Saturday, 29 November 2008

Ideas in the Night, and Seeing my Work in Print

Funny how so many of my creative ideas and writing thoughts for my blog come while I'm putting J to bed, and can't immediately get them down on paper. His bedtime routine takes up to an hour, although it's been swifter lately since I've figured out the feeding-him-to-sleep-in-the-Ergo trick. It must be my equivalent of 'having ideas in the shower'.

With an average of eight wakings per night, for 14 months, I reckon that to be about 2000 times I've responded to J in the night. Whew. Every one of those interactions, or at least the cumulative effect of all that consistent night-time parenting, must be instilling some sort of security, right?

I wonder. Another mom was telling me how her 10 month old just doesn't seem to notice whether she is there or not, and is happy as long as there is stuff going on and other people to interact with. He doesn't seem to have hit the 7-month-separation-anxiety stage that J seemed to have virtually from birth (and it only worsened at 7 months). Another mom remarked, "Oh, it's because he's so secure. You've made him so secure." And I thought, what, and I haven't, because he cries every time I leave the room? I don't think so.

It seems they are all different, and we just work out our individual strategies to deal with it. I now almost enjoy my 'quiet time' with J when he wakes up and I get to enjoy his cuddliness, and also just try to be in the moment. I sing mantra's to him sometimes so that doubles up as spiritual practice I guess ;) Multi-tasking and all that.

Yesterday I received a copy of Juno magazine in the post - the winter issue in which my article 'Ten Months on: Surrendering to the Shifting Tides of Motherhood' appears. An odd feeling to see photo's of me and J, and actually read my words in print. As usual I devoured the rest of the magazine, a brilliant one, and was inspired by its articles on the research behind home education and on the role of media advertising in children's upbringing. I feel proud to be part of a publication that provides such a welcome contrast to the mainstream parenting magazine industry, which all too often focuses on 'controlling' children and improving their 'behaviour', rather than looking at them as whole beings. I'm re-reading the brilliant Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and his thoughts on behaviourism and why it shouldn't be applied to human beings, are sobering indeed. I feel freshly resolved to commit to the 'path less taken' as far as discipline is concerned.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Mother Guilt

A few days ago I picked up a book called 'Healthy Mother, Better Breastfeeding' by Francesca Naish and Janette Roberts. In line with my current field of study I thought it might be helpful. And parts of it are: I particularly liked the affirmations to use when you are feeding, to help relax and settle into it instead of thinking "Oh god not again, I have a million things to do" which I think many mothers suffer from in the beginning (and even not in the beginning). I also liked the information about herbs that are safe or unsafe for use when breastfeeding, and the way the book normalises co-sleeping and night-feeding. We need more of that to battle against the Gina Fords and Tracey Hoggs of the world!

But what I didn't like was the strong implication that the mother's duty is to be completely and healthy in every way. No coffee, certainly no alcohol, no non-organic foods, only purified water, etc. Tinned food is suspect as is just about every kind of synthetic material in your house. It was so profoundly unrealistic. And also hugely middle-class bias. Hey, I'm supposedly middle-class and since being a full-time mother I can't even afford organic food for the most part.

It worries me because this is not what we need to get more women breastfeeding. I suspect it will put off those who already think it slightly inconvenient. My research, for example Gabrielle Palmer's excellent The Politics of Breastfeeding, leads me in the opposite direction: a woman can breastfeed successfully and give her infant or child all he/she needs, on a barely adequate diet. Yes, the woman may suffer nutritionally if her diet is poor, but the baby won't. The baby takes what it needs to survive. This is particularly why breastfeeding is so crucial in Third World countries, where the water is often not only 'impure' but downright dangerous, and the food may be of limited variety.

And, of course, I felt the familiar mother guilt coming on as I read about all I 'should' be doing to give my baby the purest breast milk possible. Luckily I'm wise to these twitches these days and I quickly put the book down and went on doing the best I can, with what I have to work with (which isn't perfection, sorry ladies).

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Reflecting on My South African Past

I just finished reading an excellent book set in Kenya, Away from You by Melanie Finn. Although I'm from South Africa, it struck so many chords with me: the common history of our countries and the brutally honest way the author deals with it, interwoven with strong characterisation and the most lyrical prose. It's not often I read a book and wish it wouldn't end!

It's good to be connected back up to my African past: something it's easy to forget in my day-to-day city life in Brighton. I grew up in a place of contradictions, and that is what this book so accurately conveys: the poverty alongside wealth and greed, the beauty beside appalling devastation, and the love/hate relationship its own natives often have with the continent. Like the main character, I am also living in a land that is not my native one. Yet I have acclimatised to it so well, I'm scarcely aware of this most of the time.

When I try to explain race relations in South Africa and the phenomenon of white guilt to my partner, it all seems so obvious to me: but incomprehensible to him. Which is why it was so refreshing to read this book and feel at home in an idiom where I don't have to explain myself.

I don't miss South Africa much anymore; when I do, it's more my own personal memories of the place, and my childhood and university days, that I think about, rather than the country itself. I have an ambivalent relationship with it to say the least. I wanted to move to England since I was a teenager, and idealised the country. Watching snippets of the film This is England last night, I realised how foreign this country still is to me, in many ways.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Advice, Tantrums and Doing Less

J and I have both been battling colds and coughs, which somewhat marred our last weekend's trip to London. Funnily enough though I feel a lot more content coming out the other end of it, more in tune with myself. Being ill slows me right down, because I haven't got the energy to make too many over-ambitious plans and run around that much. Hence, this week has not been a productive one, writing-wise, although I've been teaching a fair amount of yoga, doing some cover classes. I was too ill to teach one on Sunday and had to cancel, which I've never done before, but I literally didn't have a 'voice' to teach. I sound, as I've been teased today, like an old spinster - "Pass the sugar, dearie"- or perhaps an adolescent boy whose voice is starting to break. Not the usual husky deep voice I get when I have a bad chest, just this. I'm sucking furiously on Fisherman's Friends and hoping it will be adequate to teach tomorrow.

Actually I'm settling into winter now, although it's become frighteningly freezing quite suddenly the last three days. I enjoy feeling cosy and anticipating the warmth of my home when I return! I have done some 'free writing' in coffee shops which keeps me going, but my novel has been untouched and I'm dying to get back to it. Today was my breastfeeding peer support course, thought-provoking as ever. This time it got me thinking about why all of the counselling courses I've done insist that no advice can be given. I find this deeply frustrating because I think, once the empathy and the reflective listening and all that is in process, there does come a point, especially in the field of breastfeeding problems, where some suggestions and information are needed - indeed, wanted. How to know if or when to steer things in that direction? When someone is openly asking you, "what do I do?", and you know of things that could help them, how can you not say something? In matters of 'what should I do about my relationship problem etc', then sure, the wisdom and the answers must lie within, but when people come to a place explicitly offering breastfeeding support, surely they expect some information and possibilities to consider?

