Friday, December 31, 2010

Instant Weight Loss Program... **GUARANTEED SUCCESS**

This is the time of year for self improvement. Take yourself in hand...

Want to shift a couple of post Christmas or post natal pounds? Try my guaranteed weight loss recipe for instant success. Guaranteed to shift 5 pounds in a month. And no need to turn down dessert!*

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gold for Kevin Pearce

As the anniversary of his accident comes around, my cousin Kevin is much on my mind. What a journey he has been on. As have we all who held our breaths and prayed and waited for news. Day after day, last January.

Few of us get to be heroes at the tender age of 22.

My cousin Kevin is one.

Dear Kevin, I dedicate 2010 to you!

We all knew 2010 was going to be a big year for you...

This was to be the year that you unleashed your talent on the world. This the year all your training had led up to. Every day, all though your teenage years you dedicated yourself to physical fitness, courage, strength, dexterity and determination: you were training for the biggest achievement of your life.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Christmas by Numbers

Family members in house: 6
Family members with vomiting bug: 6
Family members with swine flu: 6
Number of pukes between us: 24
Number of plane tickets re-booked: 1
Nights with more than 3 hours straight sleep: 0
Number of tantrums on Christmas Day: 0
Number of Christmas trees procured: 0
Pairs of socks received on Christmas Day: 2 (they were requested!)
Weeks of snow and ice: 4
Number of pounds in weight I have lost: 4 (that's a first for Xmas time!)
Number of hours the TV has been on in this house today: 11, and counting!
Number of turkey and stuffing sandwiches eaten: 3

Blessings counted: many...we have a warm house, access to medicine, only minor bugs in the scheme of things and loved ones to comfort us, we have no plans to cancel and no work or school to be missing.

Roll on the Christmas holidays!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

You are not a victim

A message for those in turmoil or mental crisis

You have been blessed with a journey few are deemed wise enough to take.
A journey to the dark side of the mind.
Treat your opportunity as such...
THIS is the moment you life has been leading to,
Where you see the reality behind all that you have learnt in theory.
This is the dark side of the mind,
The smelting room,
This is the crucible of creativity.
Map it,
Study its terrain,
Mine it in the dark, for it has veins of pure gold.
And bring them back.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bodies of light

A dream

I am wondering how to make amends. 
Not even for my actions, but thoughts.
Thoughts I had considered inconsequential at the time,
But they are silent rocks to my soul it seems.
Before me
I see
People walking away,
Their bodies unravelling 
Like the bandages from an Egyptian mummy.
And out
From these bindings
Emerge the most beautiful bodies of light.
Solid light.
They had been invisible under their bodies.
These light bodies float up, up,
Helium balloons of pure light,
Sky lanterns of souls.
And I am left,
Heavy with my impurities,
Rooted to the Earth.
But knowing,

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"And a Merry bloomin' Christmas to you too!"

So says Raymond Brigg's Father Christmas. I, as I may have already mentioned LOVE Christmas, no humbugs here! And the hero of the day (minus, OF COURSE, the dear baby Jesus) is the man in red... or so I always thought. How wrong I was. I have read a number of natural parenting bloggers bemoaning Satan, (sorry, slip of the keyboard!), Santa, of late. Bla, bla indoctrination with commercialism, lying to children, yada yada.
Stop the lights people! I have yet to meet a child traumatised by finding out Santa doesn't exist. Santa is about fun, magic, mystery... no? I'm not saying you have to pay over-inflated prices to go and sit on some dodgy old man's knee in a shopping centre and receive some trashy toy. I'm not saying threaten your children all year about being good. I'm not even saying to over-indulge your children with enormous gifts. I'm just saying that perhaps helping to cultivate magic and mystery in your child's life is not such a bad thing. If you object to the lying thing, then, go the whole hog, throw out fairies, elves, gnomes, angels, dragons, unicorns, because they don't exist either. Just in case one day your poor child will discover that they aren't true, and that you, evil parent, were just lying to them every time you read them a bedtime story.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reflection of a mother

I see a mother in a big cosy bed, her little ones clambering over her like puppies, all tousle-haired from sleep. What a pretty picture of family life.

