12 Nov 2015


The morning game of "spot the jacaranda" has quietened somewhat. At every turn the purple foliage now dominates the suburban landscape. A beacon of sorts it's a reminder that even on the dull and grey days there is beauty to be seen, there is always beauty. And so, on one such grey afternoon we were found scooping up handfuls of fallen blossoms. Why? Because they were there and they were beautiful.

Then the rain came. While the warmth indoors fogged our windows we sat together, all five of us, and threaded. Honey, lemon and ginger tea for sore throats and the meditative process of selecting a flower, piercing it with the needle, gently pulling it along the cotton. Over and over, flower after flower until only the crumpled ones remained. Hung from the kitchen curtain the light illuminating their shape, their colour, their beauty suspended for just a little longer. Nothing spectacular, no raucous laughter or bountiful chatter. Just rain and flowers and people veiled by calm on an ordinary Sunday afternoon.

By the next day our jacaranda garlands were brown and hung limp and lifeless. By the end of the week, the memory of that wet afternoon had faded into the background of a busy household. Without the trumpets sounding of a fancy dinner out or a sparkly new toy, these moments are more often than not discarded from our memories.but it's these gentle times of togetherness that weave the fabric of home. Underlying all the five star moments are these quiet ones, the everyday ones, even the mundane ones. They're the boiled eggs with soldiers, the countless hair plaiting and games of drop the spoon, pick up the spoon, drop the spoon again.  It's the way he makes my tea just right, nudie runs after bath, and the carpet of crushed leaves on the car floor .

Their simplicity will be long forgotten; they'll be swept away by the constant mechanics of living. But over sweet time I hope they will steep this home and these people in feelings of warmth and slowness. Of this I am ever striving.

Steph x

10 Nov 2015

the mindful day - posture

My frame shows little evidence of my years of dancing; disciplined ballet with much emphasis on long muscles, grace and perfect posture.  Yes, my feet are still slightly turned out and bear the scars of pointe shoes,but sadly most of the long, lean muscle has deteriorated. My posture is the saddest victim of time, lack of care and child rearing. I've lost my core strength.

Carrying big babies in my belly and three unplanned caesarians have crippled my stomach muscles and the stoop I developed in protection of my wound lasted far beyond the physical healing.  I think it became my cloak against self guilt, ridicule and scrutinization. Feelings that were unjustified yet real. Feelings that I've long cast off. Yet the hunched shoulders remain and married with the classic baby on the hip stance, the muscle twinges are letting themselves be known. It's time to stand tall. To engage that core, stretch my spine and make room in my lungs for cleansing air.

With small cues about the house,  serene and tall Buddha statues, a simple note on the fridge and in the car, I'm drawing my attention to the way I stand, sit and move in a day. A few moments standing in tadasana, mountain pose is grounding and brings immediate awareness to my posture. Like a mountain rises from the earth, I align my feet strongly and "grow' up to the tip of my head. In the car I'm making sure my hips are square and that my body feels symmetrical before I start the engine. A minor adjustment to my seat and has also helped to alleviate the strain that "turtle neck"hunch common when driving. And at meals I'm mindful of squaring my body to the table and lengthening my spine.

The mindful day - becoming aware of your posture and making subtle shifts to bring balance. Feeling how it moves, and where it catches. Drawing back the shoulders, opening up the chest and standing, walking, sitting with pride and intention.

Steph x

5 Nov 2015

a creative life: process vs. product

Whether it's this time of year and the inevitable Christmas planning, or the injection of Spring creativity that often comes with a rise in temperature, but my mind and making baskets are all a whir. There are little gifts being secretly stitched come nightfall, natural dyed yarn for Wintry projects, dresses for my girls, a Summer veggie garden to plant and many ear marked recipes. But when the creative projects I have on the go resemble more of a "to do" list, it's time to step back and make just for making's sake. There's no denying that the completion of a creative task brings all manner of joy; the sense of accomplishment and pride are palpable. But often, the end product in mind can stifle the very imagination needed for its completion.

Back in my teaching days I could wax lyrical about the importance of the process over the end product. The best creative projects were the open ended ones with no defined outcome in mind. Children were encouraged to explore mediums, push the boundaries, immerse themselves in the tactile nature of something. Put simply, they were allowed to play. And without the pressure of a completed object they most often discovered new ways of doing. And isn't that the true nature of a creative mind?

So this week, find a tiny moment to just create. Weaving jasmine branches simply because the smell is intoxicating, doodling on a clean white page and letting your hands move freely, joining your babies for an afternoon of play dough. Who can refuse that squish? Or perhaps watercolour painting where the colours seep across the page; no scene, no figures, just colour. A chance to drop your shoulders, inhale a little deeper and bring your mind and body to a place of stillness. To make with your hands without judgement, to look at the world from another angle, to water the seed of creativity.

Steph x

2 Nov 2015

a small change: handkerchiefs

The sky is grey and the air thick with moisture. The gum trees outside my window have frothy streams running down their thick trunks; good, soaking rain as my Mum would call it. But after the rising temperatures of last week and the subsequent removal of flannelette sheets and woollen blankets off the beds, we've been caught off guard. There's socks on my feet and a light scarf about my neck come dusk as I try to shake off a persistent runny nose. All my babies have succumbed so there is much broth sipping, eucalyptus balm rubbing, on the lounge cuddling, and nose wiping.

Lately in our bid to live a waste-less life, we've done away with the box of tissues and replaced them with cotton handkerchiefs. Patterned, lacy, embroidered and most importantly, re-usable. In the handkerchiefs vs. tissues battle there is much to support that the humble cotton hankie is a more environmentally friendly alternative for catching sneezes. Tissue production requires more water, more energy and the landfill impact is considerable. And sadly, the majority of the tissues on the market are still made by using freshly cut trees.

 I started by rummaging through my underwear drawer and with my Grandmother's words in my ears, "A lady should always carry a white handkerchief", I found a few delicate, lace edged squares of her vintage- white of course. Next, I scoured my local op shops for pretty cast offs (they are often put with the doilies and embroidered ephemera of years gone by) and over a few weeks amassed a substantial collection; time worn and butter soft. Housed in a natural bolga basket, they can be transported from the linen cupboard to the bathroom bench should sniffles come calling.

And unlike the snotty tissues that seem to multiply around the house when everyone is sick, a used hanky goes straight into the washing hamper ready for a cold machine cycle and line drying in the sun. Hanging them out and folding them when they're dry is a lovely job for little helping hands too.

A small change: cotton handkerchiefs.