Saturday, May 27, 2006

fat people, food miles, vegetarian week....

Brew of the day: Nettle Tea…great for weight loss.

Happy Birthday Mum

Raising my cuppa this morning to my absolutely gorgeous, one-of-a-kind mum! Happy Birthday Angelika!! Don’t fret, I won’t tell the world how young you are…. even though you made me drink fresh nettle tea as a kid.

Hide your fat kids ~ Nanny Blair wants them!

The UK’s Department of Health will be measuring your kids at ages four and ten to check them for ‘fatness’. You’ll then be told the results of these ‘tests’ and WARNED of the implications of obesity. The government, you see, aren’t actually ‘concerned’ for your children...they’re concerned for their NHS bill when your kids become adults and have all sorts of health issues.

There are a few things that concern me about Nanny Blair’s testing of children for weight. First and foremost is the bullying by the children who aren’t overweight. Secondly, it again assumes the government is the expert on children, rather than parents. I believe that parents are fully responsible for their children’s diets.
Mostly, though, it seems to me there is a misunderstanding of weight.

Our weight at any given time is a reflection of our ‘wholeness’. It isn’t a separate issue to the rest of us and therefore shouldn’t be treated in isolation. We need to look at weight as being symptomatic of imbalances within the body. This might be in the form of liver disease, thyroid problems, emotions, glandular, elimination system, skin, lungs, poor sleep patterns, colon, blood or many other things.

For example, in my own life, I’m four stone heavier than I was in 2000. (glad I’ve got photos of back then to remind me!) At the time I ate an exclusively vegan raw food diet so it was inevitable I’d not be ‘chunky’ around the bones. The only other time when I’ve been that slim was when I’d lived in a really humid place where I drank a lot of water and didn’t have a car so walked ‘everywhere’.

In 2005 I rapidly put on weight through a combination of ‘comfort’ eating well after my evening meal, and sitting for hours on the computer each night to do the magazine.

Once we got that crappy old year over and done with and I decided to consciously ‘lose weight’, I was shocked that it refused to budge (not even an insy tinsy tiny weeny nano-quarter of a pound)...despite brisk walking, daily rebounding, changes in night-time eating, etc. With the diet we eat there really is no excuse to be overweight. I truly couldn’t understand why the ‘rolls’ were clinging so desperately to me...while my 'thin' friends could eat chocolate by the crate.

And then, bit by bit, I realised that my liver was not functioning adequately and this manifested in various ‘symptoms’ ~

* stubborn weight

* horrid PMT (I assumed because my periods were as regular as the moon that my hormones were fine, but alas, for the past year *Monster Woman* emerged about week three of every cycle.) In all my years of 'cycling' I'd never experienced any menstrual 'symptoms' or PMT. Anyone who has experienced PMT (or PMS in the States) will know how debilitating it is to have a second personality ‘come through’ like this. Let me assure you girls, there is hope!! (See below for my new-found friend Maca)

* a rash of pimples around my chin each month ( for a girl who didn’t even get pimples as a teenager and who doesn’t eat ‘sweets’ or live off chocolate bars and sugar, this was all a bit of a shock)

* life-deadening fatigue where I spent about three days in bed recently, unable to get up and put one foot in front of the other.

Once I’d made the *connection* (a light bulb moment) I was able to do something positive about it. All the pointers were to my liver, but given I haven't drunk alcohol to any degree for about two decades, I kept dismissing it.

My liver, bless it, was overtaxed from rather industrial strengths of painkillers I’d taken for all those years of back pain (when the doctor said there was ‘nothing’ wrong with my back). Had a feeling it might catch up with me in some form. After all, you can’t keep taking double strength pain killers indefinitely.

Fortunately the liver is very forgiving and can be nourished back to health. Did you know you can cut away 80% of the liver and it will re-grow? And that the cells of the liver completely replace themselves every six weeks?

Now I’m free of back pain through chiropractic care, I hope to not ever need pain relief again. I am now free of any PMT grumpiness (and pimples!!) thanks to Maca…a natural product which I’m taking daily in my morning smoothy.

It is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and iron, and contains trace minerals, including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese and silica, as well as B vitamins. It also contains four alkaloids proven in scientific investigation to nourish the endocrine glands, including the reproductive system of men and women. Maca is a member of the radish family (cruciferae).

I order mine from It’s worth its weight in gold, is completely natural and has no side effects. Also considered nature’s Viagra, should you need it. (for men and women!!)

I also take a tincture of milk thistle, artichoke and dandelion to nourish, cleanse and heal my liver…so I’m trusting now that my body will find its natural weight again. My energy levels have upped and I feel great. This week I went back to an all raw (vegan) diet and the weight is starting to drop off. I’m also spontaneously waking up a couple of hours earlier and, unheard of, actually getting out of bed before Paul. Seems rather weird to see him ‘sleeping in’. Lazy git!

Inevitably I’ve been thinking about livers a lot. Mostly in relation to all the shit we pump into kids today in the name of ‘good medicine’ aka vaccinations, antibiotics, Calpol every time a baby cuts a tooth. The body has to put it somewhere doesn’t it? The liver is the obvious place. And what about kids who drink poison, like Coke, each day? Sure as heck the liver is choking on it....

