Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Can Only Be Me! (And You Can Only Be You!)

So it seems, for the first time in years, perhaps ever, I am dancing into the New Year. Literally. OK, well nearly literally, the party was on the 30th, and it finished at 9.30pm as we all had to take kiddies home to bed!

But boy did we dance. And woman was it fun.

And you know what my friends said to me? My friends who spend more time with me than anyone else bar my husband and children.

We didn't know you could dance!

You see Lucy doesn't normally dance. Because Lucy gets all jammed up and self-conscious, and feeling not cool. And so she sits quietly, anxiously, doing inner battle and wishing to be somewhere else instead.

Lucy who has had years of dance training in flamenco, belly dance, modern, ball room and the charleston. Lucy who trained at Drama School.

Just like another one I hear regularly: we didn't know you could sing!

My own father was surprised at his wedding a few years back that Lucy has a great singing voice.

Or there's the - wow you look really beautiful line. Because usually I don't. Because I feel fat and frumpy - because I have my own style and shape which isn't, you guessed it, "cool".

Or "I had no idea you wrote" - oh yes, dear readers it's true - probably less than half of the people in my life knew I wrote until a couple of months ago. Because, once again, the topics I write on aren't very.. cool.

Most don't know I edit a magazine. Ditto.

Oh and the drop jawed surprise from my brother and sister that the favourite picture of their on our sitting room wall was, yes, you guessed it, by me. We didn't know you painted, they chorused.

I'm funny too. Very funny. Though many are surprised when they see that side to me. My dad claimed I had no sense of humour a few years back. Little did he know.

I'm sexy too. Very. When I let myself. Little old me!

So you see, there's this little pattern of Lucy shutting herself down and hiding in a corner in mortification because she doesn't feel her "thang" is acceptable, in fact it's down right embarrassing, because it's not quite perfect or cool enough.

So you know what? I think this might just be the year that I really get my groove on. I've been practicing bit by bit, year on year. But let this be the year where I let myself out of the box and just "do my thang". Bright and shiny, sassy and sexy, funny, messy, silly, wacky, creative ...and reclusive, wise, serious, quiet and contemplative when I need to be too.

I might even let myself mother to my own standards too! Wouldn't that be nice, rather than failing every day because I don't do everything the way the books say.

You see, I've always thought that I shouldn't until I was perfect. Because, for some reason, until I was better than the whole world, then I wasn't good enough. So if there was one book out there better than mine, then I couldn't be a "real" writer. If everyone was better at dancing then I wasn't allowed to dance. I'm not allowed to look sassy and sexy until I'm an appropriate (skinny) weight - even though I look great at 12 stone.

So my non-perfect heroes for 2012 are
Goddess Leonie
Jason McLellan - author of Zugunruhe
And Pam, from the blog Pama-rama-ding-dong who did a great curvy woman photo shoot which she shared on her blog (see my blog roll for her blog)

This Goddess Leonie (sorry to keep harping on about the woman, but she is a kindred spirit who is doing her thing and so I identify) - I LOVE her videos - they're not perfect at all. They're blurry, and they go wrong and her baby walks in, and she stumbles over her words... but you know what? They're great - bright and shiny and fun, just the way they are. She doesn't try for perfection until she release her work -she does it and puts it out. Another influential book in my life the past couple of months, Zugunruhe, which I shall be talking about more in the next few weeks talks about the 3/4 baked philosophy, where the author urges us to do our work the best we can, but rather than spending all our energy in refining it ad infinitum, put it out to the world 3/4 baked and let the feedback and the inspiration it creates, and your own distance, do the final honing, because really there is no such thing as perfect.

So here's to a year of funky imperfection, of creative expression and doing it our way. Here's to a book that won't be perfect - but will be wonderful.

Here's to getting our sexy, sassy thing on in our own unique way, of listening to our rhythms, dancing to our own beat, and applying our own standards.

Here's to you. Here's to me. And here's to Eva Cassidy, who will play us into 2012 - she was a great companion on my road trip the other day... (Listen here!)

I Can Only be Me

Butterflies begin, from having been a larva,

As a child is born, from being in a mother's womb,

But how many times, have you wished you were some other;

Someone than who you are.

Yet who's to say that if all were uncovered,

You will like what you see;

You can only be you,

as I can only be me.



Flowers can not bloom, until it is their season,

As we would not be here, unless it was our destiny,
But how many times, have you wished to be in spaces,
Times, places than what you were.
Yet who's to say with unfamiliar faces,

You could any more be;
Loving you that you'd see,

You can only be you,
as I can only be me.








Friday, December 30, 2011

Mama's home!

So after my last post and a couple of comments (all of which I deeply appreciated - they touched my soul), I saw the light. I realised I could ask for what I needed, which was to escape. I asked in love. Mr Dreaming Aloud knew where I was at, knew I wasn't doing a runner on him, and released me with love.

And so I got online, found some wonderful places to retreat - if it wasn't the night before, during the Xmas hols... and so I was left with no final destination.

So I headed for one of my favourite places in the world - West Cork. There is a line that I pass, about 10 miles West of Cork city, where the landscape shifts gears, and opens up, and I go ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I feel like I have crossed a kind of time and date line, into a different land, both internally and externally.

So I drove to a beautiful castle overlooking Kinsale bay.
Image: tripadvisor.ie
It was stormy, wind and rain, my tears were appropriate to the day. I sobbed and felt lost. And there, walking past my car, just as I had done on precious times before, were parents walking with their little children. And my heart strings went. That's what I wanted. You weren't expecting that dear reader, and nor was I. So I drove back past the hotels, past the colourful craft shops and galleries, past the little cafes. I didn't want to eat out, I didn't want a strange bed, I didn't want to be alone with myself. I wanted home and my children, and my husband, and my bed, and my friends. I missed my baby, I was sad that she would be sad about not feeding. I realised that although I may want to escape from being a mama, I was a mama deep in my soul. something deep had shifted, unseen, these past few years. I just hadn't had the space to really feel it, to touch it, and so I doubted it was there.

