Archive for category Inspiration

Contemplation

 

I find myself thinking a lot recently, looking inwards, retreating a little.  Perhaps it is the January urge to hibernate, to be tucked away in a little nook until spring comes calling.  My lack of energy is a bit seasonal and mostly health, the tiredness is part of this problem I’ve been fighting for what seems like a long time.  It’s tempting to ‘give in’, to slip into sleep and put the world on pause.  But.

That isn’t how it works is it?  I watched this video a couple of days ago and find myself coming back to it, wondering, what would it be to live a life of quiet contemplation?  Right now the idea of a silent nook, the indulgence of my own thoughts uninterrupted, is pleasing to me.  But.  How long would that last?  How long before I longed for the busy life I lead now, for the multitude of possibilities my life holds.   I’d miss the energy of my boys, the fluffy faces of dogs wanting a cuddle, the unexpected stories and thoughts that come at me at any given moment. But.

How pleasing to sit in solitude a little, the fire my company, the scene outside all I need to think about.  Time to wonder, worry, plan and ruminate.  Time to craft, create, grow and evolve my own self a little.  Breathing space.  But.

I’d probably just use the time to worry.  Worry about blood test results, about farming future plans about what to eat and what not to eat, what to do and what not to do.  I think the silence would become lonely pretty quickly.  But.

But.  I enjoy what I can get, this moment by the fire with the boys upstairs waiting not so patiently for quiet time to be up.  The thought of a visit to another farm on the weekend a pleasant buzz of excitement.  Plans with friends this week making me smile, knowing I get to spend time with great women who’s company lifts me up.  Knowing that tonight, when the boys go to bed, I will shower in a hot shower, pull on pj’s and tuck myself into my now serene bedroom and listen to the silence of the house.  Enjoying the peace of a day well lived, rest earned, the fact that it is short lived only reminding me to enjoy it while I can.  Soak it up ready for another day because it will bring highs and lows, joys and frustrations, mess and creativity.

It may not be serene or everyone’s idea of perfect but it is mine.  No buts.

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Back to Work

Have you ever been standing in the hallway, trying to dress a screaming child as he yells at the top of his lungs (right by your ear) “Want a BISCUIT!!!!” over and over again and you are yelling back “You can’t have a BISCUIT!!!!  We have to feed the chickens!!!!!” and then you realise that this marks the official moment  your holiday is over.  With a capital OH.

I always knew it would be rubbish when Stephen went back to work but I had expected a slightly more delayed reaction rather than a prompt 9am YOU SUCK wake up call.  Outside time didn’t diminish the screaming but it wasn’t right by my ear and the work of sorting out chickens and collecting sleds of wood helped me to feel better at least.  But really, I mean couldn’t I just be a bit calmer?  A bit nicer?  A bit less hysterical?  Sigh.  If only I had that zen gene that so many people seem to possess, or even the blessed ignorance to not know when I have degenerated into being Rubbish Mum of the Year 2012.

But as the day draws to a close, as we settle into a better rhythm, as the morning that grated became the afternoon that flowed, I begin to wonder.  What is all this telling me?  As I am wont to do I spent my lunchtime (which is also the boy’s quiet time) cruising blogs and reading up on things that interest my butterfly brain.  Today I followed links from Soulemama to the SQUAM blog and new website.  I’m only vaguely aware of the organisation, being as it is in the US and filed under ‘things I can’t do because they are far away’ but felt drawn to their blog and the sheer joy of their ideas.

A comment I left led to Elizabeth sending me a lovely email, that got me to thinking.  What does it mean to be an artist?   It seems such a grand title, a thing that I could never apply to myself.  Apart from the fact that I only got a C at A level Art I don’t necessarily see myself as a creative person.  I make things but I’m not creative.  I can follow along with the creativity of another, a recipe, a pattern; I can point my camera at the world and catch some of what I see, but artist?  To me an artist is someone with vision, an original, a fresh view of the world.

