Have you ever considered how you can balance finding a connection with yourself and motherhood? In this episode, Camille welcomes Michelle Mansfield, an author and the host of The Honest Mom Podcast, where she helps struggling mothers acknowledge and break through the different feelings of motherhood.
You’re not flaky. You’re multi-passionate. You’re not all over the place and unorganized as some people may say. You’re following multiple dreams and taking risks and I think that’s pretty cool.
Michelle shares her journey of motherhood and how she was able to pivot and adjust to the different stages as both a mother and an author. She also shares her advice on what it means to be a mom and how you can have peaceful and happy motherhood moving forward through practices such as establishing a morning routine.
Failing or quitting or saying goodbye to something, doesn’t mean that you’re a failure or that your idea wasn’t a good idea. I think it’s magical to try things and to pivot and not being overwhelmed with feeling like you have to do it all.”
If you’re looking for ways to have a deeper connection with yourself and your children regardless of what stage of motherhood you’re in, tune into this episode to listen to Michelle’s advice on how you can trust your intuition and how you can embrace both the challenging and good times of being a mother.
Start out small. Honor your passions. Maybe take on something that’s manageable, something that can connect you with what your purpose is in life beyond motherhood if that’s the stage that you’re at
Connect with Michelle:
Visit her website: michellemansfieldauthor.com
MICHELLE MANSFIELD [0:00]
Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Don't compare yourself to what other mothers out there are doing too much and connect with that intuition that's inside of you.
CAMILLE WALKER [00:18]
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Having feelings of self-doubt as a mother is completely normal, relatable, and something that every single mother struggles with. And in today's episode, we're going to be talking with Michelle Mansfield, who has The Honest Mom Podcast, which talks about how each mother, each of us, can find our own intuition and find connection to who we are, the role of motherhood with its highs and its lows, and what you can do to find a happy balance in all of that in the mix, in the mess, in the chaos.
So, today, I want you to pay attention to three things. We're talking about the beauty of a morning routine. I want you to think about if you have one and if you don't, how you can change that and possibly have one that works well for you. Also, what it means to be just a mom and also what you can do to have a peaceful and happy motherhood moving forward.
Welcome back everyone to another episode of Call Me CEO. I am your host, Camille Walker, and today we are talking about honesty. We're talking about motherhood and we're talking about how to be comfortable and happy and even secure in taking a slower pace with your business and cancelling the hustle culture in motherhood.
And today, I have Michelle Mansfield with me. She is the host of The Honest Mom Podcast and such a good podcast. She just started it in December. I was a guest on it recently and I love it so much because Michelle, I love that you talk so much about embracing honesty, embracing the struggle. So, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Thanks for having me. I'm just so honored to be here, Camille. I love your podcast as well and glad that we can have this conversation today. And hi, listeners out there.
Now for everyone, I know I've done an official introduction that you have heard, but please tell our audience about what got you started in this journey of embracing the honesty of motherhood, the authenticity that we're all craving, what took you down that path of creating a conversation around it?
It was by accident. It was super unintentional which I love when things like that happen. I was a health coach. I'm not practicing anymore as an active health coach, but I worked primarily with women in the pre-natal as well as during pregnancy and post-partum as well and certified in all those areas.
And I found a lot of women that were sitting on the chair next to me when we'd just be talking. That was my style of just sitting next to each other in comfy chairs and just talking like friends, getting that cozy blanket around each other. And I found that beyond the world of diet and movement and all those things that we're talking about, that the mental side, the mental health of these women always came up in our conversations.
And most of them were moms. 99% of them were moms and most of them ended up at some point, I don't know if I had this magic touch of they just all of a sudden had this breakdown, tears were usually involved about how overwhelmed they were with motherhood and they didn't know who to talk to. And through that and the many women I spoke with, the light bulb slowly started, it's like a dimmer was on it, and it slowly turned on. And I was like I felt this way too and I still do, but I've been hiding it so much that I'm not even connected with it.
So, I thank these women so much. I’m so grateful to all these women for sharing their stories so that I was comfortable sharing mine. First of all, just acknowledging what I was going through, but also then I felt comfortable being vulnerable myself. So, I'm like I'm going to give the gift back to the people and do the same, share my stories.
But I'm like how am I going to do that? So, I started out with writing, blogging. I started writing a book in 2018, and then a lot of women said they loved podcasts so much where I just was like let me give it to them in a form where it's my voice like a conversation. So, that's where it came in December this past December.
