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Musings from the sea on creativity

I really, really enjoy all the creative time and space I get at the moment. Its one of the things I am most grateful for and try to be entirely unapologetic about. It makes me realise how much of that side of me has been unattended, unseen, unexplored because of the lack of time and headspace. It makes me realise how much creativity will lie dormant in so many other people, because of the lack of time and headspace.

Its easy to say you just have to prioritise this time, but I can very well remember that I was most of the time just functioning with all the responsibility I had and work that needed doing in my businesses, around the house and garden, in our household. the social commitments etc. I am so grateful for this time to explore this side of me, drawing, writing, reading, listening to audiobooks, and doing crochet.

2 of my recent drawings. I usually make a quick sketch or a note in my journal if an inspiration comes in and when I get a moment I can bring them to life with my paint brush. I am secretly dreaming of these becoming cards and a book one day. 

I am just slowly reading bits of the book “Out of our minds” by Sir Ken Robinson – all about creativity, creative thinking and living. Its really reaffirming. Lots of the things I have been thinking and feeling were out of kilter for me in previous years and that brought me to where I am today. The structures for my life had to be rearranged in a big way quite a few times so that I can feel aligned and fulfilled. Each time in those big shifts I was scared, fearful and doubtful and each time (so far so good) it was the best move ever. It doesn’t mean everything is perfect and I float on a rosy cloud, but it means I can live more aligned and closer to my truth and heartspace.

I also simultaneously work my way through the book “The Artists way” by Julia Cameron chapter by chapter . One thing that made me chuckle yesterday was a quote I came across in this book:

“Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” Erica Jong

I also got my first sunburn, as I was reading right in this spot in the hammock and it felt too nice to feel sun on my skin again after months of cold and winter.

Its all good while its all good, but when things go wrong there is only me that is to blame for making bold, brave and out of the box decisions. That is a bit scary, it feels so convenient and comforting having the possibility to blame someone else. Our kids are masters at this 😉 and at making star art – Luca below working with his origami stars and Nina’s on the right side making a wordspiration box. So proud that both of them can express in so many creative ways.

Another thing I noticed is that I go through cycles with my creativity. I have burst of inspiration for drawing. If I ignore them they keep niggling until I get my brush out. Then there might be nothing for a few weeks or even months until a new inspiration or niggle comes. Same with my writing – there are times when I feel really inspired to write and times when nothing will come. There are crochet projects that just work and feel right and there are some that don’t and get undone. I found this quote in the same book that reassured me:

“Marathon runners suggest you slot ten slow miles for every fast one. The same holds true for creativity.”

Here are some of my crochet projects from the last few weeks – a blanket for me, a shirt for me and shirt for Nina. Its colour therapy, a moving meditation, a quite space of creation and fulfillment. 

And I also marked these in bright pink in my book:

“Anyone honest will tell you that possibility is far more frightening than impossibility, that freedom is far more terrifying than any prison. If we do, in fact, have to deal with a force beyond ourselves that involves itself in our lives, then we may have to move into action on those previously impossible dreams.”

“I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.” (Gosh did we need that seatbelt in the last 1.5 years!)

“In my experience, the universe falls in with worthy plans and most especially with festive and expansive ones. I have seldom conceived a delicious plan without being given the means to accomplish it. Understand that the what must come before the how. First choose what you would do. The how usually falls into place of itself.”

” Take a small step in the direction of a dream and watch the synchronous doors flying open. Seeing, after all, is believing. And if you see the results of your experiments, you will not need to believe me. Remember the maxim ‘leap and the net will appear’.”

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace, and power in it.” -Goethe-

Here are some actions for reflection from the book, that you could work on this month:

  • Where does your time go? List your five major activities this week. How much time did you give to each one? Which were what you wanted to do and which were shoulds? How much of your time is spent helping others and ignoring your own desires?
  • Take a sheet of paper. Draw a circle. Inside that circle, place topics you need to protect. Place the names of those you find to be supportive. Outside the circle, place the names of those you must be self protective around just now. Use this map to support your autonomy.
  • List 20 things you enjoy doing. When was the last time  you let yourself do these things? Next to each entry, place a date. Can you do and schedule some of these in the next week/month?

I would love to hear and see your creative projects and any thoughts that might come up for you reading / seeing this.

And lastly a beautiful quote that touched me:

I shut my eyes in order to see. – Paul Gauguin-

My yoga mat is one of the places where I find peace, inspiration, where I shut my eyes, listen to my body, move stagnant energy, place some oils on my body, breathe deeply, feel the wind and sun on my skin, smell the salt in the air, close my eyes to see…

 

 

 

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Thoughts about crochet and life

As most of you who follow me on social media would know by now I have a new hobby – crochet. The last 2 weeks I have been sitting stationary a lot of the time with a moving needle in my hands attached to a ball of cotton, quietly growing rows and row of stitches.

Then because of a fellow cruiser reminding me of my local library card I signed up to the library app and checked out the audio books. So soon I was sitting there crocheting with my earplugs in, listening to Brene Brown and Deepak Chopra. Deepak inspired me to make a commitment to sit at least 30 minutes a day in meditation, ideally 1 hour – 30 in the morning, 30 in the evening. I had been doing it spontaneously when I felt like it, but if I can’t make a commitment for a regular 30 minutes now while we are cruising, then its never going to happen.

Last night when I sat down for my mediation I had this thought and lines for a story and memories come up related to my new crochet activity, so this morning I knew there wouldn’t be a successful meditation until I have written down what came to me last night. So here we go.

