Issue seven Spring 2010
Rites of Passage Letâ€™s talk about sex Knitting for good Walking
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Contents 6 9 10 11 12 13
27 30 33 36 40
Rites of Passage An essential part of humanness On leaving home A workshop - into womanhood An initiation - into manhood Birth and men On becoming an orphan
Changing nappies for climate change Nappy choices Ethics at home - Part 2 Helping kids think through the tricky questions Education at school A parents perspective - living our dream The book of communication The Mother of all teenagers Seaonal craft Spring inspirations
People 18 24 37
Lets talk about sex, baby Rekindling your relationship after childbirth Creating space to breathe Mindful parenting in action This (un)musical life A fatherâ€™s journey of mixing: music and kids
Earth 14 22 26 41
Walking Remembering and reclaiming our true nature Seasonal table Spring recipes - anyone for brunch? Kitchen cupboard remedies The potent simplicity of camomile Seasonal soul food Stepping out
Regulars 4 5 16 32 34 38
From the team Editorial Letters Your say Reviews Book reviews Educating...at home Rites of passage in homeschooling Senekaâ€™s tales Working as a midwife Ordinary people doing extraordinary things Knitting for good
Issue seven Spring 2010
Rites of Passage Let’s talk about sex Knitting for good Walking
Barefoot Magazine is produced by Budding Iris Publications. It seeks to inform, challenge, support, respect and inspire mothers, fathers, grandparents, carers and communities to live more consciously and value the importance of children and family life.
A while ago, a friend told me how the young men in the town where she grew up, used to attempt to smash a shop front window with their heads—one head per window—to prove their transition from boy to man. This was their selfcreated rite of passage to mark a significant time in their lives; no-one else (their families, the council or a religious or educational institution) was going to do it for them, so they made up their own tradition. This story got us talking at Barefoot about rites of passage; a human impulse the world over, to mark certain transitions in a life. In tribal and religious cultures there seems to be a solid framework around ‘what’ passage and rite to celebrate but for those who do not belong to such groups, many choices loom large. The biggest one being whether to bother at all. If it’s a ‘Yes’, then countless possibilities arise—which points on a life path (both our children’s and our own) are meaningful enough to notice and mark? There are so many! And of course, what is meaningful for one person may not be for the next. Then, there’s the question of the ‘how’. How do we mark this movement from the death of one phase into the birth of another? Alone or with a crowd? In silence or with bells on? Yet more choices and decisions.
Disclaimer: The comments and opinions expressed in Barefoot are not to be considered those of the editors or publishers, who accept no liability of any nature arising out of, or in connection to, the contents of Barefoot Magazine.
We decided rites of passage are worth bothering about (hence this issue’s features; full of stories and reflections). Their importance comes in the awareness that we are offering our children and ourselves some kind of structure for valuing; by consciously participating in rites of passage and sometimes creating them, we are providing ourselves with meaning—we are caring—as we march through the passage of time.
Also in this issue, there’s the usual rich tapestry of ‘children, people, earth’ offerings, both written and visual, for you to enjoy and for us to say a huge thank you for...to all of our contributors.
Anna Foletta, Charlotte Young, Rachel Watts Co-Editors Rachel Watts, Charlotte Young Blog Editor
Happy reading! Charlotte, Anna and Rachel
Jenny Chapman Design/Admin Anna Foletta Proofreading Skye Windebank Advertising Olivia Wykes www.barefootmagazine.com.au Barefoot magazine is designed & produced in Australia. Barefoot magazine is printed in Australia by Printgraphics Pty Ltd under ISO 14001 Environmental Certification. It is printed using vegetable based inks onto 100% recycled paper made entirely from post consumer waste. Copyright of each piece belongs to the author/artist/ photographer; copyright of the magazine belongs to Budding Iris Publications. Republication is permitted on request to author/artist/photographer and the editors.
Have you taken a photo that is perfect for Barefoot? Send us your favourite pics (low res first!) and have a chance at winning a Modern Cloth Nappy trial pack to the value of $50.00 from Nurture by Nature. The winner can choose the brand of nappy they want and some nappy accessories. www.nurturebynature.com.au Email admin@barefootmagazine. com.au
Letters... Dear Seneka - Your ‘tale’ in the Winter edition of Barefoot could almost be the story of my first birth (minus the floppy baby and SCN).
You know what? The system did fail....it failed Keira and it failed me. But what doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger and I would not have gone on to make the choices in care for my subsequent pregnancies, if I had not had this first birth experience. We learn from our ‘mistakes’ and we gain courage to make choices that might be considered outside the box. Some may say we take risks. I choose to say that I make informed choices based on my past experiences. My third pregancy was a VBAC after two caesars in the comfort of my home, in a warm bath in the corner of my bedroom, surrounded by people that knew me, loved me and trusted that I could birth my baby. This birth empowered me beyond belief! Strength and love as you continue to journey and be ‘with women’—wise woman, wise midwife! Rachel Kennedy Watsonia, VIC
Our star letter wins a yak wool dress from Ettitude. Dear Rachel, Charlotte & Anna Reading the article about finding a playgroup of like-minded women in your Winter issue really touched me. It brings to mind the playgroup where I met you all; it reminded me of the tumble-down playgroup hall (now condemned!) and finding community after moving to a new area. I was apprehensive about joining a group that was based around how one parents. After all that was a recipe for judgemental and closed-minded attitudes. What a breath of fresh air it was to meet you all—and the many lovely women we have had join and move on from that little playgroup as the years have passed. It also made me think of Iris, beautiful Iris. The three years that have passed since her death seem very short and also very long. The way the women of playgroup stepped in to offer support, though, has been humbling. I hope that we can provide other families with this kind of safe space— companionship and passionate discussion about the parenting journey, joyful laughter and shared milestones, meals delivered to your door when everything is bleak, support and love in times of pain.
I am so proud to be able to say that it was at our playgroup that you all met and forged the path that resulted in the creation of Barefoot. Fiona Young—Coordinator Natural Parenting Melbourne
I just wanted to say thank you so much for producing a publication that is not only socially responsible on many different levels, but is also highly interesting. I really appreciate the fact that you can read Barefoot without being bombarded by advertising at every page. How refreshing! From discussions on ethics to craft ideas, this is a magazine that is worth a subscription. My only suggestion—less wait time between issues! Alyssa Tylden, VIC I’m writing to say how much I love Barefoot. Although I don’t have children or naturally, grandchildren, there is still so much in the magazine I appreciate and admire. I also feel there is so much thought and love put into each edition that it deserves a wide reading public. Keep up the good work. Pat via email
Calling all you communicators... The letter’s page is yours dear reader—so tell us what you’re thinking, feeling, doing! It’s a good way to connect. Write and go in the running to win a natural skincare pack from Sukin, including five essentials from their carbon neutral range. www.sukinorganics.com Come on! Don’t just think it, say it and send it! Send letters to: email@example.com
Barefoot Spring 2010 Contributors: Writers (in order of appearance): Claire Miran Khan, Kylie, Christine Lander, Sam Teskey, Jenny Chapman, Anita Hallam, Gen Blades, Kane Ord, Rachel Watts, Sarah Foletta, Fiona Glover, Jacqui Fee, Emma Davidson, Monica Bini, Maria Lerch, Kristan Lee Read, Felicity Occleshaw, Seneka Cohen, Sarah Young, Jon O’Donnell Young, Dr Kate Hunter, Sandra Pyke, Lisa Devine Artwork: Julia Symons, Tina Papasavvas (pg 10 & 41), Liz Vircoe, Brigette DeChirico, Pru Ervin, Sarah Hardy, Brooke Pyke (pg 36 & 40) Back cover - Ona Henderson Photography: Front cover: Anna Foletta Kylie, Jennie Teskey, Brooke Patel, Anita Hallam, Deborah Slinger, Felicity Occelshaw, Rachel Watts, Pamela Tatt Barefoot Winter 2010 Issue: Issue six Winter 2010
Community Boys and wild play Our girls, our bodies, ourselvess Seasonal soul food
Rites of passage An essential part of humanness
words Claire Miran-Khan artwork Julia Symons Claire Miran-Khan is a family therapist working in private practice where she provides post graduate training, counselling and consulting. Claire is also the mother of two adult daughters.
I’m sitting by the bed of my ninety-year-old father; he has broken his leg after a fall. I sit watching, waiting. The orthopaedic ward is full of frenetic efforts to fix bones and maintain life. Not the peaceful death that I’d hoped for my dad. I drift away from the chaos and find myself planning his funeral—a significant rite of passage. How could his amazing life be possibly captured in a thirty minute service? What music, what words could give expression to the spirit of his life? Simultaneously grieving the transition to death and honouring the end of a long, well lived life. Surprisingly my dad survives. No rite of passage just yet.
A significant transition can be a small personal accomplishment, like taking a stand against bad behaviour, paying off a major debt, finally losing that weight. Major events are usually much more easily recognised as rites of passage—weddings, eighteenth and twenty-first birthdays—or community or cultural events—graduation ceremonies and end of year celebrations. The list of what can be developed into a rite of passage is endless.
Most rites of passage involve the gathering of people to witness the transition at hand. Take weddings, for example. This is probably one of the most significant rites of passage. It symbolises so much. Embedded in the wedding ceremony is the transition of single to couple and not too far behind, the formation of a new nuclear family unit. It is the symbolic union of two families. Even if a couple have been co-habiting for many years they often discover that the actual ceremony of marriage does make a difference. Talk to anyone who has recently had a wedding and they will usually talk about the stress of the event and the difference in relationships, particularly with newly defined in-laws. A wedding ceremony will often try to combine the desires of all involved. This melding process often unravels in the planning stages of the rite of passage. I always feel sad when a couple planning their wedding end up so stressed by negotiating the union of the two families (more if it’s a second marriage) that it brings them in for counselling.
It’s important when planning a rite of passage to be clear and transparent about what the rite is aiming to achieve. It’s very easy for competAll humans across all cultures and communities have rites of passages. These are rituals that high- ing agendas to highjack a rite of passage. Clear definition of the aims is essential as a proteclight the step from one state of being to another. tion against the event sliding into something that Which transitions and how these transitions are leaves everyone feeling dissatisfied. This won’t acknowledged are reflections of the values of the culture. One of our own cultural values is giving— always work, but once the aims are clearly defined it enables a platform for arguing why something usually the hosts provide a meal and the guests will or won’t work in the celebration of the transibring a present. Another cultural belief is the tion. Or, if one of the aims is to honour close conimportance of significant relationships. Whether nections this becomes the foundation for arguing it’s a naming or christening ceremony, a primary why Aunt Mabel, who hasn’t had contact with the school graduation, a debutante ball, valedictory dinner, eighteenth or twenty-first birthday, engage- family for many years, isn’t getting an invitation. ment or wedding, significant others expect an If a significant transition is on the horizon, initial invitation. With all these events, unless otherwise discussions need to be about what is to be connegotiated, the participants expect to be fed veyed. The rite of passage is a symbolic repre-
rites of passage
Every major transition warrants a rite of passage to both acknowledge the past and mark a new future direction. It involves honouring the process of change and the significance of the event. A rite of passage allows space for the grief of letting go of whatever it is that is being left behind and at the same time celebrating what is newly arriving.
and watered and there is an assumption that all attending have a special place in the hearts of the hosts. In turn the hosts expect a gift and/or indirect payment. This is an informal cultural rite of passage contract.
sentation of what the transition means to those involved. For example, a naming ceremony, a christening or baptism are all ways of welcoming a baby into the world. Some people decide not to do anything formal and so the welcoming rite is much more casual with friends and families bringing a gift and welcoming the newborn when they first visit. Embedded in the choice of how this honouring of a major transition plays out is information about the familyâ€™s values. The family that chooses not to have a welcoming ceremony may have a high value on intimate personal rituals, or might believe formal rituals are a waste of energy, time and money. For those that choose a more formalised ritual clarity about the symbols enables the aims and structure of the event to be clear, giving strength to the owners of the rite of passage. For example, if a new parent comes from a family where there is an expectation of a formal christening with a ceremony in a church with the newborn wearing the family heirloom christening gown then symbolically what is being expressed are links to the importance of family history. If the new parents feel satisfied with their history this will be a very special event with the baby being introduced
to all that has gone before. Of course itâ€™s also possible that the last thing that a parent wants is to hand onto their new baby any aspect of the familyâ€™s history. For parents in this situation who have decided to have a formal rite of passage what they would want to capture symbolically is to break tradition and do things differently. When my daughters established their own homes, in order to acknowledge this significant accomplishment, it felt important to give them a gift that captured a core family value. Love of good food and cooking has a long tradition in my family of origin. Couple this with trying to live with as much ease as possible. The transition gift that came to mind was a very good quality food processor. For me (and hopefully for them) this gift supported symbolically the importance of good food made easily. Rites of passage that link past, present and future and connect the individual to their place in the world are a spiritual experience. Even if this sense
of participating in a process that is greater than the self only lasts a second, it means the rite of passage has been a success. Whilst many rites of passage are culturally sanctioned events, a very personal private accomplishment can and should also be acknowledged. Someone who has found themselves under the will of others and has recently found courage to speak up for themselves warrants a rite of passage celebration. This may be a personal rite or it may involve witnesses; friends who have helped along the way could be included. Or a ritual that feels appropriate might just be a toast to self and/ or others, to announce the transition to getting a voice and refusing to be bullied.
A rite of passage needs to have the flexibility to capture whatever is desired by its creator (assuming no harm is inflicted on another). This is why preparation is so important and why often, if commitment to the aim isn’t held onto, disappointment is the outcome. It is essential that time is given to think through how to capture the complexity of the agenda. Without a process of including rites of passage as part of everyday life, significant transitions can slip by unacknowledged. The cumulative effect can be a sense of not achieving anything in life. Transitions that aren’t marked leave a spiritual yearning.
