Breastfeeding, 10 months in…

Django is my second child, he is a boy, he is 10 months old. I have breastfed him since he was very first born. He was naturally delivered without intervention in a local hospital birthing suite. For the first 3 months of his life he did not sleep very much. He cried, a lot. Actually his temperament and energy to sustain screaming in the early months was very much like his big sister, who is now 3 1/2 years old. I have many theories about why they screamed and why I had no control to placate them both, but they are just theories and the 3 month hurdle is long gone. Post that short period, that feels like a lifetime, it’s really time to get down to business, because consistency and structure help.

Roxy&Django

Sleep deprivation and too much responsibility over a period of time, caused a mental health issue, namely anxiety, to rear it’s VERY UGLY head. It is a difficult time to recall, the pressure associated with that time and sleep deprivation eradicates memory. That is why it is very difficult to empathise with new mothers, our memories of that time are skewed.

All throughout my life my mother repeated a mantra that I cried for the first 2 years of my life. I may have. However, when she would visit Django she often cited her experiences of my early life, changing her story, “you didn’t cry THIS much”. I probably didn’t, but her memory of that time is a fantasy. I don’t even remember specifically how my daughter behaved in that time or how she made me feel and that is only 3 short years ago. And, what difference does it make when you are ‘in it’ anyway. Comparisons of babies are of no use and no help to the mother who is drowning not waving.

I am a stay at home Mum. Breastfeeding, for me, is an ideal catalyst to healthy growth and connection for a newborn and beyond. It has definitely been worth the effort for me and my kids, although, I will never know what the alternative could have produced. I will never know if part of my anxiety was bred from a forceful drive to make breastfeeding work for us. It did and it also didn’t. Django was overfed because he cried so much, I thought breastfeeding him on-demand would comfort him, turns out it just depleted my energy stores and turned his poo green! Gross. My lovely neighbour knocked on my door one day to spruik a miracle cure from a pharmacy in the burbs, it kind of worked, so it was, indeed a miracle! He also naturally grew out of his neediness and tummy pain, his upper and lower brain (tummy) were developing.

postscript

This baby is now nearly 2. I wrote this post in the midst of breastfeeding him to document how I felt about his development and our journey to that point. Obviously this is a brief account, but I am happy to have written something down from that time and be able to re-read it knowing we have come so far. He is a walking, talking, feisty, independent and very cuddly little man. I am grateful for his presence despite his obvious drive to send me loopy.

 

 

 

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Did you know in the US and potentially in other countries too, wherever divorce can happen, that there is a blank space for the divorcees to fill in a new name post the legal separation? What would your name be after you had split from your marriage and were about to embark on a new life?

wild

I am half way through Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I love it, it’s a real page turner and a book I have read about for a while but never got around to reading. Thanks to bookies (the club) the impetus is there to start and finish Cheryl Strayed’s biography. She is also known as Dear Sugar, the previously anonymous agony aunt for Rumpus online. The collection of letters and her advice in reply is found in Tiny Beautiful Things. That’s where I first discovered her writing AND her style.

 

While she traverses on foot the Pacific Crest Trail that covers the Sierra Nevada mountain range she rediscovers her own power. Survival mode, in the desert and then the snow, delivers to her some insight into her own life and the world’s mystery and beauty. Motherless and single she takes to the challenge with a certain naivety, that state of mind almost mandatory to undertake such an effort, especially pre Google, FB and forums. What is a nature trail without it’s surprises, coincidences and ana(log) guide and guest books. I am not sure if she trumps that trail yet although I already feel like her self discovery learning curve is payment enough for her trials thus far. What a feat to even take the first step on the actual track of such a journey.

Always seems to be that I read a good book and before I blink again, it’s a film. Reese Witherspoon plays lead, Cheryl Strayed. I would prefer my own imaginative view of her story to stay intact but the screen pull and an opportunity for escapism is sometimes stronger than my resolve to keep what I have in my head sacred. We’ll see….

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Be the empty boat – philosophising

Rather than finding one website that captures ALL my attention, I keep finding great articles that further entrench my previous interweb finding which is, let go of the internet!  Ironic, I know.

I find the best material via – my twitter account, other people that I have respect for read articles and then post the same if they are worthy of any attention.  It’s great, it’s like a list of good things to read or a community noticeboard for everything that sparks my interest in the world.  But this isn’t about shameless self promotion.

I discovered a great ‘how to’ article about taking your life back from the evil digital forces, it’s here and it was first posted on the Harvard Business Review blog.  Easy read and sits perfectly in that meditative tradition of training your attention, focusing your mind and noticing your every move.  No more time wasters.