Memories and Traditions

The thing is I am not really a newbie to crochet. When I was little, living a tiny village in East Germany I spend many weekends and school holiday days with my great aunty Imi. Imi didn’t have children of her own. She lived in the same village in the oldest house. It didn’t have a flushing toilet, it was creaky small, but oh so homely and comfortable. She passed away a few years ago and I haven’t been back to Germany since. It will be so hard when I visit again and there is no Imi and seeing the old house transformed by a new family who lives there now.

The times with Imi are some of my fondest childhood memories of peace, quite and loving attention. I had 2 rowdy brothers you see and there was always something going on in the house, my parents both working fulltime where always busy attending to the house, our various needs, cooking, gardening, building as parents do. I didn’t like going on holiday camps – I was an introvert. Things like that scared and worried me. At Imi’s house I could just be. The days where simple and lined with rhythm around meals, gardening, crafting, cleaning. I can remember the afternoons with cups of coffee and cake, watching old black & white movies while working on our crafts projects.

The coffee was served in the old German traditional porcelain cups and plate sets with the pretty flowers on them. They used to collect them. At birthdays and special occasions the table would be extended, the good tablecloths came out and I could set the table with the pretty cups admiring all the beautiful patterns, finding the matching sets and choosing my favorite.

She taught me how to do many of those things. I used to do crochet pot holders, do cross stitch and even tried to crochet those tiny fiddly edges around the white, thin handkerchiefs, asking her every row what’s next and her fixing my mistakes when I made them. I had a whole collection of those handkerchiefs in all colors and patterns. They where gifted to me for my birthdays and Christmases and I had a special case for them looking at them often and admiring the handwork. I am not sure what happened to them. They might still be in one of the boxes at my parents house that never made it to New Zealand. There was always a basket with wool and a project going at Imi’s house until her hands where too knotty and old to handle the needles.

I had the full attention of a loving adult all the time all to myself. I think that was the special thing, that felt so good. Her husband was a shouty, mostly grumpy chimney cleaner. But she handled him with the patience of an angel and had a heart of gold. My mum said Imi was so good if you kicked her in the butt she would still say thank you. She was a picture of kindness – some would call it naïve. She wasn’t naïve I think. Her husband was tight with money, but she found ways to put a few coins aside here and there in a secret jar in the kitchen. I can remember that I would stamp his chimney cleaning receipts – he would give me a stack and when he would give me a east German 1 mark for it. Then, once he was out of sight Imi went to her secret jar and gave me another 1 Mark.

Her household was simple and she treasured the things she had, many going back to the time when she first created the household. It wasn’t like now where everything had to be replaced by something newer or better or more automatic.

While my fondest and most vivid memories are of Imi I see the tradition of hand crafting weaved through my family in Germany and through Tim’s family in New Zealand. My mum also knits and crochets and she used to sew us costumes for carnival and explored all sorts of projects when she could carve out time from her busy full time working mum life. When mum saw our projects going on, she sent me a photo of a cross stitch my great grandmother made in 1912 when she was 12 years old and a photo of the potholders my mum made.

I don’t have many memories of my grandmother crafting. She taught me how to mend things. She always had a basket with socks and things that had holes in them. One of the fascinations where the button tins. When they disposed of old old clothing, they would cut the buttons off and keep them for another project. I would spend hours looking through Imi’s and my grandmothers button jars admiring all the different textures and shapes.

When we left for the boat I took a facecloth that Tim’s mother Helen gifted me, a Tunisian crochet that she made and it inspired me to try to crochet again.

Her 2 sisters and mother where knitting from an early age and our children where lucky enough to sport the beautifully creations of Helen all through their time as babies and toddlers and even now. Nina has a knitted jersey with her that Helen made.

Tim’s birth mother Marie is also an amazing crafter. She made Nina and I the most amazing sewing kits that we both took to the boat. Each time I look at it I wonder where she gets the patience and skill from to create these special things. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

Tim’s sister is also a clever crafter. She has immersed in many projects sewing and crocheting. Her house and household gives me glimpes of Imi’s house. A deep appreciation of simple things, rhythms around gardening and food and herbal creations and lots of old porcelain and glass. All combined with huge, kind heart and love for her friends, local community and area.

I bet most of us have memories of traditional crafts. Since becoming a mother and working full time I have had a deep desire to reconnect to those traditions, but often the lack of time and daily grind to make ends meet made me collapse into bed at night. The focus was on providing good food and healthcare to my family along with contributing financially to make ends meet and learning to be a good parent and wife.

There was always a wool basket at our home. Both our kids had handwork at school and Nina loves crafting. From an early age she had “nimble” fingers as our friend Marie would say. She wasn’t even one when she already correctly held a pen. She doesn’t like to work with patterns and makes up things a lot. She loved felting at home. I am pretty sure crafting will be part of her life one way or another.

Since I have started crocheting on the boat she joined my new obsessions and sits for hours with an audiobook in her ears creating hats and handwarmers and pouches for our floating family. I hope that she will remember those times as much as I remember my times crafting when I was young and sows a seed to sit quietly and create when she is grown up. It warms my heart to see her sitting so content, creating with her hands.

The worth of hand work

When I was making facecloths for the girls in our cruising flotilla as a gift, the thought occurred to me that I could try and sell them to make a bit of money for our cruising kitty. But when my sister in law in told me they sold for $10 at the local organic shop in NZ that thought was immediately buried. It takes me a day to make a nice facecloth with a pretty boarder. The shop wants to make some money too, the wool costs money, so one might make $5 for a day’s work.

