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habits

6 Habits Kids Learn from Us

13 December, 2019

As parents, we are responsible for most of the habits our kids develop. For this reason, we should try to teach them the best habits through the way we live our own life as happy and curious people! If acquired early, these patterns will be part of your child’s character and will affect their adult lives. Here are 6 of the best habits you can teach your kids through being a curious person:

Can you Make Your Kid Learn a New Language? Or is it best just to learn it yourself and model it?

With a second language, your child will be able to communicate with a greater percentage of the world’s population. Learning languages has been noted to improve test scores in core subjects and generally helps to improve brain functions. You should note that some folks think kids can learn languages faster when they are young, so you should not wait until they grow older. Nowadays, learning a foreign language is easier than ever and can be done online and through apps such as Babble, to give you an idea. Contrary to popular opinion, teaching kids two languages at the same time will not confuse them.

Familiarize Your Kids with Recycling

The best time to teach kids about recycling and sustainability is when they are young. This way, the habits will be ingrained in their character. When teaching them about recycling, you should make sure you create recycling systems at home. This is because children typically learn the habits they see at home. In addition, you should teach them about energy use, composting, and other sustainable habits. You should also make a point of using environmentally-friendly products at home.

Show them the beauty of nature

Kids build their imagination by playing outside, so you should encourage them to explore the outdoors. You can even help them with unstructured activities like building forts, pretending to be pirates, and hunting. If there is a nice park near you, consider taking your kids on a regular basis. Hiking is also a great activity in which the whole family can participate. Showing your kids the beauty of nature will help them become calmer and will heighten their observation skills.

Teach them body positivity

Teach your children to always celebrate their bodies. This way, they will grow up to be confident and happy, and that will open them up to many opportunities. People who love their bodies generally enjoy a higher quality of life, so make sure your kids understand that they are beautiful and perfect. You should try to use inclusive language around the house as that will boost their self-confidence.

Teach them to be free with their creativity

Give your child ample time to draw and paint and create. Don’t ever judge them for what they make. Like all the others, this is something you have to model yourself. Deal with the voice in your head that says you aren’t artistic and let your own, unique craftiness flow!

Teach them empathy by being empathetic

Unlike, perhaps, some of the others in this list. Empathy doesn’t grow by practicing empathy – empathy is a neural pathway in the brain that is activated by empathy! Do if you want your kids to grow up to be empathetic, they have to receive empathy from you! Make sure you have all the support and space you need so that you can be an empathetic person. And remember, while we are talking about habits – your child is their own person, never force them to do something they don’t want to do, simply model it and invite them into it empathetically.

Raising kids may not be the easiest job, but isn’t it rewarding, beyond belief? You will rest easy when your child grows up to become a healthy, happy, and outstanding adult. I reckon you can directly impact their future positively by teaching through your own life and curiosity the six habits noted above.

kids travel

Five ways to capture your family adventures

6 December, 2019

Spending time with the family is time perfectly spent. The adventures we experience together as a family are memories that will stick with all of us forever. That’s why it’s so very important to keep track of those marvellous times. The easiest and – thanks to technology – most convenient way to do so is by taking lots and lots of pictures. For many, the journey ends here. The pictures of holidays, trips, and special moments are stuck forever on your phone or camera, if you’re lucky and they aren’t lost in time. Others know that photos have the potential to bring joy for years to come and make sure they realise it. These are five ways to capture your family adventures and share them with your loved ones: 

1. Photo books The absolute classic among the memory preservation techniques out there is the photo book. Some families fill book shelves with tales of adventures, years full of love and joy, and little tokens of appreciation. All that is possible with photo books. The most popular options are yearbooks and holiday photo books. Depending on the quantity of photos at your disposal, the decision should be easy to make. Make sure you don’t spend more than you have to, though: There are always good deals around that will save you some money on your project. 

2. Wall decorations Photo wall decorations have become more and more popular in the last few years. Mass-produced decorations from the store have become too mundane to really make an impression in your home. With a family photo on a canvas, acrylic glass, or a metal plate, your living space really becomes homely. Plus, you can always dive right back into the most wonderful memories, without having to pick up your phone, laptop, or camera. 

3. Greeting cards It may not sound like much, but greeting cards have the ability to really knock someone’s socks off. The most obvious way would be to use your photos to send holiday greetings from near or far to friends and family. But greeting cards aren’t only made for sharing. They can make for fantastic decorations of coffee tables and sideboards as well as walls and refrigerators. In some places, you can even design photo postcards online and send them to the recipients directly from the beach – talk about convenience! 

This is where things get really interesting. There are lots of ingenious ways of turning photos into unique and amazing gifts and useful or fun items. From the traditional photo mug to puzzles, socks and Christmas ornaments, the choices are practically endless. So whether it’s a gift or a nifty piece of decoration you’re looking for, your photos can become a part of it and make the item special. 

