Simple Seed: Nurturing Resilient And Empowered Children With Katie Wood
Plant the seeds of gratitude and mindfulness early, and watch the world bloom with resilient, empowered children. In today's inspiring episode, we have the pleasure of hosting Katie Wood, the visionary founder of Simple Seed, who's on a mission to sow the seeds of mindfulness and gratitude in the hearts of young minds. Today, she’ll discuss the magic of gratitude, mindfulness, and the power of positivity, especially when it comes to our children's growth and development. Katie shares how Covid-19 became the catalyst to creating "Simple Seed," a unique journal designed to help kids kick start their days with intention and foster a growth mindset. Katie emphasizes the importance of instilling resilience, grit, and a positive outlook in children from an early age. She believes that young minds are like fertile soil, and by teaching them how to think rather than what to think, we can empower them to thrive in an ever-changing world. Tune in now and discover how to nurture the seeds of positivity, resilience, and mindfulness in the young hearts of today, ensuring a brighter tomorrow.
Listen to the podcast here
Simple Seed: Nurturing Resilient And Empowered Children With Katie Wood
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Katie Wood. Katie is a thought leader, entrepreneur, and the author of A Simple Seed: A Journal of Growth, Gratitude, and Giggles. In 2014, she transitioned from a ten-year career in teaching special education to fully embracing entrepreneurial life. Katie speaks frequently at training events and schools and is also developing several business ventures. A Simple Seed has been ranked as a bestseller on Amazon.
The journal has been featured on the Today Show, NBC, Entrepreneur Magazine, and podcasts, such as The Story Behind Her Success with Candy O’Terry and Entrepreneur on Fire. Among her successes, Katie credits her most rewarding role as a mom to her four wild and fun-loving kids and a firewife. It is truly an honor and a pleasure to welcome you to the show.
Thank you for having me. This is a total honor and my heart is full right now.
It's so amazing to have you here and I love how the stars align. You were introduced to me by a friend, and what we realized is that we live in the same town. It’s a wild world. I'm looking forward to this. I love the work you're doing in the world and the impact you're having. That's why I wanted to have you on to share your story with the audience so they can be inspired by your journey.
What we're going to do is we're going to explore your story through what's called flashpoints. These are points in your journey that have ignited your gifts into the world. I'm going to turn it over to you in a few moments and I'm going to have you share what you're called to share. Along the way, we'll pause and see what's showing up. Are you ready?
Perfect. I love it.
Take it away, Katie.
My story began years before I even knew it. That's how it usually works. I was a former teacher. I taught for ten years and then left that career as my family was growing. It didn't fit my life anymore for how my life was changing. I took the entrepreneurial path, which is one of the most fulfilling decisions I've ever made, but also one of the most difficult. All entrepreneurs are nodding their heads right now.
Five years ago, there was a point in my life that changed a lot of things. Maybe I didn't realize it at the time, but it led me to where I am now writing a book and pouring into our younger generation. My story five years ago is that I have four kids. One of our daughters had major surgery for craniosynostosis. We found ourselves at Boston Children's Hospital facing this very scary diagnosis. It's when the sutures of your skull fuse prematurely and your brain can't grow. It's a life-or-death diagnosis and you need this surgery. Thank God for Boston Children's, they were able to do the surgery.
At that moment, two things happened. One, I learned to trust life. I learned how to start a morning routine. I learned how to center myself when I felt very down in life. That was a blessing because there's always a blessing in difficult moments but you only see them if you step back, reflect, and ask what the lesson to be learned is.
There's always a blessing in difficult moments, but you only see them if you step back, reflect, and ask what is the lesson to be learned here.
The second thing is it led me to an incredible journey of running the 2018 Boston Marathon for the hospital that saved my daughter's life. That's a talk I give to many people now. That was the year of the monsoon. A lot of lessons were learned along that journey that led me to write this book. It's been one big rollercoaster of connecting the dots to get where I am now, which is a very full circle of pouring into the younger generation, teaching them that morning routine, how to focus and rewire your brain, which is what I had to do back then.
This is fantastic, first of all, because there are so many things you've accomplished, but it's also about getting out of your routine of getting out of your existing path and saying, “I could continue, but now this event has happened in my life that has pushed me to explore the outer edges of what's possible.” How old was your daughter when you realized that she had to have this surgery?
She was two. Our life was very chaotic. Walking into that hospital, you've gone through a hard time with your kid. The umbilical cord is never cut and we're only as happy as our saddest kid. When they hurt, we hurt. That was blind faith at its finest, passing her on and trusting your journey.
