Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cosmic Ordering... Soul Mates... The Aware Parenting Misnomer

Saturday Cuppa: Dr Stuart’s Tranquillity Tea
Calm, calm, calm!

Thank you!

I can’t believe how quickly Saturdays come around. There was a time I’d associate it with a sleep-in ~ now, my first thought upon waking is ‘what am I going to write about?’

A year ago I didn’t even know what a blog was [such a luddite ], and then when I did find out, my feeling was one of incredulity. Why on earth would anyone put their private thoughts out into cyberspace for any old nutter to read? And actually, often I still wonder that, and when a weirdo comment comes in it confirms my suspicions! It totally goes against the grain for a girl with a 12th House Stellium!
(In astrology terms, despite my extrovert front, I am very private.)

Alongside that, there are many times when I’ve wondered if it is worth continuing each week. The e-mails and letters I receive remind me that it does serve a purpose. For me, it has been a weekly discipline to put my thoughts down. I could, of course, just do it in a notebook, but like many disciplines it is easy to slip by the wayside when the only one expecting something is yourself. So here I am again, another Saturday morning, cuppa in hand, ready to share.

I’ve felt touched by the wings of angels this week in response to last week’s blog and completely humbled at the genuine affection, kindness and care shown to me.

Thank you so much. It was a complete leap out of my comfort zone in more ways than one. It’s one thing to initiate change or take steps when they’re instigated by one’s self, and a completely different ball game when some else is shouting from the edge, “JUMP!”.

Soul Mate

Our 10th wedding anniversary yesterday…and it’s funny, because a few days back I started thinking about all the failures I’d gone through in my life (not a pretty picture to adorn one’s mind with, but it came up from nowhere so I explored it) and was rather sobered …and promised myself by New Year’s Eve that I’d write a list of all my life’s successes. Why don’t they jump out as strongly as the times you stuff up?

One of the greatest successes is my marriage. It could be just that I got darn lucky and married one of those rare-breed types; it could be because our astrological charts have a great synastry…well, it could be a lot of things. I know it isn’t down to me because the odds are good that had I married anyone else, I’d likely have been divorced by now.

For all the failures, for all the gloomy bits, and for all the things I’d like to improve in life, the one thing I don’t want to change is my relationship. Clearly I’d like for us to keep growing, ideally in the same direction!

About 12 years ago, a few months before I met Paul, I’d had a tarot reading with a lady called Elaine. I’d seen her a few times but on this particular day I walked away feeling like someone had handed me a winning lotto ticket.

From being a “No kids for me” person not long before, I’d suddenly been stung by the maternal bug and really, really, really wanted to have a baby. And it had to be a girl! (funny how the sex of a child would be totally irrelevant now)

One small snag! HOW? I mean, I knew how to make babies...Had plenty of practice (cheeky grin), just knew I didn’t want kids with any of the, er, men I’d practised honing my baby-making skills with, and figured I was likely to end up a single mum from a one night shag, er, I mean stand.

I mean, after all, who’d want to marry me? Full of opinions, bossy, sees everything in black and white, into spiritual stuff, asks questions late into the night (the vast majority of men hate that! They really hate a woman who asks question after question…seems most of them don’t like to ‘think’ too much). Paul, bless him, more often than not has dropped off to sleep when a quiet voice in the dark asks, “are you still awake?” [Don’t look at me like that reader, they are always VERY important questions I have to ask!]

The tarot reader said there was a baby girl coming to me and told me all about what she’d be like (spooky when I look back on it)…but the thing that really stood out about the reading was when she said there was a man coming into my life who had ‘knowledge’...not book knowledge, but a deep understanding of life and people. She said I’d pinch myself everyday at how wonderful the relationship would be.

And you know, she was right.

I’ve not had a day of regret. And I still pinch myself. I find myself STILL thinking ‘what’s the catch? Why me? How did I get so lucky?!’
Maybe Paul is my compensation prize while I go through the other life dramas which are apparently there to ‘shape’ me and make me a better person.

Sometimes I look at my friends’ marriages and shake my head wondering why on earth they stay in relationships which don’t nourish them; which actually eat away at their soul while they eat away at the fingernails with anxiety till there isn’t anything left. I wonder how on earth they can go through day after day constantly bickering and criticising each other…

But then I see what *I* haven’t got. They’ve got beautiful homes which they own; they have lovely holidays to sunny climes a few times a year…they don’t have to count their pennies.

Now part of me really, truly believes, as Children of a Loving Creator, we CAN have it all! That life can be fun. We weren’t put here to miserable!! Yet make ourselves miserable we do.

Some people search their whole lives looking for a soul mate, someone to love and be loved by. Many people end up with someone else. Probably for no other reason than that they stopped the wrong train thinking there couldn’t possibly be another one coming along to the same platform! I’ll bet anything they were wrong. Far better to wait another 5, 10 or 20 years for a soul mate than to bed down permanently with a Soul Crusher! Isn’t it?

Cosmic Ordering

I’ve sent the Universe my Cosmic Order for 2007 which includes things like our own spacious, light, WARM home (with veranda!) on acreage where we can be self-sufficient [non-believers would say a financial impossibility, but hey, it’s My Cosmic Order and I’ll ask if I want to!!!]; as well as a few other things which I feel would enhance my life and give me a day to day existence in the manner I’d like to be accustomed to… I feel very strongly about the energy value of money…a strange little thing that likes to elude me!

In my heart of hearts I’d like my purse to be full of money so I can go through life as a magical Fairy God Mother bringing joy and ease to others… both in Third World Countries in practical ways such as planting orchards and erecting sustainable housing, but also in the so-called civilised countries. I’d love to create vegan soup kitchens, eco-community housing schemes, gentle birthing cottages, and so on.

Ruth mentioned in comment to last week’s blog that when we witness someone else’s pain it essentially becomes our own. The world, despite all the beauty, mystery and amazing places, beings and happenings, also contains a lot of black energy. I would so like to sprinkle angel dust around the globe and frankly, Mrs Universe, money would help purchase some of that stuff! A heart full of love and a purse full of money has got to be a wonderful combination. Right? While money isn’t everything and doesn’t guarantee happiness, equally, love isn’t always enough to bring magic and joy where it is needed.

I phoned my mother at Christmas, and my heart ached at the thought of her sitting alone in her tiny flat in Tasmania, Australia. How is it possible to have eight children, (five of which are in Australia ~ one of whom is wealthy beyond belief) and not actually be invited to spend Christmas with any of them? The irony is we’d have given anything to have had her with us ~ just as we’d love her to live with us permanently if our home had ‘one’ more room.

But I know without a doubt, that the list of goodies in my Cosmic Order isn’t a patch on what I already have. And if I never moved into my soul-home or had a family holiday, if I never got to take the messages of The Mother magazine mainstream, if we never had kindred-spirit family friends living locally to us… that actually, in the scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter because my life is rich.

