Motherland

March 5, 2010

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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.

Motherland,

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

Advertisements

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

Wellbeing

  • 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

Mothering

  • 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

Career

  • 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

Writing

  • 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

Community

  • 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

Social

  • 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

Enjoyment

  • 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

Mindfulness

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: http://www.slowfood.com/

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.

Many of you will know about the recent “Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!” protest that happened on the social networking site recently. The following are the words of one Facebbok account holder, who had her account, and numerous valuable items deleted from the internet last week.
PLEASE feel free to copy and paste, and SPREAD THE WORD, via your blog, or other mothering groups you may belong to.

*************************************

Hello,

My name is Emma Kwasnica. I am a 30-year-old Canadian tandem-nursing mother living in Montréal, whose Facebook account has now been entirely disabled over the breastfeeding photos controversy (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1869128,00.html). The official petition group on Facebook is called Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is NOT obscene! (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2517126532). I am reaching out because I think you might be interested in the Facebook fiasco over breastfeeding images, and them being classified as “obscene, sexually explicit and pornographic”. Yes, I said *breastfeeding*. The most loving, selfless act on Earth.

For the record, my entire Facebook account has now been deleted, with no explanation from the administrators of Facebook. While they have not confirmed the reason for disabling my account, I can only suspect it stems from the fact that, in the days leading up to the disabling of my account, I had photos of me breastfeeding my daughters deleted, and was given a “warning” for having had uploaded “obscene” content that renders Facebook “unsafe for children”.

Given the amount of obscene, pornographic, and truly disturbing photos, applications and groups that proliferate across Facebook, I am stunned that this has happened to me. I am an aspiring midwife/Childbirth Educator/ Breastfeeding Counselor; I run a lively discussion group on Facebook called ‘Informed Choice : Birth and Beyond’ (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=21515708855), and have been sharing all of my summarised research, studies, links regarding pregnancy, birth and motherhood with a group of nearly three hundred people, since July 2008. And now, everything that I ever wrote, all my photos, all of my midwifery-related research, has been deleted –right off the face of Facebook. Furthermore, this does not concern me alone, as many (over a hundred ?) other Facebook users had their posts deleted, too, since whole discussion threads were deleted into oblivion, if it was indeed me who began the thread (and 80% of the time, it *was* me who had started the threads, since this was my group, me sharing the most recent research relevant to the childbearing/-rearing woman).

Facebook has not responded to my e-mails politely enquiring why my account has been disabled. They remain faceless. Hence the reason why I am now reaching out and going public with my situation. I am desperate to get my words back, and most importantly, the general North American public needs to be made aware of Facebook’s disgusting double standards regarding “decency”. I am revolted to report that Facebook allows the likes of a group called “Dead Babies Make Me Laugh”, and yet, someone such as myself, who wants nothing but to inspire and help women on their journey to birthing healthy, vibrant babies, has her whole account deleted.

I have now done radio station interviews (a Sakatoon one, as well as Montréal’s 98.5 FM), and was interviewed for ‘La Presse’ newspaper here in Montréal, the article for which appeared in yesterday’s edition of ‘La Presse’ (http://technaute.cyberpresse.ca/nouvelles/internet/200901/04/01-814622-des-meres-en-croisade-contre-facebook.php), the English translation for which you will find below. I may be doing another one-hour long segment on the same Saskatoon radio station at some point this week.

There is a Canadian slant to this whole Facebook fiasco, in that the tireless organisor of the original online protest (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=39521488436) is from Ottawa (Stephanie Muir), the TERA site that is currently the “safe haven” for breastfeeding photos which have been deleted by Facebook is a Canadian one (http://www.tera.ca/photos6.html), and is coordinated by Paul Rapoport of Hamilton, Ontario… and now, the only (known) person so far to have had their Facebook acount fully disabled over this issue –me, a Montreal mother.

Please help me by spreading the word of Facebook’s appalling actions (such as by posting this to your blog), and consider this an official plea to get the word out ! For the sake of the next generation of babies, people everywhere need to understand that the larger issue of normalising breastfeeding is deeply important here. In 2009, it is unacceptable that women feel shamed, or are sexualised, while providing the most normal, the most physiologically appropriate food for their babies : breastmilk.

