writing

YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THIS! (Me, you and clickbait)

23 February, 2017

It has been so long since I blurted out a few of there things spinning around in my brain, without really trying to make much sense. Can I do that for a bit?  Today I was killing time in the river while my latest Youtube uploaded (I should have been working, but my entire computer shuts down for six hours whilst I’m uploading a Youtube video!) thinking about how hard it is to create stuff on the internet and then feel completely out of control of whether people will even SEE it, and how far I’m willing to go to get my stuff seen.

I began thinking about how the internet could be better organised so that the screaming clickbait didn’t drown out the thoughtful polemics.

Imagine if the internet was sorted like a library. Alphabetical surnames. You could turn up at the exact point in the aisle and see all the works by your one favourite writer, or you could run your fingers along the spines and select something because of the hot pink typeface. It’d be orderly and calm but you would have to sneak your snacks in, which is a bit of  bummer. Also, you’d probably get people changing their names so they could get their blogs seen. Everyone would be Aaamelia Aaaardvark.

They’d have to put an end to that.

Perhaps it could be organised alphabetically by online business name.  It would be like the phone book, where there are a million business that have come up with a name that begins with numbers and a letter A. 1234AAAXylophone Makers!

That wouldn’t be any better I suppose.

I don’t really have any suggestions for The Internet. (I’d love to know who I’m talking to when I say The Internet.)

But I do have suggestions for Creators. (That is what The Internet calls people like me – who write and make videos and generally post things online.)

And that is – put your content in the title and trust that people who want to read it will read it!

I try to keep to this, although I know there have been times where I’ve put something really WOWZERY!!! in the title in the hope people will get an important message about connecting with their kids. (See The One Word You Need To Be A Positive Parenting Whizz.) (Oh and there was also YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT SHE TURNED THIS BREADBIN INTO hahahahahahahah – I mean, for reals, can you Adam and Eve it??!!!)

If we were all really clear about what we were putting out there in the world I feel like the internet would be much easier to navigate! We’d be less drawn in to time wasting things and we’d have more time to read about the areas of learning we WANT to read, or we’d have more of a chance of actually getting OFF the internet and watching clouds float along a blue sky.

I really don’t want to be responsible for sending someone into unfulfilling internet rabbit holes instead of poking sticks into real life rabbit holes with their children and all the joy that comes of that.

It’s not an easy vow to keep.

And I consciously break it these days on one of my platforms.

The big gnarly underworld of Youtube.

Places like Youtube massively reward clickbait. They don’t even care what is inside the video, they just care how many people are clicking the video. So here is where I drop my ethical code somewhat. My Youtube video titles seem clickbait-y. I try and make people want to click them. But here is the difference – clickbait doesn’t ever deliver, whereas I try REALLY hard to. The content of my video is relevant to the title and I bust my gut to try and make sure the content of the video is good quality…

Exhibit A, today’s video:

Youtube is a bit of a mess. And if creators want their videos to be seen by people they have to play by Youtube’s messy rules.

I also figure that if people are hanging about on Youtube already, I am not driving them away from stuff they really want to be doing with their lives by having them check out my video! I hope that they will click because they think WTF? And then they get a big ole lesson in normalising breastfeeding!Me, you and clickbait

I’m not apologising, I’m trying to be conscientious about my clickbait code. But I am justifying myself to you, because I care about you and the relationship we have in this little internet community.

When it comes to myself as a consumer and participant of The Internet, I try hard to curate the things that come into my view. I have got rid of my Facebook Feed and now only use the groups I am a part of to see what they are reading and doing. I use Pocket Hits to read the latest long form and once a week I read all the news on the Guardian. I use my subscribe page on Youtube, and have bookmarked my favourite blogs. All this means I don’t have swarms of information coming at me every day. It’s not perfect – it also means I might miss some important stuff and am less likely to find a new creator to fall in love with.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you navigate a clickbaity world? Do you have a way of steering clear of things that are irrelevant to you or time wasting? Does curating your internet so rigidly like I try to mean we’ll just end up in big echo chambers?

Natural Beauty

Freedom Face – join the beautiful resistance

14 February, 2017

Yeooow! My new book Freedom Face hits the shelves today and I hope it hits the self-hate of the mainstream beauty industry in the guts too!Freedom Face

It’s not about hairy armpits, although that IS in there, and you DEFINITELY don’t need hairy armpits to read it! But I feel like body hair is a great example of where choice has been taken away from women and we’ve been forced to accept a ridiculous beauty ideals.

