March 5, 2010


We are the children who splash in your streams, that climb in your trees. We are the wise  and honored elders holding the space, and clearing the way for your community. We are the young people, strong and full of positivity, forging our identities as individuals, and as your tribe. We are the mothers and fathers who are present, growing wise, growing in love.We are the babies, who are born into love and celebration.


We are the community, the weave and the weft that comes together in music, dance, food, conversation, song. We are the profound conversations in the deep of night, we are the sweat of the dance, we are the sunlight shining through onto the new morning. We are the parks, the cafés, the streets, the meeting places formal and accidental.We are the shared spaces. We are the private spaces. We are the sacred spaces.We are the sculptures. We are the murals, the paintings, the fixtures. We are the art, both created by us, and by you.


We are the creators of our own destiny. We are collaborative, transparent, fair. We take participation seriously and with vigor. We hold ourselves accountable.Our facilities are sustainable and the joy and asset of the community, and we diligently preserve their usefulness, both physically and metaphorically. We have big and open hearts. We take the actions needed. We are connected, intuitive and engaged. We live life in a slow, sensual rhythm. We breathe. We listen.


We are the river that flows through you, bringing life, bringing health, bringing floods and grief and ultimately, cleansing and rebirth. We celebrate at its banks and ebb and flow in tune with its power. We are the tree of life with its roots dug deep.


We nurture our bodies, our minds and our souls. We treat these gifts from the creator with as much respect, diligence and devotion as we do you- for indeed, where do you begin, and we end. Our medicine is preventative, wholistic, empowered and educated. We have options, and we defend them with ferocity.

We allow passage for babies to your tribe with gentleness, reverence and into wise arms. We allow the transformative process of birth as it encompasses many levels.


Our food is your bounty. We are surrounded by it and are nourished to the core by it. It sustains us on many levels. It is our connection, our play, our work and our environ. The art of growing and cooking is a link interwoven throughout the whole community.


Our streetscape reflects who we are in your community. We are unhindered by traffic, by overloading of vehicles, of noise pollution. Our transport systems are economical, , ethical, sociable and accessible.

We hold with gratitude the financial system of the wider world, but are not limited by it. We trade in services, in vegetables, in intention and energy and love.

Our work is a synthesis of passion and business. We deal ethically and responsibly, taking all the social and environmental factors into consideration. As a community we support each other, in business and in life. We are a web of workers, reliant and contributing to each other.

Our homes are welcoming and reflections of inner peace and community life. Our vision starts here, and we live in integrity.


We are the collective custodians for your children. We are attentive to their needs, support them to grow in love, in curiosity, in personality. We provide them an education of life, of caring for each other and the world, of discovering who they are and their own capacities.


In respect and love for you and your people, we are a blazing light and beacon for sustainably. In everything we do, we look to you as a judge and as a guide. Our energy- esoterically and electrically- is owned by you, channeled by us, responsibly and sustainably.

We are self sufficient, harnessing the gifts you provide for us in ways that can endure down through the generations.

We deal with our own shit. We find new ways, better ways. We do not let ignorance or lack of understanding become an excuse for being another generation that lets you slip by. We are the generation that takes our conscious imperative and brings it to fruition.


We hold the vision in love, and watch it grow.  This is our pledge to you.


February 28, 2010

Moving to Bellingen has facilitated a shift in me from simply observing the moon and taking a intentional yet superficial involvement in my lunar rhythms, so deepening my understanding of how Mama Quilla (the ancient Incan Moon-Goddess) influences me, and how surrendering to the flow can enrich my life, and create space and peace therein.

This new moon just passed, I was invited into a circle of women to share a meal, some feminine support, and to voice our intentions for the coming month. I was moved deeply by the gathering, and feel a special connection to each of the women over and above the bond I already have with them- some of my most beloved friends.

My intentions for this moon revolved a lot around healing issues- not so much situations, but energies below the surface that were creating situations. I feel now that through my intentions and actions to clear those issues, I have created space to re-vision my life and start living with more intergrety and bliss.

A couple of days ago, thanks to a weekly child minding swap I have with a dear friend, I had the time and space to spend a  day engaging in self renewal and eliciting love for myself and my life. From this organically came my “visions for a beautiful life”.

Now, as the moon approaches fullness, I am going to write this synergistic vision down, not so much as a speaking of intention, but of a commitment and pledge to shift into this life, as the moon gives me her power to bring my life, too, to total fullness.

Self Renewal and Actualization

  • Chakras well balanced
  • Aware of and acting within universal energies
  • Constantly seeking deeper consciousness, awareness, wisdom and insight
  • Creating space for renewal and actualization
  • Balance being and doing
  • Strong connection to nature
  • Strong connection to the Divine
  • A unique individual who is part of the Divine Whole
  • Embrace femininity, divinity, community and creativity
  • Use resources wisely and gratefully
  • Cultivate inner and universal peace
  • Raise my vibrations and those of the earth
  • Communicate clearly and non-violently
  • Goddess consciousness
  • Synergistic life


  • Live in my body mindfully and with awareness
  • Using natural, gentle and wholistic health whenever possible
  • Utilize preventative healthcare
  • Fulfilling exercise that develops more than just the physical
  • Full understanding and conscious action of my responsibility to my body
  • Honouring my body as a divine earthly temple
  • Whole food, ethical, nurturing, slow and delicious nutrition
  • Honouring the blood mysteries, birth and the female body
  • Synergistic body-mind-soul-heart health
  • Resilient and peaceful mental wellbeing
  • Release of habits and beliefs that keep me overweight
  • Within a healthy weight range
  • Utilization of positive eustress, release and learning from negative stress
  • A beautiful body with gorgeous, unique clothes and adornments, long lustrous hair with beading and wraps, the return of my nose stud, and tattoos of the tree of life and a positive affirmation
  • Optimum digestive, immune and other systemic health


