I am beyond thrilled today to interview Cathy Cassani Adams, the author of the just-released book Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self Aware Parenting. I have been a fan of Cathy’s for several years, and had the privilege of reading and reviewing an advance copy of her fabulous new book. It is a must-give gift for all the parents in your life.
Do you recall how your interest in writing began?
Right after my first daughter was born, my mother in law gave me a book called The New Mom’s Companion by Debra Gilbert Rosenberg. It was the first book that focused on my needs as a mother rather than how to be a better mother. I was so soothed by this book that I sent Debra an email of thanks. A few days later I received an email from her saying she lives only 20 minutes away and that we should get together.
When we met she asked if I would be in her writing group. Honestly I had not even thought about writing, but I knew that I didn’t want to pass up the offer. This led to my career in writing, and it also led to a wonderful relationship with Debra. When she decided to leave her job at Dominican University, she asked me to take her place. I’ve been teaching in the Sociology/Criminology Department at Dominican since 2010.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you overcome it?
For me the best part about writing is that I don’t feel pressure to write. I do have a blog, but blogging is totally up to me. I write for Chicago Parent, but I only have to write one column a month. My books have been an accumulation of writing over the course of many years, so I’ve never really had to start/finish a book – it’s kind of come together naturally. This means that when I feel like I want to write, I do, and when nothing comes, I don’t.
With that said, sometimes I feel “blocked” in that it’s been awhile since I’ve written something meaningful, for myself or others. That’s my indicator that I haven’t had enough time to myself. When I’m alone or in quiet, ideas seem to come quickly – maybe in the form of something short like a quote, or maybe an entire article. Regardless, I view writing as a release or a processing, a way of sharing something I’ve felt or learned.
Where do your ideas/inspiration come from?
Everyday experiences, my children, other people’s experiences, what’s going on in the world – and most often, my own struggles.
Do your children know about the books you have written? How do they feel about them?
They do know about my books. They don’t seem to mind much, and they don’t seem very impressed. I’ve been writing since they were born, so Mom has always been a writer. When I write about them I try to keep their part simple, and my learning experience as the core of the article. They may be my inspiration, but I would never assume to know how they feel or think, I can only share my perspective. For now I write about what they teach me, someday they can write about their own experiences, if they so choose.
What is your favorite quote?
I have so many quotes around my desk and they change depending on what I’m experiencing. The quotes that stay on my vision board year after year are:
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~e.e. cummings
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. – Joseph Campbell
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a child I wanted to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Then I wanted to be an artist. Then I wanted to be a writer. Then I wanted to live on a farm. Then I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. Then I wanted to be a teacher. I feel like I have incorporated all of these things (even if it’s just spiritually) into my daily life.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and if so, what was it?
What I learn from my writing is that the message is always the same: Be who you are, trust who you are, know you have value, trust your challenges, demonstrate compassion toward others, practice what you know (don’t just know what you know), appreciate what’s working, repeat.
Is there anything specific you would like to say to your readers or anything you would like them to take away from your book?
If something resonates with you, know that you knew it already. If something doesn’t resonate, just let it go. Trust yourself and your own path – there are countless ways to live a life.
What are your top five favorite books?
Gift from the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Reviving Ophelia – Mary Pipher
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
A Return to Love – Marianne Williamson
A Short Guide to a Happy Life – Anna Quindlen
Ferdinand – Munro Leaf
Who is your favorite author and what strikes you about his/her work?
My favorite book/author has always been Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea – I read it about once a year. I love the way she uses metaphor to describe the journey/challenges/process of life. And although it was written in 1955, it still holds up – her words are just as relevant today.
Do you ever hear from your readers? What do they have to say?
Yes, I get lots of great emails and messages. People who relate to what I’ve written, or people who want to share their own story. We get lots of great emails from Zen Parenting Radio listeners – people who were inspired by a certain show or those who are practicing conscious parenting on a daily basis.
Your book is excellent. How can someone purchase your book?
Where can readers find out more about you and your work?