"Once your consciousness has been raised, it cannot be lowered"

My parenting journey, our home educating family and some other stuff here and there....

Monday, 20 December 2010

Presents and Furoshiki

Lovely Jeanette posted this fab link which has inspired me to try something different with wrapping for the gifts we are giving this Christmas, I wanted to pass it on too...even though I'm not as organised as her and I haven't even finished making and buying all the gifts yet! I am certainly not organised enough to have wrapped any up, though I'm feeling encouraged to get on and do it now ;)

We are making lots of consumable things to give- edible treats and bath bombs, and the rest of the things we are giving tend to be practical or things that people have specifically requested. I can't bear the waste of buying for the sake of it, though it's easy to fall into that trap at this time of year....crazy.

I am looking forward to bringing Solstice into our celebrations more this year, as that really resonates with me more than the Christian festival ever has.

Hope you are all snuggled up warm and cosy wherever you are, and that you enjoy your celebrations!
Warmest winter wishes, love and light and blessings for 2011 to all
with much love Sarah xxx

Friday, 17 December 2010


I'm worrying about money. It's probably daft to do this but such a lot has gone out this month, and not on nice frivolities and the festive season: sadly it's more mundane costs that are draining our purse.

There's more than this though: I'm worrying that worrying might be trying to creep back into my habitual behaviour! I've been feeling quite relaxed and cool about things lately, and I've been doing well with embracing the spirit of abundance. "Love is money, money is love" and " there is enough". All that.... but actually, there isn't an abundance of hard cash here right now! Quite the opposite...we're really skint.

Also, our circumstances are really starting to change. I don't want to get into feeling anxious about life changes now, right at the beginning of the next bit of the journey. I need to go forward with the same sense of clarity and purpose I've been feeling, not turn to jelly the moment the going gets a little bit tougher. Seems it's that same old thing about life playing tricks on you, just when you think you're "getting" how it works everything changes again!...Here come some more lessons ;)

Anyway, I just opened the back door to let the dog out and there is a layer of snow over the garden. I love snow. I love the way it muffles and mutes the sounds of the city, how it illuminates the night with a clean light, tidies away the rubbish and hides the imperfections. It changes the way we see the world. And then it just goes, melts away into nothing and it's almost like it was never there. It's a good reminder of the importance of perspective and the impermanence of everything.

A kind friend remarked on a strategy for managing worry today. Ask yourself:  "Will this matter in five years? Will you remember?" The chances are the financial details will be very different in five years, hopefully better. I can't think of anything I would really remember feeling anxious about, or be likely to still be worrying about in 5 years. This is good.

When I start thinking like this again, it's a bit like a blanket of snow falling over my rubbish heap!.I still need to sort out what's there and take it to the tip, but this buys me some time and for now it is as beautiful as everything else. With a sprinkle of snow I can appreciate my anxiety for what it is: part of my journey, a lesson....even if it hasn't melted away it's a bit better like this.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Releasing fears

What people really want, if it doesn't sound too soppy, is to live their love. Every day! Eat things because they love them, share food because they love to be with people. Just live out of love, love for beauty, love for truth, love for children and animals. It is our nature to live expansively and generously, not cautiously and calculatingly. The opposite of love is fear, not hate.
-Jean Liedloff, Author of the Continuum Concept

This quote has been attached to the bottom of my emails until fairly recently, when I changed it on a whim. I love it all, but particularly the final sentence: "The opposite of love is fear, not hate".

Something that's cropping up a lot for me at the moment is how fear can really keep you in a place you aren't entirely happy. Half the time we don't recognise it for what it is or we dress it up in rationalisations and justifications. It's truly a wolf in sheep's clothing. No wonder so many people are miserable when they don't even know they're living in fear instead of "living their love".

I went to a fabulous yoga workshop with Danny Paradise last weekend (the post about this is still sitting in my drafts folder....). He talked about Ashtanga yoga being a practice that promotes deep emotional healing, and how the roots of depression are related to unfulfilled dreams and not following what your heart really wants to do. It was meaningful to me because I know I've ignored my heart's desire in the past. It's so easy to make excuses to yourself when you're terrified of being out of your comfort zone. At the time I probably wouldn't have seen that my reluctance to take a risk was fear, though it seems clear with hindsight. I obviously wasn't ready to do what I wanted to then, or I'd have done it!

About a month ago I was taken by surprise by my first really open/easy full backbend. My body suddenly seemed to yield to an asana it has so far disliked participating in! The backbend released some really powerful emotions. For a week or so after my heart was so open, and I felt overwhelmed by love of life, and the sensation of letting go.... I only realised it was fears that were dissolving after the inital wave of change happened. Funny how I didn't know fear was there for ages, and then I didn't know it was leaving.

