Seeking Center: The Podcast

(PART TWO) Need a Lifeline? A Conversation That Can Pull You from Darkness Into the Light of Your Full Self - Episode 38

July 09, 2021 Robyn Miller Brecker / Karen Loenser / Melissa Bernstein Season 1 Episode 38
Seeking Center: The Podcast
(PART TWO) Need a Lifeline? A Conversation That Can Pull You from Darkness Into the Light of Your Full Self - Episode 38
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Our life-changing conversation continues with the extraordinary Melissa Bernstein, founder of Melissa and Doug toys, author of "Lifelines" and founder of the Lifelines digital platform. 

We’re diving into accepting ALL of yourself, living your life with meaning, and why anxiety is essential for growth.

Plus, Melissa introduces a new word that will become part of your every day.  We even talk about past lives, energy, and karma. And, Melissa reveals what products she’s working on for adults!

It is only over the last few years that she has been able to be her true self. Her inspirational journey to triumph over anxiety, depression and despair is nothing short of remarkable. Melissa captured it all in her new book, Lifelines, and created the Lifelines digital platform to help others find their path to meaning and inner peace in this lifetime. She is authentic, brilliant and wants you to know that you are never alone.

You don’t want to miss this two-part conversation.

Listen to Part One:

You can purchase Melissa's book "Lifelines," wherever books are sold, or at where you'll also find resources and tools.

If you are in need of help on your life's journey, you can also reach out to Melissa on, she would love to hear from you.

Follow Melissa at or

Have you ever wondered about life's biggest questions? Like, why am I here? What happens when we die? Or what else is out there, but we have, and we love to talk about it. And if you're listening, we think you probably do too. I'm Robyn and I'm Karen and we've spent our lives searching for those answers.

And we're seekers, just like you talking to some of the most fascinating spiritual teachers, healers and scientists. And showing you how you can use some of their spiritual practices for you. We'll also be sharing stories of other seekers. They motivate you to live your fullest life. We translating it all.

So the spiritual stuff won't feel so out there. If you're curious, get ready to rediscover why we're here.

We're picking up where we left off in part one of our soul connecting conversation with the brilliant and authentic Melissa Bernstein. I view the world that you go through to get to your authenticity. As like the resistance and that is what you need to face too, because it's either going to push you back into, in authenticity, or you're going to say, Nope, you're not holding me back anymore and push right through it.

And I think many of us don't make it to authenticity, you know, which is why the number one regret of the dying is I never lived a life true to myself. That's like the number one on people's deathbed. And it's because. It's not that they don't hear the cry of their soul. It's that they're too scared to heat.

It it's fear. They hear it. They're fear. It's like, I just can't do it either. My own internal resistance or society's resistance is just too great. I'm going right back into inauthenticity and they go back there because it's safe. But a small percentage of us, like the two of you say, I don't care. I, I can't.

Do it any longer? I've got to bust it out. I mean, I know from me on the surface, everything looked really good. And, you know, I worked for one of the most powerful people in the world. I have a wonderful family, but yet I couldn't keep going and I literally couldn't keep going. And I knew I couldn't live if I didn't change it, you know, I just, I mean, yes.

And one of the stigmas you and I face. And Karen too, is people think we don't deserve that luxury because we've made it. So because we have it going on, we have the material wealth, we have the picket fence. We have the dream, we have it all. Who are you to feel anything other than grateful? And it's the, I don't deserve to feel empty because I've got it all.

And, and that's the stigma that, that I'm trying to overcome in my position. It doesn't matter what you have. In fact, people like. Ha can have greater existential crises because we've gotten it all. We don't have any more hope where we're there. We've hit it. There's nowhere else to go other than more of the same.

And yet it still didn't do it. That's when you truly fall into a deep existential despair, because now, you know, it's not coming from the achieving. It has to come from within. And that is utterly terrifying. So for me, It was even greater since like, cause I always thought when I get this right, when I hit $500 million in sales, I'm going to have it.

When I have six children, the Brady bunch family, I always wanted when I have like every material thing I ever wanted when I have this amazing relationship with my best friend. Like I'll be happy. Right? I'll be successful. I'll be happy. And then you get it and it's, it's comforting. There's no doubt you can, you have great experiences, but there's still that, as you said, that, that sense of like, I don't know why I'm doing this.

Like it's utterly meaningless. And, you know, it's exhausting. You, you're not getting where you need to be because it's not out there. It's inside so many go through our entire lives, just feeling like they've got to get that resume, get to the top of their game. And to your point, then they look back at their lives and they know that that was not really the reason that they were here.