So once I remove myself from the internet, amongst other things, I meditate to remind me to keep life simple.  Take each moment as it comes and notice my reactions as they happen, accept what is.  Eventually, I will understand what sensations arise in my body before I react and I may be able to breath instead of reacting or jumping without any thought.  The lesson I keep finding solace in to help me remember to ‘keep it simple’ is a poem by Chuang Tzu, The Empty Boat.  It’s below – take from it what you will.  If you are as into this poem and it’s ancient teaching as I am there is a whole discourse that you can immerse yourself in to help clarify the message – check out Chapter 1, “The Toast is Burned“.

He who rules men, lives in confusion;
he who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.
Tao therefore desired
neither to influence others
nor be influenced by them.
The way to get clear of confusion and free of sorrow
is to live with tao in the land of the void.
If a man is crossing a river
and an empty boat collides with his own skiff,
even though he be a bad-tempered man
he will not become very angry.
But if he sees a man in the boat,
he will shout to him to steer clear.
And if the shout is not heard he will shout
again and yet again, and begin cursing –
and all because there is somebody in that boat.
Yet if the boat were empty, he would not be shouting,
and he would not be angry.
If you can empty your own boat
crossing the river of the world,
no one will oppose you,
no one will seek to harm you.
The straight tree is the first to be cut down,
the spring of clear water is the first to be drained dry.
If you wish to improve your wisdom
and shame the ignorant,
to cultivate your character and outshine others,
a light will shine around you
as if you had swallowed the sun and the moon –
and you will not avoid calamity.
A wise man has said:
”he who is content with himself
has done worthless work.
Achievement is the beginning of failure,
fame is the beginning of disgrace.”
Who can free himself of achievement and fame
then descend and be lost
amid the masses of men?
He will flow like tao, unseen,
he will go about like life itself
with no name and no home.
Simple is he, without distinction.
To all appearances he is a fool.
His steps leave no trace. He has no power.
He achieves nothing, he has no reputation.
Since he judges no one,
no one judges him.
Such is the perfect man –
his boat is empty.

Go forth and click and consciously breath.

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Whoa yeah – give HECS the finger

Whoa and yeah are how you pronounce the last 2 letters of the Arabic language. I know because BBC offers a free language learning program that you can download or stream to get your started. Ultimately, you can learn a new language online for free, even something as technical as HTML. Forever I have been trying to retain some knowledge of Japanese, French and Spanish from my travels to each but without practice and a good memory I have no foreign language skills to spruik. I learnt the entire Russian alphabet, pronunciation and phonetics, before traveling to Russia and Ukraine. It helped read some signs, communicate with locals and generally feel more a local part.  

I know I could have continued my Russian practice upon returning to Melbourne but by that stage I had picked up pieces of Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Hindu and Thai. My memory served me well to make a jumbled mess of the aforementioned global tongues. 

So, upon further research, I noticed that there are a million free courses online for any faculty of learning, including classes from MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, etc. A whole range of subjects from master studies such as Biology, Psychology, Geography, Chemistry, Philosophy and more. Lifehacker recently shared a post on Spring 2012 courses from American universities, it’s incredible to think that if you want to learn about planets and stars you just have to go forth and click. There are also more practical courses available like Money 101 – it’s not about making money, it’s about managing dosh to suit your goals and budget. 

I’m a little inspired, using my brain seems to be the key.

Go forth and click.

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Clean theme – Wednesday Website Wack

Do you know this man? Read on regardless.

If you thought I had gone missing forever you were completely mistaken.  I was just off thinking and it was one week.  Thinking that I don’t always need a theme for this, it doesn’t always need to be heavy on the words with myriad links, it usually turns out that way once I start typing anyway. The great thing about WWW is I don’t need to follow suit but I can and this week is no different.
Last weekend a friend told me about her silent protest with her domestic cleaner over ‘green’ friendly cleaning products.  She bought all the ‘safe’ items for the cleaner to use and then comes home to the smell of bleach and a bottle of Domestos under the sink, clean house though.  She knows a confrontation is inevitable.  It comes as popular theory that the good shit is also the worst for the environment.  Is that really true and do I care so little about the environment that a little extra elbow grease in the bathroom will kill me more than I care about polluting my otherwise semi-clean beach with nasty ingredients? I doubt it. Even with a trendy camera filter, Windex still looks toxic.

Yesterday, I was flicking between a few thousand digital pages and I discovered the ecoholic.  I am always, always on the hunt for new green worthy websites.  They are a dime a dozen and there are only a small handful that make any sense, are well written and inspire the environmental soul to take some action, in the home and out of the home.  Ecoholic had a link to world renowned green activist, David Suzuki, I felt that this is exactly what was required, cut out the middle man, go straight to the scientific source. DS also has a blog link, which multiple people contribute to and has a good balance of humour and greenie knowledge and activism.  I signed up for his newsletter too as a way to remind me to stay on path when it comes to putting the environment first. I figure that’s the way it has to be, especially for our clean future.
I buy green household items from here.  Here is a make your own household items website for the $$ conscious and environmental consumer.
I researched and wrote this week’s WWW to the mixtape soundtrack by Steph Lund, my all time favourite musicologist.  I can’t beat this April mix, it’s download worthy.
Go forth and click.
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Prince and prints

Great news today.  For anyone digging the Prince return to Oz, turns out that he is being supported by none other than unofficial performing protege, Janelle Monae.  She is a young talent who has exceeded audience expectations with her live performance and she is something to rock up for early.

