Sunday, 31 July 2011

Book Reveiw: Naomi Aldort, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

I thought over the next fortnight I would review some of the recent books I have read.

For me having struggled to attachment parent in an authoritarian culture, reading Naomi's book was like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally - yes, yes, YES! At last I found a voice that supported my views and also challenged me to build on my skills to be a trusting loving model of a parent.

If like me, you started off with the best intentions but worry whether your child actually feels loved (even though of course you love them) this book is a great read. This book is to help parents raise themselves to be the parent their child needs them to be.

Naomi suggests you use the rewind technique and the SALVE formula to eliminate parenting based on negative taught behaviours and beliefs. She recommends when your child does something that pushes your button, like spilling milk, that you:

S stop and separate your thoughts from the action. Run how you are about to react in your head, then think I want to be loving instead.
A give your child attention
L listen to your child
V validate their feelings as right
E empower your child

Naomi believes that the child is always right. That our parenting capability is clouded by our limiting beliefs. Authentic parenting is not to be confused with permissive parenting - see my earlier blog - there are boundaries but they are imposed in a way that allows the child to be authentic and feel unconditionally loved.

The difficulty is how to do it. I reread the book three times and I struggled to know what to do. I have found that Naomi's book is best supported by the free podcasts of her speaking on iTunes and some of her CDs. She also has a website with FAQs. However if you keep using her SALVE formula, it gets easier because you start listening to your own natural instinct and therefore parent authentically.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Scent of a Mummy

I will always remember the lingering aroma of my mother - then her perfumes were Rive Gauche or Paris. My parents had and still have a good social life. When I was young, they'd frequently go out in the evening, or at least it felt that way. And I'd long for them to come back as every child does.

 Desperately, I would try to stay awake longing to catch their return. If I fell asleep, I'd jump awake -  and I knew they were back because I could smell her scent hanging in the air of my bedroom. I'd snuggle back in my duvet and smile.

I felt safe again.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Naughty Words

Whenever I hear the word "should" I cringe. I hear myself thinking I should or shouldn't do that, my family should or shouldn't do that, people should or shouldn't do that, and it causes stress. Because should and shouldn't's are beliefs that limit you and make you narrow minded.

I have recently started to be more conscious, thinking is it true? Should Captain Underpants make his bed - I want the bed made, he doesn't. So by being angry or disappointed in him, by having this expectation of him he won't meet - I'm imposing my stressful limiting beliefs on him. And making myself stressed! If I didn't have the thought, I'd simply make the bed if I wanted it made.

If you actually questioned ANY and all your beliefs that cause stress, would even one be resolutely true? 

I've been writing down all the thoughts that I got stressed about and not found one that was absolutely, resoundingly 100 percent true.

Here is one thought that stresses me to show you how to work on it:

People should stop criticising me.

1.  Is it true?

Yes, they're so rude! They say things I wouldn't dare.

2.  Is it absolutely true - that people shouldn't criticise me?

Okay, may be not. Because they do and that's their business. No matter how I feel about it they'll still do it because that's them. I guess I should just walk away.

3.  How do you react when you have that thought?

Ashamed, humiliated, angry. Very angry! Incensed. I don't say anything and then seethe, and if I do defend myself I still seethe because they don't accept my point of view.

4.  Who would you be without that thought?

I'd not be holding on to these emotions I cannot face. I'd not hide behind anger. I'd just walk away and think that us their business to criticise, it's not mine to listen or even defend because defence is the first act of war.

5.  Turn the thought around (with 3 reasons why the statement is true or truer than the original):

People should criticise me
(Because it is our way to judge - the sky is blue, the grass is green - they're judgements. Because people have beliefs that they don't question and that is their business not mine to change. Because people are scared of what they don't know so they're voicing fears).

I should not criticise other people
(Because I judge others and criticise them in my head and out loud so it's hypocritical. Because it isn't Godly. Because I'd rather have positive loving thoughts).

I should not criticise me
(Because I am very hard on myself and don't celebrate my positive traits. Because I feel guilty about errors rather than seeing them as opportunities to learn. Because it isn't useful - blameless acceptance of my issues will create learning opportunities).

This doesn't mean I accept people's mistreatment of me when I "work" on it. It just means I get less stressed and deal with it. If someone hurts me, I ask them to stop, they don't, I distance myself. As an example I was getting really annoyed at the park because I don't want people smoking near my children - so I can politely ask them to move away and move away myself.