Also, I do just still think it’s funny. I must be the hairiest beauty columnist Cosmopolitan has ever published, and here I am writing a beauty guide. Mwwwahahaha.

Freedom Face is about shaking off the shackles of that beauty industry in a few different ways- the expensive products we get locked into, the toxic ingredients that are often in them, and the self-hate it perpetuates. There are recipes for everything from shower gel to deodorant to lipstick and mascara, along with my own story and some commentary. Copy of FREEDOM FACE (1)

You can grab Freedom Face in THREE different ways, all of them worldwide in any currency:

Through my e-store as an Epub $9 USD (if you want to read on an ebook reading app like Kobi or a Nook) or

through my e-store as a PDF $8 USD (if you want to open on a laptop or tablet and possibly print out – it is a little cheaper so you have some spare to cover ink costs) or

on Amazon Kindle $9.97 USD

I’ve also put together some packages for people who want to bite off a whole hunk of beauty resistance…

So the first bundle, Beauty Rebel Bundle One,  includes both my e-books, Freedom Face AND my first ebook Happy Hair AND access to my Hair Detox e-course which is packed with video tutorials and worksheets to really help you get to grips with your natural, shampoo free hair.

Beauty Rebel Bundle

The next bundle, Beauty Rebel Bundle Two, includes all of the above AND one to one support from me. This is aimed at people who don’t have much support around them for making these kinds of beauty choices, it is some serious hand holding from me. It includes two skype chats that you can cash in whenever you like and email support. I’d LOVE to connect with some of you this way. Beauty Rebel Bundle Two

(If you have already pre-ordered Freedom Face on Kindle, no worries, you can still get the bundles minus Freedom Face and the Freedom Face cost – Beauty Bundle One and Beauty Bundle Two here.)

I would absolutely love any help in getting the word out there about Freedom Face. I feel more excitement and more nervous anticipation about this than any ebook of mine so far! It is huge, for starters, I also feel a bit vulnerable too, as if I am laying it all bare. If you like it, PLEASE leave a review on Amazon and tell your friends and share this link on social media. Every single little mention of my ebooks makes a huge difference to me! I am also doing a Facebook live on 14th Feb 9pm British time – that is 10AM 15th Feb NZ time! Would love to join in and happy to answer all pressing questions!

THANK YOU! I feel so very grateful to you all, I wouldn’t be here getting to write about things I am passionate about if it wasn’t for so many of you encouraging me. THANK YOU!

Here is today’s Youtube video – it is all about being one hairy mutha!

There is a movement afoot that says every person is valuable and worthy and that the world is more beautiful when wobbles and leg fuzz and different skin tones and hair types are celebrated.
I hope you’ll join in.

Natural beauty guide - recipes, experiments and stories from Cosmo columinst

 

Natural Beauty

Bare naked self-love

8 February, 2017

Here’s something not many people know about me. I’ve only just really begun mentioning it at all. I didn’t want people to judge me for it, to see me with new eyes and write me off as pathetic or roll their eyes and say “Typical!”

I struggled with an eating disorder for many years, from about thirteen to my early twenties.

I had so much hatred for myself, for my body.

I have dreamed of writing another ebook for ages. Since Happy Hair, really. A follow up. Like Happy Hair but for the whole body – two fingers up at a beauty industry that wants you to spend a tonne of money putting toxic crap on yourself and into the earth.

The book would be called Freedom Face, and it would be both a natural beauty recipe book and a manifesto about throwing off the shackles of the body-shaming, woman-hating beauty industry.

But I didn’t really feel qualified.

Weirdly, I didn’t feel qualified because of the way I conform to some of those beauty norms (white, skinny) and because of my body hatred history!

(I’d apologise for being confusing, but I tell myself that we are all this complicated sometimes!)

HOWEVER.

These days I feel like I have a level of self-love which means I can talk about lipstick and wrinkles without even a sprinkle of self-hate in there.

And I actually feel like being a proper loud mouth about it.

The traditional beauty industry is a shitstorm of self-hate and toxic ingredients and we need an organised resistance!