The distinction between ritual and rite of passage is important. My belief is that rituals stabilise individuals and relationships and are a part of the routines of everyday life. Whereas a rite of passage is linked to transitions and so acknowledges a period of destabilisation. Speeches are often an important part of a rite of passage. This is also the case for a personal rite of passage, people will often write or say something even if it is only witnessed by the wind. It’s not uncommon that from a very significant rite of passage an element will be worked into a ritual. For example, the regular visiting of a place of remembering a lost loved one. Other examples could be the wearing of something, cooking a particular meal or buying a particular bunch of flowers because they were a part of the rite of passage ceremony. There are many transitions that we could celebrate. Given that in our society the distinction between childhood and adulthood has become a little blurred I focus on some of these. The beginning of menstruation for girls or the first shave for boys is worth honouring. Both these events signal a move from child to adult. Others could be the first successfully cooked meal that manages to feed the family or the first successful lone trip on public transport. All of these events are transitions warranting a rite of passage as they simultaneously involve loss and gain. Any transition can be celebrated, how this is to be done depends on the needs of the people involved. Our disconnection from formal religions— the traditional owners of rites of passage—means that we have to be much more mindful of what constitutes a major transition. No matter how trivial it might seem to others, if it feels significant to the individuals involved then it’s worth acknowledging. The challenge is how to go about honouring it with clarity, respect and love.
rites of passage
I am currently planning a rite of passage for next year. I have decided I need to throw my wedding ring into the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Malta. This will be a personal rite. My style of marriage needs to be put into the history from which it originated. I plan to have the divorce date engraved alongside the wedding date (thirtytwo years). The transition to be acknowledged is to farewell the style of marriage where I picked up the responsibility for orchestrating the family including the happiness of the man of my life. I inevitably failed, wore myself out and so he upgraded to a younger fresher partner and I am left wondering why on earth I worked so hard, given I find living on my own a luxury beyond belief. All of this I want captured in my private ceremony: the grief, the slog, the joys (past and present) and the hope for the future.
Given that most significant rites of passage are shared and witnessed by friends and family, the absence of celebration and honouring of significant events can lead to a sense of isolation and disconnection.
On leaving home words Kylie People often think I’m a lot taller than I am—it must have something to do with my red hair.
I don’t remember when I first knew I was going to leave home or if I arrived in my family knowing I would move on. The one and only time I ran away was an Easter morning; I packed my Easter eggs into my pillowcase and went up behind the pigsty. From this distant vantage point I could see that my family wasn’t concerned about my lengthy disappearance. It was getting dark, cold, I was hungry and I wasn’t brave enough at six or seven to really run away. I knew I would need to come up with a less spontaneous, better laid out plan, one with a destination in mind…
At twelve I learned about exchange students. I discovered I could live with another family for a whole year in a foreign country. I was so excited— I had my future, bright before me and I wouldn’t even need to marry my host family’s child. I inherited a part time job at the local service station, when my friend Debbie Broadhurst got glandular fever, and I started saving money to help pay the $5000 it would cost to become an exchange student. It was 1985, I was a year 12 student even though I was not yet sixteen years old. I had filled in all the application forms, survived several interviews, encouraged family friends and teachA couple of years on when my family had left being staff to write complimentary essays on me and hind the farm life we were so inadequately suited paid the money. I had said I was prepared to go for—we couldn’t eat, let alone kill, the livestock; to any country and I was pleased to be chosen to the fences were so loose the sheep would amble go to a non-English speaking country—Japan. So all over the country side; we bawled our eyes out with a very limited awareness of the Japanese lanwhen Valerie our milking cow died (we couldn’t guage, culture and customs I went off to the airpossibly let her be cold in the afterlife so we left port in Carnarvon with my family. The day I knew her winter blanket on); and the truckies would had been coming for all of my conscious life, the honk the horn for us to shift Billy the pig off the day I had planned for had finally arrived. I gave tarmac where he was extremely happy sunning Mum and Dad, my brother Aaron and my sister himself. We were now living in a caravan under Chantal, a hug. I was quite surprised to discover I a tree in the front yard of my Aunt’s house in the Adelaide hills. We ate meals together in my Aunt’s was emotional. I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I boarded the light commercial plane house. One evening at the dinner table after and settled into my window seat. My entire class Grace had been said I plucked up the courage had also come to see me off at the airport and I to ask my learned Uncle if it was okay to marry your cousins—there were three boys at the table to was waving furiously at the window. I was choking back tears, the plane started taxiing down the runchoose from, though one seemed way too old at thirteen and I couldn’t make my mind up between way and the young man seated next to me asked the other two. However I didn’t have to; my Uncle where I was going. I told him I was an exchange student on my way to Japan. My tears dried, my informed me that it was forbidden to marry cousins. I was rather disappointed to not be living with throat unknotted, there was nowhere else I wanted to be. I knew I was heading in the right direction, my Aunt because in my mind at nine, married to one of her boys, I would be staying in their house. the direction that would allow me to determine my own future. Once again I knew I would need to come up with a better plan… page
A workshop - into womanhood words Christine Lander artwork Tina Pappasavvas Christine Lander is a full time mother and part time nurse. She loves dogs, walks on the beach and a very good book. She is also an amazing cook (but she didn’t write that part!).
My eldest child—my daughter—was turning twelve. A few in our parent group at school put our heads together and came up with a plan… we would gather our girls and put on a workshop! As mothers and women, we were concerned that the start of their menstruation could be a difficult, scary time and we wanted something positive for them. We had heard of a wonderful woman who ran sessions for girls on just this issue. We wanted the girls to be comfortable with each other and themselves in this—we wanted to honour them, shower them with understanding and offer them a sense of history in womanhood.
My daughter is quite, quite different from me. She is shy, quiet and sensible. I, on the other hand, can be a little loud, occasionally clumsy in movement and language. I love an audience! Before the event, my daughter had expressed her worries that I might, ‘Insist on being funny, try and make people laugh and be the centre of attention. Could I please be low key, not go first, not make speeches? Just chill out!’. ‘No worries,’ I said, and I really meant it. This was her day and I would be still and quiet. My idea for my contribution was to show a dear photo of the four generations of women in our family together, and to share an age old soup recipe our family cannot date.
Unbelievably, I completely forgot that the mandala was there. I went sliding straight through the centre of it, sending thousands of perfectly placed beans skidding noisily (and seemingly taking forever to stop) across the studio. I froze. I looked around. Each and every mother looked at me, silently expressing a mountain of sympathy for me and at the same time, trying hard to suppress their laughter. I know all these wonderful women well, thankfully…Then everyone started to laugh out loud (except two of us). Devastated, I looked around at my girl, she was hanging her head with her finger and thumb pinching the bridge of her nose saying, ‘Good on you, Mum’. I was devastated. What could I do? Firstly, I got on my hands and knees and most pathetically and feebly tried to put those wretched little beans into some order. That was just really silly. Eventually our workshop host asked me to stop and sit, thank God. Later, when our task was to write a written message to each girl, I wrote, ‘Sorry about the mandala!’ to every one of them.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t such a big deal for my daughter. In the car on the way home I told her how sorry and devastated I was for her and how We met our daughters. They had been working tobad I felt about it all. She responded positively. gether to make a beautiful mandala. It was stunApart from her being embarrassed about my ning. They had been working with dried beans behavior, she didn’t need to find forgiveness—she of all sorts of colours and shapes. It really was a knows how hopeless I can be sometimes… sight to behold. The mandala was the centrepiece I am compelled to tell this story as it really signifies of the space where we gathered. The mothers for me how you can blend reverence with real were each to take a turn to move to the front of the room with the children and mothers surround- life and humour. This workshop was lovely for the girls, it was special, it held reverence for them ing this beautiful and remarkable centerpiece. I as young women experiencing menarche and didn’t go first, I waited. I went second—not too beyond. forthright, not last, just second—perfect. I stood page
rites of passage
We nailed it! The shape of it was indeed a workshop. We dropped the girls off in the morning to a wonderfully quiet studio. The girls were about to embark on a beautiful day of stories; about history, women, traditions as well as some functional physiology (albeit delivered in a most gentle manner). We were to meet the girls at lunchtime with some delicious food. Our job was to share our food and a story or snippet of relevance. Some mothers brought family christening gowns and stories of their mothers and grandmothers. Others told stories of their different cultural practices.
An initiation - into manhood words and photo Sam Teskey Interviewed by Charlotte Young Sam Teskey was born and brought up in Warrandyte, Victoria. He lives and works in the music industry as much as he can.
In the morning I was woken up at a ridiculous hour, at five o’clock or something. I wasn’t allowed to have any breakfast. I just went straight out into the bush. And I was left out in the bush, with my own thoughts, nothing with me, no watch, nothing; just myself, for about ten hours. And every two hours Mum or Dad would come and bring me something, a gift. They’d tell me a bit about it, what it meant to them. As I was out there in the bush, all the men in my life were building this sweat (lodge), getting it all prepared and by the time I got back, around three o’clock they were just finishing off and we started off with the ‘fire man’—the guy who man’s the fire the whole time for the sweat. I think there were ten of us all together. So we sat around in the sweat and the fire man put the rocks into a pit in the middle of the sweat. It went through stages. The first stage was a little bit cool (temperature) and we did a few chants around the circle and we’d talk and listen to each other. And we’d do a calling to the Grandmother and the Grandfather; it’s sort of like praying, pretty much. And we’d do it in a circle and listen to each other and support each other’s callings and also ideas. And then we’d sing and pass a peace pipe around as well. And then we’d open it up (the sweat lodge) for a bit of a cool down. That was the first round.
ladle of water and we’d all just take a little bit of the water; you’ve got to share it amongst yourselves. Then we’d do another round and it got a bit hotter and it keeps getting hotter and hotter and we’d do that for about two hours and then finally we came out and went to eat. After you’ve sweated everything out, food is just the most amazing thing because you haven’t eaten anything since the night before. So you come out and you’re all sweaty and weak. It seemed arduous. It was a good coming of age ’cause it was a hard thing to do. It was fun too but it was really like a passage, in a literal sense. After that we cooled off and walked up to the house and had a big meal together, with the women too.
It was so hot! It’s amazing how much you cherish water. Every round, we’d pass around this little
In the sense of being able to be more open, I felt different afterwards, because it was very confronting having to do these calls and really say how I felt. To get used to speaking openly—you know, really expressing yourself—which I’d never done with them or with anyone before, in that way. You get to know these people so much better and you’re more comfortable with them afterwards because you’ve been through this and I think that’s a part of coming of age—that learning curve of being more open and being able to do these sorts of things with other people. I think that’s what changed me; it opened up me up a lot.
When my older brother did it, he was fourteen and I was twelve and I wasn’t allowed to go down there—so I was up with all the women, cooking and doing that sort of thing. My parents explained it pretty much as a rite of passage, we were brought up around those sorts of things and it sounded like a cool thing to do. When you do it, you do it with all the men in your life. The friends of my parents who had been around as I’d been growing up, the men that I looked up to, that I learnt off. In one of the rounds they all gave me advice or passed on something they wanted me to know, as they went around the circle.
Birth and men interview by Jenny Chapman photo Brooke Patel
Jenny Chapman lives in Eltham with her son Crusoe, cat George,
The birth of a baby is one of the biggest events in a couple’s life together, and on an individual level. Birth as a rite-of-passage, for both the mother and father in the making and indeed for their relationship, requires an emotional and psychological shake-up. As in any rite-of-passage, the roles we take on before, during and after, and the expectations we have of each other, can affect us in our ongoing relationship. Rhea Dempsey has been a childbirth educator, counsellor, activist and birthing attendant for over thirty years. In a recent interview with Barefoot, she introduces a thoughtful viewpoint on the male role in the rite-of-passage of childbirth. In particular Rhea has in mind how the emergence of a (psychologically) masculine model of support during birth may free couples from unrealistic expectations of each other.
laugh. (Out loud. A
RD: In the deep psyche, the role model for being at birth, is a female-centred model; mothers, sisters, blood sisters, tribal women, wise women… In our present culture I know we’ve got male doctors in there, but at the deepest archetypal level, in terms of a rite-of-passage it’s a women-centred thing.
lot. Mostly at herself.)
Now we’re bringing the fathers in.
and chicken Jayne. She constantly endeavours to live simply amidst her chaos, to parent confidently (not perfectly), and to
Rhea Dempsey website and contact: Birthing Wisdom www.birthingwisdom. com.au
We’re getting a glimpse of a new role, which is as Lover…facilitating the mother’s hormones, through their sensuous loving connection. With the father being at the birth, the strength of the couple’s physical, sexual and hormonal connection is able to facilitate the birthing physiology and therefore the mother’s birthing instincts—this is a new possibility. There’s also the role of father as Witness. Now this asks a lot of a man at birth. Unlike women who attend birthing mothers, he is not supported by archetypal motifs laid down in his deep psyche. He doesn’t have the template for bearing witness to the primal women’s work of birthing. This role of Witness requires a capacity to remain trusting, solid and focused in the face of what women’s strength* looks like in birthing—and it can look pretty scary! Often for fathers this role shape-shifts into the role of Protector. Now if the role of Protector is activated in service of the mother’s capacity, by protecting her from distraction and interruption— boundary-riding to protect the space—then that would definitely be useful. But so often the essence of the Protector role is influenced by the father’s distress at the intensity of the mother’s work, so he wants to save her from the pain and effort; to protect her from facing her own rite-of-passage. When this happens the Protector morphs into a Saviour with major consequences to the mother’s birthing potential. So men who accept this journey, consciously, have to find their way. They can take some guidance from a woman’s way of being at birth, but they sort of have to stake their own claim on it. This might be part of what a true ‘masculine’ role at birth might look like; as Lover, as Witness, and then of course, as Father. ‘Calling the baby in’, being present, attuned and bonding with the baby. These are all aspects that will form the core of what that riteof-passage is for the father, which at its core is to come into an emotionally responsive, nurturing place. Of course, neither father nor mother come through a birth unmarked. But how they process birth—before, during, after—and their individual roles when in that space, will dictate what sort of a mark is made, and how that mark affects their future lives in relationship with one another.