Sincerely yours,
-Emma Kwasnica, Montréal

PS Here you will find the full-page newspaper article/image from Le Journal de Montréal (http://picasaweb.google.ca/emma.kwasnica/20081011BreastfeedingChallenge#5261616556288520402), in which I am breastfeeding my daughters. This is particularly relevant as Facebook has said that no major newspaper in North America would publish the type of breastfeeding photos that they have deleted. This simply isn’t true – this newspaper image (from October 2008) is living proof ! If Montreal, a city of over 3.5 million, can handle seeing this image in a daily newspaper, then why can’t Facebook ?

*********************************************

MOTHERS CRUSADING AGAINST FACEBOOK
Daphné Cameron, La Presse
January 04, 2009

“Cover up this breast that I do not want to see.”

Even though it was written in the 17th century, Molière’s famous refrain is still à la mode for those who run Facebook’s networking site.

For several months now, photographs of mothers breastfeeding their children have been being deleted. The restriction has provoked anger in women all over the globe. In protest, 11,000 women replaced their profile picture with the image of a breastfeeding mother.

This online protest was organized for December 27th by Stephanie Muir, an Ottawa mother outraged by the website policy, that says that no “pornographic or sexually explicit” material may be uploaded to the site.

“It is unthinkable that in 2008, such a loving image, one of a mother breastfeeding her baby, can be perceived as sexual or offensive,” she said. “It’s because we stigmatise women in this way, that mothers make the choice not to breastfeed, or breastfeed for a shorter length of time.”

In additon to the web protest, a few dozen women assembled in front of the Facebook headquarters in California, and nursed their babies there.

The response by Facebook administrators was immediate. According to Stephanie Muir, accounts of several protestors were disabled.

This is the case of Montrealer Emma Kwasnica, who no longer has access to her personal account, since January 1st.

“Facebook began deleting photos of me breastfeeding my daughters on December 28th”, stated the 30-year-old who is studying to become a midwife. “A few days later, the administrators disabled my account with the only explanation being that I had uploaded obscene content. Breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing in the world. How does one automatically associate that with sex ?”

The protest organised by Stephanie Muir has provoked a media frenzy in the United States. Facebook reacted by publishing a press release that specified that only photos showing nipple or areola are banned.

Facebook reiterated that it is a private company which has the right to decide which content it hosts on its site.

My hopes for the year

January 1, 2009

Being the first day of a brand new year full of promise and hope, I thought I would record what I would like to see happen in my life over the next twelve months, so I can reflect on it this time next year.

In the area of self actualisation and renewal, I would like to see myself slow down. I want to embrace mindfulness and the vibrancy that lies within. I want to find a greater balance between being and doing, to live in the moment with the same veracity that Bodhi does. Becoming more aware of my sense of connectedness with the collective consciousness, planet and people is a big theme for me. I’d like to be able to harness energy in a different way, Reiki would be a great skill to learn. I want to get to the end of my healing path, cultivate empathy and be able to say that non-violent communication comes to me naturally and as a default state. I want to feel more grounded in my life.

In the area of wellbeing, I want to wean myself of the medication I currently take, as the last major chemical I put into my body except for food. I would love to sleep better, but that all depends on my little one, and frankly, his sleep-and-waking rhythm is more important to me right now! I’d like to take the step from being a pescatarian to vegetarian, both for moral and environmental reasons. I’d like to develop a bit more of a style. I need to exercise more regularly- Pilate’s and yoga for my back, chakra dance for body and soul wellbeing, and walking and perhaps swimming for cardiovascular health. I would like to return to my pre-pregnancy weight, and then shed some more.  Most of all, I want to be a good role model for Bodhi in the way that I nourish my body, and I cannot say that I do that a sufficient amount of the time now. This I need to do with urgency.

In the area of mothering, I want to continue to explore and celebrate this most sacred of my roles. My focus right now is helping Bodhi learn about his emotions, also setting boundaries that allow him to feel safe and secure. He is also discovering his autonomy, and I want to walk with him in this too. I look forward to a full year of Steiner playgroup and the beginning of our involvement with Chrysalis Steiner School. Perhaps, by the end of the year, we will be looking at having another baby, but perhaps not as well.

In the area of activism and community involvement, my major goal is to expand and direct Birth Healing so it can meet the goal of making birth a more peaceful event for all concerned. I would like to become more involved in peace and human rights issues, and be active in the Greens as well as the ABA. Another urgent issue for me is to become more sustainable in the way I live my life- take the big steps needed to be a wise and just planetary custodian.

This year is going to be a big one for my career. I am in the process of applying for accreditation with the Australian Counselling Association, and am looking at opening up a private practice soon, with both generalist and birth trauma related counselling. I look forward to finishing my last field placement and modules, and finally finally completing my course. My next step in my academic path will either be the final four modules to complete the degree in Applied Social Science, or a childbirth education course.