Want to join it?

You would be so welcome.

There are lots of ways for you to be apart of it, but here are a couple.

You might want to join the self-loving sisterhood which is a Facebook group of women who are interested in natural beauty and self-love. There are so many wise women in there with so many good ideas!

and on Valentines Day Freedom Face is out and there is a copy with your name on it! Show yourself some love and buy it! There are over 30,000 words of recipes, experiments and stories from the frontline of natural beauty. You can pre-order it right now on Amazon, but it will also be available in my e-store, alongside some cool support packages too. Freedom Face- a beauty guide free from toxic ingredients, expensive goop and self-hating bullshit

Please do join me for a Freedom Face Facebook LIVE at 9PM British time on Valentines Day/ 10AM NZ the day after Valentines! Ask any questions you want addressed in the comments right here on the blog.

And finally, here is a new video I just filmed today when we all got nude and swam in the river. Take all your clothes off and love the skin you’re in!

Parenting

10 reasons I’m delighted my daughter cut all her hair off

19 January, 2017

My children have a very beautiful relationship with creativity. At Christmas I made some dough and got out the festive cookie cutters and before I could say Jingle Bells the girls were on the table pressing their toes into the squidgy mass with joy. We get the paints out and they carefully and lovingly dabble a bit on the paper, and a bit on their face, a bit on the paper and a bit on their hair, their bellies, their knees.

“Show me your painting Juno!”👌 (Are kids the ultimate teachers of abandoning ourselves to the moment or what?) 😆

A photo posted by Lulastic & the Hippyshake (@lulasticblog) on

Early on I learnt to bite my lip; I didn’t want them to feel controlled by my arbitrary ideas about what counts as “art” and what counts as “mess”. Who am I to judge their own creations?

Whenever we get scissors out to cut shapes or paper people, they do the same thing; a snip of the paper, a snip of their fringe, a snip of a magazine and a great big walloping chunk out of the middle of their forehead. A few weeks ago I came in and they were surrounded by felt tips, shreds of paper and hair. Ramona had cut Juno’s hair down to one inch all over. It looked amazing. In a bald-patches kinda way. And they were both utterly stoked. They had a vision for their art, hair, whatever, and they made it happen. They did a little dance together, sang a song about being hair twins.

Ramona had cut all her own hair off a short while before. Well, she cut almost all of it. She left a 15 inch long plait at the base of her neck. Technically, it’s a ratstail. Hairstyle of the rebellious teenage boy in 1992. But to Ramona it is simply “her long bit” – the bit that means she has the best of both worlds.

My children love cutting hair so much they want to share it around. My mum and dad are visiting us from the UK next month and we wrote a big list of all the things we would like to do with them while they are here. Number seven is “Give Nana a hair cut”…I just know she is going to be SO EXCITED about that!

Ha.

When my children cut their hair I usually have one reaction – to fetch them sharper scissors. No-ones got time for a haircut executed with those tiny yellow giraffe schnizzors.

You see, when my kids cut their hair, I delight in it. For me it as a chance to send an important message to my daughters.

And it’s a chance that MANY parents get. Almost every child I know has picked up a pair of scissors and had (or tried to have) a little snippitysnip or a big chunkycrunk at their hair. My sister and I did it – she chopped off one of my pigtails. One kid I know experimented with an electric razor. Jeepers. Even if your child doesn’t give themselves a jazzy new style, there is still the same opportunity whenever they visit the hairdresser.

And in every instance we are invited to share a lesson with our kids about consent and body autonomy.She cut off all her hair, and her sister's. Here's why I'm glad.

So here we go- ten reasons I am happy about my daughter cutting all her hair off:

1- It is her body. She is the boss of it. She gets to say what happens to it. Either I mean this, or I don’t. If I do mean it this involves stepping back and watching her cut all her hair into a ratstail two weeks before a family wedding – even if she has been asked to be a bridesmaid.

2- It is her body. Nobody gets a say in what she does with it. I want her to continue in this vein for her whole life; giving Zero Effs to what other people expect her to do with her hair, face, or body.

3- It is her body. She does not belong to me. No child is the possession of their parents. We are here to guide them through this tricky world, not treat them like they are ours.

