Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back… looking forward…

And so as the turn of the year approaches I look back over the year that was. In total amazement for the year that was. And give thanks.

First things first, I survived the end of the world. And if you are reading this, then you did too. Hurray for us! Mojitos all round, I say!

I nominated this my year of abundant rainbows. And it sure was. I made a sacred vow to myself out loud on this blog that this would be the year I let myself do my thing out loud - sing, dance, paint and generally be me, and mama I did. Mission accomplished!

2012 in brief...
Publishing contracts: 1
Books published: 2 
Books written: 4
Paintings done: Over 50
Journals filled: 4
Blogging courses taught: 3
Blog posts written: 173- over 4 blogs!
Most popular blog post of 2012 - Our Cupboards are Full but there's nothing to Eat - absolutely NO idea why this is so popular - it has had just shy of 3000 pageviews in 11 months!
My favourite blog post of 2012 on Dreaming Aloud - weirdly - Almost
My favourite blog post elsewhere - my December one on Tiny Buddha: Overcoming Anxiety: Moving from Fear to Presence
Nights away by myself: 2
Trips to the UK: 2. 

Not to mention a painting exhibition, and my first full year in business as a professional creative rainbow mama! 

It also brought us a near fatal accident. Lots of anxiety. Lots of illness for us all. But we're all still here, coughing and spluttering to greet a new year. And for that I am beyond grateful.

I have spent the past month taking stock of the year - creatively, to do with life goals, emotionally and for my business. I tried Susannah Conway's free 2013 life planner, which was good, but not nearly so good as Leonie's Life planner, which I got last year and adored using, and her brand new Business Planner which has transformed my intentions and plans for the year ahead (from "I'm not sure I can face another year in business, working all the hours and not making that much" to "whoopee, I am SO excited about next year... and I know how I can triple my income,whilst spending more time doing the bits of my work that I love". It is nothing short of transformational - and fun to do - it comes highly, highly recommended!

One of my resolutions for 2013, is to programme in retreat time. So this year I found myself driving the same road that I did a year ago. The same highway to the wilds of West Cork. The same exodus from family life. The same need for reflection and creative dreamtime.

But rather than the desperation that came with last year’s escape, instead I had this retreat booked in, a day and night, put in the calendar, made sacred with intention, the space held for me! I went to a women's full moon circle, with a dear friend, one that I wasn't leading and so got to retreat, be nourished, reflect and create. And it was perfect.

I am making sure to book them in throughout the year. Which is getting easier as the kiddies get older, and I am no longer breastfeeding. My next date booked is 6th January meeting the Wild Women of Cork for drumming, dance and henna. I can't wait!

And my word for this year. Very simple. But very challenging: Trust. It came to me as I was wondering if I should sign my publishing contract. So that's it. Trust.

and my big plans for the year? Well, you'll just have to wait and see!

What's your word for the year? What resources have you found helpful in reflecting on 2012, and visioning 2013? What are your hopes and dreams and plans for yourself? Do share them below! Speaking them aloud helps to clarify and materialise them!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Joy Pockets

Surviving the end of the world!

New orange tights.

Receiving a scholarship to the Cosmic Cowgirls University. I kid you not!

Looking forward to a special full moon women's circle.

A fridge full of Christmas sustenance, thanks to Mr DA.

Feeling like a nice mama again (willing the bug my son has to disappear without knocking the whole family out).

Looking forward to seeing soul sisters.

A morning of Christmas cooking with carols a-blaring!

Mr DA doing the kiddie night shift = sleep for mama!

Fresh cranberry, orange and white choc cookies, my festive treat!

Doing art and piano with Meli, having found my favourite childhood piano book.

Our wonderful doctor. What a beautiful soul he is.

Curling up in front of a movie in the afternoon with my kiddies.

Leonie's wonderful business planner.

3 sleeps till Christmas!!!!!!! Merry Christmas one and all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Painting again

I haven't done much painting recently - nothing's been calling me. When I can't paint, I can't paint. It just doesn't happen. But this morning I went to work with the idea for a new project, which by mid afternoon I have no energy for. But hey - here's what I was up to this morning!

This one has been emerging for a few months now. Every time I'm in the mood I add another little bit to it. It's tentatively called "Softly Held". It's much more vibrant in real life.
This one was painted quickly, wet on wet. I love the melting colours. It's called "Melting into Love."
These are four pictures I painted today for a new project on menstrual archetypes - I followed my own exercise in Moon Time and loved it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Candlelight, fairylight, firelight

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I know the place where the fairies sleep. Where bonfire sparks make the stars and witches walk.

I know the place where music lives and angels wait.

I know, because I saw them with my own eyes as a child. Colors shimmered, sounds too, and for hour upon hour the laws of nature were richer, deeper and mythical in their proportions. A world of fire and music and story, where the rules of magic reigned. These were not things that I tried to believe, but things I had seen, felt and known in my bones, that made me shiver up my spine, lit up from the inside by magic.

Christmas seemed to inhabit its own realm of magic - where everything was brighter, warmer, fuller, more delicious and abundant than your dreams. Where life glimmered and shimmered by candlelight, fairylight, firelight. When everyone I loved would be gathered in a room together, talking and laughing. Where grown ups had time to play games in the middle of the afternoon by the fire. A time when music was all around, and piles of presents in shiny paper whispered promise. When every street sparkled with a thousand coloured lights, and driving home in the darkness, living rooms glowed with warmth and love and festooned trees

And most magical of all,  the portal of wonder, Christmas Eve, when I hung up a stocking, went to bed full of happy butterflies and came downstairs in the cold and dark, to be greeted by a bulging, odd-shapen container of delight, where I would dip my hand in to its Tardis-like proportions, fishing out pencils and books, magic tricks and bubble bath, golden chocolate coins and glowing clementines.