As I was pondering, whether to wimp out and turn around, a friend called to finalise lunch plans, not knowing that I did not know about them, nor that I was over an hour away.

And so I turned my (sister's) car around and headed for the little fishing village next to ours. And there round a table were some of my dearest friends in the world, a spread of home-cooked food, a baby reaching out to me - mama, milkie!

I sat down, late, unannounced and burst into tears. And being true friends, not an eyebrow was raised, not a comment made. My plate was filled - I fed my baby and ate my dinner. And then we talked and laughed and our children played and our menfolk played Scrabble.

Then I had an early night, baby curled in one side of me and my son the other side.

Mama's home!


p.s. Let it be known that I felt a total wuss chickening out on two precious days alone time,and know that many of my mama readers are yearning for that right now and are probably hurling rocks at me through my computer screen. I just knew that I was getting anxious and needed to be somewhere familiar. So I am taking a 6 hour creative retreat here at the Tea house (and cafe) today, then a late lunch with other dear friends. And I have special retreat places on my to-do list for later in the year once baba is weaned and I am not feeling anxious.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The confessions of a domesticated wild woman

As we head into a New Year, my soul is calling to be free. I am so sick and tired. Literally and metaphorically. Tired, tired, tired of the complications of emotional relationships on every level. Tired of family. This Christmas season has been fraught in just about every family relationship I have, and I am SO done with it. All I want is simple - no feelings, no misinterpretations, no needs made of me, no demands or requirements. I am fit to run from home and hide in a cabin in the wild woods of Alaska.

May I add as a side note that I am not overdoing it with work, nor with house or social commitments. But even the little I am doing is too much. I feel the New Year hovering and with it big new work, new creations to be gestated, others to be delivered. I feel the need to clear and cleanse myself in a way I never have before.

This is not easy as a mama of three little ones. Especially one who wakes throughout the night and does not want to be weaned. And another who demands me to do everything.

It's all just TOO full on in our little world right now - I just need an emotional detox from everything I can and to step back all requirements made on me that I can. I want to dive into my creative life head first.

And so, with those that understand, I am asking for space. Little kiddies do not, it must be said, understand. So I shall have to do my best. Though in reality I despair of the mother I have become to them. I cannot even justify it many days as "doing my best". The truth is that I am here. And that must be enough. I am coming to a rather late conclusion that I am not great long-term mother material. And that does make me feel sad. My creative spirit calls me. I try to keep my heart with my kiddies, not to burn too many bridges. But the call is loud and strong. And I am aware that I am kindling the flames of mother-hate within them, flames that will be fanned by the winds of age and independence.

The voice of the wild calls. I want to be free. The louder it calls, the stronger I feel my weakness as a partner, a mother. My gaping lack of ability. I want to run away, to fly to a far distant land, to be free of my captivity, my drudgery, from this life I have so willingly chosen for myself, from this domestic bliss I have so carefully constructed, piece by piece. It feels like shackles to my soul. It chafes and confines. I long to be free. Just me. Pure, and free. Me and the wind and the moon and the trees, and my trusty pen. Free. How that word sings. I long for freedom. Can taste it like the memory of ice cream eaten on an exotic beach. Everything about my life as a mother is far from free. My day is wound carefully around the needs of others.

I feel like a domesticated wild woman. So often I just want to run. I don't belong here pairing socks and making pancakes, wiping bottoms and lulling fractious children to sleep. I want to be off, wild and free, with  no one to answer to, to be nice, polite to, to make a nutritious meal, carefully cut up for. I wish to wake when I want, and sleep when I want. Alone.

I want to write all day, then to sit and watch the fire and eat chocolate and drink to much wine, then walk in the woods by moonlight, before curling up alone in a warm bed with a book that makes my soul soar before going to sleep for a night full of uninterrupted sleep.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Operation Christmas Spirit

Operation Christmas spirit: this is my last ditch attempt to feel festive, after feeling decidedly meh! after the pottery Christmas party yesterday.

So up with kiddies at 8.30, despite a lousy night, despite it being my writing day. And straight into the kitchen. I unleashed my inner domestic goddess, who has been away these past weeks, perhaps even months, whilst creative rainbow mama has been here writing books. And so in two hours we made:

  • clementine jelly
  • cranberry sauce
  • cranberry, pecan, dark choc and orange cookies
  • gingerbread cookies
  • mulled apple juice

The house smelt of Christmas. And then breakfast of cookies and mulled juice tasted like Christmas. So I think we can say mission accomplished! Might even head off to see the big red man at the local safari park this afternoon!

After sharing last year's Santa post on my Facebook page (if you're not a friend, make that your Xmas pressie to me...) a good friend emailed me this...

REMEMBER THIS AT CHRISTMAS TIME

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December.


Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should've known... ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit allaround the world in one night and not get lost.  A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!   

Oh it made me chuckle - thank you Leigh . As did the comment that another reader left at the bottom of my Santa post about collecting kangaroo poo from the Australian bush to act as reindeer poo! Hahaha!

So all it leaves me to say is have a very Merry Christmas, dearest readers. We are set to hit 50,000 page views before Christmas day which is very exciting. Thank you for coming back again and again and sharing the journey. It is all the more rich with you here.

I would love a festive hello from all my readers below. If you've never said hi, take a deep breath and de-lurk yourself (thank you SO much Lucy for your lovely de-lurking email this morning- it made me smile!).

Tell me what you REALLY want this Christmas.

Me? I REALLY want to hold my own book in my hands, and have a "placing it on my own bookshelf ceremony" - which is why I have been working SO hard on it!

That and a night's sleep. But I've been asking for that for 7 years!

Merry Christmas one and all, and to all a good night ('s sleep!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Losing my religion

That's me in the spotlight,
That's me in the corner,
 losing my religion.

(REM)

I have a feeling that part of the problem with Christmas this year, is that it's the first year in my life when I really, truly know that I don't believe.

It will be the first year that I do not go to church or a carol service of any sort, by choice.

