10 Books That Have Made Me The Mother I Am Today

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Perhaps you know some of these books, perhaps all. We can celebrate our connection knowing we are built of the same fibre. Perhaps there are some titles here that are unfamiliar. May they feed your soul as they have mine.

When I was pregnant with my first child no amount of uncertainty could bring me to read a single book that attempted to offer pregnancy advice or birth anecdotes. I had little interest in pre-empting what my experience as a first time mother was going to be like and trusted that motherhood was an extension of who I was as a woman. In the same way I instinctively knew I had the stamina to get through childbirth (drug free as it turned out) I felt quietly confident that I had the mental, emotional and spiritual resources to feel my way into my new role as a mother also.

The mother we grow into is shaped by who we are as women. How well we know ourselves determines how well we can know our children, how honest we are about our own behaviour directly relates to theirs and the more love we have for ourselves the more we have to give. So, for my own benefit and that of my children I do my homework regularly so that I can show up each day better prepared than I was the day before – more conscious, more content and more accepting.

There have been some highly influential voices that have confronted me on my blind spots, affirmed me when my confidence was shaken and helped me feel less isolated when my views clashed with those of the tribe. Some of these writers helped to shape my thinking as a young woman and their words continue to provide me with a stable, solid base whilst others I have met more recently and have helped me to build a castle on my sturdy foundations. These voices have woven their way into my psyche and have ultimately shaped me as the mother (and woman) that I am today.

Perhaps you know some of these books, perhaps all. We can celebrate our connection knowing we are built of the same fibre. Perhaps there are some titles here that are unfamiliar. May they feed your soul as they have mine.

10 Books That Have Made Me The Mother (And Woman) I Am Today

1. Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali

9781742373775 I read this book when I was away alone and had left my children at home for an extended period for the very first time. It was the perfect read to help me focus on self-care and reflect on learning to parent in a calm and peaceful way. (No better place to practice than without kids around!) Having some space meant I could spend time reflecting on the Buddhist teachings of mindfulness, presence, acceptance and compassion to the everyday challenges and stresses of raising children  Rather than focusing on the child’s behaviour, this book focuses compassionately on the inner self of the mother.

 

2.Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

9780712671347This book came into my life at a time of great transition. I was grappling with big questions and much uncertainty around the relationships in my life and this book introduced me to the wild, archetypal concepts of what it means to be female: messy, raw, and full of passionate creative energy.

Estes teaches women how to reconnect with the ancient feminine and their true wild nature. She uses folk tales and fairy tales and teaches us through fable, myth, and allegory. These archetypal women came alive and spoke loudly to me.

My copy has much scribbling in the margins and dog-eared corners. A book I have come back to over and over.

3. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

9780307352156This book is a real gem and a wonderful resource. It cracks open the code that differentiates introverts and extroverts and we are bound to find ourselves, or those we know, within its pages. The insights offered are validating to the introvert but they also help us understand both introvert and extrovert personality traits. We learn to recognise the true nature of our children, our partners, our parents, etc. and thus come to understand them better.

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favour working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Introversion is not a flaw, it is a quiet, uncelebrated strength. Amen.

4. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

9781592858491“We’re afraid that people won’t like us if they know the truth about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, how much we’re struggling, or, believe it or not, how wonderful we are when soaring.”

“The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.”

Brené Brown is a researcher who focuses on shame, vulnerability, authenticity and belonging. I came to know and love her work through her TED talks and what I have come to value most about her words, that resonate for a long time after reading,  is that ultimately they hold me accountable. When we see ourselves for who we are, when we strive because we have goals and dreams, when we calm the storms of constant comparison and judgment, we can transform ourselves and our lives.
This book speaks to the relentless inner perfectionist and has helped me navigate this territory.
9780749941208When I first read this beautiful book I felt as though I had discovered my soul grandfather. Thomas Moore taught me about the nature and needs of the soul and gave me permission to value creativity as a way of bringing depth to ordinary life. This book taught me to embrace all of life as a soul experience – the light and dark elements equally.

 

 

6. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior

9780349005515I read this book during a long summer break whilst my children were off school and we were home together for the entire holiday period. I, Like others I am sure, greatly cherish such uninterrupted lengths of time with my children, and yet simultaneously long for some space and time in between. This book is a body of research and anecdotes that looks at why parenting can feel so onerous, and more than anything raises the conversation.

 

 

7. Navigating Midlife: Women Becoming Themselves by Robyn Vickers-Willis

9780975704240I first heard Robyn Vickers-Willis interviewed on Radio National and her voice and personal story made me sit up and take note. She is a psychologist whose own experiences and extensive research has convinced her that there is a point in a woman’s life when women need to focus on their selves, and make an inner, psychological journey to ensure that the second half of life is meaningful and satisfying.

This book found me when I was at a point in my own life where I was feeling depleted and lacking in direction and I felt the need to renew my sense of purpose.  The book hit the mark and helped me recalibrate..

 

8. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

9780060256654“Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.”

I read this book over and over to my own children.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

This book raises questions for me. I wonder if it is a story of selfless love or the story of a mother who doesn’t know how to set limits. It is the tale of a tree who gives literally everything she has to a boy/man who takes and takes, giving nothing in return, not even appreciation.
I wonder what you make of it?

9. Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

9780553378351Before I undertook my own yoga teacher training I became heavily interested in the philosophy and psychology of yoga. I was experiencing emotional shifts (and spontaneous teary outbursts) during my own yoga practice and this book helped me understand the deeper connection between the practice and the transformational potential it offers.