In terms of writing, I aim to finish the novel I am working on, to a stage where the manuscript is being sent to assessment services, agents and publishers. I also aim to self publish a book on birth trauma, and publish many articles on the issue on Birth Healing. Helping effect positive social change is something I aim to incorporate within everything I write, and I hope this may continue throughout the year.

For pure fun and enjoyment, I would like to continue to learn djembe and fire poi, and I would also like to learn to Belly Dance. I would like to travel more- Woodford Folk Festival is my ultimate, and I also fervently look forward to the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

In the area of home, this year will be especially significant. In six months we will be moving to Bellingen and setting down roots there. Having a gentle, rhythmic and peaceful home life is a priority and a sanctuary.

I’d like to extend our social network in Bellingen over the coming months, whilst still nurturing our friendships we have here. I want to learn to become a more skillful conversationalist, and be able to derive more energy from connecting with people. I would like to continue to have a vibrant relationship with Zai, based on the ability to strongly engage each other, create a greater sense of respect, playfulness, intimacy and connection and also to continue and deepen our tantric connection. I look forward to seeing my mother continue to recover, and embrace the gifts of closeness her illness has brought to us.

I amuse myself somewhat with my high ideals, and the amount I believe I can achieve in a year. However, indulgent as this is, it’s the spirit being it all that means to most to me. If this time next year, I can say I’ve lived a peaceful, creative, living life within my tribe, following my intuition, acting consciously and deepening my wisdom, I will feel it is a year truly lived.

Red

December 25, 2008

This week, after two years absence, my menstrual flow returned.

Having such a long time without it gave me time to reflect on menstruation as a process and an event, and I now welcome it back with joy.

Before I fell pregnant, menstruation was all such an inconvenience to me at best, and draining, painful and uncomfortable at worst. I saw it as a hassle, something to be managed, a burden. It was embarrassing and a bit disgusting.

The universe has thrown at me many lessons concerning my body and my femininity since falling pregnant. Many of them, I can apply as wisdom to my flow (I use the word flow, as it sounds creative, positive and abundant).

I have learnt that nothing that happens in a woman’s (and indeed a man’s) body is anything less than miraculous, and charged with divinity.

I have learnt to not only trust in my body, but celebrate it, revel in it, and am constantly in awe of it.

I have learnt that “being” is as important in life as “doing”, and that self renewal is a vitally important task we all need to embrace more, for the health of ourselves, and of our global community.

My knowledge has been crystallised that we are, as women and as humans, simply animals, another part of the endlessly beautiful, diverse and divine family of Mother Earth. And I have learnt, given the space and time needed, our bodies and souls carry out their path in an equally divine and beautiful way.

I learnt the impact that modernisation and the need to “manage” natural bodily processes can have a traumatising effect on the self, and that through these attitudes, we can find ourselves far from where nature intended us to be.

I learnt to trust in my body, intuition and wisdom, if only in hindsight.

So as my flow returns, so do I return to it. And by return to it, I mean in a sense of returning to the wisdom and beauty in it that other and past cultures have held for it, for I regret to say I personally have never held reverence for it as a process, except in a purely biological, reproductive way.

And as wonderful as the gifts of biological ability and reproduction are, there are psychosocial aspects to menstruation as well, and these are not embraced, or even acknowledged in our culture.

Menstruation allows us to reconnect with the collectivity of the planet. Michelle Royce, in her book Moon Rites, states: “The moon’s constant journey through the heavens is most closely linked with the cycles of menstruation. It echoes the swelling belly of a pregnant woman and the cycle of nature itself, as seeds as planted, growing to fruitfulness, then withering and decaying, leaving new seeds in the dark soil to be reborn. As women were the first observable givers of life, and experienced lunar tides within their bodies, it is not surprising that the moon was generally seen as female.”

I think I have written previously about life being all about rhythm. This monthly cycle- of physicality, thoughts and feelings, and the vibrancy or darkness of soul- is one more deep, thrumming rhythm in the beautiful cacophony of life.

Royce goes on to say: “For the whole month, you may be caught up in your busy life of work, study or family duties. Once a month, however, your body gives a signal that it is time to take a few moments to consider yourself, your dreams, hopes and goals. You may choose this time to focus on cleansing yourself of negative thoughts and feelings, to create or celebrate something, or simply reflect on the past month.”