I have been struggling to deal with J's tantrums: his frustration at not being able to touch certain things, and his seeming inability to let go of it; as well as his resistance to just about anything I wanted to do: change his nappy, dress him, put his coat on, or put an end to an activity so that we could, say, go out. It mystified me as it seemed too early in his development for him to be having tantrums (books say 27 months!) and so of course, in typical mommy-self-bashing style, I wondered if I was doing wrong. Fortunately I found this blog about a mother's experience of what Dr Sears would call a 'high needs child', which put things in perspective for me - I realised it could be so much worse, and on the whole, although strong-willed, J is a delight. Fortunately the cycle seems to have passed and the last couple days he has been better, perhaps in part because I've calmed down a bit and have been more 'present' with him.

I have a lot of blog topics planned...but I'm trying to fit my yoga practice into my evenings now having given up on doing it in the morning - J is just too clingy and I can't get into it at all. And trying to get to bed earlier too...have felt better for some early nights and lie-ins. Will try to write more regularly on here too so as to get all the thoughts out before they build up too much!

P.S. The picture has nothing to do with anything. I just thought it was funny!

Monday, 10 November 2008


Technorati Profile

Eco-Housewifery and Other Mysteries

I have a new computer monitor...hooray! It's fantastic, and came to me absolutely free, courtesy of a good friend who I've spent most of today chilling with, along with our two babies. I've been so used to looking at a flickering screen, that this feels like a real treat.

The weather is extremely melancholia-inducing at the moment. Hence I gave up and left the house after lunch to avoid getting stuck in it. There's only so much housework I can do - and today it was very little. As a 'SAHM' (Stay-at-Home Mother) I feel barely related to those moms who actually enjoy the 'home-making' thing, such as Shannon Hayes, the 'eco-housewife' and author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, discussed in Tracey Sutton's article in Brain, Child Magazine's Fall 2008 issue. I was in awe reading about how Hayes survives on about 3 hours sleep, gets up to milk the cows and spends all day working hard to provide her family with the basics -with childcare thrown into the mix.

I am far too lazy for that. I like a bit of play, a little navel-gazing, a bit of literature, and a lot of socialising. I like to just enjoy the day alongside my developing toddler and watch his forays into the world. I wept when I read Kyo Maclear's Pictures of Awful (Brain, Child, Spring 2008) this morning during J's nap. It was a moving yet unsentimental essay on watching one's children gradually release the awful-ness of the world: the cruelty, the heartlessness, the wanton destruction. It hit me for the first time that, right now, J doesn't know. He has no idea what he's in for. He doesn't know about Hiroshima and Auschwitz and the Iraq War. To him, the world is a trustworthy place.

I remember when, as a teenager, I posted affirmations all over my walls. I liked to read them morning and night and during the day when my confidence wavered. One day my sister saw one of them, which was about the world being a safe place. Something like 'I am safe at all times.' She said, outraged, her innocence already fractured at the age of fifteen: 'But that's not true.' Especially in post-apartheid South Africa, that didn't seem true. We both grew up in a nation full of fear.

How to strike a balance between a healthy guardedness and a trust in the sacred of life? My yoga and meditation practice bring me back, over and over, to the fact that I cannot control anything other than what is internal to me. Yet, and especially now as a mother, I feel a strong need to help make the world a better place. If I didn't, what kind of person would I be?

Making the world a better place, some argue, is best achieved in one's own 'back yard': through bringing up one's children in a way that reflects certain values and ideals. I've been struck in a hard place by reading Cynthia Eller's article Why I hate Dr Sears (Brain, Child Magazine). It led me on to discover blogs that discussed the attachment parenting philosophy of Dr Sears, America's 'favourite paediatrician', with scepticism and even disdain. At first I felt shocked - not because I've adopted Sears as a 'parenting expert', but because I hadn't questioned his prescription of attachment parenting practices 'across the board' - to all parents and all babies, everywhere.

I realised that I have been a little naive in my willingness to take on 'natural parenting' and 'attachment parenting' as a package deal. Something about being a new parent made me long for certainty, for answers, for a way to know that I was doing the right thing. So when I found the natural parenting community online and through Dr Sears' work, I felt that I had found that. And soon, anything of the opposite polarity became anathema to me - and evidence of bad parenting: controlled crying, sleep training of any sort, putting young babies in buggies.

I'm grateful to these articles and blogs for bringing me back to the broader, more sociological perspective that used to be second nature to me in my more academic years. For helping me to remember that these ideas are socially constructed and change constantly, and that dogma is dangerous. The debate must continue, and I hope to be part of it.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Brain, Child Magazine

I finally got round to ordering some back copies of Brain, Child magazine. It's an American magazine aimed at 'thinking mothers'. I've devoured my five issues and am hooked... it's full of personal essays about all manner of motherhood issues from raising mixed-race children, to how teenagers stay drug-free, to co-sleeping with a seven-year-old. All very well-written, with distinctive voices. What I like most about it is, unlike some other parenting publications, it doesn't lean strongly down on one side. There is even a 'debate' column where two writers discuss opposing views on a topic such as whether to raise your child vegetarian or not if you are.

I'm now plotting essay and feature topics for the magazine. I'm back on track with following 'Writer Mama''s tips to break into freelance writing, and feel motivated to start writing some fillers and making even pitching to a newspaper to cover a particular area. I'd like to cover the spoken word scene again and maybe get into some events for free ;)

I'm looking forward to seeing my second freelance print published article at the end of this month, appearing in Juno magazine. A bit nervous too, though, because it's such a personal essay and will feature photographs of me. Somehow, despite wanting to be a successful writer, I also want to be anonymous!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Letting Go

This time of year, autumn, always requires a big letting go for me. Letting go of the summer, which since moving to England always feels like it was too short, and letting go of my fear of the dark. And, yes, my fear of change. Especially this year, when I've so recently celebrated the turning of a full year's cycle since the birth of my son. I could let his babyhood be dragged from me kicking and screaming as it were - or I could let it go gracefully. With grace is the key.

Recently I've decided to let go of the notion that J will sleep through the night anytime soon. Or even sleep a longer stretch than two hours. I feel so relieved since making this decision. It was causing me (and more importantly, him) more torment to try and change his sleeping patterns, than it does to just go with the flow. It's such a cliche, but it's true in this case, and in so many others.

