Friday, 29 June 2012

There are NO ordinary moments

One of my favourite books from when I was a young woman setting foot into the world by herself reminded me of this just yesterday. A day of meditation retreat on saturday left me recharged and thirsty for literary inspiration. Scouring my book shelves I procrastinated a while with the cyniscm of age over Way Of A Peaceful Warrior. I wondered if my young whimsy was the real reason I loved it so much back then. Never the less I began. After a couple of chapters a flame inside me licked at my soul and I was suprised at what I found. The entire subject matter of this book is the concept and practice of mindfulness. Though I had sensed something profound about it as a teenager I haven't in my searching since associated it with mindfulness, I never joined those dots. Now at 30 with life experience on my side I have a degree of understanding of this concept I did not have then - and I actually understand the profound.

The words within it's pages mean a whole lot more to me now, they make a whole lot more sense, this time around I can really apply them to my life instead of just being blown away by a new-to-me heady concept. It was really helpful to read about mindfulness in the form of a novel/memoir and I am reasured that this path is a journey, one with no percieved end, one where the only way is practice and all I can or need do is keep practicing. And practice I have, fresher, happier.

Our week has been full of no ordinary moments ...

Gaia has been asking to go to the buddhist centre with me so yesterday we stopped by for a cup of tea, a lovely moment just her and me. We had a lesson in mortality as we said good-bye to a dead cat wrapped in a blanket she couldn't help noticing on the step outside. She thought it was sleeping sweetly tucked up, but it was sleeping for good, they had moved it from the road early that morning.

On the way to bounce-around on wedneday Gaia kicked off her shoes and started dancing on the warm dewy grass. She begged that I join her and so we danced in each others shadows, a glorious piece of here and now.

first time without stabilisers, flying like the wind ...

There is simply something about her smile here ... just something ...

Yoga bears.  I stuck my yoga DVD on to keep them busy whilst I meditated in relative peace.  It worked, points to me!

First sports day!  One very proud, nearly very teary mama!...

She seems to enjoy a whole calendula flower for snack time!

So, what is the time?  NOW.  Where am I?  HERE.  I'll do well to keep reminding myself of this.

Love and sunshine X X X

Monday, 18 June 2012

Spontaneity and another change in the wind, says I

I've had a stressful 48 hours realising my love affair with night shifts is over and admitting to myself that accumulated tiredness after seven months is starting to manifest itself destructively.  A changing of the staff guard has also left a sour atmosphere in the house I work at, I can't be doing with bitchy 20 somethings doing what bitchy 20 somethings do!  So to all those who have looked at me as if I'm mad over the last seven months - you were right, I'm bonkers ... but I'm proud to say I had the balls to try it!

I definitely feel another change in the wind, says I.  I have been manic today and not a very good Mama.  It is as if Gaia sensed it, she's been gentle, kind and seemingly content as I've trawled job sites, made phone calls and mostly worn a frown.  Thankfully at around 1p.m I had the realisation that my anger and negativity were literally blinding me.  I stopped and mindfully noticed the circle of torment I was starting to put myself through - the first dart, the second, even a third.  Isn't it funny how those things I learnt on my MBSR course last year have over time embedded themselves in my psyche.  Though perhaps they are not so noticeable on a daily basis, whilst feeling slightly desperate today my sub-conscious stood madly waving a red flannel flag to stop my runaway train of a brain in it's tracks and heed that I need to give out positive vibes if that is what I'm hoping to find in the world around me.

So my inner me sat cross legged for a while on the carpet of consciousness, dignified, curious, peaceful and letting things flow.  I have resolved that if I can be calm and measured about things then the answer will come.  Another case of leap and the net will appear.

I've considered a great many possibilities today from waitressing to administration but after an enthusiastic descussion with Cliff tonight I have good feelings towards childminding and that is where I am going to investigate further.

Meanwhile I want to give thanks for my little ones spontaneity this last weekend...

... as we cycled into town to procure fathers day presents Zander asked 'whats a mummy', to which I replied 'I am your mummy' .... 'no not that kind of mummy, a mummy' .... 'ah I see ... shall we go to the museum and find out more?  It's only round the corner' .... 'oh yes please, really?!  And the dinosaur one too!'

And so a 'quick trip' into town turned into a nourishing afternoon of home ed - two meuseums, a charity shop and a jazz cafe.  Exactly what we all needed, totally sponateous and child lead.

This is exactly what Zander wanted to give to Cliff for fathers day, so I dusted off my jewelery making skills....

Gaia wanted to make him biscuits, so we did ....

And this is what I found after I asked Gaia to tidy her bedroom floor ...

Somehow it doesn't look so bad in sepia.  Literally everything from the floor is stuffed in there!

I'm hoping my two cups of valerian tea will give me the good nights sleep I didn't get last night or the night before.  And as Anne Shirely once pondered

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

I'll drink to that.

Blessings and light X

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kitchen Witchery

The most basic form of alchemy is cooking.  I like that.