  • Grounded, centred and loving as a mama
  • Conscious and connective mothering
  • Three children
  • Growth of my self (and my children) through mothering
  • Peaceful and transformative births
  • Honouring and holding the space for their individuality and self actualization
  • Connecting with and deepening my partnership and own and children’s wellbeing through parenting with Zai
  • Healthy, aware and loving childbearing continuum
  • Deep involvement and holding the space for their education, both through natural learning and the Steiner system


  • Birth Counsellor and holder of the space for conscious and enlightened childbearing continuum
  • Sucessful, resilient, creative and passionate business owner
  • Further studies in counselling, holistic psychology, sociology, birth/women’s development, and doula/childbirth education
  • Holistic childbearing continuum centre
  • Both financial and soulful abundant rewards
  • Continuing personal and professional development and reflection, enjoyment and fulfillment


  • Expressing threads of the whole, especially self renewal and actualization, through writing- the key to synergy
  • Novellist
  • Birth history book and other birthing works
  • Social consciousness writer
  • Birth consciousness writer
  • Further studies in writing- balancing the art and craft of writing


  • Sustainable, resilient life with awareness and integrity
  • Strong links, love and involvement in the community- cherishing and nurturing Bellingen
  • The Peaceful Birth Collective
  • Online/IRL Bellingen childbearing continuum community
  • Traumatic birth experience awareness and healing
  • Peace activism
  • Birth activism
  • Womens/human rights activism
  • Active Greens member
  • Active Transition Bellingen member
  • Gateway Festival
  • Bellingen Baby


  • Being a loving Allomama/aunty
  • Close relationship with my mother
  • Release of the negative energy surrounding my birth
  • Nurturing the relationships I have with my extended family
  • Tribal definition of family and involvement therein
  • Loving group of women as a catalyst for connection and personal growth
  • Non violent communication
  • Honouring the present interaction as sacred, connective and a source of depth
  • Release of sexual trauma and closed heart
  • Lovingly intimate and deep sex life with Zai
  • Partnership embodying depth of connection, respect for the individual and partnership, holding space for growth, love, enjoyment and emissaries of Divine universal love with Zai


  • Hiking, camping, biking and nature
  • Great fiction and non-fiction book collection
  • Great music collection
  • Four festivals a year
  • Domestic and international travel, connecting with culture and place (combined with writing)
  • Lots of local community events and shared meals
  • Skills and supplies in arts and crafts
  • Drumming, fire poi and belly dancing
  • Soulful internet interactions

Home and Finance

  • Sacred, wise, and well managed use of space and time
  • Frugally and wisely used material and monetary resources, and grateful for their abundance
  • Living simply and sustainably
  • Some kind of communal/collective living
  • Earthy hippie home in a beautiful natural place
  • A mutual sense of ownership and belonging to home

“Where does a person first experience feelings of love, rejection, anxiety and sadness? Where does a person first learn about interacting with people and the world? Where are basic character traits formed? In the first school we ever attend. – our mother’s womb. It is here that we receive our introduction courses in love, neglect, hate, anxiety, trust and empathy. It is here that we need to look for the roots of violence.” -Thomas R. Verny, expert on perinatal psychology(1).

The effect of the nature of a birth, be it peaceful or traumatic, is often overlooked by our maternity system, and especially by those focused solely on immediate medical outcomes.

However, research shows that birth can have a lifetime effect on the psychological wellbeing of an individual . A particularly disturbing area of this research is the link between the trauma sustained in being born, and the likelihood of violent behaviour in later life.

In a significant study of the link between birth events and early maternal rejection by psychologist Adrian Raine and colleagues at the University of Southern California, it was found that whilst only 4.5% of the subjects had risk factors of both birth trauma and early maternal rejection, this small group accounted for 18% of all violent crimes at 18 years of age. This violence was typically serious- including rape and murder- and early in onset (2).

Conversely, he also found that actions to reduce birth intervention and complications, and to foster mother-baby bonding, may help reduce violence.

Other studies have also found the link between obstetric complications and behavior disorders in children (Pasamanick, 1956), perinatal trauma and juvenile delinquency (Lewis et al, 1979), and perinatal complications and criminality (Litt, 1971)(3).

A study of prisoners in the Dutch penal system found that 15 out of the 16 most violent offenders had sustained birth trauma(4).

Violence towards self is also implicated: in a study of suicidology among people who had sustained birth trauma, it was found that there was a significant link between suicides involving asphyxiation and asphyxiation at birth; suicides by violent mechanical means were associated with mechanical birth trauma; and drug addiction was associated with opiate or barbiturate administration to mothers during labor(5).

David B. Chamberlain, an expert on birth psychology, states: “Until recently, the prevailing scientific habit has been to treat the earliest period of human development–from conception to birth–as an insensitive, unconscious, period of physical growth. Babies are teaching us quite the opposite: they are highly sensitive, reactive, and impressionable participants throughout gestation and birth. However, this is still the minority view in both medicine and psychology.”(6)

Chamberlain was first made aware of birth trauma as a significant psychological event by his observations of clients remembering birth during hypnosis. These clients actively protested actions in their birth such as the pressure of forceps on their heads, cold rooms, bright lights, needle injections, repeated heel jabs for blood, stinging or blurring eye medicine, being suspended by their feet, hasty cutting of the umbilical cord, separating them from their mother, and isolation in nurseries.

A number of researchers have concluded that babies in utero and newborns are able to undertake tactile, auditory, olfactory, imitative and verbal learning. (7)

It is now known that the newborn’s brain, nervous system and senses are active and “a normal range of human emotions is felt and expressed while the infant’s mind is alert, perceptive, exploring, and busy incorporating each new experience.” (8)

Elena Tonetti- Vladimirova, spiritual midwife and director of the film “Birth as We Know It” says: “The new baby, way before the birth day, during it and right after, is an extremely sensitive being, in fact, more sensitive than he or she will ever be during the adult life. And not only able to have all those sensations and feelings, but also to not-cognitively remember them! Our early impressions stay with us for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse.” (9)

Tonetti-Vladimirova decribes the process of “limbic imprinting”. This term refers to the direct correlation between the events during birth and subconscious behavioural and emotional patterns later in life.

