‘Brave Love’: Jewelry guru Lisa Leonard is mom to a special needs son
Lisa Leonard is known for her simple, beautiful, very personal jewelry, but her book, “Brave Love: Making Space for You to Be You,” is a raw, vulnerable look at the woman behind the multi-million dollar company. Leonard is married to Steve and they are parents to David, who was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a genetic condition, and Matthias, who was born healthy 10 months later. Her book chronicles much more than the struggles and joys of parenting a child with special needs. She doesn’t hold back on the challenge to save her marriage and learn to love herself through it all. She said getting to a place where she could write it all down was scary.
“I believe when we’re really honest and real is when we find that deep connection,” she said.
Leonard’s marriage is now a healthy one, but that is born out of hard work, faith and commitment.
“It took us a long time to get to where we are,” she said. “It takes time and effort and pain to get to a healthier place.”
Much of that effort came in realizing that she had spent a lifetime trying to make everyone else happy. Her Brave Love Manifesto, which she shares in the book, details the steps she takes to love herself and those around her in a healthy way. It started with setting a timer for 10 minutes, sometimes just sitting quietly.
“I started making a lot of space for quiet,” she said. “I had been so busy caring for my boys – one with special needs – and our business. I wasn’t having big light bulb moments but slowly things started to emerge.”
Leonard said caring for her son’s health needs hit a deeper issue. She felt that if he wasn’t OK, she was a bad mom, and if she was a bad mom, she was unlovable.
“Caring for children is so all-encompassing, even when they are healthy and typical,” she said. “I really felt for a long time that David was not OK and it was my job to make it OK. I felt this intense personal pressure to meet every single one of his needs myself. He’s a very strong, positive person. He has needs, but he can wait sometimes. I just didn’t have the boundaries.”
It required courage to admit that she needed help and needed to make space to be a whole person.
“For so long, I pushed down feelings of anger and sadness and tried to focus on gratitude and happiness and other people’s needs,” she said. “Believing that I’m a whole person with needs and wants, and you are, too – there’s risk. It’s hard. It can be messy. The fullness of life that comes from that place is worth it. My family is so much better off having the whole me – the real me.”
At times, Leonard said she felt as if she was turning her back on God.
“I really felt God say, ‘You are showing me your real, true self and you are going to see me in a new way. Stop trying so hard and let it be whatever it is.’ There really is a God who loves me. I found that the mess really is worth it.”
For moms who are struggling, Leonard doesn’t say life is easy, but she does says it can be good.
“Sharing who we are – our true self – is really scary,” she said. “There’s that thought that if I’m rejected, it’s a core rejection. Reaching out to a friend for coffee can be vulnerable. It takes practice. For me, one of the ways that I’ve been able to work through that fear is to know that I am already loved. The God of the universe loves me and I have people who will love me. Rejection is real. I’m able to bounce back because I’ve built that foundation. My hope is that women will see themselves in my journey and share theirs as well.”
“Brave Love: Making Space for You to Be You” was Jan. 29. To learn more, visit https://www.lisaleonard.com/brave-love-book.