5. DIY
At the end of the day, nothing is more personal than handmade objects. To decorate, give away, or simply enjoy, making something with your very own hands makes anything so much more special. Essentially, you can treat your photos as regular pieces of paper and start the creative process. Handmade collages, garlands, or even a world map can be upgraded to an entirely new level of personal with your photos. The only limit is your imagination – and perhaps creative input from the Internet. 

4. Photo gifts & objects 
At the end of the day, there are many fantastic ways to turn family adventures into everlasting memories you can look at and remember at any time and share with your friends and family. The most important aspect of these items – be it a photo book, a card, or a pillow case – is your family photo and the joy you take from them. 

Attachment parenting is the antidote to societal violence
writing

All the changes! (And your invitation to kinship)

4 November, 2019

My dear friends and blog readers!

Some of you will have seen that I recently finished my Lulastic Youtube channel. In the month since that intense decision I have:

Finished one course (which was an overwhelmingly mutually fufilling thing. Gosh. I just loved facilitating this and people got an enormous amount out of it) AND launched my next course. This one is called NEST and is about nurturing an earth-centred spirituality. It’s for all types of people, faiths, upbringings. Anyone who has the sense that their full aliveness rests in the arms of nature (it does!) and is wondering how to go about activating this kinship. Together we uncover a great wealth of treasure in a super practical and creative way. There are a few more days to register (you can join in from ANY time zone) in time for our launch on Sunday. Click here for more on that.

Filmed a documentary with a large film crew for a very popular show. It was an incredible, exhausting and intriguing week. We are curious, a bit nervous and excited to see how it turns out!

Been to Aotea (Great Barrier Island) for a huge adventure with our unschooling friends, where I also delivered a Parent Allies workshop with their Family Support Centre. I *love* delivering these workshops and hope to turn it into an online offering soon. We were stranded for a while, because the waves were so big we couldn’t boat home. But that gave us more time to befriend a wild pig (who became a pet that came back to the mainland with us) and have more campfires on the beach and even a very, very, very off-grid Halloween.

Shut down three climate criminals (momentarily) as part of the Extinction Rebellion Week of Action. We were in Wellington for five days for an incredibly life-affirming time with other earth lovers.

Began work on the family camps we are hosting here on our farm over summer. We have an unschooling one AND one for EVERYONE. It’s called Wild Kin and if you are here in Aotearoa, we would love to see you here! Click here for more on that.

I’ve been enjoying connecting with other people in the space of healing and women and stuff – including connecting in more with Red School and their offerings. They are still recruiting people for their Menopause course where they are guiding women through this intense Rite of Passage, lighting the way for menopause to be a time of power and wisdom, rather than the negative life transition it is usually seen as. Click here for more on that.

And I have been doing lots of dreaming about WHERE NEXT. It might be another Youtube channel, or a podcast… but whatever it is I want it to be a whole hearted expression.

I wanted to check in with you all as it’s been a while! And I think there is a little chance I might begin posting on this blog more often as I have SO MANY THOUGHTS AND IDEAS I WANT TO SHARE. Ha.

Love you all, love your support, love how we are together, in all these different pockets of the world, bringing more life and beauty to this place.

PS – I am always thrilled to bits to receive the financial support of people coming into my Patreon community. I continue to do livestreams and weekly updates for my Patreons. So if this is something you can do, I would be delighted! But of course, I know so many of you support me in other ways in which I am utterly grateful for too. Click here for my Patreon.

Parenting, unschooling

Cool news for Juno! Home Education Application Exemption (for a six year old unschooling)

11 June, 2019

Hi friends!

We received a cool email today letting us know that our home education exemption for Juno has been approved. You might remember that here in NZ you have to fill in a form in order to be exempt from school. It looks like this is a path the UK is close to embarking on too.

I shared Ramona’s application right here. And I wanted to share Juno’s as it is both a good example of an unschooling exemption (for those who want to be totally up front about the style of learning they have at home) but also does put a bit of flesh on the unschooling bones for those who really don’t get it! The bits in bold are the questions they ask.

Tim wrote this one even though it maybe made more sense for me to do it ‘cos I’ve already done one, but, you know, we are committed to absolutely sharing this parenting and home education gig.

Unschooling home education exemption nz

Section 2 As well as:
A) Help us to understand your home education philosophy/approach, and how you will meet the requirement to teach at least as well as a registered school.

Lucy and I are strong believers in the innate ability of our children to learn. We have watched them both develop in their physical movement from a young age. We have witnessed them motivated by their own curiosity develop a deepening understanding of themselves and the world around them. Our educational philosophy seeks to support and help to replicate this in their further learning and development of understanding. We seek to support Juno’s learning urges, asking appropriate questions to fuel her appetite for understanding. We deliberately follow up these learning urges, travelling to geographical places and accessing relevant resources in order for Juno to have the chance to learn in this way.