I truly have everything an Earthly Traveller could need ~ a companion who fits like a glove and makes me laugh like no-one else on earth. I have a soul mate to share my life dreams and night dreams with, and that is one of the greatest gifts I could have been given in this lifetime. (No doubt making up for incarnations as a celibate nun!?) I feel he was gifted to me for no other purpose than to help me grow and expand through his love and nurturing. Imagine if everyone had this? Surely love would make the world go round.

My girls are healthy, noisy, bright, and interested in life. They challenge me each day in all sorts of ways, but clich├ęd as it is, I wouldn’t be without the little rascals. It’s the little things they bring to my day…the light in their eyes. The jokes. The mischief. The funny things they say which have me laughing deep into the night each time I recall them. The pleasure and delight they show at the smallest things is priceless. They have made my life.

What awareness? The Aware Parenting Misnomer

In this issue of The Mother magazine, hopefully through your letter boxes this week (UK ones), I wrote a piece on Babies and Crying, in conjunction with Emma Lewis’s piece on Babies don’t need to cry ~ in relation to what has become known as Aware Parenting, a phrase used in connection with the work of Aletha Solter. One aspect of Aware Parenting is the misguided belief that babies need to cry and a good parent will let them do this, and so long as they hold the baby they are being ‘aware’. I’ve cringed reading articles by so-called experts who’ve forced a baby, toddler or young child through certain experiences in the blind belief that because they were with them through it, everything was hunky dory. Talk about the blind leading the blind. Justifying your own parenting choice to put a child through trauma is one thing, advocating it as *natural parenting* is a whole different ball game!

Sadly, it is being used by many advocates of natural parenting and is now endorsed by just about all the so-called natural parenting magazines around the world, except The Mother magazine. Of bloody course! Flippin’ heck, you’d think the natural parenting magazines would be in allegiance on something like this. But no, TM has to stand alone…be the loose cannon. Aggh.

So today, I feel like I’m setting the cat among the pigeons, by publicly paraphrasing what I wrote in TM…

Babies shouldn’t need to cry. They cry because something is wrong! This idea of letting them cry it out being ‘ok’ if they’re held in arms is, frankly, a load of rubbish. To compare a baby’s needs to an adult’s unexpressed issues is stupid. There are many, many adults who DO need to cry simply because their needs weren’t met as babies and toddlers. This is completely different to a baby crying because it is in pain, needs a poo, needs to feed, needs warmth, needs cool, needs a cuddle, needs *something*…but it doesn’t need to have its cry ignored.

‘Aware parenting’ is an insulting misnomer. Ignoring and not attending to your baby’s cries is not much different to leaving your babe physically alone to is a sugar-coated myth amongst a new breed of attachment parents to justify the suppression of a baby’s real needs AND their own maternal/paternal instincts. It breaks my heart that this may well become the norm amongst natural parents who ‘believe’ editors of natural parenting magazines.

When a baby cries, it is distressing and distressed. It suffers all types of physical, mental and emotional side-effects as a result. When it falls asleep afterwards, it is from exhaustion and a sense of ‘giving-up’ because no one cared enough to find out what was wrong. It is NEVER because they’ve cried out their ‘issues’.

We’re teaching our babies and toddlers they’re not worthy of our love, when we practise this type of parenting.

Most people who practise ‘Aware parenting’ consider themselves adherents of attachment parenting; but attachment parenting is a spiritual and emotional practice, more than just a physical one. Each time you hold onto your child (rather than provide nurture, comfort and validation) while it cries itself out, you are witnessing a little death of its essential self. It leads to lazy parenting because, let’s face it, it is far easier and less challenging to have quiet kids who don’t ‘demand’ time or energy from us.

By all means we should hold our babies when they cry. That’s obvious. But we should also be looking to fix what upsets them. That’s what mothers and fathers are for!

I shudder to think what we’re doing to kids and ourselves by adopting this new way of parenting. Just who are we kidding?

Happy New Year

Why don’t you join me, blog reader, and write a comprehensive list of all your successes in life? Together let’s invite positive, progressive and accomplished vibes with us as we move forward. You can cheat like me and include the little things ~ like winning a swimming race in school or befriending an elderly, lonely person.

It could be when you were involved in volunteer projects.

It could be succeeding at a school subject when you’d failed for the 11 years previous…

It could be that one day you woke up and realised that your life was YOURS and not your parents’, and you finally felt liberated to make choices which worked for you.

Surely the injured wild animals I rescued as a child (joey, crow, etc.), and returned to freedom when healthy, must count? I’ll bet you found an animal or two too. Or maybe you chose to care and become friends with the kid at school who everyone else bullied?

And the trees I planted on our former piece of land ~ despite whatever I might feel regarding the legal nightmare and consequent loss of the field ~ that too is a success. Most of those trees will outlive me and bring life and nurturing to humans, animal and trillions of insects for a long time to come. That was always my vision. Perhaps it is irrelevant whether I was there or not to witness the unfolding beauty. Maybe the success has been and gone and I missed it!? Those trees will forever change the look of the landscape, where before it was just grass. If I die tomorrow, surely I’ll have left the world a slighter better place for that?

Roll on 2007, I’m ready for you! But don’t expect me to stay up till midnight tomorrow. No way kiddo, I’m going to be full of energy and bouncing with joy come January 1st. Life to live and all that.

ps. Note to Keith's Angela...thank you soo much for your gorgeous comment to last week's blog. I really appreciated it...where on earth in cyber space it has ended up I don't know! Sorry it didn't end up on the comments page last week...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Inside the temple

Saturday Cuppa: nutmeg and cloves in gently warmed grape juice

I was chatting to a lovely friend in Australia this week, when she mentioned near the end of the phone conversation that she was looking forward to reading my blog on Saturday. I hinted that, actually, I was unlikely to write one this week as I was having an emotionally-shite time and didn’t want to put such negative energy into the ethers.

Her belief was that it would be good to share my human side. Oh really? Although I enjoy reading other people’s blogs and online journals, warts and all, I didn’t feel the same would apply to anything that emerged from my keyboard!

Seems rather synchronous that my emotions this week are symbolically being played out by the weather! Cold, deep, dense fog. Almost claustrophobic! Can’t see!

A few events happened this week which brought old demons, blocks and lessons to the surface. I’m struggling to learn them. As someone who likes to get to the bottom of things; to know the reason *why* for everything, I’ve found life challenging.

It started with the car failing its MOT. Fairly predictable, but we always get it through a second time. Not now. Our little blue beasty is destined for recycling and we have till the end of December to get another car. I’ve spent a sleepless week with chronic anxiety-induced insomnia… Maths and numbers make me nauseous at the best of times, but when the maths don’t add up, when the expenses are greater than the income, when there is no income for January ~ it can make a girl near vomit with stress.