You see, I have wrestled for years with my Christian faith. And have come to the conclusion that it is not OK with me. There are too many central tenets which are antithetical to my personal beliefs.

I do not believe in the Christian idea of heaven.
I do not believe that god is "our father"
I do not believe in a virgin birth
I do not believe in the creator god of the old testament
I positively abhor the god who smites and advocates death and destruction as judgement against his enemies. That is not what or who GOD is.
I despise what has been done in the name of god throughout the centuries
I do not believe that Jesus is the only son of God
I do not believe that god is male... or female
I do not agree with only men being allowed to minister.
I do not believe in the resurrection
Nor do I believe in the rite of eucharist.

It is pretty undeniable that I am NOT Christian.

To paraphrase Emerson,I am ashamed to see what a shallow village tale our so-called religion is".

I have read and re-read the bible. Debated on the doorstep with Jehovah's Witnesses. I have read spiritual texts from many people and belief systems. At grad school in Cambridge I used to go to church twice on a Sunday - mainly for the beautiful music. As a mum of one I used to go to Quaker meeting most Sundays. I have had a lot of religion in my life.

But I now know that I cannot call myself Christian.

I am spiritual. Deeply so. And believe in a universal god energy.

But I know that my rejection of Christianity puts me at odds with so many - some who analyse their own faith deeply, and others who live inside it like a cosy old jumper which was handed down to them by their grandmother. A large part of me is sad that I cannot do that, be like that too. It would be much safer, easier, accepted, acceptable, straight forward.

And so here I am this Christmas - knowing that for the first time in my life it really isn't about the baby Jesus for me. It truly isn't. It is about the light and darkness. And celebration, feasting and family. And so tomorrow, we shall celebrate Solstice with friends, food and creativity. That is what feels most "true" for me. But the Pagan festivals are not settled in my soul either. They are new to me.

So here I stand. Between traditions. Knowing what is not true for me. Sensing what might be. Everything is shifting, it feels uncertain.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Children are for life... not just for Christmas

"True dat!" As my brother would say.



Though it feels like a life sentence at times.


And then they are so sweet. So vulnerable. So funny. And my heart melts. And then again...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Festivals of light

We are in the middle of a six week period where cultures around the world celebrate light - candles and twinkling fairy lights for Hannuka, Eid, Christmas and Advent, Diwali and Winter Solstice. There seems to be strong human urge to gather together, to feast, and to lift our spirits with sparkling lights.

Today is St Lucia's day. A festival of light. And my patron saint. Our name, from the Italian, luce and Latin lux means light. I loved this post from Twig and Toadstool last year about it, it's the first time I had heard of the celebration. Needless to say in an ideal world we would be making costumes and the like - but this, dear readers, is the year of enough- and that means enough guilt for all that we are not doing this season!


Driving home after yesterday's rant, we drove down the main street - and marvelled at the street lights, drove home past houses lit up inside and out. And my spirits lifted. This, this is what I love about this time of year, more than anything else. It used to be the music too, but with my failing Christian belief (more of which another time) and the fact that Christmas adverts start on the 1st November, I find them less rousing than once upon a time. Except The Snowman, I LOVE The Snowman - am linking to it here to get you feeling all tingly and magical.

But the light, the even the garish lights on the over decorated houses - you know the sort with a hundred inflatable flashing reindeer on the roof - they spark my soul with beauty and hope. And I realise that that is what we're missing here in the Pink House. Because of being energy conscious we don't "do" many lights - we have some on the stairs, our solar powered tree ones don't work - of course. I love lighting the (wilting) advent wreath with the children. I want to do more of that. And they love it too. They adore lighting candles.


And so, I think, this year I will pass on the carol service and the huge amounts of festive cooking. Gingerbread houses and dressed up santas in shopping malls be damned. I will celebrate a festival of light, a simple, gentle season of light and magic in the dark and cold. That will be my focus this festive season, in this year of Enough - to celebrate the light - to absorb the magic of the twinkling lights, and add a few of my own.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Beware the troll!

Who's that trip trapping over my bridge?

Well bugger off! I'm too tired to eat you.

I feel as much like Christmas as... I'm too tired for metaphors. Is it just extreme tiredness, two migraines in a week and a deaf right ear, or is it getting older that makes me so unenthused about Xmas this year? I can see it out there - but I don't feel it. At all. And I feel bad for my kiddies. I feel bad for us all, because we had such a wash out of a Christmas last year because of sickness, so I've been looking forward to making up for it all year. And now I'm not.

Everyone's cranky. Me most so. Girlies were out of sorts all last week - tantrums and wakeful nights all round. Mr Dreaming Aloud can be quoted as saying "the novelty of having little kids is wearing mighty thin".

I am in full agreement.

A little secret for you - last week's Joy Pockets were written the Friday before - the last time I felt, what's it called? - oh yes - joy - at being a mama.

I know I get like this when I'm super-mega-tired. I know I get like this when I'm sick. I know I get like this when I've had to be touching a baby every second of the night otherwise she wakes up. I know I get like this when I'm at a critical part of a project and just want to concentrate on it. I know I get like this because my life is ordered in its totality around my kids and I am angry that Mr Dreaming Aloud's isn't in the same way.

Bah humbug.




Friday, December 9, 2011

Joy Pockets

Sharing this week's gratitudes

Bedtime family dancing to The Gipsy Kings
...
Twinkling fairy lights
...
Walking home from a creative day's "work" to a roast chicken cooked for me
...
Baby Ash playing air guitar! Yes really!
...
Homemade chips
...
Our boy's pidgin Spanish picked up from said Gipsy kings CD
...
A winter chill in the air 
...
Fluffy socks
...
Making hot chocolate on top of our wood burning stove 
...
Playing Christmas carols (badly) on the piano and everyone singing along
...
My chilli n holly wreath on the front door - it makes me smile every time I see it
...
A 99% finished book. The first ever - I've started 7 in my life!
...
3 little kiddies - perfect in every way - most of the time!
...
A husband who understands everything - well me and WordPress - the two most complex things on the planet

And you? I'd love to hear your joy pockets for the week. Share them below in the comments or link up here with me and with Mon over at Holistic Mama



Monday, December 5, 2011

Woooosh!

