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I am a Hudson Valley Parent: Randi Zinn

Going beyond being a mom to start a movement

Randi Zinn - mother of six-year-old Micah and two-year-old Zarah, author, and founder of Beyond Mom - talks as she walks. She's fitting in her gym time early, the better to keep up with a busy schedule.

"I am a person who has always been interested in health and wellness and women's issues," she says, the sounds of New York City traffic in the background. "When I had my son I was not exactly certain where all my previous productivity would go. I could see an impending change in identity, a shift into a different version of myself, that would accompany becoming a mom. But I also knew it would be easy to start missing something."

Zinn, who maintains a full life in Kingston where she grew up, notes how she started telling stories and blogging about the shifts she was undergoing. That led to a website. Before long, she had other moms following her and more stories came in from women like her who were undergoing pivots in their lives as motherhood shifted their day-to-day basics.

A means for women, a movement for mothers
Beyond Mom came into being as a means for women to explore becoming mothers and continue to push their careers, and experience the fullness of their lives as modern, hard-working and thoughtfully full-living women.

READ MORE: Expert opinions from moms in business

"It's as if we recognized a braveness where there might have been a dullness," Zinn says of something that's become something akin to a movement, complete with day-long and weekend retreats, health and wellness tips, outreach, a new book, and "a commitment to identify and nurture that inner voice" sometimes left unrecognized in many mothers.

"It can be hard learning how to take care of oneself when you're taking care of everybody else in an overscheduled world," Zinn says. "When we get together it's always only moms which adds that other layer of getting organized that's needed to have space for oneself, too.

A wife, mother and busy woman
I ask Randi, when she pauses for traffic, how all the business of her life has affected, and been affected by, her own role as a mother and wife. She answers with talk about the strengths of her marriage, her husband's strong contribution as a fully active parenting partner, noting that they're both in "the throes of young children."  

"I, like many busy women, have sometimes suffered from mom guilt," she admits.

Taking notes from other parents
Zinn recalls her own childhood, and the ways in which she - like many - didn't realize all she'd picked up from her parents until she herself had kids.

She credits her father, an entrepreneur with political leanings who "had his share of ups and downs," teaching her what it means to have a vision to shape one's life around. Her mom taught her the importance of wellness and self-healing, and always being ahead of the game.

Yet through her growing work and influence with all that is Beyond Mom, Zinn is also quick to note her admiration for single mothers and fathers, for all that's involved in parenting while leading full lives, no matter the circumstances.

Finding an anchor upstate
So how has the Hudson Valley continued to play a role in she and Micah and Zarah's lives, we ask as she nears her destination downstate?

"It's home. Even though I'm a city girl in many ways now, I keep a garden at my Ulster County home. Most of my absolute dearest friends are there. It's where we all go to synagogue. Home anchors me," she answers, the background sounds quieting behind her. "You can't replace the history you come from, that I stay connected to. And the kids absolutely love it, always asking 'when are we going upstate?' and loving our home there, the nature, their friends."

Randi Zinn, Beyond Mom creator and doyenne, pauses... a rarity for her, in some ways. But in others, key to all she does.

"It's very important to me that they have that balance," she adds. "Upstate and the city. It's the same for me."

Just like being a fully-living woman. And mom.

Paul Smart is a father who writes for a variety of publications in the Hudson Valley. He lives in Catskill.

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