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Bleeding like a mofo

19 July, 2017

I was a full 33 years old before I began recording my moon cycle. I didn’t come to it from even a vague sense of what was going on. I started with an almost total dearth of knowledge. I was 14 when I first went on the Pill for acne. I stayed on it for five years, took a small break (long enough to feel like I was doing the hard yards with painful, angry bleeds) then went on the mini pill for a further three years. I would munch my pills every day, gleefully skipping bleeds, sticking my finger up at the rage and pain that used to blaze each month, and not associating my general malaise or low libido with the pill.

Then we decided to get pregnant. Mid twenties and I discovered a thing called ovulation. I remember calling a friend and being like “Do you know you can actually only get pregnant for a few days a month?!” I’m embarrassed now by how much of a revelation it was. It didn’t really help with getting pregnant though; it was either my Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome or the years on the Pill that stretched our trying-to-conceive phase to a tearful, shame filled three years.

So, pregnant, then breastfeeding, then pregnant and breastfeeding again and I was 32 before I had another full cycle. This time I was more in to my body; curious about it, especially about the mysterious and ridiculously awesome parts of it. I began applying the same understanding to menstruation as I had to other parts of my body. This understanding being that the body is, by and large, quite good at doing what it does. If it does something, it is probably for a reason, I should find out what the reason is! This logic has ended up making me a big advocate of the shampoo-free movement– I’d set out to discover why our bodies produce so much sebum, and why we get locked into shampooing everyday. And I’d learnt that our bodies can thrive without shampoo if we are willing to work with our body’s natural processes.

I began to wonder about periods, about hormones. About my moods and body aches. My periods had come back with a vengeance and they propelled me into the herbalist for a tincture to soften the blows of PMS and into the library to read everything I could about women and bleeding!

Eventually this bought me to the work of The Red School in the UK, set up by Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer and Alexandra Pope and in particular their recent book Wild Power.

Wild Power is an invitation to every woman to look anew at menstruation. To record their cycle, to observe their feelings and to begin to work with the menstruation seasons. Reading Wild Power was like the culmination of this last year’s menstruation journey and I am now I am able to embrace each element of my cycle, I find myself looking forward to the parts that used to be hard, because actually I know that when impatience and intolerance gurgles in my belly, my mind is at its most lucid and my soul is getting ready to enter this state of weird, visionary power.

I used to hate my menstrual cycle. I know hate is a strong word, but I mean it. I really mean it. And now I feel sad that I might only have ten to fifteen years left of it.

These days I plot my own cycle to the cycles of the moon, as women for hundreds of centuries have. When the moon disappears and then comes as a sliver I know I’m about to bleed hard, or enter a state where I am getting great insight from daydreams. This sense of living under the moonbeams is a cool glass of water to me; I never really knew I needed it until I realise how refreshed I am through it.Wild Power Book Giveaway  Lulastic

Wild Power is a mystical book, and I hope that that isn’t a barrier for people. Alongside the expansive, spiritual descriptions of the two vias of the menstrual cycle, and the four seasons, and the five chambers, it also has heaps of frank disclosures from women about their cycles. It is a beautiful thing to read about another woman’s insomnia fuelled by worrying about injustice, war, the Jungle in Calais; I have a similarly themed sleepless night that visits me every month at the same time.

I wish every young girl could get a copy of Wild Power. It’s an antidote to the bloodhate and a lifeline in a patriarchy.

GET YOUR HANDS ON THIS BOOK!
You can get it here at the Book Depository (affiliate link) but I also have a copy to giveaway to someone- come on over to this Facebook post to see how to enter.

Would love to hear your own stories of menstruation. We need to talk about it more, to take all the shame away and bring us more understanding. xxx

Feminism

Seven Ways to Bleed Well (and why honouring your moontime isn’t just for hippies)

30 March, 2017

I got my period the very day we moved from our home in London to the South Coast. I was 13.  Our new loo’s door had that old slippery paint that you could peel off in satisfying strips. As I sat there feeling proud of the stain in my knickers I tore off a cream strip on the back of the door that over many toilet trips would evolve into a child sized dinosaur shaped absence of paint.  There was a bumper pack of industrial sized sanitary towels floating around, looking for its own spot in our new home, so I helped myself, a bubble in my lungs. It was happening to me! To me!  We hadn’t unpacked all the pots and pans and plates so we went to the beach and had fish and chips from Harry Ramsdens. I can lucidly recall splashing the vinegar over my chips, a smile on my face about my secret, but I can’t remember telling my mum, or my Aunty, or my sister, who were there with me, or what it was like to tell them.

