “How can I take aligned action around it?” So I really broke all of this down. I had a big vision, a very big vision, that's connected into the work that I do now at The Nourished Home, I had no idea how the heck it was all going to come together. So it was all so trusting and listening to my vision, befriending my fears, and then, I kid you not, quite literally, taking small, doable, chunked down steps week by week to start moving in the direction of that vision. And that loving approach that was not rushed or forced is what has brought me to where I am with the work I'm doing in the world now and… and into the space that I'm in with my family as well.

J: Wow, that's amazing. So you listened and I opened up to receive the support with your kids, acknowledging the fear, and taking those small doable steps; amazing.

L: Yes.

J: Well tell us more about what you actually do with The Nourished Home.

L: Yes. So you mentioned at the beginning, the Mama on a Mission movement, these women that I work with. There are multiple facets to this, but I want to speak to the… the biggest part of what's come through the work in this last year, which is supporting women in doing the very, I believe, critical necessary work of peeling, of really allowing an inner revolution to occur within yourself; meaning that you practice that deep listening, that you listen to your callings, and that you are then able to work through all of the doubts and the fears and the questions that you have about, “Am I good enough? Am I worthy? Am I really going to be able to listen to this calling and have any effect with it?” I help women really be with those fears and those doubts and those questions. And this can range from anything, from the ways that you're wanting to parent and really be in a space of leadership at home. I work with all sorts of women who are running their own businesses in the holistic and creative arts. I work with lawyers, with scientists, with educators, I've… you know, I've worked with women from all backgrounds. And whether it's on a passion project on family life or on your career, to really allow yourself to have the space and time to look at what needs to be healed within you so that you can really claim your space, as what I like to call, a mama on a mission, a woman of purpose and impact who is owning her power and the sacred inherent value of her life here on this earth and allowing that healing and that inner work to then radiate out through you in all of the work that you're doing, again, from the private sphere of home to the public sphere of community. So The Nourished Home, for me, is a concept that I want to bring into reality for every woman that I support, from the ways that she's creating a nourishing home for her own family into the way is that, wherever she feels called to do good work in the world, that she is a part of the bigger picture of the web that we're all creating to make a more nourishing home, a more nourishing planet for our whole human family. So these are the driving forces behind the work that I do and we go pretty deep (Laughs)… with the work that I do.

J: And if any of our listeners wanted to connect with you, where could they find you?

L: I'm at thenourishedhome.com and there are a couple of ways that they can connect there. I have a blog that I write; just about every week, there's a new blog post, so you can go there to see all of that. If you want to join the community and receive my newsletters and blogs, you can sign up at thenourishedhome.com. And I do have a couple of free offerings there as well that women can connect into. One is the Mama on a Mission workbook, and it's really around allowing yourself to look at birthing your next big idea or passion project or, you know, creative calling that's coming through you with more courage, with more clarity, and more grace. So that's one way to connect in and receive that workbook and then be a part of the community. And the other is my ‘From hectic to harmonious’ video series. And that's focused more on home and family life and looking at what it means to simplify our lives, to really root into your own personal core values and to let the daily rhythm of your life be more guided by that to create a more, you know, nourishing rhythmic and… and aligned life for your family.

J: Hmm.

L: So those would be a couple of places that people can find me. And I don't know if we'll be sharing links; I have links for each of those things that people can check out.

J: Perfect. Yes, I will include those links on our show notes page, and that's at jenriday.com/40.

L: Okay, great.

J: Thank you; what a story. I love how you tapped into that inner voice and found what works for you and now you're sharing it with others so they can live their calling; so, thank you, that's beautiful.

L: Yeah.

J: Well, let's talk about some of your favorite things, Laura. What is a habit that has really contributed to your success?

L: Well, one that I just want to point to are my walking meditations that I do out in the woods near where I live. So this is something that I do almost every day that I get the opportunity to do so, is to get outside in nature where just simply being in the natural environment reminds us to calm the nervous system, to ground into ourselves, and to get quiet. And so just going on a height and really treating it as an opportunity to mindfully connect in, to be in my body, to release any of the stress or the cluttered thoughts, you know, that have been maybe taking over in ways that I don't want them to in that particular day, and then really tuning in from that grounded space and being in my body, into my wisdom, into my intuition. And a lot of times, my most brilliant and creative ideas for The Nourished Home come through me when I'm on those walks.