I managed a very brief handstand against the wall today, dispelling a long held belief that "I can't do it" and "my legs are too heavy". It was exhilarating, I was so giddy! I realised the weight I felt in my legs was partly fear: the immediate physical fear of falling over, but also the fear of failing and not being good enough.

All the other lifting and lightening sensations I've been having recently in yoga are starting to make sense. I'm letting go of my fears in favour of living my love.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Begin with the end in mind

I thought this was the first of Steven Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" but when I just checked it, the first is "Be proactive". I guess I must be being proactive already to be thinking about beginning with the end in mind!

Anyway, what I was going to say is that I am astounded how much easier it is to achieve something when you decide in advance what it is that you are going to do. Some recent examples of  a few "new and improved " thought processes:

Eating- I want to exorcise my food demons, stop comfort eating and have an easy relationship with food
Before- eat until I decided I was full (never) at mealtimes, picking between meals, bingeing uncontrollably at any type of buffet meal or snack
Now-   decide how much I am eating in advance and then stop! Review. Eat a bit more if I want to (I hardly ever do)

Yoga practice- I want to establish a regular daily yoga practice
Before- sporadic! 1hr class Saturday, maybe practice 1 hr Monday, nothing til next week, then do a class, 20 mins Wednesday, maybe the same on Thursday, sometimes no practice from one week to the next....
Now- any yoga is better than none, mat comes out when the kids go to bed and I aim to do a 45 min asana practice and take 10 min rest, daily. But I can be flexible about this, some days a little will be better than a lot.

Keeping my cool- I don't like raising my voice in anger
Before- bottle it in, grind my teeth, explode periodically
Now- self empathy, observations, feelings, needs, requests. Still explode periodically. This one is hard!

I've found a subtle change in the specifics of my vision have a big impact on what I do. If I'm fuzzy it doesn't work. "I'll practice yoga for an hour" is much harder to stick to than " I'll do 5 Sun salutation A, 5 B, A series of 6 specific standing postures and 3 seated postures finishing at Marichyasana C, and then close" works much better. For me it's no good trying to run 'til I'm tired, or eating 'til I'm full because I'm too likely to stop at the "wrong" point! It's heartening that I can't be the only one this happens to, otherwise it wouldn't be on Steven Covey's list to do something different ;)

Sunday, 24 October 2010


I've not written anything here for ages. I think I know why (apart from time being in short supply).

When I started writing less about EC, I hoped my blog would be filled with tales of our wonderful home learning activities, a diary of what we get up to together with a feast of photos and recipes and lots of other inspiring stuff: art, craft, sewing, poetry, music. Perhaps the odd bit of self discovery. But my musings have been very inner-self oriented lately, and I've been feeling slightly anxious that I might be hogging the limelight. 

Of course, our family is doing all the cool things I hoped to document. We're learning together, having fun and eating lots of nice food and all that, struggling along sometimes but mostly all is as I would wish. I've been finding that I just don't feel that inspired to write about our day after I've spent all day "doing" it.

The things I do feel the need to write about right now are much more personal. Since I got back on my yoga mat this year I'm really feeling like a very different person. And actually, writing about the changes in my inner world seems far more useful and important to me. I feel a bit vulnerable and naked to think that people might actually read what I write. But that's also a motivational aspect of having a blog, I probably wouldn't just write in a notebook in the same way I do here. I think the benefit of reflecting on my journey and the soul work of artistic creation through writing is worth the risk of publicly exposing myself. 

I'm going to stop feeling apologetic about documenting my navel gazing. I have to remind myself that you can choose not to read if I'm irritating, boring, self-absorbed.... Can you tell I'm still struggling with the pain of some past experiences here?! I am also going stop comparing myself and my blog to all the other talented bloggers and beautiful blogs out there.

I'm just going to carry on doing my best to be a better person and write about it from time to time. 

And perhaps if I let go of my attachment to creating a beautiful diary, I might share some recipes and a few choice pics here and there too ;)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


A People Place 

If this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where do I go to cry?

If this is not a place where my spirits can take wing,
Where do I go to fly?

If this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Where do I go to seek?

If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard,
Where do I go to speak?

If this is not a place where you'll accept me as I am,
Where can I go to be?

If this is not a place where I can try to learn and grow,
Where can I just be me?

- William J Crockett

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


We've had a lot of rain and strong winds here. It's feeling very Autumnal. It's colder, damp in the air. I really realised the change of season had come when I noticed the leaves were dropping last weekend: there was a slow but steady stream of yellow and orange raining gently past the window as I stared out.

And yet there are still many fine days and moments of sun and warmth, and along with the rain that has brought some lovely rainbows. I'm always astonished by how uplifted I feel when I see a rainbow. The colour sequence is so perfect and mesmerising...not good when you're driving!

