Meet Molly Carroll
MEET THE MUSE: Molly Carroll ~ mom of two kids, therapist, writer, artist, traveler in every sense of the word.
Tell us about yourself:
I am someone that loves life. This does not mean that life is always good to me; I have had some really dark moments, and lonely days. But what life has given me is a plethora of transformative experiences; birth, death, success and failure; and I strive to recognize that these experiences are what have created more depth and richness in my life.
As far as my resume, I am a crazy mom of two kids, a therapist, writer, artist, and a traveler in every sense of the word. I just recently published my first book, Cracking Open and am loving going down the bumpy and spine-tingling road of publishing.
What two words best describe you?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I have a hard time with the words, “perfect happiness” because I have found when I am striving for perfection, and god knows I try, I often feel unhappy. What happens when I strive for perfection is I am smacked in the face with disappointment, and my expectations are never met.
Instead what works for me is, on my good days, is to have a daily intention of living in the heart. And on my bad days, I have a daily mantra of “ this too shall pass.” And from these two spaces I usually end up experiencing some place of joy.
What is the trait you are most grateful for in yourself?
I am grateful that I am the “Would you Ever Girl”. My friends gave me this nickname because I have no fear in asking people to help me. It looks like reaching out to anyone, famous or not, to ask for a favor.
There is something deep down inside of me that believes all humans truly want to help each other. I have said “would you ever” in order to receive a private audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and asked my dentist “would you ever” hold my hand while filling my cavities. Why I am grateful for this trait is that what ultimately happens from asking this question is that I create closeness to another person.
What is the trait you most cherish in others?
Honesty and vulnerability. It is from these two traits that real conversation and connection is born.
What is your most treasured possession?
My family – hands down.
What talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to play the piano. I don’t need to be a concert pianist, just to be able to play a few tunes for friends and family.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I would say that I have a much greater passion for other people’s stories than most people. It’s part of what I love about being a therapist.
Although, I was once told I looked like Dennis Quaid….
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
My initial answer is being a mother; the amount of patience, creativity, and heart wrenching courage it takes to be a parent is such an accomplishment. But another part of my being wants to say publishing a book. Growing up I was never told I was a talented or gifted writer or artist. But this book lived in my soul, and after 7 years of sweat and tears, I put it out to the world. It is a huge accomplishment for me to believe in myself so deeply in order to fulfill one of my life long passions.
What do you want to be remembered for?
How much I loved others, deeply loved others. I hold my family and friends so close to my heart.
I also want to be remembered for how much I followed my intuition. I trust my intuition. It has been my compass for the majority of my life decisions such as to live in Barcelona, marry an atheist, even though I was raised a Catholic, or travel to India alone in my 40’s.
What is your motto?
“It never hurts to ask, the worst anyone can say is No.”
Tell us about your work:
Right now I split my time between two major activities: being a therapist and promoting my book, Cracking Open. Sitting with clients provides me with a constant source of inspiration for how to help people crack open in their own lives.
What job | project | goal are you working on now?
Right now I am working on a couple of different projects. I am currently writing my second book, Cracking Open for Kids. In my past I was an educator for 8 years, and started two after school programs for kids. One in San Francisco called Girl Space, and one here in Bend called Flourish. I feel that kids deserve all the love and attention that we can give to them as adults. My second book will not only be filled with an immense amount of creativity, love, and joy but useful tools for kids to take out in the world in times of struggle, confusion, and insecurity reminding themselves they are amazingly beautiful in every capacity.
The second project I am developing is a program around creativity, mindfulness, and self-acceptance. I am hoping to work with mental health practitioners, educators, and people in the tech world creating a space to live more in their hearts, which can be difficult in such a “heady” world.
What is your “why” behind it?
My why is simple, I believe all people want to live more in a place of compassion, and courage, and part of my service in this life time is to help facilitate this goal. Even though I am far from a doctor, I feel part of my job is do perform spiritual “heart transplants” of some sort.
What skills | qualities do you need to cultivate for it?
Tenacity, hard work and perseverance.
How can we support you and your work?
What a beautiful and self less question, I would love to have your support by purchasing and working with a copy of my book, Cracking Open. I would love to hear from you about what parts of the book you loved and struggled with! I truly believe when we crack open to look at our own stuff we are more available to help and heal others.
Share your inspiration with us:
When and where are you most inspired?
