Friday, December 28, 2007

Life begins at 40!

Life begins at 40, or so they say.
If it’s true, then I’d say it’s a rather exciting prospect.

Others say that by 40, life’s half over. Not surprisingly I slept till 10am today, not sure which half of the cup I was looking at!

This morning, I awoke with the sober realisation that I’m never going to morph from my Ugly Duckling school-girl image into a babe! It simply ain’t gonna happen. Darn. The wrinkles came a while ago, so there was no rude shock in the mirror.

What I lack in physical beauty, I make up for in other areas of my life where wealth abounds with nothing short of divine beauty. I have a soul mate who daily blesses my life with comfortable, affectionate and deeply loving companionship. He makes our relationship loving, fun, easy and truly beautiful.

Our daughters are happy and healthy. My work brings me great joy, pleasure, satisfaction and contentment. I truly love what I do.

I may have a pathetic looking bank balance, but I’m debt free. It’s so nice to not wear the heaviness of “I owe, I owe” 24/7. There isn’t a price you can put on such freedom.

So is it greedy or selfish to be asking the Universe for a few more things? Such as a bit of extended time in the sun? Nine years of British weather is taking its toll on my heart and soul ~ not to mention my once tanned skin! And how about a home of our own, or at least one that FEELS like ours ~ somewhere big enough that I’m not forever stepping on children’s toes or cat’s paws. A home with a large open plan kitchen ~ the hub of the home filled with friends; somewhere with views as lovely as what we already have; somewhere with spring water, and acreage for being self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. Is it really too much to ask? I know it would benefit so many more people than just me and my immediate family. And while you’re there, Universe, please chuck in some great friends local to where we live. It would make all the difference.

I awoke this morning to a ‘living’ card from Paul telling me what our relationship means to him, followed by breakfast in bed ~ a Blueberry smoothie made by Eliza. Bethany lit a thousand and one tea light candles (or so it seemed). She gave me beautiful mango soap and a lemongrass bathbomb! Smells amazing. Quite a while ago, a friend gave the girls some vouchers for a shop called Lush. A week or two back we spent the day in Edinburgh and the girls spent ages in the shop choosing their goodies. Bless them, they gave me their well-thought out pieces.

Not that I needed any more chocolate after this past week, but they made me a beautiful chocolate and ginger cake this morning. Eliza created me a mini-vision board with a hand-drawn picture of my family and us all standing in front of a tropical island. Bring it on!

As I imagine the next forty years, I hope to reach the end with my beloved Paul still by my side and our love even more richer, if that’s possible. Bless him, he’ll be 99 and I’ll be a spring chicken at 80!

I expect my daughters will make me a grandmother. I have absolutely no doubt I’ll be much better equipped for that role, than the one I currently do as a mother. Maybe the girls will have taught me to knit by then.

I’d like to think that in the next decade, I’ll have made sufficient changes in my life so that my mum, as the wise elder she is, can live with us. It would bring such joy to her and my family to not be separated by oceans and countries.

I hope to have The Mother magazine readily accepted into mainstream circles without editorial compromise of any description.

I trust that the time and space to write the rest of my books will manifest easily…and to have a ‘writing’ room from which to do it.

I imagine having the resources to help nurture all my daughters’ talents.

And for me, I’d love to learn the cello! I hold on to the belief that we’re never too old to learn a new skill! The sound of a cello goes right into the depths of my being.

In the end, though, a bit like the old ‘what would you do if you won lotto?’ question, there’s very little I want for myself, but a whole lot I want to give out to the world.

As a child, in High School, there was a plaque on the wall which used to annoy me, because I believed that the soul had many lives and we didn’t come here just once.

However, now that I’m old and wise (LOL) I can see it in the sense of “I” as in Veronika, rather than I as in the soul.

It’s a saying I’ve really grown to love:

I expect to pass through this world but once
Any good therefore that I can do
Or any kindness that I can show for any fellow creature
Let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it,
For I shall not pass this way again.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Friday, December 21, 2007

O Holy Night

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas

if you stop opening presents and listen."
Bobby - age 7

Today’s the winter solstice. As I write, I can see thick frost sparkling in the moonlight ~ truly a picture of mid-winter beauty.