Many people have been raised by parents with no knowledge of nutrition other than the outdated and defunct ‘four food groups’. And most people certainly won’t know what’s below the iceberg of their weight ‘symptoms’. If we’re honest, most doctors have no more knowledge of nutrition than the average person on the street. I’ve heard of people going to the doctor because of weight problems and coming away with a prescription for an anti-depressant. Nothing like a band-aid that’s gonna give a doctor a little earner.

So where does Joe Blow get reliable, honest and accurate information from? God help us if it is from the government!

What I do know is that you can’t find health in processed foods or a sedentary lifestyle. In our rich and affluent first world, we suffer from malnutrition. Yes, you read that right! Our food is EMPTY food. It may be high in energy or calories but rarely is it high in nutrition. How do we expect to prevent disease when we routinely eat ‘empty food’?

A while back the government introduced the Five A Day promotion. It turns out most people aren’t taking a blind bit of notice. One in five people refuse to eat any fruit and vegetables at all. For the 74% who are trying to eat more, the average consumption is 3.7 portions. Of the £34 a week people spend on food (per person), only £1.82 is spent on fruit and vegetables. The mind boggles. What the hell are people eating then?

What we need:

We don’t need Nanny Blair weighing our kids and we certainly don’t need the ‘fat’ ones pulled out of class to be weighed. What on earth will that do for their self-esteem? And we certainly don’t need them being sent home with ‘test results’. One more judgement to batter them over the heads with.

What we need is a total ban on junk food advertising and real education about living foods. The following website encourages ads on TV telling kids to take a fruit break.

The You are what you eat TV programme is highlighting the obese in our country, but the trouble is that it sensationalises the fat people and what their poos look like. It doesn’t actually show people how to prepare healthy, life-giving food. I don’t think it really excites people to make full-on lifestyle changes.

We really need someone bright, wonderful and vibrant and bubbling with enthusiasm (sorry, Gillian M doesn’t look that vibrant to me) on the television showing families how to make scrumptious life-affirming meals using LIVING foods, and then telling them how to use that new found energy into finding enjoyable exercise. People need to know that natural healthy foods not only look great but taste great. They need to be MOVED off their seats and completely inspired.
In a country of meat and three veg (no doubt including memories of boiled-to-death cabbage) it is no wonder people are scared of vegetables. I love cabbage best when finely shredded and marinated for half an hour in a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Simple, but incredibly satisfying. Eliza, at eight, adores this and we fight over who’ll get the most from the salad bowl. My girls LOVE broccoli and Brussel sprouts. They beg me to buy them...right up there alongside iceberg lettuce. Why should this be unusual?

What always strikes me is that kids will eat what they’re routinely given. We, as parents, set up the habits. Raise them on crap and that’s what they’ll expect. I’m often intrigued when at friends’ houses to see the processed stuff their kids are ‘allowed’ to eat as a main meal. To be honest, most kids will eat crisps etc., if they’re given to them. If you want healthy kids, you’ve got to give them healthy options. Healthy food doesn’t have to mean deprivation or starvation. It is about education and re-adjusting taste buds if they’ve been conditioned to excessive fat, salt and sugar. I was at a friend’s house the other day and was shocked to hear her kids NEVER drink water. You simply don’t get hydrated or nourish your cells from cow’s milk, cordial or Nestle’s chocolate drinks.

This week the girls and I made assorted ‘dehydrated’ crackers using various seeds. We use ground up seeds with lemon or orange juice and vegetables/spices, depending on if they were sweet or savoury, and then ‘dried’ them at a low temperature in a dehydrator. They love them. They don’t feel deprived. Bethany and Eliza are as happy eating dried fruit or olives as other kids are eating chocolate.

They KNOW which food choices are good for them and which aren’t. They also know that they don’t have to follow my food choices now they’re older, either, and yet they continue to because they’ve been well educated.


Did we have obese kids before the advent of junk food and television? Rarely. But back then we didn’t usually have ‘working mums’ either, did we? Mums were home to cook the family meal. They were there to socialise with their kids. Today our government (and society) encourages us to go out to work. Of course, when we do that we are too tired to come home and make a proper meal; to sit down and eat as a family and to take exercise together. Mums are exhausted. No wonder they pick up a pizza and everyone blobs in front of telly. Who can blame them? It’s easier!

If you are looking for an inspiring story of holistic weight loss you’ll find loads if you type ‘raw food’ into google. Here’s one to start you off
This beautiful lady was 20 stone and is now 9 stone 9lb. Bless her!

Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine And Thy Medicine Be Thy Food
-- Hippocrates, Father of Medicine 460-377 BC

National Vegetarian Week

Apparently, it is sexy to eat your greens now. Never mind that my husband and I have been eating this way for more than thirty years! All credit to the vegetarian groups though for using celebs to promote the cause. Whatever works, hey?

In a celeb focussed society, people tend to take notice of what they have to say.

Although vegetarianism isn’t seen as so radical and cranky as when I was growing up, it is unfortunate that many vegetarians simply replace their meat, fish and poultry with cheese and eggs. Ethics aside, these are still full of animal fat, and it isn’t the path to good health. It’s tempting when breaking away from the meat habit to look to meat substitutes. Trouble is, health isn’t found there, tasty as they might be.

I’ve met vegans who don’t even touch fruit and vegetables, but instead live off coke (sugar is from a plant isn’t it?) and donuts (Flour = wheat, jam = fruit)…plant based, hey?