J: Hmm, I also do walking and I have the exact same experience. I love how…

L: Yeah. (Laughs)

J: … how you shared that.

L: Yeah.

J: Well, a favorite easy meal, Laura, that you guys, your family, likes to eat regularly.

L: Okay, yeah. This time of year, winter, I would say one of our most favorites is a Crock-Pot chicken recipe, and I got it from ‘100 days of real food’. So if you just Google ‘Chicken Crock-Pot recipe on 100 days of real food’, it is the simplest thing. It's just a nice mix of spices and herbs that you throw together and you just put them on top of the chicken with quartered onion underneath the chicken and you set the Crock-Pot, and it is the most lovely, delicious, and easy way to have a whole chicken there. And then we'll, from there, you know, use the leftovers to just get a stock going in the Crock-Pot from there that we can use for soups. But, yeah, so the Crock-Pot chicken, and then, for me, is when we get home at the end of the day, I'll set the chicken to go earlier in the day. And then this time of year again, I love to have roasted root vegetables. So just, you know, take 10 to 15 minutes to chop up some veggies, a little bit of olive oil, and salt and pepper, and throw those into the oven and it's a really simple and delicious meal; that is so nourishing in the winter.

J: Mm, sounds totally yummy, mm.

L: Yes, it really is yeah.


J: It's time to go buy a whole chicken today.


L: Yeah.

J: And a favorite kitchen gadget.

L: This is not very gadgety but it is my favorite, just to have an amazing chef's knife. (Laughs)

J: Of course, yes.

L: So, yes, that’s it. Like for… to invest in an incredible chef's knife like chopping vegetables can in and of itself actually become another kind of mindfulness meditation time. And having a tool that is really good at cutting those veggies makes all the difference.

J: Mm, mm-hmm.

L: Yeah.

J: And your favorite book.

L: I was thinking of 2; I was thinking of one of my all-time favorites in a recent favorite. So one of my all-time favorites (and, again, as I was thinking about the purpose of this podcast) is ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho.

J: Mm

L: And really speaking to that journey of listening to our callings and knowing that, if we take aligned actions day by day, step by step, that this incredible magical unfolding is available to us. And there's so much trust and so much in the unknown that we can be afraid of that can stop us in our tracks from that unfolding. But when we allow ourselves day by day to be in the unfolding of that magic, it's just incredible what can come through. And I love how that book is such a parable really for that. And then just a recent one that I know lots of women are reading right now, and I'm one of them, is ‘Love Warrior’ by Glennon Doyle Melton.

J: Mm.

L: And the reason I wanted to bring that up is, it's a memoir that she wrote and just published this fall. It's really speaking to… in such an honest and such a raw way about her experience as a woman, about her experience in her marriage. She's saying a lot of things that a lot of people are afraid of being vulnerable and open about within themselves and certainly within, you know, the circles that they're a part of. And I think that it's such a powerful way to help people feel more freedom in really looking honestly at their lives and allowing themselves to feel more free to be true to themselves, which is such a powerful message that comes through her book and the ways that she's choosing to live her life. So, yes, those 2.

J: Oh, great books, ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Love Warrior’. And we'll have links to those on our show notes page, again, at jenriday.com/4o. Well, Laura, what's the best advice you've ever received?

L: Mm, simple one here, and this was when I was a kid and my dad… and this is a whole other story for a whole other day, but my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer when I was 8. And the… both the trauma and the healing that did unfold in our lives through that for my whole family was very profound and has been… has been one of my greatest teachers. This could have been another low moment actually with so much profound learning that came through for me. But there was a healer and a mentor that became a really important part of our lives at that time. And in any situation, whether we're in a space of conflict or loss or… or trauma or even just trying to find our way in the everyday with our families, with our kids, with our partners, with our friends, this man, he shared with us, “In any moment when you're not sure of what to do or you're afraid or you don't know how to move forward with somebody, just simply ask yourself, ‘What would love do?’”

J: Mm. Oh, I love that. (Laughs)

L: “What would love do?” And that… that has been with me since I was 8 years old and it has been a guiding question in my life time and time and time again.

J: Well, I laughed because, at the time that we're recording this, the election just happened a week ago, and it just immediately made me think, “What would love do?”

L: Mm, yes.

