Cole W. Williams is an arrow-slinging idealist, advocate for critical thinking and curiosity, an all or nothing type of girl, a gold miner for truth. Passionately supporting emerging artists, randomly writing her own words, she stands for water, and for the river, she plants seeds of inspiration wherever she goes as the muse of being exactly who you are. Rivers, prairie and farm country weave their way into her writing, as well as healthy doses of science and biology. Each title Williams delivers is released within the theme of books that dig, meaning they contain topics that relate, teach and delight the readers. Offering expert advice, or a resource section to the end of a book can help bolster and magnify the reading experience. Her dream is that a reader digs even further into something that strikes them as interesting when reading her work. She believes to get a little, you must give a little, by way of supporting local authors and bookstores and building a literary community. Williams currently resides in St. Paul, Minnesota with her family.
“Fall in love with your womb. The area in your body that houses all of your reproductive bits and also your self-worth and feminine confidence. Begin there with self-care and self-love rituals. Take the time to love, heal and define yourself by your own terms.”- Cole Williams
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Being fierce, patient and kind. Showing my littles that if my heart and integrity are behind my efforts, then I am moving in the right direction. Encouraging their individuality and at the same time encouraging them to respect mine. We can grow together.
As a woman, being proud of my femininity and how I chose to define it and teaching my girls and boys self-love and self-care by offering them all the tools to self-actualize.
To reserve the right to chase my dreams wherever they may lead me while still maintaining my role and interests in what the kids are doing. To not let their lives and their care supersede my own and to model a loving marriage so that they too can learn how to share in love one day as well.
To allow them room to make mistakes, ample time to be bored and boundaries to hold them roughly in the lines. Ultimately to allow them to really believe that anything is possible and to nourish those dreams, as I do for myself.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a mom?
As a completely self-centered and reckless 21 year old, the opportunities for growth and lessons were ample. I found out I was pregnant at that age and the key was allowing myself to change and redefine myself, allowing the lessons in; which is not easy when you are young with a baby. I had to let go of who I was to begin a path of love, the path is still unfolding and for the longest time I used to think that I was teaching my kids so much and modeling so well, recently I have been able to see how the teachings have been mutual in strength and wisdom.
Do you have a Beyond dream that you are pursing?
Yes! I have many dreams. Lately I have been taking a bit of advice from Warren Buffet and writing down thirty or so ambitions and then selecting the top five on an annual basis. I will then work on those top five for the year. This focus has allowed me to accomplish goals because otherwise I will sign up for and do too many things, I know this about myself. My goals include: expanding my public speaking gigs, working towards a TED talk, maintaining my self-care rituals, developing my first novel, working toward my first county board position in water conservation, teaching my kids that the world isn’t scary and maintaining an intimate marriage with my darling.
What relationships and activities help you stay connected to yourself?
Over the years I have learned that I serve everything better if I have my meditation and daily yoga done. My yoga practice has been pretty consistent for 18 years, but it has drastically changed from a vanity parade to a self-healing and listening session. I am more in-tune and confident in my life so that I can sit in silence and remove myself from attachments that weigh me down. Finding this silence helps realign my focus daily and delivers a calm and cool guide for the kiddos. Furthermore, when they see me take care of myself, and I invite them in to do the same, we express together how to heal ourselves. Being in nature is another big one for our family. We severely limit screens and open all the doors to the outside, so they can dream, wonder and breathe. Writing for even 10-20 minutes a day helps me stay connected to myself and sharing the love of writing with the people I adore is one of my favorite ways to connect.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?
I sure do, “Resist Much, Obey Little,” by Walt Whitman. I also have a very personal one that I say to myself when I feel overwhelmed and that is a simple prayer of “Strength and grace.”
What causes and topics are you most passionate about right now?
Women and water. And don’t they go beautifully together?
Water: we live on the Mississippi River and I have worked hard to cultivate a sense of commitment in my household that one cannot simply ignore the resources they use daily, water being the unifying element I chose to teach by. I have led my own river clean-ups in our hometown, graduated from a Master Water Stewardship program and have taken a role as a board member for a local non-profit focused on river health.