...taken through the windscreen....
I was particularly glad to see this one though. We were all having a tough journey home late in the day. I never thought I'd feel so moved thinking about the wonderful world we live in at Junction 21 on the M60, it's usually not a place of great beauty! But it brought us all back to centre when nothing else was working.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Feeling clear

It's a good feeling, knowing how you feel. I'm enjoying getting really clear about a few things. Admittedly, a few rather BIG things. None of these feelings are new to me, in fact some are really old. There's no shock revelations happening here, but something's shifted in my clarity on these issues and the strength of my resolve to find and follow my path.

Home I am ready to go home to the hills.

Trust  It will all work out ok. We'll end up where we're meant to be.

Lose- I'm tall. I carry it pretty well. Ah I'm ok..it doesn't matter...
Gain- I am really happy with me but I don't like carrying this little bit of extra person about. It's not that much but it's going. Forever.

Fitness I want to be strong and healthy. I want to learn to run. I want to chase the children until they're tired.

Spirituality There is space in my life for devotion but not for dogma. Find that space.

Money Look after the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves. An oldie but a goody!

Abundance There is enough. There will always be enough.

Generosity Trust in abundance, give. Be generous to myself, take when I need to.

Of course, knowing these things is SO easy.... moving towards living this all the time is harder, but I'm refusing to sabotage my happiness as I have so many times in the past. It really doesn't matter if I mess up, I need to just keep on keeping on.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The Hills

We answered the call of this hills this weekend and took a walk near my Mum's. I've been to this place so many times, but not for a long while. It was great to return with the children.

Calf Hey Reservoir, Haslingden

Note that Esme is a dot in the distance. She was so excited to be in the hills she ran off ahead, we didn't see her for another couple of hours as she begged my Mum to walk with her over the hills and far away. Magnus' legs couldn't manage going "up bonk". He did surprisingly well walking the low route and on his scooter though....

and he's very much a big boy now in most other respects too.....no help required!

Esme and Mum finally descended from the hills. Mum said Esme had talked ALL the way and been ahead dragging her along.

 We met some nice rescue donkeys and raided the allotments (with permission) for eggs for tea.

this one bit me!

a country girl at heart 

A good day ;)

Saturday, 4 September 2010


I'm aching here. I went to a Jivamukti yoga workshop today, it was relatively short but quite different to what I normally do in Ashtanga yoga. It was really fun and challenging, and it's left me feeling excited and keen to get back into my practice groove, which has become a little erratic lately. I wish I could put an extra hour into the morning so I can fit it in there, I need some timetabled space for it, preferably not at 9pm!

I was a little worried about how I might be tempted to compare myself to all the slim and slinky hip young things at the class this morning, Jivamukti seems to be a pretty cool, rock'n'roll way to practice and I'm not really either of those things ;) 

But I'd been playing with the angel cards a friend gave me this morning and I had a mantra that really helped me stay present in the moment. "Goddess of Beauty. You are a wondrous being of light: there is nothing to change or fix." 

I wasn't for one moment tempted to wish I had a smaller bum or was better at wrapping my arms around my back or that I could do the splits. I wasn't bothered about what I looked like at all, I even forgot about the crusty impetigo on my face (Esme kindly shared with me...). This was a lovely soothing mantra to carry with me today. 


I remember seeing these types of affirmations in the past and feeling a little embarrassed by how cheesey they seemed. As if you'd stand in the mirror and say these things to yourself! As if just saying something could really make things happen for you. Be serious! But actually, the more I've used affirmations lately, the more I'm growing to like them and the sense of calm they bring. It's like an anchor, something you've decided can hold you steady when everything around might niggle you otherwise. Perhaps they are also a way of holding space to allow things to manifest for you.

It seems there's even more power in creating your own affirmations to help with everyday situations that are challenging your inner calm, and to bring yourself good fortune. Another friend gave me the tip of being totally non-specific, so there's some flexibility about how your wishes might be fulfilled. I'll use my own recent example of uncertainty about where we might be living. It wouldn't be that helpful to say "We will sell our house and move to the house in the hills with the red door as soon as possible". The mantra I came up with in this instance was "The space our family needs to reach it's full potential will be there for us, when we are ready for it"

By using the mantra I can allow the energy to flow to where it needs to be, I can stop myself getting carried away thinking about all the endless possibilities of what might happen by coming back to this simple phrase. It's a balsam for my overactive mind, an antidote to worry, a reminder to trust it will all work out: restorative, healing. It's got to be a good thing!

Anyway, if all that's too way out, how about a nice Balsam bath? I had one just now and it soothed my achey muscles...still not sure I'll be able to walk tomorrow though ;)

Balsam Bath Bag

Gather 2 handfuls of young pine needles. Put in a muslin bag (I actually used an old sock tonight) and (get a small child to) bruise with a wooden mallet or rolling pin. Run a hot bath and put the bag into the water.
Add essential oils of your choice- pine or eucalyptus would be good for achey muscles. Soak, relax! 

