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!

 

Birthday High Tea.

March 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

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A High Tea, whipped up on the morning of the event, turned out to be just the right combination of nibblies for afternoon tea and a smashing cake that was deceptively simple to put together.

Lily and her little lady friends had a great time chatting and drinking rose tea, chasing the guinea pigs and playing musical statues. Happy 8th Birthday to Lily Rose!

Seeds Planted.

March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

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All of a sudden my life has circled back to activities or experiences from the past. Things that I did as a young woman, just for fun, or for a part time job, are lately called upon for a new incarnation in my life now.

As a young high school graduate, I was intensely interested in Ceramics and an artistic life. So much so, that I applied to study Ceramics and undertook this study whilst also completing a degree at University and working full time hours. In the end, as much as I loved creating beautiful things, I did not feel I was talented enough to continue professionally. And I was also having a philosophical issue with producing more apparently ‘useless’ items to exist in the world.

How I wish now that I spoke of this with my teachers, but at nineteen, I was fairly shy about engaging in deep, authentic exchanges with the world.

Recently, I was asked to run some pottery classes for homeschooling children. I nervously jumped at the chance. All that training and passion from nearly twenty years ago came flooding back as I introduced clay and its transformational properties to some new people.

That full time job I mentioned was working with people with intellectual disabilities in their group home. There were five residents that I cared for. Five women to shower, dress and feed, washing to hang out and kitchen to be cleaned, all before 9am in the morning when the next staff member came on duty. Now, my sleep has always been important to me. So much so, that despite being required to get up at 6am to complete these morning duties, I often did not rise until 7am or even 7.30.

To get everything done, I learned to multi-task, and I learned to do things fast, whilst retaining the connection I had with each client. It was always important to me to treat the clients as more than, well, clients. These were high needs women but I gave them power where I could: urging them to choose their own clothes and helping them to look their best. Making jokes with them whilst cooking breakfast. Talking about the day ahead.

Nowadays, as a mother of five with four children at school and four lunchboxes to prepare each morning, I have become aware that I call upon the ‘training’ I had in that job years ago. I think of it as training because it is easy to see the parallels. I did not know back then that I would have a large family, but those mornings of multi-tasking, and fast focused work are exactly what I practice now as I prepare my family for the day ahead. And I still do not get up before 7am.

I feel a sense of satisfaction that those experiences I had as a young twenty something woman have enjoyed a second life of usefulness. It brings me a sense of destiny: a feeling that I am exactly where I should be in life, right now.

Summer holidays and School terms.

February 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

Despite my most fervent intentions to blog here with much higher frequency this year, the beginning of the new school year has found me focused on family and not on writing.

Oh, how I was enjoying January. I always feel as though I only just manage to limp over the finish line of school and other commitments every December, only to turn around and be staring down the barrel of Christmas and all that is entailed there. Christmas Day 2014 found me deeply exhausted and just wishing for it all to be over, which of course it was rather quickly.

After all the busy-ness of present buying and wrapping and trifle making and two full days of celebrations, suddenly there were no more commitments or things to do. New Years’ Eve passed rather quietly in our house, and I wrote about the deep sense of unease I was feeling with no defined purpose or to-do list here.

To break out the funk both Sol and I were feeling, we organised a very last minute holiday to the south coast of NSW. It was full of uncomfortable feelings and some family tensions, but also of some awesome fun in the surf, some gorgeous nature scenes, kangaroos by the side of the road and a fantastic outdoor bath. All in all, a pretty normal holiday I think.

It did the trick….we returned revitalised and I easily slipped into a lovely summer holiday vibe….spending lots of time swimming with the children in various locations, but also getting some decluttering done at home. All of a sudden I didn’t want it to end….the soccer competition we all enjoyed watching on TV, not worrying about bedtimes so much, and that lovely feeling of harmony in the family when the pressure is off.

But time continued its inevitable march and a new school year arrived. Zara began fulltime school and now there are four lunchboxes to fill each morning, four bodies to nudge into bed as early as practical, and lots of sports bags to pack and slippers and pencils to buy.

I must admit, as much as I sighed with relief on the first day to have a few hours at home (almost) alone, that this year the return to routine has been hard. As our boys grow older it feels more and more important to support their after school activity choices, as they slowly discover their interests and passions. But of course this makes life busy after school as well as before.

In my usual style, I have charged full steam ahead with my own plans, running three weekly craft groups (pics to come soon!), and one playgroup day. It doesn’t sound like much but once preparation time is added, on top of the usual household things, it makes for a busy life. I like busy, I thrive on busy, but there can be a fine line between healthy busy an overwhelming. And as always. I am treading that fine line, sometimes crossing over into the overwhelm, sometimes managing everything like a champ and feeling on top of the world.

So as I ease into the school term, I learn to manage it better each week. My focus now is on my eldest two boys cooking one meal a week, and packing their own bags and lunches. Small things, yes, but just one more step towards independence for them, and a bit less for me to be responsible for. And now….some pics from our whirlwind summer holidays.

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