The limbic system is the part of the brain responsible for emotions and sensations, as opposed to the reptilian brain that undertakes the purely physiological functions of the body; and the cortex, the centre for mental activity. (10)

Tonetti- Vladimirova says: “During gestation, birth and early childhood, the limbic system registers all of our sensations and feelings, without translating it into the language of cortex, simply because it’s not developed yet. That memory lives in the body through out the rest of our life whether we know of it or not…And in the future, as adults, we will unconsciously, automatically re-create the conditions that were imprinted at birth and through our early childhood.”

The sensory experiences of a newborn as they are born impact greatly on a baby. Babies who are born into an environment of bright lights, strange noises, and hurried staff are given needles, have mucous suctioned from their noses, are weighed on cold scales and are wrapped in cloths that feel foreign and disturbing after never experiencing the feeling of anything but the uterus around them. This is all whilst experiencing what it feels like to take a breath, or see the world for the first time- intense sensory experiences in themselves!

Thomas R. Verny states: “What is the effect of this painful, sensory overload on babies? Firstly, they don’t thrive as well as they should. Secondly, they become psychologically traumatized. The helplessness, the grief of separation from mother, the absence of touching, the constant fear of being hurt, the rage, the anger–these are feelings permanently recorded in their memory banks.” (11)

Circumcision is one striking example of birth and violence combined. David B. Chamberlain states: “First of all, a boy is permanently deprived of a functional part of his sexual anatomy. Is this not a serious long-term consequence? In my experience with clients, circumcision has sometimes been the origin of deep distrust between mother and son, or has left the victim with an unconscious impression there is something wrong with his penis.”(12)

Marilyn Milos, the founder of the National Organisation of Circumcision Information Resource Centres, says: “Circumcision is where sex and violence meet for the first time.”(13)

So does a traumatic birth mean that violent behaviour must manifest later in life? Not necessarily. Many parenting practices can help overcome the effect of the birth trauma and create a new gestalt for the child.

These include delaying weighing and other actions for the first hour past birth, and allowing mother and child to bond whilst hormones that induce love and bonding are still at peak levels; not intruding on the family’s need to baby moon, and undertake practices that foster attachment, such as co-sleeping, baby wearing and/or in arms parenting, and breastfeeding; along with attitudes such as aiming for empathic and connected parenting, and being responsive to the child’s needs and cries.

In the words of Louise Kaplan, an American psychoanalyst: “I firmly believe that all mammalian infants including the human infant are hard-wired to develop loving relationships with their fellow species. Whether or not they do so depends entirely on how they are treated. Such an argument is strengthened by findings which show that neural pathways for altruism and aggression may be reciprocally related, so that aggression reflects a deficit in endogenous opiates, whereas their secretion reduces aggressiveness by promoting social comfort and play.” (14)

Of course, however, the best action for the child is to been born gently and respectfully when at all possible.

If birth can have such a significance on violence in later life, and other behavioural actions, why aren’t the systems that endorse ungentle practices in birth decried? And why is it not more on the public agenda, or even in public awareness?

Renowned French Obstetrician Michael Odent comments: “I came to the conclusion that research can be politically incorrect. Most researchers looking at how people were born have faced extreme bureaucratic difficulties. It may be that they are shaking the very foundations of our societies, insofar as the birth process has always been ritually disturbed. It may be also that very few people have developed their capacity to think long-term and are ready to perceive the importance of this developing field of research, which is a new branch of epidemiology.” (15)

It is imperative that as a society we respect birth as a vitally important force in shaping the individuals we will become. Birth is not only an event that can have intense short term physical, social and psychological effects, but can impact the rest of our lives.

A peaceful, loving society starts with a peaceful, loving birth.

“Taken together, this alarming evidence suggests that babies born in the era of hospital obstetrics from 1939 to present were born in violence, baptised by violence. Neither medicine nor psychology understood the formative influence of early pain.”- David B. Chamberlain (16)


(1) Verny, T.R. (1996) Birth and Violence:

(2) Raine, A., Brennan, P., and Mednick, S.A. “Interaction Between Birth Complications and Early Maternal
Rejection in Predisposing Individuals to Adult Violence: Specificity to Serious, Early-Onset Violence” In American Journal of Psychiatry, 154:9, September 1997

(3) Raine, A., Brennan, P., and Mednick, S.A. “Interaction Between Birth Complications and Early Maternal
Rejection in Predisposing Individuals to Adult Violence: Specificity to Serious, Early-Onset Violence” In American Journal of Psychiatry, 154:9, September 1997

(4) Verny, T.R. (1996) Birth and Violence:

(5) Jacobson, B., Eklund, G. “Perinatal Origin of adult self destructive behaviour” In ACTA Psychiatry Scandinavia, 1987, 76: 364-371

(6) Chamberlain, D.B. (1995) What Babies are Teaching us about Violence:

(7) Chamberlain, D.B. (1995) What Babies are Teaching us about Violence:

(8) Verny, T.R. (1996) Birth and Violence:

(9) Tonetti Vladimirova, E. (2008) The Limbic Imprint:

(10) Tonetti Vladimirova, E. (2008) The Limbic Imprint:

(11) Verny, T.R. (1996) Birth and Violence:

(12) Chamberlain, D.B. (1995) What Babies are Teaching us about Violence:

(13) Callander, M. “Intact! Protecting our boys from circumcision” In byronchild/Kindred, Issue 10

(14) Kaplan, L. (1996), cited in Verny, T.R. (1996) Birth and Violence:

(15) Odent, M. (undated) The Caesareans:

(16) Chamberlain, D.B. (1995) What Babies are Teaching us about Violence:


May 21, 2009

This week I intended to practice the art of mindfulness for a week, and then use the insights gained as a blog entry.

Unfortunately, the most dinstinct insight I got was that I’m not yet skilled at being mindful.

To me, mindfulness means the ability to fully engage with the moment, be aware and in tune with the immediate surroundings, without the cognitive and emotional baggage that many of us have: being with the present, rather than the past or future.