Letting go is hard in a culture that prizes making things happen. Right now I'm going through a process of sifting through the remnants of my old 'career life' and finding the bits that I want to keep, and make into a new whole. At first, when I hit six-months post-partum, I thought I would be able to do a complete 'organ transplant' of my old creative life, onto this new life. I started being madly productive again, and exhausted myself in the process.

And now, six months later, I'm realising that this was never going to work. Trying to re-write a novel that is in pieces all over the place, while writing non-fiction for the web and breaking into print media, while blogging, while following others' blogs, while reading and researching, teaching yoga, and reading astrology to try get back into astrological counselling...sheesh, sometimes I wonder if it's megalomania I suffer from or just a ridiculous lack of commonsensical perspective.

It's so, so painful for me to let go of any of the projects so dear to my heart. Even to let go 'for the time being', because I'm afraid I'll never come back to them. I'm afraid that at the end of my life, I'll look back and say 'oh I was doing this that and the other..then I became a mother and it all went out the window.'

I keep coming back to the fact that this time with J is so short. So fleeting. So not worth spending it worrying over other stuff. But somehow I need to keep feeding the parts of me that are creative, or I lose myself. I'm trying to extricate my sense of self-esteem from a need to earn money and be part of the economically productive sector of society. It's the first time as an adult that I've not been in that place. I'm looking around at my new world, and there are still empty spaces - I don't know what they look like because I haven't created them yet.

So, I'm letting go of the old me who needed to have ticked a million things off a list every day to feel good about herself. I'm letting go of the me who needed others' approval to validate what she does with her days. I'm letting go of the material values of our society that put making money above family and friends. I'm letting go of the need to know where this phase in my life is going, and when, oh when, I will have some independence and career success back.

Keeping journals has always been a big help. I've been journalling since I was about nine years old, and all my old childhood and teenage journals are still in a locked toy chest back home! When I'm a bit lost, I refer to past journals (at least a 2 year gap is ideal) and sigh in relief that I'm no longer that confused, that agonised, and mostly, that self-absorbed. There's nothing like motherhood to prick the balloon of your own self-importance. Hooray for that. But reading over my journal from September 2005, today, I also felt sad for the person with a multi-directional future, stretching out in front of her, full of limitless possibilities. Then I turned the page, and saw that my job seemed to suck up all my time, then, and I resented it fiercely. How more wonderful that what sucks up my time now is something as rare and precious as a child who loves me.

In the new year I look forward to starting the NCT breastfeeding counselling course. This is a direction I never thought of before having a baby, but now seems so right. It combines so many of my loves: counselling people, working with women, working with babies, research, activism (or lactivism), and, at a later stage, hopefully teaching too. Part of me is scared because it's yet another interest to incorporate into my life, and I know something else has got to give. I'm wondering whether to keep pursuing the yoga teaching actively or just doing a workshop and cover class here and there. Often I feel I'm being led in directions I don't understand yet. But how arrogant would it be of me to expect to understand, anyway. I'm going to let go of that too.

Mothers Uncovered Exhibition in Brighton

In previous blogs I've mentioned the Mothers Uncovered Project in which I took part, discussing my experience of motherhood with several other new mothers. The experience was reassuring, affirming, and thought-provoking.

Coming up now is the Mothers Uncovered Exhibition at the Tarner Children's Centre, Ivory Place (off Morley Street), Brighton. Public viewings are on Monday the 10th Nov to Friday 14th Nov : 1.00-2.45pm ,
and on Monday 4.30-5.45pm.

Bit late notice, I know, but thought I'd just put it out there! The exhibition will include a viewing of the video made out of the sessions, photographs taken by the participants of their daily 'mothering' lives, and comments from the participants. Let's celebrate and affirm motherhood!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Welcoming the Winter

The past week has brought with it the huge turning point of J turning one, and of us moving house - from a flat, to a house with a lovely little garden. It's been a stressful period with us still frantically cleaning the old flat on the morning of the key handover, but thankfully over- I wouldn't recommend moving house with a toddler though!

J is nearly a toddler - he can stand alone and walk with support. His behaviour's becoming more toddler-like by the day- yep, the advent of tantrums and every sign of being strong-willed. His communication is getting better and more sophisticated. He experienced his first moment on stage when I performed with the rest of the Writing Sisters Collective last month at the Horseplay poetry and music event. J did burst into tears during the set when the audience laughed, but other than that he was great. It was good to re-unite with my Sisters in Poetry. Today being National Poetry Day is poignant for me as I am of course at home rather than at a poetry event tonight.

September was a good month. We went up to Cornwall for a very good friend's wedding and to Exeter for a few days to visit family. Me and J and two friends attended the Out of the Ordinary Festival in the Sussex countryside in the first week of September, and it was out of the ordinary indeed - the weather was straight from heaven and the 'sunbow' I witnessed was very special. J loved the fires, the drumming and the general tribal atmosphere. I came back feeling so refreshed and ready to greet the winter!

So here we are in autumn. I've been having a week of irritating encounters with 'petty officials', from the guy who installed our internet and phone line, to the grumpy library official who should NOT be working in the children's section as she clearly does NOT like children (I'm plotting a letter of complaint at the moment, and have several allies on this), and the dentist who couldn't quite get that I didn't want to just suddenly have a filling on the spot with my one year old in tow. Sigh. Unfortunately the last person in the list of grumpy unhelpful people usually doesn't benefit from my people-pleasing tendencies, and is more likely to get a bit of an earful. My Mama Bear instincts came out today when I, and several other moms, were reprimanded for 'letting' our toddlers take children's books off shelves that were so temptingly put in their reach. It was a typical example of how un-child-friendly our society can be. There aren't many places we are welcome with kids in tow, and where it is free to enter, and I thought the library was one of them. I guess not.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Family-Friendly Policies

At the Mothers Uncovered session last week (a project I've been taking part in which gives new mothers the opportunity to discuss the rewards and challenges of motherhood), a topic of discussion was Conservative MP David Cameron's new 'family-friendly' plan to bring maternity nurses into the homes of every new parent, for six hours a day during the first week of a baby's life. He apparently was impressed by the Dutch use of this system.

Looking into it further, I think this is typical of political strategies to divert attention away from the 'real' issues that make family life difficult. Cameron claims he wants to help 'struggling' middle-class families who apparently cannot take their babies 'out and about' due to the streets not being safe. I had to laugh aloud at this suggestion. It reminds me of other familiar 'fear-tactic' strategies, e.g. 'The War on Terror' that convince us the enemy is without, rather than within.