The only thing that I’ve ever been able to use creatively is words, I’ve always written stories or poems, tried to put my thoughts into words in some way.  It’s why I write here, the thoughts that build up in my brain have to go somewhere!  But to me an artist is someone who takes time, dedicates themselves to their art.  Do my snatches at the kitchen counter while the kids are having quiet time or watching tv count?  Can that be art?  Do artists really take breaks at significant moments in their creative process for potty emergencies?  I don’t have an answer but I’d love to know what others think.

As I’ve drifted through blog posts and my own thoughts today, a consistent message keeps coming to the fore.  Enjoy life, it’s short.  Take pleasure in what you can.  Life is what you believe it to be.  I read a post here by Elizabeth and another here by Jen, that triggered my thoughts on this subject.  I am way too prone to bouts of severe puritanism and I often feel that if something isn’t hard and a bit miserable it just isn’t worth anything.  I mean if we are having fun how can it be work?  I preach the reading-on-the-couch theory, but that niggle in my tummy says that unless he’s slaving over a worksheet or bored senseless he just isn’t learning.

But I can’t ignore the messages, the words that keep drifting through my consciousness.  Enjoy.  Live for now.  Look for the good.  So I did.  I noticed that on this day where I lost my temper (twice), I also did a pile of ironing, sorted laundry ready for putting in drawers, did a couple of small art projects with the boys, tidied the school room up a bit after reorganising it yesterday, cooked, collected wood, looked after chickens, read a pile of books under a blanket by the fire to both boys at the same time,  celebrated Neirin doing a poo in the toilet for the second day running (that’s a big deal around here), cooked a chilli, gave the boys something reasonably nutritious to eat for dinner and got them in the shower ready for story time with Daddy.    It is small, it is perhaps unexciting but it all took effort, and work.  It all took the energy of swallowing my hormonal madness (you know, those days when you fantasise about the supermarket being held up at gun point just so you have an excuse to beat the crap our of someone with a large and heavy jar of pureed tomato) and saying in a level way “Yes that is what you are having for dinner”.

In a quiet moment this afternoon, while I was assimilating all this, while Neirin was taking a break from wailing ‘But whhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyy’, I looked out of the window and looked at the snow coming down.  I watch it get a little fatter, a little more insistent.  It lay across the ice, answering my prayers for a more stable walking surface, it embodies silence and calm.  I wonder to myself, can I really be grumpy in the face of this?

Of course I can.

I have all terrain grumpiness that can take down even the most cheerful of scenarios.  But  I choose not to.  I choose to revel in the moment, the quiet of it all.  I choose to look forward to bedtime snuggles and giggles.  I choose to enjoy the smell of freshly showered children and clean pj’s, the sight of tidy bedrooms and warm sidelights.  I choose to think about what it would mean to call myself an artist, to see myself that way.  I choose my choice. I choose what I chose.

I also choose chilli and chocolate almonds.  See, that’s what I call a bright side.

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Mama in Training

One thing that I miss about having a ‘proper’ job (apart from having a ‘proper’ lunch break and ‘proper’ sick days) is the opportunity to take training, to learn and develop in one’s field.  I’m a knowledge lover, I really can’t get enough of the stuff, and while I do a lot of reading and thinking on my own I miss the chance to learn from an expert, to really open myself up to new possibilities.

It was with this in mind (and honestly feeling a bit grumpy and uninspired) that I wandered over to Heather’s blog, Beauty that Moves.  I love her blog, it is a great mix of serenity, action and beauty, with some good solid info thrown in.  I’d been reading her series on holistic health and wishing that she did an e-course that wasn’t vegan when, tada!  She announced a new e-course learning about whole foods and nutrition, exactly what I’d been wishing for.

