Mother’s Day and Moving

May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

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The days are running by too fast at the moment. We are preparing to move house – something I have done many times in the past fifteen years. However this time feels like an epic move, it being five years since the last one. Who knew that just one more child could mean so much more stuff?!

I have three jobs at the moment: pack the house ready to move, make endless phone calls and visits to open homes in the search for the perfect home for our family, and to keep the household and family running smoothly throughout all this time.

In between this busyness however, I have experienced two weekends of sweet moments with my family. Mother’s Day came and went rather fast, as I was studying that day and did not see my husband at all! But he sent a box of chocolates with the children to pass on to me when I picked them up from Nana’s (which they did not), as well as a lovely hand drawn card that Samuel made for me.

The girls made their own special cards and gifts for me at school. I am so thankful for teachers that think to do this with the children in their care – as Sol is still learning that these occasions and gifts are one of my ‘love languages’, and as I am still learning that they are not for him – well, sometimes these days get fraught with tension. This year it was liberating, and all the more meaningful for me, that everything except the chocolates came from the children themselves. The girls showered me with hand drawn cards and felt necklaces and bulb babies wrapped in felted autumn leaves. So beautiful.

And best of all was the spontaneous “happy Mother’s Day mum” I received from my teenager when I picked him up from the station. No one to prompt him, or remind him – made those few words enough.

The following weekend my teenager and I indulged in our shared affinity for Asian cinema with the movie Helios. Movies are my go-to activity when I need a break from children clambouring all over me, from childrens’ noise and mess and demands. To sit in a movie theatre in the dark for two hours and be transported into another reality is bliss for me.

That was Saturday night. And now, back to packing….

An ode to my Midwife

May 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

I noticed that this week it was International Day of the Midwife. It made me think of you and the journey we have shared.

I have been so lucky to live in a country where I have been able to engage the support of one midwife for all of my care throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

You were there with me, beside me, for the births of three of my children. Tears spring to my eyes as I remember those births: the intense ecstatic water birth of my very large first daughter; the gentle, peaceful, melancholy birth of my second daughter, born in my mother’s living room; and the dramatic and joyous birth of my youngest son, born on the rug in my living room at dawn after the birth pool broke.

The births of my children have been initiations. As I have birthed each new soul I have re birthed myself, as a woman and each time as a stronger mother. The gestation and birth of each new soul into my family have been times of accelerated personal growth. Each pregnancy brought new, different fears and issues to the surface, ready for healing. And you always met me in my deepest place, wherever it was on any particular day.

I experienced two hospital births before I turned to homebirth and an independent midwife. The birth of my first daughter was so different to the first two. Despite her almost 11lb size, the labour and birth were just a few hours, and an experience which I would call intense, rather than painful. In fact I experienced some moments of spiritual ecstasy. I knew it was because I was at home, relaxed, with loving support around me. I will never forget the knowing of giving my daughter the best possible beginning, thanks in part to your confident care.

resting at home soon after birth

resting at home soon after birth

Our journey together eventually became about so much more than birth. You were there throughout my journey with PPD, with gentle support, and then throughout the hardest days of my life when my youngest newborn had a serious illness. Your confidence in my strength kept me strong. You were probably the only person I knew who understood exactly what my little son and I had been through.

Our relationship has been one of the most intimate of my adult life. The gift of having one midwife and that continuity of care is the gift of time together, and over the many hours of appointments our conversations often strayed far from pregnancy and birth. You showed me what it is to be a mother and woman in her own integrity.

As I leave my childbearing days behind and enter a new phase of life, it becomes clearer to me how much of a rollercoaster ride of hormones and massive life changes that time was. You were a constant throughout those turbulent years, as I found myself through birth and mothering. I only wish every birthing woman could enjoy the kind of support I have been lucky enough to experience.

Tea for Two

April 29, 2015 § 1 Comment

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My daughters are real little ladies, and one thing they love to do is to drink tea. A while back I threw Lily a High Tea for her birthday, and gradually tea drinking has evolved from a special event activity to more of an everyday thing that we do.

Recently I bought my daughters some new dainty cup and saucer sets. The ones we were using we a mismatched set of cups and saucers left over from my own days as a twenty something who loved all kinds of obscure herbal teas, to sets that the girls had been given but were broken.

