The Urban Earth Mother
Writer and Coach
Meet Marie Taylor. She’s definitely lived a jam packed life, some good some not so, or to describe it in her own words - “It was all back to back. I changed career to become a mindset coach, met my husband, went backpacking, got back, got married, got pregnant…then nearly died.” Her life is a story of personal growth, open-mindedness and, most of all, guiding others. That’s why nowadays she’s dedicated herself to creating 'maps' to life. Her first is a map for people about to give birth which she describes as "the 42 things I wish I had prepared before I gave birth the first time.” We think this is just the tip of the iceberg though…
Tell us a bit about yourself?
So, my story, it started off the same as a lot of peoples. I left university and started a corporate career ending up gravitating to various sales and marketing jobs. I enjoy being with people, making people feel at ease, and problem solving. I did well too. I spotted and steered towards opportunities as they arose and I think my work ethic and light heartedness made it easy for people around me to support me - so I rose up through the ranks quite quickly. There was one day - I remember it because it was exactly 6 weeks after I'd got a new company car - I'd wanted this car for what seemed forever, delays to its delivery made the anticipation of it build and build. The day when I got to drive home from work in my swish new Audi I felt like I'd really 'arrived'. Every day for those 6 weeks I felt happy and successful. Then almost without noticing, it struck me. I had started to think about the NEXT company car I wanted. I thought to myself, “hang on a minute, I’ve got a swanky job title, a big name client, I’m this young, I’ve got this much experience”… and yet I was already thinking about the next car. I was 27 and I felt like I was on a treadmill, a gravy train to get the next 'thing'. I remember that day because I began to wonder where would that yearning end, how many 'things' would I need to gather before I was content again.
Not long after, I was in a minor car accident which gave me whiplash that meant from time to time my entire spine would freeze up and I couldn't move. The first time it happened it took all my concentration to get from a half seated position at my desk to lying down flat on the floor until it unfroze again.
That’s when I first experienced Reiki. A guy in the office was a Reiki practitioner. He put his hands on my shoulders for no more than 3 minutes and it restored my range of movement for the rest of the day. The next day the problem was back, he did some Reiki again and again I was restored for the rest of the day. Naturally I was intrigued. At this point my trajectory seemed to change.
So I went on to learn about Reiki so I could do it myself. Outside of work I went less often to London's hottest nightspots and more often to Holistic wellness fairs and workshops, learning about the emotional root causes of physical illnesses. Eventually I qualified as a Performance Coach in techniques like NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and Time Line Therapy which helps people overcome the baggage in their past or inherited from their families.
This was all pretty new in those days - New Age they called it - so not everyone I knew was open minded enough to see the benefits of what I was doing. I remember my Step-dad though, he didn't understand what I was on about but he took me to one side and thanked me because he couldn't believe the change in my Mum after I made her come to a weekend workshop with me. Out of the blue about the same time, I got offered a new job marketing herbal remedies and life started to feel more aligned.
You mentioned you learnt about Herbal Supplements. What did you learn?
I was running adverts selling herbal supplements for garlic on heart care, cynarin from artichoke for the liver, and bromelain from pineapple for joints. It was fascinating. The biggest thing I learned though was not about the healing properties available with herbs of which there are plenty, but it was about the business behind health. These herbal supplements didn't have robust scientific research to back them up back in 2001. I learnt that to conduct research costs a significant amount and to make the business decision to fund it you have to be sure you'll make your money back. Back then, only 'outliers' criticised products or the conduct of big pharma companies and if they did and got traction, their credibility would get called into question. I'm pleased to see that the understanding of this and that physical illnesses commonly have an emotional element is now much more mainstream - but we are almost twenty years later.
So you’re writing a book right now. What’s it about?
My book was originally called ’The 42 Things I Wish I Had known About Giving Birth". It’s taken me years and years and years to write it, mainly because I've redone it over and over. When I had the original idea it took about half an hour to sketch out all the things I knew needed to be in it.
It explains stuff about pregnancy in an accessible plain english way that I wish I had had when I was pregnant. I had found myself explaining each of these different golden nuggets to other pregnant Mums on the school run who needed to find ways to overcome their pregnancy woes, fears and challenges. But like me, they didn't have much spare time, so I wanted to share the absolute essentials so you can feel prepared in double quick time.