These weren't times when I tried to believe. They were real visits to other worlds within the embrace of this one.

At this time of year especially I long to make magic real for my children. Or rather, to hold the space for magic to emerge for them. In truth I don't know what lights the magic in their souls, what, in their modern and maybe jaded eyes holds the spark of a miracle any more, which memories have already fused themselves to their cortexes, to live there till they are grandparents. I do not know, but I make it my job, as much as I can, to expose them to magic and miracles - freshly falling snow by moonlight, carols by candlelight, wishing eggs in the woods which the fairies take away, gingerbread houses, bonfires and sparklers in the dark, tooth fairies and Santa Claus.

I kept this magic into adulthood. It truly only fell away this last couple of years, with tiredness, illness, too much work, too much pressure to do it right, not enough money or time, striving, striving to get it right, keep everyone happy, remembering all the details. My soul was stricken, Christmas had lost its glow.

So this year, I am re-lighting the magic of midwinter - it is not about quantity, but about the feeling of abundance. Music singing us into feeling and tasting love on our tongues. And light - candle light, fairy light, fire light, the sparkle of magic and hope in the midwinter dark and cold. The feeling of togetherness, of joy.
Weaving magical memories, suspending the laws of mundanity and bringing magic to life.

Candlelight, fairylight, firelight... magic!

Did you see my recent festive post about the realities of family time making together?Those Infamous Words: Lets Make a Gingerbread House. It gave a lot of mamas a lot of laughs!

If you're new here, welcome - do stop by again. Why not follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Google Follower, Twitter, check out my new book: Moods of Motherhood, receive posts by email and join the mailing list for events, offers and occasional delight straight to your inbox - look left for all these options and to read my top posts or trawl the archives!

And do share how do you make space for magical memories to be created in your lives below! 

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon December 11 with all the carnival links.)
  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here's To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter's childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow...
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn't able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter's experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna's carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother's sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it's so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child's Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family's loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories - Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family's tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Those infamous words: let's make a gingerbread house

We are totally addicted to Masterchef in this house - a TV cooking show where the contestants are pushed to the limits of endurance, before having their dishes picked apart by the odd couple of Michel Roux Jr, and Fat-Boy-who-the-fuck-is-he-anyway-Greg-Wallace.

But I always say, that to really test them they should chuck in one kid having a tantrum, another trying to "help'", a pig sty kitchen, a third child destroying everything they do and then see how much they can cook!

So today I took that challenge upon myself. Yup. Nutter!

In reality when you utter those infamous words "let's build a gingerbread house" you start out with fantasies of creating something like this...
From on my Pinterest board Creating Christmas
If I were a cruel "perfect life" blogger I'd show you a cutesy finished picture, which you would promptly pin on Pinterest and go away hating me. But I'm not, so instead I shall regale you with the reality behind a "happy family time" making a real gingerbread house, in order to reassure you of my enduring lunacy, and why NOT making Christmas memories together is the sane loving thing to do!!

It all started with a 4 year old who came home from school and tantrumed long and hard. Hot on the heels of a 2 year old tantrum. The 4 year old ordered a chocolate bar, the fire put out, hit her sister, the sitting room to herself to watch TV, her shoes put back on (after having kicked over her sister's bowl of mushroom soup). He brother went and started banging his head on the door in anger and frustration, having spent the past hour lighting the fire. And also because it meant we couldn't make candles over the fire like I'd promised.

So I uttered those infamous words: let's make a gingerbread house. We've made one every year four the past four years. They are always a festive and semi fun way to destroy the house and achieve multiple arguments.

So we started. Me and the boy. It wasn't long before middle child smelt fun she was missing out on and abandoned CBeebies. Cue fight over whether or not she deserved to join in and forced apologies for having been a little so-and-so.

Carols on. CD 3 is lame ass. Change to CD 1. Much better.

Rolling out one part gingerbread with one part glitter from earlier "Christmas card making session". Can't find the rolling pin, so we use the cling film roll!

Guesstimate the house parts. Bake. Make caramel. Don't burn it. Assemble house - snapping off the bits that don't fit. It doesn't collapse like usual. Very chuffed. Haven't even burnt myself!!!

I start to get cocky and make a sugar work cage of spun sugar. Michel Roux Jr would be proud. Burn my finger on the last drop of caramel. Fuck it.

Girls come racing past for the second time. It is then that I realise that the youngest is chucking Hobnob biscuits out of the packet at her older sister whilst chasing her round the house. Her older sister was retaliating with a pot of blue glitter. I kid you not. And the cleaner was here only 24 hours ago.

Mama roars.

Boy makes icing. Littlest girl adds way to much water. We do a fine job of decorating it together. No one dies. Look at our handy work!

And look at the fucking mess!

Now I have to cook dinner!

For inspiration on Christmas crafting with friends and family, see my popular post from last year: Craft-Tea Christmas celebrations.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The end of the world is nigh - what are your plans?

Yup, that's right, the end of the world is a matter of days away.

Winter solstice - 21/12/12

What are your plans? Do you have your bunker prepared? Or are you going to be dancing naked on top of a Mayan pyramid in the depths of the jungle? (Like my sister - well, she's going to a hippy conventions in Mexico, so I presume that's what they'll be doing!) Will you be on the road to see family and friends for Christmas (like some of my friends). Will you be visiting a sacred site like Newgrange or Stonehenge (like my friend Tracy.) Or will you just be settling down in front of the telly with a glass of Pinot? (Like my dad!)

Me? I was very excited to be invited to hold the space for a fire labyrinth in West Cork at a solstice ceremony complete with drumming circle. It seems like a magical and meaningful way to celebrate with my whole family and a community of others. As you will see from my post next week for the Carnival of Natural Parenting, this aligns perfectly with my intentions right now. So we will probably not be naked, bearing in mind the climate here, but we will be mindful and present for the Shift.