I’ve been admiring my garden a lot lately, not because of luscious summer growth, or abundant vegetables, but because of the simplicity it wears at this time of year. Winter kills back everything but the spruce, holly, ivy, and my beloved eucalyptus (which I grew from seed ~ a treasured, fellow native). The stark nakedness reminds me of the purity in simple things. With very little light during the day time, I still find moments to reflect on how, despite the hibernating tendencies I have when it’s so darn cold, stunning life and nature are when we peel back the layers. It’s just so easy to miss this in the busyness of modern life. So easy to forget to breathe in LIFE.

The oak trees, silhouetted against apricot sunset skies, fill my senses to bursting point. It almost makes me weep to see the stunning views where we live. All around me, Mother Nature mentors me through the festive season. She shows me that beauty is felt, as much as seen.

I absolutely love Christmas. I despise the crass commercialism associated with it, and stay well clear of frantic shoppers and adverts! For me, it is a time to be with loved ones ~ celebrating and loving. I only need to hear Perry Como singing carols and I’m completely Christmased up! My inclination to hide away for the winter is symbolic of a deeper inward journey ~ a reclamation of my spiritual life ~ a time to put the rest of the world on hold as I explore my practices, beliefs and rituals, and consider how I can bring them back from the deep unconscious, and gift them out into the wider world.

As a child my mother created magical Christmas times…memories which will stay with me for life. I always strive to bring that magic forth for her granddaughters. It’s a legacy that would be such a beautiful tradition to pass down our family line. I know if I never gave my girls another Christmas present again it wouldn’t detract from the love, joy and passion they have for this season. They’ve felt the true meaning of Christmas and that is what they look forward to. To them, the highlights of Christmas are food and candelight.

I told them recently about a survey asking children what they got as presents last Christmas and how none of them could remember. My girls were able to recall all their gifts from the last few years. I wonder if it is because the items held meaning and also because we don’t do ‘overload’. Present opening isn't an expedition through dozens of gifts.

A few years ago I stopped doing Christmas cards. I’ll be honest ~ it was a really difficult decision. You see, I’m not an eco-scrooge (as one newspaper columnist described people like me), and I’m not trying to ruin Christmas by apparently being anti-social. I came to know so many gorgeous people through The Mother magazine (and our camps), that the list of people I felt genuine affection, love and care for, just grew and grew. For me, the solution was to stop doing cards at all, and to just do presents for those who share Christmas Eve under our roof. I can honestly say I have no regrets!

I truly love how special it feels to receive cards and packages in the post. I’ve learned to trust that it’s ok to receive cards and not ‘have’ to send ones back. I do, however, phone or email as many friends as possible over the festive season.

In childhood, our presents weren’t wrapped. My mum would bring them out after our evening meal and put each child’s presents (there were eight of us) in little piles beneath the Christmas tree. As we all sang our carols, in English and German, our eager little eyes would be surveying the floor wondering which selection of goodies was ours.

I still celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. It feels so magical in the evening by candlelight, and the fire crackling. I do wrap presents, but again, like everything else around Christmas, I keep it simple. Tonight, as I was wrapping, the girls said it reminded them of Little House on the Prairie (there’s a beautiful Shaker-style simplicity to their lives). You see, I use brown wrapping paper and some string (raffia or hemp) to tie it up, and add a holly leaf. It may not be glamorous, but it is genuinely pretty.

Bethany and Eliza have been preparing a Christmas concert for weeks ~ carols on the violin and piano, and I believe a play is in store too. The excitement they feel at their contribution is worth bottling! It could be titled Essence of Ecstasy and would heal depression the world over. Each year since they were toddlers, they've taken part in the local nativity at the chapel. We recently showed my stepdaughter Hannah (who was over from New Zealand for a couple of weeks) videos of the girls growing up as she'd not seen them for nine years. The highlights were watching them at each nativity. Truly brought tears to our eyes ~ and a lot of laughter!