It tells you about things like the inter-relationship between hormones and feelings. Essentially it’s a circle. So if you feel like shit, pretend you’re happy and your body will react. All feelings have a physical response - even if you fake it, it has an effect. It also explains things like "optimal foetal positioning" in words of one syllable - it’s just like understanding how best to get a tight turtleneck over your head! It’s about understanding why the baby's position is important for their birth (and how to make sure you help not hinder).
Then in the writing of it, I found I was sharing tips that I gathered that every woman and man should know - like dates, I must tell you about date! Eating medjool dates when you're pregnant, it's even in the Quran I think, there's a study too that showed they shorten your labour. It's little nuggets of knowledge like that that I believe women really need to know, especially today, when staff and resources in NHS maternity care are stretched more than ever before. Now really is the time when you need to be able to help stack the deck in your own favour to have a triumphant experience of birth.
What kickstarted that process of writing a book?
Initially it was a fellow mum on the school run. She was pregnant with her third child. I was talking to her about the things I'd learnt that helped me have an amazing birth the second time around. I'd assumed it was just me who hadn't known all this stuff, but she revealed that what I was telling her was news to her too - even though she was on her third pregnancy. Two more exchanges with two more mums later and I knew I needed to consolidate everything I'd found out or realised into one place. At the same time I was contemplating going back to Performance Coaching people around their mindset and the voice in my head just wouldn't let me ignore the birth stuff.
The more I studied, the more I realised that the reasons I'd been so successful in my career were completely difference strategies I'd needed to be successful giving birth. Because I didnt' know how to change my life so work wasn't the priority, I hadn't read the chapter in my birth book about pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome which I'd had first time around. After all the learning and getting better at putting myself first, when my second baby was born I thought to myself as I held my little bundle in my arms, "If I can do that, I literally can do anything". So I decided to create something short and easy for someone in a similar state of mind to me the first time around. They say what would you tell your younger self, well this is it.
What's the most important message that you're trying to convey with your writing?
The message is that your success up to now, whether you are well supported or not, is going to be tested when you enter parenthood. When you get pregnant and have a baby, you begin a journey that you have no idea you're even on half the time. And just like learning to drive, you can do it on your own, but getting a driving instructor to help you (midwife) and a calm supportive family member to support you (my book) so you can practise, is key to a triumphant birth.
What’s been the best part?
I’ve been to so many interesting places and met some amazing people who live in such a different way to my suburban existence. In the pursuit of bringing my book to the world, I went to Los Angeles (and sang womeny chants around an open fire on the roof top terrace of a hotel in Hollywood), I've studied with Active Birth teachers in Bristol, attended birth activist meetings and met so many amazing warrior women who have been fighting (successfully) t change the shape of our maternity services to help babies be born more gently into the world and mothers more revered in the process. It's been all very hippie but in a grounded way.
We love hippie. Leads nicely onto the next question in fact. To you, what does it mean to be creative?
It means to be free to express yourself. Perhaps that's your version of a solution to a problem like my book or simply to create something that no one has ever created before that causes someone to think or question something differently. Nobody else has your mix, creativity is expressing what your personal mix is.
So is there something you do that helps you stay creative?
Rest! I'm always buzzing with ideas which means I get tired. If I want to rest, I rest. So that if I want to do something, I can it. Whatever is going to nourish my soul, I follow it.
What is your favourite way to nourish your soul?
I have a really hot epsom salt bath. I just chuck loads in and pickle myself in it. I go through kilos of the stuff.
And where’s your happy place?
Honestly, it's wherever my kids are. Or, if you want me to think of a specific place, it's high on a hill overlooking the river Severn on a clear day. I love being able to see for miles without buildings getting in the way of my view of the sky.
And last question! Who is the most influential person in your life?
Definitely my mum. She is very different to me and what makes me happy is very different to what nourishes her. I suppose I appreciate my Mum because in the toughest moments when my first baby was born and I was really ill, she could not be there for me. She couldn't provide me with the practical or the emotional support I needed in those moments. There have been other times in my life when she was 100% able to do that for me, so I suppose my appreciation about how important good support is feeds my wish to give a metaphorical map to women who don't have it or don't have an awareness that they don’t have it, because up until now they have done well being the driver of their own success.
Want to get in touch with Marie? Let us know!