Monday, March 24, 2008

Children as teachers

Children as such incredible teachers. When I first heard there was snow forecast for Easter weekend, my heart sank. It’s not that I don’t think it looks pretty or anything ~ it looks stunning when it blankets the fells (hills) and fields around here, it’s just that, I don’t like the cold. I really can’t bear it; my bones ache. Give me mild weather and rain any day….though my preference is 30C and not a cloud in the sky! However, I rose to the challenge and allowed myself to live in the moment and be accepting. On Easter Saturday, I sat in one of my favourite places, Bluebell Bookshop in Penrith, and continued reading a book I’ve had my head in each time I visit there…I looked up from my cosy spot on the sofa and saw the snow falling. Beautiful! I realised that if it was December I’d be so caught up in the romance of it all (cue: Christmas carols, the bookshop café lit up with candles) ~ and again, caught myself, and realised that the labels I’m putting on the weather are what causes the problems. “It’s Easter, it shouldn’t snow. I don’t like cold..bla bla.”

I was warm, and I indulged in the BEST hot chocolate this side of the equator. In silence, I sat reading a fabulous book….there wasn’t anything wrong with my present moment. And that’s all we have, isn’t it? Right now.

Children know this. My girls were up before breakfast on Easter morning ~ sledging and snowing. I was snugged up in bed!

We don’t do Easter in the sense of how the masses *celebrate*...No eggs here! Paul and I always do a little treasure hunt for the girls. Most years I wrap up a collection of dried fruit and nuts and then hide them in the garden at the end of a very long list of clues. This year I asked Paul to make up the clues…a very sneaky way of getting the girls to do mind-expanding maths! The clues involved lots of square roots (ouch!) and having to do them to get to the next location. And all this was done in the dining room because the weather wasn’t conducive. But, rather than have their brain turn to fuzz over maths, they were totally up for the challenge and there was lots of laughing!

It’s far too easy to believe we’re the ones guiding and teaching our children. Day after day revelations come to me ~ and this happens because of observing my children; my blessed teachers.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Beautiful faces, friendly spaces

Beautiful faces, and friendly spaces

Ok, ok…it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. It’s not for not wanting to write…it’s more a matter of balance between long walks with the girls, launching my book, travelling to America, getting a magazine to the printer, editing the next magazine, finishing up the last part of my next book…and, of course, stopping to smell the roses!

When I last blogged, I was preparing for the official launch of my book, The Drinks Are On Me ~ everything your mother never told you about breastfeeding. We launched it in Bristol at Seven Generations (eco café and bookstore) to a lovely audience. I met old friends and made new ones! I was rather choked up, to say the least, to see faces that I’ve not seen for a few years ~ beautiful faces which came into my life through The Mother magazine. My family and I had the great pleasure of staying with the gorgeous Alex, Anton, Hugo and Naomi...a wonderful family ~ generous, kind, like-minded, wonderful people. It really made our stay in Bristol a time to remember.

Twelve years
Bethany turned twelve on March 13th ~ my marker of twelve years of full-time stay at home mothering. I could never have predicted the landscape of such a journey. As for Bethany, I’m thoroughly enjoying watching her become more of who she is. It’s a very odd experience watching your child physically develop into a woman, especially while the emotions are waiting to catch up!

Stars and Skyscrapers

I recently went to New York to appear on a chat show ~ discussing full-term breastfeeding and stay at home mothering v. career women (as if you can’t be both???). Due to contractual obligations, darn it, I am not allowed to blog about the experience… they probably knew I'd be less than impressed with their underhand and completely dishonourable tactics!

New York was a shock to my little system. The last time I was there was before I became a mum. I’ve changed so much as a person in that time, and my choice of living away from a town or city is a reflection of such changes. Spending three days in non-stop traffic noise (think constant taxi beeping, fire engine sirens every few minutes, followed by more honking!, etc.) was taxing to my soul. Two weeks after my return and I still feel jaded. I felt such relief and joy when I returned home and heard not a single sound outside at night. I shall never take this peace, or beautiful countryside and starlit skies for granted again. It has certainly had me reflecting on people’s different destinies and lifestyle choices.

