On adventures…

creativity, Knitting, photography, portraits, Thom

Sometimes all it takes is walking through your front door with no plans and you end up on an adventure…

As I took Boy out in town earlier on this afternoon, I thought we were going to watch a scout parade and a puppet dragon. We quickly realised that I got the date wrong as we landed in the middle of Bus Day, amongst a fleet of vintage buses taking people to random places far and wide for free all afternoon. So we got on random old buses, without having any clue where they were taking us… sometimes the driver would even change route mid way!

I shed a tear

My Poems, Thom, Videos

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As I watch you play

Your favourite seaside game

On a windy day

I see, what a shame,

I wasn’t even watching.

At the time, back then

I was just busy talking

Hiding in my den

In my head, my thoughts

I didn’t see the beauty

Happening in front me.

Luckily Tara filmed it

And now I got to watch 

A tiny part of my life

That had somehow escaped me…

Watching myself not watching

Missed moments of you growing

While still being there.

Being physically right here

But my head is somewhere else

And the sad thing is…

I bet it will happen again.

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Creativity as a Daily Practice…

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“Life is a journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Our world has been turned upside down recently, as we moved house… We left an old cottage in the woods for a more urban dwelling in a very quiet town on the edge of the forest. We had to readjust a little bit to our new surroundings, and now we are pretty much settled in. We had to change our habits and a house move was a great opportunity to get rid of a lot of our possessions that were just sitting around. I believe that if we have too many things, then these things end up owning you as you will need a bigger house to accommodate all of your belongings, therefore you will need more money and will have less time for yourself, and your dear ones… I  was worried that our cat Henry was going to suffer the move as he was so used to living in our old neighbourhood where he was thoroughly enjoying a busy social life of his own, with some of the neighbours, people and cats alike. He was invited for dinner to a few houses a few times a week, eating with his feline friends and their people! I’m sure he is sadly missed! So I was worried that he would struggle to live in a town, even though we have a private garden surrounded by other gardens… He is so sociable… But soon he made friends with another cat, had a few fights with the hot locals and has already seduced a few human ladies…. I have caught my neighbour feeding him cat biscuits the day before yesterday. image

His Royal Highness Henry the 1st.

Thom and I have been immersed in The story of Peter Pan, reading a new chapter of the book every night… image

We watched a beautiful Peter Pan broadway musical and we had great discussions about the story, went to a pirate event by the sea front, had a boat ride around Eastbourne’s harbour and Thom enjoyed dressing up as a pirate a lot… Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading J.M. Barrie’s book, which gave me a deeper understanding of the character of Captain Hook, captain Paul Watson remains my favourite pirate ;)

I have been struggling with sciatica for 9 months now, and things got worse a couple of weeks ago when I did my back on top of it… After 3 days stuck in bed I ended up being just about able to make my way to the osteopath,  who said she would have rather seen me 9 months ago… So it was time for me to surrender to stillness… Stillness is a great place for me to make felted animals from…

imageHere are 2 of the animals I made :)

imageThom called the blue tit Mr Nice

imageAnd this is Lady Nice, which I made for Thom’s birthday but I gave her a makeover…

And I made another owl for the birthday of a special little girl who turned 7 last week…

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Thom and I have a great project on the go, we have exactly the same sketchbook and we do a double page spread everyday. Whatever we feel like doing. So far it’s been water colours, drawing and glitter for both of us. It’s nice to sit down together at the coffee table and start our daily creation :)

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imageYesterday’s paintings

imageToday’s creations… (You may have noticed, owl is one of our totem animals :)

We have also been doing some action painting in our new patio, which I found to be very therapeutic! Thom really enjoyed mixing all the colours together to create new ones and we were drumming with our brushes on a large sheet of paper pegged on a laundry line… It was grand… We ended up experimenting holding the brushes with our toes, and then just walking in paint and all over big sheets of paper rolled out on the floor… It got messy, but it was fun. I think process art is definitely the way to go, for children and adults. If we are not attached to produce something “nice” then we can thoroughly enjoy the creative process, the release of tension and blocked emotions and letting go of inhibitions that hold us back. Plus for kids experimenting helps them to understand better how things work, build their confidence and problem solving skills (along with free play and good stories to feed their imagination… ) Well to my humble experience anyway…

:)

What about you? How do you nurture your creativity? Do you manage to make time for it?