I see the mother. But I do not see her as she is. I see the teenager with forty pounds and a double chin added. Oh how she hates that double chin, it is all she sees in every picture of mothering bliss, the sharp jaw line of youth lost to cake and age. And a grey streak in the hair, oh how she struggles with the social meaning of that streak, not the soul meaning, it is moonlight, silver star shine, a blessing brought early by age and wisdom, why does everyone else hide theirs and pretend they are still 21? What was so great about 21 anyway? The uncertainty, the anticipation, the insecurity of youth, embarking on a journey, unbridled and unclear as to her destination or even who is sailing the ship of her body and soul.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On coming out... a writer!

Writing a blog is a little like coming out. Suddenly everyone knows your business. They know what you get up to in the evenings. You walk past people and don't know yet if they "know".

Writing a blog like this feels like running down the street with no clothes on. Like the recurring nightmare I have of turning up to school still in my pajamas.


I always thought that I was drawn to Buddhism and Quakerism because they were non-dogmatic routes to personal enlightenment. They speak to my own journey, by elucidating and honouring the individual's inner path.

This morning I suddenly realised why else they draw me - they both offer silence as both ministry and communion. Silence for me is a balm and a discipline. It does not come easily. I have a chattering mind and mouth, but silence is where I am happiest. And with three young children it is a commodity as rare as gold in my life.

I remember when I did a ten day silent meditation retreat in Japan, everyone who knew me thought I would struggle with not being able to talk for ten days. The opposite was true, I ran to the toilet and sobbed my heart out when the silence came to an end and I had to speak again.

Silent space practices

Meditation per se is not something I have space for in my life right now. And I feel the lack of it. And so I take opportunities throughout the day to try to reconnect to silence and mindfulness, that I want to share with you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Peace be with you...
And also with you.

I always loved those words from the church services of my youth. The handshake and the wishing of peace to be with another person. This small act always awakened the desire for peace within myself. The still small voice came alive. That space within me that so easily gets shut down, drowned out by the noise, stress and chatter of daily life and the machinations and posturing of my well developed ego.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Craft-Tea Christmas Celebrations

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let's Talk Traditions
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

We love Christmas in our house. And for me it has to be a home-made Christmas. 

The excitement is two-fold: the craft element of making and decorating, and then the food aspect of stocking up and then feasting on special seasonal treats. I start to get excited about Christmas in September, so by the beginning of December I feel entitled to go all out in celebration. After all I have been waiting so long for it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cooking with love

Buddhists say that the way we do things, influences the results. If we cook with love, we transmit that love into the food, and into those who eat the food. If we cook in mindful awareness, then we can quietly observe with our senses rather than forgetting the cookies in the oven, or adding too much salt because we are distracted. When we are there in the moment, we can be responsive and creative. We are aware, we can consciously season our food with love.

The proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Or in yesterday's case, not pudding but hummous. I was cross yesterday: tired, over stretched and trying to do too much with too few mama resources. And so it was with huge anger and resentment I made my little boy some hummous. My temper was sour, so I added too much lemon. Then I tried a quick fix by chucking in a pinch of sugar. What I should have done was to calmly detach myself from the situation, taken a few breaths and come back to preparing food with love, rather than banging and slamming and making inedible food. My little girl took one mouthful and spat it out in disgust!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas is coming...and mama's getting panicked!

Life has been fraught in the Pink House - sick children, non sleeping baby (see Adventures without Sleep, written about Number 1 child five years ago, and just slot in Number 3's name in its place!) And having got hyper excited about Christmas back in September, and decorated the house on 1st December, to occupy sick kiddies, we are now less than 2 weeks to Christmas, only 6 days till my mum arrives. I need to get motoring. I have lists to write, and lots of them - shopping lists, cooking lists, Christmas card lists, lists of lists.

Reading Delia's Smith's Christmas book in bed this morning, post-it note bookmarks to hand, she gently says "to avoid panicking, you should get planning and write lists in mid-October." OCTOBER! It's now mid December. I have no lists. I am panicking. So no more blogging for this mama, (boo hoo) instead I will be writing lists. And bleeping Christmas cards, addressing them (by memory as I've lost my address book, grrr!) Though I do have EVERYONE'S pressies bought. Hurray!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Material memory - Women and Quilting

For me the passage into womanhood was marked by a summer I chose to take off, between University and beyond, to teach myself to bake bread and make a quilt.
I love quilts: the patterns, the details of the fabrics, the interplay of light and dark, the art, the maths and the craft of them. 

Wonderful Women's Work

As promised, a round up of women I would like to salute for doing their thing with vision, courage and creativity...

