Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mams and Paps!

Brew of the day: Aniseed Tea (good for detoxing)

Disclaimer: Today’s blog does not constitute medical advice and all readers are responsible for their own health and lifestyle choices. The contents are merely to show there is always another way and that we don’t have to always believe everything we’re told by medics, media and MPs…

The other day I received a letter in the post from my doctor telling me that according to their records I’ve not had a pap smear since 2002. Don’t know what sort of records they keep, but I know with absolute certainty that the last smear I had was in 1990 and it wasn’t in this country. That pap smear was the last one I’ll ever have. They told me to come in as soon as possible to have another one done. Sigh. Guess I’m going to have to phone them like I did when the girls were young and the ‘come and have the girls vaccinated’ letters kept rolling in…and let them know in no uncertain terms that I take full responsibility for mine and my family’s health, and to suggest they save paper by not sending me reminder letters!

The health and lifestyle choices I make are done consciously and not out of denial or fear. They are made out of an understanding that the human body seeks perfect health.

A week or two back, the lovely Kylie Minogue gave an interview sharing her breast cancer story. Not having tv, I didn’t see it, but can imagine the advice given. I have no problem with the choices other people make in relation to their health diagnosis, my point today though is that prevention is not only better than cure, but so very much easier.

The media, bless ’em, do their best to instil fear in the public at every waking turn. Kylie’s story will have amplified the fear that most women these days have of getting breast cancer and no doubt the little pink ribbon charity was jumping up and down with glee that someone so well known was speaking up for breast checks…bet their bank balance increased enormously that week too!

I don’t give money to cancer charities. I’m very fussy about the charities I do give money to (more about that in another blog). One reason is I’ve worked for charities and seen how the money is spent! Agggghhhh! As for cancer charities, I simply don’t give money to places which focus on the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff! (or which test on animals)

If, collectively, we really wish to bring an end to breast (or ovarian/uterine/cervical) cancer then, as women, we need to take responsibility for our health and not expect the National Health Service to cough up a drug to plaster over our life of excess.

Cancer simply can not grow in a healthy body. Read that, read it again and keep reading it till you truly understand what that means. It is the single most empowering thing you can do for yourself in relation to this disease which is now EXPECTED (gotta brainwash the masses) to get 1 out of every 2 people.

Health isn’t something anyone else can give you, it is something you choose for yourself. I once read in Juno, a natural parenting magazine, that the word holistic was too serious. My take on holistic is that it covers every aspect of our life (whole/wholistic) ~ taking in our mind, body, soul or, if you life, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.

From a holistic perspective, when we aim to create a healthy life/body we don’t just look at the physical body. In fact, the physical body is often the last place a disease (DIS – ease) shows up. It first manifests in our mind or feeling ‘body’.

Breast cancer is a symptom. We can never truly treat a symptom, we must treat the cause. If you have your breasts cut off; radiated or insides removed via hysterectomy for hormonal reasons, you are not actually doing your body any favours. If your body is ‘speaking’ to you because it is unhappy, you can bet that other symptoms will show up.

I don’t ever expect to get breast cancer or indeed any other cancer. First and foremost, I simply don’t *expect* to! I don’t look for it. I look for health and well-being. I know many women say their mother died from cancer, or other women in their family, and use this information to stamp their fate upon every cell of their being. Genetics is NOT what people (including the medical and scientific profession) seem to think it is. I strongly urge you to read Dr Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief. Brilliant stuff!

Culturally we’re trained to examine our boobs each month looking for lumps! What sort of mentality is that? Quite frankly it is no different than birth care professionals looking for problems in our pregnancy and labour, instead of focusing and trusting that our body knows what to do! Why use the power of your mind to ‘create’ lumps in your breasts which might contain cancer cells? Our minds are the most powerful thing on this planet! We need to use them positively.

I don’t do breast checks and I’ve never had a mammogram ~ nor do I ever intend to. I can also say with complete certainty that I would never treat any cancer in my own body using allopathic medicines.

You see, when we look for something, either emotionally with fear or through our thinking, we ‘attract’ it to us. The more energy we give to something, the more chance we have of manifesting it. Why would any sane person keep feeding their very powerful subconscious mind with the conscious thought, “I’m looking for breast lumps”? I’ll tell you why they’d do it. Because they are conditioned by society. They haven’t stopped to think for themselves. This is the main purpose of schools. NOT to save mums from having kids 24/7, but so our government can have everyone in sheep mode.

One of the most damaging things a woman can do to her breasts (wait for this, it flies in the face of everything you’ve been told since you first sprouted nips on your chest!) is to wear a bra. Remember how often you were told to wear a bra (oh, and start with a training bra) so your boobs would stay out perky and perfect? Bras are deadly. Mammals don’t wear bras. If we were meant to, Our Maker would have no doubt stuck a lifetime’s supply in our placenta.

The worst bras of all are under-wire bras and should be worn as little as possible. Sports bras, while having their purpose, do not allow the breasts to breathe. Breasts, like testicles, need to keep their own temperature and not be overheated. Did you know professional cyclists, for example, have a very high rate of testicular cancer?

As a teenager I used to cringe when my mum would sometimes come to school to pick me up or we’d go shopping together ~ she never, ever wore a bra…and her breasts, like mine, er, head south, somewhat. OK, completely! The men used to never quite be able to look in her eyes. Her nipples always managed to look as if they were frozen in deep winter despite living in tropical Queensland, Australia. However, now I’m at mid-life myself, I am so grateful that my mum spent all those years braless. So proud of her as she had no idea that she was taking out a fantastic health insurance against breast cancer.

Dressed to Kill is a book you might wish to read if these comments about bra wearing ring any bells for you. (You can google the book). Even if you feel the need to wear a bra in public, DON’T wear one at home and never, ever wear one when sleeping. I can hear some of you saying that you’re breastfeeding a newborn with milk leaking and need to wear breast pads at night.

No, you don’t! I did that in the early days of tandem nursing and it is infinitely easier to not wear a bra, but to put an old towel on top of your sheet. Got a fussy partner who thinks it is all a bit much? Tell him to sleep in another room. Your health is worth more than this fussiness.

Despite this country’s aversion and repulsion about breastfeeding, it is probably the single most important thing a woman can do to reduce her chances (statistically, not metaphysically) of getting breast cancer. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the less chance she has, apparently, of contracting the disease.

