Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reigniting Dreams

I am, as you by this stage probably know, in the business of nurturing and supporting creative dreams - my own and others. It is my self-appointed mission, and one I take very seriously.

There is one person in my life whose dreams have been on ice for a long time because of parenthood. Who gave up the most important thing in their world for me, and our son.

And then again for our daughters.

Let me tell you a story.

When we first met, I was a trainee actress. Mr DA a trainee bio-chemist.

Many years passed. Many countries visited and degrees achieved. We married and headed to Cambridge to continue our postgrad education.

The same week we found out I was pregnant with our first child, Mr DA found out that his beloved PhD project (that he was in the first year of) was transfering... to Strasbourg. We went and visited, one cold February weekend. It was hard to envisage being alone in a big new city, as a new mother, with no family around and not speaking the language. I just couldn't picture it. I knew how much it meant to him. And I knew how much of a danger it would be to my mental health to be under that much anxiety.

Fast forward a few months, our son is born at home in Ireland, Mr DA, having negotiated a few months sabattical. He heads over to find us a flat in Strasbourg. A day later he phones... to tell me he has handed in his notice.

This PhD project was at the forefront of sustainable energy - his absolute passion. He had worked for it and dreamed of it for years.

And instead he has worked smaller jobs, close to home - in things that have interested him - but not his ultimate passion of sustainable energy and bio engineering.

He also dreamed of building our own home.

But then children two and three came along quickly. And our need for a home exceeded our energy levels. And so another dream bit the dust. He poured his energy into full time work and hands on fathering, and shepherding me through many dark days.

So this Xmas, when I was offered the opportunity by our much-loved old bank, Halifax, to take part in a promotion, to give something special to a loved one, it just had to be Mr DA.

I asked him what he really wanted, if I could spend double what I normally would on him. And he voiced a dream, and started to draw up plans, that sparkle in his eye once again... and a component part of it is a build it yourself solar panel... which is what he asked me for... I am glad to see the sparkle back.

So Happy New Year, Mr DA, and thank you for all you have sacrificed for us.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What are you giving your sister in the Philippines this Christmas?

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime
But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing 
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you.
Feed the World

As I was driving my daughter to pre-school this morning through our beautiful local area in our new car, wrapped up warm, this song came on the radio, and I burst into tears.

Only the day before Mr DA and I had been talking of the future, our future, our kids' future and what this world might look like in twenty years time.

We are not filled with hope for the big picture. But we are resourceful.

And we know that we live in one of the safest and most fertile countries in the world. With lots of space and natural resources. 

And as I read the paper that evening there were stories... stories of hunger, of women being raped just for being women, of rising levels of homelessness, of whole populations displaced by war, of political work camps in North Korea holding 200,000 in conditions which make the Nazis not look too bad.

Now. Right now. All over the world. Not stories at all but realities.

You know this. Of course you do. It's why you avoid the papers and the news. Because it's hard to function on a diet of despair.

And in terms of keeping a positive mental headspace avoiding the news is a Good Thing.

But that doesn't stop all this stuff actually happening.

And so as I sit here giving thanks for a year of dreams come true, a year of comfort and ease, warmth and too much food, happy family life and safety I don't even have to think about.

I think what if...

What if by accident of birth I was born in one of many other countries... what if....

What if one day in the future this will be us...

These are my brothers and sisters from other mothers. My children in other lives. My parents. My self.

And so I have given three Christmas gifts.

Not little 20-cents-in-a-collection box-to-let-myself-off-the-guilt-hook-gifts. Proper gifts from our family to other families around the world, that will make a substantial difference to other's lives.

One to feed a family for a month, who are suffering homelessness because of a hurricane. One to a political prisoner who could be, would be, me, who dared to question corrupt authority, and now pays for it with their own blood and confinement every day. And one to my children in another land - children for whom books and light and clean water, such basic essentials to us here, are luxuries out of their reach.

It would be easy enough to say we're hardly rolling in it ourselves. Or that charity giving isn't the best way to do it.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. This, as you know is my motto.

The more we give the richer we realise we are.

And so at this time of giving, please, please, however broke you feel, however busy you are, give a gift, to the value of what you would give your mother or sister, or neighbour, to your relations elsewhere whom you have never met, who need a Christmas present as a matter of life or death. 

