March 16, 2015 § 2 Comments
In 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!
March 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
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!
March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
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.
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.
January 29, 2015 § 1 Comment
Photos by William Price.
I’ve long been fascinated by the Tree of Life – an ancient image that is sacred in many religions and cultures.
The tree reaches both down into the earth, and up into the heavens. I have read that for some, the branches represent male, and the leaves female. The Tree of Life symbology also incorporates the four directions, as well as the Milky Way.
It can represent the spiritual realm, where the dualities of light and dark, or good and evil do not exist. Think of the Bodhi Tree, under which sat Buddha until he attained enlightenment. In Christianity, the tree can represent the cross, and the blood of Jesus Christ is referred to as the Fruits of the Tree of Life. And of course there is the tree from which Eve plucked a forbidden apple to eat, thus finding herself and Adam banished from the Garden of Eden
Probably the stories that I am most familiar with involve the Norse legend of Yggdrasil, a most sacred tree that is at the center of all life. It reaches far into the heavens, as well as below the earth, therefore connecting it to all nine realms. Gods would regularly visit the tree, and it is from this tree and the tales surrounding it that other trees, such as ash or oak, have come to have sacred meanings and uses.
I first became interested in crafting my own Tree of Life some seven years ago, whilst living in QLD. We bought a good friend of ours an Egyptian representation of the tree on papyrus paper. The accompanying description of its meaning intrigued me deeply, as this was the first time I had seen birds present.
In the Egyptian Tree of Life, there are four or five birds depicted, representing the different stages of life from infancy through to adulthood and death, or for me more personally, the four stages of womanhood: maiden, mother, magii, and crone. All but one bird faces the East. In the Egyptian telling, the East, being where the sun rises, represents life. The West, embodied by one bird facing this way, looks toward eventual and inevitable death. I often look at the birds and think of the stages of womanhood I have passed through, and those I have yet to meet.
My husband, being a very talented artist, helped me draw the first template of my internal vision. Then, taking felt, my preferred textile, I created. The very first Tree of Life I made went to a dear friend, wise woman and mentor, for the occasion of her own Harvest Queen Ceremony. Since then I have made four more: one for my own mother, one for myself, and two sold – not to strangers, but to women who I know or know of in my community. Because of this, I think the pieces have remained highly meaningful, and indeed have become even more powerful in their symbolism and beauty (at least I hope so!).
Each Tree of Life is slightly different in leaf colour, in bird positioning, and of course through the normal variations that occur when making by hand. In this final piece, pictured above, I have tried to reflect the seasons through the changing color of the leaves. Every aspect is made by me: the felt, hand dyed. The leaves and bird shapes, cut by hand. And everything hand stitched in place. After seven years and five different variations, the Tree of Life still remains one of my favourite creations.
January 15, 2015 § 1 Comment
Birthdays are not a big deal for my husband, but they kind of are for me. I know I like to feel a bit special, a bit pampered, and remembered on my own day – so I try to give to others what I would wish to receive myself.
This Monday just past was his special day, but we spent the day mostly apart, driving home from a short holiday (separately), and with him attending a funeral. That night we spontaneously decided to go out for dinner to ‘celebrate’ – though I think the idea was also to save us the chore and work of cooking at home after a tiring day. We chose a family restaurant, full of TV’s showing the soccer, a kids movie area showing -what else- but ‘Frozen’, and with an outside play area too. Perfect for lots of children to entertain themselves and for exhausted parents to sit, dazed-eyed, with a glass of wine.
Today, three days later, I finally got around to the cake. Sol is not a sweets-man, preferring wholesome and often different flavours, and so I decided to make him the cake I prepared for his 30th birthday (over ten years ago now!). Then, we lived in rural QLD, far from family. I invited the only couple we knew over to our sparsely furnished but gorgeous modern “Queenslander’ home, a cornflower blue two level beauty with wooden floors and a massive wrap around verandah. Our guests were clean living folk who appreciated the nutty, not to sweet Choc Walnut Torte that I presented.
I presented the same cake tonight – unfortunately rejected by most of the children due to the amount of nuts involved, but happily devoured by Sol and myself; our little secret. The recipe comes from one of my all-time favourite cookbooks by Holly Davis, which I have owned for many years. I used to be a hard-core macrobiotic eater, and her cookbook ‘Nourish’ entered the market just when macrobiotics was becoming cool. It transformed the original macrobiotic principles into modern, fresh, gorgeous food with clean flavours.
Though not containing many ingredients, the cake is super moist with a few subtle flavours in there. The choc/coconut ganache is my own addition to the dessert.
Rich Cocoa and Walnut Torte (gluten free, dairy free).
4 cups ground walnuts
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cardomom powder, or seeds crushed up
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup maple syrup
2 unpeeled oranges, boiled whole for 15 mins.
combine all dry ingredients in a bowl
blend the maple syrup and whole oranges (yes, whole oranges!)
whisk the eggs to a frothy consistency
gently fold wet ingredients into dry
pour into an oiled, floured cake pan (flour with cocoa)
bake at 170 degrees celsius for one hour
serve with berries, cream and optional choc/coconut ganache.
Chocolate Ganache (dairy free)
100ml coconut cream
100g dark chocolate, dairy free if desired
heat the coconut cream to just boiling
remove from heat and add chocolate
stir till smooth and silky.