*To understand better how Rhea uses the term ‘strength’, in labour, and how the wrong kinds of support can be so detrimental, please read her article The Wounded Mother www.wonderfulbirth. com/Services/ViewServices.asp?Ref=2316
rites of passage
I reckon what happens in the main is that birthing women are projecting onto their partners, an expectation that they (the men) will know how to support them in labour like women do. Whereas—they’re men! There ought to be a different role for the father. At the moment they’re…trying to either follow how women attendants are at birth—intuitive, or how doctors are—controlling.
I don’t think we’ve yet seen, or only in small instances, what a father’s role at a birth could really look like.
On becoming an orphan words and photo Anita Hallam
Anita is the mother of two boys (23 and 12 years of age) and she is also the co-ordinator of counselling at a large girl’s school in Melbourne.
Until the age of nineteen years, my family was my mother, father and me. On the morning of 24 June 1981 this changed. I remember feeling contemplative and reflective while walking to get a lift to University. I crossed the usual busy road and saw an ambulance in the distance; I wondered about what might have happened. In Biology class I was given a note to report to the Dean’s office immediately. As I walked, I became aware of my increasing worry. I was led to the Dean’s office where two uniformed police officers were waiting. They asked my name and confirmed my mother’s name. Time slowed as the trauma started to hit. I don’t remember the exact words, but I was informed that my mother had been involved in a fatality as a pedestrian and had been hit by a car on her way to work. I screamed and then sobbed. A woman hugged me and all I could think of was my mother— she was supposed to hug me, not a stranger. I later realised, that the ambulance I had seen earlier in the day had been attending to my mother.
his enormous grief and I felt very alone. My father continued to struggle to express his emotions and later in his life was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This disease is cruel in many ways. However, with the brain tangles of the disease there seemed to be some untangling of some of his emotions. He began to express himself in an appreciative and genuinely deep way that I had not experienced before. Before his death, his physical health deteriorated gradually and I had the chance to prepare for his final leaving, unlike my mother’s death. With the sudden death of my mother, life was never the same; all that was secure was gone. I learnt abruptly and deeply that death is part of life. Because I didn’t have an adult relationship with my mother I often feel uncertain about how to parent my young adult son. I want to be loving and caring, but don’t want to be intrusive. I miss being able to talk to her about such things.
My father died six years ago. As time goes on, the grieving changes and feels deeper in some My life as an only child with two parents had ways. It feels like there is no-one there anymore abruptly ended. It was now just my father and me. who is there for me to share the little and the big I soon moved into filling some of my mother’s things in my life. I also still grieve that my sons roles by attending to the domestic chores at home, have missed out on ever meeting or knowing my cooking for my father when he came home from mother. I talk about her from time to time so that late afternoon shift. I was very close to my mother they have a sense of who she was and what she and loved her dearly and I know she truly loved may have done if she was able to have spent time me in a very deep way. I knew that my father with them. Being without parents can feel hollow. loved me but this was a different kind of love. It But these feelings pass and there is comfort in was intense at times and often accompanied by remembering who my mother and father were. other emotions such as frustration and anger. As Feeling like an ‘orphan’ wasn’t something I ana consequence of my mother’s death my relationticipated as a consequence of both of my parents ship with my father changed. When he returned departing the world of the living. Their influence from identifying my mother’s body he walked in continues in who I am and through my two sons. the door and said, ‘Well, it’s just you and I’. There Alongside this are the stories, memories, rituals were many hard moments but one of the hardest and family cultural traditions that they were both was seeing my father distressed and crying. I felt part of.
Walking Remembering and re-claiming our true nature
words Gen Blades artwork
I only went out for a walk and finally decided to stay until sundown, for going out I discovered was actually going in. John Muir
Liz Vircoe Gen Blades teaches at La Trobe University, Bendigo Campus in the Outdoor and Environmental Education program. She has just commenced a PhD which will explore walking from philosophical perspectives with the aim to inform deeper more connected ways of approaching walking as educational practice. Gen invites correspondence about this: g.blades@latrobe. edu.au
Like breathing and eating, walking can be an unconscious act and in its every day practice is a means of locomotion, of getting from one place to another. Yet, there is something more profound in the simple act of walking. In her extensive history of walking, Rebecca Solnit (2002) stated that the subject of walking can reflect how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. So in this sense, I would like to explore how we can engage in walking as an act of connecting more deeply with the earth, with ourselves and with each other. I am excited and feel privileged to be writing and talking to others about walking as I begin my PhD journey. Walking is a shared and universal experience and I have been pleasantly surprised with the stories people readily share when I say to them I am exploring a philosophy of walking. Immediately, people relate to their own experiences of its richness and meaning in their lives.
Not in a judgemental way but to bear witness to a deeper awareness of self and my relationship to others and the earth. This began from a feeling of disconnection from self and nature which seems paradoxical, but that’s how I felt. Martin Mulligan (2003) described this experience of disconnection and this has helped me reflect on my walking: Wherever we go, we recreate the frontier between the settled and the wild, and when we travel we are cocooned by our technologies. Even in our most dedicated efforts to ‘get back to nature’, we carry backpacks loaded with the ‘necessities’ for survival and we encase our feet in robust hiking boots…we need to keep in mind the degree of separation if we want to become more attentive and empathetic with the non-human world... (p. 284).
These ‘degrees of separation’ can reside within us on a number of levels—physical, social, emotional and spiritual. Walking can be seen as an indicator of these. For instance, walking can be confined to short distances, between the car and Walking in my life has, for a long time been a part buildings, shopping malls, etc. Walking as travel, for pleasure and to just wander is fading along of my work as an outdoor educator where I have taken groups, predominantly school students, into with our profound relationship to body, world and imagination. natural settings on foot in the form of bushwalking journeys. It also is something I love to do in We live by concepts such as ‘time is money’ and my personal time. But on some level, I began to culturally we can feel ‘time poor’. Walking can question my motivation and reasons for walking. contribute to our re-claiming of a vaster sense of time and space. Leunig (2001) poignantly captured this in letters between Vasco Pyjama and his mentor Mr Curly: My journey appears to have developed into a process of slow plodding which I rather like. When you plod, everything seems to take forever and forever is a lovely thing once you stop worrying about it.
Strange, how something that takes a lot of time can give a feeling that there is a lot of time—and a lot of space and good measure of ease. There has been a rich literature about the experience of walking for centuries which has evolved into thinking about walking. Just to mention a few: the walks and poetry of William Wordsworth, the philosophy of Rousseau and more recently, contemporary writing by people such as John Muir and Gary Snyder. All have associated walking as universal acts with particular meanings. For instance, the meanderings and wanderings of the romantic poets were expressed as freedom and self expression at a time when the modern human condition was emerging and creating a separateness of pathological proportions. In 1807, William Wordsworth witnessed this dilemma when he wrote: The world is too much with us; late and soon. Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! (from the ‘World is too much with us’) Rebecca Solnit observed how William and Dorothy Wordsworth made walking into something else, something new that defined walking in the landscape as a consummation of a relationship with places and an expression of the desire for simplicity. Walking for Rousseau co-existed with solitude and wilderness and as an exercise in simplicity and a means of contemplation. He said: ‘I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works with my legs.’ In more recent times, walking has been a part of environmental activism. For John Francis, in 1971 an oil spill in San Francisco Bay changed his life forever. Helping to clean up wasn’t enough: he sought another way to contribute. It was to give up the use of all motorised vehicles and walk everywhere. Incredibly, he did this for twenty-two years; seventeen of these were in silence. We may not be aiming to bring about revolution and change the world but we can take one small meaningful step. We can access what is natural to our being where walking can help with our everyday concerns. It can be our own personal revolution. In 1847, the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote: Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, …Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right (cited in Chatwin, 1987). Walking allows us to be in our bodies and the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts. We can learn from the Bud-
dhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh who is a master of walking meditation: Walking meditation is meditation while walking. We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips. When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away, and peace and joy fill our hearts. Anyone can do it. It takes only a little time, a little mindfulness, and the wish to be happy. Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters in conversation together. It has a natural rhythm which, as movement, can combine with our inner stillness if we bring that to our awareness. One way I have experimented with re-directing my attention has been in relation to places I walk. Instead of walking through places I open up to places going through me. Thereby, the outer landscape is met by our senses— our sight, touch, sound, smell—and if we put aside our thoughts, our ideas and allow ourselves to be present, it can be an expression of our inner walking. This is challenging and requires effort but is accessible to us all whether we walk in pristine, natural places or the median strips of our cities. So, go out for a walk and consider experimenting with the following: Walking with intention that is drawn from within and is not external to you; Making conscious choices such as walking to work or slowing down and taking a walk; Drawing your attention to an aspect of the experience of walking or place you are in and casting aside any agendas; Being present and remembering to breathe! Walking barefoot; walking gently on this earth. References B, Chatwin, The Songlines, 1987, Picador, London D, Cumes, Inner Passages Outer Journeys, 1998, Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota J, Francis, Planetwalker, 2009, National Geographic Society, Washington DC M, Leunig, The Curly Pyjama Letters, 2001, Penguin, Camberwell M, Mulligan, Feet to the ground in storied landscapes: Disrupting the colonial legacy with a poetic politics. In M, Adams and M, Mulligan (Eds) Decolonizing Nature, 2003, Earthscan Publications Ltd., London, pp.267-289 R, Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, 2002, Verso, London Thich Naht Hanh, The Long Road Turns to Joy: A guide to walking meditation, Full Circle, Dehli
‘Book Nook’ Reviewed by Kane Ord Eltham Bookshop The bookshop proudly supports this magazine and will offer 5% off the RRP for the reviewed titles.
Long Walk to Freedon Nelson Mandela Illustrated by Paddy Bouma
Too Safe For Their Own Good Michael Unger, PhD
ADHD to the Power of Three Carolyn Angelin
To My Mummy - Doodles for You Edited by Phillipa Dreidemy
Abridged by Chris Van Wyk
Our children are safer than they have ever been, protected within the fortress of their parent’s good intentions, but is that necessarily a positive thing?
ADHD to the Power of Three is a forceful memoir of a mother’s journey into adversity as she struggles to maintain her family through the hardships of raising identical triplets – all diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The story unfolds candidly as Carolyn Angelin, with profound honesty, takes the reader through her journey into despair and emotional breakdown as she battles through both the highs and lows of life lived with ADHD.
Doodles for You is another interesting small format book which is soft cover and easily transported for reading, colouring and drawing on an outing, or in the home. It is an interactive book for firing creativity in children in a loving and affectionate context— namely their relationship with their mothers—allowing them to express heart felt emotions within their own unique interpretation of the world. It is an easy and uncomplicated book with simple text and ample spaces to colour and draw. A great book for young children that is light and especially suitable for mailing as a gift.
Long Walk to Freedom is the first official children’s edition of Mandela’s poignant autobiography of the same name. Skilfully abridged from the original and simply illustrated, this picture story book now makes South Africa’s struggle against the racist horrors of apartheid accessible for the younger reader. The story is delivered in a considerate fashion, fully aware of the emotional capacity of children.The narrative unfolds in a way that is easily followed, allowing for a full appreciation of the tale being told. A perfect resource for parents who wish to introduce their children to the darker side of humanity, whilst educating them on the importance of tolerance and acceptance. Macmillan/ $35.00
Internationally renowned social worker and child psychologist, Michael Unger, argues that by continuing to protect children from failures, mistakes and disappointment, children are being deprived of important life lessons that help encourage children to take risks. Although a child may experience less disappointment, by not being exposed to manageable amounts of danger, our children are less likely to experience the benefits and gain advantages that are associated with risk-taking behaviour. Too Safe For Their Own Good is also a practical and lucid guide for parents, offering a range of tips and suggestions that will help children to develop into mentally healthy, independent individuals. Allen & Unwin/ $26.95
The book is not only a fascinating read, offering a stark contrast between the common desires of domestic mundanity and the realities of motherhood but offers a rare insight into the life of a woman who refuses to let anything compromise the unity of her family. Sid Harta Publishers/ $29.95
Age 6+ Hardie Grant Egmont Publishers/$6.95
One Pot Screamers Dee Dickson with Scott Podmore Dee Dickson is a mother of four who has poured her practical experiences of cooking hearty, highly nutritional food in a time pressed household into this neat little book. These soups, one pot meals and desserts are tried and tested favourites from Dee’s own family and friends. Most of the recipes can be made from pantry staples (no fancy, expensive ingredients) and are designed to be quick and easy to prepare. There are lots of dishes I remember from my childhood, but with a few improvements or updates made by Dee. Favourites are Nan’s Chow Mein, Mum’s Baseless Quiche and Apple Crumble. Available at bookstores or www.onepotscreamers.com Reviewed by Rachel Watts
Lets Play - 100 Popular Games for Children Shelalagh McGovern
Gilbert the Garbage Truck needs your help! Trevor Nichols
make it Jane Bull
I love this book. I took me back to many happy days of youth groups, Girl Guides, and friend’s birthday parties. This book is packed full of games for 5—6 year olds, 7—9 year olds and 10—12 year olds. There are classic games (Apple Bobbing and Three-legged race); Theatrical games (Murder Wink – an old favourite of mine!), Trust games (Circle of Trust) and Word games (Memory). The book is beautiful designed and laid out, so it’s easy to find exactly the game you’re looking for and the instructions are written clearly and concisely.
‘The rubbish was falling as he lifted the back…
‘So rifle through that rubbish and get creative. Going green has never been so much fun!’