On that note, and a small aside: my baggage is primarily futuristic. Being incredibly task orientated (to the point of maladjustment!), my thoughts often resemble a mental to do list: what is happening later in the day, what jobs I need to get done and in what order, and so on.I’m constantly planning my next move, at the expense of involvement and appreciation of the current move.

In the book Mindful Moments for Stressful Days, author Tzivia Gover quotes the Zen saying: “A cup is useful in its emptiness.”

This is something I would do well to remember. Whilst my mind is often full, it is sometimes full of thoughts that are beneficial or useful to me at the time. For example, I often have trouble falling asleep, as I have got into the habit of time in bed to be my mental dumping time- when all the thoughts that were squeezed out by mental clutter during the day make their case known.

Learning the ability to empty my mind would allow me to start afresh, and to fill my mind with useful thoughts according to need, or be able to engage on a more sensory, moment based level than an intellectual at times of renewal and rest.

I have developed some meditation skills in the past. I meditate best with a guided meditation, and when the conditions are right I can have quite vivid and insightful experiences. However, I know that that misses the point some what- the conditions should be secondary to my own state of mind.

I resonate strongly with the ideas, and at times, experience of a deeper conciousness. And to make the next step in my spiritual journey, I know that letting go of excess mental clutter is vital.

I find it telling also, that it is thoughts rather than emotion that block my ability for mindfulness and engagement in the moment. Whilst my emotions can manifest intensely at times, this is rare. I have often observed too, that I anaylse and rationalise my emotions- another sign of task orientation and dominance of my pattern of intellectualising.

There are times, however, that I do engage with the moment quite easily. Today, Bodhi and I were playing in the garden, pretending to be nature photograpghers in a jungle taking a picture of some tigers (our cats played along well). In the minutes before sleep I relax completely and listen to the rain or night noises outside, feeling the circle of energy between Bodhi and I as he sleeps peacefully next to me.

Generally though, these moments of mindfulness and total absorption in the moment are when I am interacting with the world on an intellectual level.

The word ‘flow’ describes this kind of absorbtion: when you are so wrapped up in what you are doing, anything not related to that activity is blanked out, and you find that time has passed rapidly. It is an enjoyable and motivating experience.

I often experience flow, but as mentioned above, the greatest majority of times are when I am undertaking a goal orientated activity that is primarily cognition based: study, or writing in this blog for instance. It almost always occurs when I am undertaking a solitary activity.

Having said that, I have noticed patterns with my ability to engage more readily in being based, renewal activity (or lack of activity) and times where I am more energetically task orientated. When I’m ovulating, I’m powerfully task driven, and more restful during menstruation, and I try to embrace this restful energy, as my natural inclination the other way is so dominant. Also, I am strongly task driven around a full moon, and immediately after until the new moon I am generally low in energy and at those times more able to be mindful.

For a few weeks Bodhi has been having some health issues- interrupted sleep, tummy upsets and some emotional and behavioural abnormalities. My instinct and reflections led me to believe it was a food related issue, and I turned out to be right.

As we try to identify exactly what foods Bodhi has an intolerance to, our family has cut dairy (which we know is a problem) and also wheat (which we suspect may also be a problem).

This has been the kick start I have been waiting for nutritionally. I haven’t been taking care of my body for a long time, or sometimes I have, but sporadically. But for the past few weeks, I have been feeling a burgeoning will within myself to treat my body with more respect, and the food that goes into it was the most dominant part of it.

I did think this was going to be a challenging task. And, I suspect at some point it will become incredibly testing. But, except for a passing craving for a toasted cheese sandwich last night, we’ve all adjusted fine. In fact, I personally have enjoyed it immensely. Having to think and prepare so diligently, has given me the opportunity to redefine my relationship with food.

For some time I have admired the ethos behind the Slow Food movement. This movement, which began in a small town of Italy in reaction to a fast food chain setting up business aims “to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world”. You can find out more about the Slow Food movement here:

Cooking is something I enjoy doing. I wouldn’t say it is a passion, or that it’s one of my favourite activities, but the act of cooking can be pleasurable for me. I do have to have certain requirements for it to fulfill its potential for enjoyment forever. I start with a clean kitchen, and if there are dishes to do or so on, then that is my first task. Some good music playing and some incense burning creates a great atmosphere. The dish needs to be eaten by those I love, not just for me. And I need to be able to take my time with it.

The physical task of chopping, stirring, grinding- all those repetitive, archetypal cooking tasks- are calming for me. I don’t cook to invigorate myself, I cook to create peace. In this way I resonate highly with the Slow Food movement.

The other day I was trying hard to focus on assignments. My mother in law was spending time with Bodhi for the afternoon, and I really wanted to use this time productively. It was to no avail, the energy for the task wasn’t there, however much I berated myself.

Remembering something I had read earlier that day regarding Rudolph Steiner and his thoughts about the dimensions of humanity- thinking, feeling, and willing, the insight came to me to switch gears from thinking (and willing) to feeling. Instead of engaging with the world on an intellectual level, I would shift to a sensual level.

I decided that cooking would best engage my senses at that point, and set to work on an asparagus and sun dried tomato risotto. I turned what could have become a crappy afternoon into something special and soul nurturing.

I do find food can be directly soulful. The act of kneading and waiting patiently upon a loaf of spelt bread, or whatever task at hand, requires energy to go into the food, not just physically but from the psyche. And of course, that cycle is closed when the food is eaten, and taken into our body and soul. Something made with love always tastes better, and I suspect, is more nutritive, than a takeaway meal from a fast food chain, made out of routine and with no direct relationship between the cook and the person who consumes the meal.

The other aspect of ‘soul food’ that comes to mind for me is the ethical component of our food choices. I by no means can call myself vegetarian at this point. I have been in the past, and I imagine I will again sometime in the future. However, I do eat meat rarely, mostly when out. I try to eat a meat free diet as much as possible just as much for environmental reasons as for animal welfare reasons. I will go into this in another post one day, but for example, it takes an infathomable amount of water to produce, the food miles travelled are often ridiculous, and the amount of land required is enormous. Basically, going vegetarian is one of the most effective things we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint.

Eating local and organic food also has obvious positive implications, all of which we have been incorporating into our meal plans as much as possible.

