Monday, February 28, 2011

Clay in the blood

It all started with a dream. Both my grandparents had it on the same night...

My grandfather was to go to a bar in a local town to meet a potter, who would tell him all he needed to learn. So he did. And he did. And he started a little pottery which grew and grew. And both of his sons became potters. And now his grandson is also becoming a potter.

But not me.

"Are you creative?" A woman asked me at the opening of one of my father's exhibitions.

"No", I answered, in all seriousness.

Circle of Stones (2) Book review

Most of us have a number of books which have marked defining points on our life's journey. For me they are mainly women's books. And all non-fiction. Each is like a marker in the sand, a point when I can say that my conception of myself and my world changed forever. They marked a deeper knowing: a tangible shift.
I think of my life in terms of BB and AB (rather than AD and BC!) Before X book (BB). And after X book (AB)!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Circle of Stones (1) You are Invited

How might you life have been different if there was a place for you? A place for you to go...a place of women...a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as you sought to become yourself. A place of women to help you to trust the ancient flow already there within yourself...waiting to be released...
                        A place of women...
                                    How might your life be different?
 Judith Duerk, Circle of Stones

dear woman, 
are invited...
To join the circle of stones gathering
Wherever you maybe...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beyond black and white

I remember my first one clearly. The embarrassment. I was twelve. I was at netball practice and a classmate saw. She made a comment and I couldn't deny it, though I made a half arsed attempt. My first grey hair.

A couple of years later in teenage turmoil I attended a counsellor. Everything to you is black or white, she said, there's a lot of shades of grey in the middle.

Well dear reader, you know me, grey just isn't me. I have opinions. Lots of them. Big shouty ones. I don't do grey. Wishy washy. Blah!

And I like to do everything. Or nothing. There is little in between.

But life is teaching me acceptance, the liminal state of in-between. I have learned that I am what I am. And that is actually just fine. Rather wonderful in fact. And so I have chosen to embrace my whitening locks - even though I am only 30. I am have nothing to hide.

But there aren't that many of us about. It is quite bizarre to be standing next to a woman ten, twenty, thirty years older than me, and they have not a single grey hair... on show... it is all covered up in glossy hair dye. For me it is about acceptance of who I am and what I look like, not covering it up. But for most grey hair is a failure, a loss of youth, fertility, a fading of looks, a reminder of death.

But only for women it seems.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Making Dreams Come True...

"Imagine all your dreams can come true…
 You can achieve great health…
 Find your soul mate…
 Gain financial freedom…
 Have a fulfilling and meaningful life…
 It begins with following a list of simple instructions…
 Would you do it?
 I did!" 


Today I would like to talk about the above. Cosmic Ordering. The fast food, non-denominational approach to prayer for the 21st century.

I have a deep seated bull-shit alert and it comes on every time I lay eyes on the smarmy shisters who write crap books on the subject. Of which I - to my shame - have read many. And wholeheartedly recommend... none!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Babbling Brook

Over the weekend I was looking over old photographs from our time in Kyoto, Japan. Oh how nostalgic it made me. The cherry blossom, the mochi, the bowl of mountains hugging the city, the golden temples and zen rock gardens, the green tea, and a younger self freewheeling on a bicycle. But perhaps most of all I really miss the water!

Most days would find me meandering down backroads on my bike visiting temple gardens to sit by the streams, crossing bridges and stepping stones, taking the waters in their steaming public bath houses, or simply cycling home along the Kamo Gawa which flowed like an artery through the city. Gathered along its banks were kids playing badminton, business men cycling to work, fathers and sons fishing, families picnicking, students doing tai chi and herons and kites always circling. I found the river endlessly soothing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Making his mark

Our five-year-old boy is learning to write. There are messages everywhere... signs on doors: privit proprty, bois room; recipes (see here) and notes such as this is not a shoping list under his dad's to-do list; plant labels; shopping lists; thank you letters; Valentines cards; even a couple of his own books: the great big book of of dinosors in the wurld and another volume on aliens. They were all done quietly by himself, fuelled by his own inspiration. I love the free flow of his thoughts and words onto paper and his quirky spelling. I love his drive to communicate, his need to express himself through writing. He loves this too, the magic of seeing letters spill from his pencil onto the page. And the double delight of his parents being able to read his missives. He is making his mark on the world...and he loves it!

Today his dad made him a paper hat, at his request. We found it later, annotated thus:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God in the belly

We had another God conversation yesterday. Me and my five-year-old uber-questioner (for our last see Jesus in a Spaceship).

"God is in here", he said, patting his belly, on the way home from another indoctrination at school. "So I guess that means he's like a ghost...but not so white...and smaller because otherwise you'd have a really big belly!"

"Yes," I replied, "I think God is inside, but outside too. God is the life in everything, the energy in the Sun, in you, in the birds and flowers, God is everything magical and mysterious that we cannot see, God is in our breath..." but whilst I am grasping for definitions, he has already moved on. "What's for supper, mum?"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A love letter

I planned to do all sorts of things this weekend.
I planned to do a wonderful Valentines blog post to launch a new regular feature on this blog, one that other bloggers could join in with.
I planned to share the love. To inspire and give back.
But actually the greatest act of love I could do for myself this Valentines weekend, was to receive. To rest. To stop doing and just be for a while.
My computer has stayed firmly off. Well, almost! But off for me. I have read and read and am filling myself brim full of other people's ideas and love. I have stayed in bed a lot.
I am not ill. Very tired, but rather than get ill to be "allowed" to rest, I am allowing myself to step down a gear and recharge. To take in rather than give out.
I have been fed and cherished by my dear husband, wonderful friends, sweet children, precious father and step-mother, my kind mother-in-law. They have taken the strain and allowed me to slow down and decompress. I have accepted offers. I have asked for help.
I know it may sound strange to say that it is my greatest act of love to lean hard on others. But trusting others, having the courage to ask, and not feel guilty, to say that I can't do it all, to not be an angry martyr stomping around doing stuff when I feel empty...  all these things are big hurdles for me. BIG. And so I am very proud of myself. I have come a long way.
I am in a position of deep love and gratitude for those I am fortunate enough to have in my life.
Thank you all.
I love you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Say what? "For a Dirty Toilet User..."