So what is, what is your perspective, Melissa? On. Soul and purpose. Do you feel like you came in with this specific situation in your life and that it was sort of going to be your catalyst to overcome and help influence others? I mean, is that your perspective? So my perspective has become really existential and it's a very empowering philosophy.

It's really been that. We alone come into this world and can choose to make meaning for ourselves or not. And it's incredibly individual. So at some point we get to that plane in life and we say, do we want to make meaning, do we want to sow those seeds of self-expression that are in our soul, not outside ourselves.

And then it involves doing the work and choosing to do that. And I'm a believer now that life. If you truly accept the full spectrum of who you are, which is the highest of highs to the lowest of lows COVID has shown us life can throw us curve balls and life will always throw us curve balls. And I think we need to prepare for that.

Like, we need to build up our emotional resilience and our well of giving and compassion so that we can give ourselves love and give others love when we go through those, those tough things. So I think that. We all have those seeds of what our essence is in us. Some of us know it, the one thing I'm really fortunate about is I know it, like I knew it from the beginning I was hiding it and I wasn't admitting it, but like for me, it's creating things that can touch others.

And that gives me my purpose. It's being able to hand someone something, even if it's advice, you know, something from, from my soul for others though, it's hard. And I think the goal of others' lives now, which is where I fall for them is helping them figure out how to take responsibility for their lives stop while, because some people want to are very invested in their pain and they want to keep wallowing.

I'm big on like you can wallow or you can engage about taking responsibility, finding that thing that is in you, that transcends you. And helps you engage in the flow of humanity. So you can find your meaning because you only find your meaning outside of yourself. And I think too many of us don't ever find that because it takes work.

You know, if, if you didn't find it in childhood and you lived in checks, lived a checklist and childhood, and sort of did what you thought your parents or society wanted from you, you may not know it. You may be 50, 60 years old and still not know what your meaning is and finding it takes a lot of trial in it.

And, you know, the, the canvas is blank. I wrote a verse this morning about this, because I was thinking of the myth of Sisyphus. Have you heard of the myth of Sisyphus? Do you want me to? Definitely not. I would like to hear, so there was this Greek king who did a very bad thing. He cheated death. He was supposed to die and he did some secretive things and he cheated death.

So he got punished by the Greek gods and his punishment was he eternally had to push a Boulder up a hill all day long. He'd push it up. And by the very end of the day, 1159, he'd finally reached the top of the hill and then it would roll back. And the next day he had to do the same thing for eternity.

It's basically, and you can choose to make of it what you want, but it's really philosophical. And a lot of the existential philosophers use this as a story, a metaphor for our lives, which is basically our life is. Every single day, pushing the Boulder up the hill, and then the Boulder rolls back down the hill the next day.

And this is how I view it. And it's not until you can love every moment of pushing that Boulder up the hill. That life has true meaning. So for me, my metaphor for that is the blank canvas and every day, my canvases. I can sh I can end the day with it still blank, which means I'm going to be like utterly wallowing.

And like, what did you do today? Nothing. My canvas blew my canvas was blank, or I can fill that canvas with beautiful artwork. And at the end of the day, say, It's really, it's really beautiful. I had a beautiful day, but then as I sleep, that canvas is going to become blank. Again, it's like the, the edge of sketch it's going to be, you know, going to shake it.

It's going to be blank. And then I'm going to wake up the next morning. I'm going to have to do the same thing again. And are we up for that? Or. And, you know, that's really what life is and to deny it's anything else is just avoiding the truth and putting your head in the sand. So that's an existential perspective and kind of where I am now, that was beautiful.

That metaphor is going to help a lot of people, just even that, I mean, just thinking of life and loving it. Right. And, and thinking about, I get to do it over tomorrow, whatever, however good or however bad today was. Here's something really deep. One of my favorite philosophers, Friedrich, Nietzsche. He said, if you don't want to live your life over again, exactly as it was, then change it right away because you do otherwise, you're going to be regretted.

So you have to live your life in a way that you'd want to repeat every single day exactly. As it was. So, and I think we live with such yes, I think the time will do I agree? I mean, do you ever. Think about past lives or karma or what happens after this lifetime? Do you ponder any of that? Oh my gosh. So much because you, so I'm just, I'm just curious.

I'm still an existential, like nihilist in my core. I I've just learned to like, I, my practice is not to be that, so I desperately want to be reborn. I desperately want to know. There's like, you know, another life path. That would give me so much comfort actually. So I think that that thought that there might be, it's really very, very inspirational to me.

And I think sometimes I write a verse and there words in it that I've never heard and I have to look them up. So it's the coolest thing. Well, you're chant you're channeling, right? So I feel like maybe it's like. Some channel. And that means that, you know, there there's a circle somehow that's going to continue.

