Thursday, 28 March 2013

March's mad stuff

Couldn't miss up the chance to show everyone the marvellous Brene Brown talking about shame on Oprah.  Brene Brown states that those who hand over the education of their children to others need to remember that "you are not the only ones raising your kids" and she points out that there are serious concerns with the way that children are dealt with especially in the USA.  Hopefully in this country things are not as bad as Brene sates in this video but it is definitely worth heeding what she says about shame and how it affects our children and indeed affected us when we were children.  Here are some of the other excellent things Brene talks about shame or vulnerability.

I love this story as well - the idea that all the things we see are indeed affected by the preconceptions and opinions with which we view what we are seeing.

And lets finish with the wonderful Five lessons in life from Dr Seuss
1. Today you are You, that is truer then true. There is no one alive who is Youer then You.
2. Why fit in when you were born to stand out
3. You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
4. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
5. Today I shall behave as if this is the day I will be remembered.

Let's finish with a great example from Einstein here.  I love this picture but I also really like some of the comments that people have added underneath such as:
"If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."  Albert Einstein
"If you judge a monkey by its ability to beat a seal, it will live its entire life believing seals are the enemy"
"In our system the bird would be penalised because he an get to the top without climbing and it would make the monkey feel bad"

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Interesting articles and why David Cameron is short-sighted

Well I seem to always do my blog posts in spurts so here's another one.

The woman mentioned in my last blog did take offense and responded to the idea that my son learns what he wants, when he wants and how he wants by saying that was ridiculous but also that a teenager's complex social needs being dependent on parental organisation and/or supervision is unhealthy.

What I find confusing here (and yes it does have relevance to some of the articles I am going to post about) is when did society lose faith in our children?  When did we decide that these magnificent creatures, that learnt to walk, talk, control their bladders without any intervention from us, suddenly couldn't learn by themselves anymore?  If we are bringing up our children to be automatons then yes, they need to be herded, their inquisitive nature needs to be quashed ASAP but then why choose a partner with whom to procreate, why not just buy a kid off the shelf because that will definitely make life easier in the long run.  I want my kids to be themselves ALL the time and that includes when they socialise, when they are learning new things, when they are with their immediate family, when they are with their extended family or with their friends.  I also don't believe that my children's social needs are complex either (as suggested above.)  Their social needs they meet themselves with a little help from me as taxi driver or secretary (so it seems today as I have passed on the phone at least 5 times to my son.)  What complex social needs are there?  Why are teenagers suddenly complex but incapable of sorting themselves out?  Also isn't there a contradiction there?  On the one hand my son cannot learn himself because that is ridiculous but on the other he cannot be dependent upon me for his complex social needs.  Well which one is?  Can he learn himself and therefore not need me for his social needs or do I have to put him in school to be fed whatever happens to be on the national curriculum menu this week and his complex social needs are met by whom?  Kids all the same age as him? A few teachers who might actual notice he is there?  Who is it at school who cares about these complex social needs of his?

My son has absolutely fantastic friends who care about him.  Those friends have parents who care about him.  One such parent watched some of the youtube videos he makes and thought he was professional and clear in his explanations and was really impressed.  Neither me nor his father have had anything to do with his decision to do those videos.  He has an extended family who think he is the best thing ever, some of whom thought that home-educating was dubious.  When he wasn't reading at the age of 10 there were more concerns but it is difficult to be concerned when you see a child who is confident, eloquent  socially adept, caring, sensitive but confident to be who he is regardless of what people think about his clothes or his long hair.  I could go on but what in this scenario is cause for concern?  He is frequently socialising with people of all ages and he is learning the things he needs to learn to do the stuff he wants to do.  He also learnt to read when he was capable of doing so.  Where are the complex social needs that aren't being met and why is it ridiculous that he learns what he wants, when he wants and how he wants?  Isn't it those self-directed learning skills and varied social skills he will need for the rest of his life?  Ken Robinson seems to agree and suggests that we need to shift our perceptions of what our children need in order to live in this changing world.  This video is well worth a look if you are interested and if you like that one then watch his others too.

