This fall, I launched my new Character Crossroads page where I archive special blog posts featuring resources to help people build their characters. As one of my first features, I am delighted to highlight Janice Lynne Lundy and her newest book, The Mindful Mommy’s “Back-to-School” Survival Guide.
Let me tell you that Jan Lundy is an amazing woman. Her philosophy is: Calm body. Clear mind. Open heart. Radiant life. Not only does she write enlightening books, but her website offers a wealth of resources. I recently took one of her classes at the Daily Om, “How to Stay Calm in the Midst of Chaos” and it has totally changed my outlook. I also subscribe to her daily Beads of Wisdom, free reminders that uplift and inspire you to live with joy and ease no matter what is happening in your life. I’ll be featuring the wonderful online magazine that she founded, Meditate Like a Girl, in the near future.
When I heard that Jan had published a book on motherhood, I was eager to review it and interview her as I knew that there are many moms out there who could benefit from her warm and practical advice. The book didn’t disappoint. It is broken down into an easy-to-read format and is chock full of tips for how busy mothers can navigate the chaos, insecurities, and fatigue that inevitably accompany the joys of motherhood. Jan demonstrates that when you become a Mindful Mommy, your awareness and self-compassionate choices will help create the peaceful household you desire, one where everyone not only survives, but thrives, every day of the year. One thing I love about her teachings is that she gives you permission to take care of yourself, because if you don’t nurture yourself, how will you have the energy to nurture anyone else? As Jan says in the below interview, your sanity and well-being determine the sanity and well-being of your entire family, and taking time for yourself isn’t being selfish, but rather self-aware.
The “Survival Guide” Includes:
• The Healthy Dozen: 12 Serenity-Over-Stress Strategies (SOS) to help you thrive through the craziest time of year
• 3 Best Practices for on-the-spot calm
• The Healthy Dozen — for Kids! 12 fun & original mindfulness activities to support your child’s transition and success.
• 56+ original practices for staying calm, clear & wise all year long through “Extraordinary Loving Mindful Self-Care.”
The book is available in digital format and includes a subscription to Jan’s weekly journal, “Mind-full Mommy Care.” I’m sure you will enjoy reading the interview with Jan below along with an excerpt from the book.
What do you feel makes this book unique from other books on parenting?
The Mindful Mommy’s Back-to-School Survival Guide is not really a parenting book at all, in the traditional sense, Stacy, and that does make it uniquely different. If anything, this book is about parenting ourselves as mothers so that, by osmosis, we become exceptional parents to our kids.
The Survival Guide invites a mommy to greater self-awareness through mindfulness, meaning, it shows her how to stay calm (at all costs!), and to keep her mind clear so she can make really kind choices for herself and her family.
The Guide is based on a very powerful recipe for living: calm + clear = wise. Through 56+ easy-to-use practices, I show a busy mom how she can be in tune with her thoughts, feelings, and needs at all times—even when she thinks there is no time to do this! Because when she is mind-full in this way, she can make compassionate choices for herself that result in smart choices for her whole family. She will avoid burnout and minimize household chaos by using the 12 SOS (Serenity Over Stress) Strategies I present here. I use these myself every single day and, believe me, they keep me sane and happy.
How did you get the idea to write this book?
I was a stressed out mindless mommy for far too many years and I paid the price for it. My kids were 4, 9, and 11 when I finally crashed and burned as a result of trying to do it all and be the best mommy ever. I realized in hindsight (even though I was a trained teacher with many years of classroom experience), I didn’t have a clue how to hold a healthy balance between personal, family, and workplace needs. I was stuck in perfectionism, self-sacrificing, and saying yes to far more than I should have. I said yes to everyone but myself, in fact, and, as a result, got really out of touch with my own needs, especially my physical and mental well-being. I took care of everyone else very well but not myself.
I reclaimed my health through the practices of mindfulness and self-compassion. Shortly after that, I wrote my first book, Coming Home to Ourselves: A Woman’s Journey to Wholeness, as a guide for women who might be similarly struggling and not finding the strategies they needed to take better care of themselves and still maintain a busy family life. That was in 1998. It’s now 15 years later and I have learned a whole lot more. I was eager to share what I’ve learned about living mindfully with self-compassion with the next generation of mommies! This new book is the sequel to Coming Home, a complete “how to” for engaging in what I have now come to call “Extraordinary Loving Mindful Self-Care.” Which, in my view, is the very best way to live in today’s fast-paced world when you’re a mother.
I organized this book around a Back-to-School theme because this is the most stressful and crazy time of year for mothers. I know that if a busy mom uses the practices I’ve included in this book she will have a completely different experience of Back-to-School time. She will feel grounded and centered. She will know what to do when emotional situations arise. She will know how to take care of herself and not succumb to overwhelm or exhaustion. And even though this book is geared toward a specific life event, it really is a “life guide” for how to peaceably within yourself no matter what is happening around you.
