What's Her Secret?: 'Be authentic'

abredeson@islandpacket.comDecember 13, 2013 

Sarah Mastriani-Levi stands for a portrait with her four children, from left, Eden, 13, Hani'el, 13, Naomi, 7, and Neriyah, 11.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

Name: Sarah Mastriani-Levi

Town: Bluffton

Children: Hani'el, 13; Eden, 13; Neriyah, 11; Naomi, 7

Occupation: Owner, facilitator, holistic health coach and vegetarian personal chef/caterer at Mannafest Living. She also home-schools her four children.

Favorite mommy moment: With four kids and tons of amazing moments along the way, it seems like they all commingle into one feeling that I realize is common in all of those favorite mommy moments. The feeling is one of honor to be their mom when I see how they interact with others. I'm impressed by their leadership qualities combined with creativity, calmness, compassion and empathy. I love how they really take time to observe things before they respond. I realize that my love for them is the most tangible legacy I can leave behind.

Most challenging moment: I often feel challenged, as many moms do, with the balance between being present with my kids and being committed to the success of my business.

How do you teach your kids gratitude? Children model their actions after their parents. I feel like I am teaching them gratitude by constantly expressing gratitude to everyone for what they have offered me of themselves at that given moment.

I want to pull out my hair when ... my power naps are interrupted. I really don't require quite as much sleep as most people, because my diet is so clean. Yet, after so many years of not sleeping through the night with babies and young kids, when I decide that I do need to sleep, it seriously irks me when the kids come in six times with questions.

And being micro-managed. I am usually pretty good at seeing the "big picture" with a high attention to detail. Being micro-managed usually just mucks up the flow of everything.

Guilty pleasure: I choose not to embrace guilt, rather to accept pleasure. And if that means the occasional square of organic, fair-trade dark chocolate, then so be it. My kids deserve a guilt-free mama.

How do you find time to get a workout in? I schedule it in and respect it with the same importance I would a meeting with a client. I feel that being healthy and fit is one of the greatest gifts I can give myself and my kids. Being healthy and limber keeps my mind open and flexible to deal with new possibilities. Many of my most inspirational discoveries and ideas have come to me through exercise and meditation.

Stress reliever: When I feel overwhelmed, I do a few things. Firstly, I know that true magic only happens outside of my comfort zone. So, what I might be perceiving as stress, may actually be an opportunity for growth. Secondly, I do some exercise and get my body moving. ... Finally, I begin writing things down and prioritizing what is really important and the steps I need to take to make my actions match my intentions.

Tips for chaos management: Just keep moving. I had to learn to delegate things and to create clear instructions of what I expect. My parents introduced me to the idea of "shared spaces" when I was a kid. I've thoroughly adopted it in my house, too. What that means is that every area in the house that is shared between everyone must be tidy. A "No Dumping Zone" exists in all of those shared spaces, and everyone is responsible for doing their part to maintain that space. I also use a calendar/daytimer that I am committed to writing down and scheduling all of the kids' activities and my work activities. I use highlighters to distinguish between types of activities so that I can quickly get an overview of where I'm out of balance, between working and time with the kids.

What's the biggest lesson or value you want your children to learn through you? I want to constantly model awareness, gratitude, respect and service for others and for nature. I want them to know that their bodies are their vehicles throughout this lifetime, and that it is their responsibility to care for them and nurture themselves with sustenance and fascination that will feed their spirits. I want them to realize that they must push hard enough to create something amazing but gentle enough to always be able to listen to their hearts. I feel that it is my responsibility to teach them how to find the information they need to create solutions, not to create solutions for them.

Advice for other moms: Be authentic. Be willing to acknowledge and validate the little victories and accomplishments within yourself, your children and others that are around you. Be willing to ask for help. It really does take a whole village to raise a child. Remember to breathe; it's the only requirement.

Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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