Awareness and constantly challenging apathy are all we need.
Women: because of all the ways the American culture has told me I am different because of my sex, from both male and female voices, for having to define myself at all to others, for taking it on the chin over and over in the sake of keeping the peace, for being a woman in a male run research lab and hiding the fact that I had a family, for being forced to choose school and work or kids but not both, for doing both anyway and having my college advisor wonder why there were struggles, for being cat-called on runs so that I have to chose different routes, for the marketing that makes us all want to be dancers, for feeling like Mark Twain on the inside but for never being able to be treated like Mark Twain, for clearly seeing the social requirement for girls, women and ladies to answer sweetly when a man, mother or aunt asks us a question, for losing so much of ourselves that we struggle to connect with our wombs, for the pay gap that is like the country’s heaviest dark cloud, for seeing the word feminist used as a promotional scheme, for choosing between losing paths, for knowing that I am lucky to have a husband, for tax incentives to marry, for knowing once you start explaining, you have already lost, for the sadness that women in other countries have it better but far more women in far more countries have it way worse, for the simple remark of “I’m just not good at math.”
How do you think we can change our culture from one in which a woman is expected to be a “perfect mother” to one in which she is encouraged to discover and explore her evolving self?
In a very literal sense I would say to an individual, “fall in love with your womb. The area in your body that houses all of your reproductive bits and also your self-worth and feminine confidence. Begin there with self-care and self-love rituals.” Take the time to love, heal and define yourself by your own terms.
I don’t believe in the social pressures to give off airs that I am a “perfect mother,” “happy mother” or world’s best PTA mother or any of that, I trust in the medicine of being real and I openly compliment myself if I think I did well. I am a darn good parent, I rocked that or thank goodness for some time to myself. I also admit openly when I could have done better and leave it all out on the table. Who’s perfect?
And then, and this is my favorite part because it can be really hard! Take that love and non-judgment and spread it to the women in your life. Allow them the grace and time to explore their lives, encourage them and sincerely try to take your own identity out of your perception of their path. We are so hard on ourselves and each other. Women are a struggling class of citizens and so we push each other down to try and exert the path to freedom we think is right, yet the only way is together. Is that too political? Well it leads nicely to my last comment. Take all that love and fire and stand up for it. Engage locally and discover ways to build-up women in your community. I have more work to do in this arena, I began by writing science for all kids, but I hope to do a lot more. One of my all-time biggest dreams is to create funds and resources for single parents in college.
Favorite go-to’s for:
Beyond Food (what do you cook & where do you go locally?)
I do not like cooking, but I do love making Masala chai, grinding my own spices and serving up spring rolls, banana bread and a very cheesy lasagna. Locally, I am exploring St. Paul restaurants and my favorite meal is breakfast and my favorite plate to try is biscuits and gravy.
Beyond Content (Books & Podcasts)
Whoa, did you just ask me about books?! How much time do we have? Right now, I am reading and researching historical picture books and contemporary young adult books like, The Hate U Give. Also in my stack are local poet chapbooks and a couple classics that my son nudges me toward like The Aeneid.
I prefer a nice black western shirt with pearly buttons, a pair of Red Wing boots or barefoot. My soul wants to be ready to ride a motorcycle at any time, so I dream of living in leather pants, but I dread being hot, so I usually wear Levi cut-offs and a stripped tank that reminds me of the 90’s. Really, I love to play dress up too, the crazier the better, anything that is
Mad Hatter’esque because one of my other favorite quotes is “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy,” Einstein.
I used to love having huge guns and would show off physical stunts of power, single-legged squat with a kettlebell anyone? Now days I tend to err on the gentle side of things and stick to yoga, swimming and jogging. River clean-ups really make me feel alive and climbing over logs in the Mississippi is pretty taxing. I also spend a lot of time restoring lands and volunteering time in the natural spaces around my town.