Cathy Cassani Adams is a woman whom I have admired from a far for a couple years now. Even though I have only met Cathy once at last years Zen Parenting: Let's Get Real conference, I feel like her and I have many things in common. She is one of those women I can relate to through her words and writing, and someone I often turn to for virtual support, guidance and inspiration. Her podcast with her husband, Todd, is a beautiful example of a loving couple, who take the time to invest in themselves, each other and their children. Their show touches on both parenting and personal growth and their banter is nothing short of adorable. Shane and I often listen to Zen Parenting Radio on our many road trips to visit family or when we feel like connecting over a podcast at home. Their podcast always sparks thought provoking and deep connected conversations between Shane and I.
Cathy is a teacher, writer, caretaker, parent and partner. She enjoys reading books, listening to podcasts and "laughing as much as possible". She also chips away at her to-do list for the upcoming conference she is co-facilitating in just one short month with her husband in Lombard, Illinois. The Zen Parenting: Let's Get Real conference. Last years conference was a weekend filled with like-minded parents all striving to be the best they can be for themselves and their children, and I loved every second of it. The growth I felt in that one weekend alone made it clear to me that I would continue to make the trip to Chicago, to be a part of this amazing conference, with amazing leaders. So, Shane and I leave for Chicago February 23rd! I can't wait. Last year I went alone, and it just wasn't the same without him.
Cathy is a mom to 3 girls ages 13, 12 and 9. Like all kids, each daughter is unique in her very own way. Having looked up to Cathy and her parenting style for a while now, I found myself caught off guard when I asked her what she regarded as her proudest parenting moment to date. Only because I realized so quickly how average parenting can be. The obvious, but somehow missed realization made me laugh to myself.
It is amazing how beneficial it is to just talk to other women, openly and have the realization that we are all the same. Moms just doing the best we can, with the best we give ourselves and our kids. When Cathy explained that watching her children interact with the world around them is when she feels the most proud, I could feel that. And when she contrasted that warm, proud moment with the natural worry that comes with parenting, I connected with that.
Parenting isn't only tough because we want our kids to be good people, and we hope they are good to themselves. It's the sheer fact that they are their own people. We have no magic cape to keep them completely safe and healthy at all times, nor can we make all the decisions for them, this is their life. Cathy captured it so well, "I have to live everyday in the unknown. My kids have to make their own choices and live their own lives and I have to stand by and watch. It's the only way, but it's anxiety provoking." A type of worry that can only be accepted. Guilt free and with grace.
While I couldn't agree more, it was humbling and refreshing to realize that after collecting all the interviews with each of the 6 women from this series, they all were most proud about how their children interacted with other people and the world around them. And they all talked about the worry, no matter their age, or the circumstances life threw at them. However, by parenting mindfully, and parenting with respect and love in their hearts, all their children treat the world in the same way they are being treated, with love and respect. Add it to the parenting notebooks!
By identifying the influence we have on our children and ourselves, we can increase the likelihood of making healthy and happy choices in life. In doing so, we raise the next generation to do the same for themselves and the people in their lives, enriching our homes and radiating that loving energy outward into our communities and beyond.
While the worry and fears can be all consuming, it was the beautifully uncomplicated lesson, that Cathy is trying to teach her girls. Aiming very simply to teach her girls that they are OK. That their challenges and issues, whatever they may be, are manageable and that life is really about perspective rather than outcome. It was a refreshing viewpoint and the perfect reminder that sometimes we need to just focus on the simple stuff. The worries and proud moments are just that, moments. Coming and going, day in and day out.
With patience and humour, (Cathy's intangible parenting must have's), she gives her girls the space to feel out their situations, embrace the multitude of perspectives and focus on the doing.
To all my valuable readers, this week, try making a gratitude mural. A family collaboration where you either draw, glue or tape all the things you are each grateful for. A place to put everyone's gratitude in one spot and showcase it for the whole family to see.
All you need is:
a large piece of paper, canvas or bristol board
magazines for a cut/paste collage
markers, crayons or paints
Make it what you will and have fun doing it together as a family!
*if your kids are too little, consider doing this as a connection activity one night with your partner once the kid(s) are asleep! It could be as easy as taking the time to print pictures and fill a photo album with all the people you are grateful to have in your village helping you raise your kid(s)!
With that being said, I will leave you with Cathy's words of wisdom...
If I could tell my pre-parent self one thing it would be: "Build a relationship with yourself so you can build a relationship with your kids." - Cathy Cassani Adams
Next week I introduce you to my mindful mother Lisa Traver for the final #MCM Mom Crush Monday instalment. The woman who taught me all that I know. I had to close the series with a big one, and who better than the pioneer of mindful parenting, my mother. Having worked for the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program for the Niagara Region for decades to being an Infant Mental Health Therapist, my mother has seen it all. Her insight and wisdom has never stopped inspiring and supporting me and I just had to share it all with you.
Show love, grow love Happy Living Parents!
* If you are interested in getting a copy of any or all of Cathy's books you can find them here on her website.