I am an enthusiastic, if slightly lackadaisical forager and my little ones are showing all signs of being so too.  They recognise lavender, calendula, chamomile, elderflower, sloes, rose hips and blackberries a mile off and woe betide mama if she dares not stop at each and every natural treasure trove we pass by.  I should really invest in some sturdy blackberrying baskets so that I have safe carriage for our hauls rather than getting home with half of it squashed or having jumped ship as we cycle over bumps and humps.

I think I have Celtic roots, I feel as if I do, some of this foraging alchemical instinct seems familiar in an innate time honoured way and what little I know of various ancestors tends to agree.  The Celts were nature folk and their knowledge of the Earths bounty and power extensive.  So as I try to gather in folklore - folk knowledge if you will, of hedgerow remedies and recipes where they've been banished from our culture, perhaps from my direct lineage since the Romans menaced Britain, I also want to pass this knowledge directly on to my children.  I want to empower them and chance that the flame of folk knowledge may start burning brighter with each successive generation of our family.  In that way I am recovering this knowledge alongside them, I like that too.

Not only is it about our roots it is about resourcefulness, local resilience and harmony with the earth.  There is nothing more satisfying than tasting food or taking potions we've grown or gathered ourselves.  Harmony and delight ripple through with each bite and spoonful.  It is also about rejecting multi-national, mass produced unethical food and medicine.  It's about empowering myself and my family, about showing them the alternative.  My Aunt once told me the reason she followed homoeopathy is so that she could be directly in control of her families health not some GP and system she barely knew or trusted.  She sent me my first bottle of Bach Flower Remedy when I was 16, then a box of green tea and my treasured Holistic Herbal the following Christmas ... the rest is history, that is the seed my fascination grew from.

So this weeks alchemical delights .... litres and litres of elderflower cordial, the only bottles I have left to decant to are empty gin and vodka bottles ... guess I won't be giving those out in the playground!  A pleasing sepia moment worthy of drinking in as I reached, jumped for and picked these fragrant heads with my small girl, my friend Lorraine and her mother under sunny skies in the country park on Thursday.  Three generations of women foraging.  Happy.

I remember the little bottles of cordial my friend Laura's mum used to make and distribute between friends in the playground when I was small and how I figured it was really rather clever to be able to make this oneself.  Now I know the secret and carry the torch, loving the smiles that the gift of a bottle elicits from those I love.

And I think I might have fallen belatedly in love with Mr Fearnley-Wittingstalls particular brand of alchemy too! This take on tabulleh needed no tinkering with, he obviously did enough of that himself. The recipe is perfect and though I didn't grow the bulgar wheat or gather spices myself, the result was as delightful as if I had, because the alchemy worked. Even Gaia wolfed it down.

This year I will be able to harvest the roots of my Valerian plant for the first time in the autumn.  It's a mighty impressive plant and for something that is reputed for smelling and tasting so vile as medicine and tea the blooms above ground smell like fairy cakes! Then there's the tansy romping away and oh I can't wait to make a Tansy cake ... this is something else I remember from childhood, my friend Olivia's mum used to bake this floral delight ...

... all these women who have had interests themselves in natures bounty, little did I know it at the time that their interests would influence me so greatly ... then again we are but reflections of our loved ones are we not?

One of my deepest hopes is that Gaia and Zander will be taken by the path of nature and will enjoy these skills, this knowledge, this journey as much as I am.  And one day I hope they try to encourage their little ones onto the same path, return to our collective roots.

Blessings and light x x x

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Strawberry hatters and mellow yellow

Impermanence is a fact of life, everything is changeable -  and the weather has been no exception of late, honestly it's getting  bit long in the tooth, I crave months of teasing warmth and tickling sunbeams.  There have been some pepperings of sunshine over a mainly gloomy June and people are no longer complacent about the sun anymore never knowing when it might next favour our hemisphere.  So when it does sheepishly appear it casts instant spells of summers magic on faces everywhere, smiles re-appear and frowns pack up and take vacation.  At the first sign of a fine day mamas everywhere are reaching for picnic rugs, suncream and provisions, then a mass exodus to parks and woods and other pretty spacious spots can be observed.  Even without such preparations we have stolen cheeky interludes of magic.  My favourite diffusion tactic for when things start getting frenetic in the house, usually right after dinner, is to grab bikes, prams, scooters and head down to the mellow yellow meadows ...

Balmy stay-at-home-mama picnics ...

And Strawberry Fair, that most essential of local annual events!  I've found with kids in tow you can't always predict the success of the day but I find the general rule is - happy children =  happy parents.  Sometimes it takes a little work to get the kids spirits exactly where I want them, ideally in alignment with our own party loving souls.  I want a finger in every pie on days like this - I want to kick back and have a drink and a laugh with old friends, I want to satisfy the kids needs, mostly I want to dance  and whip whoever else is around me into a festival frenzy and occasionally I get to let my former party self out of her box too.  If those were the aims of the long weekend just gone then it is surely a case of mission accomplished.

