There are many things in life that will make you afraid. Some will even keep you awake at night.
I do not mean “The Boogey Man is hiding in the closet/I’ve had a bad dream/I don’t like heights” kind of fear. No, I am speaking of the “self-doubt/risk averse/I’m not good enough” kind of fear that haunts us all.
To learn how to live with fear such as these is to lead a life of courage. And it isn’t always easy.
Here are some lessons on how to live with fear that I want my children to remember:
1. You will fail
You are a child of the Most High, my own little piece of Cosmic Stardust, capable of moving mountains and lighting up the Universe with all that you have the potential to achieve. But there will be a time in your life when you will fail.
Epically. And it will hurt something fierce.
It may come about through no fault of your own. Someone or something will disappoint you, turn away and reject you. Or maybe the cause of your failure will have been within your control. Maybe you got lazy, your mindset was all wrong, you didn’t really want it anyway, your chakras were weak or the stars were improperly aligned. Maybe the timing was off or it just wasn’t meant to be.
Whatever the cause, you must do three things. First, mourn what might have been. Then – and this is important - forgive yourself, the other person, and God, and move on. Do not be anchored by the weight of regret. Set yourself free to discover what new opportunities may arise.
And third, learn the lesson. Failure can be a harsh teacher, but she is fair. She won’t ask you to repeat what you already know. On the other hand, she will give you a retest until you get a passing grade.
2. You will fall down
All of us stumble. All of us fall. Even those of us with the best laid plans and the most detailed preparations will find ourselves nose down in the dirt a time or two. Do not think that you will be any different.
But you do not have to be ashamed when your plans do not pan out. The measure of a man – or a woman – is not that she falls, but rather in the manner of how she rises from the ashes.
Do not be one of those people who blames another, casts about for a scapegoat, or sticks your foot out to trip the next person so that you don’t look so silly down there by yourself. If you look around you will see we all have skid marks on our knees and dusty butts from falling squarely on them and we managed to get there quite easily on our own.
Learn to fall gracefully. It sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but trust me when I say it can be done.
Hold yourself accountable for your missteps then dust yourself off and keep going. The road is long and you have many more miles to go before you are done.
3. One day, you really won’t be good enough
Someone else will be better. You will try your best and your best won’t be good enough. Things just will not work out the way you want regardless of how many hours you spend in prayer or at at the gym.
And that’s ok. It is a fact of life, despite my insistence to the contrary, that you are are not perfect and you cannot have everything you want, even – occasionally – when you work really hard to get it.
But here’s the thing: disappointment can lead to something wonderful. We can never see what twists and turns lay ahead, or how the Universe will use our disappointments for It’s purposes. Because you failed at something, a new path will unfold leading you to something more incredible than you can possibly imagine.
Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t ever lose faith.
4. Don’t be afraid to fly
Despite all of the things that will not go right and blow up in your face, you will have a wonderful and amazing life. You will encounter challenges you never imagined, accomplish things you never dreamed possible, and meet people who will change the way you see yourself and the world.
Do not be afraid of it – any of it! Reach for it and don’t let fear hold you back! Yes, it can be hard, but a great life is rarely characterized by playing it safe. When we dare greatly – in what we do and how we love, the possibilities are limitless.
It will not be anything like you can imagine, but it will be glorious and messy and fearfully, wonderfully full. There will be moments of pure joy, others of sublime peace, and those filled with darkness and despair. Of this, you can be sure.
It will be perfectly imperfect in every way imaginable. Just like you.
In my eyes, you are practically perfect in every way. I do not need you to be anything other than exactly who you are. Do not ever doubt it.
And if you fail, if you fall, and if you do not measure up, remember only this:
You are my little piece of Cosmic Dust, and to me you will always be shining.
Would you add anything else? Do you think it is possible to learn how to live with fear?
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Here is what happened:
When you woke up the first thing you saw were my eyes smiling back at you. We share a family bed and as of yet you show no inclination to find a new sleeping space. That is ok with me because England is a cold country and the warmth of your little body pressed into mine is something I treasure.
I know that these days are numbered and one day (hopefully long, long in the future, but I fear it will seem like a millisecond) you will wake on your birthday and see the loving gaze of someone else. I hope these early experiences of waking up to love are a solid foundation upon which your future relationships are built.
Life is too short to wake up other than to love.