Another interesting and probably outside-of-the-norm idea is that of not teaching our children to share everything.  Here is a wonderful article about it and strangely enough this was one of the first parenting examples that went against my norms and therefore started me thinking about and investigating all the things that we 'do' to our children that are seen as social norms but are wrong or a mistake.  I would go further than this article and also say that there are also positive things to do with owning possessions which filters through to emotional well-being.  The old adage that 'you cannot love someone unless you love yourself' is very true.  A person needs to be feel whole and secure before they can healthily give of themselves to others, either as a friend or a partner and either of possessions or emotions.  This life lesson starts with children and how we treat them with regard to their possessions and associated feelings is paramount in how they grow into adults.

I wonder what David Cameron would think about that then?  David Cameron insinuates that stay-at-home Mums need to 'work hard and get on' i.e. get a job and leave our children in daycare.  That is the news today but only 15 days ago there was a presentation to MPs by a Swede coming to tell us that long days away from parents is not good for our children and it is turning them into tearaways.  Was Mr Cameron absent that day?  Or was he present but not paying attention?  Or does he just not care about the long-term ramifications of his plan to get us all back to work and what that will do to our children?

I find it interesting that all these bits of information have been brought to my attention over the last few days.  So all these things seem interconnected to me.  There seems to be a growing lack of respect for our children and so for ourselves.  There are judgments being made by those who haven't researched their facts properly or who just don't care.  The Government are trying to financially coerce or bully those who do care about our children (with insinuations about how 'lazy' we are) into becoming like everyone else and leaving the welfare of our children to others.  This behaviour is being mirrored by the general public and so our children are then paying the price and learning that this is to be expected.  Those children will then think it is oik to do exactly the same to their children and a new mistaken social norm is born.  I could take offense to the insinuation that I am 'lazy' but you all know by now that I don't agree with that idea so instead I say 'David Cameron pay attention in class' and 'how about doing some self-directed research into your proposals.'  But some feel on stony ground so I will continue sharing these insights with you guys.  And I will also share these things with my children so that they don't grow up thinking that they have anyone other than themselves to fall back on when times are hard and/or people are stupid (David Cameron - I'm talking about you).

It's a good thing my kids are good at teaching themselves and are learning to adapt to the various situations that they encounter as part of their varied lives LOL (see what I did there? - ended the blog by coming full circle - clever eh?  - ok I'll shut up LOL)

Monday, 25 March 2013

To be or not to be offended....

I could take offence at a lot of things I reckon. Blonde jokes - I know they are only joking but let's be honest a lot of people, blonde or not, have blonde moments.  

I could take offence that people regularly call my son a girl because he has long hair.  The same way that I could have got offended when I was regularly called a boy as a child.  

I could definitely take offence to some of Tim Minchin's songs or the ramblings of religious zealots spouting about how gays are damned to hell.  Here's the problem though (other than the fact I cannot think of any other examples of things to get offended about!!!) - taking offence is a choice and a damn silly one if you choose to take it. 

Edited 21/06/21 - even more important is that if a person 'intended' to offend you then taking offence plays right into their hands and if they didn't then you taken offence for no reason. Either way taking offence is still pointless!!

I don't need to get offended about Zack being called a girl or me being called a boy when I was younger.  I don't need to get offended about blonde jokes or non-politically correct jokes about women.  I definitely don't need to be offended by Tim Minchin because he is just awesome and the religious nuts talking about gays going to hell are not even worth my time.  And that is it - if I choose to get offended what a total waste of time that is.

This seems simple to me but some people seem to find it difficult to grasp.

