Kathy Stowell has been writing about creativity, self-care and simplicity over at Bliss Beyond Naptime since 2006 and is the founder of Mama Bliss Coaching School, a 12-week life and creativity coaching training program that has certified over 40 moms in eight countries so far. This Beyond Mom lives in the sleepy mountain town of Nelson, British Columbia where she’s a triple latte-fueled mom to two kids, a 13 year old girl and a nine year old boy, wife to a rock-climbing obsessed engineer and the special person to their blonde wiener dog named Angel. Kathy makes sure she stays connected to herself through quarterly “straycations”. Find out exactly what that entails in this interview.
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Part of it probably comes from the fact I’ve been blogging at Bliss Beyond Naptime for the past 12 years. But mostly my rocket launch to Beyond Mom status probably started when I first became a mom and discovered this superpower within me. Beautiful thing is, all moms have access to it too!
It began with my first pregnancy with these intense food cravings but lingered with cravings of a different sort. I wanted more quiet, minimalism, healthy foods, more down time.
And then I noticed that when I paid attention to my self-care needs, took the time to prioritize creative pursuits and consciously slow our family life’s pace down, it got easier to invite in this peaceful centre and have it remind me to stay present and inform me of my next step.
You can call this voice, intuition, or higher power, but I like to call it Mama Bliss and today I train moms to coach other moms back to Mama Bliss in my 12-week training program called Mama Bliss Coaching School.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a mom?
My capacity to love unconditionally. Not just my kids and my husband, friends and family but myself too. And my mama bear energy has helped me strengthen my boundaries and conviction to protect our family’s values and culture. Even though sometimes they aren’t always norm or seem kind of square and uptight to others.
Do you have a Beyond dream that you are pursuing?
One of my Beyond dreams have manifested and the one I’m pursuing now sort of piggy backs on it. I have manifested over forty mamas now from all over the world to move through my coaching training program over the last five years.
My Beyond dream right now is to host a Mama Bliss Coach Retreat where we can convene, get to hug each other in person, and totally Mama Bliss out. We’ll do retreat-y, spa-y type pursuits but also get to spend some time reinforcing our coaching skills and work on building our businesses together in the flesh.
What relationships and activities help you stay connected to yourself?
In the summer the kids and I head down to the beach once I’m done work for the day – around 2:30. I bring a book, take a dip, eat chips and guacamole. Sometimes I make a date to meet a girlfriend out there too so we can get caught up and vent a little. In the winter same thing but because the kids are back in school it’s usually just me, my x-country skies and a favorite podcast.
And once a quarter I go on a mama-only retreat. I take my laptop and rent out an airbnb about an hour away from my home. I call these straycations because I don’t like to stray too far away. This gives me an opportunity to step away from my typical routine, get inspired from different surroundings and get super productive so I can get a leg up on some work and budding relationships. And get some much needed alone time!
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?
Interestingly enough all my favourite quotes speak to fear. I’m curious if it’s related to becoming a mom in a way. I often describe what it’s like becoming a mom to my non-mom friends with life’s intensity knob gets turned up all the way to eleven. All the beauty and love but also, for me at least, the scary and sad stuff too.
My latest mantra I repeat often, and I find really helpful for this was actually shared with me from my husband’s best friend who also happens to be my dentist ironically enough: FEAR stands for ‘forgetting everything’s all right’. It’s a true practice coming back to this but I am finding it’s getting easier!
What causes and topics are you most passionate about right now?
I get passionate about slowing down childhood as much as possible. I have a background as a Simplicity Parenting coach so I’m all about less is more in many aspects of family life. I’m especially passionate about getting our kids unplugged so we can invite in more empathy and compassion in our interactions with others. It’s a tricky line to tow sometimes with my line of work (being on my computer the livelong day) but I lean on creating a strong rhythm to our days that includes lots of downtime and true presence.
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?
When I started dating my husband we discovered the concept of Wabi Sabi together – the Japanese philosophy of celebrating the beauty found in imperfection. Back in those days he would leave poems for me on the kitchen table before he went to work and one of those poems was called Wabi Kathy. And then there was this giant list of all the things that aren’t perfect about me but he loves for some reason. Happy to report we didn’t break up 😉
But if we model this acceptance toward ourselves we can radiate it this outward and inspire those around us. What helps remind me of this concept is my favorite coffee mug. It has a chip on it that initially made me sad but today I feel like it adds to its awesomeness. It’s a reminder to me to celebrate my own flaws too.
Favorite go-to’s for:
Beyond Food (what do you cook & where do you go locally?)
Cooking is actually one of my favorite hobbies and helps me unwind at the end of the day. The secret to an amazing meal is premium ingredients. For that, in the summer I go to the Farmers Market twice a week to stock up. We lived on a hobby farm before moving to town for the Waldorf school so it’s a lovely way to reconnect with our old community and support them. Those days I just saute up some veggies and serve with a locally grown meat.
Beyond Content (Books & Podcasts)
I like to alternate business or self-help books with fiction or fiction-ish (like memoirs or true crime). I’m just about to wrap up In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and want to start reading Girl, Wash Your Face next.
For podcasts, I love listening to business podcasts geared towards moms when I take breaks to walk my dog. I listen to the Boss Mom Podcast, Think Creative Collective and Uncomplicate Your Business by Racheal Cook.
I live in my skinny denim overalls from Madewell while I’m working. If I have a group call or video interview I just pull down the bib to look all professional.
I walk my wiener dog a couple of times a day but because his legs are only three inches long, I also need to take longer, faster walks all by myself. In the fall and winter my beloved belly dance classes happen. It totally fixed up my back plus helps me move that Mama Bliss energy that may be stuck in my belly button region!