As you know from reading the book, Stacy, I’ve also included 12 SOS Strategies for Kids. Being a kid is tough today too! So many choices, so much peer-pressure! A mother can guide her child through the practices (also mindfulness and self-compassion based) so he or she is better equipped to deal with the challenges of the school year. In this way, mind-full-ness, is a family affair!
If you hadn’t written this book and could only give moms one piece of advice or nugget of wisdom, what would it be?
Be kinder to yourself. Know what you need and don’t hesitate to give it to yourself when you need it. Your sanity and well-being determine the sanity and well-being of your entire family. This is not being selfish; it is being self-aware, self-compassion put into daily practice. As women, we are not taught to show ourselves compassion. We are very hard on ourselves and we expect more from ourselves than we ever would of someone else. Being compassionate toward yourself will open up a whole new world of love and joy because when you are kinder toward yourself, you naturally become more loving and kind to everyone around you. Our own “extraordinary loving mindful self-care” benefits everyone.
Is there anything else you want to get across to moms about how this book can help them?
The SOS Strategies I present in the book do work. I am a very practical woman and I want to know what to do when. No nonsense! As a born and bred teacher, I am pretty hard-wired to share what I know works with others because if I can spare anyone even one moment of unnecessary suffering, so be it. When I was really struggling with time and energy being a mommy, I wish I’d known then what I know now. I wish someone had told me about the importance of mindfulness, loving-kindness, and compassion and how to incorporate it into my day. I could have saved myself a lot of suffering and grief.
My highest hope is that The Mindful Mommy’s Back-to-School Survival Guide will be the voice of “Permission Granted!”— a calm harbor in the storm of life for all mothers who are so very deserving of inner pace and their own loving-kindness. I hope the practices in this book will feel to you like a loyal friend who offers you a cup of tea, a cozy chair. One invites you to put your feet up and breathe. “Remember who you really are,” she says, “a human BE-ing, not a human DO-ing. Stop, take a breath, and access your innate peace.” I believe with my whole heart this book can be that loyal friend.
Thanks so much, Stacy, for sharing news of my new book with your readers. Blessings of ease and grace to all mothers everywhere!
Excerpt from SOS # 5: Beyond Multitasking
Mindfulness spells relief because, when we are mindful, we need to do only one thing—pay attention. No multitasking. No sense of accomplishing or getting something done in a certain way. Just one thing at a time with complete attention.
I discovered “Just This” practice during a time in my life when mega-multitasking was the order of the day. The “too muchness” of life had set in, so, of course, multi-tasking was the only way I could cope with it. The result, however, was long-term anxiety. Through Eastern teachings, I learned how vital it was for us to do just one thing at a time. Learning this brought me an immediate sense of relief. I recall actually saying to myself, “Really? I only have to do one thing, just one thing?” Granting myself permission to stop multitasking and do just one thing at a time began to free me from the prison of anxiety.
“Just this” invites us to pay attention to what is here—now. Placing our foot upon the ground, one gentle step at a time. Eating a meal, one delicious forkful at a time. Putting a word upon the page, one keystroke after another. Enjoying a telephone conversation and just talking, just listening—not being on the computer, wiping off the kitchen counter, or throwing in a load of laundry all at the same time.
Try it yourself. When you find yourself multitasking, ignore the pull of it and say to yourself, “Just this,” focusing carefully on the one thing you can do right now. Do that until you are done. Repeat “Just this” to yourself as you do it. It will help you retain your focus. Do one thing, then another “one thing.”
“Just this” practice naturally eases the body and mind. It allows us to quit grasping and flow with the experience at hand. One of the surprising benefits of the practice is how we begin to see that we actually got more accomplished because we were deliberately focused and made fewer mistakes.
Moving beyond multitasking will return you to the calm place within you where, in the bigger picture of things, there is time and space to do what is needed (perhaps not everything, but what is necessary). As you release yourself from the pressure of multitasking, a smile of contentment can return to your face. You are a peaceful and at ease mommy once again, and all because you did “just one thing” at a time—mindfully!
©2013, Janice Lynne Lundy. The Mindful Mommy’s Back-to-School Survival Guide.
About the Author:
Jan Lundy is a trained teacher of Comparative Religions, a certified Spiritual Director and Mentor with an Interfaith focus, and the author of personal/spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be. Her foundational spiritual growth course, “A Year for Me” consistently receives rave reviews for its ability to transform women’s lives. She offers online courses regularly through her website and through Daily Om.com. Jan is a nationally recognized speaker and retreat leader who regularly leads workshops and retreats for women around the U.S. She has written over 900 articles for online and print publications, and is editor of “Meditate Like a Girl.” Visit her website for more information.