For the WHAT? I hear you ask. The Shift. Check out what I wrote about it earlier this year when the movement launched.

Mayans or no Mayans - things are shifting everywhere on every level - few could deny it. I love the idea of celebrating it, and of giving our conscious positive energy towards it. Because so often these changes in climate, economy, health and culture can feel stressful and worrying, and we feel out of control, like we are being shifted against our will. This is a way of stepping into that power and committing to conscious co-creation. I am writing a lot about it at the moment, in a feature for JUNO for the Spring issue, and in my book, The Rainbow Way. Co-creation is where it's at people. Getting ourselves into that place can be a challenge as we want to control or we want to not be in control.Ceremony and ritual are a great way to practice this balance.

If you're looking for inspiration and events, the Birth 2012 movement are planning events around the word.  The most captivating, for me, is the 1 billion OMs (or AUMs - depending on your sacred spelling preference!) you can join in wherever you are, changing the frequency of the world by chanting this sacred sound -I just love the idea of this sound travelling around the world, time zone after time zone. They are asking people to take a pledge:

"I commit to only share
words and actions of love on
December 20, 21, and 22, 2012"

It sounds like a great commitment to make, at this time of goodwill to all men. Even if you think the rest of it is a bunch of hokum!

So whether you believe that the end of the world is nigh, a shift in consciousness is happening - either by chance or design, whether you're celebrating the darkness day and the turn towards the light, do please let us know what you're up to, and why! Lets inspire each other.

P.S. Have you signed up to the mailing list? You can do it right here to get a fortnightly round up of my favourite posts, links, special offers and events.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Joy pockets

Little pockets of gratitude in the midst of living... 

Feeling like me for pretty much the first time in a month.

More exciting women on board with The Rainbow Way book

Painting again!

Walking through a winter wonderland on my way to work

Meals with my dada, love that we are both writing books!

Baking chocolate butterfly cakes with Ash

Watching Materchef en famille, with Mr DA's superb Greg impressions, that Timmy says sound like Burglar Bill!

Erin Darcy, for giving me so many great leads on contacts for my book and for generally being an inspiration

Letting rip, in writing, to the teacher about the amounts of homework, take it to the man. Lucy!

Christmas month tomorrow!

Freshly squeezed orange and pink grapefruit juice

My son trying to get the whole school to do a Gangnam Style flash mob, chip off the old block!

Another post accepted for Tiny Buddha, am very pleased with it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Rainbow Way - a progress report

The Rainbow Way ... "book" is too small a word to contain its depth and breadth, words insufficient to express the magic that I am weaving into it!

Oh how it stretches and grows, as new connections are made, with creative mothers around the globe, who hear my call, and forgiving my typos  and dodgy grammar, can see the vision that I hold, and come on board, hearts open wide and shining. This project speaks of the generosity of women, their desire to make their stories heard, to support other women whom they have never met.

The book currently has contributions from over fifty creative mothers: Jennifer Louden, Pat Allen, Ariel Gore, Julie Daley, Pam England, Darina and Rachel Allen, a forward by Goddess Leonie, and the blessings of Dr Christiane Northrup and Lynn V Andrews to quote from their work and build on their ideas. And, for those of you who missed the announcement, it has a publisher, the aptly named Soul Rocks! Do let me know if you would like to contribute, and haven't yet.

I cannot tell you how many hours I have worked on it at this stage. It started over 18 months ago. And there is still another year of work, before I will hold it in my hands. Often I wonder, I hope, I pray, that it will be worth it all. That our words will change lives, will inspire, support. And will pay for my time!

But often I just worry that my words will be readable! That the bigness that it is, will translate into a book of clarity and interest.

As I summon my energy for the final push of writing and editing, I sent it out to a few friends to take a look at, to see if this thing, that is sucking my life force and concentration is actually readable.  The feedback has been sustaining, rewarding. As has the response from all the new creative mothers that I have contacted in the last week, each one, newly discovered who seems to hold a golden key, a nugget of truth, of knowing that calls to be contained within the book. 

But it’s not that it needs any more words. At 84,000 words, it is the same length as 100 of my Dreaming Aloud columns, 84 feature articles, three times the length of Moon Time, and 4,000 words over what my publisher is expecting. In reality it will be closer to 90,000 words and it could stretch on and on. But I need to include all these voices, as what started out as my book, has morphed into a virtual women’s circle, a talking circle of creative mothers – me, I’m not so wise, but together… together we know.

This book is an honouring
It is an honouring of my path
It is an honouring of my muse, a note taking of her voice, her habits, her ways,
It is an honouring of women, of mothers now and through the ages
It is an honouring of the creative spirit that lives in us all
It is an honouring of the mystery which courses through our veins, lights our darkness, inspires us, and flows out in dripping colours and heartfelt poems
It is an honouring of the lives we yearn for, the dreams we hardly dare to dream, the freedom and colour we crave
It is an honouring of the sacredness that happens when women gather in a circle and share their deepest truths
It is an honouring of that which we were not told, that which was kept silent, that which must be shared
It is an honouring of our lost selves, our madness, our sadness, the crazy woman in us all
It is an honouring of the liminal, the barely seen, the unknowable
It is an honouring of the secrets of a woman’s heart and soul which are unspeakable, which society thinks are ignorable, unimportant, irrelevant
It is an honouring of words and language to make clear what is in our hearts and heads
It is an honouring of our multiplicity, our colours, our potential.
It is an honouring of my soul sisters, heroines, fellow creative mamas all
It is an honouring of the dreams of our grandmothers and great grandmothers if we live it
It is an honouring of all the mothers about to be born into the land of creative motherhood, that they might have a guide, a circle, a friend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Roll upon roll of ickiness, sickness, blackness, veils of negativity that have shrouded my body and soul are rolled away, peeled away. Little by little. I can almost smell the scent of my soul again. Catch a glimpse of my energy in the corner of my eye.

