MamaFuel: The Podcast
EP058: Living her (un)Scripted Life: Lizzy Russinko on connection, curiosity and creativity in life and mothering

EP058: Living her (un)Scripted Life: Lizzy Russinko on connection, curiosity and creativity in life and mothering

October 22, 2019

What a pleasure it was to have and listen to this week’s conversation again. My guest Lizzy Russinko is a dear soul, a wildly talented artist, a loving and conscious mama of two, and a wise woman whose friendship I cherish in my heart.

If you’ve been listening to the podcast in the past few months you’ll have heard me reference this conversation over and over – so I’m doubly thrilled to share it! Lizzy and I talk about the importance of community, especially when you’re in the thick of the newborn phase. I love her idea of treating everyone she meets as if they’re new… so she never feels isolated because she’s always welcoming everyone else, including in places she’s never been. It’s such an effective way of including yourself and others. I can’t wait to use it!

What most impacted me, though, was when Lizzy illuminated a simple but often-forgotten fact: any time we meet someone, we are only seeing and getting to know them as they are in THAT moment. We have no idea who or how they’ve been in the past, nor how or whom they’ll be in the future. If we approach each other (and ourselves) with curiosity, compassion and forgiveness our relationships will deepen and improve. 

Who were you before? Who are you becoming? How can you forgive yourself for what you may or may not have done to take loving care of yourself at different seasons in your life? There’s so much juice in this conversation that I just want you to get it into your ears NOW. In fact, this episode deserves to be listened to more than once so you can capture all the goodness within.

If you’d like to check out Lizzy’s art or access the other resources we mentioned during our convo, click here. If you’d like to join the conversation we’re having over in the MamaFuel Virtual Village (our free FB community), click here and join us. I’d love to meet you there!

ALSO: if you haven’t done it yet, I’d be mega grateful if you’d leave a review and rating over on Apple Podcasts. It makes the world of difference to know you’re listening, that you’re enjoying what I’m sharing here and that it’s helpful to you. Also, the more ratings the podcast gets, the more widely the funky little algorithm will share it with other mamas. And that would be great. Have a gorgeous week!

EP057: Curious and brave: Emma Stroud on building a made-to-measure family and life

EP057: Curious and brave: Emma Stroud on building a made-to-measure family and life

October 14, 2019

Get ready for a blast of delight in the form of this week’s guest, Emma Stroud. Em is serious about having fun. So much so that she’s made it (part of) her business to teach adults how to laugh and think in ways many of us have forgotten. She also occasionally gets told off by her son for being too silly. That’s a win in my book!

Emma never wanted to be a mum -- until she did. Her journey to holding baby William in her arms was as refreshingly creative as she is. I loved hearing how Emma and her friend and business partner Deon consciously created a family that worked for them. For a while it included two loving couples living in "one big gay house” and sharing coparenting equally.

I was fascinated and a little envious of the set-up Emma had then and still has now. It’s every parent’s dream: having someone else fully share the coparenting and having an entire tribe to raise her son. It's meant that when she's mum, she's mum. And the rest of the time, she's Em. Period. I’d definitely be up for that!

I loved talking to Emma about the power of words, why it drives me bonkers to hear women say they’re “just mum” and what Emma thinks is behind that. I agree fiercely about the importance of bravery, and how it’s the precursor to curious and open connection. 

In fact it’s got me musing, for all of us: where are you curious? Where do you meet other people with preconceived judgements? Where could you be more open? Where could I? Where and how do you put yourself or other women into the "mum box?"

I hope this conversation leaves you wondering about the roles you play of have had foisted upon you. About how you meet yourself and other mothers. And about how you might make big, brave decisions to help bump your life out of conventionality so it starts to look and feel the way you want it to, so you can truly be yourself. 

I’d love to hear what comes up for you as you listen. The conversation will continue over in the MamaFuel Virtual Village, which is our free Facebook home, and I’d love to read your tuppence. Click here to join us. And if you haven’t yet, please leave a review of this podcast wherever you’re listening. It helps so much to know that these conversations are landing, and it makes the little internet robots share conversations like these with more mamas.

If you’d like to learn where to find Emma and discover the resources, films and more that we talk about during this conversation, head over here to the MamaFuel web site for all the goodies.

EP056: Speak your shame: Rebecca Ching on the importance of shame resilience in parenting and life

EP056: Speak your shame: Rebecca Ching on the importance of shame resilience in parenting and life

October 11, 2019

Rebecca Ching didn’t think she wanted children, until she realised she could build a different kind of family than the one she’d known when she was little. But creating a family came at a cost: Rebecca’s body told her in no uncertain terms that her previously work-focused life had to change dramatically for her to be the business owner, partner and mother she wanted to be. 

