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Bringing ME back to me

When I was younger and right into my mid-twenties, if someone asked me what my goal or ambition in life was, I would answer “to be happy”.  And I was happy, chilled out, laid back for the most part, except for exam stress, believing I had to fit into this world etc.  – but after being ridiculed and teased about being too laid back and floaty enough number of times, I lost sight of my goal and worked harder than ever to fit in and consequently, found myself more stressed and drifting further and further away from who I truly was.

In hindsight, I don’t mourn those lost years of drifting because it made me see life clearly.  I can now define what I don’t want. I can now define what takes me away from my true Being. I can now define what causes me stress.

Flip that coin to the other side and la voila!  I know exactly who I am and how to stay in tune with that part of me who knows how to be joyous.

Sing with me baby… to Irene Cara’s song (okay I am off tune but working on my singing now bacause it makes me feel good)…

“What a feeling
Bein’s believin’
I can have it all
Now I’m dancing for my life.
Take your passion
And make it happen
Pictures come alive
You can dance right through your life.”

The good ol’ eighties.. whew!

So now, as part of my journey on self-care, I commit to stay true to myself as much as I possibly can. And when I allow stress to take over, I commit to being aware and implementing some of the things that bring me back to centre.. back to Me…

Here are some of the tuning activities on my list:

  • Go for a walk – always magic!
  • sing and dance like nobody’s watching
  • write down a gratitude list
  • go be with a tree, or preferably in a tree and hugging it
  • read one of my favourite uplifting books
  • read some beautiful poetry out loud
  • Cook something my taste buds want
  • do my favourite guided meditation
  • play the piano (even though I can only play basic nursery rhymes and songs)
  • daydream – happy starry dreamy thoughts
  • listen to a happy inspiring talk or to some joyous music
  • read a book about trees or watch a nature documentary
  • laugh and have fun with my family
  • have a chat with my favourite uplifters

And now, it’s your turn. Share with me. What takes you back to you? How do you forge that connection with who you really are on a daily basis?

 

 

 

 

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It’s the season to be….

Words are so so powerful.

Naming this blog “Seasons of Learning” is a case in point.  I chose it as we had a plan and education philosophy – to flow with the Seasons.  I had a vague idea that we would do more outdoorsy exploratory activities from spring to autumn and then turn inwards for the winter, learning more through books, board games, watching documentaries etc. I thought I would have loads more time to share our experiences on this blog in the winter.

The reality, however, is…… hmmm let’s see… the reality is indeed all about the seasons and flowing with them, but in a far more fulfilling, enriching, exciting and joyous way than I had imagined. We love being in the outdoors, connecting to the earth and to nature so much that we have just carried on doing that into the winter, albeit looking more filled out. Yep, layers really do wonders for that polar bear look and feel.

In the autumn, we were supremely fortunate to join a weekly farming-cum-forest school project run by a brilliant home-educating mum. It quickly became our favourite day of the week, with all three of us thriving in that time outdoors with nurturing conversations, a roaring fire, interesting activities and lots of play. The girls have learned to light a fire and keep it going, used whittling knives, built shelters, made new friends, cleared brambles and nettles with secateurs, used tools like hammers, nails, hand drills, planted oats and wheat, walked a slack line (way harder than it sounds – strong core muscles are sadly not in my armoury) and a whole lot of learning through other imaginary play and crafts in the woods.

And get this – the project is going to follow the seasons for a whole year! Loving it.

Then, another friend who loves nature and knows how much we enjoy our walks, learning hands-on to identify trees, fungi, birds, plants, animals etc and the delicate and subtle and not-so-subtle relationships in nature, sent us the perfect present. “The Almanac – A seasonal guide to 2018” is a perfectly handy pocket-sized book to carry around. I love it so much I have to share the blurb at the back of the book with you.