What do you think about that? I mean, we, we believe that we're surrounded by energy and a lot of the energy surrounding us is our soul family. However you want to look at that and yeah. Some people will say that there's angels or spirit guides, whatever you want to say. And, and, and honestly, part of it, part of it to me is our divine self, our self there's parts of us.

I think that don't necessarily even live within the human body. I think it's just around us. Right. Helping inform us. So that, I mean, I think we come in here with a purpose and we have all of these. Boulders as part of our, every day to see how we're going to get through them, because we're, we're in this lifetime to learn some specific lesson.

And then I think hopefully if you learn the lessons, then you, you know, you go on to maybe a different life or a different world or whatever it is. I don't think, you know, as humans, I, I can't tell, but my soul feels like there are some. Alison. Sometimes it means coming back here to do things over. Cause we didn't get it, but the first time or the second time or the third time and what I know from my own experience and from my own, you know, and I consider myself pretty normal ish and I listen, my father passed away when I was 12.

I can talk to him. You know, I communicate with him. I can communicate with people. I don't know for other people. I know that it's possible. Actually happened to me, you know, I can see things and I don't know why I see them, but I trust them. I now trust myself and I've met enough other people who I trust that are having these similar experiences that can do energy healing that can do all of that.

Which is why Karen and I are doing what we're doing, because we want to help others have these experiences, because I know for me, they're validated and they help to answer these questions that I think so many of us have. And I think so many people come in with these life experiences and they think, you know, they weren't even born in.

Terrible situation or, you know, had child abuse or were divorced or had issues with their children, loved ones. I mean, we all have, well, have our story, right? If so many things that that happened, but if you can look at them and you can take a moment and look at each of those experiences, not as something that was inflicted upon us, but were opportunities.

We did grow. And when we did get to the other side, you know, I always say Robyn, like, I want my life review to be really awesome. I want to be that person who is, who was that 80 year old in the rocking chair, going look what I did. Yeah. I overcame look at that. You know, all of those experiences that I kind of got through and, and have a really good storyteller.

We've all been through really, really heartbreaking, difficult experiences. It's not like we want them to happen every day, but to your point earlier about having a life that is worth living that, you know, if you have to go through it again, you're, you're really proud of the growth that you, your soul. Has gone through in this lifetime so that you can hopefully have a better one, the next go around, but you learn something different each and every time.

And that's what we're hoping that these tools, these conversations be about that. It's not like life is happening too. It's that you're being given all of these opportunities to, to grow. And if you can give back to like what you said before, I mean, what better gift is there than to try to uplift another soul was own and that you're never alone.

Right? So even when you were, you know, feeling. So alone that like no one could understand you if somehow you had the knowing that there were, there was actually, you just couldn't see it, but there were these souls or spirits or energy or whatever around you, you wouldn't maybe not have felt so alone, you know?

Absolutely. Well, the craziest thing is when I was a facade right at seemingly perfect. I didn't have any friends, really, no real friendships, no authentic friendships and no lasting friendships and no deep communion with anyone. And now. That I've come out in all my imperfections. I laugh. My kids think it's so funny.

I have so many friends, like every day, someone's like, can we go for a walk? Can we, and they're beautiful. Like friendships, I would have wanted my whole life. And now I like don't have any time for my, these friends. So I laughed so hard that when you show up as your true self, like your people, and they've just been like, there it's like a Mo I'm like the moth and they're the light or vice versa.

It's like we're drawn to each other and it's so incredible. Like, I can't even believe it. Like if I would've known that all I had to do is be my real self and I would've had all these great friends, like I would've done it 40 years ago. Our beacon of light that are, that are checking other people of light to you.

And that's just going to infuse you even more. And you're going to be able to give so much more to others because you're going to be filled up with it. Exactly. That's exactly right. Yeah. So tell us about the lifelines experience and kind of what you've put together as a result of this book. Sure. So we wanted to do more than, you know, just tell my story because like we know.

Folks out there are little Melissa's feeling so alone and that they think no one will ever understand that. So this really is, is our passion project. Like, and I have been so fortunate in 32 years of Melissa and delegates, but actually it's about to be 33 years. So we wanted to give back back, and this is based around kind of three.

And you just said it before three core beliefs. One is that. We are not alone because, and it sounds so cliched. And when people say you are not alone, they never mean it. People said that to me, my life. And I was like, you're leaving me alone. You're you're not wanting to understand me in my darkness, I'm alone.

So we aim to never have anyone feel that sense of aloneness. And I think our community is really warm. It's really welcoming. We accept people exactly as they are. We have many very low people, you know, they're in a low state who come to our community and just listen. And it's beautiful. We're we're here for them.