Sunday, 29 August 2010


The "For Sale" board at the front of our house went up about a month ago. We've spent at least 6 months trying to get ready (ie not full of junk and filthy) to put it on the market, and for a good year or two before that we've been talking about leaving the City. But attaching the board to the front wall was still a really scary thing to do: announcing to our neighbourhood that we're hoping to move away, inviting complete strangers to come and scrutinise our home.

It felt, at first, like a test to be passed: trying to make our home measure up to what someone might want to buy. And then I kinda gave up on that and decided that whoever views it will either like it or not. I've put so much effort and energy into getting the house ready to try and sell it. It feels nicer to be here now because I'm keeping it really clean and tidy and a lot of stuff's in storage.

Since we had a big de-clutter at Easter it's stayed just as it is, bar the recent removal of my Sheila na gig from the hearth (potentially offensive says Joel...hehhe). We realised our first viewers were sat right opposite them... it would be fairly hard to ignore her and her rather excited male counterpart, I bet they had a giggle afterwards! Anyway, whoever comes gets to see the intimate details of our family life, and a chunk of my soul in physical form, I think. That still feels like a pretty big deal....though it's getting easier.

We love our home, and if it came to our "worst case scenario" of not being able to sell it, we'd be happy to stay here. It's not a bad worst case ;) We have a nice house, good friends, great proximity to tons of cool things to do with other home edders, lots of funky folks in the neighbourhood, a cool pub, a new Deli (finally)...the list goes on and on.

BUT something inside me has shifted. The doubts and anxieties I have about a going to a new area are bothering me much less. Joel too, I think. We've found a house we really like and the more we visit the better it feels, so now it's just a waiting game. Of course we have to carry on as normal and enjoy our lives here, despite the knowledge that there's somewhere else calling us. I'm trying not to be impatient, well aware it could take a long time to sell, but keen to get on with building our future.

It's not really a problem living in limbo, in fact, it feels good having more clarity about where we want to be. Hopefully that energy will move things along for us soon.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The Boo Birthday

Five years and 1 week ago I had a 7 day old baby in my arms. Esme was, without doubt, the best birthday gift I could have ever wished for.

Well, last weekend it was my birthday (again) and I didn't get a baby this time, but I did have a really cool time with my beautiful family and lots of friends around me. It was pretty much perfect for me actually.

I did a yoga and meditation workshop on the Saturday morning with an old teacher I used to go to classes with a VERY long time ago. It was great to see him, hear his voice and to really feel how gentle his approach to life is. It was most affirming. 

I had a slightly odd sense I was in a time warp as the workshop was held in the same school hall I used to mope along to for yoga twice a week when I was a student. It's funny how back then I really didn't appreciate how much time I had to practice, write, cook, go for a run, chat on the phone, and the list goes on.... When I think now what I could have achieved then IF I'd bothered to get off my backside....ugh. And now I'm squeezing my yoga practice and everything else I want to do into an hour or two in the evening. With age comes wisdom?... or was it the kids that gave me that insight here?! Anyway I digress....

On the Sunday (my birthday) we went to a Puppet Festival at the Boo, home of the Horse and Bamboo Theatre and saw some wonderful performances...

Hippochondriac .... a bit hit with Magnus who (after a long time plucking up courage) enjoyed tickling the hippo's nose with a feather duster tickling stick!

And Storm in a Teacup , which was just stunningly beautiful. I couldn't really imagine how this story was going to be presented, but it was fabulous- crafted so cleverly and creatively.  It was so delightful; a really meaningful story, visually stunning, funny and engaging and with lovely music.We were all enthralled, and I was slightly shocked to be moved to tears at several points in the performance! 

Afterwards we were allowed to meet the performers, explore the set, handle the puppets and masks and ask questions...

I wondered if this might demystify the magical feel of the show for the children but actually it served to add intrigue. The seamless performance, which had appeared to be very simple, was obviously planned with great precision and carefully choreographed. It gave the children a few insights into how they could start to create their own fantastic theatrical puppet masterpieces, they were still rapt!...

It was such a privilege to see this show and I am still moved inside when I think how much we all enjoyed it now.

I've been thinking of getting my children involved in some sort of "drama" but going to the Boo really clarified that for now I want them to be exposed to truly creative theatre, gentle storytelling and artistry rather than more show-y off-y theatre/ (poorly) regurgitated West End musicals or anything too heavyweight. It's fab we have the time and freedom to pursue this since Esme is not at school. 

After the puppets we took over a big table for tea in a local cafe with my family and plenty of chums who had all debunked from Manchester up into the hills for the day. 

I came home feeling very loved and very, very lucky. I'm so, so grateful for all this. Thank you everyone ;)

Monday, 5 July 2010


Last weekend we were invited to go camping in Anglesey with some lovely folks, so we went. It sounds so simple but it took a whole 2 weeks of deliberation for us to decide to pack the car and go. We ended up making a snap decision, frantically packing up and driving into the evening on Friday. We pitched the tent with seconds to go before the light disappeared completely!