“The Almanac revives the tradition of the rural Almanac, connecting you with the months and seasons via moon-gazing, foraging, feast days, seasonal eating, meteor spotting and gardening. Award-winning gardener and food writer Liz Leendertz shares the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark and appreciate each moment of the year.”

Adding to that mix, we have started an organic vegetable box subscription which means we eat locally grown, fresh and organic seasonal veg. It all tastes way more delicious than supermarket-bought produce and given that it sometimes includes veg I don’t usually buy, it has lead to a growth in our menu and a lot of fun food experimenting in the kitchen. Win win – creating and experimenting – both of which the kids love.

We just got back from a short winter bird-watching trip – the fact that I am researching a decent pair of binoculars ought to be an indicator of whether it was a hit or a miss.

Time at home playing games, writing, blogging, etc – marginally (very slightly) more than the autumn. Books still dominate home time with nature documentaries now a firm favourite too, given the dark evenings.

However, my new Almanac tells me that in the month of January alone, the daylight time will increase by an hour and twelve minutes and by another hour and forty minutes in February.

Chances of a lot more blogging and indoor learning  –  Ha… Even the seasons are conspiring against that!

 

 

 

 

 

That moment – A Portal

Bang! Crash! Here it is again.
One of those moments –
Maybe you will recognise it too
If I show it to you…
Instead of hiding it
Brushing it under that carpet.

So here and now
I choose to acknowledge it,
That moment –
Of battling frustration
Of being overwhelmed
Of emotions bubbling
Of insides churning
Of fog in my brain
Of letting my tongue run away.

When it makes an appearance,
I simply know
(Through repeated experience)
That I cannot eat my way
Or rant my way
Through to the other side.

In that moment, I recognise
It is time –
Time to listen
Time to stay with my feelings
Time to suspend judgement
Time to go within
Time to connect
Time to care for myself
Time to nurture my being.

And as I practise,
The time will come
When I am ready to break the cycle,
No need to consciously set aside
Chunks of time to nurture.
Instead, to weave nourishing moments
Into the very fabric
Of my every day and night –
Yes, now you are privy to
My heart’s joyous desire.

 

Reflecting and Reviewing

Nearly a year of allowing the seasons to dictate the manner in which we learn as a family! A gorgeous year full of discovery, tangents and new pathways leading us deeper into a wondrous way of life. A year when what little structure we had has gracefully bowed out to the more connected powerful way of learning simply through living.

As we have gently tuned into the seasons, we have gravitated towards the natural world. We are learning science, botany,  geography, geology and so much else all melded together, just by spending more time outdoors, be it in the woods, up in a tree, by a lake, going on guided walks through areas of woodland, wetland, farmland. Learning, learning, learning all the time, not just through our five senses, but through our very essence.

This autumn has been a season of revelation as we have been completely fascninated by colourful and beautiful fungi, how trees communicate in a forest, how the countless little mites, earthworms and other creatures living in the earth are constantly working under our feet to enrich the soil, the relationships that exist in the natural world, both symbiotic and parasitic. We are learning everyday about the world we inhabit, how the earth nurtures us, feeds us, houses us and this intense sense of connection that is developing makes us want to give back to Mother Earth and nurture her in whatever small ways we are able, especially in a time where greed of a few is bent on maximising profits, uncaring of the destruction of everything that sustains us, totally insensitive to what we are leaving behind for generations to come. Clearing plastic and carelessly thrown bottles and containers from the parks near us is just a starting point. Let’s see where this aspect of our journey takes us.  Exciting times indeed!

When we started out on this journey of flowing with the seasons, we never dreamed it would lead us to living with more awareness – awareness of other living beings, awareness of the beautiful and intricate balance in nature, awareness of how we can eat and live in a more sustainable way.

A lot of my choices in reading material has been influenced by this subtle shift and I love the dark evenings when I read aloud to my family, be it a snippet from a book about sustainable farming, or a superbly written prose passage from a book about trees, or some lovely poetry about the seasons and the natural world or…or.. or.. oh, that pile of books ain’t going to stop growing. Happy to recommend some, if anyone is interested.

