Friday, September 28, 2012

A Writer Celebrates...

This week I am mainly having a good writer's week. So I wanted to share my celebrations with you!

Every couple of weeks I get the most special emails from grateful readers. I want to share this week's one from a reader in Australia, that moved me to tears.

I recently purchased Moon Time and I feel that I need to thank you personally.
Thank you so much for writing this book. For spreading your wisdom. For helping women aknowledge and access their power.
I read Moon Time from cover to cover. At about the mid point, I shed a few tears thinking of my twelve year old self at menarche. I never felt that I could talk to my mother, as she has always had impenetrable emotional walls up. I was an insecure, shy and emotionally immature girl (thanks, Mum!) so I didn't feel comfortable talking to anyone outside my family, not even my closest friends. I felt isolated, terrified and completely unsupported at that time. It took me many years to stop feeling embarassed about bleeding.
On the night I first read Moon Time, I said a few loving words to my twelve year old self and after a few more tears, woke up the next day feeling healed and energised. Now, a few short weeks later, I've experienced my first pain free moon time that I can remember. I find myself just as emotional and fatigued as always, but far more loving and nurturing towards myself in those feelings of vulnerability. Healed, for sure.
My own daughter is only four but I feel empowered to help respectfully support her through her transition when the time comes. It feels great to have shed those feelings of shame and to look forward to connecting with her as a young woman.
I'm really enjoying reading through your blogs and all of the sites that you recommend. You are doing such important work, Lucy. I'll be recommending you to my mama friends.
Thank you again for so openly sharing your wisdom. You have gifted me with the tools to bring back my womanly magic that was misplaced for far too long.
Yours in gratitude,

Having sold out of my book, Moon Time, after my Blue Moon sale, I ordered 60 more copies. They arrived yesterday. I now have only 30 copies left! Reorders from some of my big independent stockists. I have sold over 350 copies in 6 months, to women in 12 countries!

I am just about to send off for the proof copy of Moods of Motherhood, my second book, which will be out in November to celebrate two years of Dreaming Aloud. It is a compilation of my favourite and most popular posts from the blog, best JUNO Dreaming Aloud columns, articles and lots of original material, written just for the book. Organised by the moods which permeate motherhood including: tenderness, depression, love, guilt, grief, silliness and happy days...

My third book, the newly named Rainbow Way is finding form not it has a solid title, and now stands at 70,000 words. I will be focusing on finishing it in October and November.

I have proudly put together my "As seen in..." bit on the side bar (look right!) - I feel quite chuffed with seeing all those publications together!

And have now got a mailing list. Also see right. Do join up, the first 100 sign ups go into a draw for one of two copies of Moods of Motherhood, when it is published in November. (Open Worldwide).

And finally I was shortlisted for both Dreaming Aloud and The Happy Womb in the Irish blog awards.

blog awards ireland

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Houston we have a title!

Firstly, thank you all for your thoughts and feedback for my book title. How wonderful having twenty other women's brains buzzing with ideas - I love crowd-sourcing - you came up with so many angles that I had not considered.

I've been listening to all the woo-woo warnings from y'all! 
(Man this post title's making me come out all Texan!)

Rainbows are too hippy. And off putting. And we don't like the word mamas it seems either.

I hear ya. Thank you.

And so I was all set for... The Creative Mother's Path...

Solid, sensible. Does what it says on the tin. Non-alienating.

Even though it didn't sing to my soul. But it's more important that it talks to you, dear reader, than me. After all, y'all will be buying it in your droves - right? It will be thanks to the massive popularity of this book that I will be able to afford a housekeeper for another couple of hours a week and no longer live in a hovel, but instead focus on what I am good on - creating magical women's work!

It's this book that's gonna get me onto Oprah's sofa... oh, except there is no Oprah show any more- another dream bites the dust!

But, then a couple of women who really understand me - one from spending far too long with me - Leigh, my dear real life friend, who listens and listens to each of my new dramas and complaints and eats cake companionably... And, Becky - who I've never met in real life, but we moon dance in virtual connection, thanks to the Goddess Circle, and she just gets me, really, truly does.

They both gave me the "to thine own self be true" spiel - but in a totally right on way. Don't you just LOVE it when real friends do this?

This was Becky's take, which you might have spotted in the comments section of the last post:

"Because of your affinity for rainbows and this being the year of the rainbow I love the word "rainbow" in your work. It's one of your signature words, a word you use a lot."

