Friday, May 11, 2018

Book Review: Lucy's Moon circles book


Moon Circle: Rediscover intuition, wildness and sisterhood
A book by Lucy AitkenRead from the Lulastic and the Hippyshake blog

The moon circle Lucy describes reminds me of the ideal parent-child relationship, a connection of complete acceptance, one of unconditional love. Everyone needs a place like that to hang out.

I should disclose that I have been part of many moon circles and rituals over the years and in various different places in the world. Reading Lucy’s book evoked those times for me. (If you see me in a boardroom next week we could have a whispered conversation in the stairwell or at the coffee machine.) I don’t think I have ever read a book about moon circles and I was really curious about how one would go about putting words to what is sometimes quite a surreal, sacred experience.

I get to hang out with Lucy sometimes so I was a bit like ‘whoa, crap, I hope I like her book’, because you know, that’s always kind of awkward. Happy to report that I was drawn into those pages and pleasantly carried away. I hadn’t planned to sit down and read it all in one go but that’s what I did. That says a lot. I loved reading about her experiences in the circle. Reading the book is a little bit like being welcomed in.

Lucy shares her stories with you, talks about the history of women gathering, how her circle started, what role the circle plays in the greater picture of our lives and she finishes with a piece on how to structure your own circle.

There were a few places where my thoughts and Lucy’s parted ways but that’s okay. That’s actually really good. I don’t want to read stuff I could have written myself! Lucy pulls this quote from S Monk Kidd, ‘Solidarity is identifying with one another without feeling like you have to agree on every issue. It’s unity, not uniformity. It’s listening without rushing in to fix the problem.’ I like that.

The book was surprising to me in a few ways. It was funny and real, which I loved. I didn’t expect the humour. It’s like hanging out with Lucy – which in my experience involves the warmth of connection, deep conversation, laughter and frequent interruptions from children. Ha!
The bits that stuck in my mind like burrs were, the importance of belonging and how we all need a safe place to vent and be valued for all facets of ourselves, and a place where we can speak aloud of fears and dreams and expand our worlds through listening to others.
If you need reassurance that sisterhood is possible, if you’re missing a vital connection to the natural world, if you need a safe place to rage or celebrate, then this book, and circling, is for you.
The last two pages are my favourite, I think I might print them out and put them up above my desk.

Read it and tell me what you think! You can get it HERE. It would be the most awesome Mama's day gift, if you're into celebrating that one. x 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Chilean guavas


In my mind, these pages are full of news and photos of a very full and wonderful summer. Sorry that posts have been a bit sparse. I have been thinking, and talking to others, about what to do with this space. It's been hard to prioritise GrowMama in the midst of a busy work and homeschooling life but I have missed it. And from the email and messages, some of you have too.
GrowMama might get a wee overhaul over the coming time. A new project or two will launch here. But the core flavour will remain the same. I look forward to sharing the new journey with you.

In other news, has anyone got Chilean guava growing in their garden? Our last rental home had some but the birds got to them first and this year, in our new home, we had so many I couldn't keep up and got to give lots away. So delicious. Kind of sweet and spicy at the same time. I love that we have so many fruit bushes and trees established here. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Green goddess dressing


Introducing this week’s culinary highlight. I have tried making variations of the Green Goddess dressing many times over the years but none as good as this one.
It’s a landmark day folks. Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen’s cookbook, It’s All Good, strikes again.

I would never have combined basil and coriander leaf, but in that mix of ingredients, it totally works. Even the resident fussy person likes it. And chose to dip his sausage rolls in it instead of tomato sauce, so that’s a massive stamp of approval. 

It’s been used as a salad dressing, dip, sandwich spread and as part of a garnish so far.
I didn’t have all the ingredients in the house, so I tweaked it slightly. I only hope I can recreate the finished product.

It lasts a week in the fridge and is likely to become a kitchen staple. So good!

