Activism

Arrested

24 May, 2016

Yeeesh. So many thoughts in my head. How can I get them all down? Should I get them down? I’m appearing in court on two charges tomorrow, will they say “we saw on your “blog” that you made a gag about prison food so for that you can go down for LIFE”

A huge part of me is even reluctant to write about it. When my cousin saw someone had tagged me on Facebook saying “Lucy’s been arrested!!!” she typed something like “Can’t wait to hear about it on the blog!” and I recoiled a bit inside. Honestly, I would rather just be all noble and cool about it, not even really mention it, y’know, like man I’m always getting popped by the fuzz.

But, it’s not about me, is it? It’s about a mountain. And a morally bankrupt government. And a mining company that can’t see that exploitative industries belong to the past. And it’s about a beautiful, strong group of people who believe in a future where humankind and the earth live in harmony.Anti mining protesters occupy rig on mountain

What happened?

Two weeks ago our friends spotted a drilling rig up on the beautiful Mount Karangahake, a place so precious it has been given special protection by the government. We live right at the foot of this mountain- a mountain that made some people alot of money from the gold in its guts a long, long time ago. So the gold mining companies are always sniffing around. (I give a lot of context, and show off my little cross stich protest here in this post.) We made some calls, took a hike and confirmed that yes, it was a drilling rig, it was Newcrest Mining Ltd, prospecting for gold 100 metres away from conservation land.

We organised a bunch of trips up there. It is powerful, walking 2.5 hours through the forest to a protest at a drilling rig. You get the space to consider, how much does this rig matter? How far am I willing to go?

How much does it matter?

The rig is on a narrow bit of land that makes up a really important ecological corridor, connected Mount Karangahake to the rest of the Kamai Ranges. This drilling rig, although on private property, is more then welcome to dig down, change direction and then go right into the mountain itself.

Ecologically, this rig matters alot.Anti mining protesters occupy rig on mountain

The big picture too is that our government has actually sold the full mining rights for Mount Karangahake to another gold mining company – and this company is just awaiting official approval for their traffic management plan for their drilling this conservation land. Not kidding.

It belays the disturbing tendency of this government to chose business over sustainability. (I’d say “profit” but the fact is that very little comes into NZ by way of these industries- profit is exported and most jobs, apart from the most temporary and low paid, are given to experts from overseas.) It is about this government saying one thing and doing another. it is about this government acting utterly undemocratically.

So on a political level, this whole drilling around Karangahake matters alot.

Since the drilling began two weeks ago we’ve been hearing it night and day, feeling its vibrations. The day the drilling began all the ruru (little native owls, often called morepork) stopped singing and began to screech. They screeched for a few days, and then they went silent. We used to lie in bed listening to the sound of the ruru calling to each other. We haven’t heard their song since the day the drilling began.

We moved to this place so we would be surrounded by conservation land, so we could be amongst the beautiful native birds and wildlife. And gold mining, despite their talk of rehabilitation, has a devastating impact on the natural environment.

So, you know what? On a personal level, it matters alot.Anti mining protesters occupy rig on mountain

It matters enough to join with a crowd of bravehearts and sit it out in the wind and the hail and see them all trespassed and moved off the mountain. It matters enough to stay, when the police ask me to come down.

So on Sunday 25 people headed up the mountain together. We took wool and yarnbombed the rig. We sang and huddled against the wind. We took samples of the sludge dripping down the bank so we could test to see if they were leaking toxins into the earth. When the hail began some made their way down the mountain. Others stepped inside the rig and we awaited the police together. The police arrived. The drilling had been stopped for three hours. After being issued trespass notices, and court summons, the group had to leave the mountain.

I was still on top of the rig and felt so strongly that I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay and bear witness to the hopelessness of destroying something so precious, something given to us to preserve.

The cops told me to come down, I refused and then my phone rang and it was NewstalkZB wanting a live interview for radio, so I tried to make as much sense as I could about the ecological corridor as the police officers climbed up the rig and began to hustle me down. One of them grabbed my phone and said Thank you for your call before he put it in his pocket. Good manners right there.

I was pretty emotional. I wanted to stay. I wanted to stick by the mountain, just for one more minute. They were some of the most intense, vulnerable, determined minutes of my life.