What has disappointed me most is that I’ve got all the ‘tools’ for getting through a situation like this. They’re called ‘trust’, ‘faith’ and ‘hope’. They embrace a deep knowing that we’re one with the Universe and the answers to everything are never outside of ourselves, but always, always, always INSIDE. So why didn’t I just go and meditate? Why didn’t I just ‘let it go’ and know things would work out in Divine Order?

I’ve spent the week mentally trying to ‘make’ things happen. But there is a world of difference between making and creating. To create our reality (consciously) we have to allow. The process has to happen without our control. Therein does lie my sticky point. I like to control things down to the last full stop. That’s ok if you’re dealing with a sentence, but totally useless if you’re living the metaphysical life!

Each of us live in a glorious temple assigned by our Maker. We have a duty to look after this place we call our body. My temple, this week, has felt like a prison. I created a Boxing Ring inside my head; my brain screeching around like a headless chicken looking for answers, practical and symbolic. I’ve had the Headache from Hell these past few days ~ torturing myself instead of nurturing the Inner Space. Stupid, clearly. I’ll learn. The side effects of worrying about getting a car took me into a painful place on all levels, but mostly it took me away from being in the present. And it is when we’re in the present moment, we’re at our most powerfully creative. We’re in the zone.

We live eight miles from our nearest town yet life without a car is no-no unless you have a piece of land and are self-sufficient. The pressure of acquiring another set of wheels has really brought home to me that I need to get my butt into gear to create the lifestyle I want before the shit hits the fan in terms of global warming and other *predicted* changes to humanity and Mother Earth.

Coinciding with the car challenge was a letter from the courts announcing the payments we’d have to make on the CCJ.

Those who’ve read The Mother since the beginning will know we had a piece of land called Earthsong. We bought a 4 acre piece of agricultural land in 2003. It had not a single tree on it, but had been used for 100+ years for grazing sheep.

In this field were wrapped my lifelong dreams ~ a place for my children to grow in harmony with nature. I wanted with all my heart to give them a piece of magic from my own childhood….the joy of being surrounded by wildlife and the freedom to play in nature.

We had big plans. Over the course of a couple of years we planted about 600 trees ~ half of these were fruit trees (apples, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots) and others were natives. Mostly they were planted in a bitter and icy winter wind, with snow on the ground. Not pleasant, but oh so worth it. Or so I thought!

There were also 100 blueberries and 100s of raspberry canes. A commercial sized polytunnel was erected along with a shed where we provided shelter for 4 billy goats and 5 cockerals ~ all rescued from being someone’s dinner. I spent many sweaty moments in the polytunnel, wearing nothing but my wellies. Ok, don’t ponder that too long! But I really loved being there with the girls. We’d get so excited at every little stage of a plant’s growth. Food wise, we were pretty self sufficient during the growing season.

I was always at my happiest when on that piece of land. Loved getting my hands in the dirt, watching seedlings emerge, hearing the birdsong, watching the moon rise and the sun set. It was also a great physical blessing from all the long hours spent each evening on the computer putting The Mother magazine together. The joy we all felt the first spring after planting the fruit trees when the blossoms came along was just so soul-nourishing. I felt I’d found my purpose in life. To nurture myself and my family through Mother Earth. My longer term goal was to share this organic orchard and vegetable box scheme with the community. I wanted there to be somewhere people could gather for local food after the oil runs out. People naively think we’re going to seamlessly go from a fossil-fuel based lifestyle to something else…well, folks, not before a hell of a lot of chaos and turmoil.

But for some reason my dream wasn’t meant to be…

Almost to the day we signed the papers for the land, the neighbour whose field we had a right of way through, started harassing us in one way or another. He told us we didn’t have a right of way and we certainly couldn’t take our car across the field anymore than we could (wait for it) grow fruit, vegetables or flowers. They’re not agriculture!

Typical Cumbrian Farmer mindset, agriculture is only about killing sheep, cattle and growing wheat.

To cut a very long story short, the right of way that came with my land purchase was drawn up in 1991. Here’s the irony ~ it was drawn up by a firm of solicitors called Arnison and Co. (based in Penrith, Cumbria) who would then go on to act for the neighbouring farmer, Geoffrey Purdham, in court.

Talk about conflict of interest or what?!

You see, when Arnison and Co. drew up the right of way, they used a statement from the then owner of my land saying he’d always had free and easy access to his field. It even included a deed showing exactly where to travel across. They removed some of the words from his statement, such as ‘he always used for it all purposes connected with the ownership and enjoyment of the land’. I had a copy of his hand written statement. It came with my land purchase.

Legally, they could not draft a right of way based in his say so. LEGALLY, the right of way needed the express permission of Joyce Armstrong (Geoffrey Purdham’s mother in law ~ legal owner of the land).

How the solicitors, Cartmell and Shepherd, who acted for George Hogarth (the man I would buy the field from) didn’t pick up on this deception and deliberate trick is beyond me. Why do I know it was deliberate?

George Davidson didn’t actually enjoy a good relationship with the Armstrong/Purdham family. His brother was too scared to come to court as a witness for me, but I found out off the record. He was always bullied and couldn’t wait to sell the land which he’d owned since he was 2 years old. He sold it off the open market to George Hogarth, knowing that they could never get legal permission from the nasty Armstrong/Purdham families. The Armstrong and Purdhams always wanted Earthsong (formerly Rye Close), they just didn’t want to pay for it! They made no secret of how angry they were that it was sold privately to me, rather than being given the chance to buy it themselves.

Had honesty in all dealings occurred way back in 1991 I would not be in the position I am in today. A detailed explanation of the terms of any right of way would have been very clear.

How my solicitor didn’t pick up on this dodgy drafting in 2003 will always remain a mystery to me. Perhaps from his point of view it was just not worth going into...perhaps he crossed his fingers and hoped for the best?

How odd that he quoted me £300 to deal with the land purchase and I end up with a bill for £1200. What on earth did I pay for? We spent so much time talking about the right of way and its implications.

Geoffrey Purdham felt very threatened by a woman in wellies and two young girls crossing his field every day to go plant vegetables and for the girls to play on their swing. The two previous owners rarely went to the field…only attending to move sheep on or off. And here was some woman acting like she owned the place!

On the weekend that the first Mother magazine camp was held ~ a bunch of friends camping on Earthsong ~ Mr Purdham’s two sons came racing up into the field on their quad bikes, with no respect or caution towards the toddlers running around.

The told me I had to use a different track to get to my field (about two metres to the side of where I’d been driving). When I pointed out to them that I was using my legal right of way and going exactly where the deed map suggested, they looked at me blankly and said I had no right of way.