I love that so much. And as I've been thinking about this and specifically the topic of honesty in motherhood and what is the vulnerability about it that we hold back from sharing? And what's really interesting because I think there's so much to unpack here that I also worry a lot about the TikTok generation of kids that are watching mothers lamenting about how terrible or horrible motherhood can be in the way of them saying, "I would never want to do that."
And so, it's like this limbo, this tango, that I'm like okay, for sure we need to talk about the stresses of motherhood more, the reality of the pull of what it is in its entirety because there is so much. However, there is a flip side of the beautiful journey that it is and how we can grow so much from motherhood and that even though there are hard days, there are always going to be better ones.
And so, what do you think about that and have you seen that side of it where that's something that you've considered telling these stories as well? I don't know that teenagers would be listening to the podcast because it's a different audience, but have you seen that, the juxtaposition of those storylines?
Totally. You bring up such a great point because my original intention when I was writing the book in 2018 was just me getting out all these feelings. It's like it did have a negative tone. Let's be honest, if I'm going to be honest. And I remember speaking with agents as well as smaller publishers about having more of a solution-based. Publishers love when you're doing a self-help book for there to be takeaways.
So, the advice in the coaching I was getting from people out there in the writing world was, "This is great, but it's almost like your memoir or your diary. You're just letting things out with no takeaway for the reader for that person. So, why do you want to put it out in the world to someone? You might as well write it on your computer and keep a diary to yourself. And then, let out all these feelings."
And it took me a while to realize this. And so, what you just said, completely I connected with that. And it's funny because I work at a fitness center in the Chicagoland area and there's some younger instructors that I work with. I'm the oldest. I joke that I'm the granny of the group being almost 46. And I'm working with girls in their early 20s and some of them are dating and some of them are single. And a lot of them say that they don't want to be a mom. And there's a lot of moms that work there and it's like do they hear other mothers complaining about motherhood a lot? Do they see stuff on TikTok, Instagram, or whatever? And they're just terrified or they're like, "I don't want to deal with that."
I never heard stuff growing up and that was my motivation is like why didn't anyone talk about this stuff? But I think there's a way to just blend, like you said, in the honesty, but also some solutions and inspiration and hope that sometimes it's just a seasonal thing that you're dealing with like any adjustment. When you move, when you start a new job, when you bring a new family member in, when you get married, there are adjustments to big things in life, finances. And how do you not let it stop you from living a wonderful life, a life that has its ups and downs, but like you said, a life where there's growth from the challenges and you meet incredible people through it and you honor the hard time, but you know that it's not permanent?
So, it's a great point. So, that's my goal with my podcast, with things that I do on social media is girls, I don't want you to be in the dark and for you to look at this baby, like I did, like why am I not loving this right now and I'm crying and I'm lost? I don't want people to feel that way, girls to feel that way, but I want them to be connected that they may have these feelings, they may not. But if they do, there's support and there's ways to get through it to enjoy your motherhood eventually.
I love that. And I think it honestly comes down to if you have knowledge, you have power. And I think that something that perhaps maybe in our generation, maybe we felt that we were taken off guard or maybe there wasn't enough of a conversation around it where we had knowledge of the support and that there was more to be learned about post-partum and what it meant that fed is best, that babies need to be fed and mom's mental health is paramount because that's what helps the baby thrive.
So, I really appreciate that you're bringing these conversations forward and also giving space for the joy too because I feel like unfortunately, that is a narrative that's being shared more than ever on social where a lot of the young women I know are scared of motherhood that they're like, "Why would you do that? Why would you choose to never sleep again and why would you choose to be miserable all the time?" And so, I appreciate that you're sharing that that's not the case, but knowledge is power and that you can go into it with eyes wide open.
Yeah. And one of the things, topics and the hard feelings that I talk about center around identity and not losing yourself in motherhood, which I know you're a huge supporter with your business and your podcast. I agree with you. There's been some accounts that I'm just like, "Ugh." And again, it's their message. I don't think they're horrible people. It just doesn't resonate with me. And where it is overly negative, overly complaining, it's this hot mess world where it's like it just looks miserable.
And it's the same thing with marriage, partnerships, where people are out there complaining about their husbands and this and that and their wives and their whatever. It's like I found that with some of my friends that they would just be complaining so much where I'm like, "It's not all that bad. We don't need to sit there." The world of social media, I feel like someone gets on one thing, and then 50 other accounts get on it, hop on it to just be relevant.