Woooosh!

What was that?

That was my life.

Woooosh!

Zooming along at a million miles an hour.  Doing twenty things at once. Distracted. Impatient. Rattling the cage bars. Come on, hurry up!

I have been watching myself this past week, noticing how I take on more and more projects, ideas, how the work piles up - the faster I do it, the more is waiting to be done. Just how many plates can I have spinning on sticks before they come crashing down. The deadlines are building up and breathing down my neck. Deadlines for projects I am excited about. That I really want to do. Yet in chorus they shriek and paw at me, threatening to maul me to death.

I recognise, perhaps a little belatedly, that I am a complete workaholic - like my father before me - and, I get a sense, his mother before him. I get my deepest pleasure and fulfillment from my work. And I exhaust myself doing it. Racing around. Being mindful...ly mad!

So much for the Year of Enough - it lasted about a week!!!

So, once more I am recommitting myself to it. Even if just for today!


"Before Buddha awakened under the Bodhi Tree, he wasn't dealing with
spam, computer viruses, voicemail, insurance claims, credit
ratings, childcare, coordinating busy schedules, or any of the
other complexities we face on a daily basis.

Human life has improved tremendously in so many important ways, and
yet in other respects, we face challenges to our serenity and
happiness that could scarcely have been dreamed of three thousand
years ago."


 Integral Enlightenment email


Sunday, December 4, 2011

What are you giving yourself during this season of celebration?

The tree is up, the nature table is adorned, as is the mantle piece. The fairy lights are up, the door wreath and advent wreaths smelling of evergreen glory. Presents bought, cards to be written this week (we managed to get one of the last boxes of handmade cards I talked about here), that's before I even think about menu planning and shopping, and planning the craft for our women's group Christmas craft tea this Sunday. Yup, Christmas is coming and mama's getting panicked all over again!

The Christmas rush has started - and though I love and adore it, and love to do it in homemade style - there's no denying it can be pretty exhausting and overwhelming making sure that everything is taken care of.

When really, the most important thing to take care of is... yup, YOU! Your health, your happiness, your sanity!

So I ask you - what are you giving yourself?

Last week I talked about giving myself gifts each Christmas and birthday - and you know what, I think it's vital. It doesn't have to be expensive at all - but it has to be something which makes your heart sing, your  spirit shine and your soul glow. It has to make you feel WOW! 

It might be a full body massage. Or a glossy book you don't need, but you really want. Or a meal out... for one. Or a painting class. Or a meditation retreat. Or if you need someone to take you by the hand and sing some love into your soul - and guide you along the way of self care then I’ve got something for you. Something amazing.

Daphne Cohn Holiday Gift Pack

This incredible holiday gift pack includes: Goddess Leonie's 2012 Goddess Year book ( for more on that read on!), meditations, interviews, MP3s, e-books, teleconference, a vision board... 17 gifts in total to get you feeling good in your body, loved up in your relationship, visioning for the year ahead, creating energy for yourself... There is so much good stuff in there I don't even know where to start.

With gifts from 14 influential women like Gabrielle Bernstein, Amy Ahlers, Jennifer Louden, Goddess Leonie, LiYana Silver and more! Please, go, right now, this instant and check it out!

But what is I love about this package, is that its creator Daphne understands that though we all may want to feel like a million dollars, we don't have that to spend on self care. And so,  for the next 72 hours, it's all for the price you pick. That's right, you choose what you can afford! Which is why I am sharing it with you. Or perhaps it would make a wonderful Christmas gift for your mother, or sister...

Or just get a 2012 Goddess Yearbook by itself direct from Leonie - perhaps one for your best friend too! Or one for your women's group to share?


Although they come free with the Goddess Circle membership, I only printed off, and filled my 2011 one out a month ago, because I was like - meh! I'm not printing that out, I'll do it in my head... but oh my, the colour, the zizzy inspiringness, I love the way it gets you into a visioning mindset of co-creating the year ahead, and blessing the year behind. It is pure goodness in technicolour hand-illustrated, paper form. I LOVE it! In fact, I am heading off right now to print off my 2012 Yearbook - steaming hot off the press!

Really, as you know, I recommend the circle membership - because you get ALL her goodies for one price. But if you wanted a little taster, the cheapest way in to try Leonie's stuff and see if it is for you. If you want to dream big and bold for 2012, then this is for you!


And talking of hot off the press - the December issue of Wild Sister e-zine is out - this month's theme is Celebrate. If you need a little, instant cheer me up and soul surge inspiration, then this is for you. You can pick up the first three issues for the bargain price of AUS$8 right here!

For even more lovely goodies, do check out my post on supporting women's craft this Christmas.

What are YOU giving yourself this holiday season? Take care of YOU.
xxx

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sharing the e-love - hardcore blogging for women!

Apparently there's something called mercury retrograde happening right now, which, if you're into astrology, means that everything stalls, goes backwards or generally buggers up.

I can say without a doubt that this is true.

Listening to other people moan about their technical problems is about as tiresome as listening to them give out about their partner. 

So I won't. But let's just say this week the Happy Womb has been re built three times, went AWOL on numerous occasions, changed hosts, changed software, drove me cuckoo.

OK, sorry, a little moan, but now to share what I have learned, to save any of my dear readers the same stress if you find yourself in a similar situation. I will break it down into simple parts and share my e-love with you...



1) Did you know WordPress is not just WordPress? Oh yes. There are two: Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org. Am I the only idiot who did not know this?

If you want a personal blog. You go for .com.  Like blogger but sharper and more modern looking. It is free software and free hosting.

BUT

If you want to build a site for a business. Basically if you want to be able to earn money from your site using a shopping cart, the WordPress.org is what you need.

Simples... no?

2) Well, no. Because to use WordPress. org you need a HOST for your domain. You also need a URL. Which you can buy via them, or many other places. So I had my URL (www.thehappywomb.com). But now it was parked on WP.com

3) So to find a host - there are hundreds out there. And they cost. Between $50 and $150 for a simple package. Where to start?