I'm so glad we went. It was such a beautiful place and we were extremely lucky to have a gloriously sunny day at the beach.

It was Esme's 5th Birthday, which felt almost as momentous as us hot-footing it out of the city. How can it be 5 years since she was born?! Esme was delighted to be around friends and running wild and free. Five is suiting her so far. My beautiful, thoughtful, happy little girl. I love her so much.

Magnus is asking to go camping again and keeps saying "beach...again....soon"

Even Bruce did lots he things he wouldn't normally....

....well, almost! He did sit in a different place!

We found loads of dead crabs, saw jellyfish in the sea and were all delighted when one of the Dads found this dogfish egg, you could see the baby fish's heart pulsing inside and it was moving about.

We shared food, the children, washing up, stories, thoughts, hopes, fears and even thermal underwear....hehe!
We had such a good time with wonderful people, it was so relaxing.

I feel a real shift for our family, a burgeoning sense of adventure and a new willingness to explore and grow together outside our comfort zones.

This is a good example I suppose...I'm putting pictures on my blog at last!... though I can't take any credit for these. They're all courtesy of Joel for now (thanks love). I'll need to work on expanding my comfort zone with photography ;)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I'm putting off writing some emails, distracting myself playing with wordle.net. again....
It's so cool. I entered my blog address and it came up with this .
Thought I would share ;)

Friday, 7 May 2010


Isn't that a great word?

Dynamic yoga: I'm still feeling pretty obsessed with yoga practice, and I'm doing ok with just fitting it in wherever I can....it must nearly be a habit now?! I knew I'd changed a lot but how I'm approaching yoga is showing me just how much my perspective and personality has expanded, how different I am. There's no struggle, I'm just really really happy to be enjoying it which makes it easier to practice and then I enjoy it and the positive circle goes on, or so I hope :)

Dynamic life: okay so life is always dynamic, ever-changing. But it feels like there's a lot of stuff in my life shifting at the moment. Constant physical activity, emotional change, progression, new ideas, lots of variations in intensity with all of the above. It's exciting....

My new aspiration is to start uploading my photos more regularly and actually blog about the things my family is doing.... lest I seem like I'm just (podgy) navel gazing all day!

I'm missing you Sue-Ann, hope all is well as can be, thinking of you down under and sending lots of love XXX

Friday, 23 April 2010

Esme: thoughts on Religion

Esme has been really sweet the last week or so. Well, she's always sweet, but I do struggle with her sometimes and it's often too easy to dwell on the tricky times (and how hard I find them to handle).

We had a funny little conversation today in the car.

Esme:   Eloise believes in Jesus.

Me:      ummm, ok....

Esme:   Why?

Me:      She just does, it's what her Mummy and Daddy believe too. It's their religion, they're Christians. Christians are a group of people like the Seikhs and the Buddhists, they just believe different things. (We've visited a Gurdwara and the local Buddhist Centre quite recently)

Esme:   Are we Christians?

Me:      Well, not really.

Esme:   Oh. Well, can I believe in Jesus?

Me:      If you want to, it's up to you to decide what you believe. But you might like to learn a bit more about  other religions before you decide. There's no hurry really....

Esme:   What is your religion Mama?

Me:      Well, I don't really have one. I suppose I might be closest to a Buddhist.

Esme:   I think......I think I'm an Artist. Because I do lots of drawings and I like taking photographs. I take some really good ones, like the one of the water....

Me:      Y'know what Es, you definitely are an artist.....

Classic ;-)

Monday, 19 April 2010


I went to my first ashtanga yoga class in a long time just over a week ago. It was like meeting an old friend and finding they haven't changed a bit, like we'd never been apart.

I was shocked by the "muscle memory", at how the fabric of my body could remember the postures, dynamic movements and the sensations of breathing and relaxation. I concentrated intensely on just breathing for over an hour for the first time in several years. This practice is often referred to as a form of moving meditation: during the class something inside me shifted, and by the end of the relaxation I was weeping. It was profound but also quite amusing. I really couldn't stop crying (and shaking...) for quite some time! I half-sobbed half-laughed to the teacher "thanks... that was really fantastic.... honestly..." ;-) 

Yoga has seen me through some tough times in the past. It saved me from sinking deep into a pit of depression when I first started practising and for quite a few years I was pretty devoted to it. Bearing in mind that I don't have a great track record with commitment to anything, this was a BIG deal for me. My mat has travelled to the other side of the world with me on several occasions and is pretty well used....Yet since having the children I've not quite found the time to take a class or made space in my life to practice regularly at home. That first class was  like when you suddenly realise you are desperately thirsty, and taking a sip of water. It was quite painful to realise how deprived I have been without this nurturing and revitalising practice.