Shortly after I received a nasty letter from Arnison and Co. telling me that I didn’t have a right of way. Oh to have been a fly on the wall in their office when I immediately wrote back saying I did have one and they should know since they drew it up in 1991!!

We spent the next TWO YEARS locked in legal battle. It was nightmarish. All I wanted to do was grow things. In hindsight, I guess I was growing. Spiritually. Only thing is it still doesn’t feel like it.

During this time I consulted a psychic. When I asked her if I’d win the court case she said the spiritual balance was on my side. Idiot me assumed that was a *yes* in the courtroom.

We were charged with (wait for this coz it is so outrageously idiotic) TRESPASSING (two metres at most to the left of where their tractor ruts ran to an adjoining field?) and not using an agricultural vehicle.

My solicitor (apparently an EXPERT in agricultural law!!) said the car wasn’t an issue. We used it for agricultural purposes ~ end of story. He consulted someone very high up in legal agricultural circles.

The claimants were also trying to stop us having people come to the land despite there not being anything in the right of way about limiting access to people.

The issue of where the right of way ran was where all the focus went. More than £1000 was spent to get Richard Parker, a land agent, to come and oversee some trench digging with the view of determining which track had been there the longest. The owner previous to me (who was our witness in court) said he’d always used the track I had (as per our deed) and so had the previous owner.

The claimants got a friend in to dig their own trench just before this ‘official’ digging and how bazaar to see the earth beneath our track full of rocks and stones PROVING that our track was recent and couldn’t possibly be the legal right of way. They took photographs of this for evidence and then covered their side of the track up leaving ours open and the track inaccessible. How bizaar to then have it officially dug up with witnesses and for the land agent, Richard Parker, to declare there was NO difference between tracks. Funny that, the claimants must have thrown rocks into the trench where our track run. Even the judge must have thought so as he said their photographs couldn't be used as evidence!!

During the two years they put all sorts of obstacles in the way ~ mountains of turnips, cow shit hills, trailers…even putting a dangerous bull in the field so the girls would be scared to walk across it! Bastards. Ironically, for the most part, we were unable to use the car as Geoffrey had made ridiculously deep tractor ruts that not even a 4 wheel drive or some smaller tractors could negotiate. The track they wanted us to use ran on a camber making it dangerous for most vehicles ~ and that’s just in dry weather!

My solicitor introduced me to a litigator with the firm Burnetts, Patricia Hall. She would represent me in court. I know what I’m about to write is soooo judgemental and I hate myself for it, but it’s the truth and I think it is significant in that I should have followed my gut instinct.

She was a middle aged, grey woman wearing a very old, worn navy blue suit ~ the top of which was littered with dandruff. Now I’m no beauty queen or model, but my immediate thought was that if she, at an income of £160 an hour, couldn’t look after herself, how the hell could she look after me? And I was right.

I never warmed to her despite trying really hard (honest!) to not think about the desiccated coconut landing everywhere. Her motive from start to end was about money. It was NEVER about helping me or my family. It was such a rude shock after our solicitor who, despite incompetently missing the right of way thingy, was a genuine, kind and very nice man. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.

On the eve of the court case, by which time we had 3 aerial shots of the land over the course of about 30 years and the claimants had all sorts of friends, relatives and lovers as witnesses, I wondered what we were walking into.

Patricia Hall said to me that I should just give the Purdhams my land in lieu of their costs to day (approx £7000). I immediately left her office crying all the way home.

After the court case she denied saying such a thing. However, something like that is not easily forgotten and she knows as well as I do that she’s lying.

It’s a statement I will never forget for no other reason than that land was my HEART AND SOUL. Every ounce of my being was planted into that moist, fertile soil. Why would I just GIVE them everything I was fighting for? Did she think I was an idiot? Clearly.

I made the momentous decision to represent ourselves in court. Paul and I were so ill with stress by this point. I aged ten years! We couldn’t sleep, we could barely talk. Legal papers were a nightmare. I did a lot of swearing and not acting terribly lady-like (the term fish wife sounds pretty accurate!) when talking to my one and only witness, George Hogarth. He lives about 200 metres up the road in the village so the last thing I wanted was to create an enemy nearby. It was bad enough having Purdhams two miles away giving us evil eyes every time they drove past our house.

George wanted to pull out of the court case. He said it was too difficult with being a farmer in this community. He still maintained I was in the right and all his workers could verify that.

I won’t say what I said, but suffice to say George and one worker came to court with us.

It was two hellish days with Stoat and Weasel (Trevor price from Arnison and Co. and some other irritatingly nasty litigator they’d brought up from Manchester) acting like pricks the whole time. You’d have sworn we’d tortured and killed 1000 newborn babies, rather than driven across a bloomin’ field!

In our favour was the nicest judge you could imagine. However, it was during this very expensive trial that it emerged I didn’t have a right of way because Mrs Armstrong had never given permission.

The judge told me we’d had very bad legal advice.

Clearly he wanted to do everything he could to help us. I got away with saying a lot of things in court that I simply wouldn’t have had I paid someone £160 an hour to be my mouthpiece. Best decision we made was doing it ourselves! Every so often he’d sigh, and say in his posh voice, “Now Mrs Robinson, you simply can’t say that in a court of law…”

Er, can’t I? Too late, I just did!

Here’s the real kicker though. Judge James of Carlisle Crown Court used the court case to ‘create’ a right of way for me. Oh, how lovely. Well, it wouldn’t have been in theory. In real life what it meant was that the claimants had to make a decision about whether to determine the vehicle we used to access the field or the nature of what we used the land for.

They opted for us to get an agricultural vehicle because being the collective nasty piece of work they are, they knew we didn’t need a tractor or 4 wheel drive.

Their motivation was to financially ruin us and to get our land.

The judge ruled that we could have anyone we wanted onto our land for any purpose (read: VICTORY!!!!! In terms of a community orchard and PYO veg box scheme) as long as they walked across the right of way or came across in an agricultural vehicle.

As for the right of way, the judge could clearly see from the aerial photos that whatever track had been used over time, it certainly wasn’t set in stone, but moved around the place! He came out and marked where the track had to go and ordered that the claimant not leave tractor ruts…at any time. He said they had to put in a flat, useable track. Poor babies nearly cried when they told the judge it would be a civil engineering job (the track is on a camber). He was very short with them and said QUOTE “So what!? Mrs Robinson has enough money to pay.”

That was August 2005. The claimants have never fixed the track. They pulled out the posts the judge put in to mark the track. They covered the gate to their field in barbed wire so no one can climb over it.