We all know many charities and many ways of giving. Don't let not being able to choose stop you for a moment. Think of a son, a mother, a woman, a man that could be you in another lifetime, or another year. And give something right now to share the light and love and abundance that you enjoy as standard.

These are a few of my favourite charities (and obviously, it goes without saying, I benefit in no way from recommending them.)

International Red Cross - to support their work in the Philippines relief effort and in war torn countries around the world.

The Guardian Christmas Appeal this year is going to Africa to support books, water aid, renewable power and sustainable farming practices.

Amnesty International who support human rights around the world, acting as advocate for political prisoners. And whilst there you can sign a petition or two.

Goal - an Irish charity who we supported for our wedding, who work with the poorest of the poor around the world.

You can use your social media accounts to automatically support Irish charities by joining the 12 Days of Christmas appeal  which posts an appeal message on either Facebook or Twitter once a day until Christmas.

Thank you...  in the words of Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie and everyone who needs us... We are the World.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

20 and 1/3 Books that Rocked my 2013

I regularly get emails from women asking for book recommendations. They are some of my most popular posts. So here, hopefully just in time for last minute Christmas pressies, are my favourite books of the year.

This year I have bought myself not one but TWO books for Christmas.

First up is Leonie Dawson's 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business Workbook I have used and loved this baby for three years now. And it has changed how I live my life and do business! Totally.

I remember doing the business one last year, and writing down figures for income and social media followers and teachers I wanted to work with that seemed so far out in dream land. I've done them. Almost exactly! WOW!

Its transformational life and business stuff carefully packaged behind girly pictures and gorgeous colours which make me feel so happy and safe whilst I'm doing it!

I get the wonderful printable PDF version free on her Life and Business Academy (you can buy the Life and Business versions individually for $9.95 here which is what I did last year). BUT I wanted a lovely bound copy to hold in my hands. And this year for the first year you can buy a printed copy of both versions together from Amazon. I ripped mine open last night and started the life planner the moment the kids were asleep, and continued whilst one came into me... and then first thing at work this morning I did some of the business part. I LOVE this book. I've spent the morning taking stock of the mammoth year of dreams that has been 2013 and looking forward to an even more glorious year next year - oh the things I have in store already!!

And second is food porn - Bill's Everyday Asian by Bill Granger, Ozzie food boy extraordinaire. The recipes take me back to my footloose pre-kid travelling days. And the photos... Look at the photos. I first set my eye on it whilst looking after 6 kids at a friend's house! Ooops!

My copy of it arrived whilst I was doing an interview last week. The interviewer immediately started oooohing and ahhing over it and noted down the title so she could get herself a copy. It is sumptuously photographed, and the recipes are the real deal... but doable. I am officially not cooking from it till after Xmas... just stroking it - it I said, not him!

The Mystic Cookfire: The Sacred Art of Creating Food to Nurture Friends and Family by Veronika Robinson is the opposite of cookery porn. It is food with soul and meaning. Words of wisdom about eating. And beautiful black and white drawings. And hundreds of vegan recipes. I got it for myself for my birthday as a treat having seen it at another friend's house - I do actually talk to my friends you know, not JUST eye up their book collections!.

Veronika is the editor of The Mother magazine and a whole lot more alternative than me. But I love her writing and her soul. And I love that she is a real creative rainbow mama too AND an earth mama at the same time! This is self published, as are all her diverse books, and I love that too!

Haha! I've just realised that my top three books so far are all by Australians! Go Ozzies!

Obviously The Rainbow Way has been the book I have spent most time with in every way this year. (I am so honored that Leonie named it one of her top 20 books for 2013!) I am VERY impressed by all the mamas who have emailed me to say that they have received their copy as a gift to themselves or from their hubbies, and ARE WAITING TILL THE BIG DAY! You are made of stronger stuff than me ladies! I was SO excited to see that it is number 10 on Amazon.co.uk's most wished for book in the Motherhood genre at the time of writing!

