Sure, you already know that May 14th is Mother’s Day…the day that moms everywhere get celebrated with brunch and presents. At Johnny Was we like to salute all types of mamas; whether you’re an aunt, godmother, pet owner, mentor, or a maternal figure in someone’s life; they are all important and life-changing. As the saying goes, babies are born from the womb, maternity is born from the soul.
For some nurturing wisdom, we reached our to Zhena Muzyka, a mother of two, who started the business Zhena’s Gypsy Tea when her son, Sage, now 16, was born with a life-threatening birth defect. Years later, the business became a multi-million dollar enterprise that not only paid for his medical expenses but also empowered the female tea leaf pickers in India and Sri Lanka whom she employed. Nowadays, Zhena is a celebrated author, public speaker and runs Enliven Books, (http://simonandschusterpublishing.com/enliven/ ) a division of Simon & Schuster, that specializes in holistic tomes. Her ultimate mission is to inspire people to find their life’s mission and make the world a better place through humanitarian and environmental initiatives—all with her own infectious sense of humor and caring.
Happy family (clockwise from top left): Gerard, Sage, Zhena and Mia
What does being a mom mean to you?
ZM: For me, it’s the role of my lifetime. My kids are my everything and, ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to be a mom. I’m even mothering in other relationships; I mother my friends, my employees; I just love the archetype.
What are some of your mom secrets?
ZM: There’s no golden rule and I ask myself at least once a day, “am I doing a good job?” For me, it’s been about discovering who my kids really are, and realizing that I don’t have that much influence on that. For instance, my son Sage really doesn’t enjoy school and that was hard for me to accept because, as most parents, I want my child to be a high achiever. I’ve had to learn what type of person he is, an old soul who loves art, photography, and music. My daughter, Mia, who is seven, is wild but has this encyclopedic knowledge of animals, that even blows away our local vet!
Do you have strong family rituals?
ZM: We have a family altar in our house. Right now, it’s got a buddha, a Guan Yin (known as the Goddess of mercy in East Asia), a Ganesha (the Indian god of wisdom), and a ton of rocks because Mia collects them, flowers from the garden and incense. We do seasonal altars and everyone adds something. Other things are our family mission statement; we write it up and everybody signs it. Basically, it says to slow down, notice what we like about each other and do good work.
What about our other favorite mom, Mother Nature?
ZM: One of the most important things for me, and for my kids, is to learn where your food comes from, and we’re lucky living in California that we can meet the farmers who produce the food we eat. We go to the farmer’s market every weekend and also have a composter in our backyard which I make the kids get out and turn. Another thing I like to do is always offset our carbon footprint when we fly—it’s worth it for me to pay that little bit extra to do a little good.
For more info on what you can do go to www.terrapass.com/ or www.cooleffect.org
What’s the best way that you’ve learned to take of yourself as a woman and mother?
ZM: I would say my daily Transcendental Meditation (http://www.tm.org/ ) practice is the key to my sanity. Even this morning I was feeling stressed, running around trying to get Mia to school and I had an important conference call for work. When I was done, I did a quick 20-minute meditation and it makes me feel like I have a little more space in my day. It changes the voice in my head from “you’re never going to catch up” to “you’re never going to catch up but that’s OK.”
So this May 14th, take the time to celebrate yourself and all you do. Whether it’s a walk in nature, dinner with family and friends or a luxurious facial, we support and love it all. xo Johnny Was