Friday, May 29, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast with The New Global Student

I've really enjoyed getting to know Maya Frost, and I highly recommend her book The New Global Student for all parents, whether or not you are already thinking about giving your child an international educational experience.

Maya is my guest this week on The Mojo Mom Podcast, and I hope you'll listen in.

Listen to the podcast now:

The Mojo Mom Podcast goes global this week. First, Amy checks in with guest co-host Patty Ayers, about Patty's ongoing adventures as an empty-nest North Carolina Mom turned global citizen living in Mexico. Patty is a web designer who has untethered herself from her desk to create a business as a virtual assistant that will allow her to work anywhere in the world.

The Mojo Mom interviews Maya Frost, author of the book "The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education." Maya addresses the WHYs and HOWs of creating an international opportunity for your children or whole family. Maya speaks from experience. She and her husband moved from Portland, Oregon to Mexico and then Argentina with their four teenage daughters.

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First, get centered

In Mojo Mom I have a chapter on Centering, Silence, and Reclaiming Your Mind Space, and this week it feels like all I have to do is take my own advice. It's easier said than done!

It is finally sinking in that I need to get centered before I can anything else. Even though I might imagine "centering" as a luxurious break, in reality my mind would just as soon charge straight ahead. But as I grapple with post-publication burnout (a common experience, but one authors rarely talk about), I have to slow down, to take things off my to-do list, to let other people down and even let myself down--I am bummed that I still don't have all my Mojo Mom chapter summaries posted yet as I had planned!

This Monday, when we had a day of family time for Memorial Day, my husband, daughter and I went to an artist friend's house for a pottery lesson. I loved getting my hands dirty, playing with the clay, and seeing what emerged. Pinch pots and coil pots took form. Then Sasha gave us a lesson on the pottery wheel. You literally cannot do anything until the clay is centered, because off-center clay is just a wobbly blob of goo that pushes you around! Centering the clay is an art all in itself, but with Sasha's help to get us going, we could each experience the wheel for ourselves. When the clay is centered, you have the fun of shaping it, growing a project up and out. The clay still feels like it is in charge to some extent (especially as a newbie) but it was really cool to coax it into a new, elegant form. Sort of like life, wouldn't you agree?

Check out our friend Sasha's ceramic gallery to see what an inspired artist can create.

So as Zen teacher Cheri Huber reminds us, "If you're too busy to mediate, you're too busy." This summer you may see me blogging a bit less--when the spirit moves me, but not every day. Not that I always manage to post every day now, but this summer I am giving myself permission to spend time on some of the restorative work I need to do in my own life.

I might be meditating, playing tennis, or watching my daughter swim, but I am just as likely to be doing the dishes. I need to clear out my mind, my schedule, and my garage so that I can make space to invite in the next phase of my life.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friendship homework

Here is some Mojo Mom friendship homework for this week:

Think of the friend who is always there for you, perhaps always there for everyone. She is the one who remembers birthdays, brings cakes, organizes parties. She might do this for the classroom, her neighbors and friends, as well as her family. She is extraordinarily responsible; she always seems to have it together, and she is always there to lend a hand, no matter how busy things get.

When she's giving to others, how many of those others think to give back to her; to wonder how she is doing, and what might else might be going on in her life?

So think of this friend, really hold her in your mind, and send her good wishes. Then pick up the phone and call her. You might say, "I know you have a lot going on right now and I was just wondering how you are doing." And see what happens from there.

I will admit that there are days that I just wish someone would say, "Amy, how are you? What can I do for you right now?" It happens sometimes, but I wish it happened more. I think even having that question asked would be wonderful. I may not need anything "done" but just to know that someone thought to ask would come as a nice surprise. The caregiving tide seems to flow outward on most days, as is the case with many women. This gift of attention, of noticing how other women are doing, and that they need support too, is something we can give each other.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast will return next week with The New Global Student

My podcast co-host Sheryl and I decided to declare this to be our chill-out week. We needed a break: she has just graduated with her Masters' degree from UNC, and I have completed my book publication/publicity sprint. It's Memorial Day weekend and we're going to relax! But we do have next week's show lined up. The Mojo Mom Podcast will return Friday, May 29 with our guest Maya Frost, author of the terrific book The New Global Student.