People wonder why breast cancer is becoming so common. Mammals are not designed to give their babies milk from the mammary glands of another species. Defy nature and nature catches up with you.

Just as a baby BIOLOGICALLY EXPECTS to breastfeed for any amount of time up to the losing of *milk* teeth, so too does a birthing woman’s body EXPECT to breastfeed. Our whole system is geared up for it. If you take that expectation away, the body is ill at ease. It doesn’t feel right. That expectation to breastfeed is in every cell of the body even if the woman ‘consciously’ chooses to bottle feed because she doesn’t think breastfeeding is natural. You read that right, some women don’t think breastfeeding is natural.

For women reading this who didn’t know better at the time, or women who’ve chosen not to have children, you might wonder how you can make up for lack of breastfeeding. My suggestion is that as the breasts *represent* a very nurturing aspect of our being, you find a way to completely express that part of yourself (no pun intended!) Some people choose to adopt a child or a pet; others give themselves fully through volunteer work. You may express nurturing by becoming a committed gardener ~ I can tell you, watching your first seeds emerging from soil is very ‘broody’ work! Gets me every time ~ “Oooh, my babies!”

It is estimated that 70% of all cancers are diet related. If we do use this figure for what it is worth, then it should be something for celebration as NO ONE is in charge of your dietary choices, but you. Are you going to dump crap into your mouth to feed your cells or consciously place food and liquids which will give you glowing health? The choice is yours. Always yours.

Cancer does not grow on cells which are fed raw food (this has been proven in a laboratory but the cancer charities wouldn’t tell you that). Use that as a guide to what you eat. The whole five a day thing is something people aim to get to like it is a pie in the sky maximum number of fruit and vegetables we should be eating.

Let me say this ~ five a day should be your bare minimum. If you’ve got the time and hunger to eat meat, bread, pasta and other assorted junk, then you’ve got room for five pieces of fruit and vegetables. And while I’m here let me just contradict the ridiculous info out that suggests you can get these portions from cooked, frozen, tinned or commercially juiced items. Five a day means RAW, FRESH produce. I am often stunned to see what producers consider to be ‘fresh fruit and vegetables’.

Vitamin B17
A lot of research has been done on this amazing vitamin in relation to the prevention and cure of cancer. Of course as soon as you find something natural that people can use to empower themselves with, along come the government to veto it!! B17 has remarkable properties and can be found in many foods, most notably apricot kernels. I know many people who take these bitter, almond-like kernels every day. One friend, whose mother died of breast cancer when my friend was 13 years old, eats a handful of kernels a day.

B17 can also be taken by injection if you already have cancer. I recommend Philip Day’s book, Cancer, why we’re still dying to know the truth.

Basic Lifestyle Choices

If you are doing 1-2 hours exercise, both aerobic (movement that gets your heart pumping) and stretching/strenthening each day; drinking 2 plus litres of water a day; plus minimising crap food and eating living fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, blue/green algae or sea vegetables, then you’re giving your body a fantastic springboard to excellent health. That’s just the physical side though, don’t forget mind and soul!

Ever noticed how many deodorants are on a supermarket shelf? You can disguise your sweat in so many different scents. Tempting to try ’em all really. Don’t!!!

Our armpits are a major detox site (as is any other place where hair grows)…What goes in must come out. Do not under any circumstance use an antiperspirant. Have a look what is next to your arm pits...Yes, breasts!!! Think before you spray or roll.

Do you really, really, really want to put a nicely smelling package of poisons onto your skin to be absorbed? There are alternatives on the market. Go to your health store and ask for a deo crystal. Some come plain and others have gentle essential oils added for those who like a scent.

If you’re cringing and truly can’t believe that you can go without masking your body odour, then let me say the answer lies in your diet. IF YOUR SWEAT SMELLS, YOUR DIET SUCKS!

If your sweat smells, then your urine is bound to as well. It should be almost clear and odourless. And more than likely, you’re one of the many in this country who takes three of more days to poo out the food you ate! It shouldn’t take more than 24 hours from the time you eat a meal, for the remains to come out of the other end! And when you do it should come out naturally through a peristaltic movement rather than being forced out by another truckload of food!

Treat the cause, not the symptom.

We have environmental toxins all around us. More so if we live in or near a city. However, we don’t have to become victims of this, instead we can choose to make even more proactive decisions on how to detoxify our body and our world.

Our emotional well-being is often neglected. How much time do you spend in non-productive flat-lining? Use the power of your thoughts to lift your emotions. We’re human, of course, and are prone to off days but it doesn’t mean we have to succumb to negativity or live our day to day lives feeling as if it is never going to get better.

I often overhear my neighbours having full on rows and wonder how deleterious it is to well-being to be engaged in that flight/fight response so often. If you’re in a partnership that isn’t always harmonious I suggest an invaluable book called The Enneagram of Personality Types by Riso and Hudson. Understanding the lens through which you and your partner (or kids!) see the world is deeply empowering. It also opens the way for greater compassion and understanding.

For example, although Paul and I have a very similar outlook on life and our core ethics are the same, personality-wise we’re very, very different. He’s cautious, considered, patient, thorough, a perfectionist. I’m, er, the opposite. “Rip, shit and bust” I think is how he describes me. Aggh. In more girl-like terms, I’m entrepreneurial, see the bigger picture rather than the details. I’m strong and impetuous.

When we first got together it rather pressed his buttons when I’d put a bag of something in the freezer without tying it up. Probably not much different than someone not putting the cap on the toothpaste or the one that always does my head in ~ men leaving the toilet seat up. Well, I have learnt to be more caring about how I put packets in the fridge or freezer. Paul, bless him, has never been a toilet seat up and left wet and sticky sort of boy.

My point is that as humans we can, despite our differences, big or small, learn to live harmoniously through understanding and not fritter away energy on bickering or fighting. What a waste of life to be constantly at war with the love of your life!

Finally, and just as important as anything else mentioned today, is the art of relaxation. We need to sleep fully and to also develop quiet time in our waking day.