A few years into parenting and after the birth of their son, Rebecca and her husband learned that their daughter was on the autism spectrum. In that moment, everything shifted again towards finding the best support for their sweet girl and for themselves. It was a bumpy road of shifting relationships, grieving lost friendships and reassessing of every aspect of their lives. But it was made smoother by their absolute conviction that they, and no one else, knew best what their daughter needed. 

They became super intentional about the way they were spending their time, with whom and how they were going to lead their family. There were years of intense loneliness as they felt around to find the people who supported them the way they needed to be helped (and not how other people told them they should want), and found ways of showing up fully in difficult moments with their daughter.

Working with Brené Brown’s research on shame and becoming trained in The Daring Way was key to Rebecca developing shame resilience and being able to navigate the excruciating situations she’d often find herself in.

In this conversation that could have gone on for days, Rebecca and I talk about the insidiousness of comparative suffering, the lies shame tells us to keep us safe, and how deepening isolation makes we mamas so vulnerable. We touch on the tendency so many of us have to numb the tough feelings through service, through being there all the time for others, until we can’t maintain it anymore.  

Rebecca explains how shame, trauma and grief are all intertwined, and how there’s no way to avoid the loneliness of our path as humans learning how to be on this planet. When she talked about the thousand little traumas we all live on a daily basis, I could feel it in my body. The tiny misunderstandings, the glancing blows, the disappointments. They combine to create wounds all over our hearts and souls, and eventually our bodies will scream for us to stop.

The invitation to rethink how we’re doing life, and to face into shame and the feelings associated with it, is a precious one. Rethink who and what is in your life. How you fill your days. Where you’re going and whom you’re going there with. Really. Because streamlining your life might prevent a bigger breakdown.  

When you’ve listened to this episode, go to our Virtual Village to tell us what you thought. I’d love to talk to you about this episode, your experience as an (expat) mama and how shame and isolation have played a part in your life. 

If you’d like to learn more about Rebecca and her work or check out some of the books or podcast episodes we mention, click here for the full show notes

EP055: Decluttering changed her life: Marieke Staub on the magical powers of facing our “stuff”

EP055: Decluttering changed her life: Marieke Staub on the magical powers of facing our “stuff”

October 1, 2019

So many of us feel like we’re drowning in stuff, in expectations, in all the “shoulds” that can weigh upon mothers. Marieke Staub was no exception. While Marieke’s pregnancy and her daughter’s birth were idyllic, she was crippled by post-natal depression for months afterward.

Marieke was able to find her way to a healthier way of being thanks to her family, friends, therapy and lots of support. Even though she was feeling better, something still wasn’t right: her overcrowded apartment, filled with all the objects we’re told we need to be “good” mothers, was a source of frustration.

When her sister gave her The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marieke got to work and changed her whole life. She now lives in a space that supports her in all ways: in living her best life, in a close and happy relationship with her daughter, running a business she adores. She curated her belongings to create the life she wanted, and she couldn’t be happier.

Marieke and I talk about the pressure mothers feel to have all the things for their kids (spoiler: more stuff doesn’t make you better… it usually causes more stress), the disproportionate importance we place on our belongings, how the home we live in can support or hinder our lifestyle and happiness, and how we’re all fully capable of living without so much of the stuff we accumulate.

I was fascinated to hear Marieke talk about how decluttering our stuff is never only about the physical objects – it’s about facing our regrets, our grief, our memories, our guilt, celebrating our joys and making decisions about how we want to live moving forward. She also really struck a chord with me when she said that teaching our kids that they're not defined by what they own is one of the greatest gifts we can give, especially in our consumerist culture. YES to that!

I’ll be calling on Marieke and her sister to help me declutter my house, and I’ll keep you posted on how that goes over in the MamaFuel Virtual Village, our free online community, so make sure you jump in to follow along. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m feeling nervous, but I’m going to do it! 

To find out more about Marieke and see that photo of my overstuffed house (circa 2010 when my kids were toddlers), click here.

EP054: It’s ok to be happier than your unhappiest child: Barb Klein on love and joy in the face of addiction

EP054: It’s ok to be happier than your unhappiest child: Barb Klein on love and joy in the face of addiction

September 23, 2019

Today’s guest is a mama who’s learned through searing personal experience that despite what we might expect, it IS possible to be happier than our unhappiest child. Barb Klein is a mama to two young men, an entrepreneur and a happily married woman whose family life took a huge turn a decade ago when addiction altered their realities forever. Each member of the family has since been learning how to navigate the waters of addiction and the destruction it causes.

Over that decade, Barb has found ways to love herself no matter what, and she credits her own journey to self-care and self-love as being the reason she stands so strong today. In this week’s episode Barb shares candidly about releasing her expectations around what it means to be “a good mother,” finding her way back to joy despite the hell her son is still living, and how making space and time for her marriage has kept her partnership solid through it all.