I also found, at the grocery store, some awesome looking bedtime tea. Now getting to sleep is not always smooth sailing in our house. In fact, getting three children under eight to sleep at a decent hour is impossible sometimes, especially with hubby working until 11pm most nights.

So this is where sleepytime tea comes in. After dinner, after pyjamas have been put on, the girls come out for their ‘sleepytime tea’. I make them a small pot and they sit at the table with their dainty cups and saucers and sip until the pot is empty. Then they go to bed.

I don’t know if the sleepytime tea really helps them to get to sleep faster, but I do know that the act of coming together before bedtime to sit quietly and sip, brings my girls back into themselves, into their bodies, and they at least go to bed with less shenanigans along the way. I love it how these simple acts become sweet rhythms that anchor our days.

Back to childhood: coloring in.

April 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

Suddenly, everywhere I look, the age old traditional childhood activity of coloring in is cool again.

From this article espousing its stress releasing benefits, to the news that a coloring book aimed at adults has hit the top of the Amazon best seller list, coloring in is everywhere.

In my little family, coloring in has always been a mainstay. As a child I loved this activity, and as an adult with children I rediscovered my love for it some 13 years ago when my eldest could first hold a pencil.

I remember a time, around 2001, when my husband and I had separated, but I had followed his move to QLD (a no-brainer that we would reunite, I know). I was in a caravan park with William, alone, and rather scared. I had moved away from my family on a whim, and it was a very different adventure when is ostensibly a single parent with a child to be responsible for.

One particular night I was feeling so lonely, and alone. I made dinner for William and I and then we sat and colored in. In those days I used to go to the massive bookstores in the city to find some cool coloring books, with lovely thick paper and clear lines. On that night it was a stress release: it was about the only thing I could manage to do that didn’t bring on a flood of tears, and that was fun for my son.

It’s funny how certain moments of our lives stand out, never to be forgotten. That night must have been a turning point of some kind to be counted as one of them: later that night I packed our car with all our belongings and drove the hour up the coast to where Sol was living. We moved into his share house and eventually we reconciled and moved into an amazing house on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, where our second son was conceived.

But back to coloring in: whenever we go to a restaurant for dinner I bring the books and pencils. Whenever we go on a long car journey I pack a board for my daughters to lean on and they spend the trip coloring in. Nowadays we do not use textas, but lyras – thick, sturdy German made pencils with pure colours in all the shades of the rainbow. And nowadays there is a much larger range of awesome coloring in books to buy – including the one I received for Christmas – that one made for adults that topped the bestseller list recently.

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Easter Traditions

April 5, 2015 § Leave a comment

As time goes by, and as my life experience accumulates, I find myself in an interesting space in regards to religion and spirituality. I have moved on from the religion to which my mother introduced me as a child, and find myself gradually moving still further from any expression of organised religion. However my spirituality runs deep, and is intertwined with nature, in which I increasingly find the purest expression of the divine, but despite this depth of feeling I do not yet feel fully immersed in any other category of spirituality, which sometimes leaves me feeling a little adrift.

These issues are on my  mind right now as it is Easter, and this Easter finds Sydney a somber, rainy, dark place to be (kind of fitting really, if you follow the religious meanings of this time).  Frankly I find Easter confusing: with the Christian version of Easter, the Pagan roots from which the Christian version supposedly arises, and the seasonal aspects which are woven into this holiday too.

It is not Spring where I live, it is Autumn, and the time of the Harvest. We don’t normally have pumpkins here at Halloween time in October as is traditional in the Northern Hemisphere; they are in abundance now as the weather takes its turn towards to the colder months. It feels strange to celebrate with eggs, a symbol of new life and new beginnings.

In previous years, I played along with Easter and all its stereotypical accompaniments, planning an Easter Egg hunt for Easter Sunday but adding a homemade, soulful touch with handmade bunnies for the children to keep, to become part of their daily playthings.

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In recent years my enthusiasm has waned in sync with the waning of my connection to religion. Our children learn about all religions both at home, at school, and from their extended family, but I was not keen to play a part in something that lacked meaning for me. For years now our family members have been asked not to give us chocolate eggs, and the holiday has passed with us camping, or staying close to home and treating it as some special family downtime.

