Q: Good Day, Niki. Thanks much for our time together. As a creator of Mothering with Soul, you have a unique, purposeful message. Tell me a little more about yourself, your collaborators, and your combined mission.
A: Thanks for having us, Cyma. It is an honor to connect with other midlife moms. As I was sharing with you, The Mother’s Wisdom Deck and Mothering with Soul largely grew out of our desire to marry our pre-motherhood life experiences and spiritual growth with the path of motherhood. Co-author Elizabeth Marglin (44), illustrator Jenny Kostecki-Shaw (38) and I (40) have each spent a lot of time traveling, studying with wisdom teachers around the globe, and contributing to the world as professional women.
Speaking for myself, I was totally unprepared for the changes that motherhood would bring. When I became pregnant, I was in the midst of a project to document the wisdom of indigenous elder women and thought that I would be able to continue my work with a baby on my back. My son had other plans. I can laugh now at my naïveté, but moreover I am grateful for how motherhood has enriched my life in ways that I never could have planned. Motherhood is about surrendering to something greater than myself and seeing what wants to unfold. The Mother’s Wisdom Deck supports that process of letting go and tuning in.
Q: The simplicity and gentleness of your message is really appealing. For midlife mothers, in particular, the mothering journey is often fraught with pain and loss. Once obtained, the external challenges are often unforeseen and exponential – aging parents, special needs-children, life changes (peri/menopause), etc. What wisdom can you share with our readers regarding this?
A: Certain times are earmarked for service and our peak mothering years are just such years. We are asked to manifest strength and love and grace beyond what we previously thought possible. The Mother’s Wisdom Deck celebrates the personal transformation that goes hand-in-hand with the staggering tasks we manage daily. We believe that this grunge becomes gold if motherhood can be approached as a spiritual practice. The day our children are born—or adopted—is one of the most significant turning points in life—the day we start to care about another being more than ourselves.
Q: It seems easier, to me, to connect the dots between pregnancy and spirituality. However, as both an adoptive mom and a mother of stepchildren, the other roads to motherhood (fostering, guardianship, blending stepfamilies) do not easily create that cause-and-effect symbiosis for women. How can women utilize your approach to fit their personal (family) situation?
A: The Mother’s Wisdom Deck is a tool for all mothers (we even have a fans that are not mothers) because it helps each woman tap her intuition to gain insight into her own personal experience. When I do readings for a mother, I find that the deck speaks to her as a woman and guides her back to her deeper self, the self that knows what to do when faced with the many challenges motherhood presents. Riding the power of synchronicity, the deck extends exactly the right card at the right time. Ponder a subject or ask for guidance in your life, and then turn to the deck. Drawing a card can either reveal a message (like Tarot) or simply provide you with inspiration for the mothering journey.
Q: Your beautiful Wisdom Deck imparts such wisdom, grace, beauty and simplicity! Tell me a little more about how you collaboratively sought to design and create this.
A: The vision for the deck arrived on a solo walk out in the woods. The idea for a wisdom deck that could speak directly to mothers seemed so obvious, so simple, and yet so strangely overlooked. We began laying down the bones of the project after our babes had been put down to bed or during hectic play dates. With four children between us, we often felt that we could not move forward, but then synchronicities would arrive to remind us that there was no turning back. Jenny Kostecki-Shaw’s serendipitous arrival was one such good omen; her captivating illustrations breathed life into each card. The project, too, was watered as we tapped the well of experience from a community of mothers that represented all ages and every stage of parenting.
Q: Niki, how often/for what reason do you use the Wisdom Deck?
A: I use the deck whenever I feel the need to bring more awareness and understanding to my mothering and my personal journey. I’ll go through periods where I pull a card daily. Other times, months may pass by and then I will feel called to do a multiple-card draw (outlined in The Mother’s Wisdom Deck guidebook) to illuminate an area of my life that needs attention.
Q: It appears as if you have found community with other like-minded mothers. However, many midlife mothers live in isolation – unable to find the support necessary, or even other midlife mothers to share experiences with. What are your thoughts?
A: We like to visualize the deck like the moon. Just as you can feel connected to someone on the other side of the world by imagining she is gazing up at the same moon, we dream of the deck being an object of illumination that mother’s can tap for inspiration and the affirmation that they are not alone. We also hope our blog at Mothering with Soul, like Mothering in the Middle, might be a portal where mothers can meet for a good laugh or a good cry, where we can be real without being judged, where we can laugh at our foibles but also appreciate our riches with fresh eyes.
Q: You talk about that “inner knowing,” which so many of us experienced prior to being in midlife. Once here, it has become challenging (to say the least) to reinvent and recreate ourselves when parenting young children. At this age/stage, how can we more easily return to ourselves and our roots?
A: I think we can return to ourselves when we make room for a little downtime, even five minutes. We chose the format of a deck so that mothers could easily drop into a sacred space, light a candle, take a deep breath, draw a card, reflect for a moment, and then return to the chaos of motherhood more grounded, compassionate, and self-aware.
Q: You focus on how we, as mothers, both resist and surrender to the experience of motherhood. Why do we struggle so? “Deep soul work” is a process that often accompanies motherhood. What is the root of this?
A: During motherhood we are in the midst of constant transformation, both our own and our children’s. When we accept change and approach each moment with curiosity, the struggle ceases. Easier said than done. Change is scary and transformation can be disorienting. In the deck, the Butterfly is the winged messenger of transformation: “Butterfly wisdom tells us to overcome resistance by letting go with grace. Your old self must die in order to be reborn with stunning hues and outstretched wings.” This metamorphosis is the root of the deep soul work that motherhood entails.
Q: Finally, what message would you like to leave with our readers?
Accept all the growing pains of motherhood as the harbinger of your soul’s upward evolution. Motherhood indeed may be the shortest and steepest path to enlightenment.
Niki Dewart, 40, walks and writes about the sacred path of motherhood. She is the co-author of The Mother’s Wisdom Deck (Sterling, May 2012) and blogs at Mothering With Soul. A triple cancer, whose world is now her home in Colorado, Niki weaves beauty-making, gardening, and chicken tending into a vibrant and meaning-rich family life. She also is a founder of Applesong, a pioneering cottage school that nourishes the bodies, minds, and spirits of children in her community. Niki leads rituals, workshops, and retreats that nurture the soul of mothering. You can find her at http://www.motheringwithsoul.com. Niki’s children are 4 and 7 years old.