Um, excuse me.....super wise wisdom AND a Keanu Reeves quote?? Yes, please!! Honestly, you are very likely to hear me say "yes, please!" to almost anything this wonder woman proposes! I'm so excited to offer you Myla Rugge's interview today. Myla is a powerhouse - founder of Mom Prom, champion of moms everywhere, and one of the few people I know who can tell you the VERYTRUETRUTH about motherhood, and have you laughing and agreeing while you listen! Myla has been a friend for several years now, and I'm thrilled she agreed to participate in this project. Take a minute to check out her deliciously deep dives into some great questions, and I'm sure you'll see just how wonderful this amazing woman is!
What do you think of Myla's answers? Do YOU have a favorite Keanu Reeves quote? How about a fave super hero? Share in the comments and let us know!
When/how do you find time to play?
I try to play a little every day. If that’s not possible at least once a week. Sometimes it is wearing a tiara or a rainbow headband to the grocery store. Sometimes it is making my friends laugh on a phone or video call by telling a story or sharing an observation. Sometimes it is chatting with the person in front of me at the grocery store or complimenting the mail carrier. Sometimes my play comes via clothing - fun shoes or a funny t-shirt. Sometimes it comes through literal play, like playing Uno or Mario Kart with my family.
Play to me is a form of self-care. It is vital that it is part of my life. It is how I move through the world. It is one way that I feed my soul.
What false stories, myths, or constructs have you believed about yourself? How have you or do you let those go or shift/change them?
For a lot of my life I was told/have been told that I am “a lot”. The implication is that I am too much – too loud, too tall, too sarcastic, too honest, too outspoken, too unladylike…. When I was younger I think some of that was true, well, not true exactly, but an understandable opinion. I was very loud, talkative and didn’t have much of a filter. Everything I thought came out of my mouth. Sometimes I didn’t know what I thought until I said it or until started talking. I didn’t understand that my words could affect people and that sometimes there were things that should remain “inside thoughts”. I didn’t have to say everything out loud.
As I got older, I learned what an extrovert was and I began to understand that talking through my thoughts/thinking was part of how I had to live. As a young adult I tried to surround myself with friends who understood and appreciated these qualities about me. As an adult I found a therapist who I could process with. Growing up I really didn’t care what people thought of me, but at the same time I kind of did. Through years of self-reflection, I embraced that there are things I am good at that other people weren’t and vice versa. I also realized I wasn’t for everyone, no one is, of course. I grew more into myself. I am not “too much”. I’m just not for everyone. Working on that concept and really internalizing it has lead me to true self-love. Now I am working on make sure I am open to feedback from others, but I filter it through what I know to be true about myself.
How do you walk through challenging experiences or grief with people you are close to?
Challenging experiences, and grief especially, are deeply personal. The most important thing I keep in mind when supporting someone (or going through something myself) is that they way someone reacts to my pain/challenge/grief is ABOUT THEM. I try very, very hard to not do that to others and to understand when people do it to me. Everyone has to go through what they have to go through. The best way I can support someone who is struggling with a challenging experience or grief is by listening and acknowledging their experience. I have practiced and, I think, become quite good at, making sure it doesn’t become about me (what it would be like to experience what they are experiencing, how I would feel if that were happening to me, what my fears are, etc.) I strive to be authentic and honest, to share my experience as a way of connecting and saying “you are not alone”, but not hijacking their experience and making it my own.
Grief is its own special thing. I like this quote by Keanu Reeves (I know, right?!? Love me some Keanu!) “Grief changes shape, but it never ends.” It is a club no one wants to be a part of, but once you have lost someone close to you, you understand that you are never healed, you are always healing. It is an active state. People often try to say things to make you feel better (“he’s in a better place” or “you’ll feel better eventually” or “you’ll get some closure eventually.”), but I often find these things make you feel worse and more alone. I try to remind myself that talking about a lost loved one is what people often want. Talking about them keeps them alive, in a way. But, really, the most important thing of all, is offering support/advice/etc. rather than just giving it. Most of the time what people really need/want is a hug, an ear and someone who will walk alongside them no matter what.
What are some of the mantras or kind words you offer yourself to get through tough times?
-Everything happens for a reason. I know this is sort of a “lie” I tell myself. I don’t truly believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that the most important thing is not WHAT happens to me, but HOW I handle/process/think about it. Crappy things happen to everybody, all the time. I am afforded privileges that some things don’t happen to me. I know that the STORY I tell myself about what has happened is almost more important than what actually happened.