They were both very clear- Lucy, rainbows are key to your work.

And you know what? They are!

In my paintings, in my (borrowed) ideas about rainbow streams of abundance and the rainbow mama archetype, and even the rainbow man that I drew when I was nine, which I knew was a significant image for me and one that I was deeply proud of, even though the teacher was a bit non-plussed by.

Rainbows speak of living with all the colours, of creating, of not living a grey life, of varieties of possibility, of hope, of beauty...and of a new female archetype and way of earning.

The book centres on these ideas.

But I took on board that women did not feel an affinity or connection with the idea of the creative rainbow mama.

So I cut up all the possible words and played with them, spreading them out on the floor (thanks to my friend Tracy for dropping this idea into my consciousness a couple of weeks ago). And my favourite just appeared.  There on the floor. About 24 hours before Becky made her (almost identical) suggestion! And we're loving your subtitle to Becky - though taking on board the need to make the title a non-statement. And not sound like a parenting book - all great tips, thanking you - and so, we have a title.

Refined with my dearest Mr DA.

Run by Leigh... (who along with Becky has won a copy of the book.)

The Rainbow Way

Cultivating creativity in the midst of motherhood

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Need YOUR Help to Name my Next Book

OK, dearest readers, YOUR help is needed! (And there's a prize!)

I have now printed out a complete second draft of my next book - the one I have been referring to as "The Creative Rainbow Mama", which I hope to have out early in the new year. 

(To read a bit - see here). To find out what the hell a Creative Rainbow Mama is, see here. To contribute see here. To see more about it taking shape, see here.)

Photo: For you Rainbow Mama :)
I just had a gorgeous picture shared with me of Facebook, that I'd love to have for the cover- does anyone know the artist?
The book has done the round of publishers and agents and received many very nice "nearly but not quite" responses- so I am self publishing.

And it's really finding shape. But to nail it I really need to get the title right, and I thought who better to ask than you, enthusiastic dear readers!

The book, to recap, is a guide for creative mothers - on how to balance creativity and motherhood. I think of it as an Artist's Way for Mothers. It explores:
  • Two key mothering archetypes: The Earth Mother and Creative Rainbow Mother, and her shadow side, the Crazy Woman
  • Exploring and shedding family and societal pressures which block our creativity as women and mothers
  • The practical side: How to make time and space in your mothering life to create, how to get support
  • Guiding you to find the right creative outlets for yourself
  • Sharing how to get started if your creativity has tanked and stalled, and how to get unstuck
  • Spiritual insight into women's creativity - including pregnancy, the birth process and menstrual cycles and their impact
  • How to weave creativity into your life as a family.
I need a title that will make this book jump off the shelf - or the web- and into your arms and heart. One that invites you in. That doesn't turn you off. I don't want anything too hippy or woo-woo, as it's not really that hippy a book! (Think Moon Time - it walks the path between mainstream and woo-woo!) - I'm aware that talk of rainbows and mamas is a bit woo-woo. The part about the creative mother archetype is a central part - but it does not dominate the book - you could read the book, skip that chapter, and it would still all make sense...

I could REALLY do with your feedback. Please vote in the comments section below - 1, 2,3  or suggest your own. And tell me what works for you, and what doesn't. 

The winning suggestion gets a signed copy of the book once it is published. If it ends up being one of my suggestions that you vote for then all those who voted for the final title have their names put into a hat and one of you will win!

My title suggestions are:
  1. The Creative Rainbow Mama
  2. The Creative Rainbow Mama’s Guide to Creativity…and Life!
  3. The Path of the Creative Rainbow Mama
  4. The Creative Mother
  5. The Path of the Creative Mother
  6. A Guidebook for Creative Mothers
  7. The Creative Mother's Handbook
  8. The Creative Mother's Path
  9. The Creative Mama Way
  10. The Creative Mama-festo
  11. Renaissance: The birth of the creative mother
Subtitles include:
a)How to nurture your creativity whilst you raise your children
b) A guide to creativity and living
c) Embracing the rainbow of possibilities
d)Painting from your full palette
e) Walking the rainbow path

Thank you!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Damn Compulsory Education - Part 2

So I keep being asked how it goes. With the whole school thing. (For Part 1 see here)

The short answer is... it goes.