I'm more than a little uneasy at the prospect of some Gina-Ford style maternity nurse coming into parents' homes at the very time when they should be building a new relationship with their baby, and imposing her regimes and ideas on often impressionable new parents. I can't think of anything I'd have wanted less than someone funded by the state to do this job, foisted on me at this point. A cleaner and cook would perhaps have been welcome, but what makes the state think that they know better about how to look after babies? This remark was most telling: "To have those extra pair of hands around - and the advice of a real expert [own emphasis added]- could, I think, have a dramatic effect on the beginning of a baby's life and perhaps help in setting a positive path for the parents to follow."

How about focusing on helping mothers who want to be primary caretakers, so that they do not have to go back to work to support their families - instead of steering them back into low-paid jobs as soon as possible? How about working towards longer paid paternity leave for fathers (recent improvements are promising, but still only a few days paid leave)? Educating NHS hospital staff about attachment theory, which is amply supported by evidence, and eliminating the kind of experiences other mothers tell me about, where they were told not to hold or touch their babies more than strictly necessary? Or to ensure health visitors have up to date and extensive training on breastfeeding and, also, attachment theory, so that they do not advise abusive methods of care such as 'controlled crying' in the name of 'sleep training'?

This kind of proposal is a subtly dangerous way of encouraging parents to believe that they should listen to 'experts' over and above their instincts. Mothers have been mothering for millenia without maternity nurses. I appreciate that there are many families were children are at risk, due to poverty, substance abuse and other factors, but surely a blanket approach of state involvement is a little over the top? I think it's giving a whole new meaning to the 'nanny state' concept.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

My Summer So Far In a Nutshell

Well, as you can see I've been having a busy summer. J has been developing at a rapid rate - he appears to have a language all of his own now, as well as a unique method of locomotion involving bum shuffles, backwards crawling and attempts at the 'downward dog' yoga pose. He doesn't seem to realise this doesn't equal crawling - but hey, it gets him around.

The O2 Festival in early July was a good experience - performing my poetry alongside poets I greatly respect, such as Louise Halvardsson, Bernadette Cremin, and Jacob Sam La Rose. Our audience was an interesting one: punters at the beer garden section, who weren't always that appreciative of poetry, but who did warm to it as the set went on. J loved his first festival and didn't seem bothered by the music or crowds.

A couple of weeks ago I had my first camping experience as a mother - a very different one indeed to my carefree colourful days of the psychedelic trance parties in South Africa. Sleeping in a tent with a wriggly, hot nine month old doesn't make for good quality sleep, but the daytimes were great - lots of drumming, dancing, music, and new friends for us both to enjoy. I realise that next year will be tougher in some ways as J will have a lot more ability to say what HE wants to do - which won't necessarily coincide with my wishes! At this festival he was still fine to go in the Ergo sling a lot of the time.

My yoga classes are slowly starting to pick up, and my first writing workshop for mothers was great, leaving me with renewed inspiration for my own writing too. The next one is this Friday. I'm reading a wonderful book called "The Tao of Motherhood" which makes me feel so honoured to be a mother, and so inspired to see it as my spiritual practice. As as yoga teacher and spiritual seeker I often get caught in frustration at not having time to meditate or study spiritual matters, but every now and then a book like this reminds me of the living path I am on. I recommend it to any mothers who need a bit of solace at the end of a long day.

I've also discovered the brilliant writer Emma Donoghue. Having read and loved Touchy Subjects, her highly original book of short stories, I went on to devour Slammerkin, a surprisingly gripping tale of an 18th Century prostitute who just can't quite reform her ways. Now I'm reading The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, a collection of short stories about strange moments of British history.

My novel has been a little neglected due to going away three weekends in a row in July, and J's tendency to wake up several times during my 'writing time' in the early evening but I'm now picking it up again, and reading The Weekend Novelist Redrafts the Novel, by Robert J. Ray in an effort to inject some life into my second drafting process. I'm excited about the book's approach to redrafting plot and character first, and then dealing with style. I've been plodding along getting caught up in style, and having to re-write whole scenes, which is why it's taking so long. I'm resigned now to it possibly being another year or so before it is complete.

More instant results have been seen in my non-fiction endeavours: one of my articles has been accepted for publication in the natural parenting Juno magazine, to appear in the Nov/Dec issue, subject to co-editor's approval. This is my first 'serious' freelance print publication, since the Trespass article. I have a lot of respect for the magazine, so feel great to have my work appear in it. The tips I got from Christina Katz's Writer Mama seem to have paid off: I followed her hints on cover letters and editing articles, to the 'T', and got an affirmative reply the very next day.

My Suite 101 articles have also taken a backseat but I'm back onto it now with a new article appearing yesterday, entitled 'Travelling with Food Allergies' - hopefully going towards my eventual promotion to Feature Writer (let's be hopeful!) in the Allergies section.

Other exciting news is the upcoming reunion of the Writing Sisters Collective, of which I am one third, is happening at Mad Hatter Cafe on Montpelier Road, Brighton, on Tuesday 26th August at 8pm. Me, Louise Halvardsson and Petra Creffield form an international 'band' of female poets who perform our work as well as other poets'. It's been a while since we all got together so it should be good!

Well, better get off the net and back to my novel. Luckily J seems to be having an uninterrupted stretch of sleep tonight...(so far)...think it was his first swimming lesson tiring him out!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Ups and Downs

The past few weeks have been challenging, exciting, and at times blissful. I had a spurt of productivity with my Suite 101 articles, but this week feel drawn to working on my novel again, and I find I cannot do both. The novel is flowing better, after a week of being a bit stagnant, so I'm grateful for that.

I've had a few bits of good news in my writing career: an article I wrote on life coaching and motherhood, will appear in the August edition of 'Personal Success' magazine (sadly, another unpaid clip, but any publication is great); I received an Editor's Choice Award for my '10 Tips on Green Parenting' article on Suite 101; and I have a spot reading my poetry at the massive O2 festival in London, in early July, thanks to my long-time friend and fellow writer who is editor of 2 magazines that are hosting the spot. So...I feel positive that some of my plugging away is making things happen out there. I also received a copy of the beautiful women's soul poetry collection, 'Brighid's Runes: A Collection of Women's Soul Poetry', compiled by Rachel Mica McCann, in which my poem 'For Sylvia' appears. The proceeds of the book will go towards projects such as the Greenbelt Movement. Planting trees is always a wonderful thing to be involved in. Copies are available from Rachel at

I'd like to focus more on getting into print media again. But I feel overwhelmed by all the possible different directions to go in, and too little time. I remembered recently that I am supposed to be on maternity leave, not working as such yet... but something happened when J hit the 6 month mark, and I needed to do something for myself. At the moment I have a first draft of an article for Juno Magazine, and am trying to think of things to submit to The Guardian.

