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Leena Lemos: The Death That Created Life

New Jersey
Leena is the founder of Enlightenedhood and on a mission to raise the collective consciousness through empowering women to step into their power and out of the spiritual closet. Leena started collecting stories of how other mothers were using mindfulness + spirituality while navigating motherhood and this blossomed into a global movement, reaching almost 100 countries in under a year. Today, Leena is passionate about a many-to-many approach to spirituality and is working to build the Enlightenedhood tribe to make this type of wisdom more accessible and stigma-free.

The moment I stepped into my truth was at my grandmother’s funeral.

Now let’s rewind.

I hadn’t been living as my most authentic self for over a decade.

As a child, I was outgoing, fearless and dreamed big. I loved the stage, performing, and using my voice to share stories and move audiences.

During high school, I was bullied by my group of friends and almost didn’t pass the tenth grade because I was absent so often. They formed a “hate club” and sent me relentless vulgar messages online.

On top of that, the relationship I entered that was a catalyst for the social outcasting was manipulative, heartbreaking and abusive. I felt trapped with nowhere to turn.

On top of that, one of my main sources of self-empowerment, running, came to a screeching halt when I started having undiagnosable back pain. My promising track career ended almost overnight.

I had nowhere to go but to retreat inward. How’s that for some teenage baggage?

While I’ve always had great communication skills, whenever I’d have to perform or get up on stage, it would never go as great as it did in my head. I’d always feel disappointed that I couldn’t overcome the lump in my throat to truly let the light shine from the inside out.

In social situations, I felt like I could never be myself in fear of rejection for being too inquisitive, too goofy, too spiritual, too…you name it. I started hiding, only letting my true self show up for a very select few.

In the spring of 2018, my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family. A few weeks later, my grandma passed away. While I could give you the step-by-step self-awakening that occurred as the result of her death, I’d rather share the letter I wrote to my daughter on the night of her funeral:

April 13, 2018
Dear baby,

We buried my grandmother today. Her passing has ignited a fire within me, calling me to step up and accept my true calling.
I wasn’t the granddaughter who knew her the best or tried the hardest. I lived 5 hours away and only saw her a few times a year (if I was lucky). Throughout the three days I spent with the women of my family planning her funeral, there was a voice whispering inside of me…
“Step up,” it said.
And so I did. I volunteered to give the eulogy when no one else thought they could. I knew it had to be me. All I could think to myself was, “if I truly want to be a parent, how can I not be present and have courage when my family needs strength?”
While I had been looking forward to a few days of bereavement away from work where I could take a break from writing, I welcomed the opportunity to use my gift for my family. It didn’t take long before the words flowed out of me into the perfect eulogy.
One thing you’ll come to realize about me is that I’m fairly confident I was a vaudeville performer in a past life.  The thrill of performing ignites me at my core. Years of adolescent bullying and emotionally abusive relationships turned my vivacious need to please a crowd into a more introverted and cautious sense of self. I can’t even quantify the amount of times I’ve thought in the past decade after a presentation or performance, “I know I could have done better.”
Dressed in grandma’s pearls and my grandfather’s commemorative pin for 30 years in the Postal Service, I stood up and delivered her eulogy just as I had practiced. It was full of heart, humor, and Yankee references. I hit every beat. My jokes were extremely well received. It was my first moment in years, maybe decades, where I felt truly proud of myself. My courage was restored.
Since that day, I am fearless in the pursuit of cultivating a life that cultivates kindness and enlightenment. While we wait for you, I will plant the foundation for your home. I promise to be present in each moment. To cherish you. To protect you. To teach you how to be respectful of our planet and all living things. To teach you that you are worthy. You are abundant. You are love.
I promise to find balance and light. I promise to let go of all that does not serve me, for my emotional baggage does not define you. I promise to lead with love and surrender to the power of the universe to be in tune with the high-vibrations I know I’m meant to put forth. This letter is my commitment to this journey. I am mindfully nesting for your arrival.
In death there is life, and my child, I know she will be watching over you until you decide it’s time to join us on the other side. I hope there’s no such thing as second-hand smoke, wherever you are. Grandma sure did love her cigarettes.
I can’t wait to meet you.
With love and gratitude as deep as the universe,
Your future mama
P.S. You have a dog brother who’s not so great at sharing attention. We’ll work on that, too.

Okay wow, I just bawled reading that again.

This moment in my life became the seed of Enlightenedhood and led me down a path to not only becoming a mother, but a mother on a mission to show up, step up, and join other women who have chosen to do the same through mindfulness.

Fourteen months later, I can tell you this:

“Enlightenment” doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s just that. Light. It’s amazing how the universe rewards you when you choose to live as your authentic self and nothing more. The rest comes after we learn to let go and surrender.

When you step into your truth, you’ll begin to attract like-minded souls. You’ll radiate with light so bright it illuminates all around you.

But the most important thing I’ve learned?

You can’t force someone else’s “catalyst” moment. Just think if you were to interrupt a caterpillar before it was complete metamorphosing into a butterfly. It wouldn’t have the wings and beauty it needs to fly.

But that’s why more women are joining me in the Enlightenedhood movement.

We’re all flying and ready to soar.

Listen to Leena’s Journey on The Enlightenedhood Podcast

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