In some cultures, menstruating women stayed in areas apart from the rest of the tribe- the “red tent” concept- as menstruation was seen as such a potent and vital time, not just for the individual woman, but for the whole community. With respect given to the woman and the menstrual flow as a time of wisdom, she was able to tap into this universal consciousness and had dreams and insights that benefited the whole tribe and assisted and directed it’s path.

I just adore this idea, and it resonates with me as true wisdom and womanliness. I have attempted to incorporate these attitudes into my daily life during my flow- allowing more quiet time for reflection, meditating, and enjoying some solitude when I can.

I am also delighted (but perhaps not surprised) to find the “symptoms” of menstruation to be so much gentler now. Whilst I was almost incapacitated with pain before pregnancy, I have experienced little pain at all, and that which I have experienced, I have paused, sat with it, and been a part of the pain, rather than fighting it. I believe my attitudinal changes, and returning what I believe to be an attitude more in line with the universal intention, has helped make the physicality of it gentle and soft.

When thinking up this post in my head, I had considered writing a disclaimer at the top along the lines of “Stop! Do not read if you find womanly functions cringe worthy!” I chose not to, as that would have been going against the intention of the post. So if you have read this far, thank you. I hope it has brought you wisdom, or that you have wisdom you can share by commenting. Menstruation is just one more thing we could celebrate and share as community, and I would invite you do do this when you are next blessed with your flow.

(Michelle Royce’s book Moon Rites is published by Moon Diary Products-bbok celebrating her, and can be purchased at http://www.moondiary.com.au/sacred-rites-book.html )

I have been mostly satisfied with the Rudd Labour Government so far in their term. The long overdue signing of the Kyoto Protocol (even if it is arbitrary and non-binding) and the Apology to the Stolen Generations made me feel proud to be an Australian, which sadly, I often didn’t during the Howard years.

This week, though, Kevin Rudd has shown his leadership- and his action- to be lacking. Hugely lacking, in a way that will impact us all.

Rudd has announced a weak target of 5% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 as part of the action taken to protect our environment. According to Christine Milne, National Spokesperson for the Greens, “Scientists agree that developed countries need to reduce their emissions by between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020 to avoid catastrophic climate change. Australia’s high per capita emissions and our relatively cheap emissions reduction potential means we need to be at the top of that range, not doing less than everyone else.”

Ray Nias, Australian Director of WWF said :”It commits Australia to long-term dangerous climate change [and] it will make Australia’s ability to negotiate global agreements very, very difficult.” The consequences of the weak targets are likely to include the death of the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Murray Darling River system in our grand children’s generation.

The 5% target, which may increase to a maximum of 15% if the world signs up to an effective climate pact, are a global embarrassment. However, with Australia’s position as a high polluter, and lack of appropriate action in this area, the chances of an “effective climate pact” are weakened as well.

John Conner, CEO of the Climate Institute, stated ”We’re ripping the heart out of momentum for a strong global deal.”

The plan, in addition to targets not substantial enough to avert environmental catastrophe, has many other flaws.

The emissions target is based on 1990 figures, and therefore nearly twenty years out of date.

The plan favours big business that impact heavily on the country’s emissions levels. Milne says “Only three per cent of funds will actually go to reducing emissions. Half of all the money raised by auctioning permits will go to big polluters. Not a single cent will be spent on helping householders reduce their energy use and emissions.”

Furthermore, individuals and small organisations trying to make a positive impact on climate change are undermined in the plan. The less emissions from individual households- say by putting up a solar panel- simply mean more permits are available in the system to others, including the major polluters.

Of the $12 billion dollar package, $10 billion will go to compensation and free permits to the business sector. Additionally, emissions from the logging industry will not be included, and neither will petrol for the first three years of the scheme and agriculture for the first five years.

To me, the package seems ludicrous. If it wasn’t so dire, I would find the ineptness of it all amusing. It appears, in our consumerist culture, that the planet is just another disposable item.

Learning and Growing

December 4, 2008

First and foremost, I believe learning and growing is not only a life long process, but also one of our most (if not the most) important psychosocial tasks we will undertake. To grow, to develop, is human. I have an image in my mind of the seed of a fig tree, slowly enveloping and enmeshing itself into the world around it, becoming the world around it, until it is something of beauty and strength. Our life paths are much like that.

Given the weight I place on learning therefore, it is not surprising that Bodhi’s education is something I have given much consideration to. Education is not something that will be limited to the thirteen or so years he will attend school (if he chooses too), but will be a part of everything he does, especially in his vital childhood years. So it was important to Zai and myself to find a framework in which Bodhi can develop to his full potential, whilst still having a strong sense of individuality and self.