4- It is her body. It is her human right to have autonomy over her body. I’m not being dramatic.Body autonomy is one of our most basic human rights and forcing a kid to have a hair cut, or not have a hair cut is a violation of that right. Everyday we can choose to not infringe on rights of children in our homes.

5- It is her body. When I stand back now and let her do what she wants with her body, she learns a lesson that will serve her for the rest of her life.

6- It is her body. My daughter’s experience of body autonomy through my response to hair cutting will form a part of her ability to say a clear no to unwelcome touch, and is a key part of protecting her from sexual abuse.

7- It is her body. My daughter is at the start of her identity journey and getting to know herself, and love herself, and expressing herself with her body is something only she can do.

8- It is her body. No one should ever force anyone to do something, or not do something, with their own body. This is one of the fundamentals of dismantling the rape culture we live in.

9- It is her body. Giving herself a haircut and not coercing or manipulating her to do something more “socially acceptable” creates a culture of consent in our home. One of the greatest wishes I have for this world my girls are growing up in, is that our rape culture will be replaced by a culture of consent.

10- One last reason; It is her body.

I have a load more reasons in my head, just so we are clear. For example, wanting to save my children from the knowledge that society judges people by their looks. If I don’t blink when they do something dramatic to their appearance whilst they are young, perhaps that will provide a buffer of sorts to the stark fact that we can be a shallow, judgemental bunch. I could also have spoken about gender stereotypes and the good message that is given when I am not precious about her long hair. I could also have made a point about how practical and unknotty short hair is- quite frankly, it is mindbogglingly amazing.

But all of these pale in significance to the one clear truth that my child’s body is her body and she can do what she wants with it.

I want my children’s relationship with their body to be like the one they have with art; expressive and loving and fully autonomous.

NEW VIDEO

(Forgive these capital letters, melodramatic titles, it’s kinda the way Youtube works… meh.)

PS- I write with almost all the privilege there is and want to recognise that body autonomy looks different for those without the same privilege. I enjoyed this article about how to support a child who needs blood tests whilst upholding their body autonomy.  I would love to hear from others, to hear of how you support your child’s body autonomy whilst not being healthy or wealthy or white.  A little while ago my children got sick with something the internet told me was an illness that impacts mostly poverty stricken households. We were in a bad space for a few different reasons and I was feeling really nervous about taking them to the Dr, with their dreaded hair and felt tip all over their bodies and this Thing. I was worried they might ask questions, dig deeper. I scrubbed up, I put on the smartest clothes I had, and put my shoulders back and acted as if I hadn’t a care in the world. It was an awful, tragic glimpse of how lucky I was that I could do that. It was one of my first insights into how privilege works, and how my privilege is related to all these parenting choices. This radical, rights-upholding, respectful parenting is being done by a huge, diverse array of parents… but we must acknowledge the role of privilege.

unschooling

One of the scariest and best things I’ve ever done

10 January, 2017

You might have gathered that our dog Zoe had puppies ten days ago. Ramona was cuddling one of those tiny little things, just one day old, and she had such a look of love on her face I thought I might explode. I said “Is this the cutest thing that has ever happened to you?” and she said “Nope. It’s the second cutest thing that has ever happened to me” and I said “Oh! What’s the first cutest?” and she said “I don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet.”

Tim and I caught each other’s eye. We’d been talking a lot over Christmas about personality types, exploring the Enneagram. I am a blatant Number Seven. A huge enthusiast, but someone who is very much future focused, who can be doing something awesome in the present, but still pretty certain there’s always something better around the corner.

I had an inkling Ramona was a bit like me. That “second cutest” answer was about as seven-ish as you get!

But right here, right now, I can absolutely definitely say that this last weekend involved one of the scariest and best things I’ve ever done.  * and **

We had over a hundred unschoolers come to our farm for an off grid summer camp. (What is unschooling?) And I was QUITE nervous beforehand. I was worried that I had got our farm (me and my husband and the family we live with) in a little over our heads with my extravagant enthusiasm and gun ho-ness. I mean, who does that? Lives a rickety, bare-bones life on a bit of land for a year and then invites every unschooler in New Zealand for a sleepover?

Three days away from camp and we had no loos, no hot water, no kitchen. It was pouring with rain, our 28 ducks were wandering around quacking their HEADS OFF at 5am and the meadow that we were meant to be camping in was a construction site. I was quite terrified (you can see it in my eyes at the start of the video.) I don’t think it was fear of failing – I’ve tried really hard to give up on that fear since having children. I think I was anxious that we might end up letting a whole load of families down. Ruin their holidays.

