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This week we get the opportunity to hear from Melisa Nielsen from A Little Garden Flower & Waldorf Essentials. I have known Melisa for a while now and one of the things I love about her is her clarity of vision. She has something she wants to contribute to people, she has things she has to say and she says those things in a way that matters and makes a difference. Whether or not you are into homeschooling or the Waldorf philosophy, there is a lot to learn from Melisa about who she is about the things she believes in.
First off, why don’t you tell us a little about you and your family.
I am wife to Erik, a mom of 4 – awesome, rowdy kids, boy, boy, girl, boy. We live in south east Idaho in the shadow of the Teton mountains. Erik is my second husband, we are a blended family. More than blended… our tree is mended. We run our business from home and all six of us are together all day, everyday. We love it.
What would you say your big dream is?
To help families reach their greatest potential – being whole, being on the same page, being happy.
I am amazed by how you juggle being a mom, homeschooling, and running your business. How do you do it all?
There is no way I could do what I do without the support of my family. My children are great, they often help pack and ship orders – we live in a very small town of 1200 people so our post office is within biking distance, they run errands for us. Also, I couldn’t do my end of the business without Erik. I rise each morning between 4 and 6am and that means I have to get in bed on time and stay healthy. Erik is a huge supporter of those things. We each have a strong commitment to our family – neither of us could imagine it any other way.
What do you do to nurture yourself?
Meditate…shop for yarn or fabric… eat cheesecake… bake… handwork. So many things. I think that is the key really – have many things that make you happy then squeeze them in where you can. For each mom those things will be different.
You are a really inspiring speaker and writer, have you always wanted to guide and help people?
LOL! Thank you. My mom used to tell me all the time that I talked far too much – I do, lol. In fact I am constantly working on being silent more. But yes, I have always wanted to help. I was a lactation consultant for a long time, worked in the midwifery field a bit and when my children were on their way in homeschooling, I realized there was a need for more moms to understand Steiner. My consulting really started there. Our Beacon program was born from seeing a need to have realistic, workable, meditative practices that moms can put into practice each day.
Tell us more about your Beacon Program.
Well if you are a mom then the Beacon is YOU! The Beacon program is a targeted inner work and self healing program designed just for moms of all ages, all faiths and all places on their journey.
This program was a long time in the making. For the last twenty years, I was on a spiritual quest, I changed religions, changed who and what my vision of Source or God was and along the way, what I realized is that there were some wonderful healing programs and powerful spiritual mentors, but no one that talked to me in my unique position as MOM.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A lawyer. I started out in the political science program at the University of Utah a million years ago. Pre-law frustrated me. I saw a legal system that was broken and I wanted a family, lol… I worried I would not have the energy to grow a strong family AND fix the legal system. I chose to make a difference at home first.
How does that compare with your real life now?
It actually compares really well – my instinct in law was to help people – I get to enjoy that now. Paychecks of the heart far outweigh the money. I really enjoy what I do – I love my family and I love our business.
Are there things that you let yourself neglect to make sure you are spending time doing things that you love and that nurture you.
LOL yes. The dusting. My house is clean but don’t run your fingers along all the surfaces, lol… dusting is my least favorite chore.
When you are really in the zone, being productive, writing and doing all the things you want to be doing, what does a typical day look like?
Well it changes as the children have gotten older. Right now, Mondays are my all day work day. I start before 5am with a cup of tea and then head down to my office. My office is a small room off our laundry room that has space for our inventory right there so I can keep an eye on things. I start each day with a prayer of thanksgiving. When I get settled in the office, I look at my to do list and then begin my meditation. For me that can mean, reading something inspirational, guided visualization, deep prayful meditation – it really depends on what I am needing that day. After about 30 minutes (sometimes longer) I get started. Monday tends to be really productive and I don’t leave the office until dinner. On Mondays Daddy is in charge of children and food prep, they all work together. The rest of my week tends to be more relaxed – one long day takes care of a lot. The other days, I get up at 4 or 5am, work until 8am then get everyone else up for school. I work in the office a couple afternoons a week, depending on need. Kids jump in and help and that is a lot of fun.
Do you feel like parts of yourself have been neglected since becoming a mom, or like things have moved to the backburner?
No. I actually think becoming a mother helped me to realize dreams that I didn’t know I had. If I want to do something, I always find a way. That is just me.
What do you wish you had more time for?
Handwork. I love handwork. knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery… you name it, lol. Reading… I do a TON of reading for our work or for inner work and for that I am really thankful… getting through a novel would be nice now and then.
How do you squeeze in time for yourself, when you have other obligations?
Erik helps me. We help each other. I am committed to his inner work and he is to mine. We just make it work.
How do you connect with your own creativity and passions in those times when you feel tired and worn out from your mama duties?
After I get a good sleep (this is key!) I will often take a day off… find ways for the kids to be happy in what they are doing and just let them play around me. Some of my favorite days are when we play hooky and I take a handwork project to the park. Erik takes a book. We can sit with a picnic lunch and enjoy nature while the kids run around us and play. I try to always keep ahead of where I need to be – I don’t remember the last time I was too worn out to do what I wanted – I just don’t let myself get that down. When I need a down day, I take it. We have to. We have to show our children that life is going to take us if we are not in charge. I have to be willing to make life happen -otherwise… why am I here?
Do you ever feel guilty for wanting time away from your family?
I think when the older ones were younger I may have more… as I have matured as a mother, I have realized that time away rejuvenates me – it gives me extra energy for them. It is a good thing.
What would you say is the single most important thing that helps you balance who you are as a mom and who you are as a woman?
Prayer. I would be nothing without my connection to God.
What gives you hope and inspiration?
Again, prayer. When I am low, I pray. When I am high, I pray. When I need help, I pray. When I am thankful, I pray. My best inspiration always come through prayer and meditation.
What do you see for yourself in this next year with regards to your business and being a mom?
Good question! Business… growing! I am so excited at where we are going. We have so many wonderful things to share – I could write everyday for the next 6 months and not get it all out! But that is ok, one step at a time. In a time when many other businesses are getting smaller, we are growing. We grew 300% in 2009. My bet is we will be close to that in 2010.
My family… well… hard to tell. Not sure if that will do any growing, lol… we keep saying we are done but I am always open to promptings from the Spirit. I know the rest of 2010 will bring fun family trips and exciting lazy summer days. And yarn shopping. Lots of yarn shopping.
What are your biggest hopes and dreams for your family?
My biggest hopes are that our children grow up happy. I already know they are healthy, lol… but happy is what is really important to me. We work a lot on being strong together – standing firm in who we are and loving one another. We would also love to see the world together. We have explored much of our nation, now we are ready for the world.
How does you writing and running your own business help make those dreams come true?
Well we dream big! We hope to see our business grow enough to allow us to travel more.
Thank you so much, Melisa! Your passion and deep commitment to what you do is always a real inspiration. Thanks for taking a little time to share with us about your life and who you are.
The Nielsens are a crazy, fun bunch. Nearly three years ago, Erik left his job as a newspaper reporter to work with me. We write Waldorf curriculum and we work with homeschooling families. I also work with women through our inner work program, Be A Beacon, helping women to see their full potential and be all they can for themselves and their families. We love what we do.