Did you know that Prince released 6 albums by the time he was 23, including Prince, Controversy & Purple Rain.  His talent blows my mind.  30 years on, he is still touring the world and making records.  Prince appreciation station right here.

Back to the Wednesday Website Wack purpose, to introduce websites of note, Prince has inspired the search for quality prints.

Art is in the eyes of the beholder as ever and most importantly it doesn’t require over intellectualising, it is about the feelings evoked when we are engaged with creativity, whether our own or someone else’s. I go to galleries to engage with texture and originality wherever possible and I buy prints because I find original art pieces completely unaffordable (for the most part).  I buy prints to support artists and causes in line with my means and ultimately to colour my rented walls.  Prints of notable and emerging artists have been dotting the net for sometime but the last few years has seen a real push for online galleries that support artists and offer a percentage of sale proceeds to a charitable organisation of the artist’s choice.  I think this is a perfect synergy and I have purchased many pieces recognising that I my numbered piece is contributing to creativity and a good cause.

Tiny Showcase was my first foray into this style of gallery and they have introduced me to so many great works.  They release one work per week and continue publicity in their gallery until the piece is sold out. I have my very own Jen Corace (which raised over $11K for the Gulf Restoration Network following the BP spill) and Sarajo Frieden pieces, now framed and ready for the nursery wall.

In a very similar vein, Working Proof cojoins the works of artists with charities, creating art that intrinsically holds what they call, ‘social value’.  Both these stores will set you back less than a $50 unless you are after large scale.

So not all the print suppliers are do-gooders and I haven’t found an Australian version of these websites yet, but this post would not be complete without championing the dedication to creativity executed by Abi Crompton at Third Drawer Down.  She has been printing original works on pillowcases, a(rt)prons and tea-towels for almost a decade.  Third Drawer Down is part gallery, museum, newsletter and wholesaler for all things incredible and best of all, it’s located in downtown Fitzroy while anything in store can be shipped anywhere.  I was gifted a David Wlazlo (sold out) artpron that sits above my bed with perfect geometric hang.

Mike Mills designed pillowcases – yep, the film maker.

 

 

 

 

I wish I was finished and yes, I am close but when I get on a roll with affordable art, I can’t help but keep spruiking.  So, please find below a few more pics with direct links to the incredible art makers, you might notice I have a penchant for collage and colour, Joachim Knill followed by Russian artist, Irina Polin.

Apartment Therapy has a post titled, 10 Affordable Print Shops for First Time Art Buyers, worth checking out their tips but note they don’t leave the USA.

Go forth and click and buy a print.

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My cooking mission

It started with a cup of tea. The No Worries Koala Tea is a great flavoursome herbal tea made up of lemon grass, lemon balm, roasted chicory root and mint. The koala on the packet is surfing, no hands, on a big fluffy wave. So relaxed. Makes me feel like I could productively meditate through a whole day.

It was a bit late in the day to start a cooking mission but I hadn’t checked the time. We had run out of the homemade supply of Granola. Jill Dupleix in her cookbook, Lighten Up, makes a fantastic version of granola that has had us coming back for more time and again. I have a massive bag of oats to get through so I will just keep making it until they are gone. Plus I have a massive soft spot for Jalna Biodynamic yogurt, it’s seriously the best. Together with the granola it’s a match made in heaven. I have been trying to add a bit more raw fruit to the mix before eating too and apples this week are us.

Before I knew it I wasn’t making lunch until nearly 3pm. Shit. I have really got to watch this blaze fasting, I was feeling really dizzy when I finally sat down to my vegie gluten free pasta with fresh corn, broccoli and ricotta. It was pretty good actually, I have leftovers, that’s always handy.

In my search for a lunch dish I realised the Mister had leftover plain rice from a stirfry the night before. I have always wanted to try my hand at rice pudding. The recipes I have always been in search of have asked for cooked rice. Turns out that Stephanie Alexander actually makes it with uncooked rice. I had to use a little bit of creative licence with amounts. Try finding how much rice you will get from 2tbsp of uncooked rice? That information is nowhere on the net. I went with Stephanie’s Jenny’s Rice Pudding. It’s currently in the oven, in a bain marie set up, in 2 separate souffle dishes. It cooks for 45 mins, can hardly wait. I am hanging for the outcome. I pretty much get it all. The Mister is out and he doesn’t eat wobbly food. MINE! Kitchen is a small disaster.

If you want any recipes, comment below.  Otherwise, just come over and eat with me, anytime.

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