Amanda Soule, the author of the blog SouleMama, recently published her third book The Rhythm of Family with her husband Steve and their children. Rhythm of the Home co-creator Heather Fontenot was invited to contribute a piece to the book on yoga and meditation for children, and she recently interviewed Amanda and Steve on the joys of writing a book as a family, and what they are most looking forward to in the coming winter season.
Your third book, The Rhythm of Family, feels as though it is a reflection on not only the life that you have, but also the one that you try and continually cultivate. How did this book provide clarity on what is important to you in raising your family?
Amanda: That’s so true. I find it to be true in writing the blog, and certainly in writing this book. There’s an element of ‘this is what we do’ that is behind the words as well as “this is how we would like to live.” There’s a wonderful energy and manifestation that happens once intention and dreams are set to paper and written down. I found that to be so true for us with this third book in particular. Obviously, seasonal living is something that’s always been important to us and vital to our family’s way of life, but in writing this book it was clear that we wanted even more. And not at all a coincidence (if you ask me), that after years of trying to make the move, it was during the year of writing The Rhythm of Family that we were finally able to locate and purchase our farm.
Steve: Working on this book provided me with a sort of frame in which I could put a picture of my life. The essays became like snapshots of these moments in time. As my thoughts and memories shifted with each season I tried to capture a piece of my life, and family, at some point along that continuum. Looking back and remembering my own childhood and juxtaposing that with my life as a parent, feels like a healthy way to remain clear about what is most important.
Putting together a book like this has to help define the things in your life that mean the most. What one thing did you and Steve learn about your family that surprised you?
Amanda: I was surprised at how ‘easy’ it was for Steve and I to work together on this project. We both write so differently, and work so differently, that I worried it would be a challenge. It was quite the contrary, though, as that balance really helped keep everything even, just like, I suppose in our family roles. I think we make a swell team.
Steve: That even though we live together, eat the same foods, read the same books, travel together and spend a large percentage of our time with each other, we are all our very unique selves. Although we certainly share characteristics of family, it was lovely and amazing, and a bit surprising, to observe our differences.
If you could chose one piece from this book, what would it be and why?
Amanda: I’m most grateful for the way this book blends so many aspects into one – photography, essays, both mother and father voices, and projects…and even within the projects we have recipes, sewing, knitting, paper and more. It feels to me like life – all the many varied things we all do that make up our days. It feels very ‘whole’ in that regard.
Steve: While I truly enjoy the flow of this book and all of its parts and pieces and collaboration, I think the photography really brings it all together. Amanda has such a wonderful eye for calm and subtle beauty, I often just stare at her pictures and notice details I’d missed many times before. Big props to the designers at Roost Books as well for pulling the many varied pieces together into the whole aesthetic.
Your book is a true collaboration of your entire family. How do your children feel about the part that they played on bringing this book to life?
Amanda: I think they have a healthy mix of nonchalant, everydayness about it all, and pride in their contributions (and maybe even in their parents). “That’s in the book!” they’ll say about particular projects or objects around the house. But what I most love about it all is how accessible they believe the publishing world to be. Each of them believing that if they work hard on a project they’re passionate about, they’ll be able to share it on a big scale like publishing a book or producing a CD. And why shouldn’t they think that – at age 8 or 10 or 35?
Steve: I’ve enjoyed reading them a few of our essays. They particularly like the ones where they play prominent roles. It feels good to have them hear it read aloud how special and wonderful we think they are. Like, if it’s in print, they must really mean it! They certainly have moments where they could not care less about being in a book or a photo or a story. We understand and applaud that resistance. It doesn’t really work if the participation is forced.
As winter approaches, what do you most look forward to, and how will you celebrate this year?
Amanda: I’m most looking forward to the holiday season of celebration, and all the making that goes along with that. The knitting in my hands, and the glue sticks the kids are holding tightly to right now! I’m a true-blue summer girl at heart, but winter is everything about ‘home’ to me that’s wonderful – coziness, gathering, warmth, and being close to each other. It’s going to be a good winter.
Steve: I love being outside in the freezing cold for a long time and then coming in to a warm fire. Soups, stews, warm bread, gathering with friends, candles, board games, ski season, snowboarding, snowstorms, sledding, ice on the lakes…ah, I love winter.
Thank you to Amanda and Steve for taking the time to talk to us. We hope that you will pick up a copy of The Rhythm of Family to enjoy with your family.
Amanda is also the creator of the blog SouleMama.com, where you can find writings and photographs about their family days.