Friday, December 20, 2019

TAKE TEN with Marriage and Family Therapist/Author Holli Kenley

by Cyrus Webb

Conversations' "Take Ten" series allows us to communicate with movers and shakers in a way that is quick, concise and thought-provoking. Holli Kenley is someone I have had the pleasure of interviewing several times on Conversations LIVE the radio show. She has been able to address issues of family, relationships and technology in a way that is both effective and filled with compassion.

As 2019 was coming to a close she returned to Conversations LIVE to discuss her newest book PILATES FOR PARENTING. Before that, however, she participated in "Take Ten", sharing a bit of her work and the impact it's having around the world. Enjoy!

1) Holli, glad we can have you be a part of “Take Ten”. First of all you have become an authority when it comes to the topics of trauma and moving forward past trauma. What has it been like for you to share what you have learned with others?
Sharing what I have learned is incredibly rewarding. Working in the areas of trauma, abuse, as well as all kinds of betrayal, I am mindful of the painful self-deprecating emotions such as shame, self-blame, and guilt which are embedded deeply within these injuries. Therefore, whether it is in my writing or my speaking, I approach my audiences with the concept of “shared suffering,” reminding them they are not alone. Because I am an abuse survivor, I know that moving towards wellness is hard fought and it can be a lengthy journey.  Thus, by creating recovering tools and healing strategies tailored specifically to address sensitive issues, it is my passion and purpose to help others shorten their stay in their pain-fields.

2) Over the past year the book DAUGHTERS BETRAYED BY THEIR MOTHERS has gotten a lot of attention. What was your hope in writing this particular book?
In many cultures and societies, it is often not permissible or it is of great risk to speak about personal injustices which take place, especially within families. Because of the traditional roles which mothers play within our lives along with the various positive connotations of “motherhood,” it is extremely difficult for daughters (and sons) who have been wounded by their mothers to voice their truths. My hope in writing “Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving  From Brokenness To Wholeness” is to open up a conversation about a truth which is rarely spoken of or addressed – “knowing you have a mother but you don’t.” Also, by sharing the narratives of seven daughters, I hope to peel away the shame, secrecy, and stigma of this topic, allowing the Daughters’ voices to connect to the silence of others.

3) It might be a difficult question but out of DAUGHTERS BETRAYED BY THEIR MOTHERS whose story hit you the hardest?
This is a difficult question. However, what I discovered is this.  Each Daughters’ narrative “hit me differently.” What I mean is that within each Daughters’ story, there was at least one experience that both of us shared which connected me to her pain by taking me back to mine. For example, when Robyn described the physical abuse from her mother, I immediately visualized the horrific beating I endured at a young age from my mother. Although my heart was hurting for Robyn as she disclosed her years of trauma, at the same time I felt a level of comfort knowing I wasn’t alone. With every Daughter, I discovered that she did not feel like she was “enough” for her mother.  She did not feel valuable, or important, or that she mattered. While this was hard for me to hear, I knew other Daughters (and sons) would find comfort in knowing this as well.

4) I also love that you have written other things that are great for the entire family, especially when it comes to technology. Your book POWER DOWN & PARENT UP is a great example of that. What was your hope in writing it?
Thank you for asking about Power Down & Parent Up!  I have been interested in our relationship with technology for over a decade. Because I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, I am very interested in how our degree of access or exposure to or consumption of ANYTHING  is impacting or affecting the well-being of our children and our families. I believe that most parents and guardians want to be very effective in their parenting. However, I also believe that most parents and guardians don’t have any idea about the harmful effects of an abundance of screen time.  Therefore, my hope in writing PDPU is two-fold. First, in a concise format, I want to inform and educate them about some of the concerns regarding our degree of usage. Secondly, I want to provide them with tools and strategies in cultivating a healthy diet of face to face time and screen time within their families.  As I share with families, it is not about banning technology. It’s about balancing it!

5) In POWER DOWN & PARENT UP you deal with a host of issues including cyber bullying. What practical tips do you include that our readers here should know about?
The first section in “Power Down & Parent Up” deals with cyber bullying.  Within that section, I provide tools for parents and guardians so they know how to “Protect” their children against cyber bullying, how to “Intervene” when something harmful takes place, and how to “Prevent” cyber bullying. For example, one Intervention strategy is “Have a safety plan in place.” I describe the three step safety practice of “Stop, Save, & Share.” In the Protection section, I discuss the importance of establishing a Family Media Plan.  In fact, this is also highlighted in Screen Dependence, the second part of PDPU. This is a mandatory tool! This is foundational to establishing a safer and healthier relationship with technology and in reconnecting with one another! And, there is lots more.

6) You bring a part of yourself to everything you write and do. Did you know that was going to be important to the connections you are forming?
Bringing a part of myself into everything I write and do  has been a natural evolution for me. Although sometimes it can be a bit scary, I trust that by being authentic and truthful with my audiences they in turn will trust I am not coming from a place of judgement but from a place of  empathy, compassion, and unconditional positive regard. Having had years of therapy in my journey, if I want others to connect to my work and engage them in the recovering process, I must first “show up” and I must be transparent.

7) We have talked on the radio show Conversations LIVE about the work involved in moving past the trauma and hurt we have faced. Have you found that process to be the real work in getting to a place of peace?
In “Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers: Moving From Brokenness To Wholeness,” I begin with a well-known  quote by Stephan Hoeller: “A Pearl Is A Beautiful Thing Produced By An Injured Life.” After doing a little research, I discovered that it takes around seven years for a real pearl to form. The process cannot be rushed or it will jeopardize its growth. I have found that recovery is no different. If we want to get to a place of peace and wellbeing, we must be willing to do the hard work, for as long as it takes.

8) This work you do is not easy. What keeps you going in spite of the challenges and what it takes out of you?
Thank you for acknowledging that the work I do is not easy. In my life I have found, anything worthwhile rarely is. Tragically, issues such as abuse, addiction, betrayal, bullying and cyber bullying, trauma, and relapse (of all kinds) are pandemic. What keeps me going is believing  my work will connect with others, creating a shift in their thinking or feeling and motivating them to choose wellness. There is no greater reward than knowing one of my writings or workshops contributed to the recovering of another precious being.

What also keeps me going is conducting the research behind my work. Whether the topic is betrayal or screen dependence, learning from the narratives or findings of others, it is critical and foundational for me to remain open and receptive to their truths. Although at times this can require much of me, as it was when conducting the interviews for  “Daughters Betrayed By Their Mothers,” this process replenishes me, both personally and professionally.

9) PILATES WITH PARENTING is the new book. How did you decide what you wanted to address?
After the publication of the Daughters’ book, I was excited to write a creative yet practical guide for parents and guardians based on what I had learned from the Daughters about mothers who “unwilling, unable, or incapable” of fulfilling their roles and how that impacted their daughters’ lives.  As a mother, I wanted to incorporate the concepts I’m proud of in raising my daughter but also include aspects of parenting which I would have done differently. My new book “Pilates For Parenting is a concise book for those who are parents currently and for those thinking of adding to their families.  Filled with assessments and exercises, “Pilates For Parenting” is designed to “Stretch Yourself & Strengthen Your Family!”

10) Thanks so much for your time, Holli. Really appreciate it. Let our audience know how they can stay connected with you.

Thank you so much! Audiences can connect with me on the following:

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