And I love so many things about motherhood. So, even if you go through my feed, if you listen to some of my episodes, I do talk about some hard topics that I dealt with because I did deal with them, but also I don't regret anything. And I've had some hard stages of motherhood, but the last five years, Brooklyn is now 9, we've had so much fun. This is like my stage that I'm loving, but I look back.
I just did a post today. I looked back at a bunch of her newborn pictures and I'm smiling looking at them even though it was hard and challenging, I'm like, wow, I thought at that moment where I am today, where she is today and that it wasn't all bad. I looked at these pictures and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, I remember that. I remember that." I’m like all right. We got to talk about the hard things, but let's also talk about all the wonderful things that go with it and that includes many other things within motherhood.
Yeah. I want to talk about shifting gears a little bit. We're going into the summer months of bringing the kids back home and still trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in the way of creating space for fun and creating space for getting things done and also the work on the side or however many hours of the day that it is for you personally. And I love that in our pre-interview that you had mentioned that you really want to tap into honoring a slower pace with career so that you can focus on what matters most, which is our family. And I want to talk to you about what are some tools that you plan to put in place for these summer months where you can honor that slower pace of pulling back the reins in what you're doing in business so that you really embrace the moments you have now?
Yeah. Not to bring age into it again, but I will note that I'm going to be 46 this summer, so I'm not 30 just starting out with anything. I'm not in retirement mode, but I've got that slower pace starting. And I've worked really hard since I've been 15 years old and up until the day I gave birth to Brooklyn as well as after, I built my health coaching business. I wrote three children's books and did events and virtual. It's been crazy.
And now, what's going on now with the book and the podcast and recently I told my agent, "I'm done with the book. I’m not doing it." And she's been pitching to publishers and she's like, "Are you sure?" And I said, "I know what it takes to publish children's books." I've educated myself what it takes to publish a grownup book, a non-fiction book. I have mentors that I've worked with for four years now, conferences I've gone to, I've followed people with their book launches and all the stuff you have to do to sell a book nowadays.
And I told her, I said, "I don't want to do that anymore. I don't have that energy or the heart to do that anymore." 15, 20 years ago, maybe. Maybe I would have, but I'm like, "I don't want to miss what I'm doing right now. I'm enjoying this stage." Like I was saying, it's been really great with Brooklyn and myself. 8 was a great age, 7 was a great age, but 9, it's getting better. 9 has been fun and I want to have a great summer with her.
She's in camps and stuff, but like a 9 AM to noon, here to there, and then we'll go to the pool. And I've just had too many summers where it's like that three-hour window when she's at camp, I feel like it goes by so quickly and I don’t get anything done. And then, I'm stressed for the rest of the day, working at night, working in the morning a lot. And then, I'm like summer's done and she's back in school. I’m like what happened?
So, I have really connected to the word truth this year and what my truth is and what I want to do. I don't want to be panicked and miss this summer, so I'm letting the book go and the book is the podcast. I pivoted. Saying goodbye to something doesn't mean that you're failing. It doesn't mean you're quitting. Sometimes, you need to pivot.
And honestly moms out there, I know you're going to be nodding but most love podcasts. They're easy. They're digestible. I can still get my content to everyone. I can shoot some blogs out. I'm blogging for other people now. And I plan my summer ahead of time. So, my episodes, I'm recording more right now instead of one episode a week I'm recording, I'm doing three. And getting them pre-scheduled, so I'm still alive in the summer and in that sense.
But I'm really looking forward to this summer. I’m looking forward to actually travelling again because we haven't travelled in two years and I want to enjoy my vacation and not be on my phone or bring a laptop. And it's only two months. I'm not a brain surgeon. And I also do have the blessing to relax a little bit this summer because let's be honest, I'm going to be honest, my husband makes enough money for me to be able to do that. And I hate when people sit there and they say all this stuff that they can do this and do that and whatever. And then, they're not really honest that they're able to financially do that and I think that's a sense of relief.
I am blessed that my husband does make enough money and I also teach fitness classes where I make a decent amount of money and it's doable and manageable. I've done it for four years now where I improvise and I'm in a group and I'm not nervous or panicked. It's like second nature to me where it's not easy money, but it's enjoyable money where I am getting a paycheck in, so I can.
So, I want to be honest with you moms out there because some people aren't, I'm able to do this. Some aren’t. They do have to work. They do have to put in the hours in the summer, but are there ways that you can prepare ahead of time, take vacations, take that downtime to recharge and not always be on all the time? I don't know what your thoughts are on that, Camille, but I know some people can't take the summer off, but are there other ways that you can recharge?
