What’s feeding your Psychological Soil?

What’s feeding your Psychological Soil?

This month, on The Conscious Adventurer Radio Show, we’re talking about internal and external environments and choosing these with awareness so that they can be more conducive to wellbeing.

This Tuesday, I had an interview with Dennis Enright and Vermis the Worm, which I had taped a few months ago. Dennis and Vermis had important tips about soil health and looking after the worms.

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Vermis the Worm

I talked about the psychological soil that goes into developing us. If we think about our beliefs as a tree with the beliefs as tree trunks, the soil that grows those beliefs is our experiences. We learn not only from what was told to us, but also what we felt and observed.  So, when we observed how important women in our lives were spoken to or treated, that gives us a template for how women are treated. We also learn by what wasn’t done as well as what was done. When we were hurt or scolded for being a particular way, we learn a rule “it’s bad to be that way”. When praise is omitted or affection withheld, we learn another rule – I am not worthy of love. These experiences are incredibly powerful.

Our current experiences also matter though – like a tree, we are constantly growing. Those in our environment now can really nourish the soil of our growth or not. So, my invitation to you is to consider your beliefs about yourself and where they come from. Looking at those beliefs that no longer serve you, where did those come from? Also, are there people in your current environment who nourish you or who aid in these negative beliefs?

The visualisation I did on the show was about tuning into that younger hurting part of ourselves and sending messages of love and affection; holding that part in gentleness.

What experiences do you find, enrich your psychological soil?

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Image courtesy of Tusita Studio via Pixabay

A Special Project for my Daughter

A Special Project for my Daughter

[Warning; I’m writing about pregnancy loss]

This project has been growing inside me for so long – I don’t even know how long. Perhaps it was from the moment my daughter was born. Perhaps it was in the months that followed. Perhaps it was in the weeks, months, and years (hard to believe it; it feels like just yesterday that my daughter was born) that followed as women gifted me their stories of pregnancy related losses.

Losses that Change Us

There are all manner of losses that can change how we are. Perhaps it’s the loss of an imagined future when a pregnancy and birth aren’t what we had hoped for, perhaps it’s the loss of a physical part of ourselves or a disability that arises from pregnancy, perhaps it’s a traumatic birth, or perhaps it’s the loss of a child.

A lack of language

There are so many losses that we can experience and what I’ve seen is that we do not have the language to validate these experiences and that, too often, women (and men) present later on with issues that are not always traced back to the pregnancy related experience that gave rise to it. I’m thinking, for example of the woman who keeps trying to lose weight who reveals that life changed after a miscarriage when she no longer liked or trusted her body; another woman who has never forgiven herself for undergoing an abortion. A beautiful man tells me about the loss of a child – he has never told anyone else and there are no words for how deeply this loss has changed how he is in the world. People talk to me all the time about the children their mothers lost and I know in how they talk and how they are that even though their mother did not talk about these other pregnancies and children, that the mother’s mothering was affected as were the interactions with her living children.

My daughter’s mission and mine

I feel strongly that my daughter’s mission in this life is to help us voice these pregnancy related losses. To acknowledge these experiences. To celebrate all our children.  To understand that pregnancies and births are not always straightforward. To understand that loss in pregnancy can take different forms and profoundly affect the very identity of the pregnant woman as well as those around her. This is my daughter’s mission and I have been entrusted with it.

My Project

Last year, I made a recording of meditations for pregnancy related loss. I’ll be releasing this album in late September ahead of Baby Loss October.  Please join me in spreading the word that we need to talk about pregnancy related loss with compassion and understanding.

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Image courtesy of hpgruesen via Pixabay

Getting through a Struggle

Getting through a Struggle

Sometimes things are a struggle, sometimes a challenge, and sometimes an adventure.

“How long can a baby continue screaming like this?” I wondered, as I held Ant and tried to get him to sleep. We were both not well and I was eagerly waiting to go to bed. Nothing was working…time seemed treacle-like. I was achy, feverish, and exhausted. My throat was painful.