Some people find it hard to just shut their eyes and drift off. My suggestions include eliminating caffeine completely (also found in chocolate, tea, soft drinks) and replace with herb teas. Particularly nice for night time are chamomile and valerian tea. Stop watching tv in the evenings or reading disturbing material such as newspapers. Replace your mental fodder with nourishing activities. Take a walk; a bath by candlelight; have a massage; do gentle yoga stretches; have quiet time being with your life partner rather than avoiding them….

Meditation is a word that seems to scare many people off ~ either they’ve not got time (but got time to watch Big Brother?); can’t sit still (all the more reason to do it!) or keep their mind still; or simply think it is too much hard work.

The truth is, once the habit is established, (and it is just a habit), a person learns to love this quiet time for being still and going inwards. It is here, in between the rest of life, that we can tap into our Infinite Being and truly rest and rejuvenate. It is here that we can heal and prevent illness.

Right girls, burn those bras and eat an apple!

I've just got back from pilates class ~ third one for this week. I’m determined to find my ab and pec muscles in this lifetime! I can feel them, just can’t see ’em…yet.

Have an enlightening week, with love ~ Veronika ~

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Communication Breakdown

Brew of the day: Coffee sounds pretty tempting this morning, but I’ll go for a strong peppermint tea instead as my body hasn’t had caffeine in ages and would probably keel over!

I’ve been publishing The Mother magazine for four and half years. I can count the negative letters I’ve had as a result of articles on one hand. And I could probably tell you to the day when they arrived, and recall them word for word. I take every letter, positive or negative, to heart. And even if the complaint is about something someone else has written, it is impossible for me not to take it to heart as I single handedly choose what goes into TM. I birth it into existence. A nasty letter is like someone slapping me across the face several times because I’ve given birth to a baby with a physical defect!

I suppose, as far as publishing such a controversial type magazine goes, four letters in four plus years isn’t bad going. The thing is, despite whatever image people have conjured up of me (all impressions are usually pretty far off the mark!!), I’m not a super mum; a super resilient human being or, as someone put it the other day, “The Almighty Veronika”. Such impressions are completely wrong and I always cringe. I’m a human being with feelings and have a deeply sensitive core. People mistake my passion for about 1000 other things! Sadly.

My ability to stand my ground; to not take bullshit; to fight my corner or follow my dreams are as a result of non-stop bullying and ongoing sexual abuse by umpteen different men in my childhood and sexual harassment in my early working life. I simply woke up one day, in early adulthood, and said “Fuck you!” (to anyone and everyone who had stolen innocence from my life) and I decided that no-one would ever steal from my mind, body or soul again. The most important thing I ever learnt was that in saying NO to others, I was saying YES to myself. I learnt the hard way that clear boundaries (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) are vital to healthy self-esteem and a positive life.

My passion, boldness and directness may seem like strengths to many, but true strength, it seems to me, would be to go through life more comfortably wearing my vulnerability to all rather than just the chosen few. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to do this.

I had an email this week from someone who was deeply upset by an article I published in Issue 18 on Honouring the Breech Choice. When this article came to me I nearly wept. It was everything I look for in assessing whether to publish an article. I ‘nurtured’ it into The Mother (my baby) trusting it would give guidance to the many women and care givers who experience a breech presenting baby. In a nutshell the author critiqued a breech trial (which is almost always used to beat women over the head to have a caesarean) and then went on to give real life examples of breech births. She showed that regardless of whether you know you’re birthing a breech; whether it is twins; at home; at hospital, every breech birth is different and that NO ONE should use someone else’s breech birth to make a decision about their own. At no point did she use it as a controlled study showing what percentage of breech babies live or die.

The reader of this article counted up the “anecdotal” breeches and came to the conclusion that one in four breech babies died. The author never said or implied this in any way! That was not what the examples were about. However, despite several emails between us, I’ve been left throwing my hands up in the air wondering why on Earth I bother doing this magazine. You might wonder how it can affect me so much, especially given the huge number of emails I’ve had from women saying how helpful that particular article was to them.

Communication is the cornerstone of my life. I’m always at a loss when someone misconstrues the written or spoken word. I know, at many levels, it is inevitable that miscommunication happens, but sometimes the way it does truly leaves me speechless.

Let me be clear, when I get a letter from a mum angry because I’ve published an article on why not to have elective c-sections or how not having a natural birth can impact on your parenting, I truly do understand and empathise with her. I know when I place an article like that in the pages of TM that I’m completely putting my neck on the line and that it is me the reader will be furious at, rather than the author of the article.

It’s when I put an article like Honouring the Breech Choice in and get an email saying it didn’t support or inspire her in any way that I’m left stunned. I have read and re-read that article in the past 24 hours, NOT as an editor, but through the eyes of a woman due to have a breech baby and am still left shaking my head. It really does seem to be a case of ‘if you look for fish scales on a cat, you’ll find them!’

A dear friend of mine (wish he was still alive!) used to always tell me that a person convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still. He’s right, of course. People see things as they wish to see them. And therein lies my lesson for the week.

The anger from her emails (and the vitriol from her when she wrote that she was sending the article and my emails out to everyone in her Steiner community) [er, the purpose of which is?] had me feeling gobsmacked. How can someone with a one week old baby be spending so much time on a computer disseminating anger? Surely she must really want to be tucked up in bed breastfeeding her little one? Post natal bliss just wasn’t emanating in any way from her emails. Her anger was completely out of proportion to the situation. And let’s also bear in mind she birthed a breech baby at home naturally with an independent midwife. If that had been me I’d be over the moon with joy!

Must confess here, I’m the Queen of sending letters to newspapers, magazines or radio stations if I think their info is off beam. So I’m the last person to deny anyone expressing themselves this way, but surely it pays to be sure of your facts? One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t waste an irreplaceable Baby Moon on trashing someone’s publication. Then again, we’re all different aren’t we?

I spent yesterday meditating on a phrase we have in our kitchen to help ease me out of the black space I’d fallen into.

“The scientific thinker does not give power to things, conditions, people or circumstances. He is full of poise, balance and equanimity because he knows his thoughts and feelings mould, fashion and shape his destiny. He is not afraid of any thing or person, for the only enemy he can ever have is his own negative or fearful thought.”

For those of you who know anything about astrological transits, Neptune is squaring my moon… Fortunately, I’m familiar with the energy of those two planets as they’re conjunct in my 12th house...but boy, oh boy, can it throw a girl for a six!

