July 12, 2014 § 1 Comment
As seasons slowly pass, I think I am slowly coming to a deeper acceptance of the eternal nature of life. It often seems that as soon as one issue feels resolved, a new problem or obstacle will surface, ready to be addressed.
I am ok with this, because it means that I am alive, I am conscious and awake and evolving. In fact, I don’t often think of these issues as ‘problems’, or as negative any more. They are just one more step in the journey of life, one more opportunity to let go and choose love in each moment…..well, that is the aim anyway.
Of course it is all too easy to sit and write these words when sitting in a space of joy. In the midst of tricky times, it can be really hard to remain in touch with that deep sense of acceptance. I think I have had one such moment this week.
How determined I have been to ride a wave of familial bliss throughout the school holidays. How determined…..to stay on top of the housework, cook great meals and take the children out for wonderful family bonding times. In my determination to avoid being the cliche of frazzled mother and fractious children, you can probably guess what has happened. I have become the cliche.
How I love them, and how I love having a large family. It has been coming on for a time now, this feeling of unease about the ages of my children (15, 11, 7, 4 and 2), and how best to engineer our days for greatest harmony and happiness.
The problem is that I cannot find a way. How can I resolve, dissolve, let go or transform this problem when my mind cannot find a way? With one boy in mid-adolescence and another on the way, it is like having three different sets of children, all with differing needs, desires and interests.
In summertime the beach or pool fits the bill, but those are not applicable in winter. The amount of inertia, and resistance involved in getting every child in the car for a day trip lately is prohibitive. And so, for the first few days of this week, we have done nothing much except a couple of trips to the park for kicks. And the inevitable ‘I’m bored’ comment has been heard more than once by the older ones. The young ones seem to entertain themselves most of the time. It is the older children who seem to be the stick-in-the-mud.
Or maybe I am the stick-in-the-mud. My ‘Aha moment’ has not yet arrived, my sudden insight that will open the doors and let me move on, somehow magically transforming the issue in the process. So many children, so many differing ages, so many needs….too many for me to ever be enough.
And like a feather, floating gently down into my vision; there, right there, in the line above, is the key to all of this. I finally saw it as I was writing those words.
So, my new mantra: I am enough.
July 8, 2014 § 2 Comments
The Winter Solstice is over, and this post is embarassingly belated. But I couldn’t let this night pass without recording it in some way.
Lily was very excited to be joining me at her first women only event, the annual Spiral Walk held at Dural, and hosted by dear friend and Wise Woman Yia Alias.
After some chai and snacks, and a brief meditation, we made our way down to the field, where a spiral was laid out in flowers and greenery. Everyone took turns walking inward, lighting their candle, and walking outward again, accompanied by the gentle singing voices of the women witnessing. First Lily walked alone, then she came with me for my turn too.
I had time and hands free for her to sit in my lap as we watched everyone else walk the spiral. Then she ran off to spend the rest of the night with the other daughters attending, and I connected with other women.
It was a special night – because a mid-winter spiral walk always is – but made even more special for the fact that Lily and I went together. Amongst five children, it is tricky to get some one-on-one time with a parent. After two sons, I am a bit nervous as my daughter grows older. How I want her to see these soulful events as a ‘normal’ way of life, impressed into her very being through her exposure through me. How I want her to develop a recognition of her own connection to Mother Earth, and of the value of woman centered community.
Lately I have been lamenting how mainstream our life seems, here in the suburbs. As a younger woman with much younger (and less) children, my vision for this time was rather different to the reality I now live. As time goes by I hope I am making peace with that, and trying as much as I can to bring nature, connection, soulful living and spirituality into the lives of myself and my children.
I can think about what I do not have, or I can feel lucky for the people I know who invite us to camp on their land and into their lives. I can feel blessed for the wonderful women I know who embody the qualities I aspire to hold, and to pass on to my children: women who can be there as subtle role models for my daughters. I can feel gratitude for the acknowledgement, for the wholistic and earthed passage into adolescence my daughter will experience, thanks to these women.
I am not alone, and neither will my daughter be.
July 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
Back in 2009, when my boys were 10 and 6 years old, they became interested in Pokemon.
Pokemon, for the uninitiated, is a card game, electronic device game, TV series and book series. The cards are like old fashioned trading cards, and are collectible items. The game involves two players, battling it out with their ‘Pokemon’, to defeat their opponents through luck and strategy.
My boys, especially William, were heavily into Pokemon for a couple of years – collecting, going to public tournaments to play against other children, and of course I was roped into playing with them, for practice, at home.
In the last week, with the release of a new range of cards, the boys have a suddenly renewed fervor for Pokemon. They have acquired a new range of cards each, and so have I, so we can play together at home. I have always been a card game lover, so I have not needed much persuading to become involved again.