Thick and sticky phlegm from my lungs... Out, out, out, month after month. Wanting to work, having to rest. I turn out uninspired stuff. Obliged to serve, to play my part, speak to my audience. When really, truly there is nothing to be said. No words in this mouth worth listening to. My ideas muddy as a pond.

In bed again. And again. Who am I when I'm not racing round, not doing or being? Not mindful or kind. That it seems requires motivation and energy. I'm nothing fun, profound or even pleasant. Dull, tiresome, moaning, cranky, bored. Infected with darkness and slime. Toxic. I am she who has nothing to give. She who demands and requires. She that lets you down.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Scum of the Universe

I take a break from my usual sweetness and light to go on an all out attack on the scum of the universe.


Numerous times a day I have to delete their gobbledegook, badly spelled, ungrammatical insults from my inbox.

Take the most recent one which came through when I was at lunch. Let me share the delights of it:
I belіve everything published made a lot of sense. (of course it did, I rock!)
Ηoωever, think аbоut thіѕ, what if you аddeԁ a little content? (um, dick wad, you added this comment to a post which is 800 words long with multiple images)
Ι mean, I dοn't wish to tell you how to run your website, (then fuck off and stop annoying me, as my father would say) but suppose you added something that makes people desire more? I mean "Craft-Tea Christmas Celebrations" is kinda plain. (no, thicko, it's actually a clever play on words)
Υοu might add a video or a рic or tωo to grab readerѕ intеrested about
evеrythіng've got to say. (oh thank you, for gracing me with your wisdom, oh spammer, I'd never considered that) Just my opinion, it would make your website a little bit more interesting.(You know my opinion? Get yourself a job and stop annoying us all.)
Also see my web page www.i'm a
Fucking, wanking, irritating cyber scum, with no purpose except wasting everybody's time.

Not only do they block up my spam filters, cos their spam is so crap that it can't get past them. I have to read their shite. They seem incapable of writing. Man spammer grammar bugs me.They're scum because not only are they spamming, but they always do it in a negative way "have you seen what people are saying about you?", "your content is poor".

And even though you know it's probably spam, you just have to check, in case some poor unfortunate real human reader has fallen foul of the spam filters and needs fishing out. And even though you know its spam, you pick up the negative energy.

I make no exceptions. They are scum. Wasting peoples' time, money and emotional energy, for little gain.
  • There are the spammers who leave random links on your blog. 
  • Spammers that send you shite about Viagra and African inheritances to your email address. 
  • Spammers that hack into your email account and send all your friends desperate stories and try to get them to send money, this has happened to three friends in the past couple of months. 
  • Spammers who try to get you to place their guest post plus dubious links up on your site for the princely sum of $10. 
  • There are the spammers who hack into email servers and hijack them to send shite from your business address to their own mailing lists, as happened to my poor husband this week, causing him days of stress and costing my father's company his week's wages trying to rectify it.
Sorry, I've been too hasty, I'm sure there's some great, sexy James Bond types out there - and if they're reading - my bank details are 1493042466 Sort Code: Kiss My Ass.

Umm, I think I might be premenstrual!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's nothing personal!

I like to think that I'm a unique individual. Whilst I give a certain amount of credit to my parents for all my bad bits (!!), I tend to believe that my hope and dreams are very personal. My flaws and foibles mine to erase (and feel badly about). My glories, mine to celebrate. I think we all do. In a culture which does not have ancestoral worship and which deifies the individual, we tend to try to distance ourselves from our families, from our lineage. We have lost a sense of perspective of ourselves as being a ring in the tree of our family's life, in a great forest.

Yesterday I read the first draft of my father's autobiography and I was humbled. Perhaps for the first time I really felt my place in the flow of life, my position in a family line which lives through me. I have always known in my head what my grandparents and parents were interested in, the work they did, the values that drove them, but to see it written out, I felt the stream of life that courses through the years, pulling us all along with it, in such sharp relief. For perhaps the first time, I lost my sense of them and me, and really felt the "us" of our family. The spirit that expresses itself through us all, generation after generation, each doing our bit, playing our part, being unique, and yet part of the same strong flow.

I never really felt this, because I never knew them. My grandmother, Lucy Helen, for whom I was named, died seven years before I was born. My grandfather was ill and barely knew me and my father doesn't talk a huge amount about them.

I see the books running through our veins, our love of the written word, our need to drink in the progressive ideas of others, and then live it out. And our love of good food, learning, creativity, mindfulness and beauty. It's all there. Generation after generation. Our vocations calling us, demanding to be lived through us, an incessant urge which has made us dance our lives to its tune.

My grandmother was a teacher of the most progressive kind, a free thinking educationalist who helped to found and run The Peckham Experiment, a revolutionary approach to family health, wellbeing and education which influenced the founding of the NHS. And of course she wrote a book on it! A career woman first, she had her first (living) child when she was 43.  My grandfather, like his father before him, was a printer by trade and antiquarian bookshop owner. Their bookshelves, in rural Ireland of the 1950s were full of Sufism, cutting edge educational tracts, and mysticism.

It feels wonderful to get this perspective, of the tides that course through us. This combined with other insights that I have had this week, makes it all a lot less personal - my life, my work. All I need to do is play my part in the dance, not stress or worry. The spirit that moved my ancestors, moves me too. It's nothing personal!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sick of being sick

Off to the doctors. For a second round of antibiotics for a persistent chest infection. Was only there two weeks ago. Had a cough in various forms of hideous hackingness since early July. Endless nights up multiple times with girls. Who also have/ have had cough. As does Mr Dreaming Aloud. I have managed to get an ordinary cold layered on top for extra sickly pleasure this time.