I am inspired while ohhing and ahhing over a Rothko painting, or when an artist has broken a mold in some creative fashion to birth a feeling deep inside my body that then pushes me to be more brave and creative.
I am inspired while walking along the Deschutes River. Daily, I am in awe of the simplistic beauty, light, silence, and calm nature creates. It is my runs and walks along this river that has inspired a lot of my art and writing.
If you could inspire one change in yourself, what would it be?
Calmness. I don’t think most of my friends and family would describe me as calm. I have been described as an energizer bunny, or someone that by 6 am has already cleaned the house, written a few pages, and hiked a mountain. I would love to inspire to let go a bit more, surrender more to the thought that I am enough just being still, and slow down to the natural rhythms of the world.
If you could inspire one change in the world, what would it be?
Compassion. I know this is such a buzzword these days, but what I have learned as a therapist, mother, and human being, is that when I start from a place of compassion things seem to run much smoother.
I spoke about compassion in my TED talk, http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/What-Keeps-us-Alive-Molly-Carro. I think if our world could become more compassionate to ourselves, and then carry this over to others, we would solve a lot of the world problems.
Where do you look for inspiration in your daily life?
In others, I love how we are all so interconnected. There is a man in the town I live in who has some difficulty with walking. Yet I see him on a daily basis walking into town and back teaching me about courage, and appreciation for all that I have. As a therapist my clients inspire me daily. Their bravery and tenacity to heal past wounds, is overwhelmingly humbling.
Tell us about Motherhood:
I hope, inspiring and emotionally available.
What do you love best about motherhood?
It is the simplest things: holding my kids when they wake up in the morning, and laughing at our private jokes. I love watching them from afar: playing a sport, working in school, or interacting with their friends. It is this bird’s eye view that really allows me to feel that deep Mama love.
What do you find most challenging about motherhood?
The most challenging part of motherhood is when I have to see my kids emotionally hurt. As a therapist you would think I would have this one “in the bag,” but actually it is torturous for me. My heartbreaks every time I witness my kids being teased, left out, or when they make bad decisions.
We had a very challenging past two years because my son was in a classroom where he did not have any of his friends with him. I am fully aware he did not have a serious disease or disability, but I had to witness several days of a broken heart. And all I could do was listen, and let him know I was there for him. I find my children’s emotional breaks much harder than their physical breaks.
As a mother, what is your greatest fear?
That I will fail my kids, that they will end up on a street corner lost, scared, and lonely.
What has been your greatest lesson from motherhood?
Patience and trust. I have a daughter that has a very unique spirit. She beats to her own drum, and it sounds like a slow boom, boom, boom. I have had to learn patience, and that it is important to honor her pace even when I am in a hurry. And trust that my children know they are loved, because all that really matters is that your children do not question that you love them deeply, with your whole heart and soul. Nine out of ten times we cannot fix their problems, but we can always love them.
How have you become your mother?
First, I look so much like my mother. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and whenever I return home I am stopped at least once and told by people, “You look exactly like Kathy Rowen.” I take it as a compliment because I think my mother is very beautiful.
My mother is a very devout Catholic, and I think we have grown to have a similar spiritual path in our love and relationship to God. Lastly, my Mom taught me to think about others before myself. As a child, I saw her acts of kindness on a weekly basis; she would drop off gifts at her friend’s doorsteps in times of need. And I find myself doing the same thing, delivering cookies, home made soup stock, or a book for my friends when they are sick or in need of support. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from my mother.
Being a marriage and family therapist, and a self-help author I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the “perfect mother.” I chastise myself when I foul up and feel shame when my children make mistakes especially in public. I think all eyes are judging me saying, “Oh Molly Carroll her kids should not make mistakes,” or on the opposite side, “All therapists kids are messed up.” This part of my story is very uncomfortable, but if one of my goals as a human being is to combat shame with grace and compassion I must be honest with my own negative voices.
What has held you back from sharing it before?
The loving space, so thank you, Muse, for this interview. I hope my honesty can allow other mothers to know they are not alone in their fears. As Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in her book Gifts from the Sea, “I feel we are all islands – in a common sea.” This kinship is motherhood; we are all different types of mothers but traveling in the same sea of challenges, choices, and enchantment for our children. So let’s band together with support and love versus judgment and shame.
Thank you for the inspiration. xo, muse.
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