Recently at a gathering for another young women who had had her first bleed we shared our stories of beginning to menstruate. I couldn’t believe how many people’s first bleeding happened on significant day – a big move, first day of high school, a huge accident. It seemed startling to me – why don’t we know more about this?

And I guess it’s because we don’t talk about bleeding. We don’t share info about our cycles. We still live under the shame and female disempowerment that began in the dark ages.

~

There are a few things I want to write about, but actually sit on for AGES because I can’t bear how perfectly they fit into the “stereotypical hippy” model.  This is one of those. But I have sucked it up and written it anyway because whilst on the surface this just might just seem like more hippy shizzle, this is actually something that is crucial for womanhood.

I truly believe that our menstrual cycles are a feminist issue. There is so much shame around our bleeding and such a humoungous lack of knowledge. There has been a systematic dismantling of women’s knowledge of their bodies for many centuries. We’ve progressed in so many areas in recent years but our bleeding has remained in a dark, dusty corner – talk of our moon cycles seems to evoke cries of “wiiiiiitch”…

I think we are all ready to move out of that oppressive stage.

I also want to acknowledge those women who don’t have wombs or who don’t bleed, who don’t experience a menstrual cycle. I want to be sensitive to you. And I want to honour the bodies that bleed. If you can be a part of this conversation, I welcome you totally. I don’t think it’s very easy, in fact, it’s tricky, it’s messy, we are (certainly I am) figuring much of this out through this exact kind of conversation.

honouring your moontime

Here are 7 ways to bleed well:

1 -Chart

I have only just started charting (using Moon Dreams Diary which is kinda meant for younger women but I am finding awesome!) but am already able to associate things I feel with my menstrual cycle. For example, I am sure I get cramping when I ovulate. Much of the medical profession deny this is possible but I know soooooo many women now who experience this.

I can also pre-empt my rage days, try my hardest to get some time to de-rage/ give expression and validation to all the things I’m feeling. I am learning that these hormonal mood swings are not inherently bad, but that within them there is a power that is often dormant or even medicated. (My mood swings were “solved” by a decade on the pill – something I now wouldn’t recommend ever. See video below)

2- Meet your needs

The cool thing is, as you chart you will discover more about what you need. You will find that on days 15-17 (or whatever) you need to have a lot of reflecting time. You’ll know that a couple of days before you bleed you get an intense aching back that is only received with walking, so you mark out time for big walks. For people with really regular cycles, you’ll even be able to book family and friends in to help you out on days where you need time to vent alone. The more you understand your body you will be able to respond to it and make room for your needs.

3- Add ritual to your moon cycle
I’m trying to build more ritual into my cycle, this is about creating a new mindset around mensturation, to make room in our lives for it, to honour the role it plays.

In my early twenties (before I knew about any of this stuff) I used to buy myself cold red grape juice and go somewhere beautiful to drink it and celebrate my body. I used to have so much pain with bleeding that I felt I needed to remind myself why I bleed and to try and see the good in it. Whilst I didn’t have a complete picture back then, it makes me smile to know that on some level I understood that I needed to be kind to myself.

Something I try and do each time is saving my blood, I have a moon cup so it is really easy to do this, and making it into a nutritious tea for my flowers. I love the symbolism and this ritual, seeing your flowers bloom as a result of your menstruation, is such a beautiful one.

I also do specific moon cycle journal sessions – lighting a candle and answering different questions. When I’m ovulating, I feel excited and ambitious so I like to dream and plan. When I’m bleeding I like to turn inward and let stuff out that needs to make an appearance.

There’s lots of things you could do to add ritual to your cycle:

  • Have an ovulation playlist and a bleeding playlist
  • Have specific moon cycle sketching/ doodling/ painting sessions
  • Have clothes that you wear that make you feel good or comfy according to your phase
  • Have particular teas that you drink at different times
  • Have walks or activities that you always do in your different phases

These rituals add comfort and place value on the different phases of our cycles.

