Friday, June 27, 2008

Mojo Mom Podcast: Opting In

We are fortunate to have columnist and Opting In author Amy Richards join us on The Mojo Mom Podcast this week.

The conversation about motherhood and feminism continues. First Amy and Sheryl tackle the topic, reflecting on life at the intersection of feminism and reality.

Then Mojo Mom continues the conversation with Amy Richards, author of "Opting In: Having A Child without Losing Yourself."

The date of our iPod giveaway is coming upon us much faster than we expected. The drawing is on July 1, so listen to the show to find out how to enter. I'd venture to say you'll never find better odds of winning a 4GB iPod Nano.

Looks like we're taking off next week for July 4, but we'll be back with a new show on Friday, July 11.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Last chance to get Mojo Mom, the original edition

I am writing like crazy this week but I don't know how much I'll be able to blog. My priorities are, #1 book revisions, #2 podcast, #3 blog.

...and if I make significant progress on #1 and 2 I will consider this week a success.

I wanted to get the word out that if you want to get the original, first edition of Mojo Mom you should order one as soon as possible. I'll direct you to as the easiest option.

The original book is going out of print and will be replaced by a brand new edition next spring, in time for Mother's Day 2009. The new edition from Gotham Books will be extensively revised and updated. The new book will be bigger and better than before, featuring writing from my blog and the latest developments in the motherhood movement. It really will be a new book. At the same time, I still stand by the original Mojo Mom and I'll always have a soft spot for it in my heart!

Thanks for the support that all my book and blog readers have given me. That's what has gotten me this far!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Mojo Mom Podcast: Momma Zen

We'll be producing new, original Mojo Mom Podcasts throughout the summer.

You can listen to the podcast without an iPod, but from time to time my co-host Sheryl and I get in such a good mood about the podcast that we decide to give away a 4GB iPod Nano to one of our loyal fans. Listen in to this week's show to find out how to enter our July 1 drawing.

Mojo Mom and Momma Zen

Amy has big news--a new edition of Mojo Mom coming out spring 2009 from Gotham Books. Amy and Sheryl celebrate this development and then announce a new iPod giveaway.

Then from the material to the spiritual....Amy talks to Momma Zen author Karen Maezen Miller about writing, creativity and motherhood. Karen shows us all that it's possible to become a writer even if we never find "more time."

For more of Karen's wisdom, check out her series of "Zen Writers' Workshop" entries listed in the sidebar on her Cheerio Road blog.

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The paradox of blogging while writing

It's a real challenge to keep blogging while writing the revisions for the new edition of Mojo Mom. As I get my momentum going I should be able to adapt what I am writing into new posts. My job feels like it's coming full circle right now, as I am also adapting previous blog posts to go into the new book!

One thing I'd like to do is to pose questions to you to get your input into topics that would be helpful for my revisions.

Question of the day: One of my Mojo Mom ideas is that no life experience is ever wasted. If you have had a series of jobs or careers, how do those previous experiences carry forward to help you today?

My personal example: As Mojo Mom I draw upon the research skills I used to write my Ph. D. thesis, and the public speaking skills I developed as a science teacher.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Podcast: Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It

We've got a new Mojo Mom Podcast episode loaded up today.

First, Amy and Sheryl talk about their failed efforts to find peace and mindfulness. Find out why the best place to meditate might just be...the shower?

Then Amy talks to Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, authors of Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It. Cali and Jody pioneered a new work model called ROWE, the Results-Only Work Environment. Say goodbye to face time and pointless meetings, say hello working however you see fit, as long as the work gets done. ROWE applies to a wide variety of situations and can most definitely make life better for working parents.

Learn more about ROWE on Cali and Jody's CultureRx site, and check out their blog.

If you've ever found yourself waiting for the work world to change, then you owe it to yourself to check out Cali and Jody's work. At the end of our podcast interview they talk about how you, as one person, can take baby steps toward improving your own work environment.

If you are new to The Mojo Mom Podcast, the first half of the show, approximately 15-20 minutes, is more of a "coffee chat" between friends, myself and my co-host Sheryl. And then in the second half of the show, I try to get my Terry Gross mojo revved up as I interview a noted author or expert whose work is directly related to motherhood, or indirectly makes mothers' lives better.

I encourage you to give both segments a listen. Our past shows are all archived on and you can also download shows for free and subscribe in iTunes.

Our Podcasting FAQ tells you how to listen, with or without an iPod.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Beyond Opting Out

As I sit down to revise Mojo Mom I am digging in by starting on my chapters about relationships, work and family. Even as I build on years of studying these issues, relevant new reporting is coming out at a dizzying pace.