As Juno embarks on these learning journeys we encourage her to process these new ideas through discussion with us and others, craft, experimentation in expressing the learning through creative mediums, and recording her learning pictorially and when she is able, through literacy, and numeracy.

Creative arts, social interaction, literacy and numeracy in this context are forms of expression of the learning that is going on inside Juno.

The physical environments of Juno’s learning are wide ranging, whether this be in Te Papa, our farm, at the beach, bush, community organisations or far flung places. We endeavour to make these contexts as limitless as we can. This allows Juno to interact with a wide range of places, cultures and learning facilities.

Juno does not have special educational needs that need catering for.

B) What resources do you intend to use and are you delegating any teaching responsibility?

Library and bookshelf: Juno loves exploring the libraries in Paeroa, Waihi and Ngatea. When we travel to other places she loves to visit the libraries there to read books with us and explore the children’s areas. We encourage Juno to find books that are of interest to her, and read them with her at our home.

iPad and laptop: Juno enjoys ipad games especially the series of Toca Boca games which have been specifically created to enhance a child’s creative development. She loves building homes and facilitating the interaction of her characters in these games.

Friends and family members: Juno had developed close relationships with a handful of other significant others who she feels comfortable with. She enjoys going on trips with these people, exploring places and embarking on creative projects with them, such as clay work with the local potter and trips into the city with her grandmother.

Craft box: Juno loves to explore new places, but enjoys the comfort and familiarity of home where she can happily craft away. We have three huge craft boxes filled with beads and threads for bracelet making, wool for finger knitting. Paints, colours, paper. Felt, scissors, glue. A whole load of interesting craft materials left over from experiments and projects.

Local homeschool community: Juno is becoming increasingly interested in learning opportunities presented through the homeschool community in Tauranga. She currently attends a Kapa Haka group there and a Circus performing workshop. We see this an increasingly important element as she feels more comfortable with the children attending and adults facilitating. Juno loves to make cards and already has a clear hand writing to copy out long notes to her friends.

The natural world and tools to explore it: We are right next door to Conservation Land, with a river. We have kayaks and life jackets which Juno loves to use single handedly. She has a pocket knife and loves to whittle some of the beautiful wood we find. She has rope and tools and together we might set a trap or build a new swing.

C) What are your educational goals for the next 12 months of your child’s home education and how will you know if you’ve met them?

Juno is a naturally curious person. She loves to work out carefully how to do something. Often these activities are extremely complex and take patience, resolve and commitment. We want to honour that element of her personality, helping to facilitate these learning experiences, but not pushing her into them. While she feels motivated to learn new things, take on new challenges, make sense of new contexts we will feel that she is progressing healthily. Juno likes to take on something new and master it. We delight in seeing her in this context and encourage her to work in this way.

Juno takes time to warm to people, but when she does she develops deep and real relationships. We work closely with Juno to help her feel comfortable in new contexts, deliberately making ourselves available to her if she feels that she needs support in order for her to feel safe and comfortable. As she settles into a new context we slowly and subtly give her space to practice independence. As long as Juno is growing in her social confidence we will feel that we are judging our involvement correctly.

Juno loves to develop new expressions of creativity. She adores drawing the most intricate patterns and pictures. Juno loves weaving, cutting, painting, building, creating cups out of clay, writing her name and messages to friends, and experimenting with numbers. As long as Juno is enjoying these creative expressions and involving herself in them we will feel as if we are offering her the correct amount of learning opportunities through creative expression.

D) What is your vision, and what are your goals for your child’s long term educational achievement?

Our vision for Juno is to be a internally motivated and self directed joyful learner. She is that already, and our ultimate goal is to propagate that and not puncture it through other’s expectations. We want Juno to love the learning she does, to feel comfortable within the context of that learning. We want her to follow her passions, curiosities and capabilities. We want her to feel empowered to follow whatever learning pathways she needs to in order for her to become the person she is discovering she is.

We want her to feel confident interacting with a wide variety of people, across a wide variety of cultural contexts. To bloom into the limitless learning opportunities the world has to offer, knowing that something new is not something to be feared or threatened by, but rather an opportunity that may present itself.

We want to see Juno relishing being able to express herself and be understood by those around her. To project her understanding powerfully, confidently and accurately, through the arts, literacy and numeracy.

If she wants to go to a tertiary institute, we want her to know that that is a possibility. Equally if she discovers the need to initiate her own creative dance troupe, or likewise, we want her to know that she has the tools and efficacy to do that.

E) Give a detailed description of a special project or topic plan you will do, or describe one you have done in the past.

Juno has developed over the last month a love of weaving friendship bracelets. She is amazingly good at the intricate movement and patterns required to make a beautiful bracelet. Already she has made and given away eight friendship bracelets, representing hours of important motor skills work (and also critical for reading readiness.) Juno has said that she knows what she wants to do when she grows up now: sell friendship bracelets.