Initially I did consider opting out of the education system altogether. Like any institution, schooling can place more emphasis on arbitrary outcomes and limited focus, rather than the individual needs and path of the incarnating child. I certainly felt dissatisfied with my experience with the public schooling system. At times I felt pigeon-holed into a two dimension version of myself- labelled as “a nerd”, the “star pupil” and the person to “bludge answers off” due to my ability to retain information deemed important. This had two main outcomes- firstly, I felt driven to achieve more and more and to never get less than excellent marks, as my worth as a person in school was judged my ability to sustain good marks. The second outcome was that it stifled my creative and potentially lively mind to question not only the education system but the whole world, and have a far wider and deeper learning journey. I was just too busy trying to meet (sometimes totally irrelevant) academic outcomes (I had long ago given up on the sporting side of school as it didn’t serve to sustain the two dimensional cutout of myself).

And so, for a while, we considered home schooling and unschooling approaches. I was able to look past the usual criticisms of these approaches: for example, that  are socially well adjusted (I think that some homeschooled children would fare better than those from schools where antisocial and behavioural problems are big issues- being surrounded by more people does not necessarily mean better social skills); or that homeschooled children cannot go on university (I have many friends who have). I had confidence in my ability to homeschool and let Bodhi direct his own learning.

My mother supplemented my own learning with home schooling during my primary school years, and it has helped me come to my belief that education is not, and should not, be solely the responsibility of the schooling system.

However, my heart was always with Steiner for Bodhi’s schooling. Even if I did home school, it would be with a Steiner approach.

Having made the decision to move to Bellingen last month, I rang the Chrysalis School for Steiner Education last week. I made the call so early, as I have had friends who have been on the waiting list for another Steiner school for a while, and also as I want Bodhi to experience the full scope of Steiner education from early childhood (he attends a lovely playgroup annexed by the Manning River Steiner School currently) onwards.

The Chrysalis School is tucked away in the Bellingen Hinterland, surrounded by communities and forest. What a perfect, beautiful setting to learn in! I love the name of the school, the images of being cocooned in the experience of discovering the world and the deeper self is so evocative for me. It offers pre-kindy (“little kindy”) to Year 8 and architecturally, is such a gorgeous and earthy place. It has a lot of good energy.

As phone calls go, I was immensely satisfied with the way the call went. The staff member spent quite a long time with me, talking me through the approach of that particular school. I didn’t feel processed at all, I felt important as the custodian of my child’s education, and I felt respected (something I did not always experience during my own schooling).

I sat out on the verandah next to the hibiscus bush, chatting about my dissatisfactions with the public school system and what drew me to Steiner. It was a sunny spring morning and I felt a strong sense of peace and journey in the moment.

Early this week we received the Chrysalis School prospectus in the mail. It was like recieving a present I was eager to open, and it just so happened that I had to drive for half an hour to pick up Mum before I could sit down and immerse myself in it.

Zai and I are now assured of our decision. Having this extra material, presently so positively and beautifully, cemented our view of Steiner and the Chrysalis School in particular as the most ideal partner in Bodhi’s growth and learning with us, and most importantly, Bodhi himself.

What draws me to the approach? The idea that resonates most with me is the education of the whole child, not just the parts of the child that are academic, or play a limited number of sports. There are many, many facets to an individual that can be elicited and nurtured during a lifetime, and the Steiner philosophy respects this and acts as a responsible custodian to that concept. A far greater emphasis is given to creativity in this ideology, and from my previous posts it is obvious that this is important to me. Community and personal responsibility are valued.

Also valued is individuality. School does not pace the child, the child had far more freedom to explore life at his or her own pace, and academic concepts are not introduced before the child is ready to understand them. In this way, education is not forcefed. Instead, children are allowed to be respected as children and not as adults-to-be. They can fully embrace the wonder of being, and being a child.

Another vitally important facet of the approach is the role of nature. I personally often feel disconnected with nature, due to the norms of modern society, and I feel loss and grief in this (I also endevour to reconcile myself with nature whenever I can). In Steiner, nature is part of everything and is inherent in many of the processes and procedures. For example, at playgroup, we knead and bake bread every morning, acknowledging the process that has brought us the bread mix; the environment is gentle, with wooden chairs, pastel coloured decorations and no electronic media or toys; and the toys are made from natural materials (something I am in the process of emulating at home).

