Thursday, 23 November 2017

Mamas, love your body (A letter to myself and other mothers)

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There is little I find sadder on social media than reading a request for information on cosmetic surgery from mamas who want to "fix" their post-natal bodies. I am not talking about mums with serious issues as a result of pregnancy and childbirth that are causing pain or restricting movement, I am talking about normal cosmetic things that happen during pregnancy that society, the media, magazines, advertising, have deemed not normal, attractive or acceptable. Don't get me wrong I'm not judging, I get it, I really do, I have those feelings too, and this letter it to myself as much as it is to you a reminder of what is important, what is true and what is real.

Sometimes what we really need is not a new face cream but rather some fresh perspective.

Mama, I am talking to you now, crying out to you to show your body some love.  Look at the amazing things your body has done for you.  It has grown a new life and carried it for nine whole months, that amazing body of yours grew another human, a miracle! Thank your bodies for giving you your daughter or son, thank it for it's strength, it's resilience, it's ability to endure one of the most powerful forces on earth; bringing forth new life. Your body will never be the same as it was before your carried life, those rounded hips, your strong thighs, that ocean tummy, those milky breasts, but why should it be?  Different isn't bad, changed isn't wrong.   Why should we have to try to hide that we made a life?

Image result for mother body quotes

We've all seen pictures of women in the media, air brushed to perfection, bodies of young women, un-worked, flawless.  We're bombarded by these pictures on almost a daily basis, but these images are not reality. Of course the women in these images exist and I am no way shaming them for the bodies they have, but they are only showing one kind of beautiful, and not only that but a beauty that has been refined beyond the point of reality.  What about the beauty of an empty nest?  That tummy of yours is exquisite mama. It stretched and grew to accommodate your baby, that skin you grab and fret over is a testament to your body's greatest achievement, and it is a beautiful thing.  Your baby no longer resides there but the echo of that second heart beat remains with you as a reminder of your strength and power. Those breasts that grew and fed your infants are a marvel my love! Of course they don't look like they did when you were a teen, nor do they resemble the huge round orbs that we're confronted with on billboards and magazine pages, shiny and rounded, pumped up and plastic and full of lies.  But those breasts on your body are yours, doing their job, wear them with pride for they are real, love them, for they are truth.


We are shamed, as mothers for not having our teenage bodies any more.  We are fed a steady stream of shame, cartoon pictures of mothers with breasts dragging on the floor, photos of mummy tummies with felt tip lines marking where hard earned skin will be cut away, Magazine pictures of celebrity mothers shamed for their post-natal bodies.  Mama, don't believe these pictures, don't let them draw you in, don't believe their lies.  Your body is perfect, exactly how it should be, it doesn't need to be fixed because it isn't broken.

What are we teaching our daughters, or nieces, our younger sisters, when we seek cosmetic surgery on bodies that have simply done their job? Do we want to send them the message that when they have children, that very process that brought them into the world, is something to be ashamed of, something to mend, hide, cover up, disguise, pretend never happened?  We should be celebrating our extra skin, our stretch marks.  Wouldn't it be amazing if we longed for these in the same way our childish minds longer for the beginning of breasts and our periods, as a mark of womanhood, of womanliness?  The only way we can change the world, change the way the world sees the bodies of mothers is to change the way we see ourselves.

Gustav Klimt, Mother & Child

I am calling out to you mama to be proud of your body, say positive words about it, honour your body by sending out words of love about your it into the world, tell the world that you're not going to be shamed for the scars and marks of your body's ultimate achievement.  Reject the lies you've been fed, let's change the future, for ourselves and our children.  Let us tell the world what is normal and what is true, and stop accepting the negative world view of a mother's body; because you my love are truth, you are normal, more than normal, you are consummate work of art, you are perfection.

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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Spy Theme Letter Activity

Hi Everyone,

Today I am blogging for who have inspired me with their letter detectives preschool activity.  This would be perfect for a Spy or detective themed topic or, you know, just for fun. I would like to try something like this with UV pens and lights too!

Preschool Reading & Writing Activities: Turn Your Child into a Letter Detective!

What You Need:

  • Highlighters in several colors
  • Magazines or newspapers
  • Several index cards or post-it notes
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Choose a letter of the alphabet. Make sure that your child knows what it looks like, both as a capital letter and as a lowercase. (You may want to print both versions on an index card or post-it note, to give him a reference.) Once you've given your child a target, arm him with a set of old magazines or newspapers to hunt through, and a magnifying glass if you've got one, to add to the Sherlock Holmes experience. As he finds his letter, he should highlight it.
  2. Want to add extra excitement? Use a timer and see how many versions of the letter your child can find in two or three minutes. Tally the number and see if she can "beat" it the next time.
  3. If your child is having difficulty with this, don't despair. The magazine and newspaper pages may have too much writing on them. You can create your own page using a computer's word processing program. Instead of those Word Searches, so common in the newspaper, you're creating a Letter Search. Be sure to use a large font size, then type letters randomly, using some uppercase and some lowercase letters. To keep frustration levels low, use your focus letter frequently, at least at first. Here's an example of what a letter search for "Aa" would look like.
  4. Once your child is finding all of the letters of the alphabet quickly, challenge him with some high frequency words, instead. Some possible words to start with include: “the”, “a”, “to”, “my”, “is”, “you”, and “and”.
The more she practices, the faster she'll get. So keep those highlighters handy, and the hunt fresh.

Hope you have fun with this activity, let me know if you give it a go and if your kids love it.  What other ideas d you use to get your children into letters?

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Hello Autumn!

Oh I do love this time of year. The colours alone are enough to make my heart burst at the beauty of it all.  At Forest School I sometimes feel like closing my eyes as it's too much beauty for my little mind to handle!