One day Geoffrey and Margaret Purdham trapped my girls and I in the car (him with his tractor in front, and her in the 4 wheel drive behind). He was f***** and blinding and banging on the windscreen. My girls were screaming. It took every ounce of will power not to slam my foot down and run him over (protective mother bear urge). The police later told me I’d have been in my rights! If I’ve got any regrets in life...ok, ok, I won’t go there!!

What sort of man traps a woman and two little girls like that? He’s an ugly (sorry, accurate description, I’m not beholding him in the Light very well!), large built man who has spent his life bullying everyone. All the farmers knew he was a bully well before I bought the land. He’s treated everyone like shit and always, always, always gotten away with it.

I don’t imagine he ever thought we’d stick it out till the court room. They probably thought a few scary letters from Arnison and Co. would do the trick.

Trouble is, I was fighting for my life. For everything I believed in. For my gift to my children. I also knew the financial consequences of losing. I spent two years in fear of not only losing the land and being forced to go bankrupt, but a double blow of losing The Mother magazine too. It all felt terribly unfair.

We were ordered to pay 2/3 of the claimants costs. That’s about £8 600. A bargain really, as I’d picked up in a court session recently that it was about £3000 less than I expected. Trevor Price nearly passed out on the spot when he realised the court costs didn’t include his two days in court! Wahooo….a moment of justice when the judge said it was tooooo late to claim it.

What I will never understand is this: if the court case was used to create the right of way, then how can we possibly be charged for any ‘offense’ that occurred before that date? It’s just not logical! (Any ethical solicitors reading this, an insight would be valued).

After the attack by Margaret and Geoffrey Purdham (he was later charged by the Crown Prosecution Service ~ thankfully the girls and I didn’t have to attend, they used our written statements to prosecute) I came to the very painful realisation that I had to stop fighting this. That as long as they lived, we’d never be able to truly enjoy the land. We knew it had to go. We sold it at a huge financial loss. We could never sell it as agricultural land without ripping all the trees out. It was sold as is and the trees will remain and nurtured in a permacultural way. The owners are friends who just want to fill the earth with trees. It’s the only blessing (that I can see) to have come out of this.

In the end, it wasn’t all the money that went down the drain, or even the hundreds of trees we’d not get to enjoy harvests was about the loss of a dream.

Last year a special friend lost her baby at birth. I couldn’t imagine going through something so horrendous and having to get up each morning and put one foot in front of another. I felt childish, selfish and stupid for drowning in my emotional and spiritual sorrows. I simply and regrettably wasn’t there for her in the way a friend should have been.

What I was going through was ‘nothing’ compared to her grief. I’m not even going to pretend they’re in the same category.

And yet, we all go through our lessons, whatever face they wear. I was grieving too. My heart had been ripped out, a large part of me taken away. I don’t know if anyone else can understand such pain and hurt.

Why have I written about all this? Because when the court letter came this week ordering us to pay 3 times the amount each month than we said we could pay, I also had a letter from Burnetts saying that my solicitor William Green had moved and someone else would be replacing him.

I saw red. Why would I ever want to use them again? I saw red at the court letter too. How arrogant, selfish and unconscious to think we can magic up three times the amount we’re able to pay?
And it was in the *seeing red* that I realised I have got so much healing to do. There is so much anger and venom in me still…and it is easy to forget that it is eating me up all the time, not just when I’m consciously thinking about it.

Our blocks rise up like the Himalayas to greet us. They come us gifts for us to love, melt and heal. I’m at a loss though. In my head, I know I need to forgive. I need to forgive the solicitors and litigators in their suits, hand-stitched in arrogance. I need to forgive the Armstrong and Purdham families, each and every one of them deliberately nasty.

And clearly I need to forgive myself. Right now it is so much easier said than done. Everyone has made money out of my suffering and they’ve gotten away clean-scott with their incompetencies…

I’m 39 this week. I’d like to let go and start living. I need some emotional freedom.

The car and lack of money issue made me realise almost every job I’ve done has been for love and for very little money. I have been trying to understand why money is such an issue…both through job/lifestyle choices and then wicked twists of fate like the county court judgement. Why haven’t I been able to create a wonderful income consistent with jobs of integrity and honesty?

I had an abundant childhood. I truly did. The only thing I can trace back to, that might possibly lead to blocks of self-worth, may be to do with one of the men who sexually abused uncle willy (or villy if you say it with the german accent).

As a little girl I adored that man. I don’t remember the first time he sexually abused me…but I do remember all the times of feeling uncomfortable. The thing about my uncle was that he always gave me money. Loads of it. I can’t help but wonder if somewhere deep in the dark hole of my subconscious I have a belief connecting the receiving of money with betrayal. Is there a ‘catch’ with receiving money? Do I, at a deep, fundamental level believe that money comes at a price?

My ego wants answers. My thumping headache wants justice!

If there are any intuitives, psychics or other ‘genuine’ people in touch with a pure universal energy that could shed light on the WHY of my experiences in the past few years, I’d be ever so grateful for your insights. I really would.

They say, astrologically, we often have big changes around about our birthday. I’m trusting, hoping and praying that this turn of the sun in Capricorn will bring me wisdom, peace and allow me to truly strings attached.

Had a lovely gift this week…from Shazzie. Something she gave to share with all her friends and family. It brought a tear to my eye. Maybe it means so much more in light of my own feelings towards protecting the planet, and personally nurturing a bit of mother earth.

She wrote: “I've bought 20 acres of threatened land that will be preserved for ever and ever (along with its wildlife) through the World Land Trust I also haven't bought any cards for ecological reasons. Much as I love them, I just can't do it anymore.”

Bless her!

And finally, you know how much I love my page three stories in The Mother. Well, here’s one for this week’s blog. May Christmas and New Year be everything you’ve imagined it to be.

With all my love, the-very-human Veronika.

Brother Like That
Author UnknownA man named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shining new car admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you nothing? Boy, I wish..." He hesitated.Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what this lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels."I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?""Oh yes, I'd love that." After a short ride, the boy turned with his eyes aglow and said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again. "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car."There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And someday I'm gonna give you one just like it...and you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."Paul got out and lifted the lad into the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he had said: "It's more blessed to give..."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A holistic and holy Christmas

Saturday Cuppa: Eucalyptus, ginger and orange
When all around you people are sniffing, sneezing, whooping and wheezing…sip on this winter wonder elixir!
One to two drops ( I use ten!) of pure essential oil of eucalyptus [make sure it is pure essential oil and not a synthetic version]
An inch of fresh ginger root
A couple of slices of organic orange or lemon into a mug of hot water
spoonful of agave syrup (or honey if you prefer)

…ah, that’s better, isn’t it?

