Why It Is OKay To Fail — Interview with Amanda Marie Cottrell, Founder of Art Creativity and Mindfulness
How do you become an international author after a bitter divorce and life’s ups and downs while not losing a sense of purpose and creativity?
I interviewed Amanda Marie Cottrell to find out. (Listen to Mental Wealth For Entrepreneurs Podcast Episode #3).
Amanda Marie Cottrell, a teacher, international author, artist, and entrepreneur. As an educator of young children for over 12 years, Amanda’s passion is education and creativity. She believes that everyone has creative capacities. Her mission is to empower children through their unique creative gifts. Helping children believe in themselves through connection, is the aim of her books. Amanda began writing Children’s Books to enhance the written curriculum and the unwritten curriculum in elementary school. Through years of experience, she noticed that children need support in expressing themselves and in mindful ways. A yoga and mindfulness enthusiast, she uses her knowledge of yoga and mindful practices to guide her stories and get kids up and moving while or to connect to themselves on a deeper level. Teaching is not just about guiding the students but also about learning along with them. Amanda believes in lifelong learning and is continuously taking courses in different areas of interest.
Mental Wealth For Entrepreneurs Podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Want your child to be more resilient check out Amanda M. Cottrell’s books:
Katerina: Hi, Amanda. How are you today?
Amanda: I’m great. How are you?
Katerina: I’m good. Amanda, could you tell me how did you become a writer?
Amanda: Well, I am a teacher, and I teach grade three. And I… um, I was going through a really rough divorce, and I went to a retreat…and I had always wanted to write children’s books. And after one of the meditations at the retreat, I had this idea to write this book called “It’s okay to feel.” And I wrote basically the whole book in like the 20 minutes after the meditation. And I just had it in a journal, and I kept like drawing.
I’m an artist too, so I kept drawing the pictures slowly. And the first book took me like four years to finally complete. And my original plan was to just make the book with my Mac and have it in my classroom, and there would only be one copy…and I would just use it in my classroom, and then the universe had different plans for me because, as I was reading the book, people that I know tagged me in posts on Facebook. One of them tagged me in a post on somebody looking for an illustrator, so I ended up illustrating a book that… that actually was my very first book… it was a book that I illustrated for a lady called Blue’s Mountain Christmas.
And then, shortly after, I met another lady who… she was a kindergarten teacher, and she had started writing books, and she lived really close to me. And she was doing a presentation at the teachers’ convention, so I went to her presentation and I started following her on Instagram. And she’s like best friends with my mom’s and is like a best friend’s with my daughter, so it’s like crazy.
And so she… I went to some courses with her, and she taught me how to publish on Amazon and self publish on Amazon. So this book that I had originally planned just to have one copy and use in my classroom to help kids with their emotions. And we’re talking about emotions or kids because that’s something that teaching for 14 years now.
That’s something that’s not really taught in school is how to regulate emotions how to deal with emotions and even to talk about like, it’s okay to be mad, we just need to find a way to deal with your anger. So what can we do like? “Oh, I’m really mad right now,” so instead of punching your friend, what could you do instead? And… and just talk about that.
And it’s so interesting when you talk with kids. Sometimes you have no clue what’s going on in their minds or what emotions they really strongly feel. And last year, when I read the book to my students, the jealousy one that really came up. This huge conversation about jealousy and when they feel jealous. And it was at birthday parties… because they’re jealous of their friends. It’s like it’s such a confusing feeling because I’m happy for my friends, but I’m also really jealous for them because I want those toys. And they’re getting all the toys and, and then I feel bad because I feel jealous.
And it was this really like authentic, engaging conversation with the kids that came out of the book where that’s…, that’s an emotion that I didn’t necessarily think would spark such a huge conversation.
Katerina: So yeah, parents… they’re trying to compete, and they try to over-beat each other… and all that, then yeah, they just don’t understand what impact this has on kids.