The drill workers were laughing and yelling and taking videos of my undignified descent so I sat down stubbornly in the mud.

Alas, police officers have their way of getting you into their car. (After pulling me off the rig the Police Officers, like so many of that trade, were awesome. They were kind and did their job well, they even seemed, dare I say it, supportive.)

We went to the police station for finger prints and a mugshot. It’s not really a process meant to make you feel human.

Tomorrow I’m in court for wilful trespass and resisting arrest.

I don’t want a clap. (Just chocolate in the post please)

Some of my heros are those who have embraced civil disobedience in the name of environmental and social justice. (I admire lots of non felons too)

Now I wonder if perhaps most people would be willing to risk arrest if they felt two things come together – anger or concern about something and a belief that you could bring change with a certain action.

What a great joy though! You don’t have to get arrested! You can simply head here and check out the Facebook page, share a few links and sign our petition:

Protect Karangahake on Facebook

Sign the petition to help protect the Karangahake Gorge from mining

So yeah. Arrested, hey? There’s a first time for everything…

Activism

This Update Is Very Important 

17 May, 2016

This time last week I was up the mountain with Tim and the girls and some other earth lovers, stopping a drilling rig prospecting for gold on the edge of Conservation land. I wrote about them trying to mine the mountain a couple of weeks ago, and a few days after that some friends spotted the rig high on a ridge over the river from us. (There is a time for writing and a time for civil disobedience.)
It’s a five hour return trip, so it’s a leg aching protest but there is something powerful in walking through the forest we are trying to protect. By the time you arrive at the rig you feel like the mountain is urging you on, strengthening your bones to stop the mining, whatever it takes. 

  
(Protect Karangahake is on Facebook if you want more info on those efforts) 

Right now I’m writing from a bus on the wild West coast of NZ. Our cups are all full to the brim after four days at the Autumn Unschooling Camp and we are having a bit of a holiday – it’s felt flat out for months now. 
We are parked up in a village with a few other families on the road in buses, unschooling with their kids. Lots of different ways of doing life, hey? Don’t believe any one who tells you contentment is only found in jobs and a mortgage… (Brick walls – so overrated hehe.)

We’ve still got a few basic amenities missing at our place, heating, hot water etc but we’re working on it. We do have a grand deck so at least we have an island floating on the mud that surrounds us. April has been a forgiving month of weather after rain-every-day March. We’ve had sun and warmth and we’ve felt so so so happy in our palatial tent at the foot of the mountain. The family we share the land with have fully moved in now and we are loving it, making plans for the farm and having a lot of fun together (although this fun pales in comparison to the fun our kids have as they spend hours on mud missions/ hanging upside down as Vampire Bats in their collective imagination…)

Do any of you get The Green Parent magazine? I’m stoked to tell you that I have a new column in there – each season I will be telling some stories about our off the grid lives here. I’ve always loved The Green Parent, in fact I did my apprenticeship in Attachment Parenting in the online GP discussion forums (or so it seems- I asked those good folks about three questions a day when I first became a mama) and it feels like a real *stars align* thing to be a part of that team. 

For a few days now I’ve had a chant (or something) floating around in my mind. I think it was spurred by a Momastry post- about how every day as you go about your life people will be calling “this is important!” “THIS is important” “look! This is important!” And you need to put your hand over your heart and say “no, THIS is important”… 
I thought it was totally lovely but a little bit of me did go “Oh, yikes, I am one of those people saying HEY LOOK IMPORTANT THING HERE!” All my life I’ve been one of those people.

But, thinking on it, we don’t need LESS people saying “This is important!” because there are lots of important things and all those people pointing out the important things are simply inviting others to join them in stuff that will often bring joy, peace, the privilege of knowledge/ changing someone’s life/ restoring dignity/ protecting the earth – all good things. 

What we need is MORE people putting their hand over their heart and following the lead in there. 

So the saying that has been tripping over my mind and laying itself down, draping itself over all the small actions of my day has been:

Pay attention and your heart will show you what is important. 

I’m so often away with the fairies, in one place with my head and another with my hands. Thinking about last year, next weekend, what I felt when this happened that time when I was 19 and how much stock I have left for tonight’s soup. 