I definitely feel happier when I do :)

Speak soon,

Noemie.

5 years

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Thom, when he was a few days old… I wrote about it here at the time.

Exactly five years ago, I was just embarking on a journey, a journey of self – discovery, though I didnt realise it at the time. Something beautiful happened, but not the way I had planned. I was in for a shock.

For the first time in my life, something went wrong, out of my control, like a train coming off the tracks. Something beyond my control happened, to show me that being in control is an illusion.

You’re not in control, ultimately.

My son is the living reminder of this. From the second he was born this is the lesson he has been relentlessly presenting to me, on a daily basis for the last five years.

Before him, I thought I knew myself. I thought I was quite evolved spiritually and I thought I was a very flexible person… then he arrived and turned my world upside down and I realised that I was a complete control freak. I was flexible because I had organised my life the way I wanted it to be… It’s easy to be flexible when you have carefully constructed your own selfish reality!

One of the first lessons I learned : It’s not about me or what I want, or how I would like things to be. Being able to go with the flow while not holding onto the past or worrying about the future is a good start… but that’s just a start. Hold on tight! It’s a bumpy ride but it is a true gift.

Parenting has brought me to face the greatest challenges of my life and I realised that I am (and he is) much more resilient than I ever imagined.

I was the kind of young adult who didn’t want to have any children. I was dead against it and even considered getting ‘sterilised’! I only wanted to go on adventures, my camera around my neck. Now I’m glad I changed my mind and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to embark on this crazy ride. It’s a great way to sort out your own shit as it brings everything up to the surface for you to look at it. It’s not always pretty, but once you have seen it, examined it, re-played it and prepared yourself to let go of it, it’s a wonderful feeling. You feel ready to move on, to embrace the next challenge that’s about to be thrown in your face… It has been relentless, like a proper jedi training, but if you accept to fully embrace the challenge and face it head on, it’s a powerful opportunity for personal growth and self development.

Today he is five, and I’m just at the beginning of the ladder. One baby step at a time. He just looked at the picture of himself above and said: “Oh that’s me when I was a baby, when I just came out of your tummy”

– Yes I said,

The he rubbed his little hands on my tummy and said :

“Look, I think there might be another baby in your tummy, and it’s a little girl!”

Although I acknowledge that it’s been an incredible journey and that the last five years have been an incredible ride, I don’t have the pretense to imagine surviving if I have my life turned upside down again… Now my selfishness longs for peace, calm, quiet…
and I wouldn’t mind trying to have a little bit of my life my own way again, just for a little while!

Have a good night,

Noemie.

Reflections on how we could change farming for the better…

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Thom&Mum

I don’t want to add anything to the general over drive and I’m aware that when I’m in writing mode, I end up in the zone and I’m not available for my family. My son ends up left to his own devices for too long while I’m just sat in front of a screen, typing away. I don’t want to do that to him. Even if it’s the hardest thing to do, I want to be present, to be with him as we share precious playful moments together. I know that his youth is very finite and that it won’t last forever, and I must make sure that I make the most of it and that I offer him precious moments that he will carry with him as memories into adulthood. That’s why I have decided to consciously limit the time I spend on the internet, trying to avoid this false sense of emergency that is so addictive and so predominant when one checks her emails 10,000 times a day.

Also I would like to focus more on my yoga practice as all these recent false emergencies have made me slip off again and neglect my daily practice. So I want to go back to spending more time trying to be present in real life, with my family and with myself, on my mat.

My recent experience trying to rescue four dairy cows has been quite challenging and I ended up getting into trouble with nearly all concerned parties (apart from the cows…) and that made me think a lot about what I want to do with FocalHeart. I knew that by getting involved with farmed animals, it would be quite hard emotionally, which is fine. I knew what I was getting into and I knew that dairy farming wouldn’t be the easiest area of farming to handle. I have been reflecting quite a lot about all of this lately… The life of a dairy cow is full of repetitive trauma. I know a dairy cow (who I really like a lot) who is 12 years old, still being milked twice a day and still giving birth to a calf every year… A calf that she might not get to have with her more than a couple of weeks… There is only so much a cow can take before she breaks… I have met quite a few broken cows and it’s so heartbreaking to see!