One of the many benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle, is that of our planet’s ecology.
By giving up animal based foods ONE person can save a million gallons of water a year. That is a phenomenal amount of water saving. Imagine a country of sixty million people cutting out animal products? And did you know that a single hamburger uses enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles and enough water for 17 showers. One bloody hamburger! In the mouth for maybe two minutes maximum …and they say humans are intelligent?!

Eighty-seven percent of agricultural land use in the USA is for raising animals for meat for human consumption. In order to create space for raising animals our rainforests (which supply 60-80% of the world’s oxygen) are destroyed at a rate of 125 000 square miles per year. Your quarter-pound fast food burger requires 55 square feet of rainforest land to be cleared. A typical pig factory farm generates a quantity of raw waste equal to that of a city of 12 000 people!

It isn’t not rocket-science to see that animal-based diets are not sustainable.

Some chap in the UK is starting a crocodile farm as a ‘sustainable’ alternative to other meats. Dead proud of himself, this chap. Have I missed something? Since when are crocodiles native to the UK? How much is it going to cost to keep these little fellas warm? Heating crocodiles is NOT sustainable. It requires electricity. And when a radio announcer asked him what the crocs eat, he said ‘leftovers’ from abattoirs and ‘fillers’ etc. Mad Crocodile Disease...coming to a menu near you!

Food Miles

The trouble with raising your children with conscience is that everything that passes your lips is scrutinised to the last mouthful. The girls won’t let me buy rice now…and our beloved rice milk is about to be replaced by a DIY oat milk…once we find a locally grown source of oats we’ll be soaking, then sieving! Thanks girls. Clearly, in their eyes, I don’t have enough to do in the kitchen ~ or in my life.

Food miles are simply everywhere in the kitchen aren’t they? Even when I get as much organic locally grown veg as I can, there is still the spice shelf to induce guilt; the olive oil and various other tasty treats to have me constantly questioning every meal. Bit by bit we’re making changes and choices but clearly I’m living in the wrong country for my dietary preferences.

Often someone may think that they are buying local potatoes or milk, for example, not realising that it may have been packed and transported many miles away at a central depot and then brought back to be sold as ‘local’ food.
When we buy ‘processed’ foods with a number of ingredients, we forget that each ingredient will have travelled from factory to factory before getting into the final processed product and then being transported again to the shops.
An astonishing 95% of the fruit and 50% of the vegetables in the UK are imported. Enough to make an eco-caring girl lose her appetite.

I received the following letter during the week…if you’re interested, give Amanda a call/email.

Meanwhile, have a fabulous week! I intend to. ~ Veronika ~

Dear Veronika -

Please allow me to introduce myself. I work for Michael Hoff Productions, an award winning television production company based in the San Francisco area here in the US. We are currently producing a program for a national television network, profiling the stories of extraordinary parents and their families. This is an entirely positive, non-sensationalizing series offering loving parents an opportunity to say in their own words why they believe deeply in the lifestyle-health-wellbeing choices they are making, as well as a chance to show their very positive family dynamics in action, right in the home. It is NOT a program intended to expose child abuse, negative parenting or neglect of any kind.

Your dedication to the health and parent-child bonding benefits of breastfeeding and allowing children to wean themselves was brought to my attention. I understand from your wonderful website that both your girls have at this point weaned, but I was wondering if you perhaps knew of any other happy, healthy families who might be interested in participating in our program. We would be interested in profiling parents with children over the age of six or higher whose child has not yet initiated the weaning process. Again, I cannot reiterate enough the network's wish to showcase exceptional families-lifestyle choices in the most respectful way imaginable.

I am grateful for any suggestions you might have, as well as any appropriate contact information you might be able to provide. In addition, please feel free to contact me at the office listed below. For more information on my company, please also visit our website,

Thank you so much for your consideration - I am truly grateful for your help in reaching out to your community.


Amanda Gronich
Michael Hoff Productions
5900 Hollis Street / Ste. O
Emeryville, CA 94608
(510) 597-9645

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Breastfeeding Awareness Week; Home Births; Green Parents

Brew of the day:
Dandelion Tea…good for detoxing the liver. Dandelions are out in abundance in the Eden Valley at the moment. I’m in bliss when out walking alongside fields of golden yellow. Such a sight!

Welcome to Saturday Morning Cuppa. I awoke this morning to my luxurious Saturday morning lie-in being disturbed by a racket from the girls’ bedroom that went on and on and on. Being too lazy to get out of bed and investigate, I waited till they came to our room to find out what the ‘problem’ was about. No problem, apparently, just doing Shakespeare!

Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Little Angels and The Way Nature Intended took a petition to no. 10 Downing Street to support David Kidney MP’s bill campaigning for the right for women to breastfeed in public. Baby Milk Action had hoped the photo they were taking of Stella Onions breastfeeding outside no. 10 would be great for their report of the Bill and also for their popular breastfeeding calendar. The photo they got was of a police officer asking her to stop breastfeeding. So much for the government saying they support breastfeeding! Says a lot really, doesn’t it?

I don’t think I can stomach one more conversation (or interview question) based on the ridiculously stupid “Should a woman be allowed to breastfeed in public? ”It isn’t about women’s rights, it’s about children’s rights!


If not, then we have some serious human rights issues going on here. At the very least it is a case of child abuse. Hunger to a child reliant on breastmilk is excruciatingly painful and NO child should ever be forced to go through this experience. How many people would actually stand up and reveal their abusive instincts by saying a baby/toddler shouldn’t be allowed to meet a basic need such as hunger?