The Moon is so deep at the best of times (but especially so when it is natally in Scorpio like mine) and Neptune (unconditional, universal love ~ the higher octave of Venus ~ planet of love) can be so intangible, so bloomin’ hard to grasp!

Still, I got through a couple of years of Pluto square Pluto ~ surely that must make Neptune transits seem like a picnic!?

Before I met Paul I’d planned on training to become a Minister of Metaphysics…I’m still deeply passionate about it and latterly have thought about doing a Doctorate in Divinity. I’m sure I’ll still do the study but what puts me off being a Minister is that people put you up on a pedestal and think you’ve got it all worked out! It’s the one downside of doing The Mother magazine and I can’t help but wonder if I’d be recreating a similar situation. How would I teach the invaluable messages of metaphysics, either orally or by written word, without people assuming I know it all?

Slummy Mummies kick back!

On the positive side, this week I had a very dear friend and her four home educated kids stay with us for a few days. Although the friends I have are all so very different and loved for who they are, there was something rather nurturing about spending so much time with someone who shares the same values about food, parenting and lifestyle choices. It nurtured me no end and our shared visions for the future have spurred me on even more to follow the dreams I have for me and my family. Thanks Nikki!


Thanks for all the emails regarding the birth of Elizabeth’s twins (last week’s blog). The boys are doing really well and she’s managed to breastfeed them both at the same time! The hospital itself needs a kick up the arse as they booted her out of a room near to the Special Care Baby Unit and wanted her to go home as she didn’t NEED a room (with twins in special care???????????????) so when she suggested that wouldn’t happen and she’d camp in the hospital grounds they miraculously found her a room in another ward. That’s my girl! Give ‘em hell!

Prime Ministerial Status

If I were prime minister every NICU or SCBU would have a double bed for each baby so its parents could be there 24/7. What they hell do we pay taxes for anyway?

If I were PM the bulk of agricultural land would automatically be turned over for crop production.

If I were PM I’d place hefty fines for anyone using rubbish bags rather than recycling.

If I were PM I would remove the need for planning permission for anyone building a low impact dwelling on their land.

If I were PM I would ban smoking in any public area (opened my dining room window this morning to smell of my neighbour puffing away! Aagggh ~ sent a message to the universe to find me a lovely, new, affordable home NOW).

You can see why I didn’t go into politics...

Have the best week ever, won't you? ~ Veronika ~

Friday, July 14, 2006

Doula by default...

Brew of the day: Double strength Red Raspberry Leaf tea!

The highlight of this week stands head and shoulders above anything else that has happened.

I met my friend Elizabeth a few years ago. And, like many of the special women in my life, we met through The Mother magazine. Elizabeth had travelled from her home in Yorkshire to Cheltenham in order to go to the Natural Parenting Exhibition where I was exhibiting a ‘newborn’ magazine. From memory, The Mother had only been going about a year at that point. Elizabeth had a son, Felix, born by emergency c section.

She wanted a different birth experience for her next child. In reading the birth stories in TM, something awakened in her and she truly believed she could have a VBAC but wasn’t sure how. With lots of chats between us and Lynda, our US publisher who is also a midwife and lactation consultant, changes in confidence really started happening with Elizabeth. Our words counteracted whatever she heard from the medical know-it-alls.

When she went into labour with her second child, I lit a candle. A pink one. I knew it would be a girl. Andorra arrived naturally and to this day, one of my favourite photos in TM is of Elizabeth’s face with a ‘just born’ Andorra in her arms. (Issue ten) It’s a photo that shows a woman who has done something nothing short of miraculous and yet, a woman who is also aware of it being an every day act. Such a jubilant, “I DID IT”, photo.

Earlier this year Elizabeth became pregnant with their third child. Empowered by the natural birth of Andorra in hospital, she felt ready to have a VBAC at home this time ~ ideally unassisted.

I had been honoured to act as celebrant for Andorra’s naming ceremony a couple of years ago and in a few weeks was going to facilitate a Blessingway Ceremony for Elizabeth just before her third baby was due.

On Tuesday evening she phoned to say she thought she was in labour. “Er, a bit early aren’t you?” I asked, thinking ahead 4 or so weeks to the Blessingway date.

“I’ve lost my mucus plug,” Elizabeth said.

“Right, well this is it then. Better get someone around to help with the kids.” I felt uncomfortable her looking after two rowdy toddlers and trying to give birth to a breech baby at home who was apparently a few weeks early. I was curious to know why she'd gone into labour early. Was she stressed? "Are you sure you're not having twins?"

"No," came the reply. "A (friend) midwife had checked and there was only one baby; one heartbeat. I think I'm stressed because Felix is at that age when testosterone kicks in ~ about four. I'm finding it really hard."

We had a few phone calls the next day and by late afternoon labour was in full swing.

By early evening we just stayed on the phone to each other constantly. I expect I was on speaker phone as I was able to talk with her and her husband Craig. Elizabeth had phoned just after I had dinner to say she’d lost faith and didn’t think she could do it.
I figured this probably meant she was a bit tired, overwhelmed and hadn’t ‘really’ gotten into full labour yet and was daunted by the thought. It is work after all! No doubt she had memories of her five day labour with Andorra!

She hadn’t been timing her contractions so couldn’t educate me as to how regular they were. I quietly timed them at two minutes apart, 20 seconds each for an hour. She was concerned that although the baby was breech it appeared to be transverse.

Well, I’m NO midwife, but babies don’t come out sideways so we needed to help him find a way out of there. Her body was certainly working hard enough to help. There was nothing insipid or irregular about her contractions. We used a couple of techniques from The Pink Kit ~ an invaluable resource for helping women give their birthing babes more space regardless of what position they’re in.

She lay on her side, opposite to where the baby was and gently rolled her hip back and forward (hip where babe was). Elizabeth felt there was some change. She also lifted the leg on baby’s side up high onto a table (in between contractions!)

A lot of time was also spent on all fours.

Her pace quickly changed from here on in to contractions one minute apart and 40 – 50 seconds long.

“I can’t do this anymore!” Elizabeth said. “I’m dreaming of air and gas!”

I offered her the best encouragement I could, knowing that, even though it was about 10.30pm babe was likely to be born by midnight. “Women always say that when they’re near transition. YOU CAN DO THIS!! Your body was made for this,” I affirmed.