So whole food becomes soul food, and outward into greater planetary wellbeing.

We’ve been dairy and wheat free for a week, and I feel great. I’ve allowed myself extra rest to adjust (lots of luxurious cuddly naps with Bodhi in the afternoons), which has been lovely in itself. And the food has been great! We’ve been having a gluten free muesli for breakfast; fruit for morning tea out in the sunshine; banana, dried apricot and prune sandwiches on Dan’s delicious homemade spelt bread for lunch; carrot and celery sticks with tahini dip for afternoon tea; and dinners this week included almond and avocado soup with my sourdough bread, tomato, potato and spinach dhal, the risotto I mentioned earlier, and a tofu stirfry.

I’ve written out meal plans for a month, and will switch breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas each week for simplicity’s sake. Morning tea is always fruit, and I cook four meals a week, one for one night, and then the rest enough for two nights.

As for Bodhi, he is slowly getting better. His tummy has it’s ups and downs, but he is starting to sleep better. He has been enjoying the food as much as I have, which is great, as he was starting to reject vegetables as a group. This is such a vital time for him: to create healthy habits now will help him create his own healthy lifestyle for life.

I am often concerned by the homogenising of culture that is apparent in this age of globalisation (not to mention consumerism). The mass market in Australia is dominated by movies, music and television from the US- and, to a smaller extent, the UK, and I don’t think it is a stretch to say that we can see the flow on effects here in Australia. We see clothes (and lunchboxes, and toys, and cereal) for toddlers emblazoned with Disney characters; the ring tones of mobile phones we hear in passing are American rap artists, and we find ourselves quoting- or at least being able to identify- lines from The Simpsons or some other program.

I do worry that as globalization becomes more and more the norm- indeed, it is so ingrained in our day to day lives that we take it for granted- that worldwide, regional idiosyncracies and cultural identity will be a thing of the past.

The publishing industry is currently being threatened by the recommendation of the Productivity Commission to ease import restrictions on books.

In a nutshell, parallel importing restrictions prevent book sellers from importing books that can be purchased from overseas at a cheaper price . If these restrictions are eased, then retailers may then buy books to onsell from overseas, rather than from local publishing houses.

It is expected (although, this has been debated by some) that allowing parallel importation of books will result in cheaper books for the consumer.

In a recent email to Dymocks club members, it was stated: “Dymocks and the Coalition for Cheaper Books believe Australian booklovers deserve better. Dymocks believes that lower prices will enable more Australians to read more and as a consequence Australian literacy levels will improve. Dymocks believes that the Australian book industry should be driven by the Australian book buyer and not the local subsidiaries and agents of overseas publishers.”

Dymocks, and their CEO Don Grover, have sustained some criticism of their part in the debate. Grover has been outspoken as a member of the Coalition for Cheaper Books- an alliance that also includes Woolworths, Coles, Target, K-mart and Big W- in support of the abolition of parallel import restrictions so that their customers can enjoy cheaper book prices. However, it is not hard to see that it could well be a case of retailer benefit in the guise of consumer benefit.

If the laws are eased, retailers will then be able to buy in books from the overseas market. One major criticism of parallel importing is that many Australian books published overseas are edited to fit into the culture at hand. For example, in the US the children’s book (and subsequent series) by Andy Griffiths is changed from “The Day my Bum Went Psycho” to “The Day my Butt went Psycho“. Words will be changed, say from jumper to sweater, from Autumn to Fall, and even settings and characters may change to be American (or whatever country the book is published in).

In a side note, it is heartening to see that Mem Fox insisted on the word ‘lamington’ being retained in her book Possum Magic, rather than being substituted with ‘brownie’ as her American publisher desired!

So if our retailers purchase their stock from overseas, we will then be sold an Americanised version of an Australian work (on Anglicised, or wherever the book happens to be purchased from).

And so to back to my concerns about cultural homogeneity: if our books are being imported from the cultural empires of the US and UK, we lose our distinctive voice. Ever so subtly, we take on lexicon from these cultural juggernauts, and our own vernacular becomes more and more quaint and peculiar. We find ourselves identifying better with a character based in a large US city, than one experiencing the unique conflicts, issues and lifestyle of someone living here. We come to see the US norms as our norms, and our own norms as odd.

This really scares me. I’m not being xenophobic- of course there is nothing at all with publishers editing works to suit their own audiences, but when this challenges our own identity, especially in subtle ways, it needs to be addressed as what it is: culture and identity being traded off by the retailers for cheaper books, and more powerfully, larger profits.

Additionally, this will create problems for the Australian publishing industry. If our industry has to compete with larger, more affluent and cheaper overseas publishers, they will need to reduce their costs. Ultimately, this means less royalties for the writer- who only earn perhaps one dollar on a thirty dollar book- and also, that less funds will be available to publish Australian writers, especially new and riskier, more artistic writing.

SO not only will we be importing Americanised versions of Australian books, we will also be limiting the Australian Publishing Industry to sticking to “safe” works- works that don’t push boundaries, or cover new ground. And ultimately, that is what writing should be doing.

I will finish by quoting Jeff Sparrow, editor of literary magazine Overland: ‘The economist John Maynard Keynes once explained that the free market rested on “the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone”‘.

Inspired by a fellow forumite on my favourite parenting forum (, I have decided that tonight I will manifest a list of things I want to experience before I die.

I have to say, this list would be different if I wrote it yesterday, or tomorrow, or next week. I’m quite mercurial like that. So this is mostly a reflection of my mood and what is resonating for me at this particular moment.

* I would like to travel various parts of the globe in a way that enriches myself and helps me connect and contribute to the communities I encounter. WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) and volunteering appeal to me, as does backpacking. I would like to do this while my children are still young, but old enough to fully embrace the experience and integrate it into their own worldview. Places I would really like to experience are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India, Northern Africa, France, Spain, Guatemala, The Amazon, Haiti, Cuba and Hawaii.

*I want to go to the Woodford Folk Festival, and Bluesfest in Byron Bay (which I will be doing in twenty something days).