Maya presents dozens of innovative ideas about international education: how to do it authentically, safely, effectively, and even save money in the process. I highly recommend her book. It's an important read for parents of younger students as well as those reaching high school. I am glad to be learning this several years before we have to make these decisions.

As someone who climbed the prescribed academic ladder all the way to my Ph. D., and then got in touch with my entrepreneurial spirit and sense of independence, I wish I had learned about these options years ago. I think every student would benefit from a step away from the traditional path, to get perspective about the world, and really think about the path they are crafting for themselves. Students should actively make choices rather than follow a default path to success--because in real life, we really do have to be prepared to make our own way and create opportunities, rather than waiting for someone else to present them to us.

One of my favorite quotes by Anna Quindlen reads:

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach . . . searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.

A global education and experience can help us reach the next level, to feel empowered and capable of taking charge of our lives.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Book release recovery, friends, Mom-in-Chief on The Huffington Post

I've had a tough week. I am grateful that it's all working out, but it's been a tough eleven days. My daughter got sick the day before Mother's Day, and she was getting well but then started to go downhill again. All this started with poison ivy--on her face--which got infected and ended up being treated with two kinds of antibiotics and strong steroids. I was just glad that after three doctor's visits we got on the path that led to her getting better. It was nerve-wracking to see her wake up after five days on antibiotics with her face so blotchy and swollen that her eyelid was halfway shut. Any time antibiotics are involved, and especially when they don't work the first time, I get a little panicked. But we managed to get her better and even had a little bit of fun over the weekend. She was hyper and hungry from taking the steroids, so she baked two batches of cookies and made blueberry pancakes. (She's quite the cook for someone who is not quite ten yet!) She's finally back to herself again.

So I was very grateful when Jamie Woolf checked on me at just the moment when I needed a friend, and a writer friend at that. Jamie is the author of Mom-in-Chief, a terrific book about leadership and parenting which came out in February--I am sorry I didn't know about it in time to include it in the new Mojo Mom. Jamie and I had known each other slightly before, but we really connected when we spent time together in Berkeley in January, after each of our books had gone to press.

Jamie has a new piece out on The Huffington Post, "Female Bullying or Just Another Attack Against Successful Women," pushing back against recent "trend" pieces looking at women's workplace infighting. When we talked about it today, Jamie's perspective on this topic reminded me of how I feel about "the Mommy Wars," that these conflicts are more symptoms of our workplace challenges, rather than a direct cause. I can say from experience that working together with other women toward common goals is much more fun and effective than in-fighting, and it's sad that fighting is what gets the media's attention. (And yes, I was on The Today Show two years ago for a segment about "The Mommy Wars," but I stand by what I said when I got there.)

Since Jamie's book came out two months before mine, she's been a great sounding board about the emotional roller-coaster of the publishing process. I've observed that publishing a book can make one feel pretty neurotic. You work so hard, pour your heart out, and when you put your book out to the world it's like putting yourself out there. Your job then becomes getting the whole world to love you!

Yikes, time to recenter and remember why I wrote Mojo Mom, that it's about helping Moms one woman at a time and not just obsessing over rankings. The book release has been a fantastic experience, and I am trying to keep perspective. Tomorrow I am taking the whole day off and whisking away my friend and Mojo Mom Podcast co-host Sheryl for a rare and well-deserved spa day. I may blog again before then, but in any case, on Thursday I'll share any new insights that arise from our trip.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast and Equally Shared Parenting

I am excited about this week's Mojo Mom Podcast with guests Amy and Marc Vachon, experts on Equally Shared Parenting.