Rockpool Publishing Reviewed by Rachel Watts
CRASH CRASH BOOM BOOM was the sound of the trash. Out fell a tyre, a trolley and a bicycle. Gilbert thought, surely some of this is recyclable?’ Do our children know what happens to the rubbish once our bins go out to the nature strip? Trevor Nichols has worked as a waste collector for many years. He knows how important it is to teach children from a very young age, about recycling. In Gilbert the Garbage Truck Needs Your Help, Nichols introduces the notion of recycling and landfill in a rhyming story, complimented with bright illustrations. He does not try to describe all the processes, or reasons for recycling, but writes a simple tale from a collector’s perspective. Ages 3-6
Truly, this book explodes with great ideas—colourful photos, step by step (illustrated) instructions, and useful titbits of information about our recycling habits. There are four sections (paper, plastic, metal and fabric) full of creative activity and information about each medium. Junk mail maché, paper weaving, metal mobiles, fabric creatures, cushions, and bags, are just some of the opportunities in this modern, green approach to a kid’s craft book. make it! is very impressively designed, making a point of highlighting the green and ethical publishing industry, and how far it has come. Reviewed by Jenny Chapman
Reviewed by Jenny Chapman
Lets talk about sex, baby... Rekindling your relationship after childbirth
words Rachel Watts artwork Brigette DeChirico Rachel is a mother, psychologist and coeditor of this amazing magazine.
Well it’s not every day that you get to talk about sex with a charming stranger, but a few weeks ago that’s exactly what I did. I spoke to Dr Martien Snellen about his book Rekindling your relationship after childbirth. Martien Snelln is a mother-baby psychiatrist, in private practice at the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne. What follows is an edited transcript of our conversation… RW: As I was thinking about coming today I spoke to a few friends and a common theme was, ‘Well, isn’t it just inevitable that a couple’s sex life takes second place, or third place, or fourth place, after the birth of a child?’ MS: Yeah. Sex lives change, and they change at different points in our lives, but certainly having children is often one of the most dramatic changes. Research has shown that, on average, it takes couples about a year for their sex life to begin to approximate what it used to be. The problem is that most people don’t know that. We have a six-week check-up, and that’s about all. After that, there’s a presumption that everything should now just be back to the way it used to be. And the reality is it’s usually not. RW: One of the recurring themes in the book is ‘before anything else, start talking’. Can you say a little bit more about why that’s so important? MS: Sex lives change after we have a kid. There’s the hormonal state, low levels of oestrogen and progesterone, high levels of proactin, designed to lower sex drive. And so nature drops our ability to ovulate, and at the same time drops desire, that plays a big part. Body image is an issue, the body after having a baby isn’t usually the one you’ve had beforehand. Then there’s the sheer exhaustion of the sleepless nights, running on an empty fuel tank for so long. The idea of being overwhelmed by touch, where if you’re being touched all day long by the baby, the kids, someone’s tugging at the skirt, somebody else breastfeeding, and at the end of the day when the husband says
‘Can I have a bit too?’ the answer is usually, ‘No, I’ve got my body back to myself for the first time all day so I don’t have anything left.’ And all the small intimacies get lost. The kiss becomes brief. The embrace is detached fairly quickly, because if ‘I kiss him for too long or hold him for too long he may get ideas’. All the niceties of the relationship, all the basic physical things that aren’t sex, but may be sensual or sexual, all get retreated from, and so then often there’s a distance, and in the meantime nothing is said. It’s just enacted, but nothing is actually spoken about. And in the absence of that dialogue, men do what all human beings do, they start filling in the gaps. They start wondering, ‘Don’t you love me anymore?’ So, he tries it, gets a knock back, tries it, gets a knock back, tries it, gets a knock back, then he stops trying, because that feeling of being rejected hurts. She then starts going, ‘Why isn’t he trying it on anymore? He used to, and now he doesn’t. He must be bonking the secretary.’ Nothing is said. And, suddenly we start filling in all the spaces. And resentments grow. So, in the book I bang on endlessly about starting a dialogue. RW: Have you got some ideas about how a couple can start that conversation? MS: Yeah, it’s often a difficult one to begin. It very often begins during a dispute, during anger, where someone will say, ‘Well, we don’t even have sex anymore!’ and it sort of comes as an accusation. Problem is, whenever we’re in dispute, it all gets defensive, so the conversation that ensues often doesn’t go anywhere, and the resentments suddenly just explode out. RW: I like the way you include ideas about how to fight fair…. MS: Yeah, I call it the ‘marital rat sack’: the stubbornness, digging your heels in, just being rigid, the silent withdrawal. And, the bickering, badgering stuff. Resentments grow very rapidly in that environment. At least when couples are fighting there’s some dialogue. There’s actually greater hope there. But if you’re going to fight, fight clean. Fight fair. Sex is worth fighting about.
RW: I really like the title of one of the chapters, ‘Forget Sex: Reclaim Your Sex Life First’. Can you say a bit more about what you mean by that? MS: I think when couples are stalling, the issue becomes one as to whether we’re having sex or not. Those arguments go nowhere, and people forget their way. How do we begin this again? So I ask couples, ’How did it happen for you in the first place? Did you just meet and bonk?’ and they go, ‘No’, so I say, ‘What did you do? What was the first sexual thing that you did together?’ and invariably it’s a form of eye contact. They actually looked at each other in a way that you don’t look at other people. And then it progressed to being
more sexual. Hold hands and embrace, and in the end it actually led to the couple actually having sex. That may have all occurred in one night, it may have occurred over weeks, months, years, but they didn’t just have sex. Go back to the start, and go back to introducing all those basic elements that in themselves were lovely; that’s why we did them. Take the pressure off whether you’re bonking or not, and put the emphasis more on all the basic intimacies. RW: That all leads up to—what you call in the book—‘the cherry on top’ MS: The cherry, yes [laughs]. If the discussion stops becoming one around whether we’re having sex or not, but whether we’re actually being kind
Let’s talk about sex, baby cont...
to each other, and intimate, then things tend to move along much more. And we talk about forming an agreement, you know, we go this far, but it stops here, to make a sort of idea of safe sex. You can have a whole activity that is sexual and sensual, but doesn’t progress. And naturally in the end things do, over time. The respect bit is important. Couples need to have a basic respect for each other. In the book I use the term ‘goodwill’ a lot. From respect and goodwill emerges an ability to communicate, an ability to resolve conflict, an ability to feel committed to the other person and assess the safety and trust and honesty and then from that, we can begin worrying about sexual aspects of a relationship. RW: You talk in the book about research that shows that women are often ‘sexually neutral’, but their desire is aroused when they start to engage in the sexual act, so they kind of move towards a greater desire once the intimacy has started. MS: Most women after they’ve been in a relationship for some time, and particularly after having children, are much more likely to begin from a position of sexual neutrality, where ‘sex hasn’t been on my list of things to do today’, when the tap tap comes on the back, it’s almost a surprise. And a decision is made at that point whether to engage sexually or not. And if the decision is to engage sexually, the arousal kicks in, and that arousal feeling is something that’s quite pleasant, and at that point desire kicks in for the first time. A successful sexual outcome for a woman doesn’t always involve an orgasm. For many women to not climax still allows the experience of engaging sexually to be a good one for them. I think that model allows millions of women around the world to actually realise that they’re not frigid; that they’re actually like everyone else and not unhealthy. In the images and the stories of other people engaging sexually, that story is never portrayed. The problem is so many women, particularly mothers, spend so much of their time feeling abnormal. RW: One of the things I really like in the book is your formula for a happy family… MS: It’s really basic. And, whenever I talk to patients about it I’m almost embarrassed to even go through the list, and patients look at that list and nod and go ‘I get it, but I can’t tick all these boxes,’ (see illustration). There is one proviso on
that which I haven’t actually put in the book, just a shift in my own general attitude since I wrote it. As you’ll have noticed, there’s endless articles in every weekend newspaper talking about, the importance of women looking after themselves, to recharge—which I support. Yet, at the same time, I think that I’ve become really quite sick and tired of hearing endless cries for ‘me time’; where the requirement for ‘me time’ and the demand for ‘me time’ is very often bigger than it should be. My reaction these days to when I hear ‘me time’ being spouted too often is, ‘What is your time? You chose to have a child, and to have a child is extremely demanding, and I know your kid’s three weeks old now, but you’re not going to get to see a movie this month’. You know, a whole American self-help view, that is, ‘I am important because I exist’. Where, no, I’m important because of what I contribute and who I am. Self esteem comes from what I put out not what comes my way. I think motherhood is about giving first, not about giving to yourself first and then worrying about the kids. RW: And, one of the areas that is potentially neglected by couples is family time; the whole family being together is a rare thing. MS: Yeah, I look back when my kids were little and we did what everyone in Victoria does, which is head to Queensland for holidays, and, when the kids are little, everyone has holidays, everyone is trying to rejuvenate. And so, the kids wake up and it becomes the battle of who gets up for the kids first. Everyone pretends to be asleep, it becomes who is going to crack first? And somebody cracks, it might be you, it might be your partner. And then after that you get a bit more clued up and you realise this is going to be an issue, so you start doing deals, you know, ‘You sleep in tomorrow and I’ll sleep in the next day and you sleep in…’ And in the end, kids in Queensland wake up at five in the morning, that’s what they do. And so everyone gets up at five in the morning, and you just all head down to the beach, you discover the best part of the day at the beach, in places like Queensland, you’re back for breakfast all together at seven in the morning, and you all go to bed at eight o’clock at night, and you end up having a much better holiday, where you just stop looking for, ‘Where’s my time in this holiday?’ and actually go, ‘Well, it’s all our time, and we all do it together,’ you have a much, much better time.
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Eco-stars Do you ever wish there was a way to reincarnate those little pieces of crayons after they’ve broken? It was this very thought that motivated mother LuAnn Foty to start a crayon recycling program in an effort to reduce waste and educate children about recycling. For more than 17 years Earthling Crayons has collected used crayons from schools, restaurants and other caring organizations to recycle them into their fabulous Eco-Stars crayons. They come in a box of 20, and the star shape is perfect for little hands, giving kids 100 points of colour. The boxes are made from 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard and each one purchased helps support the crayon recycle program, which employs people with developmental disabilities to sort the crayons before they are melted, strained, sterilized and hand-poured into beautiful, functional works of art for kids to enjoy. Available for the first time in Australia at Itty Bitty Greenie: www.ittybittygreenie.com.au RRP $19.95
WOTNOT Natural Facewipes Your 30 second facial. Cleanse, soothe and hydrate even the most delicate skin with WOTNOT’s latest make-up bag essential. Luxuriously soft and pampering facial wipes that clean-away make-up including waterproof mascara or simply refresh after the day, leaving a fresh surface for whatever follows. WOTNOT Facial Wipes are a blend of all natural ingredients including Australian certified organic aloe vera to lubricate and repair, organic sweet almond oil to restore lost moisture, and organic rosehip oil for skin regeneration and moisture re-balancing. No synthetic chemicals, fragrances, preservatives, alcohol or chlorine have been used, just a 100% natural, non-irritating cleansing blend on a biodegradable and compostable soft wipe. Gentle for you and the environment! It’s perfect for travel and convenient enough for every handbag. A pack of 25 retails for $11.95 and can be found in pharmacies and health food stores nationally. For information or to purchase visit www.wotnot.com.au or www. ecodirect.com.au
Please note that while Barefoot endorses the above products, our product reviews are paid advertorial. If you would like the opportunity to share your product with our readers, please email us for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org page
Seasonal table Spring recipes—anyone for brunch?
words and photo Sarah Foletta artwork Pru Ervin Having inherited a love of cooking from her grandmother, Sarah Foletta trained as a chef at some of Melbourne’s best
Here are two dishes that have proven very popular at our cafe, and yet they are really easy to make at home. If you are one of those people that likes to have the food ready when the guests arrive then try the savoury tart recipe, which will be a good option for you. If you like a bit more of a challenge, and don’t mind cooking when guests have arrived, then you should try these hotcakes. I have included both a sweet and savoury version of hot cakes. So this Spring, let’s invite people into our homes, and rejoice in the new season. I remember when we lived in Japan, I was shocked at how people never invited you to their homes, socialising was always done at restaurants or in parks. It seems to me that Australian society is becoming more like this as families get busier, houses seem too small, and people perhaps worry too much about their house being spotless. We need to remember that it is really nice to be a guest and at the same time enjoy hosting. Whether you are planning to have a sweet or savoury topping, the hotcake recipe remains the same. All recipes serve 4 people.
restaurants. She and her husband have
since opened three wildly successful cafes in Melbourne, one of which won Delicious’ Cafe of the Year in 2009. Amongst all her cooking, she has still managed to find time to start a family and has a gorgeous five month old daughter.
This mix can be made a couple of hours ahead of time, but deteriorates if left overnight. Regardless of whether you are making the sweet or savoury version, the salt is crucial, and really enhances the flavour.
fry off as many as fit in the pan, and then bake in the oven all together. The best way to see if the hotcakes are cooked is to break the largest one in half. They will also really puff up when cooked. 7. Top with your choice of sweet or savoury topping
Ricotta Hotcake base recipe Ingredients 1 1/2 cups of ricotta 3/4 cup of milk 4 eggs separated 160g self raising flour 1/2 teaspoon of salt Method 1. In a bowl roughly mix the ricotta, milk, flour, egg yolks and salt. The mix is best if it isn’t worked too much. 2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Gently fold them through the ricotta mix. 3. Cover the bowl with gladwrap, and refrigerate until you are ready to use the mix. 4. Heat the oven to 180˚c 5. Heat a non-stick pan, and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, spoon in about 1/2 a cup of the ricotta mix, and fry until golden, and then flip with a spatula and fry the other side. 6. Slide onto a non-stick baking tray or a tray lined with baking paper, and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes. If you want to make lots of hotcakes
Sweet ricotta topping Ingredients 200g yoghurt or marscapone 80mls honey (if you are using natural yoghurt) 400g seasonal berries, raspberries are probably the most beautiful in colour 200g sugar berries or fruit to garnish Method 1. Mix the honey with the yoghurt, set aside. 2. Place the berries and the sugar in a heavy based pot, and cook slowly until the sugar is dissolved. 3. Once the hotcakes are cooked, assemble— yoghurt mixture first then the berries on top—and serve. Savoury Ricotta hotcake topping For added texture, you may like to add fresh corn taken off two cobs, and half a bunch of chopped spring onion to the hotcake base recipe.