On someone else's blog today I wrote "The ‘abuse’ we put our children through when we ‘force’ them to learn stuff when they are not ready or able is appalling. Passion for learning is our children’s right and school squashes that right every single day. The joy on my 11-year-old’s face when he realised that he could read is something that I will never forget. He learnt to read in his own time and at his own pace. His passion to read needed that time and school steals that and many other passions every single day." and someone took offence.  The question I ask is why?  This is just my opinion.  These words do not hold power over anyone who has made a choice to send their child to school and is happy with and confident about that choice.  Those who are wavering about school might read them and think - oooh I hadn't thought about it like that, maybe I should do a bit of research.  What other positions are there?  This however elicited a response about how offensive 'abuse' and 'force' were as terms. Edited 21/06/21 - Gabor Mate talks about the human needs of attachment and authenticity so even more it seems that our schooling system and some early parenting scenarios actually lead to trauma - watch more here.

Here's an analogy though - if you saw a mother forcing a 9-month-old baby to walk before he was ready wouldn't you think that was abusive?  Just because that scenario couldn't really happen doesn't make it less awful an idea.  The damage that could be done to an under-developed spine or leg joints doesn't bear thinking about. 

I often wonder if my dyslexia came from being forced to read before my brain was ready.  I am very like my son who grasped the finer points of reading at the ripe old age of 11.5 years old.  He wasn't forced to try to read at 4 or 5 like I was.  He was left to work it out when his brain was ready much like babies are left to mature into walking toddlers at their own pace.  I wasn't left - I was forced to read when I wasn't ready and who knows if that abuse left my brain scarred and malfunctioning.  Scientists now know that leaving babies to cry (as in controlled crying) actually causes brain damage so who knows whether it could be discovered that our schooling system also leads to brain damage for some children.

Regardless of the reasons for my choice of words.  They are words, just words.  The same way that your thoughts about my words are your thoughts and yours to control.  So control your thoughts and don't take offence.  That is your right and a damn good one it is too.

I have to say I replied to the offence-taking woman with the following  " Taking offence is just another choice you have chosen to make along with other ones I choose not to make. None of my comments is any more offensive than your insinuations. I am not offended by your insinuations because I choose not to be. This is one of the life lessons I have explained to my children. Thanks for giving me another example to show them." I believe that she may well take offence to that and all I can say is - don't.  Life is too short so just stop taking offence.  It doesn't do you any good other than making you feel crappy and it definitely doesn't stop the offence-giver having their opinion edited 21/06/21 - whether it was meant to be offensive or not. Opinions can maybe be changed through discussion but they are rarely changed, if ever, by someone taking offence.

Anyway enough of the serious stuff.  Here are some funnies about 'stopping it', Tim Minchin probably offending someone (although there are way more 'offensive' stuff of his out there is you look!!) and a great scene from West Wing about gays and God.

And here is a great video about taking offence

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Losing Your Pounds of Pain and The Secret

Well I have finished two of my books for this year - the Horse Boy and Losing Your Pounds of Pain and am feeling rather pleased with myself.  This blog entry is about the second book (I may return to the Horse Boy some other time.)  It is a book I bought a long time ago and only realised when I added it to my list of books to read that was written by my favourite Oracle card producer Dorren Virtue.  As you an see to the left I have 10 packs of her cards as opposed to 3 that aren't and even one of those was produced by her husband and so is sort of the same.

They are beautiful cards though all of them as you can see here.  These cards are from my favourite pack Mermaids and Dolphin Oracle Cards.  Anyway if you want to see more of her stuff go and see her Amazon page here.

Anyway back to the book.  It is about breaking the link between abuse, stress and overeating.  It was a really interesting read even though it concentrates a lot on binge eaters which I don't really class myself as.  It still had lots of helpful hints for losing weight and why we carry the weight we do.  The basic premise is that when you release emotional pain from your formative years, your appetite normalises because you aren't filling an emotional void with food.  We are designed to be light in body and spirit and food is meant to be fuel for daily energy and nothing more.  If we are searching for a sense of self, peace of mind and self-acceptance and cannot find them because of past pain then this can lead to over-eating or other unhealthy habits e.g. addictive behaviours or depression.  There is the need to transform FATS - fear, angers, tension and shame (leading to over-eating), into FATS - forgiveness, acceptance, trust of self (nice acronym.)