Yeah. So, I love that you talked about planning ahead that there are ways. It's probably too late, ladies. If you're listening to this now, you're probably like, "No, it's already started." It's never too late. Maybe it's something where you can batch a couple of days where you tell your kids, "Okay, I'm going to get a crazy ton amount of work done in these three days so that we can have extra time in the weeks coming up."
I don't know about your kids, but mine, in the first week of summer, I do not plan anything. I let them sleep in as long as they want. I let them watch TV as much as they want. I let them play with friends as much as they want. And then, that second week of summer is when I introduce the chore chart, which they know it's coming, my kids have already been talking about it. They're like, "Two more weeks until summer, two more weeks until the chore chart." They know it's coming. So, we do a chore chart. We talk about quiet time. We talk about friend time, and then they have their activities.
But maybe if you're listening to this and thinking, "That's a good idea. I really need to batch some work or some of this done," maybe in that first week, you just say, "Hey, I have some work to do, so I need you to give me some time. But this is your week to sleep in, watch TV, hang out with friends. It's summer. I want you to just take this week off." And so, maybe if you haven't batched the way Michelle has and you're thinking, "I want to do that," that could be a little quick tip of how you can make that happen now.
Yeah. Camille, another thing that people are going to roll their eyes probably at me about this, but when I was homeschooling Brooklyn last year and I was writing a book proposal which was an ordeal in itself, I was, I know this is cliché, but waking up early. I got in the habit of having a couple hours before she woke up.
And I will say the first week, it was an adjustment. I slowly put that alarm clock earlier and earlier, so it was an adjustment. And then, I would get up around that five o'clock area and make my coffee and I was super productive where then my day, there was so much more ease. Yeah, it takes a couple of weeks to adjust, but now, I'm an early bird and I cherish my mornings and I just get so much done and it's been a couple years that I've been that early bird, people joke.
And then, I do go to bed early too, but if you're more of a night owl, maybe you're more productive at night. Maybe mornings just aren't your thing and that's okay. And you could find a time that does work. But like you said, maybe a mother's helper can come by where you can batch and just get some stuff done, so then you're fully present and not stressing about all the to-do list in your head.
Yeah, okay. Let's just take a minute to respect everyone listening right now, there are phases and stages for the ability to wake up early on a consistent schedule. It's not based on a baby waking you up because there have been so many years of nursing and babies crying and teething and nightmares and whatever, I've been there many, many times.
So, if you're in a stage like that and you don't have an ability to wake up consistently early every morning, it's just not that season yet. However, this last year, I have started waking up early and it is The Miracle Morning. I don't know if you've read that book. I don't follow a specific schedule routine that I do every single morning, but I do get up in the morning and I go to Pilates every morning before my kids wake up. And I can promise you I am a much more patient mother when I am awake and I've done something for myself before I become the mother to the children in my home. And they know it too.
Would you agree with that morning ritual where if you can find something, it doesn't have to be working out, maybe for you it's your morning coffee and writing and whatever else that could be? But I know for myself that I show up as a better for me of me and a better mom to them when I've taken the time to take care of myself. What would you say to that, Michelle? Would you agree with that?
Yes. But I will say that I rolled my eyes back in the day with that and I think it's because I wasn't at a stage of motherhood where it just wasn't going to work for me and it was frustrating to read something and be like, "I wish I could do that, but she's this or that." Sometimes, you're just done. You're just mentally exhausted, but when she came into a stage where she was sleeping better, which honestly didn't happen until 5 years old. She was still waking up with nightmares at least once or twice a night and they call mommy.
So, moms out there that are listening, if you're in a stage where what I tell you next doesn't resonate with your or you're like, "What? What is she talking about?" That's how I felt. And this has taken time. It's not like I woke up on a Tuesday and just started doing all this stuff and it worked. It was me gradually introducing things where now I have this routine where I don't have an anxiety attack if I don't do it all, so like Saturdays sometimes, I sleep in and enjoy my morning and not to have a stress of an alarm clock going off.
But typically, Monday through Friday, my routine is I wake up at 5 AM. I pet my cats for 10 minutes because they are so needy in the morning and it's my therapy. It's like just someone loving me without saying anything, and then I change into my workout clothes. I know it's okay if you're saying what you're saying in your head, I go downstairs with my workout clothes and I feed my cats because they yell at me if I don't do it, and then I go downstairs.