I've learned a lot from the Vachons, in particular the idea that Equally Shared Parenting is about parents being equally invested in their roles. It's not about scorekeeping and frequent-parenting miles, it's about taking ownership of your roles as family leaders.

Listen in to this week's show now:

It's the week after college graduation in North Carolina, and Amy asks her co-host Sheryl Grant about the ways that Sheryl's family helped her along the way as she worked toward her Master's Degree in Information and Library Science. We celebrate her success!

Then Amy talks to Equally Shared Parenting (ESP) experts Amy and Marc Vachon. ESP is currently reaching a tipping point in the media and society. It's so interesting to see how an outspoken couple can help advance a movement that has been built upon existing ideas and sociological research. Listen in as Mojo Mom asks for advice in her own family, and the Vachons get right to the heart of the matter. Then visit the Equally Shared Parenting website to learn more about the strategy that promises "half the work, all the fun."

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mojo Mom Chapter 7: Daddies as Mojo Partners

Chapter 7 of Mojo Mom is all about parenting partnerships. Gender roles still tend to come to the forefront in marriages once kids enter the picture (if not before). How can we continue to craft equitable relationships, in which each parent's needs are met, as well as raising happy kids?

Here are some of my favorite resources on this topic:

How to Avoid the Mommy Trap: A Roadmap for Sharing Parenting and Making It Work by Julie Shields. How to Avoid the Mommy Trap is an under-the-radar classic; definitely a must-read if you are interested in these issues.

The Seven Secrets of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman, Ph.D., and Nan Silver

How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women by Terrence Real

The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year by Armin Brott

The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage edited by Cathi Hanauer

The Bastard on the Couch: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom edited by Daniel Jones.

Equally Shared Parenting website: Amy and Marc Vachon have some resourceful and enlightening thoughts on parenting partnerships. They have expanded my thinking quite a bit. Amy and Marc will be my guests on tomorrow's new Mojo Mom Podcast. I asked them for some advice and they got to the heart of the matter very quickly, and responded so kindly that I could take in what they were saying. The Vachons' Equally Shared Parenting book will come out early next year.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bouncing back today

I hit a wall this weekend but I am beginning to bounce back. Mother's Day is supposed to be relaxing for Mom but for me it marked the end of my book release marathon, and I felt exhausted. My daughter was sick, so nothing went as we had planned. I have been hearing the debates about health care and thinking of the 46 million Americans without medical insurance. It feel very grateful that we have coverage and didn't have to think twice about taking our child in to get checked out. It turned out that she had an infection that could have been bad news if left untreated, but with antibiotics she should be fine.

So those are the big things in life...I couldn't muster up the energy to blog on Monday or Tuesday, but I am back. We're eking out only one day of school this week because conferences are Thursday and Friday, but I am going to do my best to finish my Mojo Mom chapter summaries. It's been fun to create and share them, and I hope you are finding some other useful resources that speak to you.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast with Women for Women International

I am honored to have Zainab Salbi as our Mojo Mom Podcast guest for our Mother's Day weekend episode. Zainab was the very first guest I interviewed when my podcast began, back in October 2005. I am always honored to speak with her because she is an inspiration to women everywhere.

Here's this week's episode with Zainab Salbi.

Listen to the podcast now:

Amy and Sheryl reflect on the last three years, when they made so many plans that have now come to life: the Mojo Advisory Circle, a new edition Mojo Mom for Amy, graduate school for Sheryl who is completing her Masters' degree. It's been a great three years and now they are each turning the page to a new chapter in their lives. (We'll still be here with the podcast!)

Then Mojo Mom talks to Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, an organization that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives and communities. Zainab reminds of the strength of mothers, and the burden put on women in particular to rebuild countries in the aftermath of war and violence. Women for Women International provides women the tools and training that women need in order to move from victim, to survivor, to active citizen.

The program is funded by one-to-one sponsorships between women. You can become a sponsor, too.

