Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category

Podcast: Awesome Adulting with Meg Maloney on the Camino de Santiago

Brave Writer Podcast

Meet my college friend in this Brave Writer podcast episode!

Meg Maloney is the author of an intriguing memoir, “Slow Your Roll,” where she chronicles her transformative journey across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, a renowned network of pilgrimages culminating at the shrine of apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostola. With its spiritual aura, this trail has attracted millions over the years, becoming a beloved route for spiritual seekers, hikers, and tourists alike.

Meg Maloney
Meg Maloney

Beyond her role as an author, Meg is a seasoned marriage and family therapist, a loving mother of three grown-up children, and a devoted wife of more than 30 years.

In our conversations, we shared a recurring theme—the importance of nurturing one’s individual identity and aspirations beyond motherhood, a concept I’ve coined as “awesome adulting.” You’ll hear:

  • what she discovered about herself on her pilgrimage,
  • how she reacclimated to the fast pace of modern life,
  • and how she’s been changed through the process.

And for writers: she gives us a treat—she shares about her journey to writing and self-publishing her first book!

I loved her memoir and I hope you will too!

Show Notes

The life-affirming benefits of pilgrimage

Indeed, embarking on this pilgrimage allowed Meg to temporarily shed her familial roles and reconnect with her younger, more individualistic self. This is a woman who delights in connecting with people and their stories – a penchant that was fed abundantly on the Camino. Meg’s affinity with Spain began during her junior year of college when she studied abroad. That experience was a stepping stone for her pilgrimage years later.

Everyday on the Camino was a unique experience – covering approximately 15 miles on foot, sleeping in a different locale each night. The physical and mental rigor of this journey is testament to the resilience of the human spirit, irrespective of age or fitness level. It’s a challenge, but one that Meg feels keeps life interesting, setting a great example for the younger generation.

Yet, after the Camino, adapting back to the fast-paced, constantly connected, societal pressure-filled life was challenging for Meg. The slower pace and mutual care of the Camino felt more real, more human. Today, she spends half the year in a slower-paced Southern Californian community, cherishing the connections she made during her pilgrimage, a vital part of her transformative journey.

Writing as an integral part of the journey

Throughout her journey, Meg found solace and deeper connection through writing. As she trekked across Spain, she kept a daily blog. The act of penning down her feelings and observations was therapeutic and meditative, connecting her more profoundly with her experiences. Her conscious commitment to reflect on her day and her encounters elevated her awareness, anchoring her deeper into each moment.

Even though Meg hasn’t been able to maintain the same level of discipline in her writing since returning home, she values its importance. Aspiring writers often hear the advice to simply sit down every day and let creativity flow. Meg embodies this, proving that the chair, the blank page, and the open mind are often all you need.

Interestingly, Meg hadn’t initially planned to pen down her Camino experience in a book. It was a friend and fellow Camino walker, Bob Mackler, who suggested the idea after following her blog. Despite some publishing challenges, Meg successfully launched “Slow Your Roll” as a paperback through Amazon. A detail that warms my heart is that her family contributed to the book’s design.

Her book title, inspired by the song “Slow Your Roll” by Brothers Osborne, encapsulates the essence of her journey and the central theme of slowing down, being present, and embracing the moment. Meg highlights the importance of disconnecting from technology, immersing oneself in nature, and allowing the creative process to flourish.

The memoir is a detailed, personal account of the Camino journey, a testament to simplicity and introspection. It strikes a chord in those in their later stages of life, where self-reflection becomes paramount, and where the hustle and bustle of daily life often overshadows inner peace and understanding.

Inspiring your own personal journey

After our reminiscences and shared wisdom, Meg left me with a profound hope. She hoped that her story might inspire others to consider a journey like the Camino. Such an experience is more than just a physical trek; it’s a mental and emotional exploration, one that alters the course of life, providing insights, clarity, and an understanding of oneself that is hard to come by in our routine lives.

We’re not just mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, or children. We’re individuals with unique identities and aspirations. I’ve learned this from my conversations with Meg, and her memoir is a testament to this belief. After all, we are more than the roles we play, the tasks we perform, and the responsibilities we bear. Like Meg, we can all learn to slow our roll, take a deep breath, and reconnect with our individual selves amidst the daily grind.

Our experiences shape us. They change us in ways we cannot foresee. They make us self-aware, compelling us to look within, to understand our feelings, needs, and thoughts, and to take care of ourselves. Like a child needing to pause and refuel with a cup of Cheez-its, or like an adult needing a moment to step away from a stressful situation, we all have moments when we need to tend to our emotional health.

So, I encourage you all to consider embarking on your journey. It doesn’t have to be a physical one like Meg’s. It could be a new hobby, a change in routine, or an act of self-reflection. Regardless, take that leap, dive into the unknown, and I guarantee, you’ll come out stronger, happier, and more self-aware on the other side. That’s the magic of embracing the journey, the magic of awesome adulting!


