breathe dearheart, breathe

Tag: green parenting (page 1 of 1)

Hello authentic life

Yesterday I talked a little about how we could all be more ourselves – the individuals we are – and feel more empowered instead of running around like Loraxes.

But how exactly to do that? How do you live your authentic life?

First of all, you are an individual. It follows that your life ought to be one based on your individuality. You are not just a person in the system, a potential customer, a consumer or one of the target market. Yet so many of us are unwittingly brainwashed and just bob along with the waves of patterns of behaviour that move around the ocean of our populace.

It seems to me that while most people understand we have free choice – and so many less fortunate people in the world do not have this essential foundation of a free society – they don’t use their free choice. (However, there are anomalies in our society, for example, parents-to-be in New York have no choice about whether to have their baby at home or not.)

Free will and free choice means we have the luxury of being more conscious of the tiny as well as big choices we make every day.

Each choice has a consequence. When we choose carefully and thoughtfully, when we ask ourselves what we want to do instead of just automatically doing what we think society wants us to do, we instantly empower ourselves.

The more we listen to our inner Self, and act on our intuition, the stronger we feel, and co-incidentally happier. The more we consciously strip away unnecessary things by de-cluttering, creating breathing space in our lives, being more mindful, honoring the things that make us feel good and doing more of them, the more authentic our lives will be. Our lives reflect who we are.

So in the hope of inspiring you, I gave myself 15 minutes to write a little stream-of-consciousness list of my ways of authentic living – practical choices I’ve made and continue to make that have helped me strip away layers of accidental falsity and live a more fulfilling life.

Hello authentic living –

Hello handmade, nature, wilderness and conscious living. Hello make-do-and-mend and minimalism. Hello connecting with my community and guerrilla gardening. Hello buying local produce and seasonal food.

Hello stripping away unnecessary things, including people and ideologies. Hello looking at bees and butterflies instead of watching them on TV. Hello letting children feel free and safe and able to play without adult supervision and interference.

Hello walking instead of driving. Hello knowing more about my family and friends than I do about celebrities and TV characters. Hello Waldorf / Steiner education and toys made of things that once lived like wool and wood. Hello not window-shopping and buying into retail persuasion.

Hello wearing the same dress I wore ten years ago because I love it (fashion doyen, Vivienne Westwood would approve). Hello making your own clothes, buying vintage clothes, revamping your old clothes, buying clothes from charity shops and expressing your individuality through the clothes you wear.

Hello being indecisive so you are always open to something new happening. Hello being spontaneous and going with that whole “who moved the cheese” thing.

Hello learning to be storytellers again instead of always reading books. Hello buying online direct from artists and creators on Etsy instead of big brand manufacturers. Hello upcycling and finding new uses for things we might otherwise throw away. Hello guitars around campfires, sleeping  under the stars and taking courses like Guy Mallinson’s woodland camps.

Hello farmers markets and people raising animals and crops the old-fashioned, expensive way. Hello curative classical homoeopathy and the slow movement. Hello creating communities of like-minded people online so it’s like we all live together in a village. (I’d like WildelyCreative as a neighbour.)

Hello supporting the people working with white knuckles, gritted teeth and in tears to save our planet, the species we share it with and the welfare of animals. Hello the rebel, the maverick, the weirdo who stands up and is not afraid to go against the tide.

Hello having your baby at home, being supported by other parents and breastfeeding for as long as you want. Hello hand-me-down clothes that have the energy of other children about them. Hello dads being good at supporting and protecting their family and moms being good at nurturing and home-making and hello all parents feeling supported and confident instead of thinking they need to read parenting books <– although I recommend that one).

Hello feeling connected to people via the magnificent universe that is Twitter that you’d never meet in real life. Hello listening to our instincts and acting upon them so we get more gut instincts and start to rely on them instead. Hello thinking for yourself instead of what everyone else seems to think.

Hello doing the exact things we loved as children, not matter how childish like playing with modelling clay and crayons, making things from twigs and collecting feathers. Hello not feeling you have to see the latest movie. Hello walking barefoot and getting your hands dirty.

Hello attempting to fix something instead of just buying a replacement. Hello getting to know your neighbours even if you don’t like them. Hello having a cat or dog in your life to teach you important life lessons and bring you companionship, fun, love and joy.

Hello photographing wildlife instead of shooting it. Hello going on guided nature walks instead of shopping trips. Hello home baking, making meals from scratch and growing our own wild foods.

Hello taking things out of skips and picking up things off the street that people have put out as garbage (we got 4 rolls of thick cream wallpaper on the street yesterday, great for HUGE painting and pastel works of art).

Hello looking up old friends and just saying hello. Hello realising you are beautiful. Hello loving what you have and being grateful.

Hello more displays of public affection. Hello more adventurous sex. (Bye bye stupid inhibitions.) Hello sharing secrets and talking more about what you feel. Hello writing silly notes and saying thank you.