We had a long car journey down from Scotland yesterday and we all ate Krispy Kreme donuts in the car. This did not agree with your sister Nyree Skye (who, I am reliably informed, ate two), and when we got out of bed we found her hovered next to the toilet and slightly green around the gills. She perked up a few hours after her stomach relieved itself of too much sugar and pizza and fizzy pop from the revelries of the night before.
Remember that although it may sound good at the time, there is always a price to pay for overindulgence. Some days it will be worth it, but most of the time it isn’t.
We are in the midst of our epic Road Trip Great Britain and are staying in a lovely seaside village near Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castle. After the last two weeks of wind and rain in Argyll, we had a day of sublime weather – sunny, only a light breeze, and warm enough to dispense with winter coats.
We spent much of the day on the beach, playing in the sand, dodging waves as they rolled laconically to shore, and clambering over sand dunes. You thought it was hilarious to bury people with sand. Jonah thought it was a grand thing to roll in it.
The fresh air and sunshine were positively medicinal and Nyree never looked better with glowing cheeks and a happy smile, and William saw two birds from his Bird Watching Bucket List and was happy as a clam, sandwiched as we were between a coastline of outstanding natural beauty and the birthplace of Christianity in England in one of the historical Meccas of this historical island.
We ate chips for lunch, had rock candy and banana chews from the cheesy souvenir shop, and watched gulls soar overhead.
Always remember that the simple pleasures in life are the ones that make your heart sing.
We could not get enough of the beach, so we went back just before sunset. The crowds from earlier in the day had begun to disperse and by 5.30 it appeared that most people had gone home for their tea.
We were able to let Eddie, your border collie, off lead. He ran into the waves like fish returning to the sea – he frolicked and ran and ate far too many rocks and drank way too much sea water. But I think if he could talk he would say it was a pretty perfect end to the day. We watched the sun set over the dunes and the light fade from the islands just off the coast and saw the first swishing twinkle of the lighthouse.
Sometimes it pays to show up late and stay longer – amazing things happen in uncommon hours.
We had a simple fish supper with Peppa Pig pasta just for you and as always you ate loads. I wish we’d had brocoli to go with it because brocoli is your favourite and you will eat it until the cows come home. Why, just the other night you ate all of yours and all of Daddy’s – I never knew a two-year old who liked vegetables as much as you!
Never loose this appreciation for food. They say that you are what you eat and I hope you are always fresh and whole and fun.
After supper we had birthday cake – a chocolate concoction with chocolate flakes on top. You were shy when we sang happy birthday but when it came to blowing out the candles you blew like it was your 92nd birthday rather than your second – what powerful lungs you have (as if we didn’t know from all the yelling you do)!
Jonah felt sad that it wasn’t his birthday, too, so we lit the candles again…and again…and again…and again because you both had fund blowing and Daddy wanted to get the right picture. It was fun and silly and we couldn’t stop laughing, especially Nyree, who was sufficiently recovered from the debacle with the donuts to have a fairly decent slice of cake herself.
Always surround yourself with people you love and remember to share your experiences and your spotlight with them – happiness expands in direct proportion to the number of people who participate in it with you.
When it was time for bed, you were exhausted. You climbed up on my lap, covered yourself with your brown snugglesaurus blanket, and drifted off with a bottle of milk in one hand the fingers of the other twirled in my hair. I was your anchor as you awoke and again as gentle waves of sleep at last pulled you under after an absolutely sublime day.
Despite what I say sometimes to the contrary – usually after I have discovered you running with contraband scissors, using “washable” (hah!) markers to decorate the tablecloth, squeezing all of the toothpaste out of the tube and onto the toilet seat, or some other catastrophe of monumental proportions, I do not, in fact, intend to ship you off to live with the Elves at the North Pole where your antics will be put to better use than getting on my last raw nerve.
I am grateful for every single moment of the last 730 days. You are a blessing to us all.
Never, ever, forget it.
Since I’ve been homeschooling, a lot of people have said to me that while they like the idea of home education, they don’t think it is right for them. There are always reasons for this. But I have to say, for the most part, whatever the barriers people have to becoming homeschooling families, most of them can be easily resolved.
And while I have no problem with folks saying that they have no desire to home educate and they and their kids are quite happy with their school, I do have a problem with people suffering under the false impression that they can’t homeschool even if they would like to.
All parents should have the freedom to make educational choices that are right for their kids. We should not be railroaded into an educational system or a school that isn’t the right fit because we have fears and doubts about homeschooling, especially as most of them can be overcome.
Here are six of the most common reasons not to homeschool and suggestions for how to get past them:
1. My kids will drive me insane – we’d end up killing each other.
My kids pretty much drive me insane most of the time, too, but as yet there have been no charges of matricide or infanticide in our home. So I understand this fear but I can also tell you it is unfounded.