A very interesting idea she same up with was when we dismiss any childhood pain as not really a big deal, put your own child in the same situation and see how you feel about them being treated the same way you were.  This acknowledges that intellectually remembering someone (or remembering something from an adult perspective) is not the same as emotionally remembering something.   I have done this in the past and when I replaced me with Indie at the same age my 'not a big deal' became a much bigger deal than I thought.  This type of visualisation really works.

When you acknowledge that there are reasons for your addictive behaviour it then becomes easier to take control and realise that the childhood pain needs to be felt and let go of.  There is talk of dream journals, meditation, affirmations, taking note of any memory that keeps recurring as something that needs looking at, stopping before engaging in the unhealthy behaviour, exercising every day even if only for 15 minutes.

"Treat your body and soul with compassion and kindness.  Love that little child inside of you and be understanding when she occasionally falters."  - you cannot argue with that as an idea.  Anyway because of this book I have added a whole load of affirmations to my computer screen and because of watching The Secret I have added a wish-list screen saver as well high-lighting some of the things I want in the world.  Neither the affirmations nor the screen are very clear although you can see the gorgeous feet circle picture at the top of the screen which always reminds me of the ubuntu story.  Unfortunately I believe the ubuntu story is an urban myth but I will repeat it here anyway because it is such a lovely idea.

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe   He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that whoever got there first won the fruits   When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together  then sat together enjoying the fruit.  When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said "ubuntu."  In Xhosa culture ubuntu means "I am because we are."

For me this picture therefore signifies world peace and the desire that we all have compassion for ourselves and all other beings.  The other pictures are all things I would like in my life.  I will see if any of this makes any difference and let you know.  

I know there are many people out there who think that films and books like 'The Secret' are codswallop but I like some of the ideas in it and it has already helped my dd be more positive and see that it makes a difference so that makes it all worthwhile.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Watercress or lamb's lettuce soup

I love this recipe but cocked up the other day and didn't realise a bag of what I thought was watercress was actually lamb's lettuce so I substituted that in instead and it was rather nice so either seems to work in this recipe (adapted from The Detox Cook recipe book.)

Serves 4

Heat 500ml vegetable stock in a pan.

Add 6-8 spring onions or an onion (sliced) to pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add 2 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced) and 900ml vegetable stock to the pan and simmer until the potato is cooked (20 minutes-ish.)

Add 4 bunches of watercress or a similar amount of lamb's lettuce (I used a bag) to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes

Turn off the heat and add 400ml soya or rice milk.  Stir well and leave to stand before blending the soup, reheating and eating.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Tetrapak wallets, upcycled tea-bag wallets and fireplace destruction

At last Dave started demolishing the fireplace in the front room in a frenzy of activity.  It takes a lot of space and although we do not want to remove the chimney totally, getting rid of the fireplace and having an extra little alcove to put stuff in will be brill.  At some point the slabs will be coming out too.  This is all in preparation for the electrics being done and the kitchen being moved.  When that work all starts in March we are going to re-do all the flooring downstairs and so the fireplace had to come out before that.
I did some upcycling with the kids using tetrapaks to make wallets (see above).

 There are loads of websites out there explaining how you make these wallets out of tetrapaks but I thought I would quickly explain here rather than directing you elsewhere.
Wash out any tetrapak juice carton, cut off the top and bottom sections and fold in the sides (as seen to the left.)  Then fold the carton into three sections.
Two of the sections are going to be the main body of the wallet and the other section is going to be the flap that goes over the top.  You need to cut off the front and side sections of the flap so that only the back of the tetrapak is left to fold over the wallet body (see to the right above.)  You then fold the remaining two sections together and staple them together (as can be seen in the picture at the top on the left hand wallet.)  The punch a hole in the flap and feed a rubber band through to use to close the wallet (see below.)