More and more I’m trying to be faithful to each moment as it happens, to really be there in each now, to pay attention with my whole body and mind. I reckon that if I make a habit of this,  when it comes to making decisions about how much energy to give to each important thing, the way will be clear. When I am figuring out how many times to climb the mountain to stop the drilling, and exactly how much mischief to cause while up there, I will just know

So yay, for important things (mundane important things and adrenalin spiking important things) and hearts that can so clearly urge us into the right way.

Back soon with another Really Important Thing!

Parenting

5 Tips to Boost the Connection in Your Parent Child Relationship

9 May, 2016

If I’ve learnt anything about a good parent child relationship I’ve learnt it all, every miniscule morsel, from my children.

Take this, from yesterday.

I was nursing Juno, while Ramona, her older sister, was sat next to me reading. I murmured “I love you” into Juno’s hair, she looked up and, for the first time in her life, said it back. Except that it sounded like “By Bub Bu” because she still had the whole of my nipple in her mouth. Hearing her say by Bub Bu felt so lovely, and I was so overcome and curious about her understanding of this phrase that I said “Do you know what I love you means, Juno?” I was hoping for something enlightening, something upon which I might write a poem, something that might ping into my mind for the rest of my life, even. She thought for a moment and answered; “Redbush!”, our favourite kind of tea.

Fortunately Ramona piped up, right into my bafflement. “I love you means when you feel really, really, really, really, really connected to someone.”

Wowzers.

She is five and a half and with that explanation nails one of the discrepancies that can haunt a potentially magnificent parent child relationship. 

As Gabor Mate in all his brilliance puts it:

“Love felt by the parent does not automatically translate into love experienced by the child.”

We love our children with every bit of ourselves yet can spend so much of the day disconnected from them.

Surely the love that swells our heart as we gaze at their sleeping bodies before we head to bed is enough? I want to say it is, but it sort of isn’t.

(When I say “we” here I very much mean “I”- the pauper “we”!) 

We need to take the time and put the effort into making sure this love we feel is experienced by our kids as connection.5 tips to restore and maintain your parent child relationship

But you want to know something awesome? I totally believe we can make connection a habit.

Here are five things that will restore the connection in a parent child relationship:

1- Make loo time me and you time

This is my best tip. BEST TIP. I know it sounds weird, especially if you like to take a dump solo (but it is good to start lists with low expectations.) This isn’t about your dump, but the dump of your kids. Hold on, it’s actually not about anyone’s dump. Let’s start again:

What do you do when you have to accompany your children to the toilet? Do you squeeze blackheads in the mirror? Check your phone? That’s exactly what I used to do!

But now I do this instead:

Squat in front of them (good for your thighs! See it as a micro multifunctional Aerobics class) and ask how their day is going. Keep tuned in, keep the conversation flowing. Even if they are only 18 months and can only babble. Soon they will be done, you can wipe their bum, and move along.

Your kid goes to the toilet a few times a day, right? So this is instantly a few minutes everyday spent just hearing from your kid, looking into their eyes and connecting.

This is totally inspired by the incredible Emmi Pikler and her emphasis on doing Nappy Changes with total care and attention. Doing nappy changes with love and respect can be a foundation for a parent child relationship, and I reckon the same principle can carry you right through until they go to the toilet on their own. (Herald the day.)

We did Elimination Communication – more on doing that with respect here.

And more on loving nappy changes here.

2- Turn tension into play

Play is our children’s language, the way they connect, the thing they understand. When they poke your bum while you make the tea – that is them telling you they love you and they want to connect with you! (You used to do that too, you know.) Dig deep and turn tense moments into a play moment. It might feel like more effort than you have but I genuinely believe that putting the effort in here actually takes way less time and energy then yelling I’M GONNA COUNT TO THREE AND IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE IT I’M GOING TO PUT ALL YOUR TOYS ON EBAY and the huge fall out from that. 

What are the areas in your parent child relationship that are always a bit tense?

Teeth cleaning? Put a teddy bear glove on and get the teddy bear to clean their teeth.

Getting dressed? Put all their clothes on you first, they will literally be rolling around on the floor in giggles as you try and put their legging over your head.

Juno needed to put some cream on her face this week and really didn’t like it – until I drew a face on my fingers and put on a funny accent. HELLO! She was like WOO CREAM ON MY FACE!

This principle, of speaking a child’s language of play can start early – read more here, playful parenting with a baby. 