I do have a Peloton. I'm a fitness instructor, so I use Peloton to inspire me with my classes as well as to just I love fitness. It's been my lifesaver with motherhood and how I feel and my mental health as well. But I go downstairs and I do my workout. I do less than an hour. I'm not crazy. I'm not going two hours in the morning. So, I do just a little bit. I do some spin for 20 minutes. I do some strength training for 20 minutes and I do a little bit of yoga maybe and stretching. And then, I do a morning meditation while I'm in the basement. It's part of it. Peloton has meditation, so I stack my classes where it goes from one to the next to the next, so I'm forced to do my 10-minute meditation. I started out at 5. I’m now at 10 minutes and I probably won't go above that.
And then, I go upstairs. My cats follow me. And I take my shower. I don't wash my hair everyday so sometimes it's just a 10-minute spray. My daughter starts waking up where I go downstairs and make her lunch. I have lemon water. I have my lemon water. I've been saying for over 5 years that I'm going to do this because I hear everyone in the health and wellness world does this and I was like, "Meh." I make my warm lemon water in the morning with honey and I drink that and hang out with my daughter as she's having breakfast. I don't make pancakes or anything. She knows how to make her own.
And then, the day starts. I take her to school. And I'm not kidding you if I don't do that morning routine especially the workout, it affects my morning. I'm in the best mood with her in the morning and it's the workout I think and it's just the feeling of having my own thing before I become someone else's day too.
Yeah. I love that so much. Have you read the book Atomic Habits?
I have been told by so many people to read it. I have it on my bookshelf. It is on my list and I need to do it. So, tell me about Atomic Habits.
First of all, you need to buy it audio because on the bookshelf, audio's just easier to consume. It's oso much easier. We know this. We're podcasters. So, I will listen to a book almost nightly where I go to sleep. I've listened to Atomic Habits more than four or five times because it's one that you can listen to and if you miss a part or if you fall asleep as you're listening to it, no big deal.
But what you've just described to me are small sequential habits that have become the makeup of your ideal morning. And that's what the book is all about. It's about small sequential habits where you habit stack one by one, so it's not like you started one morning and you're like, "Today, I'm going to do these five sequences, the cat, the drink, all the things." You figured it out as you went and now you have that thing that makes you feel amazing. So, that's awesome. I'm so proud of you.
For me, getting to a Pilates in the morning. I'll tell you my number one motivator for those of you listening is I pay a lot of money for these classes and I thought if I don't show up, I have to pay money for not showing up and you have to pre-register and your spot is held and they will charge you and if you're late, they will charge you. And if you don't show up, they will charge you. And that was the motivation I needed to get a fitness habit so ingrained in me.
I don't wake up as early as you do. I wake up around 6:15, 6:30. I just roll out of bed. I put those clothes out. They're ready to go. I put them and I brush teeth and I'm out the door. I don’t think about it because the decision is already made and I think that that's something that if you can find something that those healthy habits for you, the decision is already made, then you can find that peaceful place of this is what my body and my mind and I need to feel healthy before I show up as a mom. And I think that's so awesome that you figured that out for yourself.
It took a while though. And like you said, it was small, little things that I added on, so I would say like a year to get what I have now and I'm so addicted to the feeling that I have and how I treat my daughter, how I treat my husband, how my morning goes where I notice a completely difference. We were sick for a week, a couple of weeks ago, and it was a different week granted that I was sick, but not having that morning routine, again, I didn't have a panic attack about it, but I was like I notice a difference with my mood, my energy levels, I obviously was sick, but my mood and just the days that I do skip it, I notice and I make that mental note.
But again, also then on the weekends, I take the break a little bit. I sleep in. I maybe go down the street and go to my yoga class to see some friends or cuddle with my daughter and not to have the hustle of school getting ready, hang out with my husband for a little bit and just connect over coffee and that's fine. I think it's good to have your routines, but also if you have your days where you want to just relax and just go with the flow, then that's okay too.
Yeah. And I think that backpedaling a little bit because for the both of us, we are in a place right now where our kids are a little older. We're not having to bring them to the daycare of pushing them in strollers, but let's just take a quick minute for those who are listening and are like, "Okay, I want to have a healthy routine, but I have little ones at home, what should I do?" And I'd love to hear your advice and I'll share what worked for me too.
Yeah. This is so different from when Brooklyn was a toddler and when she was a newborn. I think like a morning walk with your child based on weather, even if it is cold, I would bundle her up and just go to my little local coffee shop to get out of the house first of all and get fresh air with my husband maybe. I think that is such a great routine to get into and connect with nature.
