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About Me

This page is primarily devoted to describing my educational and personal experience.

But it begins with a general description of my site-related mission and services.  For a more detailed description of my services, I invite you to visit My Services page.

My Mission and Services

My mission with this site and my related services, is to help families.

I am particularly concerned about the unhappiness and disconnection I sense between so many parents and children in the United States.  I hope to help growing numbers of families experience as much fulfillment, connection, and contentment as possible.

To help families who want to move in this direction, I offer information. More specifically, I offer information about approaches that I believe can nourish and connect family members, according to my research and experience.

These approaches include attachment parenting (e.g., breastfeeding, cosleeping, etc.), Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and unschooling (i.e., home-based, interest-led, child-directed education).

I put special effort into increasing awareness and acceptance of full-termbreastfeeding (AKA, extended breastfeeding) and cosleeping in particular.  That’s because I believe these two practices can lay a foundation from which everything else comes naturally.

Along the way, I also share the fulfillment I have found, as a woman and a mother, with all of these strategies for achieving family connection and well-being.  And I encourage other mothers, even career-minded mothers like me, to seriously consider the possibility that they might experience the same fulfillment, both for the sake of their own well-being and for that of their children.

Yet, I only encourage this to the extent mothers can do it and still honor their other needs and interests.  I recognize that each mother has a unique set of issues and resources, such that fully connected mothering may not be realistic for all.

This fact brings me to my final goal, which is to advocate legal and policy change that might enable more parents to choose to physical presence, full-term breastfeeding, cosleeping, attachment parenting, unschooling, and NVC, to the extent they wish to.

This focus on broader societal change has expanded dramatically in recent years, as I’ve become increasingly concerned about how much I believe our economic system limits parents’ abilities to make nourishing choices for themselves and their families.

Indeed, in late 2012, I started a separate, virtual, part-time, California/Sacramento-based law practice (www.tiffanyclarklaw.com), which in part aims to help transition us into an economic paradigm that supports families more.

My Education and Experience

Drawing on my education, experience, and research, my offerings through this website are from the heart.

But how does my education and experience help me in making these offerings?  That’s what I’ll cover next.

I’ll give you a shorter version, then a longer version, for those who want more details.

First, the Shorter Version

My Personal Experience

My personal experience as a parent is at the heart of what motivates me in this work.  My journey from non-parent, to parent of two, has been a life-altering venture.  I feel more fulfilled, alive, and content than I ever have before, and I attribute most of this to my family life.

“Attachment parenting” laid the foundation for my family’s contentment. But Nonviolent Communication, unschooling, staying at home, working from home, changes in my family’s relationship to money – all of these elements have played a part in building the content family life I enjoy today.

My Professional and Educational Experience

For the short version of my professional and educational experience, I invite you to read this bulleted list:

  • A.A. from Santa Rosa Junior College, with Dean’s Highest Honors, 1992
  • B.A. in Philosophy, UC Davis, with Highest Honors (top 2% graduating class), 1994
  • Law degree, Stanford Law School, 1997 (including interest-based negotiating class)
  • Passed California State Bar Examination and admitted to practice law in the State of California, 1997
  • Deputy Attorney General, CA State Attorney General’s Office, Tobacco Litigation Section, 1998-1999 (ended when case settled and I was six months pregnant with my first child)
  • Introduction to Nonviolent Communication Workshop Series, taught by Itara O’Connel, graduate of the BayNVC 1 year leadership program, 2006
  • Three Nonviolent Communication-Based Mediation workshops, taught by Ike Lasater, lawyer-mediator with Nonviolent Communication background, and/or John Kenyon, with Nonviolent Communication and psychology background, May/September/October, 2007
  • Regular Nonviolent Communication-based mediation practice telecircles, with graduates of Ike and John’s mediation workshops, January 2008 through mid 2009
  • Nonviolent Communication and conflicts coaching for my brother in his transition from married to separated, approximately July 2007-July 2008
  • Nonviolent Communication Parent Peer Leadership Program, led by Nonviolent Communication certified trainer Ingrid Bauer, August 2008-April 2009.
  • Led two in-person workshop series on Nonviolent Communication in parenting, once per week for eight weeks, March-May, 2009 and September-November 2009.
  • Spoke on Nonviolent Communication and parenting at the Homeschool Association of California’s annual homeschooling conference in Sacramento, CA, August 2011.
  • Offered approximately 25+ workshops on Nonviolent Communication and General Assembly facilitation to Occupy Sacramento participants, October 2011-February 2012.

