15Oct
2018
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Wuf Shanti CEO, Marni Becker-Avin, Featured in WomELLE Magazine

It not often that a Magazine calls and asks to interview me. Most people want to hear from Adam, as it should be. I was initially hesitant to be in the spot light, preferring to work behind the scenes to support the Wuf Shanti mission. However, I was convinced to answer these questions because there may be other moms out there looking for some guidance, and if I can help by sharing my experience, then it’s worth it, and I’m happy to do so. Thank you WomElle for the feature in your Magazine. If anyone wants to sign up to read the entire October 2018 issue or check out their site, which is all about women in leadership making a difference, then please feel free to click this link: https://www.womelle.com/magazine/october-2018

To read about the 5 things I’ve learned (plus one bonus lesson), click the image:

Womelle Interview

Being a mom has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Spending time with my kids and watching them grow and learn is something that I treasure, and working with my son to get Wuf Shanti off the ground has been something I feel much gratitude for, even through all the challenges, because it has been extremely special and rewarding. Learning with him, seeing the idea evolve and grow, and help so many people, truly has been an honor.

Here are the 5 most important things I’ve learned on my journey so far as CEO of Wuf Shanti, mom, attorney, and wife.

#1: Jump in with both feet!

Wuf Shanti started with a little boy’s illustration and his dream to make a difference in the world. My son, Adam, now 14, came to me a few years ago with a drawing of a dog character with the words ‘Think Well to Be Well’ on top. He drew the picture to honor his great-grandpa who had recently passed. Adam was on a mission to teach mindfulness to kids so children can live in health and wellness, peace and positivity.

As Adam’s mom, I wanted to support his mission and initiative. Even though I couldn’t have dreamed where Wuf Shanti would go, I jumped in with both feet.

#2: Celebrate every big and small step

As with most new ventures, I didn’t really know what I was getting into, there was a huge learning curve.  Having a full time job, being a mom of 2, and running Wuf Shanti, I had many sleepless nights. And Adam had really big goals!  He created Wuf Shanti because he wanted to inspire children to stay physically fit, and teach kids to be mentally less stressed, able to cope with emotions, and interact with kindness.  As his mom, I wanted to help make his dreams a reality.  But it’s really easy to get discouraged on the long road to huge goals. If you stay grounded, focused, and celebrate every step, big or small, on your journey, you’ll really recognize the impact.

Since we started, Wuf Shanti has been published in national magazines, interviewed on radio shows, produced 7 books, 100 videos, created a mobile app, visited schools and hospitals to teach kids, and developed a mindfulness curriculum for both early learners and teenagers.

We’ve had some really huge accomplishments. But some of our most important work has been impacting individual children. When our Wuf Shanti mascot tours schools and children’s hospitals to share these practices with the children, we celebrate big when we see the simple joy in their eyes and smiles on their faces.

#3: Start with Purpose

Changing the world is a long, tiring journey.  What keeps us motivated everyday, resilient, and excited about each step, is our purpose, our intentions. From the very first drawing of Wuf Shanti to developing school curriculum and television programming that focuses on mindfulness, positive thinking, diversity, inclusion, gratitude, communication, social emotional learning, peace, and kindness, we knew that we must teach these tools in order to stop the violence and make a positive impact on the world for the next generation.

Giving up is not an option. Science tells us that these tools help with the healing process, and living in health and wellness. When we teach kids to live in peace and gratitude, spread kindness, let go of stress, and deal with emotions in better ways, they grow up less depressed and anxious and we create happier peace loving adults.  And when we do that, we create a generation that can come together, and live in a more positive and loving planet.

#4. Be Resilient- “No” means “Not this way”

Adam was set on Wuf Shanti becoming a property of one of the premiere publishing companies, a large provider of in-classroom books and educational materials.  We didn’t hear back from them for a long time. When we finally did, they said “No.”  There was no explanation, simple rejection.

But resiliency always wins out.  Since the initial wish-list company was not our path, we found other ones.

We are now in 25,000 schools via Adventure to Fitness, on BatteryPop, on local PBS stations, and in children’s hospitals all over the country and internationally, via the Children’s TV Network (the in-house hospital TV station and part of the Children’s Miracle Network).

And Wuf Shanti was recently awarded the Mom’s Choice Award, being named among the “Best in Family-Friendly Media, Products, & Services,” the Common Sense Media “Best Health Apps and Games for Kids” list, and the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA) “Best Product for Children” Health and Wellness roundup.

Although a “no” can mean rejection, to us, it means “not this way” and is always the door to a brighter, more impactful road.

#5. Dream BIG!!!

Having a vision of where you want to go can be a great roadmap, but it can also be limiting.  Using vision as a guideline but opening yourself to all the possibilities can lead to impact beyond your imagination.

This year, we launched the Kids Association for Mindfulness in Education (KAME), a place where youth can come together to mindfully do good in the world.

And as I write this, The Wuf Shanti Children’s Wellness Foundation non-profit is being born.

In February 2019, Adam will lead the first online international Mindful Kids Peace Summit. Each of the 5 days addresses a huge issue impacting our youth:

Day 1: Diversity, Inclusion, and Communication

Day 2: Kindness and Anti-Bullying

Day 3: Tools for Kids to De-Stress and Cope with Emotions (including yoga, meditation, breathing)

Day 4: Things We Can Do Together to Make the World a Better Place and Collaboration

Day 5: Positive Psychology and Social Emotional Learning: how Teachers and Parents can help

I am always amazed at the even bigger and more purposeful steps we take toward our mission.  When we dream big, we always land leaps and bounds beyond our last dream. When you’re doing something for the future of our children, it’s easy to be driven by purpose, always focused on the big picture, always in pursuit of the next goal.

Bonus lesson:

The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is to be present, stay in the moment, and focus on this time.

Adam likes to play basketball with his friends, sport video games, and is on the golf team.   He recently started high school.   I’m super proud of him, and very grateful that we get to work on such an important and relevant movement together.

My husband and I have been together for 25 years. Our lives are filled with carpools, birthday parties, binge watching TV shows, and laughing together.

And even with everything that I’ve learned on my journey so far,

#1: Jump in with both feet!

#2: Celebrate every big and small step

#3: Start with Purpose

#4. Be Resilient- “No” means “Not this way”

#5. Dream BIG!!!

I know that the most important of them all is to enjoy the moment I am in now.

 

 

 

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