I am SO fed up with being sick and lying low. I am taking care of myself, not over doing it, taking as much time in bed as I can, eating well, before you all start mother henning me.

I long to be well.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Joy Pockets

My little pockets of gratitude in the midst of this week...

Goddess Leonie agreeing to write the Forward for my book on creative mamas (The Rainbow Way).
So many of you sharing your thoughts on my provocative art journalling post! Thank you.
Yellow leaves on the road.
A note to the tooth fairy: "My tooth fell out but it's in my tummy."
Discovering a Zumba class 5 mins down the road, which I'll be going to after Xmas.
Women and men, at home and abroad rallying round and taking action in response to the needless death of Savita. We stand united in our grief and anger at this senseless loss. We are calling on our government in one voice to make legislative changes to give women the right to life.
Spiced pear butter cake
Being a budding WordPress tech genius (in my own little way!!)
Interviewing two of my heroines for The Rainbow Way - Jen Louden and Julie Daley.
Blogging with Darina Allen - a living legend.
Cycling to work.
Reading through the current draft of The Rainbow Way - it's really getting there!
Little Ash doing gang nam style by herself.

Please do share your Joy Pockets below, or link up your post. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 reasons why art journaling is BAD for women

OK - odd title for someone who has recently proclaimed love for this form -  but bear with me here. Let me explain myself a little more, before you run at me with your glitter-tipped calligraphy pens!

I am admittedly a little slow on the uptake here, as art journaling (do check out my Pinterest board, to see the sort of stuff that I love... and that drives me nuts all at the same time) has been hot stuff for the past few years now. I have been a little preoccupied with something called "having babies" to be a fully signed up embossing goddess complete with heat gun and die cutter.

I have just started art journalling, having gotten over my fear of the unknown and taking part in a uber creative women's course at - wait for it, y'all - the Cosmic Cowgirls University!!!! (Where else but on the interweb!)

There is so much I want to love, even do love about the CONCEPT of art journaling. I'm loving doodling, drawing and adding paint to my journal. I love adding color and images. I love freeing myself up from just writing - the creative mind and subconscious adore to have less linear forms of expression.

BUT ...

and this is a big but (t!!!)...

The more examples of it I see out there, the more I get this sick feeling in my stomach. It suddenly occurred to me that art journaling, whilst an art form that seeks self expression and is propounded by well-meaning women as a form of much needed "therapy" for so many women, is actually NOT a good thing, and here's why...

1) It's all so cutesy - we're women, not girls... yet art journaling fashions seem to be creating a Disnification of our imagery and feelings, endless cute little girls and hearts and butterflies.

2) It's material intensive - which costs lots of money and gets women into building up stashes, not that different to building up wardrobes or make up collections, it just another way of commodifying women's desire for beauty.

3) It's time intensive - art journaling techniques take a long time to create something personal - taking time that could be used for more "productive" creativity, creativity that can make you money, that you can hang on your wall, give to your friend... put your work out there ladies, rather than keeping it all in your journals.

4) They don't seem about writing - in fact many of the techniques I have seen suggest gessoing over your writing and just using a couple of pithy phrases - as though the words don't matter.

5)Journals are supposed to be private - art journals seem made for show - and therefore lack real depth.

6) So much of the "wisdom" in them is trite Facebook type quotes, nice aphorisms that don't hold much personal truth.

7) It's very "perfectionist" - the lettering, images etc are all "perfect", not doodles or works in progress.

8) Homogenity - journals are supposed to be individual expressions of our inner journey - most art journaling is not.

9) Self-absorption - spending THAT much time obsessing with your diary aint healthy. There's a whole world out there.

10) Have I mentioned all the hearts and flowers and cutesy girls? They REALLY get me. We are more than that.

In sum, my problem is this: that much art journaling seems to keep women small, rather than supporting them in their bigness. It seeks to prettify, rather than encourage the messy and the true. It seeks to commodify, and to nicen a woman's voice. This makes me very uncomfortable. But let me state here, that it may well not be the teachers of this art, but women doing this TO THEMSELVES. They are so used to making things good, happy, nice and right, that nothing else is deemed possible or desirable...

In my view, women's journals should be... (ouch, I know, "should", but, in for a penny, in for a pound)...

1) Personal

2) Exploratory

3) Allowed to be messy

4) Places for questions, more than answers

5) Full of real women's imagery (see my board on feminine symbology)

6) Full of real women's words, thoughts and feelings...

7) Places for speaking the unspeakable, thinking the unthinkable, drawing the taboo, challenging our own status quo, deep inquiry...

8) They should be places where women get to be women - not little girls.

9) Private - although I'm going to break that rule, as all the images in this post are from my journal!

(Did you spot the vagina? Do you think I got away with it?!!!!)

Rant over.

Your thoughts? Has art journaling saved your life, or is it all a bit twee? Is it keeping women small and girly, rather than helping to empower them?

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Voice of the Child... Really?

Tomorrow we get to vote. In another flipping referendum. Ostensibly for 'the voice of the child'.

Who would oppose that, right?

But what ARE we voting on? And why? And why now?  In the midst of economic meltdown. On something that no one knew needed changing. And most importantly, why are ALL the political parties and large non-state agencies united in their support for it. That's just super-freaky!

We will be voting on a subtle change of words. The meaning of which none of us really knows. The power of which none of us understands.

All we know is that we don't trust the state. Don't want to sign any more potential power over to them.