Well I can say, without a shadow of a doubt - go with HostGator - they are in the top 10 hosts,they are some of the most affordable packages, they have won masses of prizes, but best of all, and this is INVALUABLE - if you get in a pickle - which I did every day for four days, you have instant free support - by free phone in the US, and by instant messaging. And they're SO nice, and SO helpful. And rather than doing the whole "computer says no" routine. They understand what's wrong. And then fix it online for you in minutes. They fix all the things that you have spent 24 hours singlehandedly buggering up. For free. And I didn't ever have to wait for more that 3 mins for service. They are open 24/7 - and staffed by the sort of young men you would definitely bring home to meet the parent - if you weren't already married. If you're in the market for a domain host - do not think twice - just step their way.

HostGator also has an easy to use control panel and one click installation of most of the software you need to use.
4) And then I got my knickers in a knot about images - for the website and the e book cover. And then I thought, you know what Lucy, you don't HAVE to do it all yourself. So I started looking for images. I know there's loads of great image sites out there. But I loved this Dreamstime. Because there were loads of great, and affordable images to buy, but also the best free library I've come across in my searches. There are lots of creative images and designs too. And they can be used on blogs, ebooks and real books free of charge. I got these images for free from there!

5) Then I was wondering how do you put together an e-book cover so that it looks the real deal - and found this - it looks a great resource on all aspects of blogging too.

http://www.standoutblogger.com/tutorials/tutorial-how-to-create-an-ebook-cover-with-photoshop/

6) And finally, I wouldn't be embarking on any of this if it was not for the inspiration and practical goldmine which is Leonie's Business Goddess e book 

So there we have it a round up of my techie week.


I would love to have your feedback as I compile The Happy Womb - I love this image of hands making a heart over a womb - it says love, happy, womb and woman to me - but I don't want it to seem like it's just a pregnancy site...Because it's far broader -  It's about womancraft - see the first post up - so our fertility, creativity, self care, honouring our bodies, and celebrating being women - red tents, womens circles...

I wondered about making it rich and red - like a womb space or a red tent - but there are a lot up like that. I though pink - but I know a lot of alternative women are anti pink - I am currently going for light and clear...

What do you love in a website, and what do you hate? Dark colours or light. Flash screens or simple? I would really value your input...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joy Pockets


...
Having one of those days where you get everything done on your to-do list that you've been avoiding for months
...
A baby who loves peeling tangerines all day - but not eating them!
...
Waxing and glazing my sculpted candle angels
...
Chocolate advent calendars
...
Making our advent wreath - eucalyptus and peacock feathers this year!
...
Masterchef: The Professionals - four nights a week, every week - hurray!
...
Turkish delight
...
Wonderful friends
...
A teacher who's willing to be flexible and put the student's needs before her own ego
...
Receiving the first glowing testamonial for my Moon Time e-book
...
Figuring out Wordpress - all over again - long story!
...

I'd love to hear your gratitudes for the week.


Linking up with Mon over at holisticmum.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello!

Hello dear reader, I am here...

I'm just a little bit busy right now...

All good...

Just busy.

See you soon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Question of Belief

Warning: 
This post is not suitable for 

the faint hearted 
devout Christians
or small children

So, for the other two reader of my blog - settle down and enjoy!...


***
Regular readers will be aware of the on-going saga of our "difference of opinion on the god issue" with our son's Catholic, state school - namely they believe, yet state that it's all very benign, meanwhile I sit and stew about my innocent child being brainwashed by a dogma to which we as a family most definitely do NOT subscribe.

One week before the annual Parent Teacher meeting, I happened to have a conversation with my son about saying what you felt, saying "you need to say what's important to you, because people can't read your mind."

"But god can" - he retorts, quick as a flash.

"Where did you hear that?" - I demand - knowing the reply before it comes

"Teacher said"

Cue fuming mama, planning careful speeches to approach teacher with one week hence.

The day of reckoning arrives. We talk reading books and my son's general lack of interest in the inane reading matter he is sent home with. She is suprised to hear that a child isn't riveted by it.

We talk reading ages and maths skills. I brace myself to bring up the dreaded subject. She gets there first.

The colour drains from her face, her voice goes quiet and slightly shaky. "There's just one other thing I need to talk to you about. There have been complaints..."

My mind races. Complaints about my dear, gentle, sweet boy?

"From some other parents. He's been upsetting the other children, going around telling them that it's not true... we thought maybe he was getting it from home..."

"No", I stammer, earnest in my need to please, "we believe, we're making sure he believes too, though I've overheard him rationalising the improbabilities of it..."

"That's OK so, because it's really important that they all believe...

In Santa!"

For flips sake! I daren't mention to her that in circles that I hang out in on the blogosphere that Santa is "bad". It might have given her a heart attack. He might have been kicked out of the school. It seems they can tolerate non-belivers in the god thing, just. But not Santa. That'd be a weirdness too far.

So I brought up the god thing. Tit for tat! She was understanding - said the priest had hotfooted it of the classroom the other day when the children started bombarding him with questions about what happens when we die.

Belief - a thorny issue. Adults are weird, it has to be said. But as long as we all believe in Santa then it's all OK!

Postscript: We took him to see Arthur Christmas this weekend just to ensure a thorough indoctrination!




Friday, November 25, 2011

Joy pockets

Though I have many joy pockets this week, I wanted to share one very special one with you. One that makes my work worthwhile, that makes risking talking about the untalkable so totally worth it. I went to bed beaming after having received this wonderful email about how my Honouring Your Crazy Woman talk at the World's Biggest Summit has helped to transform the life of a woman in Brazil (which I am sharing with her permission).... 


I´m writing to let you know how your words in the World Biggest Summit touched me.

It was SO strong for me to hear about the Crazy Woman! Sometimes I stopped what I was doing and just listened. I heard the audio about 2 or 3 times in sequence, in my MP3, while I was cooking the dinner.