Make sure that you don't take on all that guilt or have a sense of guilt or feeling like, “This is my fault, or this is on me.” Instead, “This is happening so that I can grow through this too.” There's a lot of beauty in that moment that allows you to see that there's something to this that you can experience.
It's those moments when you can't control your circumstances, which is probably 90% of the life of things that happen to us that are out of our control. You have to shift your perspective and control how you respond to your circumstances. That's our responsibility, which I love. I heard someone once say that that's our ability to respond to life. If you can learn how to handle those low moments, that rollercoaster, or those down times, that's the power. It's not fighting it. It's embracing it. There is a lot to be learned in those moments.
90% of what happens to us in life is out of our control.
Before we go too much further forward, I want to go back a little further. Tell me more about your upbringing. Was there an entrepreneurial spirit in your family or where you grew up?
I grew up outside of Hartford, a town called Avon, Connecticut. My dad was a risk-taker. I grew up watching him start businesses. Some worked, some didn't. I saw him take risks. He had a vision of seeing what most people couldn't see. This is one story that sticks with me. There was this piece of property in Niantic, Connecticut. It was near the water, but it was a dump. It sat on this hill for years. Nobody wanted to buy it. My dad would visit it and he'd come back. He was like, “There's something here.” He climbed once through the emergency ramp and he sat at the top. He was watching this beautiful sunset. He's like, “No one can see what I can see up here. We're just seeing a dump. We're not seeing beyond.”
He took a chance and bought that piece of property when he barely had the money to do it and flipped it. Now it is The Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic, Connecticut. It was in the top ten B&Bs in all of Connecticut. I worked at it along with my brother and sister as young kids. We saw it. That's why I'm very passionate about following my heart, taking risks, going in, and taking the road less traveled. At the end of the day, you could tell your kids all day long, but they're watching way more than they're listening. I don't want them to fear failure or taking chances in life. That's what my husband and I are trying to do. We walk the walk.
There's something about what you shared. It’s this sense that we know it's not easy to get out there in the unknown or into the risky space of following the vision, but as you take those steps, you start to get stronger in that process. You start to see that things are becoming more intuitive to you, “I know what I need to do. I know how to do these things.” Slowly but surely, you become the person you're meant to be.
It takes courage, being willing to go for that, and not fearing so much the pushback. That pushback is here to make you stronger. It's the same effect of a Peloton. You turn that red knob and it gets harder and there's more resistance. That's how you get stronger. It's learning to not let that paralyze us but push through it. That is how we build that resiliency, confidence, and courage to keep going. There are going to be a lot of things that try to knock you down.
You get stronger by learning to not let that paralyze us but pushing through it is how we build that resiliency and confidence and courage to keep going because man, there's going to be a lot of things that will knock you down.
Let's talk about those early days when you are deciding that you are going to step out on your own. You're running the marathon and you are deciding to follow a different path. Tell me what happens next. What were the challenges?
There are so many challenges. The book idea, when I went through that very difficult time, where I found peace was centering myself in the morning. I would get up at 5:00 and I still do. That's where I would practice gratitude. I would read something positive, do a little prayer, and write down an intention to make someone else's day better. I did these things and through doing them consistently, I started to notice a shift. I was rewiring my brain to see the good when I was feeling the dark. I started to become fascinated with the brain, not only because my daughter was experiencing this lifesaving surgery affecting the brain, but how the brain works is fascinating. When you understand how it works, you can use it in your power.
For example, the brain we have now is the same million-year-old brain the cavemen had. It’s prehistoric. The brain was created to keep you safe and comfortable because they had to go out and kill their meal. That was a great tool for the cavemen. You and I both know, and the audience knows that you just hit a button right now and there's food that shows up at your door. We don't necessarily need the same mechanism as the cavemen did. Obviously, it's still needed if it keeps you safe, comfortable, and on alert, God forbid, if you need it. However, that paralyzes a lot of people.
It's understanding that there's so much more beyond that. Your brain is attracted to the negative. It's always looking for what's wrong because It's trying to keep you safe and comfortable. When you shift it and rewire it through gratitude, positive self-talk, and reading great personal growth audibles and podcasts, you start to rewire your brain to see the good. There's always something wrong, but there's always something right and it's your choice. As I started to see what's right, that's where I dug into this journey of like, "Kids need to know this. What an advantage in life to learn this at a young age.”
