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Laurie May Coyle leads by example

Again, the Mountain Laurel blooms

Happy June people.

I am so happy to know you are here, reading these posts.

Our guest today is Laurie May Coyle who is a mother, artist and life coach here in Berkshire County. I met Laurie long ago when we shared a table in an art class at IS183. Laurie inspired me then and she inspires me now. I hope you enjoy her post. This week Laurie launches two classes at Lifeworks Studio here in Great Barrington. Here is info on that.

Laurie May Coyle with her girl Natalie
Laurie May Coyle with her girl Natalie

This week I am preparing for the Amazon launch of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. If you have not yet ordered your copy of the book, or you’d like to send a copy to a friend, I’d love you to head over to Amazon to do that this week. If you happen to live in the Berkshires, please don’t order it-go to The Book Loft or The Bookstore in Lenox– always support your local indie bookstores.

But for most of you out there in the world, Amazon is your go-to place for this anthology. If you have connections to a bookstore or library in your area who you think might like to carry it, don’t hold back! Email me and I will send you a promotional packet of materials to share with your connection. Here is my address:

Until then, enjoy what is blooming in your yard!

With love, S


Laurie May Coyle

Leading By Example

I’ve been a mother for just over three years now. I have written much about mothering, spoken much about mothering, discussed and discussed and discussed mothering and parenting and all its ups and downs — with friends, colleagues, family members and strangers, on my blog, in person, in my classes and in the grocery store checkout. I have parsed the words of many many authors who have written on pregnancy, birth, infancy, parenting and everything in-between, distilled down their meaning and read between the lines, and also followed some of their exact “plans” of action (for at least a week!) for everything from sleep-training to breastfeeding and everything in-between. I derive much joy from being able to tell others what to do, and show that I know what I’m talking about because-see-I-read-it-here.
As it happens, though, I am learning in my life and career, that it’s not so much about telling-what-to-do as it is about leading, showing-by-example and exploring for myself and seeing what works. That’s where the magic happens.
This is the case in parenting and in coaching, and in friendships and stranger-interactions. No one wants to be told what to do, whether from a book or a movie or an expert or a friend (or, gasp, a parent!). We all want to weigh in on what we’re being presented with, and find for ourselves what works. Especially toddlers.
I find this has been the case in my parenting and in my creativity, and in my new found career path as a life and health coach.
I can compare helping a client find her way to optimal health through eating more veggies to, well, leading my daughter to find her way to optimal health through eating more veggies. Neither of them wants me to tell them what to do. Though they do look to me for guidance, for example (I’d better be eating my veggies, too!) and for accountability. And sometimes for something to resist and argue with, but I’m ok with that. That’s my role.
I can see that my daughter would be very upset with me if I didn’t “know what’s best” for her — she even said that once, in her squeaky, adorable three year-old voice, “you’re the mama, you’re supposed to know what’s good for me!” (I’m pretty sure that was after she hadn’t taken a piece of my advice and had fallen off of something she shouldn’t have been climbing on, but who’s keeping track?)
So I don’t tell them what to do, the client or the toddler. I am charged with gently guiding, letting them discover for themselves how powerful and knowledgeable they already are. And when it comes to green veggies, if we keep mentioning them or putting them on the table and eating them ourselves, they’re both bound to take a bite. And then another and another until it becomes a habit.
And I can gaze on with satisfaction, knowing they’re doing what’s right for them and they feel like they came up with it all on their own and they figured it out themselves. And really, they did do it themselves, with a little help, a little push and a little encouragement. That is my job, now as a coach and definitely as a parent.
I think I was looking for that from all those books I read about parenting. I wanted some hand holding, some cheer leading and some instruction. I wanted to know which way was the “right” way. To feed my child, to birth my child, to toilet-train my child and so on.
I found this kind of hand-holding and cheer leading in-person with the amazing team of midwives that attended our home birth — and I remember eventually putting those pregnancy and delivery books aside when I met them, because they seemed to know everything I ever needed to know and I could call them anytime I needed them, and they would answer, with a thoughtful, knowledgeable answer and then a little question about how I felt and how my body was doing — giving me the opportunity to check in with myself.
That was my first glimpse of an accountability partner. They were there for me, encouraged me and led me through a very tough time (i.e. childbirth) and knew that I would make it through and have a beautiful and healthy baby as the outcome. They held steady in their visions for my future, and it was so powerful to have them on my side. I have used that example in my parenting and now in my coaching, everyday since I met them.
I see in my parenting that leading by example is the only way to go. I know I can get a little too up-in-my-heads about the “right” way to do things (i.e. parenting, learning, healthy eating, childbirth etc.), and I want to pass on all that I know to my daughter. However, when I lean back and let her take my hand and we just sit in the present moment and I’m showing her the way by being me, that is when the whole world opens up to the possibility of an easy, joyful way.
Time slows down a little bit and I’m able to sit with myself, accept myself for my flaws and truths, and really see the person in front of me, whether it’s a client or my toddler. I’m able to hold their hand, encourage them, and cheer lead for them. Without judgment and with heaps of compassion for the reality at hand — it really is easy, and it really is joyful, even when it’s also messy and challenging.
And I believe easy and joyful is always the “right” way, no matter what any book tells you.


To your artful life,
Laurie Coyle is a Life Design Coach, Artist and Mama, melding her passions for unconventional living, mothering, nutrition, art, design and personal development. She inspires creativity, abundance and health in the lives and businesses of artful entrepreneurs (while empowering them to stop doing shit they don’t want to do!).