Throughout the year we regularly attend life learning camps. One camp particularly offers the kids a chance to sell their creations or offerings in a marketplace. Juno really wants to build up a collection of friendship bracelets to sell at this camp in October. Already she is researching the different price structures that she may employ in the selling of these friendship bracelets by asking friends and family members what they would be willing to pay. This has also lead to an increased interest as we move around the supermarket and op shops noticing prices and discuss value of each item, through this she is gathering basic numeracy skill as well as an understanding of money, cents in the dollar.

Juno will need to source reasonably priced thread to make this price structure work for her, and within the budget of her weekly allowance. We will support her to do this through finding a thread supply online or in local secondhand shops. Juno will need to develop processes that allow her to meet the production levels required of her marketplace stall. Juno will also need to make sure that her product design is desirable to her client base which will through our regular excursions and visits to friends. And when we get closer to October we will support Juno to design her own market stall and packaging, including sign writing and artwork.

SECTION 3 “As regularly as”

A typical week:
Monday: Morning trip down to Tauranga, beginning with Kapa Haka, followed by a meet up with other homeschooling and life learning children at a local park. Spend the afternoon at one of her friend’s house either playing outside or crafting inside. After dinner Juno attends a circus performing class. Drive back home after club.

Tuesday: Crafts morning after breakfast and some Netflix, followed by outside play at our farm. Often Juno will be involved in a project such as gardening – at the moment she is growing a giant pumpkin for a Giant Pumpkin Competition at a local farm. We might make a tree house or construct a waterslide, or more simply go on a bush walk beside the river collecting fascinating rocks, insects and minerals. In the afternoon we will go to studio of a local potter for a few hours and Juno will make some crockery. In the evening Juno helps to cook dinner, regularly chopping all the vegetables.

Wednesday: A bunch of other families turn up at our farm to play and explore together. Juno will often spend a lot of time with one particular friend making things, drawing, making greeting cards, bouncing on the trampoline and playing games. In the afternoon Juno will help me tidy up if she doesn’t end up going off to a friend’s house for the afternoon.

Thursday: Netflix in the morning punctuated with breakfast. If the weather is nice we will head out to a new place to explore. Juno loves exploring the seashore, the intertidal rockpools and deposits at the high tide mark. Often a friend will come along on the trip. more often than not we will discover something that we have never seen before, carrying on the investigation at home later. If the weather is not so nice we will often go to a local library, art gallery or museum. After lunch while we are out it makes sense to visit the op shops and if not before, the library before closing time. Juno loves finding good books and treasures that she can take home and enjoy.

Friday: Today after breakfast we will get crafting together. Out will come the sewing machine, cuttings of various fabrics that we have picked up from around the place, cardboard boxes, glue, paint, flour, food colouring, scissors pens and paper to draw on or fold. Juno has mastered origami shown to her by a family friend, she often settles into folding foxes and roses. If the time is right Juno will spend hours working with intricate designs and patterns. After lunch we might break things up with a play outside or swim. Juno will store her creations in her treasure cupboard.

In the afternoon with a bit of support Juno may bake a cake to share for afternoon tea. These are often very creative and reasonably edible. We trust that over the coming years her enjoyment of cooking will create the perfect environment for learning some of the more complex maths skills such as division and multiplication as she creates and develops recipes. Often on Friday we will finish the day enjoying a family movie together before bed.

Saturday: Another day to explore, this time perhaps with her school attending cousins. She will spend lots of the trip chatting away with them about what they have been up to at school while sharing some of the things that she has been doing not in school. The trip may involve an excursion to a waterfall that someone has heard about or a trip to the hot pools for a soak.

Sunday: At home day today, often people will come to visit. We swim together in the river play in the bush, go rock or insect collecting and then make hamburgers together on the fire before watching the sun go down and first stars appear.

Juno might spend some time finding new music on Spotify, an interest inspired by her big sister’s love of music. They cultivate a growing playlist of a wide variety of music, often asking members of our community for song suggestions and then coming home and looking them up – typing into the search bar the letters as we spell it out.

Throughout each day we are all involved in deep conversations ranging from the activities we are doing to the complex science behind life on earth. We estimate that between activities and one to one conversations Juno is involved in around 8 -12 hours of active learning everyday, including weekends.

~

After we sent this through they responded with two follow up questions:

Education goals – 12 months

You have really good broad goals thank you. You’ve also given me a picture of what Juno likes and is interested in.

In line with your approach I’m now interested to know in terms of the ‘learning area’s’ what Juno can do (skills) /or knows (knowledge) and what her next learning steps might be?

Alternatively, you could give me one or two specific education learning goals for English, Math, Science, Social Sciences i.e. the skills and/or knowledge you’d expect her to have within the next 12 months

Resources

Thank you for the list you have supplied.