-Everyone is struggling with something. This has become especially evident since I became a mom and started sharing my experiences and listening to others’ experiences. It, of course, extends to all people, not just moms. But, sitting in a circle and listening to moms from all walks of life share how they feel about motherhood and what they are struggling with has been an inspiring and clarifying experience. Where once I might have seen a mom out with her newborn who looked like she had it all together and felt badly about myself, I now think to myself “she is likely struggling with things as a mom, too”. My compassion for others has increased, which, in turn, has increase my self-compassion.
-Its about them…AKA “What is going on with this person that they need to tell me this?” This is often something I deploy when I am receiving unsolicited advice, especially from a stranger in public. But, this mantra works with everyone in my life. For example, my friend’s discomfort with my decision or idea is ABOUT HER. I’ve learned how to be more aware of the way people operate and communicate with me. That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to what people in my life have to say, I just am better at filtering it through the knowledge that it is (likely) about them and how they would feel if they were me/making the decision.
-Be curious rather than judgmental. I usually do this by asking what questions. And to remind myself that my reaction to something is telling me something ABOUT MYSELF. Listening and paying attention to that can be hard, but when I do I ALWAYS learning something.
-When I’m 80 will this matter…? Sometimes things in life can get really stressful or I can get really focused on something that I am worried about. When this happens I try to take a beat and ask myself “When I am 80 years old will this matter?” I think Brene Brown has a version of this where she asks “Will this matter in an hour? A day? A week? A month? A year?” For example, when I am 80 will it matter that we are late to this orthodontist appointment? Or when my kid is 80 will it matter that he did 3rd grade online or miss three days of school to go on a trip? Probably not. This question helps me (re)gain perspective.
-This too shall pass, even the good. This reminds me to savor things when they are going well and to remind myself that nothing lasts forever. This one really helps me embrace that everything changes. This mantra calms me a bit and helps me have faith that things will be okay.
-Just try it…for a week. Sometimes I get stressed about how to solve something or what to try because I worry that the solution is the right one. Then I remember, “oh, right, I can just try it for a little bit and then if it doesn’t work I can try something else.” It is really freeing to realize that the trying is the most important thing, not finding a perfect solution the first time or ever, really.
-Notice. Pay attention. This is the key to mindfulness for me. Not meditating or breathing or whatever. Just noticing. It helps me be present in the room with my kids or relax in nature or be able to appreciate what is happening in my life. Sometimes I’ll challenge myself and think, “I’m going to go into the kitchen and notice five things about Rob (my husband).” It is always an eye-opening, rewarding experience!
-You can’t control how other people feel or behave. I can only control how I feel and behave. Embracing this has changed my life, especially my relationships.
Where do you find and connect to community?
Fun fact about me – one of my superpowers is creating community. I often am creating community for myself.
Seattle Mom Prom – Working on this all-ladies dance party, for the last fourteen years, has put me in touch with all kinds of women that I have learned so much from. The event itself is all about creating an environment where women can have fun, feel safe and connect. For me, Prom is really about creating community. There are many things I do (and don’t do) before and during the event to emphasize that “we are all in this together”. I am intentionally creating a space that allows for women to connect, including myself. It is EVERYTHING.
The Breakroom – This is a moms support group I co-founded and ran off and on for six years. It is a space where moms can talk about how they FEEL about motherhood rather than how to be a mom. I am in the process of relaunching it in the fall.
Zoom Reunions – When the pandemic started, I reached out to some old friends and started having a weekly Zoom call. Then I started a call with the women from my high school basketball team. And then I started another Zoom call with people I went to high school with but hadn’t spoken to in decades. That call became a bi-monthly call. All three calls have happened for over two years and have no signs of stopping. During the hardest days of the pandemic I needed to have nostalgia and FUN in my life. These calls helped me cope with the uncertainty we were all feeling. They help(ed) remind me of where I come from and what I have already survived.
Mama’s Comfort Camp & My Momma Network – these are two closed/secret Facebook groups that I often lurk in, but don’t post in. I find it really helpful to have a safe place where moms can share their experiences and get support. I get so much insight from hearing about the experiences other moms are going through.
Myla Rugge is a community builder, researcher, educator, life-long learner, and creator of FUN! She is passionate about helping people – especially, moms – with whatever they need. You can learn more about what she’s up to at www.mylarugge.com