Being able to look out of my bedroom window to a starlit sky, not spoilt by light pollution, is something I treasure. When I looked out of my hotel room, I was stunned that the 20 story building opposite me on Seventh avenue (aka Fashion Ave) had lights on in EVERY room, all night long, even though all the staff had gone home. That’s obscene! Don’t the ‘mericans know anything about turning lights out?? In a room where windows didn’t open, and the central heating couldn’t be turned down (I don’t have central heating in my cottage so it nearly killed me), I felt like a trapped lion, pacing back and forward…sleep eluded me. As I looked down the ten stories to the street below, I saw someone sleeping on the concrete. It was all so wrong, wrong, wrong. Here I was, stuck in a room I couldn’t sleep in, while he was on cold concrete. It occurred to me that if I went down and asked him if he wanted a shower and a bed, I’d probably be put in jail! It was, however, one of those moments in life that really brought home to me how one person’s success/tragedy/triumphs/failures are everyone’s… We’re all connected despite the illusion of being separate beings.

Ecologically, flying to New York for a few days is not the way to reduce a girl’s carbon footprint. I’m well aware of that. My intent (and justification), however, was to awaken the masses (an initial audience of 11 million and then syndicated around the world) to full-term breastfeeding ~ one aspect being the horrendous pollution and destruction caused by the artificial milk industry! For example, a dummy (pacifier) takes 450 years to decompose ~ that’s eighteen generations. In one year alone, American women throw out enough artificial milk tins to circle the Earth one and a half times. Breast milk is the ultimate in local food. Breastfeeding shouldn’t be a cultural embarrassment. It is something to celebrate and encourage. In these times of ecological uncertainty, we should be moving heaven and Earth to wake women up to the consequences of not breastfeeding. BOTTLEFEEDING AFFECTS ALL OF US.

American TV

Trapped in a hot hotel room, I resorted to watching American television. OMG!!!! Have you ever watched it? Wall to wall adverts for every legal drug going…Barbie dolls selling drugs which they claim help with ‘my asthma’, ‘my constipation’, ‘my insomnia’. The whole tv industry is subsidised by the pharmaceutical industry. It’s like 24/7 hypnotism. What a cultural nightmare. There’s no sense there of taking responsibility for one’s self ~ adverts also cover plastic surgery, legal firms and so on.

Given that the average American watches 6 hours of television a day (equates to fifteen years in a lifetime), those with investments in the drugs industry are laughing all the way to the bloody bank! I kept shouting at the screen (under the illusion the Yanks might hear me ~ yeah, I know, not likely above the taxi horns!) that you don’t need drugs. Take valerian tea for your insomnia, eat raw fruit and vegetables for your constipation, breastfeed your kids to avoid asthma or practice Butyeko, meditate, love yourself and you won’t need plastic surgery ~ beauty comes from within!!!!!!!

Photographer ~ Birth balance

While in New York I had the absolute pleasure of meeting up with a new photographer for The Mother. Judith’s pictures will start gracing our covers from Issue 28. I’m very excited. It was great to meet with a like-minded soul while in the City that never sleeps (never mind the city not sleeping, *I* didn’t sleep! ~ I’m still trying to catch up) See Judith’s great website here.

I had a lovely dinner at Blossom (on 9th Ave) ~ an organic vegan restaurant. What a treat! Such a place is a luxury when you live rurally, as I do. I’d have to travel a few hundred miles from here to find an equivalent place. The company was fab, too. I dined with a lovely woman I met who worked on the tv show. Brooke is very special, and it is warming to know that even within the high-ego industry of television there exist people with 100% integrity.

On the show, I met a LLL leader who was there with her 2 year old. Kim was another wonderful soul ~ something which I really appreciated during my time there.

At about 3.30am, as I lay in bed cursing the noise outside my window, a large explosion occurred. Hmmmm. What’s that, I wondered. Twas pretty loud!! And then, then the traffic stopped.

Turns out someone had thrown an explosive device in Times Square ~ right near to where I was staying. No one was hurt ~ thankfully. But for about five hours there wasn’t a single piece of traffic. No car horns, no sirens. Bliss. Too bad that I was too wired up by then to be able to make the most of the quiet and get some sleep.