No matter where I go when I’m in town, people ask if I’m all sorted for Christmas. What does that mean? Have I loaded the credit card up? Sorry, I don’t have one! Once the money is gone, it’s gone! Really gone. Damn shame the car is always due for its MOT at this time of the year coz the little beasty always needs hundreds of pounds of work done to it leaving zilcho money for anything fun, entertaining or creative!

Have I bought five trolleys’ worth of food?
Why, it’s not the last supper!? I’m astonished by the greed and gluttony which seems to go hand in hand with the shops being shut for two days.

No, I just put in my usual organic fruit and vegetable order plus two boxes of clementines! They are our annual treat. I do a bulk wholefood order through Suma Cooperative minimising the need for going anywhere near shops. Smart, hey?

Have the kids had a trip to Lapland? They sorted the Santa thing out years ago when logic told them he was too fat to get down the chimney on the neighbour’s house. Who was I to argue with that? I still remember how painful it was as a five year old to discover Santa was actually my dad! I was truly horrified that my parents had lied to me.

Am I ready for Christmas? Yes, I am. It’ll be simple, peaceful, reflective...and, I hope, holistic. Wholism, to me, is about nurturing mind, body and soul. We are integrated beings and therefore to maintain well-being we need to acknowledge each aspect of our self.

Christmas isn’t a competition and if people were honest, they’d see that the collective vacuum suck into commercialism is all about who’s got the biggest, best and most. Our ego is constantly trying to impress. What on earth has all the hype that goes on got to do with some little chap born a couple of thousand years ago? Really? What is the connection? I’ve never been able to grasp it.

The metaphysical Christmas

Paul and I share with our girls what we perceive to be the metaphysical meaning of Christmas. Mary represents our femininity; our feelings. Joseph represents our masculinity; our thinking. In order to give birth to the Christ Consciousness we need to marry our feelings and thoughts.

The girls look forward to Christmas Eve as a special time to celebrate being together as a family; the candles are lit and songs sung, instruments played.


We share stories. There are some lovely ones in the Hawthorn Press collection. Look out for two of their books by Estelle Bryer and Janni Nicol ~ Celebrating Christmas together and Christmas Stories Together.

Paul will also read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol out loud to us by the fire during the twelve days of Christmas.

Bethany’s been rehearsing her piano and violin for Christmas eve and tomorrow she will have her first public performance on the violin at the village chapel nativity service. Both girls are involved in a Christmas cantata.

A little spice is nice!

The girls are I dabble in a little of my heritage by making sweet and spicy German Christmas cookies ~ Lebkucken. The house is alive with the aroma of spices ~ cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

Gifts and Cards

Don’t look under the christmas tree for gifts, look in your heart!

Despite the media push (thankfully!) for going green at Christmas, it isn’t just about being ethical, buying green gifts or using recycled paper… It’s about being aware of our driving force. Who are we; what gifts do we give from our heart centre? Our heart chakra is green ~ surely acknowledging the gifts we present from here is the ultimate in being green?

Why go for gluttony and eat so much you can’t get off the sofa for a week; and have to resolve a week later to go on a diet? Why not fast or eat simply?

Why create financial headaches with debt…what is the purpose? It’s not going to make people like you any more!

The exchange of gifts has certainly gotten out of hand in Western society. Anyone who works in the retail industry will tell you that the large majority of Christmas gifts are returned within a week by the recipients.

A few years ago I decided to stop sending Christmas cards. It wasn’t an easy decision but it was difficult to keep up not only with our friends overseas, but all the lovely people I’d met via The Mother magazine. It felt natural to want to express my affection to them at this time of the year.

What started off as being a painful decision has become one of the most liberating ones I’ve made! I don’t regret it at all. And it is interesting because I think in a way it gives other people permission to not send cards. We still receive cards ~ which IS lovely ~ but it is amazing how many people have stopped sending them to us as a result our choice.

I saw mummy kissing Santa Claus!

I’m the mummy and Paul’s the Santa. Waheeeeeeeeeeee. And I do like kissing him! For a few weeks at the end of the year, he works as Santa at Centre Parcs holiday centre. His first hand experience of kids’ wish lists is, for me, very scary and a true picture of where society is headed in terms of materialism.

Last week a two year old was requesting a pink tv for her bedroom. “Do 2 year olds talk?” I asked, feeling a bit vague about toddlerhood. All the indications from the parents were that she’d be getting her wish.

Almost all the gifts requested are for Play Stations or similar. Not cheap presents and certainly not gifts which would enhance childhood!

Last year a child asked for a new brother. It turns out his other brother had died. It’s stories like that give me hope that some children see beyond the televisual culture and have really tapped into what is important.

I consider Christmas to be a spiritual, soulful and sacred time yet it can also be fun, jolly and warm! We can enhance the mood of the season so much more by stepping out of the cultural minefield and resisting the urge to spend, spend, spend.

Make something. People love hand-made gifts.

Re-use anything and everything ~ make a vow not to buy anything new. Search out charity shops or make a gift.

For wrapping paper, use brown paper with hand drawn stars. As I type, Bethany is on my bed making her own paper by drawing holly, stars and hearts.

My mum was rather wise when it came to Christmas...what with eight kids and all! On Christmas Eve after we’d eaten, all of us children would go to the kitchen to wash the dishes. Afterwards we’d come into the family room where she’d laid out all the gifts under the tree. Not one of them was wrapped! Just little piles of goodies in a room lit by candles, and while we were singing carols in German and English our little eyes would be scanning the gifts trying to work out which pile was ours. She never bought chocolates or sweets ~ but dried fruit and nuts. (It was the same for our Easter Hunts)

Bake yummy goodies ~ cookies, muffins, chutneys, pickles or make some divine raw chocolate balls. Simply mix raw cacao powder with ground almonds, agave syrup, cinnamon and roll into dessicated coconut. Tastes great, looks great! On a little tray, with a twig of holly, they make beautiful gifts.

Why not make gift certificates for babysitting, a massage, a meal, a kiss! Time is so underrated in our society, and it is the erosion of time with each other that lies at the core of our material greed. We’re desperately looking for something to fill the gap left by not enough meaningful human interaction.

Looking after yourself

If, despite the best of intentions, Christmas sees you caught up in a whirlwind of stress, visiting the Out Laws and shopping…here are some suggestions:

Take time for sitting and being. You have my permission!!
Try a herb tea like Dr Stuart’s Valerian or Tranquility tea and put your feet up. The world won’t stop.
Take a candle lit bath
Grab your kids and go for a wintry walk
Read a book by the fire or snuggle in bed with a hot water bottle
Christmas nibbles don’t have to be laden in fats or nutritionally dead! Try sundried bananas (Oxfam has lovely ones!), goji berries or make some simple chocolate nibbles.
Hopefully you already take care of your nutritional needs, but of particular help when going through stressful times are B complex (Green Life Direct do a liquid version); maca root powder and Flax seed oil.
Essential oils in your burner, like orange, jasmine, pine help to create a lovely atmosphere.
Findhorn Flower Essences have a lot of essences suitable for getting through the festive season

Eg. Sea Rocket
for dehydration
Globe Thistle
for letting go on non-essentials
Rowan for releasing resentment or pain connected with family
Scottish primrose
for inner peace and stillness in the heart, relationship conflicts
for financial worry
for aligning with the source of abundance
for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Heart support to open the heart to the healing power of love
And plenty of others

Why not give life this Christmas, rather than taking it. How about an ethical meal this season? There are so many amazing vegan and vegetarian choices that you wouldn’t even notice the fat bird was missing. Honest!