Amanda: Yeah, absolutely. And to recognise that sometimes you can feel two emotions at the same time. Like, I’m happy for my friend, and I’m excited for them, but I’m also feeling jealous at the same time because I think that toy was pretty cool or I think whatever it is that they’re jealous about, so that was one that I found. Like, was one of the most thought-provoking conversations I’ve had with the students since I published the book.
Katerina: Do you read your books to your daughter? Does she like them?
Amanda: Yeah, she does actually.
Katerina: Is she proud that her mommy is a writer?
Amanda: Yeah… My Reiki therapist… I gave him one of my books, he actually… he has most of them but, um, he is a Reiki therapist as well. And his daughter is five and one of my books I co-authored with another teacher, and it’s called “I am a Rainbow: A Children’s Guide to the Chakras.” And, he sent me like all of these pictures the other day of her do… like reading the book, and doing the yoga cogent poses that are aligned with each chakra and the mudras that are aligned with each chakra. And it was the sweetest thing ever because she’s not even in school yet… she is four. He’s like “It’s her favourite book,” and he sent me all the pictures of her doing all of this, just… like it melted my heart. So..
Katerina: Yeah, my son is four, and I’ve just said to him “Look, you have to be quite because I’m talking to a lady who is writing books.” And he is like “My books?” So, I showed him your books, and he was really impressed that mommy was talking to a writer.
Amanda: Right, that’s awesome.
Katerina: Yeah, he is going to be four in May, so yeah, I’m trying to discuss the subject of resilience. I’m trying to kind of build resilience because it is important. We are… In the UK… you know, there is a silent epidemic of mental health problems.
Amanda: Absolutely. Mental health is one of the things that… As a teacher, I’ve been finding since the start of my career it’s becoming more and more prominent and more and more essential that we’re teaching it in schools. And that we’re being able to talk about it and give children support because anxiety in classrooms is on the rise, exponentially. And, and we don’t really know what’s causing it and whether it’s like the Internet, or if it’s access to… just like constantly being on all the time.
I read articles and stuff about that all the time, and my latest book was called I’m empathetic, and it’s about teaching kids how to be empathetic and how to empathise with others but also at the same time not give all of your energy away and be like “Oh, I’m just going to help and save everybody” that I can show empathy for others, they also still have to take care of myself first.
Katerina: Right, yeah. I’ve been researching quite a bit about the impact of artificial intelligence and disruptive technologies on jobs. And they say, you know, that in the future there will be a massive need… the demand for people who are empathetic. And not like machines and unfortunately a lot of kids… they kind of grow up today, not having this,. you know, not being able to empathise with other people… and they are like.. kind of robots… some kids, right?
Amanda: Yeah. Recognising and having empathy for someone is huge, and it’s something that we need to teach kids in schools. And that helps you with your mental health when you can empathise with somebody else… And you can see how your actions are affecting somebody else or how somebody else’s actions are affecting you. Then it really opened your eyes to like “Okay, why am I feeling this way?”. And I can sit and figure it out and figure it out too what I can do to help myself as well, or to help my friend.
Katerina: So now you’ve published… how many books you’ve published? Seven books on Amazon?
Amanda: Seven books, yeah.
Katerina: Are there any more books in the pipeline?
Amanda: Yeah. I’m currently writing one or I’ve written one… One day at school these boys were just at each other, and they’d been at each other for a couple of days and arguing. And I was like “I don’t know what to do with you two? Because like… you’re just being mean to each other and you don’t know why? You’re both great kids.”
So I came home that night, and I scribbled down a book in my journal, and it’s just like written as rough notes, and it’s called “What do you learn at school”. And I went back to school the next day and I read it to the kids. And I said “You know I was really thinking about how you guys are treating each other. And I scribbled down this book in my journal. You can see this is my very first rough copy of the book”.
And I read the story to the kids and basically the, the essence of it is, how you treat people… as how you’re going to be remembered as the teacher. They’re not going to remember what I teach them. I teach about grade three. So, we teach in Alberta… we teach about Peru and Tunisia and India. And we teach about rocks and minerals, and all these things like. You’re not going to remember any of those things. What you’re going to remember is how they made you feel, and you’re going to remember how the kids in our class made you feel.