Knowing my little boy so much, I know how much he will flourish and grow in such an environment. He already is, being involved in playgroup and the Steiner philosohpies we have brought into our home life. It is this symbiosis of home and school- called, above all, “learning” that I look forwardly to joyously sharing with Bodhi, Zai, our future children, and the Manning River and Chrysalis School communities over the coming years.

After Symbiosis- What then?

November 27, 2008

Bodhi is now thirteen months old. A toddler, if you insist on labels. And I am quickly learning that this age comes with many challenges!

 One challenge is finding our places as two separate selves. Bodhi has moved on from the lovely cocooned infant stage where he saw himself and I as one. In fact, if you get down to it, I did too. Not physically, but on some spiritual or emotional level, that strong bond of mama and baby, where we slept, ate and played in the same rhythm, that was a kind of oneness.

Bodhi now realises that we are separate. And that scares him. He is experiencing intense separation anxiety at the moment. His emotional state is highly mercurial, changeable and forceful. Some of this is due to normal stage development, and some of it is due to birth trauma.

I took Bodhi to my kinesiologist this week to address these and other symptoms he has been experiencing, to work on them and to ascertain whether it was developmental issues or birth trauma related as I suspected. What we found was that it was trauma, some physical- in the areas of the heart chakra and throat chakra along the spine- and some emotional. Bodhi has a deep wariness of the world, and sadly, does not feel safe. Much of the time when he is upset it is due to fear, and my placations only pacify him- they do not help him feel more secure.

As a connected and attached parent, this is one of the biggest challenges I could be given. Coming also from a counselling background, I understand how important building trust and security is to a young soul, and how laying these foundations will aid healthy development in all other stages for the rest of his life (these ideas come from Bowlby and Erikson and make interesting and informative reading). This young age is so paramount to healthy psychology and knowing that he has this fundamental fear is distressing.

At this point I could berate and blame myself, but I have chosen not to do that. Not only does that not achieve anything, or help resolve the problem, but it takes away my power to rectify the problem with my child. I do, however, need to grieve for this lost sense of trust in some way, which I am sure we will do together over the coming weeks.

To look on a more positive aspect of the issue, I believe I have caught this issue early on. Bodhi has only been manifesting this intense and volatile emotionality for about three or four weeks. I think perhaps part of it may be related to Mum’s stroke, the interruption that had on our lives and rhythm, and a lessened emotional and practical availabiltyavailability to Bodhi. And also, his growing and learning we are two separate entities.

Having brought the issue to awareness early, I believe it will be healed more effectively, and with less resistance and complication, than if it had been left to fester for some time.

The question now, is how to instill that trust of the world, and of my place as his mother, again. Again, because I do feel we had that secure base at one point.

The most obvious answer is to make sure I am physically available to Bodhi as much as possible. Now is not the time to get a job, or put him into daycare, or undertake any demanding projects. I can continue bonding activities- breastfeeding, co sleeping and having him in arms- which I would have done anyway. I can attempt to have a consistent, gentle, predictable home rhythm and not throw any major curve balls his way for a little while.

They are the answers that come to mind immediately. I think it is important, with this issue as in any other, to look deeper and perhaps meditate on other things that might help.

When I do this, the answers that I am given extend. I need to slow down with life. Not just for him, but for me as well: to be more aware of the moment, what the experience of “now” feels like, and to embrace and immerse myself in it. Young children have such a wonderfully innate sersesense of mindfulness, and slowing down in this way will help connect me with his experience exponentially.

I need to ensure the way I relate to my son is positive and nurturing- see the “Communication Manifesto” post, and in that way I will be more firmly connected. I also need to protect him from influences that aren’t conducive to feeling safe again- such as not exposing him to overstimulating things like television and toys with all the bells, whistles and batteries, or people who do not understand the psychological needs of young children. Of course, I can not and should not protect him from these things at all times, but for now, he needs a little extra cocooning and  a mama bear that can be equally ferocious and cuddly.

I can also try to tap into my intuition and inner wisdom even more. It has served me well and is my best mothering tool- it’s got me this far and brought the issue to awareness.

So as I move into this new stage of his development, whilst we are effected by his birth trauma issues, the answer to “How do I deal with this age?’ is at the moment, to continue what I am doing, and, where possible, connect deeper, trust my intuition stronger, and be present consistently, gently and lovingly.

When he is ready, life will have new challenges for us. But for now, I thank the universe for allowing me the challenge to show my motherly love and devotion even more.