Unfortunately, tiredness and lack of sleep are two perfect conditions for cultivating overthinking.

I started focussing on getting through each moment, using my “Jedi Stance”, my soles of the feet mindfulness exercise (where I focus attention on my feet and the ground and keep re-directing my attention back there) and deliberating trying to focus on generating gratitude. I was so grateful, for example, that the boys’ father was taking care of Bear so I could focus on Ant.

Two hours later, after trying various things,  I was so relieved to get into bed and was initially excited about feeling that sensation that happens as you enter sleep (do you know the one?) happening so fast. I quickly realised though that I was fainting and I immediately worried about what would happen to Ant if he woke and I was still unconscious. I hurled myself out of bed and grabbed my phone. The motion combined with everything else made me vomit repeatedly and I tried to get through to someone who could help. I didn’t feel I knew what to do except that I was worried about fainting and not looking after Ant. I phoned the hospital who put the call through to our national Healthline service. It was very difficult to speak and the person on the other end of the phone kept asking me so many questions. I wanted to drive to the ED but worried that I might faint en route. She wasn’t able to tell me what the cost of an ambulance would be so I ended up bundling up Ant and taking a taxi dressed in my dressing gown. Later, when less delirious, I remembered there were others I could have rung – I just knew I didn’t have much time and needed to get seen as soon as possible.

The hospital staff were utterly amazing, as usual, and kept me and Ant overnight. Ant fed almost continuously from about 9pm to 3am then he slept for 1.5 hours. He then woke and fed again for an hour before sleeping for an hour. Even though I wasn’t sure that I had any milk left the hospital staff were amazing and supportive. They came in and checked on me frequently. It was a busy ED on a friday night and yet one consultant calmly rocked Ant while I went to the bathroom. Another nurse aide took him for a 15 minute walk of the ward so that I could have a nap. No one suggested that Ant was unusual or that I was not capable.

Back home the next day though, Ant continued to feed and feed and I was so exhausted and still feverish. I used the same three strategies I had used before to get through. I deliberated – should I try to give Ant a small amount of formula? Ant’s weight has recently been dropping and I had been hoping to just get to 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding. Friends rallied and were supportive of doing what I needed to do to care for Ant. I was so tired and I could feel myself getting more and more into my head so I stopped and simply held my little boy and felt how hungry he was. How tired he was. How he wanted to rest but wasn’t getting enough milk.

I remembered I had some frozen breast milk! Aha! I hadn’t been able to keep building up my frozen supply with being ill but there was one packet. Ant drank it thirstily and still wanted more. The choice was then easy – I had to look after him and after a small amount of formula and breastfeeding, he finally, exhaustedly, fell asleep, and so did I.

So today, after having had some sleep, the world looks different. I feel better although still feverish and slowed down. Things feel like more of a challenge and even an adventure. I’m over 3.5 hours into trying to help Ant fall asleep and stay asleep. Tonight, however, I’ve had a lot of cups of tea (which I really enjoy), we’ve listened to music from my university days in the background, and Ant has allowed me to type this in my darkened study while feeding, being held, and rocked. He even contributed by waving his hands and deleting a line of text! And today, I’m even more grateful – that I was able to just focus on Ant and I because Bear was taken care of by their father, for medical staff, for friends, for living in a world where there is a something that I can do for my child when I’m struggling to feed him.

Even in winter though, in Dunedin, when there is snow on the mountains, there are jonquils emerging in my backyard. There is a brighter day ahead!

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Juggling Curve Balls

It’s tricky being the sole income earner while also trying to have Bear in minimum daycare and Ant at home while he breastfeeds so frequently. I’ve taken a leap and hired a lovely nanny to be with us some of the time to help me do some work. It’s a leap because, as those of you who are self-employed and with very young babies know, it’s hard to predict income.