I have always appreciated home and hand made things, but it made me realise that you really can’t put a fair monetary value on those hand made things. In fact the older I get the more the concept of selling my life off in hours for a wage doesn’t resonate. The older I get the more I realise that no one can put a value on the precious time we have left. In the last year I know of 4 woman my age or younger 3 of them lost to cancer leaving behind their young children one undergoing treatment with cancer spread through her body. One of my motivations to go and live now – no one of know what’s around the corner. I know I would never regret the time we now get to spend with our kids in those special places, carving out time for the things we love – reading, drawing, cooking, exploring, crochet. We can always get back to the grind to earn money to live in the house to make ends meet.

So gifting handmade things seem seems to resonate a lot more. When I gift a facecloth to someone, I gift them with a day of my precious life, with love and attention. When I get gifted something handmade I really, really appreciate the effort and automatically treasure the things a lot more. I would much rather use my mother in laws crochet facecloth than the one I bought at Ikea for $2. Each time I pull out Marie’s sewing kit to get a needle I admire her handwork.

Relaxation and Guilt

I grew up in Germany with parents who where always doing and working. Apart from an afternoon nap on weekends and the yearly holiday I rarely saw them sitting still. Being busy would be multiplied by the glorification of busyness in our society when I got older. I was always doing until I was so empty as a young mother that I couldn’t remember when I last didn’t feel tired. I found refuge in yoga once a week and later became a yoga teacher myself. The more I learn about yoga, the more I realise that I need those teachings as much as my students to heal unhealthy habits, to erase the subconscious beliefs that don’t serve me anymore, to take better care of myself and be a role-model to my children that resonates with my heart more not with my mind exclusively.

When I first started sitting with my crochet, the should’s and feelings of guilt started creeping in. I should be doing cleaning, washing, writing a blog, looking at the kids schoolwork, tidy up, do the dishes, find a sponsor. It made me realise how deeply ingrained the habit is of doing something that is creating monetary value or approved of being “productive” by our society. Somewhat in my mind handwork is not “productive”. It seems a luxury to just sit and make something “unnecessary”, “wasting” all this time. Where does this even come from? But looking at most of the busy mama’s I know I am not alone with this screwed up concept. Really its nobody’s business what I do with my time and realistically how many people would care if I sit for hours and days doing crochet.

I think a big part of my subconscious beliefs is scarcity thinking. There is not enough time, there is not enough money… So one needs to hustle all day, rush around to make the most of the little time we have and make ends meet. I know its rubbish thinking, but its so deeply ingrained, that its hard to get rid off.

So I try and make sure to consciously take time, lots of time now to do what I enjoy and try to throw the feelings of guilt and should’s overboard and invite trust and relaxation and just being instead of always doing. We have worked hard to have this time away, so we might as well enjoy it.

I try and make a point of resting, relaxing, selfcare. There where many years where I treated myself and my body very badly. I have a lot to catch up on and I want my kids to see that taking care of yourself, resting, relaxing, immersing oneself in creative projects is something worthwhile, necessary and natural part of life.

Enjoyable multitasking

The other lightbulb moment I had is that crafting and audiobooks / podcasts are a match made in heaven. I love reading, but I can’t do reading and crochet at once. Thank goodness for our local New Zealand library – who has audio book loans. This is the most relaxing multitasking I have discovered so far. You should try.

Colour and Texture therapy

One of the most enjoyable parts so far has been to choose projects. A few years ago when I created the facebook group “you made my day” in Hawke’s Bay to cultivate a sense of kindness and belonging in our community and to reassure myself that I live in a good world, a couple of ladies offered free crochet lessons. I always wanted to learn and went along. They gave me the most beautiful handout to take home with the basic stitches and some inspiring links. It even came to the boat inside a crochet book that sat on our bookshelf and in the hope that finally I would have enough time to try again. Claire reminded of the blog “Attic24” and I found a bag and blanket project. The lady uses lots of colours in her projects and I loved that.

In my corporate career in Berlin lots of my wardrobe was black and white and grey with little colour. One of the key messages of my first yoga teacher Doris that stuck with me was – wear colour, they affect how you feel. Ever since I have tried to incorporate more colour into my wardrobe and life in general.

When Nina and I went to the wool shop in Fethiye, Turkey I knew I wanted cotton thread, but there was very little selection for 100% cotton. Nina thought I was silly, but to me that the threads are natural is quite important. Wool feels too scratchy often, so I like cotton. I found a bamboo cotton mix with soft colours that I liked, although the colour selection was still limited and not really 100% what I had imagined. Then in the very bottom shelf a yarn caught my eye. The colours where stunning, just what I love and it was 100% hemp thread, so I immediately knew I needed to buy some. Its not suited for anything close to the skin as it feels scratchy, but would be good for the bag I wanted to make.

I think one of the joys of doing crochet or crafts projects is to play with colours and make your own creations. No creation will look exactly the same as the other, the pieces are all as individual as we human beings even if the same pattern and wool is used.

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Thoughts from the wheel

While I was at the wheel on one of our shake down sails guiding our boat to our destination I started thinking how much of sailing we can relate to life and the other way around. I thought how easily we can kid ourselves that we are in charge, just because we have a steering wheel in our hand – thinking we are in control. There are so many things that could happen and than can change the direction of our journey. As we have experienced just now, the perfect storm swept through before we even untied the lines. The weather can change anytime – we can’t necessarily rely on the weather forecast. We might meet other nice people at an anchorage and stay a few nights longer or we might have to move on early because of weather patterns. Or we might have repairs on the boat or need to stock up on groceries or move to a completely different country to renew a visa. When we planned this journey we planned to start where we pick the boat up. We have a rough idea which countries we want to visit and what our options are, but we didn’t make any plans. As it turns out now they would have been useless anyway.

