I met Emma this year as a Mum at our new school. She was warm, friendly and I instantly liked her.
I had no idea initially how awesome she is. I first became aware of this after she gave a talk here, early in the year, about body image and her journey with bulimia. I didn’t actually go to this talk but I heard “everyone” at school talking about how amazing she was. After this I made a point of getting to know her better, reading her blog and wanting to help share her wonderful words.
She is a Mum of 2, an author, speaker and a painter. I hope you enjoy getting to know her in this post as much as I have.
Emma and her family have actually just moved off the island but I hope to stay connected with her for a long time. Some people are just like that.
1. Can you tell me a little about you and your family?
We are four people. Myself (47), my hubby Graeme (43), Maddie our eldest (7) and Mathew our youngest (5). Recently we commissioned a four pou (Maori for statue) sculpture that represents us as a family. We had to come up with a word each for the artist to use as a guide. Mine was ‘spark’ because of my energy and creativity.
Graeme’s was ‘provider’ because of the platform he’s created from which we can grow. Maddie’s was ‘connector’ because if it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be a family. I got pregnant a few weeks after G and I met (not ideal). But we both wanted her – so we chose to create what we have today. Mathew’s was ‘comedian’ because he makes us laugh.
2. You are an author, a speaker and a painter … tell me a little more about how you came to love those things and make them your profession?
I’m not entirely sure how I came to love each one (and like all loves I sometimes wonder why I’ve ever loved them!) but what I can tell you is that I do love them and I have made them my profession through old fashioned stubbornness. Being stubborn about doing something that makes a difference but more importantly about not letting fear rule my life. I’ve never attempted to get rid of fear. And I certainly don’t live a fearless life. It’s more like when fear talks I make a conscious decision whether to listen or not. Make no mistake, fear still pipes up every goddamn time I put brush to canvas, write anything or stand in front of a crowd (I thought I might just die the first time I did that). The truth is I have a great respect for my fear – she has kept me alive, countless times! That said (between you and I) she’s not that smart and has a habit of poking her nose where she doesn’t belong. I wanted to make creativity my business, so I deal with fear like I’m the boss, not her.
3. I know one topic you are very passionate about is fostering positive relationships with our bodies, especially for women. I know most Mums I know struggle with loving their post-baby bodies … how can we be kinder, more loving and accepting of our body?
It’s funny isn’t it – we live inside these (organic) machines that can produce babies (I mean!) and yet we hate them once they’ve done it. When I stop and really think about that, it’s sheer madness.
You are right – I am passionate about this topic. In fact, I am out to change the way all humans see and experience their bodies. That passion comes from having hated mine so fiercely that, given a chance, I would have chosen skinnyness over world peace, any day of the week. That’s embarrassing, but the blind true was I thought my ugly body was the root cause of everything painful in my life. And that if I could just get my body under control, everything would be okay.
I didn’t find an overnight cure to that mess. It’s taken years of practicing caring, kindness and love over and above automatic hatred. I did it by believing I didn’t have to live the way I was (and that if I was ever actually choosing between world peace or skinny thighs, that I would make a good choice). Part of it too, was making a declaration that I was going to learn how to love my body as it was – no matter what. I put myself on a mission. I did really uncomfortable things like make friends with what I saw in the mirror, apologise to myself (like look at my cellulite ridden legs and say out loud – I’m sorry for treating you with disrespect). I have written a book about my journey from hate to love. But I hasten to say that I’m no expert. I don’t know what would work for you or for anyone else. What I do know is that humans are incredible and if we take a stand about something we get to experience how powerful we are.
4. I am the mother of 3 daughters, I worry about how to best raise them to love their bodies … starting now and lasting forever. Do you have any words of wisdom for me?
I get asked this a lot. And I have one answer. Love your own body. Like really love it. Don’t stand for dieting, trash talking, giggling about how you hate this bit or wish you had something different. Show respect for your own amazing, incredible, miracle of a body. Hmmmn. I know. It’s hard, right? But it’s so important. We can’t want our children to have no issue with their bodies then turn and complain about the one we got.
6. How do you juggle running your business & being a Mum?
I have no idea. Really. It’s an ongoing dance that sometimes seems to flow and sometimes seems completely disconnected from the music. Mainly it feels very skin-of-my-teeth stuff, skidding into bed at night thinking, phew, another full day of life.
7. What is your favourite thing to do for “me time”?
Reading. Watching movies. Reading. Swimming in the summer.
Did I mention reading?
8. How do you make this actually happen?
I don’t know if I can actually make anything happen. I do a lot of stuff, sit back and hope like hell. Some of it sticks and some of it doesn’t. I try not to take to much credit either way (that old meat grinder has bitten me way to many times!!).
9. What are you most grateful for at this point in your life?
For growth and love and hormone replacement therapy.
She has written some awesome books available via Amazon – check them out HERE