We are truly authentic or exactly who we are and we've built a really nice, nice community, I would say. Beautiful. And then the second important point is that we all have the capacity to channel our darkness into light and make. And that became really, I'd say the most important thing for me, you know, thinking I was only darkness and could never find light.

And in that very despondent state and realizing that if I can, as an existential nihilist can find the light and find a reason to live. I truly believe anybody can. And my goal, I can't carry their backpacks for them because it's a metaphoric hike, but I can shine the light on what worked for me and example.

Is really important for many to change, to see someone like them who has found their way out. So I'm really wanting to show that example so they can follow me hopefully right out of the darkness. And then the third, which became the last piece of my puzzle was once I discovered all these things about myself, right.

I discovered I've existential despair. I have all these hyper sensitivities and I was like, wow, that is why I can create. I needed to do something really important, which was finally stopped racing outside myself for external validation and make that journey inward and accept myself for who I was. I now understood.

I was these things that I hadn't yet offered myself love for it. So that was the first time ever that I said I'm imperfect. I'm broken. I need help because I knew I couldn't make that journey alone. It was too dark to face that existential nothingness at my core, and I'd been racing for my, my whole life.

So I finally enlisted the help of a trained professional who became sort of my partner in making this journey inward and that journey inward to accepting myself in my totality. The spectrum of emotions, like from, like I said, the highs to the lows became really the centerpiece of our ecosystem and I call it it's my journey.

I call it the journey to inner space. And it's this deep journey that I took to really accept myself. And until we do that, all of us sort of make that journey inward and accept ourselves. However, we are, it might not be as dark as mine, but we have to accept ourselves. We won't really ever find that fulfillment.

And all of this is this, this experience is on your website now, right. Or at least that the journey that people can kind of follow along. We Robyn and I were looking at it the other day. And it's, I mean, it's amazing that you've just given us to people for free to that. They can really jump in there and do the work at their own pace, regardless if they have the money to do it or not.

Because I think a lot of people are afraid even to show up to. To tell somebody out loud, this is an experience that they can literally go on the journey in their own time. Whenever it feels right to them at their own pace, which I think is, is incredible. They really can't. It's the exact journey I took.

It took me four years and you can't do it quickly because stopping alone took me like two years. I didn't know how to be in my body. I was in an incessant racer. So I think, you know, when, when someone said. It took the journey and it didn't do anything. I say, you know, you need to take the journey again because it means you, you, you spiritually bypass the journey.

You took the journey in your head, not your heart, because if you really take the journey, it isn't quick. It goes really, really deep. For many of us, who've had trauma, it goes dark and, and you need the help of someone to go there. Like. Couldn't have done it alone. So it is an extraordinary process. If you really do it and you end up figuring out your essence, who you are, what your practice needs to be, to remain kind of economist and how you engage your beautiful sparks and how you engage with others to find that communion that we biologically crave now more than ever, I feel like now more than ever, we've all been so alone for.

So for so long, People have felt so isolated and, or they've never been, even if they don't feel completely isolated, they've never had to be still for a longer period of time. And the stillness in the stillness. You start to really question, why am I here? And yes, why am I here in the big book? Like, how did I get here?

How did I get here? Right. You know, starting to think about, do I, what do I do next? You know, and some people that part is scary and people's jobs have changed. You know, some people have lost jobs because of Coke and it really is an identity crisis. So I think having those tools and your book, it came at the perfect time for where we are in this.

I think so because, you know, I think my biggest lesson for myself, and one of my biggest messages is that anxiety is essential for growth and what we do in this society. And what I did is we feel anything that's not shiny and happy. And we immediately raced the other direction or we want to pathologize it and fix it.

All the philosophers said that anxiety is the bridge between inauthentic and authentic life. There's no way around it. You go through it or you live in authentically. So I think COVID. Allowed many of us to finally touch that anxiety that's beneath the incessant doing you were masking, right? We weren't masking the truth that most of us didn't have meaning in our lives that were routine.

And in this pattern suddenly when the mirror shattered and we were left with ourselves without all the doing, what did it create? Tremendous anxiety. The philosophers would say you are finally touching what it means to be human, but what, what does society say? Oh gosh, anxiety. Can't can't feel that can't feel that go to the doctor, get rid of it.

You know, neutralize it, snuff it out as opposed to Nope. That's telling me that something is going on in there that I need to investigate. And usually it is the fact that my life isn't fulfilling right now. And it means like, and to make it fulfilling. Isn't easy. I have people all day, they're saying to me, how do I make meaning in my life, Melissa?

And I say, that's a really good question, sweetie. You know, unfortunately you can only do it for yourself. I can T I can ask the questions. That'll enable you to start thinking about how to do it, but I can't make meaning for you. No one can make meaning for someone else. And until you're ready to say, I'm going to start exploring, I'm going to start investigating.

