Sufey Chen gave birth to her first child less than a year ago. Now she is also the mother of a new book about the experience.
Chen, 24, has spent the past decade touring the world as a globally sought yogini. She has taught the principles of yoga and the paths of peace across a number of continents, climate zones, and walks of life. When she started her own journey of motherhood, she knew it was an opportunity to share her unique perspectives.
Chen is now the author of the book Radiant Mother that combines her yoga infused insights with her own wide-eyed wonder at being a first-time young mother.
"The book is a compilation of my writings from pregnancy until now, a diary-style memoir, my raw feelings as they happened," said Chen from her home in Pennsylvania shared with partner David and their baby Tahvy.
"I wrote all this, but I did not have my mind on a book," she confessed. "It was just journaling and blogging some of it, and I started getting feedback that it should all be put into one place. I had some good girlfriends pushing me, and I had my parents really encouraging me to make it a book. When I see how much my parents have done with their lives with five children, that has always inspired me to do the most I can with my life."
Her hometown of Prince George knows well that Chen makes the most of that lesson passed on from her parents. She has been an award-winning musician, dancer, figure skater, professional photographer, a marketer and publicist, an event planner, a leader of the city's debate sector, an honoured student (she was in UNBC at the age of 16), celebrated philanthropist, and it all added up to the 2010 Prince George Youth of the Year.
When she won that distinction, presented by then-mayor Dan Rogers, she was asked what motivated her volunteerism and charitable organizing.
"I adore children," she said at the city hall ceremony.
Like a rope tying the eras of her own life, she now proclaims her affinity for children once again, for the world to enjoy and learn from.
"Mother is the greatest identity for a woman, but making the most of motherhood for me means pursuing my creative dream," she said, hinting at the secret to her overwhelming and sustained ability to succeed at a number of fields. It is combining elements. The act of being mother and the act of writing the book were unified.
"It's not me. It's like the divine is alive in me for the first time in this way, and I'm just riding the power," she said. "It's like going through this portal into my divinely creative self, full of power, creative essence. I've been riding that high. It's all creating: a baby and a book."
She's also songwriting and penning the drafts of children's books yet to come, but who's keeping score?
"I hope it gives mothers hope. I write it from a really raw place, talking about the realities, the realness. I've heard the pretty polished versions and I've heard the depressed version. I believe you can move through the suffering and initiation you go through as new mothers, but stay connected to love and fulfillment within the struggles. It is possible to feel everything and still love it all."
What Radiant Mother is not is a long-form advice column. Chen said the book flowed from experiences and impressions either in the moment or after short periods of reflection. It is a book that allows the reader to walk alongside her through pregnancy, labour, birthing, and the first several months of first mothering. It is one woman's example, although carefully considered and drawn from her yogini perspective. It is not a manual.
One of the unique stories Chen gets to tell is cocooning at home with Tahvy for the first 40 days following the home-birth. It was important to Chen to have that transition time together as a welcome for them both into the new reality they both shared.
Parenting is about forming connections, she said, and that applies not only to the ties of love between those in the family unit but also the people of one's community.
"If we care about our society, we must care about our mothers and especially new mothers," she said.
A lot more is discussed, with a high number of photographs, in Radiant Mother available now online at amazon.com.