What you focus on becomes more of a reality for you as opposed to dwelling on the negatives. Even in the workplace, when I think about the environments that we surround ourselves with if you're stuck around a lot of people who are always saying, "This stinks, this is not working out, or this person is this,” if you're around all of that, it eventually starts seeping into you.
For most people, they don't even realize it. It’s a lot of awareness. It's all self-awareness.
Changing that environment or at least actively understanding what's going on allows us to think differently about what we want to accept. It's like eating food. If we are conscious about what we're bringing into our bodies, then we can change the way our diet is serving us.
It’s all lines.
The idea of working with kids specifically is an interesting thing. Most people would think, “Let's go work with adults and work from the angle of these people who are mostly going to be paying the money.” You decided to work with children and it came from education because that was your background. Tell me more about why children.
A lot of adults spend a good amount of their lives unlearning. They say that if your kid wants to learn a language, you teach them at a young age. The reason is that kids are so open. They are susceptible. Their brain is that neuroplasticity. It's forming however you want it to think. Instead of teaching kids what to think, there's so much power in teaching kids how to think. Those are the kids who grow up and are the change-makers of the world who know how to be resilient and gritty, have a growth mindset, and handle hard times. They don't crumble.
I'll take the kid who has the best attitude, effort, and work ethic any day over the kid with the most talent. I got all my money on that one. To teach kids at a young age, you're helping shape their minds. You're helping form these positive thoughts and teaching them how to think and handle adversity because we all know adversity is going to hit you. No one is immune to it so you might as well be prepared. Teach them at a young age just when they build their habits. That gives them an edge in life.
That's where this younger market idea came from. My a-ha moment was when my second daughter during COVID came down at 5:00 in the morning. I’ll usually say, “Don't interrupt my time.” The calm before the storm. She came down, sat next to me, and whispered, “Can you teach us how to have these magical mornings?” That was that light bulb moment that I was like, “How have I not taught my kids this? If this is a game-changer in my life, how on earth have I not taught them this?” Enter COVID and two years later, this was our family project.
That's amazing. You just went where I was going to go. I was going to say, “What about COVID?” The obvious thing is that this is a badly needed situation, where kids went through some developmental challenges, let's be honest. How did COVID truly impact you as an entrepreneur, as a mother, or as a parent in general? It sounds like it was a catalyst. Tell me more about the COVID experience. Let's go a little deeper.
COVID was hard for everybody. Everyone has a story but I'm going to go back to what I said before. When you can't control your circumstances, you have to change the way you look at your circumstances of how you're going to handle them. There were things we couldn't do, but there were also things we could do. It was a choice. Everyone has a different experience from COVID based on the choices they made. Sometimes the choices we make are also the amount of awareness we have.
For us, it was very stressful. My husband was a new paramedic. We just had a newborn. I have four kids under seven years old. I'm homeschooling with a baby. My husband is a new paramedic. He was literally walking into COVID every day. Stress levels were high but they say, “When the times are dark, look for the people who bring the light.” We wanted to be that. I was an athlete my whole life. I played sports through college. As a former teacher, my mindset is what got me through it. I'm always like, “How are we not teaching kids more about growth mindset? Why are we not teaching them this? It's not a big thing that's being taught. It is now because of COVID, but it wasn't.”
When COVID hit and I was homeschooling and my daughter had that idea, I was like, “This is what we're doing for however long this lasts.” To be honest, I thought it was going to be a couple of months. I was like, “This is what we're going to focus on, and how you build resiliency and handle hard times because this is not going to be the last hard moment we’ll have.”
I love this because the foundation that allows for the other types of learning will make the other learning easy. It's the slowest fastest idea. We slow down and use tools like gratitude, mindfulness, and ways of connecting with who we are as humans. It allows us to then be able to do the things that we need to in order to build technical skills if you will. Learning becomes easier once we build that foundation. That's true for kids and adults.
It's the roots. That's where the book came from. It's giving your kids strong roots to stay and stand grounded when life throws one of many curve balls.
You wrote the book. Tell me what happened after the book was written. Did you start to walk out there and start yelling from the rooftops? What was the impact when this took off?
First of all, no one writes a book unless they need it first. That is the truth. Our family needed this, but so did many. I don't think there's a family that doesn't need five minutes to pour into your kid every day to teach about the mind and all that goodness. It's one thing to write the book and that's a battle in itself, but then the book shows up at your door and you're like, “Now what? How do I tell the whole world about this?” It's so overwhelming and daunting. It is that concept of what's meant to be will find its way. You have to keep sharing it with passion. That's what I did.
