Friday, 30 September 2011

September's Gifts

  Looking back on the month of September searching for those golden nuggets of life at its best, beautiful moments, gifts of grace for which I can feel thankful....

- I took some of my ideas from paper and put them out there in the virtual world for people to read, it has been a gift to me that so far these ideas and thoughts of mine have been received very well.  Thank you.

- A new baby niece with the most perfect name, 'Grace'.

- A sixth birthday party for my biggest girl, lots of friends, presents, dressing up and a real unicorn.

- The most stunning apple tree in my garden and lots of apple pie, baked apples, apple crumble, apple cake..... A very real reminder of nature's abundance for me to admire from the kitchen window.

- Rows of yellow violas on either side of my garden path, such a pretty, welcoming sight.

- Eating a few vegetables from the garden for dinner, I'm still very new to growing veggies, but I'm finding it very cool indeed to be able to go out to the garden, as opposed to the supermarket, to just pick up something for dinner.  

- Taking a step back and witnessing my husband and Erin baking together, it was a messy adventure, but very fun to watch.

- September provided me with some very real gifts in the form of lots and lots of seeds, poppies, nigella, hollyhocks and sweet peas to name a few.  

- a picture drawn by Erin, my youngest, of me and her surrounded by lots of xxxxxx, the very first such picture from her, thus a very precious gift.

And you? what were September's gifts to you?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Silly Billies

 In our house we are very lucky to have two 'Silly Billies'.  They make sure that Mummy does not take life (and herself) too seriously.  Sometimes I'm in the kitchen and I stop what I'm doing to listen to them giggle and chuckle.  If only I could bottle it for future use.  They are also particularly groovy dancers, a favourite at the moment on the kitchen dance floor is the 'Move like Jagger' song by Maroon 5, although it has been renamed as the 'Move my jacket' song by Erin.

 I'm their mother, a teacher and their senior by three decades but these two little ones of mine are the best teachers I've ever had.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

From my bedside table ....

 This is the book that changed my life.  Quite a statement, yet it's true.  This is the book that I want to tell everyone about.  I have to refrain from grabbing people and insisting that they read it.  So inspiring, life-enhancing and 'true' is its message.  Some won't like it, some won't get it, that's fine, one certainly has to be open to its message.  I could quote so much from the book, so many ideas that I love, here's just one,

 "How do you bring 'Being' into the life of a busy family, into the relationship with your child?  The key is to give your child attention....alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is."  (Eckhart Tolle)

How beautiful.  How true.  When I practice doing this I can see in my daughters' faces that they and I know that this is real, this is the essence of life.  I don't practice it every day, a day like yesterday was just so busy and so tiring.  Though when I do practice it like I did one day recently it stays with me afterwards.  One day last week I picked  my youngest up from nursery, she is having a difficult time adjusting to the new place and new people.  I sensed that she just needed some Mummy time, I put aside in my mind the pile of ironing that needed to be done, the phone calls I had to make, the endless list of things I just 'had' to do.  I asked her what she wanted to do and she replied, "Play babies"  as she often does.  We went to her room, we played babies, we fed them and changed their nappies and put them down for a nap.  We discovered some CDs we hadn't listened to in a while, we listened, we flicked through books.  It was such a special time.  It was quiet and peaceful and I was connected to my daughter.  It was a very conscious decision to give this time and this presence to my daughter when she really needed it.  It nurtured us both.

  If you were my friend at my house for coffee, we would sit and chat about our children, our work, our husbands.  When you ask me if I've read anything good lately I would reach for this book and press it in to your hands and simply say, "read this".

Sunday, 25 September 2011

My Ode to Autumn

  "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom friend of the maturing sun"      (John Keats)

 At the start of a new season, as it is now, I feel the need for a re-assessment of our family life and our home.  For a few years now it has been important to me that my children have a real awareness of what is happening right now in the natural world.  In my journal I write about the things I would like us to do  as a family during the particular season, places we would like to visit for autumnal walks,  creating an autumn nature table together, making fun plans for Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night.  I also take this time to think about what items we need to add to our wardrobes for the coming colder days, I think about what autumnal foods I would like to make (I'm thinking soups, stews and lots of apple puddings as we have a mountain of apples to get through) and I think about plans for my garden, planting bulbs for the spring is a priority right now.   Each season I display photos, drawings and poems about that season on the kitchen wall.  We can sit at the table and reflect on that same season from previous years, enjoy my children's drawings and be inspired by people who can put in to words the essence of the season much better than I can, i.e. Keats and Blake.  We collect pinecones, conkers, acorns and other treasures from nature for our autumn table.  Sometimes they sit there gathering dust, sometimes they are employed in a game of 'lets feed the animals'.

  With the idea of gratitude in mind I also like to acknowledge the particular gifts of the season.  The pumpkins growing in the garden (looking forward to my first ever pumpkin pie), to blackberry picking, winter pansies and violas, to sunny days like today when you can really start to feel the nip in the air and need to wear wooly jumpers and cardis.  And so our lives move on with the season, we return to work, school and nursery after a long summer break.  We return to routines, swimming lessons, rushing out of the door in the morning, only to return because I've forgotten school bag, water bottle, reading book...... In the midst of all this though I don't want to ignore what nature is doing, quietly going about her business decorating the trees with gold, russet and amber, tossing around those conkers for us to collect, swelling the pumpkin for us to eat and carve in to a scary face.  I imagine nature gently laughing at me as I race around from one very important thing to the next, trying not to forget anything, trying to remember to say thank you, trying to do my best.  She does't race around, she gets it all done, so effortlessly and so beautifully each season.

 Our Autumn table.  Bringing in a little of Autumn's abundance so that we can feel the connection with what is going on in the natural world.  Children are already so deeply connected with nature I believe.  The way in which they will play with water, sand, mud, the way my girls play so freely and joyfully when we go up to the North Downs or play in the gardens at RHS Wisley.  Most of all I would like that my children have a sense of celebrating and embracing all that the season has to offer.  I want my children to grow up with a strong connection to nature and its cycles so that their souls as well as their bodies will be nourished by all that each season has to offer.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

On Truth and Beauty

In my search for truth and beauty in life I believe I have found a tool which helps me every day.  It is a gratitude journal.  Each day I try to acknowledge the things for which I can feel grateful.  By noting these things, and sometimes they're just very small things, I am capturing life in its truest, most beautiful essence. Distilling life in to a little glass bottle like you would when making essence from flowers like lavender or roses.  When I spend my day focusing on that which is lacking in my life, who doesn't want more clothes, more holidays, more home improvements? More, more, more.  The truth is, those desires will never be quenched.
 What I can do though is note the things I already have and be grateful.  I admit, some days it is really hard to practice that which I know deep down to be true.  On my busiest days, work, children, making dinner, laundry, etc, etc can feel overwhelming.  Yet, in quieter moments I know that it is on these very days that I should try to pause and to refocus on what is truly important.  Sometimes this means that I switch off the vacuum cleaner and I say yes to doing a puzzle with my three year old, sometimes it means I don't do the dishes after dinner and I go to bed early and read the book I'm really in to.  On other, more difficult days when tiredness and the blues are taking over, even then I can try to find something for which to feel grateful.  It's not that difficult really.  Walking in to my children's bedroom and watching them while they sleep, planting kisses on their soft, downy cheeks, is a blessing for which I will feel eternally grateful.  My children, for me, are the ultimate expression of grace in the world.  To note these things in my life is truly a very powerful way for me to find truth and beauty in life.  It is also, without doubt, a way in which to find true contentment from within.