I'm going to see what makes my heart sing. I'm going to try a lot of different things. Until you start to do the work. You know, I wrote a verse recently about salvation doesn't come and simply like drag you off the sofa and engage you in the flow of life. You have to do it yourself. And that again is the perspective of, we must take responsibility for doing it or.

Which is hard thing for most people to face, because most of us are terrified. The fear makes us want to cower. And like, we want someone else to do it for us. Or we want to blame people for not doing it for us when in the end, unfortunately, it's up to us, but it's like you said, from the very beginning, not to do that, we're taught to do the thing that makes everybody proud of us and, you know, getting the easiest thing.

Yeah. And, and, oh my gosh, that what you said. I'm going to write that down because it is such a, it's so simple about anxiety being that that bridge between anxiety is the catalyst, the only catalyst for growth it's. So you can understand now why we have such an issue in society, because most of us are seeing anxiety now as something to be neutralized.

Absolutely. In the end for me, I did it. Myself without any other tool. And my, my medicine now is my practice. And so I did this holistically because for me, I knew that like medicine wouldn't answer my questions of meaning and wouldn't. Give me the reason I was here. So it would neutralize the way I felt, but I knew I had to dig into that feeling in order to come to terms with it.

So somewhere in me, even from a very young child, I was like, I have to slog through this myself. And it, it lifted once I did. And, and again, everybody's different and there are obviously many chemical issues, right. Absolutely need medicine to, to remedy. But I think the anxiety that comes from just being human and needing to find meaning is very normal and necessary for the growth.

And what, what is your practice? That's actually one of our questions. What is your practice now? I got, I just finished it. I just finished creating. It's brand new because I just really came through my journey very shortly ago. And one of the worst days of my life was I came through the journey. I had accepted myself in totality.

I was like, here I am. I'm vibing my truth. Everyone knows who I am faced with existential depression. That's me. It was like, that's pretty funny for making toys to the face of existential depression. And then. Doing pretty good. I had a couple like really pretty good weeks cause I was like, I'm doing this thing.

And then one morning I opened my eyes and I'm like, Ooh, I don't feel so good right now. I feel really low. And I was like really, really low. I was like crying in my sleep, which I do sometimes when I'm really low. And my first thought was what's going on? You did the work. Like it's bad. It can't be back.

You did the work, you accepted yourself, like it's back. And I was like, no, this can't happen. When you've been in a really dark place. You always fear it's back. Like it's back is, cause that could mean who knows what you'll never emerge again. So I ended up having like my therapy appointment the next day, I think.

And I went in, I was like,

this makes no sense. This is unfair. And she was just like laughing and she's like, I'm really confused. Melissa, did you think accepting yourself into a totality meant you were never going to have a dark day? I was like, yes. Doesn't that mean? Like it's everyday supposed to be blessed and butterflies and rainbows.

She's like, it's the full spectrum of emotion, right? Saying you're the full spectrum. Yes. What are you? I'm really high highs and I'm really low lows. And that became the fact that I needed a practice because I realized that accepting who I wasn't totality meant two things for Melissa. I go into the bliss of creative imagination and that is so beautiful and intoxicating.

When I'm in that boundless, expansive imagination, I don't want to come down. I don't want to sleep. I don't want to eat. I am creating like a maniac. That's why it's mania. And if I stay up there, It's really unhealthy because I don't eat and I don't sleep and I don't want to talk to anyone. I'm like get away from me.

I'm crazy. So I need something to pull me down when I'm up there for too many days. And likewise, when I go low, I go really low, so low that I might be swallowed by the darkness and I need something to help prompt me. So that became my practice, which I call living life with ease E apostrophe S but it's actually E a S E because it's for ease that make up my practice.

It's energy equanimity. Essence and engagement. Each one is really vital for me. It's my medicine, because energy means I'm keeping my wealth full because I, as someone who punished herself her whole life, I don't take care of myself. And I don't know my boundaries and my limits I'm really bad at that. So that has to become part of my practice.

So I have enough energy to have this life force and do what I want to do equanimity. Oh my gosh. That's two-fold equanimity is such a fascinating word because it involves first stop. But the practice of equanimity is not stopping. The practice of equanimity is allowing whatever you're feeling, where your emotions and your triggers to just pass on by and not becoming reactive to them.

So the practice of equanimity actually means allowing everything, just not becoming reactive to it, which is so hard. So that is a daily practice that I have a whole bunch of things I do to get their essence that part. Done. But for many of us it's really asking all the time, why am I here? What are my seeds of self-expression what do I want to be expressing to the world?