Stephen Cope is a Western-trained psychotherapist who lived and taught for more than ten years at the largest yoga centre in America (Kripalu). Whilst there he lokked at yogic philosophy and its connections to Western psychotherapy as a means of uncovering the true self.

 

10. SARK’s books

9780684833767I had just left home and was exploring my own personal definitions of freedom for the first time and SARK was my inspiration. She was brave and wild and I would savor each page as I got to know her better with each book. Her writing was honest and liberating and she taught me to live life to the fullest, to stay open to all possibilities and to break free of the limitations set by society. Her writing encourages every woman to pursue what makes her happy without judgement or criticism.

Her books are as colourful as she is, and she generously lets us into her private reflections and anecdotes. It feels as though you are reading her intriguing personal diary. She still holds a special place in my heart.

 

This list is not even close to being the last word, so I would love you to share the books that have made you the mother you are today in the comments below.

Happy Mother’s Day gorgeous women,

xM

Why Adults Need Play Time Too

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We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.

What we all instinctively know is that  “All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.” Work, parenting and the daily routine keeps us very task focused and achievement oriented. Our hectic, modern lifestyle is certainly busy and demanding and we need measures in place for regular, light-hearted relief to boost our happiness. The missing ingredient is joy and fun, and the way to find it is through play.

Adult play is a time to forget about responsibilities and commitments. The focus of play is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal. It is pleasure for pleasure sake. The only purpose of the activity is having pure fun. “We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up,” says Scott G. Eberle, editor of the American Journal of Play.

But we dismiss play too easily. We excuse ourselves from opportunities to play by telling ourselves we are too busy, too tired, too old or too stressed to make time for it. Our leisure time activities tend to revolve around technology and television, which do not rejuvenate us or enrich us like play can.

Play is a way to fuel the imagination, develop creativity, connect with loved ones and improve overall health. Research shows that a life lived without play is at increased risk for stress related diseases, mental health issues, addiction and interpersonal violence. Introducing more play helps to relieve stress, boost creativity and innovation, improve brain function,  connect in relationships and keeps us feeling alive and engaged.

So instead of looking at play as a waste of precious time, consider it a great investment in your wellbeing.

Some of my personal go-to activities are doodling mindlessly on paper, knitting, participating in activities of my children’s choice (eg. water slides, rock climbing, trampolining), singing loudly to the radio, seeing art shows, playing with new yoga poses, attending writers talks, drinking tea with friends and warm baths.

Here are some other suggestions that may help introduce more play into your routine…

  • read a book/novel for pleasure
  • make art – draw, sculpt or just colour in
  • see art – go to a gallery
  • see a movie
  • move your body in new ways- go to a fun dance or yoga class
  • see some comedy
  • play some music or go to a live concert
  • get involved in a team sport
  • find your inner flirt
  • daydream on the grass
  • do a puzzle
  • play games or do a craft activity as a family
  • play with your kids and let them take the lead

I would love you to leave some of your favourites in the comments below. I love a good play date.

xM

If you would like to come play with me I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will make art and enjoy using our bodies in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.
f you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

– See more at: http://thelivewellplayground.com.au/#sthash.uiHEcTcQ.dpuf

f you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

– See more at: http://thelivewellplayground.com.au/#sthash.uiHEcTcQ.dpuf

f you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

– See more at: http://thelivewellplayground.com.au/#sthash.uiHEcTcQ.dpuf

Teaching tweens how to set boundaries

boundaries (2)
It is human nature to avoid pain, including emotional pain, whether it is ours or someone else’s. So we need to help our children navigate the fear and guilt that may come with learning to set boundaries.

This morning my daughter wanted to have a ‘strategy meeting’ regarding how to deal with a boy that, according to his friends, ‘liked’ her. It should be said from the outset that these feelings were not mutual, and her friends had been sure to make this clear to this poor boy. My daughter is sensitive and was feeling uncomfortable, not only about the unwanted attention but also about how to address the issue and this boy.

Many of us, when unexpectedly placed in a situation where it is difficult to say ‘no’, will agree to something that is to our own detriment. Most of us have had the experience of agreeing to help out or be there for others when we don’t have the time, energy or resources ourselves.

Saying NO can be awkward and uncomfortable and this makes it difficult for tweens to set boundaries.

When we do things out of guilt or obligation – please others even when it contradicts what’s best for us or avoid expressing our thoughts and feelings when someone upsets us, we are succumbing to fear. We may fear rejection, so we say yes and abide by what we feel is expected of us. We may fear confrontation, so we go along with things just to make it easier. We may also feel guilt as a result of saying ‘no’ or hurting someone’s feelings.

So how do we explain to our children not only WHY it is important to prioritise our own well-being but also HOW?

Learning to set boundaries are key skills in creating healthy and emotionally sustaining relationships. If we can teach our  children to first recognise and then proritise their own well-being we are teaching them self-worth. When our children can recognise and accept what they truly desire, they no longer have to look for approval outside of themselves, which gives them the freedom to be who they really are.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval.”

– Brené Brown

My daughter and I talked about how to sit with having hurt someone’s feelings. It was important for her to be able to see that though her honesty meant this boy was disappointed she wasn’t in fact being rude. She was being truthful and sometimes often even for adults this can take a lot of courage. Our obligation to others is to be respectful, however we are not responsible for the other person’s response. We are only responsible for ourselves.

And with that we skipped off to school together discussing homework  and how to get it finished on time.

If you would like to learn more about taking brave steps in your own life, or perhaps you have a tween that you feel would benefit from learning more about resilience, I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment.One workshop is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage. The other workshop is for tweens and parents/caregivers and addresses Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.

Bookings open shortly but places are limited, so if you are interested in being notified early jump over here to register.

Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.