Barb’s reflection that we must respect each soul’s journey through good and bad is an invitation to us all to think about how and when we support each other. Barb’s wish that all families of addicted people receive the same support as families of cancer patients went straight to my heart. If you know anyone who is struggling with addiction, or who’s supporting an addicted family member or friend, please reach out. Addiction is not contagious, and people who are watching a loved one suffer can often feel terribly isolated and afraid.  

We’re all walking each other home. Listening to this week’s podcast episode will perhaps give us all the chance to open our hearts a little wider to some of the most difficult situations in life and lead with love.

Barb shared many resources during our conversation. You can access all of the information we discussed by clicking here to get the full details.

In the meantime, I’d love to continue the conversation about today’s podcast over on the MamaFuel Virtual Village free Facebook group. Click here to join us and share your experience with living your full, happy life no matter what.  

EP053: Rachel Flower on the value of hard conversations, and women supporting each other

EP053: Rachel Flower on the value of hard conversations, and women supporting each other

September 20, 2019

Rachel Flower doesn’t shy away from challenging conversations. In fact, she encourages all those around her to engage in such conversations as often as possible. That’s because she knows first-hand the value of truth-telling and the strong bonds that can be created (or repaired) through open, loving and curious conversation.

In this week's episode, Rachel and I talk about her deep experience of grief – first losing her parents and her brother at a very young age and later supporting her youngest daughter through her successful fight with leukaemia. Rachel knows that relationships, communication and support matter more than anything else.

I was touched hearing Rachel explain how, in times of crisis, many people fell away and others stepped up to offer support in ways she’d never expected. Her story of building a community around her family and later supporting others in establishing powerful tribes is still reverberating through my heart.

Rachel is definitely my people: anyone who dispenses with small-talk in favour of connecting bravely, heart-to-heart with those around her, is a person who is changing the world. Her reminder that everything and everyone matters rings so true for me, and I know it will with you too. Enjoy this.

If you’d like to get to know Rachel further, you can find her on Instagram here or check out her web page here

As ever, you can join the ongoing conversation over in the MamaFuel Virtual Village by clicking here. I’d love to chat with you there, so get in touch! 

EP052: Jamie Swanson on breaking the mould, living from faith and creating a life that works for her family

EP052: Jamie Swanson on breaking the mould, living from faith and creating a life that works for her family

July 30, 2019

Buckle up, you’re about to meet a mindful, conscious force of nature who’s carved her own non-traditional path and is ROCKING being a mama to six high-energy kids, running two businesses and enjoying a happy, thriving marriage.

I first met Jamie Swanson a year ago, and her brightly-coloured unicorn hair and sparkling eyes had me at hello. I’m thrilled to share this conversation with you this week following a little summer break.

Jamie humourously describes her life as “loud” and “like living with six blenders without lids,” which feels like an apt description of homeschooling six vibrant children while running multiple businesses and offering rest and refuge to community leaders in need.

She and her husband have made sometimes unexpected decisions that have made it all work, and they’re happier than ever. Those decisions have always been inspired by Spirit and supported by their faith, but they haven’t always been easily accepted within their families or community as they switched traditional roles and often stepped away from prescribed paths.

In this week’s conversation, Jamie and I talk about how they make it all work, how she’s navigated mama guilt, why she now feels striking out and living fully into her dreams is the best thing she can do for herself and her children in their current season in life, and so much more.

There’s so much goodness in this conversation, but one nugget that stands out for me is this: “If I don’t want things for my kids, why am I accepting that they’re happening to me or that I’m living my life that way?” Why, indeed.

Listen all the way to the end and then head into the MamaFuel free Facebook community to tell me what you thought of the episode and Jamie’s beautiful family and life.

If you’d like to learn more about Jamie, check out her business page here, and her amazing quilting Instagram account here.

And click here to find the comic about maternal mental load that Jamie and I talked about. It's a must-read. 

EP051: Prepare to fall in love with Nick and Katherine North: trans dad, gorgeous queer couple & LGBTQI advocates

EP051: Prepare to fall in love with Nick and Katherine North: trans dad, gorgeous queer couple & LGBTQI advocates

June 24, 2019

This week's edition of MamaFuel: The Podcast is chock full of firsts. I realised recently that the conversations on the podcast weren't fully representative of all mamas, so I'm trying to do better by consciously broadening the scope of people I'm talking to. I asked this week's guests to be on the podcast a long time ago, and I'm delighted that our conversation is the first in what I hope will be a much more diverse series of conversations.

I'm thrilled to introduce you to Nick and Katherine North, a queer couple with a breathtaking love story, a transgender dad and a whole house full of kids (plus a very naughty puppy). Nick and Katherine are the first couple I've had on the show and Nick's the first dad I've welcomed. I couldn't think of better guests to have as my "firsts" in so many ways.

