About Your Mother is a monthly podcast hosted by writer Jennifer Griffith. Each podcast features a conversation with a dynamic guest exploring the influence their mothers had on the trajectory of their life.
019 Ten Stories to Celebrate Mother's Day
For Mother’s Day, we are recapping ten powerful episodes from the last year. This review features a short clip from each conversation, so you can quickly get a feel for the content and guest. Timestamps and guest names are listed below.
An interesting thing happens when the word mother is mentioned - a conversation rooted in truth always follows. And for all of us, while she is our beginning, where we land is a journey uniquely our own.
Timestamps: Guest (Episode) - Segment Time
Jeff Forney (010) - 0:40
Olivia Joffrey (007) - 1:50
Sarai Obermeyer and Amy Kelly (009) - 4:30
Peter Mutabazi (011) - 7:00
Amy Ferris (013) - 11:00
Melanie Spring (008) - 13:42
Angie Kim (012) - 16:40
Ashley Mitchell (014) - 18:20
Shanti Brien (016) - 20:00
Beth Broday (017) - 23:40
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018 Re-membering Oneself | Steph Jagger
This episode of About Your Mother is my conversation with Steph Jagger: a seeker, explorer, and writer. Her latest book, Everything Left to Remember, documents her adventure with her mother into the Rocky Mountains while they navigate the terrain of dementia and the meaning of remembrance.
Steph's life and work are as deep as the 4 million vertical feet she skied in one year to break a world record. That journey is the basis of her first book Unbound: A story of Snow and Self-discovery. Her latest book examines her journey and transition from maiden to mother.
Steph Jagger and Her Maiden Voyage
Steph is an ideal guest for About Your Mother as her latest book perfectly encapsulates the transition many of us make from maiden to mother. It also asks, who am I with my mother and who am I without her?
"Unbound was a book that came out in 2017. It was about a ski journey I took in 2010 to 2011. And really, on so many fronts, that was what I would consider my maiden voyage, the maiden voyage in the world of who am I without all of the roles I played in my teens and 20s." – Steph Jagger
That journey allowed Steph to explore her power to affect the world through her actions, which to her is a quintessential question that a maiden might think.
Memories Do Not Have to Come from a Broken Place
We talk about Steph's stance on memoirs; they do not always have to come from a broken place, and sometimes it can just be a journey of self-discovery and learning to love yourself.
"I think this specifically for female written memoir; I am a big, big believer that we need stories, a multitude of them for a multitude of different voices. And we need stories that tell us how to pick up the pieces when life shatters. But I think as women, we also need stories of how to love ourselves into our own bigness, even if something hasn't shattered." - Steph Jagger
She also adds that it is essential that we share stories of women in their maiden or formative years because those are the years when women are most unsure of themselves.
Everything Left to Remember
In the summer of 2015, Steph's mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Ten months later, Steph and her mother went on a road trip together, and she wrote about this journey in her book.
As her mother's memory begins to fade, the threads between mother and daughter become distinct. It made Steph think of the questions, "Who am I to her," and "Who am I without her?"
"I believe there is a deep question in all of us: 'Well, shit, like, what will hold us now?' And really, that was ultimately the question. The question I was asking with my mom as we were moving through this journey." - Steph Jagger
To hear more from Steph Jagger and her transition from being a maiden to mother, download and listen to this episode.
Steph Jagger is a best-selling memoirist of two books. Her first, Unbound: A Story of Snow & Self-Discovery was published in 2017. Her second, a mother-daughter story called Everything Left to Remember is due out in April of 2022.
Outside of being an author, Steph a sought-after mentor and coach whose offerings guide people toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their stories.
All of her work, including speaking and facilitating, lies at the intersection loss, the nature of deep remembrance, and the personal journey of re-creation.
Steph grew up in Vancouver, Canada and currently lives and works on Bainbridge Island, WA.
Connect with Steph Jagger today!
Website | Instagram
017 The Art of Becoming | Beth Broday
This episode of About Your Mother is my conversation with Beth Broday – a pioneer in producing who put music videos on the map beginning with Prince's Little Red Corvette.
Beth Broday is a storyteller and has mastered the art of Becoming. Throughout the various stages of work and life, she saw the lessons in each experience, never afraid to make a U-turn that led to something beautiful.
Her storytelling is like butter. Towards the end, enjoy our banter on working with some of the world's greatest musicians of all time.
Reflections of the Mother
Beth shares that her mother always loved art and was also quite fond of theater.
"She took my father and dragged him all over the world: every museum, every city, every café -- she wanted to see the world. She wanted to see it with him, and so, they went." – Beth Broday
Beth's mother was a cultured and bright woman, and her dream was for Beth to experience the same things she had. Upon Beth's graduation, her mother's gift to her was a trip to Europe.
The Business of the Music Business
Beth knew that she wanted to be part of the music business early on. But it was quite hard to get into, as she admits she couldn't sing or play any instruments. But she knew there were other ways she could be involved in the business.