And so the last line of the book is how do you want to be remembered because people are only going to remember how you made them feel. Because feelings are such an essential thing, and so, at the end of reading just the rough draft of my story, my kids were silent through the whole thing. There’s no pictures, nothing it’s just my… like you can barely even read my printings for kids.
Katerina: Yeah. But you are reading your books to kids at school…
Amanda: Yeah. I was reading… reading the book to the kid as scribbles in my journal. And they applauded, they clapped at the end, and I was like “Do you guys think I should make this into an actual book like the other ones?” and they were all like, “Yes, you have to.” So, that’s my next book, and I’m also working on one called…
Katerina: Instant feedback, isn’t it? It’s great.
Amanda: Yeah, it is. Another one I’m doing is for teachers, and it’s “Mindful Minutes, 108 Empowering Activities for Kids”, so 108 mindful activities for kids to do. So I’m where… I’m co-authoring that with some lady, as well. She’s a yoga teacher and jewellery designer, and she does a whole bunch of mindfulness workshops in Calgary, and her jewellery is on worldwide. And, so we wrote a book called “I’m fearless,” a yoga book for kids and superheroes together. And so that’s, that’s our second book together.
Katerina: Right, right.
Katerina: As a writer, what was the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome in the last two-and-a-half years… when you just started publishing?
Amanda: Yeah, so the first. I think the biggest challenge was… at first was figuring out what to do, and I had this idea… And for four years I just sat on the first book and kind of fiddled with the pictures and, like, figuring it out. And then once I publish the first one in two and a half years I’ve published seven other children’s books.
I’m lucky though because I’m an… I’m artistic as well so I can… I can draw the pictures myself. But learning how to do everything together… to end it up on Amazon, finding the right people that teach me. And then also, my biggest challenge right now is just getting my message out there and getting out there because I self publish on Amazon. And I’m learning how to use ads and learning how to engage in social media and different things that don’t necessarily come as natural for somebody who’s pretty introverted. Pretty introverted… I’m like, I’ve been talking to the kids all day but talking on social media? That’s a… that’s a bit of a challenge for me and something that I have to overcome for sure.
Katerina: It’s not your comfort zone, but you’re learning new things all the time, isn’t it?
Amanda: Yeah, and I think that’s a part of the mental health piece, right? Is that you have to challenge yourself and do something that you’re scared of sometimes in order to reach your goals. And so, I could have just originally published the book on my netbook and stuck it in my classroom, and it would never ever get to anybody. But because I went out of my comfort zone… and I was like “Okay, I’m going to publish this on Amazon and who knows what’s gonna happen.”
And like I had somebody in the UK, write a review on my book, and I was like, “Oh my goodness, somebody in like Europe I’m never met in my entire life wrote a book review on my book”. And that is like the coolest thing ever. And then even like I have some of my art on Etsy, and I have people I’ve sent art to the UK, which is just unbelievable to me that our world is so connected. In this… like a little elementary school teacher who like hides in her house and does art is sending art to people in the UK. Because they like found it on Etsy, and I don’t even advertise on Etsy or anything. I just put, like, some things up there, and it’s like slowly doing things every day to achieve your goals.
I, at first, had this… I had all these ideas in my head, of all these things I wanted to do and… I asked my friend who is a successful business owner, like “How did you start and how did you know where to start?” And she’s like, I had all these ideas too, and I just started. You just have to do a little bit each day, and some of them will work, some of them won’t work. And it’s okay if some of them don’t work you’ll find your way. And that was one of the hugest messages for me was like I had all these ideas… I just needed to start.
Katerina: Right. But have you ever had any negative thoughts like you know, maybe I should just quit because… how do you manage such a busy life of being a mom and a writer, author, at the same time, a full time, teacher?
Read the full interview Here
Originally published at Katerina.Thomas.com
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About the Author:
I help entrepreneurs to build their emotional and business resilience. Throughout my professional life, I helped hundreds of entrepreneurs to launch their businesses following their passion.