Flight to NY ~ the challenge of unattached parents

The flights highlighted how challenging it can be to parent children when we don’t bond at birth. I observed two women who rarely touched their children. Heartbreaking. My return flight (about 7 hours because we were stuck on the runway at JFK for an hour) consisted of a toddler screaming the whole time. Given I’d only had about five hours sleep in five days, my patience levels were zilch. The mum was a doctor and the dad a psychiatrist…you’d think, between them, they might know a little about holding a child and offering comfort? What do they learn in order to get their degrees? Cor blimey! It’s not bloody rocket science. CUDDLE HIM. All the mother did the whole time was say “Adam, shut up. Adam, the man will come and get cross with you if you don’t stop screaming. Adam, sit down. Adam this, Adam that.” I don’t ever want to hear the name Adam again. On the outbound flight, the poor little baby was strapped into a cot for the duration….again, no body contact, no smiles, no nothing. The mum was only interested in watching the inflight movie. Is this how we’re bringing up the next generation? Devoid of human LOVE? Neither mother was prepared to live in the present moment and simply be with her child…she wanted to escape.

Our cultural messages are such that distancing ourselves from children’s needs is considered normal and right. The consequences of not meeting our children’s VERY REAL needs of love, affection, touch and joyous body language ~ as well as validating them for who they are ~ remain with our offspring for life.

I did the long-haul flight from Australia to the UK when our girls were almost three and one. It’s a long way and hugely taxing on the senses. Eliza took her first steps in Dubai airport to the cheering crowd of air hostesses. Not once did my girls cry or cause annoyance to other passengers. Nor did they have the pain of blocked ear drums ~ they were breastfed during take off and landing. I’m not saying I’m a better mother than the two women I observed on the flights. What I am saying though, is that when we’re bonded with our children, then we have an ESP-like quality which means we can meet their needs ahead of time. They don’t need to go into distress mode. When we’re bonded, we instinctively know what our children need, and equally, we know how to meet that need.


Not all is bad Stateside… there are some people who give me such hope for our collective future. Oprah is one such person.

In case you’ve not heard, the divinely wonderful Oprah Winfrey (the only woman in the world, besides my mum, who I’ve put on a pedestal) is hosting a weekly tele-class with Eckharte Tolle (author of the Power of Now). They’re discussing his book A New Earth ~ awakening to your life’s purpose. Just go to her website and hit the link. You won’t be disappointed. I’m so excited by this outreach across the world. I suggest that, rather than watching it live, you download the show a day or two after it airs, and then you won't get the adverts!

It is without doubt the highlight of each week for Paul and I to be able to watch this programme.

Talks/mentoring ~ Bringing The Mother magazine alive (to a town near you)

This year is bringing a lot of change into my life ~ personally and professionally. Paul will be home as both a full-time parent and working on developing The Mother with me, and this will allow me to take my work (books and magazine) out more into the world. If you’d like me to talk or give a workshop in your town or city, please contact Barry at the Art of Change. Or you can visit and see if I will be speaking near you. First on the list will be Manchester. You can also visit The Mother magazine website to see some of the topics I talk about

If you’d like mentoring on your continuum/attachment journey, then I invite you to visit my website


See this extraordinary story in the respected UK establishment journal - The Spectator.
The Wakefield Witchhunt" - Melanie Phillips - The Spectator - Friday, 21st March 2008
This is also the first time respected political commentator Melanie Phillips has ventured into this territory for some years. That alone is significant. The fact The Spectator has published on this is all the more significant.And remember also the extraordinary piece in The Spectator last May 16 by former Sunday Times Health Editor Neville Hodgkinson:-

What killed Sally Clark’s child? Neville Hodgkinson 19 may 2007 Part 1
What killed Sally Clark’s child? Neville Hodgkinson 19 may 2007 - Part 2
What killed Sally Clark’s child? Neville Hodgkinson 19 may 2007 - Part 3
What killed Sally Clark’s child? Neville Hodgkinson 19 may 2007 - Part 4
What killed Sally Clark’s child? Neville Hodgkinson 19 may 2007 - Part 5
What killed Sally Clark’s child? Neville Hodgkinson 19 may 2007 - Part 6

I'm dreaming of a white easter.....snow this weekend...just when I was all set to bring life to my garden! Whatever you're doing, have a lovely weekend. Enjoy your family, live in the present moment...and practise gratitude!

With love, veronika