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Swindled by John and Elizabeth Edwards

It's Mother's Day weekend and I wish I were writing about flowers and sweet tributes.

But with all the hoopla this week about Elizabeth Edwards' new book Resilience, in which she tells her side of the story about John's affair, I'm stuck thinking about how angry I am at both of the Edwardses. John primarily, for embarking a destructive, narcissistic path that could have jeopardized the 2008 election for the Democrats, but also Elizabeth for continuing to support his campaign after John's first incomplete confession about his affair with Rielle Hunter. How calculating was it that John "confessed" just after announcing his candidacy, making it harder for Elizabeth to say we have to stop this campaign now? Still, she should have insisted then and there for all of our sakes that he shut it down.

I am taking this personally because I was an early supporter of Edwards' 2008 run, before Barack Obama announced his candidacy. Edwards lives in my home town, and many people whom I admired said he was the real deal. The groundwork for the primaries got into full swing early on here, 2006 if not before. So I made significant personal donations and supported the campaign. What really fries me is that I also encouraged friends and family to contribute. It stings to know I put my personal endorsement behind someone who was such a fraud. I'd really like to get that money back for my friends and family.

I met Rielle Hunter once, June 21, 2006, when I was invited to attend a Dave Matthews Band concert with John Edwards, his daughter Cate, some friends and a small group of campaign supporters. Rielle was there at the backstage reception, introduced as a filmmaker working with the campagin. I think she had just recently arrived in North Carolina. She seemed nice, maybe a little shy or stand-offish, it was hard to tell. Little did we know that she was starring in her own soap opera rather than documenting the campaign.

This whole experience has been a depressing dose of real-world cynicism. When I meet people, I want to accept them at face value. I hate the idea that when I meet a young-ish, hot-ish female campaign worker, I might now think, "Yeah, is she really just a groupie with a token job?"

John's hypocrisy and hubris are astonishing. Power is intoxicating and makes people think the rules don't apply to them. I think there was a belief in the Edwards family, and the campaign, that John was an exceptional human being and the American people could not be deprived of his leadership, no matter what his personal failings were. Bull. That's awfully like the kind of deluded thinking that the Bush administration operated on for eight years.

Elizabeth's interview with Oprah was just sad. Elizabeth has every right to hate Rielle, but there is a child involved (whom Elizabeth keeps calling "it") who deserves to know who her father is. There still seems to be a lot of denial going on, an understandable hope that things are not as bad as she fears them to be, but also a whole lot of wishful thinking that the reality of John fathering a child either does not exist, or somehow would not affect her life directly. (Rebecca Traister wrote very eloquently about this on Broadsheet this morning.)

And what does it say about John, and his campaign staff, that after Rielle hit on John the first time they met, they awarded her a lucrative freelance job that allowed her to travel with the campaign?

Part of why I am drawn in to this story is that I should have known better to be taken in by him. It was exciting to get to know a candidate, and I bought the idea of him as a loving family man. Elizabeth grounded him, gave him substance. But there were signs that this campaign was not for me, and I wish I had heeded them earlier. When I saw their completed 28,000 square foot mansion, I should have thought, "This is completely inconsistent with the theme of fighting poverty," rather than "Well, if he's elected President, this would be the Southern White House." The campaign staff, especially Andrew Young (who is the person claiming to have fathered Rielle's baby) were fond of saying, "You're family," when I knew we were really just donors.

Is this just a rant, or is there a lesson in here somewhere? We'll see where this leads next. Elizabeth has put the scandal squarely in the spotlight by writing her book. Yet the mainstream media seems to be downplaying the fact that a federal probe is underway investigating whether Edwards improperly used campaign funds to pay Hunter. That's the unwritten chapter in this saga which is likely far from over.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

National Mom's Nite Out Party at

Tonight is National Mom's Nite Out. If you don't already have plans to cut loose with your girlfriends, it's not too late to join in this celebration of motherehood. You can join in the party at that my friends Cooper & Emily are throwing.