One of my regrets is I did so much baby stuff in the house where I would try to entertain this newborn or this 1-year-old or even toddler in my home with games and rattles and books. All those things have their purpose, but I'm like why didn't I just get out in my world a little bit and take her with? She wouldn't care if we went on a walk here or to the local arboreta or if a Target run is your little selfcare for that day, then that's great too or a little date with a friend.
But yeah, a morning routine doesn’t have to be super rigid when you're in an unpredictable stage of motherhood where you don't know what your sleep is going to be like the night before, what your mood is going to be like, if you're going through post-partum depression, if your child is crying constantly and colicky where you're just, I don't want to go out in public.
So, looking within your home, little rituals, maybe a cup of tea in the afternoon. Maybe when your husband or partner gets home from work, maybe if you want to pop in an audiobook in a little nook in a corner of a room or maybe try a 5-minute meditation just to disconnect you and just try things and see what works and what you may enjoy and have that attitude of like, you know what? I don't need to do this every day, but I'm going to try it today. It's something new. It's small.
That overwhelming task and I'm going to do this, I'm going to work out for an hour and a half, I'm going to join this gym and do this and eat this and eliminate grains and dairy. All these things in early motherhood, my advice is to start small. One thing that day and something that maybe that you just simply enjoy. I don't know what your advice is, Camille.
Yeah. I love all of that. I think that you're right on target. It's funny because I'm thinking back to the time of life when I had little ones at home. It wasn't that long ago. I still have a 5-year-old in the home, but I think that allowing yourself the opportunity to figure out what that passion or that fueling looks like and what does the best for you in a shortened amount of time.
Because maybe it's not that you have an hour, but maybe you have 10 minutes. Maybe you can go outside for a 10-minute walk solo and say, "Husband, I need to leave or caretaker or whomever," and get a minute to be out on your own or I did a lot of workout videos at home and my kids would join me or I would go on a lot of walks with a friend.
And that was one of the dearest friendships I hold in my life right now is a friend that I used to walk with every single day with our two kids and dogs and we were a walking circus and we just had the most meaningful wonderful conversations. And it's a friendship that will stay with me forever. And she has moved away and I miss those simple days of being able to go for our walks. But I love so much the idea that it doesn't have to be perfect to be meaningful and to fuel you. So, whatever it is that that is for you, take time to give yourself permission to explore that.
Yeah. And like I was saying with my routine now, it took a good year of just building and testing like, okay, let me see how I feel by adding this in. Am I overwhelmed? Okay. Maybe it's not the right time. I'll just stick with what's wronging wright now and just gradually test things out. You don't have to build Rome in a day. There's a reason for that saying. It's just small little steps, so we're not overwhelmed and just throwing the towel and give up. I've been there and it's easy to do that. I understand.
I'm going to take this conversation in a far-left field because I'm curious and we talked about it for just a second, but I have curiosity about publishing a children's book. Talk to me a little bit about the process of deciding you want to do that, and then what you have learned from doing that and putting a book out there. What was that process like for you?
Again, it was something just accidental. I loved and still love reading with Brooklyn and I got so addicted to children's books. I even had a subscription, I believe the company is still around, it's called Literati, you can base the subscription off the age of your child and 5 books a month and a nice little self-addressed envelope if you need to return any of them if you don't like them, cute little gifts and little things that go with the books. She would get stickers with her name on it to put in the book and a theme of the month, if it was a space month, for example.
So, my husband's like, "Can we go to the library? How much money have you spent on books?" And I remember sitting there reading a book, it was one of her favorite series, the character's name was Birdie and she was an only child and I never saw dad in any of the books, so single mom and only child and I have two stepchildren, but Brooklyn is myself and this girl looked like Brooklyn. This curly mess of the hair and just the funky clothes that she'd put together and her attitude about everything where I was like I can write a children's book about Brooklyn.
And I remember I posted a lot of videos of her on social media through the years and people would just comment on how hysterical and they're like, "Oh my gosh." Just super funny especially when she was a toddler. And I'm like people enjoy her. I could write a book, the foot I put in my mouth, so coincidentally then it's like the universe listens and talks to you and I saw on Facebook one of my really dearest friends shared a children's book of her friend that I had never met before and I reached out to the friend.