Usually this fear is about spending all day harping at kids and trying to get them to comply, or in spending too much time together with nothing to do.
Let’s tackle the first half of this fear first. Here’s something that a lot of people don’t know about homeschooling – you can do it anyway you want and it does not have to resemble school at all. You do not have to hover over your kids for 6.5 hours a day, cracking your whip while they plow their way through a worksheet of fraction problems.
You can if you want, but you don’t have to. And a lot of us don’t.
Home education is entirely flexible. It isn’t like school because there are not thirty kids in the room who needed to be herded in the same direction. There is no lining up, sitting quietly on the carpet with hands folded neatly, no registers to take, or assemblies to sit through.
It takes a lot less time than the regular school day. And while different jurisdictions have different monitoring and reporting requirements, I have yet to come across a country or state or province where homeschooling is legal and parents are forced to into the role of jailer.
In fact, most jurisdictions don’t have a daily time requirement at all. What they usually have (if they have anything like this at all) is a requirement that homeschooled kids be at grade level in their attainment. And there are lots of ways to demonstrate this, either through standardized tests or by completing a report or by having a licensed teacher review your children’s progress (the England and Wales have no such requirements but you should check with your state or province’s board of education to find out what they expect).
So if they can get by on 2 hours of structured learning a day, then everyone can enjoy themselves and have fun the rest of the day (and remember, there is no homework to mess up the evenings when you homeschool). And if you opt for unschooling where there is no structured lessons unless your children ask for them (and believe it or not, some do), then there is no whip cracking at all.
All of which means your kids can spend loads of time outside running around, at activities, in work experience, writing plays, making music, and generally having as much fun as they can come up with all while staying out of your hair.
2. I did poorly in school and am not smart enough to teach my kids.
There are a couple of myths here that need to be busted.
First, brains or qualifications has nothing to do with your ability to home educate your children. Kids need people who are willing to be supportive, point them in the right direction, and, if needs be, learn alongside them. You do not need to be an expert at anything, and in all honesty, no matter how many degrees and qualifications you have, we all learn alongside our kids – it’s one of the joys of home education.
The other myth is that you will teach your kids anything at all. Modern teaching is about herding kids in a classroom and being able to meet the learning needs of 30 to 120 kids a day. You only have to meet the needs of a few and you already understand them pretty well.
Think about it like this. When your kids were learning to walk, you didn’t really teach them how to do it. They knew what they wanted to do, worked the muscles and bones daily and practiced, practised, practised. And you were there beside them, letting them hold your fingers as they walked across a room, a steady pair of hands next to them if they stumbled between the couch and the rocking chair. But you didn’t teach them how to put one foot in front of the other. They figured that out for themselves.
Homeschooling is a lot like learning to walk – kids do the hard work of constructing knowledge and the parents offer encouragement and are there to catch them when things get wobbly.
Most parents is qualified to do that.
3. I am so disorganized I can’t keep track of the days of the week let alone what my kids are supposed to be learning. And writing lesson plans? Forget about it.
There are lots of ways to address this. First, I think I wrote 5 or 6 lesson plans when we started out; as a trained teacher I had a good idea how to do this. We didn’t complete a single one. Why? Because my kids had other ideas and letting them pursue those ideas worked a treat.
But when my son wanted to learn Latin, I knew I needed help – I know a few Latin phrases picked up from law books and church, but I know nothing about teaching a foreign language, let alone one that is pretty much dead.
Instead of fretting about it, we bought a book from Amazon called “Getting Started With Latin” by William Linney. This book is designed for homeschoolers, so it came complete with 120 lessons, an answer key in the back and links to a website where there were plenty of audio files for each of those lesson. My son was set, and frankly, so was I. Everything was nicely organized and all I had to do was make sure he had pen and paper to hand.
My point is this: you can either get organized and write your own plans if that kind of thing floats your boat (check out the homeschool boards on Pinterest for loads of ideas), you can unschool, or you can purchase a book or curriculum that imposes its own structure that you simply follow.
It does not have to be rocket science unless you want it to.
4. How will they get into college?
Quite easily, as a matter of fact. And you many not realize this, but particularly in the States, there are many universities that actively recruit homeschooled kids because homeschooled kids develop the discipline and independent learning skills that are required for success in college.