I didn't wait for the opportunity. It's grind time, go find your opportunity, speak to whoever, and get it out there. Know with time, if it's meant to be, it will move. We did have a good break with the Today Show. The Today Show picked it up. They wanted to do a segment in November 2022 about how to foster gratitude within your kids and your family. That was an amazing experience. You never have that one moment and you're set. That was great and then a week goes by and you're like, “Why are sales dropping?” This is life. It's up and it's down. You have to keep going. That resiliency keeps building for your next opportunity. That's the way it will always be. Just get moving.
I love what you're saying. First of all, you have to believe in your idea. If you don't, then it's never going to leave the station. Getting on the Today Show is amazing, but you wouldn't even feel comfortable getting on the Today Show if this was not an idea that you wanted to put your heart and soul into. That's what people often miss. They're like, “Why isn't anyone picking up my idea and running with it?” You're not showing up in full authenticity of what it is that you're putting out there.
I wrote an article about this. It's about this idea that you can't just have a win and be like, “Look, I made it and I'm all set.” It's just the beginning of something you have to continue to sustain. Keep on doing the work. Keep on championing and thinking about what can I do to get behind this thing and continue to reinforce it.
It takes so much time. Sometimes I'll be working so hard. I feel like I'm swimming upstream at times. I have four kids and they play a ton of sports. My husband has gone a lot. It's life. Life is busy right now. Life is hard. It’s one of those things where you have to keep doing the work and keep showing up even when you're not getting your breaks. It's full throttle. To get an airplane off the ground and it's full throttle. You have to keep going and know that with time and consistent work, you'll have your moments. It never ends. You have to find the joy in the journey because there is no finish line. It's learning to enjoy it as you go through it.
That's beautifully said. Also finding ways to make it something you believe in and into a movement that other people can latch onto and help spread like we do here. We're trying to champion people who have an amazing story to share. We want to amplify and move that into the world so other people want to get behind it.
A big tip with that too, just to follow up on that, it makes sense to do something. If you're going to go all in on something the way I have and the way you have, my biggest advice would be to make sure it aligns with your values and your everyday life. If I'm going to put eight hours a day into this project, it better be affecting my family and the ones that I love. That's exactly what it does. Everything I'm doing pours into them. I never feel like I'm working. It's going back to my main mission, which is trying to raise good humans. You have to make sure it aligns and it is worth all your time and effort or else it's never going to last.
From time to time, pausing and checking in with yourself, “Is what I created still aligned with what I wanted to create? Do I need to pivot, change shift, or anything at all?” Sometimes there are little tweaks that we need to make along the way. As you come to this place where you are right now, I know that you're far from done, but what have you learned about yourself in this journey that you want to share?
This is a humbling experience. To write a book and get it to the world humbles you that we are small in this big world. It's a reminder you can't do things alone. Being on this show, I'm grateful to you for creating this show and bringing me on to help spread the seed to help grow goodness. You can't do anything alone and you need the right people to help you go further than you would by yourself. That has probably been the biggest eye-opening lesson. You have to humble yourself and almost surrender that you can't do it all alone.
It's hard to come to that realization. A lot of us struggle with that. What other lessons have you learned? Would you ever have imagined that you'd be doing this work?
No. Steve Jobs gave that amazing talk about hindsight. When we look back at our lives and we connect all the dots, it all always aligns and comes together. He talks about not wasting energy when you're in that moment freaking out, “This isn't making sense.” It's like the bottom of a quilt. There are threads everywhere but when you take that aerial vision, it's beautiful. That is our life. As you said, sometimes you have to pause and step back and look back. If I look back at the last ten years of my life, it was getting me ready to write this book without me knowing I would ever write a book.
It's taking those opportunities, journeys, and risks, and following your gut, “Is this the next right move?” It's all leading you to where you want to go, even if you have no clue what that looks like. I didn't go to school to write a book. This was just part of the journey that came into my life. A big thing is listening to your gut and what makes you set your soul on fire. As you said, that's going to look different from five years ago than it is now. It's constantly reevaluating your life.
I'm going to ask the question about the future now. Where's the next edge you're going to? Where does the simple seed start to move and evolve? Where does it go to?
We're looking at it as more of a brand than a book of growing goodness in your family and schools. We have the original version which is here. We have the school edition. This one is in schools. We're in over 100 schools where kids are starting their day off and getting themselves centered, which has been a very fun project. I'm speaking to four schools between Thursday and Friday in Connecticut. That has been awesome.