As you start your home education journey with Juno, I need to know some more reference materials (named texts/internet websites) that will assist you with her individual learning progression at the level of learning she’s currently at or moving toward.

It will also be helpful for you to tell me a little about the resource and how you intend to use it.

We replied with:

English
To continue to love stories and books. To continue to explore the sounds of letters and consider the sounds different letters make when they are put together.
It would not surprise us at all if Juno is reading basic stories in a few months, such as her enthusiasm for letters, but making that a goal would go against our desire to let Juno progress at her own pace.

Maths

Juno loves and is working hard with counting and adding. We will continue to support her in adding and giving her sums to put together. We have already seen Juno embracing games books containing maths challenges. We will continue to give opportunity for her to feel challenged in this area by moving on to adding double digits when she is ready.

Science

Juno loves to experiment with the different way craft materials can work together to form something else. So she will mix paint with dishwashing liquid and try and blow bubbles and discover the paint is too heavy, but it actually looks quite good when you push paper into it. Our goal is to continue to support Juno’s enthusiastic fascination with experiments and help her make links when appropriate and welcome.

Social Science
We have just spent some time with Juno’s Great Grandad who jumped out of a place as a paratrooper on D-Day and is about to do it again! As a result she has discovered much about World War 2 rooted in her own curiosity. We will continue to help her make links between things happening in every day life and the historical context for it.

Resources

Reference Material:

We have a large bookshelf filled with reference material the girls can access at any time including:
Every Child’s Answer Book
Family Guide to Nature
Reptiles at your Finger tips
How It Works
Human Body Encyclopaedia
Native Birds of New Zealand
Native Trees of New Zealand

But more importantly we visit the library weekly to access reference material in any topic.

Both girls receive Junior National Geographic which is an incredible resource for learning about the natural world and often has games and challenges to interact with. We read them from cover to cover.

We don’t tend to spend an enormous amount of time on screens just now as both girls are big into exploring the outdoor world. However Juno’s favourite apps include:
He aha tēnei – a child friendly app for learning te reo Māori basics
Wordscapes – a word game app that Juno loves to play with
Garage Band – collecting sounds and making music tracks with them
Spotify – Juno has her own playlist and loves to explore new music and curate them
Netflix – we often watch cooking and nature documentaries together, such a good resource.

As she gets older we look forward to introducing her to the many websites that are available to her as a learning resource.

home education new zealand unschooling exemption
~

And today it got approved! Hurray!

Picture here is the shopping list Juno wrote today – just teaching herself how to write in exactly the same way she taught herself to walk and talk, totally self motivated and self directed.

Stay radical x x x

Feminism

The seasons of your menstrual cycle and your sex life

6 March, 2019

Have you ever considered your menstrual cycle as mirroring the seasons in nature a little? Applying this imagery to my monthly cycle has been quite transformative for me.

I first understood it from the wonderful book Wild Power. I now apply it in heaps of practical ways to my life. One massive way it has changed my life has been in my marriage with Tim, particularly in our intimate lives. Gosh yes. I’m talking about sex. Sorry mum.

Here is a little presi…

Winter: Day 1 of your menstrual cycle is the day you bleed. It’s also the beginning of your winter. This is a time of great power and vision, but with great needs too! I like to be as alone as I can be, usually in the forest, able to write and sing and create some dark matter! Menstruation is a bit of a muse for me. I feel quite heightened sexually too.

Spring: I start to come out of my shell, but am still quite vulnerable. I start to feel my libido stirring.

Summer: Here is the middle of the cycle – ovulation. I become a super woman! I can do everything and anything and need to remind myself *not* to take on a looooad more exciting projects! I am creative and sexual, and have the power to direct my energy into my creative work, or the bedroom.

Autumn: For me, autumn, the transition between ovulation and menstruation is the hardest part of my cycle. I am grumpy and sore boobed and really don’t want to meet any one’s needs and definitely DO NO EVER WANT TO HAVE SEX. Ha.

The video below is Tim and I having a chat about how really seeing my menstrual cycle as seasons and then applying that to our marriage and sex life has been utterly transformative. We cover rejection, being enough, libido- ALL THE THINGS! We also talk about how we have implemented some rhythms and rituals to add lots of magic to our, er, night life. Lots of people have watched it with their husbands or partners and have used it as a basis for discussion later.

There are other resources on the Channel Mum site- they were the folk that actually gave me the guts to talk about sex! So do have a look at other mum’s stories here.

And I also have a creative journal I made for $5 and up Patreons. It’s a gentle journey into the seasons of your menstrual cycle, and how to practically and spiritually embrace the power of menstruation. You can become a Patreon here.

So here’s the vid!