In fact, research shows that (at least in the States), homeschooled kids on average have higher grade point averages, do better on college entrance exams like the SAT and the ACT, and have lower college drop out rates than their schooled counterparts.
Not convinced yet? Here is a link to a list of colleges that have accepted homeschooled kids.
By homeschooling your kids, you could actually be doing them a favor.
5. My child has special needs and he needs to be in a school setting to get the right support.
I won’t insult you by saying that this fear is unfounded. I’ve got a child with additional needs and it isn’t easy. But it is doable.
Some kids with additional learning or emotional/behavioural challenges thrive in a homeschool environment. They are freed from the pressures of being different and, for some, bullying by classmates and teachers. Homeschooling becomes a saving grace.
You may still need to access support, but it does not necessarily have to be in a school. It may be from seeing professionals at home or in a clinical setting. Many insurance plans and local authorities expressly provide for this, so make sure you get proper advice from people who know what they are talking about.
And there is an active and thriving community of homeschooling parents of children with special needs. You can find them all over social media and they are a wealth of information, advice and guidance. Before you decide homeschooling isn’t possible because of your child’s needs, join a few groups and see what hope there is to be found from people who have already walked several hundred miles in your shoes.
6. I can’t afford it because a) it is too expensive and/or b) I have to work.
It is true that you can spend a small fortune on homeschooling. Whether it’s buying an entire curriculum in a box, paying for a correspondence or online private school complete with online tutoring and external marking of work, to just going a bit too gung how at Amazon.com (holding my hand up!), you can rack up quite a tab as a home educator.
If you can afford it, great. But if you require extra funds to get what you want or if your income is necessary to meeting sundry little things like paying the mortgage and buying food, then there are alternatives other than working outside the home during normal business hours.
The internet is a fantastic resource for people who want to make a living online. Click the link to the right to learn more about how I do it.
There are lots of ways to earn a living while staying at home, from selling products like cosmetics and potions and selling ad space on your blog, to freelancing and setting up your own etsy shop. I know people who have written and self-published an eBook to help cover expenses, become an online marketer like me, and have started new careers as bakers and cupcake makers which allows them to work from home.
You are limited only by the walls of your own mind when it comes to making a living on the internet.
So yes, there are a lot of reasons not to homeschool. That said, almost anyone who wants to can successfully homeschool their kids. It does not have to take a lot of time, effort or money. In all honesty, the only thing it really takes is a change in your mindset.
If you and your kids want to do it, don’t let anything stand in your way. In my experience, the biggest barriers are not real at all, but rather they are simple fears that when exposed to the light, are suddenly exposed for what they are:
negative thoughts that can be changed.
What are your reasons not to homeschool? Thoughts generally? Are you a homeschooler who has heard these fears before or had them yourself? How did you overcome them? Leave a comment
Last night I made a huge decision. Massive. Life altering.
I uninstalled Facebook from phone.
I know, right?
To be honest, my Facebook use was bordering on obsession and was getting out of control. Every time the phone pinged I looked at it. My kids were annoyed by it. My husband – who is a keen Facebooker himself – commented on it (pot calling the kettle black, honey, but you go on ahead).
And then I saw two things that convinced me that while I don’t need to leave Facebook altogether, I certainly need to get a grip.
The first thing was a picture that almost made me hurl my chocolate Cheerios. One of my friends graciously decided to share a picture of a human foot, devoid of skin, thanks to a motorcycle accident. Yes, it was real, in all it’s boney, bloody glory.
Mama just doesn’t need that first thing in the a.m., you know what I mean? And why was I even looking at it when I had my gorgeous children around, books to read, the Olympics to watch? Totally gratuitous use of Facebook. Save it for the laptop.
The second thing was less obvious. A new mother shared the Facebook fan page she’s created for her 5 week old baby and invited everyone to “like it”. In her post, the mama said something along the lines of “by the time she is 10 she’ll have 10,000 likes”….
And something in me snapped.
How many 10-year-old girls are going to think their value is based on the number of Facebook fan page likes they have, or twitter or Google+ followers, or whatever other social media platform is in vogue at the time? How many kids will use it as a measure of their value, their self-worth?
And it scared me because I do it to myself.
My own Facebook fan page is not growing. Nor are my blog followers. I know I write well, and I know that there are people with much larger followings who have half the talent I do. This is not be being boastful. I dislike false modesty, even in myself.
And in any event, having a little bit of talent doesn’t seem to help when it comes to Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Maybe I’m not as good as I think. Maybe I suck. Maybe I’m not cut out for this writing thing and I should just pack it in and go back to working in an office. Maybe I’m just unlikable.