The Longer Version

My Personal Experience

My journey toward my current contented family life began with the birth of my first child.

Keegan was not easy for us as an infant.  He had “colic.”  In his case this meant he cried from the afternoon through most of the night.

I went from focused career woman to colic, overnight.  I had never planned to stay at home.  But I had never thought babyhood could be so hard!

So, what kept me going?  

First, “attachment parenting.”

I cannot imagine having made it without child-led breastfeeding and a child-led family bed.  Nor could I have imagined how precious it would end up being, for me, for Keegan, and ultimately for our next child Elliot too.

Second, staying at and working from home.

Although it was hard at first, I eventually found everything I could ever want at home.

Now, years later, I have a stay and work from home life that meets my needs for balance, family connection, and contribution to my children, more beautifully than I could have ever imagined.  And, starting in 2010, we managed to arrange for my husband to work from home as well, with his own business.  Our whole family has realized how much a home-based life has to offer.

Third, child-directed, interest-led learning at home, or “unschooling.”

My son Keegan ended up receiving a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome when he was four years old.  Later the diagnosis was changed to anxiety disorder and possibly sensory integration disorder.  We had challenges with everything from his sleeping to his eating, from his social behavior to his learning style.

We soon concluded that interest-led learning was not a luxury for him, but a necessity.

And thank goodness for that!  I am so grateful now that I had such a strong incentive to try unschooling.  As a bruised veteran of parent-directed early learning programs for Keegan, it was such a welcome change.  And now it’s flourished into a total family lifestyle that we adore.

Fourth, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Marshall Rosenberg’s communication method.

NVC provided a kind of framework for everything else we had been doing, from attachment parenting, to child-directed learning, from staying at home, to working from home.

Not that you have to do any of those things in order to use NVC.  But NVC is about more than communication.  It’s about truly striving to acknowledge and meet one another’s deepest needs.  And that’s really what we were trying to do with attachment parenting, and all the rest.

Next, a complete money makeover.

This came after many years of struggling with money as a stay-at-home mom.  But come it did – and what a difference it made!

After an uninsured toxic mold problem, and years of staying at home, money was very, very tight and I wanted to find a way to contribute to my family financially.

Given that, around mid 2008 I planned to begin offering mediation services, renting a room at the law library as needed.  I envisioned taking “whatever walked in the door.”  Not the most fulfilling idea to me.  I would have much rather focused on helping families exclusively.  But I didn’t see any clear alternative at the time.

Then came our money transformation.

Someone recommended a book to help us with our money situation:Your Money or Your Life, by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin.

And boy did it!  The bottom line was that we ended up cutting 30% from our already tight budget and, ironically, becoming happier than ever.

Our money metamorphosis gave me the flexibility I needed to choose a narrower field that I was more interested in – helping families with NVC and parenting.

At first this took the form of just narrowing my mediation offerings to families, rather than “whatever walked in the door.”  But eventually I shifted away from offering mediation at all, to just writing and speaking about family-related topics.  This lasted up until Occupy Sacramento began, in late 2011.

Starting with Occupy Sacramento and my husband’s increasing business success, I was able to make my most recent shift: continuing this site and site-related family-focused work, while also working for a more nurturing and sustainable economic system, for the benefit of my family, other families, and the world at large.  To read more of the details of this latest move, click here and you’ll jump down to mid-way through my professional and educational experience below.

And that just about sums up the longer version of my personalexperience.  And now for the longer version of my professional and educational experience.

My Professional and Educational Experience

That story starts with my childhood, really.  From a young age, I was interested in communication methods.  I think it was in my early teens that I read the book When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, amongst many other self-help books.