Ingredients 100mls sour cream 1/2 a bunch of chives or dill 1/4 a bunch of flat leaf parsley Truss cherry tomatoes 2 cloves of garlic, chopped 2 zucchini the juice of 1 lemon 60mls extra virgin olive oil 2 rashers of bacon, per person if you wish A lemon wedge per person Method 1. Wash and remove the ends of the zucchini, and shave in thin strips with a peeler, dress with the olive oil, parsley and lemon juice and salt and pepper. Set aside. 2. At the same time that you put the hotcakes in the oven, also put in the tomatoes that have been tossed in some oil with the garlic. At this time also begin to pan fry the bacon. 3. Once the hotcakes are cooked, assemble.
Savoury tart filling
This is a really delicious quiche recipe. Make the shortcrust pastry if you have the time, you will really be rewarded with a beautiful base if you do. Otherwise packaged shortcrust pastry will also do the job. Raw pastry freezes really well, you can freeze it in a block, or else rolled into a flan tin. Just make sure that it’s wrapped well, or else it will get freezer burnt.
Ingredients 200mls of cream 6 eggs 1 cup of grated parmesan or cheddar cheese, or 150g of goats cheese, or fetta 400g of onions 1 teaspoon of salt Fresh black pepper
A herb of your choice, basil, parsley, chives, and thyme all work well with quiches
250g of plain flour
175g of cold, cubed butter, unsalted
1. Peel, and finely slice the onions.
2 egg yolks
2. Place the onions in a heavy based pot with a little oil and cook on a low heat until they are caramelised. They will be done when they are golden in colour, and their liquid is all evaporated. This may take 1/2 an hour, stir every few minutes. You may need to drain off some of the excess liquid before you add the onions to the tart.
1 teaspoon of salt Method 1. Mix the flour and the salt together, rub in the butter until the dough resembles fine breadcrumbs. 2. Add the egg yolks and mix until the dough is smooth and forms a ball. Refridgerate for at least 20 minutes. 3. Set your oven to 170˚c, roll out your pastry, and place in a greased flan tin. Keep a little of the raw pastry aside just in case your base has a crack in it when baked, or one of the sides shrinks a tiny bit. Cover the pastry with foil, followed by rice, chickpeas or blind baking weights—these should completely fill the tin. 4. Blind bake the base for 15 mins. Set aside and make your filling. Repair your base with the reserved raw pastry if required.
3. Mix the eggs and cream together, beat until combined. 4. Add all of the other ingredients, and then pour in to the pastry. 5. Bake at 160˚c for about 30 minutes. The egg should be just set in the middle. 6. This tart should be served at room temperature. Some other savoury tart flavours, and beautiful colour photos of all the recipes above can be found on our blog—www. barefootmagazine.blogspot.com
upcoming events and workshops... JOHN SEED’S DEEP ECOLOGY WORKSHOPS John Seed (whose article on deep ecology we will feature in our next issue) will be offering experiential deep ecology workshops on the Sunshine Coast on September 17-19, 2010, Tasmania in October 2010 and Perth in December. Please visit www.rainforestinfo.org.au/ deep-eco/schedule.htm for workshop descriptions and dates.
Family Creativity Camp at
Wangat Lodge, Barrington Tops NSW
5-8 October 2010
creativity, music, nature study, wildlife, walks... fun-filled holidays that tread lightly on the planet.
(02) 4995 9265 email@example.com page
Creating space to breathe Mindful parenting in action words Fiona Glover artwork Sarah Hardy Fiona Glover teaches mindfulness and mindful parenting in Adelaide.
The job of being a mother is like no other role I have ever experienced, it is all consuming. It demands my time, my energy, my focus and attention, and most importantly my spirit. There are some days when I feel motherhood as a silken shawl placed gently around my shoulders, everything flows and I feel light and expansive. On other days motherhood feels like a heavy, stifling cape; the weight of it making it difficult to breathe.
After some time I arise from the meditation—the stillness and peace—and move forward in my day with composure and calm.
However not everyday is like this. Each day presents its own opportunities, challenges and rhythms. Some days can feel just plain hard work. Some days it feels that there is no ‘knock-off time’, no ‘lunch break’…I feel like I have to be ‘on’ the whole time. Sometimes I may be lucky enough Some days can start perfectly: I awake for the to get some small respite when my child falls early morning feed, feeling good because I’ve had to sleep, and decide to catch up on household good quality sleep. My son has slept an hour lon- chores, paperwork, or even sleep. However as ger, and what a difference that hour makes to my ‘mindful’ mother, I know I must let go of the atown sense of rejuvenation. I put him back to sleep tachment to completing these tasks, as baby murand decide to take this precious undisturbed time murs and stirs, the inbuilt motor of motherhood to meditate. After many days since my last ‘forswitches gears and I am moved back into action mal’ meditation, I cherish this time and drop into once again—feeding, changing nappies, rocking, the familiar space where I can let go of roles, of playing, entertaining, and meeting the emotional needs, wants and desires of others and my own, needs of my child. There are some moments when and simply bring my awareness to my breath. I am so absorbed in trying to keep it all ‘together’
acknowledge my own feelings of frustration and irritation (or whatever emotion is present) rather than blaming my child for not doing what I want him to do when I want him to do it or not being able to get done the myriad of tasks I have set myself for the day. The breathing space allows me to take a step back and work out what is really important in that moment so I can act in a way that is kinder to both my child and myself. The sense of expanded awareness that this breathing space offers, allows me to move forward in to the next moments of my day with a renewed sense of clarity and calm; I’m able to let go of the need to have the situation other than it is, or to be able to decide a course of action with wisdom and compassion, instead of reacting with automatic tendencies from a place of frustration or anger.
that I catch myself and wonder if I have forgotten to breathe. What I find most helpful when I become aware of this tension—this sense of ‘breath holding’—is to stop, allow my attention to turn inward and take a three-minute breathing space. I begin by noticing my experience in the present moment: ‘What am I noticing right now about…my bodily sensations…feelings…thoughts?’ I acknowledge and register my experience, even if it is unwanted. I allow myself to be present, to greet whatever arises, gently and with acceptance. Next, I gently bring my full attention to breathing, to each breath in and to each breath out, as they follow, one after the other. I use my breath as an anchor to bring me into the present and help me tune into a state of awareness and stillness. The last step is to gently expand the field of awareness around my breathing, so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole (including my breath, body sensations, emotions and thoughts)…my posture…and my facial expression. Used in this way, the breathing space provides me with a way to step out of automatic pilot mode and reconnect with the present moment. It helps me
It is important to note while the three-minute breathing space seems simple enough, the ability to use it in the heat of the moment comes after considerable mindfulness mediation practice. For the beginning meditator it might be helpful to practice the breathing space three times a day at specific times (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner), in order to become familiar with the practice. After some time, the breathing space can be utilised in difficult situations as a coping strategy. The breathing space offers the first step in being able to bring attention to the inner world of parenting; watching what arises for us in each moment we interact with our children. The more we are aware of our inner mental, emotional and physical processes, the better equipped we are to handle each situation that arises with our children with clarity, wisdom and compassion. To parent mindfully is not to hold ideals of perfection for parenting or life, rather to be mindful is to hold an awareness of our current experience, even when our experience in the present moment is less than ideal, and to accept this non-judgementally, setting the intention to be more authentically attuned to our children in future interactions. Mindful parenting is a unique approach of child-raising where inner transformation is the first step towards wholeness and empowerment. Mindfulness teaches us to see, and adapt our agenda; to move beyond our beliefs about how things should be, to be relieved of the constant struggle to ‘do it the right way’ and to be free to take up what the present has to offer. Raising children is a constant lesson in opening the self, acceptance, and adaptation. In learning these skills those moments of self criticism, resentment and emotional struggle can be transformed into opportunities for deeper understanding of one’s self and greater connection to our children. page
Kitchen cupboard remedies The potent simplicity of chamomile
words Jacqui Fee Jacqui Fee is a Naturopath and Herbalist in Melbourne CBD and Eltham. One of her greatest clinical rewards is in helping individuals and couples to prepare for, conceive and produce happy, healthy children. In addition, she has a great passion for teaching and mentoring naturopathic students, and is currently writing a professional course in fertility. www.melbournenaturopath.com.au
Chamomile is one of the most versatile, valuable and well suited remedies for children. It can be used as a homeopathic, loose leaf tea, herbal tincture, cream or balm. Most people have heard of it, and chances are, regardless of the ethnicity of most readers, chamomile will be commonly used in your traditions. It is most often used to calm the nerves, being helpful to settle children, unwind them, and help them sleep. Chamomile calms the tummy, reducing wind and pain, and is often employed for irritated children pained by teething. It is excellent as a cream to use topically for inflammation, and is particularly effective when combined with calendula. I was recently reminded of its worth when my child went through a really grizzly patch. Due to teething and vaccination, she was irritated and sad, she had teething related diarrhoea and burning urine which caused awful nappy rash, her cheeks and ears where hot and she was slightly feverish. Tempting as it was to use paracetamol, I remembered these simple remedies in the cupboard. Chamomile homeopathics are safe and easy to Chamomile Cream Ingredients 250ml almond oil
4 cups of dried chamo finely chopped
25gms beeswax 20gms emulsifying wax 50mls rose water act 5 drops citrus seed extr E (contents only) min vita of 1000iu capsule
ss mile flowers in a stainle Place the dried chamo it il unt oil the almond steel bowl and pour on the bowl on a gently Put ers. flow the just covers and heat for two hours, simmering water bath becomes crisp. Stir ocor until the chamomile or l not to burn the herb casionally but be carefu er! run out of simmering wat
administer to babies and children. I gave her a tiny amount in water to sip and made myself a strong cup of chamomile tea. Don’t bother with most chamomile tea bags, loose leaf chamomile tea consists of beautiful caramel flowers that look fresh and are therapeutically potent. Seep a heaped teaspoon in hot water for 3-5 minutes, have a few cups, snuggle up with baby and dream...The tea can be useful to calm mum’s nerves too, and she will also give some of the medicine to baby through her breast milk. A delicious variety to the tea is to use warm milk instead of hot water and add a teaspoon of honey—now who says medicine always tastes bad?! For that red raw bottom, the recipe below is fantastic (it’s very similar to the calendula cream featured in the Autumn issue). If you’re short of time though, you can stop after straining off the herbs from the oil. Wait until the oil is cool and then smooth some on baby’s bottom. Store the rest of the oil in an airtight glass jar, to keep should your babe have nappy rash again, or for when you finally get around to making that next batch of cream! muslin cloth and return Strain the herbs through l over the simmering the infused oil to the bow swax and emulsifying water bath. Add the bee some cold water in wax and melt gently. Put l of oils in that. Whilst the sink and cool the bow rose water, citrus seed whisking gently, add the As the vitamin E capsule. extract and contents of with jars d ilise ster r into the cream thickens, pou clearly labelled. e dat and ts ten con the m thoroughly and place To sterilise jars, clean the s. hot oven for 20 minute them in a moderately will am cre then use. The Wait until they cool and keep for a year. Instructions
ns, skin for rashes, infectio Can be used on clean to e onc t par ly to affected cuts and eczema. App three times daily.
eral information only This is to be used for gen dical advice. me and does not constitute
Changing nappies for climate change Nappy choices
words Emma Davidson photos Mandy Mac Nappies www.mandymac. com.au Mini La La Nappies www.minilala.com.au Emma is the founder of Brindabella Baby, Canberra’s first specialist eco-friendly and fair trade baby shop. She has three children aged five and under, and participates in more volunteer groups for environment and social justice causes than she really has time for. Emma says that sleep is for wimps, and liberated women don’t do housework.
