In an age of overwhelming concern over child safety, Gever Tulley is breaking all the rules. Nowadays, parents believe their child is so vulnerable — to injury, to teasing, to disease and disappointment — that they hover like a helicopter over their children, ready to swoop in if anything remotely “bad” happens. Tulley, founder of San Francisco’s Tinkering School, finds this approach to interacting with our children to be disempowering, to say the least. And in his recent TED Talk, he spells out 5 dangerous things you should actually encourage your kids to do. Because, as we’re about to find out -- a little danger is good for both kids and grownups.

A woman is the heart of her home. Our energy is woven into the very fabric of our families. No matter what we’re doing, if we’re unhappy, everyone is unhappy. And conversely, if we’re content, everyone is content. The beauty (and sometimes, the burden) of motherhood is that we are at the center of our family’s universe. For better or worse, we are the heartbeat of our home. This is why we feel so much pressure to be and do everything in our lives. As mothers, wives, career women, homemakers, and a dozen other things, we often feel like we’re being pulled in a million different directions… and it can be difficult to maintain a positive, patient, loving, happy attitude when we feel exhausted and divided. So how can we create more balance and coherence within the different categories of our lives? Lucky for us, there are tried and true strategies we can use to create real, powerful change right now. This month, nine stunning Lifebook Career Mamas banded together to share their very best advice for creating balance and harmony within the many roles they play. Read, smile, laugh and cry along with us as we honor these brilliant ladies, and support one another on our wonderful journeys of becoming the best women we can possibly be. As always, once you’ve had a chance to read through each of the posts, share the love by commenting at the bottom of the article. We want to know what daily steps you take to maintain your inner strength! Enjoy! :)

Written by Dr. Joel Wade "If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s" –Joseph Campbell Since the dawn of time, parents have wanted the best for their kids. They are our link to the future beyond our own time here on earth. But more importantly, we feel a connection with our kids, a visceral bond. When they’re happy, we feel delight; when they hurt, we feel pain. When they succeed, we feel proud; when they fail, we feel the loss. It’s natural to want good things for our kids. We want them to grow into strong, good people; we want them to have work they love that enables them to live well; we want them to find good friends and a wonderful mate with whom they can grow a wonderful, loving life. We want them to succeed. There’s an expression of this natural sentiment, though, growing across a larger spectrum of our population, and it troubles me. There are certain colleges that are supposedly the doorway to success, and those colleges are very difficult to get into; not necessarily because they provide the best preparation, but simply because so very many people are vying for so few openings. …then there are certain High Schools that are the doorway to getting into those colleges; certain Jr. High Schools and Elementary Schools that are the doorway to those High Schools. There are even places where there are top pre-schools and kindergartens that you must attend if you are going to get into the top elementary school.

Written By Lifebook Member Diana Shea My mother has always said that the three most amazing days of her life were the days that I and my two sisters were each born. Every year, on our birthdays, she would tell us our birth stories. To this day, she still recounts the details. Among them was her determination to give birth naturally and the pure joy she felt in doing so. Year after year of this retelling was one of the most amazing gifts she could ever give to us. She set the premise in our minds that birthing is a beautiful, natural and extraordinary experience that we wouldn’t want to miss! She repeated to us, time and again, that we are lucky to be girls because we get to have the babies! Likewise, from a very young age, I have held the conviction that birthing naturally is beautifully awesome! Our bodies are expertly designed to grow and birth our babies without intervention. The entire process is natural. Fast forward thirty years to becoming pregnant myself, and it was hard for me to imagine birthing in a hospital environment where medical interventions are the norm. How could I create the birth experience that I wanted? Everyone’s pregnancy and birthing journey is their own. There is no “right way”. For me, however, I knew that the best place for me to birth my babies was at home, so that it would be as unencumbered of institutional rules and policies as possible. My husband and I agreed that with a Certified Nurse Midwife, a top rated hospital close by, and doula support, we would feel safer staying home than going to the hospital for childbirth. And so that’s what we did. If you ask my girls where they were born, they’ll say, “in the dining room”! Now, I know that home birth is not for everyone. And that is ok. We all have to decide what is best for ourselves and our families.   I do feel passionately, however, that our culture needs more examples of and strategies for pursuing natural childbirth in order for more of us to consider it a valid option. And so it is in that spirit that I share with you the following resources. Along the way, I’ve become a trained doula and prenatal yoga instructor, so these suggestions are favorites from my collection. Want to learn more about natural childbirth and the reasons for pursuing it? Check out ‘Natural Childbirth Resources’ (below). Looking to build your toolkit of strategies for a healthy pregnancy and birth experience? Visit my website (www.DianaShea.com) for detailed Childbirth Preparation and Relaxation Techniques. Have a question or want to connect? Email me at info@dianashea.com.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis What was the most profound book you ever read? How has it changed your life? We are incredibly lucky to live in a time when we can learn just about anything we want, simply by opening a book (or for that matter, a browser). We have limitless information at our fingertips. And sometimes it can be hard to find the real gems in the midst of so many choices. The truth is, every book ever written has the potential to change our lives for the better. We just need to find the ones that speak to our souls. This month, as we commit to expanding our potential as extraordinary parents, the Lifebook Team would like to share a list of books that have changed our lives and families in truly significant ways. This list serves as a beautiful guide from conception to pregnancy, birthing and beyond (and is presented in the order we recommend reading). These are books that have elevated our parenting, and permanently transformed our relationships with the little people we love most. We hope you enjoy. (And please do share your favorite parenting books with us in the comments!)

The world sure does LOVE sugar. Look closely and you’ll find it in just about everything… The average jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce has more sugar than a box of poptarts, and while you may be aware that your breakfast cereal is full of the sweet stuff, most people are surprised to discover that so, too, is the milk we pour into it (one serving of organic whole milk averages 11 grams of sugar). That’s almost 3 teaspoons of sugar, dumped right into your kid’s glass of milk (4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar)! This troubling topic is the focus of the latest food documentary, Fed Up, in which Katie Couric digs deep into the obesity epidemic, and discovers a surprising culprit… Sugar - not fat - is making us fat. Whether this shocking information is new to you, or you’re well versed in the sugar epidemic our society seems to be facing… It’s time for us to take a long, hard look at the flood of sugar that’s sneaking its way into our bodies through just about everything we put in our mouths. 

The single greatest barrier standing between couples and a regularly scheduled, totally blissed out date night is the lack of a quality babysitter. Add to that the dread and stress that goes along with trying to find and keep a truly quality babysitter, and you’ve already got yourself a long list of reasons why date night probably just “isn’t worth the effort.” Sure, it’s easier to stay in, put the kids to sleep, and binge watch a Netflix series while eating some chocolate. Just throw on your favorite pair of baggy sweatpants and leap onto the old, familiar couch, and voila – date night here we come. But is comfort really what we’re trying to create more of in our love relationships? Are laziness, exhaustion, lack of ambition and untapped creativity really what we want to cultivate? On some nights - maybe. We’ve all been there, for sure. But it sure as heck doesn’t stir up any new energy, emotion or romance. These things require continual creativity and action. They require discipline and commitment. Easy doesn’t translate into extraordinary in any area of life - but this is especially true when it comes to acts of love. So what’s a family to do? Get CREATIVE.