As for my yoga classes, despite more advertising, still no go there. Which isn't a good feeling, but I have to accept the setbacks with the good. I am giving a 'new mothers writing workshop' in July which I'm currently advertising. I'm looking forward to trying new things and discovering what works (and doesn't work!)

I have been feeling pretty burned out because of the intensity of J's separation anxiety lately. Whew. It's hard work being the other half of someone who is learning how to be a human being. Especially without an extended family or network around me. It's really hard at the moment to have time for me, and I know this is probably going to be even more severe when J becomes more mobile. I think, what did you expect? But it doesn't help to deal with the reality. At the same time, he is becoming more lovely and fascinating by the day, and I love seeing his cognitive and emotional development alongside his motor development. It's a unique experience, seeing a new person unfold, and wondering what he will be like. I felt sad, reading 'Raising Boys' by Steve Biddulph, when he describes being mother to an older boy, and I found it so hard to imagine.

Sunday, 25 May 2008


Today was one of those beautiful days that just - flows. I'm planning an article on the way motherhood is teaching me to be 'in the tide', possibly for a magazine like Juno or Mothering. I went for a walk to Withdean Park, which is my favourite park (and luckily less than five minutes walk from my house), and while I was there two complete strangers struck up conversations with me about baby carriers, dragonflies, the importance of sun protection when you are young, and the passing of time as you watch your children grow before your eyes. I was fascinated to learn more about dragonflies - I was enjoying giving J my usual 'tour of the park', where I point things out to him and let him touch them - leaves, bark, flowers etc - and I'm sure I wouldn't have spotted the iridescent blue dragonfly if I hadn't been paying such close attention to things.

I was also touched by the friendliness and openness of these two people. Often, when I get stuck in stereotypical thinking, I imagine 'The British' as these closed, reserved people...but it's nonsense really. Sure, when you're all battling the crowds at a London tube station, it can seem like that - each man for himself - but I've noticed that when I'm open in my heart, others seem to be so too.

This book I'm reading, 'Awakening the Buddhist Heart', is really speaking to me. I've read other books by Lama Surya Das, and found his writing brilliant, but this one is so timely. I've been finding, in the past couple of days, that just keeping a larger perspective in my mind, of where I want to go with my spiritual journey, has been helping me to be more loving and accepting, and far less judgmental of others (and myself). It's helping me to let go of those petty little thoughts and words that just aren't worth it. I feel really lucky today.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

A Little Outing

Yesterday I went to the Hanover Poetry Festival, part of the Brighton Festival Fringe. It was an outdoor daytime event at Queenspark, which is one of my favourite parks in Brighton. It was great to meet up with Lou-Ice, my friend and writing partner/inspiration of five years (wow, has it been that long!), and hear her performance of some new poems. As ever I enjoyed seeing Disraeli live, and he did a collaborative piece on Woodvale Crematorium with a guy whose name I didn't catch, but was also good. It made me want to rush up there to check out the amazing views he was talking about! The weather was drizzly but do-able. J enjoyed meeting some more trees and gave me some much-needed reading and brainstorming time before the event started, by having a long nap!

On Monday when I visited one of my friends who is expecting her first baby next month, I discovered a wonderful parenting magazine, Juno. I was impressed with both the writing and the range of topics. It's for the 'natural parenting'-minded and has everything from breastfeeding stories, to ecological/ethical issues, gentle discipline and different types of schooling. Definitely one I want to submit to.

I seem to have got back into my writing swing - when will I accept there are just rhythms to these things, and go with it? I've been working a bit on my novel, and writing two articles for Suite 101, one on communal living and its advantages to people and planet (a subject that fascinates me), and one on child-friendly attitudes and their importance to the whole of society. I submitted a poem for a breastfeeding poem competition on a website, just for fun really. And have been mind-mapping ideas for yoga workshops and courses. Am considering going the pre-booked course route as still haven't had any students for my drop-in :( It's so competitive in Brighton, I think you need to have a different 'edge' to compete. But on the one side I have the 'business brain' which is wanting to market effectively and so on, and on the other I feel that I should just be letting it flow and happen without trying to control. A combination of these is what I'm working towards...

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

wow, the time flies!

I have been really immersed in motherhood the past little while. Some highlights from the past couple of weeks: J experiencing his first ride on a swing, going down a slide and playing with sand; going to London to visit friends I've known for nearly a decade, who are great with J, and J loving London (his second visit; re-connecting with my lifelong friend, her sister and her mom (my second family, in a nutshell) and them spending time with J; and lots of beautiful sunny days. Amazing what a difference good weather makes: I feel lighter, more relaxed, and FREE when the sun is out and I no longer have to put layers on to go out. And J is enjoying being barefoot and free too!

Haven't had time for any writing other than mind-mapping my next Suite 101 article and reading more of 'Writer Mama', and doing a couple of exercises on there. I have just been too mind-numbingly exhausted, a combination of the weekend in London taking its toll (three nights of too little sleep in a row leads to a very tired mommy) and J's sleep being out of whack ever since, and the fact that J has been going through an exceptionally 'clingy' phase. Apparently it's a normal developmental stage, when at 7 months they first realise you are in fact separate from them, so this means even leaving the room for two seconds becomes an's hard work! Plus he has been waking loads at night again. It's so tough without family nearby to help. Friends can help here and there for an hour but I feel bad asking them, and they all have their own lives. Feel a bit on the edge of my tolerance for this intensity...but at the same time loving my time with my baby.

My next step with 'Writer Mama' is to get four magazines for each of my target audiences - writers, mothers, yoga teachers/holistic-minded people and women - and analyse them. Going to head for the library as no way I can afford to buy 16 magazines! Little steps, little steps....

Monday, 5 May 2008


I came across Veronika Sophia Robinson's blog today. She is the editor of 'The Mother' magazine. It was extremely thought-provoking, on everything from the real origins of breast cancer increases, to the cause of teenage dysfunction and violence, to, in her latest entry, being a 'work at home' mum versus 'stay at home' mum.

This has been a question which occupies a lot of my thoughts since making the decision not to go back to my job or to look for another. Although I am a writer and yoga teacher, am I still a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM)? My day is structured around child-friendly and child-orientated activities, rather than my work, at present, so I would lean towards the SAHM side, particularly as I am not yet earning any visible money from my endeavours.