4- Consider a moon circle

One year ago my friend and I invited some neighbours and some friends and even a couple of people we didn’t know well but wanted to know well, to form a moon circle.

This is the email I sent out to invite them, just to show how loose we were at the start, ha

“Just a quick one to see if you would be interested in coming along to a women’s moon circle we are hoping to start? The first one will decide what sort of thing it will be, but at this stage probably something along the lines of sharing our stories/joys/hurts around a campfire. Might you be interested?”

I was afraid of cultural appropriation until I realised that almost every culture in the land has a culture of women gathering like this deep in their history. If moon circles are going to draw activities or ritual from the wealth of indigenous culture we must acknowledge and honour those traditions in our circles.

Our circle happens every new moon, as that is when women whose bodies are moon-synced bleed, and over the year we have grown in our understanding of moon circles and have deepened our relationship with each other. We have mothers and women without children and older women and younger women. Hippies and non hippies! I now see this little sisterhood as being such an important thread to my life and wellbeing.

There’s a few things to note:

  • The main role of our moon circle is to connect with each other and have a space to be honest with your feelings, to vent if necessary.  We pass around a sharing stone and the person that is holding it shares what’s on their mind/ heart. Sometimes one thing good, one thing bad. Sometimes it is freestyle. It can be heavy/ light. But no one else responds with words. We just are present to what ever each other wants to share.
  • The secondary role is to provide a chance to be deeply present and experience some form of transecendence. We are totally experimental. We have massaged each others hands. Meditated. Yoga’d. Danced.  Sung. We hold a sound circle when we all make sounds, sometimes harmonious and other times not! I love the sound circle the most as it is a true lesson in just letting stuff out, not being fearful of how it sounds, making yourself quite vulnerable in front of others and simply trusting yourself.
  • The space REALLY needs to be held. We often open with a silent walk to our forest circle to reflect on what we are feeling, holding in our bodies as we gather. We light candles and herbs to mark out this space as sacred. We remind people that the sharing circle is a place for people to share what they want to share and not for getting advice. We want people to feel safe and open. We ask people if they want to be involved in any other activities.
  • We are always trying thing and open to new ideas that different people want to bring. I often feel full up with goodness after and feel like every woman could do with a sisterhood like this!

5- Create transitional rituals as you/ your friends move through different life cycles

One of the things we are planning on doing with our moon circle is honouring the different life stages of menstruation. We would like to spend some time on a ceremony for those entering menopause, or on retrospective menarche (when you first ever bleed) ceremony.  I have been to a few of these gatherings – every one so different from each other. But it is a chance for the woman to mark the transition from one stage to another with her community. There might be candles lit. People might bring a poem. There might be singing or some rituals or art or something made together. There might be the ritualised walking from one area to another, the arrival at a new place, a new phase of life.

Whilst there are ancient precedents, rituals held by different cultures, I believe that marking these transitions has always been done and as a community of sisters you can create them. If you do have an incredible woman already doing this kind of thing, or a local hippy or doula or something, do ask for their support too!

6- Do a bit of menstrual activism.

It’s a thing! I first came across this four years ago when we stayed at an off grid community in the south of Spain (read all about that in the post, The Hippy That Laid a Golden Poo- you can see now how formative that whole experience was for our family’s life!!)  People are out there trying to take the shame away from bleeding, trying to help people tap into their moon cycles, and, really importantly, getting sustainable forms of blood products (I really hate the term “feminine hygiene products!!!!”) to women who can’t afford it. Things like cloth pads and moon cups which last for a really really really long time.

A great example is the Ruby Cup – when you get yours someone who can’t afford one gets a freebie. But also, everytime you talk about menstruation, everytime you break some of those taboos, you are a part of this movement. I am proud to be working with Ruby cup to give you that affiliate link.  Read up on some of the great work being done.

7-  Read all the books!
If this has ticked your fancy there are a couple of books to get you started:

Her Blood is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation
and
Moon Time: Harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle

(My affiliate links for Book Depository – why go Amazon when you can go with someone that pays the right taxes?!)

And here is my latest video – talking about the Pill, our bodies, moon cups and more!!!