I'm not naturally supple and my aerobic fitness is also pretty poor right now so I was anxious about returning to this demanding physical activity. But actually I'm getting my strength and flexibility back quickly, and my mind got right back into turning itself off and enjoying a lack of mental chatter. I'm also pleasantly surprised how determined I now feel to make this part of my everyday life. I really need it.  It's funny how having so much less time to indulge in yoga is making me create chances to do it more, and with more focus. I strongly feel that my children need to see me take care of myself, and I really want them to have the expectation that their adult lives will include a certain amount of self-care, a regular habit or practice of something whether it's yoga, tai chi, running, music, chess, painting or tiddlywinks!....and an inner focus and connection with themselves. Spirituality.

I can see that I've been putting up a lot of mental blocks where yoga practice is concerned and I'm so glad I've started pulling the barriers down. No more excuses. Now, how long do they say it takes something to become a habit?!

This is David Swenson, an amazing, inspirational yogi. I'd say his habit is pretty well entrenched....


Tuesday, 13 April 2010


weight [weɪt]


1. a measure of the amount anything weighs

I'm not sure how I've done it but I'm as heavy as I was when I was just about to have M. I lost almost all the extra after he arrived, but somehow I've put it all back on again through mindless picking at food I don't really need, excessive consumption of delicious home-baked goodies and out of control portion sizes (of healthy wholefoods, but still...). 

I also do next to no exercise other than running about after the children all day every day. This sounds like so many of the slimming stories I've read over the years. At least I seem to have plateaued, for now.... ;(

I carry it well, but this is a mixed blessing really as it's tempting to think "aw stop beating yourself up, you don't look too bad". But I feel wobbly and unfit, and I have a wardrobe full of clothes I can't get into so I have to fathom a way of slimming down a bit without dieting. I can't stand dieting and it doesn't work so I just need to be mindful of what goes in and expend some more energy. Not sure where that energy is going to come from yet....

2. an oppressive force the weight of cares

I'm really feeling my responsibilities. I know everybody has it hard, and we all have to do what we have to do to keep going and stay happy and healthy with it. But isn't it hard? Esme went off with a friend for a few hours last Friday, and Joel came home early so I cooked dinner without minding two children at the same time. It was so relaxing and easy just to do it with focussed attention on the task at hand. I realised how much stress I have all day every day just by virtue of being in the company of two children all the time. I am also making silly mistakes and being very forgetful because I am constantly doing 50 million things at once. I love being with the kids so much but I am so, so tired and finding it really hard to get back to feeling groovy. I think this has a lot to do with my comfort eating.

3. importance - the quality of being important and worthy of note

All this matters a lot to me.

I think I know what I have to do, I just have to do it! 

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Ah the Music of the Spheres. To me this brings thoughts of two things:

1. It's the title of Ian Brown's 2001 album. This man has God-like status in our household, even with wee Magnus... I'm almost a fan ;) I do like this album a lot though.

2. The Clangers. Esme loves this episode, the final ever made. Oliver Postgate also has near God-like status here.

Anyway, I've disgressed, all I really wanted to pass on was this link so you can hear this lovely music.
I think there's something really special about these sounds.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


I've been thinking about the way our culture seems to ascribe children really low levels of competence with some things and yet prematurely pushes them towards being grown up with others.

Last weekend we visited a park that was swarming with children and their carers. I've not been around a big bunch of  local kids for a while. I suppose it was all pretty normal, but I what I saw made me think, as so often happens these days. Some examples. Huge (to my eyes) kids wearing nappies. By the climbing frame I could barely move for parents anxiously hovering, saying "be careful" to their massive offspring as they clung for dear life onto the equipment. One man was "helping" his daughter to climb a rope ladder by holding her two arms up in the air, so she was only using her legs... yeah, thanks for that Dad. Such low expectations of what the children would be capable of doing.

Now, I really appreciate that all children are different and that they all have their own way of developing and gaining skills. I also have my own experience that tells me that small people are really able to do a lot more than most folks seem to realise, particularly where physical development is concerned. Babies are born communicating their need to eliminate, if you're listening. Really young children can be frighteningly adept at climbing, but fearful hovering creates self doubt and will most likely result in a fall that perpetuates the parent's need to urge caution. As for over zealous hands-on help, how frustrating to be so stifled! It saddens me to think so many people aren't prepared to trust their child's sense of exploration and just be there to reassure and assist when they actually need them.

It strikes me that our culture is all for children developing independence when it suits the grown ups. Allowing children the freedom to become physically competent at their own speed develops their confidence, but it also makes life more difficult for us. It's not easy keeping an eye on a toddler climbing everywhere, and it can be really inconvenient having to stop and help a child go to the toilet whenever they need to.... It is unnerving to have a two year old whizz away from you at top speed on a balance bike. I'm not sure it's conscious but it seems to me that the result of not trusting children is a way of making our lives more straightforward.