3- Love what they love

Oh, this is SO HUGE. Take an interest in the things they love, ask them about it, play it, dress up as it, open the doors to their interest, blow them away with the wonders of their interest.

Do they love tutus? YOU KNOW YOU NEED ONE. Spend the whole day wearing a tutu and you will feel the connection with your child palpably. And you know you will rock it like Darcey Bussel.

Do they love playing on the ipad? Sit down with them and try and make the cakes for each other or build the town or secret machines for each other.

Do they love dinosaurs? Bury bones in the garden and spend the afternoon at your dig, draw a massive dinosaur on the pavement, east meat off the bone for dinner.

Even if it is stuff you fear (I’m thinking princesses for the feminist parent!) use it as a platform for connection.

4- Say it with your eyeballs

Eye contact is the first point of connection, an ancient, powerful, subconscious method of building a relationship with someone. In all our busyness it is easy to just chat to them while we drive/ cook/ clean/ walk and go a whole day without having eyeballed each other.

“Eye contact produces a powerful, subconscious sense of connection that extends even to drawn or photographed eyes.”

It is pretty well documented that eye contact is one of the pillars of good healthy connection.

There is a well known Zulu greeting; I see you. As with many indigenous phrases it hard to capture the full depth of its meaning. But it is something about being fully present with your being, shown through your eyes.

We see you is

“an invitation to a deep witnessing and presence. This greeting forms an agreement to affirm and investigate the mutual potential and obligation that is present in a given moment.”

When you speak to your child take that one step further to get on her level and look at her with your loving gawpers.

5- Don’t let a bad day take over

AH! How easy it is to relinquish a day into the gloomy depths of unrecoverablity! Some days are just really freaking bad, aye? And you just think “F*ck this Sh*t.” (Sorry Grandad.)

Somehow, SOMEHOW, we have to press reset. It is up to us to do that. I’m sorry. It’s called adulting and sometimes it just totally sucks. So. Chuck back an espresso. Scream into your armpit. Eat a bar of chocolate and then FIND YOUR MOJO! You can do it.

Here is my favourite post on this blog ever, a list created by Lulastic readers that I turn to constantly on days like this.

My absolute favourite for getting out of a horrible rut and restoring that parent child relationship is number 35, it is insanely simple but works a treat:

Quit the now, for a few moments. Becca says “Looking at baby photos with them. Remembering that innocence and vulnerability – that we are the caretakers of (hard to remember at times of extremis.)”

Children LOVE looking at their baby photos and as well as entertainment for them it helps you remember that they are truly small, and you are responsible for their happiness and it is hard for them too. (Such a great blog post in that link.)

Also, more great, honest reading on pare child relationship stuff: things to remember on hard days with kids and tips for tired parents.Restore your Parent Child Relationship with these five tips

The most important thing we can do for our children isn’t in the DOING. It is in the BEING.

It is prioritising connection with our children over all the other things we “should” be busying ourselves with for the sake of our children.

It is in the simple sitting with, the joining in, the loving gaze shared from eye to eye.

It is strewing a fully present “I see you” throughout each day.

Take the time to make sure the love you feel for your children is experienced by them, and you, in turn will have all the joy of a fully restored connection.

And maybe even all the joy of an adult sized tutu to wear anytime you feel like it.

Activism

Mining and Me

3 May, 2016

My Nana’s dad, Grandad Tom, was a miner in Maesteg, in the Valleys, Wales. My Grandma’s dad a miner in Mexborough, Up North, as we say, in a funny Northern accent. I can mimic a Yorkshire accent without mocking because I had one so broad that when I was seven and moved to London I had to change schools within two weeks because my teacher couldn’t understand the long, cheerful vowels of my Yorkshirish.

My mum grew up in the Valleys, along the road from the mine Grandad Tom tunnelled into. But her dad, my bottomlessly jolly Grandad Derrick, wasn’t a miner but a minister to the miners, a chaplain. My mum’s family lived and worked in the village below Aberfan at the time of the huge slip that poured slurry into the school, unspeakable tragedy.

My mum and Aunty and Uncle went to another school, but the sorrow soaked into their lives, seeped through the Valleys. My Grandad stayed up for three days and three nights, laying out the bodies in the church hall. 116 children and 28 adults.