Source: Byron Katie, Loving What Is: Four Questions that will change your life.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Why you Have to Love Yourself

As if there isn't enough pressure to be a good parent. I pressure myself to love unconditionally, to embrace my child's authenticity and model good behaviour. To be a good wife and mother, to have a clean and tidy house, garden and mind.  And if that isn't work enough, for me, I need to love myself to do this properly.

I spoke with a parenting (authentic parenting / attraction parenting / attachment parenting - does it need a label?) counsellor, and I outlined our issues and she said to me something on the lines of why am I letting people criticise me and belittle me? Why am I letting myself be bullied? I, she pointed out, am modelling poor self esteem, I'm showing my son it's okay to be abused. Ouch. But sadly it is true.

In trying to seek approval from people that won't accept me or my opinions, I wonder - have I missed out on a most important trait to model - self respect and hence, self love?

I let other people's (albeit perceived) negative voices seep inside me, to creep up so I get angry believing my children should or shouldn't do something. I am letting other people's self-limiting beliefs limit me.

I know I should not speak ill of others and if I have an issue with someone treating me wrong I should say no. But that part of me, is just going to have to wait.  Because it takes time and energy to fight my inner negative voice, and I don't have it in me to take the pain out of every stressful thought when every negative encounter brings more.

In the instance that you encounter a negative critical person that you cannot be assertive with for whatever reason, the most loving thing to do is create a distance, politely.

Because if you let someone treat you badly, you're not respecting them either. Truly. l have absorbed other people's negativity and then I seethed and had bad thoughts about them.  I've wronged us both because I've withheld an opportunity for mutual growth and respect.

So whether I smile and walk away, or stay and assert my true voice, it has to be done with love.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Nappies in a Pail

I'm a lover of nappies in a pail. Not so much the soiled stinky ones, but I do get real satisfaction from filling up the nappy pail with cloth nappies. After washing them, I enjoy pulling them out the machine and oh hanging them on the line. Yes that is satisfying especially if there's a breeze.

I use shaped nappies and wraps, prefolds, bamboo squares, Bumgenious, Nature babies, Diddy Diapers, Bambino Mio, One Life, fleece liners - I got a huge pile of seconds from a local supplier. And they're all great. I even use cloth wipes, and thinking about buying some for me apres wees to save loo roll.

Today as I was soaking them, I wondered how many do we use? In the first few months of having twins we used about 14 nappies a day between them, as they got older they use less but I'd say we use 6-8 a day now. So being a year old.. Let me estimate they have used 2,779 nappies. By the time they have decided to use no nappies, I estimate that we'll have used 7,159 nappies. Apparently most babies use 8,000-10,000 each in 3 years so I've grossly underestimated. I guess if we used only disposables, that'd fill a room or two? So I personally couldn't live with putting that much waste in landfill.

But it's so easy to do. So easy to throw those nappies in the bin and never think of them again, conveniently lost in the fortnightly collection.

I admit, at the moment I still use Eco disposables at night, if I can really call them that. Perhaps if I work out how many we will use in the next two years I'll make the change to total cloth nappies. Right 1,465 nappies. Okay... That's a lot. It's worth a try especially at 13p a nappy. So I'd save £189.80 by not using a disposable at night.

I think about buying any friend that's had a baby just one cloth nappy and a couple of cloth wipes - if that nappy is used just twice a week for two years - then that's saving 208 nappies going to landfill.

Come on! Let's make the change.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Chemical Maze

Food is glorious isn't it? It nourishes you, it comforts you, it sustains you, it can seduce you, it can also make you ill if you don't make the right food choices.

Many people buy a sandwich after scrutinizing its fat and calorific content. But is there something else more important we should be looking at? Have you ever wondered what all those numbers on the rear of the packet mean?

Could the chemical cocktail in your diet be making you ill?

Whilst food additives are mostly tested on animals, this doesn't mean that they are safe for us to eat.

There is a direct link between some additives and health problems such as allergies, behavioral problems, migranes, even sleep disturbance to name a few.

I am very interested in the additives in food. I used to walk around with a little red book titled Chemical Maze. It describes the potential health effects of food additives and ingredients used in food, cosmetics and personal care products.

Nothing is safe. My poor husband..

He wants a take away curry - no. It's got MSG in it, we'll be up all night! “Not if I team it up with a few beers love? Cold, chilled beers.....”

Beers... oh no no no I say.

Did you know that chemicals are added to speed up the brewing process to make that big head of foam!”

Husband hopes... “Well surely in moderation it’s fine. Refreshing, delicious beer.”

But, but it has Betaglucanase or Propylene glycol alginate in it?”