The independence and competence we seem to strive for culturally so often compromises areas of development where it is more "normal" biologically to be dependent on another person. Perhaps I'm cynical but this also seems linked to giving parents an easier time of it. Like expecting children to sleep alone and through the night early on, not carrying or giving as much physical contact as children may need, not breastfeeding or nursing only until a certain age is reached, refusing to baby a "big" boy or girl by helping to feed or dress them....I'm sure there's more...

How back to front that we baby children at times when they don't need it and expect them to be grown up when they need to be babied. So much misplaced energy in this mad world. I'm not saying my energy doesn't ever go off in a wonky direction but at least I can see it ;)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Love Wisdom

I'm still in a pondering dreamy mood. I looked over my bookshelf tonight while the kids were in the bath with Joel and found a little book called "Love Wisdom" that i got free with a magazine many moons ago. It's one of those "ask a question and open the page" books and I'd forgotten I have it. It's surprisingly sage and always fun to flick through so I had a go.

I decided asked how my partnership would fare with the current feelings of turmoil and imminent change we are facing with our home situation. The book gave me pages on healing, sacrifice and meditation. How apt!

We are working through lots of things in our decision making process. As we move forward I can feel we're making progress with communication, particularly negotiating the practicalities of preparing to try and sell our house. Also, my attitude towards desiring a specific outcome is really different. I feel ok with whatever happens and I really am concentrating on doing what I need to do moment by moment. There is definitely part of me that feels like I have learnt some lessons and I'm starting to heal the old stuff.

I know that if and when we move, things are going to be tough with money, and time for each other. I am also aware I may have to compromise on my ideals for the greater good. In the long term we will gain by sacrificing things now.

And meditation, well there aren't many of us who wouldn't benefit for more quiet time and contemplation are there? I can see a lot of reasons why I would benefit from more meditative activity and I'm starting right now with this one!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Que Sera Sera....

I don't know if I'm coming or going these days... so much is happening.

We're thinking quite seriously about moving out of the city. It's a little daunting as it will mean quite a big change of pace and way of life. We have good friends and an active and supportive home education community in Manchester, and I am very involved in a very exciting project to do with learning that is very much rooted in being here. When I write down that I wonder why I want to move out.....

I've been resisting the pull of the green Valleys to the North where I grew up for a long time but it's still there and it's getting stronger, if anything. We feel  that we will all be too comfortable in our Urban ways if we leave it much longer to move. It's cheaper up there, we can get a bigger house, a garden, be closer to my family, it's still close to Manchester...not the end of the earth at all really. But Joel will have a long commute to work (at least in the short term) so we'd see him even less than we already do, we will be more reliant on the car, there is not a local home educating community as far as I can tell, no ethical wholefood co-op, no fabulous corner shop. I don't know. It's a hard call...

Here is a not very good picture of my beautiful children at our wonderful corner shop, just because I never put any pictures on my boring text heavy page! 

Anyway, add this to all the other "small"(!) stuff: managing home learning and meeting the children's needs, what to cook, housework, my LLL leadership application, my various on the go projects...crochet, several riveting and enlightening books, my filing pile, sewing and mending, making the house more liveable (and therefore more saleable!), the garden, the pets...even just checking my email, never mind responding....

SO many things are buzzing about in my head, it's all a bit dizzying, and I am really tired out with both the depth of emotion and physicality of my everyday life. But I feel a real difference to how this feels compared to previous times when I've had lots of thoughts to sort out.

I think it's attachment. I am really trying not to get stuck on wanting any particular thing, just trusting that the right path will come along and we'll know when to choose it. Doing what I can when I can, managing my time, being responsible. It feels good to have lots going on but no anxiety attached to the outcomes. All the energy I would've wasted procrastinating and worrying once upon a time will be much better spent looking after me so that I'm strong enough to do what needs to be done.

I'm expectant, excited, hopeful, ready to go forward in whatever way we need to.

Enough rambling. Bed ;)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I think I've said this before, but it's pertinent so I'll say it again! When I was a Mother of one I thought, probably quite rightly, that I was doing a really good job. It was only when Magnus was born, and my physical and emotional resources became more compromised, that I began to realise quite how much energy and creativity I had been putting into parenting Esme. She is wonderfully spirited, intense, interesting. And very hard work! Things were level and balanced back then because I was putting such a lot into maintaining that equilibrium.

I never thought I had unending reserves of patience and I've been proving myself right about that recently. It's nearly two years since Magnus arrived, and balance still hasn't been restored in my relationship with my first born. It seems I just can't do enough to make this situation right for Esme. I've been feeling immense pressure to try and find more more more to give her, wondering if anything will EVER be enough to sort this out. Lately I've been feeling doubtful and unbelievably negative about my capacity to mother my children, and it's a horrible feeling. If I can't muster what is needed to make everything good then who can?...and who else would want to?