Earlier in the week I was writing about gender roles and power dynamics, when Tara Parker-Pope reported in her Well column really interesting new research about what heterosexual couples can learn from same-sex partnerships.

Then today, just as I was thinking about how we can rewrite the "Opt-out narrative" to more accurately reflect women's lives, Lisa Belkin herself published a New York Times Magazine cover story that suggests that she is ready to develop a nuanced sequel to the storyline she ignited back in 2003.

In her new feature When Mom and Dad Share It All -- Adventures in Equal Parenting Belkin highlights how gender roles lead to typical unequal parenting in the first place:

The obstacles to equity are enmeshed and interwoven, almost impossible to separate from one another. Deutsch did a study of 150 couples who tried sharing to various degrees, and her results suggest that social norms play a large part in why so few marriages are truly equal. Choices are made in a context. It is rare that you choose something you have never seen. So men who do more around the house than their fathers and spend as much time with children as their neighbors feel that they are doing their share and their wives feel grateful to have such involved partners....

Messages, loud and soft, direct and oblique, reinforce contextual choice. “A pregnant woman and her husband,” Deutsch says, “how many people have asked her if she is going to go back to work after the baby? How many have asked him?”

Looked at through that lens, what seems like an external institutional barrier to equal sharing becomes something else entirely. He makes more money than she does, so of course she should be the one to step back her career; she has a more flexible line of work than he does, so of course she should be the one to work part time. Those may seem like choices, but they have their roots in social norms.

Belkin's article is nuanced and worth reading in its entirety.

You'll hear much more on this topic from me in a new chapter to be added to the forthcoming edition of Mojo Mom.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Mojo Mom reviews "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything"

I was sick all weekend, which was awful, but it did give me the chance to read an interesting new novel about a mother and daughters who have thoroughly lost their mojo.

Janelle Brown's debut novel All We Ever Wanted Was Everything pulls back the curtain on "the good life" in Silicon Valley. Just as Janice Miller's family reaches for their moment of triumph as her husband's pharmaceutical company goes public, making the Millers multimillionaires on paper, Janice's world crumbles around her in a day.

The story covers the following summer as Janice slides into despair, along with her fourteen-year-old daughter Lizzie, who is looking for validation in all the wrong places; and her former wunderkind daughter Margaret, now 28, who is returning home from Los Angeles, in debt and without direction, after her feminist magazine has failed. Janice's husband Paul is a mere phantom in the story, practically gone before he left, an entitled, ruthless, self-proclaimed "libertarian" Wizard of Oz figure.

Janelle Brown's keen eye for detail and razor-sharp wit keep the story afloat, even as there is little but despair and missed chances for connection between the Miller women. I am giving the book 5 stars based on its literary merit, but as a reader I wished that the story had continued a little farther down the path of redemption and transformation. Perhaps it was a braver artistic choice not to make it that easy for the characters or the book's readers.

As sad as these three women are, on a metaphorical level I recognized a part of myself in each of them. Brown takes each woman to the edge of destruction, but she always maintains a sliver of their essential humanity. The bonds between mother, daughter, sister are stretched to the limit but do not break.

This would be an intriguing book club read. I'd love to talk with others about ambition, feminism, judgment, redemption, and the complex nature of Brown's attitude toward her characters. I just finished reading the book and I have a feeling my reaction will evolve over time.

Brown's writing is specific and original and at the same time her novel brings to mind a number of other works: women in limbo, not yet responding to their wake-up call as in Meg Wolitzer's The Ten-Year Nap; the suburban self-destruction of Tom Perrotta's Little Children (with less sex); and the biting social satire of Perrotta's Election. Finally, the Miller women's propensity to turn to boys and men again and again to escape or solve their problems could be a case study out of Leslie Bennetts' The Feminine Mistake.

By the way, I am working hard on increasing my reader review visibility on I have written 61 reviews now. If you liked this review, would you take a minute and vote for it as helpful over on the book's Amazon page? Thanks!

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Mojo Mom Podcast talks about "Parenting, Inc."

Do you ever wonder how mega-superstores filled with endless aisles of baby gear came about?

Listen to the new Mojo Mom Podcast interview with Parenting, Inc. author Pamela Paul to find out.

Pamela has researched the entire universe of baby gear, classes, and the whole lifestyle that is marketed to new parents.