Changing nappies is a job that most parents do many times a day. At my busiest, I changed up to sixteen nappies a day—I had more than one baby in nappies. But each time you change a nappy, you have the opportunity to make an impact on climate change. All you need to do is make a more environmentally sustainable nappy choice. Every nappy counts—just one environmentally sustainable nappy choice each day adds up to a lot less landfill, and a lot less water usage and petrochemical production. One baby in disposable nappies full time contributes 2 tonnes of landfill waste, Zero Waste New Zealand (www.zerowaste.co.nz)
Making a more environmentally sustainable nappy choice might mean biodegradable disposable nappies. However, most brands that claim to be ‘eco-nappies’ are not completely biodegradable and cannot be composted. These nappies will only biodegrade if disposed of in compostable waste bags—not in a plastic garbage bag. Nappies that are 100% compostable are not readily available in supermarkets which means most disposable users will continue to use non-compostable disposables despite their best intentions. For a truly environmentally sustainable nappy choice, let’s take a closer look at modern cloth nappies. Unlike the traditional cloth nappies that most of our mothers and grandmothers used, modern cloth nappies are easy to use and easy to clean. They can also be more absorbent than disposable nappies, and a better choice for a baby’s sensitive skin. Modern cloth nappies are usually dry-pailed. This means the nappies are not soaked in a bucket of water and sanitiser. Solid waste is tipped into the toilet—something disposable nappy users should also do to reduce disease risk at landfill sites. The dirty nappy goes into a dry bucket. Every few days, the bucket is tipped into the washing machine. A pre-wash rinse in cold water will get rid of any solid waste left behind, then the nappies need a normal wash (in cold water if your laundry detergent is suitable) and line dry. This method means that it can take just one litre of water to wash each cloth nappy, depending on your washing ma-
chine’s water usageb. A common myth about modern cloth nappies is that irrigation for growing cotton, and frequent nappy washing, outweighs the reduction in landfill. However, significant amounts of water and petrochemicals are also used to produce singleuse disposable nappies. Modern cloth nappy fibre crops such as hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton do not require irrigation and heavy pesticide use. Re-use is almost always a better environmental choice than single use disposable products. The world of modern cloth nappies can be confusing for newcomers. But the basic elements for any nappy remain the same: waterproof outer; absorbent layers; stay-dry lining against baby’s skin; and fasteners to keep the nappy on. The most common waterproof outer fabric is polyurethane laminate (PUL). Polyurethane plastic is just as waterproof as PVC plastic, but is not as sweaty and will survive a trip through the tumble dryer. Wool is also popular as a water resistant nappy cover—the greasy lanolin in sheep’s wool stops moisture soaking into the fibres. Wool nappy covers are more breathable, can soak up some excess moisture if the nappy becomes saturated, and require lanolising every six washes or so. The fabrics used for absorbent layers are usually hemp, bamboo, cotton, or microfibre. Bamboo and hemp are the most absorbent, take longer to dry, and have some natural anti-microbial properties. Cotton and microfibre are cheaper and more readily available for home sewing. Microfibre absorbs body oils as well as water-based moisture. Microfibre requires another fabric on top (stay-dry liner or a different absorbent layer fabric) to protect baby’s skin from drying out. Stay-dry liners are usually polar fleece or suedecloth. These synthetic fabrics do not absorb moisture. When the baby wets, moisture goes straight through the liner into the absorbent layers underneath, and baby’s skin stays dry to reduce nappy rash. Some parents prefer nappies with no synthetic content. For nappies that don’t have a built-in stay-dry liner, biodegradable and flushable paper liners, or reusable polar fleece liners, are available from modern cloth nappy retailers.
cloth nappies cont..
Modern cloth nappies usually fasten with plastic snaps, or hook-and-loop (like Velcro). A few brands fasten with a Snappi or pin, and at least one brand of modern cloth nappy is tied on. Some parents prefer hook-and-loop because it gives a flexible fit and is similar to the way disposable nappies fasten. Other parents like snaps because they are harder for curious babies to unfasten. Nappies that fasten with a Snappi or pin usually give the most flexible fit around legs, where most nappy leaks occur. There are many thousands of types of modern cloth nappies available, but here’s a brief run-down:
Nappies with a built-in waterproof cover Pocket Nappies All-In-One Nappies Absorbent layers can be Absorbent layers may be removed for faster drying sewn in and take longer to dry Easy to add more absorbent Not as easy to add more layers for heavy wetters absorbent layers if needed
Nappies that need a separate cover Fitted Nappies Prefolds Absorbent layers may be Unfolds for faster drying sewn in and take longer to dry Extra layers for more absor- Easy to use two or more bency can be added between prefolds together for more the nappy and waterproof absorbency cover if not enough room to add them inside the nappy No need for separate cover No need for separate cover Needs a separate waterproof Needs a separate waterproof cover, or leave the cover off cover, or leave the cover off for increased airflow if baby for increased airflow if baby has nappy rash has nappy rash Fastens with snaps or hook- Fastens with snaps or hook- Fastens with snaps, hookFastens with a Snappi/pin, and-loop and-loop and-loop, or Snappi/pin or pad-fold and use with a close-fitting cover Needs to be ‘put together’ No ‘putting together’ or May need ‘putting together’ Needs to be folded after after washing and drying nappy folding required after washing and drying washing and drying Built-in stay-dry liner reduces Built-in stay-dry liner reduces Available with or without Add a separate polar fleece nappy rash nappy rash built-in stay-dry liner or paper liner if preferred Place absorbent layers on Completely biodegradable at top of stay-dry liner instead end of life of in pocket so baby can learn early toilet awareness No matter how many modern cloth nappies you use, or what system you choose, you will be reducing your baby’s carbon footprint compared to using disposable nappies full time. You may also find that your baby is more comfortable in soft cloth, washing nappies is less stressful than urgent supermarket runs for more disposables, and your baby is making a cute fashion statement. One tip though: don’t buy them all at once! Buy a couple of different types and brands of cloth nappies—or borrow some from friends—to try out. Like clothes, each brand fits differently. Once you’ve found one you like, and worked out how often you’re willing to do the washing, you’ll have a better idea of how many you need to ditch the disposables forever. Need more information? www.nappynetwork.org.au - Australian non-profit organisation providing advocacy and information on cloth nappies. www.mygreennappy.org - Make your pledge to use at least one environmentally sustainable nappy at this Australian website. www.naturalparenting.com.au - Check out the Elimination Communication area in the Forum for advice from other parents, or read more in the Articles. www.nappycino.com.au - Social forum for cloth nappy users. Nappycino also owns the Buy for Baby cloth nappy auction website. www.nappyaddicts.com.au - Another popular social forum for cloth nappy users. www.intuitiveparenting.com.au - Discussion of cloth nappies is most likely in the Earth Matters or Bellies, Birth & Babies areas in the Forums, or read more in the Articles.
Chemical-free Hand-made in Australia Firm & Well-fitting The Tea Tree flakes used in Tetra Mattresses provide a comfortable, supportive and breathable filling. Their natural properties make them anti-bacterial, hypo-allergenic and insulating (making them cool in summer and warm in winter). Your baby is not exposed to industrial chemicals when sleeping on Tetra’s Tea Tree flake filling. Most other mattresses are petroleum based, or may use Volatile Organic Compounds (V.O.C’s) to stabilise “natural” liquid ingredients.
HKO_Barefoot9x7outlined.ai 18/04/2009 9:07:53 PM
We create Tetra’s Tea Tree flake filling by first hand-collecting the bark from sources on Australia’s East Coast. This actually creates healthier trees that produce more oxygen that combined with being local make your Tetra mattress a truly “light and right” choice for your baby and our earth. Every Tetra Tea Tree mattress is hand-filled and hand-made with love in Australia. We invite you to join more then one million Aussie mums and bubs that have already enjoyed a beautiful, natural, mindful and healthy beginning on Tetra Tea Tree mattresses. Genuinely Natural Australian Infant Bedding, Tetra Tea Tree (est. 1949).
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Ethics at home - Part 2 Helping kids think through the tricky questions
words Monica Bini photo Deborah Slinger Monica Bini is Curriculum Manager (Humanities) at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. Her responsibilities include managing the VCE Philosophy curriculum. Prior to joining the VCAA she taught in secondary schools for 12 years, in the areas of philosophy and commerce.
Part 1 of this two part series on ethics education (featured in Barefoot Autumn 2010) focused on ethics education in the school environment. This second part focuses on ethics education in the home environment.
Kohlberg posits six stages in moral development:
Ethics education in schools was explored through a day in the life of Isabella as she encountered different areas of school life where education in ethics might occur.
Stage 2—right action is that which instrumentally satisfies one’s own needs and occasionally those of others. Elements of fairness, reciprocity and equal sharing may be present but is pragmatic and subject to deal making. ‘It’s not fair!’
Isabella is walking home after a long day at school. Her ethics education will have begun before she started school and will hopefully continue throughout her life. Ethics is a contentious and complex area and as she gains life experience, a deeper sense of self and keeps developing her ability to reason, so too her education in ethics may continue to develop, depending on the reflective attitude that she brings to her life. The elements at play in Isabella’s ethics education at school are also at play outside of school. How people in Isabella’s life model moral decisionmaking and conflict resolution in their actions and comments will have a bearing on her development in ethics. So too, will the manner in which they respond to and discuss with her, her own moral life and the nature of her engagement with moral issues in wider society. Perhaps she will go home to turmoil created by revelations of cheating by the family’s favourite rugby team. Will the conversation centre around the harshness of the penalties for cheating, disgust at the dishonesty of the club, the need for fans to forgive and to be loyal or the need to walk away from any association with the club? How will emotion and reason be tempered in the discussion? Will Isabella be allowed to defend a view, perhaps a view contrary to the rest of the family? How will the family couch out what really matters in this controversy? The people in Isabella’s life may have different ways of making moral judgments. Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, building on the work of Piaget, believed that there were stages of moral development. Bearing in mind the danger of simplifying what is an extensive and nuanced thesis,
Stage 1—moral judgement is motivated by avoidance of punishment. Unquestioning deference to power is valued in its own right. A child might say ‘Um ah—you’ll get into trouble’.
Stage 3—good behaviour is that which pleases or helps others and is approved by them. Intention is important. ‘I didn’t mean it!’ Stage 4—doing one’s duty and maintaining given social order. ‘That’s against the rules.’ Stage 5—right action defined in terms of general individual rights and standards agreed on by the whole community. Free agreement to obey the law but recognition that through careful critical discourse it can be changed. Stage 6—right is defined by the decision of conscience in accordance with self chosen ethical principles that have withstood rigorous scrutiny. They are abstract principles concerning universal justice and human dignity. Martin Luther King appealing to judgment of character rather than skin colour. Very few people are thought to ever reach this stage. Where is the rebellious teenager? Kohlberg outlines transition stages between 4 and 5 in particular that may be familiar to parents of teenagers. In Kohlberg’s view people go through these stages in lock step fashion, although some may plateau at a certain stage. People may say one thing and do another; generally people’s actions are at a particular stage but their abstract discussion about moral dilemmas will be at the next stage and this is an important rehearsal for the next stage. A life experience where making judgements in the usual way doesn’t work can push someone to the next stage. Some people question whether there are stages in moral development—for example they question
the assumption that children are pre-moral.
In any case, it is obvious that discussion with children about ethics must be at a level that is able to be understood by them and to appropriately challenge them. This of course is not as easy as it looks, particularly when emotions are involved. How many rugby fans would be calm and dispassionate in their analysis of events? Like anything else moral judgment takes practice and often issues removed from personal investment such as those raised in books or the newspapers can be good practice.
Extend the scope of the question
Well trained teachers have a few tricks up their sleeve that help them to guide discussion. Perhaps a question under discussion might be ‘are the penalties to the cheating club too harsh?’
(eg ‘Will the fans as well as the club be punished? Does this matter?’);
One of the tricks that teachers use is to ask questions that can help someone dig deeper into their thoughts, questions that:
(eg ‘What about treatment of the club in the media or by their fans?’); Uncover assumptions (eg ‘What are we assuming about the attitude of the club to its actions, regardless of punishment?’); Have to be answered first (eg ‘Is any cheating wrong?’); Explore practical implications or consequences
Explore theoretical implications or consequences (eg. How do our views on this matter fit with our views on cheating in general?’); Probe for distinctions
Ask for definitions
(eg ‘Is there a difference in harshness between the penalties and how can this be expressed?’);
(eg ‘What do we mean by harsh?’);
Ask for criteria
Explore the scope of the question
(eg What are the criteria for a punishment that is just?’)
(eg ‘Do we mean the penalties as a whole or each
It is not the case that all these questions would be fired in any one discussion. But selected with care, they can help steer a discussion and help to ensure that people understand each other. Further they can help people be accountable to each other for their views, which will help to foster responsibility. A well run discussion is also governed by a climate where people feel safe to talk about what really matters to them. Attentiveness to the other can be seen through empathy and active listening. Another trick that teachers use is to reflect on their own practice. Just as ethics can be a lifelong learning journey for Isabella, hopefully it will also be a lifelong journey of learning for her parents. As her parents reflect on their lives and behaviour this not only strengthens their own moral life but helps them to empathise with the struggles of their children and talk with them more effectively. Isabella is home already. As she turns in at her gate, she can hear passionate voices. Something about rugby and a storm in a teacup. ‘What could that be about?’ she wonders. Reference L, Kohlberg, ‘The Philosophy of Moral Development’, vol 1 in Essays on Moral Development, 1981, Harper and Row
at home... words & image Maria Lerch Maria Lerch is mother to two boys, aged eleven and seven. They live in rural Victoria.
My child loses his first tooth! He has been wobbling it with his tongue for weeks...months even...and, unable to bite and chew anything hard, has created his own special tooth diet. Finally it lets go and the tooth is out. He holds it gently in his palm, proudly showing it to those important to him. ‘It is out...look!’ Then he feels continuously for the new tooth and we all watch in amazement as it appears and the diet returns to normal...but not the child...he has changed. Not dramatically or suddenly, but gradually. Another landmark of his ‘growing up’ and we don’t ignore it, even though it is a simple and subtle occurrence.
doing long division with ease...and not just the jump and the division...suddenly there were other challenges that he took on which previously he had chosen to avoid.
I realise that there are so many of these ‘special events’. Are there too many to recognise or celebrate? How many slip away unnoticed, into our busy lives and plans? What is the true significance of these stages and phases, to the child and to us? Have we lost the simple excitement of ‘just growing up’?
Do we celebrate each of these things? No! However we usually acknowledge some of them, maybe with a special dinner or outing or some special words. A lot of landmarks need an inner adjustment, not just for the boys but for all of us around them. So at times this occurs naturally and smoothly. Other times, however, a lot of chaos and upheaval occurs before they and we settle into the next phase. That’s where a ‘rite’ can really help the transition. We celebrate and acknowledge birthdays, weddings and the Easter hare, so why not the small moments that could easily pass us by?