However, all along I also said that she could make different choices at any point. One thing she was very clear on was that if she went to hospital they’d immediately give her a c-section and she didn’t want that!

We chatted about a video I’d lent her showing women giving birth unassisted. It includes an interview of the very beautiful, late Jeannine Parvati Baker. I imagined Jeannine, a mother of six including a breech and twins, with us in Spirit...guiding us. The ultimate ‘freebirth’ midwife…

Jeannine said the only problem with a breech is when the attendants know about it!

Elizabeth and I had chatted about breech a few days ago and she was so thrilled that the last issue of The Mother had articles in there about it and how it had helped her a lot. As far as we were concerned, it was perfectly natural for this baby. I had no concerns about babe being breech though did have some concerns about the baby being premature as I couldn’t really get an exact date from Elizabeth….so guessed it to be about 35/36 weeks.

Contractions were now pretty well back to back. She had two birthing pools in the house but felt she couldn’t keep either of them warm enough to birth in. I suggested she might like a warm shower. My mum said she found it very soothing when birthing her last three babies at home unassisted back in the 1970s.

I really learnt something from being a doula by default…by sitting on the phone LISTENING…All I had to ‘monitor’ this woman was my hearing. Elizabeth endured no invasive vaginal tests, no constant heart monitoring, no unnecessary anything. She was able to fully be and experience the power move through her body. Imagine if all midwives were trained in this way? Really! Imagine it…learning to intuitively feel a birth rather than trying to control it. Sure there were moments when I wished I could have given her a hug or looked into her eyes to offer more encouragement or to hold up a cup of raspberry leaf tea, or wipe her brow. But now, looking back, it was all perfect.

At 10.46pm we ended the phone call so she could have a shower. Having re-educated my sleep patterns to head to bed by 10.30pm at the latest these days, I was feeling knackered so went to bed with the phone right next to my ear.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrng Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrng

“YES” I said at 12.30am, instantly awake.

Craig and Elizabeth were on the phone to tell me they’d gone to hospital when she had a show (slight bleed) and as soon as they got there Elizabeth gave birth to a BREECH in a chair in the lift! Wahoooooooooooo. I knew she could do it!

Both of them were in shock. Their words couldn’t come out fast enough.

Their little breech born son was then followed by another little (head first) boy!

Two sons, born either side of midnight. One on July 12th and one on July 13th.

VBAC twins with a breech. Way to go!!!!!!!!!! I can’t begin to express how proud I am of her.

Needless to say neither I, nor Lynda in the States, who got a very late night email from me, could sleep a wink! It turns out baby Milo and baby Oscar were actually 33 weeks and not about 36/7 so are having lots of ‘kangaroo’ care and Elizabeth is expressing colostrum for them. Welcome to the world little boys. Enjoy your journey.

What I find marvellous is that the babies needed to be born in hospital because of their age/prematurity, yet they had as perfect a birth as possible given the circumstances. Elizabeth’s case was a classic Emergency C Section story…breech, twins, premature and let’s not forget, Elizabeth is 40 and in medical terms she may as well be 80!

Elizabeth recently joined The Mother as a regular columnist writing on the Ethical Family. Should I give her maternity leave for a decade or so now she’s got four kids, the oldest only being four years of age? I’ve decide maybe she could have some time off in lieu of an article on breastfeeding premature twins.


I think Summer has come back again! It’s a divinely beautiful morning here in Cumbria. We’re off picking wild cherries this morning ~ the past couple of weeks the girls have been furiously foraging for whatever fruits they can find in the hedgerows; gooseberries and raspberries. Later the four of us will head to a nearby village green to play rounders.

Enjoy your weekend and I hope it is deliciously vibrant for you, whatever the season, wherever you live.
~ Veronika ~

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Welcome to Saturday Morning Cuppa.

Brew of the Day:
Dandelion Tea (The girls and I have been foraging this week. They’ve collected raspberries and gooseberries and I’ve collected dandelion leaves for my veg juices ~ YUK. Much more bearable as tea)

What I’m reading: Here’s a brief description of the books I’m currently reading (not necessarily holistic!)

1421 …The year the Chinese discovered the world by Gavin Menzies
Lent to me by a really lovely chap in our village. Caught him deep inside the book a few weeks back when I was out walking. Asked him what he was so engrossed in and he waxed lyrical. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and am now thinking of asking my history teachers to annul all those fail marks!

Captain Cook didn’t bloody well discover Australia!! It was the Chinese a few hundred years before.

So it’s tough out there, is it? A parable by TM columnist Barry Durdant-Hollamby. Fabulous! I don’t tend to read fiction these days but as I loved his non-fiction book, The Male Agenda, I thought I’d give this one a go. Well worth reading this parable about life in the business world and how we can make business (and our personal lives) ‘holistic’ by being more conscious of our actions and reactions. It’s made me want to sweep through the offices of Britain waving a magic wand and bringing ‘wholeness and joy’ back to people.

The power of the subconscious mind by Joseph Murphy
What would we do without our good ol’ subconscious? This is great for reading just before going to sleep ~ helps to remind one how powerful each of us are in creating the life of our dreams (or nightmares!). Paul is actively teaching our girls about the importance of delivering appropriate messages to the subconscious.

Your right to be beautiful: How to halt the train of aging and meet the most beautiful you by Tonya Zavasta
I’d read Tonya’s columns in Get Fresh, the magazine of the Fresh Network (raw & living foods network), so moseyed on over to her website and was so inspired by her that I HAD to get this book. And I wasn’t let down. It shows how everyone can create their most beautiful self by feeding their body living foods.

The Juice Master ~ Turbo Charge your life in 14 days by Jason Vale
I bought this book just after I’d finished my juice fast, hoping for further inspiration. My initial response was actually of huge disappointment until I realised it was simply a matter of different starting points. For the ‘average’ person on the street eating a standard diet, his work constitutes a HUGE shift and from this point of view is invaluable (assuming a person puts it into action!). I have, however, managed to get through the ‘excuse’ trap in regards to aerobic type exercise as a result of this book, for which I’m ever so thankful.