My parents became ministers and years after Aberfan, found themselves embedded in the mining communities closer to my other Great, Great Grandad. My sister and I were toddlers during the Miner’s Strikes, our nursery rhymes were chants about putting Maggie Thatcher in the bin.

So it is that for much of my life, the word “miner” has felt like mine; part of my heritage, my family, the people I stand with. And yet, this week, when I took my daughters for a foraging walk in town (we’d heard there were whole hedges of enormous, juicy feijoas and great trees scattering walnuts) my youngest clung to my legs and wouldn’t walk. She was afraid. “The miners are gonna grab me, take me away.” The walk was around the rim of Waihi’s Martha Mine, the fruit trees are those left over from the backyards of the houses demolished as a small mountain was scooped away into a huge gaping hole.

“Miner’s aren’t bad people, my love. They can be nice! Like my two great, great Grandads and my old next door neighbours. The companies they work for tend to not be very nice…”

It’s a subtlety lost. The anti-mining protests and the slogan-writing sessions we’ve been involved with have left their mark. In trying to help my family understand why I cared so much, I’d once described mining as modern day privateering, pillaging for gold. My daughters were left with sense that miners had hooks and fiercesome facial hair. And that they wanted to kidnap young children whilst they were busy licking feijoa from their fingers.

You see, we live now in New Zealand, at the base of a mountain, Mount Karangahake, the northern peak of a blanket of mountains, the brood of ancient volcanic release.
on land- Anti Mining New Zealand

When you climb it, 5 hours there and back from our gate, Tim and I did it to celebrate ten years of marriage, you have to stick to the path in case you fall down a mining shaft. The whole thing is like honeycomb, riddled with tunnels from which some made a fortune back in the 1880s.

This holey mountain is not mine in the way that it is anothers, a more indigenous people’s. But I belong to it as I belong to every part of the earth. Something of its dirt is in my bones, these days it is stirring from a lifelong dormancy.

At one recent protest to protect Mount Karangahake from the fate of Mount Waihihi a representative of the local Iwi spoke of how his ancestors would be down at the river, the Ohinemuri, swimming, washing and fishing, and a bell would ring and they’d all climb out. With a huge gush the miners would empty their tunnels into the river and the water would turn black with mercury and cyanide and they’d wait until it seemed clear enough before carrying on with the day to day tasks their village had been going about for a thousand years.

(Even today, one of our neighbours tells us that one of the ponds up there can’t be fished because the water is still so toxic.)

He spoke with anger that a mountain so honoured, and these days so officially part of conservation land, has been handed over again to goldspinners. He reminded us that the Martha Mine was also once a sacred mount, source of life for Maori. And now it is a gash that makes your jaw drop when you view it on Google Maps.

(A government website describes Waihi in 1884, just before the first mine was established as “a bare knoll with a nearby hotel.” The government, since forever, forsaking the truth of a place.)

Tim’s great, great, great, great Grandad and his brother  were some of the first to discover gold in these hills. Sons of Mere Tipona, Maori boys in Victorian waistcoats, reaping in colonial ways.

But perhaps it wasn’t such brazen desecration back then. Or perhaps it is simply that the ends justify the means. Loving hearts, destructive hands. Then and now.

I’ve been at an anti-mining strategy meeting where another young Maori man has clenched his fists and spoken of the betrayal of elite Maori who gave permission to the government to sell the mountain’s innards all over again.

It is hard to believe there can be anything left, but we’ve seen the massive graceless drilling machines that they’ve just rolled up the Gorge and we’ve read the District Council’s approval for the mining company’s traffic management plan. They mean business.

Of course there are Maori for the mining. For Maori, it is people that trump all else, and they’ve been hammered with the vision of more jobs – if mining means their people can make ends meet than of course they must welcome it.

And then there are Maori who see that no one can thrive when the land under your feet is being torn apart. The local iwi vow to stand by the mountain.

The whole town is divided down these lines.

One half hoping beyond hope that the sink holes in the netball courts, the cracks in the pavement, the noon explosions, the collapsed houses, the open sore, the weekly evacuation siren tests, that it will be worth it for their families, in the long run. That they will get a taste of the wealth. This in a region where joblessness hovers as tangibly as the North Winds it is named for, where literally as I type here in the library a couple next to me discuss the redundancy package the supermarket has just offered them.