I was very grateful to have our nanny with us while I recorded last week’s show. Bear was unexpectedly with us because he was sick. He wanted to be in the studio though and that’s why you can hear his voice in the background. at one point he wanted to take his shoes off (and I had a little conversation with him). I didn’t edit this out because this is how life is at the moment and if parents/breastfeeding mothers are to be visible in professional settings, then we have to accept that they will be with their children! Although I pre-record, I try to record all of my show at once, as  if we were on air. It does make it tricky though…At one point, Bear was on my lap, trying on my headphones as I recorded the meditation. At another point, he moved my timer button so I wasn’t sure how long Lucas Deschamps of NaturAlley and I had been talking for! Lucas coped like a champ though and gave a magnificent interview. I learnt so much! Do you know, for example, that inorganic celery may actually be toxic?

Now, speaking of juggling, my guest on today’s show can literally (and figuratively) juggle!!  Very excited that Nicola Brown, of NIBL (Nature’s Ingredients Brought to Life) is on my show today. Listen online: www.oar.org.nz.

Conscious Food July – The Conscious Adventurer

Conscious Food July – The Conscious Adventurer

I believe living more consciously includes becoming kinder to ourselves, each other, and our world. I’m so excited about my new radio show The Conscious Adventurer on Otago Access Radio, 105.4FM and 1573 AM, Tuesdays at noon. You can listen in from www.oar.org.nz or download the podcasts from Itunes. Each month has a theme and for each show, I’ll do a short talk with psychological tips, then guide you through a mediation or visualisation related to the theme, then interview someone connected with the theme.

On The Conscious Adventurer, In July,  we’ll be looking at our relationship with Food and we’ll be bringing more awareness to our food choices. I’ll be interviewing Lucas Deschamps of Natureally – an organic cafe with loads of vegan fare, one of our favourite places to eat in Dunedin; Nicola Brown, a clinical psychologist and creator of NIBL, Tracey Loughran, a naturopath of Flourish and the Taste of Success Weight loss programme and Pip Wood of FoodShare.

That’s The Conscious Adventurer, Tuesdays at noon on Otago Access Radio, 105.4FM, 1573AM and podcast from www.oar.org.nz and Itunes.

My first guest, on Tuesday, 5th of July is Lucas Dechamps of Naturealley. Lucas is pretty passionate about organic food and food packaging, amongst other things.How many disposable coffee cups do you think we, in NZ, dispose of every year? Do you know that the vast majority of these are not biodegradable? What questions would you like to put to Lucas?

Food Conscious July

Microgreens, Gardening with a Toddler, and Self-Care

Microgreens, Gardening with a Toddler, and Self-Care

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“Whooshoo…whoo…” said Bear earnestly, his eyes wide, standing at the back door. I was changing Ant’s nappy. “What’s that, little one?” I asked. “Whoo shoo…come!” he insisted. With Ant in tow, I went to the garden, not suspecting a single thing. And there it was…

I didn’t have my camera with me, so I will just have to describe Exhibit A. One container that had housed microgreen seeds and soil. Now, it housed mainly water. Bear had very carefully watered it and the seeds had overflowed into the garden. There was little choice but to laugh and hope that perhaps this unusually warm weather might see some of the seeds grow.

Several weeks later, here there are:

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Growing microgreens has been part of trying to grow more of what we (could) eat. Doing that has been part of more consciously and mindfully eating and being a more conscious and mindful consumer. I also feel that this is related to self-care and care for my boys – I’d been thinking quite a bit about self-care as I’ve been sick for some time.

I’ve been looking at various things Self-Care related and this blog post by Bruce Thao popped up in my newsfeed, titled “Self-Care is a Lie”. Bruce Thao makes some thought provoking points including that (1) we are not taught how to self care, (2) that we are praised and programmed to care for others above ourselves and (3) that after we have worked long hours at work and home, it is expected that we should care for ourselves. He says “we are set up to fail” and talks about the systems that are operating that are not helpful. He also talks about switching from thinking about our Sole Gain to our Soul’s Gain.

And this Gardening with a Toddler endeavour? Hopefully this is part of how Bear and Ant will learn to grow their own food and be aware of what they eat.

Any tips on gardening with a toddler? On growing your own? On self-care?

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