Okay, diet coke. I really fancy a can of diet coke...” He asks hopefully.

I have to tell him, did you know it’s carcinogenic and causes osteoporosis? I have to remind him to be a good role model, and I have got stricter and stricter as time has gone on – what is there left to eat?

I really struggle with the fact my son doesn't eat all the fruit and vegetables we eat. I have encouraged him to eat more and more healthily by basically child proofing the home of any unhealthy food.  I cringe whenever we go to a child’s party. He’s straight into the fluorescent, multi-coloured icing on the cake. In fact, he doesn’t eat the sponge part of the cake, just the icing. He therefore comes home and quite literally, bounces off the walls – that’s apparently, the tartrazine.

A variety of immunologic responses have been attributed to tartrazine ingestion, including:

  • anxiety,
  • migraines,
  • clinical depression, and
  • sleep disturbance

When I go shopping I try to buy organic fruit and vegetables, unprocessed local food.

Although it’s hard work to begin with, over time you do build up a picture of the things that you shouldn’t really ingest. You also find products which are much healthier for you.

So I’d suggest the next time you go shopping, that you look at those little numbers. Are those food additives really necessary....

Food for thought.


Friday, 22 July 2011

To Nurse or not to Nurse - There is no Question

Breastfeeding Twins

As my twins just passed their first birthday, I started contemplating whether I should introduce another source of milk, be it cow or goat. As yet I am undecided, and for me indecision leads to inaction.

Most people have long stopped asking me when I'm giving them a bottle. I guess they're as bored of my washy responses as I am of their asking.

I don't know quite what it is that I have against bottles, it just seems to unnatural, too detached... too easy perhaps? My husband says I always choose the hard way, I'd just rather follow my instincts and not follow the herd. Learning to stay true to myself has been empowering. But honestly I don't know why people find it so hard to breastfeed, even twins. I just get on and do it. And use the time to read books to my older child.

So what advice would I give to breastfeeders, especially of twins:

1. Drink lots and lots of water even if you don't feel thirsty
2. Eat lots of unprocessed food - fruit, vegetables, good quality protein
3. Do NOT under any circumstances let midwives "help" your babies latch on. It breaches mother-child trust. A midwife grabbed my newborn babies head and flipped her head onto my squeezed nipple, it was a violation and it took my baby ages to relax again
4. Keep in offering the nipple
5. Try lots of different positions until you find one that is comfortable and doesn't cause cracked nipples
6. Get a good quality feeding cushion and lots of pillows (I used a u-shape and positioned babies feeding facing eachother. At 12 months I don't use the pillow but they still are in the same position)
7. Gliding rocking chairs are great - I got one second hand and spent most of first months in it, I even fell asleep tandem feeding)
8. Buy a 1.5 litre aluminium bottle so you always replenish fluids
9. Exercise! You'll feel better and I think a little a day helps jeep your milk up
10. Rest when you're able - leave the housework
11. In the same breath, if you drop the expectation of sleeping undisturbed and welcome night wakings (kiss your babies, how lucky I am to see you at 11pm... 1pm... 2pm...) I've been through it! Most nights I was up hourly and now I'm up 4-5 times a night and it's mostly mind over matter
12. Don't buy bottles or formula - if they're not around you won't be tempted to give in, it pays off

Sometimes I really feel I've had enough, at other times the job of nursing my babies to this age and size is awesome. I sometimes get a huge rush of love hormones when I feed, and that is an amazing feeling.

That doesn't come in a bottle.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Green Mean Eco Machine

Eco Parenting Saves Money!

To be greener effectively  requires a global shift in consciousness to want change. For me, being greener requires me to put myself out, to cause discomfort and sometimes offend.

We've just had a birthday celebration in our house - and I asked for no gifts - unless they were second hand, wooden or an acre or half of rainforest! (Cool Earth www)

Yes it offended but people have to make waves to make change. I didn't make party bags and plastic wasteful tat, I never do. For my son's birthday I made gingerbread men for his friends to decorate. You might say my children are deprived, but ask any child as a conscious adult what they really mind and their response will be "why didn't you do anything to save the world? Where is the rainforest? Why is there so much pollution and waste? Why are so many people starving when others are so rich?"

My children don't go without, I buy clothes from local sellers on EBay, car boots or local dress agencies. I take care of the clothes, soaking stains for 2-3 days so they can be used again.

Their rooms I decorated somewhat economically. My girls I got wallpaper samples and cut out motifs and pasted them up. Curtains, wardrobe, chest of drawers and toys are second hand, most books too. Although not really that Eco-friendly, I painted one wall cornflower blue with some leftover paint, and in the past I've used oddments of paint and even mixed with a bit of white to use up. I got a bookcase free from Freecycle - bit shabby - and covered one side with some wrapping paper rather than glossing it.