Emily writes:

We hope to see you in TheMotherhood tonight for the very first National Mom's Nite Out! The brainchild of Maria Bailey, National Mom's Nite Out is happening live in more than 800 locations across the country and online right here!

Put your feet up, grab a glass of wine or cup of tea and join us for the biggest party of moms EVAH! Starting at 7:30 p.m. EST, we'll be talking (using text), sharing photos and all-around celebrating ourselves, and we'll be sharing what's going on around the country. Additionally, you can follow the action through live streaming video on MomTV.

It will be our pre-Mother's Day extravaganza!

Hope to "see" you tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST!

Emily & Cooper
The Motherhood

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Mojo Mom Chapter 6: Express Yourself

I truly believe that creativity is the underutilized secret weapon of motherhood. Thinking of mother self as an artist has saved my sanity time and time again. When you are an artist, no experience is ever wasted. Life is all potential material that could fuel creativity in an unexpected way later on. So while we sign up our kids for art, music and drama class, let's remember to find our own creative outlets as well. My favorite outlet over the years has been improv comedy, something I wanted to do try in college but never actually did until I signed up as a class to blow off steam when my daughter was a todder. It was a fantastic outlet where I could take of my Mommy hat and not worry about saying the right thing for a change.

The chpater Express Yourself gives you dozens of ideas on how to find your creative outlet. And yes, this is the chapter where I talk about sexuality as well, because that is a key form of expression and intimacy, one that can present an ongoing challenge for every long-term relationship, especially through the transition to parenthood.

Creative Exploration

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

101 Improv Games for Children and Adults by Bob Bedore and Ian Barkeley

The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien, Ph.D.

Arrien's description of the The Princess of Disks was one of the few positive, powerful motherhood symbols I found while I was writing Mojo Mom. "The Princess of Disks is the pregnant lady who represents mastery of creative power. She is a woman who has been over the volcano and through the briar patch. She bears new life that has been gestating and incubating within her for some time...."

Women's Voices in Public Discourse


Women’s e-News

The Op-Ed Project

Sexuality--An important aspect of getting your mojo back, and an ongoing challenge for busy parents.

Great Sex for Moms: Ten Steps to Nurturing Passion While Raising Kids by Valerie Davis Raskin, M.D.

Sexy Mamas: Keeping Your Sex Life Alive While Raising Kids by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

Sex Smart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What to Do About It by Aline P. Zoldbrod, Ph.D.

Resurrecting Sex: Resolving Sexual Problems and Rejuvenating Your Relationship by David Schnarch, Ph.D.

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Mojo Mom Chapter 5: Centering, Silence, and Reclaiming Your Mind Space

The chapter on Centering, Silence, and Reclaiming Your Mind Space is really speaking to me right now. After finishing writing Mojo Mom, my mind has sought a quiet refuge, and new ways of resting and recovering. I have turned off the news more than usual (a big step for me as a public radio SuperFan), and my mind has been looking for different outlets, something not so tied up with language, whether it's writing, reading or listening. This is a bit sad since those are my great pleasures in life, but too much of a good thing is still too much. It's time to branch out, and I am going to start taking piano lessons and dive into music as my next exploration.

This chapter and the next, Express Yourself, dovetail together in many ways. Looking at my bookshelves reminds me that I have drawn on a diverse set of resources, some of which will resonate with you and some that may not. I don't expect you to like everything I recommend, but take a look and see what interests you. Benefit from that and feel free to set the rest aside.

Dojo Wisdom for Mothers: 100 Simple Ways to Become a Calmer, Happier, More Loving Parent by Jennifer Lawler

Mommy Mantras: Affirmations and Insights to Keep You from Losing Your Mind by Bethany Casarjian and Diane Dillon

Meditation Secrets for Women by Camille Maurine and Lorin Roche

The Soft Addiction Solution by Judith Wright

The Women’s Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

At the Root of This Longing by Carol Lee Flinders

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mojo Mom on Beth Irvine's Creating Healthy Balance Every Day podcast

I had a great time talking to Beth Irvine yesterday on her Creating Healthy Balance Every Day podcast yesterday. Of the 25+ interviews I have done in the past month for Mojo Mom, this was one of my favorites, so I hope you'll listen in.