What makes me feel alive and really defining it. And it changes. So I should say, I know it now, but it changes all the time because we want to express our essence. And then engagement is engaging our sparks, which are essence. Cause sometimes we know that. But like, how do we ignite them? How do we harness them to bring them out to the world?

And it's twofold. It's our sparks that are just play like our hobbies and our passions and just doing fun things. And that it's our innate sparks that actually create our meaning our meaning sparks, not our joy sparks. How do we engage with others on a very deliberate basis? Because I'm an introvert and I could easily like go if I'm up there in imagination, I might not see anyone for two weeks.

And then that is also not healthy because biologically we are wired to connect with others and we need to, that's kind of the overall practice. I metaphorically have it in a backpack. It's my backpack of lifelines that I have to. Strap on every morning. And then whenever I'm sort of falling above or below the line, I take it off and I unzip it and I like pull out some of my, my tools and any part of those practices.

Do they involve like yoga or meditation? Is that all in there? Yeah. So the practice becomes, we do work. And if it becomes your personal practice. So for like equanimity many would have meditation and yoga. I have the Pasana, which is a form of meditation where you do a body scan because you're checking in with your body and kind of being present.

So that's my form, but yes, it would be whatever for you allows you to ground yourself. And for me, it's a lot of sensory engagement through my senses, you know, smelling something, hearing something, but yes, it becomes. Whatever for you is the most powerful. We talk about creating your own practice around these four ease for each of us.

It depends which one is is more needy of our attention. I have not heard of the term you talked about with scanning your body, but I was wondering when you scan your body, are you in addition to the physical part, are you thinking about like your third eye or your throat chakra or any of that? No in that, it's real.

What it is is it's the practice of equanimity. It means, wow. I'm feeling a lot of tension like between my eyes. It's just becoming aware and not focusing on it. And then you're immediately going down to your nose and it's this checking in and allowing it to be, as it is, it's really. It seems so simple.

And I have a personal exercise that I created called be the sky it's on our it's on our, the journey. It's I imagined myself being the sky because I think about what would the sky do if a storm went by, would the sky be like yelling at the clouds? Like get out of my way. I just want to be blue today.

What is wrong with you? You're in my, you know, in my path, no, the sky would just be like, Okay. I'm here. I'm behind the clouds. Like the clouds are going to roll on by, and then I'm blue again, white puffy clouds. So I try to embody the sky and see everything that's coming up in my life as the clouds and try to become a witness to the weather pattern.

And it's been really helpful. It's been one of my most helpful exercises because I don't become tethered to it. And reactive. I just try to like, take a pause and, you know, if something's happening with my kids, which inevitably always is, I'm like, okay, it's going to pass. And, you know, in a few, and it always is like, I could have become really reactive and like gotten embroiled in something.

And then like two minutes later, it's over. And I'm like, oh, that was the cloud that just went over there and it's gone such a, I love that visual. I love that. Another really important one that we do. Is, we call it our Hearthstone exercise and to ground in our hearts, we come up with a tangible object that represents our grounding.

And for me, it's a tree and it's, the roots are bare burrowed in my soul. And then my arms are the branches that reach to the sky so that I can simultaneously be rooted in the ground, but also have my head in the heavens. So it's like, I'm, I'm connected fully. For me when I'm untethered and I'm racing. If I close my eyes and I envision my car stone, it brings me home.

And so beautifully illustrated in your website. I love your website. Thank you. I did every piece of it, you know, so I think really when you've really done the work and you've had to adopt. Everybody's done these things. The journey is the journey. It's not like I made it up. And a lot of the exercises we use, we give attribution to, you know, they're not things we necessarily invented, but I think as someone who's really simple, I tried to make it really simple for regular folk who have so much going on in their lives and their heads are like, they're already like overthinking and ruminating.

Like they don't mean. Something more complex. They just want to like find some peace, you know, where do you hope this goes next? Are there going to be products that you think are coming down the road? Yeah. I don't know if you can talk about that at all, but it definitely can. Yeah. So I mean, I have it before, so you're getting a sneak peek.

Yes, we are creating. Tons of tools to help in the practice of sort of remaining here in our lives, grounded and present. And I'm really excited about that because, you know, I'm a, I'm a product creator and I love nothing more than taking. Something that I wish I had in my own life and bringing it to life.

And I've made toys for kids for 32 years. And I haven't been a child, although many think, I think like one, but I've had to put myself in the mind of a child, but now I'm creating tools for me. So it's so exciting that like all these products that I wish I had and I can't find I'm creating. So. That a 10 person product team.

We're creating all kinds of tools that engage your senses so that because it's only through your five extraordinary senses that you actually become present in the moment. And when I realized that it was one of the most profound discoveries ever, because I thought I was present when I was in my head.

