Erin Goodman is one of those women who you really wish you could meet in person. Erin lives a full life, soaking everything in as she goes, and making sure that she leaves a positive impact on the world around her. Erin’s work caught our eye a while back, and we thought what better way to get to know her than in the pages of ROTH. We hope that you will enjoy reading about this extraordinary woman as much as we have.
You have a podcast called Behind the Blog. Tell us what inspired you to begin this podcast, what your hopes are for its future, and who is your dream guest?
Like many of my creative projects, this podcast began as a little spark of an idea that floated in and out of my conscious awareness over a period of several months. Sometimes I would read something on someone else’s blog and think “Oh I wish I could sit and have a cup of tea with her.” Other times I would find myself struggling with my own blog, trying to decide how much of our family’s personal life to share, and wondered how other bloggers negotiate these delicate boundaries. I didn’t know anything about podcasting at the time, but I kept feeling like it was the right medium for the types of conversations that I wanted to have, so I ran my idea for Behind the Blog by a group of friends. Their response was overwhelmingly positive and next thing I knew I was immersing myself in all things podcasting and launching my own show!
As for the future, I love the idea of bringing all the amazing Behind the Blog guests together in some way – perhaps for an online video conference or ideally as part of a live conference / retreat – but for now I am letting this dream live in the realm of “someday” as I focus on creating a line-up of inspiring guests for 2013.
When it comes to dream guests, the first person that comes to mind is Amanda Soule. Amanda’s beautiful blog was one of the first I discovered about five years ago (back when I was just learning what blogs were) and I have followed along with her and her family ever since. I had the pleasure of interviewing her via e-mail several years ago and would love the opportunity to take the conversation a little deeper and go Behind the Blog with her.
You are a yoga teacher, an interfaith minister and the founder of the RI birth network. That is a lot of goodness you are putting out into the world. What ties all of these things together as an overarching passion or belief about your work in this world?
Since I was a young girl, I have always had a deep desire to “change the world” for the better. I was (and still am) highly sensitive and deeply empathetic. I become easily overwhelmed by watching the news and hearing about violence, destruction and all that is wrong with our world. When I was in my mid-twenties and studying to be a yoga teacher, I realized that taking small steps to change what is within my power to change, while noticing and expressing gratitude for all that is right and good and beautiful in our world, felt a whole lot better than being overwhelmed and paralyzed by all that I cannot change. One of my favorite quotes, and one that I think accurately summarizes my work and life philosophy is from Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
How do you bridge all of these different aspects of your life together?
Well, one thing I think it’s important to clarify is that I don’t do all of these things at the same time. It has been more of a naturally evolving continuum over the years. When I was in my childbearing years, I was deeply inspired to share all that I was learning about empowered pregnancy, birth and parenting by teaching prenatal yoga classes, mommy and baby yoga classes and eventually starting the Rhode Island Birth Network, which I now serve in an advisory role.
A couple of years ago my focused shifted when I returned to work outside of our home and a short time later our daughter began kindergarten. As we adjusted to these changes, I found myself searching for new ways to foster harmony and connection in our family. The challenge of juggling two additional (and sometimes conflicting) schedules led us to make a number of positive changes in our family and eventually inspired me to create programs to help other families, including a mother-daughter retreat, which my daughter and I co-lead, and my first on-line program, The 10-Day Family Recharge.
My own life, and the joys and challenges I face, has often been a springboard to what I am called to create through my work. So the particular topics that I am writing and creating around change and evolve, but at the heart is always my intention to be a force for positive change in the world.
This past Winter you created an e-course called The 10 Day Family Recharge. This is a subject that so many families can benefit from. What do you believe is fundamental for families to do in order to keep connection with one another? (Also, in a short paragraph, can you give some advice for families who need a good recharge at any season?)
I believe that it is fundamental for families to create and honor Sabbath rituals. Whether this is a spiritual or religious experience or entirely secular will depend on the beliefs of each family. What is essential is to make space to unplug from the busyness of daily life to rest, reflect and express gratitude. For some families this is taking a weekly hike or having a special family meal. For others it may be participating in a spiritual community. The important thing is that we find a way to be fully present with our loved ones with quiet minds and open hearts; this is where authentic connection happens.
One of the things that I do at any time of year when I feel our family starting to slide into a place of disequilibrium and disharmony is to first notice that it is happening, without judgment or blame, and then take some quiet time (alone or with my family) to make two lists: What’s Working and What Needs Work. I like this exercise because it feels really good to list out all the things we are doing well and it also shines the light on some of the places where things are not flowing smoothly. From there we can create an intention and take steps to bring more harmony and peace into our days.
The holiday season can, unfortunately, be very draining for families. What do you think is most important for everyone to do in order to keep a sense of peace and connection during this busy time of year?
I think the most important thing is to make a commitment to what you will not do during this season. Begin by asking yourself (and your family members) how you want to feel on Christmas Eve (or Solstice Eve or the first day of Hanukkah) and really get clear about that. How do you want to feel? Once you have that clarity, it becomes a lot easier to make the daily choices that will help you to get there, specifically knowing and honoring your own and your family’s limitations and letting go of the idea that you can and should “do it all” during the holiday season.
As a mother, yoga teacher and a birth advocate, you are very centered around children, your own and others. Tell us a little about your yoga for children program, why you think that yoga benefits kids, and a little something that can parents can do at home to introduce or strengthen yoga and intentional movement with their children.
Sharing yoga with children is a great joy – and quite different than sharing yoga with adults. When I work with adults the first 20-30 minutes of class is often spent helping them to unwind and let go their worries. By their very nature, children live in the present moment. So if I jump right into a movement story at the start of class, they jump right in with me. That being said, I am starting to hear more children talk about “feeling stressed and overwhelmed,” which saddens me but at the same time reinforces the importance of giving children the tools of yoga to help them retreat from our increasingly loud and fast-paced world.
One of the most important things that I think parents can do at home is to model intentional movement for their children. This doesn’t have to be anything formal or involve yoga mats or specific poses. Simply talking about what you are feeling in your body and how you are responding is very powerful. Consciously taking a deep breath when you feel frustrated or stretching your arms up overhead when you feel fatigued – and explaining to your children why you are doing these things – are excellent ways to model and inspire mind-body awareness.
If you could impart one piece of wisdom to everyone reading this, what would it be?
Don’t do it alone. Parenting (and life in general) is not meant to happen in isolation. If you do not currently have a healthy support system around you, reach out, get creative and start building your village.
Erin shares a special guided meditation here.
Erin Barrette Goodman is an interfaith minister, yoga teacher and passionate builder of community. She is the founder of the Rhode Island Birth Network and the creator and host of Behind the Blog and the 10-Day Family Recharge. As a mother of two, she also packs lunches, drives the carpool and bows to the power of PBS Kids. You can connect with Erin at eringoodman.com, on Facebook and on Instagram (@eringoodman).