Last week a beauty therapist was talking on BBC Radio Cumbria about preventing ‘aging’ and how important it is to wear SPF cream by day and a night cream before going to bed. She compared our skin to an autumn leaf ~ dry and crinkly and that we needed to nourish it with moisture!

YES, but not with night cream or SPF! God helps us. We don’t nourish our skin by external preparations but by what we put into it internally. Have you ever been able to bring an autumn leaf back to green by adding moisture from the outside?

I won’t get on my soapbox again about sun skin creams (did that rant a few blogs ago) and as for night creams, the skin needs to breathe, so the kindest thing we can do is wash our face with water before bed and leave it bare.

The scary thing is that 99% of the listeners to that radio show will have nodded their head in agreement with that woman. Why? Because humans are sheep, doncha know? How I wish I could be an ‘alternative’ health reporter for that station to counteract some of the crap I hear there. It really does press my buttons to the point I end up turning it off to save my sanity. Reckon they’re sick of my e-mails, too, so there is no point in always registering my thoughts with them!

I’ve often thought about what I’ll be like in my seventies or eighties and NOT ONCE have I ever seen my self blobbed on a sofa, arthritic, fat, wrinkly or a burden on the National Health Service with one thousand and one ailments. Nope, not me! I’ll still be eating my quota of fresh, unprocessed fruit, vegetables and fresh herbs; drinking loads of spring water, exercising and endeavouring to live a happy and conscious life – and still hassling the local radio station.

I see myself enjoying the autumn and winter of my life as a fit, energetic, lively, radiant and talented women, oozing with health and having a zest for each day that I live to see another sunrise. I see myself cycling, jogging, swimming and maybe even white water rafting, as I did in my pre-kid days.

It occurred to me this week that in order to fulfil that vision, I’d better get off my ass and create it! And that maybe my rebounder (mini trampoline) and brisk walking aren’t quite enough, so I’ve incorporated jogging into my walk…and I’m NOT a sporty sort of girl. My legs have wobbled like jelly and with each passing day I’ve felt myself get stronger and more able. My heart no longer threatens to land me on the side of the road with a coronary arrest. In fact, sometimes I’m unaware of my heart even racing. What started as 20 metre jogging ‘spurts’ alternating with 20 metres brisk walking earlier in the week, has increased to jogging becoming the main part of my exercise. If nothing else it has taught me, once again, how important it is to stretch one’s self, to break through excuses and to JUST DO IT. I’ve always ‘told myself’ that I’m simply not a jogger…not designed right, you know…big boobs and all. Well, I’ve not blinded myself yet!

It’s about choices though, isn’t it? Had an e-newsletter this week which asked what choice I could make in the next ten minutes that would affect the rest of my life. ‘Get off the computer!’ was my first thought. I’ve already incorporated a weekly one day juice fast and now drink a freshly made vegetable juice, or two, each day of the week. I realised the single most important thing I could do was to exercise more. To get beyond a brisk walk. It’s easy when we’re carrying extra weight to make excuses, to think we’ll do these things when we’re thinner and more in shape. That’s a kind of backward logic.

It is the little choices we make, day in, day out, which paint the bigger picture. Out walking the other morning I came across an elderly gentleman…fit, tanned and very chatty! Eventually we got onto The Mother and natural parenting. He said ‘wow, I bet you’ve got great kids. I’d love to meet them. Then with a twinkle in his eyes he said “I’ll bet they’re real little blighters!” Well, I nearly wet myself laughing at this point. My eyes wide and disbelieving, hands on hips, laughing out loud, “How did you knoooooooooooooooow?” I enjoyed walking with this man as he embodied the brightness of the elderly that really shows how different things can be if we make the effort. He was charming, bright, fit and articulate. Who wouldn’t want that rather than sitting in a nursing home being spoon fed?

Someone asked me the other day ‘How can you have a toxic body? Wouldn’t you be dead?’ Yeah, well, most people are! The walking dead, haven’t you heard of them? They’re people with no passion or zest for life, whose life revolves around other people living their lives (on tv).

Our body accumulates toxins every day from just about everywhere around us ~ the furniture, fabrics and paints from within our home; food and drinks (if grown non-organically); tap water; clothing; environmental pollution from cars, farmers’ sprays, factories, etc..

I saw a photo of a heavily made-up, famous tv presenter who is about 60. No amount of make-up can make a woman beautiful or disguise flabby, puffy or wrinkled skin. Make-up isn’t designed to hide flaws or lack of health. Rather, its purpose is to enhance our features.

The skin tells our story. It tells the world what we eat, what we drink and, most importantly, what we think! Our thoughts are etched not only into every cell of our being they also manifest on our face. Our skin accurately shows the world (and ourselves, if we care to look) what is going on internally. It shows which organs are healthy, or not. Our skin is an excretory organ. It is, by design, meant to get rid of toxins from our body. Jowls and saggy skin aren’t just ‘bad luck’. It is our skin screaming out with pain! It’s such basic maths. Put in toxins and they have to come out somehow. One of the main ways is through the skin. We see this all around us with eczema, psoriasis, so-called allergies, rashes, pimples, blackheads. Simple things like replacing fried foods with Essential Fatty Acids (such as flax or hemp seed oil) on our salads make the world of difference to the skin. People who’ve experienced life-long suffering of any of the above conditions can reverse them through detoxing completely. Even things like hay fever, which we consider to be related to external stimuli, can actually be healed by cleaning out our body! I suspect many people would rather wear it as a badge of suffering than doing anything constructive to eliminate it from their lives.

In observing others this week ~ the beautiful, the average and what some might call the ugly, I’ve realised that this is yet another area where I walk the road less travelled. I just don’t buy into the idea of expensive moisturisers (with dozens of toxic chemicals) that promise to give you a youthful look, nor into SPF sun skin cream and I certainly don’t believe that beauty can be put onto you from the outside. Doesn’t happen! Clearly, though, the average woman on the street wants to believe there is hope in a jar that doesn’t actually have to involve making lifestyle changes. That’d be too hard wouldn’t it?