We finished the wallets above and then one of the kids decided to try and find other things that could be made into wallets of various different sizes.  To the left you can see exactly the same technique used on a cereal box to make a small document folder with the finished product below.

Then my favourite which is using tea packets to make tea bag holders that you can take with you in your bag to you always have your favourite tea with you.  I love these almost as much as the wallets.  And all you need is a staple or two and a rubber band.
I have finished the Horse Boy book and really enjoyed it.  Might add some quotes later.  I am taking the Total Immersion book with me to Center Parcs next week hoping that I will get some time to practice the next set of techniques.  I found finding my 'sweet spot' not too difficult so am now wondering whether I was doing it wrong.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bagels, boots, books and bathing

Bathing doesn't really cover the swimming stuff I am going to be trying to do over the next few weeks but I liked the alliteration of it all.  So I will start with the Total Immersion (TI) book - 3rd book down in the photo (link to Amazon for a copy at the side).  I have read the first 3 chapters of the book and have looked at the first few drills to start my total immersion swimming practice.  Here is a video that shows what I am heading for in the first few basic drills but here is the one that shows the 'sweet spot' which I will be trying to find on Monday when I go swimming.  I will be trying to practice it on both sides.
So the theory behind why I need to be doing all this is basically we need to reshape our bodies to be able to swim better.  It seems the 80/20 principle can be used here where the mechanisms of the stroke bring 80% of the performance whereas only 20% comes from the fitness of the swimmer.  TI advocates that your arm stroke has very limited impact on how fast you move through the water due to the fact that water is 1000 times denser than air thereby throwing a huge drag force against anyone who doesn't know the tricks of becoming 'slippery' or streamlined.  Cutting drag by improving body position is therefore the most important thing to do (as nautical engineers try to do with boats.)  This can be achieved by learning to glide as far as possible after each stroke by balancing your body correctly in the water, making your body longer in the water and learning to swim on your side (hence the sweet spot drill to learn to balance on both sides in the water.)  I'll try and let you know how it goes!!!  I am very happy however that I have read a third of the book already.
I have also nearly finished the Horse Boy (2nd book down and link to Amazon at the side) and it is a brilliant book which I would highly recommend.  It is about an autistic boy called Rowan who has an affinity for horses and how his Dad takes him to see some shamans in Mongolia to try and help with his autistic behaviours.  They filmed the whole trip so I am going to try and watch the film once I have finished the book.  There is a trailer here if you are interested.  So I am pleased that I have nearly finished this book and will be carrying on reading the Harville Hendrix one "Getting the Love You want" once I have finished.

I have finished my first craft project which I am very happy about.  I adapted a pattern I found on Etsy by Holland Designs and made these feet warmer/sock/crochet shoe things.  They are very comfy and warm and I am very pleased with them even if I do say so myself!!!  Follow this link to see some of Holland Designs here.  I have bought most of the shoe patterns and will definitely be crocheting some more soon.

And lastly but not least-ly bagels.  Dave made some bagels yesterday and I had to share how amazing they were.  So much nicer than the bagels you get in the shop so much so that I ate 3 last night for tea!! Here are my lovely children modelling said bagels for you.  I think Indie might have a career in comedy modelling!!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

books, exercise - oh dear I have too much stuff to read and links to watch!!!

 After posting my last blog entry on facebook a discussion started about the movnat and other such movement stuff.  I thought I would therefore compose another blog entry with all the videos and stuff that I have found over the years about exercise, wild swimming, barefoot running, etc.  This prompted me to go and track down all the books I have about all these things.  However I realised that I had too many books so I just gathered together a few that I have purchased and never read (or started reading but never got very far!!)  Here are the main ones which are relevant to the links I am going to put here and are ones that are probably going to stay off the shelf and get read sometime soon (maybe!)