I don’t know much about sailing yet, but from our few years with our trailer yacht I have experienced it as absolute bliss, really sucky and anything in between – just like life.

The ocean is beautiful, deep, unpredictable, wild, mysterious and whole lot of other things. I haven’t spend all that much time on the ocean, but I love to spend time at beaches or swim in it. Its beauty has always drawn me in, but its wildness, strength, the unimaginable depth and immenseness frightens me at times. I am curious to see how our relationship evolves over the next few months and hopefully years to come.

The ocean can be dead calm and we wish for a bit of wind and movement or sometimes we might just enjoy the calm for a little while and sometimes the wind and rain bobs our boat around on the waves, we might even get frightened and we long for the calm again. Just like life – life is beautiful, deep, unpredictable, wild and a whole lot of other things.

Our boat provides warmth, security, a sense of comfort, a home and maybe sometimes it causes us a whole lot of frustration, because things are not working as we want them to. So are our bodies – they are our homes in this lifetime. Only in the last 5 years have I gained a full sense of appreciation and gratitude for my beautiful body and all it does for me 24/7 for my whole lifetime and how badly I treated it for so many years. I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out. I have a lot of maintenance to catch up on on my vessel and I have learned to ease the grip on the steering wheel and be more playful and relaxed with the course I set for my journey, which already had several major detours, that I would have never envisaged as my future as young woman. Life is so surprising and spacious and sometimes it sucks, but if I have learned one thing from the bumpy ride so far is that after downs an up is not far away.

I have heard a talk of a swami once at a yoga festival. One of the things he said was, that one of the tricks for a happy life was to ride the waves more elegantly, sail in the right direction, adjust course when needed,  make sure you don’t go out into a storm if you only have a dinghy. If you want to ride bigger waves you need to ideally upgrade your boat so you don’t drown or get shipwrecked in heavy weather.

And most of all even if you are an experienced sailor – never stop learning. I heard Armando say yesterday that he has been into boating for 50 years and he is still learning every day. Another important lesson I learned through my grown up years – the more I learn, the more I realise that I know very little. As a young woman I thought I knew everything. My 13 year old reminds me of that stage ;-).

Wishing you all the best and happy sailing everyone.

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Wastefree Periods

In my teens and 20’s I was a tampon user. With the tampons and taking the contraceptive pill for many years came also lots of infections and medications to treat the infections. Then came the first child and an IUD. With the first child came awareness about alternative, better choices. When we were planning for our second child, that IUD came out I announced to Tim that I had done my time taking contraceptives and it was his turn. Luckily he agreed and one tiny invisible snip later we lived happily ever after.

I learned about all the nasty stuff in tampons and how they leave tiny particles and what havoc the contraceptive pill creates in the body. I changed to pads until I learned that they too have lots of nastie’s in it. Then I found a good organic brand of pads in the NZ supermarkets. That ticked most boxes for me, until I realised the amount of rubbish that I was throwing out on a monthly basis. That led me to my first menstrual cup, a mooncup quite a few years back. That was not a very successful first start. I leaked and it was uncomfortable after just using pads and it slightly freaked me out to put it in. I must admit I wasn’t very persistent, so gave up pretty quickly and went back to using my organic pads. I researched washable pads, but the prices put me off and I was too worried to leak and to pay all that much money and then it might not work. I just found excuses not find a better option.

When we decided to live and travel on a boat it was clear to me, that I would not have the option to just go and buy my preferred organic brand of pads on deserted islands and also with now more time on my hands I really wanted to do the right thing for the environment and have a wastefree period.

But first lets look at some facts here, why it is a good idea to switch to a period cup or washable pads.
⦁ The average woman uses 36 tampons / month and 14,000 tampons in a lifetime.
⦁ North America alone has 12 billion menstrual pads / tampons coming to the landfill every year! Approx. 45,000 tonnes of menstrual waste go into landfills worldwide annually. They take decades to degrade and since disposable pads are approx. 90% plastic they will never disappear.
⦁ The average woman spends $150 – $300 per year on tampons or disposable pads.
⦁ 1 disposable pad can have the same amount of plastic in it as approx. 4 plastic bags.
⦁ I found a really well researched article on hannahpad.co.nz about all the nastie’s that you will find in tampons and disposable pads. With the vaginal tissue being one of the most permeable in the body directly linked to our reproductive organs we really don’t want to put anything near there other than natural, good stuff. Unfortunately menstrual pads and tampons, just like most cosmetics and perfumes (don’t get me started) don’t need to be TGA approved and don’t have to fully disclose whats in them. You can find that article HERE.

After I did my research I approached 3 companies with products I liked, to see if they would support me in in my switch to more eco friendly period care. The Hello Cup, Hannah Pads and Moontime Aotearoa all provided me with samples of their pads and cup to try. I will outline my honest experience after 3 months of using those products below.’

Hello Cup / thehellocup.com

I have had so many friends raving about menstrual cups I knew I had to give it another go. I was unsure about the sizing and Hello Cup provided me with all 3 sizes in gorgeous colours and also sent some of their beautiful period liners.

What I really loved is that they are made in New Zealand and the creators are based in my home area of Hawke’s Bay. When that parcel arrived it showed straight away how much thought has gone into the product. Its all paper and cardboard packaging. The period cups have all their own fabric bags to keep them in. The cups are recyclable, top notch medical grade TPE and the colours are certified food grade. If you use them according to the provided instructions they should last you for at least 5 years. They come in gorgeous colours and also they offer double boxes so you can try different sizes for different flows. And not that it really matters for our periods, but the whole branding strategy is just so gorgeous to look at from the colours of the cups to the fabric of the liners to the card with a personal message and the quality of the product. Everything seems to be just right.