‘Mum, I’m going to keep this tooth for a while, before I give it to the tooth fairy because it’s telling me something. It’s telling me I’m older. Not bigger but older!’ With homeschooling too, there are many landmarks. The most fascinating adventure is that each child is so different...both my boys reach their landmarks at totally different times. Watching them I quickly realised that what one child did with ease at a certain age, the other might struggle with and vice versa. With Maths, for example, Kian takes his time and loves to repeat newly learned concepts, whereas Jai loves to be challenged all the time and prefers to move on to new things much more quickly, practising in his own quiet way through his play. So I try (not always successfully first time around) to cater to their individual needs and encourage their individual landmarks. I also find that their advancement with numbers, and other things, often coincide with achievements elsewhere in their lives. To give an example, Kian managed a difficult jump while BMXing for the first time, just as he started
Jai is very clear about doing absolutely everything in his own time and often I feel that he is fully aware of his small and very important landmarks. He sets himself (and me) little challenges constantly and I observe how certain things take place ‘together’ to mark a next step. As he climbs trees higher and higher—and I mean high—he is reading more and more words from the book he borrowed from the library...and ventures further and further away from home on little adventures.
I love celebrating the small stuff and it has certainly helped our transitions. The children seem to know now that they are part of life...their life. I want them to know that each small step matters in our enormous journey; that they matter...and not just focus on our cultural goals (house, car, boat, aeroplane, enlightenment) with the idea that it doesn’t matter how you achieve them. Each moment is a gift and definitely worth noticing. What an amazing lesson given by the ‘school of life’! Hopefully this will give my children a way to deal with all their future ‘landmarks’, whether they are small or turbulent... (teenage-hood is on the horizon!)
’ t if g a is t n e m o m h ‘eac
at school... A Parent’s Perspective—Living Our Dream words Kristan Lee Reed Kristan is the mother of two delightful sons, and loves her work in the area of Remedial Education and using the Creative Arts in Family Support work. She loves that she is a self appointed Queen! Her own hive full of creative, inspiring teacher bees is www. thecrafthive.com. She is the author of What if and loves yellow roses, Rhubarb Pie and time shared with dear friends and her fab family.
My husband and I have been on quite a journey around education; firstly as teachers (pre-children) and then as teachers (post-children). We imagined the educational preparation we had done was the precursor of a choice for our family within a particular educational community. And for ten years it was. When our first child began his career in education our idealistic picture began to fray.
that our children could work at the stage they were at as individuals.
Hindsight is a wonderful gift. At the time, however, as my child exhibited stress at being in a circle with other toddlers, burst into tears at the sound of singing and ran as far and as fast as he could, given any opportunity to escape a ‘confined’ space, the thoughts bubbled up and I began to feel that something was ‘wrong’ with my child.
as educators, are responsible for
Here began my new educational vocation; finding out what was wrong with my child and what I could do to facilitate his healing—massage, cranial sacral, reiki, homeopathy, bush flower remedies, mantras, art therapy, diet, food testing, star charts… After four years, what I learned was the excruciating truth—my child believed he was broken and needed fixing. When my second child began pre-school within the same stream of education, he too began exhibiting similar behaviours. This time I knew it was not my child and instead of ‘making him the problem’ I was his advocate and knew that we needed to make a change. The life we had chosen for our family based around our educational philosophy was not actually serving our children.
We had to allow our children to be the teachers. When we moved two minutes down the road from Peregrine—a progressive and innovative school— the possibility of trying something new for our family became a reality. As parents we were looking for a small school so that our children would benefit from teachers who had the time to teach, not just ‘manage’ a classroom. In a small school our children would also benefit from not having ‘aged’ classes, meaning
We wanted a school which at its heart believed that every child has a way; has a ‘riddle’ that we, answering. Although this is regarded as ‘progressive’, I view it as human. Peregrine is such a school. There will always be variance in learning and development (intellectually, physically and emotionally) and having mixed-age classrooms with a team of teachers is a perfect way of allowing for these differences. Educating in this way also releases the competitive nature of ‘levels’ within same age classrooms and promotes acceptance and cooperation. These qualities are at the centre of Peregrine’s ethos and for us as parents at the heart of how we wish for our boys to develop and grow into men who know who they are; who understand their unique gifts and are able to contribute these gifts positively to society. So, the boys began at Peregrine and we began to open up to new possibilities, to expand and be with what is, not with what we wanted it to be. My first born son came home after his first day at school and said, ‘Mum, Peregrine is the best school ever, I love it, I want to stay there, I had a great day.’ This is our second year and there has never been a day that the boys have not wanted to go to school. What more could we want as parents? They run and skip up the pathway everyday, excited to learn and play and be at school. Our life is no longer about what (or who) needs ‘fixing’; we are all living without the overhanging cloud of stress, worry and anxiety. We are living in the contentment of our world, living our dream.
Seneka’s tales Midwife: with Woman
Words Felicity Occleshaw
Felicity Occleshaw Seneka Cohen artwork Narissa Butler Seneka works part time as a midwife in a small maternity unit and also independently in a group practice in Melbourne, Victoria. She is mother to two adventurous boys who are nine and six and has a great love of the natural world, other cultures, travelling, organic gardening, and the community in which she lives.
The birth of my baby was a rite of passage, as I’d expected and wanted it to be, yet not in the way that I’d imagined. I’d spent many hours visualising birth. I swam and walked to keep fit and tried to jiggle my baby into a good position. I did a Calmbirth course and practised the technique each day. I felt prepared and positive, enjoying my smooth and lovely pregnancy but looking forward to labour, imagining how I would feel afterwards, anticipating the glow of achievement and empowerment, the great fist pump to womanhood. This did not happen. Labour began quietly, gently, on a Wednesday night in winter. I was with a friend’s daughter at her ballet class, helping with costume fittings, watching the girls skittering around the hall. I smiled inwardly and outwardly, knowing that I would give birth some time in the next two days, sure that I was carrying a girl, a girl who might one day be trying on her own ballet costume. Home, dinner, resting, reading, moving the egg-shaped pool to its place in the corner of our lounge, visualising giving birth in it the next evening, to bed and to sleep. In the early hours I was up, irregular but stronger contractions radiating across my lower back and hips. I walked with my partner in the biting cold of the dawn, up and down the hilly reserve, willing on the gear shift to a regular pattern of contractions. Slowly, slowly, labour grew within me, ever irregular but bigger, needing more of me. I felt great, relishing the work, my midwife-mind assuring me that this baby girl would be born by midnight. My midwife-mind knew a lot. It knew that I wasn’t helped by water, even though I longed to be immersed. It knew that I really should listen to my midwives and stamp and roar through contractions to move my baby down. And it decided, resolutely, that at 2am on Friday morning my baby was stuck and would never come out unless someone broke my waters or took me to hospital for an epidural and the syntocinon drip. I no longer felt great and hardworking, but disappointed and enormously selfcritical. Then and for weeks later I hated myself
for demanding an epidural, a thing I have railed against since I was a quaking student midwife. I transferred to hospital with five women by my side, five women who still had faith in me, who pushed me onwards as I argued that it was useless, who deftly deflected the doctors from intervening, who were creative and loving in the face of fatigue and a grumpy, mutinous labouring woman. I knew, my midwife-mind knew, that my baby didn’t fit me. I knew this with certainty until the very last minute; at 4:30am when, squatting atop a hospital bed, clinging onto a bar, I looked down into a mirror and saw a glimpse of a darkhaired head. The words ‘I can do this!’, came out of my mouth and ten minutes later a perfect baby boy slipped out of me and into the hands of my friend and midwife. I was stunned, not elated, not victorious, just stunned. I waited for the elation, the euphoria, the anticipated feeling of achievement. Nothing. I’d given birth, kind of how I’d wanted, with no drugs and no intervention, surrounded by love and support, and although I adored my baby, I was flat, disappointed in myself. It took months for an idea to coalesce about why this was. I am a strong person, physically fit and adventurous, stubbornly independent. By the end of pregnancy I’d even tidied up my emotional world. Then I gave birth, normally, relatively easily really. I wanted to feel that the act of giving birth was a big deal. My vision of birth as a rite of passage was all physical, was all about my body and my baby, about gaining strength to parent from doing something hard. After much reflection, I see now that my son’s birth was not a gathering of power, but a relinquishing of power. I had to let go. I surrendered the need to stand alone, to always be right, to make the decisions alone. It was a great exercise in humility, in accepting that I don’t know it all and can’t do it all myself. Five women stood with me through labour and birth and they and others stand with me now as I parent. They don’t expect me to be perfect and neither do I, now.
midwife I expected she would find elements of her labour challenging yet I felt clear about what she wanted for her birth and her thoughts about pain relief. I didn’t expect to have to convince her that she didn’t need an epidural and that she could push her baby out herself. This process was made even more challenging by her complete refusal at one stage to allow me to touch or massage her and help her relax, especially when I could see her holding her bottom tight and was convinced she was fully dilated and on the verge of pushing. Slightly stressful, when the anaesthetist was standing on the other side of the door ready to do an epidural. During Felicity’s birth this challenge of being with her as she held onto her desire for an epidural was starkly contrasted with the incredible shift that occurred when she felt her baby’s head beginning to crown. As she let go and trusted, with the inevitability of her baby’s birth, their came a ‘yes’ that was an incredibly profound moment to witness.
Seneka’s response This story speaks to me of the complexity of birth, reminding me that women birth as they live their lives. It fills me with satisfaction as not only was I one of those five women privileged to hold the space for Felicity, a dear friend, to birth her beautiful little boy, but I was one of her midwives. I was called upon to be strong in my trust of her ability to surrender, strong in my ability to hold her and her partner as she birthed not only her baby but a new realm of herself as woman. Surrender as it often does with birth, came not as a sweet lull into the arms of the ones that so loved her but more a fierce battle with self, a struggle to free herself of the ever interfering mind, in her case her ‘midwife-mind’. Like many women Felicity, in my eyes, was pushed against her core unconscious desire to control. I was, on the other hand, pushed to stand strong
and solid in the face of her pain, to witness without trying to save or take away, avoid, run or hide. A thread for many women I support seems to be this underlying desire for the surrender in birthing to look and feel a particular way. A desire for it to be powerful yet inherently beautiful, tame and even sweet. Whilst birth can be incredibly beautiful more often than not it’s a wild blend of emotions and physical sensations that stir deep in a woman’s body memories and psyche. It brings a cacophony of power and control, or more often, the loss of control. It beckons courage, evokes fear and shame, humbles us to ecstatic joy, and comes mixed with blood, sweat and tears. It’s messy. I found it really challenging as I watched Felicity wrestle as she hit the walls that presented themselves in her labour. As a
Some women struggle with the desire to control the uncontrollable nature of birth by planning intervention in the form of elective epidurals and ceasarean sections, whilst others struggle to deal with the desire for a natural birth and the subsequent need for intervention. Regardless of the outcome of the labour and birth all women are transformed through their birthing, a process that has the potential to change us at a very deep level. I remember when I had just birthed my son, I sat naked holding his slippery wet body in my arms; this was the moment when I had not only birthed my baby but I had birthed myself into motherhood—a whole new part of myself. Often I feel the strength and courage I found through that process is a jewel for the challenge of parenting. As a woman I acknowledge and honour birth and believe it has the potential to affect our sense of self, and our ability to mother. As a midwife I see birth as a highly significant event in a woman’s life, one that she does not forget; ask any woman who has birthed and listen to the rawness as they share the details.
The book of communication The Mother of all teenagers
anger, and never use it as a place to vent. He then used his own account to explain various details and gave a few examples of friends who had posted messages that went horribly wrong. My daughter seemed to listen to him, much more than she would have to me who’d have given ridiculous examples of disastrous stories from the media. words Sarah Young artwork Brooke Pyke Sarah Young has two daughters and loves living in inner city Melbourne. She is a freelance arts educator and works across many settings. Her work includes classes in dance and drama with young children and lecturing in the arts education at university.
The transformation from child to teenager brings many different boundary shifts for parents. Sometimes it is not until you truly hear yourself saying something out loud that you realise you need to change your stock standard answer. Things have changed and you are the only one who doesn’t know it. One of these shifts came to me last year when the issue of Facebook kept being fired across the dinner table. For a while, my answer was no! Then I would follow up with a blathering of all the reasons that led me to this answer: you’re too young, it’s not safe, what’s wrong with communicating face-to-face? Then one day my daughter informed me how some of her friends had set up accounts without their parents knowing and had offered to set up an account for her. She had declined the offer and was using this as leverage to prove how mature and trustworthy she was—she was right. Personally, I didn‘t have a Facebook account but I have to admit I’m slow to catch on to new technologies. Maybe because of this I tried to put it off for as long as I could, but I was starting to feel beaten. I talked to a great friend and realised that I had to admit defeat—Facebook had won. This friend offered to set up my daughter’s account and although I could have done it myself I realised I was too close and too driven by fear. The friend came over and spent two hours going over the details with my daughter. Our computer is in a family room, as recommended by all experts on children and the Internet, so I was able to over hear the wise words that were given: lock your page so only your ‘friends’ can see, do not put anything on the page that you would not want on the front page of the newspaper, only post photos that are for public viewing, never say anything in
Something came up that I was not expecting; my daughter asked if he could be one of her ‘friends’. ‘No!’ he replied. ‘It’s best you only have friends that are your own age.’ Of course, I thought, this makes sense, she should be communicating with people her own age, listening to their lives, dreams, and stresses and not getting caught up with other generations. Much has been discussed about reminding teenagers to only talk to known people on these social networking sites, but I had never thought of them being able to read the lives of adults that they know, and how this may not be appropriate. Her twenty-three-year-old cousin and her friends may not be communicating in ways that a fifteen-year-old would. Eight months later and I have to say I am a convert. My daughter is a proper little Elizabeth Bennett—she attends to her correspondence on a regular basis. Of course, I have set limits on the time spent; an egg timer works wonders; only having ‘friends’ that she knows—occasionally walking past and asking her about her ‘friends’; and what photos she can post—talks about appropriate images; and for her not to put any personal information, meeting dates or phone numbers for everyone to see. Also, she knows it is a privilege not a right—great bargaining for a parent. But you know what? It is wonderful that she is connecting, expressing, exchanging, and hopefully, listening to her friends and ‘friends’. It is funny how sometimes your fears as a parent are just that, your fears. Some nights she talks about what she has read, or a joke someone has told her and it is wonderful, she is communicating. As for me, I do not want to communicate with my daughter via Facebook as that is her world. It would be like my mother trying to listen to my phone calls when I was young!