Whilst looking for the above books I found these other books that are going to be added to my books-I-need-to-read pile which has now gone beyond the 12 I said I was going to read this year - oh dear!!  Here are the ones I had already put on the list:
1. the moneyless manifesto - can be read here for free
2. the moneyless man
3. adapt: why success always starts with failure - read a review here
4. mindfulness for life - read about it here
5. six weeks to superhealth - see here
6. receiving love: letting yourself be loved will transform your relationship - would recommend any of his books - read about Harville Hendrix here
7. how to be an adult in relationship: the five keys to mindful loving - read about the author here

Anyway here are some links to the various physical things that I have found over the years:
Movnat is a physical education and fitness system based on training the full range of natural human movement abilities.  Here is the movnat youtube channel where there are lots of videos about movnat movements.  Here is a 48 minute talk by the founder of movnat and there are lots of other videos on you tube about this like this one or this one or this list.  Just search and you will find more.

A similar methodology is primal movement which is an approach to human movement that prioritises basic, natural movement.  Here are four workouts: workout 1 - the warm up, workout 2 - mobility and crawling, workout 3 - mirroring and interaction and workout 4 - putting it all together.  

And again here is an article about similar "our bodies have forgotten the movements we used to do" type idea.  Here is a list of the seven primal movements we don't do enough of any more - squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, twist and gait - with associated workout advice.

If you like kettlebells here is a primal movement kettlebell workout.  Here is a primal outdoor circuit done by a man with no top on to show off his abs!!

The Ready, Set, Go! book pictured above talks about a sprint 8 idea and the research behind it but basically  as mentioned here, Sprint 8 cardio exercise creates the maximal release of exercise-induced growth hormone by doing 20 minutes of exercise in a certain way three times a week.   This 20-minute protocol consists of a 3-minute walking warm up and a 2-minute walking cool down. The rest is 90 seconds of "active recovery" walking in between eight hard and fast 30-second cardio sprints.  The key is that the 30-sec cardio sprints have to be flat out otherwise you aren't doing it right.  If you can keep going after those 30 seconds at the same pace you need to be going faster.  This sprint 8 protocol can be done using any cardio exercise eg. swimming, rowing, knee-highs, you name it.

The Total Immersion is about learning a new way of swimming especially useful for outdoor swimming but also invaluable for any freestyle swimmer.  See a good description of what it is about here where you get to see a good example of the total immersion technique alongside a traditional freestyle swimming stroke.  I haven't read this book so will get back to you when I have!!  I do need to improve my freestyle stroke so definitely on my list of books to read.  [how many am I up to now? 16?]  There are other decent videos here and here and here that explain more and from other's perspectives.  It seems that these are well worth looking at if you are interested in swimming and you might be able to glean enough from the total immersion you tube channel to really help if this is your thing.  The trick seems to be to disturb the water less and a similar thing with Chi Running is to use gravity rather than battle against it.

The Chi Running book is something I bought before I bought my vibram barefoot running shoes.  Again I haven't read it other than skimming the pages although I did watch the following videos and try and implement some of the techniques in normal trainers.  Here is an interview with the Chi Running book Danny Dreyer and here is a video explaining the chi running technique and here is another one with diagrams.  There are other videos about barefoot running out there as well.  Like this one that gives you a brilliant illustration of changing foot fall to ball rather than heel and then changing posture.  There are some good drills in that video and some other ones in this video around the 2 minute mark.
So there is a bit about the stuff I have looked at over the years to do with improving the way my body works.  I think this has given me a kick start to look again at the sprint 8 as part of the movnat and primal body stuff.  Those different techniques seem to compliment each other as does the barefoot running and total immersion swimming.  So here's to a more natural body moving 2013.  [two posts in two days - who knew I could manage that!!!!]