My goal with any presents I give is that at the end of their life cycle they will be fully compostable. Mission accomplished! God love my local bookshop ~ Bluebell! If you’re ever in Penrith, do go there. And ask Derek for his wonderful hot chocolate! If you go in December you might just hear Bethany tinkering out Christmas tunes on the bookshop piano. And Indigo in the arcarde is great for knitting needles made of bamboo or birch. Shhhhh. There are two young ladies who love going to the weekly Knitting Cafe in town.

It helps enormously that the girls have so many genuine passions ~ food preparation, art, music, sewing and knitting, dancing, singing, history, horses, cats etc. Finding gifts they’ll love is such a pleasure.

We haven’t had a Christmas tree for a couple of years now. We used to get various evergreens with roots, and then plant them out in January. This year we’ve pruned the spruce a bit and put some branches into a large vase of water. Our decorations are simple ~ hand made from wood and felt.

The rooms are adorned with fresh holly (and those divine red berries) and ivy.

It doesn’t feel any less like Christmas because we’ve abstained from acres of commercially printed wrapping paper, pine trees or play stations; or stripped supermarkets of food. Our Christmas meal is made from local veg bought at our weekly organic farmers' market, and our wholefood order through Suma. The more I consciously simplify the season, the more beautiful and real it becomes.

I have it on good authority from Santa, that deep in his grotto, the number one present request from kids is play stations/nintendos/mobile phone and loads of 2 and 3 year old girls wanting televisions for their bedrooms. (Weep). What will become of this generation of children raised on electronic media?

Very, very occasionally Santa meets children who would love a book, a baby brother or sister (grin), or who ask for world peace, but on the whole, they mostly want a list ten foot long of electro-gadgets worth the equivalent of our monthly household income….and the parents stand alongside them nodding to santa that it’s ok to get these things. Hate to think what they'll get next year, and the year after!

The Iroquois message is of leaving the world a better place by our actions ~ what does OUR Christmas mean for our family-line seven generations from now?

However you celebrate this season, enjoy. With my warmest, brightest and most sincere blessings for an abundant, joyous and divinely rewarding 2008. Love your family, and love Mother Earth.

Chat soon!! ~ Veronika ~

Winter Solstice, 2007
Chilly Cumbria, UK

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Open Eye Campain ~ online petition to Downing Street

If you're worried about the increasing 'schoolification' of children's lives (especially the under fives), please sign up to this petition:

We CAN make the government take notice if we join together.

With gratitude, Veronika

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Calling all lactivists!

Hello from chilly Cumbria ~ where it looks like a divine winter wonderland this morning.

I previously mentioned my book launch would be held in Brighton on February 6th, however, the wonderful Trevor Gunn is talking there that night on comparing natural immunity with vaccination, so we’ve changed the date and location of my event. He's a fabulous speaker, so if you've got any questions on vaccination I thoroughly recommend listening to him.

My book launch will be held at:

Seven Generations shop
Sunday, 27th January, 2008 at 3pm

I’ll be talking for about 75 minutes on why breastfeeding is vital for humanity if we wish to continue existing as a species without sinking into complete physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dysfunction. I will be addressing the impact of not breastfeeding on humanity’s heart chakra; how personal and planetary peace begins at mother’s breast; full-term breastfeeding, and whatever else can be comfortably covered in that time. There’ll also be ample time for your questions.

Along with the fab team from The Art of Change, my family will join me to officially launch my new book on breastfeeding called The Drinks Are On Me (everything your mother never told you about breastfeeding).

Visit or for booking details. Please note there are limited seats for this event, so if you plan to come, don’t leave it till the last minute.

Seven Generations Trust

Seven Generations is a community owned & run social enterprise which seeks sustainable solutions to the problems humanity currently faces. They are a conduit for ‘missing information’ to enable us to make life changing decisions - for ourselves, our children & the generations to come.