Maybe it’s my autism. I was never very likable, even in real life.
My mother and a few friends tell me I’m good, but maybe I’m like those awful contestants on TV talent shows who come on and you know they are gonna be a train wreck, especially when they say that everyone they know says they are fantastic and then they open their mouths and it sounds like something crawled in there to die but thought better of it and is now engaged in a desperate attempt to keen their way back to the living…
You see how my mind works? And I’m a mature woman in my 40’s who, one hopes, has a bit of perspective on life. I can tell myself to snap out of it. I can tell myself to uninstall Facebook and refocus on the things that matter – my children, my husband, my spiritual foundation.
What defence does a 10-year-old girl have against a tween and teen culture that tells her popularity is everything? How does she protect herself from feeling like a failure because she doesn’t have enough likes from people who will never ever know her or love her, but whose approval she still craves because that’s what being a kid is all about – seeking approval.
So I let it go.
Without Facebook in the palm of my hand 24/7, I am hoping that my fixation will moderate, that I’ll make room for a few more pleasures and fewer unhealthy obsessions.
And I’ll protect my children for a little longer from the notion that your self-worth is linked in any way to your social media presence.
None of which is to say that kids should not be on social media or that a baby should not have their own fan page. Sometimes these can be a good thing.
I remember when I was going through my last pregnancy when I thought I was likely going to have a child with Down’s syndrome I came across the Facebook page of the daughter of someone I knew in high school. This little girl does have Down’s syndrome and her page educated and calmed me. I was able to see that family life not only goes on, it is happy, and in those days, I desperately needed that hope.
Social media is here to stay. The trick is to use it wisely, to make it work for you not against you. Thanks to smart phones, tablets, and laptops, for me, it was working on me, not for me.
Did you know you can televisions from which you can now access Facebook?
Thousands of kids are bullied every day on social media. Some kids are bullied so unmercifully that they engage in self-harming behaviours. Far too many have committed suicide.
It used to be that if you were having a rough day at school you could come home and shut the door and shut out noise and chaos and nastiness of the world. Not so anymore. It’s pinging away in backpacks and pockets, tormenting from the TV, mocking us wherever we go, whatever we do.
So that’s it. That’s my limit. I don’t want to over protect my kids but I do want to protect them, especially when they are young. I don’t want them to think that Facebook is the world.
I want them to be in it – the world – with all of its crazy, amazing real people. I want my children to interact, eye to eye, and connect heart to heart.
I want them to love and be loved by people who know them and love them back.
I’ll still be on Facebook, just not as much. Instead, I’ll be focused on the things that really matter in my life: my family, my friends, the outdoors, a good book, writing, a sublime glass of wine.
That’s what defines me. Not how many fans I have, or how few followers I’ve managed to attract.
So terra, people – I’m off! There are places to go, people to see, and things to do!
And I plan on going, seeing and doing as much as I can while there is still life in me to do it.
What are your thoughts on Facebook and children? What about your own use of social media? Leave a comment – I still get email and I always replyRead More
Carrot cake is my favourite – what’s not to love?? It’s a desert, helps you get your 5 servings of veggies a day, and, at least in my book, it is a health food – no, really, it is! Trust me, I’m a mom.
You can eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner guilt free. Best of all, it is moist and it tastes great.
If you are looking for a great birthday cake, look no further than this recipe. I love homemade birthday cakes and this carrot cake recipe is excellent for Little Ones. There are no raisins, no nuts, nothing but pure sweet carroty goodness. And the cake is dairy free. I have made it for several First Birthdays and it is always a winner.
For the cake:
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil (choose whichever one you like, but I use an organic sunflower oil)
2 Cups caster sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 large eggs
4 cups grated carrots (about 1 pound)
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 block for the UK people)
1 package full-fat cream, good quality cream cheese (it makes a difference)
1 box (about 16 oz) confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice of one small orange or tangerine or tangello
½ tsp grated rind of the orange, tangerine or tangello you used above
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
For the cake: In a good sized bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate and very large bowl, combine the oil and sugar. Next, fold half the flour mixture into the oil and sugar. Then alternate adding in 1 egg, then ¼ of the remaining flour mixture until all the eggs and flour are mixed in well. Now stir in the grated carrot. Pour into greased and lined cake tins or into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers. Bake until the cake springs back to the touch, has pulled away from the sides of the cake tin, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Times vary depending on the size of the cake pans/muffin tins used. Once cooked, let cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan(s). Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.
