Mother of two and spouse of a United States Army officer, Joanne Holbrook is a woman on a mission. That mission includes helping parents successfully raise children who are kind and empathetic. And this isn’t easy to do when you are a globe-trotting author, a dance instructor, choreographer, yoga teacher and mother of two. Yes, that’s right. Joanne has raised her family in South Africa, England, Germany, Australia, and the United States, now residing in Hawaii.
Born in South Africa under the controlling Apartheid Government, Joanne yearned for a better understanding of cultures outside her world. This experience, combined with the world travels that come with a military lifestyle, allowed Joanne to observe culture and parenting from multiple international perspectives and with a broader worldview. She’s channeled her incredible experiences, stories and advice into a must-read book entitled Your Passport to Parenting. This unique book explores parenting ideas from around the world, providing stories and lessons that demonstrate how values-based parenting can help create meaningful bonds between you and your child.
I’m so grateful that Joanne made time to share her journey and musings in an Author Q&A. Take a read and trust me, I know that you will admire and adore her as much as I do.
You are an author, but is it your day job? Technically no, being an author is not my day job. My degree is in theater, and I was a professional dancer for eight years in Europe and Africa. I now teach contemporary dance and choreography, teach yoga, and lastly, I work with special needs children. My husband is in the military, and we move around the world (literally) every two years. This lifestyle forces me to reinvent what I do and how I do it on every move. The benefit is that each place we move to just gives me more opportunities for learning.
Did you always want to be an author? Not at all! I call myself an “accidental author.” Over the years, with all the moves and meeting so many people along the way, a story started growing. By the time we were on our 9th move and 5th country, I had decided to start writing down some stories to not forget them. Once I started writing, it all flowed out of me, and I was holding a book.
What is your most recent book, and what inspired you to write it? My book is called Your Passport to Parenting. Each time we landed as a young family in a new country, it takes a while to understand the culture and immerse ourselves in our new surroundings. I started noticing that every culture parents a little differently, and each country has something wonderful to offer. I started speaking to people and tried to learn from them. I found that there is more than one way to be a good parent. It was then I knew I had to share this information.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? I hope the book makes parents see three things. 1) Designing their own way to parent that works for their family. You do not have to parent the same as your parents brought you up, nor do you have to parent like your community feels is the right way. 2) I want parents to use the book as a toolbox to open ideas and conversations. I want them to take 5, 10, 20 points from the book to make parenting more comfortable and, in the end, for them to have more fun with this short time in their lives. 3) I would like the book to be a resource to bring parents in alignment with how they would like to raise their children. Whether they live under one roof or separately, this book will spark ideas and communications to achieve this.
What are you most excited about with this book? I am most excited because there is no book on the market like this one. A place to hear good stories about parenting along with tools to go with those stories. It also excites me that this is not a “how-to” book. It is not a lecture nor a blueprint—just real people with successful parenting stories from all over the globe.
How did writing a book help your career take off? My new career as an accidental author is just beginning. Introducing a book in the world during a pandemic has had its limitations. I had to cancel my launch and signings. My book was published a week before the world shut down. Even though it had a rough start, and I imagined its debut to look very different, I feel it is here now at the perfect time. I get asked to give talks mostly (nowadays on Zoom). I am finding that people need positivity in their lives, and I love sharing it with them.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? I would, without a doubt, suggest finding a team to help or guide you. A great coach to support you. A good editor who challenges you. A designer who has a vision. It really does take a village and makes the process feel more interactive.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism? There is nothing more vulnerable than putting something out in the world and saying, “this is my best.” Just understanding that there will be criticism and that it is a part of the process helps. In the theatre, we say, “even bad press is still press.” I often remember that and move forward, knowing I was meant to write this book, but understanding it is not meant for everybody.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? Once I got started, I just moved forward. I gave myself a concrete, doable timeline and stuck with it. When I got halfway, my son, who was 10, said to me, “well, you’ve gone too far to quit now.” That became my daily mantra to keep moving forward.
What do you find most fulfilling in the career you have chosen? Without a doubt, seeing parents relax and see they are doing a great job! It fuels me each day. Showing them how to parent with the end in mind and helping them along the journey. The emails I get, all sharing how a few ideas they picked up in the book have changed their lives, is the biggest blessing I could ever ask for.
What book uplifts you? I never tire of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Each time I read this book it has a new meaning for me. When writing a book, you open yourself up to so many in a massive way. I have never felt so vulnerable as the day I sent that first book out. But the Four Agreements always keeps me stable in me and my teachings.
Learn more about Joanne and grab a copy of Passport to Parenting on her website.