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Podcast: Book Wandering with Anna James

Brave Writer Podcast

In the realm of children’s literature, certain authors create captivating worlds that inspire young readers to explore, imagine, and grow. One such author is Anna James, the British writer and journalist based in North London, known for her middle-grade novels series, “Pages and Co.”

Anna James
Anna James

Today on the Brave Writer podcast, we’re discussing:

  • her writing process,
  • the inspiration behind her series,
  • and the value of getting lost in the worlds of books.

Also, don’t forget to hop over to the Brave Writer store to pick up the Arrow that goes with her book “Pages & Co.: The Book Wanderers” (the Arrow is our literature handbook that teaches grammar and literature to your 11-12 year olds!).

Show Notes

The Journey into Fiction

Anna’s journey into fiction was as magical as the worlds she weaves. Her love for books and reading stemmed from her childhood adventures, often featuring her and her sister as characters in Enid Blyton’s “Famous Five” adventures. This idea of being part of a story was the seed that blossomed into the concept of “book wandering” in her “Pages & Co.” series.

Despite her passion for literature, Anna chose to study history at university to preserve her pure love for reading. Initially, she aspired to be a librarian, even planning to do a master’s in archives. However, fate led her to switch her path at the last moment.

The Magic of Book Wandering

The “Pages & Co.” series, expected to have its sixth installment later in the year in the UK and next year in the US, introduces readers to Tilly, a young girl living in a bookshop who discovers her ability to travel inside books and stories. This concept of “book wandering” is a testament to Anna’s belief in the magic of imagination, especially for young people imagining their own lives and those of others.

The series, which was envisioned as a standalone book, focused on characters entering the pages of books. The story eventually expanded into six books, introducing new characters and story arcs along the way.

An Instinctive Writing Process

Anna describes herself as a “pantser,” writing by the seat of her pants without an outline. Her first drafts flow from start to finish without looking back, and she trusts her instincts as a writer, thanks to her exposure to a multitude of stories. Despite significant plot shifts and character changes, her first drafts always end up around the same word count due to her innate sense of pacing.

Her writing process also reflects her love for immersive theater, where the audience becomes part of the story. Anna started writing about it after her book series began coming out, seeing a connection between immersive theater and book wandering.

The Enchanting Setting

The setting of the “Pages & Co.” series was inspired by Anna’s experiences at Waterstones, a British bookstore in Newcastle, where she discovered many of her favorite books as a child. The visual impact of seeing many books together symbolizes the richness of human thought and ideas, a sentiment lost in the digital age.

The Journey of Identity

Anna emphasizes the importance of young people finding their identity and standing up for their beliefs. Through her character, Tilly, she explores the process of self-discovery and self-definition, even when it means going against the expectations of loved ones. Anna believes in the importance of young people asserting themselves, learning from their mistakes, and navigating their own paths.

Upcoming Adventures

Anna is currently working on a new series called the “Weather-Wide Chronicles,” set to be published in the UK in the upcoming autumn. She is also planning an “Alice in Wonderland” re-imagining, following Alice’s granddaughter, Alyce.

Anna James’ work is a testament to the power of imagination and the beauty of discovering oneself through the pages of a book. Her series not only provides young readers with a captivating journey but also encourages them to chart their own paths, just like Tilly, setting their own compass in the world.


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Podcast: An Honest Conversation about Unschooling

Brave Writer Podcast

Are you a homeschooling parent who has heard about unschooling but isn’t quite sure what it means, or whether it’s right for your family?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Unschooling is a flexible and learner-centered approach to education that encourages:

  • curiosity,
  • self-direction,
  • and personal growth.

In this Brave Writer podcast, we’ll dive into the world of unschooling and share some valuable insights, experiences, and advice to help you navigate this alternative approach to learning.

Show Notes

Understanding the Principles of Unschooling

First, let’s start by understanding the principles of unschooling. Unschooling is not anti-education but rather an alternative approach to learning that follows a child’s interests and allows them to learn at their own pace.

The philosophy, coined by educator John Holt, supports a learner-centered approach that encourages curiosity and personal growth. It’s important to differentiate between unschooling and radical unschooling, with the latter involving complete relinquishment of control and structure in a child’s life, including non-academic aspects like bedtimes and mealtimes.

Utilizing Resources and Methods in an Unschooling Environment

Unschooling doesn’t mean you need to shut the door on traditional educational resources. Instead, you can make use of tutors, classes, field trips, workbooks, and textbooks, alongside allowing your child to pursue their interests and passions. The key is to create a rich and flexible learning environment that:

  • encourages exploration
  • and supports your child’s unique learning style.

Embracing Change and Trusting the Process

One of the challenges of unschooling is letting go of expectations and recognizing that children’s interests and passions may change over time. It’s essential to remember that the skills and experiences your child gains through unschooling contribute to the “compost” of their personal development, rather than defining them by specific roles or accomplishments. Embrace the uncertainty and trust in the process, as this will ultimately help your child grow into a well-rounded and adaptable individual.

Unschooling offers a unique and flexible approach to education that can be tailored to suit the needs and interests of each child. It’s important to be open to change and not be bound by a specific educational philosophy or label.