I trialed the different sizes of the cups and soon found the biggest one is the one that works best for me. The Hello Cup definitely feels more comfortable than the Mooncup. The toggle to pull the cup out, the rim to grab all works well. The Mooncup had a really long toggle that you had to cut off to suit your size and I found that the bits where you cut off length felt quite sharp / hard. The hello cup toggle is round and smooth and feels so much better.
One thing that I really noticed while using the cup is that you really get a proper idea of how much blood you are loosing. I have been iron deficient for ever since I got my periods and docs tell me it will probably be this way until I come into menopause. Upon inquiring if I have heavy periods I would have rated mine average. But emptying my cup now I think gosh, that is a lot of blood to loose every month! Usually its absorbed by pads or tampons, so you only get a rough idea, but with the cup you really know exactly how much you loose.

After 3 months of regular and persistent effort I insert it well most of the time, but must admit I am not a cup master yet. I wear a washable pad with the cup to catch any leakage (not much most of time), but it gives me a better sense of security, especially when going out for a while. I found sometimes it sneaks away a bit once inserted, sometimes I don’t insert it deep enough, sometimes its not the right angle, but there are good instructions on the website how to fold the cup correctly when inserting, what to do when you can’t find it etc. The tutorials are great and I found them really helpful to get comfortable with the process.

I clean my cup out and rinse it every time I go to the toilet, although on the website it says you can leave the cup in for up to 12 hours and do your toilet business without removing it. On the website it says that the Hello Cup holds approx. 3 times as much blood as a tampon would. The cleaning and changing works perfect on a boat toilet, since the toilet and sink are so close together. I remove the cup and rinse it it in the sink and back in it goes – really easy. They also offer a sanitizing spray on their website to clean the cup while you are out an about. To clean the cup after your period you can boil it in water for 3 minutes to sterilize and pack it away in the little fabric bag that comes with it until you need it again.

The Hello Period pads have gorgeous fabric and fold up really tiny. Each pad holds up to 2 tbsp of liquid, so perfect to catch any leakage. I actually use the as panty liners too now, so save me washing undies too often, as we don’t have a washing machine on the boat. The pads are organic & fairtrade, manufactured in India. The clips on the wings of the pads are metal. The pads are relatively small, so for me they really only work to have an extra layer of security when wearing my Hello cup or for those first days when where is spotting or as panty liners. I wouldn’t be able to use them as period pads without the cup with my flow. Because the fabrics are so colourful they clean up really well and they also have a a waterproof layer already sown into the pad.

I am really happy with both the Hellocup and the washable pads. I would highly recommend them to others. You can purchase them at thehellocup.com. They ship worldwide. A double box of cups is $69.95, a starter pack with liners, a double pack of cups and the sanitizing spray is $119.95, a 3 pack of liners is $55, a 6 pack $89 (NZD)

Hannah Pads / hannahpad.co.nzhannahpadglobal.com

Hannah Pads sent me a sample package of 4 different sizes, a wet/dry carry bag and a washing tag. Again all packing was eco friendly. The courier bag was compostable, the box the pads came in was cardboard. The coloured fabrics are gorgeous.

Hannah Pads offers 6 sizes altogether. Hannah Pads are designed and manufactured in Korea and available in 10 countries.
The pads fold up really small. The carry bag that was provided has a wet and dry compartment, so you can pop any used pads and have a spare in there when you are going out. Also the little fabric strip that came with the pads is really handy for hanging them all in a row on the washing line, without even needing a peg. The pads have wings, that clip together under your undies to hold them in place. The clips on the pads are plastic.
The pads are made from organic cotton without dyes. Most of the parts of the pads are compostabe or biodegradable. The coloured fabric layer is the only part that would have to be disposed in general rubbish.

The Hannah Pad blog has really good articles. There was one where their staff explain how many pads they use for their periods and also photos of how the pads look after 4 years of usage. I have heard from friends that their washable pads last for many years.

The pads are really easy to use, as they have a waterproof layer sowed in the layers, so they are pretty much ready to go. They are super comfy and steady in the undies. I have a little soaking box with a lid in our toilet with water and washing powder. When I change the pad I give it a quick rinse in the sink and put it in my soaking box for a day. The next day I give them a good hand wash in the sink and hang them out in the sun to dry. Of course hand washing on the boat is not as efficient as a proper washing machine, so there is a bit of staining, but they clean up pretty well and the sun gives them a bit of a bleach too.

I really love the Hannah Pads as they are so handy and ready to go. They look pretty too and stack away quite small because you can fold them and clip them together with the buttons that hold them in your undies. They feel very comfortable and I would highly recommend them. I will definitely get some more of them at some stage.

You can purchase them at hannahpad.co.nz or hannahpadglobal.com. They offer singles and package deals. The pack for one week comes with 2 small, 5 medium and 3 Ultra Overnight pads for $265. (NZD)

Moontime Aotearoa, moontime.co.nz

Moontime Aotearoa, was super helpful on the phone to see which size pads would suit me, which fabrics are organic and which are not, how to add the waterproof layer and how to use the washable pads in general.

Moontime offers 4 sizes of pads and also offers package options. Again I like that they are made in NZ and I really like to support local outlets. I received a range of different fabrics and sizes and find them all super comfortable to wear. I was also provided with a wet/dry bag, where you can store a spare pad and it has a waterproof compartment where you can put your used pad. The Pad consists of 2 parts, the inner and the outer. The outer is open at the back with a slit where you insert you inner and a waterproof layer. I was provided with a sheet of plastic that I cut into the shape of the inners for the waterproof layer. If you have a heavy flow you can add 2 inners. The pads have wings, that clip together under your undies to hold them in place. The clips on the pads are metal.