I've just finished reading a fascinating, if dated, book called 'Who Cares?: A new deal for mothers and their small children' by Penelope Leach. I picked it up at a book market at Embankment in London this weekend, and devoured it in a couple of days. Leach puts forward the argument that until the age of three, group scenario's of childcare are developmentally inappropriate and damaging. What a child needs is one-to-one attention from a mother or mother-substitute. Feminism has done a great job in many ways but unfortunately it hasn't helped women to mother better, because they are forced to choose between mothering and career, mothering and money, and to feel guilty either way. "I do think that loving and caring for a baby and child is too important to give less than the best that we can.', Leach says in an interview with Oliver James. She has also recently led a study showing that children cared for in nurseries, child-minders and grandparents had more problems such as aggression and withdrawal.

The way that it's become harder to leave J in the evenings lately, to the point where I've decided not to try and do so again until I feel he is ready; the way I feel guilty when I'm only giving him 'half' my attention because I'm trying to do something else that, when you come down to it, isn't really that vital; the way I find that the more whole-hearted and involved I am with him, the more I enjoy parenting rather than find it overwhelming and burdensome; the way he is developing, more and more, into a person in his own right, who fascinates me with his total focus and motivation; all these things intuitively confirm the facts that I am learning about. Attachment parenting seemed so 'extreme' when I first saw it and read about it, but I now find anything else rather unthinkable. What is disturbing to me, is how few people seem to know what is best for children, developmentally and emotionally, despite the numerous studies that have been carried out on the subject. Is there a cover-up going on here? After all, clearly it suits our economy to have mothers all going out to work, and many jobs provided for the out-sourcing of childcare. If mothers knew how daycare could affect their children, at least they could make an informed choice.

'Writer Mama' (see my previous blog) is great,and has given me a lot to work on systematically in terms of breaking into publishing, but it assumes that you are happy to leave the care of your very young child with someone else, and that you have natural breaks during the day from the responsibilities of childcare. This is not the case for me right now, and I have found this difficult at times, but the more I accept it, the more I can see motherhood as my career right now - perhaps as my main job, with other things as corollaries. Much as when I was working a 37 hour week, I saw my writing and yoga as hobbies outside of that (even when I hated my job: the fact was, the sheer amount of time I spent on it, pushed other things aside).

No doubt I will continually revise these views as I go along, but that's where I'm at right now. I feel passionate about the way the younger generation is cared for and becomes part of the larger world, and that this is more important and more essentially creative than any other endeavour. The beauty of it is, I can write about my passion (when I get time...)

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Happy Beltane

I'm off to London today for three days. My stuff takes up one small square of the suitcase (yes, suitcase...gone are the days of a rucksack). I have no idea how I used to take so much with me to London when it was just me. Really looking forward to it... seeing friends that I don't see nearly often enough, and just getting away to a change of scenery...returning to Brighton with a renewed appreciation for how lovely it is :)

I discovered a great concept yesterday, called unconditionality. I'm sure you've come across it in other guises. But the basic idea is that when you are unconditional, you remain open to enjoyment, in fact joy, to come into your experience, no matter what is happening. I find this idea so freeing. It's similar of course to the Buddhist concept of non-attachment, not being attached to any outcome or result or thing, but just acting out of dharma, or right action. But somehow I always found that idea a bit more difficult, because it felt like something moral to live up to. And coming from my Christian background, I sometimes struggle with that, because it sets up my rebellion reaction :)

Anyway, this website, Enjoy Parenting, is great. Particularly article about unconditionality applied to parenting. I signed up for the author, Scott Noelle's daily inspiration emails. Hopefully this will help me keep positive perspective in my parenting.

I also got Writer Mama by Christina Katz yesterday. It's all about how to 'raise your writing career alongside your kids'. So far it's packed with useful information and step-by-step guide. What I really like about it is its guidance on how to find your audience, your niche, and how to pitch articles to the right places. I've been going about all of this rather haphazardly, so I felt a bit intimidated. But I'm sure it's not too late ;)

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

i'm just stopping by...


J has just fallen asleep and I had to tear myself away from the exciting laundry, dirty kitchen floor and dirty just about everything else, to get on the PC. I was sort of into the flow of it (doesn't happen often), so it was hard to change levels. But must get on with the novel!

I remembered today that when I was working part-time and had loads of time (supposedly), I hardly did any writing. Things haven't really changed... whatever situation I'm in, I find myself making excuses and longing to just lie around reading a book. Sometimes I think books are my vice. So now that I'm grabbing little moments here and there (and sometimes a block of 2 hours after J's gone to bed at night, but often I'm too exhausted by then), it's no different.


Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sunday ...exhausted!

Taught a yoga class at LA Fitness Gym today, covering for my teacher. It was great - I haven't taught there for months but used to do it fairly regularly as cover. It's weird how things come full circle - that gym was where I first started doing Kundalini Yoga, and now I am teaching there. I got a good response with a couple of students asking me afterwards about my new class. Always a good sign. I feel so amazing after teaching, it's one of those things that I can do and really be totally immersed in, not half somewhere else. No problem being 'in the moment' there! Even temporarily forgot about my perennial obsession, my baby!

I haven't had much time to write the past couple of days, although I submitted a new article to Suite 101 on Thursday. It turns out writing specifically for the web takes some getting used to; I got some feedback from the editor that made me aware of needing to improve on my search engine optimisation! But it's a learning curve ;) I got good feedback re my articles from another writer mama on a forum for holistic-minded mothers that I frequent, which was great.

Attended the Will Self reading with G, promoting his new book, 'The Butt', at the Old Market Theatre (associated with City Books) on Thursday night. Was rather nerve-wracking as had to drop J off at friends to babysit, and was called back there before the end of the event as he was crying :( It really breaks my heart when that happens. But apparently he was fine most of the time, and at least I was just down the road. Anyway it was quite inspiring, hearing such a successful author read, and hearing the way he answered questions.

Really 'in love' with my baba lately - I've been 'wearing' him a lot the last few days and it makes a difference to how close we feel. I love my Ergo! J has been so much fun to be with, he is just full of laughs and life.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Pleasant reveries and reflections

Bus reverie

Just emerged from a lovely reverie on the bus. Bus journeys have become part of my life again recently. On a bus I'm often struck by how much I love this city. It seems crazy to contemplate moving anywhere else - although I do, regularly - Devon, for example. There's something addictive about Brighton - I know there are cheaper places to live that are just as lovely, with communities of their own, but somehow Brighton always pulls me in...

Looking out the window of the bus I can see ... a group of university music students jamming on the lawn...women pushing twin buggies along... an animated discussion between two dreadlocked hippies outside the Cowley businessmen and women heading for the train station, back to London...I can see all possibilities and all lifestyles, all questions, all choices, all connections. It helps me make connections in my own life, and think about what I am doing, and where I want to go.