Since we moved and knowing what our goals are with the farm, I’ve realised that I would like to step things up to the next level when it comes to my family’s nutritional health.   I’m not sure what the ‘next level’ actually entails but I’m pretty sure there are beans there, and probably fermented beverages.  So, after talking with Stephen, I signed up for her lovely course and will be starting it in February.  That seems like the perfect time to be working on a project like this, lots of inside time during the very cold weather and a bit of inspiration when it is so desperately needed.  It will also give me some time to consider spring planting and seed ordering, perfect timing.

The second area in my life that needs a bit of attention is my wardrobe.  I did a big purge when we moved, anything that I didn’t wear or didn’t suit me anymore was gone.  I also packed away all my summer stuff, which left my side of the rail looking a little…pathetic.  The clothes I have are great, they look nice on and are good quality.  I’ve had some of my skirts for over a decade and hope they’ll last for another.  But with two boys, two dogs, several chickens and lots of cooking in my day, things rarely make it past one wear before they head for the wash basket.  I noticed that there are certain items, more easy to wear and practical, that I’d love more of but I’ve had them a while and they just don’t make ’em like that any more.

Enter Kathy and her Backwoods Mama Sew Camp.  I read Kathy’s blog and as well as loving her lively writing I love her style.  The patterns on her e-course look perfect for me, the kind of thing I could wear again and again.  Now I have a decent sewing machine I feel more confident about approaching patterns that use knits (it’s less fun when your machine eats them and/or tears holes where seams should go) but with the comfort of some support along the way.  Her course is a download so I am planning on getting it while Stephen is off over Christmas (it is a gift from my beloved, and I will gift him in return by disappearing upstairs for several hours while I make clothes for myself.  Win win.), that should give me time to indulge in some creative time and I’ll end up with some new and wearable clothes!

The thing I love about the patterns that Kathy has created is that she is:

a) a mama

b) has groovy style

c) is a farmer so surrounded by animals and mud.

So the patterns she has created are practical and have a busy mama’s life in mind, made for me I’d say!

At first I felt guilty about spending money from the family budget on things that are just for me, but then it occurred to me, this is my job!  And what do you do on a job when you want to move forward?  Training!  I realised how important it is for me to take on some new ideas and skills as we get ready to begin our adventure  into hobby farming this coming spring.  As we become more self sustaining in food I’d like to have better skills in preparing, storing and choosing what we should be eating.  The more I know, the more I’m empowered to make good, and hopefully tasty, choices on behalf of everyone in my family.  Recently I’ve become more and more the primary cook for us all but I feel stuck in a rut; I’ve been searching for something but didn’t have a clear idea of how to implement it.  I’m really hoping this course will change that.  And as for the sewing, who has time to shop?  Plus I find it extremely difficult/expensive to buy decent, well made clothing that fits and suits me.  Apparently shops really don’t care about mums in their late 30’s who have a round tummy and chickens to chase after.  Weird.

This coming year is going to be one of many new discoveries and challenges, but whatever comes up I’ll be well fed and super backwoods stylish.  Sounds like a pretty good start.

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Perfection Impossible

I’m hearing a word come out of my 6 year old’s mouth that really bothers me, I want to take it out of his vocabulary altogether, I wish he could unlearn it, but he can’t.

Perfect.

He says he wants his drawing, or lego or whatever he’s working on to be ‘perfect’ and he is so sad when it isn’t.  I talk to him about perfect imperfections, how we learn from our mistakes, how nothing is ever perfect, how we all make mistakes.  Eventually the sun comes out on his little face, he nods and tries again but still it is there, his drive for perfection.

He comes by it honestly.  Stephen and I are both guilty of being perfectionists, with Stephen it is obvious, he is a high achiever and driven to get to the highest standard he can and he’ll work his socks off until he gets there.  It’s me that says, ‘chill!’ and I know we balance well like that; he drives and I say slow down.  But with me it is my frustration at always feeling that I fall short, always feeling that I can never, ever achieve what is, in my mind, perfection.

How can I teach my kids what I can’t seem to internalise?  How can I pass on knowledge I don’t seem to possess?