In my boy's room I used bits from car boots. Ebay, gift furniture and did things up by pasting paper on the front of the boxes. My kind mother made curtains too! I also cut out some of the wallpaper to make a feature on the wall - more decoupage?

I use seconds nappies I got from a local supplier. I soak soiled ones in a bucket from a butcher and wet ones go in a bin. I have three airers, two second hand, to dry. To go further than fabric nappies, some don't use at all! Their babies are nappy-less because they're so in tune. Having twins and a 4 year old I try to devote any spare minute to, I'm not ready for that as yet.

I try to buy local when I can and if I go to a supermarket I try to use my own bags, buy unpackaged and I even try to return any unrequited packaging to them in the hope they'll take the hint.  I buy mostly raw unpackaged food and eat more raw than most.

I'm also growing some of our own fruit and vegetables in a makeshift allotment. As the children get older I hope my experience and success grows.

I walk as much as I can, try to use public transport on long journeys (don't get me started on the extortion that is the British public transport system... I lived in Oz and travelled. I know others are better AND far cheaper).

I love books! Library's reduce waste too and are great fun but again I also buy second hand. I recently discovered that your local library can buy requested books for a fee of 1 pound! Bargain! Okay so I cannot keep it but I can borrow it a few times (requested Parenting for a Peaceful World, and Parenting for Social Change - will write a review when read and digested).

Wardrobes - I tend to buy good quality classic clothes and second hand.

I hope I inspired you and if you can inspire me, leave a comment!

Love me x

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Food Hangover

Two months ago I decided to completely child proof the house. While most people make their home physically safe, they don't consider making it emotionally safe. For us, we only have in our home items or food that we'd be happy for our children to eat or play with. Anything else is hidden away.

For my son it's been hard as I got rid of all processed food in the house, including bread, milk, cheese (that's all he pretty much ate so now he has to try other foods).

Most meals I eat 50-65 percent raw. But it's hard when you go out.

Yesterday being an occasion we went out for a meal. I had lots of cooked, spicy food and yes it was delicious!

Now I've woken up with a food hangover because my body isn't used to it. And was it worth it for a curry? Most definitely, yes!

Mummy is a Mirror

Why Authoritarian Parenting Doesn't Work

After the birth of twins, sleep deprived and alone at home balancing the needs of three children, I lost my touch on reality. Worse than that, I detached from my son.

I instinctively parented him in an attachment parenting style from birth, and then at my lowest ebb, resorted to a position of authority - you do as I say. I started to use punishments more frequently, and empathy melted away as the days went on.

The more I punished him, the worse his behaviour. This boy was hurting, supplanted and lost, he desperately sought any attention he could get.  He couldn't breathe wrong for fear of being chastised.

He felt unloved. I could tell him that I loved him unconditionally, because I lost sight of the most important thing which was how he actually felt. If you use conditions in the form of praise, rewards, punishment, then to them love IS conditional because it's withdrawn unless their behaviour fits your rules.  What sense did it make for me to tell him not to shout when I shouted, not to destroy things or be messy when I showed him how?

And the result? An extremely unhappy child.

Unhappy because boundaries were imposed punitively. Unhappy and angry because I was unhappy and angry. I startlingly realised he was my mirror. He reflected back everything I hated about myself.

I now see very clearly that children learn the most effectively by modelling. Self led learning is the most effective and enjoyable method for children.   Whenever I forget to trust him to learn when he's ready, when I think I know best - I find my "teaching" isn't at all effective and creates boredom and resentment.

That isn't to say our house doesn't have rules or boundaries.  It's just that they're generally modelled now instead. For example, I help him to follow our house rule about treating others with kindness by showing him kindness and understanding, demonstrating respect and relationships, setting him up for success by putting him in good social situations, removing him when he is unable to help hurting, showing regret for hurt to others, and helping him to make amends when he feels genuine remorse.  He doesn't wear shoes in the house, he sits at the table when we eat, he drinks out of a cup and always uses a plate, generally when he goes outside he puts on shoes, etc - I didn't tell him to do those things but he learnt them well.

As soon as my act is fully together, I am confident that his behaviour will return along with his happiness. I am also the leader in the sense that I model "acceptable" behaviour and shape the day, offering him choices and opportunities to develop.