Whether you decide to fully embrace unschooling or simply incorporate some of its principles into your homeschooling journey, remember that the ultimate goal is to support your child’s curiosity, growth, and individuality. Don’t be afraid to explore and adapt because, after all, learning is a lifelong adventure.


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Podcast: How to Have a Drama-Free Family Life with Nedra Tawwab

Brave Writer Podcast

Are you struggling with family drama and looking for ways to create a more harmonious home environment? You’re not alone!

We recently sat down with Nedra Tawwab, a licensed therapist and New York Times bestselling author of “Set Boundaries, Find Peace” and “Drama Free,” who shared valuable insights and advice on:

  • setting boundaries,
  • navigating relationships,
  • and maintaining a peaceful family life.

As a seasoned expert in managing personal and family relationships, Nedra offers practical guidance on dealing with personal pain, estrangement, and the importance of preserving the integrity of a child’s experience in a drama-free environment.

Show Notes

Embrace Boundaries and Assertiveness

Setting boundaries is essential in maintaining healthy relationships and achieving a drama-free life. Boundaries can be flexible and change over time, and it’s important to recognize the difference between a boundary and a punishment. When it comes to assertiveness, it’s crucial to communicate your needs and express your boundaries, even if it feels uncomfortable. Remember, being assertive is not the same as being rude.

Preserving the Integrity of Childhood

Parents often face challenges when dealing with their own emotional issues while trying to maintain a child’s sacred childhood. It’s important to allow children to enjoy their young years without burdening them with adult responsibilities or emotions. Furthermore, parents should acknowledge their mistakes and apologize to their children, modeling how to handle emotions and paving the way for better parenting. This practice, called “living amends,” helps parents demonstrate growth and change through their actions, which can heal past hurts.

Dealing with Personal Pain and Estrangement

Dr. Tawwab highlights the importance of allowing people to experience their pain for as long as they need to, without pressuring them to move on or forgive. Forgiveness is not a requirement for moving forward in life, and everyone’s experience and relationships are unique. When it comes to estrangement within families, it’s essential to respect and accept the boundaries others have set for themselves. Sometimes, people leave relationships not to punish others but to find peace.

To minimize drama in relationships, it’s crucial to consider one’s own role in creating or allowing it to persist. By changing how you engage with others, you can maintain healthy relationships with those who may not change themselves. Embracing boundaries, preserving the integrity of childhood, and dealing with personal pain and estrangement are key strategies to create a more fulfilling and drama-free homeschooling experience for both you and your children.


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Podcast: How it Feels to Find Yourself with Meera Lee Patel

Brave Writer Podcast

We know that parents and home educators often feel like they aren’t living up to their own ideals, which can lead to a crisis of self-esteem. As we face new seasons in life, our previous skillsets might not always be adequate for the task at hand, leaving us feeling frustrated, lonely, and sometimes like we’re failing.

So, how do we move forward with courage and clarity?

We’re delighted to have Meera Lee Patel on the Brave Writer podcast today to help us chart a course through the winding maze of adulthood. Meera is a best-selling author, known for her book “Start Where You Are,” and uses her colorful artwork and perceptive essays to help us navigate each stage of life and the emotions that come with it.

Meera Lee Patel
Meera Lee Patel

Our conversation with Meera is insightful and uplifting, as she shares her wisdom on embracing the journey of self-discovery and growth with grace and resilience.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Meera’s personal journey and the inspiration behind her books
  • How to embrace change and adapt to new stages in life
  • The power of self-compassion and forgiveness in overcoming setbacks
  • Practical tips for maintaining mental and emotional balance during challenging times

Join us in welcoming Meera Lee Patel to the Brave Writer podcast and explore her wisdom on finding your way through the maze of adulthood.

Show Notes

Letting Go of Productivity Guilt

It may come as no surprise to those who know her, but Meera is a self-professed workaholic. She shared her personal struggle with productivity guilt, which was rooted in the intersection of American and immigrant cultures. Becoming a parent helped her gain perspective and prioritize what truly matters, as she found herself focusing on her child’s needs and valuing the time spent with her. Parenthood provided her with a filter to distinguish between work that was important and what could be set aside in favor of more meaningful experiences.

One key takeaway from our conversation with Meera is the importance of focusing on what’s in front of us, rather than getting bogged down in the endless cycle of what we could or should be doing. Children, by nature, are not oriented towards productivity but are more focused on the process of learning and discovery. By leaning into the freedom that children embody, parents can find inspiration to challenge the harmful mindset of productivity guilt and instead embrace the value of the journey.

As we strive to create a nurturing environment for our children, it’s essential to recognize the cultural values that have shaped our beliefs and practices. By acknowledging the ways we’ve been indoctrinated and identifying the values we disagree with, we can raise our children in a culture that, instead of the constant pursuit of productivity, prioritizes:

  • personal growth,
  • self-worth,
  • and the joy of learning.

Check out Meera’s new book, “How It Feels to Find Yourself,” releasing on May 23rd, 2023.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable insights on navigating the various stages of life with courage, clarity, and a strong sense of self.


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