Compared to the Hannah pads I found the assembling a bit fiddlier and on a couple of occasions I forgot to add the waterproof plastic under the inner which resulted in leaking. But its pretty much just a question of getting your routine sorted. The pads are super comfy to wear and all the fabrics look beautiful. I found the Moontime pads clean up a bit easier than the Hannah Pads, perhaps because they don’t have the waterproof layer sowed in. The organic cream coloured ones show a bit of staining too, but that might be, because I am hand washing here on the boat. The Moontime pads are a bit bulkier to store than the Hannah Pads.

When I talked to the owner, she said that she was still using pads she had made 10 years ago, so that is a pretty amazing track record for sustainable, long term use. All in all I am really happy with the moontime pads and would definitely recommend them. The service was super friendly and I like its a small New Zealand boutique business. You can purchase them at moontime.co.nz. A starter pack with 3 more, 3 regular and 3 light pads is $116.50 (NZD)

General Conclusion

I am really happy to have finally made the step to a waste free period routine. I think for me a combination of washable pads and the Hello cup will the way forward. I am so happy I don’t have to buy products on a monthly basis anymore and am able to save money with our relatively tight cruising budget.

I am also really happy, even happier than about the saving money part, that I don’t contribute all that period product waste to the landfill anymore. Every month I felt guilty about buying those disposable pads and adding to the landfill. Its feels so good to just use a bit of water to clean up and be all ready for the next month and many more months to come.
I also feel like I am being a good role model now to my daughter, that when she comes of age, we have healthy and environmentally friendly options on the boat.

I think waste free periods are totally doable on a boat, even without a washing machine. It just takes a bit of rethinking to establish new habits and let go of old ones.

My recommendation is to just do a bit of research first and find a company you trust, that works ethically and uses good, ideally organic materials.
I hope this inspires more woman and girls to make the switch to a more healthy and environmentally friendly period care.

A huge thank you to the Hello Cup, Hannah Pad and Moontime teams for supporting my switch to a waste free period. I really appreciate your kindness and support.

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2 years of Heartspace Yoga in Hastings & my own yoga journey

Today 2 years ago I opened my doors at Heartspace Yoga in Hastings.

What a roller coaster of journey. So much learning has happened in those 2 years, so much Yin & Yang – joy and exhaustion, confidence and insecurity, growing up and grounding back, learning and unlearning, boundaries and freedom, what do I sweat and what don’t I sweat, I can do this and I can’t do that and I can do a lot more than I think… The more I learn the more I realise how little I know and then the opposite –  the more information I absorb the more I know that I know everything I need to know already – I think that by now I might have thoroughly confused you 😉

Most of all I am immensely grateful for all the people who have supported me on this journey. First of all my students (you really are my teachers….) I am so grateful for you turning up on the mat at heartspace, because if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love. Thank you from my heart for trusting me to guide you on your yoga journey. Thank you to my teachers, who started me on this journey and those who still inspire me every day – I can’t thank you enough. My own yoga journey has been the most rewarding right after being a mum & wife. And thank you to my family, especially my husband Tim who supports me on my yoga journey. Thank you to Jamie at Aspyre for giving me the opportunity to have my own practice space.

I would like to talk a bit about my own yoga journey today.

My journey started when I was travelling 15 years ago – with a tiny book and CD I had in my backpack practicing yoga every day. Then Pilates a bit later – I enjoyed the practice, but missed the spiritual aspect in it – I felt somehow drawn back to yoga. I started with Ashtanga and promptly injured my shoulder being too ambitious and ego driven in a practice that my body wasn’t ready for. But I pushed myself to do it anyway, because that’s how I have always done things. I switched to Hatha, which I really enjoyed. I played around with early morning Bikram for a while. I enjoyed the practice and heat, but not the military style instructions and again the missing spirituality and inner connection. Then I tried my first Yin class and that felt like coming home in my yoga practice. For the first time I felt fully nourished in my yoga practice. No pushing, no archiving, no mirrors to reflect on all the mis-alignments and rolls, no teacher coming into my space trying to realign my body into shapes that don’t feel right for my body.

Over the past 15 years I have experienced a lot of yoga classes, different practices and teachers, which have ultimately led me to how I teach today and how I practice for myself. Everyone is different – I in no way want to say that my way to practice and teach is the best – its the way that suits me and my body in my own practice and in my teaching. I find I can’t teach anything that doesn’t really resonate in my own practice. Luckily there are so many different yoga styles and teachers – there is something for everyone.

I would like to share a few of my insights on that journey:

  • If something is painful in your yoga session session – I recommend you don’t do it. In my opinion pain is not conductive to the healing journey of our bodies – its your body trying to tell you something is not right. We might experience discomfort in some poses. Its a matter of having the body awareness to differentiate between a little discomfort (which is fine), great discomfort (being cautious and observing if you have to back off) and pain (don’t do it, even if your teacher says so)
  • A good body awareness is essential for a safe yoga practice. Most of us have been trained to ignore what our bodies tell us (push harder, one more, you can do it, harder, faster, better, go go go….) so usually for most people our bodies have to scream at us  with a proper injury or chronic illness to give us a message we can hear that we are overdoing things. I always encourage my students to close the eyes during the practice  / in the poses if it feels safe to do so. My practices are very slow flows or yin, so that is doable. Closing the eyes helps us to bring the focus inward and will help us over time to feel into the poses rather than working on a fixed visual impression, comparing ourselves to others etc. A good body awareness will help you to practice safely, stop when you need to, back off or try a bit deeper.
  • You are your own best teacher. The yoga teacher at the front of the room is really only your guide. The person guiding doesn’t know how the poses feel in your body. Yoga was originally taught in 1:1 sessions with a guru – in group classes it’s usually impossible for the teacher / guide to attend to everyone’s different needs / aches / injuries / energy levels etc. so its really important to never feel like you have to do every pose in the sequence that is being taught, you can always rest in child pose or substitute for a safer adjustment / pose.
  • If you are unsure about something – don’t feel afraid to ask. Its likely someone else has the same question in their mind. There are no stupid questions. We have all started with nothing and had to learn many lessons on the way (some painful), so never be afraid to ask either in class or before or after class.
  •  I very rarely do physical adjustments on students. There are several reasons for this. Firstly I have experienced twice myself having an adjustment done on me that actually hurt me. I also found going to yoga classes where I am a student, that having someone come into my space during my practice interrupts my own connection to my body and flow – with exceptions – I do enjoy restorative adjustments in child pose or shavasana for example or verbal adjustment cues that might help me to find a different way into a pose. We all have such different skeletal structures, its impossible for us to all look the same in the poses. Check out Paul Grilley’s bone photos HERE to get a visual experience of how differently we are all constructed. Then there are differences in bone structure in cultures too – like in India and China for example people squat a lot – they have done so for centuries, so their physical physique can be very different from Europeans for example who have been sitting in chairs for centuries or Japanese people who have been walking in tight kimonos and sitting kneeling on their heels. With yoga coming orginally from India the poses have been developed for indian bodies initially – some of the poses are not easily achievable with our perhaps European bone structures. We all have different injuries and restrictions in our bodies too, which will impact our practice. We all have different energy levels every day. I personally prefer to guide my students verbally and by demonstrating options, rather than by touching and pulling them into poses. I have also met 3 students during the last 2 years who came to my classes and told me that they have been injured from being adjusted by yoga teachers. One so badly by having her leg pulled into a pose, that it took her 6 months to recover. I don’t want to scaremonger here, but just to alert you that your body is yours and you know best and if you ever encounter a yoga teacher who is adjusting you in a way that doesn’t feel right to you, please communicate that immediately. It is not only important for your own safety to say so, but also for the teachers learning.
  • As I grow in my yoga practice the physical postures to me need to be nourishing – that’s what I need at this stage in my life as a busy working mum, wife and business owner. I want to take care of my body with nourishing practices so that I can do all that I need to do and not stress my nervous system anymore with practices that challenge my body even further. I am looking for nourishment, stillness, connection to self, taking time to listen what my body is asking for, taking time for self reflection, taking time to tell my mind to shut up for once, taking time to process experiences or just taking time rest – Yoga nidra or just being in Legs up the wall pose or going for a walk in nature is also a yoga practice.  I do no striving anymore – I do nourishing in yoga. The more you practice and grow in your practice you might find that challenging poses can become nourishing too, once your body is ready for them.
  • Don’t take social media & media yoga images seriously. The well formed woman in bikinis at beaches in contortionist poses or men with enormous muscles and 6 packs holding themselves up on their little finger are no reflection at all of a proper yoga practice. These images don’t reflect at all what yoga is about. A yoga practice is a holistic practice with many facets and the asanas (postures) are only a small part. For a large proportion of yoga practitioners that is usually a simple practice to keep our bodies healthy and flexible. There is a yoga practice for every body – its just a matter of finding a space, teacher and practice that suit you.
  • You don’t need much to practice yoga. You don’t need the newest Lululemon outfit or the fanciest yoga mat on the market. Sure if you like totally go for it, but don’t feel pressure to look or dress a certain way. Usually comfy clothes that you can freely move in do the trick and most yoga studios even provide yoga mats if you don’t have your own. Don’t think you have to invest several 100’s of dollars to start practicing yoga to get all the newest and fanciest gear.

That’s all that comes to mind for now. Stay safe in your practice. Any insight, any heart warmed, anyone breathing deeper, feeling lighter, feeling more at peace after practice makes my heart sing – that’s what yoga is about – coming back to ourselves and turning the outside noise off.

I am sending you all a big warm hug and thank you again for your trust.

 

 

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Communication for Connection

Today we had the first session of our Communication for Connection workshop with Filipa Hope at Heartspace. Her teachings are based on Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg. I have been wanting to do this course for many years, but the ducks never really aligned.

Why did I want to do it?

Because I want to improve my communication in parenting and relationship, especially when I am triggered or angry. I want to learn how to turn conflict into cooperation. I want to learn how to motivate my kids and how I can communicate in ways that they get me. And I want to learn how to create & hold healthy boundaries in communications, so things don’t get all twisted up. I also want to communicate with more softness and compassion and cut out all the “pissed off’s, the fuck yes, the hell no, the fucking hell, the for fucks sakes and the like” you get the picture. Each time I hear or speak these words they make me cringe internally as they don’t align with how I want to feel anymore.

We have learned lots of good stuff in the first session already and I thought I would share 1 beautiful inspiration and 1 light-bulb moment with you and perhaps inspire you to take a course yourself with Filipa. She would be happy to initiate an evening class too if there is enough interest.

INSPIRATION:

The most important thing to learn – is what you want to learn. – Carl Rogers – 

I really wished someone had told me that as a kid, teenager, young adult and encouraged me to do so. Only in my 40’s was I brave enough to really study & learn to conform my professional path to something that lights me up internally rather than just considering variables like money and a “safe” job.