The Zen of Motherhood

I was also thinking: motherhood is so incredibly Zen, in a way. It's a wonderful way to peel off the layers. I find myself losing my preferences gradually, and growing in my ability to be okay with unpredictability, chaos, the unknown. Something I've always been both drawn to, and terrified of - like many of us, I suppose. There I am, on the bus, sprawled across two seats so I can breastfeed my baby, honestly not giving a s*** about what anyone might think. I wrote recently about being sensitive to others' reaction to my baby's crying. Well, I'm making progress with that. I'm starting to trust that I know my J, and I trust my mothering. You really need that trust, as a mother. Especially times like, on Monday night when I returned from a poetry event that I read at, and poor J was crying his eyes out. The minute I took him from his dad, he stopped. It really hit me: He needs me.

Of course, I felt guilty...having chosen to do something out of the home at night time, which I very rarely do these days...but I know this is just part of what I have to cope with. The conflicting needs. However, it did make me resolve to not leave J at night unless I truly feel it's important... it's a tough call to make. But today, I took him to a creche for the first time, stayed with him for part of the time, and did some writing on the PC's that were available. Mainly work on my novel - just reading through character sketches and fleshing out plot. But he was fine. The creche worker told me he had been great, and is obviously very secure; she congratulated me on doing a good job. These affirmations are what mothers need, and more of!

Let's affirm each other as mothers.

Monday, 21 April 2008

one of those run-around days

Off to a poetry event

How many times can you heat up rice again? ;) J's doing his waking-up-every-few-minutes-after-being-put-down thing. I'm planning to go out to an event called Justin Sane, that Charles Devus, a guy from my poetry group, Poets Cornered, is holding at More Bar in Trafalgar Street. I'm going to perform my poems 'Passion', 'Permission' and 'Keep the Faith'. G's sister is babysitting, I'm a bit nervous as to how it will go because J will probably wake at least once, but I don't plan to be gone more than two hours tops. Of course, the buses around here are rubbish so who knows.

Covering a yoga class

I've just agreed to cover a yoga class on Sunday at LA Fitness Gym for my yoga teacher, who I met up with this morning. I've covered classes there often before, but not recently. Quite excited about it. Still feel ambivalent about having time away from J. It so rarely happens, that I get out of the habit of it. He is not used to being without me. Also, I find I miss him - like the time we had people round for dinner recently and he slept an unheard-of four and a half hours straight, and I honestly was longing for his company by the time he woke! I guess, when else do you spend literally 24/7 with someone?

My challenge at the moment seems to be to find new ways of creating balance between looking after J, writing and seeing people! I'm amazed when I go on mothers' forums to see how many mums balance studying, work and motherhood and STILL manage to have a relationship with their spouse ! More and more I am amazed by women. I don't even have any formal committments at the moment, yet I easily get stressed trying to do it all. Oh yes, and housework too...thank god I have a partner who does more than his fair share, or I'd live in chaos...

And finally...the never-ending novel

I've started looking at character studies I wrote a while ago, for my novel, and trying to get back into the characters' heads again. Now that I've decided to focus on three central characters rather than the eight I was envisioning, it's much easier. Though the writing I've already done will be useful background.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

A Sunny day in Brighton

So...what is the job description?

Sometimes I find myself wondering...what exactly are you supposed to do with a young baby?

It's much like any other job I've done before: I start to feel I should be doing more somehow, or at least better ;) I wish I could be a fly on the wall of other mums' homes, and see what they really get up to.

But when things are flowing well, I don't wonder about this so much. I just get on with it, and J seems happy, and I'm happy. I don't think people wondered about this stuff before the advent of parenting theories and books. I get the impression babies and children were just part of the bigger picture of life in the family and community.

Does your baby never cry?

Today I was on the seafront with G and J; it was a lovely sunny day, definitely the prelude to spring... and when I was left alone with J he had a huge crying fit. I swear, when he cries it is the loudest thing! Other mums have said I just imagine it is, because it sounds so loud to me, but today I really think it was, because the people at the next table were staring. I felt like saying, 'Did your baby never cry?' (they had an empty buggy with them). I knew he was just tired and had a runny nose which was preventing him from feeding properly, but there seems to be this vibe of, if a baby cries, the mum has to do something about it - fix it, stop it. I feel really on the spot when that happens, and its something that I can't fix. Oh well. All of this is great practice for gradually starting to give less of a damn what anyone else thinks!

I had a really productive morning, today - did a good page of my novel (oh yes, it's very slow...but its something!), had an epiphany about what to change in my novel while washing the dishes (love it when that happens), and did some networking and profiling on the web.

Gotta go now - J needs attention!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Writing Meeting and Yoga Classes

Writers feedback

I went to a writer's feedback meeting with two friends today which was really good. I've only been to my regular poets group, Poets Cornered, once since J's birth, as the time has proved inconvenient for me because of having no-one to look after J. When he was really little I could just pop him in the sling and take him along to anything, till whatever time, but now he has a 'bedtime' it's more difficult! Anyway this afternoon worked out well though, he slept through nearly an hour of it! And wasn't too fussy the rest of the time. Still, it's hard to concentrate fully and juggle things.

The feedback made me think about why I write the poems I do, and what they are really saying. I write in such a 'stream of consciousness', free writing way (and then work on the poems) that I often find it difficult to explain why I said this or that. That's why feedback is so useful, because I can see how my poem comes across more objectively, and whether the 'story' or concepts follow through, or jar a little.

We made goals to complete for the next meeting, and mine was to get to the next stage with my novel, by using tools such as mind maps and flipcharts to see where it's going, get an overall picture. At the moment I'm contemplating simplifying it quite a bit. I wrote a good page and a half this morning which I'm pleased with - it was a new 'scene' and some surprising things happened.


I've ended up being really busy again this week, seeing people every day and having lots planned. If I'm not careful I'll get exhausted again. It seems to come in waves though; I know better now when to slow down and schedule less. Before this week I had a pretty low-key one. But I haven't managed a single nap this week, and I'm starting to feel tired again.

New yoga class

I've organised the kundalini yoga classes, to start 1st May, and had fliers printed up which ended up being more expensive than I thought. Oh well. Put them up in a few places already, and the clinic where I'll be teaching said they'd give them to people at their Open Day today. Quite excited about it all, though also nervous, because the classes I started in Hove a while ago didn't ever take off. But this venue is a much more established one - the Hove one was a brand new practice, which was a mistake - but you live and learn.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

it's 7:45 am and a lovely day

New beginnings and a non-starter...

the last few days have been a mixture...