A wave of memories has been washing over me the last few days, as I remember our first forays into Pokemon five years ago. I have written before about my struggles in 2009 – the stress of that pregnancy and disconnect from life in general that extended into Zara’s first year of life. But what I remember about Pokemon is a bright light among a time of darkness – at the time we were living with my mother in a very small house, with not much outside space – and nearly every day after school the boys and I would play Pokemon. Lily would nap or play quietly, and we would listen to the Black Eyed Peas or Coldplay, and play Pokemon.
This rhythm began when I was pregnant, and continued with a sleeping babe in my arms. It was an escape for me from my thinking mind, and a way to connect with my boys. I think back to those afternoons now as magical hours – before Sol or my Mum arrived home from work – as something positive and productive I was able to achieve at a time when the basics felt almost too hard.
And of course I just enjoyed the game immensely. Samuel is five years older now and able to challenge me more as his understanding has matured. And it warms my heart to see William and Samuel sitting together playing….something more rare these days as William enters the middle adolescent years.
Sometimes it is the unexpected things that bring us together, and bring joy. Pokemon helped, back then.
June 23, 2014 § 2 Comments
I don’t often post cooking blogs – there are plenty of bloggers and people out there who are much better at food than I.
And my relationship with cooking is a little rocky – having to cook for so many people every day sometimes leads to inspiration burnout. At those times I tend to fall back on Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals, or the ‘classic Kirrilee’ recipes I have held on to since my early twenties.
This year I have been reading the I Quit Sugar books by Sarah Wilson, and the paleo inspired recipes of Pete Evans, along with the allergy friendly baking recipes of Jude Blureau. The following recipe has fast become a favourite of mine – taking elements from all those mentioned above, with a couple of touches of my own thrown in. Strictly speaking it is not sugar free, but the sugar is very minimal. I find the fatty acids and protein from the quinoa, chia and coconut keep me really satisfied.
I have been seen eating it for breakfast on the run, and while watching Game of Thrones: a most enjoyable pairing.
Quinoa and Chia seed Pudding with Maple Custard
(this recipe make enough for a few puddings)
Quinoa and Chia Seed Pudding
1/3 cup cooked quinoa
3T chia seeds
3 teaspoons cocoa powder ( I use an excellent quality raw cocoa)
300 mls milk ( I use half coconut milk, half soy or almond or oat milk)
Mix everything together in a bowl and let set in fridge for two hours.
1 1/2 T maple syrup
1t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk (I use soy, oat or almond)
65 mls coconut milk
Mix cornflour, syrup and vanilla over a low heat. Increase heat and add milk, stirring constantly until it thickens.
Remove from heat and leave to cool in a bowl.
When cool, blend with coconut milk, adding more maple syrup if desired, to taste.
Layer the quinoa/chia seed pudding with some custard. I add strawberries and a sprinkling of cacao nibs on top.
June 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
The weeks are flying by at this point of the year. We are hurtling towards the end of the school term, as well as the Winter Solstice. In the next two weeks I will attend three spiral walks to mark the Solstice, and will have to pack for three children to attend an overnight camp and Lantern Walk with their school.
I love the spiral walk….the walk into the centre of the spiral reflects the seasons’ journey into Winter, and darkness. We light a candle in the centre and return outwards, the candle a representation of the light held within all of us throughout the dark Winter months – the light we anticipate the return of in Spring and Summer.
This year my eldest daughter Lily will accompany me to a Women’s Spiral Walk, and I love her excited anticipation of the experience we are going to share. Sometimes, at the centre of the spiral, I am called to surrender something to the greater forces that underpin the changing seasons and our responses to them.
This year it will be fear: the many small moments of fear masquerading as doubt or ‘sense’ that keep me from charging ahead with all the many grand plans I have in my mind. Taking daily steps towards my goals has been a hard learned process and is often still a struggle, but when I look at the big picture of life, the progress is clear to see. It all comes back to the moment: the thoughts we think, the action we take.
This moment, all we will ever have.
I would like to express my deep gratitude to all of you who read my blog and support my evolution as both human being and writer. I promised a giveaway at 100 posts – the winner is Maryen (chosen via the highly technical process of pulling a name out of a hat!), who left a comment after post #98. Maryen, I will be in contact soon to find out what crafty goody from www.etsy.com.au/shop/littlefeltrainbows you would like!
June 5, 2014 § 3 Comments
Back in 1998, soon after I met my now husband, we went travelling together. Just us, a tent, some spiritual books and a stereo in a little red car.