I also discovered that 4.5 year olds have a testosterone surge and that of effects their behaviour, making them more temperamental and tearful, and a bit obsessive about super heroes and fighting. ( Eureka moment!) I also discovered that the infections he keeps getting are all related and affect his behaviour because, well it makes him feel out of sorts. This further impounded my change of heart to be more nurturing and responsive.

Just the other day, I started making food and he naturally joined in. A partnership.  Not because I coerced or manipulated, but because he wanted to.

And because he was helping of his own free will, he enjoyed it. Then he helped me clean, and then tidy, because he wanted to.

Research shows that children who are exposed to cry it out methods, or whose cries are ignored, actually have damage to their brains. You see during childhood the brain is  mapped between different areas. This mapping has a huge effect on how one functions in later life. The prefrontal cortex is the higher brain, the higher thinking brain allows us to make calm, reality based decisions. If children are parented in a loving, nurturing way they are more likely to use this part of the brain than the amygdala. In plain speak, more responsive parenting leads to a happier, more balanced child with less likelihood of your child being depressed, suffering educational, behavioural problems in later life. (Dr Margot Sunderland)

Research also indicates that praise is a dampener of learning for children. Time and time again studies show that when praised, children perform a task well but they are less likely to try the activity again and loose all interest or enjoyment of it. Moreover children who are praised do things for approval and are fearful of failure.

So yes, I agree, authoritative parenting and punishments and rewards, and cry-it-out are all good parenting methods if you're aiming for obedience and short term gain.  I'm aiming for unconditional love, in a playful, safe, nurturing environment.

Dr Margot Sunderland
Alfie Kohn
Lawrence Cohen
Sue Gerhaurt
Dr Penelope Leach
Naomi Aldort
Dr Sears
Jean Lideloff
Althea Solter
Scott Noelle, Attraction Parenting

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Dog Days are Over

What if today I realise I can be whoever I want to be? I want to laugh, I want to cry, I want to let go of old thoughts and live in there here and now as a child, I want happiness and love, I want to be all forgiving and throw all that baggage out. Can it be? Can you change in the blink of an eye if you fully submit to and spend each moment striving for consciousness?

Affirmations work on the premise of implanting positive thoughts. If you say "I am peace" and affirm it, then theory suggests you'll gradually believe that thought and become peaceful.

I haven't found this so useful as an active thought enquiry such as The Work. I've recently found out about something called afformations. Affirmations are a way to tell you are different from the way you are. Afformations instead are questions, so if I want to be more peaceful I would ask "why am I so calm?" - my subconscious would then start finding reasons for why I am calm, and it is suggested I then are calmer because I know it to be true - I've found reasons and I guess believing something about your self makes it easier to grow as a quality.

So I'll ask myself now:

Why am I so loving?
Why am I so calm?
Why am I so empathetic?
Why am I assertive?
Why am I so relaxed and laid back?
Why do I always think before I speak?
Why do I look so gorgeous?
Why is my figure so perfect for me?
Why is my son such a joy?
Why am I so happy?
Why do I enjoy being with my children so much?
Why do I love my family unconditionally?
Why do I lust after my husband so much?
Why am I so rested?

I will read these afformations every day and report back. The results won't be conclusive as I also do an anger meditation and am doing a thought enquiry most days to take the stress out of my thoughts.

Saturday 23rd July:

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Authentic Mothering, Authentic Me?

I've in the process of rediscovering my real self, and rediscovering my maternal instincts.

In doing so I've had to completely challenge my beliefs.  In example; I believed that my son should sit square in his chair, and he should be able to control himself and not drink a while carton of milk,  and he should go to bed when I think it's time, and he shouldn't ask for another story. When I questioned all these beliefs and many more, I discovered they weren't true. We live in a control dominated society without questioning the source or validity of our beliefs.

Most, if not all, of our beliefs are taught to us. For me many of them are self limiting so I have to really think what messages I pass onto my children.

If there isn't a good reason to say no, say yes! Always say yes - even if it's a no "yes I see you enjoy TV.  I understand you want to watch more.   I love you and want to protect you. It is not healthy so let us turn it off and do something else together".

Or "yes I know you want to stay here at the park. We need to go home so I can make dinner. Can we agree on how many minutes we'll stay until we go home?"

I've just had someone telling me how I should control my child. They say he's out of control because he expresses his feelings. That he has no boundaries because he helps himself to food out of the fridge. That I'm not a parent.

I considered this, and I believe that children learn through their own discovery. I didn't teach him to breathe, suckle, crawl, walk, eat, talk, say thank you, open pots, turn on TVs *grimace*, dress himself, tie string to toys to pull along etc etc he taught himself.