First off... a very special event to celebrate 100 years of International Women's Day 2011, linking women's circles around the globe. Visit  to find out more and join in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Part 3 of the Call yourself a Feminist? series

Feminists, suffragettes and many protest groups before and since have recognised that if you want to be heard, you must raise your voice.

But raising our voices with uncontrolled anger or sadness, to whinge or to nag is alienating, irritating and ineffective - be it directed to our friends, children, spouses or governments. First we must honour the NEED to communicate, rather than swallow our voices. Secondly we must learn to express ourselves effectively, in a way that our message can be heard by those listening. Otherwise both speaker and message can be easily dismissed.

The gift of great movers on a global stage, with a powerful message is integrity and control and insistence, passionate insistence, and self knowledge and reflection: think the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Gandhi...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


A response to the Budget announcement 

  'The biggest sting in today's budget will be felt by women with children', said Labour Party Finance Spokesperson Joan Burton. She said of the €2.1bn in cuts, €1.6bn would be borne by the areas of health, children and social protection. She said working people would do the heavy lifting in this Budget.

What did we do? We who were students during the Celtic Tiger? We who will not be able to afford to save for a pension, nor send our own children to university.
What did our children do that their school should get less money? When their parents are already filling the funding shortfall.
What did our family do to deserve to pay at least an extra €2000 in tax next year? On top of the extra taxes already levied on us over the past two years.
What did the poorest do to lose 15% of wage, every hour?
What did the sick do?
What did the carers do to lose 5% of their meagre income?

Call yourself a feminist? (2)...Well, no!

Despite being grateful to feminists, and having read many of their key works, I do not consider myself a feminist (despite yesterday's evidence) because....
I find them loud and shouty and deliberately reactionary
I find that they alienate a lot of women and most men who aren't as radical as them
I feel that they have no answer, no response to the issue of motherhood, except avoid it, or ignore their children. BUT this does not throw me in with the Catholic New Feminists either...

But before you get too cross with me, I don't call myself a suffragette either, and nor do you! And I am deeply grateful to both sets of women. Deeply. But times move on. Needs change. Issues change. Ways of communicating change...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Call yourself a feminist?

Well, let me examine the evidence:
I do not believe that women are or should be subservient, the weaker sex or any other gross generalisation of "the fairer sex".

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Life lessons from an elder

Leonora - I shall call her that, as she is not one for being in the spotlight - is a constant wonder and inspiration. She is a woman of quiet creativity with a simple but beautiful home, a humble spirit, a childlike enthusiasm for the world. Though she is now in her mid eighties - she taught my father when he was in kindergarten (he is now in his late 60s!) - she is not old in any way. She digs her own garden, cares for her home, grows the best sweetcorn I have eaten, cooks wonderful dinner parties, the list goes on...

Visiting her immerses me in a different set of values. There is a different rhythm to her life and days which I drink like water and wish I could bottle. For sure it is partly from the fact that she is an old woman and I am young, partly that she lives alone and I have a house full of tumbling children. But she is like the spirit of an age which is almost gone. Her generation and their gifts are in very short supply, never to come again. This makes me feel sad. Our generation seem more flimsy, superficial, wasteful.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Fleeing Vesuvius: 
Overcoming the risks of economic and environmental collapse

Fleeing Vesuvius, published in Ireland by FEASTA*  is a book of its time, written by some of our brightest minds, for our people. Its stated aim “to arm its readers with the knowledge they need to develop new ways of doing things, instead of staggering from crisis to crisis” trying to patch up systems that are no longer viable. This, then, is a book of the moment, for the moment. It may hold many explanations for why we are where we are and what we might do about it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Be Prepared (Part 3): Instead of Money

Money, money, money
Always sunny
In a rich man's world

A little Abba to brighten your day!

Our global culture has moved from one in which indebtedness was considered a sin or a crime, to the past decade, where indebtedness became the norm. But now the chickens have come home to roost.

We are all plugged into the external economy and its impact can be damaging emotionally and financially for families. How can we make our families more resilient, so we can ride the economic turbulence with minimal suffering?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Be Prepared (2): Skills for Resilient Families

It is my belief that the most important investment you can make for yourself, your family, your community is in yourself. Learning new skills and then sharing them with others, either through your work, or by teaching them to others. This, regardless of what sort of state the world is in, is where the richness of life comes from.


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