Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Shorewood?
I am originally from Green Bay. I have lived in Shorewood since 2015.
Was there anything special about Shorewood that made you want to live there?
Yes! The great schools with a “whole child” focus were the first draw. I have a daughter with learning differences, and Shorewood schools valued her uniqueness, and sought to engage her in learning tailored to her interests. Invaluable! I also appreciate that Shorewood values composting, and we are a community committed to honoring diversity and working toward equity.
How many children do you have and how old are they?
I have an eight-year-old daughter and a thirteen-year-old daughter.
Tell us about Wholly Mindful and your journey to owning a business focused on helping others live healthier and happier lives.
It was my first daughter that prompted me to start Wholly Mindful. Parenting her helped me to discover the importance of my own emotional well-being. I am a former third grade teacher, and my Wholly Mindful journey began with training educators and parents in mindfulness and self-compassion so that they could empower children with these internal strengths. This blossomed into me developing curriculum and classes to help parents and children together grow mindfulness, resilience and self-compassion.
Your business centers on helping others live more fulfilling lives through self-compassion, mindful communication, yoga, and resiliency training. How are these four components the foundation to health and happiness?
Health and happiness are built on the foundations of a healthy mind and body.
• The body is interconnected with the mind. I teach mindful yoga to parents and families both because it is beneficial to strengthen and stretch our bodies and also because it anchors our minds in our bodies, which facilitates important neural integration and well-being.
• Mindfulness is the foundation for both resilience and self-compassion. Mindfulness builds our capacity to be aware of what is happening in the moment so that we can skillfully respond.
• Self-compassion is essential because life presents us with challenges – including the truth that we are all imperfect human beings. When we are struggling, feeling connected to others and being kind to ourselves makes it easier to bear our struggles. Self-compassion is a building block on the path to resilience.
• Mental resilience includes mindfulness, self-compassion, as well as helping our minds to focus on and take in that which is positive and good (positive neuroplasticity). We cannot have lasting health and happiness without these mental strengths.
Mindful communication enables us to take all of these internal resiliency skills and apply them in our relationships with others. Much happiness and well-being can be cultivated in our relationships with friends, family, and our greater community.
If you can share one piece of advice to parents out there who are worrying about their children’s health and happiness what would it be?
Please take care of your own health and happiness. Your children learn by watching you. You can develop a strong foundation on your own, or take family classes to grow together. But your own growth is essential.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work and what changes, if any, have you seen in the areas people are struggling with now as a result of the pandemic?
COVID-19 encouraged me to reinvent myself online, and I developed a wider global audience. I will continue to offer self-compassion, resilience, mindful yoga, and mindful communication training online for the indefinite future. My challenge now (2021) is to reestablish myself physically in my local community. This Fall I will begin offering in-person mindful yoga classes through the Whitefish Bay Rec department (and will also continue to offer classes online through the Shorewood Rec Department). By winter, I am hoping to again start offering mindfulness, resilience, and self-compassion classes in physical spaces for adults and families in our community.
Juggling careers and raising kids is hard. Tell us about how you manage the work/life balance.
LOL. There is no “balance” – only a wobble 😊. I have been beginning to establish an online family private practice in Europe where their evening is my daytime so that I can limit the number of evenings that I am away from my family. As much as possible I try to include my children in the trainings that I offer in the community. They have taken many, many resilience, self-compassion, communication and mindful yoga classes that I offer to families. Additionally, I try to ensure that I take time to care for my own physical, emotional and social needs. As I said before, it’s more of a wobble than a balance. I am continually making adjustments and recalibrating to best meet the needs of myself, my family, and the community that I serve.
What’s your favorite thing about raising your family in Milwaukee’s North Shore area?
I absolutely adore living next to Lake Michigan. We enjoy frequent bike rides, walks and visits to the lake.
If you could do an hour of yoga with anyone in the world, who would it be?
What a fun question! Probably my older sister who lives in Arizona. Even though I don’t get to see her often, she is my favorite person to do yoga with. My not-so-secret wish is that someday we can offer mindful yoga and self-compassion retreats together.
Best mom hack that makes life easier?
I try to create “win-wins.” Any time both parents and kids can get their needs met at the same time life becomes infinitely easier. Whenever possible, I plan a playdate for myself at the same time that my kids have playdates with their friends. Additionally, we exercise together (swimming laps, running, biking, yoga, etc.).
One thing people would be surprised to know about you.
I had a lot of troubles when I was a teen….eating disorders, alcohol abuse problems, etc. People who know me now might be surprised about my bumpy teenage years. That being said, I am certain that my teenage struggles have made me a more effective resilience and self-compassion teacher to children and families today.
Who has most influenced you to be the mom you are today?
My mom….and Daniel Siegel. My mom is super authentic, brave, and she has a big heart. She has influenced me being the woman that I am today. Half of my job as a parent is the example of who I am as a person. As far as how I show up for my kids, the work of Daniel Siegel (Parenting from the Inside Out, The Whole-Brain Child, and the Power of Showing Up) has profoundly influenced me. I utilize his books in all of my classes for parents, and the knowledge and practices from both The Whole-Brain Child and the Power of Showing Up have profoundly influenced how I mother my two daughters.