I could aim to control him, dominate him, quiet him to gain compliance or I could wait for him to learn himself. That doesn't mean being passive. I'm there fully for him, listening, supporting and guiding him. I stop any dangerous behaviour. But I know that the "I ought to stop him because what'll people think" parenting - that has to go!

 I aim to LOVE him without conditions. Unconditional love is what every parent feels but few children feel loved unconditionally and therein lies the problem.

The problem was when I told him off all the time was that he quietly complied, and he seethed. He became underhand because he feared me. He became full of hate and I have a lot of rage to let him express and bridges to heal.  I don't want him to learn anymore that you have to be scared, and anyone bigger scarier than you controls you. I want him to know himself, to not loose sight of it under the weight of the world's expectations without questioning why.

Today's Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the test of faith today for it has taught me still. Amen.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Healing with Therapys

Over the past 3-4 years I have used a variety of self help techniques and alternative therapies to treat the anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and mild depression I developed.

Whilst this itself is not a literature review, nor is it evidence of efficacy, I will outline the treatments and my experience of them:

The Work This is a self-help technique realised by Byron Katie.  She believes that stress, depression etc and suffering are caused by one's thoughts being confused and out of reality. The Work involves 4 main questions testing the validity of the thought and removing the stress from this. While some believe this work to be "cult like", I think that it is a really useful method to increase my consciousness of thought. I have been doing The Work on and off for a couple of months, and when I'm disciplined, I do notice that my stress about a certain belief diminishes. As an example, I was getting very irritated by a family member snorting and found the noise unbearable, after working on it it didn't bother me so. I'm trying this for another 3 months. £5-10 for the book.

Vimala handwriting  I'm just about to embark on this! Vimala believes that creative handwriting engages the higher thinking brain, as opposed to the primative brain, thereby encouraging your brain to engage in higher thought. I guess that art and other activities work in the same way. I'll try this for a while and report back... £0 if you download the alphabet from alphabeticalblessings.

Transactional analysis  Very expensive therapy which is focused on a client-therapist relationship. I found the process very useful bit couldn't afford to finish. The therapy built on past counselling and is supported by books I've read or are reading - The Work, TA Today and Conversations with God. £50 a session.

CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)  This counselling was one of the first I tried and made groundbreaking changes in my belief system. £0 on NHS.

Exercise  I love anything when I get time for it, yoga running swimming walking weights Tracy Anderson technique.. give me 2 minutes a say and I'll stretch, squat and do sone abs. There is a plethora or evidence stating how much of a positive impact exercise has. While I wholeheartedly agree, for me it's short term so I have to work on the cause of mental ill health. £0 for at home, £2.60-6 for paid sessions.

Diet   I found physically a great advantage to eating alkaline and high raw. I get very irritable after eating sugar, bread and other processed foods so I exclude from my diet.  Eating clean is definitely revitalising. Cost £@&@ undefined as save money by buying lots of veg but buy more expensive supplements.

Faith   I was raised a Catholic but had never read a bible at home and no-one ever talking of their faith or modelled a faith. It was only after meeting Christians whilst overseas that I saw how a true faith can change one's life. Cost £0!

Colonic Irrigation and Detoxing  As a teenager I developed an eating disorder and binged on laxatives. Needless to say I have had a lot of digestive problems because laxatives really mess up your system. Colonic irrigation was something I wanted and needed to try for years but only recently tried. I'd say physically it was very beneficial. Before that I tried the lemon maple syrup detox because I heard it worked as well. I'd definitely disagree, I felt so rough and was an irritable mess. I would however recommend general detoxing of your life, especialy with children! Cost £25-75 a session.

Meditation   Over the years I've tried lots of meditation techniques and it is beneficial but you have to be disciplined, and have time which I rarely have. I do try listen to an anger release or grounding meditation before I go to sleep. Cost £0 to £10 of you go to a class or even more for a masterclass.

TAT technique  Tried once so far using a free podcast off iTunes.  It did provide a release but not sure it really works long term, rather just as a relaxation. I'll try again - see if I prove myself wrong. Cost £0!

Acupuncture   This has a profound effect on me. After every treatment my whole face puffed up! I'd love to have more sessions but again, it's not cheap. Cost £150 for 6 sessions.

Herbal medicine   Have to say, not sure it had any effect but purely anecdotal. Cost £6 for medicine.

Homeopathy   I cannot comment as I didn't finish the course. After 10 weeks I hadn't noticed a difference.

