I have felt really uninspired with writing here recently, not helped by the fact that my host 'is experiencing an issue with Safari currently' ie crashes relentlessly any time I try to create a post.
It's already eaten the first inception of this post, actually.
So instead of the planned life update I have been trying to write for about three weeks, here's a selection of other good things to read on and off the internets, for your delectation.
First up my piece on hygge for the Telegraph. This was a great way to begin the year and the piece has been really popular. I think we're all a bit enchanted with this delightful Danish concept and I really adored what Helen Russell, author of The Year of Living Danishly, had to say about hygge being an antidote to the dreary diet, detox and deprivation self-hatred that characterises January in the UK.
I also recently discovered Renegade Mothering and this piece on being comfortable with sadness literally took my breath away. Don't get me wrong, I'm as on board with positive thinking and inspirational quotes as any Instagrammer worth their salt but don't you think it would be just dandy - just WONDERFUL - if every now and again we could say 'oh I feel a bit blue' and instead of being made to feel or making yourself feel like a CRAZY PERSON, you're just OK with it? Over Christmas I quite unexpectedly started crying as Violet, Cherry and I listened to some Christmas songs. I could describe the circumstances that led to me snivelling over Stay Another Day but I won't bother because trust me I sound LIKE A CRAZY PERSON. And that's because part of me is A CRAZY PERSON. We all are. So how about we all give our crazy, our sadness, our dark, our ugly a big bear hug (bear hygge?) and admit that we're not perfect, we're not sunny and happy and chirpy all the time AND THAT'S OK?
We put ourselves under so much pressure to be happy, don't you think? And I feel myself doing it to my children too. Cherry, Violet and I had the worst day on Monday. We woke up - or rather Cherry woke us up - at 5.30am with a cacophony of whinging and it didn't get no better. I became more and more frustrated as she became more and more grumpy and whiny. Objectively I could see that she was tired and grouchy after a busy weekend and just needed a quiet, easy day. But emotionally I was all in a spin, getting more and more angry and frustrated with her because nothing I did made her happy and DAMN IT CHILD, WHY AREN'T YOU HAPPY? DON'T YOU KNOW I'M FAILING AS A MOTHER IF YOU'RE NOT HAPPY?!
God forbid any of us just have a bad day.
Which leads me to Circle of Stones, a stunning book on the inner life of women (who even knew there was such a thing?) and some of the essays within moved me to tears. Not to mention the pertinent questions Judith Duerk artfully poses. How would your life have been different if.....? Within Circle of Stones she both mourns the lack of and champions the place of women's circles, 'a place of women' where a woman could go just to BE. Including be sad, reflective, quiet, tired... She talks about feminine and masculine energy and this makes intuitive sense to me. My own energy is ferocious but somewhat tidal, it ebbs and flows, I have periods of intense energy and focus and periods where I crave stillness, quiet and reflection. All of which are SO easy to find at home with two kids of course!
This has made me feel more comfortable with my cycles of energy. I have been guilty in the past of comparing myself to Noel whose energy is far steadier and more reliable than mine. He isn't more energetic than me but sometimes it feels that way because he is so even whereas I am up and down. I think understanding this about myself (and him) will help me go easier on myself. And get off my and my children's cases to be super happy ALL THE TIME.
I also loved this by Sara at Me And Orla, on letting go of perfection. Are you sensing a theme here? I am SO over perfection. A truly monstrous concept that has ruled my life for far, far too long.
This week I also read All Joy and No Fun, which ties in with many of the themes above. It's a book on parenting, but it's a book on what parenting does to a parent, as opposed to a child. Again, parts of it moved me to tears. I identify so strongly with some of the women profiled within. I can see within myself this relentless quest to make parenting, mothering, make sense in some way. All the while castigating myself for not doing better, not being better, not being (can you guess what I'm going to say next?) perfect. Being at home with my two daughters brings deep joy and a great deal of fun - huge amounts, contrary to the title of the book - but it also brings self-doubt and fear and repetition and monotony and fear - did I mention fear- like I have never known before. Or at least, not consciously.
I was fascinated to read some of the evidence, data and theories behind the phenomenon of modern parenting. I can't say I agree with all of it - that's not really the point though. It was illuminating, and it reminded me as if I needed it that I am not alone in finding motherhood full of contradictions and paradoxes and of course THE GUILT. I actually consider myself really lucky as the peaceful parenting we practice does negate a lot of the power struggles highlighted in the book between parents and children, but I think regardless of what approach you take, parenting will always find way to kick you in the solar plexus with its sheer HARDNESS sometimes.
And finally I continued my yogic education with Journey Into Power by Baron Baptiste. I ordered it second-hand through Noel's Amazon account and when it arrived I assumed it was something he'd ordered on weightlifting or 'bufting' as he calls it, as instead of the expected blonde girl doing a handstand on the beach at sunset on the front cover, there was a muscle-bound beefcake. This temporary setback aside (I love me a beach handstand at sunset, y'all know) I found the book a really accessible introduction to a style of yoga that was new (ish) to me.
You'll notice that what's missing from this roundup is a novel. I haven't read a novel in *counts on fingers* four years. Nonfiction and blogs I can easily dip in and out of, but I find I get consumed by novels and then a little obsessed with finishing them. I want to read the whole thing in one sitting and I don't do well picking something up then putting it down five minutes later - so for the sake of all our sanity I am staying away from novels until my children start school, then I will read only what I can finish in six hours.