The Gift - Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master is not a pretty book at all. In fact that's one reason why I haven't read it until now. Gosh what a superficial bibliophile I am! It has sat next to the fire in my father's house for years. I know the cover well, but never picked it up, it looked too dull for words. Then I was checking out one of my favourite artists' new websites (Mara Friedman Berendt), and she kept quoting it, so I headed straight over to Amazon to check it out. Ordered and devoured it. And now nibble on it about once a week. It is like praying. Magical, mystical, laugh out loud hilarious, light bulb, deeply sad words. All in the space of one short poem. Written almost a thousand years ago in a different language. Mindblowing! I quoted it quite a few times in The Rainbow Way in my final edit, as I was TOTALLY in love with it!

One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun (One A Day) This book is only incredible. It takes you from "what the flip is a zentangle any way?" to seriously proficient, and totally addicted, if truth be told, in a matter of days. I did it . My kids did it. My mum did it - and we all LOVED it.

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything ,
When my mum was over she brought this book with her and it resonated strongly with me. All about overcoming over-eating. For god here read whatever you see god as... but the title would have put me off buying it myself. Don't let it! It is basically all about mindfulness and eating, with great compassion and humor.

Overcoming Underearning: A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life
This is a very American business-money-self help book that I wouldn't normally recommend. BUT she has a few GREAT exercises in it, and I am very grateful for having done them.

Sweetening the Pill: or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control
Is rather wonderfully published by my publishers - I am very proud to be associated by default with this book. For me this and The Pill by Alexandra Pope should be required reading of all girls on their 16th birthday. This is a superbly researched and written examination of the Pill, how it is marketed, why we swallow it and what it does to us. First class.

And on the topic of my publishers, one of their 2012 titles has been on my to-read list for ages, Body of Wisdom and I just took delivery of it last night (I came home to a veritable mountain of books, all in the name of research you understand!!) and I have read the first few pages and WOW! it the the book of women's wisdom I have been yearning for every moon time... I am SO excited about reading it.

Alchemy for Women: Personal Transformation Through Dreams and the Female Cycle
This has been my book of the year. I have learnt SO much about how my dreams are affected by my cycle... and so many blood mysteries which no one speaks of. This is a follow on title from the same authors as the class The Wise Wound: Menstruation and Everywoman (Paladin Books) - it is much smaller, but equally as valuable, though it never really made it as a book. It is a funny mix of the scientific and esoteric written in quite a bitty way - almost like a notebook of discoveries many of which have yet to be fleshed out. It is influencing my ideas for my next book and comes highly recommended.

And talking of woman-craft books, I got a number of really interesting ideas from Wild Feminine: Finding Power, Spirit & Joy in the Female Body (don't you just LOVE the cover!) I found the exercises in it a little repetitive (I have a short attention span!) and it's a long book - but if you're looking for a book to help you get in touch with your female body and especially the pelvic bowl, Tami Lynn Kent is a loving insightful guide.

My Mother, Myself
This is a classic, written in the 70s, before it was even acknowledged how much power on a girl's psyche her mother has. It is a book that I have bought for myself three times, but never gotten past the second chapter. The same happened again... so I skipped a few and got great insight from it. In truth I'm not mad about her writing style, and it feels a little dated as she is talking about the previous generation of mothers and daughters. But ouch her insights cut like a knife. She says what is now a classic took a while before really taking off, as women admitted to throwing it across the room or hiding it in cupboards before taking it out and finishing it, then recommending it to their friends, or buying a copy for their mother. So I guess I'm not alone! I have just ordered her other classic My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies which arrived last night and is an eye-opener - it both documents hundreds of women's sexual fantasies as well as reflecting on the how and why of female sexual fantasy in our patriarchal culture! I think it probably qualifies as porn-porn!

E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality
So the basic premise of this book is that it is 9 experiments that prove the existence of God - however you envisage that force. It's funkily written, very accessible, funny and easy to follow. And it works... In the sense that when we are looking for answers... we usually find them!

Healing with the Arts: A 12-Week Program to Heal Yourself and Your Community
This is a book I've been meaning to write about for months, I was mapping out a whole post dedicated to it - and then the launch of The Rainbow Way took over - but it gave me huge insight into using art to heal mind and body. Not coming from an art therapy background I admit ignorance on this topic and this book really opened my eyes. It was holistic and really inspiring book and gives a 12 week step by step programme to use yourself or with others to heal through art which, when life is a little calmer, I fully intend to try out.