Want to be a part of this taboo breaking conversation? When did you get your period? Do you do any of the above? Do you think you might try a new one? Would love top hear from you!

Feminism

10 Everyday Acts of Feminism

8 March, 2017

It is International Women’s Day 2017!

Like other years, today I am hosting an IWD blog link up. I love reading about the inspiring women in your lives or the ways you strive for gender equality. Please head to the bottom of this post to add your link. Remember to visit the other writers!

Here is my own contribution for IWD 2017 – 10 Everyday Acts of Feminism
10 EVERYDAY ACTS OF FEMINISM10 everyday acts of feminism

The last thing women need is a list of stuff THEY need to do to right the world. More unpaid labour, THANKS LUCY. Some of this might inspire you, and I hope it does. But I didn’t write this list so you felt you have to do more work. I write this in the hope that you might pass this on to the men in your life too. Not because we need rescuing but because gender inequality is a shared burden and we all need to fight to make the world more fair.

1- Get your head around the terms “privilege” and “intersectionality” I say this as someone in the process of getting to grips with these terms! It is a long, hard journey. This is no Woe Is Me moment, don’t get me wrong, but it a tiring journey dismantling some of the framework in my mind. I grew up pretty poor, so still carry that blueprint around – this makes it hard to be told about my privilege. But the truth is – as a white person, I have no idea how hard it is to live in an extremely racist world. Over this last year I have been confronted and triggered and now want to be the kind of feminist who knows I can’t speak for all women. I don’t think I’ll be able to edit out all my privilege – even this post includes stuff that involves privilege (I realise that not all women will be able to cause mischief in a shop, for example) – but recognising white privilege is an important first step. Here is a little intro – 7 things women of colour want white feminists to know.

2- You don’t have to be the voice for the voiceless – just pass the mic. My mission this year is to promote the writing of women who aren’t like me. Do you live or work in an arena where you can pass the mic? Do you organise conferences or events? Do you curate stuff? Make a deliberate effort to get a variety of women’s voices heard.

3- Dive into the art of women. Read books by women. Buy paintings by women. Go to shows by women. There is huge discrimination in these fields – apparent at award ceremonies and stats for exhibitions. When we support female artists and writers we rebalance the scales. Check out these 59 novels by female authors put together by Sacraparental.

4- Support the work of women in industry. Women who are pioneering with their presence in certain industries talk of being discriminated against because of male bias. If you know a female mechanic, take your car to her. Get a female crew to paint your house. A female sparky or take your tech business to a woman. Help women get better footholds in industries that are hard to be a woman in.

5- Look for and celebrate every body shape. I recently saw the documentary EMBRACE. It is a great film, if you can get to a screening, or host a screening, please do it. My one big takeaway was how I need to LOOK for different body shapes and skin colours in order to celebrate the full diversity of womanhood. No one is going to hand me this on a platter, no one is going to normalise diversity apart from us. (Normalising diversity?? It sounds like a misnomer, an impossibility but I beleive in us!) I loved this photo celebration of fat love. Simply letting our eyeballs rest on this stuff can reset our own minds towards diversity in body shape.

6- Curate your children’s books and media. I am generally pretty wide open when it comes to loving what my kids love and going with the flow. But there is a BIG problem in the world of kids books – they are dominated by male characters and when females do feature they are princesses. Love what your children love, celebrate all their joys, of course, but also ask them questions. “Why are the three little pigs AND the big bad wolf all boys??” and take the opportunity to fill their bookshelves, and your local library bookshelves, with strong, powerful female characters. (When Ramona was really little I actually used to cut and paste parts of the fairy tales to make them less sexist!)

7- Don’t laugh at sexist, ableist or racist jokes. It’s awkward when you don’t laugh, but what is a little akwardness when you are trying to change the world? I once went to a comedy show and their was some awful homopohobia in there. I told the comedian afterwards that he crossed a line and it was pretty awks but I thought “phew, at least I will never see him again!” A few weeks later a friend bought him over to meet us, she didn’t know we’d already met in the smoky aftermath of his homophobia. OMG. A great way to up the pain is to always follow up their joke by asking “What do you mean?” – hopefully the discomfort of having to explain their prejudism will open their eyes.

