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How to Be A Zen Mama Book Review and Giveaway

Posted Apr 26 2010 12:00am
One of the greatest things about being a blogger is getting to meet all sort of fantastic women who are authors and business owners. I came across Betsy McKee Henry and her book “How to Be a Zen Mama” at just the right time in my life. This is a brilliant book on the art of letting go of anger with your children and therefore seeing great change in the dynamics of your relationship with your kids. It is less than 80 pages with 13 short chapters on ways to incorporate the Buddhist wisdom into your parenting.
You do not have to be a Buddhist to get value out of this book. The philosophies of wisdom, living compassionately, contentedly, with kindness and without anger fit into any faith. This book was a fantastic reminder to behave in a more compassionate way towards my son, and let go of any anger. I have used some of the tips in the book and already I am seeing a huge shift in our relationship. My favorite chapter of the book is the “Saying Yes” chapter. Its about phrasing your responses in a way that you can say “yes” instead of “no” all the time…without your kid getting away with murder. It’s a short book so I don’t want to reveal too much. Please do read it for yourself. I had the great pleasure of interviewing Betsy- The Zen Mama , I hope you enjoy her words as much as I do. And please read the whole article, I will be giving away a copy of “How to Be a Zen Mama” to one lucky reader!
1. How long have you been a practicing Buddhist, what led you to this path? Is your mom; the Zen Master Mama a Buddhist?
Well, I’ve had an interesting upbringing. I was christened Catholic. Back in those days the wives of Catholics promised, at their weddings, to raise their children as Catholics. My mother was a philosophy major and the daughter of a Christian scientist. So on Sundays my siblings and I were Catholics, the rest of the week we were raised with my mother’s philosophies.
So to really answer the questions...I love to look through all religions and see what I like the best. So far the Buddhist path is my favorite and I so enjoy reading and practicing the Buddhist way.
The Zen Mama Master is a future version of me. The young mother is me as a young mother, and me as a m other now.
2. When was the idea for “How to Be A Zen Mama” conceived and how long did it take you to write it?
I conceived the “Zen Mama” concept when I was going through the challenging time with my children a few years ago. I kept joking around that I was becoming a “Zen Mama” so I could let go of the controlling and angry feelings I was feeling. As my husband and I applied the principles that would eventually become the book, he said, “Here’s the book you’ve always wanted to write! I wrote down what those chapters would be on the back of an envelope and those original 13 ideas became my 13 chapters.
It took about 10 months to write and edit. It flowed once I started.
3. What was the biggest impact you noticed in your family when you applied these practices?
The first thing we worked on was getting them to stay longer at the dinner table so we could all talk again. Using humor, jokes and riddles worked immediately. Some other benefits came later. For a while I had to start out a sentence saying, “I am not angry but....” They would still think I was mad about certain things. And I was for a while but after practicing not getting angry, you really do stop.
4. Do you still find yourself getting angry? What tips do you have to help a mother bring herself back into the” Zen Mama” state of mind?
Check out my blog post “Help, Zen Mama, I fell Off The Zen Wagon” ( That story is about me. Of course, I still find myself getting angry, but less and less. I just take a deep breath before speaking. And remember that doesn’t mean I don’t discipline. It just means I say it in a different way.
5. My favorite chapter is Chapter 5 “Be a “Yes” Mom, I love the concept of phrasing responses by starting with yes rather than no, even if that means doing something later. What do you do with a child who grabs onto that and WILL NOT LET UP until that time comes?
That is a favorite for a lot of readers. I remember when my son would not let up for staying out at night. I said he could stay out til 10:00. He said “How about 10:30”. I said, “How about 9:30?” He stuck with 10:00. There is no question he will argue with whatever I say. Sometimes I just say, “Hmmm. I like your idea. Let Dad and me think about it.” That way you’re validating their ideas. There’s not much they can say until the next argument! And who knows, maybe after thinking about it, you’ll come around to their kind of thinking. (Remember that boys love to negotiate!)
6. A big piece of being a Zen Mama is letting your children be who they are, I could not agree more. What advice; if any; do have for moms who feel like they are no longer who they once were? I know for me personally sometimes that is where my anger stems from.
I don’t think anyone is the same as they were before they have kids. I feel like I took about 10 years off being who I am to raise my children. Then slowly I began to do things for myself again. Now my kids are gone a lot and I’m missing having them around. But during the time I was at home I would include the kids in what I love: reading, gardening, swimming, art and natural history museums, hiking, traveling and just hanging at home. We were on a budget and we didn’t get many babysitters so they came with me or on trips with us. Looking back this is a huge blessing!! Because, sure enough, these are all things we still enjoy to do together. So I guess I would suggest that your children become part of the life you enjoy.
7. Do you have an advice for writers on the self publishing and marketing process?
Lots!! I self published through, an Amazon company. I had a great experience. It’s a print on demand company so you don’t have to put up a lot of money to start. It wouldn’t work for everyone. For instance they don’t print hardbacks. Another plus createspace gets you onto Amazon automatically.
As for marketing, you have to enjoy it. This can be tough. My book is doing quite well in Colorado. I’ve gone to conventions, taught Zen Mama classes and had a number of book signings. This summer I will explore how to get it marketed to the rest of the country.
8. What is on the horizon for the Zen Mama?
I’m working on a second book. I’m compiling many of my blog posts plus some other work into a sort of Zen Mama diary. And, I will continue to blog and teach Zen Mama workshops. It’s a second job for me and I love it!
And now here is your chance to win a copy of this wonderful book! Giveaway will run through May 8th and the winner will be chosen by This is limited to U.S Residents.
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Go to How to Be a Zen Mama Blog read some posts come back and tell me your favorite and what you learned.
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Good Luck!!
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