Bowen technique   This was a very relaxing treatment but I couldn't justify the expense for the effect. Cost £25-35 a session.

Chiropractic adjustments   The theory I believe is that being out of alignment can cause disturbance between neurones and make you less irritable. Whilst I needed this to alleviate back, neck, pelvis issues after pregnancy, I found no difference in mood! Cost £6-27 a session.

So which of these practices have healed me? 

In an answer all of them in some way. I see them all as part of my journey.  Many of them have helped in the short term, but then I've quickly reverted to feeling overwhelmed, negative and angry.

I think a lot of the counselling and self help techniques have similarities - Western and Eastern variations of the knowledge that if your thoughts and actions are negative you are negative. So to be healthy and happy, think love, act love and be love.

It's harder said than done, I am so aware of that, I have Miss Negative sitting on my shoulder whispering (shouting sometimes) in my ear.

It takes dedication and constant reminders to reach a level of consciousness where you can retrain your thoughts so you don't suffer.

While I realise I am the only person who can and does make me so miserable - it is still so easy to slip into old habits of blaming others and being hateful and angry.

I'm really trying to reach that level of consciousness so I can find my real, my authentic self.

I will be the loving person I was born to be - if I could just shake off all this baggage....

I'm working on it, I've left behind a good few cases - I hope there isn't too much left.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Jessica Rabbit Budge Over

Woman in a Dress

I questioned my husband, "what shall I write about today?". Without much thought, he responds "write about how beautiful you are, write about you wearing that dress today and how men looked at you". 

I replied how I couldn't, how that would be arrogant and vain but then I thought more and here we are.

My husband tells me I am beautiful a lot, and he means it. Even when I had put on 2/3 of my body weight and was post dates with twins he still appreciated me.

After years of self loathing, I'm not going to even contemplate my flaws physically - oh how easily we waste our youth and pre-baby bodies.  Now   I think I look fine, I'm not pretty or Hollywood like, I'm more unique, an acquired taste. So while some say "nice body, shame about the face" (yes, that happened), the person who matters loves me just as I am.

I'm not sure I've appreciated that until now, I just used to say "only you  find me attractive" or accuse him of lying.  I remember a friend remarking to me with surprise "you're husband really thinks you're attractive". Yes I said, wasn't that expected? "Yes, but he really really thinks you're attractive". It doesn't hurt - because beauty and attraction aren't unique - wouldn't that be dull?

As I take him a drink I pause waiting for him to say thank you, then realise that giving does not require thanks. The payback is learning how to love unconditionally.

I walk away silently smiling. It strikes me that learning to love unconditionally starts with loving yourself unconditionally, without vanity or falsehood, just quiet acceptance.

Today's Prayer: Dear Lord I thank you for the amazing time I had with my son doing craft. Sorry for loosing my control - I appreciate you guiding me away from my anger to a healthier place. Thank you for the gift of my husband, he was always meant for me. Amen.

Saturday, 9 July 2011


Judging Others  = Judging Myself

I am numb and heavy, tired from a long family day out and feeling devoid of a sense of time. 5:24pm - is that all?

Whilst on our wonderful day out to the petting farm, I saw a woman spitting threats at her child - "I'm going to smack you if this continues".  The boy sullenly followed her. He hadn't seemed to be doing anything to warrant an outburst. The woman found her friend and I watched her chastising him for walking slightly too fast, then she grabbed him by the collar and said something like "stop walking off! I am so angry with you walking off! I'm going to tell your father when we get home how bad you're behaving. Just wait till he gets home". I looked at her friend, placid emptiness etched her face. Is this behaviour normal for this woman? Doesn't she recognise the special amazing gift that her authentic son is?

I was stood there judging her, and then I recognised something in her. Me. I try to hide this thought, but then I confront it - sometimes I am abusive, sometimes I disrespect my son, sometimes I am a horrid child that doesn't deserve my children. So with knowledge of the truth I hope I can continue to improve. I hope I can raise myself to be the mother my children need me to be.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Real Me - What Am I So Scared Of?

So what if what I thought was true?That hell is on earth. That it is a prison of negative thoughts and deep fears that stop you from experiencing the real you?

At my lowest point in life, I remember thinking that home was hell. Every time I was home I felt trapped, lonely, hateful and possessed with a thought that nothing I did was good enough. No matter how much I cleaned it wasn't clean enough, I couldn't purge my surroundings into being good enough. My self hatred isolated me.

So if I've already experienced my own private hell, what is so scary about finding the truth?

I've been on such a journey in the last 4 years. Everything I thought was true, wasn't. And it still continues.