"I got very lucky, I was in the right place at the right time. I had the knowledge of how to make film, and how to make videos -- I knew how to do that stuff. Whereas most people my age in those days, they didn't know anything about that. But I did, because I went to college and studied that." – Beth Broday
Later on, being hired by a major record producer opened up opportunities for her to meet people at high levels of the music recording business. As she observed a director shooting videos for artists, she thought: "I already know how to do this from college."
She also thought it would be a good program idea, rather than just one-off artists' videos. So with that knowledge and collaboration with people from different labels, Beth got things done. All of this led to a call from Warner Brothers Records in 1983, asking Beth to film a video for the song Little Red Corvette by a 26-year-old artist named Prince.
Beth Broday on Working with the Artists
When asked what it was like to collaborate with artists, Beth shares how much it meant to her:
"For me, it was incredible that I would be able to bring something to their career. That I would be able to help them get their image out there, and help refine their image. Because over the years as music videos became very common, they became more like marketing vehicles. And so I, on a business level, not only manage production, but I had to manage the image of that artist based on what director I would put with that artist in order to create what the label and the artist wanted to achieve." – Beth Broday
With the eventual launch of MTV and an even higher demand for artists to put out music videos, Beth found herself in the middle of it all. She was again at the right place at the right time, with all her connections with various directors and talent.
Beth felt like she had to share this good fortune with others, so she made it her mission to find young filmmakers who did great work but needed that initial boost to break through the music and filming industry. Hence began her mission to discover all young, talented filmmakers in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and London.
To hear more from Beth Broday and her fascinating story on becoming, download and listen to this episode.
Beth Broday is an award-winning executive producer with over thirty years of experience identi...
016 Almost Innocent | Shanti Brien
On this episode of About Your Mother, we meet Shanti Brien, who has spent her career fighting for justice. Often, taking on the most complex cases where the rate of success is meager. When her husband's company was under investigation, her career and personal life collided.
Shanti Brien is a litigator and author. She is also the co-founder of Fogbreak Justice and an educator and consultant for criminal justice reform. Her book, Almost Innocent, explores her work for clients, as well as her personal experience when the criminal justice landed on her front door. Listen to how Shanti expresses her grief with regards to the current injustices that are happening in the criminal justice system:
"How is there not more outrage in the injustices that we are letting happen in our name? I'm trying to create a movement of radical empathy for people that are in prison and for people who aren't in prison but they're caught up in the criminal justice system. Sharing stories - that are in my book - is about creating this sense that we really are all in this together. Criminal justice is actually impacting us all. It might be your son, or your nephew."
– Shanti Brien
If you are interested in Shanti's new book, you can order Almost Innocent on Amazon Books today!
Reflections of the Mother
Shanti was raised by a single mom due to an absent father. While there aren't specific ways this affected her, she continues to be introspective and discover how this experience shaped her as a person.
One thing that struck her most was a sense of abandonment from her father. This feeling translated to wanting to please her mother, and she never wanted to be a demand or a burden.
"I wanted to please my mother so much. I wanted to be such a good, not just a good girl, easy, and wanting to be easy. So I never wanted to be a demand on her. I wanted to be good."
– Shanti Brien
Witnessing her mother raise three people by herself left an impact.
"She basically had three kids. As a single mom, she worked two jobs. She worked her ass off. She's just an amazing, hard-working person." – Shanti Brien
Life Can Be Hard
"We realize the way we were raised influences the mother that we become or the things that we have to face and undo."
– Jennifer Griffith
While Shanti could understand why her mother felt life was hard, she thought she related to her more when she became a mother. As a new lawyer and someone still building up her career, having two kids in two years was overwhelming.
"I felt that feeling like this is overwhelming, being a mother. It's profoundly difficult in so many ways. I didn't have that worldview before." – Shanti Brien
Shanti talks about her thoughts while writing her new book, Almost Innocent. In her book, she shares the injustices of two situations she was experiencing simultaneously. One was the issue with her husband's company receiving a subpoena, and the other of a young boy she represented in court.
Delving deeper into her story, she finds that everyone commits mistakes, and some missteps become crimes in the eyes of the law. But that doesn't automatically make the person bad, or those who have escaped the criminal justice system any better than those who haven't.
015 My Mother Next Door | Diane Danvers Simmons
In this episode of About Your Mother, we hear the story of Diane Danvers Simmons, whose mother left and moved next door with three college men when Diane was sixteen years old.
A successful businesswoman, mother, and stepmom, Diane was on a trip with her daughter when she heard she needed to forgive her mother, which set her on a path to writing her book. The exercise launched a ten-year journey into uncovering her past, her mother's story, and ultimately finding a way to accept her experience.
"You need to let go. You need to forgive your mother." – Dianne Danvers Simmons
Listen to how Diane's writing journey became an exploration of generational trauma and lessons learned growing up in the 70s while her narcissistic mother chartered her unfathomable course to independence and freedom.