That night, before go to bed, my kids and husband were sleeping, I sit down and made my Crazy Woman drawing. After I wrote the words associated to her. Finally I made an adapted altar with some rocks, shells and seeds and light a candle.

Wow!

Next day I felt myself calmer and almost in peace. For the first time in years I felt less guilty about my terrible humor -- or at least less guilty to be crazy.

Now I´m trying to nurture the great Rainbow Woman and handle the huge Crazy Woman inside me.

{...}
The next day I started blogging again (I used to blog before I had my kids). My first post was a detail of my Crazy Woman.

I´ve been wanted to blog for so long... but I didn´t permit me until this time.
After I heard you, I allowed myself to do the blog and since than I´m keeping trying to allow me to do things that I like more often.: http://passarim.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Lucy!

Hugs,

Alessandra, Brazil

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to be a creative mama

"With the arrival of my children has come the arrival of a new burst of creativity, something which many of the mothers I interviewed for my book (on Creative Rainbow Mamas) experienced too.

There are so few words about the real experience of mothering and the real experience of being a woman. We tend to lack the language, the courage, the sense of value to be able to give words to our realities and our dreams. My upcoming book is an attempt to put language to the reality of being the most fabulous, and misunderstood of creatures: a creative mother.

My first child was just four weeks old when I realised that I need to correct my creative/mother balance. I started to follow The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Her morning pages exercise reconnecting me with my old sense of self, which through work, training (albeit in arts teaching), pregnancy and now mothering felt like a far-distant land, and one to which I had lost the return ticket..."

Lucy Pearce (aka Mrs Dreaming Aloud), being interviewed on the subject of creativity and motherhood. 


To read the whole interview, head over to Artisantopia (The Internet Filtered for Creative People), where you will find out:
  • How I weave my days
  • My views on TV and kids
  • More about my Creative Mama book, and other upcoming projects
  • What the mothers I interviewed for the book agree on... and what they hide
  • My key supports and tools for being a creative mama
See you there!

And if you haven't contributed to my research on creative mamas it's not too late - click here to find out more about how to contribute your experience to my book.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Supporting women's craft this Christmas

What are you doing for Christmas presents this year?

As you know I am massively into supporting women to support themselves and their families through their creativity, and that includes in the developing world. I much prefer this approach, and micro loans, rather than charity. I try as often as I can to buy handmade gifts from women's co operatives, to help move money from our rich world directly into the hands of creative women - they bring colour and beauty into my life.

This year I want to bring your attention to some wonderful women and projects supporting them.
One of a Kind
www.serrv.org
Beadies - made by a woman in Uganda and sold via a new charity: Footprints in Uganda -these stunning beads (this pic doesn't do them full credit) are only £5 for a beautiful long string of beads made from recycled paper, handrolled and dipped in resin. I am buying  myself 2 strings for Xmas. Do you buy yourself Xmas pressies and birthday pressies? I don't know when I started, but it's a crucial part of my celebratory times - a gift of love for myself, and something that I wouldn't normally treat myself to. And it's ALWAYS just what I want!!!!


For cards - Sreepur cards - based in Bangladesh is a community which cares for 100 destitute mothers and 500 children. At the heart of the community is a paper-making facility, where the mothers transform locally grown jute into beautiful paper which in turn becomes handcrafted Christmas cards. The charity was set up by an ex British Airways stewardess, and BA transport the cards free of charge to the UK for sale, so 100% of the cards sale price goes directly to the mothers and children.  They sell at £13.50 for a pack of 16 cards - this year's sold out, due to great coverage in The Guardian, but you can add your name to their mailing list for next year, with subject line 'Priority 2012' to orders@sreepurcards.org 

Oxfam - for a whole host of ethically made and traded crafts in the UK only (unfortunately the Irish branch has closed) - I'm asking for a beautiful embroidered sari from it as the foundation piece for my new red tent project (more of which very soon!! - see Facebook for a bit more!)

Serrv is based in the US and sells fair trade, hand made, non profit goodies - some beautiful jewellery,  linens and much more... I love these...
 Tree Of Life Table RunnerBandhook TableclothRed Blossom Teapot

And of course there's Etsy, brim full of beautiful handmade creative gems from gorgeous women around the world.

What are YOU doing for Xmas this year? All homemade? No pressies? A secret Santa arrangement? Or full blow out of beautiful gifts? Do you get organised early - or are you a last minutest? I HAVE to have all mine bought/ made or visioned by the end of November at the very latest or I FREAK OUT!! - I've been like this since I was five! So, needless to say, all ours are sorted.

What's on YOUR wanted list? I'm holding out for an i-pad - as a joint gift from everyone - for lots of creative fun.

And what are you making for Xmas? I have just dropped off the clay nativity set to be fired in the Pottery kiln. And I'm hosting our women's group Xmas Craft-Tea again this year- it's in two weeks so we're playing with ideas in anticipation. Do check out thrifty Christmas for lots of ideas.


Monday, November 21, 2011

In memoriam

A year has passed since a tragedy shook our local community. Barely a day goes by when I do not think of dear Una, who on one November morning lost her husband and two precious daughters. Each time I see her family I ask for her, even though I have never met her.  Each time I pass her house where her dear children died, I pray for her. Each time I pass the spot where her husband crashed his car, I pray for them all. 


For months the spot was charred, black and barren - a gaping hole of pain made physical, a constant reminder for the whole community of the pain of one woman and her whole family. I thought many times about going and planting some bulbs, some shoots of life, hope and colour in the burnt out hillside. But it was not my space to desecrate. 


But then one day in early summer, I drove past and the bank was a blaze of colour. Planted by someone, I know not who. Perhaps the family, perhaps the community council. A sign of renewal for Una, for the community who mourn still.  


May flowers grow for you again dear Una, may your life blossom in unforseen ways, may miracles find you. May love be with you everywhere you go.


Last year's post:


For Una, and all who grieve,

I send you a prayer with every breath. I cannot begin to comprehend your pain, the scale of your loss.