They have the best eco-cafe-bookshop, in the heart of the Montpelier, just 10 mins walk from Bristol's city centre.

0845 330 3934

Friday, December 07, 2007

Dates for your diary: Jean Liedloff's UK tour, launch of The Drinks Are On Me and Parenting Seminar

Hey girls…some dates for your 2008 diary. What a year it looks set to be with the Jean Liedloff tour in April! I’m soooooooo excited. Her book, The Continuum Concept, played a huge role in our parenting journey, and touched a place deep inside me. I reread it recently and it was as if I only read it yesterday…the words, the intent, all so familiar and deeply ingrained in my being.

Jean Liedloff TOUR

Jean Liedloff’s first visit to the UK in twenty years looks set to be a brilliant tour. She’s passionate, humorous, and a great story teller. This is an event not to be missed. There’ll be plenty of time for questions.

Wed 9/4/08 Chequer Mead, East Grinstead, West Sussex

Fri 11/4/08 St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London

Sun 13/4/08 Sussex University, Brighton (afternoon)

Tue 15/4/08 University of Bristol

Thu 17/4/08 University of Leicester

Sun 20/4/08 University of Salford, Manchester (afternoon)

Call 01342 823809 for more details
All talks in the evening unless stated otherwise

For further info, contact The Art of Change

Natural Parenting Seminar
I’ll also be speaking at the Over Conference Centre, Cambridge on May 2nd

There’ll be workshops, yoga classes from Birthlight, practical demos, live music, lunch and refreshments. To book or see the programme, and find out who else is speaking, visit or phone 01799 525 716

I look forward to meeting many of you at various events in 2008. Until then, do keep warm!
~ Veronika

Home Sweet Home-based learning

If you read The Mother magazine you’ll know that my girls recently returned to home education after eight months in school. The detoxing process has been interesting, and it’s such a joy to watch my girls rediscovering who they are; their passions, and how they use their time.

My initial thought when they said they wanted to be home educated again was ‘no time for me anymore’. Despite my angst at their school days, I made full use of their 5 day a week absence. I grew to love my patch of day ~ the silence; space to think and create. I did not, however, enjoy our day to day life being dominated by an external routine, or having to cram in ‘time’ together between 4 and 8pm. And I certainly did not like much of the stuff which was forced upon them in school.

We’ve all easily settled back into a comfortable rhythm and it is bliss! We feel like a family again.

The girls have found a gentle pattern to their days and are bounding with enthusiasm for plans, plant potions and picnics by the fireside! Our cottage is again filled with the noises of growing girls ~ fingers on the piano warming the room with Christmas carols, decorations being made for the Spruce branches which will serve as our festive tree, lyrics being written, songs sung, essays written about composers and artists, violin lessons, and unending food preparation. I no longer get a moment to myself until they’re asleep at night, but I wouldn’t trade this for school life.

School was a painful and steep learning curve for me. I hate the effect school has had on them, and yet, I’m glad they experienced those months as it truly confirmed everything I feel about how children learn.

Parenting is such an unpredictable journey. We simply don’t know where the path will lead and what choices will be necessary on the way. As with everything in life, the balance of our days must rest on trust.

Further to my last blog about Saving Childhood, and the government's plan to destroy childhood with the implementation of the Early Years Foundation Stage, please join our campaign at (if the petition isn't on it yet, it will be shortly, but do visit it to get more info about how you can help).

PLEASE...our kids need us to act!

Saturday, December 01, 2007



Please save our toddlers ~ they need YOU.

For six years The Mother magazine has been campaigning for a return to Slow Childhood. What do I mean by that? Slow Childhood is where children are respected and allowed to meet their developmental milestones according to Nature’s Timetable, rather than some human-devised concept.

Yesterday I was one of signatories to the Open Eye campaign, officially launched in The Times. Spearheaded by no less than The Mother columnist Dr Richard House, it aims to cause a (to quote the good Doctor) “legitimation crisis around this legislation of such magnitude that the government will find it impossible to implement it.”
That’s my boy! Go get ‘em, Richard.