During a local radio interview the broadcaster suggested to me that a baby breastfeeding in public was a bit like a man urinating in the street! You know, a scary bodily fluid leaking out!! Clearly we need a scientist to come forward to explain to middle-aged men that their stinking urine (stinking because of too much alcohol or coffee and not enough water!) is a WASTE product and that sweet-smelling breastmilk is a living FOOD. Clearly this man was playing Devil’s Advocate, but his words echoed that of a lot of people!

I seem to be seeing a lot of bottle fed babies around lately. The last time I saw a breastfed baby (who didn’t belong to a friend) was at least six months ago. But then again, Cumbria doesn’t seem to have many Black or other ethnic people either, so breastfeeding is going to be just another prejudice to add to the collective Cumbrian belt.

Also in the media this week….

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills announced the end of their marriage this week. A counselor from Relate said that it was because of their age gap and that only emotionally healthy people could survive an age gap like that. As a woman married to a man 19 years older than me, I read her comments with interest.

ANY relationship will only survive well if both the people are emotionally and mentally healthy ~ such health isn’t the preserve of those of us who are attracted to a different generation! We can honestly say that in our 11 year relationship the age difference has never posed a problem.

When we met Paul asked me where I’d been all his life.
“In nappies!” was my reply.

Home births

Homebirths hit the news this week with the plan to make home births an option for every woman in the UK who wants one. You’d wonder how humanity survived this long wouldn’t you? What did we do before hospitals? Heaven help Aboriginals giving birth to generation after generation in the Outback! Though I suppose if you’ve never heard of gas or epidurals you just get on with it, don’t you?

Paul heard a Radio 5 live interview where one woman (clearly anti home birth) said that birth was painful so what difference were a few cushions and a cup of tea going to make? Her condescending attitude is typical of the ignorance that keeps women locked into situations that really don’t have their best interests at heart.

Regardless of your career path, when you give birth your brain cares not about your CV...instead, the brain does what it has done for women since humanity began. It seeks a way to give birth as befitting a mammal. A woman requires darkness, safety and quiet.
As someone who has birthed in home and hospital I have first hand experience of how much they differ: a peaceful, gentle waterbirth in our bedroom by candlelight, Mozart playing softly, my lover catching our baby versus the harsh florescent lights and the panic of medical staff who don’t believe in ‘birth’ and handle a baby like a piece of meat in a butcher’s shop, injecting all sorts of foreign chemicals and viruses without permission. Trust me, the conditions are light years apart and I’d take a homebirth any day.

The same hormones used when we make love are the same ones which come into play during birth. Would you make love under florescent lights with some Doctor you’ve never met standing guard, groping between your legs and a few student midwives having a peep? Would you want someone monitoring your breathing and blood pressure every little while? And what about when things are really spicing up, would you want to be told that if you don’t climax in the next little while they’ll have to operate? (Dr. has a golf game to get to, you know!!) Of course you wouldn’t make love under those conditions! Yet we expect women to do this all the time.

The sooner women take back what they ‘need’ to give birth, the sooner we’ll see an end to the overwhelming number of medically (mis)managed births. I believe it was Binnie Dansby who said, “Birth is as safe as life gets.” Very sadly, babies die in hospitals too, and people seem to forget that when they tout that hospital births are safer for babies. An incoming soul has a destiny of its own that none of us who are already Earthside can ever know. If a baby’s soul has chosen to visit this planet for a short time, no amount of medical intervention will change that.

As for birth being painful, well let’s get some truth into the equation. Yes, women can have painful births, but no, they don’t have to be painful. Sometimes a baby gets into a position that causes discomfort for the mother, but the actual process of labour does not need to hurt. We confuse intense ‘labour/work’ with pain. Women need to learn that fear is guaranteed to cause stress which leads to pain which leads to more fear and here we go round the loop again. It becomes a vicious circle.

Even if she opts for a dry birth, every woman should have access to a birthing pool for labour to provide her with warmth and comfort and also a sense of her own ‘space’. The biggest mistake women make in using birth pools is that of getting in too early and thereby slowing labour right down. It’s best to make sure labour is well under way before soaking in a tub, ideally after about 5 cm dilation. More than anything, a birthing woman needs privacy, NOT an audience. An audience is never conducive to an easy birthing.

Sleeping with parents till five years of age

Another thing mums have been doing since women first walked the planet is to sleep with their babies. Of course, those of us in this thing called ‘civilised’ culture who have slept with our kids, have always been at the butt of jokes and condemned for making our kids too dependent on us. Apparent experts have been telling us for years how dangerous it is to sleep with our babies ~ funny how suffocation didn’t kill off our species before we got all wised up!

This week, lo and behold, a professor (a leading childcare expert) has come out and said children should be allowed to sleep in the same bed as their parents till about five. Her view is based on ‘scientific’ studies. Prof. Margot Sunderland believes Health Visitors should be given ‘fact sheets’ to help educate parents about the benefits of so called co-sleeping. Can you just see it now? Surely not the same HVs who are telling women left, right and centre to put baby on a bottle and get him into a routine and to leave him with a babysitter so you can have a night out with your husband!?

How sad that parents are still not considered the experts on their children. All praise to Professor Sunderland though, who says that training babies to sleep alone is HARMFUL as separation from parents increases the production of stress hormones in the child. This same professor has previously warned that letting children cry can create problems later in life, such as depression or digestive disorders.

