[A preview of my upcoming book, We Are One: How one woman reclaimed her identity through motherhood — Preorder Now!]

I was laying in bed, trying to get Pepper to sleep after she woke up in the middle of the night. I’ve been trying not to pick her up every single time she cries because lately it seems to be every 45 minutes, and I know she can’t possibly be hungry again. I let her cry for a few minutes to see if she’d settle back to sleep. She didn’t, so I reached my hand into her crib and found her tiny hand. She immediately grabbed onto my thumb and instantly stopped crying. I lightly pinched each of her tiny chubby fingers with my index finger and thumb, going up and down each finger; a little routine we stumbled into that seems to calm her down. Back and forth a few times, and gradually, her little hand goes limp and I know she’s fallen asleep. I haven’t even picked my head off the pillow.

“I have magic hands,” I think to myself.

Being Pepper’s mom is one of the coolest things in the world. For one, it is SO awesome to be the most important person in someone’s life. (Sibe may fight me on this one, rightfully. But I’m going to claim it.) I LOVE being the person who can always calm her down, comfort her, and create ultimate peace. (For the record, sometimes I can’t, and Sibe is the one — but I’m taking this one, too.)

At that moment, head on the pillow, something occurred to me. As a coach, something I’ve become clear on over the years is that, what I do, at the heart, is love my clients so much — even the parts of themselves that they hate or won’t even acknowledge — until they love themselves. When this happens, life clicks into place and they unleash their power to create anything in life that they want.

What if my hands could be magic everywhere? What if everyone’s could?

There is a line from a kundalini chant that Pepper listens to (thank you, grandma) that says, “The sun never says to the earth ‘you owe me.’”

How powerful could everyone be if we loved everyone like a mother loves her child? To stop keeping score of who does what, to meet the other person with complete acceptance, all of the time? When Pepper is grumpy, I slow down to see what I can do to meet her needs and make her feel better. When someone we love is grumpy, it’s hard not to take their mood personally or get irritated that they’re bringing us down. When Pepper interrupts what I’m doing or demands all of my attention for hours, I might get tired, but I don’t get resentful. I accept her fully and meet her needs as often or repetitively as they come up. I have no expectations for her, she doesn’t disappoint me, and I certainly hold no judgments of what she should or shouldn’t be doing.

It’s an extreme idea, but I wonder what it would be like to relate to the adults in my life this way. My husband, my family, and friends. The closest I currently come to this is with my clients. But even there, there is room for more magic.

Of course boundaries are important and there are very few babies out there eliciting toxic behavior from their parents, so this mental exercise only works within a healthy relationship, but feeling love like this for Pepper opens up a possibility that I hadn’t considered before. A possibility for so much more kindness toward other people, less judgment, and more generosity. I see what it can do with Pepper, I’ve seen what that kind of loving presence can do with my clients over time, and it honestly is magical.

What if I had nothing but patience for my friend, stuck in a toxic relationship that wants to have the same conversation again? What if I didn’t judge myself for failing to workout for a week?

What if I didn’t take Sibe’s bad mood personally?

What if I met that friend with the same loving presence that I meet Pepper with when she’s crying and I don’t know why? What if I met myself with the same unconditional love no matter what my stomach looked like? What if I went in for a hug and forced a thousand kisses on Sibe’s cheek when he was grumpy, and then I laughed when he shoved my face away with his hand, like Pepper does?

A part of me (my ego) wants to tell me that I’ll be taken advantage of, I’ll rationalize my bad behavior to myself, or I’ll fail to achieve anything. But if Pepper were to try to do something that would harm herself, without hesitation, my loving embrace would turn into a sharp, “NO.” The kind of ‘no’ that comes from a protective love, not a judgmental attack.

Love isn’t nice. It’s not weak, and it’s anything but passive. It’s honest and it’s kind; but true love kills anything that isn’t also love. It doesn’t tolerate manipulation, it doesn’t tolerate rationalization, and it’s the most powerful fuel for achievement I’ve ever found. When we feel loved by ourselves and others, we have access to our most creative thinking, we know exactly what to do next, we can see our own sabotaging patterns more clearly, and we can have the awareness to move past them.

Love is honest in a way that says, “Turn off the TV and move your body. Get up and take time for yourself. Get to work. Take a nap. Apologize. Stand your ground.” It’s only in the absence of this unconditional love that we get so confused about where we stand, who we are, what we should do, or how we should get there.

And you don’t need to be a mother to experience this love. Being a mother just gave me more clear, constant and direct access to this love within myself. It amplified it, but it’s not different from the love I’d felt thousands of times in my life before Pepper. Love always just feels like love. And nothing else feels quite like it. There’s a particular internal quality about love that you know instantly, and you know just as instantly if what you’re feeling is not love, though you may pretend not to know.

I’ve already said to Pepper a thousand times, “I’ll always be here for you.” And I mean it. No matter what she does or what unfolds in our life or between us, I will always be there for her. I’ll always love her, waiting patiently and steadily.

A coach of mine used to say, “The path is always there waiting for you. It doesn’t judge you when you step off, no matter how long. It doesn’t get upset with you for standing still on it when you should be moving. It doesn’t waiver, it doesn’t change. It just waits for you to get back on when you’re ready.”

That’s the kind of love I’m talking about. That’s what having magic hands really means. It’s the kind of love I feel for Pepper all of the time and the kind of love that has always been present in me, and is present in everyone. The more you practice connecting to it, the harder it is to disconnect from it.

That’s when the real magic begins.

“We Are One” available Fall 2021. Preorder Now!

📚 PREORDER BONUS BUNDLE 📚

In greatest gratitude, with every preorder, I am sharing a preorder bonus bundle that includes:

- early access to the first four chapters (both digital and audio)

- invitation to an intimate, virtual ‘Behind the Pages’ event with me (and Pepper!), that will happen live before your book arrives

Register to receive your Preorder Bonus Bundle here.

This book is not about motherhood. It’s a book about identity. It’s a book about using life’s unexpected circumstances as a lever to open you up to the most authentic, alive, powerful version you can create yourself to be. In my case, motherhood.

Motherhood, for those of us for whom it was never in the cards, can do no less than shift the tectonic plates of your being. In the process, it can feel like it levels the life built upon them.

Embracing this will rock you, shake you to the core, and catalyze an expansion that would swallow the life you left behind whole — and allow you to live the full richness of life, heal the deepest parts of you and emerge anew, not redesigned, but renovated. Brought back to your true essence to create magic in your life in a way that you never anticipated, and arguably, could not have accessed without this massive ‘disruption.’

Our culture teaches us that it’s about balance. Finding time for yourself, making sure you take care of your own needs.

I call bullshit. Balance isn’t going to cut it. While logistics play a major role in the daily challenges of parenthood, for the kind of women this book is written for, it’s not about time management.

It’s about energy management, soul management. It’s not about balancing your checkbook and budgeting your time, it’s about creating a radical shift in who you are. Shedding your old identity and shifting who you are at the deepest, most expansive level.

Vanessa coaches high achievers and coaches to create beyond what they imagine as possible. She believes in CREATING clients vs finding them. Ask her how.