Our interest was in intentional communities, and we planned to visit as many as we knew about. On the list was Chenrezig Buddhist Monastery up in the hills of the lower Sunshine Coast. After a couple of nights there I applied for the volunteer program, and was accepted. I had a little hut to sleep and meditate in, and did four hours a day of work around the centre.
I also got to experience the teachings, translated from Tibetan, originally spoken by the awe inspiring Geshe Tashi Tsering. Rumour was it that in his cabin, the highest on the hill, the wooden floors were worn away into a depression from him doing so many protestations (I think that is the right word!).
Many of the tasks I did were menial – gardening, weeding, sweeping, washing up or chopping mountains of vegetables in the kitchens. However I was taught a Buddhist approach to these tasks that has remained with me: meditation with hands. If I was weeding – then I would have mindfulness with the weeding. Every weed pulled was a distracting thought pulled from my mind. If I was washing up – I would have mindfulness with washing up – as every plate was cleaned, so too were the thoughts in my mind cleaned and purified. It was the easiest form of meditation for me, and one I still practice all the time.
But I have also applied this to crafting. When I sew….it is with mindfulness. If my monkey mind is really distracted or throwing up unhelpful suggestions, I bring myself back to this stitch, and then the next stitch. Each stitch is a second of being totally present, and then before I know it I have stitched together something beautiful….transforming the busyness in my mind into another kind of beauty.
When I run craft workshops I love seeing women or children get into the ‘zone’…where they leave thought behind and simply create. It is calming, rejuvenating. It is meditation with Hands.
June 1, 2014 § 4 Comments
As a young feminist at University, I vowed that my future life would be immune to stereotypical ideas about ‘women’s work’ that devalued the role of mother and home maker. I drank in all that I learnt in Women’s Studies: the subtle and not so subtle ways that women’s roles are presented as less important, and the loss of identity and prestige that can occur once a woman becomes a mother.
Within two years of finishing my degree I found myself with a baby. And since then….four more babies over ten years have provided ample time as a mother and home maker to put my ideals to the test.
As a younger mother I revelled in creating a beautiful home and raising my children. I used my crafty skills to decorate my home, I spent hours cooking healthy yummy food, and played with the kids, took them to the park, painted with them, read to them. I think back to those days: with one, two, three children and see them as golden days – where my energy was inspired and mothering was my purpose, my vocation, and I was good at it.
I reconciled the fact that I was suddenly living a ‘traditional’ role by asserting that it was my choice, and feminism is about choice, after all. From time to time I would dream about possible future achievements, or experience some day to day frustration about the sometime mindless repetitive nature of motherhood, but I channelled this energy into my daily tasks.
When I look back to try to pinpoint when things changed, I think it is around the time Zara was born (my fourth). We had moved from Queensland back to Sydney, but were living with my mother. Suddenly I had no control over my physical surroundings: the ability to create my beautiful home was taken away from me. And the limitations of our living environment also brought unwelcome influences to how I could parent. I felt a loss of control in that area too.
For the time that we spent living with my mother, until Zara was one year old, I packed away large parts of myself. There were benefits to that living arrangement, but I did not feel free.
Another turning point came when Robin (our fifth) was born and then was ill in hospital. Again, another prolonged situation where I experienced a deep loss of control, and restrictions on my movements and freedom. But this brush with mortality had another effect on me: it prompted me to seize the day and go for some of my long dormant goals. Suddenly being a mother was not enough. Or maybe it was too painful.
Since beginning all the projects I currently do: blogging, running craft workshops and selling craft items, I feel I have become more and more entranced with the ‘outside world’ – making money, building a reputation and body of work, creating something substantial. And as financial pressures have increased in the last few years, I have wanted to contribute to the family this way, as well as feel important and valued outside the realm of the home.
But as my activities in this so called ‘outside world’ have increased, I notice that my respect for myself as a mother has decreased. I no longer think of myself as a great mother – every time I do one of these activities ‘for myself’ I feel I am taking my energies away from my children. I simply have no time to sit and play long games with the children now, as I once did years ago when there were just two or three children. I no longer think of myself as a great home maker: meals are as quick as they can be, and I would rather do a thousand other things than tidy up and clean all day.
And the greatest irony of all: the one thing I excel at – mothering, and bringing authenticity and awareness to the role – the one thing I have experience in and wisdom to share about, this one thing is something I could make money from, but inside I run screaming from the idea. Why? Because I feel like it is not glamorous or meaningful enough.
I feel like the biggest hypocrite in the world right now. I’ve turned into the very thing I had vowed to avoid: someone who does not value raising future adult human beings as the ultimate vocation. I’ve been saying the words for years, but now I wonder if I ever truly felt it, deep in my heart.