Beth Irvine

It's time for me to re-read Beth's book Healthy Mother, Healthy Child as I reconnect with my self and redevelop healthy habits as I come back down to earth following the intense rush of finishing my own book!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mojo Mom Chapter 4: Am I Just Being Selfish? Letting Go of Guilt, Worry, and Anxiety

In Chapter 4 of Mojo Mom we explore the emotional landscape of mothers. How did guilt get woven into the fabric of motherhood? I truly believe that we need a shift in consciousness about guilt, worry and anxiety. We can spin our wheels and constantly drain our emotional reserves if we get into the habit of feeling worried, anxious and guilty. When it comes to these destructive emotions, I say that it is important to examine the feeling and the situation and ask whether there is something that truly needs to change. If so, change it. If not, let it go.

The threat of being called a "selfish Mom" also controls us in unhealthy ways, and I turn that around to talk about self care, and developing a centered self. Self-preservation is an important lifelong skill for mothers that will prevent burnout and resentment, and guide us to develop a sustainable parenting style.

Am I Just Being Selfish? Letting Go of Guilt, Worry, and Anxiety takes a look at mindfulness, and learning the difference between true danger signals we should pay attention to, as opposed to the "mental static" of free-floating worry and guilt that distance us from our best selves and genuine concerns.

I loved pulling this bookshelf together (Momma Zen, I imagine that the baby Buddha in the photo is saying a cheeky hello to you). Some of my favorite books are included in this chapter's list of recommended resources:

When You’re Falling, Dive; There Is Nothing Wrong with You; and Time Out for Parents by Cheri Huber

Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller

Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters More, and Raise Happier Kids
by Julie Bort, Aviva Pflock, and Devra Renner

12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know: Getting Back to Basics and Raising Happy Kids by Michele Borba, Ed.D. I really appreciate Michele Borba's writing. You are in good hands when you read any of her books, but this one is my favorite.

Momfidence: An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting by Paula Spencer

Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers

What are the realistic concerns we should have about our children's safety, and just as importantly, what are the SKILLS we need to teach our kids in order for them to develop into independent young adults? Protecting the Gift and Kidpower training provide these vitally important answers.

Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker

Kidpower, website of the international organization.

I believe in Kidpower's safety skills training so strongly that I became a Kidpower instructor myself and started a local program, Kidpower North Carolina.

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Mojo Mom Chapter 3: Banking the Embers of Your Build a Bonfire Later

In the third chapter of Mojo Mom, we start to look beyond the intense postpartum phase, to begin to look forward to returning to the world, and finding out more about who we are. Our mojo may have simmered down to a fragile ember, but this is an important time to tend to that spark and get ready to bring our personal priorities and dreams back into focus.

This is a very practical chapter, as I discuss the Four Phases to Getting Your Mojo Back: Survival Mode, Incubating Your Desires, Setting Priorities and Goals, and taking Baby Steps Toward Your Goals (pun intended). There is also an important discussion of how to decide what gets put on your To-Do list in the first place.

Additionally, I recommend the following books for a variety of perspectives on how to reconnect with your essential self, and a life that is sustaining and sustainable in the long run:

Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck

It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys: The Seven-Step Path to Becoming Truly Organized by Marilyn Paul

More Than a Mom: Living a Full and Balanced Life When Your Child Has Special Needs by Amy Baskin and Heather Fawcett

The One-Life Solution by Henry Cloud

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer

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Check out's new Mother's Day video! has just released an incredibly creative customizable video for Mother's Day.

It's a really fun "award" to send to your friends (and your Mom!) in their honor. This is set to go viral in a big way, so take this opportunity to be the first one to send it to your circle of friends.