For the frosting: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix at a medium high speed in a blender or using a hand-held mixer until the frosting is light and fluffy. This should take about 3-5 minutes.
When cake(s) are completely cool, frost to your heart’s content. There should be enough frosting for 3 dozen cupcakes or a 9 inch double layer cake.
Are you a carrot cake fan? Leave a comment or a suggestion!Read More
We’ve been on the road now for 6 weeks for our Great British Road Trip and it has been…magical. That’s the only word for it.
After leaving Maskel Beach cottage, we traveled north along the M6 to the border between England and Scotland. Crossing the border into one of the other Home Countries is always exciting for me, but Scotland is particularly important to me because as a girl it was always my dream to live here.
For some reason, the shy, awkward girl growing up in the sunshine of California thought she’d fit in better in the cold and mists of Alba.
I’ve been to Scotland thrice before – first on a 2 week holiday to the Black Isle and Inverness and then for the Make Poverty History march in 2005 and later the MPH concert in Edinburgh. It always charmes me.
This time, however, is different. This time, the faeries must be sprinkling me liberally with faerie dust because amazing things keep happening.
At the border, we turned west at Gretna Green and headed into Robert Burns country: Dumfries & Galloway.
Most people are familiar with Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland. His “Auld Lang Syne” is the most popular song at New Year, but I’ve been a fan since I was 18 and picked up a copy of his poetry at a used book shop in Capitola, California. If you’ve not read him, before, then do so – or just enjoy his poems sung by the lovely Eddi Reader, one of my favourite folk singers.
Galloway is a county of beautiful rolling hills, farms, fishing ports and artistry. In addition to the very interesting Burns Walk in the city of Dumfries, where you can visit many of Robbie Burns’ favourite places and his last home, there are miles and miles of countryside and seaside to explore.
Somehow Lee hit the jack pot in finding the perfect holiday cottage. Criffel Lodge is on a golf course in Tongland, just up the road from the charming art town of Kirkcudbright (pronounced “Kir-cu-bree”) which I later discovered has one of the best used book stores ever.
The lodge itself is owned by one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and it proves that you never know how many fascinating people you have to meet until you get out into the world and meet them. Our host is a farmer whose family has been on his land since the 800’s – not the 1800’s, but from the time of Charlemagne. He currently has a gorgeous herd of Galloway Belted cows which he was quite proud to share with us. He is also a former politician, a clan chief, an advisor to emerging democracies, and in all respects, a gentleman.
We’ve stayed in several cottages and Criffel Lodge is by far our favourite in terms of warmth and comfort. Built of strong wood, it kept us cozy during a storm with gale force winds. The children adored it – not the least because we could visit with the cows during our daily comings and goings.
And although none of us are disabled, I appreciated that Criffel Lodge is 100% wheelchair accessible. It is so cleverly designed that it took me more than a day to put it all together: ramp, extra wide doors, full ground floor loo, and a ground floor bedroom.
From Criffel Lodge we were able make many explorations around Gallowy:
Galloway Forest Park, which has a herd of deer, wild goats, and is a “Night Sky” park.
Kirkcudbright, an art town with the best book shop ever, an old ruin right in the middle of town, a fantastic harbour for it’s fishing fleet, and the best chippie ever.
A Red Kite centre where there are hundreds – literally – of birds of prey all over the place.
A wonderful and accessible coast:
Wigtown – Scotland’s national booktown with more bookstores in one town centre than I have ever seen in my life:
It is definitely worth a couple of days, especially if you are a book lover/coffee drinker/chin wagger. Bring a full wallet because there are so many treasures to be found. We picked up a 1923 copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and an old collection of Latin poetry. The tea and scones were divine, and despite the torrential rain, it was one of the best day trips ever.
There are so many things to love about Galloway. It is the kind of place you read about, hear in song, but for many people, because it is far south of Glasgow and Edinburgh, it’s off the beaten track and the main tourist routes.
But if you are looking for quiet countryside, good food, an abundance of books, and a warm welcome, there is no finer place. We love it. There has been something for everyone, young, old, outdoor enthusiast and book lover alike.
Can you see the learning taking place? The kids are studying biology, literature (what better way to learn what a stanza is then by walking in the footsteps of one of the world’s great poets and seeing his verses all over town), geography, animal husbandry, ecology, and history. We’ve seen abbey’s that were build in the time of Robert the Bruce and the birthplace of John Paul Jones, the father of the US Navy. The road is our classroom and it is abundant, indeed!