In another’s eyes…

I was hanging out in our local market on Tuesday having bought my organic fruit and vegetables and was just waiting for Paul to meet up with us. Bethany and Eliza had gone off to another stall to examine a wooden DIY kit for doll house furniture.
A man and woman, who weren’t anyone I recognised, came strolling by. He was telling her that you can tell so much about a person by the way they look. Ever the eavesdropper, and completely intrigued, I stayed tuned in to their conversation. He went on to tell her about two beautiful girls he’d just seen. “They were really lovely and you should have seen the excitement when they were looking at these things they wanted to buy.”

How sweet, I thought, and then I realised it was my girls he was talking about as there aren’t any other kids about during the day (apart from babies). He had no idea that I was connected to them and it really made my day. Made me realise how easy it is to take for granted the things beneath our noses. I mean, how often do we think about the colour of our children’s eyes? Or wonder what they’re daydreaming about?

My girls love to sew and knit and do cross stitch. I really dislike it. However, I always support them in their enthusiasm. Yesterday they popped into the sewing shop to get some fabric. The man who works there is always struck by how excited they get by all the fabrics, cottons, buttons, etc. After they’d bought a picture-panel of a cat to make a cushion, he gave them another two panels of geese flying. I was so touched by his generosity but also that he always takes the time to treat them with care and as much respect as his adult customers (who probably spend more than £2!)

It was rather special to see my children through another’s eyes this week.

Job Vacant: Full-time Mother

What do you reckon they pay for that job? Here’s my job description:

Morning Cuddle Monster ~ can last from 5 seconds if we’ve slept in and have to get out the door to 50 minutes!! It is an obligatory start to the day.

Chief meal preparer ~ (nutritious, wholesome, organic, plant-based food with high raw content which means lots of chopping, slicing and grating and popping out to the herb garden for bits and pieces)..This job requires approximately 1-2 hours a day in the kitchen not counting time to make smoothies. And you need a good memory to make sure everyone’s drinking their two litres of water a day!

Storyteller and book reader ~ must be prepared to risk getting a hoarse throat when a book can’t be put down.

Friend ~ involves sitting on the bed laughing at silly jokes or playing mud pies or spending a lazy Saturday afternoon in a café.

Umpire ~ takes special skill to know when to break up an argument or to let the sibs negotiate without disturbing the whole village. Unfortunately this requires even further skill if you only have your eyes to give instructions with, for example, during a business call!

Gardener ~ at the bare minimum, herbs and leafy greens plus pumpkins have to be grown to supply the family with home made soup for Autumn and Winter.

Chaffeur ~ escorting to music lessons, library, friends, market day, bookshop and chiropractor regardless of mood or weather.

Exercise manager ~ walking around the ‘block’ (3 miles)

Education ‘facilitator’


It takes 12 000 bee hours to make a jar of honey. If bees charged an hourly rate of £5.30 that would mean one jar should cost around £63 600. This is a perfect illustration of how wrong our society has it…of how detached we really are to everything!

Motherhood is rather like honey-making. We work countless hours and because we don’t get a ‘salary’ for it, somehow our society doesn’t give it value. Women who stay home with their children still insist on saying ‘I’m just a mother’. JUST a mother?!! For goodness sake girls, take pride in this job. There’s one reason and one reason only that we don’t get a wage ~ because the government couldn’t afford us! It is cheaper to send us out to work.

It is fair to say I put in a 13 – 14 hour day with my children,.some days more, some days less. At £5 an hour, 7 days a week, I could comfortably live off this income! Imagine what I’d have earnt in the early attachment parenting days when sleep was non-existent! Don’t suppose I could have claimed ‘double’ time for all those years of tandem nursing?

Seriously though, if, as stay at home mums, we earnt say, £50 000, imagine the respect we’d be shown. We’d be on lecture circuits for goodness sake! But you know what? We don’t need to earn anything to have self respect for a job that is vital to the well being of society. Society’s ills almost always come back down to two things:
1.) violent birth (see the Californian Crime Commission’s report)
2.) inattentiveness by the main caregivers in the formative years.

The Great Tooth Fairy Fraud

Egg on my face this week. Couldn’t have been a blog or two ago when I waxed about lying and here I am caught out by my ten year old. OUCH!! OK, I’ll come clean.Bethany lost another milk tooth this week…a few hours later she looked me in the eye and said,
“I don’t need any money for this.”

GULP “What do you mean?” I asked, knowing full well that she’d figured the whole sham out.“Well, Eliza and I have been a bit suspicious. Don’t get me wrong Mum, I still believe in fairies, but I think you and Dad have been leaving us money.” “Oh.” Shame written all over my face….

“Tell me the truth Mum,” her eyes raking through every cell of my body looking for shreds of deceit and betrayal.

Heavy sigh. And so I ‘fessed up. Thank God I didn’t lie because she then told me how she’d found a little container full of teeth that I’d kept up high! “How can I ever trust you again Mum?” she demanded to know.

Despite the guilt I knew exactly how she felt and it’s the very reason I never went down the bloomin’ ho ho ho Santa Claus trip. At five, I had caught my dad putting out presents under the Christmas tree and I was devastated beyond belief. I’m sure that sense of distrust has stayed with me for life. When Bethany was three she already thought people must be silly believing in Santa Claus because there was no way he could fit down the chimney.