Green Goddess dressing

10 basil leaves
3 tablespoon chopped chives
2 tablespoon coriander leaf
1/4 cup Italian parsley
Leaves from tarragon sprig 
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1/2 ripe avocado
1/4 cup vegenaise or mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey or xylitol
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of a lemon (approx 1/4 cup)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
sea salt and pepper to season

Er, Julia and Gywneth give step by step instructions (and you can google those if you want 'em!) but I just chuck everything in the blender, hit 'BLEND' and call it done. 
xx


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Validation Day


When I talk about Twin Oaks Community, I still say 'we'. A part of me is still there I think. I still have dear friends still living at Twin Oaks. I talk about life there because communal living is rich in lessons on how to live more sustainably, the importance of art and activism in daily life and sharing resources. I have given many talks on Twin Oaks and workshops on Creating Healthy Culture, and one of the stories I find myself telling over and over again, is about the culture at Twin Oaks. One overt hijacking of popular culture at Twin Oaks is Validation Day. 
Tomorrow (in the Southern Hemisphere) is February 14th, Valentines Day. At Twin Oaks, it's Validation Day. 
A few weeks ago communards signed up to make cards for each other. These are no ordinary cards. They are works of art, many pages long. The cards sit in a box in Zhankoye, the main kitchen/dining/living room building, and people take time to write messages of validation in each one. The idea is that even if two people have been clashing over business decisions or personal issues they can still access things they value about the other person. Life is busy and lived full-tilt at Twin Oaks, I reckon one year in the commune is worth three in the outside world, and it is easy to let the months and years roll by without stopping to reflect and really appreciate fellow communards. Even those you share a house with. 

Tomorrow night there will be a glorious feast and after everyone has eaten and gathered in the main dining room an MC will read excerpts out of Validation Day cards and the crowd makes wild guesses about whose card it is. Then the recipient goes up to collect their card. It's touching and fun and is the perfect lead up to the Validation Day party later that night. Folks get dressed up, the kissing booth may make an appearance, there is a dating game for those who want to be involved. Wild dancing ensues. Quite possibly to an in-house band. There are about 100 people resident at Twin Oaks, plus visitors and various ex-members stopping by so it's no small thing. 

I have one surviving Validation Day card and it's one of my most treasured possessions. I pulled it out this week and realised it's the best of antidotes to impostor syndrome. It made me miss my tribe there. And the land. I look forward to taking my boy one day. I'm not into the commercialism of Valentine's Day but I miss Validation Day. 

Also, an aside - Two of the most amazing people I know were born on February 14th. Happy Birthday Tobias and Willow! 




Saturday, February 10, 2018

The aftermath of floods


This time last week I was up to my knees in silt and debris at a friends place, cleaning up after a big flood. The stream in their valley broke it's banks. Those banks are at least 2-3 metres high. It was impressive. Cars got swamped, houses went under and my friend's half-pipe skateboard ramp was picked up, moved 5 metres and smashed into two pieces. The power of the water is awe-inspiring, and upsetting for those whose lives get caught up in it. Community spirit was out in force the next day though, with people turning up with tools and trailers to help clean up. That was pretty cool.

It made me realise how much energy I spent preparing for flooding, keeping an eye on the stream levels and cleaning up debris after floods at our old house. The stream was a joy most of the time, but it was only a few metres from the front door. Both of us are still deeply sad to have been moved on from our old place (it's now an Air bnb) but I won't miss the floods. One of the perks to living in our little house on the hill. No floods and oh, the sunsets!

The weather packed it in again today. We're back on cyclone alert with massive rainfall expected. We've gone from unusually high summer temperatures - up into the thirties, centigrade - to our usual twenties and the humidity is sky high. My least favourite weather. Our outing got cancelled today and we ended up mooching at home. Which was perfect. I was out at a concert on Friday night and the boy was sleeping over at a friends house in town. We were texting back and forth at 1am, with the younger of us unable to get to sleep. A bit of restful mooching time at home was just the thing this morning. We visited some friends in the afternoon and delivered dinner and freshly baked ginger biscuits to another friend whose very unwell. It was just the right ratio of mooch:peopling. I hope your Sunday was all you needed too.