Come – come to Galloway. Come to Scotland. Be enchanted.
Do you love living in Britain? What are your favourite things? If you don’t live here, what would you like to visit? Leave a comment!Read More
“My doctor says I have to…(have an internal exam, come in for another ultrasound….)”
“My doctor is going to allow me to…(go to 42 weeks before inducing me, labor for a few hours longer before giving me pitocin…)”
“My doctor is forcing me to….(to go on bedrest, have an induction, have another test….)”
I’ve said these things – all of them. It’s not something I’m proud of and is, in fact, one of the few things I wish I could go back and do over.
The truth is, I could have done better. And so to prevent other women experiencing the same sense of regret, I offer the following 4 Laws of Pregnancy and Birth that every woman should know:
For some reason, women who would otherwise knock your block off if you tried anything funny with them can suddenly become passive little lambs when it comes to obstetricians and other “experts”.
Here’s the thing ladies: just because you are having a baby, it doesn’t mean it isn’t still your body. Whatever happens to it is your responsibility. You decide what tests to have, how many internal exams you will tolerate, where to deliver the baby and in what position.
You will note that medical professionals will always ask your consent before doing anything to you. That’s because they know that if they touch you without your permission, they commit an assault.
That’s not to say that your medical team won’t have their preferences and that they won’t choose to express them, sometimes forcefully. A wise woman would determine these preferences and any questionable attitudes well in advance of the Big Day.
If you want to use a birthing pool or give birth clinging to a rope (a popular method in times gone by) don’t choose a doctor who has only ever caught a baby while the mother was in a missionary position.
And if you don’t ask? You’ve decided. As they told me in law school, ignorance is no defence of the law.
This is the path of the powerful.
Law 2: You Are an Amazing Work of Art
When the Creator made you, she broke the mold. Seriously – you and your body rock. Do.Not.EVER.Forget.It. By entering into motherhood, you are entering a sisterhood of epic proportions. This has been our work since the beginning of time and no amount of scientific research or “expert opinions” will change the fact that with thousands of years of practice embedded in our gene pool, women got this birthing thing down.
But don’t get too relaxed about it either.
Yes, women are badasses when it comes to creating human life, but it also takes hard work and the right mindset. Don’t take your badassness for granted and think that you can just waltz into the birthing suite or have your doula and midwife turn up at your house and that you will gracefully squeeze your precious little one out in between cups of herbal tea.
You want to get to the top of the mountain? Then mama, you are gonna have to work for it, and I mean work! Yes, there are a few women whose babies just slip out after a couple of hours, and I have even heard the rumours of women experiencing orgasms while birthing (I know, right??).
Trust me when I say, honey, that ain’t gonna be you. Birth hurts, whether it’s all natural or with the assistance of doctors. Accept it. Then prepare for it.
Look, it’s like this: if you are gonna live someplace like California, you have to accept that with all that sunshine comes earthquakes. Instead of ignoring reality and building a brick house (even if brick is your absolute dream!), build a house designed to withstand this particular natural disaster.
This is the path of the wise.
Law 3: Bamboo bends but it doesn’t break
Notice that the stiffest tree is the one that is the most easily cracked. Bamboo, on the other hand, is flexible. It will bend in the wind, but it will not break.
You must be like bamboo. Know what you want. Have a clear vision. Make your decisions. Plan accordingly.
But if the unexpected happens, if your labour is storm-tossed by an unexpected gale, be open to other options. Be willing to listen. Then make your decisions based not on what you hoped for but based on what is right for you and your baby in the present circumstances.
There is nothing wrong with changing course because a tree has fallen over and blocks the road. In fact, it would be silly to sit staring at the downed tree waiting for it to move itself.
Ask questions – determine your options. Listen to advice. Then make your decision without regret.
This is the path of the compassionate.
Law 4: You Got This
Whatever happens, you will deliver your baby. This is important and it’s contrary to the way most of our medicalized language
describes birth. Doctors have habit of saying that they deliver babies. This makes me cross! Mothers deliver babies! You may do it unassisted with no help from anyone, or you may need the help of a small village of medical professionals. However it happens, you deliver your baby. Not a doctor, not a midwife, not a nurse – you. You deliver your baby.
None of this is to say that there is no role for doctors or medical procedures. They certainly have a role to play in modern birth – far too many of our mothers and foremothers and our sisters in other parts of the world today have lost their lives due to complications and lack of access to medical care.
But in our quest to lower mother and infant mortality rates, we should not lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of women do not need excessive interventions.