*I want to learn to fire dance and belly dance.

*I want to expand Birth Healing into a more functional and holistic service for those recovering from birth trauma.

*I want to see major birth reform, and a paradigm shift back to birth as women’s business and natural- I want to see my future daughters/and or daughters in law birth not in a system, but in a cocoon of love and family.

*I aim to be more politically active.

*I want to make a major shift and start respecting my body as universal gift. This is something of obvious import, that I am and have been blocking for some time.

* I would like to get a tattoo of the tree of life, and Bodhi’s name and any further children in some kind of script. Just cos I think it looks cool. I’d also like to get my nose pierced again, and have dreads again, but longer and more successful this time.

*I would like to nurture my spiritual side a lot more, with meditation and cultivation of inner peace and all that comes with it. As part of this, balancing being and doing.

*I want to be involved in my children’s education through Steiner Schooling.

*I feel that there are two more little souls out there calling me to take them into my womb and bring them earthside, one of which is starting to call quite insistently. Before I fall pregnant again though, I will work through the remainder of Bodhi’s birth trauma, and then prepare my body, mind and soul for this blessing.

*I am looking forward to finishing my current Advanced Diploma course, and then eventually (after a break) going on to finish the last four modules of the degree. I’d then like to go on to do an honours and possibly masters in social science or sociology.

*I would like to do a doula course and perhaps a childbirth educator course along the way.

*The above two goals are to facilitate my career path as a counsellor specialising in birth and traumatic birth experiences, and the parent/child  dyad in the early years.

*My childhood dream was to be  a novelist, and that’s still very strong. I’d like my writing, whatever form it manifests in to provoke thought and social awareness.

*Dan and I both want to live in an intentional community, but I would prefer to be a founding member of one, to see the community from intention to fruition. Dan’s not so fussed, as long as there’s a good garden.I envision a place of creativity, sanctuary, connection and nurturing.

*Moving to Bellingen- our soul home- is resonating high, and will be happening in a few months time, if our plans work out.

What a beautiful life vision!

At this point, I think it would be timely to reflect on a previous post, ‘My hopes for the year”:

I do feel that I am beginning to slow down somewhat, and embrace the moment more, especially since attending the “Birth into Being” workshop and coming to realise I already have full worth just as a universal being. I can tap into that divine energy sometimes, but more often that not I am getting overwhelmed with the little things, and a greater sense of negativity than I usually operate at. Non-violent communication- well, not so much. I am having internal conflict about relationships with a couple of people in my life, and this is reflected in my interactions with them, but I also have a sense that sitting with this is an important part of working through it mindfully and successfully.

I have weaned off the medication, and it was an incredibly shitty journey. The rest of the wellbeing related items, as alluded to earlier, is still to be enacted.

I feel that I am mostly doing well in walking with Bodhi on his path. He has certainly found his will of late, which can at times be frustrating for us both, but I feel we are negotiating this respectfully. Watching him grow and learn is a constant source of joy, and I am, as always, honoured to be his mama.

I am currently working on the expansion of Birth Healing after a period of consultation with some wise and helpful Birth Healing mamas.

I am very close to completing my course, 15 out of 96 assignments to go, and onto my second field placement, which I am doing at the Manning River Steiner School with a focus on child development.

I haven’t done anything on my ‘just for fun’ list, although I will be dancing and grooving at Bluesfest in two weeks time!

Both Dan and I have extended our network of friends in Bellingen, every time we go there we seem to attract more like souls. I feel so blessed to have that circle of love to walk into when we get up there.

Dan and I continue to have a mostly blissful relationship. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary yesterday, and have been together nearly seven years, and I love him with more depth and richness than ever before.

March 12, 2009

As many of you who are regular readers of my humble little blog will know, the Maternity Services Review has been a big issue for me lately.

A couple of weeks ago, the report into the review was published, after round table forums and over 900 submissions were made. You can read the report here:$File/Improving%20Maternity%20Services%20in%20Australia%20-%20The%20Report%20of%20the%20Maternity%20Services%20Review.pdf

Some of the material in the report is, I believe, a great step forward. There appears to be a shift towards a less fragmented maternity system, collaborative care with some level of continuity, enhancement of midwife practice, more resources to ensure informed choice for parents-to-be, and a push to raise breastfeeding rates.

However, there is one thing that really disturbs me about the report. Despite the fact that over half the submissions made to the review were at some level advocating for more access to homebirth options, the report states:

“at the current time in Australia, homebirthing is a sensitive and controversial issue, the Review Team has formed the view that the relationship between maternity health care professionals is not such as to support homebirth as a mainstream Commonwealth-funded option (at least in the short term). The Review also considers that moving prematurely to a mainstream private model of care incorporating homebirthing risks polarising the professions rather than allowing the expansion of collaborative approaches to improving choice and services for Australian women and their babies.”

Whilst I personally never expected that homebirth would be funded by the public system, this still disappoints me. I feel it is inequitable that the more medicalised end of the spectrum- that is, elective caesarean- is funded by the public system, but homebirth isn’t. This is a paradigm issue. As was mentioned on the Insight episode on birth the other night, midwives come from a position of wellness, and obstetricians from a position of risk. Whilst I do not feel I am in a position to question any other mother’s choice on how to birth their baby- given that they have made an informed choice, which can be difficult in our current maternity climate, and understand and have made provisions for the extra psychological, psychical and physiological risks involved in a caesarean- there are factors that lead to elective caesarean not often considered such as residual trauma from earlier sexual assault, previous birth trauma, and a system and society that directly works against a woman’s trust in her body- I can’t see this as anything but unfair, and a quite overt way that the ‘system’ continues to value medicalisation over trust in nature.

Homebirth is seen as a risky option by many. On Monday night’s Insight program, Dr Ted  Weaver from RANZCOG (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) stated that a baby is three times more likely to die in homebirth. What Dr Weaver conveniently failed to add, is that this was addressing homebirths in Western Australia, in which only six babies died, and where it was found that place of birth had absolutely no impact on the outcome in at least five out of the six cases.