The other half believing that, even in this landscape, they can protect what has been entrusted to them.

As I stood on the rim of the Martha Mine, one tiny daughter still clutching my skirt to her face, fear set in her bones, the other daughter biting the tops off the feijoas and sucking out the middle, I felt myself a kind of leaden terror.

At 5am that morning, seven hours before, there had been a slip – two million tonnes of rock roared down the northern side of the open pit. Chunks as big as houses, obliterating the pathways carved into the sides, upon which we’ve previously watched small trucks glide along. Anti Mining New Zealand

A laminated sign had been pinned to the fence “this slip was not unexpected” – their monitoring supposed to assuage a sense of wrongness.

The week it becomes clear that mining in the area will continue with fervour, that drills will burrow unabashedly into one of New Zealand’ most important ecological corridors, the earth heaves and a quarter of the local pit collapses.

Maori folklore depicts the mountains here as warriors, fighting for kingdoms and creating rivers from their restlessness.

That morning a warrior, body broken, spits in anger.

The spill can’t go far, only back into its wrathful, dying mouth.

We climbed into the car, drove back to Mount Karangahake, a few miles along the Ohinemuri, the girls with a small pile of feijoas on their laps.

No walnuts though. They were black on the outside and black on the inside. When you squeezed them between the heels of your palms they exploded into a cloud of black dust.

I am thankful to the Craftivist Collective for providing a way to take action on an issue that can be done in the slowness of my life, that can sit amongst the song of the trees. This cross stitch is on the path up the mountain and I hope it makes people wonder – could they possibly be gold mining this conservation land?

Please help us protect an ecological important and beautiful New Zealand most mountain by signing the petition.

Anti Mining Craftivism New Zealand

Craftivism on Mt Karangahake

References:
Local Iwi vow to fight for mount Karangahake
Sinkhole in the netball courts

Cosleeping, Parenting

The Family Bed gets you more sleep (and other benefits)

27 April, 2016

Our family bed has grown alongside our children and our views on sleep. We began tentatively with just a king sized mattress, unsure of cosleeping but feeling in our gut we wanted to do it.

By the time our second child came along we had read Three in a Bed and quelled the myths of bed sharing danger and moved onto two doubles – we were in a campervan and me and the newborn took the upstairs and husband and Ramona took the bottom.

These days, with a three year old and a five year old and knowing we are partaking in a healthy, ancient sleep tradition, we all bunk together in a loft, with a super king and a single pushed together to make one enormous sleeping platform.

I’ve written much on our family bed – from the benefits of cosleeping to the practicalities of cosleeping but am only just now really coming round to the idea that cosleeping began as a Thing We Did, a thing I thought would last for a period, whereas the Family Bed is more of a concept that cosleeping has lead to. Are you with me?

Here are a few benefits of embracing the Family Bed as part of your parenting philosophy…The Family bed! Cosleeping and its many benefits

The Family Bed promotes sleep

Juno was poorly last night and woke a lot. At one point I came to and she was walking two fingers across the bridge of my nose and I heard her murmuring “Mummy wolf walks over the mountain… Baby wolf walks over the mountain…” Cuteness. But my point is that I was actually sleeping while she got comfort from my presence! Since sleep sharing I have had this idea that I’m getting more sleep than others,  that if I were to be getting up and down all night going to a cot, I would be far more exhausted than I currently am. And turns out, it’s not just a feeling. When cosleeping, although mother and baby wake more, they wake together, in rhythm, so that it ends up that the pair of them get more sleep. (Read more on this at Dr Momma.)

The Family Bed is a continuation of connection-focused daytime parenting

My primary aim as a mother is connection. I feel that if my children can trust me, communicate with me, feel secure in our relationship, then I know they can get through anything. They will have a resilience for life. This parenting philosophy carries on after sundown. They will feel my breathing as they stir from a bad dream, they will hear my validation as they murmur their upsets, all until they are ready not to. When I went back to work cosleeping was a way I could reconnect with toddler Ramona, even when I was away for long hours during the day. At that time I wrote:

“Ramona sleeps in the middle of the two of us, so if she wakes one of us can cuddle her back into dreamland. This time she woke up instantly, and gleefully, and she shouted “LEEEG! Where ARE YOUUUU? There you are! Other leg?! Where aaare youuuu?? FOUND you!”