I guess you might want to see how it turned out?

NEW VIDEO:

Before we all moved onto our land, we all knew that we wanted to share it. It was ours, but ours for sharing. Having this camp was probably the first major thing we’ve done along these lines and it went so well. The whole thing was pretty much one humoungous Site of Mutual Fulfilment and I think one of my aims in life is to create more and more SMFs.

I was sitting at the solar disco (oh, not sitting for long, don’t worry! Just a few seconds. All the other hours were completely occupied with cutting shapes. These days my style is almost entirely Hardcore Interpretive) looking around and I was feeling SO FULL. So, so, full.

Full of admiration of all these parents who have chosen a pretty radical life with their children, full of a sense of privilege that we get to live with people who are visionary and resourceful enough to pull this off with us, and full of the potential of dreaming and daring.

And I guess that’s what happens, a little dreaming and daring actually makes you MORE able to dream and dare.

What are your plans for 2017? I would love to hear what you are hoping and dreaming of.

Read more:
Why we began to unschool
Seven things you oughta know about unschooling
Our application to the government to get the official stamp on our unschooling- an exemption.

*Erm, but can I also say that I believe that our “best” is something that can keep blooming and growing? So I still think there are some best things ahead in the future?!

** It’s possible that giving up jobs and moving to New Zealand with a few bags of luggage ranked up here too.

PS Just so you don’t think our life is all blue skies and sitting at solar parties feeling fulfilled- my last day of camp was spent in bed spewing forth my guts. Sickest I’ve been in ten years, maybe a mixture of a tummy bug and exhaustion. Ugh! Is that the yang?

A couple of extra photos (thanks to the beautiful nomads from The Bus who took these!)

off grid unschooling camp New Zealand

unschooled camp new zealand nz off grid unschooled camp new zealand nz off grid

Featured, yurt life

15 seconds

20 December, 2016

I’m way too early for New Years Resolutions, but I am sharing one of mine now as I believe it might be handy over the coming few days.

We’ve experienced some huge changes over the last few years. My husband and I handed in our notice, we sold our house in London, and most of the stuff in it, and we packed ourselves into a campervan and travelled around Europe with our kids. We ended up in New Zealand.  Not only in New Zealand, but off grid, in a yurt, in a forest, in New Zealand.

And one of the things I have learnt over this time is… don’t laugh… happiness comes from the inside out.

A campervan can’t bring you happiness. A yurt can’t bring you happiness. A forest can’t bring you happiness.

(A caveat: I speak about happiness here from a very privileged position, as a white, wealthy, healthy, person. I recognise that what I have to say does not apply to everyone and that other people will have vastly different experiences of happiness to me. And I’d love for you to be a part of this conversation. Another caveat: whilst I think working on our own happiness framework is a good thing, I think this goes alongside activism, kindness in action; supporting our neighbours, raising kids with empathy, sending funds to good people who can help Aleppo, campaigning for socially just policies and more.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Campervans and yurts gave us great adventure. Buying a farm with others brings us community. Living amongst nature means we can do things like new moon women’s circles and family forest play; dreams of mine come true.  All of these things were like little bricks for my Happy House. Everyone’s bricks are different.But the house can’t stand, the bricks mean nothing lasting AT ALL, without the mortar. You just got a pile of bricks. They meant something once, but now they are just dusty and have bugs crawling in and out of them.

What I’m trying to say is that we did all these exciting things, but the single biggest factor in my happiness came only this year, when I figured out that the mortar is, and I decided to do the internal work towards happiness.

And I want to share one of these processes as I think there is a huge opportunity for mixing up our happiness mortar over this coming holiday period…

15 seconds to happiness

The concept

So, in normal life, happiness touches us fleetingly. We eat a delicious burger with friends and we get a bubble of joy and a second later it’s gone. What we need to do, what we need to work on, is savouring the moment, in order for it to add to our overall happiness.

Happiness isn’t how many happy moments you have in your life, but how deeply you allow happy moments to penetrate your life. 