There is a ton of unnecessary stuff out there, but I couldn't resist asking Pamela for some of the resources and products that she thinks are effective, worthwhile investments.

Here's what Pamela Paul recommends for parents confronted with a perpetually unhappy sleepless little babe:

* First, to consult a sleeping coach. My personal favorites are based in LA but can do phone conferences anywhere. Check out

* Second would be a very good lactation consultant, IBCLCE certified

* And third would be a Miracle Blanket.

Thanks to Pamela for those recommendations. I was amazed by the video on the Miracle Blanket site. A wiggly newborn gets securely swaddled in the blanket, and she sure looks happy at the end.

I would have never believed how obsessed I could get about sleep until I had a newborn. We struggled mightily during the early months with our fussy baby. I still don't know exactly what "colic" is, but I am pretty sure she fit the bill. Her developing nervous system was on jangly overdrive much of the time, especially during the evening "Witching Hours." She did grow out of it, but it took us long time to get a good night's sleep for all of us.

I second Pamela's recommendation of lactation consultants, and would suggest a new Mom or new parent class as well. You can often find lactation consultantsand classes offered by local hospitals or birth centers and it generally does not matter whether you actually had your baby there or not.

I also recommned The Sleep Book for Tired Parents (an older book but one of the few to give an overview of several approaches) and Dr. Marc Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

There are other newer resources out there that I have not personally tried. Please share your favorite fussy newborn resources in the comments section.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

MomsRising asks, "Get Sneezed on Much?"

Check out's new, wacky, addictive, nation-changing, sneezing nose game, "Don't Get Sick"

Paid sick leave is key for all workers, and yet nearly 50% of private-sector workers--and almost 80% of all service sector employees--don't have a single paid sick day. It's ridiculous. No one should have to work sick, or risk losing their job or needed pay because they get sick, and kids shouldn't have to stay home alone while they're sick.

Even if you personally have paid sick leave, just remember that someone else's lack of sick leave could lead to your next illness. Last April, over 430 people became sick after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Ohio, from a Norovirus suspected to originate from a sick employee.

Paid sick leave is compassionate common sense that helps keep everybody healthy. Won't you help MomsRising make it a reality for all workers?

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Monday, June 02, 2008

What's next for Mojo Mom -- a new edition!

This spring I have not blogged as much as I would have liked, but I have been working hard behind the scenes to launch the next phase of my work as Mojo Mom, and I can now share a major piece of news with you that answers the question, "What's next?"

I am thrilled to announce that Gotham Books will be publishing an extensively updated and expanded edition of Mojo Mom next spring, in time for Mother's Day 2009. This is such an exciting opportunity for me. So much has happened over the past few years -- a whole new cultural discussion about motherhood has taken place, and a revitalized motherhood movement and activist communities such as MomsRising have emerged. I have kept up with the latest developments by reading everything I could get my hands on since publishing Mojo Mom, and writing my blog, and now I will be able to bring those fresh insights into the new book as well.

What I have learned from my author experience so far

My experiences as an author tie directly back into my Mojo Mom philosophy. I have learned that when you have an idea that you are ready to commit to as a consuming passion, you should pursue it and develop it as fully as you can on your own, even if you run into discouraging obstacles.

When I first approached well-known publishers with my book proposal back in 2003, I was (understandably) turned down because I was an unknown author without a track record or "platform." But I knew that I was not going to develop a track record just sitting around feeling bad about being rejected, so I took matters into my own hands. I launched, started blogging, and published my book independently. After that I kept writing and worked hard to bring my message to the media.

After all that work, I have reached the point where I attracted the interest of a top-notch literary agent and major publisher. I am looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish with this new alliance.

You can't count on waiting until someone else proves that it can be done; by then your opportunity may have passed. If I hadn't worked hard to launch this project on my own, I never would have reached this point. Many other motherhood books have been written, but because I've been researching and writing about the topic continuously for five years, I feel confident that I still have another important, unique contribution to make.

I stand by my past writing--I am still me, and my underlying philosophy is consistent, but I have learned so much over the past three years and I am thrilled to be able to bring that insight into the new book.

A final note, the original Mojo Mom is almost sold out on the distributor level, so if you wish to get a copy I'd advise you to do so now, because once it is sold out it will be difficult to get on Amazon or in bookstores.

Thanks to all of you who have read my book and blog, or listened to our podcast. Your comments and feedback have kept me intrigued by the topic of motherhood for all this time.

I plan on having a fun summer, enjoying time with my family--and I will also be hard at work writing the new book for you!

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