Check it out!

Here's a screen shot of my customized video:

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Mojo Mom Chapter 2: Life Inside the Cocoon, the Early Months of Motherhood

The second chapter of Mojo Mom delves into the early months of motherhood from the mother's perspective. My goal was to fill in the details that some of the baby books leave out or gloss over. This is the one chapter of the book that is geared specifically for the needs of new Moms. Experienced Moms can read along or skip ahead to Chapter 3.

Here's a secret about Mojo Mom: it's a very positive, friendly book that makes a nice gift for any new Mom, and I also made sure to cover postpartum depression, sex after the baby arrives, and other problems and issues that can be awkward to talk about. So you can give the book to any new Mom, and whether she's having a great time, or really needs support, there will be resources right there for her.

The early weeks and months of motherhood are a truly intense time. My advice is to go with the flow at the beginning, enjoy your nesting time, and then begin to think about crafting a sustainable long-term parenting style, one that will inevitably evolve over the coming months and years. Seasoned Moms will tell you that as soon as you have figured one stage out, a whole new plane of development is usually just around the corner.

New for this edition, I really worked to improve my outreach to both employed Moms and women who take a longer break away from the paid workforce. I did new research and interviews with 55 women in a variety of situations to explore our common ground and the specific kinds of support that women needed when they returned to paid careers in addition to their mothering.

The consensus about personal support lifelines included basic physical needs, including sleep, good food, and exercise; mental needs for some time alone to think, read or meditate; and social needs including time to play with their kids, adult time with their partners, and friends.

I love "Mothering the Mother" books, and here are some of my favorite resources for the intense early days of motherhood:

Mothering the New Mother: Women’s Feelings and Needs After Childbirth by Sally Placksin

I Wish Someone Had Told Me: A Realistic Guide to Early Motherhood by Nina Barrett

This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Post-Partum Depression by Karen Kleiman and Valerie Davis Raskin

I am a motherhood expert, rather than a parenting expert, but I know that sleep is the Holy Grail for new parents, and this book is a keeper:

The Sleep Book for Tired Parents: Help for Solving Children’s Sleep Problems by Becky Huntley

Finally, guides for Moms to stay happy in the long run, either returning to work or creating a satisfying life as a stay-at-home Mom for now:

The Milk Memos by Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette

This Is How We Do It: The Working Mothers’ Manifesto by Carol Evans

The Working Mother’s Guide to Life by Linda Mason

The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-Tested Strategies for Staying Smart, Sane, and Connected While Caring for Your Kids by Melissa Stanton

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Mojo Mom Chapter 1: A Mother is Born

The spark of my original idea for Mojo Mom arose from the shock that becoming a mother led to an identity crisis for me. Nobody told me to expect that!

Mojo Mom is all about discovering the answers to the question, "Who am I, now that I am a Mom?" Every woman experiences this in her own way, and we've begun to talk about this more openly, and I do my part by shining a spotlight on the transformations of motherhood (the good ones, and the challenging ones) as well as the gap between expectation and reality. I believe that often our reality is pretty good, but the unconscious tension between our fantasies about motherhood (fueled by the pregnancy and motherhood marketing juggernaut) and the day-to-day realities of motherhood, can leave us feeling disappointed and burned out.

This is a pretty normal starting point, and I spend the rest of the book discussing many practical ways to help you create a new, satisfying, and holistic sense of self, to find a path to getting your mojo back!

I believe that reinventing and making peace with motherhood are our generation's major challenges. I put Mojo Mom in a feminist context connecting back to earlier waves of feminism and social trends, including:

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.

Funny how I wrote a major paper on The Feminine Mystique as an undergraduate and I treated it like a historical artifact. I thought it would never apply to me! To my surprise, I found that many of those dynamics are shaping our lives.