Not sure how I’ll ever make it up to Bethany. As for Eliza, she’s dead keen to keep earning a pound for each lost tooth…tooth fairy or no tooth fairy! Bloody Tooth Fairies ~ rob you blind and then when the sh** hits the fan you don’t see ‘em for sneaker smoke.

Being a green parent

This week one of my girls asked me what it means to be a green parent. To me it means limiting my eco-footprint and the best way to do this is resisting consumerism. I’m noticing more and more though, how even ‘green’ parents are encouraged to buy the latest of everything…and to do the keeping up with the Jones’s thing by doing everything organically. It really is missing the point.

In raising my children to be conscious about their choices, we’re finding that all around us is a culture that was and is created on taking advantage of others and it reeks of a frantic desperation for more, more, more.

Tempting and lush as it is to buy organic cotton and hemp everything, true ethics includes recycling and re-using as much as possible. When was the last time you saw an advert suggesting you can save the Earth and be a green parent by purchasing second-hand clothes from charity?

Just say NO to consumerism and live simply so that others may simply live.

Definitely some very un-eco parents around here...the latest trend for taking the dog for a walk is to drive your SUV and let your pooch race along beside you! Lazy dog owners!


Sometimes in my desperation to move to a location where more like-minded people exist, I have a temporary amnesia about how darn lucky I am. I live in the beautifully lush and fertile Eden Valley and from my cottage I have views that stretch up to the Pennines.

From my back garden I look over into green fields rather than houses. If I sit in my back garden all I can hear is the sound of birdsong. When I lie in bed at night, I don’t hear anything but the sound of silence...ok, that is till about 2 am when the cockerels over the road think dawn is approaching (the little rotters!). Our cat then takes that as her cue to start yowling for company outside the bedroom door. And she’s learnt that if she does it loud enough, for long enough, Paul will get out of bed and let her in. A few months back I spent a night in the centre of London in an apparently ‘quiet’ hotel. I didn’t get a wink of sleep with the constant noise of, well, everything!. Funny how conditioned we get to things.

The Last Supper!

Hotmail has been chomping up my emails like it is the last supper!. If you’ve not heard from me it is either because I didn’t get your email or you didn’t get mine. Sorry! The downside of modern technology….

My new mantra

And finally, this week I heard what were probably the wisest words I’ve ever heard. They were from the vibrant Rev. Rhonda Gola, who was our celebrant when we were married in New Zealand. She said that “the only thing we ever owe anyone is Divine Love.”

With this as our mantra, how can our world ever be anything but a place of wonder, joy, peace and beauty?
Have a wonderful week!

Namaste ~ Veronika

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centred.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What's your poison?

Brew of the day: Lemon tea

We’re such funny creatures, us humans. Despite inhabiting a living and potentially vibrant vehicle, most us manage to inject or absorb toxic matter and expect to keep thriving. If we did this to lab rats we wouldn’t be surprised to see them wither away.

Be honest, how do you start your day? Do you turn on the radio for the latest news? Do you then drown the murder of a baby or a politician’s sex scandal or increased bank rates with ‘real’ coffee? And what about when you step into the shower? Does your shampoo contain SLSs? What about your partner or children? Do you treat them as Royalty or yell at them as if they’re the enemy? And how do you LET them treat you? What poisons are you putting into your body? Poison wears various disguises and can affect us on many different levels.

This week Cumbria had two glorious days of what is more than likely bound to be our British summer! I’m a little undisciplined when it comes to the sun...just can’t get enough of the warmth and gloriously light feeling that comes with being outside for hours on end. After months of being mostly indoors and wearing head to toe clothing, it is somewhat of a shock for my bare, anemic-looking skin to see daylight. I ask my girls to wear hats or bandanas and to alternate between being in the sun and in the shade. They build up their tolerance to the sun on a daily level in a safe, natural way. THE SUN IS NOT BAD FOR US.

I don’t ever put sunscreen on them even the so called ‘natural’ ones (gasp!!! Cries of “BAD MOTHER”). If people were honest though, they’d realise we don’t have a sunscreen deficiency and therefore don’t need to ‘cure’ our skin with such poisons. I believe that sunscreens are contributing greatly to skin cancer rates. Ever read the ingredients?
Years ago, I never left home without a pair of sunglasses. They were a mandatory accessory. Once I began a conscious, holistic journey (which began before I had children) I left behind my sunglasses. It was about as hard as giving up my 12 cups a day of coffee!

Sunglasses, by their very nature, stop light getting to our eyes. The way our skin reacts to sunlight is determined by the brain receiving messages from our eyes! When the eyes give a false reading, so to speak, the body isn’t able to ‘accommodate’ the sunshine on the skin in the same way. It simply can’t tell you when you’ve been in the sun too long. So, if you’ve got a pair of ‘cute’ sunglasses for your child, designed to make him/her look like a celebrity, you might like to think again. And don’t forget to wean yourself from them too!

Didn’t think there would be a blog today as I’ve had such a quiet week, despite finishing the first proofs of the summer issue of The Mother magazine. At night I snuggle up with the girls in bed, their pillows sprinkled with essential oil of Lavender, and read them a chapter or two from a book. They’re brilliant readers and don’t ‘need’ me to read at all but seem to love having the time and attention last thing at night. By about lunch time each day they’re asking if I’ll be reading at bed time. These moments are so, so precious and nourish me as much as them.