Cause I was in my head like 99% of the time. I'm not even living my life when I'm in my head, I'm either in the past or the future, I'm like not here. So I have used mindfulness, which is like engaging my senses. That has been the way I've come home. And I want it to make it easier for others to be able to do.

So we have a whole bunch of products. I think I have more ideas than Melissa and Doug. And I'm excited about that. And then, you know, I want to really make practice this practice. I want to start from childhood because we have physical education. Like why don't we have emotional education, physical education.

Needs to be made into physical, emotional education, things that we never talk about. We need to start talking about because there is an epidemic of anxiety and depression in young people. Now it's horrifying, what's going on and we need to allow folks to express how they're feeling and also Kindle their sparks and not feel so much pressure academically.

I want to be right in there. Helping bring practice into young kids so that they are emotionally ready when life throws them a curve ball. And I'm talking a curve ball in my town is getting an a minus. We're not making the baseball team, but these are things that. Making kids want to end their lives.

Like that's how rigid and perfectionistic our society has become. And we have to show folks that it's not all about that. It's about these beautiful sparks that are in you. It doesn't matter whether it's a four year college or a business, you start out of high school or vocational school. Like it's about finding what makes your heart sing.

And the sooner you can do that, the happier we'll be. I feel so grateful. That my daughter is in this world with you in it really fully, they can have the tools because life, as you said, is always going to throw us curve balls. Right. And they do start when you're younger, whether they're that small or for me when I was 12 and my dad suddenly passed away.

Right. Exactly. And I now see, you know, an incredible connection between what I've done at Melissa and Doug. 30 plus years and what I'm doing here in the end, it really all comes back to play. And it comes back to that inner child that just wants to be exactly as it is seeking joy with no reward with no pressure.

And when we find it in childhood, when we allow our kids to have a childhood and be able to find their form of play. It stays with us our whole lives. And if we can hold tight to that and allow it to manifest as we become adults, we will find that fulfillment each and every day. But I think when our inner child becomes submerged by society, by burden, by convention, by responsibility, then we fall into despair and we lose the reason we're here.

So in, in the end, what I'm really doing. Is just trying to keep play alive from childhood all the way through adulthood. And for those who've forgotten it in their adulthood. Try to unearth once again, their inner child and sort of what has brought them joy at those times in their lives. When they, they felt the happiest in the, oh my goodness.

Well, and for many people who don't actually have children and haven't experienced playing with the child, Or playing with your toys. I can remember playing with my daughter with your toys and being like, God, I forgot what it was like, you just play with these dolls or it's I forgot what it was like to color.

She wasn't in the lines and I'm like, why do I think I have to be in the lines? Right. And it was just, for me, those were those moments, but not everybody has a child to play with. So having these tools that you're creating as adults to bring us back to that inner child, because we all. That inner child still in us.

Oh, of course it is. That's our essence. I mean, essence is our inner child. So if we deny our inner child, we really denied who we are. And I think that what is what our society has become is so much burden and responsibility and pressure to be something we're not. We're we're denying that child who we are.

So hopefully, you know, we can be a little bit of the spark to get people back on, really focusing on what matters at the end of the day. We're all just trying to figure out why we're here, right. And whether it's, you know, through your way of doing it, whether it's through someone, else's, it's trying to find those tools so that people can discover that for themselves and who are doing it.

I mean, I think it's amazing, extraordinary what you've been doing. So kudos to you. I mean, that takes so much courage and I think you should be really proud of yourself for doing something that, you know, you, you could have easily not done. You could have easily continued on that path. So I think anyone who has the courage to follow their heart and do something to touch others in a bigger way has done the ultimate.

I feel like I learned so much actually. Talking to you at the beginning. Did you say, you said that there was four symptoms, four specific symptoms, 5, 5, 5. Can you just make sure we grab that anybody listening is wondering if they have it, they don't. So there five overexcite abilities or hyper sensitivities, which are emotional, feeling everything.

So acutely imagination really going in your head and giving you. Adamant and enact inanimate objects like personalities. Like I thought nature really, like I hear nature speak to me. It's pretty creepy. It's very crazy intellectual, which is that incessant and rabid need for knowledge and asking why and curiosity and like voraciously reading it's central.

And heightened sensitivity of your five senses. So if you have a touch sensitivity or bright lights or loud noises or taste or smell, it can be one of the five, it can be all five. And then the hardest one to explain is psychomotor, which is like an internal revving of your central nervous system, which is almost akin to feeling like.

ADHD. Like you have to keep moving. Like you can't stop. You talk quickly. You have the need to fill empty spaces with, with words, you just have this need to engage in sometimes in an adrenaline boosting behaviors. It's you can't sit still. And it's just this heightened arousal of your, your central nervous system makes it hard to sleep.

