I have been friends with Amely Greeven for at least a couple of years now. We live right around the corner from one another and we go to the same family yoga class every week. She is very humble and never mentioned much to me about her writing until her latest book, The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother was about to be released. Out of excitement over her new book, I asked if I could interview her for the WHS blog. Amely agreed and through interviewing her I found out that my friend is also quite a well known author! She co-wrote the New York Times bestseller “Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore Your Body’s Natural Ability to Heal” and she has written for big publications including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. What I did know about Amely is that she is passionate about mothering and holistic health, and that she is kind and mindful. All of this shines through in her new book, and in her answers to our questions below:
Women’s Heritage Skillshare: I know family is really important to you. What made you decide to raise your family here?
Amely Greeven: I actually didn’t; living in the Tetons in NorthWest Wyoming was profoundly satisfying for me and so invigorating and peaceful at once. But my husband Tommy (of http://www.dedicatebrand.com) believed (rightly) that we had to step out of the bubble of remote, mountain-town life. Santa Barbara wooed and won me. It has proven a magical place to become a mother: the midwives at the Birth Center; the dolphins and seals witnessing my pregnancy; the farmer’s markets with such affordable year-round produce, and outdoors access all year round for a toddler would all have eluded us if we’d stayed in Wyoming. My favorite things about where I live are that I can walk and ride a bike to almost everything I need in this small town of Carpinteria, and that I am friends with the people who sell me my spinach and strawberries, which puts life back a little closer into the pace and scale it is supposed to be.
WHS: What are some of the things you and your family like to do here?
AG: We are quasi-homesteading right now, meaning we make almost everything we eat from scratch, and do a lot of bone-frothing, sprouting, fermenting, slow-cooking and such. I wouldn’t say it’s always fun – it is so much work to prep and cook all the time and causes more than a few marital squabbles because my man does the bulk of the work! – but we take so much pride in feeling we are getting ‘off the system’ a little more with each staple food we can make ourselves, and truly owning our health through nourishment. It is empowering to see how robust our physical health is, especially our child, and to be the agents of our own wellbeing.
WHS: How do you balance your professional life and being a mom to your daughter?
AG: I teeter-totter constantly and find it extremely challenging, but have somehow made it work for her to have two self-employed parents revolving around her everyday life, which is worth all the stress and struggle! One big step I took was to start sharing my work with another mother and writer, Marisa Belger, who lives in Berkeley, and dividing my juicy jobs in two to work as a team. This is a bold move as a freelancer, but priceless – we support each other, and work much faster and more efficiently as a team, plus help each other through teary, exhausted, writer’s block meltdowns.
WHS: I love your new book! I have my own copy and I’ve purchased two for friends of mine so far. Tell us about your process writing it.
AG: The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother is a mother’s gentle companion in the first weeks after giving birth, inspired by global traditions of postpartum care, in particular the Chinese tradition of zuo yuezi or ‘sitting the month.’ It is the gift that the mom needs to get at her baby shower – a loving field guide to help her navigate an uncertain and challenging time. My co-authors and I filled it with 60 warming recipes to replenish and restore the mother, encourage lactation and enrich the breast milk, and soothe her nerves, along with words of wisdom about preparing for postpartum in the third trimester, and riding the many changes she will experience, mentally, physically and spiritually.
WHS: What advice do you have for new mothers and soon-to-be mothers?
AG: So much of our advice for new moms is in the book; one of the most powerful pieces is to truly feel in to what you want in those early days with baby and to accept the invitation to sink into a cocoon of quiet recovery and bonding time at home. In your third trimester, set the terms for postpartum and don’t feel badly for it; you do not have to let anyone into your sanctum that you don’t want; even close relatives can wait some time to meet your child. You and he or she are raw, new, open, meeting each other for the first time, as is the other parent; the first forty days is a time for you as a little family unit to discover each other. Moreover, this is one of the only times in life when people will willingly drop off home cooked meals at your door and leave you to enjoy them; so be bold and ask for it!
WHS: Thank you so much Amely!
Amely will be posting more of her words and projects at http://www.amelygreeven.com – I highly recommend you check out her website and support her wonderful writings!