The government MUST be tackled on this piece of legislation as the consequences, once implemented, are absolutely dire to the well-being of our children.

My editorial in issue 26 of The Magazine urges concerned parents and professionals to join our campaign and stop the government’s proposed Early Years Foundation Stage (for 3 and 4 year olds) being implemented in September 2008.
It is, in actual fact, a curriculum for ALL children
from birth to five years of age.
It’s Big Brother gone Psycho.
These compulsory measures which include chubby-handed 3 and 4 year olds barely out of nappies being required to read and write sentences (even if they don’t understand them!) will lead to a whole host of behavioural and educational problems. The anxiety induced in these little children will crush any enthusiasm for learning, if not for life itself.

Our campaign letter states that “An overly formal, academic and/or cognitively based ‘curriculum’, however carefully camouflaged, distorts this learning experience.”
The legislation will cover all children, whether in state, private or voluntary sectors ~ it will include Steiner schools and registered childminders! It will put many experts in child development in the position of having to contradict their own understanding of child development.

Dr Richard House reckons there is a strong case for mounting a legal challenge under the human rights legislation. All I can say is watch the government come undone over this one!

The whole document is authoritarian and prescriptive with 72 early learning goals…ironically, some of them include things that many adults haven’t even achieved! (and are unlikely to achieve.) It's enough to make a girl go grey overnight.

Anyone who knows the first thing about holistic child development will see that the shabbily camouflaged curriculum is seriously flawed, though it would be more accurate to call it legally-enforced child abuse. It completely IGNORES a child’s neurological and psychological needs, treating them as nothing more than information gadgets, mini-computers, sponges to the governments' every diktat.
It’s a bureaucratic controlling
of toddlers’ lives
which is completely counter
to more than twenty solid years of research
into how children learn ~
and what most people instinctively know.

The government’s plan is to insert a POLITICAL KNIFE into the very heart of family life and destroy the close, loving family bonds which all young children need in order to grow, thrive and learn. It makes the assumption that all children are the same. As any parent knows, no two children are the same, not even within the same family.

If the government looked at other countries as an example of what works for children, they would never have come up with such an insane programme. Whatever it is they hope to achieve with our toddlers simply can not happen in the controlled environments they wish to create. They want all children from birth to five years of age to have the SAME day to day experiences. I also suspect it is being driven by a desire to get mothers out of the home and into paid employment. After all, what could a mother possibly teach her toddler?

Beverley Hughes, The Children’s Minister, claims that this plan was widely consulted on (it WASN’T ~ it was a controlled consultation) and that it has the backing of the vast majority of early years specialists. However, she has shown no evidence for this statement. I’d like to see it.
She claims it is a play-based approach to learning and children will be observed to make sure they’re developing ‘normally’, but who decides what is normal? Her claims that early years education has a positive impact on learning is a misrepresentation of information.

Her use of the term play-based is incorrect as the documentation clearly states (repeatedly) that it is of ‘structured’ or ‘adult directed play’. This sort of ‘play’ (for lack of a better word), is a way for adults to control and create the outcomes they perceive the children should be reaching for. This is counter to how children learn and is in complete ignorance of free play.

The Government’s outline is very clear in its goal to ensure that all childhood experiences are the same. Only a parent will fully understand a child’s emotional and developmental needs. This shouldn’t be judged by a ‘national performance target’.

Ed Balls, The Children’s Secretary, needs to be given a copy of the EYFS document so he can see just how hot the water is for the government.

We MUST let the children play. This is absolutely VITAL for their well-being and enjoyment of life. I can promise you, if we don’t, it won’t just be teenage ‘hoodies’ that adults are scared of.

You can download the British Government’s EYFS documentation in full at:

‘EYE’ standing for ‘Early Years Education’ - which, we maintain, needs to be kept open and free from overweening, infantilising government intrusion, however consciously well-intentioned it might be.

I hope to post a website for the campaign on this blog in a few days time..
In the meantime, if you want to find out more,

You can contact OPEN-EYE with your experience and views at: or