Lisa Chandler is a not only a mindful mama, she is a super mama. I haven't seen the cape per se, but I know she has one somewhere. Having two littles under 4 is not the only reason she impresses those around her. What makes Lisa a truly inspirational mama is that she faces the toughest parenting moments, most of which some mama's couldn't even imagine, and does so with a truly grateful and refreshing outlook.
While pregnant with her first child, Lisa was told that her unborn daughter has Situs Inversus. A condition where all of her organs, including her heart, would develop on the opposite side of her body. On top of that, Julia, now 3, also has Dextrocardia and functions as a single ventricle. This means that the oxygen rich and oxygen poor blood mix together. Causing a complex reaction in the lungs creating crystallizations that prevent oxygen from even passing into the blood stream .
For the Chandler family, this means another trip to Sick Kids for another catheterized surgery. Something that will happen quite regularly for Julia unless she one day receives a new heart. To try to understand how this affects Julia's day to day life, she feels as if she is half way up mount everest, all the time causing shortened breath, nausea and the inability to do many of the things toddlers love to do like jumping and running without being winded.
So far, in Julia's 3 years she has undergone 1 open heart surgery, 2 catheterizations and will undergo another open heart surgery in just two weeks. Take a moment to imagine what that might be like? Saying goodbye before surgery, the waiting, the worrying, let alone fielding the questions and thoughts Julia now has being that she is a very smart and aware little lady.
It goes without saying that this interview was an emotional one but it was much more inspiring than sad. Lisa made a decision about 6 months after Julia was born to take her life back, against doctor's suggestions. Rather than living in a constant state of worry and fear, having been told to never buy clothes for the upcoming season, and to never plan vacations too far ahead, that life tomorrow would never be promised to their beautiful baby girl.
When Lisa told me this the tears started flooding. Of course. I couldn't even imagine what that might have felt like, and the strength it would have taken to move forward. She admitted, living under that advice, was fighting the natural instincts to connect and revel in her new mother-daughter experience.
Lisa and her husband made a decision, that they would plan what they wanted, and make purchases as they saw fit. They understand the realities of their situation, but they now know even more that they need to be happy and live a normal life. Lisa taught me throughout this interview that the beauty of life does not lie in tomorrow or the plans we make for years to come. She taught me that the present moment is invaluable, it is all you have. Being a good person, no matter your circumstances, and living a life of gratitude is ALL that matters.
I wanted to know how mothers like Lisa felt talking about their situations. Did they want other mom's to ask? Did they enjoy the sympathetic looks and the "Im sorry's", or do they prefer that people not point out the issues and let them live, without having to talk about it? Lisa's answer was again, beautifully considerate. "Talk about it. Get informed. Ask me. Ask me what it is like. We (her and her husband Brian) know others just don't get it. So take a minute and picture yourself experiencing this. Stop and think for 2 seconds what it would mean to your family. And don't be sorry. Take the time to get to know Julia. You wouldn't be sorry if you got to spend some time with her. We are so lucky."
It was beautiful words from a wonderful mama making a difference in the lives around her. I urge everyone to read the full-length interview once the ebook is released (after the series). We talked about how she navigates giving her son Bryce, 7 mos as normal a life as possible, without him in the background of his sisters complications. We talked about Julia's questions and how they teach her about the benefits of imagination in the early years. Lisa's story is nothing short of beautiful and can bring any parent immense value and perspective into parenting.
To all my valuable readers, this week I want you try introducing a simple family gratitude circle into your day. Set aside 15 minutes to sit in a circle and each contribute a few things you are grateful for that day. Studies show that by spending time focusing on all the good we have, we can positively impact our feelings, how we remember our memories and deepen our connections to our family and lives. This type of positive reflection, if done regularly, can rewire your brain to automate positive patterns. If you can do it 7 days in a row, you might just find it becomes a forever practice. Super easy, and very beneficial!
*if your babies are too young to talk just have them be present. One day they'll join in, and they will certainly benefit from hearing their parents discuss the things they hold gratitude for.
With that being said, I will leave you with Lisa's words of wisdom...
If I could tell my pre-parent self one thing it would be: "Stop and smell the roses. Just breathe. Just appreciate. Every little breath they take, every sore tummy and tantrum, the world is all new. Appreciate where they are coming from. They don’t know things. They need us to show them. They’re just little." - Lisa Chandler
If you are interested in helping out the wonderful families who go to Sick Kids you can donate online. Lisa only had incredible things to say about Sick Kids and making a donation is a way that us parents can all come together to support each other. Here is the link.
Please keep Julia and the whole Chandler family in your thoughts for her next open heart surgery in two short weeks.
Next week I give you the scoop on my interview with Cathy Adams, co-creator of Zen Parenting: Let's Get Real conference, co-host of Zen Parenting Radio podcast and author of the award wining books The Self-Aware Parent,The Self-Aware Parent Two and Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn. When Cathy agreed to join the #MCM Mom Crush Monday's series I couldn't contain my excitement. I have been looking up to Cathy for years now and am honoured to bring her inspiring words to all of you!