The long answer is it's been a pretty shit week in my world. I have felt in conflict with my husband over the whole education thing. This was really, really hard. I felt sick, shaken, yuck - I hate that feeling of discord. I felt, if truth be told, like I was in the wrong - in his eyes, in the teacher's eyes - and all I was trying to do was the best for our daughter. As of course was he. I was ready for her to quit - for the rest of the term, the year, for ever. He was not, he felt we needed to give it time... And so we took his path. And I felt like my vote was not being counted. I felt like I was abandoning my sacred mother contract to protect my daughter from trauma.

Monday we got her to line up in the school yard. She freaked, bit me hard on the wrist. Went in with the assistant teacher, crying. Me promising to follow on once I'd collected her little sister from the other side of the yard. I didn't, because the crying subsided. I felt shit.

Monday night she wet the bed (her third time in a week.) Tuesday morning she wakes covered in big fly bites. She stays home. She plays so well with her sister all day. We really need to home school I think, this could work.

Wednesday she has an hour melt down in the morning. She goes in at break time, we settle her in the classroom whilst the other kids are out playing. Cries for five minutes. The sun is shining, it's a friend's birthday party, I take my son out early - all he misses is "power walking" - this is a valid sports choice for 6-7 year olds apparently - WTF?!

Thursday she's fine going in for her dad.  I have a heart to heart with my dad. I go and talk to the teacher, ready to warn her that we're going to pull her out. I ask the teacher how she has been, "Oh great, wonderful, the only problem was the first day until you had gone..." ("that's right, pile it on woman, the whole clingy mother making it all worse shite", I think) "I would have told you if we were having problems..." So I begin to tell her about the melt downs, the wet beds... but to her it doesn't matter, it's not on her watch so it doesn't count.

Friday she goes in at the start of school, we settle her in the classroom before the other kids come in. She's fine.

I have really enjoyed my days at work. Really enjoyed having just little Ash home with me in the mornings. Enjoyed having more energy to enjoy and focus on them all in the afternoon. Felt sad that the sun was shining and my kids were shut in a classroom. Felt cross at forcing our son to do piles of pointless homework on sunny evenings. Delighted at how enthusiastic our daughter is about her homework, doing it a day in advance, with great care. How quickly she is learning her letters. She loves her uniform, you can see that she feels more grown up. I hate making packed lunches. Grind my teeth over filling in school forms.

It's a mixed bag. Truly.

I have been torn between the two competing camps of home ed and schoolers, comforted by the few who find themselves in my position - who crawled out of the work on Facebook, by email, at the playground and the school gate to say - you are us, we know your pain, we're there too. Families who are taking the home ed route - and feeling ill at ease. Families who are taking the school route and feeling deeply conflicted. I know that I am not alone in this.

Here's the truth - there is a lot of feeling going on - mamas and kiddies and papas, yearning, resisting, mourning, regretting, hurting, being scared, feeling overwhelmed.... and school doesn't do feelings. And our class teacher doesn't do feelings. And that's what I struggle with. You go from the home environment where we judge by feelings, intuition, careful watching - to a school environment where the only thing that really matters is on the page, not in the heart, on the page, not in the brain, on the page, not in the soul. Where the currency is stickers and ticks and smiley faces.

Oh that I wish there were clear answers, here where we live. But instead we live in a muddle of compromises. And it's alright. And whilst it's alright we'll stick.

But I reserve the right to twist at any point.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dearest Mama...

Dearest mama,

You started out with such high hopes, big dreams – how you would help the world to embrace your dear sweet children. You whispered your promises to them in the womb. Of how you would be the perfect mother – ever gentle, kind and patient. Of how you would do everything for them, with them. And you truly meant it.

For years you tried to be the perfect mama. But the pain that you weren’t was almost unbearable. You felt a failure. You felt guilty. You felt like giving up, running away. Often you threatened to quit.

Don’t be hard on yourself. You are the only mama they know. The only mama they love. The only mama you know how to be. And that is more than enough.

You wanted to make your past better through your mothering. But you can’t. You can’t erase your own pain, however hard you try to be perfect or love your children more.

You do your best not to recreate your own suffering it in their lives. You are committed to love. You are conscientious. And that has to be enough. The world does not change in a day, and neither will you. Remember you are your ancestors’ hopes and dreams incarnate. But you are also their hurts and failings writ large.