Mind-Body Workbook for Anger: Effective Tools for Anger Management and Conflict Resolution
Has given me major new insight into how and why anger works, and what I can do about it. I was REALLY enjoying this book, and got 5 chapters in, then life got busy and it disappeared off my e-reader app, which is a shame.

Kiddies books we've loved this year include...

You're a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!
This is pee yourself funny whether you're 8 or 38. Seriously funny. My son could not put it down - the first time he has ever been like that about a book, and read whole chapters aloud to let us join him in his snorting and hoots! The whole family now quotes some of the absurdities from it including our favourite - "The truth is a lemon meringue pie!"

Little House in the Big Woods
We have been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books aloud since June-  lord half a year, and counting - on the recommendation of a couple of women who heard how much Merrily loved making butter. I wouldn't have thought of sharing them with her till she was 7 or 8 but she has been really enjoying them, and the whole family reference them regularly. The first was my favourite as a girl, and remains so. We have also watched a couple of the series, and have started watching the film. All our kids are just fascinated about how life was then.

Blueberry Girl
A dear friend gave this very special book to Ash for her third birthday and it is SO beautifully written and illustrated. It is through this that I discovered Neil Gaiman - sometimes I wonder if I live under a rock to have not come across him before! Watch the beautiful animated reading of the book here. Whilst you're there you might as well check out another reading by him of Instructions.

Reaching for the Moon
This was my first book release of the year, and is, of my three self-published books, the quickest seller. It seems to really resonate with mothers and daughters and is spreading like wild fire. My 5 1/2 year old begged to be able to read one of my books, brandishing this one in her little hands, knowing that it was for girls, but I have put her off for a couple more years! I was so honored to hear that it is being taught in a local school and have been invited in to talk to the girls on the topic.

You still here? Any book recommendations for me? What have you read and loved this year?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eternal Summer of the Creative Mind

Welcome to the final week of the month-long Carnival of Creative Mothers to celebrate the launch of The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood by Lucy H. Pearce which has been Amazon.co.uk's Hottest New Release in Motherhood for the past week!

Today's topic is The Creative Process. Do read to the end of this post for a full list of carnival participants. 


"What advice do you have for people wanting to be creative?"

I have been asked this in interviews twice in the past fortnight. (I know can you believe, I give interviews now! I'm SO much more used to being the interviewer!)

And the question always silences me.

As if because I wrote a whole flipping book on creativity, I had a magic wand up my sleeve, and with a wave of it, and a carefully crafted sentence which I can trot out at will, I can magic your creativity to life.

We are all longing for an eternal summer of the creative mind. For a magic switch to turn on instant tropical summer. And when asked about creativity, most people focus on the height of summer.

But creativity is a cyclical process. It has its seasons. The emergence of the first buds of inspiration as the thaw of the bitter winter of nothingness begins. The unfurling tender leaves as a project emerges. And then the summer, glorious summer when ideas stream from us like honey, and the butterflies gather round and all the world is alive with colour. And then the autumn, wonderful autumn of gathering in the harvest. Which is where I am now, seeing the fruits of my labors ripe and full, and people sinking their teeth in and the juices running down their chins.

But then winter comes once more. Sometimes desolate and bitter, unasked for. But most times simply a time of quiet, rest, retreat, repose, where we can allow the magic of gestation to happen.

I am enjoying this autumn, and am, if truth be told, bone-tired from this birthing, it is the biggest thing I have ever done and I am now looking forward to the gentle rest of mid-winter and seeing what magic may emerge from it.

  • The Rainbow Way is surpassing my dreams - I have had foreign rights inquiries for two major languages which would bring it to over a billion extra readers in the world!
  •  It is featured on the front cover of The Mother magazine.
  • It has been featured in Leonie Dawson's Top 20 books of 2013 - she says:
"I’m so fucking glad Lucy wrote this book. I know that she wrote it because she was told to. I know it was dictated from the heavens. I know it because I can feel it when I read her words. 
When I got it, I consumed it whole within two days. I just couldn’t stop reading it. It felt like such a balm to my soul. I wish I’d had it at the beginning. I’m so glad it’s here now.
Recommended for: Mothers. Every single one of them. Seriously. I mean it."

  • 10% off - use code TRW10
  • exclusive access to a private Facebook group for creative mothers
  • a vibrant greetings card and book-mark of one of the author's paintings.
Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.co.uk Amazon.com Book DepositoryBarnes and Noble

Or order from your local bookshop.