Because, potentially, in the eyes of the state, mamas like me are suspicious and irresponsible. Mamas who choose to birth at home, to co-sleep, to long-term breastfeed. Mamas who question the current education system and are frequently late for school.  How hard would it be for the state to prove that those of us who follow the current findings of educational experts and brain scientists and our hearts, rather than half truths and blind prejudice which guide our institutions, are fit to be parents to our beloved offspring?

I asked one of the official yes campaigners what the point of it all was. She said it was partly to ensure that situations like the endemic abuse at the hands of the Religious and care homes in this country could never happen again.

But to be honest neither the law of the land, nor the Holy Bible said that beating and buggering innocent children was alright, was a lack of care and accountability, which tends to happen far more when children are separated from those who love them.
I don't know, but something smells fishy to me...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Joy pockets

My pockets of joy in the midst of mundanity this week...

Jennifer Louden, Julie Daley, Indigo Bacal and Ariel Gore signed up to contribute to my next book, The Rainbow Way, - all complete heroines of mine!
Bonfire night sparklers and stories by candlelight
My boy going off with his school on a big bus to watch the older girls team in a football final
Our whole family doing the Gangnam style dance - such fun! 
(Don't know what it is? Then check out the original video!!)
My friend Laura - she's just so special... check out her blog and see why
This exchange:

Ash, in a fierce mad two year old singing voice: "My am a gummy bear...and my blow your house down!"

Timmy "Mum, I don't have any more mayonnaise."

Ash, in 'grown up, auntie Ash' mode:" Yes you do, sweetheart, it's there!"
Colouring mandalas with my Meli girl
Watching George of the Jungle with the kids and hearing them warn him every time he's about to crash into a tree
A wonderful five-year-old's birthday party, like proper parties should be!

What are yours this week? Please do share them below and come by to Holistic Mama to link up.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hot off the press - my new book!

I am excited to share with you the publication of my second book, Moods of Motherhood, just in time to mark the second birthday of Dreaming Aloud. 

Hurray for me, hurray for you - so glad you're here, dearest dreamers!

So what about this book, Lucy, I hear you ask, what's it about???

Well, dear reader, it is a compilation of my best-loved posts on motherhood from Dreaming Aloud, my columns from JUNO magazine and many new pieces, never before published. This is a book full of my trademark searing honesty and raw emotions. It will make you laugh and cry - wherever on your mothering journey you may be.

Topics include: tenderness, pregnancy and birth, happy days, anger and fierceness, playfulness, love, patience, homemaking and much, much more... it is illustrated throughout with beautiful black and white photographs.

I really wanted to put all the glory stuff that I have written about motherhood into one place, so that you can hold me in your hands, so that you can snuggle up with all the best bits in the cosy warmth of your bed, rather than the cold blue light of your computer screen.

I have put it together by topic so that you can dip in and out, wherever you are in your mothering journey. Pick it up for wisdom, reassurance, a laugh, some empathy. Take me to the park in your bag, keep me by your bed, or on your bookshelf... what a funny concept! See a review here and here.

Perhaps you have a friend or sister who isn't into blogs, but you wanted to share Dreaming Aloud with her... well now you can!

You can buy it from me at The Happy Womb - all copies are signed and come with one of my brand new bookmarks! It is also available in Kindle and Paperback from and Please do leave me a review on Amazon!

Let me share with you the introduction...
My grandmother always said: “You are your baby’s weather.” How true that is! There is nothing more remarkable about the act of mothering than the changing moods. The weather of motherhood can seemingly alter from moment to moment, day to day, a rollercoaster of emotions stronger than one has ever experienced before. The stakes, after all, are far higher than anything we have ever played for before: the very life, health and happiness of a creature that is our own flesh and blood.

On reading back over my blog, I noticed how contrasting posts follow one day after the other – all so real, yet so intangible. Like the weather we are only left with vague memories and snapshots of how hot or cold it was, no real yardstick of the tempests and sunshine of our mothering years.

Other mothers were drawn to these posts, these outpourings of emotion, frustration, joy and despondency. It seems we are all yearning for a reflection of our own tumultuous experiences, a validation of the endless emotional turmoil and physical exhaustion which motherhood reeks in our lives. We seem to lack a language to share both the mundane repetitiveness of our daily mothering lives, as well as a forum for sharing the deeper emotional parts. For perhaps the first time in history, the mothers of the twentieth and twenty first centuries mothered alone, in separate houses, often far from family support. The job of parenting is not meant to be handled by one adult, it takes a tribe.

Few of us entered the role prepared, though we might have been expecting (some) sleepless nights and smelly nappies, the all-consuming nature of motherhood lay hidden, until we were well and truly embarked on our maiden voyage. The sweetness of a first baby’s smile did not reveal the cacophony of demands which another child - or three - would bring.

Most knew how they wanted to be, and what they most certainly would not do. And then after the first glow of motherhood had worn off, the disappointments begin stacking up: the ideals which had fallen by the wayside, the perfection not achieved, due to lack of energy, experience, insight or something else.

And at that point we can despair and see ourselves as failing. But the mothering journey, does not, cannot stop that day, even though we feel we cannot continue. And it is in overcoming these moments that we find ourselves as the mothers we truly are. In this moment we let the perfect mother die, and embrace our quirky, impatient, silly, messy, deeply loving mother selves.

This book is far from a parenting manual written by an objective expert. Rather it is the life of a mother – warts and all. It is compiled from posts written for my blog, Dreaming Aloud, published articles and previously unpublished work. So here, for you, is a journey through the emotional terrain of a mother, from humour to heartbreak, though the story is mine, it could be yours.

When I was the mother of one, I thought I was an expert. Which is why I became a writer on parenting issues!  As the mother of three, I have been humbled to my core. I have realised just how much I don’t know or can’t do – and just how little I am “in control”. And yet ironically with that knowledge and acceptance, comes a little more wisdom, and a lot more experience.