J: (Laughs)

L: Yes. And what I'll say to that is, my belief is that love… and I can tap even back into that title, ‘Love Warrior’, that book that I mentioned by Glennon Doyle Melton. My sense is that love asks us to be so brave and to take a stand and to be outside of what's comfortable, and to do so in the most grounded as well as energized ways that we can now. Yes, I think that it's not all these easy answers that come when we ask, “What would love do?” but when we listen to that and look for the answers, I think that, not just individually, but collectively right now, it's a really important question. And difficult answers may come through, but if we listen to them, I believe that we can collectively move forward in hopefully a positive way.

J: Hmm, that's beautiful. So, like Laura just said, listen and figure out what we can electively do to move forward with love. Well, thank you so much for sharing that, Laura. And now, we're to my favorite question, which is the happiness formula. If you had to create a formula with 3 to 4 or 5 steps of things that maximize your happiness, what would that include?

L: So I think that I'm personally happiest when I get outside every day, when I have quiet space to listen to my intuition, and I make space to do something playful or joyful or relaxing with people that I love; you know, something that has no purpose other than to just be playful or just be joyful or just relax and be and connect, or just be creative for the sake of creativity and to do so with people that I love. I think those 3 things, for me, if I'm doing them every day, I'm in a pretty good place.

J: Mm, love that. Outside every day, quiet space to listen, and doing something playful or joyful with people you love; nice.

L: Mm-hmm.

J: And finally, a challenge. What kind of challenge would you like to leave for our listeners?

L: Okay, so thinking of the holiday, I challenge all of the listeners here to let go of holiday overwhelm, to let go of all of the things that you think you should be doing to create a perfect holiday, you know, for your family or your loved ones and to do a lot of the kinds of things that we've been talking about in this podcast today, to really listen, “How do I most want to feel during this holiday season? What do I most want to experience and share with the people that I love? What is it that I most value that I don't want to miss out on during this time of sacred celebration?” You know, whatever the traditions are that, you know, all of our listeners have, “How can I be true to those things that matter most to me and let go consumerism or the pressure or the need to have a perfectly orchestrated holiday scene?” (Laughs)

J: Mm-hmm.

L: And really connect, I would say, even more deeply into, “What are some of the deeper messages that, I would say, go across all traditions of bringing light into the darkness, you know, in the winter months; of being in a space where we are in devotion to peace and devotion to harmony? How can I simplify the way I approach the rest of this month so that I am more true to the deeper meaning of this time, to be more connected in with the people that I love so we can just be free to share joy and playfulness and celebration, as well as have the opportunity to connect into the deeper and more sacred meaning of whatever the holidays mean to you?” So that would be my challenge is to… is to dive into all of that.


J: I love that, “How do you want to feel during the holidays?”

L: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

J: Yeah, perfect. Laura, you are amazing; I'm so glad you've been on the show.

L: Thank you.

J: And, again, I want to remind our listeners that they can find links to all of your amazingness at jenriday.com/40. Thank you so much for being here, Laura.

J: Thank you, Jen, it's been wonderful to be here with you today.

L: Thank you so much for joining us today. And Laura has something really cool you might want to check out for the holidays; it's called ‘From hectic to harmonious’, and it's a month of making space for what you most desire during the holiday. So it's your chance to give yourself the gift of banishing holiday overwhelmed so you can reclaim joy and peace and connection and all those things we really want to feel during the holidays. You can check that out by going to www.hectictoharmonious.com or I'll have a link for that on the show notes page at jenriday.com /40. And as I mentioned in the beginning of this episode, don't forget to claim your seat for my free webinar, ‘Seven easy steps to create more time for the things you love’. This is perfect as we're shifting closer to 2017, thinking about goals and what's truly important, I what to challenge you to join me for the class and learn how to really grab your life by the horns and make the things that are important happen. So go to the show notes page at jenriday.com/40. You can get Laura's ‘Hectic to harmonious’ guide and you can sign up for this free webinar. Again, you can find that by going to jenriday.com/40. Well, thank you so much for joining us today and I hope you're going to make this an amazing week where you actually feel the way you want to feel because you choose what you're going to do with your time and you choose to do the things that energize you and make you feel amazing. Alright, so I say make it a great week, and that means the choice is yours; make it a great week, my friends. Take care.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast at www.jenriday.com.