When we moved into our house I was on such a high (still am really!) but after a few weeks the cracks started to show, one big meltdown later and I knew the problem.  I wanted it all the be perfect.  My notion on what is perfect was a little vague but it seemed to involve the children eating big piles of vegetables in an immaculate house after digesting a book on poetry whilst doing crafts.  Tidily.  Yep, that didn’t really pan out.

But I’ve yet to find my real vision, the one where things aren’t perfect but they are really great for a lot of the time.  I’ve yet to sort out what matters to me and what doesn’t, because that is what the quest for perfectionism does to me, it stalls my thinking and makes me depressed.  I think ‘I’ll never get there’ so I don’t even dream and then I’m all grumpy.  And when I’m grumpy I really like to spread it around, yeah I rock like that.

When I apologise to Huwyl for losing my patience (as I do every day) he says something great like “Everyone overboils, don’t worry about it” or “You’re the best Mum, even when you’re angry”, and then I truly know that I suck.  Because I don’t forgive so easily, I don’t have such a light heart and I don’t have the excuse of being 6, I should know better.  But I’m tired and busy and I just can’t quite get to be that great Mum that I want to be, not at 4.30 when Neirin won’t sit still and Huwyl is complaining about dinner and they both want tv and the dog pees on the floor and there is still so. much. to. do.

Watching Huwyl being tripped up by that demon perfection really shows me what an undermining force it is.  He will give up half way through a picture and I understand that impulse.  Like him I’m afraid to see through my ambitions, convinced that I can’t really achieve it, that failure is inevitable.  If we can’t achieve perfection what is the point?  But I’m not willing to let him be hobbled by this, I want to help him look past the myth of perfection and have a clear vision of what it is that he wants and can do now.

But that means I’ve got some work to do.  Because I can’t teach something that I can’t do.  So I’m laying down my dreams for this coming winter season, I’m going to bravely state my goals (in public!) and defy perfection with my ambition.

– Make some of my own clothes, things that actually suit me!  Get to know my brilliant sewing machine and get making!  I’d love to take this course, the patterns look brilliant.

– Sleep, a lot.  A refreshed Mummy is a happy Mummy.  Bed by 9pm at least 4 times a week.

– Take time to learn about whole food nutrition and work on my eating and health.  Losing weight would be great but feeling energetic is the most important.  This e-course looks amazing.

– Write at least 3 blog posts a week.

– Start being kinder to myself over my appearance, head held high and a big smile.  Take time to do nice things for myself so that I can feel good.

– Forgive myself for my imperfections, every day.

– Dream.  Really spend time thinking about what I’d like to do with my life and believe I can.

– Speak up!  Set aside time for my goals and be open about what I’m trying to do rather than keeping it all inside because it isn’t as important as what others want.

– Make a plan for organising and decorating our home, share it with Stephen and make it happen.

– Learn to use my camera, it’s ok if every photo isn’t perfect, the learning is more important.

– Write.  Articles, letters, blog posts, stories.  All those crazy thoughts in my head, put them down on paper and worry if they make sense later!

– Laugh at myself, I want to be less serious with the boys, laugh more with them and help them see that I know when I get things wrong and it’s ok.  I’d also actually like it to be ok.

 

That’ll do for now I think, not a bad list I’d say.  So when Huwyl gets upset over something not being perfect I can look him in the eye and say “No one is perfect, all we can do is try our best” and know that I’m sticking to that too.

My friend sent me a great quote by Salvador Dali “Don’t be afraid of perfection, you’ll never achieve it.”

Words to live by.

 

 

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Making Spaces

When I’m not complaining about my health or lying around feeling rubbish, I have enjoyed obsessing over the write up for this e-course which looks fabulous.  Not in my budget right now (those jabs won’t pay for themselves) but I will be investing in her book when it comes out in the summer.  I love the idea of allowing environment to shape experience and looking at the gorgeous pics on the Playful Learning website had me hooked on the idea of creating a writing centre.