Beauty can’t be bought (begged, borrowed or stolen). To defy aging (or more accurately, to age gracefully) we must treat our body with the respect it deserves.
Ways to do this include eating fresh, raw (unprocessed) fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants; drinking at least 2 litres of pure water each day; NOT putting poisons, such as suntan cream on your skin; getting plenty of sleep (get to bed before 11pm so the liver can do its work); avoid stimulants such as coffee, recreational drugs. Don’t smoke! ~ the one thing that really trashes a person’s skin is cigarette smoke. When I go to town I can pick out a smoker every time without even seeing a fag in her hand. It’s written on their face and can’t be hidden with make up or beautiful clothes.

Keep pleasant company. I can’t emphasise enough how the company we keep can impact on how we feel about ourselves, the internal messages we feed the subconscious, etc.

Use a simple, natural and edible oil if you do need moisture on your skin. If I ever feel the need to add something to my skin, I use raw, organic (edible) coconut oil (it’s very tasty!) and doesn’t stay greasy on the skin either. My recommendation is to not put anything on your (highly absorbent) skin that you wouldn’t comfortably put in your mouth. Make it a rule, and watch your skin change.

Joseph Murphy has many interesting things to say about aging in his book, ‘The power of the subconscious mind’. Beginning with the fact that our mind and spirit don’t grow old it goes to say that we are as young as we think we are. He says that our ‘character, quality of mind, faith and convictions are not subject to decay’. Furthermore, he encourages us to affirm life, not death. To get a vision of ourselves as happy, radiant, successful, serene and powerful. ‘You grow old when you cease to dream’.

Research physicians say that a neurotic fear of the effects of time may well be the cause of premature aging. In other words, the fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Interestingly there was a note at my chiropractors’ this week which said, “If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be?”

I’m learning more and more that the most important aspect of doing my life’s work is taking care of myself first. It’s only taken me until now to figure this out! There is no excuse not to feed and nurture my mind, body and soul on an hourly basis. Excuses are now out with the compost!

Have a lusciously beautiful week. ~ Veronika ~

Saturday, July 01, 2006

gifts and giving...

Brew of the Day: Aniseed & Fennel

Smile ~ it improves your face value!

Today I worked with what I had

And longed for nothing more,
And what had seemed like only weeds,
Were flowers at my door.

Today I loved a little more
And complained a little less,
And in the giving of myself,
I forgot my weariness.

Author unknown

Gifts & Giving

Each of us receives gifts and for the most part we’re probably unaware of the fact that they are gifts as they can come in all sorts of ways.

Our beloved cat is my most ardent gift giver. Usually near midnight she’ll bring an offering to the foot of our bed…mouse, bird, rabbit…she doesn’t mind. And if we haven’t noticed her playing ‘soccer’ with it, she’ll start yowling at several decibels till we crawl out of bed.

Boy does she purr when I acknowledge her gifts. Paul doesn’t see it quite in the same way...mutters somewhat when he has to remove them. I praise her for thinking about me and wanting to bring offerings. Paul finds a container to remove the ‘offending’ gift (and hoping that wherever he throws it to in the garden, she won’t find it and bring it back). Thankfully we’ve wooden floors in the bedroom so rabbit blood doesn’t get to stain any plush carpet. Peasants!

A few blogs back I mentioned my girls loving cross stitch and sewing. Imagine their delight when a parcel came from a reader of this blog full of cross stitches, cushion panels, cottons, etc. I truly wished I had photographed or videoed their reaction. It was ever so beautiful!

Not long after, someone I’ve not been in touch with for a couple of years had heard via a mutual friend that 2005 was my ‘annus horribilus’. Bless her, she sent me a lovely note with a sandalwood candle to light up my life. Such simple, yet deeply meaningful and precious actions can truly change someone’s day (week, month, year!).

Years ago, in my single days, I was walking along a promenade in Cornwall with some friends when a bunch of men walked past us. One of the men caught my eye (or maybe I caught his?)…. Well, it’s funny, but as a kid my mum had various sayings and poems up on our kitchen wall which I’d read every day while eating. One of them was called Smile.

A smile costs nothing, but gives much.

I still remember his smile. Maybe it was past life stuff or something, but in those few split seconds there was a connection made that went beyond words. I know, without doubt, that I will always remember the gift of his smile. I’ve probably had hundreds of men smile at me over the past twenty or so years, but his was special.

Last Saturday night a friend looked after Bethany and Eliza for a few hours so Paul and I could have a rare night out. I don’t tend to ask friends to child mind if I can help it. The gift of having someone care for your children and knowing they’re absolutely safe is something I don’t take for granted.

A subscriber from New Zealand who came and did some woofing (willing workers on organic farms) a couple of years ago on the organic orchard we had at the time, went to visit my mum in Tasmania a couple of days ago. Apparently they had a great time together. Even though the visit was between them, it felt like a gift from her to me since I’m too far away to visit my mum myself.

My gratitude journal is such a source of inspiration to me. It reflects the journey of my life and paints a picture of the people who’ve touched my life whether it is with a gift like a Wailin Jennys CD (fab Canadian trio!) or good luck charms. I had five charms on my necklace at one point! They got rather heavy so I now wear them one at a time. I write down when someone has smiled or phoned just to say hello.

The articles that come into The Mother magazine…always, always, always, feel like such a gift…our writers aren’t paid, so somehow it feels even more precious when someone has dedicated their time and energy to TM. And today, July 1st, is due date day for our Autumn issue….what a bundle of goodies await in my inbox….savour, savour, savour!! It feeds me immensely. Had a peep at some of them earlier this morning and one of them made me laugh and another made me cry. It wasn’t that it’s sad but so insightful. That someone can put into words exactly how you’re feeling about a topic when you didn’t even know you felt that way is incredible. I do indeed feel blessed to have these heartfelt pieces coming in each quarter.

Every day, often two or three times, my husband tells me he loves me. My mum used to do that too when I was growing up. These aren’t just words that slide off the top of the tongue, but heartfelt and written in another’s eyes.

I’ve got so many friends who never hear those words from their life partner. A friend told me the other day that her mum has only said it to her about five times in her whole life. Expressing our love and affection for friends, family and lovers is the greatest gift we can give, surely? My own kids hear it from me several times a day ~ though they’re quite crafty at the mo and often say, ‘if you love me, why did you get cross when…’

My mum often puts things in the post….dvds, cards…clippings from magazines or newspapers, little beautiful things to brighten my day. Of course when I try and send her goodies like incense or tea, Australia Post nicks it and sends her a stern letter saying what can and can’t go into Australia! Beasts. Apparently some tea I sent her had ‘orange peel’ in it ~ a real no-no.