I see new friends starting out on the road to motherhood with mixed feelings. Immense joy at the ecstasy of love they are about to experience, great protectiveness, wishing to shield them from the scars it will make on their souls, the pain, the heart ache, the worry, the exhaustion, the touching of anger which they had been able to keep hidden all these years. But this is the journey. The one that makes us the mothers that we will be. The mothers that our children will live with every day, yet barely know.

Becoming a mother brings with it such a vast raft of complications for the psyche, before you add the momentous task of caring for a small and ever-changing child to the mix. Becoming a mother reawakens our own feelings, good and bad, about our own mothers. It changes our relationship with our partner forever: suddenly we are not just lovers but parents. And it shifts us instantaneously into the next generation, causing potentially seismic shifts in friendships where one set are not parents and we now are. Not to mention the adjustment between us and our families of origin. And that is before we even consider the massive shift in roles for most modern women from full time work or study out in the world, to suddenly being at home, if only for the first weeks, with a small being who needs you all the time. Ideas of women’s roles in society suddenly become less abstract or idealised, and the whole dilemma of who cares for the child, who works, who pays the bills and how suddenly become pressing realities with few ideal answers.

Very often I find it hard to be really mentally present with my children – though I aspire to be. I find the demands of motherhood too intense, their needs too much. And so I do what I know, what I love: I write. In writing I capture the mood, the moment in a more effective way than my whirling thoughts and fuzzy memory could ever hope to. And so I find that even in my moments of despair, distraction and elation I was present. And in these vignettes of mothering life, and the images which accompany them, I have captured the whole process of motherhood which was at times almost unbearable in the actual living of it.

And so I have it here in all its preciousness to savour, and give thanks for, from the safe distance of time and the security of the written word. Yet, as I read back, I realise with great poignancy that these babies who I am capturing have grown, without me noticing, despite my almost daily writing about them. They are bigger and stronger, little rugged human beings out in the world. Little humans that I co-created, that I carried in my belly and fed from my breast. I feel like I need to pinch myself, it doesn’t seem real, or even possible. And yet it is. And that is the miracle of motherhood.

The most important thing about this motherhood lark is that we know that we are not alone. That we are not the only ones feeling these feelings and living these experiences. Surround yourself with like-minded allies to laugh and cry with, to confide in and gratefully accept support from.

I look forward to sharing my journey with you and hope that it might give you insight and support in your own.
Lucy Pearce

From the back cover...

"Moods of Motherhood traces the life of a mother: her tenderness, joy, anger, love, frustration, grief and gratitude. Compiled from posts written for her popular blog, Dreaming Aloud, her best-loved columns from JUNO magazine and many new pieces. This is a book full of Lucy Pearce's trademark searing honesty and raw emotions. It will make you laugh and cry - wherever on your mothering journey you may be. Though the story is hers, it could be yours."
*(Discount valid to midnight (GMT), this Sunday, 4th November, use valid to one product per customer).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

An honest RSVP

Thank you for the invitation to your party.

I was delighted to receive it and happy that you are celebrating.

Unfortunately I will not be able to make it.

I can make up an excuse, right now or nearer DDay. I usually do, though you may not know make us both feel better.

I'm hoping it won't matter hugely to you, I would have just been a face in the crowd. But I am touched I am part of your crowd, truly. If my presence really matters hugely to your enjoyment, I know you will try to convince me to come. This makes it even harder to say the following...

The truth is this. I am not good at parties. There I have said it.

The need to be "on good form" and "let my hair down" tends to induce the opposite feelings in me: stress, pressure and anxiety. It brings out my depressive demons in force.

Chances are I won't know what to wear. If it's fancy dress I'll feel twice a dick. I'll feel the fattest person there. Second I won't know what to say. I am not good at small talk. I feel I have nothing of value to contribute. Third I won't know what to do. That makes me really anxious. That's why at parties you will often find me in the kitchen, doing something practical, working, you'll tell me to relax, but in truth, this is how I can. Ha! I've just realised why I catered for my own wedding!

Then there'll be photographs. I hate being in photos. You may not know we didn't have a photographer at my own wedding for this reason.

Then there'll be lots of noise (my head starts to go all jangly) and dancing (and I won't know what to do with my body and I'll feel all self conscious again.) And lots of alcohol, which I can't do.

Hence why you tend to find me sitting quietly by myself at parties, or clinging for dear life to the conversation of one friend. And why I'll always leave early. And if I do these things, you'll worry that I'm not enjoying myself, that there's something wrong. And there's no need for that.

In truth my life is quite limited, the things I do, the social situations I go to. This works for me. I've learnt that pushing myself harder leads to meltdown.

The only parties I'm any good at involve spontaneity. Very small groups, where I know everyone. Outdoor gatherings. And are centred around food, sat down. You organise that, I'll be there. Promise.

So know that my refusal is nothing to do with my feelings for you. It's just my way of staying sane a little longer. And I know as a friend, you would want that for me too.

I hope you have a wonderful time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Singing over the bones

The Day of the Dead is fast approaching. So are the Days of All Saints and All Souls. Around a large proportion of the world, the houses and shops are decorated with skulls and skeletons, ghosts and ghouls.  These are the days where the living welcome the dead into their lives. When we remember.

As I went to sleep a voice in my head said "Bones, bones. You have to sift over the bones, before you can walk fully over the Rainbow Bridge."
This was not the same voice that says, "I want a tub of chocolate ice cream." So I listened.

And as synchronicity has it, today's activity, for the art course I am following online at the moment, was, you guessed it - bones...

I don't like bones, they spook me. They speak of death and emptiness, they scare me. But yet they call... "don't forget us, come, come and pay your respects to your ancestors, to your past selves. For those who have the courage to look, to sift the bones and the sand through their fingers, to hold the possibility of death  in their living hands. They will find the possibility of richer life, of wisdom, of healing."