I first became aware of this concept during my Endorphin Experiment  (still ongoing! See Endorphin Experiment Week 1, Endorphin Experiment Week 2, Endorphin Experiment Week 6) which I began as a result of reading William Bloom’s Endorphin Effect.

And then, as if to really strike home how much I needed to do it this Christmas, I was listening to a podcast this week that mentioned it again. (My new favourite thing! Doing dishes or jobs or anything, as long as the kids are occupied, I just listen away and it is so nice! Tell me your favourites.)

A neuro psychologist was talking about the human brain’s negativity bias. How bad thoughts act like velcro in the mind – clinging to one another and building up – whereas good thoughts are more like teflon, very slippery and harder to make stick, long term.

One of the secrets to happiness is the ability to make those positive thoughts stickier.

15 seconds to happiness

To make positive thoughts stickier we need to hold on to them longer. You know those nice little warm fuzzies you sometimes get, say, when your children are playing together (together!! and not fighting!) and you think “oh, my goodness, lovely children!” or if you get the chance to see a glorious sun setting over a majestic mountain, or when you are sitting with your ancient Nana, and she is holding your hand and you are singing a carol together.

Don’t let that warmth of happiness touch you for a second and move on. Hold on to it, let the warmth move through your body, close your eyes and savour the experience of your harmonious children, the majestic mountain, sweet joy of being with your Nana. Hang on to it for fifteen seconds! It shows your brain you want to keep this moment, and it then weaves that good thought into an overall picture of well being. Slowly, slowly we rewire our brains for happiness.

In the podcast the Neuroscience of Happiness, neuro psychologist, Rick Hanson, says

“The first step is to turn positive events into positive experiences. All kinds of good things happen in our daily life that we hardly notice at all, and if we do, we don’t feel it. Someone pays us a compliment, we hardly pay attention to it, or we deflect it. So instead of that, you turn positive events into positive experiences.

Second, really savor it. In other words, the way to remember something is to make it intense, felt in the body, and lasting. That’s how we give those neurons lots and lots time to fire together so they start wiring together. So rather than noticing it and feeling good for a couple of seconds, stay with it. Relish it, enjoy it, for 10, 20, or 30 seconds, so it really starts developing neural structure.

The third step is to sense and intend that this positive experience is sinking into you and becoming a part of you. In other words, it’s becoming woven into the fabric of your brain and yourself.”

Whether you are celebrating Christmas or Solstice or nothing at all, these holidays often mean family gatherings and potential for these special moments. Remember the 15 second rule and harvest from these next few days a stack of good moments that will build up your overall happiness.

Halfway through this winter we began a forest play session for local home schoolers. It is a magical time, something we’ve dreamed of since visiting the Forest Kindergarten in Germany. We build huts, make soup, learn some primal skills. During our first session we sat around and talked about how to light a fire. “What can you start a fire with?” we asked the children. “Paper” “Twigs” “Cardboard” said some of them. “You can put a candle under the curtains” said another.

Indeed.

Happiness doesn’t come by doing something extreme like going off grid in New Zealand. It can very much come through the smaller stuff too.

Start with lighting your paper, before you set your curtains on fire.

Fifteen seconds to savour the goodness and spark your neurons for happiness.

~

So yeah, in an ideal setting Christmas is  a chance to build the framework for our happiness. And, also, sometimes with family gatherings, it’s, well, kind of the opposite! Tension can rise, particularly if you are parenting in a way that is different to others. My parents and my in laws are both respectful of the way we parent, even though they might not fully agree, but at different times over the last few years we have had people close to us make it clear that they don’t like what we are doing.

I have put some thought into how I can keep grounded, keep parenting the way I feel is right for us, all the way through the mayhem of Christmas. They ended up being 5 mantras which I share here. (YIKES I wish there was a better word than mantra! It just sounds so… so worthy. Ach. Who am I kidding? This whole post is worthy. Forgive me, I am obviously feeling very seriouspants today! I should at least call these Womantras.)

I would love to hear if you have any womantras (c’mon, let’s do it. Let’s literally just add WO to everything that starts with Man. Harhahahah.) Anyway, sorry, tell me what things help you stay strong and calm.

I just want to take a second too, to say THANK YOU HEAPS AND HEAPS for reading this year. I count it a complete privilege that I get to write and make videos and that people stick around to be a part of the conversation. Thank you x x x