She helps overwhelmed, multi-passionate creative women find their true path and make money from their calling, so they can live more creative, fulfilled and happy lives.
She lives with her husband and daughter among the trees on a shady hillside in South Lee, MA, along with one dog and one cat, who mostly get along.

She works with entrepreneurs and wannabe-entrepreneurs through one-on-one coaching, group programs and courses, both online and in-person, to create systems and strategies for busting through fears and soaring to the heights they only dream of. She’ll help you find the most healthy, sustainable and thrilling path to the life and business of your dreams, with ease, grace and heaps of joy.

Alana Chernila is Queen of Her Own Heart : On Local Berkshire Wonders

On this last day of July, I have to tell you that over in the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series II department of this website, you will find Alana Chernila emerging from her writing room to talk about what happens for her in there.

Alana is a superstar here in the Berkshires. The streets are peppered with stars such as she, but Alana persists in imbuing her own brand of sparkle and genius in to everything she does. Alana is one of our Selectpeople, working with our Town Manager on getting our little town to work smarter. Alana also sells produce at our Farmer’s Market for Indian Line Farm. She does many things, and does them well, but what bursts your heart opens is when she writes and reads her work. You can hear her in our Out of the Mouths of Babes event next March, 2013. For now, just head over to read her latest post.

Will Wonders Never Cease

A few weeks ago at the Triplex Theatre, I sat in the front row as Taylor Mali spoke this poem of his. It was a tender day in his personal life, a turning point moment, and he personalized the poem as he spoke it.

Remember Me From Now

If for years before I die,
I linger and wither and forget
myself, like the old apple tree
in the orchard I cannot bring myself
to fell: if sadness or some other cancer
has spindled me to breaking:

then add to that blue future
to the list of reasons to remember me
as I am now, bursting in my glee,
in love with this day, this forest,
and these trees, these dark,
and lovely trees.

©Taylor Mali 2009 from The Last Time As We Were

Here is a peek of Taylor in action.

On Kidnapping

Paulus Berensohn, the artist and deep ecologist, taught me to ‘kidnap’ poems. He once presented this idea to his close friend and poet Mary Oliver and described to her how he memorized her poems and inserted words in key places to make them intensely personal, expressive of his own feelings within the container of her poems. From Paulus’ telling, Mary resisted the idea for about a year, then called him to say she had finally come round to liking the idea. Paulus has the beautiful ability to speak a poem at just the right moment in time, from memory. And, ofttimes, in his kidnapped versions.

I kidnap Mary Oliver’s poem, Why I Wake Early, nearly every day as I do yoga under the oak in my backyard.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Why I Wake Early, 2004)

When Taylor personalized his own poem to capture the poignancy of his day, with details I will let him divulge, the work jumped alive off the stage and wrapped itself, arms and legs around my heart.

Today, I will kidnap Taylor’s poem, to capture my day, this one moment in time. I’d love to hear what poem you’d like to kidnap and how you’d do it.

Remember Me From Now, after Taylor Mali’s poem, kidnapped by Suzi Banks Baum

If for years before I die,
I linger and wither and forget
myself, like the old apple tree
in the orchard I cannot bring myself
to fell; if sadness or some other cancer
has spindled me to breaking;

then add that blue future
to the list of reasons to remember me
as I am now, bursting in my glee,
in love with this day, the sunset and the green tomatoes, this good green land,
and these trees, these dark
and lovely trees.

Miracle view from the hammock. So glad I lay down. #summer #tree #heart xoS

Make a poem your own today.
Let the elegant hand of Mary Oliver, of Taylor or some other writer of soul filled words carry your heart out in to the clear air, where we can all draw a quick breath at the fleeting beauty of you.

Independence Approach #12 Mothers and Pittsfield Artswalk 2012

Riding the waves of a hot Friday.

I am paused between fertilizing the tomatoes, a basket of whites waiting to be hung up and thinking about what I will read tonight at the open mic Living Room session in Great Barrington.

My town is full of sweet things, fresh strawberries and game people up to experiment with taking our art to the streets.

Now it is fruit salad. 100% Berkshire & Columbia county produce. #berkshires #laundrylinedivine #lifeingbma

I woke up early and realized that my art is in four locations today.
If you are near any of them, please visit.
And, if you’d like to know what it all looks like, pop over to my Face book page where I will be posting photos of this evening’s activity.


Today in Lynn, MA, my ‘The Secret and How to Tell It” Sketchbook is in the ArtHouse Coop/ Brooklyn Art Library exhibit at the Lynn Arts Center. The show is up there for the weekend. Details here.



Miranda Hersey Helin’s e-book, “A Creative Mother’s Guide”  has  wonderful creative practice suggestions and a short interview piece about me and with 12 other artist moms. You can check that out here.

Tonight, I will be at the Alchemy Initiative’s Pop-Up Gallery exhibit of mobile shot- Instagram photographs on the theme of independence. Five of my photos are in the exhibit which is all part of Pittsfield’s ArtsWalk. Here is information.

And, then at 8, I will be part of a bunch of people reading in outdoors in Pooja Roo and Gabrielle Senza’s Living Room Theatre. Here is a map. Come if you can.

I am completely grateful for the opportunity to share my work in the world.
I leave you in the capable and graceful hands of Mary Oliver and her poem Messenger, published in the collection Thirst in 2006.


My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(Thirst, 2006)



Have a fire fly night,