May 2012 Profile: Lisa McCourt
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Single
RESIDENCE: Boca Raton, FL
CHILDRENS NAMES/AGES: Tucker,14, and Lily Kate (Katy), 10.
PROFESSION: My most recent book, Juicy Joy – 7 Simple Steps to Your Glorious, Gutsy Self, was just released by Hay House. It follows a long string of children’s books and parenting books I wrote (including I Love You, Stinky Face) that sold over 5 million copies but never came close to bringing me the kind of yummy fulfillment this book (and associated training) has brought me.
Coming out of the closet with my lifelong metaphysical and personal-development passions six years ago was by far the most liberating, self-honoring thing I’ve ever done. My career is now completely devoted to teaching the rare arts of radical authenticity and genuine self-love — primarily through my online programs, but sometimes at conferences and live events.
I’ve just launched Club Real (www.juicyjoy.com), an online, ongoing resource for men and women who are dedicated to shedding the defensive masks we all accumulate — the masks that numb us to our truest nature and our most vital, alive, passionate versions of ourselves. It’s thrilling for me to watch my students unfurl in this setting, finally able to access their most powerful, potent, authentic core beings. I’ve never felt so purposeful, effective, and “right” in my career as I do today.
Q: What was your motivation for writing your new book JUICY JOY – 7 SIMPLE STEPS TO YOUR GLORIOUS, GUTSY SELF for grownups? What do your children think of the subject?
A: I developed the 7 Steps of Juicy Joy when I became painfully aware that my LIFE was happening. It was happening whether I tip-toed apologetically through it, hoping not to cause any kind of disturbance, or whether I took the reins on that sucker and rode it like a buckin’ bronco. I developed Juicy Joy when every last cell of my being was about to explode in protest of the suffocating limitations I’d accumulated for myself. We collect these limitations when we don’t know how to love ourselves, and the more we collect, the farther we distance ourselves from who we truly are. I’d come to a tipping point.
I created the Juicy Joy program for my students because I had no choice but to create it for me. We don’t always understand why we’re compelled to do what we do, but sometimes the compulsion outweighs our need to understand. Though my quest often felt irrational and indulgent, I knew that if I could just distill the most profound nuggets of wisdom from the vast sea of personal development I’d been trained in . . . and sift out the absolute most effective, most immediately-transformative practices, and weave them together in a straightforward, step-by-step system . . . that system could become my lifeline. I knew a golden-nugget distillation like that would propel me to an unshakable new level of peace, contentment, and vitality.
Juicy Joy has done that for me and for countless others. I adore my life because I’ve figured out how to choose a life I adore. My kids benefit tremendously from what I’m now modeling for them. They love having a happy, engaged, emotionally-present mom, but they do like to make fun of me when I get too “out there.” That’s been a blessing because it’s kept me ever-vigilant in “keeping it real,” and making sure to use straightforward language and examples. I know if I can get them on board with any new self-development practice or way of thinking, then it’s passed the ultimate test.
Q: You had your second child at age 37. Did it feel any different being a bit older as a mom compared to your first child? How so?
A: There’s nothing that turns a woman’s world completely upside down like having that first child. Having Tucker challenged me, matured me, and taught me what real unconditional love feels like. I don’t think any woman is ever fully prepared for the package deal of motherhood. I found the 24/7 aspect of it overwhelming and at times downright horrifying, but the horrors were substantially outweighed by the joys and the blissful glow of that spectacularly tremendous love.
Having Katy at 37 required less of a learning curve, but more of a deepening opportunity. I knew myself a bit better by then – and more significantly, I knew who I was as a mom. I knew where I was proud of my mom-skills, and where they needed improving. And here was a fresh clean slate to practice them on!
Q: What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? (Please share both)
A: Motherhood issues often come up in my work helping people to love and honor themselves. It’s no surprise that fully knowing and loving who you are as a woman makes you much better equipped to be a great mom. Women who become mothers early in life are frequently less self-aware and less clear on their reasons for having kids. Often it’s simply what they believe they’re supposed to be doing – part of the life-script we’re all conditioned to follow.
By the time a woman hits 35, however, if she hasn’t become a mother yet it’s likely she’s put a lot of time and thought into the subject of motherhood – what it means to her personally and why she would or wouldn’t want to become a parent. Doing that kind of soul-searching naturally makes her better prepared for the experience. Since age is not necessarily indicative of emotional maturity, I don’t feel like the number itself is all that important. But certainly, any woman who has invested time and energy into her own growth and is fully conscious of her reasons for choosing parenthood will be a better mom, and often that’s an older woman.
Of course, there are situations where age can be a detriment as well. An older woman who’s always wanted children (but for reasons outside her control never got the opportunity) might unrealistically fantasize that having a child will make her feel valuable, loved, needed and whole . . . and the longer she remains childless and unhappy, the more exaggerated that expectation might get. A woman in a situation like this is, of course, headed for disappointment and disillusionment.
Q: Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it?
A: The most surprising aspect of motherhood for me has been the realization that children really do come into this world with certain traits and characteristics that seem independent of anything the parents have contributed, either genetically or socially. I find this both surprising and delightful. It keeps me marveling at the mystery of it all.
What I love most about being a mother is how humbling it is. You think you know all these things and you know how to handle whatever comes up . . . and these creatures we adore and so thoroughly cherish just seem perfectly designed to perpetually generate new ways of showing us that we really don’t have it figured out at all. I appreciate the never-ending opportunities to surrender and learn with my kids instead of giving into the urge to teach them.