The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It, by Susan Maushart

The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels

The 7 Stages of Motherhood: Loving Your Life Without Losing Your Mind by Ann Pleshette Murphy

Our generation's challenge is to get mothers' concerns addressed on a political and policy level. For a look at recent developments in feminism and politics, I recommend:

The F-Word, Feminism in Jeopardy--Women, Politics and the Future by Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner.

Kristin is a co-founder of and I'll have a lot more to say about her work later, including the impact of her book with her co-founder Joan Blades, The Motherhood Manifesto.

Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrrls Gone Wild by Deborah Siegel

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters
by Jessica Valenti

Jessica's writing style, peppered with plenty of F-bombs, will turn off some readers, but her underlying ideas and cultural analysis are worth it.

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Mojo Mom chapter summaries: What can my book do for you?

With the new Mojo Mom book release in full swing, I want to reach out to new and longtime blog readers to tell you more about what my book can do for you. Last month I blogged about finding "my peeps," other writers whose work really resonated with me. In that post I wrote a list "Mojo Mom may be just right for you if...." which I thought was an interesting idea to continue exploring.

So this week I am going to tell you more about the new book by posting ten short chapter summaries, two each day. I will tell you more about what each chapter can do for you, and I will include links to the recommended resources on each topic.

You can tell I used to be a teacher....put it all together and you'd have a "Mojo Mom 101" curriculum. I loved teaching, and it feels great to be able to channel my teaching mojo into a new direction. I have also reflected a lot lately on how much I love and adore books. Not just information, but real live (non-Kindle) books themselves. I interact with books intensively as physical objects as part of my learning and memory process.

I spent the weekend putting my Mojo Mom resources in order on my shelf, and also collecting all the books that don't have a place yet. I have seven banker's boxes over my limit of what I can store without having piles of books on every surface throughout my house, which explains some of my feelings of being overwhelmed lately.

In any case, from my bookshelf to your brain, the first Mojo Mom chapter summary will be along shortly. Enjoy!

***I'll add the links to each chapter summary as the posts develop***

Mojo Mom Chapter 1: A Mother is Born

Mojo Mom Chapter 2: Life Inside the Cocoon, the Early Months of Motherhood

Mojo Mom Chapter 3: Banking the Embers of Your Build a Bonfire Later

Mojo Mom Chapter 4: Am I Just Being Selfish? Letting Go of Guilt, Worry, and Anxiety

Mojo Mom Chapter 5: Centering, Silence, and Reclaiming Your Mind Space

Mojo Mom Chapter 6: Express Yourself

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Mojo Mom Podcast with Paula Spencer, Momfidence and

The Mojo Mom Podcast has had a great run this spring. Since we've been making an effort to produce weekly shows, you've been listening. We doubled the number of episodes downloaded from March to April, so thanks for your support!

I hope you'll listen in to this week's episode with our guest Momfidence author Paula Spencer.

Listen to the podcast now:

Amy recently heard a discussion about business women in their twenties who might be considering not having kids at all rather than dealing with the work-family conflicts we all face. Sheryl and Amy tell those younger women what they would like them to know: motherhood does rock your world, but we can't imagine our lives without it.

Then writer Paula Spencer adds her perspective in Mojo Mom's guest segment. Paula has a wide variety of experiences, as the mother of four, the author of the book "Momfidence: An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting," and a founding senior editor of the eldercare resource website,

You can learn more about all of Paula's work at her website

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Thanks for making my author event a successful Mom's Night Out!

I'm sending out a big thanks to the twenty fans who came out to hear me speak at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh last night. After spending so many hours in solitude writing the book, meeting the real women who are reading my work is a real treat.

The bookstore managers were pleasantly surprised by the turnout. One of them said, "We were wondering how the women who really needed Mojo Mom would find a way to get free for the evening."
It's good to show that it is possible, and indeed vitally necessary, to carve out some time for ourselves! Speaking of which, next Thursday night, May 7, is National Mom's Nite Out--yet another chance to connect with friends. Check out their website for party ideas, local events, and online chats.

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