The storm winds of the mother soul howled around this house last night, and every other house in the area, the tears of God raining down upon us as we battened down our hatches and sent continual prayers that you are finding peace and comfort somehow. We are counting and recounting our own blessings with every prayer. Wishing we could transfer them to you.

Words cannot begin to express the sense of deep, deep sadness that every mother and father in our community feels at this moment. We hold our own, dear children closely to us, as though we can immunize them and ourselves from suffering and pain through our tiny, repeated act of love, wishing, wishing that this would bring your children back to you.

We wake to a blue sky, the rays of sunshine promising hope. But the mood is dark and sombre. The usual school gate chatter is gone. Even the playground is eerily quiet. We are united in your pain: we are all one.

We want to talk but talking changes nothing. Nor does the news. It is like scratching an itch, it momentarily makes things feel better, and then worse. The facts are not what we want. We seek to find a way through the shock, the senselessness, the destructive possibilities of the human spirit. The knife edge of normality which we unknowingly walk along every day and which disaster can shatter in an instant. As I feed our chickens and empty our bins, I wish you the soothing tedium of mundanity.

The mother soul is grieving for one of its own. Know that we are united around you, though you cannot see us or may not know us. We hold the space for you, for you to be as you need, in this moment. We open our Madonna's cloaks, fall into their soft folds, let us hold you and croon you a lullaby to soothe you into sleep and the momentary forgetfulness that it will bring, let us wail together, let us wash you clean of your pain in our tears, let us feed you and hold you as you cry and scream and rage and then lie silent.

I pray that you might find life after death. Someday, somehow.

With love, deepest love, dear Una and all your family.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Count your calories! ... but not the way you might think

So this is The Year of Enough...
Last week's "homework" was to make a list of everything you do in a day.

So you wrote everything down, right.

Or did you?

Have a little look over your list. Did you put in all the emotional stuff that you did that day? Chances are you forgot it... because "it doesn't count" right? It doesn't count in the real world, it doesn't make you any money... but it DOES count because it takes your life energy just as much, if not more!

So look over your list and write down every major emotional interaction you had too, so
  • Comforting a sad child
  • Dealing with a tantrum or argument
  • Consoling a distraught friend
  • Helping your sister with her financial worries
  • Worrying about a major life change
  • Having an altercation with a man in a car park
  • Having some couple time with your partner
Positive or negative it's all your energy which is being used.

And don't forget "passive" activities, such as commuting, talking on the phone, even watching TV... And minding kids for a day or be in work is worth 100 basic points before you add in the specifics!

So now you have your full list of where your energy went in one day. 

Now to "count your calories"

Just like in a diet program you count your calories (energy parcels) to see how much you're taking in. In this exercise you are counting your energy parcels that you are giving out. (Please note these are not actual calories - I am just using the term to make you aware of the energy impact of your day.)

The scoring system

Any action - emotional or physical which lasted 30 mins or less in your day = 50 calories 

Any action which took particular 
  • concentration, 
  • stress or 
  • took over 30 mins receives double points= 100 calories 
Add 250 calories for each of the following
  • have a full time job (including being a full time mother), 
  • have a baby under 1, 
  • are breastfeeding
  • are pregnant or undergoing IVF
  • are being woken more than twice a night, 
  • have an illness or disability
  • are caring for someone sick
  • are a single parent, your partner is working away or working late
Any deeply stressful, once in a lifetime event - a birth, death, imminent divorce, hospitalisation, major illness or hospitalisation = 500 calories a day

So add up your points. What did you get? This is how much energy you are using in a day... (for a worked example see mine at the bottom).

As with calories, an average, sustainable day would be between 1300-2000 points, depending on your energy levels, level of support, your enjoyment of what you're doing, and a good self care regime etc.

Anywhere over 2500 is unsustainable on a regular basis - you need to get more support, simplify your daily routine, off load commitment.

Now obviously, this is totally unscientific. But if you do this for a few days you will get a sense of:
  • How much energy you are using over a day. 
  • Whether you are front loading it or spreading your energy use evenly over a day. 
  • What events are recurring on a daily basis which you could consolidate, or avoid all together?
  • Where is your energy going?
  • Where is it leaking being drained?
  • Where could you choose to use it differently?
In short, where does it point to you how to sustain your own energy-use levels and apply the law of Enough in your life.

I'd love to hear your responses...

Example: My day's total was: 2250
  • 250 -have a full time job (including being a full time mother)
  • 250 -are breastfeeding
  • 250 -are being woken more than twice a night, 
  • 250- baby with a cold
  • 50 -Car journeying
  • 50 -Filled out my 75 things I want to do in 2012
  • 50 -Did a high speed local grocery shop
  • 50- Made all three kids breakfast and minded three all day
  • 50- Checked my email and wrote some
  • 50-Finished and promoted my blog post for Dreaming Aloud, and another blog
  • 50-Did JUNO correspondence
  • 50- Created a dinosaur scrap book with Timmy using Google images
  • 50-Got the kids to help me tidy their room
  • 50-Played musical statues with them
  • 50- Got us all dressed
  • 50-Fed the chickens and Fed us all lunch
  • 50-Emptied and filled the dishwasher
  • 50-Did a little house tidying
  • 50-Got three kids out of the house with shoes, coats and snacks
  • 50-Recycled 7 bags of clothes
  • 50-Took Meli to the nurse
  • 50-Got clay from the pottery - made a labyrinth and a sculpture
  • 50-Checked emails and Facebook - helped promote a friend's event
  • 100-Made supper for all tonight and for tomorrow
  • 50- Brought in yesterdays washing and hung up in side
  • 100 -Kids bedtime
  • 50-TV and Wrote my list!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Joy Pockets


Joining up with Mon over at  Holistic Mama to celebrate our weekly Joy Pockets.

joy pockets

My gratitudes this week include...


Fluffy slippers
.
Making clay angels
.
An email from Steve Biddulph
.
A disappearance of tantrums
.
Two whole tea house writing days – 15 hours child free!!!
.
A finished draft of my Celebrating Moon Time e-book
.
Watching a kestrel battle the storm winds over the bog
.
.
Happy days with kiddies and friends
.
Rediscovering the joys of Aldi's snack section!
.
A job well done!