And my focus on communication continued up through my time at Stanford Law School (after graduating in the top 2% of my class from UC Davis, with a degree in Philosophy).

During law school, my future-husband and I read a communication book for couples together, A Couple’s Guide to Communication, by John Gottman.  We prefer the communication method that we use now, NVC, but that Gottman’s method was a big help to us in our early years.

And then there was law school itself.  One of the most relevant courses I took was on negotiation techniques.  My professor was a fan of “interest based” negotiation.  I combined that method and the one my husband and I had researched, to create my own hybrid method that I used frequently in daily life.

But law school also taught me a lot about communication methods Ididn’t like.  I became very discouraged about our adversarial legal system.  I longed for something that more met my needs for simplicity and humanity for participants.

After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1997, and taking the California Bar Examination to become a lawyer licensed in California, I began work on California’s lawsuit against tobacco companies.  One of about forty lawyers at work on this mammoth case, I became even more wistful for alternative dispute resolution options.

After about a year and a half, the tobacco case settled, and my temporary position ended with it.  Coincidentally, I was six months pregnant at the time.

Soon after, I had my first son, and my personal journey into family life began.

Fast forward about five years.  Through a state-wide homeschooling group, I heard about an intriguing communication method called Nonviolent Communication (NVC), created by Marshall Rosenberg.  I knew I wanted to learn more.

But distractions intervened, and it would be another couple of years or so before I would take my first NVC introduction class.  And that only happened after a challenging interchange with my mother-in-law left me desperate for help in the summer of 2006.

My mother-in-law and I found a local NVC practitioner, Itara O’Connel.  We attended an amazing couple of mediation sessions with her, resolving our dispute in a way and at a speed that stunned me!

It was official, I wanted more of this NVC stuff – a lot more!  That’s when my husband and I signed-up for Itara’s Introduction to NVC Workshop Series.

With her guidance, NVC helped us, and our home life with our kidsimmeasurably.

In May of 2007, I heard about NVC-based mediation.  I was veryintrigued.  I took my first weekend-long NVC-based mediation training workshop, with NVC lawyer-mediator Ike Lasater.

It left me really excited about the idea of offering NVC-based mediation part-time, by phone, at home, and in-person!

In September and October, I took two more weekend long NVC-based mediation workshops, both co-taught by Ike, and John Kenyon, another mediator who uses NVC.

I followed this up with mediation practice sessions by telephone, with a group of former students of Ike and John’s.  I started doing this in January of 2008, and continued regularly through about mid-2009.

During this time I also spent about five to ten hours a week for a year offering NVC training and conflicts coaching to my brother.  I helped him learn NVC and travel the road from married to separated.  This process was not only personally rewarding for me, but a tremendous education as well.

And, starting around March of 2007 and continuing still, I attended a bi-monthly NVC empathy group in Sacramento, led by our local NVC leader, Itara O’Connel.  This group continues to this day, and I still attend.  It’s leaderless now, however, since around 2011 I believe, when Itara left Sacramento.

Soon after joining the empathy group, in the summer of 2008, I applied, and was accepted, into BayNVC’s Parent Peer Leadership Program (PPLP).  It started with a week-long NVC family camp, continuing on for nine months, ending in mid-April of 2009.

Toward the tail end of this program, I gave an introduction to NVC talk at a local breastfeeding moms group.

Then I began teaching an eight week, NVC-based parenting workshop series.  I finished that up in May of 2009, and then gave another one September through November of the same year

Next, I began to focus on developing this website more fully, continue to offer mediation and coaching services, and give more NVC talks and workshops.  Life got in the way a bit during this period, with a big move, unique tax challenges, and Patrick starting his new business.  So I didn’t do as much of this work as I thought I would.

And, eventually I officially shifted my focus.  Once it was clear that Patrick’s business was up and running, the strategy of my contributing financially seemed less relevant than ever.

So we felt comfortable with me officially shifting from offering one-on-one and small group assistance, to exclusive focus on speaking to a wider audience, via authorship, speaking, and advocacy work.

Most recently, another shift has occurred.  In addition to my site and site-related work, I am now working for a more nurturing and sustainableeconomic system, for the benefit of my family, other families, and the world at large.