I had the guts and I said, "You don't know me. I'm Judy's friend, but how did you do this?" And it went from there and I worked with Storybook Genius Publishing and they're out of Missouri and Nate and Erin, husband and wife team, helped create my first children's book. So, the foot in the mouth thing is it is harder than one thinks to write a children's book. You think like there's six words on this page or however many words and I could find an illustrator of Fiverr, which I don't recommend.
I was educated in a very good way of how challenging it is not only to appeal to a child, but to appeal to the parent who is actually buying the book. You're writing to that parent as well and I'm sure you can agree, we're the ones who are pulling it off the shelf and reading and being like, "Yeah, I want this." So, the emotional tie of that to the parent, where you put the pictures.
And I would sit there and write my ideas and the whole book out and they're like, "Too much of this." They educated me basically on what was going to captivate a child. So, my first book came out in 2017 and I was blessed to go with my publisher along with other authors under their umbrella to BookCon which is the largest book convention in New York City.
It was so exciting to be in this booth with my publisher and have people coming to the booth and excited about the book. I got to be in autograph, this area where authors got to sign books and talk with people about your book. And then, I also spoke on a panel with Susan Verde who was a famous, famous children's author. One of her books is I am Yoga, I am Peace. She's got dozens of books and I got to know her and still talk to her to this day.
Yeah, we wrote two more books after that and I have two more that are sitting in PDFs and I'm waiting to unleash those. I just took a break because it's a lot. I did a lot of events. Marketing is a lot of work. So, it's not like it's going to be on a bookshelf and just sell. It is you out there along with your publisher hopefully. But I'm going to be honest, publishers do not have the money or the heart of marketing books because they've got a lot on their plate. They've got a lot of books that they've got to put out there, a lot of books coming in as well. And so, an author's responsibility is to sell that book.
And so, yeah, it was a lot of work. I don't regret doing anything, the school visits, the local events, the online events that I would have, the connections I made with people and I'm excited to unleash my next two. I just have to wait until printing costs go down because unfortunately, I worked with a hybrid publisher, so it's more of a partnership and I'm the one paying for most of the printing costs. So, I've got to wait until things go down in this world in this economy, but it has been such a journey. I love that Brooklyn was a part of it and she would come with me to events. She's got her own YouTube channel with that and we would do readings together online. And people really connected with her and she inspired a lot of kids out there.
That's so cool. What would you want Brooklyn to learn from having watched you do all of the things that you've done with the coaching and publishing your book and sharing online? What is it that you're hoping that she is learning from watching you as her mother?
To take risks. If something doesn't work, like I said earlier in this episode, failing or quitting or saying goodbye to something, it doesn't mean that you're a failure or that your idea wasn't a good idea. I think it's magical to try things and to pivot and not being overwhelmed with feeling like you have to do it all. Sometimes just trying things allows you to find what you're truly passionate about and I'm saying a pause to the children's books, for example, because it was a lot. It drained me in a good way, but it was a lot of work where I'm like okay, I'm going to take a breather. I’m going to pivot and try some other things.
And those things, last week, I had three women come up to me like, "I want to buy your books for this classroom. I want to buy your books for my occupational therapy office because I have a book about trying new food, adventures with eating." These books still have a life to them. It's crazy how someone will pop into my life wanting a book.
And I just want my daughter to know that trying new things and taking chances just do it. And you never know where it's going to take you. The podcast that I have now, I would never have done this podcast, it never would have come to life if I wasn't in that coffee shop with my computer screen and saying, "I'm going to tell everyone about my feelings. I'm going to write a book." And I wrote this 50,000-word book and that's where this podcast came from.
And I found that with time and change and things that have gone in this world and talking to mothers that I connected with a way that's going to get the message out still, but in a way that I actually am enjoying more and in a time period where I just don't want a lot of pressure, like I was talking about. I'm not in a stage of my life right now where I want to launch a book again. Maybe in a couple years, I'll change my mind. I don't know.
But I think that's what's cool and I want my daughter to know that to always have your mind open and that you're not flaky. You're multi-passionate. You're not all over the place and unorganized as some people may say. You're following multiple dreams and taking risks and I think that's pretty cool.
I love that answer. I love the idea that we can be multi-faceted, multi-interested, multi-curious and that is such a beautiful message for everyone that's listening to this podcast. If you're thinking that there is something stirring within you that you're curious about, you're wanting to try, take the risk because I think that that gives you the ability to know you don't have to be perfect or know what you're doing as a beginner. It's called being a beginner because we all start at the bottom.