In fact, large studies on midwife assisted homebirth have found that homebirth is just as safe, if not safer, than hospital births in terms of mortality. When birth trauma and other morbidities are included, my personal observations of anecdotal evidence would suggest that it is a far ‘safer’ option. I have been involved with women suffering birth trauma for nearly a year and a half, and I am yet to find a woman traumatised by a homebirth (not to say it couldn’t happen, but I think it’s a telling observation).

The report cites the low levels of current homebirth as a reason for not funding it. This seems fair enough on the surface, but when you look at the possible reasons for the low level- not just a preference against homebirth, but issues such as prohibitive cost (at around $4000 a birth), low levels of independant midwives in some areas, and the controlling of said midwives by their feeder hospitals, it becomes clear that it is not simply a matter of preference.And clearly, the system is against homebirth.

The second thing that disturbs me is that not only is homebirth not to be funded, but it could very well be outlawed all together. The report recommends that all health care professionals in birthing be more regulated, and hold indemnity insurance. Since the insurance collapse of 2001, no homebirth midwife has been able to get this insurance- no insurance company will insure them. So, in leiu of some insurance company offering this insurance (and if they do, the premiums will drive up the cost of a homebirth even higher), homebirth will become illegal.

Having been through a traumatic birth experience, I now know the incredible value of a peaceful birth. Having been denigrated, ignored, and processed I know the value of being listened to, respected, and being able to make decisions about my birthing. Having been left in a room with no privacy, lights and verbal interaction that stimulates my neocortex at a time I need to limit this stimulation to birth, I know the value of a sacred and quiet birthing space.  Having been pumped full of drugs that inhibit the wonderful orchestration of hormones necessary for labour, birthing and bonding, I understand the need for an undisturbed birth wherever possible. Having lost the first few precious weeks of motherhood to guilt, shame, fear, anxiety and trauma, I look forward to a blissful babymoon next time. Having many times holding and soothing my child who is overcome with anxiety and fear because of a birth that taught him to be wary of the world, I see how birth imprints us for life.

Homebirth would afford me all the things Bodhi and I missed out on. I was looking so forward to birthing my baby with respect and in peace at home, when the time comes. Now I feel like the tide is turning against me, and instead of being able to reverently prepare my body to bear another child, conceive consciously , immerse myself in pregnancy and be open to the sacredness of birth, a great deal of my attention will be fighting the system and trying to protect myself, and my baby.

Drug of the Nation

March 5, 2009

The other day, I had a door to door salesperson come to my house. I usually have trouble extracting myself from this kind of situation, but this day it was easy. He wanted to sell me Pay TV, asked if I had a satellite dish, and I told him we were a TV free household.

It’s the easiest time I ever had getting rid of a cold seller.

To be honest, we aren’t a TV free household. We are, however, very TV limited. We have an old set in an unobtrusive corner of the spare room, as Zai likes to chill out with a bit of TV at the end of a long day after Bodhi and I are asleep. I use it too, for DVDs or shows on SBS or ABC like Foreign Correspondent or Insight. I choose not to watch commercial channels. My use is occasional though: I watched the DVD “Birth as We Know It” a few nights ago, and before that, it was about six weeks ago.

Zai and I have made the decision not to expose Bodhi to TV. Admittedly, he would have seen a little bit of it (maybe averaging half an hour a month) in the first few months of his life, and he does see it when he visits other people’s houses and it is on in the background, but it is our intention to protect him from it as much as possible.

Below is a brief rundown of the reasons that led us to make this decision.

TV Disengages us from nature, reality and relationships

Whilst we watch TV, we engage with a machine. We learn little about the world around us, the rhythm of life, of love and nurturing. At best, we may witness things like these concepts, but are simply passively observing rather than experiencing them for ourselves.

TV is harmful to neurological development

TV has a hypnotic effect. As soon as the television is turned on, a child within close range will experience a change in brain function, from beta waves that indicate conscious alertness, to alpha waves, which are daydreaming, unconscious state (Large, 1990).

The effect may be addictive, and it is linked to underdevelopment synaptically, and in language, high order organisation, control and motivation (Healy, 1990).

Furthermore, whilst in this quasi-hypnotic state, our left-hemisphere brain which is responsible for analytical and logical thinking, shuts down, so we are unable to properly debate the issues presented to us in a responsible way, making us more vulnerable to advertising, opinion and all the rest (Sigman, cited in Kindred, Issue 22)

The flickering, radiant light of TV is like nothing we can experience in nature, so we are not evolutionarily designed to witness it. As such, our brain shuts down whilst watching TV (Large, 1990).

TV  aggressively pushes negative and/or violent images into a child’s memory

In the first few years of a child’s life, he or she is unable to discern what is real and what is not on TV. Furthermore, the child will take on and remember images they have seen on TV, sometimes not remembering it was on TV that they saw it. As a result the child may have nightmares, irrational fears or emotional maladjustment. The average child will witness over 20000 acts of violence in movies, on TV and in video/computer games by the time they are 18. These images stay with them.

Children (and adults) can be vicariously traumatised by images seen on TV. For example, do you remember the image of people jumping out of the Twin Towers after the September 11 attacks? Did you feel overwhelmed, or have a greif reaction following the recent Victorian Bushfires, even if you weren’t directly involved?

Following September 11, the American Psychiatric Association found there was a “significant rise in new prescriptions for antidepressants, antipsychotics and benzodiazepine tranquillisers”, and of which they stated “The attacks were unprecedented in scope, and Americans viewed them again and again on television.”

TV impedes our quality of life

I personally would rather spend my time  playing with Bodhi, catching up with friends, reading, cooking, writing, studying, making love and a number of other activities than watch TV.

TV would interrupt my bond and connection with Bodhi, and our lifestyles would be less sedentary.

TV impedes us from thinking for ourselves

A great deal of TV  is taken up with advertising, making our already consumerist lives even more focused on bigger, better and more expensive “stuff”. As already mentioned, we are already vulnerable to the messages we see and hear on TV, so are likely to be drawn to the advertised product. Many (if not most products) advertised will either use slave labour for manufacture, be transported thousands of kilometres across the planet, will be made with toxic chemicals, require vast logging in their production and/or require a number of other social and environmental disasters to bring them to arrive at our shops. Not really worth it for a flash pair of shoes or a plastic toy, is it?