In this week's conversation Nick and Katherine tell us about their introductions into motherhood via abortion (Katherine's first mothering decision), traumatic birth, separation, post-natal depression and so much more. Hearing Nick explain how he tried to be a "good mom" and finding his joy in birthing babies really tugged at my heart.

I loved hearing how Katherine and Nick prepared for so long to tell their kids about Nick transitioning to Dad, only to find that their kids weren't that fussed -- as long as Dad gave as much love as Mom, which he does. We also talked about coming out, and how transgender people are endlessly required to explain their identity and how they present to the world. Nick and Katherine live in a very conservative community, and it was heartening to hear how their friends and the broader world rallied to support them as Nick transitioned (and continues to). 

Any parent who has a gender curious child will want to listen particularly closely to the part where Nick and Katherine express what every transgender child needs to hear and feel: that they are loved NO MATTER WHAT. No ifs, ands or buts. Simply loved. Nick's message that transgender kids (and their parents) don't have to do ANYTHING to make anyone else feel better, and that their only job it to make themselves feel ok really resonated with me. Everyone else will take care of themselves. It's also not a parent's job to make anyone else feel better about their kid or themselves. Other people's opinions are other people's business. Period.

There's so much more I could share about this conversation, but honestly: LISTEN. Again and again. And follow Nick and Katherine, support them and any LGBTQI people in your community. Because everyone could use more love. Deepest thanks to Katherine and Nick for this great conversation.

To hear a rich account of Nick and Katherine's love story, do yourself a favour and listen to this amazing podcast in which they explain how their love unfolded. I'll be listening again and again. 

My favourite places to follow this amazing pair of luminous beings is on Nick's Instagram here, on Katherine's Instagram here, and on Nick's web site and Katherine's web site (her newsletter is, hands down, the best and most precious writing dropping into my inbox. ever.).

I'd LOVE to hear what you thought of this episode, if you have any questions and what this conversation sparks in you. The best way to engage in the conversation is to come into the Virtual Village over on Facebook. It's our free community, and I'd love to welcome you there.  

During our conversation, I mentioned the new decision from Mastercard to allow transgender people to choose the name on their credit cards. Check out the moving video they released about this industry first. Bravo Mastercard.  

EP050: Celebrating 50 episodes of MamaFuel with some deep truth telling

EP050: Celebrating 50 episodes of MamaFuel with some deep truth telling

June 21, 2019

A little over a year ago the MamaFuel podcast was just a dream. Today I'm celebrating publishing 50 amazing episodes by turning the tables and having a dear friend interview me, asking the questions I usually ask my guests. Things get pretty personal, so if you've been tuning in for a while and you'd like to get to know the person behind the questions, this is your chance. Huge thanks to Noomi Natan for stepping into the interviewer role and having fun with it all!

If anything strikes you in this episode, tell me about it in our free Facebook group where the conversation is always ongoing. Click here to join the conversation in our free Facebook group!

EP049: Claire Farrington on the beauties and challenges of life with Down’s Syndrome

EP049: Claire Farrington on the beauties and challenges of life with Down’s Syndrome

June 17, 2019

Have you ever had a moment where the way you see the world shifts? Like a giant kaleidoscope unexpectedly moves and the clarity you took for granted is gone forever, as a new vision takes shape?

That's what happened to this week's guest, the lovely Claire Farrington. Her first son, Theo, was born very prematurely. As she and her partner adjusted to the realities of life in the NICU, they received another unexpected piece of news: Theo had Down's Syndrome.

In this touching conversation, Claire openly shares how little she knew about Down's Syndrome and how sad she feels now that her initial reaction to the news of Theo's extra chromosome was so frightened and negative. In the three years since Theo was born, Claire has become a campaigner for families with Down's Syndrome, sharing her story and educating people across the UK and beyond. 

Through her blog, Claire candidly shares all the stages of adjusting to life with Down's Syndrome. I'm still struck, weeks after recording, by Claire's deep wish that prospective parents of all ages might hear her message that a Down's diagnosis isn't negative. It's just different.

I'm grateful to Claire sharing her story with our community, and even more so because at time of recording, Claire was less than 24 hours away from a scheduled c-section. Her son Freddy was born healthy and on-schedule, and Claire has told me since that this second delivery has helped heal some of the terror she experienced around Theo's much-too-early arrival. 

When you've listened to this episode, please share it. And if you liked hearing our conversation, I'd be super grateful if you could rate the podcast and leave a review. The more people hear Claire's story, the more perspectives might shift for the better around Down's Syndrome. 

To follow Claire's family's story, visit her blog here or check out her beautiful Instagram account here

Don't forget that the conversation continues over on the free MamaFuel Virtual Village! Check it out and join in! I can't wait to hear what you think of this and all other episodes of MamaFuel.