I'm discovering new levels to this motherhood thing all the time. One of the things that's quite hard is feeling like a black sheep (yet again) with some mums (not all) because of my rather alternative views on parenting. I also seem to be a bit over-researched on everything...other people don't seem to take the time to consciously choose what they are doing, just following tradition. This makes me sad :(

I'm feeling positive about my yoga teaching as have organised a new class starting 1st May in the mornings, not far from my house. The co-owners of the business seem very nice and are also up for me doing an evening class there soon, but suggest waiting to see how this one goes first. Typical me-style is to plunge ahead and do it all, then get overwhelmed! But learning to go slower these days :)

Unfortunately the pregnancy yoga training I had enrolled on, to start next month, has been cancelled due to low numbers. This I had kind of anticipated, but was disappointing nonetheless. I really was looking forward to starting pregnancy yoga classes. Now it'll have to wait another year.

Well that's all I have time for today. Little one is needing my attention. If only he were content in the sling while I'm sitting down...but no! He has been a real cutie-pie though lately (well, when is he not...)

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Back on the Upswing...


Feel really connected with my life again. Positive and excited. I feel so lucky to be able to live in the flow I'm in right now. I think what's relieved a lot of tension in my mind has been two things: making the final decision (with G) that I'm NOT going back to work as of the end of June as planned, and a few days away in Devon with G's family.

Amazing what a change of scenery can achieve. Right now I can see how lucky I am to be a mother and be able to do that, really put myself into it, without the extra stress of a job. The financial side is taking a lot of faith, but we ended up being better off than I thought, when I went onto maternity pay, so I know things can stretch and change. The dependence does scare me, sure - but not as much as doing something I hate and leaving my baby with someone else. Have been reading bits of 'Affluenza' by Oliver James, which I gave G for his birthday, and there's stuff in there that's pretty scary, about the effects of daycare on children under three, and the way that society brainwashes us into thinking only paid work outside the home is worth anything. Aah, the relief!

As for writing...I'm quite well back into the swing of my novel lately, although obviously had a break during our time away. Think I'm ready, finally, to start sharing it with a select few quite soon...I've had three articles published in less than two weeks, on It's great the way it is forcing me to write!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

29 March


so...i'm not doing too well with the three times a week thing! Am just about to go to bed and take advantage of the 2 hour gap between feeds. I've had a frustrating few days trying to get any writing done. Managed little glimpses of my novel but it's slow going. I think what's hard is, I'll have a few good productive days, think 'aah this is working', and then J is particularly needy and I don't have a chance to do anything.

It would be easier if I had designated 'times off' when I could just focus on writing and building up my yoga teaching, because when I have to slot it in everywhere I end up losing focus on what's really my priority right now: taking care of J. Which isn't fair on him. But I feel positive about having got the contract with, to write content for them. I've written my first article and just have to edit it now. I would love to be able to write an article a day, but it's only feasible if I get more help in the childcare department I feel so torn at the moment between building up my career and totally being immersed in motherhood. But now that J is 6 months I feel it's start slowly integratng it all into my life.

Can't I just have a hot chocolate??

Yesterday though I had a bit of a close-to-cracking type of day ...they happen now and again. The worst moment was when he was having a meltdown as I'd just sat down to a nice hot chocolate at a cafe (previously he'd been asleep)m and another mother of a baby (who I could swear I've met at some mom and baby group or other) gave me a 'look' instead of a nice supportive, much-needed smile. Grrr. A phonecall to my partner about it all was no more helpful and I was reminded of how I need to share these moments with sympathetic girlfriends only. Aah well. I feel better today for having gone on a nice peaceful walk to Withdean Park (J asleep in the Ergo Carrier). Speaking of the Ergo Carrier, it's changing my life! Having him on my back instead of the front makes a world of difference. It's a pity a lot of the time he fusses and isn't happy when I put him in there. Maybe (hopefully) he's just getting used to a new carrier.

Watched the film 'Perfume' tonight with G. It was good - I like that sort of atmospheric period stuff with a slightly spooky feel. Today was a bit manic - 'sister-in-law' and kids came for an impromptu visit... while they were entertaining to J which was great, I felt disgruntled at having to entertain them when I had tons of other stuff to be getting on with.Laundry, dishes, other exciting stuff! Anyway, must be off to bed now.Looking forward to a walk in Ditchling tomorrow with friends.

Monday, 24 March 2008

I'm Back...

The 6-month milestone

I'm finally ready to take up this blog again! I won't even attempt to update you on the past few months, except to say it's been every bit as much of a journey as I thought it would be. I'll probably put in bits from my old journals as I go along. I am, with a baby about to reach the 6-month milestone, and who has already reached so many milestones. Today he had some of his first banana! I don't know how much actually made it down his throat, but he definitely had fun with it! My partner and I have decided to practice 'baby-led weaning' which is an alternative approach to the usual purees and mush route. The baby eats proper solid food from the start, (teeth or no!) and is allowed to play with, experiment and choose his own food. The idea is that it avoids the problems of the transition from mushed-up food to 'finger food' and develops a good relationship with food, along with social skills around eating. It promises to be a messy but fascinating experience!

Spring Surges

The spring equinox seems to have affected me in a big way. I've been experiencing a huge surge of creative drive and motivation to finally put old projects to rest. That includes taking up the second draft of my novel again, publishing some articles I wrote last year, on, and writing new articles too. There's a strange contradiction because although my energy is going outward to the world in the form of my words, I've been more 'hibernatory' the last few days. Since J was born I've been spending most of my time with friends and trekking around Brighton (I haven't done this much walking since I did the Camino Pilgrimage in 2004!), just enjoying being with J and letting others enjoy him too. But now I feel ready to start resuming my former activities with more gusto, and this neatly coincides with J being able to spend slightly longer periods entertaining himself (always, however, with me in eyeshot!) I've also taken up baby-wearing in a big way again - I seem to go through phases with it - and find this allows me to get a bit more done too (although usually when he is sleeping in the sling - he's not fond of stationary positions when awake!)

Career...what career?

I've had a chance to catch up with one of my best friends who returned to Brighton from a year's adventuring in Thailand and Sweden, and as always inspires me to keep at it with my writing. A couple of weeks ago we both attended my first poetry event since the birth, run by 'The South' who always run excellent nights, and read for the first time in months! I think the last time I read before that, was at Brighton Poetry Society at eight months pregnant. I was nervous, but receiving an admiring remark from the guy who runs the Tall Lighthouse events in Brighton, helped my confidence, as well as just getting up there and doing it, of course!

My yoga business is also slowly but surely taking off...I started a mother and baby yoga class two months ago, which is going well, and plan to expand into more classes as soon as I get around to organising a) insurance, and b) childcare...a tricky one when breastfeeding and trying to work around my partner's crazy shift pattern.

Well, that's all for now...from now on I'll update at least three times a week, I promise!