"Call your soul back from every place that you have left portions of it." Hiro Boga 

And so I find myself looking back, sifting through the bones, so that I might mourn and release what has past, so that I might fully embrace my present: the person I have become. I find myself paying my respects to my ancestors, my lineage of teachers and mentors, friends and family.

This is not emotional. At least at first. More a seeing and a naming. And yet I find as my list grows each of these selves still has a tug on my heart, a feeling of maybe, what if. When seen so starkly they represent the death of possibility. But they show where the river took a different course, because the rains fell heavier, or less that year.

If things we different, who would I be?

The child of happily married parents who fitted in, sounded right and knew she belonged.
A woman who travelled to hippy communities and founded her own
A woman with a PhD 
A mother of four children 
A carefree spirit, unencumbered by family or spouse
A well-known cookery writer with her own TV show... I practiced it in the playground for years!
An anxious, depressed wreck, hospitalised and heavily medicated
A perfect mother and domestic goddess.

At some point I, and fate, decided that these were not to be the roads I was to travel. Part of me thinks it might be like the film Sliding Doors where all these past selves actually exist, perhaps in tandem, perhaps in other dimensions. I might, without knowing it walk past another self as I walk down the street. How great that sounds.

And so, this year, I draw flowers on the skeletons, to show from the midst of death, from the jaws of the past, springs new life, new colour, new growth. There are flowers and rainbows where death once held sway with bleached bones and dry desert. The rains fall down. The river runs. I walk over the Rainbow Bridge.

Come join me. Do you have the courage to sift through the bones of your past, to see the selves you might have been, to sit and drink tea with them, and then let them go and paint flowers on their faces?
La Loba (Wolf Woman), the old one, the One Who Knows, is within us. She thrives in the deepest soul-psyche of women, the ancient and vital Wild Woman. She describes her home as that place in time where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolf meet —the place where her mind and her instincts mingle, where a woman's deep life funds her mundane life. It is the point where the I and the Thou kiss, the place where women run with the wolves. 
The Creation Mother is always the Death Mother and vice versa. Because of this dual nature, or double-tasking, the great work before us is to learn to understand what around and about us and what within us must live, and what must die. Our work is to apprehend the timing of both; to allow what must die to die, and what must live to live.
You can dent the soul and bend it. You can hurt it and scar it. You can leave the marks of illness upon it, and the scorch marks of fear.
But it does not die, for it is protected by La Loba in the underworld. She is both the finder and the incubator of the bones. 
People do meditation to find psychic alignment. That's why people do psychotherapy and analysis. That's why people analyze their dreams and make art. That is why many read Tarot cards, cast I Ching, dance, drum, make theater, pry out the poem, and fire up the prayer. That's why we do all the things we do. It is the work of gathering all the bones together. Then we must sit at the fire and think about which song we will use to sing over the bones, which creation hymn, which re-creation hymn. And the truths we tell will make the song. 
There are some good questions to ask till one decides on the song, one's true song:
What has happened to my soul-voice?What are the buried bones of my life?In what condition is my relationship to the instinctual Self?When was the last time I ran free?How do I make life come alive again?Where has La Loba gone to?
Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you can find. It is the only work we have to do.
From Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Joy Pockets

Little gratitudes in the midst of reality...

Sugar skulls for Dia de Los Muertos - I want to make some!
Cheese and ham toasties - with red onion and tomato - dipped in tomato chilli jam
Designing my own bookmarks - dead proud!
A shopping trolley laden with groceries, all the essentials, which this week included two child sized broomsticks and a bunch of flowers for myself.
Our four-year-old on seeing her school Principal in the shop: "Look Mummy, there's the bell ringer".
Supper cooked for me on work days
The new BBC3 comedy drama, Cuckoo about a hippy guy - it SO reminds me of my siblings!
Anticipating mid-term break - no early mornings, lunch boxes, fights over socks or tights and getting dirty looks when the kids walk in late, again...
A publishing contract
The smell of autumn
The blog's new look
Second book now being printed
Snuggling with my boy who's supposed to be asleep as he tells me about space rockets and oil tankers
Aisling, she just makes my heart sing.

Please do share yours below...

And link up over at

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

If I lived then...

Often, as I reflect on the life I live, the full, expressive, creative, glorious, self-determined, sensual life that I sometimes take for granted,  I am only too aware that...

If I lived in the Middle Ages I would be thought of as a witch, and probably burned at the stake.


If I lived in the 18th Century  I could be in the paintings or poems ... but not creating them.

Jupiter and Antiope - Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Image: Ingres

If I lived in the Victorian era I would be hysterical as I squeezed myself into corsets, bit my tongue, had dainty conversation and no sexual satisfaction.


If I lived in Saudi Arabia/ Afghanistan/ Pakistan/ an American fundamentalist community today I would probably be stoned/ beaten/ silenced/ scorned/ condemned.

But I live here and now and so I get to be me - mother, painter, free-spirited, freelancing writer, free thinking woman. One who speaks what she wants from her heart. Who follows her soul's longing. Who foments dissent against the authorities. Who encourages and helps to empower other women. Who has equality with her partner. Who can choose how many children she has. Who has money in her own bank account, that she spends on what she pleases.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

PS You might have noticed I've had a little redesign (if not, are you BLIND??!) - it's going all Creative Rainbow mama - let me know what you think in the comments below - and you will be in with a chance to win a copy of my brand new book, Moods of Motherhood (which has just gone off to the printers!)

PPS. Big, big news about my third book, The Rainbow Way - have you heard? Head over to the Dreaming Aloud Facebook page and see! Or sign up to the mailing list to make sure you never miss out on big news and reader discounts...

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