I’m definitely not advocating meat eating here, but at least grass fed animals reared for meat are pretty much completely left alone with minimal human disturbance, compared to dairy cows! So if that was to be the case… is lacto vegetarianism such a kind lifestyle on the animals?

The very few ethical farms that exist today truly believe in what they are doing, but their customers need to wake up and pop the bubble they are in.

I haven’t visited a lot of them but the few ethical farms that I have visited do care a lot about their ethical values. Their main problem is that they are too popular. They probably will dislike me even more for writing it publicly on the internet,  but they are supporting too many customers because so many people agree with their values and make the ethical choice to shop there to support them. The feel good factor for shopping there is big. Now I’m not saying: “Hey people, don’t support your local ethical farms anymore”, I’m saying : “Hey people, start your own local ethical farm as there is a need for more of them”. A great way to change farming is to ‘become’ farming and to change it from the inside…

Currently there isn’t enough of them, and the demand for the highest animal welfare standards is increasing. All these well meaning customers are actually putting a big strain on the animals. Farms are at their maximum capacity, having  the maximum amount of animals that their land can support, but the demand is unlimited and growing exponentially!

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I’d like to say that again: ethical farms can only have a limited amount of animals living off their land but their customer base has no limits and some ethical farm shops even buy in products from other farms when they run out, so that their customers are not disappointed and won’t go shopping somewhere else.  This success is putting more strain on the animals, and the farm ends up removing  the calves from their mums earlier so they can get more milk in order to make more yoghurt, cream, cheese, etc… so that the shelves are not empty.

There is a serious need for more small scale, local, organic farms – there is no denying it. The world will not go vegan and the vast majority of people are buying their animal food from supermarkets, which are buying them in bulk for as cheap as possible which is having a devastating effect on farming and on the farmer’s life. Conventional farming will not change because they can’t. They are stuck with their mortgages and with ridiculously unrealistic quotas. To me, it seems that the very much needed change in farming will come from small local organic farms, as their customers make the conscious decision to support them because they are willing to support this change. As customers they have the power to encourage their local organic farm to take it a step further, in terms of animal welfare.

So people need to appreciate dairy and its hardship a bit more and stop drinking milk as if it was coming out of a tap. They need to implement discipline with it and consume it with respect and deep appreciation. They need to accept that there should be time without dairy in their local farm and not run to the supermarket to get it instead, as it’s putting strain on other cows somewhere else.

In my opinion the only way that farming will change, is if people start more small organic community farms to support their community and their community only. Customers need to understand that these small local farms have their limits and if they want to make a difference then they should tune in with the natural rythm of these farms and accept that, for instance when the cows are calving, people should try to go without cream, their favourite yoghurt or even dairy altogether for a while…

This issue brings up a lot of questions regarding people’s eating habits. It may be that being too stuck in a belief system or a particular dogmatic system might be one of the main reasons why things got so out of hand in the first place, as in the myth around dairy being such a staple, daily necessity? Also the myth around (grass fed organic) meat being the worst product in terms of animal cruelty, the myth of ethical shoppers who believe they are doing such a great thing by shopping at ethical farm shops and spending an absolute fortune there every week, when really they are causing a big strain on the animals who have to go through such hardship… Keep going there, but be mindful! Be grateful and appreciate every single animal product you buy for what it is, because behind every single animal product there is a sacrifice. May it be the sacrifice of a life, of a calf…

I’m not denying the need for animal foods in a human’s diet. I was vegan for eight years and at the end I wasnt doing well at all. I ended up undernourished. I love the idea of veganism, as an ideal, a vision for the future, and I hope that we, as a species evolve in that direction… but this is not the reality we live in right now. And right now, animal foods have played a big part in our evolution and are still essential for a lot of people. So telling people to go vegan is a nice idea but it’s not going to work. We all need to be kind to ourselves, and to each other… and to work on having a better understanding of death so it’s no longer the worst thing that can ever happen. Death happens all the time, so as my friend Dolly the cow told me, it’s good to think about it and to be aware of the fact that we, too, will die at some point. I have asked quite a few farmed animals what their thoughts were on death and most of them have healthier and more detached views on that subject and with more clarity than most of the humans I know!

Anyway… I’m off to get my son ready for bed. I have done it again… he is waiting for me and is trying to get my attention!

Have a lovely night!

Noémie.