It's not helpful for me to get caught up in what Esme's doing, because judging her and myself makes it feel even worse. I'm trying to look beyond the behaviour, but the only concrete reason I can find for her being unsettled and angry is that she would just rather not have a little brother to share her Mama with. What can I do about that?!

My fridge is covered in laminated NVC lists, and when I think of my struggle with mothering Esme, and then look down the list of needs through her eyes it brings tears to my eyes. She aches to be with me, longs for affection, deep connection, to be nurtured. It's helpful to realise that I must keep making the effort to validate her feelings and find more ways to help satisfy her needs.

I have, so far, resisted "traditional" approaches to discipline. I'm sure quite a few people would say my alternative has been somewhat lacking in substance, but pooh to them. I don't want to push a vulnerable, highly sensitive little girl who is feeling sad, and perhaps even unloved, further away from me.

It's been so frustrating and exhausting, pouring all my energy into this seemingly bottomless pit. But the last week or so I think I may see a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. After churning this over and over many times (with lots of different friends- thank you all!) I think I may have figured out that....

I am, actually, doing about as much as I can! TAH-DAAAAAAAAAAH! Good eh?!

I reckon the only thing I can really do differently is be kinder to myself. We have some issues to settle with the boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour, and how to communicate this with Esme-that's another post. But perhaps in being kinder to myself in every moment, especially the heated ones, I am finding more strength, energy and resourcefulness to deal with the challenges my dear daughter presents me. And perhaps that's why I feel a little better about all this.

If I can parent with more kindness and generosity of spirit (which, if I'm honest, has probably been lacking) then surely I can draw her back towards me, and the dust may finally begin to settle.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. 
Dalai Lama

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The body remembers

I've been wanting to resume writing here for days, but stalling on what to write, even though I have a list of posts to add that's getting very long indeed.

Anyway, today I'm blogging about swimming.

When I was little I wasn't allowed to swim underwater for what felt like a long time, because I had grommets fitted to try and cure the chronic glue ear that meant I suffered dreadfully, repeatedly with perforated eardrums. When I could finally go swimming without earplugs and worrying about being ducked, I made up for lost time, learnt fast and spent many happy hours floating around our local pool.

I remember my Nana taking us to the baths as kids, and I'd catch her looking frantically, anxiously around for me. It must've been like watching a Grebe diving down and popping up in random places- I was swimming underwater, lost to the world. I can empathise with poor bewildered Nana now, with my experience of taking two children swimming: she was terrified because she needed to keep us safe. Then, I laughed at her concern. I was fine. More than fine because I was, quite literally, in my element.

Fast forward a few years and I swam at least 3 or 4 times every week, sometimes more. I helped in the water with the little ones just starting to learn to swim. I got all my badges, trained with the swimming club, raced in Galas, won trophies. I also went swimming just to fart about and dive for my locker key and jump in, do somersaults and float. Looking back, I loved it. But for some reason when I hit my teens, I stopped. Just like that. And it has taken until now for me to get back to it, to remember just how much I love it and how happy it makes me to be in the water.

Each time I swim I feel different. Some days it's like I'm dragging a concrete block through a pool full of porridge. Other days, like today, it's simple-  I AM a porpoise! It's such a buzz to be able to do just a tiny bit more each time. My body remembers how good it feels in every cell of my being.

Swimming has become a form of yoga for me: I'm in the moment, focused on my breathing, mindful of the sensations throughout my body as I attempt to fine tune every dynamic movement my body makes. My body and mind is unified. It is a wonderful release. I'd forgotten about it, and rediscovering my passion is something I am feeling intensely excited about, and grateful for right now.

Friday, 22 January 2010

NVC Giveaway

NVC has been in my thoughts, and more importantly in my attempts to communicate compassionately, a lot recently.

Annie has a fantastic NVC book giveaway on her wonderful blog, but be quick!- the closing date for comments to enter the draw is 25th Jan. To be honest, if you miss the giveaway, her blog is a real gift in itself. Enjoy ;)

Coming soon

I struggled to drop off to sleep last night, my mind was whirring. I couldn't help turning things (all sorts of things) over and over in my head, and all the posts I want to write here kept popping up here and there amongst my other random thoughts.

I need an evening to gather my thoughts and make some serious lists. Not to mention sorting my photos and filing. I've been ignoring just about everything extra (on top of day to day life) I've needed to do. Now I'm not quite sure where to start! You could call this procrastination, but to a degree it's also been self preservation, as I am still feeling exhausted and slow, that midwinter feeling's still with me.

I do feel my energy returning. I'm getting ready to put out some small blooms like the pretty snowdrops here.Watch this space!.....