At our local bookshop, the owner is forever undercharging me…it’s quite funny now coz the girls stand there and tell him he’s not given them the right change...that he’s given them too much. And can’t he count??!! (He has a degree in maths!) Of course they have to say all this in their loudest voices… Not quiet, my girls. What side of the family did that come from then?

I don’t own many clothes… I gave a lot to charity when I first went travelling...and then came kids…well, you simply don’t need fancy clothes when you spend your days in baby spit and t-shirts covered in breast milk leaks and then advance to mud pies. But lately I’ve bought a couple of pieces from a fairly new boutique in town. Not that I’ve got anywhere to wear them to!! I was admiring some fab linen trousers one of the assistants was wearing when the owner (always a vision of beauty and elegance) pulled out a pair and said I could have them for half price! Dead chuffed I was.
One of our subscribers knitted both my girls beautiful ponchos…and then knitted me one…so I begged her to knit one for my mum too. Three generations wearing something that must take days, if not weeks, to make.

Recently someone sent me a bag of lavender with dried tiny roses …I keep it right beside the computer so I can breathe in the gorgeous scent and be reminded daily of the love and thoughtfulness that does exist in this world.

The landlord gave us some tiles for the kitchen floor so we were ‘kicked out of the house’ last week while the tiling was going on in there and the dining room. It meant the girls and I ended up outside under our dining table which the girls covered in a sheet and converted into a den…the joy I received from them as I snuggled up was such a treat. How often do we count the laughter from our children as a gift? My life would be blank without it.

Last night when I tucked them into bed, I was reminded of how much I loved that part of the day as a kid. My mum always made the effort to tuck us in; kiss us; tell us she loved us…sometimes she’d play her mouth organ or mandolin to lull us asleep. My mum gave us time. Genuine, authentic, unrushed time. I still feel that gift now and pass it on to my girls the best I can. (Useless compared to my mum, but then she had 8 kids to practise on!) If we’ve managed to not completely trash the planet, in a decade or two my girls will be passing on that gift of love and time. We should never underestimate those magical moments we share with our children. They become part of their being and help to forge how they see the world.

The girls were sent a book a few weeks ago by a subscriber I’ve never met. Eliza is currently reading it each night before bed. When gifts like this arrive in the post I’m always a little gobsmacked by the kindness that has precipitated it ~ but I’m learning, as with everything else, not to ask “why” but to say ‘thank you’.

Another friend in Ireland recently sent some beautiful writing sets. Another subscriber in Cornwall always sends the girls packages full of goodies fit for princesses ~ always loved and ecstatically received….and always full of sparkly things like angels and stars that line the floor for days.

Truly not a week goes by without gifts coming my way.

In yesterday’s post I had two donations come in to The Mother. Paul made a comment from the kitchen along the lines of ‘no one ever sends me anything’.

“You better change that thought!” I suggested. “If you believe it, that’s what you’ll create”. I do believe though, that keeping a gratitude journal has somehow increased this sort of abundance in my life. It means I make a very conscious note of what has come my way. I honestly give thanks for each item. By doing so it becomes an invitation to more goodness.

Some of the greatest gifts are those which have come from nature…the sunsets at this time of the year fill my kitchen and dining room and for the first time in the year I actually don’t mind washing the dishes! I look out onto the herb garden and watch the small birds coming to the bowl of water from a blue clay pot I once made. The catnip is abundant with beautiful, delicate lilac flowers. The fennel catches me with its scent as does the honeysuckle. I don’t wear perfume, other than the occasional dab of essential oil of jasmine, so when I walk past the honeysuckle bush I always think we’ve got a female visitor. I turn around smartly to see who’s there and realise I’ve been tricked again! It always catches me out. You’d think I’d learn that nature’s scents are far more exquisite than anything man could create. When we’re in town the girls and I always marvel at the flowers in people’s gardens and spend ages smelling the roses.

Our family chiropractic centre is a brilliant example of giving. Apart from the warm welcome every time we go, they always have a bowl of fruit, FAB magz to read, pure spring water and a selection of herb teas. There are body care products in the loo that clients are free to use and they say that if you’re ever passing by you’re welcome to pop in to use the loo. It’s the little things, isn’t it? I find it such a welcoming place to go and am absolutely touched that our family’s weekly wellness plan is with such a brilliant place. And that’s not even counting the fact Paul and I get our treatments at half price and the girls go free! Imagine that sort of care on the National Health Service?

My mother in law passed away in January and her estate has been dealt with by Paul’s sister-in-law, a solicitor. She’s done so with love and voluntarily. Couldn’t imagine there’d have been a penny left if it had been handled by a fee charging solicitor.

When Paul and I cleared his mum’s house of her belongings I was going through a particular dresser full of Christmas cards and post cards. His brothers had already been through the place to see if there was anything they wanted so we were literally down to sorting through the last items for recycling or rubbish. I stood there feeling really uncomfortable and said to Paul that it just didn’t feel right to ‘throw away’ all these cards which she’d kept for so long. I was about to grab the bundle and pop them in a bag when a ‘voice’ told me to go through them one more time. As I did so, I came to a white envelope which had ‘Paul and Veronika’ scrawled on it in very spidery writing...inside was a Christmas card she’d written (but had been too ill to give us) and £200 in cash. Even in death she was still giving. And to think I might have thrown it away and never known. I reckon she was ‘standing over me’ telling me to go through those things one more time to make sure we got the gift.

It would be easy to feel guilty with all the gifts that come into my life. I love receiving! I just can’t help but think I don’t give as much as I get. OK, I make 95% of the family’s meals, do the odd bit of housework when the mood strikes, but it is always Paul who’ll make us a cuppa or who’ll make sure there is plenty of wood cut for the fire so I don’t freeze to death in winter. He’s got an awareness and thoughtfulness that hasn’t quite become second nature to me. You’d think it might have transferred over by now, but no!! Sadly, not.

I am conscious, however, of wanting to be more giving. Everything I ever learnt about life, I learnt from my cat! Right, who’s for baby rabbit then?


A smile costs nothing but gives much.
It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give.
It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature's best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile.
Give them one of yours, as no one needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give. ~~Author unknown~~