If no one has ever said it to you before, let me be the first:
you are powerful beyond measure – you simply need to step into it.
I believe in your ability to make informed decisions and to bring your baby into the world in the way that best suits you.
Empower yourself with knowledge not only of what can go wrong, but how often it goes right;
Do not abdicate your right to make decisions regarding your body as you go through pregnancy and birth;
Be the mistresses of your fate – resist social and medical pressure that would see you relegated to becoming a passive recipient of interventions you may not need or want.
There is no right or wrong way to give birth. There are many paths to follow, risks and benefits to be weighed, and and decisions to be made. And only the mother can decide. You must surround herself with the right people – friends, family, carers – and seek out evidence based information, not scare mongering or anecdotal information. You must pick the path that works best for you which means you must take full responsibility for the decisions you make.
It’s not easy, but when you own every aspect of our pregnancy and you make every decision about your birth, whatever the outcome, you have the satisfaction of knowing you did your best.
This is the path of living without regret.
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I know this will surprise a lot of people – frankly, it surprised me when I stopped to think about it – but I used to be homophobic.
Not in a fire and brimstone “you are going to hell” kind of way – no, never that. More like an “it’s ok for you but I don’t want it for my kids” kind of way.
I mention this because as I sat watching the opening ceremonies to the Sochi Olympics, and saw the vibrant rainbow of colours on display, it occurred to me that however much a country like Russia would like to persecute people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the tide is against them.
Here’s why: that way of thinking is being dragged away like so much flotsam and jetsam and pure shitty sewage.
And do you want to know the reason?
It’s because of mothers and fathers like me. Our hearts are changing, and as a result, closet doors all over the world are being flung open. We’ve reached the tipping point and there is no turning back.
This is not to discount the years of struggle by people who actually are LGBT – in the streets, in the courts, and in institutions everywhere. They have stood up when they were getting beat down, walked in when they knew they’d get thrown out, and continued to show us the meaning of transcendental love while being drenched in mindless hate. In no way do I mean to detract from that. The street fight has been epic and those veterans who fought in the streets deserve all the credit.
But the biggest obstacle most people face when deciding whether to be open about something they think may well earn them shame and ridicule is how to tell their parents. No one wants to see their parents give them That Look – the one that is mostly disappointment and fear, but above all confusion over who you’ve just become in their eyes.
Someone they don’t recognize.
I know, I’ve been there, although not for the same reason. My dad’s face still haunts me.
So what would it be like if no one ever had to face that look again over this particular issue? What if telling your parents you are gay was about as newsworthy to them as telling them you’ve decided to go to the Poconos on vacation? What if parents responded to the information with a “That’s nice dear….” and continued watching the Vampire Diaries.
It is happening already. I know it is because I feel the shift in me.
Once, not long ago, I would have said I have no problem with homosexuality. Everyone should be treated fairly, according to the rule of law (sorry, ex-social studies teacher, can’t help it), and that compassion should be our guide in all things. I would have said I was ok with having a gay child and I would support them, although it isn’t something that I would wish for them.
But you know what?
Today, I would. I would wish it for them.
If it made one of my kids – or hell, all 5 of my kids – happy, I’d wish it for them.
I’d wish for them the security of a committed relationship with a person they love and with whom they want to build a family.
I’d wish for them the joy of marriage, the excitement of parenthood, and the contentment of a long life lived well together.
I’d wish for them the serenity of knowing who they are and knowing that I celebrate it along with their sense of humour and love of books. I’d wish for them a community of loving friends who feel the same.
And above all, I’d wish for them the knowledge that the only way to disappoint me with their choice in partner is if their sweetheart is…Republican.
This is why Vladimir Putin and his ilk seem so unthreatening to me now. There are too many moms and dads in all parts of the world who not only love and support their kids, but who celebrate them.
Time and tide wait for no man. Not even if he is ex-KGB.
The laws in Russia will change. Just like they are changing in the US. Just like they are changing in the UK. Modern parents want the best for their children. And that includes civil rights – all of them.
The world is getting smaller, we all know people who are LGBT who are leading happy, fulfilled lives. We are no longer afraid because it is no longer unknown.
So I want this to be known to everyone who reads this, but most especially by my children: you are a child of the Most High. You were created in God’s image. You are a piece of the Infinite, powerfully and wonderfully alive, containing all of it’s mystery and magic. And I celebrate all of you because I see you and you are good.
And I am kidding about the Republican thing.
But only slightly.
Comments are always welcome….Read More