One trip to the Dollar Store and Staples later I had set Huwyl up with a writing station in his bedroom where a certain toddler brother couldn’t reach and destroy.  I stocked it with new gel pens, a variety of cards, some stickers and some resources I printed off from the Write Start website (in the templates section).  I’ll add new things periodically to refresh Huwyl’s interest but already he has enjoyed making endless cards and writing little notes.  Most of the time he just likes to write To Mummy/Daddy love from Huwyl, which is very cute and always well received.

In comparison to the gorgeous spaces created by the people taking the Playful Learning e-course this is nothing but we are in a rental so this was the best we could manage!  Sorry about the rubbish photos it is really dark in Huwyl’s bedroom but he doesn’t seem to notice and the addition of a nice lamp gives it a cosy feel.  He really enjoys going up and doing some writing and I love that he initiates it rather than it being something imposed on him.

One of the other spaces I’ve created came about after I listened to a great seminar on The Waldorf Connection.  It was given by Janet Allison talking on the topic of boys.  She had lots of fascinating ideas that have really stayed with me and I’ve subsequently watched a couple of her videos and again found that she has great insights.  One of the things that really interested me was when she talked about how boys love factual books and really enjoying reading things with diagrams and instructions.  I’ve noticed how much Huwyl enjoys flicking through our children’s encyclopedias so I thought I’d create a little space where he could enjoy ‘down time’ and do some independent ‘reading’.   And so the Book Nook was born.

With the article I read about the Reggio Emilia schools (the link is in a previous post) and their belief in bringing art work into the work space fresh in my mind, I thought I’d create my own little sign.  So in some odd moments I managed to sketch up a sign for the book nook.  I always forget how much I enjoy drawing and though I lack real skill the joy of simply creating is such fun.  What a shame to deny ourselves this enjoyment because we hold ourselves up to an excessively high standard!  I’m no Monet but I can create a little sign that is cute and serves a purpose in my own home.

The last space I created was for our keyboard which, before this, was being shuttled back and forth onto the table.  I bought an inexpensive stand and a set of wall decorations that have all the notes and music info on that we need.  Our music teacher has the same set so I thought it would be a good bet!  I have never played piano so I’m hoping these will serve as a good reference for me when I’m helping Huwyl.

The other advantage of having this space properly and permanently set up (apart from a smoother rhythm in our day) is that Huwyl can stand up and play.  This seems to really improve his focus and comfort, allowing him to concentrate a little more on the music rather than shifting position constantly as his body demands that he moves.

Listening to Janet Allison talking about the differences in the male and female brains has been very enlightening and I want to pursue this line of thinking more fully.  I’ve also begun reading up a little on the temperaments after reading her vivid description, the first time I’ve seen the temperaments written about in this clear and helpful way.

I’m striving not to overload myself with too much information at the moment but I do feel these avenues of inquiry are so beneficial that they are worth me devoting the little spare brain power I have to them!  Creating a home that serves our needs and supports the way that we live can only bring us more feelings of peace and security as a family, something worth investing time in I think.

My house may never look like this or this but I can keep dreaming!

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A Comforting Thought

As it was before, so it shall be again.

Warm days, hot days, bare feet and ice lollies.  Somehow knowing this is a little way down the line helps me to enjoy what is now, encourages me to make more of these winter months.  There are moments of joy in each season that are beyond my expectations in their beauty, in their simplicity.  That ordinary moment that catches me by surprise and makes me wonder ‘how did I get so lucky?’.  Two healthy boys, running in and out of water on a hot day.  For me that is when it all makes sense, when normal and excessively joyful mix to make a perfect moment.

Wishing all a good beginning to this winter week with thoughts of now and thoughts of what will be in equal measure.  Happy Monday!

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A bit of inspiration

I thought I’d share this great bit of inspiration that came my way via a friend on facebook.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did/do.

Stay warm!

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