By day, my greatest pleasures this week have involved watching the girls playing at the bottom of the garden. Mud pies to feed the world! They gather up little flowers from in the grasses and set a vase on the table under the shade of the plum trees. So long Bethany and Eliza are topped up with real food every few hours, this sort of play goes on all day. A few times this week, when they’ve migrated to the front garden, which is the size of a postage stamp but a great sun trap, people wandering through the village have said to them, “Shouldn’t you be in school?”

Hasn’t anyone heard of home education?

It must be so threatening to adults when they see children of this age (10 & 8) sitting down painting pictures in the sunshine or playing hopscotch. I mean, heaven forbid, we need to CONTROL kids…control their body functions, eating times, the way they think, how much FUN they're allowed to have. What will become of them if they don’t have this external ‘discipline’ enforced?

“There’s a perfectly good school in the next village, why can’t they go there?” I have statements like this hissed at me by people living rather close by. It strikes me that the majority of people have been so ‘poisoned’ by the idea of free thinking and free living that when they see it being lived out by others it challenges every idea they have and their only response is to, er, spit!

I heard that there is now a tv channel dedicated to children between the ages of 6 months and three years of wonderful, now mummy doesn't even have to be constrained with her little one!! Some of the compliments about this new station came from mums saying that it means they can put their baby down to watch 'educational' television while they go and do the housework. Educational television? Poison, more like. Still, better to get them used to toxins early so they're prepared for the onslaught later on.

No one else is going to say it, so I will. WHY BOTHER HAVING CHILDREN?

Had a little chuckle to myself during the week. I was out of rice milk so opted to pop down to our local Co-op for soya milk rather than drive 8 miles to town. The lady in the queue before me was undoubtedly a dairy farmer’s wife in her 60s. She pointed at the soya milk and gruffly asked me if someone in my family had an allergy. When I said no, she puffed her tall body up even more and very aggressively asked why we were drinking it then. I could have very happily gone into the fact that the milk from a cow was for her calf but knew that could have set off a cardiac arrest given her current state, so simply said we didn’t like the taste of cow’s milk. Her reaction wasn’t pretty. Ho hum!

I don’t honestly have great expectations of what I will offer my children on an academic level. That will just evolve when they are ready. What I do hope is to inspire both of them to honour and nurture their body, mind and soul. To learn that nothing can come from corn, but corn, and that nothing can come from nettles but nettles.

I’ve caught myself feeling gloomy and rather impotent at the state of the world lately…ready to dig my own grave. My natural state of being is one of positivity and optimism and in resurrecting this, I’m reminded, daily, to teach Bethany and Eliza about Building Castles alongside their mud pies! Our dreams are vital in life and we shouldn’t shrink away from aspiring to great things despite the situations we might find ourselves in at any given time.

Two men looked out from prison bars
One saw mud, one saw stars.

If I can, during the course of their childhood, show them, by word and example, that first thing in the morning and last thing at night, their minds are most impressionable and to use this time wisely (eg. for meditation or affirmations), I will have helped set them on a good course for the rest of their lives.

As a long term student of New Thought and metaphysics, I’ve learnt (especially through the painful times!) that each of us creates our world by our beliefs and feelings. When things go pear-shaped it is so easy to not want to take responsibility, so easy to cast blame. Self-denial is probably the worst poison of all as it doesn’t allow us to re-script our lives. Whatever shape and flavour this day holds is the result of what we have thought of in the past. Quite literally, we get what we think about all day long. If you’re the blushing sort, this can be quite embarrassing as your life is an out-picture of your internal thinking. Everyone can see what is going on inside!

There are many ways we can monitor our poison levels. A lot of it comes down to awareness and perhaps taking an inventory. Food, drink and environmental toxins are fairly obvious to pinpoint. And yet, things like negative news, the stress of rush hour traffic, negative people or destructive relationships are just as damning to the system. In order to live an authentic and holistic life, bit by bit we need to cleanse our system of poisons if we are to view our world through ‘clean’ glasses….or even better, without any glasses at all!

Have a truly wonderful and health-affirming week
~ Veronika ~

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Masks and mistrust

Brew of the day: Raspberry Leaf Tea ~ go on grrrrls, get that uterus toned up!

Sometimes our values are so ingrained that we don’t realise how integral they are to our functioning and well-being until the polar opposite slaps us across the face.
This week I found out that a woman I’d recently grown to trust (and had openly hoped would become a friend) had been routinely *not telling me the truth* over the past couple of months. After the initial shock, my main question was why. Why did she do that? Has it come from her own dysfunction or it is just a reflection of the world we live in where this sort of behaviour is the expected norm? I take everyone at face value and oftentimes ‘forget’ that most people hide their true selves.

Although our society doesn’t exactly encourage *not telling the truth* (aka lying) it certainly doesn’t promote truth telling and honest conversation. My experience is that most people would rather hide or twist information (or lie by omission) than to confront a situation or issue even if the confrontation was peaceful and assertive rather than aggressive.

Confrontations (or explorations into truth as I’d prefer to call it!) always lead us into the unknown ~ for how are we to truly know where an honest dialogue will take us? We make assumptions as to how people will react and deny both them and ourselves the opportunity to explore, release and forgive. Forgiveness isn’t some hippy, new age virtue. It’s vital for everyone who wants peace. Spiritual evolution is impossible without it.