"We need to stop blaming our mothers...I never blamed my mother for leaving or her actions thereafter. I never held her accountable for her narcissism. It wasn't until a few years before she died that I found myself at a breaking point from the latest torrent of her maternal wrath." – Dianne Danvers Simmons
Listen to an inspiring conversation on survival, reflection, acceptance, and motherhood.
Order Diane's book today:
Reflections of the Mother
Diane's relationship with her Mother was very complicated. On the one hand, she describes her as a handful-and-a-half and a little 4'11" Irish pistol. But she also knew what she had a huge heart and would help people when she could.
"She could create this environment, which was Spring sprinkled with fairy dust and magic. And in the next moment, she could curse you and just, you'd be on the floor just wondering what on earth had happened?" – Dianne Danvers Simmons
What made things complicated was that her mother left when she was still young. Listen to how Diane's writing journey became an exploration of generational trauma and lessons learned growing up in the 70s. At the same time, her narcissistic Mother chartered her unfathomable course to independence and freedom.
Coping and Acceptance
I tell this story because I see so many women in pain because of their mothers. Don't blame your Mother. Let go of that. You have your choices to make. Don't carry your Mother's burden. – Diane Danvers SimmonsClick To Tweet
When asked how she managed to cope, accept, and finally forgive her Mother, Diane shares that her loved ones encouraged her along the way.
Diane would often share this story in keynote speeches at empowerment conferences and would get asked the question: "Well, how come you ended up like this happy, positive, normal person?"
She attributes her contentment to learning how to accept everything that happened and removing that huge chip from her shoulder she had for a long time.
"I'm certainly not normal, but I am happy and positive. But I you know; I have my moments too. Of course, I'm not perfect. I always like to say, the thing we forget about humanity in each era and each other is that we're all deeply flawed. But that's what makes us human and interesting. And it's about that word acceptance, acceptance of each other for those flaws.
014 The Miracle of Adoption is Surviving | Ashley Mitchell
To honor National Adoption Month this November, I bring you a big brave story. In this episode of About Your Mother, meet Ashley Mitchell.
Ashley Mitchell is the founder of Lifetime Healing Foundation, which supports birth mothers and those affected by such trauma. Her mission is unique but needed. Give it a listen, and you will understand why.
Reflections of the Mother
Ashley describes her mother as an intellectual. She grew up in a home of educators, and her mother was a brilliant woman. Though she also knows a lot about sports, more than anyone in their area.
Ashley's mother continually encouraged her to learn about different things, which spurred her love and fascination for discovering as she grew up.
"She always taught me to know a little bit about a lot of different things. That just spurred so much of my fascination with documentaries and reading books. And it has served me really well to be able to sit in any kind of demographic with any kind of person to and have a little bit to share about any topic that comes up. And I have really appreciated that." – Ashley Mitchell
Journey into being a Birth Mom
Ashley shares her story of finding herself pregnant at twenty-five. Because of a failed abortion plan, she found herself looking into adoption as an option.
While her son and family have a good relationship now, it wasn't always the case. There was a lot of grief and trauma post-relinquishment that Ashley experienced. It was a slow process to educate herself on how to heal from the pain. She came out on the other side with a mission of building a support system for birth mothers nationally.
"No woman should go through something like this....it changes you to the core of who you are. And to then expect the women to just be up to their own devices, to fill in the gaps and to heal was just not… it just didn't sit well with us. So we wanted to change that national standard for sure." – Ashley Mitchell
We forget that adoption has been all about family building. And it's been that way for decades - to package and present adoption as this beautiful family-building tool. But we are missing the piece where we separate and break a family…Click To Tweet
In order to unpack her own experience as a birth mother, Ashley was drawn to learning the history of adoption. She found information - somewhat like propaganda - that carried the notion that these children were unloved and unwanted. These beliefs kept the birth mothers in secret and shame, telling mothers to pretend the relinquishment didn't happen.
Yet when Ashley placed her child for adoption in 2006, her mindset was to give her son a better life. Because she loved her child more than anything, she was willing to be separated from him for that belief.
"The packaging is shifted a little bit. We've marketed adoption a little bit better from being 'unloved and unwanted' to 'we love you so much that we're going to give you this gift,' and it's been really interesting to watch in both scenarios." – Ashley Mitchell
To hear more from Ashley Mitchell and her mission to support birth mothers all arou...
My Single Mom shaped my destiny|Ronda Moulton
Jennifer, I loved this podcast, the first of your series. I’m so impressed and moved by this very honest 30 minutes, this is so relevant and helpful. You are such a strong, kind, and thoughtful woman - and a perfect moderator. I cannot wait to listen to the rest of your series, please keep them coming! I’m lucky, I inherited step kids - several of them over the years - but I also inherited a tremendously powerful - funny - determined & lovely daughter in law- who has a heart of gold - and I feel so very grateful for you...
This podcast spoke to me in so many deeply personal ways, thank you Jenn. XO Gingo