PIN FOR LATER:
Menstrual cycle, periods, husbands, sex

Activism

Too weary to change the world? The 4 R’s of Regenerative Resistance

21 February, 2019

I’ve never seen an article spread like wildfire quite as much as Millennials- the burn out generation. There was so much resonance amongst people between the ages of 22 and 38 (the official “millennial generation”) as we all read and said “YES. This is me!” The main thrust of it is that we have been raised as busy folk, to strive to win, and combined with some huge structural influences (such as financial collapse and government changes to student debt) and societal shifts (the pressure we feel being faced with everyone else’s highlight reel on Facebook and Instagram) we feel a need to be constantly working, leaving us perched right on the edge of breakdown. We bring this burn out vibe to everything; our careers, our home life and our activism.

Since committing wholeheartedly to Extinction Rebellion I’ve been reflecting on how much more sustainable activism needs to become. This is partly because this is one of the features of Extinction Rebellion; they actively promote regenerative culture in their forums and strategy. But also because of the people I’ve met through it.  I was at a roadblock on Monday with 40 people and every single new person I met there told me it was their first action! And then, when I’ve invited my old-skool activist mates to get involved they’ve told me they can’t because they are too exhausted from years of non-stop action. How can we make sure all these freshly-minted activists don’t end up like the second group?
The 4 R's of Regenerative Resistance

The four Rs of Regenerative Resistance:

Relish

Do the activism that floats your boat. Don’t lock on and chant if the thought of it locks you up with dread. I know, I know, as an organiser that is scary even to TYPE! We worry that we won’t have enough people doing all the different things required. That everyone will just want to make the cups of tea and no one will want to be arrested.*

My friend went to an Empowered Activism workshop last week with a hundred other people. They had a long rainbow coloured piece of fabric and each colour represented something different – media, direct action, creative acts, communicating etc etc The facilitator asked everyone to take a moment to really feel what they were drawn to, and then to go and stand in that colour. My friend said that once everyone in place there was a palpable sense of awe in the room. Every colour in the rainbow was populated by people fizzing with energy. There were no areas less appealing. Each of our unique loves and quirks and gifts will be perfect for something, so let’s do the stuff we are drawn to.

Some social change theorists have suggested that there is no evidence that certain protests impact policy changes more than others. Some of history seems to suggest that revolutions take off according to uncontrollable features such as food price hikes.  On one hand, perhaps this theory can be taken with a pinch of salt because often we’re not actually calling for revolution in our action. Often we are calling for a policy change (even though what we really want IS revolution, amiright) and the social sciences show us that there have been direct impacts from protests on policy – ie, the civil rights movement, same sex marriage laws.

Now, this IS complicated, there are a lot of unknowns in this. But I’ve come to believe that any successful action is almost always accompanied by Other Stuff. Shifts in public consciousness, economic collapse, uprising occurring in other countries, the right person at the right time. It’s rarely *only* the action. I raise this slightly messy thought in order to point out the problem with spending much of our time doing things we don’t actually like. If our activism is based on stuff that drains us, and then it doesn’t work because it’s not the right moment in history, then all we have is a bunch of weary, jaded folk and no change. Ugh. Nightmare. Common, common nightmare.

However, if our activism is an expression of one of our gifts, or if it builds up our communities, and gives us chance to meet our neighbours and have fun with our friends and dance and sing and makes us feel alive, and then it ends up not being the right moment in history, there is absolutely nothing lost. Even with a failed action, we’ve ended up as winners.

The 4 r's of regenerative activism

For me, part of the whole purpose of life is to connect with others and to connect with the earth. Activism is one of the many ways that I do this. If our world changes horrendously in coming decades, if it falls apart in war and hunger, as it is currently on the trajectory to do, really the only thing that will matter is the strength of our relationships and the resilience of our communities. The vibrancy of our love.

I invite you to really sense what parts of activism bring you alive. If it’s the face to face stuff – perhaps you could be the person that goes to the markets to tell people about your cause. If you love engineering, invent some new ways to get people locked on to machinery and gates.  If it’s writing – could you do the press releases? If you are an artist, turn your basement into a banner workshop and screenprint the shiz out of the movement.

And I invite you to bring joy and fun to the weekly grind of your activism. Because there are planing meetings and strategy documents that have to happen. But you can you eat together beforehand? Can you have music and room for laughter? I invite you to look at your actions and ask “is there space here for MORE connectivity and MORE joy?” If you are doing a hardcore or somber action, book in an after-party so you can debrief and release the intensity of that.

A quick note about direct action. Make sure fear isn’t coming into play in a bad way. Getting arrested for trespass or obstruction (the usuals) doesn’t stop you travelling, in fact it impacts your life very little. A court date, a fine that the movement will help you pay, a bit of paperwork. I do sometimes wonder if the way we are raised to obey and comply and respect authority blocks us from being open to non violent direct action. Just for a moment imagine setting fear aside and joining the ranks of history makers who have been arrested. Exciting, no? 