8- Make a noise about the little things. When you go to the shop and you see ridiculous gendered messages on the kids clothing, re-arrange it all and then share your work on Facebook. Make a fuss. It might seem like a chore but I swear this kind of mischief is fun!

9- I’m going to take that mischief to the next level now: Walk around with a marker pen. When you see a painfully stereotyped advert, scribble on it. It feels SO GOOD. I have done this a few times in my life, but don’t often admit to it as I’m sure it is a bit illegal. One time I wrote “The 1950’s called and they want their sexist stereotypes back” on an advert on the train. (See vandalism for my daughter’s sake.) This might seem a bit frivolous but this kind of micro civil disobedience was present in the suffragette movement and the civil rights movement.

10- Talk about emotional labour. Let’s get that phrase “emotional labour” in everyone’s minds. It is the mental burden that often falls to women. The oil on mechanism of life that should be everybody’s job but largely falls to the woman in the household. The dental appointments for the kids, the birthday cards for extended family, the hummous for the dinner party, the Christmas plans, the World Book Day costume sourced. Have a read of this for some good examples and thoughts on emotional labour. Send it to the adults in your household. Even the right-on feminist dads. Could you have a frank discussion about this? I feel like it is a MASSIVELY important thing, because it is an insidious sexism that will only get addressed through hard conversation.

Would absolutely LOVE to hear about your every day little acts of subversion. Please tell me in the comments!

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY BLOG LINK UP
Here is the 2017 International Women’s Day Blog Link Up – Please add your link AND go around and visit the other writers and comment. The best part of this every year is meeting other women who want to change the world. You might need to use something like bit.ly to shorten your links as my tool below has a problem with long URLS!

Feminism

In a sexist world, commenting on gender differences you notice is NOT HELPING

28 July, 2016

There’s something strange in the neighbourhood. It’s a resurgence in the belief that boys and girls are innately different. It has crept into modern parenting lore and it is driving me round the bend.

In the last few months I have had at least 8 different conversations with parents along the lines of “Ooh! You are so lucky to have little girls and not rambunctious boys!” – one of these conversations moments after we’d ducked away from a small tribe of girls covered from head to toe in mud intent on slinging it at everyone around them.

How has this happened? In 2016? With all the science and things?

I wonder if it hitched a ride on the tails of “natural parenting.” Perhaps the commitment to allowing children to bloom into whomever they are and the desire for mamas to be in touch with their own ancient feminine powers got all jumbled up together and out popped “Boys and girls are innately different!”

I’ve heard so many variants on it, many from parents with children of both genders. And it is tricky to have that conversation with a mama who swears she never believed in gender stereotypes until she saw proof in her own children.

When I do address it, it’s all rolled eyes and knowing chuckles. Like I’ve a bee in my bonnet and I am denying something blatantly obvious.

This is what I want to say to all the mamas out there who say this shit.

SOME FACTS:

(Taken from Pink Brain, Blue Brain, a huge book by Lise Eliot but worth the read if you are interested in this stuff. That link hooks you up with a summary.)

  • The actual differences in the brains of boys and girls are minor. MINOR.
  • We treat boys and girls differently the second they are born. YES- EVEN YOU DO THIS. In gender-disguising experiments we describe boys and girls cries differently, and we judge babies crawling abilities differently. (Unconsciously underestimating girls’ physical scope.) We all do. It’s just disturbing residue of a sexist world.
  • Gender stereotypes are intrinsically woven through our entire society. You have not bought up your differently gendered children exactly the same, despite your best efforts. They have picked up from strangers, teachers, books, movies, shops, everywhere, the fact that boys behave a certain way and girls another. Not only this, but there are certain rewards for sticking to that or disincentives for stepping out of it.
  • Throughout childhood the minor differences observed in play grow distinct distinct because of all the things they have picked up.
  • However, this is not always the case. So you still very much have boys and girls not performing according to these norms. (I think unschooled children can be a good example of this.)
  • In places where gendered roles and experiences are not highly valued the differences in adults are MINUTE. I often think of a bit in Ten Years of Slavery where it mentions as an aside how one of the most efficient group of loggers was a group of women. It stuck out for me because we go on and on about the physical differences between male and female, and there you have this female logging team being renowned for their strength and tenacity. (Kind of a sad example, but a good one as there are not too many examples of societies with records where gender hasn’t been a highly prescriptive thing.)In a misogynistic world, observations about children's gender differences are not helpful

