motherhood, seasons

Always new beginnings

September 28, 2016
Drawing Chalk on the Path

Some days it can feel that my life has slowed way down since I became a mama. I expected it of course, and yet it’s a whole different thing to experience it. This week we are attempting potty training for the first time, which means we’re out and about even less than usual, enjoying simple tasks like colouring chalk on the garden path, making granola, building duplo towers and boats. It’s so lovely in many ways, but I still find myself yearning for a faster pace – my plans and ideas haven’t slowed down.

What wise friends keep reminding me, is that this is just another season in this journey of life, with its cycles and beginnings and endings.

This year, and one week after the autumn equinox, it strikes me that even as I experience the gradual turning away from the sun, someone far far south, is seeing the world around them begin to brighten again.

It’s always this way too. As parts of our lives slow down or go into hibernation, perhaps even die, other parts are stirring in the belly, being brought to life, rising up through the soil.

We sat on the bench outside the garden door this morning drinking our coffee and babycino, and Kaya pointed up at the tree. “Look, orange!” One large loan leaf bravely beginning to cycle through the wheel of fiery colours towards it’s dropping.

Letting go, even allowing something to end, can be a stunningly beautiful thing in the right season.

May I be a woman who always sees what is rising, notices what is beginning, as well as what is disappearing, and my I see the beauty in the letting go.

memories, She Loves Magazine, women

Mum’s Accounting Quilt (a story about being all of who you are)

September 21, 2016
Accounting Quilt

When my mum finished secondary school, she had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. The school’s careers adviser apparently passed her an A-Z book of careers and told her to pick. She got as far as Ac – Accounting – and decided, I could do that.

In the UK in the 70s, not a lot of women were training to be accountants. Lectures were routinely 90% male so to say my mum was outnumbered is something of an understatement. I’ve always been proud that she chose that path, that she had the courage and belief in herself to walk into a hall where she stood out and say, I belong here. And then go on to be a successful business owner. Her drive and her leadership skills inspire me.

But perhaps my favourite story from those college years is one about a quilt.

Mum tells us that some lectures (like the ones on tax law) were information heavy and you spent the hour furiously scribbling notes. Others though, were less about note taking and more sitting and listening. My mum is not one for sitting still without something to do. If you put a blank notepad in front of her it will be full of doodles within ten minutes. She says it helps her to concentrate when her hands are busy.

And so she started bringing her quilting to class. Small bits of material from the dressmaking scraps of clothes my Granny was making at the time or old dresses of her own. One by one they were stitched into neat little hexagons ready to be sewn together once she got home that night…

 

It’s my mum’s birthday today (Happy Birthday!!) so it seems fitting that my monthly SheLoves post is a story about her, a story of one way she chose to embrace all of who she was, unapologetically. I’m telling it for her (coz even the strongest women need reminding of their worth) and also for you, for any woman who needs the reminder that you don’t have to quieten or hide any part of yourself in order to be acceptable.

We need you with all your beautiful contradictions, all your stereotype-defying qualities and interests, all your this-is-who-I-am boldness. Read the rest of the story over at She Loves Magazine.

 

memories

The space created by loss (a story of a tree)

September 20, 2016
The space created by loss

I took the kids back to my parent’s home last week, while Rasmus was away on a training course. They still live in the house I grew up in, in a small English countryside village. Our house was nearly new when we moved in, with a smallish garden, but it had an enormous horse chestnut tree towering over it, the tallest in the village. Every year it gave us a huge harvest of conkers, which we’d eagerly gather up from the garden every day. When we got older and that game was less fun, neighbouring children would instead come and knock on the back door and ask to come in and collect them. I have always loved conkers – they are the symbol of autumn arrived for me, their shiny chocolate skins glistening through the sharp green shells.

That tree was cut down this year. After a long life and ministry of bringing joy to conker-collecting children, it began to rot inside, and so became dangerous to the many people walking along the footpath under it’s branches and my parents had to sadly order its felling. My mum worked from home that morning and sent us photos as the workers brought it down. It felt like the end of an era. My bedroom overlooked the garden and was closest to the tree. For all the years of my childhood I could lie in bed and all I would see from the window was its branches – bare and frosty in the winter, covered in candle blossoms and large green leaves in the spring. I loved that tree.

Last week was our first trip back since the tree had come down, and I was a little nervous about seeing the garden without it. But as I pulled open the sliding back door and stepped out into the garden, the first thing I felt was a sense of space. Kaya and I walked around the laid out flowerbeds and stood on the little wooden bridge across the stream, and I felt like there was so much more light and air in the garden. Looking up, there was such a large expanse of sky.

The loss of the tree has also brought new blessings to that space. No more blossom in the spring and conkers in the autumn, but instead the morning sun floods every corner of the garden where once the branches kept it in shadow. I miss the sound of wind whisking the leaves into a spin, but I got to sit and watch the clouds pass overhead in the windy autumn sky.

Later we went to visit our neighbours. They are elderly now, and we always drop around unannounced, but the door is held wide, and the kettle is already boiling by the time we get or shoes off. Oskar fell asleep on their sofa while Kaya watered the tomatoes in their back garden and we caught up on our passing lives. As we were leaving, I was struck by the emptiness in front of me, seeing our own garden from a new angle and I commented on the loss. “Yes”, my kind neighbour replied, “It was sad to see it go. But look, now we can see that beautiful Sycamore over the road. I had never looked at it much before, but it has such a lovely shape.”

We stood and took in this new view, one containing both loss and gain. An old friend gone, a new one revealed.

I know very often I look back and mourn the loss of good things that have passed, seasons that have ended, relationships that have gradually shifted. Didn’t someone say the only constant in life is change? I know that to be true, but I’m not always good about learning how to accept and embrace those changes. The space on the ground and in the air where that tree once stood is reminding me to look for the new blessings that have space to grow and flourish.