Through My Window

Through my office window I can see tiled roofs, trees, fields, the M4 where traffic is moving up and down, a village in the distance, a church spire. In close focus I can see a spider’s web, and dirt on the pane.

What can you see through your window today?

Earth Pathways Diary

As you turn the page in your Earth Pathways Diary this week you will see my images of Sharon Jacksties storytelling at Embercombe in the JUNO tent. The backdrop is the silhouette of a fruit tree as the sun set behind it.

The Earth Pathways Diary is a wonderful publication – a week to view diary, spiral bound for ease of use, full of of useful information and inspirational words and images on each facing page, to reflect the passing seasons. 2015 diaries are now available at www.earthpathwaysdiary.co.uk.

Holidays – are they worth it?

Last week it was half term and we went away to Cornwall for a few days. It was amazing. We were outside on wild beaches in wild weather. The strains of the world felt distant and I felt so relaxed. I enjoyed just watching – watching the children explore the beach, watching the waves, watching the sea birds; just doing nothing.

But within minutes of driving away from our cottage, all that was lost – a child was car sick! And now, days later, I’m up too late every night trying to catch up with emails. So, I wonder, is going on holiday worth it?

Before going away there are many additional things to organise.  Now, on return, I have that horrid feeling of running to catch up. And I don’t feel relaxed any more. But if I didn’t go away and stop sending emails, the emails would never stop – I’ve realised that when you don’t send emails, they do slow up a little. It’s a vicious cycle trying to keep up, you reply to emails to empty your inbox but then the person replies, so it fills as you empty it. “Stop”, I want to cry, “where is the pause button, can life just stop so that I can catch up please?”

But there is no button and life doesn’t stop. Frustrating as the catch up is, I’ve realised that sometimes you just have to walk away and pay that price. Those few days of feeling relaxed and refreshed and ready to “do battle” again is worth it. And I do wonder, maybe I’m so busy this week because I’m feeling invigorated so am initiating more things?

So yes, I think going on holiday probably is worth it. What I just have to accept is that the “high” is lost once you start travelling home!

Deep Reading

I am aware of the irony of posting an article on a blog about the importance of preserving “deep reading” as opposed to on-line skim reading, but I really like the sentiments in the article at the link below and wished to share it.

You’ll know from this blog that as well as blogging and other online things, I “deep” read lots of books too. This article asks, are we losing the ability to “deep” read and what are we denying our children if we don’t teach them how to read in this way.

Save the Readers! A Defense of Deep Reading

A story of shoes: Why can’t we be better at mending things?

Waste. There is so much of it in our world, on so many levels. Many of us do our best not to waste things, to mend them so that we don’t have to buy new, but collectively in the UK we are not good at this. We are too much orientated towards consuming. This is where we have much to learn from “developing” countries. In places such as Bangladesh, millions of people have nothing, so everything has a value.

A good example is my husband’s shoes; a good pair of shoes that he’s worn for a while. They needed fixing. We were happy to pay for this service – a good pair of shoes that you like and that feel comfortable to wear are priceless. These shoes had too much wear in them to justify throwing away. But our local shoe mender said he could do nothing.

Matthew is an international water consultant and works in places like Egypt, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh. There we know we can find someone who thinks it’s worth the effort to mend a pair of shoes. On his next trip to Dhaka Matthew took his shoes to a mender and they were fixed, for very little money.

Why can’t we do this in the UK? Why are we so fixated on buying new rather than mending things that have use and can be cherish. Until we really work out what Reduce Reuse and Recycle means, is there hope for our planet’s resources?

Links

www.zerowasteweek.co.uk

Small World Big Ideas edited by Satish Kumar, Leaping Hare Press – stories from activists to inspire us to take a stand. Review to follow in the Autumn issue of JUNO. www.smallworldbigideas.org

Where do you work?

Over the weekend I was talking to Helen, JUNO’s brilliant sub-editor. We were both working hard to get the next issue ready, and Helen said she had a wonderful image of me at our family table surrounded by books. This got me thinking about all the dedicated parents out there who work at crazy times and in different places, blending jobs, passions and projects with family life – which I know is not easy. So, here is me working on a Saturday morning while the children made lego models around me. Do you work at random times to get things done, or have a mobile office desk?

Raising Girls

This is Steve Biddulph, talking on Thursday 17 January 2013 at The Colston Hall in Bristol about his concerns for girls and what we as parents can do to help them.

This event was organised by JUNO magazine, of which I am editor, and it was fantastic to see so many parents there, really engaged by what Steve said and leaving energised with ideas about how to help their girls. You can read more about the event in this Independent on Sunday article.

Over the last few months I have been working closely with Steve Biddulph and Sue Palmer, both of whom have books about girls out in 2013. They are both very concerned about the pressures on girls today, the influences they face such as the images bombarded at them from screens and magazines of “impossibly lovely” women, the inference that this is what they should aspire to; the prevalence of porn on the Internet and how this corrupts their perception of sex; the availability of alcohol specifically designed to entice them.

Sue and Steve discuss all these concerns in an article in the Spring issue of JUNO, published 1 March. What I think makes this article so powerful is that it’s not just about what we can do as parents, but what we should ALL be doing as responsible members of society and a community. We should not sit back and let it become “normal” for little girls to wear sexy clothes. We should not allow it to be “normal” for little girls to read magazines about make up, sex, boys, celebrities and diets or drink a bottle of vodka before they go out, aged 14. Advertisers and corporations are preying on our little girls, taking away the innocence of their childhood.

It’s said that everything has been shunted forward 4 years – what we dealt with at 14, girls now deal with at 10 etc, but they aren’t ready then to understand. They should be playing in the park, not fusing about make up. An article in the Daily Mail yesterday starts: “These days, there’s a new grumble among women who ply the so-called oldest profession in the world. Their clients, they say, are finding it increasingly hard to identify them. Why? Because ordinary 17-year-old girls are dressing just like prostitutes.” How shameful that we have let this happen in our society.

So I urge you to read up on this and think it through for yourself. If, like me, you feel there are important issues that need to be discussed, that we need to work together to change this trend then please, speak up, spread the word, get involved…for example, there’s Mumsnet’s Let Girls be Girls campaign, or  The Save Childhood Movement which is gathering voices who are concerned about this and other issues such as educational pressures. Come to the Flourish summit in London in April and make your voice heard.


Frosty morning

Enjoying December

Cold and clear this morning, everything edged with white, glittering frost.

Freeze-dried washing; cardboard trousers; clothes and sheets hanging stiffly on the line.

Counting down the days of Advent. Candles and a fire warming the cold, dark evenings.

Meeting mothers in Dhaka, Bangladesh

I have spent the last week in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am a trustee of charity ARBAN UK which has built and is running a small clinic in Jheelpur Slum in Dhaka. I and another trustee visited to see how the clinic is functioning so we can best understand what we need to do to continue to support the work.

It has been an amazing but emotional week. I have discovered an amazing community but also seen and heard some difficult things, especially about the life of mothers. The girl pictured was 11 when she had her first child. She is now 18 and also has one-year-old twins. We also met a woman with deep hurt in her brown eyes. In September she had a difficult labour in the slum (very few go to hospital). Things went wrong, the women of the slum who are the “dais”, birthing assistants, did their best but the baby was born in trauma and died. It must have been horrific for all involved, but especially this young woman.

We are discussing how we can help, by organising more training for the dais. There is so much need it is difficult not to feel overwhelmed. I will report more news here when I have it, but for now, if you would like to read reports of the week and see photographs please visit www.arban.org.uk or our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ArbanUK?ref=hl