If we were more strategic, we’d burn out less.

I can almost hear the voices crying “of course you’re burning out if you’re okay with just doing community building and having fun! If you worked smarter you’d be more efficient and wouldn’t burn out!” Well, yes and no. We should absolutely employ all the tools out there. This great website has all sorts such as how to do a SWOT analysis which we use alot. We should do all that pre-work, yes, yes, yes. But also, sometimes it’s important just to turn up, not even knowing what to do. Simply to bear witness.

four rs of regenerative activism

And if we feel like the success of our action depends solely on our watertight strategy, we’re getting into sketchy territory, where we feel unable to Rest and Rely on the other forces at work.

Rest

“If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit” says Banksy who has done a good share of righteous trouble making in his time.

Sleeping, relaxing, reading, zoning out to music, hiking, … these are all rejuvenating, restful activities. But we are so constantly plugged in (to our phones, our ambitions, our jobs) that it feels like truly resting is somewhat of a forgotten art.

We went to a Mumford and Sons gig the other week. Tim and I stood there, peering up at the stage, the only still ones in a sea of activity. All around us the other punters were texting their mates, trying to capture the best angle for Instagram, running back and forth trying to find other friends to get in this particular selfie. Everyone was bustling about, right in the midst of this moment of leisure.

One of the features of regenerative activism is relaxing into rest on a regular basis. Here’s this from an overview on rest and sustainability

“A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.”

One of the things I found particularly interesting was the research showing that there is a strong link between having more holidays and not leaving a company! It seems clear that things like regular breaks, fully unplugged days each week, and a holiday allows us to be far more sustainable.

Micro-rests
Last week I enjoyed a podcast with Srini Pillay, author of Tinker Dabble Doodle Try about the power of the unconscious mind. It was all interesting but the bit that struck me is that every single day we check out for chunks of time. We all do. In order to try and get some balance our brains take us into an unfocused zone fairly regularly all day. Studies seem to show that one of the human beings design functions is to have a period of renewal every 90 minutes. If we just unintentionally let that happen then our minds will fill up with worries or to do lists or absolutely random stuff like what exactly was in that sauce on that pasta at Maria’s pot luck dinner? Was it, like, olives or those other weird little things that are like olives but kinda more fancy… tiny sour olive type things that telly chefs are always tossing in dishes… blimey what are they! Google is giving me nothing! Gah. I’ll text Maria. Or we use it to scroll through social media. (Or we override it with sugar or caffeine.)

Now, on one hand, that’s fine. But it’s not actually restorative. Our brains are checking us out from one thing, but we check in to another, unintentional act of busyness.

Pillay argues that we should schedule these check outs. Not just for efficiency’s sake, but to make sure we give our brains a chance to truly rest and play. So, once an hour, go for a walk or do some doodling. Lay down once or twice a day for a daydream or some breathing or a guided meditation. Don’t let your brain’s automatic rest function be sabotaged by your busy, busy mind!

I invite you to remember the art of rest. I invite you to carve out time for micro-breaks, protect our unplugged days, book in a holiday and remind the other activists in our groups about the importance of rest so we can create new cultures that make room for renewal.

I invite you to reject the idea that the success of our activism is directly related to busy-ness. There will be intense moments of activity, yes, but your path to a successful action should not be filled with little gremlins whining at you to keep checking how many people have signed up, or whispering that you are not doing enough. And if it’s accompanied by a palpitating heart and a sense of paralysing overwhelm, it’s possibly time to take a rest.

The 4 R's of regenerative activism

Rely

Rely on others. Trust in their work, trust in the possibility of a spiritual awakening, trust that all the time, every second of the day the movement towards love and justice is absolutely throbbing with growth.

Joanna Macy and the other thinkers and doers of the Deep Ecology sphere have so much to offer us as we seek to activate more trust in our activism.

This diagram of Joanna’s shows the three parts that will make up the revolution we are seeking. There are Holding Actions – this is the activism that leads to policy change; shifts in law that lift oppression and create justice in small ways incrementally.

Then there are Structural Changes – which is used to describe the creation of new ways of working, for example, farming methods that honour the earth, or communication principles such as NVC. Under this heading comes permaculture and unschooling, holacracy and socioacrocy and communal housing and transition towns and all the other radical ways of being. These are quietly blooming and offer us the structures we will require in the future.