Yes, YES, my friends. She was playing hide and seek with her limbs.

After stifling my giggles I stroked her head and she snuggled back down into a deep sleep.”

Such a minor thing, a 30 second interaction, but it was part of a bigger feeling. Despite being away all day I was still getting to know my toddler and all her beautiful. hilarious parts of her personality.

The Family Bed fosters a more trusting, less controlling attitude towards sleep

Until Ramona was a few months old, despite cosleeping, I still had a lot of anxiety about sleep. I had seen charts that said she ought to sleep from 7pm to 7am and had been told she shouldn’t nurse to sleep or stir in the night. Then I spent some time reading and reflecting and came to feel that I am not the boss of her sleep! I can create the conditions for sleep, but it is up to her if she wants to and for how long. In short, I came to trust her and it was the key to feeling about a billion time happier with bedtime and nighttime. (Read more on these approaches that led to happier sleep here.)

We get so hung up on “independent sleeping” that we coerce and manipulate and bribe and even threaten. We forget to say “We trust you to know when you are ready.”

For me the Family Bed seems to stand for that trust. It says “When you are ready for independence you’ll get your own bed- until then there is a space on this mattress with your name on it!”

The Family Bed is intentional, safe cosleeping

The Family Bed is a solid, practical thing. You have deliberately organised enough room for all of you to sleep safely together. There is no slumping on the sofa with your newborn because there isn’t enough room for you in her crib. There is no danger of suffocation or squashing, SIDS and the Family Bed are completely unrelated. (Please read my research packed post here about the safety of cosleeping and SIDS.)

If we can normalise the image of all the family hunkering down together it is far less likely that people will cobble together something unsafe, or collapse in exhaustion.

Read more from an “accidental attachment parenting” family – including a Dr daddy who came to believe in cosleeping as best. *not just for hippies*The benefits of the Family bed - cosleeping for five years!

Sometimes the girls find each other’s warmth in the middle of the night…

The Family Bed reasserts sleep as a collective activity

Our kids shouldn’t have to face their nightmares alone. In most of history they haven’t had to do that, yet modernity seems to think it is a good idea! It has been normal for the longest time to sleep together in one room, not just families, but sometimes whole communities (don’t worry husband, I’m not suggesting that…)

Historically, nighttime has been a vulnerable situation for humans, so doing it together meant more protection. This emotional/ DNA memory is still within us on some level, making us feel stressed or fearful in the dark or scared of shadows. It’s totally natural. It’s understandable that kids feel terror at night, and entirely sensible that being together makes for a far less stressful night. (And, y’know, science etc – Babies that cosleep produce less cortisol – the stress hormone- than their isolated buddies.)

Last week I heard about the term the Japanese use for cosleeping, where the Family Bed is the norm until kids are quite old; it is “Kawa”. Kawa is the same character used for a river cascading between between two banks; they see parents as the strong, supportive edges, the life-giving river child flowing through them.

So, the truth it, hand on heart, I didn’t think that half a decade into parenting I’d be crashed out in bed with my husband, two tiny bodies between us. But here we are, and I’d have it no other way.

PS Little video on cosleeping – including EXCLUSIVE footage of our own massive, messy Family Bed… (Yeah, I am TOTALLY wishing I had made it properly right now. But. Y’know. Just keeping it real.)

Shampoo Free

Most exciting news ever!

19 April, 2016

No, no, not that. Or that.

Guys, OBVIOUSLY, the exciting thing is that my book Happy Hair comes out in Spanish today!! Woooo!

This morning I woke up and told Ramona how excited I was. I said “Now Dora the Explorer can read my book and give up shampoo and discover healthy, shiny toxin free hair! Haven’t you always thought she looks a little full of parabens?”

Every so often I get a huge surge of numbers to this blog from various Spanish speaking countries due to articles being written about how I don’t use shampoo. I still laugh when I think about one of them that had captioned a photo of me with something like “Lucy Aitkenread, pHD en absolutamente nada”

Now, I don’t speak Spanish but I’m pretty sure I got what way they’d crumbled their cookie! (Or something.)
Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú
So, fair enough. I don’t have a degree in hair, or any piece of paper that says makes me an official spokesperson on health. But what I do have is over four years experience of life without shampoo, using healthy, natural alternatives to shampoo, and SIXTY PIECES OF PAPER (a No Poo book, that’s what I have) that people say has changed their life.