You love your children, though you may shout at them. You feed them and put up with their complaints when they don’t like dinner.  You clothe them and weather their tantrums over too-tight clothes. You mother them at six in the morning, at lunchtime, at midnight when they wake with sore teeth. When you are sick, you mother them still. You tend to their hurt knees with a mother’s love.  You help them to find the answers their souls are seeking. You tickle and tumble with them. You show them the size of a mother’s love and the reality of a mother’s life. You give them language with which to engage with the world. You hold their hearts in your hand and ask them about their dreams. You throw your sticks together into the river of life. Now watch them float. You are not meant to be their pilot. Let go with the flow. Let it wash over you all.

You spend so long focusing on the minutiae – the moments that you yell, not the moments that you embrace them, which in the bigger picture far out-number the cross words and impatience which you feel colours your days.

Be sure that what they will hold in their souls are all the things you cannot see – the way your hair falls over your face as you kiss them goodnight, the soft pillow of breast as they snuggle up to you at night, the way you say certain words, the magical contents of your jewellery box, your love of books, the way you loved them when they felt ill and frightened. When you cheered loudly for them in the school play or showed your heartfelt appreciation of their picture. And fleeting moments when you stood hand in hand on the edge of the ocean in the light of the full moon.

Just try, for a moment to see yourself through their eyes. See yourself as the most important woman in their world.

Because that is what you are. You, dearest woman, are a goddess to them, though they will never tell you. You are love incarnate. Your perceived flaws just make you human.

Allow yourself to feel the depth and breadth of your love. Their love. Nothing else matters.
Lucy x

This is my contribution to a very special book which has just been published. Note to Self : The Secret to Becoming your own Best Friend invites you to discover the beauty and power of self-love, acceptance and becoming your own best friend. Exploring topics such as Healing, Menstruation, Motherhood and Body Image, Note to Self shows you how to embrace who you are and write love letters for your soul. It includes a collection of letters from 30 inspiring women around the world including Tabby Biddle, Jane Harwicke Collings ... and me!!

Heartfelt and loving, it was the creative child of the lovely Jo MacDonald from The Red Box Company whom I met on the Goddess Circle who, like me, works in the field of women's and girl's empowerment.

E-books and paperback versions of Note to Self are available to buy from Jo, here...

"A truly inspiring read filled with encouragement on speaking your truth and living authentically!" Kimberly Wilson, Author of Hip Tranquil Chick and Tranquilista

“Every woman, in fact every teenage girl, should read this book...” Jen Saunders, Founder & Editor-in-chief Wild Sister Magazine

10% of all profits go to Plan's 'BECAUSE I AM A GIRL' charity project 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sweeter with you

In between the drama of almost, and the saga of Merrily starting school, we had the most wonderful family holiday in the UK - sunshine, picnics in the park, full days at the playground, ice creams and water play, pond dipping, seeing loved ones, a festival with community singing, puppet shows, a juggler and fire circles, and the highlight for us all - a ride on a real steam train.

And all the time as I watched Aisling swing and laugh and run and play (oh how bright she is, how quickly she is developing) the sentiments of this poem ran through my head... so I wrote it down. And wanted to share it with you all - all who sent a text, a message, an email, a card, a present, left a comment, for each of you who have asked since how she is doing, how we are doing: this is how it is...

For Aisling, three weeks on from almost...

Your face has healed.
Not a mark or a sign.
And my hands no longer shake.

And so we had a break
As a family.

And you know my love,
It was sweeter with you.

As we watched you dart around the ferry,
And took you out on deck again and again
Being careful not to
Hold you too close,
So you could feel the sway beneath your own feet,
The wind in your hair.

It was sweeter with you.

As we played in the park,
And camped in the rain.
Watched puppet shows,
And rode the choo-choo train,

It was sweeter with you,
My love,
So much sweeter with you.

With your bouncy curls,
And your cheeky grin,
You beautiful girl,
With your big brown eyes and your
Funny words.

It is sweeter with you,
My love,
So much sweeter with you.

You are the heart of our family
The almost, not quite.
Again and again,
Like a will-o-the-whisp.
You have chosen to stay.

So different in stature, persona and hair,
To your two elder siblings,
Who love you,
We love you, and granny does too,
And granma and grandad,
Just because you are you.
Your very own person,
Even though you're just two.

It is sweeter with you,
My love,
So much sweeter with you.


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