And you, dear Dreamer, I hope you had a lovely week. What are your joy pockets? Please do share them below.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hello little voice...

A full day of work today. Productive contentment and focus in the storm tossed tea house.
And yet I noted when I was writing, a little voice in my head was my constant companion. It was always there and just kept saying over and over “But THIS doesn't count...”

Haha! Hello little voice! What's that you say?

Writing an ebook doesn't count – because I might not make any money from it
Proofreading a brochure I'm getting paid for doesn't count – because it's easy
Spell checking and working on layout for my ebook doesn't count because it's just admin
Reading the Business Goddess book doesn't count
And lunch certainly doesn't count...

And this doesn't count, because it's just a blog post. And not even the post I was supposed to be writing. And aren't I lazy for not having posted anything for over 24 hours.

And it got me thinking – what DOES count for my little voice? What DOES it find acceptable?

Dear little voice. What do you want and where did you come from? Why are you so hard on me? I work very, very hard. I do work that I love with dedication. I endeavor to bring joy, goodness and learning into the world. I love my family very much and do my best by them. But still you scoff and scorn and chastise and beat me with your stick throughout my busy days.

Dear little voice in my head, this is the Year of Enough. Take a rest, you must be tired.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Community ... for Kids

I have always hated the idea of living on a housing estate. Too many neighbours, too close for comfort, identikit houses, and not our sort of people. No siree, not for me. And certainly not for my kids. They need a vast lawn. And a wood and meadows to run wild in. Perhaps a pony! Certainly an acre of organic veggie garden. And mama needs her own private glade for naked moonlight dancing and other mad notions!

But reality and finances mean that in order to live where we want to live, we needed to live on an estate.

And you know what?

I am so glad we do.

If only for one reason (though in reality there are many!). It is perfect for the kids. We live at the end of a loop-the-loop cul-de-sac, and so our children have a veritable runway of tarmac all to themselves, with a massive patch of grass besides.

So, rather than me driving here, there and everywhere arranging play dates and after school activities, they head out the back door and there they have friends. A pack of them to run about with. They range from 18 months to 10 and all take part according to their ability. They play on bikes and trikes, skate boards and push along tractors.  They play catch, draw in chalk on the pavement, collect caterpillar and grasshoppers, create elaborate mausoleums for deceased rodents which could rival the Taj Mahal and invent endless espionage games which usually end in tears. There is a lot of water play too, which always seems to take place in our garden - it seems that mud, gravel, stones and a hose can provide hours of illicit fun!

I feel so good knowing that they are out there creating their own little community of neighbours, another generation of connections being made. But where we mums and dads make it over cups of coffee and borrowed sugar, they make theirs over ice lollies and worms.

If you are interested in making this happen in your own neighbourhood, I have just discovered a new initiative www.playingout.net which aims to promote and support kids playing outside together, helping communities to create safe spaces within their neighbourhoods for free play. Do check out this innovative website - even if just to revel in the pavement painting design. Let's help to get our children playing outside together.

And check out the winter edition of JUNO magazine for an interview with Tim Gill about supporting children and outside play.

This post has been written as a contribution to The Big Lunch blog. The Big Lunch is an annual community event held in early June each year  in the UK and Ireland where communities come together to eat and celebrate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This doesn't count... The Year of Enough

Do you ever find yourself telling yourself this...

This extra chocolate biscuit (or three) doesn't count
This work doesn't count - because I enjoy it/ do it in my spare time/ don't get paid for it- (I do this for my blog, my JUNO work - in fact most of my work)
Kids leftovers don't count as calories, nor does any food destined for the rubbish bin... or eaten standing up at the fridge or in the car whilst driving
Mothering/caring/ volunteering doesn't count (so I don't deserve to be tired)

What don't you count? And what effect does it have on your health and happiness? I notice when I don't make things count I overload myself - because of all the bits which are real, in the real world, which I have struck off in my head as being "not real".

Are you with me? Do you do this?

So my simple conclusion is, if we are aiming for enough -which we are - given that this is officially The Year of Enough and we are getting real about our energy and material inputs and out puts - then we need to count our beans properly.

So I am proposing a little experiment.

At the end of today list EVERYTHING you did. The opposite of a "to do" list, this is a done list. (See my Mothering Badge of Honour post for an example of what I'm talking about. Or see PS below!) Or if you are struggling with eating then list everything you ate and drank.

Now look at this list. Appreciate everything you have put your energy into. Don't beat yourself up at what you haven't done or should have done, or did badly. So, if you cooked dinner, then you cooked dinner - no qualifiers. It doesn't matter (at this moment) if the kids/ your partner didn't EAT it. You COOKED it. So give yourself credit. That was a use of your life energy, it counts, so acknowledge it. Be mindfully aware about how you have used your unique energy, and, even if just for today, give yourself credit.

This is step one, I will be sharing step two later in the week for making your life count, as part of the Year of Enough.  Do please share your insights and observations here with us all.

P.S My list for today...

Today I...
Woke up early with baby after a night breastfeeding a baby with a cold
Filled out my 75 things I want to do in 2012
Did a high speed local grocery shop
Made all three kids breakfast and minded three all day
Checked my email and wrote some
Finished and promoted my blog post for Dreaming Aloud, and another blog
Did JUNO correspondence
Tried to fix the printer
Created a dinosaur scrap book with Timmy using Google images
Got the kids to help me tidy their room
Played musical statues with them
Got us all dressed
Fed the chickens
Fed us all lunch
Emptied and filled the dishwasher
Did a little house tidying
Got three kids out of the house with shoes, coats and snacks
Recycled 7 bags of clothes
Took Meli to the nurse
Got clay from the pottery - made a labyrinth and a sculpture
Checked emails and Facebook - helped promote a friend's event
Made supper for all tonight and for tomorrow
Brought in yesterdays washing and hung up in side
Did a load of washing and hung up inside
Put baby to bed
Wrote my list!



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