Rockin' the hatter look ...


Gaia, what a little minx, charmed everyone in her path - most notably Megan who serenaded us with her grooves and moves and who Gaia found the confidence to totter up to after she finished her set and say 'I really liked your singing, you are really good'!  Her cool confidence is just awe inspiring and makes my soul grin.

She's unstoppable.  She coaxed this small one on to the dance floor too whilst I coaxed the boy from his shy wishful shell.

This lady with her feather duster thingumy-bob was such a sport.  I love when the kids experience the freedom a festival permits all of us, older and younger.  They experience a freer way of interacting within a Community, this is what life should be about and there i go again ... the dreaded 'C' word!

There was virtually no call for the kids area except the bouncy castle.  They were happy partying with us mostly, getting off on our vibe.

Cousins have hung out some more as the kids and I stayed over and I took to the helm of Fiona's ship for an afternoon and evening.  I became holiday housewife, only difference being I was just trying to keep house and order (?) in someone elses house as her and Steve had some very rare time off together.  Funny how when you remove yourself from your own home situation it is a holiday even if the 'work' is the same.  I love to make myself at home in familiar kitchens, best of all my sisters and how curious I find it that washing up seems not at all a chore when the crockery is not my own.  
This imp was so excited about the sleep over that she changed into pyjamas the instant we arrived ... lunch time!  The others all followed suit after a romp around in the rain. 

And it's a pat on the back moment when you find all four kids voluntarily, independently reading on the sofa together.  We done good sis!

Here is a place of happiness ...

listening to the pretty birds - and there is one in particular whose song is far sweeter and more melodious than them all.  He's there singin in the morning and singin in the evening, sitting on the same tree.

So, still regularly sun dancing and hoping.

Love and blessings little ones x

Friday, 1 June 2012

She's three

So my smallest imp turned three.  The little lady G is growing up and she is very definitely three.  She's not a toddler anymore but a little girl.  Leggy and beautiful, confident and clever, funny and tender, feisty and strong.  What else could a mother hope for in a daughter?  I'm blessed with both a sensitive little boy and a confident little girl: if they carry these traits into their futures with them it will bring me much peace.

Peace was the order of her day actually.  Twas the first birthday she's ever had where Zander hasn't been at home with us to add colour to the birthday riot so the restful atmosphere took me by surprise.  We curled up and watched a movie together, we shared a birthday  bubble bath and had an indoor picnic.  We took her new scooter out for a spin and we even gathered the first rather-late-to-blossom elderflowers of the year and made the first batch of elderflower cordial.  You just know summer has arrived when this particular ritual takes place and it felt super special that it happened on her birthday!

I am now completely convinced Uncle Alex is psychic.  Without fail he times his call to perfection as if he's always exactly with us in spirit when the larger family is gathered together.  This girl loves her uncle and she loves her cats.  It should be noted here that this year she, or should I say we, have gone Hello Kitty mad!  Everything is Hello Kitty - the scooter, the sun hat, the hair brush, the beads, the dresses, the leggings, the handmade teddy.  I never thought I'd warm to brands but each imp has found their own quite sweetly.

I thought I had a moment where I felt a natural and extenuated knowing of what it is to be female at her age, a feeling that demystifies things where perhaps I don't have this innate knowledge of my little boy. A re-membering.  But on second thoughts how different are girls and boys at this age really? Would I do well to consider perhaps my boy isn't so different after all? I may not be able to play battles and lego with as much gusto as he or I would like but perhaps his spirit yearns the same way and for the same things as hers.

We had a little gathering of friends the day after ...

but I'm not sure I got the whole gathering thing right this year for either of them.  Introducing structure didn't seem to work for Zander and his friends but the absence of it seemed chaotic on Gaia's day.  Our gatherings are always a real mixture of folk and ages but I am adamant that it is important to have significant families with us at each of these special times regardless of weather everyone knows each other or weather the kids are at the same school in the same year.  I'd rather those who we truly cherish were standing with us at these thresholds than us doing things the way everyone else does and feeling like something was missing.  I'm yet to crack the winning formula, it's something I'll chew over the next twelve months, I'm still learning, they are still teaching me.

There is one thing though that is sure to bring out the best in us as a little unit and makes an occasion 100% in my eyes, a fire.  It took some perseverance to get this one going but it fostered that magic vibe which quickly took hold of Zander and saw him gathering logs, twigs and long grasses for a stage and props and then he scurried off to find the felt mouse I made last year.  He is my little story teller.  We relaxed in make-believe until dusk and went to bed happy happy happy.

Like her brother she is keen for another birthday right away but me - I'm not, I like them just the way they are for now.  It's the old adage I hear pass so many mama's lips  - if I could only freeze time here that would be perfect.

Happy birthday baby girl!  You are a love!  And completely adoreable.

Peace and blessings x