My whole life, I've hated myself. I've gathered evidence from a small child that I'm not right - after all I've been told as much, by family, by teachers.  And I have come to realise it wasn't true. All children are special, all children are loveable - it's just that Western parents have an expectation that children should be fitting with their materialistic, stressful lifestyle.  That wealth, money, narcissism, 8 hours sleep, a clean house and a hedonistic lifestyle are just more important. They believe the untruth that children should be born and then not express their needs - and be left to cry. They believe children shouldn't want to be with mummy. They believe their needs are an attempt to be controlling, manipulative, clingy. They believe children need children peers and TV and junk food and commercial propaganda or they won't be happy. They believe that children need to be controlled and trained with rewards and punishment. They believe looking after children just isn't enough.

But none of that is true.

So while I know this, in my heart, and in my instincts, why do I find it so hard to live with these truths? Time will heal and reveal.

As a mother, I constantly fight with the truth I know and the lies I was taught. I think it is because I've believed the lies for 28 years, and only started my journey for truth and love for 4 - and it is harder to unlearn.

I remind myself daily - that with three beautiful children, and time running out, my need to be a loving authentic parent with loved authentic children outranks any obligation or duty to anyone else.

So let the battle commence!

Today's read - Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

My reading this book clarified my past opinions that hell is a creation of one's thoughts.

My Prayer - Dear Lord, I thank you for my beautiful children and for showing me the path to my true self. I welcome your holy spirit. Amen.

Today's Food Favourite - Raw salad (grated beetroot, carrot, zucchini, chopped tomatoes, spinach leaves from my garden, sprouted chick peas made into hummus, sprouted mung beans, balsamic vinegar, cubes goat's cheese, cucumber and herb seed topping. Yummy!!!!

Today is a new day

Mother Know's Best

Many people have said to me that babies don't come with an instruction manual. But actually I think they do - it's called mother's instinct.

After having my son I was inundated with warnings about how I was bringing him up. It all started when I couldn't get my son to sleep in a cot - books by Gina Ford and such like were proffered but they seemed insensitive to my views. We battled for months to persuade my son to sleep in a cot and one day I suggested, "can't he just sleep with us?". My husband said no until one night I counter challenged - "you want him in the cot, you get up in the night". From then on my son slept with us and we never regretted it.

I began to hide the fact I was co-sleeping from friends after hearing a lot of opposing opinions.  I hid the fact I breastfed till he was 14 months, and as he got older I was besieged with comments about him "wrapping me round his little finger" because aren't children "manipulative and controlling"! I certainly never believed this, and at that time felt ashamed that I wasn't aiming to make him obedient as everyone else seemed to do with punishments and rewards.  I have since found that by following my instincts I was doing something called attachment parenting.

When my son was around 3 years old, I began to default to an authoritative parenting style. This was due to my being pregnant with twins and feeling extremely tired and overwhelmed. It was so easy to slip into the role of telling him what he should and shouldn't be doing.

What I discovered was that the more I dictated what my child should be doing, the worse he behaved and the unhappier we all were. It was as if we were detaching from each other. After my twin girls arrived, things got worse. My boy was hurting and he felt life was completely out of control, and I felt completely overwhelmed. The fact I had a four year old destroying the house and peace at every opportunity made me resent him even more.

The turning point came when I packed a bag for him, I felt desperate. I knew deep down I loved him and wanted him with me, but still, I thought I couldn't cope so wanted to send him to a grandparent for a few days. My son sat on the step in tears, and I remembered how close we were, how I loved being with him - I wanted that back. I took his case upstairs and he got into bed with me and as he slept, I thought about what happened and how things went wrong.

I went to look online at recommended parenting books, and bought a few - Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, and Naomi Aldort's Raising Children, Raising Ourselves and some self help books.

What I relearnt was that my instincts serve our family more than what I had learnt from my experience growing up, or from how I saw and heard parenting should be done in Western society.

Parenting should be fun not a battle of wills. We should be a model not a dictator. Respect is mutual.  Trying to heal my family has been a journey that has brought up a lot of surprising truths. I discovered that I'm the one who is badly behaved, I'm the one with the problem. My children are  my teachers, they show me my flaws and delight me with their eagerness to love and forgive. This very day that I write this, My son taught me stressed I always am, he told me that I scream and bark and I needed to parent better or he and his sisters would leave to find better parents. Fair enough I said, what shall we do now? So he showed my how we use to cook together - and reminded me that just being together was all we ever needed. My son looks at me with his bright grey green eyes and says "I love you mummy". And for the first time in a long time, I find peace