In this lady’s case, she has known me as a direct person and probably knew that I would very easily get to the core of the issue had she not lied (all the while smiling while she did so). The discomfort for her would have been too hard to handle for only one reason ~ the unknown. But surely honesty would have taken her relationship with me to a new level? What hope does any relationship have when it is based on deceit?

As a child I told ‘fibs’…for the sole reason of protecting my backside! On my journey through life I’ve learnt some very painful lessons about lying. It hurts. It hurts to lie and it hurts to be lied to. As an adult I aim to be as open and direct as I can (for better or worse and no matter how uncomfortable I might feel) even if it means holding my breath, then gulping, as I await an outcome. (None of us eagerly put ourselves into a situation where we might be rejected.)
I realise how discomforting and threatening this is for the vast majority of people yet I can’t dilute myself into nothingness and hide who I am in order to allow others to continue lying. When I do meet someone who is genuine and holds honesty as a core value, my heart truly sings! But they are rare finds indeed.

A good friend of mine recently had a brief affair. She said it didn’t mean anything as it was ‘just sexual’. By not telling her husband was she protecting him or herself? I’m not sitting here in judgment (and she knows that) just using it as an example of how we live our lives. It is inevitable that we lose any sense of the sacred within our relationships (sexual, platonic, intimate or acquaintance) by not being completely honest.

Perhaps I’ve been lucky in that I’ve sincerely not met any men in the past 11 or so years for whom I’d want to rip my clothes off and risk everything I hold dear in my marriage (ok, apart from Colin Firth and the ever so ruggedly handsome Martin Shaw ~ but they’re not real are they?) so Paul is at no risk of me straying. One thing I do know is that I would NOT (for even a nanosecond) be able to come home and look him in the eye if I had been with someone else. It would be an absolute impossibility for me. I’ve often said to Paul that if he met someone for whom he couldn’t resist to please have the KINDNESS to tell me at the outset so that I’m not in the dark and am in a position to make choices.

John Prescott, the UK deputy prime minister, when proverbially caught with his pants down said he ‘regretted’ the two year affair. I’ll bet the only thing he regretted was getting caught! It simply wouldn’t have lasted two years if he had ANY conscience. And did he regret lying? I find it hard to respect a man who has sex with a woman for two years and then says something like that. And the other side is that he withheld the truth to his wife (if only by omission though no less of a lie) for two years! Not one lie, not two lies but two years’ worth of lies.

So how do you go about functioning in a dysfunctional world where people don’t tell the truth, even to their lover? How do we get ‘real’ when there are no role models, guideposts and societal encouragement? It’s a personal risk into rarely explored territory and we go into it alone. It takes bravery and practice. Sometimes we’ll stumble and wonder if it is even worth it, especially when it means heartbreakingly editing a name from your address book.
I spent some time with a friend in our local independent bookshop a couple of days ago having a heart to heart about people. She looked at me right in the eye as if she had a ‘light-bulb’ moment and said I was the most honest person she knew (and Paul) and then said, “I don’t know how you do it. I even lie to myself.”

Most of us are in denial about one thing or another but her words have haunted me ever since. “I even lie to myself.” I loved that she recognised it and was so honest about that!
People withhold the truth to protect either themselves or the other person ~ though nearly always it is their own backside they’re covering. For me, lying equals betrayal. If a person’s words are used to wear a mask then how can you be on equal footing with them? You can’t! I’m just not prepared to play such games of Hide and Seek and to partake in superficial relationships. There’s no point.

It doesn’t mean I don’t forgive or indeed care about such people but it does mean I no longer choose to invest my heart and soul into potentially destructive relationships. Anything less than openness IS destructive. Perhaps that makes us both losers if I choose to move away. But to do anything else would always feel like looking at these people through very dusty, grimy windows.

Yesterday I was sitting in my front garden soaking up the sun when an 88 year old man from our village stopped by for a chat. The conversation turned to his education and that he still had his school report cards! Apparently he was a brilliant student and I could come and see them for myself if I wanted. Clearly to hang on to bits of paper for 7 or 8 decades shows how important it was to him.

At school I was unanimously voted by my teachers as the one kid who wouldn’t succeed in life. Too busy staring out the windows; NOT doing homework; rebelling; questioning EVERYTHING; choosing esoteric subjects like reincarnation to do for my projects (why couldn’t I do something sensible like gravitation or medicine or tractors?)

Our society values how many square feet your lifetime-chain-around-your-neck-mortgage can buy you or the school your kids go to or the colour of your car (trust me, I know people for whom this is a serious concern!) or where you take your annual holiday.

How do I measure my success? I have a marriage that money couldn’t buy and very healthy children. Maybe my school teachers were prophetic. Maybe they knew I couldn’t play ball in the ‘real world’ and wear the masks that get us through adult life. Success, for me, is an inner feeling not a measuring stick to throw at my neighbour.

The swallows have arrived. I can hear Eliza out in the village, full of the joys of Spring, yelling out to me in excitement that the first Cow Parsley is in flower. Better go and see! Ciao, Veronika

Winners vs Losers
A winner is always part of the answer. A loser is always part of the problem.
A winner always has a plan. A loser always has an excuse.
A winner says: "Let me do it for you."A loser says: "That is not my job."
A winner sees an answer for any problem. A loser sees a problem for any answer.
A winner says: "It may be difficult but it's possible."A loser says: "It may be possible but it's too difficult."

Author Unknown