Until my boyfriend moved in five years ago, I was a self-employed and single mom of two unique and sometimes incredibly demanding kids. The summary of my parenting experience was probably a lot like yours: question yourself, worry, work hard, laugh, cry, wash, rinse, and repeat. Seeking sanity on the way to serenity, I found comfort through blogging, workshops, my Shamanistic Cantorial work, and holistic healing practices. But for the necessary escapism, there was always reality TV. One day, I became Alice in Wonderland, falling far down the rabbit hole until I ended up on the other side of the screen.
This is the bizarre story of how I became a Bravo star on “Extreme Guide to Parenting”!
How did Bravo find me? I attended a BlogHer conference in NYC a few years ago and as a result landed on the roster of the “Katie Couric Show” as a “spiritual blogger.”
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When I began blogging, my intention was to share personal stories in the hopes they would resonate and ultimately help others by giving them entertainment, support, and education. My tumultuous life experience provided an endless array of topics, but the message was usually the same. Regardless of the difficulty or complexity of our life experience (in my case highlights include having a father initiate a nasty and protracted custody battle, a lesbian mother who struggled with depression, multiple marriages, relocations, and a near-death experience), ultimately we are all here in this lifetime for the same reasons: to love, be loved, and learn life lessons.
Part of my life lesson was to find my voice and speak my truth. And writing afforded me the freedom of expression I couldn’t always find in my many pulpits, from Malibu to Greenwich, when I was a full-time cantor. My writing covered everything from meditation and reincarnation (I’m also a Certified Past Life Regressionist) to Jewish shamanism—a fundamental eco-conscious approach to Judaism (something I wish they taught in religious schools today). I also advocate for new approaches to education (I’m not a fan of Common Core) and organic, local, and sustainable food culture (Monsanto is my biggest four-letter word). Like one of my favorite Kveller contributors Mayim Bialik, I’m a proud member of the Holistic Moms Network (HMN). In fact, I’m also the founder and leader of a new chapter of HMN in northern Westchester county, NY. That’s how I got to be what my last ex-husband referred to as “wooey-woo-woo.”
Raising, educating, and nurturing my out-of-the-box children, I discovered that cookie cutter solutions weren’t enough. And this realization made its way from my blogs all the way to Katie Couric.
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I was invited to a taping for an episode called: “Do You Believe in Heaven?” The next thing I knew, I was contacted by a production company who was interested in asking me questions about my “all-natural-eco-Kosher-Shamanistic” parenting style. And when I mentioned my son was an “Indigo child,” the man on the phone literally gasped.
“That’s exactly what I was told to look for, but I had no idea what it meant!”
An Indigo child is the “spiritual/esoteric” label for kids (predominately males, ages 11-28) who are square pegs in round holes, highly intelligent, artistic, and/or psychic, usually demonstrating some forms of ODD, ADHD, and other initials which mean everything or nothing. Indigo children are what I call “beyond the spectrum,” though many Indigos are also diagnosed as being “on” the spectrum. After describing my challenges of raising an Indigo to the captivated casting associate, I was invited to submit an audition tape introducing my little family.
Several months passed between submitting an initial and then expanded audition tape for “Extreme Guide to Parenting.” My partner had assumed the show was not “green-lit.” But it was. Out of the 1500+ audition tapes, we were the number one episode pick and the first episode scheduled to tape. Was I ready to bare the soul of my parenting practices to TV screens across the country?
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Well, considering my metaphysical/spiritual career path, some folks had called me “extreme” to begin with… and certainly some of the experiences I’ve had raising my extremely funny but challenging Indigo child son and budding teen daughter have called for extreme measures. But isn’t parenting an extreme sport for everyone?! I thought maybe our experiences could help other families. So, was I ready for the spotlight? Yes.
Then the fun really began. Actual production on a physical level was surreal, bordering on sheer madness. My already cramped house was overstuffed with a robust production crew, copious Starbucks cups, and an overburdened juicer as I tried to nurture… everyone.
Emotionally I fluctuated between elation, apprehension, and exhaustion. This was really happening. There were cameras and crew all over my house! Was I insane, or purposefully driven?
The story arc we were capturing revolved around my son, the Indigo child, who was not doing well at school. I was getting a lot of pressure to medicate him (again) from teachers and administrators. And the impact that this current challenge was having on all of us was very real, very personal, and very important to be shared.
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Not many parents use the tools I did in the show: aromatherapy, crystals, singing bowls, and Cantorial work. Not many people believe eco-Kosher-organic food is a wellness requirement. But at the end of the day, regardless of the “how’s” and the “why’s,” is the same sentiment: This is what it is to be a parent. You do your best to nurture, educate, and facilitate the healthiest growth experiences possible for your family. Regardless of your religion, education, or situation, we are all doing the best we can to make mindful decisions on behalf of our children and in doing so, hopefully making this world brighter and safer for future generations.
I’m happy that I had the chutzpah to say “yes” when asked to share my family’s journey on TV. The only thing I would have done differently? Gotten a better juicer.
Watch an exclusive bonus video from Shira’s Bravo episode!