So, if you have noticed gender differences in your children, PLEASE KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF. Here’s why:

  • Commenting on gender differences perpetuates gender differences. Every time you say “boys are boisterous and girls aren’t” boys learn to be more boisterous and girls learn it isn’t really a desirable trait. Your words actually add more strength to the little boxes that boys and girls are slowly pushed into.
  • Commenting on gender differences makes the boys and girls who don’t fit those stereotypes feel stink. It makes them feel abnormal and it asks them to squeeze into a shape they are not feeling.
  • Commenting on gender differences from your experience and treating it as fact is not a good way to live. Saying “I was against gender stereotypes until I had one of each and then WOW the differences I observed, you just can’t deny it boys and girls are SO different!!!” is like saying “I ate some custard and it gave me the runs so WOW don’t eat custard if you want solid stools!”
  • Commenting on gender differences sets up our children for exclusionary play. If you are so convinced that boys and girls are innately different then your children will pick up on that and will be far, far more likely to want gendered playdates and experiences and the exclusive, gender based discrimination women have to put up with their whole life is begun prematurely.
  • Some of the most traditional form of gender commentating is actually totally toxic – the “boys will be boys” line of thought could well be contributing to rape culture. More on that.
  • Commenting on gender differences without recognising the misogynistic, sexist, patriarchal society your children are raised within is akin to watching someone put red dye in your washing machine and then, when all your clothes come out red, saying that all fabric is innately red.

Sure, you are allowed to comment on your child being rough and tumble – just don’t bring gender into it. Create room for your child’s boisterousness but don’t, with your hapless words, deny him room for other parts of his personality to develop. Notice how different children are and say “Isn’t each child (as opposed to boys/ girls) so different and unique?!” Celebrate your child’s strength and sense of adventure but recognise it as part of who he is, not a gift of his gender. Do not limit the scope of another child’s play or experience by skewed observations you have made in your home.

Phew! There was my bee! It’s out of my bonnet now…

Activism

A mindful post-Brexit strategy

27 June, 2016

What a few days. I have often felt tearful after an election. I feel like I am always backing the losers. I should be used to this stomach churning powerlessness. But it’s never been this intense. There has always been the distant hope of another chance, in four years time. There’s always been a story of a climate change fighting underdog winning an electorate, to balance out the UKIP success.

I’ve never seen such a blanket of despair settle over my friends. I had to sign out of Facebook as the collective raging misery was not a comfort but a sinkhole.

People are joking about moving out here but the political situation in NZ is also bereft. (NZ is becoming scarily, increasingly right wing, media is 100% owned, there is a gaping lack of coherent criticism of government, and progressives are opting out of the system.) 

How to navigate the post-Brexit world mindfully? What are the important things people who care can do now?


Self-Care

Look after yourself friends; you are precious. You are precious to the world, to your family, and your friends. You are valued and needed and you need to make a space to be kind to yourself. Your emotions have taken a battering. You feel betrayed and disconnected, you feel angry and sad.

Right now, this moment, you need to check yourself into your own well-being spa. People who believe in, and are working towards, a fair, just, kind world need to keep their brave hearts strong and whole. 

  • Spend time with friends. Laugh, dance, try and do harmonies to Green Day. Whatever it is you do together.
  • Write a letter to yourself, validating all the feelings you have. Tell yourself it is okay to feel this sad. Tell yourself it isn’t absurd to feel all this.
  • Drink and eat well. A lack of water actually makes you more meloncholic. Keep hydrated and eat comforting food full of goodness.
  • Rest. Don’t stay up all night reading social media and getting angry, that is not for you.
  • Write a list of the things you love to do and make a plan to do more of them. (I have just begun an unapoligetecally indulgent Endorphin Experiment as the world really needs happier people.)
  • Watch all the Carpool Karaokes you can find. Endorphins etc. James Corden is good for your self care.