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There are lots of wonderful festivals at this time of year too and I am trying to enjoy them all, savoring and relishing every one.  Squeezing all the meaning I can out of every moment.

Friday the 22nd September was the Autumn Equinox which marks the day when the number of daylight hours is equal to the number of night time hours.  It means that Winter is approaching and that it is time to say goodbye and thank you very much to Summer.

We decided to visit the standing stone circle at Avebury to mark the occasion. I am not entirely sure why.  I am drawn to the place at these times of the year when the seasons change, maybe it makes me feel a connections to my ancestors or British history or nature, I am not sure.  It is notable that the meaning of the standing stone circle at Avebury is still not known.  It is thought it might be to do with fertility, but no one can say for sure, it doesn't align with the stars, or with the sun or moon as Stone Henge does, it is till a mystery to historians. I find this fascinating because there were a number of people camping at Avebury who I thought must be Druid based on their dreadlocks and rainbow tie die (not that all Druids have dreadlocks and wear rainbow tie dye, or that all those with dreadlocks and rainbow tie dye are Druid, I happen to have penchant for rainbow tie dye myself.) who are obviously drawn to the place at this time of year also, but like me really don't know the meaning of the stones.

We walked round the circle, I tried to go "through" the stones (in the style of Claire Fraser from Outlander), it didn't work, incidentally, and we visited the museum and manor house.  All really interesting  (I highly recommend a visit).

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That evening I had a little fire in the garden, said thank you for all the good things that summer brought us; camping, visiting family, the seaside, birthdays, playgrounds, swimming pools..... and welcomed in the Autumn, (although with slight hesitation and apprehension because I am really not a fan of winter.).

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The Autumn festivities continues into the week and yesterday we celebrated Michaelmas, also known as Feast of St Michael and All Angels.  The Bible story in Revelation tells us that there was a war in Heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, (who was the Devil), and the dragon was cast out of Heaven.  Incidentally the Archangel Michael is often pictured in artworks holding a set of scales, supposedly to weigh the souls of men, and Michaelmas comes within the astrological sign of the scales (Libra)!  (I love the interconnectedness of it all!) The scales represent a balance between the darkness and death that Autumn brings and our own ability to raise ourselves up into re-birth and resurrection.  We have to fight against the inner-dragon in our own being and find the spirit to come alive in the dying year.  Taking up a new task has long been a theme for this season and we are encouraged to take a new step on our inner journey.  (I read about this in a beautiful book I have called All Year Round)

We marked the occasion by making a bread dragon, which started off as a pretty convincing dragon (though I forgot the wings!) and became a rather puffed up, swollen dragon, (giving new meaning to the song "Puff the magic dragon"!)

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While researching Michaelmas I came across a website which explains an ancient tradition that occurred on the Island of Iona in Scotland (more interconnectedness because.....Outlander) all the people and even the animals walked sunwise around the Angels Hill to seek God’s blessing on the island for the coming year. This tradition goes back to pre Christian times when Druids believed the Devil was frustrated by anything that had no end, no break, no entrance.  Celtic Christians adopted this idea, it made sense because God has no end in both time and love, and the three selves of God (Holy Trinity) form an ever circling presence. Celtic Christians would walk circles around their crops asking for God to bless them, as an adaption of the Druid practice of turning sunwise to entice the sun to bless their crops.  There is a couple of circling or Caim prayers that can be spoken to ask God to encircle anyone or anything you pray for:



Aren't they lovely!
If you want to know more visit THIS website, where I got these images and this information from.  I also came across THIS website which gives even more information about the meaning behind Michaelmas.  I really love how us humans have this deep desire to make meaning, and it is this very desire that urges me to paint, document and write.

Now as I continued to research Michaelmas, another piece of interconnectedness came up, I happened to stumble upon talk of a St Michaelmas Bannock, relevant because you know....Scotland...Outlander...St Michaelmas!! This is THE food they eat in Scotland in the 1700's!  So I was immediately drawn into this, and who would have thought I would even come across a website with a recipe for a vegan Bannock, which also talks about Outlander! (You can just imagine my excitement about this and having no one to share it witht!)  SO I am planning on making myself a vegan Bannock next week and will let you all know how it goes (check my Facebook page)

These festivals are all about transition; the transition from Summer to Autumn; and because we humans so love to embed meaning into everything, we can take this opportunity to meditate on the beauty of the season, everything is dying and it seems somehow ironic that it is at this transition point into dormancy that we find the most beauty.  At the same time the dying leaves and sleeping trees whisper the promise of the new life that is to come in the opposite time of the year (the other side of the scales if you will).  While we were walking round the stones Boris found a little chick's egg, with it's tiny peck marks going all round.  It seemed meaningful that at the turning point of the season, as it turns to death and darkness, we were reminded of the promise of new life in the mirroring season to come.

So as Summer ends and Autumn begins I am following with tradition and trying to take a moment to think about what tasks I want to complete before the year is out.  At this time of year it's easy to feel like starting new projects is a fruitless task with the end of the year approaching and the thought of New Years Resolutions on the horizon, but I feel like I really want to make the most of the year by setting goals that I can achieve before the year is thorough. I still have so many unfinished projects on the go, from my book that I have been writing for about two and a half years now to video tutorials and half finished paintings, and I also have some festive projects and products I hope to release soon.  I really want to feel a sense of completion on these.  Maybe I should pray a Caim prayer over them and the coming season!

Wow, that was a much longer blog post that I had planned, I do so love meaning and interconnectedness (is that even a word?) and Autumn! We have several more Autumnal festivals still to celebrate this season including Harvest Festival, Hallowe'en (Samhain), All Saints Day, All Souls Day, Rememberance Day, Guy Fawkes Night and Martinmas, to name but a few. I am excited for the season ahead and all opportunities for fun and family and friends that it brings.