This (un)musical life A father’s account of mixing: music and kids
words Jon O’Donnell Young photo Rachel Watts Jon has always been a wannabe rock star—he grew up on a diet of 1970’s glam rock and quickly graduated to the musical freedom of punk and new-wave (which suited his poor instrumental skills perfectly). He later developed a love of Ska and Reggae (and very short haircuts). He now claims encyclopaedic musical knowledge across all genres and will bore any captive audiences to tears by demanding they listen to track after track of his favourites on his (very good) stereo system.
Shakespeare wrote ‘If music be the food of love, play on’ and I believe this is incredibly pertinent to the quality of our family life. My wife and I have always been into listening to music and in our younger days were renowned for our impromptu ‘discos’ which often were attended by just the two of us. As we moved into parenthood we discovered a rather unfortunate side-effect was that we stopped listening to music in the home. There was simply too much noise and the addition of music simply transformed it into something painful that had to be turned off (which you can’t do with children). We now have three children under eleven and the wonderful thing is that music is re-entering our lives in a number of ways (some unexpected, but all enriching). Our two boys play the piano (their own choice) and practise at convenient hours for them (i.e. any time they feel like it!). They have also eschewed their English genes and have developed—on their own—a penchant for AC/ DC and Cold Chisel which they also play at any time they deem appropriate. I must say that I am learning to find ‘High Voltage Rock & Roll’ quite energising first thing in the morning. Our daughter (a natural dancer like her mother) has decided that Abba is more her thing so we are currently revisiting the joys of Bjorn & Benny’s songwriting talents. I have always had quite catholic musical tastes and it’s great to see my children enjoying practically anything I serve up to them, from clas-
sical to jazz, via Wham (the 12 inch single mixes of course). I have also rediscovered the joy of actually performing music and accompanying my sons on bass guitar seems to be much more fun than I remember playing in (the admittedly rather poor) punk band of my teenage years. Regarding listening to music, my experience is that MP3 is a poor format. I remember audiophile lovers of vinyl deriding compact discs when they were introduced on the basis that the sound quality was not as good—they were right but like most others I found that CDs were certainly a lot more durable and convenient than records and the difference was not that huge on my system. Many MP3 files however are sorry digital shadows of their CD counterparts. Basically the compression technology that allows us to get thousands of tracks on to our iPods is doing it by actually stripping out data; the data in question is the music itself! Maybe not so noticeable on those tinny earphones but the iPod docking stations I have heard sound awful at any kind of volume. I have been recommending to any of my friends who will listen to give their ears and souls a break and to use the highest quality settings for their iPods (I know it means fewer songs, but it means more actual ‘music’). I have invested in a decent sound system and located it in our main living area and I have dug out my back catalogue so that I can educate my children in some real music instead of the rubbish that is mostly produced today (I know I am getting old).
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things... Knitting for good..
words Dr Kate Hunter Kate Hunter lives in New Zealand. She is an historian, knitter, mother, wife and gardener, amongst many other things.
Pamela’s website is: http://knit4charities. webs.com/
Pamela Tatt’s philosophy is pretty simple: there are people in need under your nose if you just take care to look for them. It’s this idea that has seen her collect for and distribute to those in need over fifty five thousand knitted garments in the last six years. Pamela, who lives in Broken Hill, runs a hub called knit4charities. She asks for donations of (and provides patterns for) knitted and crocheted articles—both for a ‘charity of the month’ and for any needy group—and in return, over a thousand knitters provide her with almost ten thousand garments each year. Pamela distributes these where they need to go. The ‘needy’ come in all shapes and sizes. The homeless range from tiny babies to large men; shelters for victims of domestic violence also need babies’ clothes, clothing for children and adults, as well as toys and snugglies. The aged and cancer patients are also catered for. There are unexpected groups in need too. Pamela began knitting for those in need when a friend’s daughter could find no clothes small enough in which to bury her three-month old baby. Too late to help her friend’s daughter, but spurred to help others like her, Pamela began knitting burial sets for the
Ipswich Hospital using patterns from an American website. Another group unexpectedly needing the warmth of knitted garments are the pets of the homeless. A Brisbane-based group, Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy (www.knittingforbrisbanesneedy. com) were distributing knitted clothing with a soup van in the central city and noticed how many pets accompanied their owners. Pets give homeless people hope and companionship, but dogs also suffer from the cold of sleeping rough. Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy has begun a dog-coat project to complement their on-going clothing donations. The police and ambulance services are also recipients of knitted toys from Pamela’s group. ‘Trauma teddies’ are now standard equipment in ambulances across Australia, and increasingly police units are carrying them for emergencies involving children. It is now widely recognised the difference a cuddly toy can make in the care of children in distress or caught in tragic circumstances. It is in Pamela’s instructions for knitters that more poignant details emerge about people in need. The care she has taken to pay attention to different groups’ needs also reflects on the person she is. In Pamela’s instructions, ‘forget pompoms for the homeless because hats are often layered’. ‘Darker colours are best for people living rough–it doesn’t show the dirt’. By contrast, ‘knit in bright colours for Australian Inland Ministries who distribute their clothing to remote Aboriginal communities’. Similarly, because the Footpath Library in Sydney work with indigenous children, ‘knit in yellow, red and black—self-esteem and pride in their identity is vital for these kids’. Socks, singlets and toys are needed by Project Love & Care which tries to ensure that children being taken into foster care in Queensland have a ‘Care Kit’. Sometimes, during their often sudden transition, little ones are sent off with just the clothes they are wearing. I confess that reading Pamela’s website and pattern book, I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by the size of Australia’s social problems. It is testament to Pamela’s determination
that she continues this work even though every year brings new groups that require help. In Pamela’s work there is hope. It is found, too, in the handcraft of the thousands of crafters who knit, crochet and sew for strangers. A woman at my local market accepts donations of any kind of wool because she knits for orphanages in Romania. My mother knits for similar causes and is never without a pair of needles. Pamela describes her knitters as ranging from teenagers learning to knit at school through to rest-home residents. Knitters and crocheters of this ilk never know the individual difference that their act of kindness makes. No-one writes or phones to thank them (except, of course, for the organisation to which they’ve donated). There are no photos of children proudly modelling their latest jumper; there are no thank-you cards. They are motivated by a love of their craft and a desire to continue using their often extensive skills. They create high quality and often very beautiful garments, knowing that a handmade garment or toy can make an enormous difference in a life. Many older knitters find their families have come and gone, or are not interested in woollen garments because of the extra care they require. Washing, ironically, is not a problem for the homeless, so pure wool suits them very well. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust found out just how many knitters would knit for a worthy cause when they asked for small jumpers to be knitted for penguins affected by oil spills: over fifteen thousand were knitted! The TCT no longer collects
the jumpers and stores the excess in their emergency kits. If you are a knitter, Pamela’s website has details of a hundred things you could do to help. Each month Pamela nominates two or three ‘charities of the month’ and has a calendar on her website. By October she is gearing up for her Christmas collection, organising gifts for children and for adults for distribution through various groups across Australia. Jewellery and toys are important at this time of year. She wants to point out that it is not just knitters and crocheters who can help with her work: postage is a large cost and any donations of post-packs or stamps are gratefully received. Similarly proceeds from her patterns booklet, The Gift of Giving, help cover postage costs. I picked up a local crafters’ magazine the other day and began reading a story about guerrilla knitters: these are the knitters and crocheters whose work adorns the fences of vacant lots to protest the expense of inner-city living, or knit cosies for trees and motorbikes as art. I was struck by the phrase used by the author that ‘this is not your granny’s knitting!’ Why not? I ask. Why is the knitting of street artists any more a protest against inequality than knitting for street people? Pamela Tatt and others like her embody that protest but they don’t get much media coverage. They are the knitters who believe that they (and we) can make a difference in the lives of the vulnerable, one beanie at a time. Knit on ladies (and gentlemen), knit on!
Seasonal craft Spring inspirations
words Sandra Pyke artwork Brooke Pyke Sandra is a single mum of three wonderful children: 27 and 18 year old daugh-
Spring is new growth, little green shoots, blossom flowers, a time when the garden looks fresh, green and new after the bareness of winter. A time to open up some windows and doors to freshen up, remove the energies of winter, a time to take out the rugs for a good shake to clean out the old, to open our hearts to embrace the new. Collect flowers to put in vases to bring in the freshness of spring. Have a spring picnic outside in your garden or in your local park, meet up with other parents to make it a spring celebration. Talk to the children about the new growth, help to bring into their consciousness the awareness of the changing world of nature around them. To carry on the theme of the last two issues our seasonal tables will now be changed to have a light green and pink cloth, a vase of flowers and maybe a spring fairy or two.
ters, and an 11 year old son. She started Winterwood (www.
Spring craft ideas
winterwoodtoys.com. au) as a hobby and
Spring fresh flower garlands.
Felt blossom flowers
now twelve years later it is a full time business that supports her. Sandra loves the 5 Rhythms. Brooke Pyke is 18 and having a year off before starting college and is hoping to do a graphic design or photography course. Her loves and passions are her horse Avalon, her love of being naturally creative with painting, drawing and photography. Brooke had to learn the violin for many years at school and is now learning to play the guitar.
You will need a willow tree branch about a metre long and not too thick. Twist it around and around in a circle to suit the size of your childâ€™s head or your own. Take the last few inches and feed it back under itself to hold in place. Collect some flowers from the garden, buy some if you have to, you can put some in a vase and use the rest for the garlands. You will need to cut the flowers leaving a stem of about 2cm, use some embroidery thread to tie the flowers onto the garland. Do this as many times as you have to until you have a beautiful flower garland. Arrange a spring picnic in a park with friends, you could also ask everyone to bring some flowers and all make one on the picnic.
You will need an interesting bare branch, 100 % pure new wool felt hand dyed, embroidery cotton, sharp scissors, card board, and an embroidery needle. Trace the pattern onto paper, glue onto the cardboard and cut out your pattern. Trace the flower onto different coloured, spring coloured felt. Cut out and then with your embroidery cotton sew around, as per pattern, in a circle a running stitch, pinch in and pull in tight and tie off to hold in place. See diagram. Leave the threads hanging as you will use these to tie around the branch. Make as many felt flowers until you have enough to make a great display. Young children can also help make these simple flowers. Tie onto your bare branchâ€”this can now be displayed on the seasonal table.
Soul food Stepping out words Lisa Devine artwork Tina Pappasavvas Initially Lisa trained as a youth and community worker and participated in lots of theatre and dance. After working with street kids and unemployed youth she travelled the world before completing a degree in psychology. In her forties she studied for the priesthood and now works as a chaplain in Steiner schools; she counsels adolescents and works with their teachers and parents.
Ah spring! Venturing outside we feel the returning sun caressing us with light and warmth. We drink in the fresh green colour of new shoots that strive upward out of the darkness to greet the sun. Nature weaves her tapestry of beauty, delighting us with fragrance, colour and the wonder of new life. Freshness abounds in the newborn creatures that touch our hearts with their innocence, vulnerability and wondrous delicacy. We are released from the inward contemplation of winter’s hibernation and revel in the return of the growing hours of light, for play after the day’s work and the refreshing breath of nature. Nature begins a new cycle and we are enticed to join her.
career he followed a risky inner impulse and quit his life as he knew it. Drawing on the wisdom of mindfulness practitioners he founded a movement based on interconnection, compassion and reverEvery spring we can see the return of the gifts of ence for life. One of the gifts of this movement nature we have missed during winter. The return to the tapestry of humanity has been the creation of the beings of the plants and animals that we of kindness cards. They are cards that are given know and love is something we can look forward anonymously, preceded by a seemingly random to, no matter how many times we have met them act of kindness. For example you might one day before. Into the tapestry of nature that unfolds go to pay for your coffee and receive a small card before our eyes and hearts in springtime, the (instead of the bill) with the suggestion, ‘Do someancient mysteries also sought to weave a tapestry thing kind and leave this card behind to keep the of love—one that lives in the connections between ripple going’. Random acts of kindness have been human beings. While the patterns for nature’s tapwith us forever. These cards are like the compost estry are written in the stars, the patterns for this that helps them bloom and they remind us of the human tapestry of love are found in the temple impulse that lives under the surface of our lives— of the heart. In spring the broken threads of our the impulse to connect. connections with each other and with the earth Spring can be so intoxicating that we can easily can be rewoven, freshly created. In the dark winter lose the hard won flame of destiny that carried months we have wrought a deeper connection us through the dark months; those decisions we with our destiny, with what lies in the depths of made; and those newly discovered jewels that the our being. Out of these depths there arises a new bustle of life had buried. They are the sources we impulse; for the tapestry of love that we are weavneed for the impulses that will weave the great ing together, as humanity, on the earth. While the tapestry of love, the springtime of humanity in flowers of spring have bloomed many times, these which the seeds in our hearts spring up. These flowers of the human heart are so new that they flowers bloom in the spaces between us, in our have never been seen before. I like to imagine the connections, in our conversations. There are delight of the earth and the stars at this emerging words spoken from these depths that can renew human tapestry. lost connections in unexpected ways. The absolute newness of these ideas and impulses In spring we meet again, seeking those words can seem random in comparison to the wisdom of which will reconnect us. Whether we meet at outnature’s enduring beauty. However this is exactly door cafes, weddings, world peace talks or simply the opportunity and the challenge. For better or through a random act of kindness we know that for worse we are nature’s wild cards! One lovely no matter what the past has been, anything is now example of this alchemy of new connections is possible. the Wake Up Sydney!* initiative founded by Jono *www.wakeupsydney.com.au Fisher. Exhausted by his high flying business
Issue three Spring 2009 $5.95 Issue four Summer 2009 $5.95
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