There are several different paths to motherhood that we don't talk about enough. Today, we are honored to introduce you to floral designer and mother, Natalie Brookshire, to share her long and touching journey to adopt her beautiful daughter Friday Viola. Not only is Natalie's story about open adoption inspiring, but her work ethic and passion for living her best life with Friday by her side is something we can all aspire to.
What does healthy living mean to you? How did your view of healthy living change, if at all, after becoming a mother?
I have always considered my lifestyle to be balanced and healthy which meant that more than ever I still prioritize this now. It is easy to slip into bad habits when your whole world changed, but I see it as a time to make sure that I am supporting myself and caring for my body more than ever. After I became a mother, I think I relaxed about the time and perfection of what I do. While we still cook most of our meals at home, we do throw things together much faster. I still meditate, but I don’t sit for as long. I still exercise, but not as many times a week and my long yoga classes are on pause. I’m always working on looking at what I do in a positive light rather than holding it to an unattainable expectation set by myself.
Yes, I always knew from when I was a little girl. I never questioned it. I now realize that having that clarity is a gift all in of it’s own. That clarity is what helped me continue to move forward even in the darkest periods of my life.
3. Aside from being an amazing mother to Friday, you are an incredibly talented florist. How did you get your start in floral design and what would you say contributed to your career taking off?
I started my business 14 years ago and have not looked back since. My Grandmother had a flower shop in SF in the 40’s and my Mother was a garden designer. The appreciation of flowers has infused into my entire life. I feel that my career took off when I started to look at what I did well naturally and amplify that, rather than try and get better at my shortcomings. I suggest that people take the strengthfinders test to help them see the skills that they may take for granted as key elements that can help them thrive.
4.Tell us the story behind your beautiful baby girl, Friday…
Five years before Friday was born we started trying to have a baby. We quickly met challenges including multiple rounds of IUIs, IVFs and three early-term miscarriages. We had always been curious about adoption and one day we went to a meeting to learn more. From that day on we knew that our path was open-adoption. We have a very bonded relationship with her birth-mom and I think she is one of the most open and loving people I may ever know. Birth-mothers are heroes.
5. At what point did you decide to seriously consider adoption?
We decided to move forward once I was told an egg-donor would be the only way I may have a (like 20%) chance of getting pregnant. We decided our little baby spirit was out there and to move course to adoption. The second we made that decision everything started to flow and prove that was the perfect way for us to make our family. Many people starting the adoption process feel a lot of unsureness and they place that on the birth-mom or the situation. I think what is really showing up is fear and that fear is coming from themselves. The reflection and trust my husband and I have given ourselves in this process is layers deep and has cracked our relationship to new depths.
6. Any advice for a woman currently struggling with infertility? Would you have done anything differently?
When you desperately want to have a child and it is not happening your whole life shifts. It is something that most everyone who has not gone through will understand. People will say the wrong thing, people will give you advice that makes you want to punch them and people will just not get the levity this has on your whole being. I would encourage anyone going through this experience to do what they can to not get lost in the pain. Find your source that makes you move forward and believe that you will find a better day and you will find your peace and happiness. Don’t wait for things to change in order to have good news to share and be open about what you are going through. Show up for yourself by taking care of yourself.
7. What does open adoption entail and why did you decide that it was right for you and your family?
Open-adoption means that we had a relationship with Friday’s biological mother during her pregnancy and will on-going through our lives. We will always stay in contact and while that may sound uncomfortable to some, I love it so much. It is so amazing for Friday to grow up knowing her bio-mom. I don’t feel threatened. The more people that love my little girl, the better. We live different lives and that is a slice of real life. At the end, we have a heart connection and that is one of the greatest gifts of my life: to have this relationship with a woman I would have never known otherwise. Every day I wake up and want to be the best Mom I can for her biological mother. She has kids of her own and I admire the mother she is. And this woman picked ME to be the Mother of her child. Can you imagine a gift greater than that? I can’t.
My husband and I had a hard time agreeing on names so it amazes me that we agreed on a name as uncommon as Friday. Her first name Friday is after “Friday Harbor” in the San Juan Islands. We came up with the idea when we were on a ferry and it just stuck. Her middle name “Viola” is a flower and while it isn’t my favorite flower out there, it was one both my husband and I liked and it sounded good with her first name. I adore the name and flower “Daphne” but it just didn’t sound as good with Friday.
9. What does a typical day look like for you?
The only thing typical about my days is that each day looks different. Most days are started before the sun comes up with a trip to the Presidio for an outdoor workout or to the flower market. Friday goes with me almost everywhere, including the flower market. I have a sitter for her a few days a week and spend that time behind the computer and doing studio work. I have always ran a mile a minute and I love that since Friday arrived I’ve slowed my pace to a manageable and sustainable level.
I have always prioritized wellness in my life and it is a lifestyle for me. At this point that is as much about my spiritual practice as my skincare. My two keys to life are lots of water and plenty of vitamin C. I’m lucky enough to get monthly facials with Sarah Becker Skincare. As a family, we pull an angel card every night at dinner and I try and meditate daily, even if it is just for 5-10 minutes in the early morning.
11. How have you continued to grow your business while raising your babe?
I have become much more selective with my “yeses” which has helped me be more focused when I do work. I now feel empowered to take my business to the next level because now, more than ever, I have an attachment to the idea of not wasting time. I’m in a stage of thinking of where Natalie Bowen Designs will evolve. I’ve struggled!
12. You and Friday are always dressed to inspire. How would you describe your style and how you shop for yourself? Same question for Friday?
My style changed when Friday arrived and I think it actually got better. Now I reach for one fabulous dress that speaks for itself, rather than composing an “outfit”. I also think that red lipstick is the secret to the early sleep-deprived months of motherhood. It instantaneously makes you look pulled together, even with no makeup and bags under your eyes.
I think that Friday has a signature style but it just sort of formed naturally. She was born close to the winter so I started with cute knitwear including booties and bonnets (a framed little face takes adorable up to the impossible adorable). By summer, I love a romper or playsuit for her for the same reason as I do for me: easy and cute and instant outfit. I love leggings and leg warmers for her because it is chilly in SF, but I love her rolly thighs and you can still see them that way. Oh, and jewelry. I love it and so does she!
I would really love to “twin” with her more. I wish more brands carried cool mommy and me outfits.
13. What are some of your favorite pieces from Noble Carriage right now and why?
I have always been a fan of Noble Carriage, even before Friday was born. You cannot go wrong with anything. I love my feminist crown and also the swan leggings. ANYTHING Misha and Puff is adorable and is so well made. It lasts longer than your child can fit into it. My husband grew up in a Waldorf education so he loves the wooden toys. As a child, I never liked dolls so all of the “dolls” (Hazel Village, Jess Brown, Frida Kahlo) are great as they are so snuggly. It is truly a beautiful and thoughtful site for giving gifts or treating yourself and your baby.