Acceptance

The key here is to spend some time thinking about what we can influence and doing it, and thinking about what we can’t influence and accepting it. It sounds awful, to simply accept something so abysmal but it is possible. It is the way it is now. It has happened. You can’t actually change the results. When you feel the fact of that rushing up on you, try and still your mind. Don’t deny that rush of depressed  energy in your heart, just take a moment with it. I have been trying to say “There is only now” as a bit of a mantra to get me back into the now, rather than letting anguish take over.

Accepting the new now leads you on to something really important, as Eckhart Tolle says;

“With the simple act of surrender to the inevitability of the present moment, another energy comes.” 

(Eckhart Tolle is a really, REALLY good one to read, about accepting pain. If you can come to terms with the slightly strange language. I review his book The Power of Now here.)

The “other energy” that comes after acceptance could be all sorts of things. It might look like a perspective change, a tiny, quiet hopefulness, a sense of action, a decision to take a political role, it might be inspiration about how you can use your unique talent to alleviate poverty in your community.

Empathy for Leavers

Not all Leavers are right wing dicks. Some are. But lots are poor. Some wanted change. All were lied to. Some did it because they saw a new financial opportunity for the things they care about – social infrastructure, the NHS. Like I say, all were lied to.

Many were feeling disempowered and marginalised, and now they are discovering they still are. The only thing that could possibly change that at all is empathetic listening, or at the very least trying to see the best intentions of Leavers. Non Violent Communication has a lot to offer here; Leavers would have voted out of a desire to have their basic needs met. It is the ultimate human motivation and almost every action of ours eventually comes back to it. Can you still be angry with someone who voted because they wanted a secure roof over their head for their family?

(Forgive me, Non Violent Communication World, but I still feel perfectly okay about people directing anger towards Bojo.)

(These Ten Gentle Nudges from Craftivist Collective might help you keep your activism kind and empathetic!)

Neighbour Love

Something good can come out of this. We can steel ourselves more than ever for love. Those tiny little everyday things are so, so, so radical. Our weapons in the face of hate peddlers are smiling on the street at strangers, helping families up the stairs at the station with buggies and luggage, taking the bin out for our elderly neighbour, having an actual conversation at the til when we buy our paper from the corner shop, making friends with people who are not like us, inviting people new in the area over for tea, giving someone a seat at the bus stop, giving cans to the food bank. These are not pathetic, lowly actions. They are the antidote to the racist graffiti and anonymous shouted slurs and odious, divisive politics.

Hope Not Hate

Shivers, Hope Not Hate’s Campaign “Still Believe in Each Other” is a bit of a beacon right now.

Nick of Hope Not Hate says “One thing is sure. We cannot allow the toxic Referendum debate to spill over into local communities. Speaking to those from eastern and central Europe, and indeed other immigrants, over recent days it is clear that many are worried. They are uncertain about their future and concerned about a racist backlash”

Join Still Believe here.A post-Brexit strategy 

(Thanks to the Craftivist- Collective for the creative responses to our political dystopia.)

I keep selling up thinking about Jo Cox and this post-Brexit world. What would she want? She would want us believing we have more in common than ever before.

Raising a Hopeful, Justice Loving Generation

This is a long game. I’m not offering party political advice. But I do believe in everyday politics and I do believe that raising children respectfully and kindly is a political decision. The long game is about raising generations of children who will be inclusive, because they were not marginialised as kids, who will advocate for the voiceless, because they had their voice heard when they were small, who will love radically, because they experienced unconditional love in the home, who will value the dispossessed, the marginalised, the powerless, because they were once empowered by those who held more power.

Parenting = world change

Some stuff here on Empathetic parenting and how to raise a (world changing) rebel. I discuss prejudice against children in this post on adultism and you can check out all my posts on parenting this progressive way here.

~

We’ve been spending a bit of time lately with a hardcore activist, one with a wise, kind soul; he has been fighting mining for several decades and has been through the wringer. It has been inspiring talking with him about how to deal with the weariness and desparation felt when you feel powerless in the face of f*ckwittery politics. Something he said stayed with me, about how if you can remain composed whilst in the very depths, something beautiful can make an appearance.

“Composure in the depths ushers in a composition”

We don’t know what it sounds like yet but one day we will hear the melody and recognise where it came from.

Love and solidarity to you.

xx

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…