Spring has been my favourite season for a few years now, but in many many ways, I have come to adore the glories of the autumnal months just as much, if not more. Of course, my tropical blood and bones still shiver in the strong November winds – so, bring on the layers and the hot wholesome soups, spiced lovingly with lashings of warm nourishing ginger. All is well with some chilli, ginger and garlic 😉

 

The Summer of 2017

It has been five months since I wrote a blogpost. I almost want to go ouch! Almost,  but not quite. When I think about it, I actually want to whoop with joy. Do you know what this gap means?

We have truly done what we thought we would when I started the blog in the depths of last winter.

We have tuned in to the seasons in our home ed life.

And it feels wonderful.

So, here’s a quick update about our beautiful dynamic summer. My mum came for a two-month visit and our home was filled with even more love, joy and laughter. The kids loved having their Nani here to participate in their lives, to pamper them and love them like only a grandparent can, to go on adventures and exploration trips. Mum pampered us and we, in turn, pampered her.

And as always, Mum left a part of herself with us through all the things she taught us. We went foraging for blackberries – eating more than we brought home, of course. Mum taught us to make preserves with all the fruits we picked on our many walks, tramping through the picturesque English countryside – blackberries, gooseberries, apples, plums. Each time we eat the preserves, it brings back memories of all the fun we had in the summer. In return, we taught her to make delicious desserts (using almond flour) and sourdough bread and healthy pancakes to eat with her preserves. And we cooked and ate lots – old favourites and new. The girls did quite a bit of cooking with Nani, who is infinitely more patient than Mum Bear.

The other big change that my Mum brought about was getting us started on growing some of our food in containers and pots. I always thought the green fingers of my family had bypassed me, but it appears all I needed was a little loving guidance to get started. I am really enjoying caring for my plants now – takes me to place of calm and peace, nurturing my spirit as I tend to them.

My mum is a very wise woman. She quickly identified my weakness of forgetting to nurture myself in the midst of raising my children. She came up with simple suggestions to incorporate in my daily life and though she is thousands of miles away now, she checks that I am looking after myself.

Distance shrinks each time I think of all that we shared this summer. And it won’t be long before we meet again to create more special moments.

Meanwhile, the trees are withdrawing chlorophyll from their leaves, allowing all the other colourful pigments to have their day in the autumn sunshine, wind and rain. The trees are preparing to turn inward for the winter and so are we. I look forward to writing more on my blog through the long dark evenings to come.

What was your summer like? I would love to hear about it if you would like to share your summer highs and lows in the comments section.

 

 

Pool week

I am teaching myself to swim. I thought of putting a broken piece of my float into the back of my wetsuit. My mum was able to hold the float while I moved my arms and legs. I could doggy-paddle without being worried that I would go under. It was fun.

The next time we went to the pool, we met our friends there. We splashed around, played games and laughed a lot. I want to go swimming more often.

Babe, the sheep pig guru

It was a perfect evening – the girls and I, big milkshakes, popcorn the way my mum always made it when I was a girl, a blanket and Babe.

I did not expect to enjoy the film as much as I did. And talk about synchronicity- it was completely in keeping with my post, ” Hush, a belief is being born” – not limiting ourselves by boxes created by society and by our own thoughts and belief systems.

The simple and beautiful story reiterated some of the qualities I need to keep in my arsenal as a home educating parent, and yes, they stand me in good stead in general life too. Tuning in and listening to my intuition, trusting myself and my family, trusting life and not being afraid to walk my own path. Living life this way is exciting and adventurous, not to mention joyous.

And as I grow into this new skin, my wish for my children is that they carry on being  free spirits flowing through life with a thirst to learn. Uncontainable undefinable energy.

In fact, that is my wish for all children – my positive energetic visualisation for a generation dancing in tune with the Chi of the Universe.