I had always known, in my heart of hearts, that most families weren’t doing attachment parenting, unschooling, and the like for economicreasons.  Either their jobs and money woes were just too distracting and stressful, or companies, trying to survive in this system by convincing us to buy things we don’t need had, had successfully convinced them to formula feed and crib sleep their babies.

Prior to the Occupy Movement, my husband had been trying to get me to watch the Zeitgeist film series, particularly Zeitgeist: Addendum and Zeitgeist: Moving Forward.  But I knew those films would leave me even more depressed about the economy than I already was – and to what end?  I had no confidence that there would be any uprising of people ready to bring about change.  So why get depressed for nothing?

But with the Occupy Movement came faith that perhaps there was a point in “waking up.”  I felt so inspired and hopeful, seeing all the people out, awake, and ready to act.

With all this newfound motivation, and Patrick’s help, I not only watched the films, but I began attending Occupy Sacramento meetings almost daily (evenings and weekends mostly, when Patrick was home).

I taught workshops about Nonviolent Communication, attended General Assemblies, and marched.  Before I knew it, I was leading General Assemblies, on a regular basis, as well as leading workshops about how to facilitate them.  My time with Occupy Sacramento lasted from early October of 2011 to some time in February of 2012.

I left Occupy more inspired and ready to help bring about real change than ever.

The reason I left was because I wanted to spend more time getting clear on just what kind of change-strategies would help our world the most.  Over time I had found that more and more of my energies were going into challenging administrative issues and fretting over an increasing divide between the kinds of visions of change I was attracted to and the kind other Occupiers were.

Funny enough, it took the next nine months to gestate, clarify, fine tune, and give birth to my next plan, in my quest for world change. ;*)  Along the way, I did a lot of reading, documentary watching, Facebooking, writing, talking, and volunteering for the local chapter of the Zeitgeist Movement.

Eventually, I gave birth to my part-time, virtual, home-based law practice and blog, aimed at helping us transition from our current economic system to something closer to a Resource Based Economy (RBE). You can read more about all of these terms and what exactly I am doing, at my blog post “Why a ‘Sharing Law’ Practice?”  My opening day was November 15, 2012.

With the increasing financial success of Patrick’s business, he and I have come to think of ourselves as a real team.  Our left arm (me) is doing work that helps our family and others survive and thrive in the long-term, by promoting a shift to more nurturing and sustainable economic and child-supporting systems. And our right arm (Patrick) is doing work that contributes to our family’s immediate survival in the meantime, in our current economic system.

So what about this site, and speaking and writing about family issues?

I absolutely plan to keep this site going, although, while I work to get my part-time world-change law practice to a maintenance-mode stage, there will be some slowing down in the pace of my site-related workshops, speaking, web page and ezine activities.

But I believe my site-related offerings meet so many needs for inspiration and support for families that I’d never want to let them go! Besides I have many cosleeping and unschooling pages in draft form, just waiting to be edited and uploaded.  In other words, I still have much more to contribute!  And doing so is still such a deeply personal and precious mission to me.

In Conclusion

I couldn’t be happier about all of the above – NVC, attachment parenting, unschooling, and helping the world at large in ways I find both stimulating and fulfilling.

Well, I could be happier, if every family had the opportunity to choose deep family connection and fulfilling work already.  But I am hopeful that my work will help bring that about.

My two sons are now age thirteen (Keegan) and nine (Elliot).  And we’re still happily homeschooling, unschooling-style. We still have two Cal King beds squished together, and love cuddling our way to sleep.

And I still marvel in astonishment at what the strategies of attachment parenting, unschooling, and NVC have brought into my life, and continue to bring into my life.  Meanwhile, we’re gradually transitioning into life with somewhat older children, which has left me more and more ease and space for working.

So, that’s it.

If you’d like to keep up with my site, as it grows – and hopefully get inspired in process – I invite you to visit and subscribe to my blog, or use the RSS feed subscription buttons at the bottom of this page.

Whatever you decide though, and wherever life takes you next, I wish you and yours, “Happy Family-ing!”

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