LIGHT BULB MOMENT:

Filipa asked us to make 3 columns on a piece of paper and write down a few things we have recently done and connect inwardly with feelings that action invoked and which universal needs where met, or not, by that action (she is providing lists of needs and feelings in the course).

My list turned out like this:

  • Made a chiropractor appointment for myself – feelings that this action evoked: restored, revived, rested – needs met: support & nurturing
  • organised birthday parties for my kids – feelings that this action evoked: delighted, joy, happy – needs met: belonging, acceptance, closeness (more for my kids than for me)
  • And here comes the light-bulb moment:
  • Purchased a set of Tibetan Sound bowls, investing thousands of dollars in something that wasn’t really planned. I have felt fear & guilt about this purchase if I am really honest, because I am again in the overdraft on my account, they are not really necessary, its a luxury, I can’t really afford them, who am I to attempt playing them etc. – you get the picture of the internal chatter going on…. UNTIL I looked on the list and connected with myself, with what were my feelings and needs these bowls are attached to:

Universal Needs met:

Community, Compassion, Love, Nurturing, Support, Authenticity, Presence, Fun, Joy, Beauty, Inspiration, Awareness, Celebration of Life, Challenge, Competence, Consciousness, Contribution, Creativity, Discovery, Growth, Hope, Learning, Participation, Purpose, Self Expression, Stimulation, To Serve Life

Feelings I experience when I think about them

restored, rested, renewed, rejuvenated, enlivened, tranquil, still, serene, satisfied, relaxed, fulfilled, content, comfortable, calm, elated, blissful, pleased, happy, glad, delighted, wonder, awed, amazed, thankful, moved, appreciative, invigorated, lively, passionate, surprised, amazed, safe, open, empowered, open hearted, tender, curious, absorbed, optimistic

These lists are available online – It was a real surprise how many feelings and needs resonated with my 1 action that I was feeling fearful and guilty about  until I realised what value is really attached to that action – taking money completely out of the picture. Once I reviewed that list the guilt and fear was gone. The same is true for my yoga teacher training and running my own business.  Once we look at the bigger picture of what value our actions have we then can more wholeheartedly choose the actions that support our life force, our communities, our families, OURSELVES, rather than worrying about money or values our societies dictate.

Thank you for that light-bulb moment Filipa – even if this would be the only thing I learned from the whole course I would walk away a very happy person, but we are only in part 1 of 6. Excited for the whats to come.

If you want to learn more about doing the course yourself get in touch with Filipa on [email protected]

You are worth it!

 

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Yoga Alliance

As part of my Yoga Alliance registration as a yoga teacher I have to log all my teaching hours and how many students have attended my classes. And while this is takes so much time and I am moaning and groaning about having to do it, its nice to see the stats at the end. So have just finished logging them and in my first year since my registration on the 15th December 2016 I have taught 451 hours of classes and have had 1,724 students attend my classes… Wow, I am blown away – seeing those stats I am even more grateful for all the support from my clients / students.

Thank you so much for enabling me to do what I love.

#heartspaceyoga #yogateacher #yogaalliance #certifiedteacher#logginghours

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No more walls

I grew up behind this wall, I lived behind it for 15 years. No more walls I say! If my freedom is being threatened or violated now I am getting really grumpy. I am soo glad this wall came down in time for me to spread my wings widely. Today I am super grateful for my freedom. I am grateful to be able to live in a country as beautiful as New Zealand and I am grateful for the people who were brave enough to challenge the status quo and demand change and pull that wall down.

#freedom #nomorewalls

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LEARNING TO BE O.K. WITH NOT BEING O.K.

Another saying in my mentor ship program that has edged itself into my mind is this:

“Its hard to hate / dislike people close up”

I still judge and have dislikes, some of them very strong towards other individuals. However when I do judge or say unkind things I get this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and my heart – alerting me that I am off track. My awareness – the biggest gift I received through my persistent yoga practice.

I have really looked close up why I dislike some people and in the end the actions / behaviors that they display that repel me come down to their own hurt inside which they are trying to mask over with whatever they are doing or to my own limiting belief systems because their behaviors sometimes trigger something in me that needs working on. It is complex, but I will try to move in closer to the people and things that I seem to be triggered by and look a bit deeper, practice compassion & forgiveness towards myself and them and be less judgmental.

Something has happened last week, where I was offering to do something for somebody that came from my heart, but was received with misunderstanding and judgement. I then reacted to the judgement, because it triggered me in some of my deepest limiting beliefs – not being worthy, not being good enough, I don’t belong. I felt like I had to explain and defend myself, when it would have really been enough to say o.k. / whatever – I know that I am a good person with good intentions. There were 2 people talking about me, not to me and the offer turned to custard, leaving all 3 parties feeling uncomfortable. However on reflection I realised that I still talk about people too, not being brave enough to address everything that obviously moves me or that needs clarifying with the person directly and ideally by talking to each other in person. Its so much easier to talk about people then to them.

A few weeks ago I chatted to some yoga students before session and I said something unkind about someone. I immediately felt bad about it and knew it was wrong, unnecessary and unkind. Some times my mouth is quicker than my brain. I have since beaten myself up about it and feeling guilty for not being more collected. However all of this happens to most of us at times and the more we are aware of what feels right and what feels wrong, then we can actually change we do and how we go about things.

So my goal is to move in closer and really work on my own behaviors that don’t serve me or anybody else and to practice forgiveness towards myself when I muck up and try to do better next time.

#practicekindness #compassion #moveincloser #thelearningneverends#talkingtoeachothernotabouteachother