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
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
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 issue...it'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
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 ;)
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