Christmas is for kids

People often say Christmas is for kids and use that to indulge them with a mountain of toys. We let them see by our example who we are capable of being through this season.

The two year old wanting the pink tv for her bedroom won’t be satisfied with anything less next year, or the year after. Does Christmas become one big let down ~ a time of disappointment because we’re expecting others to meet our emotional needs through material things? How can it be any other way if that is all we’ve taught them?

Celebrations like Christmas are a great way to make your 'conscious living' stamp known to family and friends. Don't be afraid of being considered different. You might just be giving someone else permission to escape the Commercial Christmas Prison. Many people don't like what's happening in our consumerist culture, but don't know how to change it. Show them it starts at home.

The magic of childhood, for young and old, is based on simplicity, love and kindness, not greed or anxiety. Have a peaceful lead up to the Holy Season. Love, Veronika

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Stretching ourselves

Saturday Cuppa: Orange and Fennel Tea

Paul asked me the other day how my first attitudes to parenting came into being ~ were they latent or learnt.

My answer was both.

I think for many people the seeds of how they will parent are planted from their own childhood, for better or worse. And then we get thrown in at the deep end and very quickly learn to sink or swim, or hang for dear life onto some sort of life-raft and float like flotsam on the sea of life never really making conscious decisions and choices.

My mobile hairdresser was here last night. She also sells Aloe Vera products. A few times she has suggested I might be interested in them because Aloe Vera is so wonderful. I agreed that it is, but expressed my concern about whatever else might be in the container and that I couldn’t commit to anything until I’d read the ingredients list. Sure enough, they’re full of words you can’t pronounce and the predictable nasties like SLS.

I love her to bits, but I don’t think she’s ever heard of SLS. I explained gently and then with compassion said I’d shut up, but if she wanted to learn more I’d happily get her some information. She looked horrified at the thought that she might be selling products in good faith, thinking they were helping people but might actually be setting off reactions of various sorts.

And so it is with parenting. More often that not, we simply take a lot of things for granted and don’t question the norm. As I pointed out to my hairdresser, ignorance is truly bliss. Once you start becoming aware of things you question even more. It can drive you to distraction; lead to sleepless nights and sometimes end friendships or marriages when your choices become extreme from the mainstream.

As a child raised by a stay-at-home mum I knew I wanted to give my children a stay-at-home parent too. It made sense for it to be me as I was breastfeeding. Now the girls are weaned there is no real reason for Paul to be the one who goes out to work, and in actual fact, given he’s worked his entire adult life to raise two families it seems fair he gets to do the ‘fun’ job of staying at home. However, selfish as it sounds (and I KNOW it is selfish), I’m unlikely to work outside of the home unless it was something I felt would really make a difference and change the lives of a handful of people… Paul, being a saint, is aware that (and I know this in theory!) every job makes a difference and touches the lives of people. Whatever we do is our Ministry.

When I became pregnant with Bethany, certain things were already clear in my head. Nutritious, plant-based diet; NO vaccinations, waterbirth, home education. At birth I knew that the cord would be cut after it had stopped pulsating. Now, almost 11 years later, I’d have a lotus birth (where the cord is not cut but left to fall off a few days later).

Eleven years after becoming a parent, there’d be no nappies. We’d do elimination communication. It makes just as much sense as a lotus birth.

We all grow and stretch whether we like it or not. Sometimes we can see the stretch marks (not those ones!!) and feel pride and oftentimes we’ll wonder how we made the leap. I could well have placed my babies in jail (cots) in another room (Shock! Horror!) had I not read an article in a glossy women’s magazine a decade earlier where a famous Australian actress said her baby slept with her. A seed was planted which would germinate many years later when I read The Continuum Concept. “Of course! How obvious! Where else would a baby sleep?”

As Barry from the Art of Change says, (paraphrasing here) the greatest changes start with the smallest steps. And he’s right. It’s too easy, for example, if you’re new to holistic parenting to pick up a copy of The Mother for the first time and feel overwhelmed. Quite clearly it is a publication about holistic parenting without compromise. But that’s the magazine! It’s not about each individual parent. How could it possibly be a blueprint for each person? We’re on our own journey and we all have such different lessons to learn, experiences to meet, challenges to overcome. For my part I’m blessed with a husband who walks side by side with me in our parenting choices. How different it could have been had we battled about all the issues fundamental to our life view. I’m very aware that for many families it is a constant battle.

I’m about half way through my parenting (in terms of the girls living under our roof!) and know that although for the most part the hardest part is over, I know too that these next few years are going to throw me into situations which will challenge me and my beliefs beyond belief. Some of that is starting to happen with Bethany. Daily I am reminded that she is her own person on her own journey; I’m merely a guardian for this first part of her life. I’m also realising that I may not always know what is best and that in itself is hugely stretching!!

The stretching which is occurring for me now is very much along the lines of ‘letting go’…which frankly, is in stark contrast to the early, intense years of attachment parenting where you hold your baby close and intuit their every need.

Intuiting the needs of older children requires a completely different response. I feel like parenting is starting all over again.

Out of all the experiences, however, comes the certain knowledge that if we can continue to nurture and nourish our home and family (in whatever form they might take) the ripple effects into society will live on long after we have.


Thank you for the lovely emails about Vanessa’s Real Lives in which I appeared this week talking about breastfeeding full-term. As someone described rather accurately, it was like I was in a lion’s den. Er, yeah!

I’ve done a lot of stretching this year in terms of putting myself into the public sector to educate others about the necessity of letting children self wean (as far as a mother is able). I go into those situations knowing that most people not only don’t understand, they don’t want to understand. They’d prefer to sit on their judgements and not stretch their mind at all.

How tragic when the best a so-called journalist like Vanessa can do is to make out I breastfed purely so I could wear the title of Britain’s best breastfeeding mother. What rubbish!

There was nothing heroic about what I did nourishing my girls as nature intended. Heroic breastfeeding is when a mother manages to breastfeed a child who finds breastfeeding difficult, such as Down’s Syndrome or Cleft Palate, or an adopted child or breastfeeding triplets. Or breastfeeding after a breast reduction. And when a woman struggles to establish a milk supply after a medicalised birth. That’s heroic! That has my jaw dropping in absolute admiration.