    • Carnival host and author of The Rainbow Way, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud looks at the common lies we tell ourselves about creativity in The Eternal Summer of the Creative Mind.
    • Caitriona at Wholesome Ireland - from start to new beginnings.
    • Hannah M. Davis writes about Unleashing Your Authentic Voice. So many of us would love to write a life-changing book. How do you get over the blocks and barriers that hold you back? 
    • Sylda from Mind the Baby compares her creative process to a maelstrom of weather warnings.
    • In "As an Artist", Lucy Pierce at Soulskin Musings offers a poem about how the creative process beckons her through many of the archetypes of womanhood.
    • Jackie Stewart at Flowerspirit.co.uk talks about how creativity is opening up a space for the unknown to reveal itself to you in 'Creativity Flourishes in the Sacred Unknown'.
    • Alex at Art of Birth shares some practical tips on how you can unlock your creative goddess within!
    • Nicki at justlikeplay shares a love letter to her muse.
    • Marija Smits has a conversation with her muse and reflects on the difficulties of catching and creating from the Goddess of Inspiration.
    • Zoie at TouchstoneZ reflects on her creative process.
    • Licia Berry, Illumined Arts "Creativity and Healing are Ideal Partners". The creation of visual, musical, or expressive arts is the quickest, most effective and painless way to heal.
    • Kirstin at Listening to the Squeak - My creative process and how to break creative blocks.
    • Ali Baker talks about connecting with the call of the wolf when she cries to us to do so means giving our time and permission to honour the creative process within all of us.
    • Mary at The Turquoise Paintbrush reflects on her creative process.
    • KatyStuff thinks that projects need time to mature, that is why she is a fabric and craft hoarder. 
    • Aimée at Creativeflutters goes into her creative process and looks at what makes things tick or flop in "Spontaneous She - How to Keep Your Muse at Work".
    • Kae at The Wilde Womb muses about her common creative blocks as a parent and how she systematically breaks through them.
    • Angela at Peach Coglo tries to get comfortable with her own creative process. 
    • Biromums write about their creative processes.
    • Dawn at The Barefoot Home believes the creative process can't be taught it has to come organically and at its own pace.
    • Tara at Aquamarine Art began uncovering her lost inner artist over 5 years ago and shares her experiences and inspirations in "From Spark to Bonfire: The Evolution of A Creative Process."
    • Darcel at The Mahogany Way examines her own creative process.
    • Sharron at Adventures on the mindful path writes and creates in between (and sometimes while) chasing two little boys and a puppy.  
    • Laura at Authentic Parenting reflects on her creative process.
    • Georgie at Visual Toast explores what the creative process looks like for her.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Once in a Lifetime...

We are really in the Christmas spirit here in the Pink House, and experiencing a lot of firsts...

First yule log I've ever made. Thanks Nigella. I still love you. It was so good.
The first pony ride either girl has ever had. They were SO patient waiting their turn. Yes, they are bare legs! Prinkles!

Me and my book baby. And my real life babies. In the biggest bookstore in Cork City. Withmy book on display. Signed by the author! The Rainbow Way is still pre-order only on Amazon, and has been their Hot New Release all week in the motherhood genre on Amazon.co.uk, where it reached #17. It was outselling The Artist's Way 5 to 1 on Kindle this morning on Amazon.com, And has been in the top 40 in Crafts too! I am simply blown away! I have heard that Leonie is going to feature it as one of her top books of 2013. And the publishers have had enquiries about foreign rights! 
I was also sought out by a regional paper for an interview. There will be a feature on  me in the Evening Echo next week.
As we were leaving the shop we saw my dad's book in the FRONT WINDOW of Waterstones!
Then off to the Ferris Wheel. Another first for our kids. I've not been on one for many years. It was superb fun.

A once in a life time experience, he said...

The city lights were coming on below us...
The girls loved it too!
Then off to the Winter Wonderland in the park next door, done by the truly wonderful Doutcha theatre/ puppet company. Fairy doors in the walls, the trees lit up, live elves and fairies hiding behind trees. 

Truly magical.
 This is the stuff that dreams are made of!
Merry Christmas...  we're celebrating already!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...