A continuation of the Wordless Wednesday theme: it contains lots of words and is not published on a Wednesday!

I was looking for an appropriate image to accompany a new feature on love letters. And came across this. The opposite of a love letter! A (forgive me!) shite letter!

We were living in a gaijin house (foreigner's guest house) in Kyoto, Japan., run by a very eccentric manager (a Japanese cat lady). We got in late after a night of too much plum wine and karaoke and were greeted by this sign on our phone message board.  We just had to photograph it. I had forgotten all about it...till this morning!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Boxes, boxes...

I have always said that I am not someone who fits into boxes. I despair of questionnaire people (is there a proper word for them?) knocking on my door, trying to get me to answer which box I fit into, for example: employed, unemployed, housewife...  I don't know... some of them, all of them, none, all at the same time, I feel like saying. I don't know if I'm just awkward, exacting, overcomplicated, super-diverse, or if everyone has the same problem.

My other issue with boxes is living out of them. Since I left Uni, nine years ago most of my life has been packed into boxes. And now we have our own house, still there are boxes everywhere, waiting, waiting for that perfect, box-unpacking moment to come along. They fill me with dread. And disgust at myself, Miss Voluntary-Simplicity-Woman  is the not-so-proud possessor of score upon score of boxes of possessions. And my husband seems to have none. But then I am known to him and my friends as the go-to gal - you need a book on just about any subject from back ache to 2012, a novelty bottle opener, embroidery thread in any colour under the sun - you name it, I have it! And I am SO anti-commercialism! And hoarding! And "stuff" in general.

So anyway, as you can see, I beat myself up for this. And then I had a look at the boxes still waiting to have something done to them, and with the exception of the hideous mound of boxes in the utility room which are full of strange bits and pieces that will never have a proper home found for them. Apart from the fabrics waiting to be made into quilts and other creative projects, and notes waiting for future writing and teaching projects, the rest are actually boxes of love: boxes of my grandmother's love letters, diaries and correspondence; my own love letters; a box of our wedding cards and programmes and memorabilia, other cards, photographs, letters, diaries. Boxes of love. Boxes of words and memories. How lucky I am to have boxes full of love to look back on, to sift through, to cry over and to warm me to the tips of my toes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Priceless Parenting Resource

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I cannot imagine parenting without __________

Hmmm, I have been thinking on this for a long while. It certainly isn't slings or a breast pump, useful as they might be. Boobs are very useful, but only for a couple of years. A loud voice comes in handy too at times. So do Arnica tablets and Rescue Remedy. LEGO is handy too. But I am procrastinating...

My short list, OK, my long list is:
*Books, so many wonderful books which help me to learn and grow every day
*JUNO magazine: the ideas, the community, the knowledge, the spirit
* My precious husband. How many times a day do I thank my lucky stars I am not having to parent alone.
*My dear friends, angels in cake-eating human form
*My open hearted mother and step mother and husband's family 
*Our friendly playgroup 
*And lately the wisdom and inspiration of bloggers around the world...

How to choose?
And then I realised, I don't have to, they share a common denominator.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New World: Can we Build Utopia in the Real World?

For most the Recession is a depressing prospect, one of a tide of history going out carrying with it a lot of dead fish, driftwood and garbage. For me, it is a tide coming in full of opportunities… Incoming tides can also, of course, swamp the unsuspecting and the unready and I still worry about the hordes I see pouring of the commuter trains every morning who seem to think or hope that they live by a tideless and unchanging sea. They don’t. Nor do these tides keep to neat tables. They come in surges. It is truly an age of uncertainty and of unreason...The future is not inevitable. We can influence it, if we know what we want it to be…We can and should be in charge of our own destinies in a time of change.” Charles Handy, 1989

When we dream of another way, of a possible future society, it is so easy, so tempting to start with a blank slate, as though the Monopoly game board has been swept clean of playing pieces. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Guest Blogger on The Anti-Room today

The election date is set. The parties have launched their election campaigns. Let the gender battle commence...How do you decide who to vote for?To read the full article visit:

Just stopped by from The Anti-Room? Welcome to Dreaming Aloud! Here are some previous posts that might interest you:
Votes for Women
A Sane Response to Crazy Times
This is our Moment
Call Yourself a Feminist?
Fleeing Vesuvius: Book review

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Joy Pockets

the loan of a writing shed in the woods beside my house
making a birds nest
red velvet cake
a tonne of writing commissions
sharing food with friends
filling our pockets with hidden conkers
the weekend coming round...again

What are Joy Pockets anyway? See here

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Spring

It seems like after the fun and frolics of Christmas and New Year the celebrations calendar dries up for months, except for the pink ruffle of Valentines Day. Easter celebrations seem a long way off. But then, like buses, in two days four celebrations come up at once, taking me totally by surprise. They are celebrations I knew nothing of really until this year.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Except it's lots of words...and it's not quite Wednesday!!

A five-year-old's recipe...

Wee and 
Some Poo
And some brown sugar
Peanut Butter
Don't stink!

Written all by himself on freezer labels and stuck on the fridge, whilst I was cooking Peanut Butter Blondies with his sister (yuck he said, and refused to help, until he tried them! - See MY recipe for them on Queen of Puddings blog. They are most definitely NOT yuck!)


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