Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Friday, January 24, 2014

Meet Christie Havey Smith, Author of From Feet Off The Ground

VeegMama interview with Christie Havey Smith, author of From Three Feet Off The Ground

Christie Havey Smith is a fellow writer and friend of mine.  We both are on similar journeys in our lives, raising young children and sharing our voices through our writing. She recently published her new book, From Three Feet Off The Ground.  Her story is so inspiring and important, that I wanted to share it with all of you.  Get to know Christie and her latest project in today's interview!

VM: Tell us about your new book, From Three Free Off the Ground.
CHS: From Three Feet Off the Ground is the story of how I spent a year of my life letting my toddlers teach me about being whole and at peace. I was a multitasking mom, spit up in my hair, my children giggling at my feet, and suddenly I realized that I’d rather explore the possibility of being instead of trying to be everything. I wanted to remember what it felt like to really be amazed, to be present, how to let go and love with out limits… like my kids. So I became the student mother; I followed my children in a humbling yearlong lesson on how to see the world and made life-changing discoveries with a view from three feet off the ground.

VM: Can you briefly summarize what made you take a year to study your children's view of the world?  Was this a deliberate journey or did it happen organically?
CHS: When my oldest child, Adeline, wasn’t quite one-year-old, I realized that she (and all children) appeared to be more fully connected to life than any experienced and informed elder I’d ever met. She was able to take in beautiful details, knowing how she felt from one minute to the next, reaching out to anyone she met with compassion and love, no judgments yet in place. At the time I was counseling people going through difficult life transitions like death, divorce or a crisis of dreams, and these adults were struggling (as we all do at times) to understand where they belonged, how they felt, what they needed in order to move forward. It was then that I began to wonder if life wasn’t just a journey toward knowing or wisdom, but a journey toward remembering. What if we all come into the world with everything we need to feel at peace? The challenge then is holding onto that connection through the windstorms of life. By the time I’d had my second child, I found myself in a bit of a windstorm myself. I was a busy mama with a traveling husband, trying to balance a dozen things, including my sense of self worth. At the end of every day I’d stop and think, I don’t just want to get through the days, I want to enjoy them! After one horribly stressful day that resulted in me emptied out in tears, I got to my feet and made a commitment to myself: I would spend a year letting my children help me remember just who I am—the peace I too once had, the ability to let go and follow my heart! And so the student-mother project began. I journaled for a year and by the time I’d finished, I could see how I’d grown through the pages. That’s when I decided to share my story and I began the book!

VM: What is most important lesson you learned during this year?
CHS: Happiness is not something we have to work for; it doesn’t come with goals achieved, rather it is experienced by living through our own innate joy. It comes from our understanding of the world—simple, beautiful perceptions. And though life can be hard and at times even ugly, there is always something beautiful to see, something amazing to find that is truly good.

VM: What advice do you have for those who would like to do something similar and want to observe their children from their perspective?  How can we best bring ourselves to their level to really listen and be present in the way that they are?
CHS: Play. Just play. Even when you have ten chores to do, play while you do them. When we play with our kids, we begin to see things differently—we see through their innocence, their joy, their wonder, their hopes. And these moments are unarguably some of the best moments in a day for all those involved.

VM: How do you stay connected with your kids on busy days, as you balance responsibilities and commitments?
CHS: This can be such a challenge. Some days I feel like I never stop moving. But I invite them into my commitments whenever I can (especially commitments at home) and I consciously make myself available to listen. I look them in they eye when I talk to them, and often I see something there I didn’t see the day before. A hesitation, a curiosity. I try to stay aware of how everyone is feeling, and at the end of every day I reflect on where each child is in their life, their growth, and think of how I can better support them the next day.

VM: What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?
CHS: Each of my kids is so very different and I find that I enjoy different one-on-one activities with each kiddo. But my favorite thing to do with all three of them is go to the beach—dig in the sand, jump in the waves! I am able to completely let go and be present to their joy, finding that it further fuels my own.

VM: I am on a quest to live the "good" life in every meaning of the word.  What does the "good" life mean to you?
CHS: This is such a great question! When I see the pictures of my family above our fireplace every day, I have a sense that I am living the good life. The good life to me is celebrating life with people I love. Whether it’s just a walk through the park, sharing an amazing meal, traveling, or dancing in the kitchen, it’s about really showing up, taking in the beauty of it all, and feeling gratitude for each opportunity to connect with another. The good life is about enjoying the details, not just racing through. And if those details involve good friends, the beautiful outdoors, great music or amazing food… well, then I’m in heaven!

VM: Can you share a favorite quote?
CHS: “Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.”  - Author Brenda Peterson

Thank you, Christie!  To learn more about Christie, read below and to learn more about her book, click here.

Christie Havey Smith, author From Three Feet Off The Ground
Christie Havey Smith is a Los Angeles-based author who specializes in narrative non-fiction literature. She teaches writing workshops throughout the L.A. area, empowering both adults and children to find their true voices and write themselves further into their own lives. Since Christie was a child she has been fascinated with books and films that inspire change and celebrate life. Christie studied television and film writing at Ohio University, and her first manuscripts were screenplays. But her interest in character struggle did not stay tied to the screen. Christie brought her passion for the human condition back to academia where she studied spirituality and earned a Masters of Arts in Theology from Loyola Marymount University. Christie and her husband live in a community on the outskirts of L.A. with their three children. Christie is a writer, a teacher and a storyteller with a passion for the health and happiness of the human spirit. But above all, she is a mom. It is within this role that she has truly found herself.