I could go on, but I think my point is obvious. Weighing up the pro’s and con’s, I believe TV is far more harmful to my child than beneficial.
That’s not to say being TV free has been easy. Parenting is damn exhausting, emotionally demanding and draining sometimes. There are times that I would love to be able to pop Bodhi in front of the TV for half an hour whilst I rest (or more likely to cook without having to hold him on my hip, clean without him riding the vacuum cleaner, study without being climbed all over or write or work on Birth Healing without him jumping on my lap for a feed). It’s been very difficult at times to be constantly present to him, but I owe him that. Life is about living, not about watching someone else living (or acting out living) on TV. The tiredness fades, but love and nurturing endures always.

February 26, 2009

Tonight I am feeling scattered, a little upset, and strained. I am going to write what comes to mind, as it comes to mind, so I apologise if it doesn’t make sense. I do trust, however, that some inner wisdom will rise up at some point, because that is the way of all things.

I had an incredibly peaceful twenty four hours leading up to about 4pm this afternoon. Dan was able to take Bodhi to the park for half an hour during his break, so I was able to have a chai in my favourite cafe and read a magazine. I rarely find the opportunity to do these things (which I acknowledge is my own responsibility), and relished in my me time (Oooh! Feelings of calm returning slightly).

Bodhi had an emotional meltdown last night at around 10pm, which I believe was disconnection related, and I was able to remain with and exude peace as I helped lull him back to calm and joy. He cried vehemently for almost an hour in my arms, breastfeeding intermittently, but mainly just being held, as I talked soothingly to him and created an atmosphere of peace (obviously I attended to any possible physical needs first). I was able to connect with my instinct and the collective wisdom of the ages, and we ended up curled up together on the bean bag, cuddling, reconnected, and totally at peace.

The difference in his mood was palpable today. We engaged each other with ease, my mindset was empathic, and we shared a lovely morning together. He and I were both full of joy.

I laid down with him for his nap today, and instead of falling asleep, I allowed myself simply to rest. I spent a long time watching him, stroking and cuddling him (and the cat that accompanied us) and then closed my eyes and visualised some beautiful things in our future. I let my mind wander and, in the quiet, was open to a few insights from the universe.

After our nap, we made a picnic of salad wraps, carrot and cheese sticks and hummus, and met Dan at the park during his break. Again, lovely, sustaining the peaceful mood.

Bodhi and I went home to collect Mum, as we were planning on having a walk around Kooloongbung Creek to feed the ducks and show Bodhi where the flying foxes that fly over our house each evening (he is fascinated with them and faithfully waits for them every night).

My mood started to sour. Bodhi and I started to disconnect again. He wanted to stray off the path, and I didn’t let him (apart from respecting the fragility of the ecosystems off the path, there were a number of visible funnel web holes). When he was in the carrier, he picked at the moles at the back of my neck, which was a source of discomfort to say the least. Mum’s comments started to annoy me. The mosquitoes irritated me.

On the way home, I reversed the car into a pole, and decided to get takeaway for dinner, a decision that I rued later as it wasn’t showing me and Bodhi’s bodies the respect and nurturing they deserve.

I continued to be in an annoyed mood all evening, and whilst trying to put Bodhi to bed, he bit me. I yelped in pain, which scared him and made him cry, and all that stress came back. I attempted to sooth him, but he bit me a second time, and kept his teeth clamped down (on my already grazed nipple, no less!) and I was crying in pain, which of course sent him into absolute meltdown, exacerbated by the fact that mum had to take him as I was doubled over in pain.

I eventually took him for a drive to help calm him- the quiet, dark and smooth movements are a balm to both our souls- and he is now in bed. I feel, however, dissatisfied, as he fell asleep without us reconnecting.

I feel at this point it would be useful to list the insights that have come up for me in the last day.

  • Bodhi’s birth trauma is still unresolved, and manifesting in a strong need to be in my presence (both spatially and psychically), and my instinct tells me the principles of attachment parenting will serve us well here.
  • Whilst the birth trauma and neonatal separation from me is manifesting in him as a need to have me around, the separation between him and Dan (not only from being in special care, but also hospital protocol of Dan not being able to stay with us overnight), is manifesting in avoidant attachment when stressed;
  • The universe is always sending us an abundance of messages, whether we choose to hear them or not. There is much oppunity for me to live a richer, deeper life if I allow myself to be connected with myself, my child, other people and the universe around me
  • Other people can be a divine tool of the universe for growth
  • Despite how a child is born, be it peacefully or violently, with respect for birth or with a need to medicalise it, the spiritual reality is the same: the mother (and father) is bringing a new soul into this plane. Birth is sacred, however it happens.
  • Love wins. Trauma will never conquer love. LOVE WINS.
  • Focusing in on physical pain, allowing it, and experiencing it, can greatly reduce it’s severity, as the energy of fighting it can be redirected into healing. Also, a big drink of water and natural remedies that work with the body and with the cause- rather than mask symptoms- can be miraculous.
  • I do not treat my body with respect. Furthermore, there in great incongruence between my level of soul wisdom, and the way I treat  my body- an extension of divinity.
  • I am redirecting much psychic (and by that, I mean of the psyche and inner self, not of clairvoyance) energy and responsibility into blaming others, and allowing other’s negative thinking (or my perception of it being negative thinking, at least) to dictate my own mood. This, I choose to stop, in this moment. I would rather- and do- see myself surrounded by love and light than whingy cloudiness.
  • The power is in the present moment, and the present moment creates my future. I choose peace, love and depth.

I feel a little placated now. Not entirely so, but a little. My plan is to listen to my body, and my current insight. I am going to have a big drink of water, close my eyes, and centre myself. I am going to embrace being for an undefined time, and allow peace to surround me. Or more accurately, I am going to allow myself to see and feel the peace that already surrounds me.