And you were saying, if you have one of them or two of them going to have one, I mean, many people have one and they're considered hypersensitive. Yeah. I happen to have all five, just as acutely. It's like my nerve endings are on the outside of my skin in every sense. I think that will be so helpful as everybody's always trying to Google themselves these days and figure out, you know, it's a diagnosis so they can get a fix.

I think it's just, it's really helpful to hear that. Especially as a parent too, because I think that describes a lot of symptoms of younger kids. Now, I, you know, highly sensitive people HSPs has been diagnosed, but when I, when, when a parent comes to me, cause that's the best talks I have with kids and parents and.

Gosh, you know, it sounds like he's really highly sensitive. They're like, yes, that's exactly right. And unfortunately, when we're highly sensitive, we're not acceptable in our high sensitivity because we're really dramatic. We're really worried and fearful. Right. We're really negative were very emotional and those are qualities that aren't that appealing.

I have to be honest, we need to be schooled in how to. Handle people like that because all I was ever called is your too. You're too sensitive. You're too thin skin. You're too dramatic. You're too emotional. You're too curious. Like you keep asking why, you know, why do you keep it was, it was always that how I was being was something I.

I was putting on when I was like, but wait, that's me. So when someone's like, you're too, it's like book, but that's just me. A lot of people who've heard that for sure. And yeah, a lot of their kids are either suffering or, or being of. Trained out of that. Exactly. These are sparked letting that be that exactly.

Because the other side of hyper sensitive is intuitive. It's a great listener. It's like deep feeling. It's having this, this love of the arts that is just palpable. So if you look at the other side of your too, it's also gonna mean, like you're usually really creative, really intelligent connect dots, find meaning.

So, you know, there's the other one side of it is the blessing in it. Yes, it is a huge blessing in all of it. So thank you. Shining the light on that. Oh, you know, all of it. And you should know how much hope you give us in general and being ourselves and in your responsiveness sometimes when you are doing something no one's ever done before.

It, it can feel daunting, you know, better feel it if it doesn't feel it. So one of my favorite words is the word I created it because I couldn't find a word I live every day exemplified. It's the combination of being exhilarated and terrified. And I, my motto is live life. It's Zillow. Because if you aren't feeling the combination of both something's wrong, it means you're not testing yourself enough.

So I think you want that combination of being terrified, but also right. The exhilaration of who knows when you're trying something unknown. So when we started lifelines, there was one day. That I was like taking a walk and I suddenly was overcome by like this terror and I hadn't felt anything like it in so long.

I was like, what is this? I was like, utterly terrified. And I realized, because I had been with Melissa and Doug so long, I had forgotten that feeling of sheer terror, like jumping into the abyss and not knowing. And I really. Holy crap. I'm about to do this thing and I'm utterly terrified. And I was like, oh, okay.

You're feeling it again. That's what we've got to embrace because that's the only way you'll do something that has never been. Yes. Oh yes. And the other word you kept using the, which is like a huge word for me is fulfillment. Fulfillment for me is helping others. Like, like you are. I mean, that's, that's, I just want others to have those light bulb moments and figure out and find their fulfillment and find their purpose.

And as you, and I know we, it changes throughout our lives, like, and I love, and it's all on purpose. Like there's a reason you've gone through the dark. You created the toy company. And now here you are. If you just follow that sort of intuition, it leads you. And I think I'm glad yours. Ours is the exact same it's to it's to connect that essence of you with others to help, you know, the circle.

And and, and by the way, the wisest philosophers of our time, they all said self transcending, getting past yourself and engaging in the flow of humanity is how you find you. Yeah. That's it it's engaging in the flow. And when you didn't, when you weren't feeling you were engaging in the flow was when you didn't feel fulfilled.

And same with me even creating the toys. I was, I was harnessing my creativity and giving kids a spark, but I wasn't engaging me like who it was. It was like a part of me that wasn't me in my life. So it was like, not quite there. And people were like, you're making your identity. Right. It was like, your name was actually on it.

So, yeah. But it, but it wasn't really the essence of who I was. So that's why it was like, and I couldn't figure it out. And people were like, how could you not feel if you have a $500,000 toy company? And yeah. And I didn't quite get it until I started doing this with no sales, just losing money and like, It's doing it.

Yes, exactly. I think that's a really great way to end. Thank you. And you can purchase Melissa's book lifelines, wherever books are sold or in where you'll also find resources and tools. If you're in need of help on your life's journey, you can also reach out to Melissa on She would love to hear from you.

Follow Melissa at seek lifelines on Instagram or Facebook.

Need a Lifeline? A Conversation That Can Pull You from Darkness Into the Light of Your Full Self (Part Two) - Episode 38