And then: Shifts in Consciousness – this is where people step into new understandings of themselves and the earth. Bothboth poets and scientists can helps us doe that. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports have done this for a lot of people I believe- allowing people to take the blinkers from their eyes. And then I’m sure the poems of Maya Angelou and Rumi and Kate Tempest have done this too- sparked a transformation in people’s hearts. It’s also where mysterious shizzle goes down. Psychedelics and meditation and yoga and dance and hiking and surfing and the random kindness of strangers can all give us the insight we need everyone human on earth to have: that we are one, that love is the only thing that matters.
four R's of regenerative activism

Now, I used to be a full time activist. It was my actual job, AND my hobby. A proper activist geek. Then a couple of years after we had kids I left that job and we moved to New Zealand to live off grid, to try and have as little impact on the earth’s resources as we could. For five years we ticked along, and then at the end of last year the IPCC report woke me as if from a long slumber. HOLY HECK. I began scrabbling about, kicking myself for not campaigning night and day on climate change for half a decade. I joined Extinction Rebellion, devoting a day week to getting it off the ground here in Aotearoa.

But hearing Joanna Macy describe the three things that are imperative to the transformation of society gave me pause. I realised that I *had* been doing the important work all along. The way I raise my children with empathy, the way we give them freedom over their learning with unschooling, the way we live gently on solar power, our rejection of toxic beauty and cleaning products, all of these small things are a part of it. An intrinsic part. Somehow, faced with extinction and the panic that took hold of me, I’d lost the thread I’ve held since Ramona was a baby- that parenting can be a great source of world change. 

We don’t have to see all the work that is not strictly protest as a waste of time. We don’t have to shake everyone and say “GET ON THE STREETS RIGHT NOW.” We can trust that people being them good selves is also important.

Of course, I do still implore people to get on the streets! I am a communicator and an activist so where my work intersects is to invite people, without judgement or demand, to join me in protest! But I have a lot more of a sense of joy and freedom in this, rather than overwroughtness that we aren’t doing enough.

And I also kind of think it’s possible that if activists had less of a bad rap (as burnt out, angry, judgementalists) and we moved about with more trust in humankind, more celebration of all the different ways peace and justice is being nurtured, with more joy and creativity and freedom, more people would be discover the activist inside them. More people would discover that activism could bring them alive too.

Ritualise

This one was hard to name. And it might be hard to express. Let me try!

It’s about seeing our activism afresh – less an arduous “gotta save the damn world” activity and more an expression of our identity as part of the earth and the one-ness of humankind- and then having markers that remind us of this.

For a while my favourite quote was “Activism is the price I pay for living on on this planet.” A bit of it still resonates with me, for sure. (*ahem* burn out generation) These days I have a different view. These days I see activism as an almost spiritual act. It’s an expression of who I am, as much as dancing or writing or singing might be.

John Seed, one of the original protesters who occupied the rainforest to stop them from being chopped down, said that a transformation occurred the longer he sat there, locked on to a tree. He moved from being John Seed protecting the rainforest to the “rainforest protecting itself.”

Many years ago we were in a remote country, stealthily going to investigate some exploitative industry happening in an area of ecological importance. As I walked through the rainforest I was at a loss. We were walking hours, yet what could we do once we got there? We had no plan. But as I walked, I felt the answer come to me, imprinted on the soles of my feet, as if from the soil. It was simply “You’ll know what to do.”

So we get there, and for some reason the drilling rig workers leave. I walk up to the rig, and the door is open, and the keys are in the ignition. So I reach in and take them and on the way home toss them away. It was all so matter-of-fact. Like the rainforest just found a way through me to eat up those keys for a bit of reprieve.

My hope is that we can all experience something like this. To truly understand that we are not simply earth-dwellers, but we are the earth itself. One of the organisms that makes up this living breathing planet as much as a forest or the coral is. Activism can bring us this realisation.

So now I choose to mark my activism in this way. I bring prayers of thanks, I might light a candle, I’ll certainly sing a song. These are reminders to me that activism is a sacred act and that it doesn’t all rest on my shoulders.

Starhawk, writer and activist of some forty years, tells a story in her book The Twelve Wild Swans, about being involved in the anti-globalisation protests of the 90s. She’s describing sitting in jail for five days after being arrested at the World Trade Organisation blockades in Seattle with a bunch of the other protestors “Lucy, a trainer and organiser who at 31 was an “old lady” in the group, remarked  that the average life span of an activist was 3 years. So why was I there, at forty-eight, a little fat and creaky from sitting on concrete floors and mixing it up with the cops? Because for the more than thirty years I’ve been active politically, I’ve had rituals to sustain me, close friend to support me and participate with me, and a deep personal connection to the great powers of love and freedom that inspire us to work for change.”

How many burnt out activists does it take to change a light bulb?

Well, none, because they can’t change anything.

Let’s stop doing this burn-out thing, huh? Let’s work together, play together, rest together in joy and in trust. And then we’ll be on the streets together in forty years time. Little grannies and grandpas locked on, chanting, knowing we’ve done all we can for the dream of a more just and beautiful world.

~

PS- If you have found my writing helpful, do hop on over to my Patreon and see if you’d like to become a supporter!

PPS- Video on what to do with the grief we feel about the climate.

Video from the back of a cop car the last time I was arrested