My breast milk flowed, my babies drank. What’s so admirable about that? A miraculous design of nature, yes, but admirable on my part, no.

About the only intelligent question Vanessa asked was why people have so much difficulty with the idea of someone breastfeeding for so long. Unfortunately when I said it was because we don’t see it in our culture she STUPIDLY said she disagreed, and that everyone has seen it because they watch Little Britain (for those ignorant people like myself it is a comedy in which a grown man breastfeeds and calls it ‘bitty’).

I’m sure it is all very funny and people do feel repulsed however as a journalist she failed the professional miserably (and the culture in general) by using that line of reasoning. Note to self: NOT reasoning, pure self-gratification.

Personally, I don’t know how people like Vanessa Feltz and Trisha Goddard can sleep at night. I’ve no problem with people earning big money from their tv jobs (gotta be some compensation for lack of privacy) however the old karmic thread of

‘what ye shall sow, shall ye reap’ applies to every last mortal walking this planet.

The karmic build up of those women is far greater than their bank balance. Tragic, really. Still, that clearly is where they’ll have to do some stretching.

Just a few weeks till 2007. This year hasn’t been bad or unkind by any means, ~ more a kind of a spiritual balm after 2005 ~ however, I’ve felt like a bit of flotsam!!! I chose at the beginning of the year to Let go and let God…not always an easy thing for a girl who likes to control her life. Still, with the planet Jupiter (planet of expansion) transiting my 12th house (the unseen/spirituality) it was probably a wise decision to not force anything. I have come away with a deeper sense of gratitude for everything, even the issues which had truly challenged me over the past couple of years.

I know January 1st 2007 is ‘just a date’, however I always feel there is something significant about a new year beginning. It might, of course, be because I’ve an end of year birthday and it feels like the start of something new when January rolls around. Regardless, I’m looking forward, as Jupiter moves into my 1st house (planet of self/ how we show ourselves to the world) in early January, to a wonderfully dynamic year full of fun and adventure! Hee heeee

Ciao, have a fabbo week. Love, ~ Veronika ~

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Frame

Saturday Cuppa: Ginger Tea

Last night I heard an inspiring quote that came, not from a spiritual guru, but from Nigella Lawson, voluptuous and beautiful celebrity cook.

“When you have children you are no longer the picture, you’re the frame.”

YES YES YES! In many ways, this is similar to Kahlil Gibran’s “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

Parenthood changes you, for better or worse. Sometimes it certainly feels like it has been for the worse, but no doubt it is very much the same as the grain of sand in the oyster forming a pearl. Our children are gifted to us specifically to rub away until we gleam with beauty!

As a frame to our children’s lives, the focus isn’t on ourselves anymore ~ we’re always looking at the full picture. Does a frame enhance a picture or detract? It is so easy to judge other frames as we symbolically sit there on the great wall of life viewing each other.

I walked into a shop the other day past a women heavily pregnant ~ and smoking. I was stunned. The words were preparing to come out of my mouth. Head and heart were battling furiously ~ speak up, no shut up!

Who was I to say anything? I felt justified in being an advocate for her baby. Someone had to be, as she surely didn’t appear to give a damn. But in 2006, if she’s not aware of how detrimental smoking is to a growing baby she’ll never be. As I write this, I’m aware of how many people look at the frame around my children and wish to play lifestyle advocate. They too no doubt feel justified in their comments to me ~ which come thick and fast on occasion.

Sometimes it’s little things like when I was at a friend’s house recently and Bethany (jokingly) asked if she could have a coffee. My friend was about to get her one when I (eyes expanding to bursting point!) said that she was joking and they don’t drink caffeine. My friend thought *I* was joking. “You don’t let them drink coffee? God, you ARE radical!”

And sometimes it is bigger things like ‘send them to school’. People feel as justified in telling me how to raise my kids, as I did with the round lady puffing on a fag.

A frame is embracing. It is there to provide structure, give shape and allow the best of the picture to shine through. Whatever decisions I make for my children are also based on the long term implications. I’m consciously aware that once they’re older, they can do whatever they want ~ no questions asked. Until that point, I will do whatever I consciously can to give my children a solid, secure and loving foundation.

A lot of adults feel resentful because of the parents who inflicted stuff, even with the best of intentions. There was always an element of fear and lack of trust in the inherent goodness and love of the Universe. That lack of trust has been transmitted down the generations. One of our main tasks as parents is to break the cycle because almost without exception we have been shaped by a greater or lesser degree in this manner.

I know as some people read this, their ego will be screaming out at the idea they’re the frame, and not the picture. Ego likes to be centre stage. Ego is the one that insists on getting to the top of the career ladder; best house in the street or fanciest dress at the party. But you know, just because you’re the frame around your child’s picture it doesn’t mean you don’t have a life of your own! It’s just the focus is different, and rightly so. You see, all of us parents have a frame around us too. Many of us like to rip it off and be free of that restriction. Etherically, I don’t suppose it leaves us for the duration of this journey on Earth.

I recently had a bunch of black and white family photos from mine and Paul’s ancestors framed ~ all in matching frames!! They hang above the mantel piece. I’ve been aware of a ‘coming to peace’ with whatever each of them may have gone through in their lives, and knowing that their tragedy and triumphs belong to them, not me or my daughters. Every time I look upon the faces of our joined family trees, I see more and more that each of those people did the VERY BEST they could.

I know that as each year goes on, I am a stronger and better frame for my girls’ picture, for no other reason than that I’m integrating the very best of the framing which surrounded my own childhood and STILL embraces me every time I think of my mother, or feel her love; dream of her at night or hear her voice on the phone or receive her 'love letters' in the post. As always, I feel blessed.


One of the things I absolutely treasure about my girls is their ability to feel joy at what I consider to be very simple things. Yesterday we placed ivy and holly on the mantel piece in preparation for Advent. Each year we get a Pine tree with roots, for planting out in January. With not having our plot of land anymore, and a garden somewhat overcrowded with larger trees, I wondered where we could possibly place another tree. In the end I suggested to the girls we could cut some small branches off the beautiful spruce and put them in a vase ~ that way we weren’t displacing a tree or cutting one down. Well, we did, and then placed the three pieces into a lovely basket. And you know, it looks just like a tree! The girls were thrilled. Our decorations are few ~ just a handful of hand-made wooden and fabric pieces. I know with every part of my being, that Christmas for my girls isn’t about presents. Over and over again they say it is about being together; singing carols, eating nice food, the candles glowing as we celebrate together on Christmas Eve.

Maybe they won’t always see it this way, but for now (which is all that matters) they make life such a joy with their brightness.