I'm curious, Michelle, with so many interviews that you've done and the information that you've shared of that vulnerability and being honest, what is something that you've heard time and time again where women may feel alone in something, but you know from what you've shared that that is far from the truth, that many women are feeling that way?
Okay. Can you repeat the question?
What is something that you’ve been told as let's say a "confession" where people are like, "I feel this way and I feel so guilty or I feel this shame about feeling this way," along that vein and that you can say, "Absolutely not. I have heard this time and time again?"
Yeah. I think we have this pressure that we always have to be doing something outside of motherhood and I do believe we do need something, don't get me wrong, but moms that are out there, you have to listen to your gut. And if you have too much anxiety about adding anything onto your plate, that's a normal feeling to have that you have to honor. You don't have to do anything to prove to anyone. You don't have to prove anything to yourself.
I wish that I listened to my instincts a little bit more. Because I did struggle in the beginning with that pressure to state that I had a business and say I had this and that and I had all these other things and motherhood hasn't changed me in any way. And motherhood changes us in so many ways, in so many good ways, not just the challenging times, but good ways.
But to honor where you're at in your motherhood and know that nothing's permanent and you can take on things as they feel right to you. You know that feeling when it feels right. And I wish I listened to that voice because I've heard mothers out there say that they have that pressure and they had this need to prove something to others and to themselves that they were more than a mom and more than this and that's not the case.
If you're at home right now and motherhood is where your cap is at and where that edge is at, stay there. All right, and then just always be in tune with those feelings and that gut of when you're ready to maybe try something new and, like we said, start out small. Honor your passions. Maybe take on, Camille, something that's manageable like your VA business, something that can connect you with what your purpose is in life beyond motherhood if that's the stage that you're at. But don't put too much pressure on yourself. Don't compare yourself to what other mothers out there are doing too much and connect with that intuition that's inside of you.
I love that answer so much. One of my number one things that I hate when people say I am just a mom.
I hate that.
I hate that because the thing is if you are a mom, you are everything, period. You are someone, if not multiple people's entire universe, so let's just get that in check. You are a universe and you are everything. And if and when you're ready to take on something else, wait for that inclination. And I love that you said that because there will come times where you will be ready. I promise you there will. There will be space and time for that.
So, honoring that inner voice, I love how you said that so much because I worry that in my messaging of you can fulfill that passion and that desire within you is not to say that if you don't have that desire right now that you are less than because there could be nothing further from the truth. Motherhood is the most noble honorable role, the most multi-faceted, wonderful, hard, amazing, it's all the things. So, Michelle, I love how you said that so much. Thank you so much for sharing that.
Yeah. And I have one story. My best friend since I've been 7 years old, so almost 40 years, she has three kids. Two are in high school, and then one in middle school and she's like 500-hour yoga teacher trainer. If anyone out there knows the world of becoming a yoga instructor, just to get your 200-hour is so intense. I'm getting this fall and it's a 10-month process. So, she has her 500-hour and people have asked her. Studios in the area are like, "Why don't you come teach?" Because it's like if you have a passion, people think you need to do something to get money in.
And she, again, like I said earlier, is blessed where her husband makes enough money where she doesn't have to work and bring in a paycheck and she's like, "Michelle, I'm just not there right own. I love being present with my kids and we feel like we need to be present when they're toddlers and babies." She's like, "Michelle, just a forewarning when they get into middle school and high school, you need to pay attention even more what they're doing." And she's like, "I feel like I need to be present and involved with them, their activities, driving them and just being there for them without worrying about a job to go to." She's like, "When they're gone, who knows? Maybe that's my time then." But she's like, "But right now."
And I sit there and at the time I was like, "I applaud you and I still do for not being ashamed to say that that you want to be at home with your kids and you have this knowledge and you pay thousands of dollars." She's like, "I just love that I have the knowledge." And I'm like, "Amen. Can't we just embrace that, that we're learning and growing in other ways?" Maybe a paycheck just isn't in the game right now, but maybe it will be in a couple of years or whenever.
Yeah. I agree with that. There's a reason to every season and only you can know what that is for you. So, thank you, Michelle, so much for coming on today's episode.
We went a few different places, but I feel like it was all so well-packaged in the message of following your intuition and taking the pace that is right for you. So, I hope that that is what you went away with today and thank you so much for being on this show.
Oh my gosh. Thank you everyone for listening this long. I’m sorry I like to talk, I know. But Camille, thank you for having me as well. I really appreciate it. It's been fun.
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