Now that my daughters are getting older, they bring home an awareness of these festivals and the dilemma has arisen again for me. This year I plan to straddle both the fun of Easter (for fun’s sake!), whilst somehow acknowledging the themes of renewal that Easter carries, as well as the seasonal Harvest time we find ourselves in, and the imminent descent into winter.

To accomplish most of these ideas in one go, I use the Nature Table. In Steiner Education, the aptly named Nature Table is a point within the home that holds a connection to the seasons and happenings of nature outside. I recently made space for a rather large nature table, right in the middle of our living space, and as this weekend progresses it will display the bounty of nature at this time of the year, here, where we live in our place on this Earth.

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We will acknowledge the season and its gifts with some eggplant lasagne and pumpkin soup. We may talk, as a family, about what new beginnings we are facing, as well as the gifts in our lives for which we are especially thankful. And the table will hold, on Easter Sunday morning, the bounty that magically occurs at Easter. No matter my own spiritual dilemmas, I am determined for this Easter to hold some energy of reverence, and depth, and just that little touch of magic.

 

Yonis and The Seven Sisters.

April 1, 2015 § 1 Comment

Six months of dreams and applications, and six weeks of intense preparations and discussions culminated on this weekend past with two Crafting the Sacred Yoni workshops held at the Seven Sisters Festival.

It was my first time attending this festival for women. Over 1500 women converged in a wild and somewhat remote location south of Melbourne. When my companion and co facilitator, Yia, and I arrived, we emerged from the car to a frigid and powerful wind that made setting up my little tent tricky, and had us both wondering how we would manage to craft successfully in such conditions.

The energy of this gathering gradually gathered us up in its movement and by the time of our first workshop the weather was all but forgotten. Forty women came, crafted and left with their own unique Yoni. I always suspected this workshop had the potential to be both powerful and healing, but I was deeply moved by the depth of creativity and journeying that each woman took in the ninety minutes we spent together.

I found it extremely interesting how the Yonis were influenced by both which life cycle stage a woman was in, as well as a more subtle influence of her monthly cycle point. By the time of our second workshop, the last time slot of the entire festival, the process felt deeper still as the participants seemed more deeply opened to themselves through other workshops and events they had attended.

Yia and I facilitated just over eighty women crafting their own Yonis this past weekend. It was exhilarating, exhausting, deep, tender, raw and so powerful. Not sure what is next for this little workshop idea but I am already so filled with wonder and gratitude for the journey so far.

And now, for some snapshots…..

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Crafting a SacRed YONI!

March 16, 2015 § 2 Comments

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IMG_1080In my burgeoning professional life, I wear many hats. I run a Playgroup, craft groups both for children and women, make and sell items for women and children, and blog for http://www.mothering.com as well as for this humble personal blog.

An increasingly large part of my role as Craft Teacher for women has been the project depicted above: Crafting a SacRed YONI! Yes, Yoni refers to the vagina. Yes, this project is about crafting a vagina art piece to hang on one’s wall at home.

Really, this project is the perfect fusion of my crafting skills and passion for women’s mysteries and empowerment. It began as one humble Yoni fibre art piece, made for a dear friend for her Harvest Ceremony. I don’t really know why I chose the Yoni, it just seemed relevant for this Wise Woman and mentor in the realm of women’s cycles. Of course she loved it and soon another wonderful woman asked me to make on for her.

And so something began.

Like all good ideas, the idea to make this art piece into a workshop was one that simply floated into my consciousness one day. I needed a co-facilitator, and Yia, for whom I made that original piece, excitedly stepped into the role. We have been fastidiously gathering all the elements needed to make the Yonis unique and creative. Pictured above are some of the results of the trial run we did for this workshop at a Red Tent event last week.

Now we are ten days out from the Seven Sisters Festival, held in Melbourne, Australia, where the workshop Crafting a SacRed YONI will be experienced by up to one hundred women. To say I am nervous is rather an understatement. I know I will rise to the occasion and that the workshops will be a success – the nervousness has many levels, from leaving my children for four days, worrying about how they will manage without me, to wondering how I will manage by myself, in a totally new setting and experience. I am sure there will be lots to write about when I return!

 

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