That innate tendency to want to assert control is so strong when you love someone this much, and when a part of you feels responsible for this person and the outcomes this person achieves . . . but ultimately I know I’m only here to gently guide, to offer assistance from the sidelines. It’s that deliberate choice to resist manipulating their experiences or impeding the paths they choose that’s so challenging and ultimately rewarding.
A: Every day, in every way, I try to teach them: Be who you are and love who you are. I know if they master those two skills, everything else will fall beautifully into place for them.
They’ve both taught me so much. My 10-year-old Katy has taught me to honor and appreciate her uniqueness, even when it at times feels distancing, and my default is to want her to be just like me.
My 14-year-old Tuck is my best teacher of staying in the now. I call him Present-Moment Man. He somehow manages to structure the vast majority of his present moments so that they’re filled with the things he loves, and he becomes so deeply absorbed in these pursuits that it’s impossible to pull him out.
I believe present-moment awareness comes naturally to kids, and we adults usually do everything we can to screw it up for them. Kids know life should be fun. Kids know you should follow your bliss, engage in things that excite you, and learn whatever you are naturally, in that moment, inspired to learn.
My son will enthusiastically and quickly comprehend an impossibly-worded manual for some advanced electronic device that I’d rather cut my foot off than attempt operating. He’s a skilled and avid videographer who seems to intuitively know how to use any complicated equipment related to this passion. But the basics of middle-school math elude him; the monumental burden of actually writing down and following through with homework assignments repeatedly proves insurmountable; and I still have to ask him to brush his teeth in the morning.
I confess that I’ve spent many years trying to “rehabilitate” Tuck—to cure him of his insistent present-moment tendencies so that he would more successfully fulfill teachers’ and society’s expectations of him. But he has proven himself incurable on that front. He is the funniest, kindest, most insightful, happiest person I’ve ever known, in spite of frequent academic failures and the ensuing consequences I impose on him. He simply, peacefully, refuses to expend any genuine effort or energy on anything that does not resonate with him. I still try—valiantly and in vain—to teach him the importance of caring about all of his schoolwork. But secretly, I’m envious . . . and a silent part of me cheers him on.
Q: How did becoming a parent impact your marriage?
A: In my particular situation, parenthood was detrimental to the marriage. Had we both been more emotionally mature at the time, had we both done the work to fully know and express and love who we authentically were, a different outcome might have resulted. There were other contributing factors, but each of us became much more invested in our parent role than we were in our role as husband or wife. We lost our romantic connection, and no amount of marriage counseling could ever bring it back.
Ours is not an unhappy story, however. Our marriage, though finite, was perfect for both of us in terms of our growth and evolution. We dissolved the marriage, but we never dissolved our family. Our divorce is fairly unique in that we’ve never stopped caring deeply for one another and appreciating our family unit. We very often all hang out together, do holidays together, and sometimes even vacation together. We were able to recognize that our family dynamic was strong and healthy in spite of the fact that our marriage was not. Since our reasons for ending the marriage had nothing to do with our kids or our family-foursome, we vowed to keep that part of our lives as consistent as possible.
Q: What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting?
A: Anyone who thinks they’re able to parent without being influenced by their own upbringing is nuts. So many of our attitudes, worldviews, limitations and beliefs are shaped in our earliest years by our parents. Doing personal development work in adulthood is the best way to counteract those early influences. Once we become aware of them and bring them up into the light, we can make deliberate choices about what we believe about ourselves, the world, and how we want to structure our lives.
Like most people, I learned some things from my parents that have served me and many other things that have not. I’ve devoted considerable time and energy into becoming aware of what I absorbed from my upbringing and rewriting those scripts so that I could have more emotional autonomy than I’ve ever known. But none of us is ever completely liberated from our childhood programming.
Q: Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers?
A: We humans are tribal creatures, and I believe that connecting with groups of like-minded people who are having experiences similar to yours is critical to optimal emotional health. Since mothers share so many common concerns and interests, motherhood organizations like Motherhood Later are invaluable for moms looking to stay centered, peaceful, and keep things in perspective. Scientific studies have shown that when women convene in groups, endorphins go up. And any time like-minded individuals are gathered with a common intention for the highest and best outcome for all, it creates an amplified energetic field where absolute miracles can unfold. I tap into that magic again and again in my online trainings – with simply amazing results.
Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older?
A: Be you first, no matter how old you are. Know you deeply and love you wildly and unconditionally. Then become a parent. Your kids will never, ever do what you say; they will always, unfailingly do what you do. It’s impossible to take another where you have not gone yourself, so the only way to raise a self-loving, authentic child is to first become a self-loving, authentic person.
Don’t look to any relationship to complete you – not a romantic relationship, and certainly not a relationship with a child. If you’re unhappy because you don’t have a child, having one will not make you happy. Get happy first. Only then will you be capable of the rich, joyful connection you’re dreaming of.
Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other parents?
A: My mom has a strong, vibrant personality. For the first half of my life, my challenge was to learn to hold my own and stand in my power, even in the presence of those who would easily overpower me. Now that I’m beginning the second half of my life, I can appreciate the magnitude of her energy and her determination to live life on her own terms, no matter the cost. I want to pass her sense of fun and adventure on to my kids, and her ability to be passionate about things.
I put up a lot of walls and defenses as a result of my upbringing, and it’s been a tremendous undertaking to dismantle them and learn to live from my authentic core. But I wouldn’t trade that journey for anything. If I hadn’t struggled for my authenticity, I couldn’t teach it or experience the blissful appreciation I have for it today. I feel like I’ve been scrubbed clean, filed down to the center-point, at last able to give and receive with a poignancy and fullness I never knew was possible. I’m exquisitely grateful for every person and situation that’s brought me to this perfectly precious moment.