Hello finding out about the insects and other little beasties you share you home and street with and looking for them and being able to name them. Hello smiling at people and acknowledging people more.

Hello realizing how far you’ve come and helping those coming up behind you. Hello leaving whole days open and unscheduled to do what you like in the moment. Hello risking looking foolish when you ask a stranger if they need help with their bags, car, crossing the road or anything else. Hello getting better about saying ‘no’ without giving an explanation as to why not.

Hello having wildflower meadows and wilderness areas in our gardens. Hello making gifts and cards for friends and family instead of giving money to a shop. Hello more people doing things like moving your tomato plant so the noise won’t disturb a leafcutter bee’s nest.

Hello healing ourselves by listening to our inner wild.

I’d love it if we did a kind of brainstorming thing here and you added your individual ‘Hello‘s in the comments below. I might add a few more too.

Expectant families fall into costly trap

So you have a baby on the way. How exciting!

I wonder, have you made a list of all the equipment you’ll need? All the things you must have to help baby feel comfortable and you feel organised and ready?

OK, here’s what to do.

Take a deep breath and tear that stupid list UP!

It’s a trap, I tell you. A trap expertly laid which preys on your desire to be a good parent. It’ll cost you financially and it’ll cost your family emotionally too.

When I was pregnant I got myself into a right lather over my list of things I needed to get. Cot – which kind? Sheets, clothes, hats, nappies (which ones?!) towels, cloths, baby mat, toys, mobile, monitor -¦ it just went on and on, gaining extra items from every baby website I visited. The list grew longer and longer – kind of like in preparation for how long the  till receipt was going to be at my local giant baby goods store.

The equipment list became some kind of test. It seemed to represent my level of preparedness for motherhood. Somehow it felt like the more things I had on that list, the more equipment I had, the better mother I would be.

During one visit to my midwife I told her my concerns about all this equipment I need to get. I thrust The List at her saying, “I’m worried I haven’t got everything on here and is there anything I’ve missed?”

My midwife, who had helped birth thousands of babies, smiled gracefully and without so much as a glance at The List said, “Babies only need one piece of equipment: arms to hold them.”

OMG what a relief! ‘Arms to hold them’. Em, What? Oh, OK.

But then, panic, “what about a COT?”

“Baby in the bed” she said – firmly – and that was the end of the whole equipment discussion.

Not knowing then the whole baby-in-the-bed furore, I went with my wise midwife’s advice about this and many other things – much to the benefit of myself and my baby.

So if you have a list like mine – tear it up. No, really, give yourself a break. Take the pressure off. Don’t start cluttering up your home with a whole pile of stuff that will only come between you and your baby. Don’t think it’s helping you be prepared. It’s actually having the opposite effect because you’ll be relying on “things” and “stuff” to be ‘prepared’ instead of preparing yourself and having confidence in yourself.

No matter what people say to you – you do NOT need all that stuff when you have a baby. In no way does it represent your ability to be a good mother or father. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most baby equipment is designed to replace you as a parent. All of this equipment, this stuff, somehow comes between you and your baby and creates distance. (More about that another time perhaps.)

Babies need you – their mommy and/or daddy. The most important equipment they need is someone to love them and protect them. It follows that that includes your breasts, your arms, your songs, attention, whisperings and laughter.

In fact, having seen an amazing mum who was born without arms, you don’t even need arms to be a loving parent.

I was prompted to write this post today after seeing an advertisement for the Scottish Baby Show at the SECC in Glasgow at the weekend. An event which yes, celebrates the delight and joy of having a baby and that is a beautiful thing to bask in.

But it also brings together lots of people wanting to suck the cash right out of the pockets of expectant parents. This is relatively easy to do by playing on our natural, human ‘will I be a good enough parent?’ fears.

Only with this £1,500 pram, they say. Only with this factory-produced-for financial-profit formula, plus all the sterilising kit you need to go with it. Only if baby sleeps through the night and you’ll need a baby monitor because, of course, they also need their own bed which you’ll need to buy for £200 plus mattress plus sheets and of course a bumper.’

Does it not just make you feel insecure thinking about it?

There is a gigantic baby goods industry* built around making ludicrous amounts of money from new parents – and, like people grieving or going through other life-changing events, new parents are extremely vulnerable to the refined sales pitch.

Take the pressure off yourself. Don’t fall for the commercial hype. Don’t let ‘the baby experts’ attempts to “educate” you undermine your confidence in yourself as a parent. Just get what you want, not what some company tells you need. All the other stuff distracts baby from you, and you from baby. Make like a primitive human. Be more to your baby by having less.

All your baby wants is you.

*OMG I just googled “value of baby industry US” and the first thing that popped up was “baby FOOD [so only commercially-prepared baby FOOD] globally worth $37.6 BILLION by 2014 so am just too scared to re-google to get the ZILLION dollar amount of total value of the baby goods market in the US and UK – you do it….

Image borrowed from Mary Bogdan from her series, “Re-parenting the Inner Child”. (A subject close to my heart which I’ll be discussing soon.)