For the next project, my goal is to have about six books, like the Chicken Soup series. It will be the Sports Mindset just for athletes. My sister and I are co-writing that. She's a mindset specialist. I was a college athlete and combined the two of us in our journey of raising seven daughters between the two of us, helping them understand how powerful the mind is in the sports world.
Right now, the stat is that 70% of kids are quitting sports by age thirteen. It's because of their mind. They think it should be easier than it is, they can't handle the hard times, they're just burnt out, or their parents are living a dream through their kids and it never was their dream. There are so many factors, but the intention of Sports Mindset Journal is to give kids an edge by learning that failure is life's greatest teacher. The power of mistakes, body posture, language, and all the things an athlete needs to give them an edge in the sports world.
Failure is life's greatest teacher.
I'm completely blown away by that because being part of a sports team as a child is one of the most amazing experiences, but it can also be one of the most traumatic experiences at the same time. If you have the tools to codify the learnings in a way that’s mindful, then this can be a great way to bring that along. The work you're doing is going to be a great service.
Thank you. It's going to be a lot of work, but I have a feeling that's probably going to be one of our biggest ones.
I'm very impressed. I'm glad I asked the question. When are you going to make this for adults?
That’s on the list. Unfortunately, that one is later because I'm so focused on these younger brains. You would be shocked at how many adults do this journal every day, or senior citizens, which is even cuter to me and even better. It's keeping their brain sharp and practicing gratitude. It's that circle of life. There will be an adult version that I can see like encouraging parents to practice gratitude and the positive stuff, and to walk the walk like we talked about before.
If you want your kids to go and take risks, you better be going out there taking risks in a way that's funny and keeping parenthood light, yet being a little intentional. That is the whole point of this journal. It’s intentional parenting. Going into your parenting is taking five minutes to teach these lessons as opposed to teaching in hindsight, which is what a lot of us do. We're constantly chasing.
It's funny, as we become adults, we have to be more intentional about our time and what we're doing. There's a sense of using this as a way to focus on what it is that we want out of life, what we want out of our days, and ensuring that we're being more in line with who we want to be. There are so many things that we could explore, but I want to get to this last question which I ask every guest. What are 1 or 2 books that have an impact on you and why?
So many books. If you came over and saw my library. The first one that comes to my mind immediately would be The Alchemist. It is the most powerful old-school book about finding yourself and your life's purpose. The way the story is told is done in a cool way. I also love the story behind the author of the book who didn't sell a copy for 1 or 2 years. He was like, “I know this is a good book. I know this can get into the world.” He kept going and finally, what's meant to be will find its way, it landed in the right publisher. I think it was in Brazil that the book took off and started this whole journey of The Alchemist, which now is one of the top five most-sold books of all time. I love the book and I love the journey.
Also, I'm a huge fan of Oprah. I'm so inspired by her when she speaks. I just connect with her. Whenever she speaks, she’s speaking to my soul. I feel like she's speaking to me. We have those people. She wrote a book called What I Know for Sure. It was a very cool concept about we don't know much for sure in this life. We think we know, but here's what I know for sure. I love the way it was outlined and made so much sense to the things that I had never thought about. It made me think a little differently.
That's all you can ask for. I love that you bring up Oprah. She does have this hard-won life wisdom, although she probably wouldn't see it that way. It comes across with such gravitas. She's brilliant. The book that she wrote with Arthur Brooks is called Build the Life You Want. It’s about happiness and it's fantastic. It combines a sense of science and experience into a great exploration of happiness. That's a cool book.
She was at Harvard speaking.
I'm so thrilled and honored to have you on. This is great. I'm looking forward to seeing you around town.
Finally, it'll happen now that we're focused on it.
I am so grateful for the work you're doing out there. I'm looking forward to more seeds being planted. Before I let you go, I need to make sure that people know where to find you. What's the best place?
Fantastic. Thank you again. I appreciate this conversation. It was great to explore your path to getting here and all the great work you're doing.
Thank you so much for the opportunity.
I want to thank our audience for coming on the journey. I know you're leaving feeling inspired and ready to go out and start to deepen your experience with gratitude and mindfulness. Thank you again for such a great experience.
Thank you for having me.
- A Simple Seed: a Journal of Growth, Gratitude, and Giggles
- The Alchemist
- What I Know for Sure
- Build the Life You Want
- @KatieWood_SimpleSeed - Instagram
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! https://www.inspiredpurposecoach.com/virtualcampfire