(They do really say that! How cool and nice? You can read the reviews of Happy Hair on Amazon and buy it in English, if you like.)

Two passionate readers of that book, Gabriela and Cyn, who happened to be professional translators, read Happy Hair and knew Spanish speakers had to have it. They have painstakingly translated it over the last few months and it has been SUCH a pleasure working with them.

I am pretty sure that this Spanish edition of Happy Hair is gonna help a whole load more people get the hair they have hankered after their whole life – clean, healthy and strong.

If you know any Spanish speakers please help me spread the word!
Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú en Amazon

UNO DE LOS LIBROS MÁS VENDIDOS INVITA A LAS MUJERES A DEJAR DE USAR CHAMPÚ
El movimiento de lavado sin champú llegó a América Latina.

Lucy AitkenRead tiene 33 años, escribe en blogs, es columnista de la revista Cosmopolitan, hace 4 años que no usa champú y asegura que tiene el cabello más fuerte y más brillante que nunca. Happy Hair: the definitive guide to giving up shampoo fue uno de los libros más vendidos en Amazon cuando se lanzó su versión original en inglés, y AitkenRead espera que la edición en español corra la misma suerte.

Gabriela Rabotnikof tiene 32 años, es traductora y, cuando leyó el libro, supo de inmediato que iba a funcionar en América Latina. “Terminé de leer el libro y me puse en contacto con la autora en seguida para ofrecerle traducirlo. Gracias a Pelo feliz, las personas vuelven a tener el poder en sus manos: el libro cuestiona los productos capilares poco saludables de una industria multimillonaria y ofrece alternativas para tener un pelo sano de manera natural”.

El movimiento libre de champú cobra cada vez más fuerza y es reconocido a nivel mundial a medida que la gente se concientiza sobre los productos químicos que se aplica en el cuerpo. AitkenRead escribió este libro tras la espectacular recepción del experimento “No Poo” que publicó en su blog, Lulastic and the Hippyshake. Lucy cuenta: “Todas las semanas, me escriben mujeres que consiguen tener su cabellera más fuerte, más saludable y limpia luego de haber sufrido durante toda una vida los problemas de la caspa y de esos días en los que el pelo está inmanejable. ¡Ahora el movimiento se está masificando!

Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú en Amazon
Pelo feliz: La guía ideal para dejar el champú
“Este libro me acompaña en la difícil transición que implica dejar de usar champú. Es un compañero ideal que guía al lector en cada paso del camino sin aleccionarlo. Cómprenlo. Léanlo. Y dejen el champú”.
Laura

“Hace más de 9 meses que dejé de usar champú y llegué a un punto muerto. Una amiga me recomendó esta guía ¡y recuperé la inspiración! Incluso si nunca se les ocurrió dejar el champú, es una lectura que genera conciencia. ¡Sencillamente brillante!”
Lisa

“Es una introducción genial al método No-poo y, además, es útil para quienes ya hayan dejado de usar productos químicos. Hace 7 meses que no uso champú y esta guía me dio muchas ideas y explicaciones para algunos de los dilemas con los que me encontré. Buscar el tema en Internet es una buena opción, pero esta guía filtra un montón de información confusa y aclara muchas dudas con total sencillez. Disfruté mucho de la parte relacionada con la ciencia y de las ideas para el pelo ceroso”.
Sra. P.

“Hace casi 6 meses que no uso champú gracias a la ayuda de esta guía. Me acompañó paso a paso y me dio mucha información científica interesante pero no tan específica como para aburrir. Destaco el sentido del humor con el que está escrita, en un estilo muy accesible, y todos los consejos para resolver las situaciones de emergencia. También me encantaron las muchas (¡muchas!) alternativas naturales que la autora ya probó y sobre las que puede hacer comentarios de primera mano. Es una gran inversión”.
Mustardseed

To celebrate I have launched a new site HappyHairGuide.com – a website solely dedicated to helping people get healthy locks. So far you can read some tips on how to apply egg on hair for a super conditioning natural shampoo, how to stimulate hair growth naturally and homemade conditioner for hair from your kitchen. Yay! See you over there!

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